The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes - We Are The Mighty
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The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Russia has warned the United States that it will retaliate immediately if Syrian government forces come under fire from positions held by a US-backed, Kurdish-led militia in eastern Syria.


Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov made the comments in a statement on Sept. 21, five days after the US-led coalition said Russian jets struck Syrian Democratic Forces fighters in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, wounding several of them.

His remarks came amid rising concerns of a confrontation on the ground between Russia-backed Syrian government forces and the US-backed forces fighting the Islamic State militants who captured large swathes of Syrian territory in 2014.

Konashenkov said that SDF forces had taken up positions on the east bank of the Euphrates River with US special operations forces, and that Syrian troops operating alongside Russian special forces near the city of Deir al-Zor were “twice targeted with massive fire from mortar launchers and rocket artillery” from the SDF positions.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Igor Konashenkov. Photo from Ministry of defense of the Russian Federation.

A representative of the US military command in Qatar was “notified in severe form that attempts to attack from districts where SDF fighters are located will be repelled,” Konashenkov said, adding, “Fire positions in these areas will be immediately suppressed with all available weapons.”

Ahmed Abu Khawla, an SDF commander whose unit is leading the fight in the Deir al-Zor Province, denied Russian accusations of shelling and accused Moscow of seeking to obstruct the US-backed advance, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The United States and Russia back separate military offensives in the Syrian war, both of which are advancing against IS militants in the east of the country near Iraq.

The government forces, backed by Russia and Iranian-allied militiamen, have gained control of most of the city of Deir al-Zor.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the city of Manbij in northern Syria. Wikimedia Commons photo from Kurdishstruggle.

The SDF, supported by US-led coalition air cover, said on Sept. 20 that its campaign to capture the IS stronghold of Raqqa, north of Deir al-Zor, was in its final stages and that its fighters had seized 80 percent of the city.

Konashenkov claimed that Russian intelligence shows the coalition’s operation in Raqqa had stopped and that SDF fighters redeployed from there to Deir al-Zor. He did not provide evidence.

He also said that a Syrian government offensive captured two villages on the west bank of the Euphrates overnight, taking about 16 square kilometers of land.

On Sept. 16, the US-led coalition said the Russian warplanes struck SDF forces in Deir al-Zor Province, wounding several fighters. The Russian Defense Ministry denied it.

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This is the weapon North Korea might be hiding

North Korea has shocked the world by making huge strides in missile technology since debuting an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, but according to James Kiessling, the road-mobile missile may just be an act of deception.


Kiessling, who works at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, gave Business Insider his personal views on North Korea, which do not represent the Pentagon’s official stance.

“If you’re really concerned about an ICBM from anyone, go back and look at history for what everyone has ever done for ICBMs,” said Kiessling. “All early liquid ICBMS are siloed.”

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Titan II ICBM at the Titan Missile Museum in Arizona. Photo by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA.

Through a painstaking analysis of imagery and launch statistics from North Korea’s missile program, Kiessling has concluded that the road-mobile, truck-based missiles they show off can’t actually work as planned, and may instead be purposeful distractions from a more capable missile project.

In a paper for Breaking Defense, Kiessling and his colleague Ralph Savelsberg demonstrated a model of the North Korean ICBM and concluded its small size made it basically useless for reaching the US with any kind of meaningful payload.

History suggests that building a true liquid-fueled ICBM that can be transported on a truck presents huge, if not insurmountable problems, to designers.

“The US and the Soviets tried very hard and never managed to reach a level of miniaturization and ruggedness that would support a road-mobile ICBM,” said Kiessling, referring to the minaturization of nuclear warheads needed to fit them onto missiles.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Image from Wikimedia Commons

ICBMs that use liquid fuel, as North Korea’s do, are “very likely to crumple or damage the tankage” while being carted around on a bumpy truck.

“While it may not be impossible, it’s bloody difficult and extremely dangerous” to put a liquid-fueled ICBM on a truck, according to Kiessling.

Instead, the US, Soviets, and Chinese all created silo-based liquid-fueled missiles, as the static missiles are more stable and less prone to sustaining damage.

But there’s no evidence of North Korea building a silo for missile launches, and Kiessling said that could be due to a massive deception campaign that may have fooled some of the world’s top missile experts.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Launch of a Titan II missile. Photo courtesy of USAF.

Kiessling thinks that North Korea has actually been preparing for a silo-based missile that combines parts of the Hwasong-14, its ICBM, with its space-launch vehicle, the Unha. Both the Unha and the Hwasong-14 have been tested separately, and Kiessling says they could easily be combined.

