Notorious former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has held talks with government representatives in eastern Afghanistan after years outside the country, his first public meetings with officials from the Western-backed government since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
The meetings on April 28 came after Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami militant group signed a peace agreement with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in September. Under the deal, he was granted amnesty for past offenses in exchange for ending his violent 15-year insurgency against the government.
The controversial peace deal has been criticized by many Afghans and by Western rights groups, which accuse Hekmatyar’s forces of gross human rights violations during Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990s and cite their deadly attacks on U.S. and Afghan forces since 2001.
The war in Afghanistan began in 2001 with the aim of removing the Taliban from power. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released)
Hekmatyar met on April 28 with Laghman Province Governor Abdul Jabar Naimi and Ghani’s security adviser, Juma Khan Hamdard.
He arrived two days earlier in the province, which lies between Kabul and the border with Pakistan, where he is believed to have been in hiding.
Naimi said Hekmatyar had “promised full cooperation” with the government and added that he hoped the peace deal would “revive hopes for enduring peace in Afghanistan,” according to a statement.
Hekmatyar had been expected to make a public appearance in Laghman on April 28, marked in Afghanistan as the 25th anniversary of the defeat in 1992 of the formerly Soviet-backed government by armed insurgents known as the mujahedin.
But the event was canceled without explanation.
A Hezb-e Islami spokesman told RFE/RL that Hekmatyar’s appearance had been rescheduled for April 29.
Hekmatyar’s supporters have erected large billboards across Kabul in anticipation of his first public appearance.
Hekmatyar founded Hezb-e Islami in the mid-1970s. The group became one of the main mujahedin factions fighting against Soviet forces following their invasion in 1979, and then one of the most prominent groups in the bloody civil war for control of Kabul after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Hekmatyar, a former prime minister under the mujahedin government, was one of the chief protagonists of the internecine 1992-96 war. Rights groups accuse Hekmatyar of responsibility for the shelling of residential areas of Kabul in the 1990s, as well as forced disappearances and covert jails where torture was commonplace.
He was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. State Department in 2003.
Under the peace agreement, Hekmatyar will be granted amnesty for past offenses and certain Hezb-e Islami prisoners will be released by the government. The deal also includes provisions for his security at government expense.
In February, the UN Security Council lifted sanctions on Hekmatyar, paving his way to return to Afghanistan.
The controversial peace deal was a breakthrough for Ghani, who so far has had little to show for his efforts at ending the country’s 16-year war.
While the military wing of the Hezb-e Islami led by Hekmatyar has been a largely dormant force in recent years and has little political relevance in Afghanistan, the deal with the government could be a template for any future deal with fundamentalist Taliban militants who have also fought Kabul’s authority.
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is not only the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), the fourth-largest military in the world.
North Korea’s military is part of its foundation; Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom,” used his own military service — as a guerilla fighting against the Japanese occupation of Korea — to burnish his cult of personality, according to Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield’s book, “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.”
Military service is baked into the North Korean constitution; “National defense is the supreme duty and honor of citizens,” it says, and military service is generally compulsory. Kim has never served in the North Korean military but reportedly graduated near the top of his class at a prestigious military academy, a claim that experts and a former North Korean military member found highly suspect.
North Korea spends approximately 25% of its GDP on its military, including its nuclear program, spending .5 billion each year on its forces between 2004 and 2014. It boasts 1.1 million troops, about 5% of its population, according to CFR.
According to North Korean propaganda, the 35-year-old Kim Jong Un prepared to lead this massive force by attending Kim Il Sung Military University in Pyongyang; experts said it was more likely that he had received some instruction from military trainers associated with this university.
Some propaganda accounts cited by Fifield say Kim, who reportedly started at the academy when he was 18, was such a natural at military strategy that he was soon training his instructors.
Kim’s ‘elite’ alma mater
Kim Il Sung Military University is a “military institution for educating elite military officers,” according to Bruce W. Bennett, senior defense analyst at The RAND Corporation. It was established in 1952, according to North Korea Leadership Watch, and is one of several military training schools.
“The students of this university are middle level officers such as majors and lieutenant colonels,” Bennett said, equating the university to institutions like the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
“It is the university that is a gateway to becoming a senior officer in the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Most of North Korean military generals studied in this university when they were mid-career,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.
An image of Pyongyang, with Kim Il Sung Military University outlined.
(North Korea Leadership Watch/Google Images)
Fifield’s book, and official North Korean propaganda, report that Kim studied here alongside his older brother, Kim Jong Chol.
“It was their mother’s idea to send them to the military academy, a way to bolster her sons’ claim to succession,” Fifield writes. Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Chol are the children of Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hui, to whom he was not officially married. Kim Jong Il installed Ko Yong Hui and her sons in a home in his compound, ensuring they were well cared for.
Kim Jong Un reportedly entered the university in 2002, after his early education in Switzerland, and began studying “juche-oriented military leadership,” Fifield writes, referring to the North Korean concept of juche, or self-reliance. Juche is essential to the North Korean identity, although the country was economically dependent on the Soviet Union until its collapse. China is now its most important economic relationship.
“I would expect that most of the training at Kim Il Sung Military University would be on military operations, military history, and political indoctrination,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.
“But a big part of the curriculum is likely also competition between the personnel to see how they deal with each other physically and mentally, which leads to forming bonds of friendship critical as officers are promoted.”
‘A natural at military strategy’
While Kim Jong Un never served in the KPA, North Korea Leadership Watch (NKLW) contends that it’s likely some students are able to enter Kim Il Sung Military University without any prior service, straight out of high school.
NKLW describes Kim Il Sung Military University as modeled on Soviet military academies; while there might be classes on North Korean military history, the structure and academics of Kim Il Sung Military University find their closest analogs in the Soviet system.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.
According to North Korean official state media, Fifield writes, Kim Jong Un was “such a natural at military strategy that he was instructing the instructors rather than learning from them.”
He graduated on Dec. 24, 2006, Fifield writes, “with honors,” after writing a final dissertation on “A Simulation for the Improvement of Accuracy in the Operational Map by the Global Positioning System (GPS).”
But a former member of the North Korean military who now lives in the US and is familiar with the Kim family said it was unlikely that Kim Jong Un actually attended Kim Il Sung Military University, at least not in the traditional sense.
