Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

The Pentagon is planning to cut its force size in Afghanistan by half, but special operations strike units will remain in country to carry out raids on Taliban and Islamic State fighters, a Defense Department official with knowledge of the withdrawal plans said Jan 2, 2019.

Press reports of a decision by President Donald Trump to begin removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan began emerging in late December 2018, shortly after the White House declared victory over ISIS fighters in Syria and ordered that American troops be pulled from that war-torn country.


U.S. military leaders since have downplayed the reports of an Afghanistan departure as rumors. Following a Dec. 23, 2018 meeting with the governor of Nangarhar district, Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told Afghanistan’s TOLOnews agency, “I have seen the same rumors you have from the newspapers [on withdrawals], but all I would assure you is, first of all, I have no orders, so nothing changed. But if I do get orders, I think it is important for you to know that we are still with the security forces. Even if I have to get a little bit smaller, we will be OK.”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Lt. Gen. Scott Miller.

(U.S. Army photo by Whitney Hughes)

On Jan. 2, 2019, U.S. military officials remained reluctant to discuss withdrawal plans from Afghanistan, but a source familiar with the strategy told Military.com that Miller plans to pull about 7,000 of the estimated 14,000 U.S. troops out of the country over the next eight to 12 months.

Currently, the bulk of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is dedicated to advising and training Afghan security forces to be able to operate without American assistance, but the fledgling force remains inexperienced in complex warfighting skills, such as combat aviation, combined arms operations and logistical support, military officials say.

The direct-action portion of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan — made up of a small contingent of U.S. Special Operations Forces, such as units from the Army‘s 75th Ranger Regiment; 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, known as Delta Force; and the Navy‘s Special Warfare Development Group, or SEAL Team Six — will continue to carry out strike missions against enemy positions in the country, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak to the press.

“We will have a strike force in country,” the source told Military.com.

U.S. military officials maintain that the Pentagon has received no official orders or guidance on withdrawal plans, despite reports Trump wants a plan to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan by half.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

President Donald Trump.

(DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

“Nothing has changed,” said Lt. Col. Koné Faulkner, a Pentagon spokesman, on Jan. 2, 2019. “As peace talks with the Taliban continue, we are considering all options of force numbers and disposition.”

While not confirming plans for withdrawal, Miller said Jan. 1, 2019 at an event in Kabul that a major policy review is underway on the overall U.S. objective of driving the Taliban to a peace agreement with the Afghan government.

“The policy review is going on in multiple capitals, peace talks [are] out there, regional players pressing for peace, the Taliban talking about peace, the Afghan government talking about peace,” Miller said, according to TOLOnews.

The Taliban has thus far refused to meet with Kabul representatives while they continue to maintain contact with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

In addition to the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, there are about 16,000 service members from 30 NATO and partner nations, all in non-combat or advisory roles, according to a November NATO release.

At the height of the U.S. and NATO commitment to Afghanistan in 2012, there were about 130,000 troops in Afghanistan from the U.S., NATO and other coalition countries.

Despite the continued U.S. and NATO presence in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents control nearly half the country and are more powerful now than they have been at any time since a 2001 U.S.-led invasion, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The 17-year conflict has cost the U.S. about 0 billion and resulted in more than 2,400 American deaths.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon doesn’t actually know how many troops are at war

The Pentagon just can’t or won’t say how many troops are deployed to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.


The long-running controversy over how many and where troops are in harm’s way came to a point Nov. 27th where Pentagon officials were disputing their own required quarterly report on deployments worldwide from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

“Those numbers are not meant to represent an accurate accounting,” Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said of the DMDC’s report. “They shouldn’t be relied upon.”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
The Pentagon. According to several studies, dating as far back at 1997, the Department of Defense has known about failures to report criminal records. (Photo by David B. Gleason)

He said that the DMDC’s quarterly reports were “routinely over and under” the actual count of troops on the ground and only gave a “snapshot” in time. There was a general reluctance to give out actual numbers for fear of “telegraphing or silhouetting to the enemy” U.S. troop strength, Manning said.

The DMDC numbers, first reported by Military Times, gave evidence of what has been widely known and occasionally confirmed by Pentagon officials for years — that the official counts, or Force Management Levels (FMLs), on the numbers of troops in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are well below the actual numbers of service members in each country.

In August, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged the discrepancies and pledged to give a fuller accounting for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Also Read: The Pentagon is considering sending 1,000 more troops to Syria

According to the DMDC’s quarterly report, there were a total of 25,910 U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan — more than 11,000 above the official number given by the Pentagon for the three countries of 14,765.

In Syria, there were 1,720 U.S. troops, more than three times the FML level the Pentagon repeated on Nov. 27 of 503.

The same report showed there were 8,992 American troops in Iraq, almost 3,500 more than the official Defense Department tally of 5,262.