This analysis matches the comments of Mike Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who told Business Insider he saw the Hwasong-14 as an “interim capability” that North Korea was using to demonstrate an ICBM as quickly as possible.

Elleman believes that North Korea well develop a “heavier ICBM” that “may not be mobile,” but can threaten the entire continental US and carry a heavier payload, including decoys and other penetration aides.

But other prominent analysts disagree with Kiessling’s model, saying he incorrectly judged the size of the Hwasong-14. To that, Kiessling says that North Korean imagery, which has all been purposefully released by a regime known to traffic in propaganda, is geared towards deception.

 

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Photo released by the Korean Central News Agency

“One of the hardest problems imaginable is to find something you’re not looking for,” said Kiessling, of a possible missile silo in North Korea.

“If I was in the place of Kim Jong Un, and I wanted to have a cleverly-assembled ICBM program, I’d do it the way everyone else does it,” said Kiessling, referring to silo-based missiles. “But at the same time, you run a deception program to distract everyone else from what you’re doing until you’re done.”

A silo would also prove an inviting target for any US strikes on North Korea, as the target can’t hide once its found. If the US were to find out that North Korea hadn’t succeeded in miniaturizing its warheads enough to fit on its mobile missiles, a smaller-scale strike against fixed targets may seem like an attractive option.

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What is the big deal about Kwajalein?

According to a report by UPI, an LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile was taken from Minot Air Force Base and launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base to test America’s land-based deterrence force.


The missile landed at the remote Pacific base of Kwajalein Atoll. Now, the United States has used these islands for atomic tests and as a place for missiles to land for years.

But Kwajalein has a bit more significance to the U.S. than most other atolls out there. You see, it was one of the many islands American forces had to take from Japan during World War II – and thus, it is consecrated ground.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Diagram of the American plans to attack the Marshall Islands. (USMC graphic)

During World War I, Japan had taken the Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, and Caroline Islands from Germany. According to an official Marine Corps history of the 4th Marine Division, the islands were soon fortified with bunkers, air strips, a lot of firepower, and very fierce troops.

In Nov., 1943, the United States had taken Tarawa in the Gilberts – and paid a heavy price. According to Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, published by the Center for Military History, 3,301 Marines were killed, wounded, or missing after the effort to take Tarawa. Kwajalein was expected to be even tougher, prompting legendary commanders like Raymond Spruance, Richmond K. Turner, and Holland Smith to oppose hitting Kwajalein at all.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Troops of the 24th Marines near the beach on Namur, thankful for having made it safely ashore, are now awaiting the inevitable word to resume the attack. (USMC photo)

Admiral Nimitz overruled their objections, and Kwajalein it was. Taking into account the lessons of Tarawa, this time, the United States brought overwhelming force. The major targets were Roi Island, Namur Island, and Kwajalein Island. For almost two months, air strikes were launched, including some with B-24 Liberators and others by carriers, on the Marshalls.

When the attack on Kwajalein came, it still took time, but only 142 American military personnel were killed in attacking Kwajalein Island proper.  Another 190 died while taking the islands of Roi and Namur. Total casualties in those assaults – dead, wounded, and missing – were 1,726.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Map of the Reagan Test Site. (DOD graphic)

After World War II, most of the American forces left, but Kwajalein today serves as part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site.  332 Americans paid the ultimate price to take it 73 years ago. Today, it helps America develop systems that can save hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of lives.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 things you want to take back before getting out of the military

Getting out of the military can be a long and cumbersome experience. With all the crap service members have to do to process out smoothly, it’s likely that you’ll spend some time reflecting on the dumb things you did during your enlistment.

At the time, most of the dumb stuff was all fun and games. It wasn’t until now that you’re on your way out do you realize how bad some of those decisions were.


Getting NJPed for hazing the newbies

It was fun as hell at the time, but now that you have that negative NJP mark on your DD-214, good luck with receiving all your much-earned educational benefits.

All the crap you bought and didn’t need from the base PX

Remember that PS4 you just had to have? How about that huge. flat-screen TV you needed for playing video games, or all the tactical gear you thought was required to be a better trooper? Well, now you need to pack all that crap up, sell it, or give it away.

Many troops invest a lot of money in entertainment stuff that, when the time finally comes, they don’t want to haul to their parents’ or girlfriend’s house.

Breaking up with that guy or girl who now has a two-bedroom apartment and no roommates.

Yup, you f*cked that up.

