US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Dozens of US Army tankers have been playing tank warfare video games online to train for combat during the pandemic, the Army said this week.

Tankers with D Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are using the online game “War Thunder” to train, according to an Army news story first reported on by Task & Purpose.


Several different games were considered, but “War Thunder,” a free cross-platform online game that simulates combat, won out.

The 3rd ABCT, which recently returned from South Korea, does not actually have any tanks to train in right now because they are waiting to get upgraded M1A2 Abrams tanks, but even if they had them, the coronavirus would likely keep the four-man crews from piling into them.

3rd ABCT spokesman Capt. Scott Kuhn, who wrote the Army news story, told Insider that the tank crews have training simulators like the Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT) and Advanced Gunnery Training Systems (AGTS), but, like a real tank, these simulators require soldiers to be in close proximity to one another.

Social distancing demands in response to the continued spread of the coronavirus required leaders to take a look at alternative training options.

Seeing that all their soldiers had a PlayStation, an Xbox, or a PC that “War Thunder” could be downloaded on, troop leaders decided that was the best option in these unusual times.

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An online video game that 1st Cavalry Division soldiers are using to help maintain readiness while protecting the force from the coronavirus.

US Army/Capt. Scott Kuhn

“We are able use the game as a teaching tool for each crew member,” Staff Sgt. Tommy Huynh, a 3rd platoon section leader, explained in the Army release.

“For example, drivers can train on maneuver formations and change formation drills. Of course online games have their limitations, but for young soldiers it helps them to just understand the basics of their job,” he said.

One of the big limitations is that “War Thunder” only allows players to virtually operate tanks and other weapon systems from World War II and the Cold War, meaning that the game is not a perfect training platform for modern tanks.

While there are certain limitations, there are also some advantages, the main one being a new perspective.

“Being exposed to other viewpoints through the game is extremely helpful,” Sgt. David Ose, a 1st Platoon section leader, said in the Army news story.

“If you are a driver and you’re inside a tank for real, you don’t get to see what it looks like from above. You don’t always understand that bigger picture because you’re just focused on the role of driving the tank,” Kuhn told Insider.

“This kind of broadens that. It provides a training opportunity to teach younger soldiers how what they do impacts the bigger picture for the platoon or the company,” he explained.

The training, while somewhat unconventional, remains structured. Sessions tend to include a briefing from the section or platoon leader. There are also required training manual readings.

Game play is treated like the real thing, as leaders issue commands and soldiers use proper call-for-fire procedures. And after the soldiers complete an online training session, there is an after action review to talk about how the soldiers can do better in the next exercise.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 of the silliest means of propaganda used by North Korea

On June 25, 1950 all-out war broke out when Communist North Korea invaded Capitalist South Korea after a series of clashes on the border. The devastation was insurmountable and the war has never officially ended between the two nations, even after a UN enforced partition along the 38th parallel. Kim Il-sung shut his nation from the world and established a cult of personality every despot could only dream of having. His nation either feared him because of his iron fist or worshiped him as a god-king.


Today, Kim Jong-un has nowhere near the level of intimidation his grandfather. The Western World, and even We Are The Mighty, has poked fun at the silly dictator and his ridiculous attempts to establish a cult of personality.

Here are a few of his propaganda tactics:

5. State-run news

Sidestepping entirely away from American politics and news outlets, the Korean Central News Agency is so fake even your gullible relative who falls for every Onion or Duffle Blog article would shake their head.

Once you’ve gone on air and state that “unicorns exist and are North Korean” or that “the North Korean famine has ended because Kim invented the hamburger,” your journalistic integrity flies out the window.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

4. Their “history” and text books

History is always written by the winners, right? It also helps when you close yourself off from the rest of the world so no one can fact check every bullsh*t claim you make.

The lies even slide into math problems for their kids. Such as: During the Fatherland Liberation War, the brave uncles of Korean People’s Army killed 265 American imperialist bastards in the first battle. In the second battle, they killed 70 more bastards than they had in the first battle. How many bastards did they kill in the second battle? How many American imperialist bastards did they kill altogether?

