Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group's vision for Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

When most of Afghanistan was under Taliban rule in the late 1990s, the fundamentalist regime drafted a new constitution.

The document was never officially ratified, and it was unclear how much of it was ever implemented before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 toppled the extremist Islamic group from power.


But the constitution offers a glimpse into what kind of government the militant organization envisages as it prepares to negotiate a future power-sharing arrangement with the current Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani.

A political settlement made by the disparate Afghan sides is a key component of the peace deal signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29 that is aimed at ending the 18-year war.

Under the deal, foreign forces will leave Afghanistan in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which has agreed to launch direct negotiations with Afghan officials for a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing formula to rule the country.

Since 2001, the Taliban insurgency has vowed to drive out foreign forces and overthrow the Western-backed government in Kabul. But even as it seemingly pursues peace, it been vague about what kind of postwar government it envisions in Afghanistan.

Radical Islamic Seminaries

The Taliban emerged in 1994 following the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The predominantly ethnic Pashtun group first surfaced in ultraconservative Islamic seminaries in Pakistan, where millions of Afghans had fled as refugees.

The seminaries radicalized thousands of Afghans who joined the mujahedin, the U.S.-backed Islamist rebels who fought against the occupying Soviet forces.

The Taliban appeared in the southern city of Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest, in 1994, two years after the mujahedin seized power in the country. Infighting among mujahedin factions fueled a devastating civil war that killed more than 100,000 people in Kabul alone.

The Taliban promised to restore security and enforce their ultraconservative brand of Islam. They captured Kabul in 1996 and two years later controlled some 90 percent of the country.

In 1998, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar assembled some 500 Islamic scholars from across the country to draft a new constitution for the country.

After three days of deliberations, the scholars drafted a 14-page document — the first and only attempt by the Taliban to codify its views on power and governance.

‘Intensely Religious Roots’

In the document, power was centralized in the hands of an “Amir ul-Momineen,” or leader of the faithful. This supreme leader was the head of state and had ultimate authority. This was Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s spiritual leader and founder.

The constitution did not describe how such a leader would be selected or for how long he could serve. But it said the supreme leader must be male and a Sunni Muslim.

An Islamic council, handpicked by the supreme leader, would serve as the legislature and implement laws and policy. The government, headed by the head of the council of ministers — a quasi-prime ministerial position — would report to the Islamic council.

Under the constitution, Sunni Islam was to be the official state religion, even though some 15 percent of the population are Shi’ite Muslims.

The document stated that no law could be contrary to Islamic Shari’a law.

The constitution granted freedom of expression, women’s education, and the right of a fair trial, but all within the limits of the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Shari’a law.

It is unclear how the document shaped the Taliban’s draconian laws and brutal policies during its Islamic Emirate, the official name of the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001.

The Taliban banned TV and music, forced men to pray and grow beards, forced women to cover themselves from head to toe, and prevented women and girls from working or going to school. The Taliban amputated the hands of thieves, publicly flogged people for drinking alcohol, and stoned to death those who engaged in adultery. Executions were common.

Andrew Watkins, a senior analyst for Afghanistan at the International Crisis Group, said the draft constitution reflects the “Taliban’s intensely religious roots” and reveals the importance placed on a “centralized authority” for a group that was “founded on a mission of restoring order to the country.”

The document was littered with contradictions and was never ratified. It was republished in 2005, a year after Afghanistan adopted a new constitution. But the document has disappeared from Taliban discourse in recent years.

“That may have been due to internal debate over certain articles, or just reflective of the group’s inclination to remain flexible in its policies, in part perhaps to prevent internal divisions over policy differences,” said Watkins.

‘Monopoly On Power’

As an insurgent group, the Taliban has preserved some of its key principles since it was overthrown in 2001.

Power is still centralized in the hands of an all-powerful leader, who oversees a shadow Taliban government in Afghanistan. The Taliban still enforces its strict interpretation of Islam in areas under its control. And it still regards Shari’a as the supreme law.

But analysts say the past two decades have changed how the Taliban views power.

The Taliban overcame a succession crisis after the death of Mullah Omar, has fended off competition from the global appeal of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, and has remained a relatively coherent fighting force despite its 18-year war against foreign and Afghan government forces.

“The group now operates in a strange combination of increasingly centralizing its control over its own membership, while also allowing it to decentralize in other ways,” said Watkins.

The Taliban has claimed recently that it is not the same group that ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

In a public statement, the Taliban said it does not want to reestablish its Islamic Emirate and has attempted to project a more reconciliatory image.

But the Taliban’s ambiguity on women’s rights, free speech, and elections — key democratic tenets introduced in Afghanistan since 2001 — has raised fears among many Afghans that the extremist group will attempt to restore its severe regime.

The Taliban said in January 2019 that they are not seeking a “monopoly on power” in a future administration in Afghanistan but are looking for ways to coexist with Afghan institutions, in what was seen as the militants’ most conciliatory statement to date.

A month earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said “if peace comes and the Taliban returns, then our return will not be in the same harsh way as it was in 1996.”

The Taliban said in February 2019 that it is committed to granting women their rights and allowing them to work and go to school, but only as long as they do not violate Islam or Afghan values.

But in the same statement, the Taliban also suggested it wants to curtail the fragile freedoms gained by women, prompting a wave of concern from rights campaigners.

Analysts said the Taliban’s great ambiguity on key issues reflects the divisions within the group.

The Taliban’s political leadership based in Pakistan is believed to be more open to an accommodation in assuming power under a peace deal.

Meanwhile, hard-line military commanders on the battlefield in Afghanistan are reluctant to budge on their demands for a full restoration of the Islamic Emirate.

