These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s turbulent Helmand province, US Marines are rekindling old relationships and identifying weaknesses in the Afghan forces that the Trump administration hopes to address with a new strategy and the targeted infusion of several thousand American forces.


Returning to Afghanistan’s south after five years, Marine Brig. Gen. Roger Turner already knows where he could use some additional US troops. And while he agrees that the fight against the Taliban in Helmand is at a difficult stalemate, he said he is seeing improvements in the local forces as his Marines settle into their roles advising the Afghan National Army’s 215th Corps.

Turner’s report on the fight in Helmand will be part of a broader assessment that Gen. Joseph Dunford will collect this week from his senior military commanders in Afghanistan.

Dunford landed in Kabul Monday with a mission to pull together the final elements of a military strategy that will include sending nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops into the country. He will be meeting with Afghan officials as well as US and coalition military leaders and troops.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Afghan Air Force Brig. Gen. Eng A. Shafi. DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

The expected deployment of more Americans will be specifically molded to bolster the Afghan forces in critical areas so they can eventually take greater control over the security of their own nation.

The Taliban have slowly resurged, following the decision to end the combat role of US and international forces at the end of 2014. The NATO coalition switched to a support and advisory role, while the US has also focused on counter-terrorism missions.

Recognizing the continued Taliban threat and the growing Islamic State presence in the county, the Obama administration slowed its plan to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of last year. There are now about 8,400 there.

But commanders have complained that the sharp drawdown hurt their ability to adequately train and advise the Afghans while also increasing the counter-terror fight. As a result, the Trump administration is completing a new military, diplomatic, and economic strategy for the war, and is poised to send the additional US troops, likely bolstered by some added international forces.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Photo: USMC

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will be in Brussels later this week and is expected to talk with allies about their ongoing support for the war.

While Turner said he has already seen improvements in the Afghan’s 215th Corps, he said adding more advisers would allow him to pinpoint problems at the lower command levels, including more brigades.

“The level and number of advisers you have really gives you the ability to view the chain on all the functional areas. The more areas you can see — you can have a greater impact on the overall capability of the force,” he told the Associated Press in an interview from Helmand Province. “If we had more capacity in the force we would be able to address more problems, faster.”

He said that although the Afghan forces have improved their ability to fight, they still need help at some of the key underpinnings of a combat force, such as getting spare parts to troops with broken equipment.

The seemingly simple task of efficiently ordering and receiving parts — something American forces do routinely — requires a working supply chain from the warehouse to the unit on the battlefield.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Kentucky Guardsmen train Afghans. DoD Photo by Lt.j.g. Bryan Mitchell

And Turner said that’s an issue that could be improved with additional advisers.

Other improvements, he said, include increasing the size of Afghanistan’s special operations forces and building the capacity and capabilities of its nascent air force.

The Afghan ground forces in Helmand, he said, have been able to launch offensive operations against the Taliban, including a recent battle in Marjah.

“I don’t think last year they could have taken the fight to Marjah like they just did,” he said. “They’re in a much better position that they were a year ago.”

But they are facing a resilient Taliban, whose fighters are newly financed, now that the poppy harvest is over.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

“Once they draw their finances, they start operations,” said Turner. “What we’ve seen so far since the end of May, when they made that transition, is a steady grind of activity across a number of places in the province.”

What has helped a lot, Turner said, is his Marines’ ability to renew old relationships with Afghan tribal elders, provincial ministers, and military commanders they worked with six or seven years ago.

Battalion officers they knew then are now commanders, and many government leaders are still in place.

“We obviously have a long commitment here in Helmand. It’s been good for the Marines to come back here,” he said. “This is a really meaningful mission. I think people realize that we don’t want to get into a situation where the kinds of pre-9/11 conditions exist again.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

How America trained its first super-secret frogmen

1st Marine Raider Support Battalion held an event giving U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command personnel the opportunity to learn about the involvement of World War II Raiders in the war and their legacy that lives on at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 29, 2017. World War II Marine Raiders played a large role in the success of World War II, on and off the battlefields.


Many in attendance know of the World War II Raiders’ victories on the battlefield, but their aid off the battlefield is less known. With the establishment of the Office of Strategic Services came the creation of the OSS Special Maritime Unit Operational Swimmers, also known as the country’s “first frogmen.” The Raiders’ facilities and training methods became the foundation of the operatives’ training and preparation for the war.