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

3. Film and television

The state news isn’t the only thing that is slathered with anti-Americanisms. Surprisingly enough, they have a full-fledged film industry that is either Anti-West or a cheap knockoff of something Japanese. In 1985, the North Koreans kidnapped a South Korean film director and forced him to make Pulgasari — an over the top knockoff of Godzilla set in feudal Korea. The link to watch it on YouTube with subtitles is right here, but be warned. It’s bad. Not like, The Room, where it’s so absurd it’s hilarious. Pulgasari is just… bad…

Keeping up with the indoctrination of children…holy crap are their cartoons ridiculous. One such cartoon is about how even you can help fight the American imperialist wolves (because we somehow get depicted as wolves a lot. Which is cool with me. Wolves are cool.) by learning to use a protractor and a compass to launch missiles at us.

(YouTube, Stargeo)

2. Video games

But what about the youngsters eager to play video games like their South Korean cousins? Well. There’s “Hunting Yankee.”

This supposedly “very popular” game with graphics on the same level as a Playstation One puts you in the role of sniper and you shoot Americans. Yep. That’s it. Game of the Year quality content right there.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
On the bright side, they probably don’t have to worry about always connected single-player, pay-to-win mechanics, or an overabundance of cosmetic micro-transactions like American games. (Image via Telegraph)

1. Staged photos

Of course everything is alright! There are photos that prove things aren’t bad in North Korea!

Almost every photo of Kim Jong-un touring his country that the previously mentioned state media runs is laughable. Sure, he and his cronies are laughing and enjoying themselves, but not a single soul outside of the regime seems to have an actual smile.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
No single photo can describe how North Koreans feel about Kim Jong-un like every single toddler and nurse in this photo. (Photo via AFP)

*Bonus* Boasting that they can stand a chance against America

Let’s just look at the stats for a quick second from what was considered the 5th greatest military in 1990, Iraq. They had the numbers, they had the skill and experience, they had the funding, they had the tech and then they messed with a nation we are cool with, Kuwait. America wafflestomped their asses in about four weeks.

Sure. North Korea boasts an impressive number of infantrymen; however, they’re malnourished and diseaseduntrained, and under-equipped. Their planes, armor, and artillery are well over sixty years old. Their military consists of defectors, meaning they’re not willing to fight. And to top it all off, South Korea (North Korea’s main target) is America’s closest friend.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
Good luck with that, tubby. (Image via Reddit)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Royal Navy’s stealth sub can stay submerged for 25 years

The UK’s submarine fleet conducts some of the most secret missions in the Royal Navy. For that, it requires the quietest ships ever built – the Astute-class submarine. Capable of tracking enemy ships, listening in on foreign communications, tracking vessels and aircraft, delivering special operators, and more. It can even launch a volley of Tomahawk missiles while submerged.

And no one would ever see it coming.


US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

The seven Astute-class subs will soon be the only attack subs in the Queen’s fleet. The only other submersible ships will be tasked with carrying the UK’s sea-based nuclear arsenal. The rest of the Royal Navy’s subs will be decommissioned by the time the Astute and her sister ships are all in the water.

Engineers at BAE were tasked with something nearly impossible: silencing a 7,400-ton nuclear-powered warship with 100 British sailors on board. They had to reverse engineer how noise would be emitted from the ship, trace them to the source, and dampen it. And since the submarine would be completely vulnerable while completing its mission, the engineers also had to protect the ship from a torpedo impact, one that would be designed to break the ship’s back.

And yes, the Astute can take a direct hit from a modern torpedo.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

But the Astute and its class are still under construction. There have been a few mishaps, only a couple of those are due to engineering. An accident ran the ship aground a couple of years ago, causing minor damage. Since then, leaks and corrosion have been reported. Engineers working on the ship say since each ship costs id=”listicle-2637996202″ billion, they can’t make a viable prototype – it’s too expensive. But the lessons learned in the trials are being incorporated into the construction of the other ships.

Other factors that keep the ships quiet are the acoustic tiles that cover the ship’s exterior, the ultra-quiet rafts holding the pumps for the seawater that cools the ship’s reactor, and a diffuser that keeps the ship’s extra carbon dioxide from bubbling to the surface. The ship also has its magnetic signature reduced, and its wake is designed to be minimal.

MIGHTY CULTURE

These are the 7 uniformed services of the United States

The seeds of America’s sixth branch of the military were sown yesterday, for better or for worse, as President Trump’s creation of the Space Force elicited many different responses. Those responses ranged anywhere between confusion and surprise. The Russians understandably expressed alarm at the idea of a U.S. military presence in space, whereas civilians in the United States were slightly confused – isn’t there an agency that already does what a Space Force would do?