“According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong Un attended Kim Il Sung Military University, but I couldn’t find any of his classmates or Army mates. If he really attended that university, somebody should know that he attended,” the former military member said.
“If Kim Jong Un actually attended that college, he has pictures, he has a record, and he has friends. But [none] of the North Korean elite could find his picture and his friends. I think it’s a kind of propaganda,” the former military member said, noting that the North Korean propaganda department would have exploited any evidence of Kim Jong Un having attended the university to build up his cult of personality.
Rather than actually physically attending classes, there were “probably private instructors visiting his house to give him a lecture,” the former military member said.
“Kim Il Sung Military University is a more closed university, the students are military officers, not civilians, so they can keep the secret that Kim Jong Un didn’t actually attend.”
Kim would have been unique in attending the military school named for his grandfather; “I don’t think most of the Kim family become military officers — they avoid becoming military officers,” the former military member said.
“They have a good life […] they don’t need to go [in] the military to risk their lives.”
In order to qualify for a school like Kim Il Sung Military University, potential recruits must have, “superior service records, excellent physical condition and trusted political reliability” and have “a flawless family background, be popular among fellow soldiers, and receive the approval of their commanding and political officers,” according to Joseph Bermudez’s book “Shield of the Great Leader: The Armed Forces of North Korea.”
NKLW contends that Kim probably had private tutoring for at least a few years, and that he was likely a very good student, exhausting teachers with his questions. The academics on military operations are thought to be rigorous, even if it’s unlikely Kim also participated in the physical and professional competitions that other students must face.
In whatever capacity he studied with the university’s instructors, it influenced his relationship with the North Korean military today, in particular the aggressive missile testing North Korea undertook under the third Kim leader.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Soldiers and their spouses now have two big ways to advance their professional goals, thanks to two new Army initiatives. Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston recently spoke with We Are the Mighty to explain the Army’s new Credentialing Assistance Program and the changes to the Army’s Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program, both designed to give soldiers and their spouses better career options.
Grinston said that under the Army Credentialing Assistance Program, active, Guard and Reserve soldiers would be able to receive up to $4,000 annually to use toward obtaining professional credentials, in much the same way that tuition assistance is currently available. In fact, a soldier can use both tuition assistance and credentialing assistance, but the combined total cannot exceed $4,000.
“The world has evolved and some of these credentials are equally important to a college degree,” Grinston said. “We want to give all opportunities to our soldiers, and not just limit them to a 4-year degree. We have the best soldiers in the world and they do incredible things in the Army, and they should be able to keep doing those things when they get out. It’s good for them and it’s good for the military – we’re making better soldiers, as well as better welders and better medics.”
Soldiers are now able to use credentialing assistance for any of the 1,600 professional credentials currently available in the Army Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) portal, and the credentials they pursue do not have to align with the soldier’s military occupational specialty (MOS). Right now, the most popular credential soldiers choose to pursue is private airplane pilot, he said.
“We allow you to get a credential in your interest because your interests may change over time. I don’t think we should limit our soldiers to their MOS. It’s all about making a better soldier, and at some point, everyone leaves the military, so I don’t think we should limit them to their MOS.”
Grinston said the Credentialing Assistance Program reflects the priority Chief of Staff of the Army James McConville set to put people first, and he said that commitment extends beyond the soldier to the soldier’s spouse and family, too. That’s why the Army is doubling the maximum amount available under the Spouse Licensure Reimbursement Program from 0 to id=”listicle-2645503326″,000 and expanding the program so that spouses who move overseas will also be eligible to be reimbursed for licensing fees.
“We ask a lot of our spouses, we ask them to do a lot of things. We want them to be able to get relicensed, but we’ve been making them pay for that out of pocket,” Grinston said. “If we’re going to put people first, we need to put resources behind that.”
The motivation for changing the spouse licensing reimbursement program came from experiences Grinston has seen with his wife, a teacher, as she tries to re-enter the workforce.
He also said it arose out of the small group meetings he regularly holds with Army spouses around the country. During a session at Ft. Knox, a military spouse told him that she was a behavioral health specialist and that when they moved, the state of Kentucky required her to take more credits in order to be licensed.
“We still have a long way to go, but I’m working with state reciprocity so we can do more for spouses as we move them from one location to the next,” Grinston said, noting that that particular spouse’s story really struck him. “We need behavioral health specialists to work. We need them right now.”
He said that the Army is working with every state to align licensure requirements so that a spouse who is licensed and working in one state will be able to continue working when their family moves with the Army. Internally, the Army is also looking at ways to streamline the screening process for jobs at Army Child Development Centers (CDCs) so that a spouse who has already passed the background screening and is working at one CDC will not have to resubmit to the screening process when the family moves.
“If you’ve already gone through the background screening for, say, the CDC at Bragg and now you’re moving to Hood, you shouldn’t have to go through the screening again,” Grinston said. “We need CDC caregivers, now. If we hire more, we can add a classroom, and that’s 10 more kids off the waitlist. Less of our kids on the waitlist, that’s another way we can put people first. People first is something we’ve always tried to do, and now we’re trying to do it even better.”
It turned from a localized problem to pandemic – first hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands were infected. The 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak grew exponentially worse despite efforts to slow its spread. Similarly, Polio was once one of the most serious communicable diseases the world faced, but today, it is nearly eradicated due to vaccine development. The Ebola virus is just as lethal, but there is no Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine for it… yet.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department partnered with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and Merck to develop a vaccine to protect warfighters and the public against future Ebola outbreaks.
Scientists at USAMRIID completed four non-human primate studies to evaluate the protective efficacy of Merck’s Ebola vaccine, V920. Researchers also tested the vaccine in clinical trials within the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa.
USAMRIID examined the durability of immunogenicity and protection post-vaccination correlation. This data will be pivotal in extrapolating human immune response statistics. Further, researchers will also use the information to predict populations at risk for Ebola.
Conducted at USAMRIID’s biosafety level 4 laboratories, this joint effort will be instrumental when applying for licensure with both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.
DTRA’s continued effort to enhance the combat support mission also advances public health services by developing innovative technologies that protect against biological threats.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Sept. 14 he will retaliate against a US halt on the issuing of most visas to senior foreign ministry officials and their families by suspending missions by US military-led teams searching for the remains of Americans missing in action from the Vietnam War.
