Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Russia state-owned media outlet RT tweeted an odd video on Dec. 8, 2018, of Russia’s elite Spetsnaz operators drop-kicking the windshields of cars.

The video starts with Spetsnaz military police operators riding on and jumping off the top of an armored personnel carrier with text on screen reading “ROUTINE TRAINING OF RUSSIA’S SPETSNAZ” before it cuts to one operator doing a martial arts kip up and then kicking another operator in the chest.


It then shows Spetsnaz operators storming a car as another operator jumps over the hood, drop-kicking the windshield.

More acrobatic maneuvers are displayed in the video before another Spetsnaz operator again jumps over the hood of a car and drop-kicks the windshield before firing his side arm into the car.

It’s rather unclear what sort of tactical advantage is achieved by drop kicking a car windshield.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

In grand finale, Russia tests massive ICBM during European wargames

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on September 20th that it had successfully tested one of its newest intercontinental ballistic missiles.


The solid-fuel RS-24 YARS ICBM can be equipped with a nuclear warhead and was fired from Plesetsk and reached the Kura range site in Kamchatka Krai, the ministry of defense said.

“All … tasks have been fully accomplished,” the ministry of defense said.

The distance between the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and the Kura test range in Kamchatka Krai is more than 5,000 miles.

The launch was done in conjunction with the Zapad-2017 war game exercises, which Russia completed Wednesday, according to The National Interest.

Russia also test fired a silo-based YARS ICBM with an “experimental warhead” on Sept. 12, according to TASS, while Wednesday’s launch was from a mobile unit.

“It is not clear what these new ‘experimental’ Russian reentry vehicles (RV) are,” The National Interest reported, adding that it’s possible that it was a maneuvarable reentry vehicle designed to allude missile defense systems.

Despite Russia signing the New START Treaty with the US in 2010, which limited the number of nuclear warheads both countries could build, Moscow continues to increase its stockpile, according to Defense One.

“The aggregate data shows that Russia has continued to increase its deployed strategic warheads since 2013 when it reached its lowest level of 1,400 warheads. Russian strategic launchers now carry 396 warheads more,” Hans M. Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, wrote last year, according to Defense One.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
The RS-24 YARS ICBM from Russia travels through the streets on it’s first night rehearsal in Moscow in 2015. (Image Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Here’s what the RS-24 YARS ICBM can do.

  • Russia began developing the three-stage solid-propellant RS-24 YARS ICBM in 2004. It was first tested in 2007, and entered service in 2010.
  • The YARS was first launched from mobile launcher vehicles, but as of 2014, it can be fired from silos.
  • It’s equipped with 3 MIRV nuclear warheads, each with a payload of 2,647 pounds. A MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) is a ballistic missile with multiple warheads, all capable of hitting different targets.
  • Each warhead carries about 150-200 kT of energy.
  • The YARS has a maximum range of just over 6,500 miles and a minimum range of over 1,240 miles.
  • The diameter of the first-stage is believed to be about 6.5 feet. The second-stage is about 5.9 feet and the third-stage is about 5.25 feet.
  • It’s believed to be over 68 feet long.
  • It’s launch weight is believed to be nearly 109,350 pounds.
  • And it’s also believed to have a newer reentry vehicle that can elude missile defense systems.
popular

13 more of the best military morale patches

The first time we posted some of our favorite morale patches, readers responded with their own and gave us more than enough fodder to present a sequel.


This time we asked Air Force veteran Julio Medina, who’s the founder of Morale Patch Armory, why these moto patches endure in popular military culture – even when a command may not fully appreciate them.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

 

“Morale patches are a simplistic form of art that most people can relate to in some way or another,” Medina says. “Whether it’s humorous or something that will make you embrace your inner patriot, morale patches send strong messages.”

 

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

The Latin in the patch above means “not worth a rat’s ass.” During the Vietnam War, troopers who ferreted out Viet Cong insurgents hidden in complex subterranean hideouts became known as “Tunnel Rats.” These brave servicemen had to dodge human enemies, animals (like bats), and potentially deadly gasses — not to mention VC booby traps. The story alone makes for a great patch.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

The DICASS (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System) sends submariners range and bearing data via and FM frequency.

Medina also talked about the elements of a good morale patch.

“Relevance, clean design, and a clear message are key factors in a successful morale patch drop,” he says. “There are some amazingly talented artists out there, but unless you have the ability to get relevant eyes on the patch, it will start collecting dust no matter how good it is.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
A Combat Search and Rescue patch. Old timers know a similar patch with Elvis on it. This patch, for a new generation, features Tupac.