The assistant operations officer for 1st MRSB introduced Erick Simmel, the battalion’s guest speaker who would lecture on the history of the OSS Maritime Unit. Accompanying Simmel at the lecture was the last living OSS Special Maritime Unit operative, Henry “Hank” Weldon.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reorganized the Office of the Coordinator of Information into the Office of Strategic Services, after U.S. entry into World War II. OSS founder Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, a World War I hero and Wall Street lawyer, restructured the organization to similarly match the British Special Operations Executive and Secret Intelligence Service operations.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

“The intent was to create an elite agency with units created for conducting guerrilla warfare as well as collecting and sabotaging intelligence behind enemy lines,” said Simmel, an OSS Maritime Unit descendant and historical expert of World War II special operations forces.

One of the many units created were the frogmen. These men received an extraordinary waterman-operative skillset to use during World War II operations. The men who made it into the unit were the first swimmers sent to attend the Marine Raider Training Course at Camp Pendleton in the fall and winter of 1943-1944. These men were trained in both Marine Raider skills and underwater demolition techniques.

The purpose for both training courses was to prepare the operatives for reconnaissance, underwater demolition, infiltration and exfiltration by sea and intelligence gathering. Though equipment, tactics and techniques have changed over the last 70 years, today’s Raiders and the OSS frogmen emphasize the same skillsets in training.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
MARSOC Raiders conduct swim training. Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Donovan Lee

After the lecture, the Raiders were introduced to weapons and equipment used during that time period at a series of static displays. Amongst those displays were images of the frogmen and Raiders collaborating with allied British forces.

British special operators also participated in the frogman training pipeline, developing their skills under the tutelage of Raider instructors. Along with attaining new training, British and U.S. forces exchanged information on warfare tactics, technology and logistical concepts to use against German forces. The training consisted mainly of techniques needed for infiltration by sea.

Instructors for this course consisted of World War II Raider officers and enlisted personnel, who trained the frogmen in mock attacks designed to test harbor defenses. In one exercise scenario, combat swimmers were tasked with successfully breaching America’s maritime harbor defenses.

“They gave us a bunch of dummy TNT at high tide, dropped us off about a half-mile offshore and told us to plant it all along the coast while our commanding officers kept watch,” said Weldon. “One of the commanding officers said he thought he saw something, but they didn’t see us. When daylight came, the tide went out and all you could see was the dummy TNT all along the shore.”

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
U.S. Marine Corps Raiders hit the island of Makin in World War II. (Photo: Public Domain)

This ability to get in and out without detection, allowed the World War II Raiders and Navy frogmen to be two of the most effective fighting forces of World War II. The skills learned from the World War II Raiders and used by the OSS Special Maritime Unit A swimmers proved the value of their direct action operations behind enemy lines during World War II.

As World War II came to a close, President Harry S. Truman dissolved the OSS and its Special Maritime Units. The lineage and legacy of the first frogmen carries on today in elements of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command’s SEAL community and the modern Raiders of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command.

MIGHTY HISTORY

After 75 years, members of 101st Airborne share ties to Battle of the Bulge

Seventy-five years ago in Bastogne, Belgium, German soldiers captured American Pfc. Marold Peterson of the 422nd Infantry Regiment, 106th Infantry Division. Peterson escaped from the work camp where we was held prisoner, only to be captured again and killed by Hitler Youth.

Sgt. Travis Paice, the great-grandson of Peterson, said it is surreal to be in Bastogne where Peterson lived his last moments.

“Maybe he was standing right where I stood,” Paice, a soldier with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, said.


Paice is one soldier with family ties to the World War II Battle of the Bulge who participated in the 75th anniversary commemoration ceremonies and parade. Sgt. Coleton Jones of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101 Airborne Division, is another.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

US infantrymen crouch in a snow-filled ditch, taking shelter from a German artillery barrage during the Battle of Heartbreak Crossroads in the Krinkelter woods, December 14, 1944.

(Pfc. James F. Clancy, US Army Signal Corps)

Jones’ great-uncle Ed Jones was a Sherman tanker with the 10th Armored Division during World War II. While Jones is unsure of his great-uncle’s rank, he heard stories growing up about his service from his father and uncle. During the Battle of the Bulge, three of Ed Jones’ tanks took extreme damage.

On his last time evacuating a Sherman tank, he took shrapnel from a German stick grenade in his leg and was captured as a prisoner of war. He was missing for about four months until a Canadian HAM radio operator intercepted a message from the Germans including the locations of POWs from both American and Allied forces.