“There is a cocktail of views among the Taliban on power and governance,” said Javid Ahmad, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.

“More than anything, Taliban leaders need an intra-Taliban dialogue to settle their conflicting views about a future Afghan state,” Ahmad added.

There are also intense differences among the Afghan political elite.

Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, generally support a centralized state that guarantees their control of the government. But non-Pashtuns, which constitute a majority of the population, believe too much power of the state is left in the hands of one individual, and support decentralization because it would enshrine a more inclusive and equitable distribution of power.

‘Incredibly Difficult’

Direct talks between the Taliban and an Afghan negotiation team over a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing arrangement were expected to start on March 10.

But the launch of the negotiations has been delayed due to disputes over the release of Taliban prisoners and the formation of Kabul’s negotiating team.

Even when intra-Afghan negotiations begin, many expect them to be complex and protracted, possibly taking years, considering the gulf between the sides on policy and distributing power.

“It will be incredibly difficult to get the two parties to come up with compromises on every issue of governance,” Ahmad said, although he added that there were also reasons for hope.

Both the Taliban’s political vision and the Afghan political system are modeled on the centralization of power and the supreme role of Islam.

Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution prescribes that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam” and sometimes appears at odds with more liberal and democratic elements within it.

Power is in the hands of a heavily centralized government. The president has the right to appoint and fire governors, mayors, police chiefs, district governors, and senators and has a tight grip on the country’s finances and how funds are spent and distributed.

“There is much more common ground in the legal and governance systems of these two than many of their supporters, on either side, care to admit,” said Watkins.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army SSGT performs the ultimate Van Halen tribute and it goes viral

On October 6, legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen lost his battle with cancer. The death of the rocker shocked not just his legions of fans but people around the globe. As a tribute to the late great, Army Staff Sgt. Austin West took to the internet to play through his grief and offer one of the most fitting tributes to the musician.


Eddie Van Halen Tribute

www.youtube.com

West knew what many of us inherently understand – music unites us, both in times of hope and in times of grief. Of course, West wasn’t the only person who took to the internet to offer their tributes, but his was definitely the best.

The three-minute video of West has been viewed more than a million times. West, who is a recruiter based in Watertown, New York, instantly became a viral sensation, not just because of West’s stellar guitar skills but also because it’s so very clear that his tribute to the late rocker is so heartfelt.

West successfully manages to play half a dozen of Van Halen’s best-known guitar riffs, including “You Really Got Me,” “Panama” and “Eruption.” The Army musician reportedly told Stars and Stripes that he feels connected to both his guitar and the late musical legend.

The 26-guitar player first picked up an ax after listening to an AC/DC cassette. He was hooked and immediately wanted to learn how to play. Then, he saw Van Halen live in 2008, and that sealed the deal. He’s been playing for 13 years now, and he once played a single song for an AC/DC tribute band.

That tribute was never rehearsed and played flawlessly, West said, so it’s no surprise that his Van Halen tribute has had so many views and rings so true.

In an interview with the Watertown CBS affiliate WWNY, West said that even his earliest attempts at learning Van Halen’s music made him feel like a “rock god,” and that’s one of the many reasons he kept practicing.

During his Army career, West has worked as both a signal soldier and then held a post as a guitarist for the US Army Bank.

A soldier spotlight video for the US Army Recruiting Command, released in February, features West. In the video, he says that getting out of bed every morning is easier knowing he’s going to help someone, “whether it be in recruiting and helping change someone’s life and hearing their success stories or going out and playing in front of all these beautiful people.”

The Van Halen tribute video isn’t the first time that West’s guitar playing has reached countless fans. Back in 2015, he performed in a tour with the US Army Soldier Show. The Soldier Show is an annual production that visits installations around the country to feature the musical and theater talents of service members and to help raise awareness that creative positions in the Army exist. During West’s participation in 2015, the Soldier Show stopped at 74 installations.

In a time of increasing social isolation, music is one of the few shared creative outlets that can exist across all communities. Uniting through music, no matter if it’s Van Halen or Mozart, can help bring people together in a way that other media can’t. West’s touching tribute proves that viral videos don’t need to be over the top or extreme to be shared, liked, and appreciated by people all around the country. Music is all around us and helps provide us the foundation to share our stories, which is exactly what West has been able to do with his tribute to Eddie Van Halen. As a universal language, it helps unit us across cultures and can comfort people in times of need, grief, or sadness – emotions all felt when the world learned of Van Halen’s untimely death.

Once his recruiting billet is complete, West will be joining the Army pop-rock group, As You Were, for a three-year assignment.


MIGHTY CULTURE

‘How to get posted at Area 51’ & other dumb military questions answered

“How do you get posted at a location such as Area 51 or the Pentagon while in the military?”

I feel bad because no one actually answered this question. You see, in the military, there are a finite number of jobs at each location. Depending on the branch or the assignment, the average PCS (Permanent Change of Station) rate is about 4 years (shorter for a remote tour or a deployment). So someone will be assigned to work at the Pentagon and then after 4 years they’ll be due for a transfer, leaving their position open.

Let’s say you’re graduating from boot camp in August (congratulations, you did it, you little hero!) and Airman Snuffy is gonna PCS in August, leaving his Pentagon position open. You now have the option to go work at the Pentagon!

But you have to compete for it. So how did you do at boot camp? Huh? Did you cry? Did you piss off your drill sergeant? Or did you shine like the future freedom fighter that you are?

Your command will rate you based on your performance and recommend you for your list of assignment preferences. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your number one choice (the Pentagon I guess?) and if you’re not, well, bring mittens to Minot.

