The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

The United States and Egypt on Feb. 12, 2018 reaffirmed their commitment to battle Islamic militants in the Middle East as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo at the start of his week-long trip to the region.


Tillerson and his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, cited productive discussions on regional security and the struggle against the Islamic State group, whose Egyptian affiliate, based in the Sinai Peninsula, has struck military and civilian targets across the Arab world’s most populous country.

At a joint news conference with Shoukry, Tillerson said Egypt was an important part of the anti-IS coalition and that Washington was “committed to strengthening this partnership in the years to come.”

“We agreed that we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures, including our joint commitment to the defeat of IS,” Tillerson said.

“We highly value this relationship and we thank the United States for what it presents to Egypt in terms of support, which benefits both countries,” Shoukry said, adding that Cairo hoped to further boost cooperation.

The visit comes as Egypt is undertaking a major military operation in volatile Sinai, where Islamic extremists have been leading an insurgency for years, and in remote areas of the mainland where militants have attacked security forces and civilians.

Also read: Tillerson tackled these major issues in his South Asia trip

Attacks picked up after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew his elected but divisive Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. And militants have become more brazen of late. In November 2017 they massacred 311 people at a north Sinai mosque, and in December 2017 they tried to kill the defense and interior ministers with a missile attack during an unannounced visit to the area.

North Sinai has long been under emergency law, with a nighttime curfew in place in some hot spots, but alert levels have been heightened in recent days due to the new offensive, called Sinai 2018. Hospitals in North Sinai and in other neighboring provinces have cancelled leave for doctors in anticipation of casualties, while many local gas stations and shops were ordered shut.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.)

The operation, announced in a televised statement by army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai, began early Friday and covers north and central Sinai as well as the Nile Delta and Western Desert and targets “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations.” It is unclear how long it will last.

In its latest update, Egypt’s military said it had killed a dozen militants in firefights and arrested 92 people, bringing the total militant body count to 28, based on earlier statements. It says it has destroyed dozens of targets, including vehicles, weapons caches, hideouts, communications centers and illegal opium fields in the sweep.

North Sinai is closed off for non-residents and journalists, and the army’s casualty figures could not be independently confirmed. Telephone connections to the area, both mobile and landlines, are often shut down as well. The army has not mentioned any killed or wounded on its own side.

Related: Top military leader at odds with Trump on ‘Islamic’ terrorism

The campaign also comes ahead of elections in which el-Sissi faces no serious competitors, after authorities sidelined his opponents using a variety of charges and disqualifications, leaving only a little-known supporter to run against him. El-Sissi, who held talks with Tillerson later in the day, says he is the only one who can bring stability to the country. Militant attacks, however, have surged under his leadership.

A video purportedly by Egypt’s IS branch has called on fighters to stage attacks during the presidential election, defiantly mentioning the offensive and warning Egyptians to stay away from polling centers. Voting will take place over three days — March 26, 27, and 28, 2018 — in what critics say is an attempt to increase participation by a disinterested public.

Washington, which gives Egypt some $1.3 billion in annual military assistance and hundreds of millions more in civilian aid, withheld some $100 million of the funding in summer 2017, ostensibly over new Egyptian legislation that blocks much foreign funding of non-governmental organizations, especially those involved in human rights research.

More reading: 9 places where ISIS is still a major threat

Asked about his country’s view of the upcoming vote, Tillerson said the U.S. always advocates for free and fair elections and would continue to do so. He did not specifically mention el-Sissi’s virtually uncontested election, or the aid being withheld. El-Sissi also faces criticism for quashing all dissent in the country, in what is the harshest crackdown in Egypt’s modern history.

“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections, not just for Egypt but any country,” Tillerson said.

In the evening, el-Sissi’s office said he “underscored the robust strategic relations between Egypt and the U.S.” when he met with Tillerson, urging further American engagement in the country.

“The President noted that Egypt looks forward to forging closer economic cooperation with the U.S. and to increasing American investments in Egypt,” it said in a statement.

Tillerson then left Cairo, traveling on to Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, where he will meet local officials as well as Saudi, Emirati, Iraqi and Syrian delegations.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea threatens to detonate ‘H-bomb’ in Pacific

Kim Jong Un issued an unprecedented threat directly to President Donald Trump Friday.


In response to the president’s warning at the U.N. that the America will “totally destroy” North Korea if the rogue regime attacked the U.S. or its allies, the North Korean leader threatened to “tame” Trump “with fire,” promising the “highest-level” action against the U.S.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho clarified exactly what this might mean.

