The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly - We Are The Mighty
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The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

The battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State terror group is a fight increasingly without front lines.


The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have breached the old city and control about a quarter of the terror group’s de facto capital, say American officials, but holding what has already been seized is proving a struggle.

Disputes between the SDF and some Free Syrian Army militias who have started to participate in the battle isn’t helping the advance, but the biggest obstacle remains the determined defense of IS fighters, who are using similar urban warfare tactics seen in the past nine months in the terror group’s fight to delay the retaking of Mosul by Iraqi security forces.

A month into the Raqqa assault, improvised explosive devices, sniper fire, and the use of an elaborate network of tunnels to mount ambushes — as well as exploiting civilians as human shields — are all being deployed by the militants. IS militants have also been using drones to drop explosives on SDF militiamen.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
SDF fighters at the mouth of a tunnel used by ISIS at Jabar Castle. (Photo from Voice of America.)

A watchdog rights organization says in the assault’s first month it has documented 650 deaths — 224 of them civilians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based group that relies on a network of activists for its reporting, 311 IS fighters, including a handful of commanders, and 106 fighters of the American-backed “Euphrates Wrath” forces have died so far.

“In addition, airstrikes left hundreds of civilians injured, with various degrees of severity, some of whom had their limbs amputated, some were left with permanent disabilities and some are still in a critical condition, which means that the death toll is still likely to rise,” the observatory says.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
SDF fighters among the rubble Raqqa. (Photo from Voice of America.)

Long battle ahead

Despite being only a tenth the size of Mosul, US officials say they expect the house-to-house fighting to last several weeks. Estimates on how many militants remain in the city range from between 2,000 to 3,000. Most of them are thought to be from eastern Syria or foreign fighters drawn mainly from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

According to local activists, some Raqqa-born IS fighters have defected and are providing intelligence to the SDF. Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a Washington-based think tank, and co-author of the book “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” says local fighters have proven less than committed in the battle.

“The Islamic State will likely have to rely on the city’s still likely large population of foreign fighters as well as a new generation of young fighters brainwashed by the group’s ideology who typically fight viciously to the end,” Hassan argues in the current issue of CTC Sentinel, a publication of the West Point military academy.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
YPJ and YPG forces work together. (Photo from Flickr user Kurdishstruggle (CC by 2.0)

Despite the participation of experienced, battle-hardened Kurdish fighters, private security advisers say the SDF doesn’t have the same capabilities and training as the elite Iraqi units who have been confronting IS militants in Mosul since August.

“They are spread much thinner,” one European security adviser told Voice of America. “They are also not as well equipped and lack the armor the Iraqis have been able to use,” he added.

Keeping the advance going, and trying to pin the militants into smaller and smaller pockets, is proving grueling, he said.

On July 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to declare his security forces had wrested the wrecked city from the Islamic State, despite some continued fighting in at least one west Mosul neighborhood. Some US officials are reckoning IS fighters may be able to hold out in Raqqa for up to three months.

In a bid to disrupt the SDF momentum, IS is now more regularly using suicide bombers driving reinforced vehicles packed with explosives — although not to the same degree as seen in the battle for Mosul. Last week, one suicide bomber managed to destroy a forward HQ used by the SDF.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook.)

Civilian casualties

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled, braving mines and savage IS sniper fire. Local activists estimate the number of civilians remaining in the city at about 60,000. They fault the international coalition for failing to have prepared for the handling of large numbers of displaced families.

Civilians have been gathering in nearby camps lacking basic amenities such as healthcare, clean drinking water, and food,” says the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

The group has accused the attacking forces of using a scorched-earth strategy, utilizing indiscriminate aerial bombardment in order to force militants to withdraw. US officials admit there have been civilian deaths but say they are doing all they can to minimize casualties among non-combatants.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Wounded veteran finds new purpose with Jaguars

On his second deployment to Afghanistan, then-Sgt. Sean Karpf led his squad along a narrow pathway between two streambeds in Kandahar.