Cambodia’s pro-government Fresh News website reported that Hun Sen said cooperation with the United States on the MIA search would be suspended until the two countries resolve several issues, especially the visa ban. Government spokesman Phay Siphan confirmed the report.
The US government lists 48 Americans still unaccounted for in Cambodia.
The dispute comes at a time of sharp tensions between Hun Sen’s government and Washington. As part of a general crackdown on critics ahead of next year’s general election, Cambodian authorities recently arrested the head of the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and accused the United States of colluding with him to overthrow the government.
The United States has rejected the accusation and criticized the arrest, along with a crackdown on the media that shut an independent English-language newspaper and about a dozen radio stations that broadcast opposition voices or programming by the US government-financed Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.
The US Embassy instituted the visa ban on Sept. 13, saying that Cambodia had refused or delayed accepting Cambodian nationals being deported by the United States after being convicted of crimes. Similar measures were taken against the African nations of Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Hun Sen said in an interview with Fresh News that the foreign ministry would send a notification of the MIA search suspension to the US in the near future. Earlier Sept. 14, the ministry denied that Cambodia had halted or delayed the acceptance of deportees, saying its main interest was amending a 2002 agreement under which it agreed to take them.
Hun Sen described the repatriation of convicts from the United States to Cambodia as an action that “breaks apart parents and children” and is “bad and inhumane.” He said some of the repatriated Cambodians had committed suicide.
Some human rights groups agree and note that some convicts had spent little time in Cambodia, going to the United States as children.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. These drone laws & regulations are continually changing, and you should not rely solely on the lists herein. Please look up your state’s current laws and/or contact an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or restrictions apply to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in your area.
Recreational vs. Commercial Drone Regulations
One of the biggest hurdles to mass adoption of drones is the numerous regulations that restrict what drone owners and operators can do. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has several regulations that have hindered drone market growth.
The most prevalent of these restrictions is the one colloquially known as the “line of sight rule,” which mandates that drone operators keep the unmanned aircraft within eye shot at all times. This clearly removes any potential application for drones in the delivery space, as the need to keep a drone in line of sight at all times defeats the purpose of sending off a drone to drop off a product at a consumer’s home.
But there are different FAA drone rules for commercial use and for recreational use. Recreational drone laws are in some ways more lax than commercial ones, but the line of sight remains pivotal (more on these laws later).
Drone Pilot License and FAA Laws & Regulations
“Do I need a license to fly a drone?” “Do I need to register my drone?” These are two of the most common questions prospective drone owners ask.
As of a law passed on January 3, 2018, a recreational drone user must register their drone with the FAA, mark the outside of the drone with the registration number, and carry proof of registration when flying. Furthermore, the pilot must fly only for recreational purposes.
This next portion is crucial: The pilot must keep the drone below 400 feet in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. This simply refers to airspace where the FAA is not controlling manned air traffic, which means it is safe to fly your drone there. Fortunately, most drones and their accompanying mobile apps provide guidelines to help identify appropriate airspace and height.
The FAA has a full list of drone rules and guidelines here.
The FAA’s online registration system went into effect on Dec. 21, 2015. This required all UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds to be registered.
Since then, the number of drones registered in the U.S. has been increasing. More than 900,000 owners had already registered by the end of 2018, and monthly owner registration averaged between 8,000-9,000 during the full year 2018, according to the FAA.
As of December 10, 2019, there were 1,509,617 drones registered with the FAA. This includes 1,085,392 recreational drones and 420,340 commercial drones, as well as 160,748 remote pilots certified.
State and Local Laws & Regulations
In addition the federal laws, several states have enacted drone regulations of their own. Here’s a breakdown of drone regulations by state:
Alaska state law HB 255 passed in 2014 places limits on how law enforcement can use drones in their operations, which includes but is not limited to how and whether they can save images and video captured by drone.
SB 1449 passed in 2016 is quite robust, and includes the following regulations:
Drones cannot interfere with police, firefighters, or manned aircraft.
Flying a drone in what is considered “dangerous proximity” to a person or property is deemed Disorderly Conduct.
Drones must stay a minimum of 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of any “critical facility.” These include but are not limited to courthouses, hospitals, military installations, water treatment and oil and gas facilities, and power plants.
Any city or town in Arizona with more than one park must permit the usage of drones in at least one of those parks.
Cities and towns in Arizona may not craft their own drone laws.
Arkansas has several state laws regarding drones. Act 293 forbids the use of drones to invade privacy and commit video voyeurism. Act 1019 forbids the use of drones for surveillance of “critical infrastructure.” And am Arkansas State Park Regulation passed in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in any Arkansas State Park without first acquiring a Special Use Permit from the Office of the Director.
The most populous state in the union has three laws regarding drones. Civil Code Section 1708.8 forbids the use of drones to record another person without their consent. SB 807 grants immunity for first responders who damage any unmanned vehicle that interferes with first responders during emergency services. Related, AB 1680 makes it a misdemeanor for drones to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.
HB 1070 passed in 2017 requires the Center of Excellence within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study on the integration of drones within state and local government operations that relate to certain public safety functions. The law also created a pilot program to facilitate this goal.
Meanwhile, Colorado State Parks Regulation #100-c.24 in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in Colorado State Parks with the exception of designated areas.
SB 975 prohibits municipalities within the state from regulating drones with the exception of municipalities that are also water companies, which can regulate or forbid the use of drones over said municipality’s public water supply and land.
DEEP 23-4-1 prohibits the use of drones at Connecticut State Parks, State Forests or other lands under the control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the exception of those specifically authorized by the Commissioner through a Special Use License.
HB 195 forbids flying a drone over any event with an attendance greater than 5,000 people (such as concerts, sporting events, auto races, and festivals), as well as any critical infrastructure (such as government buildings, power plants, water treatment facilities, military installations, oil and gas refineries). Lastly, the law forbids cities and towns in Delaware from crafting their own drone laws.
Criminal Code Section 934.50 forbids the use of drones for surveillance that violates another person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes law enforcement, however police can use drones with a valid search warrant, if there is a terrorist threat, or “swift action” is needed to prevent loss of life or to find a missing person, per SB 92. That same law also allows someone harmed by the inappropriate use of a drone to pursue civil action.
HB 1027 forbids local regulation of drones, but does allow for local legislatures to craft some drone laws related to “nuisances, voyeurism, harassment, reckless endangerment, property damage, or other illegal acts.” It also forbids also the use of drones over or near critical infrastructure in most situations, and bans the possession or use of a weaponized drone.