Being a dick to that boot who is now updating your service and medical records

As they say, “what goes around comes around.” We can’t predict the future, but we do know that many service members hold small grudges against their superiors for one reason or another.

So, when an opportunity arises, who wouldn’t want to cash in on some payback against someone who once treated you like crap?

Not taking more free classes

Many, many service members leave the military will college credits that could earn them a degree sooner rather than later. But, you decided to drink on the weekends instead of doing those boring online classes.

Not listening to all the information during TAP class

Did you know you could earn unemployment benefits and file for disability during most TAP classes? Well, you would have known if you freakin’ listened.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New US Army recruits will be screened for coronavirus upon arrival at basic training

New US Army recruits will be screened for the coronavirus upon arrival at basic training, according to Gen. Paul Funk, the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s commander.


“Upon arriving at the battalion reception station, they’re asked, ‘Has anyone living with you traveled through China, Korea, Japan, Iran, or Italy? Have you had contact with a confirmed COVID-positive individual?'” a spokesman for Funk said, according to Military Times.

Recruits will have their temperatures taken and will be asked if they are experiencing other flu-like symptoms, including coughing, sore throat, and fatigue. If a recruit does exhibit symptoms, they will be taken to a medical department for more screening.

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Trainees wait to be in-processed at the 120th Adjutant General Battalion at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, October 30, 2019.

Alexandra Shea/Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Funk said that no recruits appeared to have been infected so far, but two had Influenza B, a common type of flu among humans.

Army recruits are sent to one of four centers in the US for their initial entry training: Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Upon arrival, they are housed in barracks and in close proximity with one another for at least 10 weeks.

At least one US soldier has tested positive with the new coronavirus. The 23-year-old male soldier is in self-quarantine at an off-base residence in South Korea, according to US Forces Korea. Health officials are investigating whether others were exposed, as the soldier had visited several US bases in the country, including Camps Walker and Carroll.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Marine veteran Dan Duitsman, Camp Valor Outdoors

Previously in episode 152, Borne the Battle’s guest was Denise Loring from Camp Valor Outdoors. She gave a brief overview of the nonprofit, Camp Valor Outdoors – which included the competitive shooting program. Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting team competes in professional matches all over the country.


CMP National Matches at Camp Perry Promo

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This week’s interview is Dan Duitsman. He is a Marine veteran and Camp Valor Outdoors’ Shooting Sports Program Director. His role is to get disabled veterans into competitive shooting – no matter the disability.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Camp Valor Outdoors Shooting Team at the Civilian Marksmanship Program Nationals, Camp Perry, OH.

(Photo Courtesy of Camp Valor Outdoors Facebook Page)


While in the Marine Corps, Dan worked in security forces, counterintelligence and the infantry. Prior to his role at Camp Valor Outdoors, he was a weapons instructor with the U.S. State Department. In this episode he talked about his career, his transition, the recreational-therapeutic benefits of the shooting and how to get involved in Camp Valor Outdoors’ shooting program.

2019-11-20 Full Committee Hearing: Legislative Hearing on HR 3495 and a Draft Bill

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This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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7 awesome features JSOC wants for future vehicles

Two U.S. military commands involved in buying and fielding new gear for special operators have released a list of what features they would like to see in future military vehicles — and the list shows some serious upgrades for warfighters.


The Joint Special Operations Command and the Program Executive Office Special Operations Forces Warrior released their wish list in a Federal Business Opportunities solicitation. While some of the upgrades they’re searching for are pretty standard — such as more reliable drivetrains and cheaper brakes — these five technologies could be game changing:

1. Invisible armor on civilian vehicles

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
American EOD sailors and Marines test a light armored SUV against a variety of munitions. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James Frank)

The document calls for low visibility “Armor materials/panels, etc., that can be transferred and integrated from one commercial vehicle to another with minimal manpower and in a minimal timeframe.” This could allow operators to fortify a civilian vehicle for a mission. Then, if that car is compromised, quickly move the armor to a new ride for the next mission.

2. Transformer vehicles

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jad Sleiman)

Spec ops buyers are looking for a chassis that could survive after the car body wears out. In other words, operators would have a truck or SUV that they use for some operations, and after the vehicle gets banged up, worn out, or just stops looking cool, the troops could trade out the body for a new one for cheap.