Up ahead, about 300 meters, a group of suspicious men scrambled on the rooftop of a building. He and his squad moved in closer to pull security.

As he walked on the pathway, which had been previously cleared, his left boot stepped on a pressure plate. A buried bomb exploded.


In a daze, Krapf remembered looking down at the cloud of smoke. He had ringing in his ears; he could taste the chemicals from the bomb.

“It was just chaos,” he recalled of the June 2012 incident. “I could hear people yelling my name, but I was still stunned at that point and I really did not know what was going on.”

Today, Karpf, 33, wears a prosthetic on his left leg that was later amputated below the knee.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Former Sgt. Sean Karpf, who lost his lower left leg after he stepped on a pressure plate that detonated a buried bomb in Afghanistan, now works as a strength and conditioning associate for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(Courtesy photo)

He can often be seen in the weight room or on the practice field for the Jacksonville Jaguars — his favorite NFL team since he was 10 when they began to play in his hometown.

In his first year as a full-time strength and conditioning associate for the team, Karpf has found a new purpose in life that drives him.

Helping players get ready for each weekly battle on the gridiron against opposing teams reminds Karpf of his days as an Army sergeant.

“I love the preparation that goes into the games,” he said in a phone interview Dec. 18, 2018. “It brings me back to military training.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Former Sgt. Sean Karpf was a squad leader with the 82nd Airborne Division.

(Courtesy photo)

Recovery

Once the smoke cleared, the squad leader with the 82nd Airborne Division saw his injured leg and began to push himself out of the crater the bomb had left.

A medic put a tourniquet on him and he was placed onto a litter. As a medevac helicopter began to land, the Taliban insurgents fired a machine gun toward it and it lifted back up.

A firefight ensued and Karpf, who was still calling out orders to his squad, said an Army attack helicopter swooped in to make a few gun runs so the other helicopter could pick him up.

Karpf, who had played linebacker for a semipro football team in North Carolina, was about to face the biggest test in his life.

He spent over a year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and had more than 20 surgeries.

The following year, he returned to sports. He competed in several swimming and track and field events in the Warrior Games and took home four gold medals.

“When I was working with the physical therapist, I made sure I got in extra work,” he said. “I had that goal in mind and I think it helped with my recovery.”

He also received a presidential send-off at the White House for a four-day bicycle ride that he and other wounded warriors participated in.

To the sergeant’s surprise, then-President Barack Obama spoke of his recovery and training in his speech.

“I didn’t even know that he was going to talk about me,” Karpf said, laughing. “I was sitting there on the bike and he mentioned my name and told the crowd I was competing in Warrior Games. I was like, wow, that was pretty cool.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Former Sgt. Sean Karpf, left, who lost his lower left leg after he stepped on a pressure plate that detonated a buried bomb in Afghanistan, now works as a strength and conditioning associate for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(Courtesy photo)

Dream job

Once he left the Army after almost six years, Karpf moved back to Jacksonville. No longer in uniform, depression began to set in and he stopped staying active.

He then started a program through a nonprofit that allowed him to take college courses and do an internship in the local community. He chose his favorite sports team.

At first, he did various office jobs for the Jaguars but then gravitated toward the weight room to help out players.

When his brief internship ended, the father of two was asked to come back to intern for the entire season in 2017.

Following the Jaguars loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Karpf came in for his last time with the team to clean out his locker.

Karpf was asked to report to Tom Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach who now serves as the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations.

Coughlin decided to take on the former soldier full time.

“I thought this would be a heck of a guy to hire for our strength and conditioning program because of what he brings to the table,” Coughlin said in a recent ESPN video about Karpf. “And also for our players to maybe get to know a young man who had made those kind of sacrifices for his country.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Former Sgt. Sean Karpf, a strength and conditioning associate for the Jacksonville Jaguars, gave U.S. flags encased in shadow boxes to players who support the local community, including veterans and their families.

(Photo by Alex Brooks)

Being able to be around the game he loves has been therapeutic for Karpf, who has just started on a master’s degree in injury prevention.