Finally, Florida Administrative Code 5l-4.003 forbids the usage of drones on managed lands (such as Florida state parks and forests) with the exception of runways or helispots and only with authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 481 preempts Georgia’s local governments from creating drone regulations after April 1, 2017. This law also permits state and local governments in Georgia to regulate the launch or landing of drones on public property.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also has rules and regulations that forbid the use of drones in Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites, with some exceptions for waivers for professional commercial projects that could help generate revenue or promote those sites. Prior authorization is required for such exceptions.
Act 208 created a drone test site advisory board, along with a chief operating officer to oversee the site.
Idaho Code 36-1101 forbids the use of drones to hunt, molest, or locate game animals, game birds, or fur-bearing animals. Idaho Code 21-213 mandates warrants for law enforcement to use drones, creates guidelines for drone use by private citizens, and outlines civil penalties for damage caused by improper use of drones.
Illinois has one of the more thorough sets of state drone laws in the nation.
20 ILCS 5065 created the Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act charged with regulating commercial and private drones. These regulations include landowners’ rights, operational safety, and privacy rights.
HB 1652 prohibits the use of drones to interfere with the activities of hunters or fishermen.
SB 1587 permits the use of drones by law enforcement with a warrant for counterterrorism, to prevent harm, or to thwart the impending escape of a suspect. If used, law enforcement agencies must destroy all information gathered by the drone within 30 days, with exceptions made if the information contains reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
SB 2937 relaxes regulations on drone usage by law enforcement during a disaster or public health emergency, and creates rules for how law enforcement can acquire and use information gathered from a private party’s use of drones.
Finally, SB 3291 forbids cities, towns, and other municipalities from enacting regulations or restrictions on the drone use, with the exception of municipalities with more than one million residents.
Indiana has multiple state drone laws, starting with HB 1009, which created warrant guidelines for law enforcement use of drones and other real-time geolocation tracking devices. The law also created a Class A misdemeanor called “Unlawful Photography and Surveillance on Private Property,” in which a person intentionally conducts electronic surveillance of another’s private property without permission.
HB 1013 permits drone use to photograph or video a traffic crash site, while HB 1246 forbids drone use to locate game during hunting season.
SB 299 created two Class A misdemeanors tied to drone use. The first is “sex offender unmanned aerial vehicle offense,” in which a sex offender uses a drone to follow, contact, or surveil another person under conditions that prohibit said offender from doing so. The second is “public safety remote aerial interference offense,” in which a person uses a drone in a manner that obstructs or interferes with a public safety official performing his or her duties. Both offenses become level 6 felonies if the guilty party has a prior conviction under the same section.
Finally, IAC 312 8-2-8 (i) forbids drone use on Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property, which includes state parks; however, the DNR can grant licenses to use drones at its discretion.
The Hawkeye State’s lone drone law, HB 2289, forbids any state agency from using drones to enforce traffic laws and insists upon a warrant or other lawful measure to use any information obtained by drones in any civil or criminal court proceedings.
SB 319 expands the definition of harassment in the state’s existing Protection from Stalking Act to include particular drone uses.
HB 540 permits commercial airports to design their own drone facility maps and forbids drone use in certain areas designated by said maps.
HB 1029 created the crime of unlawful drone use, defined as the intentional use of a drone to surveil a location without the owner’s prior written consent.
SB 183 regulates drone use for agricultural commercial operations, while SB 141 clarifies that some drone surveillance constitutes criminal trespass.
HB 635 added drones under the crimes of voyeurism and video voyeurism, and HB 335 authorized the establishment of registration and licensing fees for drones in Louisiana at a $100 limit.
HB 19 forbids drone use to surveil school rounds or correctional facilities, while SB 73 expands the definition of obstructing an officer to include intentionally crossing a police barrier with a drone. SB 73 also permits law enforcement and the fire department to disable drones if they endanger the safety of the public or an officer.
Lastly, SB 69 insists that only the state, not local governments, can regulate drone use.
Sec. 1. 25 MRSA Pt. 12 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain approval before acquiring drones and lays out other rules for police use, such as warrant requirements.
Section 14-301 establishes the state’s power over local authorities to create laws that regulate drone operation.
Furthermore, SB 992 outlines several prohibitions for drones, all of which classify as misdemeanors. First, local governments cannot regulate drones except if the drone belongs to the locality. Second, the law allows commercial drone operation provided the FAA has authorized the user to do so commercially, and allows recreational use under federal law compliance.
Third, SB 992 forbids drone use that interferes with emergency personnel, to harass any individual, to violate restraining orders, or to capture photo or video that invades a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Finally, the law forbids sex offenders from using drones to photograph, follow, or make contact with an individual they are forbidden to contact.
Minnesota Statute 360.60 mandates that all recreational and commercial drone operators register their drone with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Commercial operators must have drone insurance per the requirements set forth under Minnesota Statute 360.59. Furthermore, all commercial operators must pay a licensing fee for a Commercial Operations License, according to the Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Rules Chapter 8800.
In the Big Sky State, SB 196 outlines that information gained from drone use is only admissible in court when obtained with a search warrant or through some other exception recognized by the courts.
HB 644 forbids drone use that interferes with efforts to suppress wildfires.
Amendments 362, 640, and 746 officially define drones as aircraft, which regulates drone operations. This law also prohibits weapons on drones and forbids the use of drones within a certain distance of airports and other “critical” facilities. Finally, it places restrictions on drone use by law enforcement.
SB 3370 is a robust law that establishes several guidelines for drone use:
Permits drone use in accordance with federal law
Classifies drone use in a way that endangers the life or property of another as a disorderly person offense.
Establishes that is a fourth-degree crime if an individual “knowingly or intentionally creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or security of a correctional facility by operating an unmanned aircraft system on the premises of or in close proximity to that facility”
Outlines that using a drone to interfere with a first responder is a criminal offense
Allows drone owners of critical infrastructure to apply to the FAA to forbid or limit drone use near said infrastructure
Classifies operating a drone under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater as a disorderly person offense
Forbids local governments from regulating drone use in any way that conflicts with this law
Appropriately, the state that was “First in Flight” was also one of the first to adopt a truly detailed set of drone laws, starting with SB 744 in 2014, which established requirements for recreational, commercial, and government drone use.