“It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific,” he said, adding that he has “no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.”

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, detonating a suspected staged thermonuclear weapon, specifically a hydrogen bomb. The country has twice successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the U.S., and it North Korean state media has presented images of the warhead. Pyongyang has yet to put everything together and demonstrate its full capabilities though.

It is unclear how North Korea might choose to conduct its next nuclear test, but it could choose to carry out such a test with its new intermediate-range ballistic missile, which it has already fired over Japan twice.

Testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific would represent a new kind of North Korean provocation, one unlike anything the world has seen before. Kim is determined to prove that he will not be deterred by Trump. North Korea recently claimed that is close to achieving its nuclear goals, despite international pressure to rein in the aggressive little country.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia says fighter intercepted U.S. surveillance planes over Black Sea

Russia says a fighter jet intercepted two U.S. military surveillance planes in the Black Sea — the latest in a series of midair encounters between U.S., NATO, and Russian forces.

Military officials told the state TASS news agency on August 5 that the Su-27 jet met the U.S. planes in international waters in the Black Sea.

“The Russian fighter jet crew approached the aircraft at a safe distance and identified them as an RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft of the U.S. Air Force and an R-8A Poseidon, the U.S. Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft,” the Defense Ministry said.


There was no immediate confirmation of the incident from U.S. or NATO officials, though civilian radar-tracking sites showed U.S. aircraft in the Black Sea region on August 5, not far from Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Crimea was forcibly annexed by Russian in 2014, a move that few foreign countries have recognized. The peninsula is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and multiple military installations.

U.S. and NATO jets routinely intercept Russian surveillance and strategic bomber aircraft off NATO member countries and U.S. airspace over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The vast majority of incidents are routine and considered nonthreatening.

In May, a NATO official told RFE/RL that Russian military aircraft activity in the Black Sea and other parts of Europe had increased since 2014.

Last year, the official said that NATO aircraft took to the skies 290 times to escort or shadow Russian military aircraft across Europe.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These 8 military bases will test residents for cancer-causing chemicals

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the federal agency responsible for investigating environmental threats, will begin assessing residents near eight active and former military bases for exposure to chemicals found in firefighting foam and other products.

The CDC, along with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), will check for exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, referred to as PFAS compounds, which have been linked to infertility, immune disorders, developmental delays in children and some cancers.


The compounds are found in nonstick pots and pans; water-repellent and stain-resistant fabrics; and products that repel grease, water and oil. But they are also found, concentrated, in the foam used on military bases and at airports for fighting aviation fires.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

A C-130H Hercules drops a line of fire retardant.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

Research is ongoing into the public health consequences of PFAS compounds, but the Defense Department has identified 401 active and former bases where they are known to have been released into the environment.

Since 2015, the DoD has been testing drinking water systems both on and off bases for contamination. As of March 2018, the Pentagon had identified 36 sites that supply drinking water to installations that tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s accepted limits for PFAS contamination.

It also found 564 public or private drinking water systems off installations that tested above the EPA’s accepted limits.

The DoD is currently working to determine whether area residents were exposed and, if so, to switch to a clean water source and initiate cleanup. The CDC and ATSDR, meanwhile, are studying the extent of exposure and plan to launch studies to understand the relationship between PFAS compounds and health conditions.

The eight communities the agencies will examine this year are: Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska; Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; New Castle Air National Guard Base, Delaware; Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts; Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York; Reese Technology Center, Texas; Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington; and Shepherd Field Air National Guard Base, West Virginia.

The investigations follow exposure assessments conducted in Bucks and Montgomery counties, Pennsylvania, near the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, and the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton, N.Y.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

Firefighters train during an exercise at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base.

(DoD photo by Senior Airman Christopher Muncy)

CDC officials said the primary goal of the research is to “provide information to communities about levels of the contaminants in their bodies.” This information will help the communities understand the extent of exposure, they added.

“The lessons learned can also be applied to communities facing similar PFAS drinking water exposures. This will serve as a foundation for future studies evaluating the impact of PFAS exposure on human health,” said Patrick Breysse, director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and ATSDR.

In addition to the contamination of some base drinking water supply systems, DoD investigations found that the groundwater at some facilities contained PFAS compounds.

According to the DoD, as of August 2017, nine Army bases, 40 Navy and Marine Corps bases, 39 Air Force bases and two Defense Logistics Agency sites had groundwater levels of PFAS higher than EPA limits. The DoD tested a total of 2,668 groundwater wells for contamination, finding more than 60 percent above the EPA’s accepted limit.