In Afghanistan, DMDC said there were 15,298 troops, as opposed to the 14,000 figure given earlier this month by Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots work to support U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission. (U.S Army photo)

In addition to the 15,298 U.S. troops, there were also 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan, for a total reported U.S. footprint in Afghanistan of 16,500.

The troop cap in Afghanistan under the Obama administration had been 8,500 but the Pentagon later acknowledged there were about 11,000 on the ground.

Two weeks ago, McKenzie said the 3,000 additional troops authorized for deployment in August by President Donald Trump had arrived in Afghanistan, boosting the troop strength to 14,000.

McKenzie and Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, have pledged to give a more accurate account of the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria.

Articles

These new football uniforms are badass tributes to World War II paratroopers

The U.S. Military Academy has unveiled its football uniforms for the 2016 Army-Navy game, and they’re awesome tributes to the All American paratroopers and glider troops of World War II.


The dark gray jerseys are adorned with patches, unit crests, and mottoes of regiments that fought within the 82nd “All American” Airborne Division during the invasions of Normandy, Italy, and Holland.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment — sometimes known as the Red Devils — is one of the units honored by the new football jerseys. (Screenshot: YouTube/GoArmyWestPoint)

The U.S. Army began experimenting with Airborne operations in 1940 by forming a test platoon. Over the course of World War II, paratroopers and glider soldiers were asked to test and develop airborne tactics and equipment in combat, jumping behind enemy lines or onto the flanks of friendly units to disrupt attacks or quickly reinforce vulnerable elements.

The 82nd Airborne Division fought primarily against the Germans during the war, though they faced some Italian units during fighting in that country.

The 82nd Division is the only full airborne division left in the U.S. military. Most airborne forces have been deactivated since the peak of fighting in World War II. Other previously airborne units — most notably the 101st Airborne Division of “Band of Brothers” fame — have transitioned to other missions.

See the unveiling video from West Point below:

Humor

The 14 funniest memes for the week of Jan. 26

We started with a shutdown, some of us went to furlough, but we were all once again volunteers.


Now there’s nothing to worry about…

…except nuclear armageddon, an unending war, and Chelsea Manning running for Senate.

Cheer yourself up with some memes. These memes.

1. Before you get offended, we were all sh*t bags at some point.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Just relax. Breathe — as long as your profile says it’s okay.

2. We can’t have the world blowing up our phone.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
But a LOT of them will try. Along with our houses.

3. I got you, fam.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
As long as the mountains are blue.

Check out: What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

4. Must promote.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
If you’ve ever had MIDRATS, you know that 58-minute rice is a little crunchy.

5. Gonna fly now. (via Inkfidel)

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Don’t miss the chance to be a contender.

6. “No one will take care of you like the Corps.”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Now polish the floors, boot.

Now read: 6 ways for a POG to be accepted by grunts

7. When you don’t give a sh*t about the Air Force in WWI. (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Also, you had a few drinks to relax the night before.

8. “Here’s your in-processing checklist”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Seriously though, the checklist explains everything.

9. Everything after basic training is a little fuzzy. (via Pop Smoke)

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
I also didn’t drink during PT. Before, maybe, but not during.

Also: 4 ways to have fun with that Russian spy ship off the coast

10. The truth hurts pretty darn good.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Don’t forget where you came from.

11. What a joke.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
No one’s getting this medal.

12. No one kneels during this guitar riff.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Also, it’d take a lot more than the Royal Navy to capture the Hulkster.

13. The ultimate “do as I say, not as I do.” (via Decelerate Your Life)

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Let them fight the war in Afghanistan, then. That sh*t will end in a hurry.

Of interest: 5 reasons you should know about the hardcore Selous Scouts

14. Prepare for zero likes. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Just f*ck me and tell me why you’re f*cking me, alright?

Military Life

4 reasons why troops need to be a little salty

Parents tend to teach their kids that kindness is one of the greatest traits a human can exhibit. When those kids eventually join the military, they’ll learn that they need to drop the niceties before too long.

Troops should show a general politeness toward their peers — after all, the military wouldn’t function if everyone was truly spiteful toward one another. We’d never recommend that you treat others like dirt, but every service member must obtain a certain level of saltiness in order to get through their career.


In a way, military life is the reversal of civilian norms. In the military, kindness is negatively received; being assertive and salty is the only way to get what you want. We’re not saying this is bad or good — it’s just the weird life that troops live.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others out.

(Photo by Spc. L’Erin Wynn)

Your kindness will be perceived as weakness

Before any of this gets twisted, kindness isn’t a weakness and showing genuine empathy toward your fellow troop isn’t going to kill you. In fact, showing your brothers- and sisters-in-arms compassion will take you far and may save a life some day.