SB 446 gives North Carolina’s Chief Information Officer the power to approve drone use by state agencies, mandates tests for drone operations, and establishes a permit process for commercial drones.
HB 128 forbids drone use near a correctional facility, with the exception of certain official use or other prior authorization.
HB 337 permits drone use for emergency management activities. It also makes adjustments to align the state law with federal law, and exempts model aircraft from the state’s training and permitting requirements for drones.
Finally, NCAC 13B.1204 forbids drones to take off or ascend at any state park area without a special permit from the park.
North Dakota Code Sec. 29-29.4-01 restricts drone use to surveillance, crime investigation, and other law enforcement uses. It also mandates law enforcement have a warrant to do so.
HB 2559 forbids drone use within 400 feet of any critical infrastructure facility.
HB 2710 established quite a few drone regulations, including:
Creating new crimes and civil penalties for mounting weapons on drones, as well as interfering with or obtaining unauthorized access to public drones
Allowing a law enforcement agency to use a drone with a warrant and for exceptions such as training
Requiring any drone operated by a public body to be registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (DOA)
Allowing a landowner under certain conditions to take action against an individual operating a drone lower than 400 feet over their property
SB 5702 set the fees for registering a public drone. HB 4066 clarified and modified some drone definitions and made it a class A misdemeanor to operate a weaponized drone. It also regulated public drone use and mandated policies and procedures for data retention.
HB 3047 adjusted the law forbidding weaponizing drones by making it a class C felony to fire a bullet or projectile from such a device. It also prohibits drone use over private property in any way that intentionally or recklessly harasses or agitates the property’s owner or occupant. Finally, it allows law enforcement to use drones to reconstruct accident scenes.
Lastly, The State Fish and Wildlife Commission forbids the use of drones to hunt, fish, or trap animals and prohibits using drones to interfere with hunters.
Title 18 Section 3505 forbids drone use to intentionally surveil other people in a private place, to use a drone in a way that puts another person in reasonable fear of injury, or to operate a drone to handle contraband.
Title 53 of Section 305 builds upon this law by having Title 18 Section 3505 preempt any laws or resolutions of other municipalities. Furthermore, municipalities cannot regulate ownership and operation of drones unless authorized by statute.
HB 7511 provides exclusive regulatory power over drone use to the state and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, in accordance with federal law. It also prevents local governments from crafting their own drone laws.
Title 250 of Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations forbids drone use at any Rhode Island state park without a special use permit, typically issued for professional filming and media companies. Furthermore, the law also bans drone use to harass or disturb individuals, wildlife, or natural resources at a state park.
SB 80 mandates that drone operation complies with appropriate FAA requirements. It also classifies drone use over military and correctional facilities as a class 1 misdemeanor. Delivering contraband or drugs by drone to a correctional facility is a class 6 felony under this law. Finally, it amends the crime of unlawful surveillance to include intentional drone use to observe or record an individual in a way that violates their reasonable expectation of privacy, and forbids landing a drone on someone’s property without consent. Unlawful surveillance is a class 1 misdemeanor.
The much simpler SB 22 grants exemptions from aircraft registration requirements for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.
The Volunteer State has six drone laws to consider. SB 796 permits law enforcement to use drones with a search warrant in cases of high-risk terrorist attacks or if quick action is necessary to prevent clear and present danger to life. Any evidence obtained in violation of this law cannot be admitted in state criminal prosecutions, and the law creates opportunities for those wronged by such evidence to take civil action.
SB 1892 classifies intentional drone surveillance of an individual or property, and possessing images from said surveillance, as Class C misdemeanors. Distribution or use of those images is a Class B misdemeanor.
On a similar note, SB 1777 makes it a Class C misdemeanor for any private entity to use a drone to conduct video surveillance of someone who is hunting or fishing without their consent.
HB 153 forbids drone use to capture footage above open-air events and fireworks displays. HB 2376 clarifies that individuals can use drones on behalf of both public and private institutions of higher education.
Finally, SB2106 makes it illegal to operate a drone within 250 feet of a critical infrastructure facility in order to surveil or gather information about said facility.
HB 912 detailed 19 lawful uses for drones and also created two new crimes: illegal use of drones to capture images, and the offense of possessing or distributing said images.
HB 1481 classifies drone use over a critical infrastructure facility if the drone is not more than 400 feet off the ground as a Class B misdemeanor. Meanwhile, HB 2167 allows individuals in certain professions to capture images for use in those professions via drone as long as no individual can be identified in the images.
HB 1643 forbids local governments from regulating drones with the exception of special events and when the drone is used by the locality. HB 1424 forbids drone use over correctional and detention facilities. It does the same for sports venues, with some exceptions.
SB 840 allows telecom companies to use drones to capture images. Furthermore, it clarifies that only law enforcement can use drones to capture images of property within 25 miles of the U.S. border for border security reasons. Lastly, it permits insurance companies to use drones to capture images for certain insurance purposes, according to FAA regulations.
Finally, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Policy bans drones in Texas State Parks without a permit, with the exception of Lake Whitney and San Angelo. Individuals can also request permits for drone use at state parks.
SB 196 mandates that law enforcement obtain a warrant before using drones in any location where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Related, SB 167 regulates drone use by the government and establishes that law enforcement must have a warrant to obtain, receive, or use any data from drone use.
HB 296 permits law enforcement to use drones to capture footage at testing sites, or to find a lost or missing person in an area in which a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy.
HB 217 forbids individuals from using drones to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly harm, actively disturb, or chase livestock.
Finally, SB 111 established several regulations for drones:
Creates cases for law enforcement to use drones for purposes not related to a criminal investigation
Mandates law enforcement create an official record of drone use to provide information on that use and any data acquired from it
Preempts local regulation of drones and exempts drones from aircraft registration in Utah
Classifies flying a drone with a weapon attached or carried on it as a class B misdemeanor
Modifies the offense of criminal trespass to include drones entering and remaining unlawfully over property with specified intent
States that a person is not guilty of what would otherwise be a privacy violation if the person is using a drone for some legitimate commercial or educational purpose under FAA law. It further amends the offense of voyeurism (a class B misdemeanor) to include the use of any technology, including drones, to secretly capture video of an individual under certain circumstances
SB 155 mandates that law enforcement report annually on drone use by the department, regulates said use, and forbids weaponizing drones.