“It’s amazing to feel like I am walking in his footsteps,” said Jones of walking through the streets where his great uncle served. “To see Bastogne and where he was is a sobering feeling.”

On December 14, 2019, American and Belgian soldiers, along with members of the Bastogne community and World War II veterans, marched in a parade through the town center. Guests of honor, including Prime Minister of Belgium Sophie Wilmes, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the US Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz threw walnuts from the balcony of the Bastogne City Center into the crowd.

The nut throwing, or “Jet de Noix,” commemorates Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s famous response of “Nuts” when petitioned by the Germans to surrender.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

Anthony C. McAuliffe, left, and then-Col. Harry W.O. Kinnard II at Bastogne.

(US War Department)

Both Jones and Paice said they felt a great sense of pride knowing their unit has lineage to World War II and the Battle of the Bulge.

Paice had the opportunity to fly his great grandfather’s flag at the 101st Airborne Museum in Bastogne. He plans on gifting the flag to his grandfather, who is also a veteran.

Before arriving in Bastogne, Paice was given documents by the Army which provided an account of his great grandfather’s capture. He brought these documents with him as a reminder of what his family had endured. While Paice said the documents do not go into much detail, it is just enough to be harrowing.

“I never knew him, and my grandfather never knew him, but to get, somewhat, a little bit of closure was a little surreal,” Paice said.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

Sgt. Coleton Jones of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101 Airborne Division, center, meets reenactors at a community event at the Bastogne Barracks in Bastogne, Belgium, December 14, 2019.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Erica Earl)

Paice said the most emotional part of his great grandfather’s history is knowing that American soldiers liberated the prisoner camp Stalag IX-B, also known as Bad Orb, the day after he was killed in his effort to escape.

According to Army documents, soldiers in that prison were starved, with many men weighing only between 70 and 80 pounds when they were rescued.

As soldiers lined up to prepare for the parade, there was a mixture of snow, rain and harsh winds as temperatures dropped, but participants acknowledged that was nothing compared to what Soldiers who had gone before them endured.

Jones said if he could say something to his great uncle, it would be “thank you.”

“Thank you for paving the way for us and giving everything for our values, our freedoms and our allies’ freedoms,” Jones said in heartfelt appreciation to both is late great uncle and veterans of World War II.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This mini A-10 Warthog can guard your yard

A remote control airplane hobbyist has modified a model A-10 Thunderbolt II to conduct Nerf strafing runs on T-72 cardboard tanks and uploaded the results to YouTube. The modified, remote control A-10 can fire 12 paper-tank-busting Nerf balls in under half a second. You know, just in case your yard is overrun with mini Soviet tanks.


 

 

A-10 Warthog
If you’re really bored, you can make one out of legos, too.

 

The RC A-10 can also fire three darts for taking out hard targets. Though reportedly not made from depleted uranium, the darts have more heft and better ballistic properties than the Nerf rounds, but they’re still loaded into the primary tube. That means backyard commanders have to decide their weapons layouts before the mission. It’s three darts or 12 balls, not both.

Both primary weapon loads of the A-10 are on display in the full video:

The Air Force is continuing to look at potential replacements for the full-sized A-10. It’s original replacement, the F-35A, achieved initial operating capability on Aug. 2, but Congress has pressured the flying service to look into a new attack plane to support ground troops.

Despite its impressive performance against cardboard tanks and low cost, the RC A-10 has a number of drawbacks that will likely prevent its purchase by the Air Force.

First, the RC A-10 is manufactured by an untested contractor, YouTube user ajw61185. More importantly, it fires all of its rounds in a single burst, requiring it to return to its base to rearm after a single pass.

Critics of the RC A-10 point out that it was developed for a very different yard than exists today and claim the platform is simply outdated. Modern yards contain advanced sprinklers that the RC A-10 has no countermeasures with which to defend itself. The more stealthy RC F-35 might be able to avoid many of these sprinklers, but it has yet to reach the fleet due to frequent cost overruns and malfunctions.

Still, the RC A-10 is probably fine for home use and so could be used by defense-minded property owners to deter cross-border actions by stray dogs, squirrels, and other aggressors.