But you weren’t *really* asking about the Pentagon, were you? You were asking about aliens.


How to get posted at Area 51 | Dumb Military Questions 104

www.youtube.com

How to get posted at Area 51 | Dumb Military Questions 104

Area 51 is the most exciting conspiracy theory in the U.S. military. Aliens could be real! Just imagine!

But trust me, my little tinfoil-hat tribe, if there were actually aliens in a bunker in Nevada, you just know some boot would have instagrammed them by now. If the inability of humans to keep secrets doesn’t satisfy you, then you can fill out a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Security Agency. They’re required by law to pretty much share any information they have on anything really — they’ll just redact anything classified. You win some, you lose some.

Related: Here’s what we know about Area 51

Moving on!

“My husband is a Marine who makes fun of anyone in a different branch of service. Is this normal?”

Navy vet August Dannehl had a great stream of responses to this: “We’re all family but we’re all talking sh** on each other, you know? Marines, Army…they’re all stupid. Navy, we’re all gay. Air Force, bougy-as-f***.”

And I mean, I can’t protest this, especially since the next cut showed Air Force captain Mark Harper sporting business casual in pastel and a rainbow unicorn Pomeranian. 100% Air Force.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

His name is Ding Dong and he’s a perfect gentleman.

“What level of self-reliance training do Green Berets have? What can they actually do?”

Actually, I don’t even want to spoil the answers to this one. Go to 1:17 of the video and watch Harper dominate this question. We’re done here.

“What would a real-life U.S. military party do in a scenario like the first Predator movie?”

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

It’s possible that U.S. Air Force vet Tara Batesole is the only one to have seen a Predator film in this group, but U.S. Marine Graham Pulliam had some thoughts as well: “Not run around shirtless with a machine gun?”

Why not, Pulliam? What do shirts have to do with killing monsters?

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

“What are some acceptable gifts to send soldiers who are deployed overseas?”

Here’s a short list — and you can *totally* trust us:

–Booze

–Condoms

–Porn

–Books

–Copenhagen

–Anything that explodes

–Playboy Magazine

–Good canned food

–Playgirl Magazine

–Toothpaste

–Maybe some illegal drugs

–Blunts

–Booze

–Beef Jerky

–Porn

–Candy

–RipIts

You’re welcome.

Check out more of these videos right here:

Vets answer dumb military questions – part one

Vets answer dumb military questions – part two

Vets answer dumb military questions – part three

What happens if you refuse to shower other dumb questions

What do snipers think when they miss’ other dumb military questions

Articles

This is how the US would defend against North Korean nukes

After North Korea shocked the world on July 4 by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US has picked up the pace and urgency of ballistic missile defense despite major flaws in existing systems and tactics.


US plans in the event of a North Korean missile attack would center around spotting the launches early on and preparing to intercept them.

The US has had plans since 2013 to have 44 missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and California by the end of 2017, and North Korea would need at least that long to perfect the missiles for its attack.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
A long-range ground-based interceptor. (Missile Defense Agency photo by Leah Garton.)

But missile interceptors are far from a guarantee, Lauren Grego, the senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said on Twitter last week.

The “single shot kill probability” of an ICBM is unknown, according to Grego,  but is unlikely to be higher than a 50% even in “optimistic conditions.”

Of course, the US wouldn’t fire a single interceptor. Missile Defense Agency previously told Business Insider that in a real-world combat scenario, the US would fire multiple interceptors at a single threat.

Grego further calculated that, assuming that 50% probability, if the US shot 4 interceptors at a single threat, it would have a 94 percent chance of taking down the missile.

But North Korea would be foolish to commence nuclear war with the world’s foremost nuclear power by firing a single missile. Grego said that if North Korea fired 5 missiles, the probability that the US can defend against them all shrinks to 72 percent, even in a best-case scenario, which she called “uncomfortably high.”

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. (DoD photo courtesy of Missile Defense Agency.)

Multiple missiles aren’t the only issue. North Korea could send decoys or employ countermeasures, which could confuse or disrupt US missile defenses by presenting multiple, false targets for each launch. This would effectively make missile defenses useless and allow all warheads to hit US targets unhindered.

Increasing the US’s number of interceptors beyond 44 does little to erase the fundamental problems with hit-to-kill missile defense.

“Discrimination of warheads from decoys is an unsolved but clearly fundamental issue,” wrote Grego, who sees “little point” in spending more on the already $40 billion ground-based midcourse defense before addressing its clear, conceptual limitations.

So while missile interception doesn’t promise much by way of defense yet, the best defense in nuclear war remains a good offense.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

By the time the US detected the launches and verified their origin and bearing, a salvo of more reliable, more powerful missiles would streak across the sky towards North Korea before its missiles even landed.

Moments after US cities rose into mushroom clouds, the entirety of North Korea would do the same. North Korea has no missile defenses, and could do nothing to stop the US from flattening every inch of its sovereign territory.

This assured destruction of the entirety of North Korea has a deterrent effect, making it far less likely that North Korea would ever strike the US.

Not only would the US bomb North Korea into oblivion, the US would hunt down North Korea’s leadership from hidden bunkers and caves before bringing them to justice.

For these reasons, a North Korean missile attack on the US remains unlikely, but nearly impossible to stop.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Flying for more than 60 years, today’s Dragon Lady is nothing like the past

Since the mid-1950s, the US Air Force’s U-2 Dragon Lady has been cruising the upper reaches of the atmosphere, snooping almost totally unnoticed.

While the mission is pretty much the same, the aircraft doing it are much different.