In 2013, HB 2012 forbade drone use by any state agency “having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations,” as well as units of local law enforcement, until July 1, 2015.
HB 2125 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant before using a drone for any purpose, with a few exceptions. Meanwhile, HB 412 forbids local government regulation of drones.
SB 873 specifies that the fire chief or other ranking officer at a fire department has the authority to maintain order at an emergency site, which includes the immediate airspace where drones might fly.
Finally, HB 2350 classifies using a drone to trespass on another’s property to peep or spy on them as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The Washington State Legislature allows drone use in any state park area with written permission, wherein the director or designee can set restrictions. The operator must have said permission on them when using the drone.
HB 2515 forbids hunting, taking, or killing wild animals with drones. HB 4607 mandates that operators have permission from the State Park Superintendent to fly drones in any of West Virginia’s state parks.
SB 338 bans drone use to interfere with hunting, trapping, or fishing, while AB 670 forbids drone use over correctional facilities.
SF 170 requires the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission to craft rules and regulations for where drones can take off and land. The commission can also develop reasonable rules for drone use through coordination with the drone industry and local governments. Importantly, the law clarifies that the commission cannot regulate drone use in navigable airspace, and makes it illegal to land a drone on another’s property; however, operators can fly drones over their own property.
The most-epic military movie of all time needs your help in getting made.
Veteran-owned companies Article 15 Clothing and Ranger Up have teamed up on an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign for “Range 15,” a film project the companies say will be the “military movie you’ve always wanted someone to make.”
What does that mean exactly? According to the launch video and campaign page, that would include appearances by not only the crew of fine folks at Article 15 and Ranger Up, but also Special Forces veteran/UFC fighter Tim Kennedy and Medal of Honor recipients Dakota Meyer and Leroy Petry.
Sidenote: When Article 15 visited WATM a few months ago, we got a look at the script. While we can’t reveal the storyline, we can say that it became clear very quickly that the movie is going to be awesome and very, very funny.
Both companies have already put in $500,001 (not a typo) to make the movie. Now they are looking for $325,000 more to provide the following (via the IndieGoGo page):
Crazy special effects.
Non-stop Act of Valor style knee slide shooting.
Forget about 3. That’s not happening.
Even bigger explosions.
More badass celebrity cameos.
Did we mention hot chicks?
Check out the launch video below (which is actually quite hilarious) and support the movie on the IndieGoGo page here.
The US Army has opened an investigation into allegations that some active-duty soldiers may be involved in the online sharing of nude photos of their colleagues, Business Insider has learned.
The inquiry by the US Army’s computer crime investigative unit comes one day after Business Insider reported that the scandal initially believed to be limited to the Marine Corps actually impacts every branch of service.
The report revealed a public message board where purported male service members from all military branches, including service academies, were allegedly cyber-stalking and sharing nude photos of their female colleagues.
Special agents from US Army’s criminal investigation command “are currently assessing information and photographs on a civilian website that appear to include US Army personnel,” Col. Patrick Seiber, a spokesman for the Army, told Business Insider. “They are currently assisting to determine if a criminal offense has occurred.”
Seiber said there was no evidence at this point suggesting the site was related to the “Marines United” Facebook page. That page, which was reported on by journalist Thomas Brennan, had some 30,000 members that were found to be sharing nude photos of female Marines.
“Army CID is speaking with [the Naval Criminal Investigative Service] and US Air Force Office of Special Investigation to ensure all investigative efforts are fully coordinated,” Seiber said.
According to the Business Insider report, members on a website called AnonIB often posted photos — seemingly stolen from female service members’ Instagram accounts — before asking others if they had nude pictures of the victim.
The site features a dedicated board for military personnel with dozens of threaded conversations among men, many of whom asked for “wins” — naked photographs — of specific female service members, often identifying the women by name or where they are stationed.
In a thread dedicated to the US Military Academy at West Point, some users who appeared to be Army cadets shared photos and graduation years of their female classmates.
“What about the basketball locker room pics, I know someone has those,” one user said, apparently referring to photos taken surreptitiously in a women’s locker room. “I always wondered whether those made it out of the academy computer system,” another user responded.
A Pentagon spokesman condemned such behavior as “inconsistent with our values” on Thursday, and Defense Secretary issued a statement Friday calling it “unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion.”
The existence of a site dedicated solely to sharing nude photographs of female service members is another black mark for the Pentagon, which has been criticized in the past for failing to deal with rampant sexual harassment and abuse within the ranks.
Two months after a U.S. drone strike killed a preeminent Iranian general, the Pentagon’s top two military leaders said President Donald Trump made the right decision, one that has deterred Iran’s terrorist activities in the region.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that it was the right call to kill Iranian Quds Force leader Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, describing him as a “terrorist leader of a terrorist organization that killed many, many Americans, wounded thousands more.”
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, said she agreed with the decision to carry out the Jan. 2 missile strike on Soleimani’s vehicle in Baghdad and asked Esper to talk about how the attack has affected Iran.
“It’s now been two months. Can you share at all what you have seen?” McSally asked. “I believe we have heard from you and others that it was a body blow, the impact that that is having on Iran’s terrorist activities.”
Esper said it’s clear that “taking him off the battlefield has set back the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the Iranian government with regard to spreading their malign activity through the region.”
“I think at the same action, we have restored deterrence to a degree,” he said. “And so, for all those things, I still believe it was the right call made by the commander in chief.”
Iran retaliated for the death of Soleimani by firing 15 ballistic missiles at Al Asad Air Base, an installation in Iraq that houses U.S. troops. There were no immediate casualties in the attack, but since then more than 100 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury from the concussive effects of the missiles.
At the hearing, Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, asked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to reflect on the decision to carry out the strike on Soleimani.
“We all know General Soleimani wasn’t in Iraq on vacation,” Sullivan said. “He was there targeting the killing of more American service members, which he has a long history of doing.”
Milley responded by saying, “I believe the intelligence was compelling; I believe it was imminent” of Soleimani’s “command-and-control role and what he was about to do.”
“I believe that I, Secretary Esper, the president and many others would have been culpably negligent had we not taken the action we did … because I think many Americans would have died as a result,” Milley added. “I believe it was the right thing to do then, and I still believe that. And I believe we contributed to reestablishing deterrence of aggressive action from Iran.”