“Military active duty, veterans, and law enforcement are the largest consumer base,” Medina says. “There are quite a few airsoft players in that bunch, too. I’m sure none of these groups come as a surprise. There are so many different styles of patches out there.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

The patch above is for the USAF’s 509 Operations Group, which pilots the B-2A Spirit stealth bombers out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The chicken is a reference to an old Twilight Zone episode where aliens start to eat people. Most of you will probably get the Simpsons reference better.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

“FIGMO”: aka “F*ck It, Got My Orders” – Vietnam-era aviator patches

Medina believes the enduring popularity of morale patches comes from how they poke fun at the mundane or at high-stress situations. The common denominator is the camaraderie built from shared experiences – the tension and hard times that troops go through as a cohesive unit.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

“Military members of all branches deal with common military-related stressors day in and day out that the average individual may not even experience in a lifetime,” Medina says.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
A patch commemorating an aviation unit’s participation in the second battle of Fallujah

“Morale patches are key to lightening the mood by making things funny … making you feel like a proud American, just the way you felt when you graduated basic training and became a part of something bigger than yourself,” Medina explained.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Morale patches have always been an interest for Medina. As a former enlisted Air Force Security Forces airman, Medina kept his own collection of quirky patches since 2007.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

“I kept seeing really creative patches being made and sold by hobbyists,” Medina recalls. “As opposed to the few mainstream brands in the industry that sell mass quantities of a single design.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

That’s how Medina started his own patch business. His passion for the industry combined with his appreciation of the humor and artistry led him to establish Morale Patch Armory.

“I once heard ‘Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ ” Medina says. “Since the inception of Morale Patch Armory, every day has been fun and exciting even through the toughest challenges.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Be sure to check out the Morale Patch Armory to get your unit’s patch going.

Articles

Someone is desecrating World War II graveyards off the Indonesian coast

Three war graves have vanished – looted in the name of the almighty dollar.


Or in this case, the currency in question is the Indonesia rupiah. And others — including two of the most famous losses of World War II — are at grave risk.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
The HNLMS Java. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a report by NavalToday.com, three Dutch vessels lost during the Battle of the Java Sea have now been completely looted. Nothing is left of the cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java, or the destroyer HNLMS Kortenear, which were the graves of almost 900 Dutch sailors who perished when they sank.

The Battle of the Java Sea was a serious defeat for the Allies in the early stages of World War II.

In a night-time surface battle, Japanese ships sank the De Ruyter, Java, Kortenear, and the British destroyers HMS Jupiter and HMS Electra. The British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter was badly damaged in the battle, which cost the lives of 2,300 Allied personnel.

The Dutch vessels are not the only ones at risk.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
The USS Houston in the 1930s. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), sunk in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, also have been looted for scrap metal, although not to the extent of the Dutch vessels.

Also, two capital ships sunk in the early days of the war — the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, both war graves, have been desecrated by looters.

Even wrecks off the United States have not been immune to looters paying a visit.

According to a 2003 U.S. Navy release, the Nazi submarine U-85, sunk in 1942 by the destroyer USS Roper (DD 147) about 15 miles off the coast of North Carolina, was visited by private divers who took the vessel’s Enigma machine.

The divers claimed to not realize they weren’t supposed to take items from the wreck. The United States Navy eventually allowed the code machine to be donated to the Altantic Graveyard Museum.

Articles

SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

Officials in charge of equipping America’s top commando units are looking for some high-tech drugs to help boost the performance if their 150 “multi-purpose canines.”


According to news reports, U.S. Special Operations Command wants to find pharmaceutical products or nutritional supplements that will enhance canine hearing, eyesight and other senses.

Think of it as a “Q” for America’s four-legged special operators.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Military Working Dog Toby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

According to an official solicitation for the Performance Enhancing Drugs, SOCOM is looking for a product or combination of products that will do the following:

  • Increase endurance
  • Improve a dog’s ability to regulate body temperature
  • Improve hydration
  • Improve acclimatization to acute extremes in temperature, altitude, and/or time zone changes
  • Increase the speed of recovery from strenuous work
  • Improve hearing
  • Improve vision
  • Improve scent
  • Decrease adverse effects due to blood loss.