However, the harsh reality is that there are no brakes on the military train. Slowing down for others and offering a helping hand isn’t always smiled upon. When you pause to help someone who’s stalled, in the eyes of many, there are now two impediments.

It’s not an pleasant circumstance, but that’s how life in the military goes.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

(Photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom)

Your kindness will get pushed to the limits

There’s another side to the compassion coin. Offer your help too readily and others will take advantage. One favor leads to three. “Hey, can you get me…” quickly turns into, “you don’t mind, do you?”

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any toxic leadership in the military. Everyone would take unit morale into consideration, do their part, and ensure tasks are completed on schedule. Unfortunately, when people find it easier to get someone else to their job, they’ll take that road.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

But they’re not mutually exclusive in combat situations.

(Photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

Your saltiness will get things done

Aggression and anger are not essential traits of great leaders. A first sergeant who never yells still commands the same respect as a first sergeant who barks at everyone. It is entirely possible to be assertive and state your intentions to others without shouting.

…but most people won’t see it that way. The moment you raise your voice, people listen. If you’re of a lower rank, people will assume you’re ready for a leadership position — in actuality, yelling and true leadership skills are apples and oranges.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Troops will rarely give an honest answer if their first sergeant asks them how are they doing, even if it’s meant sincerely.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Your saltiness won’t ever get questioned

Being nice will cause everyone to question your motives. Other troops will think you’re up to something, trying to work them over. Conversely, there’re almost no repercussions for being a dick to everyone.

The higher your rank, the less people will wonder why you’re grouchy. Everyone just accepts it as normal, everyday life. Niceties at that rank set off alarms in the lower ranks or just confuse everyone.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army to use Israeli defense missiles instead of Patriots

The US Army on Feb. 6, 2019, announced that it would buy an Israeli missile-defense system to protect its soldiers in a de facto admission that existing US missile defenses just don’t work.

“The U.S. Army has announced its intent to procure a limited number of Iron Dome weapon systems to fill its short-term need for an interim Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC),” a US Army statement sent to Business Insider read.


Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, indigenously designed with a 9 million US investment backing it, represents the world’s only example of working missile defense.

While the US, Russia, and China work on high-end missile systems meant to shoot down stealth aircraft in ultra-high-tech wars with electronic and cyber warfare raging along the sidelines, none of these countries’ systems actually block many missiles, rockets, or mortars.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Iron Dome launches during operation Pillar of Defense, November 2012.

On the other hand, Israel’s Iron Dome has shot down more than 1,200 projectiles since going operational in 2011. Constant and sporadic attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian-aligned forces in Syria have turned Israel into a hotbed of rocket and mortar activity, and the system just plain works.

Not only do the sensors and shooters track and hit targets reliably, the Iron Dome, unlike other systems, can tell if a projectile is going to miss a target and thereby save a 0,000 interceptor fire.

While the system does not run entirely without error, US and Israeli officials consistently rate the dome as having a 90% success rate on the Gaza border, one of the most active places in the world for ballistic projectiles.

But the US already has missile defenses for its forces.

The 2019 Missile Defense Review said the US’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile-defense system has a “proven combat record,” though US officials inflated its success rate during Operation Desert Storm.

The US, unlike Israel, which is surrounded by enemies bent on its ultimate destruction, doesn’t get many enemies firing ballistic missiles at its forces. Still, to protect its soldiers, the Army typically deploys Patriot defenses to its bases to protect against short-range missile attacks. In Iraq, the US Army also experimented with a Phalanx gun system that would rapid fire 20mm rounds at incoming rockets and mortars.

But Saudi Arabia, a weaker US ally, has put its Patriot defenses to the test and found them severely wanting either through user error or failings of the system itself.

In repeated missile strikes from Houthi rebels using relatively unsophisticated Iranian ballistic missiles, the Patriot missile defenses have failed, sometimes spectacularly.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

MIM-104 Patriot.

Despite Saudi Arabia claiming a high success rate for the missile system, it proceeded to talk to Russia about obtaining advanced S-400 missile defenses after the Patriot failures. NATO allies such as Turkey have also sought to augment their defenses with the Russian system, causing friction with the US and others.

Overall, the US Army’s statement announcing the Iron Dome purchase made it clear that this would just be a short-term buy while the US assesses its options.

“The Iron Dome will be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats… it should be noted that the U.S. Army will assess a variety of options for” the long term, the statement continued.

But the Army is well aware of its own Patriot system and any planned or possible updates.

By buying an Israel system with a great track record and overlooking a US system with a checkered past, the US may have finally admitted its shortcomings in missile defense.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia trashes J-15 fighter, a plane based on its design

Although Beijing and Moscow recently forged a military partnership, there still appears to be some animosity over their checkered past.

Russian state-owned media outlet Sputnik recently ripped China’s J-15 fighter jet for its many failings.