According to the CDC, the community assessments will include randomly selecting residents to provide blood and urine samples to check PFAS levels. The exposure assessments will use statistically based sampling.

In May 2018, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that supports research and education on public health concerns related to environmental exposures, released an estimate that as many as 110 million Americans may have PFAS compounds in their drinking water.

A 2018 ATSDR draft toxicology report has associated PFAS compounds with ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease and high blood pressure in pregnant women. In addition, the most commonly used PFAS compounds have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer.

The Air Force in 2018 announced that it had completely transitioned its firefighting services to use foam considered safer to the environment than the original aqueous firefighting foam.

The Army also plans to replace its stockpiles and to incinerate the PFAS-containing foams.

In 2016, the Navy announced a policy to stop releasing foam at its shore facilities except in emergencies and had a plan to dispose of its excess foam. It also announced plans to dispose and replace all shore systems and fire trucks that use the PFAS-containing foam.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Lethal insider attack on U.S. troops expected to continue

In the wake of the second deadly insider attack in Afghanistan in 2018, experts say that these incidents are an unfortunate reality of the train, advise, and assist mission: that U.S. troops cannot avoid living among killers in disguise.

The latest suspected green-on-blue attack occurred Sept. 3, 2018. Killed in the attack was Command Sgt. Major Timothy Bolyard, the top enlisted soldier for the Army’s new 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade, a unit designed for Afghan advisory missions. One other service member, who was not identified, was wounded. Afghan security personnel or insurgents wearing Afghan uniforms are suspected in the attack.


In July 2018, an insider attack killed U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California and wounded two other U.S. service members, who were operating in the Tarin Kowt district of Afghanistan’s south central Uruzgan province.

Since 2007, insider attacks have killed 157 coalition personnel, according to the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The institute did not break down the numbers to show how many of the victims were U.S. personnel.

“It’s going to happen,” Jason Dempsey, an adjunct fellow for the Center for New American Security, told Military.com. “You are talking about a security force of about 300,000-plus. You’ve got changing loyalties, you’ve got desertion rates up to 25 percent … dudes are flowing out of the Afghan military nonstop.

“There is absolutely no way to stop it.”

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he is surprised that there have been so few of these attacks.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

U.S. Army Cpl. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California.

(US Army photo)

“It’s one thing to look back and say, ‘there were some of these incidents when you had 100,000 Americans in the field, but right now they are almost the inevitable option for the Taliban,'” Cordesman said.

“We have to understand — this is a war; it is a war being fought on an ideological level and ethnic and sectarian level. … I don’t want to say that this means you can disregard these sort of attacks, but I think given the numbers it’s not surprising that they are taking place. It is surprising that [the numbers] are so low.”

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan is now mainly dedicated to the train, advise, and assist missions working with Afghan forces that in many cases have never worked with U.S. personnel before, experts maintain.

“As an advisor, your primary means of force protection is your direct Afghan counterpart and it’s your direct Afghan counterpart who has the pulse on his organization,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey, an Army infantry officer who deployed twice to Afghanistan, said he investigated a green-on-blue incident in 2012 that left two U.S. contractors dead.

“A U.S. unit just showed up and hung out at a checkpoint with a bunch of Afghans, and there was a hothead in the group of the Afghans who the Afghans knew didn’t like Americans,” Dempsey said. “He was fighting the Taliban, but he didn’t like the Americans.”

An argument ensued and a “point-blank firefight broke out,” Dempsey said.

The investigation revealed that the Afghans said “if anybody would have told us that the Americans were going to show up, that dude wouldn’t have been there,” Dempsey said.

The U.S. military is investigating the Sept. 3, 2018 attack, as it does with all attacks of this nature.

“Almost inevitably, when there is an incident like that, people on both sides almost have to overreact,” Cordesman said. “First, you have to send a message that there is discipline and retribution; second, you have to reassure people and third essentially take time to investigate because what can be just a one case could become far more dangerous if there is any kind of cell.”

Trust is something that “you are always building and rebuilding,” Cordesman added.

The Sept. 3, 2018 insider attack occurred a day after Army Gen. Scott Miller assumed command of Operation Resolute Support. The change of command comes at a time when Taliban forces have increased their attacks on high-profile targets and rejected the recent offer for a ceasefire from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. and 6,400 NATO troops serving in Afghanistan.