SOCOM’s military working dogs have been front and center on several top commando raids — with the most famous being Cairo, a Belgian Malinois who joined SEAL Team 6 in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

SOCOM, though, is also looking to neutralize enemy K9s through what another solicitation calls “canine response inhibitors.”

Now, during the Vietnam War, the preferred “canine response inhibitor” was known as the “Hush Puppy.” But these days SOCOM is looking for some less permanent methods, including:

  • Inhibit barking, howling, and whining
  • Inhibit hearing
  • Inhibit vision
  • Inhibit scent
  • Induce unconsciousness
  • Induce movement away from the area where the effects are deployed

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julia A. Casper

Like the performance enhancers, the “canine response inhibitors” could also be used outside the military.

So, the company or companies that win the hearts and minds of SOCOM’s puppies could catch a huge break.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Jesse Ventura has settled his legal battle with ‘American Sniper’

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura denounced the late American Sniper author Chris Kyle on Dec. 4 as an “American Liar” and said he feels vindicated in his five-year legal battle against the former Navy SEAL and his estate, though he declined to say how much his settlement is worth.


At a news conference Dec. 4, Ventura would not tell reporters how much money he received for settling his defamation case, but noted he was smiling about it. He and his lawyer would not say whether the money came from publisher HarperCollins or its insurance company, but Ventura said it didn’t come from Kyle’s widow or his estate. Ventura also said he didn’t get an apology.

“All I’ll say is my settlement is now in the bank,” Ventura said. “That speaks and tells you everything else about it.”

“The settlement and all the negotiations surrounding the settlement are confidential,” Ventura’s attorney, David Olsen, said.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2008. (Photo from Flickr user Cory Barnes)

A Minnesota jury awarded Ventura $1.8 million in 2014, but a federal appeals court threw out the verdict. Both sides were preparing for a new trial before the settlement was announced in court filings last week. Ventura also dropped a related case against HarperCollins Publishers.

Ventura, a former Underwater Demolition Teams/SEAL member, sued Kyle in 2012, alleging that Kyle defamed him in his best-selling autobiography. Kyle is regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history with 160 confirmed kills. The lawsuit continued against his estate after Kyle was killed by a troubled fellow veteran in 2013.

Kyle recounted punching out a man he nicknamed “Scruff Face” for saying the SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq at a bar near a California SEAL base that was the site of both a SEAL reunion that Ventura attended and a wake for a fallen SEAL that Kyle helped host. Kyle later said he was referring to Ventura.

But Ventura continued to insist the alleged confrontation never happened, and that the story made him an outcast in the tight-knit SEAL community.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Front cover art for the book American Sniper written by Chris Kyle. (Image Wikimedia Fair Use)

“This was fake news, people,” Ventura told reporters. “And this was fake news at its finest. Because the whole thing is fake.”

Ventura said the jury and the trial judge agreed with him, but slammed the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for overturning the judgment in 2016. The appeals court cited legal and procedural errors in the trial without deciding whether Ventura’s or Kyle’s allegations were true. Ventura also attacked major news organizations that filed an amicus brief in the appeal asking that the jury’s verdict be reversed.

Ventura, a former professional wrestler and occasional movie actor who served as Minnesota’s governor from 1993-2003, now hosts “The World According to Jesse” for the Russian government-funded RT television network.

A HarperCollins representative declined comment while an attorney for the Kyle estate did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the US Navy canceled this routine Black Sea patrol

Christopher Anderson, an aide to former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, testified that the White House canceled a Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the Black Sea after President Donald Trump complained to then-national security adviser John Bolton about a CNN report that framed the operation as a counter to Russia, Politico reported.

According to Anderson’s testimony, the news report in question came from CNN and characterized the operation as antagonistic toward Russia. Anderson testified that Trump called Bolton at home to complain about the article, and the operation was later canceled at the behest of the White House, Anderson said.


“In January, there was an effort to get a routine freedom-of-navigation operation into the Black Sea,” Anderson testified. “There was a freedom-of-navigation operation for the Navy. So we — we, the US government — notified the Turkish government that there was this intent.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook transits the Black Sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Edward Guttierrez III)

While Anderson in his testimony placed the report in January, details from his testimony match a story from early December, which had the headline “US makes preparations to sail warship into the Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions.”

Anderson said the White House asked the Navy to cancel the freedom-of-navigation operation because the report portrayed the operation as a move to counter Russia, which has increased its naval presence there since annexing Crimea in 2014. In November 2018, its forces attacked Ukrainian assets transiting the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and held 24 Ukrainian service members captive.