The answer is yes and no – but that’s a post for another time.

Many currently serving in the military or part of the veteran community felt equal parts excitement and curiosity about the Space Force’s way forward. After all, it’s something that was kicked around for months before any official announcement, which prompted ideas from current servicemembers about uniforms, rank names, and whether there would be a Space Shuttle Door Gunner.

Mulling over the organizational culture of a service that doesn’t exist yet is a good time to remind everyone the U.S. has a number of uniformed services that are oft-overlooked.


US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

The U.S. Military has a great reputation among veterans.

1-5. The military branches

Since the Space Force exists only in our hearts and minds and not yet in uniforms, the existing five branches of the military make up the first five notches on this list. If you’re reading We Are The Mighty (or… if you’ve heard of things like “history”), you’ve probably heard of the Armed Forces of the United States: U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Air Force.

With the exception of the Coast Guard, which is directed by the Department of Homeland Security during times of peace, the big four are directed by the U.S. Department of Defense. For more information about the history, culture, and people in these branches, check out literally any page on this website.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

6. United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

This uniformed division of the Public Health Service creates the beautiful utopia of a branch that doesn’t have enlisted people. Because it doesn’t. It consists only of commissioned officers and has zero enlisted ranks – but they do have warrant officers. While the PHS are labeled noncombatants, they can be lent to the Armed Services and they wear Navy or Coast Guard uniforms and hold Navy or Coast Guard ranks.

The Public Health Service has its own set of awards and decorations, a marching song, ready reserve, and probably deploys more than most of the Air Force. Its mission is to deliver public health and disease prevention expertise at home and abroad as well as to disaster areas and areas affected by U.S. military operations. Members of the Commissioned Corps enjoy (for the most part) the same veterans benefits as those who served in the Armed Forces.

The U.S. PHS falls under the Department of Health and Human Services and its top officer is the Surgeon General, which is why they’re always wearing a uniform.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

NOAA Corps pilots. Considering risk vs. reward, you 100 percent joined the wrong branch.

7. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps

Or simply called the “NOAA Corps,” as it falls under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA Corps also has no enlisted or warrant ranks and is comprised entirely of commissioned officers. It is also the smallest of all the uniformed services, with just 321 officers, 16 ships, and 10 aircraft, compared to the PHSCC’s 6,000 officers.

They serve alongside DoD, Merchant Marine, NASA, State Department, and other official agencies to support defense requirements and offer expertise on anything from meteorology to geology to oceanography and much, much more. The Corps is a rapid response force, shuttling experts where they need to be in quick succession while supporting peacetime research. They can be incorporated into the Armed Forces during times of war, and so wear Navy and Coast Guard uniforms and rank, by order of the President of the United States.

The NOAA Corps also gets VA benefits similar to those of the Armed Forces of the United States, including access to the Blended Retirement System, health and dental benefits, and access to the Exchange and Commissary system.

Articles

How the Marines ripped through the Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm

When Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, the Marines were one of the first units to respond. By Feb. 23, 1991, I Marine Expeditionary Force was controlling two reinforced Marine Divisions poised to strike Iraqi forces in Kuwait.


Facing the Marines were two massive minefields and some ten Iraqi divisions.

In the lead up to the invasion, the Marines worked furiously to find gaps in the minefield that they could strike through. They also frequently clashed with Iraqi forces when conducting artillery raids and during the pre-emptive Battle of Khafji.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
Marines from Company D, 2nd Tank Battalion, drive their M-60A1 main battle tank over a sand berm on Hill 231 while rehearsing their role as part of Task Force Breach Alpha during Operation Desert Storm. (Dept. of Defense photo)

That battle convinced the Marines that maybe the task ahead was not as formidable as they might have assumed. The Marines realized the Iraqis lacked aggression and coordination, and if hit hard they would back down.

But before that could happen they still had to find a way through the minefields. The commanders of the two Marine divisions had their own ideas of how that would happen.

The 1st Marine Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Mike Myatt, was divided into four task forces – Ripper, Papa Bear, Taro, and Grizzly. Two task forces would clear lanes through the minefields before allowing the other two to pass through to spearhead the attack.