“As far as with the [post-traumatic stress disorder], it’s made it easier,” he said.

He also shares a special bond with those on the team, a similar connection he once had with his fellow soldiers.

“You can see a brotherhood, but it’s not as prevalent as in the military,” he said. “But it’s still that team atmosphere and everybody coming together with that same goal in mind.”

As he was preparing to leave after last season’s final game, he gave folded U.S. flags encased in shadow boxes to players who volunteer in the community, some of those efforts helping veterans and their families.

“I did that before I realized that I was coming back,” Karpf said. “It was my way of saying thank you for everything you do in the community.”

As an honor to Karpf, some players even kept the flags on display in their lockers.

“It’s pretty cool going through the locker room and seeing the flags,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

Articles

One woman remains in Marine Special Ops training

Five days into the first U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command assessment and selection course to admit women, one female Marine has washed out and one remains.


Capt. Nicholas Mannweiler, a spokesman for the command, told Military.com that two women, a staff sergeant and a corporal checked in Aug. 9 at the command’s headquarters near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and began the first 19-day phase of assessment and selection on Aug. 11.

Related: First female Marine to attempt infantry course dropped on final attempt

The staff sergeant washed out of the course the following day during a timed ruck march, Mannweiler said. The news was first reported by Marine Corps Times.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Marines with the Lioness Program refill their rifle magazines during the live-fire portion of their training at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, July 31. | Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jennifer Jones

Both the corporal and the staff sergeant came from administrative military occupational specialties, Mannweiler said. He did not disclose their identities or ages.

Mannweiler said he couldn’t say how many started the AS class for operational security reasons, but noted that 32 Marines, including the female staff sergeant, have departed the course so far.

The first phase of assessment and selection tests physical fitness and a range of aptitudes to ensure Marines are physically and mentally prepared for what will be 10 months of intensive follow-on training to become Marine Raiders. Alongside physical training, Marines receive classroom instruction in land navigation skills, MARSOC and special operations history, and nutrition and fitness.

In January, Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, then the commander of MARSOC, called AS Phase 1 a holistic profile for the Marines who qualify to enter the training pipeline.

Military.com broke the news in March that a female staff sergeant had been accepted for AS, just months after a mandate from Defense Secretary Ash Carter had required all military services to open special operations jobs and other previously closed fields to women.

Osterman said then that MARSOC leadership had leaned into the new reality, reaching out to all eligible female Marines through the command’s recruiting arm to give them the opportunity to apply.

The current AS phase is set to conclude Aug. 22. If the female corporal in AS can make it through this phase, she will enter a second, more secretive three-week AS phase. Following that is MARSOC’s individual training course, which covers survival, evasion, resistance and escape [SERE], special reconnaissance, close urban combat, irregular warfare and more over the course of nine intensive months.

Those who wash out of AS have up to two chances to re-enter the pipeline, Mannweiler said, as long as they have enough time left on their contracts and until their next promotion, and the command has enough boat spaces to accommodate them.

While MARSOC recruiters have received interest from other female Marines, the command is not currently processing any other applications from women, Mannweiler said.

Articles

The US Army wants to replace cluster bombs with these rockets

The US Army is testing new warheads on some rockets to move away from of cluster bombs, War is Boring reports.


The Department of Defense defines cluster munitions as “munitions composed of a non reusable canister or delivery body containing multiple, conventional explosive submunitions.”

In other words, they are bombs that disperse smaller bomblets over a wide area.

Groups like the Cluster Munitions Coalition strongly oppose cluster munitions because they kill indiscriminately, are difficult to control, and can leave undetonated bomblets lingering in battlefields long after conflicts pass, which could later kill civilians.

The DoD contests that cluster munitions “are legitimate weapons with clear military utility. They are effective weapons, provide distinct advantages against a range of targets and can result in less collateral damage than unitary weapons.”

But the Army will nonetheless phase out these controversial weapons by the end of 2019.