In the aftermath of the Soleimani strike, the Pentagon ordered thousands of soldiers and Marines to the Middle East to prepare for future Iranian aggression.
On July 14, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille prison in Paris.
The hungry and heavily-taxed people of France were furious with King Louis XVI. Tensions came to a head when 300 revolutionaries and mutinous troops attacked the Bastille, a royal fortress and political prison that symbolized the tyranny of the French king.
The military governor of the Bastille, Bernard-René Jordan de Launay, tried to defend the fortress, but was forced to surrender when a group of military deserters seized cannons and aimed them at the Bastille’s heart. He was then murdered by the angry mob before he could be arrested.
The fall of the Bastille marked the beginning of the decade-long French Revolution, which would kill tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife, Marie Antoinette.
The Bastille was torn down and, in 1792, the monarchy was abolished. Today, Bastille Day is celebrated as a national holiday for the people of France.
The Navy’s budget proposal accelerates construction of new Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51 Destroyers in 2019 as the service prepares to start construction of its first new, next-generation Flight III destroyer this year.
Budget data says the Navy proposes to increase production of DDG-51s to 3 in 2019, up from 2 in 2018, all while the prospect of a DoD budget amendment adding a 3rd DDG 51 in 2018 gains traction in Congress.
The new destroyers under construction, along with the upcoming emergence of DDG-51 Flight III ships, make up a key component of the Navy’s plan to reach an overall fleet size goal of 355 ships in coming years. The newest destroyers represent technically advanced warships able to fire new weapons, better detect enemy attacks, and prepare for a highly contested future maritime threat environment.
Speaking at the Surface Naval Association symposium in January 2018, Capt. Casey Moton, Major Program Manager, DDG 51 Program Office, PEO Ships, said fabrication of the first Flight III Destroyer will begin at Huntington Ingalls in May 2018. Flight III destroyer warships are slated to start entering service in the 2020s.
Moton emphasized the new, super-sensitive AN/SPY-6 radar as a distinguishing characteristic of Flight III destroyers, as it is expected to vastly expand the protective envelope for ship-integrated defenses.
“Fielding the AMDR will bring much improved ballistic missile defense by providing truly integrated simultaneous air and missile defense,” Moton said at SNA.
(Kris Osborn | YouTube)The Navy is now finalizing the detailed design phase and finishing the 3D modeling needed to prepare for construction. The Navy hopes to enter an efficient, cost-saving multi-year contract initiative to build the first 10 Flight III ships; the first two of the new class of destroyers are now under contract. Huntington Ingalls Industries is building one called DDG 125 and Bath Iron Works is under contract to build DDG 126.
“Detailed designed is on track to support the start of construction with Flight III,” Moton said.
The Raytheon-built AN/SPY-6(V) radar is reported by developers to be 35-times more powerful than existing ship-based radar systems; the technology is widely regarded as being able to detect objects twice as far away at one-half the size of current tracking radar.
The AN/SPY-6 radar, also called Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), is engineered to simultaneously locate and discriminate multiple tracks.
Navy officials tell Warrior that AMDR has completed a System Functional Review for integration with the upgraded Aegis Baseline 10 radar and software systems.
The AN/SPY-6 platform will enable next-generation Flight III DDG 51s to defend much larger areas compared with the AN/SPY-1D radar on existing destroyers. In total, the Navy plans as many as 22 Flight III DDG 51 destroyers, according to a previously completed Navy capabilities development document.
The AN/SPY-6 is being engineered to be easily repairable with replaceable parts, fewer circuit boards, and cheaper components than previous radars, according to Raytheon developers. The AMDR is also designed to rely heavily on software innovations, something which reduces the need for different spare parts, Moton said.
The Navy has finished much of the planned software builds for the AMDR system, however, Moton explained that using newly integrated hardware and software with common interfaces will enable continued modernization in future years. Called TI 16 (Technical Integration), the added components are engineered to give Aegis Baseline 10 additional flexibility should it integrate new systems such as emerging electronic warfare or laser weapons.
“The top-level biggest thing we are doing with Baseline 10 is to integrate AMDR and take full advantage of simultaneous air and missile defense. This will set up for future capabilities such as electronic warfare attack,” Moton added.
Moton said that special technological adaptations are being built into the new, larger radar system so that it can be sufficiently cooled and powered up with enough electricity. The AMDR will be run by 1000-volts of DC power.
“We want to get the power of the radar and minimize changes to the electrical plan throughout the ship,” Moton said.
The DDG Flight III’s will also be built with the same Rolls Royce power turbine engineered for the DDG 1000, yet designed with some special fuel-efficiency enhancements, according to Navy information.
The AMDR is equipped with specially configured cooling technology. The Navy has been developing a new 300-ton AC cooling plant slated to replace the existing 200-ton AC plant, Moton said.
Before becoming operational, the new cooling plant will need to have completed environmental testing which will assess how the unit is able to tolerate vibration, noise, and shocks such as those generated by an underwater explosion, service officials said.
DDG 51 Flight III destroyers are expected to expand upon a promising new ship-based weapons system technology fire-control system, called Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air, or NIFC-CA.
The technology, which has already been deployed, enables ship-based radar to connect with an airborne sensor platform to detect approaching enemy anti-ship cruise missiles from beyond the horizon and, if needed, launch an SM-6 missile to intercept and destroy the incoming threat, Navy officials said.
Navy developers say NIFC-CA presents the ability to extend the range of attack missiles and extend the reach of sensors by netting different sensors from different platforms — both sea-based and air-based together into one fire control system.
NIFC-CA is part of an overall integrated air and missile defense high-tech upgrade now being installed and tested on existing and new DDG 51 ships using Aegis Baseline 9. Baseline 10, the next iteration of Aegis technology, brings additional improvements to NIFC-CA.
The system hinges ship-based Aegis Radar — designed to provide defense against long-range incoming ballistic missiles from space as well as nearer-in threats such as anti-ship cruise missiles.
Through the course of several interviews, SPY-6 radar developers with Raytheon have told Warrior Maven that simulated weapons engagements have enabled the new radar to close what’s called the “track loop” for anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense simulations. The process involves data signal processing of raw radar data to close a track loop and pinpoint targets.
The radar works by sending a series of electromagnetic signals or “pings” which bounce off an object or threat and send back return-signal information identifying the shape, size, speed, or distance of the object encountered.