The 2nd Marine Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. William Keys, had a different plan. Keys ordered the Division to breach the minefields before storming across Kuwait to meet the Iraqis.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
An Iraqi T-55 main battle tank burns after an attack by the 1st United Kingdom Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm. (Creative Commons photo)

Before the ground war even started, the Marines of Task Forces Taro and Grizzly were infiltrating into Kuwait and through the minefield in order to take up blocking positions when the invasions started.

Then, on Feb. 24, 1991 at 0430 local time, the invasion officially began. The 1st Marine Division’s two task forces, Ripper and Papa Bear, began their assaults through the gaps provided by Taro and Grizzly.

On their flank, the 2nd Marine Division, augmented by the U.S. Army’s 2nd Armored Division’s 1st Brigade, began breaching operations at the minefield. Mine-clearing line charges and plow-equipped tanks blasted a path through the mines.

As the Marines cleared the minefields, they prepared to engage Iraqi forces. However, instead of an immediate fight, they were confronted with waves of surrendering Iraqi soldiers.

Unable to handle the large numbers of POWs, and with objectives to meet, they simply pointed the Iraqis towards the rear and drove on.

On the first day, the Marines only encountered light resistance and captured all of their objectives.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
Oil well fires rage outside Kuwait City in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm. The wells were set on fire by Iraqi forces before they were ousted from the region by coalition force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David McLeod)

However, the next day, Feb. 25, the Iraqis launched counterattacks in force against the Marine positions.

Using the burning Burqan oil fields as concealment, the Iraqis were able to infiltrate very close to the Marines before launching their attacks.

The sudden appearance of an Iraqi brigade to the Marine’s flank caused quite a stir. The 1st Tank Battalion of TF Papa Bear bore the brunt of the Iraqi advance. The Marine commander reported, “T-62s everywhere, scattering like cockroaches from the Burqan oil field.”

As the Marine’s M60 Patton tanks engaged the Iraqis, daring Marine aviators came in low under the smoke to blast Iraqi tanks with Hellfire missiles. In three and a half hours of hard fighting, the Marines drove off the Iraqis while destroying 75 armored vehicles.

On TF Papa Bear’s other flank, another Iraqi force was massing to attack the 1st Marine Division’s forward command post. A platoon of infantry and another of LAV-25s commanded by Cpt. Eddie Ray were all that guarded the CP.

When artillery rounds began raining down around the Marines Ray raced forward to assess the situation. What he found was a numerically superior Iraqi force of tanks and armored personnel carriers approaching their position.

Ray’s small force immediately began engaging the Iraqi’s as they made a move for the CP. Seeing the attack developing, Brig. Gen. Draude, the assistant division commander, quipped, “If I die today, my wife is going to kill me.”

Another officer quickly called for reinforcements from TF Ripper and I MEF headquarters. He was told everyone was in a fight and there was no available air support.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
M1 Abrams during Desert Storm. (Photo: US Department of Defense)

He responded by simply holding the radio headset in the air for a few seconds before vehemently stating, “We are in a REAL fight at division forward!”

I MEF sent two Cobra gunships to support the beleaguered Marines. With the gunships on station, Ray made a bold move — he counterattacked. Despite overwhelming odds, Ray’s small force hammered the Iraqis and drove them from the vicinity, destroying 50 vehicles and capturing 250 prisoners.

Ray was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

In the 2nd Marine Division’s sector, the Iraqis were fighting just as tenaciously. B Company, 4th Tank Battalion — a reserve unit and the only Marines armed with the new M1 Abrams — awoke on the morning of Feb. 25 to see a massive Iraqi armored column moving in front of their position.

In what became known as the Reveille Engagement, the men of B Company, despite being outnumbered 3-to-1, maneuvered on line and engaged the Iraqis. In just 90 seconds, the Marine tankers wiped out the entire Iraqi force of 35 tanks and APCs.

After defeating the Iraqi counterattacks, the Marines continued their drive north the next day. They took the vital Al Jaber airfield and made it to the outskirts of Kuwait City and the international airport.

While the 2nd Marine Division cut off the Iraqi’s retreat, the 1st Marine Division attacked and secured the airport with support from two battleships firing from the gulf.