“We met with Ambassador Bolton and discussed this, and he made it clear that the president had called him to complain about that news report. And that may have just been that he was surprised,” Anderson said.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Former national security adviser John Bolton.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“We don’t — I can’t speculate as to why, but that, that operation, was canceled, but then we were able to get a second one for later in February. And we had an Arleigh-class destroyer arrive in Odessa on the fifth anniversary of the Crimea invasion.”

The White House did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. US 6th Fleet did not address Black Sea transits in December 2018, but said all operations in January and February of 2019 went according to schedule.

“U.S. 6th Fleet conducted our naval operations in the Black Sea region as scheduled in January and February 2019. The U.S. Navy will continue to operate in the Black Sea consistent with international law, to include the Montreaux Convention,” according to spokesman Cmdr. Kyle Raines.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

President will review murder case against green beret

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will review the case of a former U.S. Army officer charged with murder for the 2010 killing of a man he suspected of being a Taliban bomb maker in Afghanistan.

“At the request of many. I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Dec. 16, 2018.


“He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas,” the president added.

Trump’s tweet followed an interview that Golsteyn’s attorney and his wife gave to Fox News earlier in the day defending the soldier.


An Army spokesman on Dec. 13, 2018, said Golsteyn, a former Green Beret major, had been charged with murder in the death of an Afghan man during his 2010 deployment to the war-torn country.

A commander will review the warrant and decide whether the Green Beret, who was a captain at the time of the incident, will face a hearing that could lead to a court-martial.

Trump and other military and administration leaders have in the past made remarks about military criminal cases, actions that have led to legal appeals contending interference in court proceedings.

Despite the lack of legal jurisdiction in a military case, a president does have wide authority to pardon criminal defendants.

Army Colonel Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Dec. 16, 2018 that “the allegations against Major Matt Golsteyn are a law enforcement matter. The Department of Defense will respect the integrity of this process and provide updates when appropriate.”

An initial investigation in 2014 was closed without any charges. But the Army reopened the investigation in 2016 after Golsteyn allegedly described in an interview how he and another soldier led the detained man off base, shot him, and buried his remains.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuw4yhKZCbk
Trump says he will review case of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, charged with murder

www.youtube.com

Golsteyn was leading a team of Army Special Forces troops at the time of the killing. He said he believed the man was a bomb maker responsible for a blast that killed two U.S. Marines.

His attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, wrote in a tweet that Golsteyn is charged with “premeditated murder, a death-penalty offense for allegedly killing a Taliban bomb-maker during combat operations in Marjah, Afghanistan.”

Stackhouse, during an interview with Fox News, denied “a narrative… put out” by military authorities that said Golsteyn “released this Taliban bomb-maker, walked him back to the house…and assassinated him in his house.”

Golsteyn’s wife Julie, also on Fox, denied that her husband had “killed someone in cold blood” and said that “there are a lot of words flying around that make this very difficult for us as a family.”

She said he is scheduled to report to Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Dec. 17, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

American infantry must overmatch its enemies in ground combat

American ground fighters must overmatch any potential adversary, now and in the future, the leaders of the Close Combat Lethality Task Force said April 11, 2018.

Robert Wilkie, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, who serves on the task force’s advisory board, spoke about the effort at the Association of the United States Army’s Sullivan Center.
The effort looks to improve the lethality of Army, Marine Corps and special operations light infantry units, and it is personally being pushed by Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.


Scales said the reason behind the task force comes down to three numbers: Ninety, four, and one. Ninety percent of Americans killed in combat are infantry, he noted. “They constitute four percent of uniformed personnel and receive just one percent of the DOD budget for training and equipping,” Scales said.

Combat overmatch

The United States maintains combat overmatch in every other portion of the battlefield — air, sea and space — yet the small infantry unit, the unit most likely to be under fire, is the one that comes closest to a fair fight with an enemy, Scales said.
Success in ground combat “lies not just with technical superiority, but with the human dimension,” Wilkie said.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry (Air Assault) rush toward an objective during battle drills on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., April 9, 2018.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

“There is nothing more important than focusing our energies now on developing and nurturing the unique capabilities of human performance,” he added. “That means bringing fresh vigor, renewing our sense of urgency and enhancing the lethality of our front-line Army and Marine Corps units.”