In 2001, China purchased a T-10K-3 (a Su-33 prototype) from Ukraine and later reversed engineered it into the J-15 fighter jet.

And Moscow, apparently, is still a little sour about it.

The J-15 is too heavy to operate efficiently from carriers, has problems with its flight control systems, which has led to several crashes, and more, Sputnik reported, adding that Beijing doesn’t even have enough J-15s to outfit both of its carriers.

The Sputnik report was first spotted in the West by The National Interest.


“The J-15’s engines and heavy weight severely limit its ability to operate effectively: at 17.5 tons empty weight, it tops the scales for carrier-based fighters,” Sputnik reported, adding that “The US Navy’s F-18 workhorse, by comparison, is only 14.5 tons.”

The Su-33 is about as heavy as the J-15, and Moscow is currently upgrading it’s troubled Admiral Kuznetsov carrier to launch the Su-33.

“The Asia Times noted that Chinese media has disparaged the plane in numerous ways,” Sputnik added, “including referring to it as a ‘flopping fish’ for its inability to operate effectively from the Chinese carriers, which launch fixed-wing aircraft under their own power from an inclined ramp on the bow of the ship.”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, is a Kuznetsov-class carrier like the Admiral Kuznetsov, and both use short-take off but arrested recovery launch systems.

Sputnik then piled on by interviewing Russian military analyst Vasily Kashin.

“Years ago the Chinese decided to save some money and, instead of buying several Su-33s from Russia for their subsequent license production in China, they opted for a Su-33 prototype in Ukraine,” Sputnik quoted Kashin.

“As a result, the development of the J-15 took more time and more money than expected, and the first planes proved less than reliable,” Kashin added.

But as The National Interest pointed out, the former Soviet Union regularly copied Western military concepts and products.

“Considering that China has the same habit, there is a poetic justice here,” The National Interest’s Michael Peck wrote.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This 103-year-old vet served 22 years in the Navy – after being a POW

Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. For retired commander Jack Schwartz, that seems to be the case.

The 22-year navy Veteran spent 1,367 days in captivity as a prisoner of war during World War II. He turned 103 years old April 28, 2018.

For Schwartz, it all started just three days after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 10, 1941, he was a navy lieutenant junior grade stationed in Guam as a civil engineer responsible for the water supply, roads, the breakwater and some construction.


“We only had 100 marines on the island – about 400 of us total, to include those who worked at the naval hospital,” Schwartz said. “And there were about 4 or 5,000 Japanese soldiers. They sank one of our ships, a mine sweeper, and nine sailors were killed.”

“We didn’t put up much of a fight.”

Schwartz said he was held by the Japanese there in Guam for about 30 days.

“There was plenty of food on Guam, but they deliberately starved us to make us weak,” he said.

After 30 days, they were transported by ship – all 400 U.S. POWs to include Schwartz – to Shikoku Island in Japan. They stayed there for about eight months, in some old barracks left over from the Japanese war with Russia, before being moved again.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
In this Japanese propaganda photo released in March 1942, U.S. service members from Guam arrive at Zentsuki POW camp on Shikoku Island in Japan. Jack Schwartz was one of about 400 U.S. POWs captured at Guam and taken there.

The next place Schwartz was sent to was Kawasaki, between Tokyo and Yokohama. There were already POW camps and prisoners there when Schwartz including U.S. service members captured in the Philippines and from U.S. ships.

More than 300 prisoners were there, but just a few were officers, he said.

“I was the senior U.S. officer there so they put me in charge of the camp,” Schwartz said. “As a prisoner, I had absolutely no authority to do anything, but if anything went wrong it was my fault.”

“Every month or two I got a beating by the Japanese guards – nothing too serious – just to show me they’re in charge.”

After two years, Schwartz said he was sent back to Shikoku Island to the same POW camp he was at previously.

“This was a camp for officers – not just U.S. but English and Dutch. This was where the Japanese would invite the Red Cross to show how nice the conditions were,” Schwartz said. Schwartz would be separated, segregated and moved several times before the Japanese finally surrendered to the Allies on Aug. 14, 1945.

“The day the war with Japan was over, a Japanese officer lined us up outside and told us hostilities have ceased,” Schwartz said. He and the other Japanese officers and guards just walked away.

They made a big sign in white paint on the roof that read POW. After a couple of weeks, a U.S. B-29 bomber spotted us, and a few hours later they started dropping parachutes full of food. “Naturally we all started stuffing ourselves and got sick.”

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
POW Jack Schwartz, World War II POW from Dec. 10, 1941 to Aug 14, 1945, pictured here at Kawasaki POW camp, Japan.

Upon release – after being held POW for 3.75 years – Schwartz made the decision he would not end his career with the Navy and instead, he continued serve for another 18 years.