“You have a very narrow, small part of American society taking all these risks for us,” Cordesman said. “We can’t eliminate those risks and be effective.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Lobster tails aren’t the problem with military spending, you monsters

In the wake of a startling report from the organization Open the Books showing massive federal government expenditures in the final month of the fiscal year, troops everywhere want you to know that they deserve steak and lobster every once in a while. But the Defense Department spending problems highlighted in the report may have little to do with surf and turf dinners.

The 32-page Open the Books report, published March 2019, showed the federal government as a whole spent an astounding $97 billion in September 2018 as the fiscal year was drawing to a close — up 16 percent from the previous fiscal year and 39 percent from fiscal 2015. DoD spending accounted for $61.2 billion of that spending spree, awarding “use-it-or-lose-it” contracts and buying, among other things, $4.6 million worth of crab and lobster and a Wexford leather club chair costing more than $9,300.


“This kind of waste has to stop. It’s an insult to taxpayers,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tweeted, sharing a Fox Business story about the seafood buy.

Military veterans were quick to protest, however, saying the nice food is often used by military units to boost morale on grueling deployments or to soften the blow when bad news comes.

“Surf turf night was a regular thing even when I was in Iraq,” tweeted Maximilian Uriarte, a former Marine Corps infantryman and creator of the popular comic strip Terminal Lance. “Feeding troops lobster a few times a year is not a waste of money.”

Fred Wellman, a retired Army officer and the CEO of veteran-focused PR firm ScoutComms, also chimed in.

“Nothing that ever beat the morale boost like steak and lobster night downrange. Period,” he tweeted. “Taking care of the troops that you and your peers sent to war isn’t ‘waste.’ Gutlessly letting the war go without supervision of the actual effort is! But no…let’s take their good food.”

Focusing on the lobster, though, misses the point on how the Pentagon’s spending habits actually do troops a disservice, according to Mandy Smithberger, director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project on Government Oversight.

“The lobster tail example captures one’s imagination, but that’s not where congressional oversight needs to focus,” Smithberger told Military.com. “As you see spending go up, you see the amount of this use-it-or-lose-it spending going up as well, and that’s really not to the good.”

She said the billions of expenditures demonstrated DoD efforts to “use money to paper over management problems.”

“None of our weapons systems are affordable and arriving on time; we can’t take care of military housing,” Smithberger said. “[There are] recruitment and retention problems; [the military] prioritizes procurement over training. As long as you keep having money thrown at these problems, people aren’t making tough decisions.”

For the Pentagon, the biggest year-end expenditure was professional services and support, accounting for .6 billion of spending in September 2018. Then came fixed-wing aircraft, a buy of .6 billion. Other top spending items include IT and telecom hardware services and support, .7 billion; combat ships and landing vessels, .9 billion; and guided missiles, nearly billion.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

(US Navy photo by Dale M. Hopkins)

More than the individual items and services purchased, the biggest problem may be the way the spending happens — and the perverse incentives not to end up with leftover money at the end of the year, because it might negatively impact efforts to obtain funds the following year.

“Congress is a lot of the problem,” Smithberger said. “Appropriators look and see whatever is not spent, they take and use for their pet project.”

As the Pentagon budget request continues to balloon year after year, Smithberger said she’d like to see incentives to save money and a system that would keep planners from worrying about a loss of resources the following year.

“If the department showed that it was able to save tens of billions of dollars, they would have a more credible case for the topline,” she said.

There’s plenty of evidence, Smithberger said, that money alone doesn’t solve or prevent institutional problems. For example, she said, the Navy was making big investments in shipbuilding when two guided-missile destroyers collided with commercial ships in separate deadly incidents within months of each other in 2017. While investigations did cite scarcity of resources, training was found to be a major shortfall contributing to the disasters.

When it comes to defense spending, “it’s a lot of hollow rhetoric and it’s really costly when we decide to only express our support through appropriations and not through real decision-making and responsibility,” she said.

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

Articles

This legend of Fort Bragg served with more than 20 different commanders

The walls of Travis Bell’s modest barbershop on Fort Bragg are lined with history.


Photos of Army heroes are here, men such as the late Col. Arthur D. “Bull” Simons, a Special Forces legend best known for leading the Son Tay raid during an attempted rescue of American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Former Army leaders have found their way on the walls, too, including Gens. Hugh Shelton, Ray Odierno, Lloyd Austin, and Stanley McChrystal.

Some are official photos. Others were taken from Bell’s barber chair in the center of his shop. In a few, it’s Bell in the chair and a general behind him, playfully holding a pair of clippers.