“The ‘U’ in U-2 stands for ‘utility,’ so a lot of people are like, ‘OK, 1955, what are we doing in 2019, when we’re flying F-35s and F-22s … why are we flying the U-2 that was built in 1955?'” Maj. Travis “Lefty” Patterson, a U-2 pilot, said during an event hosted by the Air Force in May at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.

“Much like the Corvette, which has been around for a long time, there’s been a lot of different versions of [the U-2],” Patterson said. “The U-2s that we fly now, they were all built in about the mid-’80s.”

“The jets are actually pretty new,” U-2 pilot Maj. Matt “Top” Nauman said at the event. “They’re a lot newer than people anticipate, even though it’s been flying for more than 60 years.”


Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

The last of the original batch of U-2A aircraft at the US Air Force Museum.

(US Air Force)

‘It’s just the name is old’

The U-2A was the first to fly, when its massive wings accidentally turned a high-speed taxi test into a flight test in August 1955. It was followed by the U-2C, which had a new engine.

To overcome range limitations, the Air Force and the CIA outfitted U-2As and U-2Cs for aerial refueling; they became U-2Es and U-2Fs, according to The Drive.

In the early 1960s, the desire for more range led to the development of carrier-capable variants. Landing on a carrier, proved challenging, though, and several U-2As were modified with stronger landing gear, an arresting hook, and wing spoilers to decrease lift. These became the U-2G and U-2H.

The U-2R, which first flew in 1967, was 40% larger than the original and had wing pods to carry more sensors and fuel, allowing for high-altitude stand-off surveillance. (The U-2R was tested for carrier operations, but a naval variant of the U-2 never entered service.)

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

A U-2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS America.

(US Navy)

The last U-2R arrived in 1989, and since 1994 the US has spent id=”listicle-2638876726″.7 billion to modernize the airframe and sensors. After the GE F118-101 engine was added in the late 1990s, all U-2s were redesignated as U-2S, the current variant.

Between 2002 and 2007, Lockheed upgraded the U-2’s 1960s-era cockpit avionics with the Reconnaissance Avionics Maintainability Program, or RAMP, replacing dials and gauges with multifunction displays, an up-front control and display unit, and a secondary flight-display system, according to Military Aerospace Electronics.

The new displays were more user-friendly and offered a better view of the ground to the pilot, who previously had to look into a large tube in the center of the cockpit. RAMP also made the radio controls easier to reach.

The most recent cockpit upgrades were completed in 2013, Lockheed said last year. Other modifications have been floated in the years since, aimed at keeping the U-2’s sensors robust and resilient.

The Air Force currently has about 30 of the single-seat U-2 for missions and four of the two-seat TU-2, which is used for training, based at Beale Air Force Base.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Lt. Col. Lars Hoffman in a new Block 20 U-2S, with a redesigned cockpit, at Osan Air Base in South Korea, June 20, 2006.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Andrea Knudson)

Each U-2 gets a full overhaul every 4,800 flight hours, or about every six to eight years. Because the airframe doesn’t spend a lot of time under high stress, the current lifespan for a U-2 is into the 2040s and 2050s.

The Air Force still has a few of the U-2s built the late 1960s, but those have been converted, Patterson said.

“Everything’s modern — just the airframe itself came out in ’69. The engine, the cockpit’s all new,” he added. “But most of the aircraft that we have, they’re all built in the mid-’80s, about the same time as the B-2 stealth bomber.”

The newer models, Patterson said, “are about 40% larger [and] significantly more powerful than the original lot of U-2s that you saw when Gary Powers was flying over the Soviet Union, when the Cuban missile crisis is occurring, so it’s a totally different aircraft — modern glass cockpit, so we have screens. We have extremely advanced sensors.”

“So it’s not an old aircraft. It’s just the name is old.”

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

A U-2, with a satellite communications system on its back and antennas on its belly, over California, March 23, 2016.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo)

‘Mr. Potato Head’

By the mid-1960s, US officials were already talking about retiring the U-2, but it survived and has outlasted other reconnaissance aircraft, like the SR-71, which were more expensive to operate.

Unlike satellites, a U-2 can be sent to peer at an area of interest on relatively short notice. It also has advantages over unmanned aerial vehicles, like the RQ-4 Global Hawk, Patterson said.

“When you think about some of the capabilities that our adversaries are able to put into the field pretty quickly and pretty cheaply — GPS jamming and things like that — it definitely pays dividends to have a human being that’s able to react real-time to developing situations.”

A human pilot is also better with unfamiliar surroundings, he said. “I can deploy anywhere in the world because I don’t need to program a new airfield. I can just take my airplane and land it … and I can take off within hours.”

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

U-2 pilot Maj. Ryan before a sortie in Southwest Asia, Feb. 2, 2017.

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)

Nauman and Patterson both touted the U-2s versatility.

“The ability for this platform to adapt to the newest imaging technology is a key piece of” its continued relevance, Nauman said. “With the size, weight, and power … we’re talking about 5,000 pounds of payload.”

That’s 2,000 pounds more than the RQ-4’s payload. The U-2’s ceiling is also above 70,000 feet — more than 10,000 feet above the ceiling of the RQ-4.

The U-2 can also test technology at high altitudes before it makes the leap to space. “The ability to actually get the most modern technology before it gets to space is kind of what makes us relevant,” Nauman said.

Other technology and payloads can be swapped onto the U-2, helping “to keep the cost down, accelerate development timelines, get these things in the air, and make sure that we run through all the issues,” Patterson said. “Then we can proliferate those [things] throughout the Air Force.”