(h/t Foxtrot Alpha)

Intel

This Army veteran charged the Oregon college shooter to save others

During the shooting on Oregon’s Umpqua Community College campus, a 30-year-old Army veteran named Chris Mintz attempted to charge the gunman while trying to save others. The Daily Beast reported this was his fourth day back at school at UCC and is also his son’s sixth birthday.


He heard the gunshots and charged at the attacker to prevent him from entering the room. Mintz was shot at least five times and had two broken legs, but survived his wounds, undergoing surgery at a local hospital.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Facebook Photo

Mintz is a North Carolina native who joined the Army right after graduating from high school. He was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington and moved to Oregon after leaving the Army and wants to be a personal trainer.

His family members told Greensboro, NC FOX affiliate WGHC both of his legs are broken and he will have to re-learn to walk, but he is now recovering and expected to survive. No vital organs were hit.

The gunman killed ten people before first responders killed him.

MIGHTY FIT

From the football field to the battlefield: 7 vets with NFL ties

The National Football League has been plagued by questions of patriotism in the last few years. But whether or not the NFL kneels or stands this year, it’s important to remember that some of the players and coaches have served, too.


These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

1. George Halas

Halas was instrumental in the creation of the NFL and responsible for founding the team that went on to be the Chicago Bears in 1920. Nicknamed “Papa Bear,” Halas coached the Bears for 40 seasons, leading them to six NFL titles. Halas served in the Navy during World War I and returned to Navy service from 1942-1945.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

2. Ralph Wilson, Jr.

Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2009, Wilson founded the Buffalo Bills following his service in the Navy during World War II. He was also instrumental in the merger between the AFL and the NFL in 1970.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

3. Kevin Greene

Greene retired from the NFL in 1999 and ranks third among all-time sack leaders. He led the NFL twice in that category with an impressive career playing for the Steelers, Rams, Panthers, and 49ers, with five appearances in the Pro Bowl. Greene was a member of ROTC at Auburn and served 16 years in the Army Reserves.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

4. Alejandro Villanueva Martínez

Villanueva is an offensive tackle for the Steelers. A veteran Army Ranger, Villanueva was a captain in the Army, served in Afghanistan, and was decorated with a Bronze Star.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

5. Tom Landry

Hall of Famer Tom Landry was a coaching phenom for the Dallas Cowboys. He led his team to two Super Bowl titles and had 20 straight winning seasons. Equally impressive was Landry’s service in the Army Air Corps during World War II. The B-17 co-pilot flew 30 missions and survived a crash in Belgium. He passed away in 2000 at age 75 as a legend and a hero.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

6. Dick “Night Train” Lane

The Hall of Famer had an incredible 68 career interceptions during his time with the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, and Detroit Lions. For nine straight years (1954-1963), Lane earned first or second-team All-NFL honors. He played in seven Pro Bowls and during his rookie season, had an unprecedented 14 interceptions – a record that still stands today. Lane served in the Army during both World War II and the Korean War.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

7. Roger Staubach

Staubach, nicknamed “Captain America,” won the 1963 Heisman Trophy during his time as quarterback at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduation, Staubach served his commitment in the Navy, which included a tour in Vietnam. Following his service, Staubach joined the Cowboys and played in Dallas for all 11 seasons of his professional football career. During his tenure, the Cowboys won two of their five Super Bowl appearances.

The list of NFL greats who served their country continues with inspiring men like Pat Tillman, George McAfee, Mike Anderson, and so many more. But for every big name in the NFL, there are countless men that gave up their football dreams to serve their country.

You may not have heard of Jack Ankerson, but he only played three NFL exhibition games in 1964 before Uncle Sam called him up to serve his time. By the time his commitment was done, so was his chance to play in the NFL. But Jack, like so many others who chose service above self, is everything that’s right with America and the sports we love to watch.

Whether they’re a hometown hero or a household name, we salute all of our football playing and football-loving veterans.

Articles

Take a moto break with these 11 photos of U.S. military fighters breaking the sound barrier

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
An F/A-18C Hornet breaks the sound barrier. | US Navy


At a speed of about 767 miles per hour, depending on temperature and humidity, a moving object will break the sound barrier.

It was not until World War II, when aircraft started to reach the limits of the sound barrier — although without successfully breaking the barrier into supersonic speed — that the term came into use. Now, More than 70 years later, military aircraft can routinely break through the barrier and travel at incredible speeds.

The pictures below demonstrate the still amazing visual effects that occur as military aircraft punch through the sound barrier and travel faster than sound itself.