The Army currently relies on cluster munitions in their 227-millimeter M-30 rockets to neutralize targets and ensure the safety of their troops. But they need a round that won’t leave behind dud bomblets that could harm civilians in already war-torn areas.

The Solution is the GMLRS Alternative Warhead, which was presented at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Precision Strike Annual Review.

The GLMRS explosive trades submunitions for shrapnel. The GLMRS is designed to erupt into a hail of shrapnel that shreds targets with the same destructive force as a cluster munition, but without leaving behind dud bomblets for unwitting civilians to discover underfoot.

War is Boring notes that “these shrapnel warheads fit onto existing rocket motors and work with the GPS guidance kits the Army already uses.” The Army hopes to start producing GLMRS by the end of next year.

The video below shows in striking detail just how these new and improved rounds work:

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines’ Huey helicopter drone kit is a finalist for a top aviation award

December 2017, the Marine Corps wowed a small audience in Quantico, Virginia, with a demonstration of a fully autonomous UH-1 Huey helicopter that could navigate, conduct pre-set missions, and even assess landing conditions, all without a human in the loop.


The secret ingredient was the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System, or AACUS, a kit that can be mounted on a rotary-wing aircraft to transform it from a manned aircraft to an autonomous one. And now, AACUS is a finalist for an elite aviation award.

According to the Office of Naval Research, which leads the AACUS program, it’s now a finalist for the 2017 Robert J. Collier Trophy, awarded by the National Aeronautic Association for “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”

Also read: How will the US Air Force replace the iconic UH-1 Huey helicopter?

Previous recipients have included the NASA/JPL Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity Project Team; the X-47B, developed by Northrop Grumman and the Navy as a carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle, and still reportedly in the running for the MQ-25 program; and the team that designed the F-22 Raptor, among others.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
An X-47B demonstrator with folded wings on the aircraft elevator of USS George H.W. Bush. (US Navy photo by MC2 Timothy Walter)

“We at ONR are very excited and proud of the AACUS team that was selected as a finalist for this very prestigious Collier Trophy,” Dr. Knox Millsaps, director of the division of Aerospace Sciences in ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, said in a statement released by ONR. “But our greatest sense of excitement and pride comes knowing we’ve provided a technology that could help the Marine Corps warfighter stay out of harm’s way during resupply missions.”

AACUS, which is designed to be so easy to use that a Marine can program a mission after a few minutes of training, is expected to be an asset for logistics and resupply missions, providing a way to get beans, bullets, medical supplies and more to units downrange without risking a human pilot and crew.

Related: The Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopter is bigger and badder than ever

The Corps next plans to place the technology in units for realistic testing as part of its Sea Dragon 2025 experimentation effort later this fiscal year.

The AACUS is competing against eight other finalists for the Collier trophy, according to the ONR announcement.

They include: Boeing 737 MAX; Cirrus Aircraft Vision SF50; Edwards Air Force Base F-35 Integrated Test Force; NASA/JPL Cassini Project Team; Perlan Project; TSA, ALPA and A4A Known Crewmember and TSA PreCheck Programs; Vanilla Aircraft VA001; and Zee Aero Division of Kitty Hawk Corporation.

A winner is expected to be announced March 23, 2018.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Marines team up with Philippines and Japan for ‘Warrior of the Sea’

Marines and sailors from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in Exercise KAMANDAG 3 from Oct. 8 to Oct. 18, 2019, in the Philippines.

KAMANDAG 3 is a Philippine-led, bilateral exercise with participation from Japan.

KAMANDAG is an acronym for the Filipino phrase “Kaagapay Ng Mga Mandirigma Ng Dagat,” which translates to “Cooperation of Warriors of the Sea,” highlighting the partnership between the US and Philippine militaries.