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

US Air Force Senior Airman Charlie Lorenzo loads test film into a camera in preparation for a U-2 mission in Southwest Asia, April 17, 2008.

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Levi Riendeau)

“The U-2’s almost like Mr. Potato Head,” Patterson said, describing its adaptability.

“So you can take a pod off here and a nose off here and put a new thing on pretty quickly, just because it’s got big wings, it’s got a big engine, so we’ve got a lot of size, weight, and power advantage over a lot of other high-altitude aircraft.”

The most well-known U-2 sensor is probably its optical bar camera.

“It’s effectively a giant wet-film camera. … It fits up in the belly of the aircraft. It’s got about 10,500 feet of film” that used to be made by Kodak, Patterson said. “In about eight hours, we can take off and we can map the entire state of California.”

The U-2 no longer does overflights of unfriendly territory, Nauman said. But its suite of cameras and sensors allow it to pick up details whether it’s looking straight down or looking hundreds of miles into the distance.

“Let’s say we don’t want to fly that camera in the belly. We can take the nose off, and we can put a giant radar on the nose,” Patterson said.

“With a big radar up in there in the front,” you can gather imagery out to the horizon, he added. “If you think about how far you can see if you’re parked off somebody’s coast with a 300-mile looking glass, it’s pretty phenomenal.”

The U-2 can also be outfitted with what Patterson described as “like a big digital camera” with a lens “about the size of a pizza platter.” With multiple spectral capabilities, “it’s imaging across different pieces of the light spectrum at any given time, so you can actually pull specific data that these intel analysts need to actually identify” the composition of particular materials.

Signals payloads also allow the U-2 to pick up different radars and other communications.

“We have a number of antennas all across the aircraft that we’re able to just pick up what other people are doing,” Patterson said. “We bring all that on board the aircraft, and we pipe it over a data link to a satellite and then down to the ground somewhere else in the world.”

“While we’re sitting by ourselves over a weird part of the world doing that [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] mission, all the information we’re collecting is going back down to multiple teams around the globe.”

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

Lists

5 things we wished we knew before joining the Navy

Joining the Navy is one of the best learning experiences for a young adult — especially if it’s their first time away from home.


When you talk to a recruiter about signing up, they’ll likely sell you on all of the positives and leave out most of the less attractive aspects.

That said, most of us don’t do enough homework on our own to understand what life is really like in the Navy.

Related: 9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

So, check out five things we wished we knew before joining the Navy.

5. All the additional duties

In some smaller naval commands, there typically aren’t enough Masters-at-Arms (the Navy’s military police) to guard all the bases’ gates. What’s even worse, there sometimes isn’t enough room in the budget to pay civilians to defend those iron fences either.

So, what does the Navy do to fill those roles? They turn to the junior enlisted personnel who aren’t even trained to guard a box of coloring books.

The Navy created A.S.F. — or Auxiliary Security Force — made from various Navy rates, like cooks and mechanics, to stand guard duty.

4. The rank of ‘seaman’ sounds worse when it’s yours

Some rates in the Navy aren’t even called seamen when they get to the rank of E-3 — so that’s a plus. Corpsman who are E-3s are referred to as Hospitalman while Seabees are called constructionmen, so we luck out.

Other ranks don’t have that privilege. It can be embarrassing saying, “Seaman Smith, reporting for duty.”

Catch our drift?

3. You can graduate boot camp as an E-3

Some young adults score so high on their ASVAB that when they pick an academically challenging rate, they’re automatically promoted in boot camp.

There are others ways to get promoted, like earning college credit before enlisting or recruiting other people, which most people don’t know.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Seaman Richard Cassube (left) assists Seaman Jeremy Cryer (right) with the proper measurements of the ribbons on his dress uniform in preparation for their upcoming graduation.  (U.S. Navy Photo by Susan Krawczyk)

2. All the different bases you can be stationed at

Many people don’t know that the Navy integrates with the other branches. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a sailor to serve in an office building on an Air Force base.  So, not only can you serve on a ship or a Naval base, but you can be stationed on an Army, Air Force, or Marine Base, too.

Also Read: 6 reasons why Marines hate on the Air Force

1. Regardless of your junior enlisted rank, you’re going to clean… a lot.

This is the aspect most recruiters (if not all) forget to tell you about. Sure, you will frequently clean your berthing quarters, but you’ll clean areas you don’t usually occupy during the week.

We’re training to go to war, but first, we need to mop the senior chief’s floor. Son-of-a-b*tch!

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. general: Russian aircraft flown to Libya linked to Moscow’s pursuit of foothold in Region

The U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) has rejected Russia’s claim that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on May 29 that the aircraft reflected Russia’s goal to establish a foothold in the oil-rich country.

Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director for intelligence at ARFICOM, said the U.S. military tracked the 14 MiG-29 fighter jets and SU-24 fighter bombers that were flown in by the Russian military, landing at Libya’s Jufra air base.


The base is the main forward airfield for Khalifa Haftar and his eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA), which has been waging an offensive to capture Tripoli.

Hadfield said Russia’s activities in Libya gave it access to that country’s oil and a military base in striking distance of Europe.

“Backing the LNA and backing Field Marshal Haftar — it really isn’t about winning the war, it’s about developing strongholds,” Hadfield said in an interview on May 29 with a small group of reporters.

A big U.S. concern would be if Russia placed missiles in such a location, he added.

“If Russia secures a permanent position in Libya and, worse, deploys long-range missile systems, it will be a game changer for Europe, NATO, and many Western nations,” Hadfield said.