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 breaks the sound barrier during an air power demonstration over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

An F/A-18 Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron 137 breaks the sound barrier during an air power demonstration above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 breaks the sound barrier during an air power demonstration over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Bounty Hunters of Strike Fighter Squadron 2 breaks the sound barrier during a fly-by of USS Ronald Reagan.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 breaks the sound barrier during an air power demonstration over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 breaks the sound barrier alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during an air power demonstration.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Navy

US Air Force Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Williams performs a Sneak Pass during the Boston-Portsmouth Air Show at Pease Air National Guard Base.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Air Force

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron 41 breaks the sound barrier during an air power demonstration for participants of a tiger cruise aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley | US Navy

Capt. Norbert “Smurf” Szarleta, commanding officer of Carrier Air Wing 17, breaks the sound barrier in an F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter during an air power demonstration aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Chief Petty Officer Augustine Cooper | US Navy

An Air Force F/A-15 Strike Eagle reaches the sound barrier during the San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Cpl. Salvador R. Moreno | USMC

An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 breaks the sound barrier over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during an air power demonstration.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Evans | US Navy

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.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Fears of a US missile strike forced Russia’s navy to leave Syria

President Donald Trump’s threat to bomb Syria despite Russia’s ally ship and protection of Syrian forces has yielded an immediate and tangible result — Russian warships docked in Syria have left port for fear for their safety.

“This is normal practice” when there is the threat of an attack, Vladimir Shamanov, the head of Russia’s defense committee in its lower house of parliament, told Russian media.


Satellite images on April 11, 2018, captured 11 ships leaving, including a submarine and some offensive ships, in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s threat. With the ships at sea, and moving, they can better situate themselves to avoid fighting on land, and spread themselves out.

As the ships were in port, a single pass of a few US bombers could have easily decimated the fleet.

Trump’s threat scrambles Russia, Syria’s militaries

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Russia announced it will pull the bulk of its troops from Syria starting March 15, in a process that could take up to 5 months.
(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation photo)

Trump’s promised military strike on Syria has yet to materialize, though the US, its allies, Syria, and Russia all seem to have moved their assets around in preparation for battle.

Syria relocated its air assets to Russian bases, likely to put them under Russian protection, and the US has dispatched an aircraft carrier to the region.

According to Dimitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russia and Eurasian studies, Russia has also flown in aircraft that specialize in anti-submarine warfare, as speculation that the US or its allies might fire submarine-launched missiles at Syrian targets builds.

While Trump has done nothing militarily to respond to the recent chemical weapons attack the US blames on Syrian forces, the president has rallied US allies and Russia on the defensive by promising action Moscow can’t hope to stop.

“Putin is not interested in a shooting war with the West,” Gorenburg said. Due to the extreme risk of war escalating into a nuclear conflict between the world’s two greatest nuclear powers, and the fact that “the Russian conventional forces just aren’t as strong as the US forces,” such a fight “would not be a good outcome for Russia.”

Trump will reportedly warn Russia before the strike, but does Putin trust him?

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile in Mediterranean Sea which U.S. Defense Department said was a part of cruise missile strike against Syria.
(U.S. Navy photo)

A report from Russian media said that the US had been coordinating with Russia to avoid Russian casualties in a US strike on Syria, and that the US would inform Russia of the targets before the strike. The Kremlin’s spokesperson also said that Russia and the US had actively been using an established hotline to avoid military clashes.

Russia’s move to send their ships from port may reveal that they don’t know really know what’s going on, and either can’t predict or can’t trust how Trump will approach the strike.

Russia “really did not respect Obama and felt that they had not figured out US foreign policy,” Gorenburg said. “From that point of view, dealing with Trump is a little bit more fraught.”

Articles

How the US military prepares to take any airbase, anywhere in the world, in just 18 hours

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Paratroopers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, begin an assault on an enemy-held urban environment as part of a live-fire range at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, August 10, 2015. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull


What happens when all hell breaks loose and the US military needs to act within hours?

Enter the 5,000 specialists of Global Response Force, from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Brigade, Joint Special Operations Command, and the US Air Force, capable of deploying to any location on earth within 18 hours.

“We need to have demonstrated legitimacy in this capability. It’s our muscle. It’s us flexing our muscle. Nobody wants to get in the ring with the undefeated heavyweight champion,” Staff Sgt. Dillon Heyliger said of the GRF.