Success comes from repetition, training

The task force will look at how the services select the right people for this crucial job, and what the services need to do to retain them. It also will examine how the services judge fitness and provide fitness. “Finally,” Wilkie said, “do we understand, as do our greatest athletic leaders, that success comes with constant repetition and training?”

Some aspects do not require legislation or extra money. Willke said the Army personnel system can be changed to keep units together and allow infantry personnel to bond with their unit mates. Programs can also be put in place so soldiers and Marines are actually training with their units and not performing an ancillary duty.

“Every plane and ship we purchase comes with sophisticated simulators to train personnel to overcome every conceivable contingency,” Wilkie said. “We would not buy a plane of a ship that was not packaged along with that technology. But we don’t do that for our ground forces.”

But it can be done, he added, and when combined with exercises at Fort Irwin’s National Training Center, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California, or at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, this training can be invaluable with keeping infantry alive.

Wilkie and Scales said the task force will also look at weapons, protective systems, communications gear, unmanned tactical systems, doctrine and many other issues as it continues its work.

And all this will be done quickly, both men said, noting that Mattis is intensely interested in seeing this program succeed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military commanders warn troops against investing in marijuana

While the Defense Department has no official policy that explicitly states service members or U.S. federal employees may not buy stock in companies that manufacture or sell marijuana, commanders have the discretion to warn their troops against the move because it could jeopardize security clearances.

Commanders do have the authorities to develop local policies as long as they do not contradict with overall DoD guidelines, according to a defense official who spoke with Military.com on background. If an organization or command issues guidelines stating the organization’s legal position on the matter, it does not mean it is official DoD policy, the official said.


The clarification comes after multiple emails surfaced from local leaders telling service members to be careful about what they invest in — especially if they hold a clearance.

“While, currently, no official DoD guidance specific to financial involvement in marijuana exists, the Pentagon continues to research the topic,” Army Lt. Col. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said March 7, 2019. “Any changes will be addressed through normal policy update procedures.”

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

(Flickr photo by Miranda Nelson)

DoD uses 13 criteria to evaluate security clearance request, flagging service members who may be at risk for illicit or illegal activities. These evaluation criteria range from allegiance to the U.S. to sexual preferences and financial circumstances and debt.

“Recently, several news outlets have incorrectly cited a change in Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF) policy regarding investment in companies that sell or manufacture marijuana or related products,” Harris said in a statement. “The DoD CAF does not issue policy. Instead, the DoD CAF adheres to applicable policies when making adjudicative determinations.”

“These determinations apply the ‘whole person concept’ and take into account all available information, favorable and unfavorable, to render an appropriate determination on a person’s reliability and trustworthiness to hold a clearance,” Harris added.

While the clearance determination process is subjective, the evaluation categories illustrate how much risk people are willing to take, which could imperil their jobs, the official said.

The current guidance stems from a 2014 memo signed by then-Direction of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The memo states that any government employee who disregards federal law about “the use, sale, or manufacture of marijuana” remains under scrutiny, and could be denied for a security clearance.

While the use “or involvement with marijuana” calls into question “an individual’s judgment,” the memo, signed Oct. 25, 2014, does not explicitly mention investing in companies that legally distribute marijuana.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

As U.S. moves to exit Afghanistan, rivals prepare to swoop in

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was backed by most countries in the region, who shared the goal of ousting the extremist Taliban regime and eliminating the allied Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The governments in Tehran, Moscow, and Islamabad readily helped the United States fight the extremist groups.


Iran provided crucial intelligence to support U.S. special forces and CIA teams orchestrating the invasion.

Russia supplied Soviet-era maps and intelligence and later allowed the U.S. military to send supplies to Afghanistan through its territory.

Even Pakistan, the chief backer of the Taliban, offered its assistance in helping hunt down Al-Qaeda militants and became the main supply line for NATO forces.

But in the intervening 19 years, the regional consensus favoring the U.S. troops in Afghanistan has eroded.

Though the U.S. military swiftly overthrew the Taliban and eliminated Al-Qaeda safe havens in Afghanistan, many feel it got bogged down in mission creep.

Meanwhile, Washington’s ties with many regional players — including Pakistan, Iran, and Russia — became toxic.

With U.S. forces scheduled to exit Afghanistan next year as part of a framework peace deal with the Taliban, Washington’s rivals see an opportunity to step in and expand their footprint in the war-torn country.

Those efforts have intensified since the United States and the Taliban signed a deal in February aimed at negotiating an end to the war, which began way back in 2001.