The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Philippine marines operate an M102 105 mm howitzer gun line at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines during exercise KAMANDAG 3, Oct. 13, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holber)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

A Philippine marine looks through the sights on a US Marine Corps M777 towed 155 mm howitzer at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines, during exercise KAMANDAG 3, Oct. 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

Philippine marines observe US Marines wit during a fire mission at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines as part of exercise KAMANDAG 3, Oct. 13, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holber)

“KAMANDAG 3 provided us a unique opportunity to integrate with the Philippine Marine Corps while conducting realistic, valuable training,” said Capt. Trevor Hall, the commanding officer of Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 11th MEU.

“Over the course of our nine days ashore, we participated in several subject matter expert exchanges and joint exercises, which increased our interoperability with the Philippine marines.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

US Marine Corps Sgt. Gabriel Alcantar, a howitzer section chief, opens the breech on a Philippine marine corps M102 105 mm howitzer during exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines, Oct. 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holber)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

US Marine Corps Cpl. Dominic Rosado, a light armored reconnaissance Marine, fires an M107 .50-caliber Special Applications Scoped Rifle during exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Philippines, Oct. 14, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adam Dublinske)

“The US Navy has a longstanding tradition of partnering with the Philippines and Japan,” said Capt. Kevin Lane, the commanding officer of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26).

“It truly is an honor to continue that tradition and to uphold our shared goals of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

A US Marine Corps light armored vehicle fires its main gun during exercise KAMANDAG 3 at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines, Oct. 11, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Adam Dublinske)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

US Marines bivouac at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines during exercise KAMANDAG 3, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert)

The ARG/MEU departed their home port of San Diego for a regularly scheduled deployment on May 1, and entered the US 7th Fleet on September 22 after roughly two months deployed to Central Command’s area of operations.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Voice technology created the 1963 speech JFK never gave

The speech which President John F. Kennedy was due to deliver on the day of his assassination has been recreated with voice synthesis technology.


Kennedy was on his way to give the speech when he was shot dead while driving through Dallas with his presidential motorcade.

The text, however, survived. And voice synthesis experts have been able to bring the speech to life by synthesising 116,777 voice samples to create the illusion of a fluent performance.

Also read: Here are the top conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy assassination

Scottish voice company CereProc stitched together parts from 831 separate JFK recordings, each of which was around 0.4 seconds long, to form the full 2,590-word address. The project took two months.

The recording was published the morning of March 16, 2018, on the website of The Times newspaper, which commissioned the project.

A small excerpt can also be heard at the end of this video:

 

Kennedy’s speech (published here in full by the JFK Presidential Library), was dedicated in part to the recently-established Graduate Research Center of the Southwest.

It reads in part as a rebuke of populism, emphasising that the US must be “guided by the lights of learning and reason” and wary of populists with “swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

More: Here is the story behind John F. Kennedy’s Purple Heart

Here’s an excerpt:

This link between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level. It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security.

 

In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

Articles

Vet congressman wants this Green Beret’s recognition upgraded to the Medal of Honor

Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee, a Green Beret in the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, was presented the Silver Star for actions in Afghanistan in 2013. California Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn’t think the Silver Star is enough for Plumlee and is appealing to Army Secretary Eric Fanning to review the award.


According to the Washington Post, Rep. Hunter believes McHugh downgraded Sgt. 1st Class Plumlee’s Medal of Honor because the Special Forces NCO faced a criminal investigation for illegally selling a rifle scope online.

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor for heroism in repelling a Taliban ambush. The nomination was downgraded to the Silver Star by then-interim SECARMY John McHugh with a recommendation from the Senior Army Decorations Board. The Silver Star is two levels below the Medal of Honor, which an Inspector General report deemed appropriate.

In August 2013, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) touched off a complex Taliban attack on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ghazni. The FOB is home to the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team and a fortified NATO base housing about 1,400 people.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Polish soldiers pull security near a breach in the perimeter wall following a complex attack on Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Aug. 28, 2013. Coalition partners, with the help of the Afghan National Army, defeated the Taliban attack. (Operational photo courtesy of Polish Land Forces)

The VBIED blew a hole in the perimeter wall. Insurgents dressed as Afghan National Army soldiers poured into the breach. Unfortunately for them, the other side of the wall contained the 1st Special Forces Group, including one Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee.