The 100-hour ground war cost the Marines five killed and 48 wounded. In that time they fought over 100 miles through occupied territory, crushed seven Iraqi divisions, destroyed over 1,600 tanks and armored vehicles, and took over 22,000 prisoners.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Marine saves Okinawa resident from drowning

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan- Okinawa is well known for its beautiful beaches. The last thing anyone wants to visualize while admiring the ocean’s natural wonders is getting caught in the natural conditions of tides and overwhelming currents.

Staff Sgt. Billy C. Dixson, a recovery crew leader with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, was enjoying his time in Mermaid’s Grotto, a popular diving location, on Oct. 4, when he noticed a woman frantically signaling him for help. The woman herself was not in danger, but her friend, Ms. Miyagi, a member of the local Okinawa community, was losing a battle with a rip current. Ms. Miyagi soon found herself disappearing from the surface.

According to Dixson, he knew the time he spent wondering what to do could be used helping someone in need. With complete disregard for his own safety, Dixson swam toward the location Ms. Miyagi’s friend was pointing toward. He then rushed over as fast as he could. He didn’t see anybody. It wasn’t until he swam to her last location; he dove three meters and spotted Ms. Miyagi struggling to resurface. He swam with the rip current to reach her. When he reached her, he managed to resurface and drag Ms. Miyagi to shore. It was a quick extraction, taking only a few minutes to release Ms. Miyagi from the ocean’s strong grip.

Dixson credits his ability to perform the way he did to his physical fitness and Marine mindset.

“As Marines, this is something that is ingrained into us. We stay vigilant and we’re always looking to assist,” said Dixson. “I’m no different from any other Marine. I’m sure if you put any other Marine in that position, they would have reacted to the best of their abilities just as I did.”

According to Dixson, he did not seek appreciation or notoriety for his heroic actions. He did not let his chain of command know what had happened. In his eyes, his actions were not extraordinary. It wasn’t until Ms. Miyagi, the woman Dixson saved, left a letter of gratitude at the gate of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, that his chain of command was notified of what had happened. According to Col. Henry Dolberry Jr., commanding officer of MCAS Futenma, the humility shown by Dixson struck a chord with the command – it communicated to them the caliber of Marine Dixson is.

“Being able to take your qualities, your physical and mental attributes, to help others is very rewarding,” said Dolberry. “In an ocean that has claimed many lives over the years; [Dixson] went out there and did that! Good swimmers go out there and never come back. [Dixson] went out there and performed above expectations by saving a life, so I’m very proud.”

Dixson received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his selfless act of bravery on Nov. 13 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The award was presented to him by Dolberry

“We use the term “Japanese local”, but I would like to say they’re more family. Last time I checked we are members of the Ginowan family, right?” said Dolberry amongst a group of Marines. “Just like your brother or sister needing some assistance, you’re going out there to put your life in danger to save theirs.”

This article originally appeared on DVIDS. Follow @DVIDShub on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

COVID-19: Tajikistan officially confirms first cases

The global death toll from the coronavirus is approaching 230,000 with more than 3.2 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here’s a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL’s broadcast regions.



Tajikistan

Tajik authorities said they had registered 15 coronavirus cases in the country, the first such cases after weeks of mounting speculation that officials were suppressing information about the disease.

The confirmation of the cases, made April 30 by the government task force charged with fighting the coronavirus, poses a dangerous challenge for the authoritarian government.

Tajikistan’s health-care system is underfunded and unequipped to deal with a widespread outbreak of cases. The government, under President Emomali Rahmon, has suppressed opposition parties, civil society groups, and independent media for years, leading to a vacuum of information.

The country’s Health Ministry said five coronavirus cases had been recorded in Dushanbe and 10 in the northern city of Khujand.

The ministry did not release any further details such as when the cases were discovered or which hospitals the patients were being treated at.

The state-run Khovar news agency said that the task force ordered that all Tajiks must now wear face coverings when outdoors.

Even as infections skyrocketed in other Central Asian nations, Rahmon flouted warnings from international experts to order social-distancing restrictions or other measures to try to curtail any spread of the disease.

Suspicion has grown amid a spike in respiratory diseases that have been described as pneumonia or tuberculosis.

Even though it had not confirmed any cases at the time, the government last week closed schools for two weeks and suspended the national soccer season over the coronavirus.