Russia has denied links to the aircraft, calling the claim “stupidity.” Viktor Bondarev, the former Russian Air Force chief who heads the Defense Committee in the upper house of parliament, said the planes were not Russian, but could be Soviet-era aircraft owned by other African countries.

Hadfield disputed that, saying there were none of those aircraft in that part of Africa. And, he said, “not only did we watch them fly from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya, we were able to photograph them at multiple points.”

AFRICOM first released information about the arrival of the Russian aircraft in Libya on May 26. It provided more details on May 27, saying Moscow deployed the jets and bombers to provide support for Russian mercenaries helping Haftar battle forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized by the United Nations.

AFRICOM said that MiG-29s and Su-24s bearing Russian Federation Air Force markings departed Russia “over multiple days in May.”

After the aircraft landed at the Russian military base of Hmeimim in western Syria, the MiG-29s “are repainted and emerge with no national markings.”

Hadfield said the fighter aircraft will likely provide close air support and offensive strikes for the Vagner Group, a private military contractor believed to be close to the Kremlin that has been helping Hafter’s forces.

The aircraft have not yet been used, but he said they will have to be flown either by pilots from Russia or contractors employed by Vagner.

Also on May 29 the U.S. State Department announced that Malta on May 26 seized id=”listicle-2646139035″.1 billion worth of counterfeit Libyan currency that it said was printed by a Russian state-owned company.

The money was printed by Joint Stock Company Goznak and ordered by “an illegitimate parallel entity,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in the statement.

The statement said the influx of Russian-printed Libyan currency in recent years “has exacerbated Libya’s economic challenges,” adding that the United States remained committed to working with the United Nations and international partners to deter illicit activities in Libya.

“This incident once again highlights the need for Russia to cease its malign and destabilizing actions in Libya,” Ortagus said.

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The country is now split between a government in the east allied with Hafter and the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the situation in Libya is continuing to deteriorate and that a cease-fire announced in January is in tatters.

The cease-fire “has definitively collapsed, and hostilities have resumed in full,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on May 29, according to Interfax.

The balance of power differs significantly from what it was when the cease-fire came into effect due to “massive foreign assistance,” she said.

Russia is in contact with all sides in the conflict and will insist it is resolved through diplomatic means, she said.

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

Lists

5 reasons why lower enlisted prefer the gut truck over the cook

Cooks in the military try their hardest. If you befriend them, they’ll always find a way to slide a few extra slices of bacon your way. But no matter how close you get with the cook in your unit, you’re always going to swing by the gut truck when they arrive.


For those not in the know, gut trucks (or “roach coaches”) are like a civilian food truck except that their menu doesn’t need to be elaborate to attract customers. The bar for quality is set at “better than a scoop of powdered eggs.”

And it’s nothing personal — hell, even the cooks will skip their own food to grab a breakfast burrito from the gut truck. Why?

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Doesn’t matter what time it is; they got you.

(Photo by Maj. Wayne Clyne)

They can be ordered on speed dial

If you want to grab chow from the dining facility, you have to go to them. If you’re in the field and the cooks joined you for the morning, you still have to go to their stand.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the battalion area, the motor pool, or the back 40 in a field exercise — the gut truck is just a quick call away.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

There might be healthy options. No one knows for sure because no one ever orders it.

(Photo by Ens. Jacob Kotlarski)

They have all the POG bait

Coffee isn’t known for its quality in the military. Yeah, it’ll get you up in the morning, but that’s about it. If you want an energy drink or some junk food, you’ll need to bring it with you.

Don’t worry. That retired Sgt. Maj. who realized how much money is blown on junk food every day has you covered. The truck is always fully stocked.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Everyone from the lowliest private to the commanding general is treated to the same fatty, delicious burger.

(Photo by Spc. James Wilton)

They’re faster — even if the lines are longer

Food trucks work on civilian time. To them, more customers means more money. Now, don’t get this twisted — we know military cooks are giving it their all.

Food trucks simply don’t allow high-ranking officers and NCOs to play rock, paper, chevrons and cut the line to ask for an extremely complicated custom order that backs the line up. (If you or someone you know does this, know that troops talk sh*t behind their or your back.)

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Gut truck drivers know that throwing out that much bacon is fraud, waste, abuse… and just not cool.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)

The food is always plentiful, hot, and ready

Gut trucks over stock with food before heading out and they have a good idea of how many troops they’ll be feeding. If they don’t have the breakfast burrito you wanted, they’ll have tons of whatever else you’re thinking of.

Conversely, cooks will ration every last piece of bacon like it’s the end of the world only to throw tubs of it away at the end of the meal.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

Who ever read that comment card at the end of the DFAC and implemented it is a real American hero.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Navratil)

Even cooks caught on to how awesome gut trucks are

See the cover photo at the top of this article? That’s actually not a civilian-owned gut truck. That’s actually a military food truck from the 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade as part of a test to judge troop reception. And so far, it’s working!

The cooks caught on to what works best for troops in the field and, unlike civilian trucks, these accept the meal-card given to the soldiers in the barracks. It serves all the stuff that troops want — with a little less tasty, tasty junk.

Articles

US officials want to deploy 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan

President Donald Trump’s senior advisers said they have proposed sending additional troops to Afghanistan to weaken the Taliban in an effort to bring about negotiations.


In order to send the reinforcements, Trump must approve the recommendation by his senior military and foreign policy advisers aimed at breaking a military deadlock in the war that began in 2001, U.S. officials told The New York Times. The proposed additional troops would work together with a greater number of Afghan forces and operate more closely to the front lines.