In the slides below see how the GRF trains to take enemy airfields with overwhelming force.

The first wave is an airborne assault with the goal of taking control of an enemy airfield.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
US Army photo

Within minutes, paratroopers are on the ground putting heavy lead downrange.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Spc. Francisco Matinez provides security during a tactical logistics convoy across the desert at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. | 82nd Airborne Division photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

As with any good military exercise, casualties and injuries are simulated to help train field medics.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Paratroopers provide immediate medical aid to a simulated gunshot casualty during a tactical logistics convoy across the desert at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. | Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

Specialized vehicles pour an overwhelming number of soldiers onto the scene.

In addition to infantry, sniper teams provide support during the mission …

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Snipers in ghillie suits hide among the brush during Operation Dragon Spear. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

… and they’re gone as quickly as they came.

High-mobility artillery rocket systems live up to their name and quickly launch devastating salvos against the enemy.

As the night rolls in, AH-64 Apache helicopters fly and light up the sky with their 30 mm guns.

Once the first wave secures the area, they prepare for the second echelon of aircraft and heavy vehicles to move in. Armored vehicles are flown in to reinforce the infantry’s gains.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
A Stryker vehicle from the 2nd Infantry Division rolls out of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft following a joint forcible-entry operation for Operation Dragon Spear at Fort Irwin, California, August 6, 2015. | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

Here come the Abrams and Bradley tanks.

Paratroopers complete the raid of the airbase, and use it in the future as a forward operating base for US forces.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Paratroopers clear buildings during an assault on an enemy-held urban environment at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California | Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch this Russian fighter nearly collide with Navy plane

The U.S. Navy has released video of a Su-27, a Russian fighter, conducting an extremely dangerous maneuver against the crew of an EP-3 Aries plane taking part in Trident Juncture, the massive NATO war games that have sent the Russian military into a tizzy.


The depicted aerial maneuvers, which included the Russian plane flying within a few feet of the U.S. aircraft with engines roaring, were seemingly conducted solely with the intention of threatening the unarmed plane. The intercept included two passes and lasted for approximately 25 minutes. According to a Navy statement,

On Nov. 5, 2018, a U.S. EP-3 Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27. This interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk. The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second.

The Navy pushed the Russian forces to follow international agreements and cited the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA), an agreement originally between the U.S. and the Soviet Union which covers interactions between naval forces.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

A U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane

(U.S. Navy)

Article IV of the agreement specifically calls for commanders of aircraft to “use the greatest of caution and prudence in approaching aircraft and ships of the other Party,” something that this November 5 incident seems to be a flagrant violation of. This follows a November 2 incident in which a Russian bomber flew nearly directly over a U.S. command ship, the USS Mount Whitney.

A Pentagon spokesperson told Business Insider that Russia failed to make radio contact with the plane before conducting its maneuvers, making this interaction especially dangerous.

This sudden increase in incidents is no accident. NATO’s Trident Juncture war games are a response to increasing Russian aggression, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and election meddling across the Europe and the U.S.

The military exercises have triggered a series of responses from Russia, which include the dangerous intercepts, a huge missile exercise announced and held in the middle of NATO’s training, and an increased naval presence in the waters in and around the exercise.

Russia’s concerns about the large exercise ring hollow, though, since Russia held the Vostock 2018 war games in September, which it claimed was its largest exercise since the Cold War. While Russia inflated the size of Vostock, claiming 300,000 troops where there may have been as few as 150,000, it was still much larger than Trident Juncture, which has only 50,000 participants.

But Trident Juncture is still frightening for Russia as 30 nations are taking part. Vostock had only three participants: Russia, China, and a small Mongolian force. And Trident Juncture includes nations that are Russian neighbors and either members of NATO or friends of the alliance, posing a big threat to Russia’s ability to push around its neighbors.

Articles

This is why people yell ‘Geronimo’ when jumping from heights

Watch cliff divers, bungee jumpers, or even just kids fooling around and jumping into a lake. At some point, one or more of them will yell “Geronimo!” It’s a safe bet that at some point, we’ve all yelled this name.


These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
No one louder than Geronimo’s seven wives.

It seems like a pretty random thing to yell when jumping from a bridge, cliff, or plane, but it’s actually from the military tradition of paratroopers yelling it as they jumped from a perfectly good airplane.

But where did the paratroopers come up with it?