Under that agreement, U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which has pledged to negotiate a permanent cease-fire and power-sharing deal with the Kabul government.

The delayed intra-Afghan peace talks are expected to be complex and protracted, and will likely take years.

Impatient to end the costly and unpopular war, President Donald Trump is considering fast-tracking the exit of American troops ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, according to U.S. media reports.

Experts say that in the absence of a peace deal, a U.S. military withdrawal could ignite a free-for-all that involves regional powers pursuing often competing interests in Afghanistan.

“The stage has already been set, with many key actors — including Russia and Iran — increasing their ties with both the Afghan state and the Taliban,” says Michael Kugelman, South Asia senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

“The objective is to develop more influence and generate more leverage with key actors across the board, so that they will be in a better position to pursue and achieve their goals in a post-America Afghanistan — a place we can expect to be increasingly unstable and complex.”

Iran, Pakistan, and Russia — with long histories of meddling in the country — are hedging their bets. The three countries have sought to improve their relations with the Western-backed government in Kabul, while also reaching out to the Taliban in case it gains a role in a future Afghan government.

Islamabad has retained its long-standing ties with the Taliban and shelters the group’s leadership, while Tehran and Moscow have been tacitly working to bolster their ties with the militants, with the goal of expanding their own strategic interests in Afghanistan.

‘Make The Taliban Even Stronger’

Pakistan has long been accused of playing a double game in Afghanistan, sheltering and aiding the Taliban while receiving billions in U.S. aid to clamp down on the militants.

Pakistan’s ties to the Taliban date back to the 1990s, when it provided arms, training, and intelligence to the militants. Islamabad was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban government when it took power in Afghanistan in 1996. After the regime’s fall in 2001, many Taliban leaders took shelter inside Pakistan.

Observers say Pakistan sees the Taliban as an insurance policy for reaching its long-standing strategic goals in Afghanistan — installing a pro-Pakistan government in Kabul and limiting the influence of its archrival India, which has close ties to Kabul.

Experts say Pakistan stands to be the biggest beneficiary of a U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan.

“If a withdrawal leads to a peace process that results in a settlement, then Pakistan would benefit as this would likely entail the Taliban holding a fair share of power,” says Kugelman. “If the peace process collapses and the U.S. withdrawal ushers in a period of extended destabilization, Pakistan would still benefit because it would make the Taliban even stronger.”

‘Buffer Zone’

Iran has supported its traditional allies in Afghanistan — the Shi’ite Hazara minority and the Persian-speaking ethnic Tajiks — while recently establishing contacts with the Taliban, a predominately Pashtun group.

Iran and the Taliban were on the verge of war in 1998 — when the group controlled most of Afghanistan — after the deaths of eight Iranian diplomats in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif.

Tehran backed the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. But in recent years the Islamic republic and the Taliban have forged closer ties, with militant leaders even visiting Tehran.

The relationship between Shi’ite-majority Iran and the Taliban, a fundamentalist Sunni group, is complex. Iran officially opposes the Taliban, but experts say it provides some military support to the mainstream Taliban and even rival breakaway factions.

Analysts say that while Iran does not want the Taliban to return to power, Tehran is looking to maintain influence with the group as a hedge in case the Taliban becomes a political player in Afghanistan or it forcibly seizes control of the country.

“These initiatives serve the purpose of securing Iran’s sphere of influence in Afghanistan and perhaps even creating a buffer zone on Afghan soil to protect parts of Iran’s eastern borders from infiltration by forces hostile to Iran,” says Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

‘A Great Power’

For more than a decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Washington for taking on the “burden” of fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and urged it to “carry it to the end.”

But since 2014, the Kremlin has attempted to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, fueled by Moscow’s desire to be an international power broker and its rivalry with the West in Ukraine and Syria, where Russia joined Iran in supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Moscow said it has established contacts with the Taliban in recent years because of the common threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Afghanistan. Washington has accused Russia of arming the Taliban, which it denies.

In the past two years, Moscow has hosted two international conferences on the Afghan peace process, inviting Taliban leaders and Afghan opposition members.

Earlier this month, U.S. media reported that a Russian military intelligence unit had offered secret bounties to the Taliban if they killed U.S. or NATO-member troops in Afghanistan.

Moscow and the Taliban have denied the reports, which are based on U.S. intelligence assessments. But the revelations have served to highlight Moscow’s murky dealings in Afghanistan.