3. Engine starters and batteries that work at -50 degrees

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
When you’re running out of the cold after hours of shoveling, you really want that heater to start. (Photo: U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. David Bedard)

Batteries and starters that work at 50 degrees below zero would give soldiers confidence that they can always make a quick getaway, even in the Arctic Circle. In addition to delivering power in extremely frigid weather, the batteries should provide electricity for a longer time between charges. This would allow users to run the heat and electronic devices in the field for longer without turning on the engine.

4. Lighter, hidden armor

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Philip Diab)

In addition to the transferability of the armor described in the first entry, JSOC and PEO-SOF are asking for the hidden armor for civilian vehicles to be lighter. This would reduce the low gas mileage and high rollover problems associated with current vehicles using hidden armor.

5. Hybrid military dune buggies

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
(Photo: US Army)

The solicitation calls for electric or hybrid electric vehicle technology for LTATVs. The Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle is basically a souped-up ATV for light troops like special operators and paratroopers. Now, soldiers want an all-electric or hybrid version of the vehicle that would “increase range, reduce maintenance, and lower the audible signature.”

6. “Low Profile Antennas for Line of Sight, SATCOM, and ECMS”

This is exactly what it sounds like, a variety of antennas that work as well as current models while also being harder to detect. It would allow all vehicles — commercial and military — to be outfitted with more communications devices without drawing undue attention and enemy fire.

7. “Visual, Audible, and Thermal Signature Reduction”

The commandos want vehicles that are harder to detect, track, and target. Quieter vehicles are more difficult to hear, cooler vehicles are harder to see with IR, and better-camouflaged vehicles are challenging to pick out with the naked eye. Operators want all three upgrades.

See the full solicitation at fbo.gov (until it gets archived on Nov. 30).

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army and Navy practice expeditionary fast transport

There are certain things that some soldiers and service members may take for granted: equipment provided, a full plate of food, ammunition for their weapons. It might seem like there is a mystical force operating behind the scenes to make these resources magically appear, but it’s a result of the organized, detailed planning, and execution that is logistics.

Soldiers, sailors, and civilians with the U.S. Transportation Command helped to further advance the efficiency of military logistics by testing a high-speed vessel to transport troops and cargo across the Black Sea, Aug. 24, 2018.


“This is a great opportunity to test this vessel and the crewmembers,” said Navy Cmdr. Steven Weydert, the USNS Carson City military detachment officer in charge. “Hopefully it opens up more options for the Army and any other service to develop interoperability in this area of responsibility for multiple missions and to support our allies.”

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Members of U.S. Transportation Command oversee the docking of the USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) at the Port of Constanta, Romania, Aug. 24, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet)

Soldiers, Abrams Battle Tanks, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles departed the Poti Sea Port in Georgia on Aug. 22, 2018, aboard the USNS Carson City and docked at the Port of Constanta, Romania after a two-day voyage. The Carson City is the first high-speed vessel of its kind to travel the Black Sea in support of U.S. Army Europe operations.

Carson City (T-EPF 7) is a Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport, a high-speed, shallow draft vessel that can hold up to 600 short tons, sail across 1,200 nautical miles (1,381 miles) at an average speed of 35 knots (40 mph). The vessel’s role is to support joint and coalition force operations for the Army and Navy by transporting troops, military vehicles, supplies, and equipment.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Sgt. Matthew Grobelch, a transportation management coordinator with the 839th Transportation Battalion, helps to load U.S. military cargo at the Port of Constanta, Romania, Aug. 24, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet)

“Looking forward to future exercises being planned to take place in the Balkans as well as the Black Sea region, the T-EPF is perfect for some of those smaller ports that we want to utilize but can’t get the larger ships to dock,” said Lt. Col. John Hotek, commander of the 839th Transportation Battalion. “This proved that its a very viable solution, very cost effective, [and] very economical and efficient.”

This proof-of-principle operation brought together two of three service component commands that make up USTRANSCOM: the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment stage their Abrams Battle Tanks at the Port of Constanta, Romania, Aug. 24, 2018 after downloading them from the USNS Carson City.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet)

“We’re trying to incorporate other services like the Navy’s MSC and see how well we can use this asset to deploy and redeploy units to various exercises and real-world missions,” said Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Elizarraras, cargo specialist with the 839th Transportation Battalion, 598th Transportation Brigade. “We’re testing the capabilities of the vessel to transport a company-size element of infantry or mechanized units in and out of port in a faster way.”

As part of the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, the mission of the 839th is to provide strategic transportation support to joint military forces throughout the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Seas as well as the vast majority of the continent of Africa.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Pfc. Albert Hsieh, an armor crewman with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, inspects an Abrams Battle Tank after it is staged at the Port of Constanta, Romania, Aug. 24, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kris Bonet)

Equally important, the Navy’s MSC has the responsibility for providing sealift and ocean transportation for all U.S. military services, as well as replenishments and controlling the military transport ships.