The Caltech graduate – who was born in San Francisco but moved to Hollywood with his parents at an early age – would eventually retire from the Navy with honors and distinction and move to Hanford, Calif., in 1962. He then worked for 18 years as Hanford’s Public Works Director and city Engineer before retiring a second time.

Schwartz said he now receives his medical care from the VA Central California Health Care System and is treated very well. “I still remember my first doctor there at the VA, Dr. Ron Naggar. And Dr. Ivance Pugoy is one of my current doctors,” Schwartz said. “You get a feeling they actually care. They make you feel like you are not just a name. You are a person. They do an excellent job for all the POWs,” he said.

Schwartz and several of his fellow POWs from the Central Valley were honored April 9 at VA Central California as part of National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the US is falling behind Russia in anti-air defense tech

Just before the end of January 2018, Russia announced that its Pantsir-S1 mobile surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons system would be equipped with a new type of missile to help it defend against smaller, low-flying targets.


Called the “gvozd” (the Russian word for “nail”), the missile is a small armament designed to take out small targets like drones. The Pantsir will reportedly be able to carry 4 gvozds in one canister, which means a fully armed system can have up to 48 missiles.

The issue of how to combat small and cheap drones that can carry small payloads or carry out kamikaze-style attacks continues to vex global militaries. The terrorist group ISIS has found them to be particularly useful, and in January 2017 saw a swarm of drones attack a Russian air base in Syria, reportedly damaging seven jets.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Russian S-400 long-range air defense missile systems are deployed at Hemeimeem air base in Syria. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

The Pantsir, known to NATO as the SA-22 Greyhound, entered service in the Russian Military in 2012. Its primary role is that of point-defense, meaning it can defend from low-flying aerial targets within a certain area.

Also read: Why Russia’s new missile ships aren’t really all that powerful

It is armed with two 2A38M 30 mm autocannons that have a maximum fire rate of 5,000 rounds per minute, and twelve AA missiles in twelve launch canisters. The system’s weapons have an effective range of 10 to 20 kilometers.

Conversely, Russia’s S-400 missile system is intended to deal with long-range targets. The system can be armed with four different missiles, the longest of which has a claimed range of 400 kilometers, while the most common missile has a range of 250 kilometers.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
S-400 missile system. (Photo by Vitaly Kuzmin)

The two systems working in tandem provide a “layered defense,” with the S-400 providing long-ranged protection against bombers, fighter jets, and ballistic missiles, and the Pantsir providing medium-ranged protection against cruise missiles, low-flying strike aircraft, and drones.

This explains why the systems have been deployed together in Syria, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has said “guaranteed the superiority of our Aerospace Forces in Syrian air space.”

The Pantsir has also reportedly been seen in Ukraine’s Donbas region, no doubt helping separatists defend against attacks from the Ukrainian Air Force.

Russian air defense strategy

“It certainly makes the system more robust,” Jeffrey Edmonds, a research scientist and expert on the Russian military and foreign policy at the Center for Naval Analyses told Business Insider. “A layered defense is always better than a single defense layer.”

Compared to Russia, the US does not have a point-defense system. Its air defense strategy relies primarily on the Patriot Missile System, the Avenger Air Defense System, and shoulder launched FIM-92 Stingers.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
U.S. Army Capt. Richard Tran, trains with an FIM-92 Stinger at the Hohenfels Training Area, Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 10, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David Overson)

Edmonds says that the reason the Russians have been able to achieve these gains in aerial defense over the West is because the US has not had to face an adversary with advanced air capabilities, and because Russia’s air defense strategy is made specifically to counter America’s aerial superiority.

“For the Russians, in any conflict with the United States, the primary concern is going to be a massive aerospace attack,” Edmonds said.

Operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere have shown that the Americans prefer to use what the Russians refer to as non-contact or new-model warfare — the use of effective airpower to destroy a large amount of targets and winning wars without invading a country.

“Their layered defenses are designed around that threat,” Edmonds said.

Related: Extremists and cheap drones are changing asymmetrical warfare

As a result, Russia’s air defenses are much more advanced than anything that the US and its allies currently field.

But that may not necessarily spell doom for the US and its allies, Edmonds said.

“Do we need the same kind of systems as the Russians? That’s not necessarily the case because the threat they pose to us is different than the threat we pose to them,” Edmonds said.

More: The treaty-busting missile the Russians use to threaten NATO

Edmonds pointed out that aircraft take a more active and aggressive role in American and NATO strategy than Russian strategy.

“The way we fight, our aircraft are out front. They prep the battlespace for follow-on units,” he said. “It’s almost the opposite for the Russians. Fighter aircraft will be fighting kind of behind the line, not venturing far out front.”

Edmonds also noted that defense against an aerospace happens “across domains.”