Nearly every photograph includes a handwritten note to Bell, who has been a fixture on Fort Bragg for more than half the Army post’s almost 100-year history.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
Travis Bell at work. DoD Photo by Spc. Paul A. Holston.

“Thanks for your dedication and friendship,” wrote Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, who served as a deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps from 2007 to 2009.

“Thank you for your friendship, support, and dedicated service to America,” wrote Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commanded the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg from 2005 to 2007.

“To Travis with deep respect,” wrote McChrystal, who served as chief of staff of the corps and later commanded Joint Special Operations Command and the US war in Afghanistan before his retirement in 2010.

After 50 years of standing behind his barber chair, Fort Bragg leaders pulled Bell out into the open July 7 to honor him for his decades of service.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. Photo from DoD.

Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps and the acting senior commander of Fort Bragg, said Bell has had a lasting impact on Fort Bragg and its leaders that stretches well beyond making them look good.

“He’s shaped a lot of leaders in the Corps,” the general said. “He has probably counseled every Corps commander since 1967.”

Bell, 77, has long served as a sounding board for soldiers across the 18th Airborne Corps, LaCamera said. And he has more time in the headquarters than anyone in history.

As a token of appreciation, the general presented Bell with a book full of handwritten letters from past Army leaders.

“The impact he’s had…” LaCamera said. “Who he has touched… It’s unbelievable. We’ve got a man who has had a tremendous impact.”

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
General Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera (right). Photo from DoD.

Bell opened his shop on Fort Bragg during the week of July 4, 1967. The then-27-year-old had worked on post for several months by that time — first at the old E-4 club, which would eventually become the Noncommissioned Officers Club, and then briefly at the 1st Corps Support Command headquarters.

Bell recalls accepting the job at the 18th Airborne Corps reluctantly.

In 1966, he turned down a similar job on Fort Bragg when he learned that the Corps headquarters was “where all that high brass” was stationed.

Instead, Bell kept working as a night foreman at a poultry plant in Robeson County. He cut hair on the side for a quarter or $.35 a cut.

When another job at Fort Bragg opened — this time with lower-ranking troops as the customers — Bell jumped at the opportunity.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA. Enlisted personnel barracks for the 1st Brigade. Photo by Jonas N. Jordan, US Army Corps of Engineers

“I was one of them,” he said of the privates and privates first class who were among his first customers on post. “I was right at home.”

It would take Bell weeks to feel comfortable cutting the hair of soldiers at higher ranks.

When a lieutenant sat in his chair for the first time, Bell said he froze.

“I got so nervous I couldn’t hardly finish,” he said.

When Bell was offered the job at the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters a second time, he said he felt he had little choice but to accept it.

“It was go there or go home,” he said.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Preston Cherry

Bell grew up on a Robeson County farm, one of nine boys who worked the fields alongside their father. Later, he would be a painter, carpenter, plumber and mechanic, and do other odd jobs along the way.

He said he viewed cutting hair as his way out of those jobs, learning from an older brother and practicing on his siblings.

But settling into his shop at the 18th Airborne Corps, Bell would have had no idea he would still be there 50 years later.

“I thought I wouldn’t even last the first day,” he said. “But I made it through that. Then I made it through another one. And another one.”

Bell estimates that he has cut more than a million heads of hair at Fort Bragg, although he said business is a lot slower these days, with much of the 18th Airborne Corps deployed to lead the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
DoD Photo by Cpl. Angelica Annastas

“My customers are over in the war,” he said.

Originally, Bell charged 90 cents per cut. Today, the cost ranges from $8.55 to $10.75.

Bell has cut the hair of 23 Fort Bragg commanders, starting with Lt. Gen. Robert H. York in 1967.

The general walked into Bell’s shop, shook his hand and introduced himself, Bell said.

“I was so nervous, to this day I haven’t told him my name,” he said.

Those nerves would eventually go away. And Bell would become a trusted counselor to Fort Bragg’s leaders.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, who retired on Fort Bragg last week after a career that culminated as vice chief of staff for the Army, said he sought out Bell to cut his hair one last time before he stepped away from the military.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
Gen. Daniel B. Allyn. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill.

Allyn thanked Bell alongside current and former Army leaders.

“Travis has been cutting the hair of airborne troopers for over 50 years,” Allyn said. “He lowered my locks one final time this week. Thank you for not only keeping us looking as good as possible but thanks for your constant reminder of the impact of faith in our lives.”