“I have a tendency sometimes to say ‘we work in the shadows,'” said Hotek. “We are that strategic link between the tactical and operational force, and the Department of Defense’s command structure that determines the movements.”

The USNS Carson City’s success in traversing the Black Sea will affect the planning of future exercises within the European training environment.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How DoD is trying to get more artificial intelligence in the field

In its continued efforts to develop and deploy artificial intelligence to address some of the nation’s toughest defense challenges, the Defense Department, in coordination with Army Research Lab, hosted its second AI Industry Day on Nov. 28, 2018.

More than 600 attendees from 380 industry, academic, and government organizations participated in the event in Silver Spring, Maryland, to discuss the department’s progress in AI and identify partnership opportunities.

Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer, discussed the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center established in 2018.


“DOD is open for business in AI,” Deasy said. “Our goal is for the JAIC to have and deliver the capabilities to solve very large, unique problem sets that touch multiple services. To this end, we’ll build out data sets, infrastructure and tools that the [Defense Department] components can use.”

Accelerating adoption of capabilities

The center will help DOD accelerate the adoption of AI-enabled capabilities, scale AI’s department wide impact and synchronize the department’s AI activities to expand joint force advantages.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer.

Although JAIC is in its early stages, officials said, it is already composed of about 25 representatives from across the Defense Department. Ultimately, the JAIC is building toward a distributed model, with a main office in the national capital region and satellite locations to leverage and foster innovation districts throughout the United States.

During the event, Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, director of defense intelligence for warfighter support, provided an update on the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team’s work on Project Maven.

“AWCFT used the last year to deliver initial operational capabilities and apply lessons learned to improve subsequent capability deliveries,” Shanahan said. “We have come a long way, and the partnerships we forged with industry and academia have been essential to success.”

Project Maven is a fast-moving effort launched in April 2017 to accelerate the department’s integration of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning into DOD intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance programs.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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Trump taps another Leatherneck, this time to command DHS

President-elect Donald Trump selected retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, the former commander of United States Southern Command, to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security.


The president-elect is slated to make a formal announcement next week, and is also expected to name his pick for Secretary of State as well.

According to a 2014 report by the Washington Free Beacon, Kelly made waves during his tenure at SOUTHCOM by declaring that he had only 5 percent of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements needed to halt drug smuggling.

That year, he also revealed that nearly three-fourths of drug smugglers got through due to a lack of assets.

Kelly also has warned of Iranian influence in South America.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
Petty Officer 3rd Class Tanner King, a crewmember of Coast Guard Station Boston, is underway aboard a 45-foot response boat during a security escort in Boston Harbor, Thursday, July 21, 2016. The station’s crew escorted the Norwegian-flagged LNG tanker BW GDF SUEZ Boston into a terminal in Boston. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cynthia Oldham

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
“Over the last 15 years Iran has periodically sought closer ties with regional governments, albeit with mixed results,” Kelly testified during a Congressional hearing March 2015, according to the Free Beacon. “Iranian legislators visited Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua to advocate for increased economic and diplomatic cooperation. Iran’s outreach is predicated on circumventing sanctions and countering U.S. influence.”

Kelly, a Gold Star father, is the third general to be appointed to a high-level national security post by President-elect Trump. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a former commander of United States Central Command, was selected to serve as Secretary of Defense while former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was chosen to be Trump’s national security advisor.

Kelly served in the Marine Corps for 46 years, counting four in the inactive reserve. He served in Operation Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror.

His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat Distinguishing Device and a gold star in lieu of a second award, and the Meritorious Service Medal with a gold star in lieu of a second award.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness praised the selection, saying, “I agree with a Marine veteran friend who said of the appointment of General Kelly, ‘The Marines have landed . . . and the situation soon will be well in hand!’ After years of HHS Director Jeh Johnson’s failure to protect and defend the integrity of America’s borders, this is an inspired and reassuring choice. President-elect Donald Trump is deploying in defense of our nation a man of character who commands respect.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

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

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


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

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

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
The Pentagon. According to several studies, dating as far back at 1997, the Department of Defense has known about failures to report criminal records. (Photo by David B. Gleason)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots work to support U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission. (U.S Army photo)

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army will soon have female grunts, tankers in all brigade combat teams

The U.S. Army announced recently that female soldiers will be integrated into all of its infantry and armor brigade combat teams (BCTs) by the end of the year.