The development of the radar system is hastened by the re-use of software technology from existing Navy dual-band and AN/TPY-2 radar programs, Raytheon developers added.
AN/SPY-6 technology, which previously completed a Critical Design Review, is designed to be scalable, Raytheon experts say.
As a result, it is entirely plausible that AMDR or a comparable technology will be engineered onto amphibious assault ships, cruisers, carriers and other platforms as well.
Raytheon statements say AN/SPY-6 is the first truly scalable radar, built with radar building blocks – Radar Modular Assemblies – that can be grouped to form any size radar aperture, either smaller or larger than currently fielded radars.
“All cooling, power, command logic and software are scalable. This scalability could allow for new instantiations, such as back-fit on existing DDG 51 destroyers and installation on aircraft carriers, amphibious warfare ships, frigates, or the Littoral Combat Ship and DDG 1000 classes, without significant radar development costs,” a Raytheon written statement said.
The new radar uses a chemical compound semiconductor technology called Gallium Nitride which can amplify high-power signals at microwave frequencies; it enables better detection of objects at greater distances when compared with existing commonly used materials such as Gallium Arsenide, Raytheon officials explained.
Raytheon engineers tell Warrior that Gallium Nitride is designed to be extremely efficient and use a powerful aperture in a smaller size to fit on a DDG 51 destroyer with reduced weight and reduced power consumption. Gallium Nitride has a much higher breakdown voltage so it is capable of much higher power densities, Raytheon developers said.
Early August 2018, a decorated US Army Special Force soldier was arrested and charged in relation to an attempt to smuggle 90 pounds of cocaine from Colombia to Florida, but he may just be one player in a multimillion-dollar operation.
Army Master Sgt. Daniel Gould was arrested in Florida on Aug. 13, 2018, in connection with an attempt to bring 90 pounds of cocaine into the US on a military aircraft, defense officials told NBC News early August 2018. That haul would be worth several million dollars on US streets.
Gould was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group based at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. The group’s area of responsibility is Latin America south of Mexico and the waters surrounding Central and South America. The unit is heavily involved in counter-drug operations in the region.
Gould is a veteran of Afghanistan, where he earned a Silver Star, the Army’s third-highest award, for fending off an ambush in late 2008.
His arrest came after US Drug Enforcement Administration agents found more than 90 pounds of cocaine in two backpacks aboard a military airplane that was bound for Florida. A military official told NBC News that a service member found the drugs and alerted authorities while the plane was still in Colombia.
A US sniper team assigned to the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group competes in an unknown-distance event in Colombia during the Fuerzas Comando competition, July 26, 2014.
(US Army photo by Master Sgt. Alejandro Licea)
Gould had been on vacation in the city of Cali in southwest Colombia the week prior to his arrest. He was already back in the US when the drugs were discovered. Officials told NBC News that someone else put the two backpacks on the plane in Colombia but could not say whether that person was complicit in the smuggling attempt.
Now the investigation has reportedly turned to finding out what Gould was doing in Colombia during that vacation, whether others were involved in the smuggling attempt, and if this plot was undertaken by a larger network that has previously been linked to US military personnel.
According to an Aug. 26, 2018 report by Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, DEA investigators in Colombia are focusing on establishing who may have helped Gould acquire and transport the cocaine and whether military personnel involved in getting the drugs onto a plane knew what was going on.
Gould reportedly planned to leave Colombia on a commercial flight on Aug. 12, 2018, connecting through Miami before arriving at Fort Walton Beach, which is just a few minutes’ drive from Eglin Air Force Base.
However, according to El Tiempo, he changed his plans abruptly, switching his final destination to Pensacola, about an hour’s drive from his original destination — which may indicate he was aware the drugs had been discovered.
Investigators in Colombia are also trying to establish whether Gould had any connection to a trafficking network uncovered after the Oct. 2011 arrest of Lemar Burton, a US sailor caught with 11 pounds of cocaine in his luggage as he boarded a flight from Colombia to Europe.
Burton, assigned to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily at the time, was in Colombia on personal leave, the US Embassy in Bogota said after his arrest. His arrest prompted an investigation that uncovered an international smuggling ring operating out of airports in Cali and Bogota, moving drugs to Europe.
The ring relied on couriers, mainly foreigners, to carry drugs in parcels like suitcases with false bottoms. In the months after Burton’s arrest, arrests were made in the US and Colombia. Several other US citizens were involved.
A Blackhawk helicopter supports the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group and Naval Special Warfare members during an exercise at in El Salvador, Dec. 2, 2016.
(US Army photo by Master Sgt. Kerri Spero)
The drugs Burton and Gould were attempting to transport were sourced to Buenaventura and Tumaco, two main drug-producing regions on Colombia’s Pacific coast that are part of the area in which Gould’s unit was supporting anti-drug operations, according to El Tiempo.
A source with knowledge of the case told El Tiempo that Colombian authorities had not been given information about the investigation and that the military aircraft in question did not leave from a Colombian base. A military source told the paper that it was not clear which US plane in Colombia was involved.
A DEA spokesman said the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations. A spokeswoman for the US Attorney for the Northern District of Florida said the office had no public information to offer about the case.
A spokesman for US Army Special Operations Command, which oversees the 7th Special Operations Group, said a service member was being investigated and that the DEA was leading the probe but declined to comment further. The command has said it was cooperating with law-enforcement on the case.
The investigation is ongoing and the nature of Gould’s involvement remains uncertain, but US military personnel getting involved in drug smuggling, particularly in Colombia, is not unheard of.
“It’s not unusual for servicemen to take advantage of the drug trade to make a lot of money,” said Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for DEA.
They “have access to these foreign countries. They have contacts, and a lot of times they actually smuggle the drugs on military aircraft,” Vigil added, pointing to cases he was involved in during the 1970s in which US service members smuggled heroin from Southeast Asia to the US, often carrying it in their personal luggage.
Authorities are trying to determine the timeline, the source of supply, and other people who may have been involved, Vigil said, adding that Gould may have gotten involved through his official duties or may have been connected with criminal groups, like remnants of the Cali or Valle de Cauca cartels, through personal contacts.
The smuggling attempt uncovered this month seemed “very sloppy,” suggesting those involved were “just getting into the business,” Vigil said.
“Anybody with a great knowledge [of trafficking] would’ve used a different transportation method or covered their tracks a little better.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.