When not cutting hair, Bell is often seen reading from a Bible he keeps in his shop.

He said he still makes the drive from Lumberton to Fort Bragg each day.

The July 7 celebration was just one way the Fort Bragg community said thanks to Bell. It was also his first day back in a newly remodeled barber shop.

And on July 6, he rode in an airplane for the first time in his life, flying with the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights.

Bell still hasn’t been on a plane when it landed, though. The 77-year-old touched the ground while strapped to a member of the parachute team.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
A member of the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

“I’m airborne now,” he said July 7, proudly recalling the experience of the day before.

Bell said Fort Bragg is home now.

“They take care of me good around here,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure.”

And after 50 years, the barber has no plans to slow down.

“I’m enjoying it right now,” he said. “I don’t know when I’m going to retire.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35 fighters promise a powerful show of force for North Korea

The U.S. and South Korean militaries will join together for a final military exercise to close out a heated 2017 with F-22 and F-35 stealth jets training right off North Korea’s borders.


The exercise, called “Vigilant Ace,” will run from Dec. 4-8 and involve 12,000 military personnel between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as 230 aircraft, a defense official told the Wall Street Journal.

It will also be the first time six F-22 Raptors will visit South Korea, and it will focus on enemy infiltration and precision airstrikes, according to Yonhap news.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen

The drill will close out a heated 2017 where President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged vicious threats of destroying each other’s countries.

With the emphasis of stealth jets to the annual U.S.-South Korea exercises, this drill will be unlike any others. The US typically invites international observers to its military drills, but North Korea simply has no way to track stealth jets.

In late September the U.S. flew a B-1B bomber and a few F-15 fighter jets near North Korea, and Pyongyang never found out. In the past, the U.S. has had to tell North Korea about B-1B flights, because North Korea can’t detect them on their own, a South Korean defense official told NK News at the time.

That’s why stealth jets in South Korea is a nightmare for North Korea.

Also Read: Pacific Thunder, aka why North Korea cries, kicks off in South Korea

North Korea sees U.S. and South Korean military drills as preparation for an invasion to remove Kim. North Korea has specifically threatened to shoot down US B-1B bombers when they fly or where they rest at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Often, North Korea schedules its missile launches around the dates of U.S. and South Korean drills in protest.

But North Korea has no chance of spotting, tracking, or shooting down stealth jets, and the commonly accepted role of stealth platforms as being “door kickers,” or weapons systems to start wars off, will only aggravate Pyongyang’s worst fears.

So a year of record-high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea will end with practically invisible jets flying over the Korean Peninsula, and there is little that Kim Jong Un can do in response.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out this crazy impressive Marine Corps Air Station made of LEGO bricks

I was made aware of the stunning video below by my son Lorenzo, who’s a big LEGO fan. The footage has just been posted by the “Beyond the Brick” Youtube channel and shows the crazy cool MCAS Marine Corps Air Station that Paul Thomas put on display at Bricks by the Bay 2019, an annual gathering of LEGO builders, enthusiasts and fans held in Santa Clara in mid-July.

The LEGO diorama was inspired by Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms but it’s (obviously) not a replica: it is a fictional representation of a U.S. Marine Corps base with aircraft and vehicles that you could find at an MCAS. Thomas created the 10 x 7.5 feet diorama in modules (since his garage could not accommodate it all) in about 6 months.


The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

Another view of the Marine Corps Air Station by Paul Thomas.

(Screenshot from Beyond the Brick’s YT video)

Along with F-35B Lightning II jets, there are MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, CH-53E Super Stallion and AH-1Z Viper helicopters as well as a rotating radar, a security checkpoint at the gate of the base, hangars used for inspection and maintenance activities, various vehicles and much more.

Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

US Marines Air Base in LEGO | Bricks by the Bay 2019

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This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

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How long the US military would last in a war against the rest of the world

What would happen if the U.S. found itself facing off against the rest of the world? Not just its traditional rivals, but what if it had to fight off its allies like the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea as well?


The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
The British are coming! The British are coming! Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach

In short, America would stomp them. Especially if it pulled back to the continental U.S. and made its stand there.

First, the U.S. has the world’s largest Navy, by a lot. With ships displacing 3,415,893 tons, the mass of the U.S. Navy is larger than the next 8 largest navies combined. And the American ships, as a whole, are more technologically advanced than those of other countries. For instance, only America and France field nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. France has just one while America has 10 with an 11th on the way.*

And that’s before the U.S. Coast Guard gets into the mix. While the Coast Guard isn’t an expeditionary force, it could use its C-130s and other sensor platforms to give the Navy more eyes across the battlespace. It’s counterterrorism operators could protect government leaders and secure American ports.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
A U.S. Navy carrier sails next to a British raft aircraft carrier. Photo: US Navy Airman Robert Baker

So attacking America across the water is a horrible idea. (Got that North Korea and China?)