Adding to the confusion, the country representative of the World Health Organization, Galina Perfilyeva, has for weeks repeated government insistence that there were no cases in the country.

On April 27, she warned that the country must be ready for the “worst-case scenario.” WHO officials said a team of experts were expected to travel to Tajikistan on April 30.

Turkmenistan now is the only country in Central Asia that has not officially reported any cases of the virus.

Central Asia

Other countries across Central Asia have begun to ease restrictions that were suspended over the coronavirus outbreak.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev said on April 30 that the resumption of economic activities will take into consideration priorities and proceed in 10-day stages beginning on May 1.

According to Abylgaziev, his cabinet has allocated some million for measures to slow the spread of the virus.

Kyrgyz Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliev told reporters on April 30 that all checkpoints in Bishkek, the capital, will be removed on May 1 and that police will patrol streets to monitor vehicle movements.

The Health Ministry said on April 30 that the number of coronavirus cases in the country had reached 746, including eight deaths.

Neighboring Uzbekistan has begun to ease restrictions as well, announcing that, as of April 30, citizens could resume using private cars from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The use of private vehicles was temporarily banned in March because of the pandemic.

A day earlier, the Uzbek government extended the suspension of all flights abroad to June 30. International flights, except cargo flights, were suspended initially for one month on March 30.

According to health officials, there were 2,017 coronavirus cases, including nine deaths, in Uzbekistan as of April 30.

The largest number of coronavirus cases in the region has been officially registered in Kazakhstan, where the latest figures on April 30 were 3,273 cases with 25 deaths.

Kazakhstan

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on Kazakhstan to stop harassing journalists covering the coronavirus outbreak in the country, saying they are being subjected to “interrogation, prosecution, and violation of the confidentiality of their sources.”

“On the pretext of avoiding panic, the authorities are harassing journalists and bloggers who stray from the official line on the epidemic,” Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement on April 30.

“This exploitation of the state of emergency is harming press freedom in Kazakhstan. It must stop,” Cavelier added.

The statement cited the case of Zaure Mirzakhodjaeva, a journalist and blogger in the southern city of Shymkent, who was summoned and questioned by the police for seven hours last week over a Facebook post.

It said Mirzakhodjaeva is now being criminally investigated for allegedly spreading false information.

Media in Kazakhstan have been subjected to “judicial harassment” since the Central Asian country declared a state of emergency on March 16, according to RSF.

The Paris-based media freedom watchdog said the authorities are “monitoring social media and media outlets closely for what they regard as excessive criticism of the government’s handling of the health crisis.”

Serbia

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has shortened a three-day weekend curfew to just one day to allow for celebrations of the May 1 holiday amid ongoing public protests over restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“We propose that the curfew begin at 6 p.m. [on April 30] and last until [May 1] at 5 a.m.,” Vucic told state broadcaster RTS on April 29.

An original plan would have imposed a curfew from the evening of April 30 until the morning of May 4 in order to limit gatherings of people in public places. Serbs traditionally celebrate May 1 with large picnics.

Serbia introduced draconian measures last month, including a state of emergency, the closure of borders, a daily curfew from 5 p.m., and total lockdowns all weekend, including all four days of the Orthodox Easter holiday.

Gatherings of more than five people remain banned, Vucic said.

The decision follows three nights of noisy protests by Serb citizens who were stuck at home and resorted to banging tin pans and drums to vent their anger at the government and its tough containment measures against the virus.

The protests are similar to one held in 1996 and 1997 in response to what they saw as electoral fraud attempts by the Socialist Party of Serbia, led by President Slobodan Milosevic, after local elections in 1996.

The coronavirus protests have also provided an outlet for discontent with the policies of Vucic, a former nationalist firebrand and ex-information minister under Milosevic who later adopted pro-European values.

Many Serbs say Vucic, in power since 2012, and his ruling coalition are displaying traits of authoritarianism, employing oppression against political opponents, stifling media freedoms, corruption, cronyism, and ties with organized crime.

Vucic and his allies deny such accusations.

As of April 2, the number of coronavirus infections in Serbia was almost 8,500, with 168 deaths, according to Serbia’s Health Ministry.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of February 7th

On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper released a memo to the troops reminding them that it’s against the Uniform Code of Military Justice for active-duty troops to participate in anything political while in uniform. Obviously, it’s not saying that troops can’t hold political opinions or that they can’t participate in anything while in civilian clothes.