Four operators, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Colbert, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Busic, then-Staff Sgt. Earl Plumlee, and Sgt. 1st Class Nate Abkemeier drove a truck to blast site as fast as possible. Once there, all dismounted from the truck and started returning fire.

While the others moved for cover, Plumlee walked right into Taliban attack. He hit one insurgent in the chest with a round from his sidearm and the man exploded – the fighters were all rigged with suicide vests.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Left to right: Sergeant First Class Busic, Staff Sergeant Earl Plumlee, Chief Colbert, and Sergeant First Class Nate Abkemeier.

The fighters had the men surrounded. Busic recalls Plumlee killed four or five insurgents then moved back to Busic’s position to clear the rest. They searched the surrounding area for anything or anyone that might be part of the attack.

Plumlee even pulled a severely wounded soldier out of harm’s way, conducted proper first-aid, and directed an Army civilian and soldier to get the wounded to a surgical center.

“It was probably the proudest moment of my career,” Plumlee said at his Silver Star ceremony. “Just to be with those guys, at that time, on that day was just awesome.”

Four Afghan civilians, three police officers, 10 Taliban fighters, and one soldier, Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, were killed in the attack. Ten Polish soldiers were also wounded. It could have been a lot worse. One Special Forces officer told the Army that Plumlee and the other special operators who rolled up on the attackers saved the base that day.

“It’s no exaggeration when I say they saved FOB Ghazni,” the Special Forces officer said. “If they would have arrived 10 seconds later than they did, the insurgents would have been in the more densely populated part of FOB Ghazni.”

Rep. Hunter requested that the Defense Department explain how it came to the conclusion to downgrade the award, to justify the Secretary of the Army’s authority to downgrade the award, and to determine if Plumlee’s criminal investigation was the reason for the downgrade. An Inspector General report on Hunter’s requests was obtained by Military Times.

“The review process… found that the nominee’s valorous actions did not meet the MOH criteria outlined in Army Regulation (AR) 600-8-22, “Military Awards,” dated June 24, 2013. By majority vote, the SADB recommended the SS.”

One member of the Senior Army Decorations Board told the IG that Plumlee was doing his job as an NCO and the standard to receive the Medal of Honor should be higher for someone of that rank.

“… a senior NCO, versus a private who would be seized by the moment and take extremely valorous and courageous action; there’s a difference between those two. One’s a leader. One’s a Soldier. And so when I looked at the circumstances and, although the battle was ferocious and unfortunately a couple members were killed, I just thought that it wasn’t a sufficient level for the Medal of Honor based off of the individual and the circumstances and that, I just felt there was an expectation of a leader who did a phenomenal job, that there was something more that [the nominee] needed to have done in order to, in my mind, to make a recommendation for a Medal of Honor.”

The board member specifically mentioned to the IG that even though Plumlee took out almost half of the attacking insurgents, that fact wasn’t in the eyewitness statements supporting Plumlee’s Medal of Honor award.

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
SFC Earl D. Plumlee, assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (A), is presented the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan at Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington on 1 May, 2015. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Codie Mendenhall).

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor three months after the battle. His nomination was even approved both the JSOC commander and by Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the time. Dunford wrote that Plumlee’s actions “clearly meet the standard” for the Medal of Honor.

For now, Plumlee’s Silver Star award will stand. At their own Silver Star ceremony, Busic and Colbert told Stars and Stripes it wasn’t about the recognition anyway.

“We don’t do our job for awards or accolades,” he said. “We just do it to serve.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

One of the last Navajo code talkers has died

A Navajo code talker who used the Navajo language to outsmart the Japanese in World War II has died in New Mexico, Navajo Nation officials said.


David Patterson Sr. died October 8 in Rio Rancho at age 94 from pneumonia and complications from subdural hematoma.

Although Patterson didn’t talk much about his service, one of his sons said his father was proud of being a Navajo Code Talker.

