This airman gave his life to protect his daughter - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

As a tornado demolished Master Sgt. Dan Wassom’s house, he and his wife, Suzanne, tried to protect their 5- and 7-year-old daughters by using their own bodies as shields.  It worked.  Their children survived, but Dan didn’t make it.


With winds reaching nearly 200 miles per hour, the devastating EF-4 tornado smashed into Vilonia, Arkansas, April 27, 2014, killing 16 people.  The twister demolished 50 of 56 homes in the Wassom’s subdivision, as well as nearly half the businesses in the town of 3,800.  Known as “Bud” to his family and close friends, 31-year-old Wassom died while hovering over his 5-year-old daughter, Lorelai.

Also Read: This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

Wassom was a C-130 Hercules loadmaster evaluator with the Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. Joining the Air Force as a patriotic calling shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he followed in his dad’s footsteps. The senior Dan Wassom was a C-130 Hercules maintenance crew chief at Little Rock AFB before retiring from active duty.  He still works at the base as a civilian in the 19th Maintenance Group, just minutes from his son’s unit.

A decorated Airman, Wassom earned an Air Medal during his deployment to Kuwait – a combat tour he volunteered to do.  He was supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in 2010.  According to his award citation, Wassom flew 16 successful combat missions — conducted day and night under the threat of enemy anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles — over the war-torn countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, executing multiple, flawless contingency airdrops.

According to his parents, the only thing Wassom treasured more than his Air Force career was his family.  So while his death came as a shock to those who knew and loved him, the way he died – protecting his family – surprised no one.

Wassom’s wife told his parents that he remained calm, cool and collected even as the monster twister began to consume their 2,300-square-foot home.  As Wassom bent his 6-foot-2 frame over his youngest daughter, forming a semi-protective cocoon over her, a heavy structural beam struck the back of his neck and a one-by-four impaled his chest. Lorelai lost a toe on her left foot and suffered a serious injury to her right shoulder, but she, along with her mother and sister, Sydney, survived.

Wassom’s last mission … accomplished.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
Master Sgt. Daniel Wassom, a 189th Airlift Wing evaluator loadmaster killed in a recent tornado, will be remembered with a 5K run in his honor. Wassom served in the 189th for 12 years. (189th Airlift Wing courtesy photo)

“He was the best daddy I’d ever seen, and he loved his wife with all his heart,” said his mom, Pam Wassom, who along with Dan Sr. resides in Cabot, Arkansas, only 20 minutes from where their son’s home used to stand before being reduced to a pile of rubble.

“He took to parenthood as naturally as breathing air,” she said. “He was involved in every aspect of those girls’ lives.  He was their hero, and he proved it with his last breath.”

Wassom was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, along with a Meritorious Service Medal and the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal from the governor of Arkansas.  Additionally, a Little Rock AFB street now bears his name. — MSGT DAN WASSOM ROAD.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

North Korea is secretly asking for coronavirus aid from other countries while publicly denying that it has any cases

North Korea has been quietly soliciting coronavirus aid from other countries even though it has publicly denied the existence of any cases on home soil, according to a new report.

Officials in the isolated country have privately reached out to their counterparts in other countries asking for urgent help in fighting the outbreak, the Financial Times reported, citing several people familiar with the matter and an unidentified document.


The country has also asked hospitals in South Korea and several international aid agencies for masks and test machines, Reuters reported last Friday, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter.

North Korea has officially reported no cases of the coronavirus, and, in late January, shut its border with China after the outbreak started to spill out of the central Hubei province into other regions near the border.

According to the FT, the country has tested at least 590 citizens — all of whom had arrived from outside the country in January — but all of them tested negative.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

Foreign media and experts doubt the official infection toll, however.

Some South Korean media outlets have reported that North Korea has recorded deaths from the coronavirus, but that the regime is concealing them from the world.

Daily NK, a news site focusing on North Korea, also reported that 180 North Korean soldiers died of the virus in January and February, and that another 3,700 were sent to quarantine.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said that there were at least two suspected cases of the illness in the city of Sinuiju, which borders China. Daily NK also reported that as many as five people had died of the coronavirus in Sinuiju.

North Korea’s lack of medical supplies and weak healthcare system have left it ill-equipped to handle an outbreak like the coronavirus, Business Insider’s Paulina Cachero previously reported.