It’s just saying while in uniform as it gives the impression all troops support one candidate/policy/movement. Why? I’m so glad you asked my rhetorical question. Because civilians (and I’m taking the politically neutral stance by mocking both sides of the aisle on this one) tend not to know any better. They look at Private Snuffy in his dress blues, and they just see his uniform and assume he’s some official envoy from the military because that’s apparently the Pentagon giving their seal of approval – which they’re obviously not.

It’s like how civilians all assume every troop knows every aspect of how WWIII is going to play out. Private Snuffy is clearly fifty levels too low on the totem pole for that kind of stuff, but the civilians wouldn’t know. I’m just saying. Even top generals appointed by a sitting president can’t even clap during their State of the Union because of this rule, so even they are obviously not going to officially back any politician.


But who am I kidding? We all know troops aren’t going to listen, and there’s going to be at least one ASVAB-waiver this political cycle who’d rather be the poster boy for social media likes than follow the rules. Here are some memes.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Call for Fire)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Not CID)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans brace for coronavirus as thousands return from Iran

HERAT, Afghanistan — Officials in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat are bracing for a rise in coronavirus infections, as thousands of Afghans return from neighboring Iran every day.


The provincial Public Health Department told RFE/RL on March 12 that nearly 10,000 Afghans had entered Herat from Iran the previous day alone.

That’s a twofold increase from March 9, when local officials said about 4,800 Afghans had crossed the border from Iran in one day.

Afghanistan has so far reported only seven cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But provincial Governor Abdul Qayum Rahimi said the situation was certain to worsen soon, creating new challenges for the war-torn country. “Increasingly high numbers of people are crossing the border from Iran and we are seriously concerned that [some of them] will bring more coronavirus to Afghanistan,” Rahimi told RFE/RL on March 10.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Map of the risk of the virus’s spread in Tehran.

Wikimedia Commons

Tehran reported more than 1,000 new cases on March 12, raising the official number of infections in Iran to more than 10,000. But many Iranians say they distrust the figures released by the authorities and believe the Iranian government is grossly underreporting the extent of the outbreak there.

Iran is home to more than 3 million Afghans — including migrant workers and refugees as well as university and religious students.

Five of Afghanistan’s confirmed COVID-19 patients are from Herat. The other two are from the northern province of Samangan. All of the confirmed cases are Afghans who had recently returned from Iran, local officials say.

Bracing For Worse

Afghanistan has deployed small teams of medics who have been screening Afghans who cross the border from Iran into Herat Province. The medics are checking temperatures of returnees and asking if they’ve had any potential COVID-19 symptoms.

They also are asking returnees whether they’ve been exposed to an infected person, said Abdul Hakim Tamanna, the head of Heart Province’s Public Health Department. Those with high fever or other symptoms are transferred to a special ward at a hospital in the provincial capital.

“We’ve allocated a special ward with 80 beds for COVID-19 patients, both for the suspected and confirmed cases in isolated sections. But this is not enough,” said Muhammad Ibrahim Basem, who oversees the special ward. “The situation is extremely fluid and requires that at least 1,000 beds are ready,” Basem told RFE/RL on March 12.

Similar concerns are being voiced in Samangan Province, where two people tested positive earlier this week. “We’ve been prepared in advance. A hospital ward with 20 beds was prepared for potential COVID-19 patients,” Abdul Khalil Musaddiq, head of Samangan Public Health Department, said on March 10.

But Musaddiq warned that Samangan Province did not have the resources to handle an outbreak beyond the hospital’s capacity.

Health officials in Herat are calling for Afghanistan’s central government to provide equipment for laboratories in provincial regions so that more people can be tested.

Afghanistan, a country of 35 million people, currently has only one laboratory that is able to test for coronavirus. Authorities outside of the Afghan capital must send samples from suspected cases to the laboratory in Kabul for testing.

The Afghan government has allocated million to combat the outbreak. Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said another million “is in a state of reserve if the unwanted incidents escalate and get out of control.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Low Public Awareness

Provincial authorities in Herat declared an emergency when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed there on February 24. Schools, restaurants, wedding halls, and public baths have been closed and large gatherings are banned.