Second, America’s air power is the strongest in the world. Currently, it has approximately 14,000 planes and helicopters spread across the five services. That’s more aircraft than the next 7 countries combined.

The world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter, the F-22, would conduct constant air patrols across the land borders of the U.S. to prevent any incursion by enemy bombers. The Army’s Patriot missile launchers would help stop enemy jets or missiles and Stinger/Avenger missile crews would shoot down any low-flying planes or helicopters.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich

So the rest of the world’s militaries have to fight their way across a land border with the U.S. while their air support is falling in flames around them.

Guess what happens next?

The Army and Marine Corps’ almost 9,000 tanks would team up with thousands of Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicles, Apache and Cobra helicopters, and anti-tank missile teams carrying Javelins and TOW missiles to annihilate enemy armor.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
A U.S. Army Stryker combat vehicle firing a TOW missile. Photo: US Army Pfc. Victor Ayala

The world’s most advanced tanks, like the Leopard or the Merkava, would be tough nuts to crack. Artillery, aircraft, and anti-tank infantry would have to work together to bring these down. But most tanks worldwide are older U.S. and Soviet tanks like the Patton or the T-72 that would fall quickly to missile teams or Abrams firing from behind cover.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
M1 Abrams can kill most things. Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw

The other combat troops trying to make their way through the shattered remains of their air support and the burning hulks that were once their tanks would find themselves facing the most technologically advanced troops in the world.

American soldiers are getting weapon sights that let them pick out enemies obscured by dust and smoke. Their armor and other protective gear are top notch and getting better.

Chances are, even infantry from France, Britain, or Russia would have trouble pushing through the lines in these conditions. But even if they did, the Marines and 101st Airborne Division would be able to swoop in on helicopters and Ospreys while the 82nd Airborne Division could drop thousands of reinforcements from planes to close any openings.

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai

And all of this is before America becomes desperate enough to launch any nuclear weapons. If the enemy actually did make it through, they’d face nuclear strikes every time they massed outside of a city. And their forces still trying to reach the border would be easy pickings.

Minuteman III missiles are designed to strike targets far from American shores but they could annihilate an advancing army moving from Houston to Dallas just as easily. Navy Trident missiles could be fired from submarines in the Gulf of Mexico to destroy units waiting for their turn to attack at the border. Northern Mexico and southern Canada would become irradiated zones.

So don’t worry America, you are already behind one hell of an impenetrable wall.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said that only America field nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The Charles de Gaulle, France’s only aircraft carrier, is also nuclear-powered. WATM regrets this error.
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

4 ways the military prepared me to homeschool

Our family is discovering a new adventure as the pandemic continues and a normal school year is not on the horizon. I never, ever planned to be a homeschool mom. But when the pandemic hit and my boys were home each day, I realized how much I enjoyed their company and oddly how much I missed them each day they went to school. And while it requires a lot of flexibility to continue running my business, I know that homeschooling is the best option for our family. As a family, we have learned a lot about the advantages of homeschooling. And I’m quickly realizing my past life as an Air Force Officer is playing into my strengths when it comes to homeschooling. Here are a few ways the military prepared me to be a homeschool mom.


Moving forward with confidence

The military teaches you to make a choice and move forward. When our school district came out with the options for the upcoming school year, the options laid forward by the district didn’t feel like the right choice for our family. So, my husband and I decided to start looking into homeschooling. The more research we did the more confident we were in the choice to homeschool. Now that school is starting all over the country, I realize homeschooling was the best option for our family and I am thankful we made this choice months ago. I did the research, made a choice and am now moving forward with confidence. Just like the military trained me to do.

Know the Objectives, Create a Mission Plan

When people hear I am homeschooling they often ask what curriculum I am using. My answer: I’m not. I have done enough research on the standards that my boys need to meet by the end of the school year and am working to create tools we need to get there. I guess I have always been part of the unschooled philosophy and find lesson plans too restrictive. We have a schedule and a plan for each week, the military trained me for that too, but I also know where we need to go and don’t need any one person to tell me how to get there. My military background has me focused on the mission and I even have created waypoints throughout the school year to help access where we are, where we are going and I am ready to make adjustments along the way.