“There’s not enough medicine for the country. I’m really concerned about them facing an outbreak,” Nagi Shafik, a former World Health Organization and UNICEF official in Pyongyang, told Business Insider.

The country currently fears it doesn’t have enough testing kits for its citizens, the FT reported.

“The government has testing kits for COVID-19 and they know how to use them, but [the number of kits are] not sufficient, hence, [officials are] requesting all organizations … to support them in this regard,” a source told the FT.

Non-governmental aid agencies have also been trying to help North Korea prepare for an outbreak, but are struggling to get supplies across its shuttered border with China, Reuters reported.

Médecins Sans Frontières told the news agency that emergency supplies bound for North Korea were currently in Beijing and Dandong, a Chinese city bordering North Korea, and that officials were working to get the kit across the border despite the closure.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

In a rare admission of weakness, Kim acknowledged on March 18 that his country did not have enough modern medical facilities and called for improvements, the Associated Press reported, citing the state-controlled Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

On the orders of Kim, construction began on the new Pyongyang General Hospital on Wednesday, according to KCNA.

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

Articles

LA vets concerned history repeating itself as the VA negotiates stadium deal with UCLA

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
VA Secretary Bob McDonald in Los Angeles. (Photo: VA blog)


On January 28 Secretary Bob McDonald put his name to the draft master plan for the future of the West Los Angeles VA campus, a year after the agency won a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought before the courts to reverse years of encroachment on the campus. In his remarks at a ceremony marking the signing, McDonald spoke about the accomplishments of those involved in crafting the plan, crediting the veterans who’d assisted along the way.

“We know this is a team sport,” McDonald said of the process.  “It has to be done collaboratively.”

The effort that gave McDonald confidence that the master plan he was signing incorporated enough input from local vets involved collaboration on a massive scale. Marine vet Mike Dowling, We Are The Mighty‘s director of outreach, and Anthony Allman of Vets Advocacy helped organize a number of veteran service organizations to get membership mobilized to create the focus of the draft master plan.

Under the guidance of Dowling and others, dozens of VSO reps met weekly after work for six months hammering out formal comments while carrying the message back to their membership to make sure the direction behind the plan was as comprehensive as possible.

Vets Advocacy, the organization formed to settle the litigation and implement the settlement agreement, created a website, www.vatherightway.org, as the primary tool to inform veterans and get their input. The site allowed veterans to learn the history of the campus and the associated encroachment issues, see the schedule of the 12 town hall events, and — most importantly — conduct a survey that asked veterans for their opinions about how the campus could better serve the veteran community. More than 1,000 vets commented and those recommendations were filed to the Federal Register, the official government record of the plan.

That result was no small feat. Veterans answered the call to see to their own well-being in the same way they might have tackled an objective during their time on active duty. It was hard work, and the vets were proud of the fact that they might actually make a difference and be part of the solution.

But during his speech McDonald also credited the leadership of UCLA for their part in making the campus better for veterans, which struck many of the veterans in attendance as odd.  The university was arguably the worst offender in terms of encroachment by virtue of the fact that Jackie Robinson Stadium — home to the Bruins’ baseball team — was illegally built on VA property. What those vets didn’t know at the time was that McDonald was about to sign a document that outlined the terms of an “enhanced use” land agreement that would allow UCLA to continue to use the stadium for another 10 years, at least.

Curiously, the VA remained mum while UCLA issued a press release that outlined several million dollars worth of veteran initiatives that the university intends to carry out in the years to come in return for keeping the stadium.

Some veterans who were active in the draft master planning process expressed concerns that history is in danger of repeating itself by allowing the VA to sign deals with third parties without oversight or veteran buy-in for reasons that have no bearing on the VA’s mission.

“It feels like the VA put the cart before the horse by agreeing to terms before the enabling legislation passes and before any vets saw the deal,” said Seth Smith, a UCLA alumnus and Navy vet. “That timing leaves a bad taste in vets’ mouths. It’s a step in the wrong direction in terms of regaining the Los Angeles community’s trust.”

Richard Valdez, a Marine veteran and chairman of the VSO coalition in Los Angeles, said concerns from vets like Smith are premature because the agreement between the VA and UCLA is not legally effective and requires passage of the Los Angeles Homeless Veterans Leasing Act, which is expected this spring.