The new strategy, which is supported by top Cabinet officials, would give the Pentagon the authority to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and to carry out airstrikes against Taliban militants.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
A couple hug before the last group of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers deploy for Afghanistan at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sunday. The Raptor Brigade has deployed about 800 Soldiers in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel with U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

U.S. officials told The Washington Post the new plan expands the U.S. military role in Afghanistan to stem an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban to force it back to the negotiating table with the Afghan government.

The recommendation was created after a review of the 15-year war — America’s longest — conducted by the Department of Defense, the Department of State, U.S. intelligence agencies and other government agencies.

In Afghanistan, there are 13,000 international troops — 8,400 from the United States — assisting the Afghan security forces, mainly in training and advising roles, but U.S. troops also carry out counter-terrorism operations.

The proposed plan would send an additional 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces. The U.S. government would request NATO nations to send thousands of troops. The final number of how many U.S. troops would be sent depends on how many troops NATO allies are willing to send.

Trump is expected to make a decision before the May 25 NATO summit in Brussels.

The Taliban frequently launches attacks, generally targeting Afghan troops, international troops and government officials. In April, the Taliban launched an attack in which it killed more than 140 soldiers stationed at Camp Shaheen, which serves as a headquarters of the Afghan National Army.

Lists

The 21 most authoritarian regimes in the world

The Economist Intelligence Unit has released its latest Democracy Index, which ranks 167 countries according to political and civic freedom.


Countries are given a score out of 10 based on five criteria. Above eight is a “full democracy,” while below four is an “authoritarian regime.”

Scandinavian countries topped the list and the U.S. remained a “flawed democracy” in this index.

The study has five criteria: Whether elections are free and fair (“electoral process and pluralism”), whether governments have checks and balances (“functioning of government”), whether citizens are included in politics (“political participation”), the level of support for the government (“political culture”), and whether people have freedom of expression (“civil liberties”).

Below are the world’s most authoritarian regimes:

21. United Arab Emirates — 2.69/10

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Skyline of Downtown Dubai with Burj Khalifa from a Helicopter. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 3.57

Political participation: 2.22

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 2.65

20. Azerbaijan — 2.65

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Members of the Azerbaijani Special Forces during a military parade in Baku 2011 (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.50

Functioning of government: 2.14

Political participation: 3.33

Political culture: 3.75

Civil liberties: 3.53

19. Afghanistan — 2.55

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Marines from 3rd battalion 5th Marines on patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan. (Image JM Foley)

Electoral process and pluralism: 2.50

Functioning of government: 1.14

Political participation: 2.78

Political culture: 2.50

Civil liberties: 3.82

18. Iran — 2.45

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
The northern Tehran skyline. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 3.21

Political participation: 4.44

Political culture: 3.13

Civil liberties: 1.47

17. Eritrea — 2.37

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Saho women in traditional attire (Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 2.14

Political participation: 1.67

Political culture: 6.88

Civil liberties: 1.18

16. Laos — 2.37

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Host of dancers for Laos New Years celebration. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.83

Functioning of government: 2.86

Political participation: 1.67

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 1.47

15. Burundi — 2.33

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Tutsi soldiers and gendarmes guarding the road to Cibitoke on the border with Zaire. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.43

Political participation: 3.89

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 2.35

14. Libya — 2.32

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Children in Dublin, Ireland, protesting Libya’s then president, Gaddafi, before his overthrow. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 1.00

Functioning of government: 0.36

Political participation: 1.67

Political culture: 5.63

Civil liberties: 2.94

13. Sudan — 2.15

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Sudanese rebels in Darfur. Both the government and the rebels have been accused of atrocities. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 1.79

Political participation: 2.78

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 1.18

12. Yemen — 2.07

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Soldiers in Yemen. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.00

Political participation: 4.44

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 0.88

11. Guinea-Bissau — 1.98

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
An abandoned tank from the 1998–1999 civil war in the capital Bissau (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 1.67

Functioning of government: 0.00

Political participation: 2.78

Political culture: 3.13

Civil liberties: 2.35

10. Uzbekistan — 1.95

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Uzbek children. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.08

Functioning of government: 1.86

Political participation: 2.22

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 0.59

9. Saudi Arabia — 1.93

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
President Donald Trump speaks with Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, during their meeting Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 2.86

Political participation: 2.22

Political culture: 3.13

Civil liberties: 1.47

8. Tajikistan — 1.93

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Shanty neighborhoods just outside of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.08

Functioning of government: 0.79

Political participation: 1.67

Political culture: 6.25

Civil liberties: 0.88

7. Equatorial Guinea — 1.81

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
The city of Malabo in Equatorial Guinea. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.43

Political participation: 2.78

Political culture: 4.38

Civil liberties: 1.47

6. Turkmenistan — 1.72

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Celebrating the 20th year of independence in Turkmenistan (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.79

Political participation: 2.22

Political culture: 5.00

Civil liberties: 0.59

5. Democratic Republic of Congo — 1.61

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Refugees in the Congo (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.50

Functioning of government: 0.71

Political participation: 2.22

Political culture: 3.75

Civil liberties: 0.88

4. Central African Republic — 1.52

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
Refugees of the fighting in the Central African Republic observe Rwandan soldiers being dropped off at Bangui M’Poko International Airport in the Central African Republic. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 2.25

Functioning of government: 0.00

Political participation: 1.11

Political culture: 1.88

Civil liberties: 2.35

3. Chad — 1.50

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
A tribal delegation in Chad. (Image Wikipedia)

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.00

Political participation: 1.11

Political culture: 3.75

Civil liberties: 2.65

2. Syria — 1.43

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
A Syrian soldier aims an assault rifle from his position in a foxhole during a firepower demonstration.