“Russia’s interests in Afghanistan are twofold: to avoid an explosion of chaos on the borders of what it considers its sphere of influence, and to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate and assert its claim to be a great power,” says Mark Galeotti, a Russia analyst and a senior associate fellow at the British-based Royal United Services Institute.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Baptism in chaos: First women experience ‘Black Friday’ at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Around 2:30 p.m. Friday, the women of Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, moved into their squad bay aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and met their drill instructors for the first time.

The recruits of Platoon 3241 are the first women ever trained aboard the West Coast installation, and the day that new recruits move from the receiving barracks to the squad bay they’ll call home is affectionately known as “Black Friday.” Similar to what the Army used to call “Shark Attack,” the baptism in chaos is meant to introduce the recruits to the high-intensity operational tempo that defines entry-level military training.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Sgt. Stephanie Fahl, a drill instructor with Platoon 3241, paces the ranks, spot-checking and correcting recruits as they take instructions from Staff Sgt. Carmen Medinaponce. Fahl is one of three female Marines who graduated from the Drill Instructor School aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in December 2020. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Previously, all women who enlisted in the Marines trained exclusively at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, at the all-female 4th Recruit Training Battalion, but when Congress passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, it included in the legislation a prohibition against gender-segregated recruit training at both of the Corps’ recruit depots. Until this year, the Marines sent all males west of the Mississippi River to San Diego, and all males east of the river to Parris Island. Congress has given the service until 2025 to fully integrate training at Parris Island, and until 2028 to do the same at MCRD San Diego.

Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, introduced herself and her team Friday and delivered the same speech every Marine recruit receives from their senior drill instructor. Afterward, Staroscik turned things over to her team of drill instructors.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, inside the platoon’s squad bay before the recruits arrived on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Staroscik completed a tour of duty as a drill instructor aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, before volunteering for the duty in San Diego. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“From then on, it’s chaos for the recruits,” said Staroscik, who completed a tour of duty as a drill instructor aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, before volunteering for the duty in San Diego. “It’s a lot of movement, setting up the house. They’re doing things they’ve never done before, learning things from the ground up. It’s important for us to be aggressive and demonstrate our authority — to break them down and then build them up from there — because that’s how we show them the structure of how we want things done.”

Coffee or Die Magazine was granted access to Platoon 3241’s Black Friday to capture these historic photos.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, introduced herself and her team and delivered the speech every Marine recruit receives from their senior drill instructor. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Recruits from Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, listen to instructions from their drill instructors inside the platoon’s squad bay on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Sgt. Ikea Kaufman, a drill instructor for Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, is one of three female Marines who graduated from the Drill Instructor School aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in December 2020. Kaufman and the two other newly trained female drill instructors assigned to Platoon 3241 volunteered for the intense 12-week school and multiyear commitment to the exhausting duty of making Marines. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Recruits from Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, stand at attention inside the platoon’s squad bay on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, gives instructions to her platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Carmen Medinaponce, on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Both Marines completed a tour of duty as drill instructors aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, before volunteering for the duty in San Diego. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Sgt. Stephanie Fahl, a drill instructor with Platoon 3241 corrects recruits on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
A recruit from Platoon 3241 screams “Aye aye, ma’am” inside the platoon’s squad bay on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Sgt. Stephanie Jordi, a drill instructor with Platoon 3241 paces the ranks, spot-checking and correcting recruits as they take instructions from Staff Sgt. Carmen Medinaponce. Jordi is one of three female Marines who graduated from the Drill Instructor School aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in December 2020. Jordi and the two other newly trained female drill instructors assigned to Platoon 3241 volunteered for the intense 12-week school and multiyear commitment to the exhausting duty of making Marines. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Carmen Medinaponce, a drill instructor with Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, instructs the first women ever trained aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego inside the platoon’s squad bay on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Medinaponce completed a tour of duty as a drill instructor aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, before volunteering for the duty in San Diego. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, spot-checks and corrects recruits as they take instructions from Staff Sgt. Carmen Medinaponce. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
A recruit stands at attention in the squad bay behind Sgt. Stephanie Fahl, a drill instructor for Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. Fahl is one of three female Marines who graduated from the Drill Instructor School aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in December 2020. Fahl and the two other newly trained female drill instructors assigned to Platoon 3241 volunteered for the intense 12-week school and multiyear commitment to the exhausting duty of making Marines. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, and Drill Instructor Sgt. Stephanie Fahl, left, spot-check and correct recruits on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Recruits from Platoon 3241, Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, listen to instructions from their drill instructors inside the platoon’s squad bay on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields
Staff Sgt. Amber Staroscik, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3241, spot-checks recruits on Black Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army and Marine Corps tanks join Finland Arrow 19 exercise

For the second year in a row, US Marines joined the US Army and partner forces in Finland in May 2019 for the Arrow military exercise.