“Veterans need to understand that what was just signed isn’t a contract,” Valdez said. “It’s merely an agreement in principle.”

That fact notwithstanding, vet advocates who put a lot of work into the draft master plan question the VA’s timing and wonder why they weren’t given a heads up that the signing of terms with UCLA was going to happen. But VA officials were unflinching when asked about the circumstances surrounding the arrangement.

“We do everything with veterans in mind,” said Vince Kane, the director of the VA’s National Homeless Center. “And we got a good deal for them.”

Veteran expectations about the magnitude of change on the campus may have also been shaped by the language in the federal court’s findings in the original lawsuit (Valentini v. McDonald), which stated that all of the enhanced use land agreements on the VA campus were illegal. That may have led veterans to believe that the agreements would be terminated indefinitely (and even that the stadium might be demolished) in favor of more pressing priorities. After all, where does a Division I baseball stadium fit among the needs of homeless veterans and patients?

Valdez thinks that those who thought that would happen were naive. “Enhanced use leases are a fact of life, and that’s not going to change,” Valdez said. “If we have an issue within that reality, that’s where the vet community needs to focus.”

Dr. Jon Sherin, a physician who ran mental health services for the West Los Angeles VA hospital and serves as a senior member of the Vets Advocacy team, recommended that veterans remain vigilant and not grow cynical. “The work isn’t over,” he said.

“The master plan itself is a monumental achievement on behalf of the vet community,” Dowling said.  “No matter what happens, vets in LA set an example for communities across the nation in coming together to take our future in our own hands.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

This veteran rock anthem is everything you need right now

Patriotic rock band Madison Rising and the Navy SEAL Foundation announced a unique partnership with the release of Madison Rising’s new song, “Men of Steel.” Madison Rising is donating 50% of the proceeds from the song to the Foundation in support of its mission of service to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community.

“Men of Steel” is a new rock anthem that pays tribute to all those who serve.

The song is a special collaboration that started when Madison Rising approached the NSF in 2019 about a potential partnership. “I had always wanted to figure out a way to have music support our mission at the Foundation, and Madison Rising was an ideal partner to make that happen,” said Chris Irwin, Director of Partnerships for the NSF in a press release.

As a result, Madison Rising worked with the Navy SEAL Foundation to write a song about teamwork, camaraderie and the service member experience, that directly supports those it honors. “By donating half of all proceeds on this song to the Foundation, Madison Rising is committing itself to not only raising awareness about our mission, but also raising funds to help us execute that mission,” Irwin stated.

Madison Rising’s mission is to honor veterans, first responders, and active-duty military members by making great rock music that reinforces true American values. This collaboration with the Navy SEAL Foundation is the latest initiative in support of that mission. The band is led by Rio Hiett, a retired Master Sergeant who served in the Air Force, “Madison Rising is on a mission to honor our military however possible and we know this song will have an incredible impact on the community,” he said. The band is well known for hard-charging, patriotic performances at venues including NFL games, NASCAR, and other special events.

“I started singing back in high school with producer and friend, Andrew Lane, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama,” Hiett told WATM. “This is where the love of performing and creating was started and as he went on to become a Grammy Award winning part of Atlanta’s and L.A.’s R B movement, I chose the route of military service.

I spent 20 years as an Air Force AMMO troop, having served half on active duty and half in the air guard.” Hiett served in several operations, including Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. “I spent nearly 3 years deployed to the AOR and lost that time with my oldest son Dante’,” Hiett said. “I felt he endured the impact of the deployments far more than anyone else in the family. From the moment I became the frontman for Madison Rising, I had always wanted to have my son be a part of something meaningful. He plays the drums and this was an incredible opportunity to have him be a part of a song [Men of Steel], that has the potential to go a long way in the veteran community.”

Hiett continued, “We were able to team up with Chet Roberts of 3Doors Down and record the song down in their studio in Nashville at Rivergate Studios. SEAL Chris Irwin was also a huge part of the track as it was brought forth from his original idea as we collaborated, rearranged/rewrote, then recorded. So at this point in time, I am incredibly proud of this song, the meaning behind the song and how it was created, but mostly that my son is a huge part of something so amazing.”

Men of Steel: Official Video Release

youtu.be

Madison Rising has shared the stage with rock legends Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toby Keith, Weezer and many others, and they have a large following among veterans and first responders.