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 0.00

Political participation: 2.78

Political culture: 4.38

Civil liberties: 0.00

1. North Korea —1.08

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan
A defector from North Korea dodges bullets as he crosses the DMZ.

Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00

Functioning of government: 2.50

Political participation: 1.67

Political culture: 1.25

Civil liberties: 0.00

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Marine will make you want to let the bodies hit the floor

U.S. Marine Chloe Mondesir is not in any way predictable.


First, as is often the case with women, you wouldn’t expect her to be a military veteran (let alone a Marine), but she served as an Ammunition Technician in Iraq. She also holds multiple college degrees (something you wouldn’t expect from a Marine — zing!) and is a mother of an 8-year-old (and her daughter, by the way, knows the lyrics to Drowning Pools’ “Bodies” and headbangs accordingly).

Probably what’s the most refreshing when you meet Mondesir is how fun-loving and energetic she is. If you’re a fan of Season 2 of John Cena’s “American Grit,” then you already know this.

“It’s pretty hot in Iraq so sometimes things get really tough and you need that extra motivation, and music just does it.”

In her Battle Mix video, she even makes the heat of Iraq sound not so bad. She also talks about how she was privy to Usher’s 2004 hit “Yeah” before the rest of her buddies at boot camp, and I grin every time I watch it.

Fun fact: she’s the only one of WATM’s Battle Mix veterans we had to censor. Just another great Chloe Mondesir surprise.

Check out her interview here:

And you can catch her full Battle Mix right here:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These are the NVGs we’ve all been waiting for

US Night Vision is one of the largest distributors of night vision optics and accessories in the world. As such, they have a couple new products of interest that made their way to SHOT Show 2019.

The Harris F5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular has actually been around for a couple of years, but for whatever reason, Harris chose not to push it on the market and kept it on the back burner. This competitor to the L3 PVS1531 features white phosphor tubes and a unique close-focus technology that allows users to perform intricate tasks under night vision.


Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

F5032 Lightweight Night Vision Binocular.

As many a user of helmet-mounted night vision has experienced, most NVGs will blackout when the user tilts their head to look upward. The F5032 has an intuitive vertical viewing capability that recognizes when the optics are in use and prevents the automatic tilt shutoff from activating, so that the goggles only shutoff when placed in the stowed position. This is sure to be a huge selling point for those who spend time working under aircraft or ascending vertical structures.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

A view through the white phosphor F5032.

The F5032 has an integrated LED IR illuminator to reduce the need for external IR illumination devices. The image intensifier tubes are serviceable at the unit level, making it easier for them to be repaired without the extended downtime that comes from shipping them back to the company. The F5032 uses a standard dovetail mounting bracket for compatibility with the Wilcox NVG mount.

Also new from US Night Vision is the BCO LPMR-MK2 Low Profile Mission Recorder. This minimalistic recording device attaches to the eyepiece of the ocular lens of your night vision optic (optic specific) to record whatever you are viewing. The unit supports up to 128gb Micro SD for nine hours of record time with minute by minute seamless High Definition 1920×1080 30fps recording.

Taliban constitution offers glimpse into militant group’s vision for Afghanistan

BCO LPMR-MK2 Low Profile Mission Recorder attached to a PVS14.

The LPMR-MK2 has an integrated microphone to capture audio and is externally powered via USB to accommodate a wide variety of battery sources. To make operation simple, the LPMR automatically begins recording when powered on, so there are no external buttons to fool with, and the operator doesn’t have to wonder if what if what they are seeing is actually being captured or not.

The unit weighs less than 1.5oz, so the added weight to night vision optics is minimal. The upfront placement of the device also reduces the amount of leverage placed on the helmet, so the user doesn’t have extra forward weight pulling down on their helmet. This recorder is sure to be a hit with military and law enforcement who have a need to record low-light training or real-world operations for after-action evaluation or courtroom purposes.

More information on these and other new products from US Night Vision can be found here.

Featured image: Recoilweb.com

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Final ‘Joker’ trailer teases Batman connection

The final trailer for Joker debuted online Aug. 28, 2019, giving viewers more information about the plot, introducing several new characters (including Robert De Niro as a talk show host), and taking a deeper look into the mind of Arthur Fleck as he transforms into the titular villain. The trailer is already drumming up Oscar buzz for Joaquin Phoenix and is getting a positive response across the board. But there is still one thing fans may be asking after watching: Where is Batman?

Since the movie was first announced, people have wondered if it would be connected to the Batman universe or function as a standalone film just focusing on the Joker. Based on the final trailer, it initially seems Joker may be the latter, as there is no sign of the caped crusader.


However, while Bruce Wayne may be nowhere to be found, we do meet a character who has a clear connection to the crime-fighting billionaire: Bruce’s dad Thomas (played by Edward Cullen). He is only in the trailer for a brief moment but his screen time is memorable.

“Is this a joke to you?” Thomas asks a laughing Fleck before punching him in the face.

JOKER – Final Trailer

www.youtube.com

It’s an interesting choice to potentially have the Joker exist long before Batman because, in the comics and movies, the Joker is often depicted as a direct reaction to Batman. A destructive force of chaos that fights against Bruce Wayne’s never-ending fight for order and justice. Instead, the trailer implies that this version of the character emerges as a response to the bitter, cruel world that laughs at his miserable existence.

Or maybe the real twist will be that when Fleck finally reaches the point of no return, his first act as the Joker will be killing Thomas and Martha Wayne, unknowingly creating his future nemesis. It would be a clever callback to Tim Burton’s Batman movie and a nice way to set up a potential larger cinematic universe.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.