“That’s counter-space, that’s GPS jamming, that’s missiles, dispersion, camouflage — there’s a whole host of things that they practice, and capabilities they developed to counter a massive aerospace attack,” Edmonds said.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This dad asked about his son, and the Bismarck was doomed

In the early days of World War II, battleships were still considered kings and all of the combatants hunted for their enemies’ greatest ships. The battleship Bismarck, the largest battleship in commission at the start of 1941, was the pride of the German Kriegsmarine and an epic combatant. Britain desperately wanted to sink her before she could break into the open Atlantic.

Luckily for Britain, a badly timed, badly encoded radio transmission allowed British warships to find and kill the vessel.


Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

The Bismarck fires during the Battle of the Denmark Straits in May, 1941. It sank the pride of the Royal Navy, the HMS Hood, during the engagement.

(German federal archives)

In May, 1941, the U.S. and Russia had not yet joined the Allies as combatants, and Britain had already been pushed entirely off the continent. Morale was low in Great Britain, and its control of the seas was challenged by German U-boats that preyed upon convoys from the U.S.

One of Britain’s greatest fears was that Germany would starve the island kingdom out, potentially by sending more and larger ships into the Atlantic to prey on shipping. One of the most frightful possibilities was the Bismarck, a massive craft that was, at the time, the largest battleship in active service in the world (Japan’s Yamato-class and America’s Iowa-class would later beat its records).

The Bismarck had 16-inch guns and thick armor, and it could hit most convoys with impunity if it ever broke out of the Baltic and North seas. In May, 1941, it attempted to do just that.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Spoilers are above, but this story originally played out over 70 years ago, so you should’ve seen it already by now.

(Citypeek, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Bismarck left port on May 18 and attempted to slip out undetected. It made it through the North Sea with the Prinz Eugen as well as a number of smaller vessels. But when the flotilla passed between Denmark and Sweden into the North Sea, Norwegian resistance members and Swedish forces got a good look at the ships, and someone passed the report to Britain.

It’s unsure how much detail Britain received (Norwegian resistance members only identified “two unidentified major ships”), but British naval officers immediately suspected that the Bismarck was breaking out.

On May 21, the ships were spotted, and the British gave chase. The full story is great, from British cruisers tailing the massive vessel to attackers hiding in fog banks to when the Bismarck sank Britain’s pride and joy, the HMS Hood, with a single hit from the Bismarck’s main guns. The YouTube channel Extra History has a great series on the hunt, available here for all who want to watch it.

But we’re going to skip ahead to the final days of the chase.

By dawn on May 25, the Hood was sunk, the Prinz Eugen had escaped into the Atlantic, and the Bismarck had evaded the British cruisers in pursuit. But the Bismarck had been wounded and was now leaking oil across the ocean, limiting its range and speed.

The British, more desperate than ever to prevent the Bismarck from joining the war in the Atlantic as well to avenge the loss of the Hood, had called every available ship into the hunt.

But the days of naval maneuvering had left the Bismarck hundreds of miles out to sea, and the British didn’t know if the ship would head to Norway or France for repairs. Britain didn’t have enough ships to search both routes.

Hunting the Bismarck – A Chance to Strike – Extra History – #3

youtu.be

The British commander sent most of the fleet north to search the route to Norway, leaving one battleship and a few other vessels within range of the route to France.

This problem was compounded when the Bismarck made a monumental mistake, sending two 30-minute radio transmissions, but some of the British intercept officers made a mistake and pinpointed the transmission as coming from the route to Norway, when the transmission actually came from the route to France. It would take them hours to catch the mistake.

At this moment, the Bismarck’s path into France was relatively clear. The German vessel had the lead, and the British fleet was headed the wrong way. But the rumors of the Bismarck’s fighting had made it to the continent, and a concerned father made one of the worst mistakes of the war.

The general had a son on the Bismarck, and he asked after his son’s status. The request was transmitted to the Bismarck, and the Bismarck responded. Then, that response was relayed back to the general. It said the Bismarck had suffered no casualties and was now headed to Brest, a port city in France.

When the message was relayed, though, it was done on a Luftwaffe enigma machine with only four wheels instead of the more secure, five-wheel model used by the Admiralty. The British quickly decoded the message, and the entire British fleet turned back south to intercept the Bismarck before it could reach Brest.

On May 26, the HMS Ark Royal, an aircraft carrier, was chasing down the Bismarck as night came on. It was mere hours till darkness would halt any more attacks. By morning, the Bismarck would be under the protection of Luftwaffe planes taking off from France.

It was now or never, and the Swordfish planes flying from the Ark Royal had just enough time for two attacks. But the first attack was a ridiculous catastrophe. The British planes made a mistake, attacking the British ship chasing the Bismarck instead of the Bismarck itself. Luckily, they were equipped with magnetic detonators that set off the torpedoes as they hit the water.