About the Navy SEAL Foundation:

The Navy SEAL Foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community and its families. The Foundation stands behind these warriors and their families by providing a comprehensive set of programs specifically designed to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate families, and provide critical support during times of illness, injury, or loss. Like the community it serves, the Navy SEAL Foundation is a high-performing organization committed to excellence. It has received eight consecutive 4-Star ratings from Charity Navigator and it is one of less than 70 charities, from among more than 9,000, to have earned a perfect score of 100 for financial health, accountability and transparency, placing it in the top 1% of all rated charities.

For more information, please visit: www.navySEALfoundation.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump seems to be why Kim Jong Un went to China

Kim Jong Un’s March 2018 visit to China may have been motivated by US President Donald Trump.


The visit — Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since becoming leader in 2011 — came just weeks after Trump agreed to face-to-face talks, for which President Xi Jinping may be able to help Kim prepare.

Lowell Dittmer, a political scientist at University of California Berkeley, told Business Insider that from North Korea’s perspective, China can give Kim crucial insight into the US administration.

Also read: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

“Kim Jong Un wants two things: to request a reduction of China’s sanctions enforcement, and advice about how to handle Trump, especially if he gets tough,” Dittner said.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. (Xinhua News)

And China knows well how to impress the Trump. The US president showered China and Xi with praise after the country quite literally rolled out the red carpet for Trump during a carefully-orchestrated and extravagant “state visit-plus” in November 2017.

Trump has been known to respond well to flattery and personal attention, which North Korea may use in its bilateral negotiations.

Related: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

China is also potentially being previewed as a potential venue for the historic talks between the leaders, who have not been quiet about their distaste for one another.

Although President Trump has scaled back on his insults against Kim in preparation for the historic talks, Trump has previously referred to Kim as a “little rocket man” and has considered preemptive strikes against the country.

Besides tough talk, Kim is likely concerned about Trump’s style as a negotiator, which has been criticized as “amateur” in the past. Trump has also had some awkward and tense encounters with global leaders in the past, which may explain why Kim could have turned to China for advice on how to handle the US leader.

MIGHTY TRENDING

For first time in 70 years, Saudi Arabia may grant Israel access to airspace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on March 5, 2018, that Saudi Arabia has given permission to an airline flying through to Tel Aviv to use its airspace.


“Air India signed an agreement today to fly to Israel over Saudi Arabia,” he said during a briefing in Washington, DC on March 5, 2018, according to Times of Israel.

Currently, Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and has banned any flights to the country from using its airspace for more than 70 years. If Netanyahu’s claims are correct, it would mark the first time Saudi Arabia has allowed commercial flights to Israel to use its airspace and would signal a significant shift in strategic policy in the region.

Also read: The Saudis are about the change the game in the Middle East

But an Air India spokesman denied the Prime Minister’s comments several hours later, stressing they had not received any confirmation and had only submitted a request for a flight along that route.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

“We have yet to receive anything from authorities,” Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar told The Times of Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority did not respond to requests for comment from Business Insider.

In Feb. 2018, Air India confirmed it had begun plans for three faster weekly flights between Israel and India, although Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority was quick to deny reports that its airspace would be used.

Related: The insane Israeli special op that gave the US terror intel

At the time, Israel’s Airports Authority told Reuters the service was set to begin in early March 2018.

Currently, Israel’s national airline El Al is the only airline offering direct flights from Israel to India. The route avoids flying into neighboring Saudi Arabia’s airspace by diverting to the Red Sea and around the Arabian peninsula, adding two hours to the overall trip.

If Saudi Arabia were to ease its airspace regulations it could be seen as concrete evidence of warming relations with Israel and a broader re-configuring of regional alliances.

Articles

ISIS is using ‘Mad Max’-style vehicle bombs in Iraq

ISIS fighters are using heavily-armored ‘Mad Max’-style vehicles to deliver suicide bombs to targeted Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in Mosul.


Col. John Dorrian, spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, showed off a photo of one of the vehicles the terrorist group has been using in Mosul for vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDs.