Delegate when necessary

While I’m really excited about teaching math and science, oddly enough, even though my job is to write, I don’t feel confident in teaching my son how to read. He is entering second grade and is behind in reading. Most of the homework around reading last year was filled with frustration on both my son’s and my part. So, my husband and I decided to delegate this responsibility. My husband and I did our research and we have started using the Easy Read System. It is a program that helps my son while I work along with him. It is a team effort and the best part? There is no yelling or frustration. It is actually fun, for both of us. He is making progress with reading and writing with this tool and I am excited to see what he learns over the next few months.

We also have been long time subscribers to Kiwi Co Science Crates. Each month we get a new Kiwi Crate for both my seven and four year olds. In the past, we focused on the activity and often didn’t dive into the extra resources provided. But now we are planning to not only enjoy the project that comes each month, but use the additional resources for science learning.

We are also relying on our Disney+ subscription, but not to watch Mickey Mouse. Both our boys also have a love of animals so we have been using Disney+ Natural Geographic Channel to learn about different animals each week. We also are big fans of PBS Kids, Khan Academy Kids and Sesame Street’s Alphabet Kitchen.

Think outside the box

I’m also planning lessons throughout the year for things I have always wanted to do and never have had the time to do. We are planning to use Truth in the Tinsel’s Advent calendar and crafts for the Christmas season. We already planted pumpkins in the Spring and have been using them to learn about how things grow throughout the summer. And we are planning to plant a garden in the Spring. We use the kitchen to expand our classroom by creating yummy treats like Taffy and Blueberry Pie.

Almost every question my boys ask can turn into a classroom adventure. And as long as we stay focused on the standards set by the school, we are finding a lot of flexibility in our home classroom.

Yes, the military training even applies to homeschooling and oddly enough it isn’t as rigid as I expected. What does your school year plan look like? What tools from your life experience are you using to help get through this unsettling time?

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The Albanians are selling MiGs at bargain-basement prices

The US and Egypt will now team up to fight ISIS in the Sinai
A former AAF Shenyang J/F-6, rusting away at Kucove Air Base. Photograph by Rob Schleiffert, 2007


If you’re in the market for a used fighter jet that can still fly, the Albanian Air Force would like to talk with you in the near future before they run out of stock!

Forty Cold War-era fighter jets have been put up for auction by the Albanian government with the goal of eventually selling all of its retired fixed-wing fleet to whoever has the highest bid. Of that forty, eleven fighters parked at the old Rinasi air base near Tirana are currently open for immediate sale, with opening bids beginning at 1.1 million to 1.9 million leks. Yes, million, and no, that’s not actually a lot of money when you do the currency conversion. Overall, it comes to the grand range of $8,600 to $14,800 USD, according to the Associated Press.

That pretty much means anybody with a job could probably afford to buy one of these fighters… not including transportation, maintenance, and insurance costs. Not to mention operational costs if you decide to actually fly these aircraft.

It’s somewhat unclear whether or not these fighters up for sale are actually MiGs or the Chinese clone copies, though a closer inspection of each aircraft will undoubtedly reveal their source. The Albanian Air Force originally fielded Soviet-built MiG-15s, -17s, and -19s, though it began to procure Chinese-made clones after Albanian relations with the USSR ended in 1961. Albania eventually bought large numbers of Shenyang J-5s and J-6s (MiG-17s and MiG-19s respectively) and a smaller fleet of Chengdu J-7s (MiG-21s).

Before you tell your wife you’re about to take out a second mortgage on your house, or your college roommates that you just found something really sweet to pool your money on, you should probably be aware of the fact that the Albanian Air Force had an astoundingly high accident rate with its fighters. When the USSR ended diplomatic ties with Albania, it became incredibly difficult to find parts and the appropriate jet fuel for their MiG fighters, so Albania spurred on its industry to attempt to produce a similar fuel composition to keep their fighters flying. The fuel wasn’t similar enough, and apparently wreaked havoc on the engines it was burned in, shortening their lifespans, and in some cases, outright blowing up aircraft while in-flight.

If the test sale of the 11 MiGs (or Shenyangs?) is successful, the remaining fighter fleet will be opened up for sale. Prospective bidders include museums around the United States and Europe, as well as private bidders who just want the aircraft to add to their collections. I can’t say with certainty that the TACAIRNET team won’t try to bid on one, either… So you’d better hurry if you’re looking to have a MiG-17 parked in your driveway by the end of this year!

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