The Swordfish returned to the Ark Royale to re-arm, and then headed back out for Britain’s last chance at the Bismarck before it was safely in France.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

The HMS Ark Royal sails with its swordfish overhead.

(U.K. Government)

The planes chased down their quarry, and the Swordfish flew into the teeth of the Bismarck’s guns. The rounds shredded the canvas wings of the planes, but the planes managed to drop a spread of torpedoes anyway.

There were two hits. One struck the Bismarck’s armor belt and did little damage, the other struck low in the water but did no visible damage. The Swordfish pilots turned home in dismay.

But when they landed, they learned glorious news. The Bismarck had been in a hard turn to port when the second torpedo struck, and the strike had knocked out rudder control. Since the Bismarck had been in a hard turn at the time, it was now stuck turning in tight circles in the Atlantic, out of range of Luftwaffe protection.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

The HMS Dorestshire rescues survivors of the Bismarck. Only about 114 sailors made it out.

(Royal Navy)

The rest of the British fleet barreled down on the stricken foe, and eventually, four battleships and cruisers were circling the Bismarck, pounding it with shell after shell. They knocked out turrets, they shredded the decks, and they terrified the crew.

It only ended when the British fleet ran low on fuel. It was under orders to sink the Bismarck at all costs, so as most of the ships headed to refuel, the HMS Dorsetshire was left to finish the job. It dropped torpedoes into the water, and finally, the Bismarck suffered holes beneath the waterline. The Bismarck sank. The pride of the German fleet was done. Just over 100 sailors survived of the 2,200-man crew.

If the general had loved his son a little less, or, you know, if signals officers had been more careful to use the best available encryption or leave the ship’s destination out of the message, the Bismarck likely would have made it to France without further damage.

Articles

Marine vet’s inspirational New Year’s Eve post turned out to be his last

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
(Photo: Matthew DeRemer’s Facebook page)


On New Year’s Eve millions turned to social media to share final thoughts for the year. Marine Corps veteran Matthew DeRemer was no different – except his last post of the year would also turn out to be the last post of his life.

That day he wrote this:

Last day of 2015!!!! For me I’ll be meditating through all I do, on this entire year. I’ve lost, I’ve gained, family is closer and tougher than ever before, loved ones lost, and new friends found. There has been many times where I’ve been found on my knees in prayer for hours (relentless) and other times leading a group of people in prayer, my faith (that I love to share) is an everyday awakening (to me) that people, lives, and circumstances can change for the better OVER TIME. I look back at 2015’s huge challenges that I’ve overcome, shared with others, and have once again found myself … To say thank you and BRING ON 2016, much works to be done!

And I really don’t know where I’ll end up tonight but I do know where I wind up is where I’m meant to be.

Matthew paired his words with a meme of author Gayle Foreman’s quote: “We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”

Hours later, while riding his motorcyle, the 31-year-old surgical technologist was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver.

Since his death, DeRemer’s post has been shared over 15,000 times inspiring hundreds of comments:

“RIP, my condolences go out to his family an friends, this post is amazing an says a lot,” one wrote. “I don’t know you but this post definitely has me thinking…”

Another wrote: “This is both disturbing yet incredibly poignant and beautiful.”

During his time in the Corps DeRemer served in Iraq and was stationed in California.

“We called him “Jiff.” He had an incredible love for peanut butter,” said close friend Line Bryde Lorenzen. “He was a sergeant-at-arms, and he took that role very seriously. He helped me a lot with my faith, and was always there when I needed him.”

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help the family with their funeral expenses.

Articles

23 Photos of Drill Instructors terrifying the hell out of Marine recruits

Considered the toughest and most disciplined basic training of all military branches, Marine Corps boot camp is a 12-week transformation of civilian recruit to a United States Marine. Tasked with the daunting challenge of transforming recruits to Marines are drill instructors, each of which are the embodiment of the most highly-trained and disciplined Marines the Corps has.


With the recruits every moment from when they step on the yellow footprints to graduation, drill instructors challenge each recruit until they are all instilled with the long standing traditional Marine Corps values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. While earning the title Marine is the most proud moment a recruit will have, every Marine will never forget the terrifying moments they had courtesy of their Drill Instructors.

Here are 23 photos that capture those terrifying moments every recruit will have while earning the title United States Marine.