It dates all the way back to the origin of paratroopers. In 1940, the Army was still developing the strategy of dropping troops out of planes. On the eve of the first test jump, soldiers from from Fort Benning started a night of drinking with a viewing of a wild west movie beforehand. This was likely the 1939 film “Geronimo” starring Andy Devine and Chief Thundercloud.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

After the movie, Pvt. Aubrey Eberhardt boasted that he wasn’t scared of the jump, despite being the tallest man in the unit. This caused his fellow soldiers to call him out on his bragging, saying he would forget his name at the door, as the troops were supposed to shout their name when they jumped.

Everyone in their jump group successfully jumped — all the soldiers remembered their names and shouted them as they made their jumps.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan
Hot Shots has the answer to everything.

The 6’8″ Eberhardt did them one better — when his turn at the door came, he shouted “Geronimo!”  — and a new military tradition was born.

Some of the top military brass weren’t in love with the new tradition, but others thought it evoked the bravery and daring of the Apache chief — the last holdout against American expansion to the West. They let the paratroopers keep the tradition.

Civilians just kinda took it from the paratroopers. And who could blame them, with that kind of pedigree?

MIGHTY TRENDING

$6.7 billion list of projects that could get bumped for border wall include military

The Pentagon released a list March 18, 2019, of hundreds of military construction projects worldwide totaling nearly $6.8 billion, many of which could be delayed or have funds diverted to fund the southern border wall.

The release of the list by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to the Senate Armed Services Committee came a day after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went on Sunday network talk shows to state that there was no existing list of projects facing cancellation and “it could be a while” before one was delivered to Congress.


The list was first made public by Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, ranking member on Senate Armed Services, on March 18, 2019, and later released by the Pentagon.

Projects include, among others, a million training support facility at Fort Rucker, Alabama; a million vehicle maintenance shop at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; to a million unmanned aerial vehicle hangar at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea; and million for a “parking structure” at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

According to an accompanying statement, the list is a complete accounting of all projects still unawarded as of Dec. 31, 2018. Not everything on the list is eligible for reallocation; only projects with award dates after Sept. 30, 2019, qualify, and no military housing, barracks or dormitory projects can be touched, officials said.

“The appearance of any project within the pool does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used to source section 2808 projects,” the Pentagon said in the statement.

The full list is here.

“We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall,” said Reed, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, in a statement. “And now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result.”

The fact sheet accompanying the list held out the possibility that none of the targeted military construction projects “would be delayed or cancelled” if Congress passed the requested 0 billion defense budget by the Oct. 1 deadline for the start of fiscal year 2020.

Under the national emergency declared at the southern border by President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2019, the administration has been seeking an initial .6 billion from military construction projects to fund additional construction of the wall.

Another possible .6 billion from military construction for the wall was included in a .2 billion “emergency fund” that was part of the administration’s overall 0 billion request for next fiscal year.

In his statement, Reed charged that Trump was “planning to take funds from real, effective operational priorities and needed projects and divert them to his vanity wall.”

These US Marines are going back to their old battlefields in Afghanistan

President Donal Trump.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

He said the funding would “come at the expense of our military bases and the men and women of our Armed Forces who rely on them.”

The existence of the list and its release has been a source of controversy since Trump declared a national emergency Feb. 15, 2019, after Congress rejected his request for .7 billion for the wall, resulting in a 35-day partial government shutdown.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the budget March 14, 2019, Shanahan agreed to the requests of several senators for the list of military construction projects. He said the list would be provided by the end of the day, but phoned Reed later to say the list would not be forthcoming.

A spokesman for Shanahan told Military.com March 15, 2019, that the list was still being worked on and would be provided to the “appropriate government officials.”

Under the emergency, Trump was seeking a total of about .2 billion for the wall, including .6 billion from military construction.

Both the Senate and the House have now passed a “motion of disapproval” against the national emergency and Trump last Friday signed a veto of the motion, the first veto of his presidency.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has scheduled a March 26, 2019 vote to override the veto, although it appears that both the House and the Senate lacked the two-thirds majority necessary to override.

On CBS’ “Face The Nation” program March 17, 2019, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, charged that the White House was withholding the list to avoid possible Republican defections in the House override vote next week.

In his statement March 18, 2019, Reed made a similar suggestion.

“Now that members of Congress can see the potential impact this proposal could have on projects in their home states, I hope they will take that into consideration before the vote to override the President’s veto,” Reed said.

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

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