“He attended as many Code Talker events as he could,” Pat Patterson said. “It was only when his health started to decline that he didn’t attend as many.”

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
The 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Ronald L. Green, attends a celebration of the National Navajo Code Talkers Day in Window Rock, AZ., Aug 14, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell, Office of the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps/Released)

Patterson served in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945 and was the recipient of the Congressional Silver Medal in 2001.

After his military service, Patterson became a social worker and worked for the tribe’s Division of Social Services until retiring in 1987.

He raised his family in Oklahoma, California and Shiprock, New Mexico, and is survived by six children.

Pat Patterson told the Farmington Daily-Times that his father moved to Rio Rancho in 2012 to live with his youngest son.

Funeral services are pending and will be held at Christ The King Catholic Church in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Patterson will be buried on the military side of the Shiprock Cemetery.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of May 19

Another week down, another flurry of military memes from the comedy blizzard that is the internet.


Here are 13 of the funniest we found:

1. Huh. Didn’t know “Queen of the Bees” was a new MOS (via Pop smoke).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
A couple of stings will remind you that you’re alive pretty quickly.

2. Guess someone is rucking home (via Team Non-Rec).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
And that’s not how you carry a helmet.

ALSO SEE: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

3. Sure, you’ll look fabulous until that first splash of hot coolant or grease (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Oh, and you don’t look fabulous. You look like an idiot.

4. Pretty unfortunate fortune cookie (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Especially if the cruise gets extended.

5. It’s a rough gig. Ages you fast (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Not sure how he lost that eye, though.

6. Seriously, every briefing can be done without Powerpoint (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
And if you choose to use Powerpoint, at least punch up the briefing with some anecdotes and keep the slide number low.

7. Think the platoon sergeant will notice? (via Team Non-Rec)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Just keep your eyes forward and only the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th ranks will see it.

8. God, Romphims took over the military pretty fast (via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Photoshoppers must have been working overtime.

9. We’re all the same. Except for these as-holes (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

10. It’s all fun and games until someone has to clean up (via Valhalla Wear).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
Did anyone else notice the uniform change in this meme? You’re Marines while you’re shooting, but you’re Army when you’re cleaning up.

11. Oh yeah? You completed selection and training but decided against the green beret? (via Decelerate Your Life)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
You can’t refuse Special Forces until they offer you the tab, and no one turns it down right after earning it.

12. “Headhunter 6? Never heard of her.” (via The Salty Soldier)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

13. You poor, stupid bastard (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly
They’re all equally bad.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of September 28th

It looks like the list for the Army’s senior enlisted promotions got pushed out — which is fantastic news for everyone who got picked up. Congratulations! You worked hard and it’s paying off.

To the rest of you, my condolences. But let me be clear here: I’m not pitying the NCOs — oh no, they’ll get their time to shine (or get RCPed for staying in at the same rank, whichever comes first). My heart aches for the soldiers beneath the NCOs that didn’t make the list. Get ready for a world of hurt because your platoon sergeant is about to take their frustrations out on you.

Let these memes help soothe the pain.


The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Lock Load)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Call for Fire)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Shammers United)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via PNN)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via WWII Pattonposting)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

The battle to retake this ISIS stronghold in Syria is getting ugly

(Meme by Ranger Up)

Articles

Today in military history: First American killed in Korean Wart

On July 5, 1950, the first American was killed in the Korean War.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when 75,000 North Korean soldiers pushed south across the 38th parallel to attack the pro-Western South. Within days, the United States and the United Nations approved the use of force in the conflict to prevent the spread of Communism. 

By July, American troops arrived on the peninsula, and on July 5, Private Kenneth Shadrick, a 19 year-old soldier, was killed in action by machine-gun fire while engaging an enemy Soviet-made tank with a bazooka. 

Shadrick was the first of 36,574 Americans to die in theatre, with another hundred thousand wounded. Nearly one million, six hundred thousand civilians from the Korean peninsula were killed, with another million combatants from South Korea, North Korea, and China.