Currently, 601 women are in the process of entering the infantry career field and 568 are joining the armor career field, according to a recent Army news release.


“Every year, though, the number of women in combat arms increases,” Maj. Melissa Comiskey, chief of command policy for Army G-1, said in the release. “We’ve had women in the infantry and armor occupations now for three years. It’s not as different as it was three years ago when the Army first implemented the integration plan.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta started the process by lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles in 2013. The Army then launched a historic effort in 2015 to open the previously male-only Ranger School to female applicants.

Out of the 19 women who originally volunteered in April 2015, then-Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first to earn the coveted Ranger Tab that August.

The plan is to integrate female soldiers into the final nine of the Army’s 31 infantry and armor BCTs this year, according to the release. The service did not say how many female soldiers are currently serving in the other 22 BCTs.

At first, the gender integration plan, under the “leaders first” approach, required that two female officers or noncommissioned officers of the same military occupational specialty be assigned to each company that accepted women straight from initial-entry training.

Now, the rule has been changed to require only one female officer or NCO to be in companies that accept junior enlisted women, according to the release.

Comiskey said it’s still important to have female leaders in units receiving junior enlisted female infantry and armor soldiers, to help ease the culture change of historically all-male organizations.

“Quite frankly, it’s generally going to be an NCO leader that young soldiers will turn to for questions,” she said. “The inventory of infantry and armor women leaders is not as high as we have junior soldiers. … It takes a little bit longer to grow the leaders.”

In 2019, the Army began opening up more assignments for female armor and infantry officers at Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Drum, New York; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and in Italy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Another woman is trying to make history as the Corps’ first female commando

A Marine who last year became the first woman to reach the end of Phase One in MARSOC’s assessment and selection course is planning to return for a second attempt early next year.


The woman, then a corporal, reached the conclusion of the 19-day course in August 2016, but did not have the minimum academic and physical training scores to move on to the secretive second phase.

She is planning to reattempt Phase One in January, Maj. Nicholas Mannweiler, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, told Military.com.

The command declined to identify her to protect her privacy.

To date, two women have attempted to join the elite ranks of MARSOC Raiders as critical skills operators since the previously closed jobs opened to women in early 2016. Both women, the corporal and a staff sergeant, came from administrative backgrounds.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes

Both women began assessment and selection, or AS, in early August 2016. The staff sergeant left the course a day in after failing to meet the minimum time requirement on a ruck march.

Officials said at the time that 31 men also washed out in the first week of the demanding special operations course.

All Marines who attempt the first phase of AS are given multiple opportunities to pass, Mannweiler said.

Demands of the course are physical and mental. Marines are required to complete a 12-mile march carrying a pack weighing more than 45 pounds within three hours, to swim 300 meters wearing their camouflage uniforms, and to pass classroom exercises during the 19-day phase.

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
MARSOC Raiders conduct swim training. Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Donovan Lee

For Phase 2, the requirements and trials that MARSOC candidates face remain a closely guarded secret.

The three-week phase “is a mentally and physically challenging evaluation that enables MARSOC to identify Marines that have attributes compatible with special operations missions and the MARSOC way of life,” according to official informational materials.

Once Marines begin Phase 2, Mannweiler said, they do not have the chance to re-attempt it.

To date, no other women have identified themselves as candidates for AS, Mannweiler said, although recruiters continue to publicize the opportunity.

“We go out and send recruiting teams to all the bases,” he said. “It’s gender agnostic — here are the requirements we’re looking for, here’s the fitness program.”

The threats just keep coming from Russia over Syria strikes
A U.S. Marine with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) crawls under an obstacle with a MARSOC canine during the MARSOC Multi-Purpose canine subject matter expert exchange conference on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016. MARSOC specializes in direct action, special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense and has also been directed to conduct counter-terrorism and information operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Dietrich, MCIWEST-MCB CamPen Combat Camera/Released)

Few women in any service have attempted to enter the elite and demanding field of special operations since previously closed jobs became available.

As of August, there were two women in the training pipeline to become Air Force Tactical Control Party (TAC-P) specialists; none have entered the field to date.

Earlier this year, Military.com broke the news that the Navy had its first female candidates for SEAL officer and Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, or SWCC. But the SEAL candidate for dropped out of the training pipeline in August.

The Army is slightly further ahead in integrating women into special operations. The first female soldier passed qualifications to enter the 75th Ranger Regiment early this year.