During the two-week Arrow 19 exercise, the Marines again pulled tanks and other equipment from the cave complex in Norway that has been used to store gear since the Cold War.

The exercise allows Marines “to evaluate our ability to offload personnel and equipment, generate combat power across the Atlantic, and then redeploy assets through a known logistically complicated area of operation,” 1st Lt. Robert Locker, a Marine communications officer, said in a release.


Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and US Army Europe cavalry soldiers took part in the exercise alongside British army armored intelligence unit the Royal Lancers, an Estonian armored intelligence unit, and their Finnish hosts.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tanks and Light Armored Vehicles from the caves of Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway at the Port of Pori, Finland, May 2, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Devin J. Andrews)

The Marines’ gear came from six caves in central Norway, the exact location of which is not known. Three caves have everything from rolling stock to towed artillery; the other three hold ammunition, officials told Military.com in 2017.

That equipment is drawn from the caves “on a regular basis to support bilateral and multilateral exercises throughout Europe,” Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider. The caves and gear there provide “a unique capability that is flexible and scalable to the operational requirements of the Marine Corps and US European Command.”

The Arrow exercise — conducted on arid grassland in southwest Finland at a time of year when the sun is out 21 hours a day — is meant to put platoon- to battalion-size mechanized infantry, artillery, and tank units to the test, including in live-fire exercises.

Below, you can see how this year’s version went down.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marines receive fuel from Finnish soldiers with 2nd Logistics Regiment, Logistics Command, during Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 4, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marines inventory gear during Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 5, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Finnish army Sgt. Nora Lagerholm, left, and US Marine Cpl. Jose Rodriguez offload a Humvee during Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 3, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marines and British soldiers at a welcome brief during exercise Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 3, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US soldiers from Outlaw Troop, 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment during the troop live-fire exercise during Arrow 19, May 15, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Finnish soldiers firing a mortar during Arrow 19.

(Finnish army/Facebook)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Finnish soldiers start their vehicles during Arrow 19, May 15, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US soldiers drive their Stryker Dragoon vehicles back after the Finnish battalion battle group live-fire exercise, May 17, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marines receive ammunition before a live-fire range during Arrow 2019 at Niinisalo Garrison, Finland, May 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US soldiers await their next command during the troop live-fire exercise during Arrow 19, May 15, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)

DISE provides video-game-like playback, with fast-forwarding and rewinding. “With MILES, you get the adjudication of kills and just the basic level of force-on-force support,” Lee said. “However, with DISE, the [after-action review] capability was the biggest gain.”

With DISE, US personnel could also simulate injuries, allowing for scenarios in which soldiers could perform combat lifesaver measures to reset the vests and to add more time to soldiers’ virtual lives.

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

A US Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle and a M1A1 Abrams tank at the firing line during a live-fire range as part of Arrow 2019, May 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Finnish tanks during Arrow 19, May 14, 2019.

(Finnish army/Facebook)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicles prepare to depart a training area during Arrow 2019, May 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Finnish tanks on the move during Arrow 19.

(Finnish army/Facebook)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Jake Gesling, a platoon commander, with a Finnish army platoon commander during a force-on-force battle as part of Arrow 2019, May 10, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicles on a tank range during Arrow 2019, May 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US soldiers inside a Stryker Dragoon vehicle during the troop live-fire exercise during Arrow 19, May 15, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. LaShic Patterson)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David J. Furness, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, addresses Marines on the second day of the Arrow 19 live-fire exercise in Niinisalo, Finland, May 13, 2019.

(Finnish army/Facebook)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marines fire a Light Armored Vehicle during a live-fire range as part of Arrow 2019, May 13, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US service members observe a Finnish army Leopard 2L Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge during exercise Arrow 2019 at Pohjankangas Training Area near Niinisalo, Finland, May 7, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tanks move into position during a live-fire range as part of Arrow 2019, May 14, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

US Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tanks with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, fire during a live-fire range as part of exercise Arrow 2019 at the Pohjankangas Training Area near Niinisalo, Finland, May 13, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Jenkins)

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information