Nearly five million soldiers and civilians lost their lives in a war that many remember as “the Forgotten War” for the lack of attention it received compared to the “great” World Wars or even the Vietnam War. The most famous representation of the war came from the iconic television series M*A*S*H, which was set in a field hospital in South Korea during the war. The series ran from 1972 to 1983 and still today remains one of the most accurate military satires created.

For all the violence and brutality, the Korean peninsula remains divided at the 38th parallel still today and only an uneasy armistice keeps the peace while North Koreans endure a brutal dictatorship under the feckless Kim dynasty.

Featured Image: M24 Chaffee light tanks of the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division wait for an assault of North Korean T-34-85 tanks at Masan. (U.S. Army image)

MIGHTY TRENDING

European court rules in favor of Russian opposition leader

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Russia violated opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s rights over numerous arrests and jailings, calling them “unlawful and arbitrary” and “politically motivated.”

The human rights court in Strasbourg, France, on Nov. 15, 2018, delivered its ruling, rejecting an appeal filed by Russia over a previous judgment favoring Navalny.

The court upheld its previous decision that found Navalny’s seven arrests and two instances of pretrial detentions by Russian authorities between 2012-14 violated his rights, “lacked a legitimate aim,” and “had not been necessary in a democratic society.”


He immediately hailed the decision, writing on Twitter, “Won. Fully. The government is crushed…Hooray!”

He also told reporters that the ruling was an example of “genuine justice” and was “very important not just for me but for other people all over Russia who are arrested every day.”

As part of the ruling, the court ordered Russia to pay Navalny about 64,000 euros in compensation, costs, and expenses and said its decision was final and binding.

Moscow did not immediately comment on the court’s ruling.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, attended the hearing, along with his brother Oleg, and posted a photograph of the two of them at the ECHR on Instragram.

Russia’s Constitutional Court has previously ruled that officials can ignore judgments by the ECHR if they are found to contravene the Russian Constitution.

Russia has lost a number of high-profile cases in Strasbourg and been ordered to pay out hefty compensation in scores of politically embarrassing cases.

Navalny was originally prevented from boarding a flight out of Moscow on Nov. 13, 2018, to attend the hearing.

The Federal Bailiffs Service (FSSP) said he was barred from leaving due to what it said was debt he owed Kirovles, a state timber company at the center of a politically charged criminal case in which he has now been convicted twice.

The FSSP later said the fine was paid and that restrictions on Navalny’s travel abroad had been lifted.

He said he would sue the FSSP over what he called “illegal activities” and demand compensation for the 29,542 rubles (6) in financial losses he said he and his lawyer sustained due to the FSSP’s decision to bar him from leaving.

The ECHR ruling was on an appeal filed by Russia over a court decision in February 2017 that ruled in favor of Navalny, but Russia filed an appeal to challenge the decision.

Navalny, 42, has organized large street protests on several occasions since 2011 and has published a series of reports alleging corruption in Putin’s circle.

He has repeatedly been jailed for periods ranging from 10 days to a few weeks, usually for alleged infractions of laws governing public demonstrations.

Navalny had spent nearly 200 days in jail since 2011, including 140 days since the start of his attempt to challenge Putin in the March 2018 presidential election, his spokeswoman has said.

Electoral authorities barred Navalny from the ballot, citing convictions in two financial-crimes cases he and his supporters contend were Kremlin-orchestrated efforts to punish him for his opposition activity and for the reports alleging corruption.

Navalny was convicted in 2013 of stealing money from Kirovles and was sentenced to five years in prison. But the sentence was later suspended, sparing him from serving time in prison.

In 2016, the ECHR ruled that the Kirovles trial was unfair and that the two men had been convicted of actions “indistinguishable from regular commercial activity.”

The Russian Supreme Court then threw out the 2013 convictions and ordered a new trial.

In February 2017, the lower court again convicted the two men and handed down the same suspended prison sentence.

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

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