1. Civilians who have enlisted but have not yet been sent to boot camp are called ‘Poolees’ and will have functions with Drill Instructors where they get a taste of what boot camp will be like.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Sgt Reece Lodder/USMC

2. A receiving Drill Instructor gives instructions and orders to new recruits as they stand on the infamous yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Sgt. Whitney N. Frasier/USMC

3. The look a Drill Instructor gives to recruits just before they walk through the doors of MCRD can send a chill down their spine. In this moment, recruits realize their challenge to earn the title United States Marine is about to begin.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

4. When recruits call home to say they have arrived safely, their family has no idea that their future Marine could be surrounded by Drill Instructors.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

5. Some recruits have been known to lose all bowel control when receiving their first knife hand from a Drill Instructor.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

6. “Black Friday” is when recruits meet the Drill Instructors tasked with turning them into Marines. Their Senior Drill Instructor makes the recruits feel terrified of not living up to the high expectations and challenges he sets for them.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

7. Once the Senior Drill Instructor is finished setting his expectations, he has his DI’s carry out the plan for the rest of the day with speed and intensity.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

8. Drill Instructors are skilled at being able to break every recruit down mentally…

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. John Kennicutt/USMC

9. …and physically.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

10. To recruits, it may feel like Drill Instructors hate them. They do.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

11. Drill Instructors make it clear that they will never allow you to quit on yourself … even if you do.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

12. There is no avoiding the wrath of a DI once their attention is focused on you.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

13. Chances are your loud will not be loud enough!

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

14. No matter if across the squad bay or right in front of them, recruits can feel the glare of a Drill Instructor pierce through them.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

15. “Brimming” is an intimidation technique where Drill Instructors get so close to the recruit when they correct them that they can bounce the brim of their “smokey bear” campaign cover off of them.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

16. Although physically and emotionally exhausted, the last thing a recruit wants to do is fall asleep during a class and wake up to a DI in their face.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

17. Drill Instructors turn disciplining recruits in to an art form.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

18. Drill Instructors swarming. Basically, this is a recruits worst nightmare.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. Aneshea Yee/USMC

19. Whether one foot away or 100 feet from a recruit, Drill Instructors will use the same high level of volume to get their point across.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

20. A Drill Instructor doesn’t seem impressed at the skill level of a recruit trying to hold an ammo can over her head during a Combat Fitness Test.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

21. There is no place a Drill Instructor won’t go to motivate their recruits.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

22. A guaranteed way to be scolded by a Drill Instructor is to have them discover you have an unclean weapon.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

23. As recruits progress through boot camp, they are subjected to inspections. The terror they feel is from the discovery of a flaw, no matter how subtle, in their uniform.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Lance Cpl. Aneshea Yee/USMC

But no matter how many terrifying moments recruits may endure, it is all worth it once their Drill Instructors hand them an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and award them the title United States Marine.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

(h/t Geoff Ingersoll at Business Insider)

MIGHTY MOVIES

Linguists can get paid $53 an hour to teach High Valyrian from ‘Game of Thrones’

Calling all “Game of Thrones” linguists.

You could be turning your passion into profit by teaching like-minded Thrones fans the language of Essos.

That’s according to leading local services marketplace Bark.com who say that tutors can earn upwards of £40 ($53) per hour teaching High Valyrian, the language spoken by Daenerys Targaryen and Lord Varys.

The tuition service is available for fans across the US and UK, who can either sign up to be a tutor here or to hire tutors here.


Bark.com says those who sign up to be High Valyrian tutor will be required to provide proof of their knowledge of the language.

The role will involve creating a variety of reading, writing and speaking exercises for students, alongside role-playing scenarios to enhance the learning experience.

Special operators will remain in Afghanistan after withdrawal

Daenerys Targaryen is a High Valyrian speaker.

(HBO)

Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com, said: “Game of Thrones is more than another hit show — it’s become a worldwide sensation! And with the highly anticipated final season fast approaching, the show is more popular than it has ever been. That’s why we’ve launched our latest service — High Valyrian tuition.

“At Bark.com, we love giving people different ways to earn and this is the latest service we’ve launched to do that. High Valyrian is a complex language and this is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who has worked hard to become fluent to share their knowledge — not to mention it would be a fantastic string to any fan’s bow!”

Though the High Valyrian dialect appears occasionally in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of fantasy novels, the author did not develop it beyond a few words and phrases. The actual language, which now comprises of around 2,000 words, was created for the HBO TV adaption by linguist David J. Peterson, who also fleshed out the language of the Dothraki.

Tyrion Speaking Valyrian and Banter with Jorah, Grey Worm

www.youtube.com

The Economist called Peterson’s take on Dothraki and Valyrian “the most convincing fictional tongues since Elvish,” which was created by J.R.R. Tolkien himself for Middle Earth.

New learners of the language will have to deal with verb conjugation and possessives but, fortunately, not a different writing system, which Peterson said might look something like “Egyptian’s system of hieroglyphs — not in style, necessarily, but in their functionality.”

Those wishing to get a head start on the competition can start learning High Valyrian in bite-sized lessons on Duolingo, taking courses which Peterson himself contributed to.

Those taking on the challenge of learning the fictional language will have to try harder than Tyrion Lannister, whose Valyrian was “a bit nostril” by his own admission.

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

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