Officials from Herat’s provincial government told RFE/RL on March 12 that the public spaces were unlikely to reopen in the foreseeable future.

Buses and minibuses that carry a large number of passengers have also been banned as part of Herat’s effort to contain the virus.

Mosques remain open. But RFE/RL’s correspondent in Herat reports that the number of the worshipers has dwindled in recent days.

The war-ravaged country’s poor health-care services, as well as low public awareness about health and hygiene, are adding to difficulties in the battle against coronavirus.

One patient last week briefly escaped from the quarantine ward of Herat hospital, sparking concerns that he could contaminate many more people. Hospital officials said the patient was apprehended and isolated. They said those who came in contact with him have been told to take tests and exercise precautions.

Authorities also have launched an extensive coronavirus-awareness campaign through media in recent weeks.

The Education Ministry, meanwhile, has set up a special working group along with public-health authorities to assess the situation in other high-risk regions and decide whether to suspend schools.

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

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.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Syria claims it captured a US missile from the latest strike

Russian state media said on April 25, 2018, that Syria had “captured” a US Tomahawk cruise missile from the strike on suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites on April 14, 2018 — and they will study it to advance their own missiles.

The Russian claim comes after Syria said it knocked down 71 out of 105 US, UK, and French missiles fired in the strike — a claim that no solid evidence has backed up yet.


In fact, photos from the strike show Syrian air defenses likely fired blindly, at nothing. The Pentagon maintains that no Syrian missiles intercepted any US or allied missiles, and that most of Syria’s air defenses fired after the strike took place.

Also, the Pentagon says Syria fired 40 interceptors, meaning it’s virtually impossible 71 missiles were downed, as it takes at least one interceptor to down a missile.

Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute told Business Insider that Russia and Syria likely only have fragments of detonated Tomahawks, and that they wouldn’t be much use.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
A long-range Kalibr cruise missile is launched from the Krasnodar submarine in the Mediterranean, in an image provided by the Russian Defense Ministry press service on May 31, 2017.

“I don’t know whether Russia or Syria have ‘captured’ at Tomahawk although I’m sure they have plenty of fragments to study from weapons which hit their targets,” Bronk told Business Insider.

Unlike other areas of technology where Russia lags far behind the US, Russia’s cruise missiles are actually pretty capable, according to Bronk. Russia has used cruise missiles fired from navy ships and submarines to strike targets in Syria before, and they displayed a similar range and ability in doing so.

Cruise missiles are “not exactly an area where Moscow desperately needs access to Western technology,” said Bronk, though Russia would “would love to examine an intact Block 4 Tomahawk to have a look at the sensor and guidance package nonetheless.”

Overall, if Russia or Syria had actually found an intact Tomahawk missile, that flew at hundreds of miles an hour armed with a large explosive and yet somehow managed to land on the ground without breaking up, they could have shown it off by now to back up their claims that the US strike partly failed.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 
US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic

Articles

This mysterious ‘Daesh Hunter’ is killing ISIS leaders in Libya

An unknown sniper is killing the leadership of Daesh (as ISIS hates to be called) in Libya.


According to the UK’s Mirror, a mysterious assassin strikes fear in the hearts of the terrorist group’s leadership in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. So far, the dark knight has killed three Daesh commanders in Sirte, which is former dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown that was captured by Daesh last year.

US Army tankers are playing video games online to train for tank warfare during the coronavirus pandemic
This is not the Daesh Hunter sniper. This is a stock image. We hope the real Daesh Hunter keeps up the good work.

The terror organization’s fighter are tearing the city apart, looking for the one they call “Daesh Hunter.”

He first killed Hamad Abdel Hady on January 13th. Hady was a Sudanese national nicknamed Abu Anas Al-Muhajer, an official in the city’s Sharia Court.

“State of terror prevailed among the IS ranks after the death of Al-Muhajer,” said Libya Prospect. “They randomly shot in the air to scare inhabitants, while searching for the sniper.”

Next came Abu Mohammed Dernawi, six days later, near his home. On January 23 Abdullah Hamad al Ansari, a commander from southern Libya, got his.

Like Musa the Sniper during last year’s siege in Kobani, the mysterious sniper has become a folk hero among the citizen of the city.

Related: Meet Musa the Sniper, scourge of ISIS in Kobani