Also read: Iraqi troops reveal more gruesome ISIS handiwork in Mosul

“It’s reminiscent of a Mad Max vehicle, with armored plating in the front to protect the driver until he can detonate the explosives he’s carrying on board,” Dorrian said in a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday, according to The Washington Examiner.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
DoD

As the photo shows, a driver and the vehicle’s engine block are very well-protected from small arms fire due to thick armor plating and what appears to be bulletproof glass. Since they are much tougher to take out by ground forces, Dorrian said that more than 60 of the vehicles have been taken out by US airstrikes.

US forces took out at least three VBIEDs on Wednesday alone. Despite what Dorrian describedas “extremely tough fighting,” ISIS has lost a number of surrounding towns in the fight since the offensive began in October.

Iraqi and Peshmerga forces have made steady gains in and around Mosul since then, and they are now roughly six miles from the city’s Government Center, according to the latest report from the Institute for the Study of War.

“We are advancing steadily,” Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, a commander in Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces, told USA Today. “We are taking in civilians fleeing [ISIS-controlled] areas while prioritizing protecting residents inside the city.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s new nuclear sub can fire hundreds of hypersonic missiles

Russia’s newest nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) the “Knyaz Vladimir”  — or “Prince Vladimir” in English — was officially launched the week of Nov. 20.


The submarine is the first version of a second variant of the Borei-class submarine (also known as the Dolgorukiy-class after the name of its first vessel), which will be known as the Borei II-class. It was launched during a float out ceremony at the Sevmash Shipyards in Severodvinsk in northern Russia.

The 558 ft long and 44 ft wide submarine is different from its three predecessors. The Knyaz Vladimir has an improved suite of electronics, a deeper dive capability (400 metres), improved living quarters, and lower sound levels that help make the sub virtually undetectable.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
At a laying-down ceremony for Knyaz Vladimir nuclear-powered submarine at Sevmash shipyard. (Image Kremlin)

The biggest difference in the Knyaz Vladimir is its ability to launch four additional RSM-56 Bulava ballistic missiles, each capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads.

As Franz-Stefan Gady at The Diplomat points out, this means that the Knyaz Vladimir “will be capable of launching 96-200 hypersonic, independently maneuverable warheads, yielding 100-150 kilotons apiece,” meaning each warhead alone is ten times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

That is enough to devastate the entire eastern seaboard of the United States — and then some. All of from just one submarine.

While Knyaz Vladimir is expected to fully integrate with the Russian navy next year, Russia plans on building four additional Borei II-class submarines, with the last one expected to be completed in 2025. That will bring the total number of Borei and Borei II-class submarines to eight.

Also Read: That time a surfacing Russian sub slammed into an American spy submarine

Two of the three existing Borei-class submarines, Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh, are deployed in Russia’s increasingly active Pacific Fleet; while the other sub, Yuri Dolgoruky, is deployed with Russia’s Northern Fleet.

The Knyaz Vladimir is named after Grand Prince Vladimir, also known as Vladimir the Great, who was responsible for Christianizing the Kievan Rus, a moment many Russians consider to be the founding of their nation.

Russia’s submarine activity shows signs of increasing

Russia is currently in the process of modernizing its submarine fleet, which has suffered from years of neglect due to the massive costs associated with SSBNs. While Russia has a number of nuclear submarines still in active service, like the Oscar, Delta III, and the famous Typhoon class- submarines, the Borei II-class submarines are expected to be the backbone of Russia’s SSBN fleet.

Already, Russia’s submarine activity shows signs of increasing. In 2015, a admiral said that Russia’s submarine fleet intensified its patrols by almost 50%. A year later, it was reported that Russia’s subs in the Northern Fleet increased their patrol time by half, and just last March, Admiral Vladimir Korolev, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, announced that Russia’s submarines had “returned to the level we had before the post-Soviet era.”

Russia is also building fifth-generation nuclear attack submarines, known as the Yasen-class. One of these subs, the Severodvinsk, is already in service with the Northern Fleet.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
The Borei class submarine, Yury Dolgorukiy, during sea trials. (Image Wikicommons)

Last July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a strategy that singled the US out as a direct threat, saying that it wanted to “dominate the oceans, including in the Arctic.”

“The Russian Federation continues to retain its status as a great naval state, whose naval potential ensures the defensive of its national interests in any part of the World Ocean,” the strategy declared.

Though the US Navy has far more submarines in active service both in SSBN’s and attack submarines, the Russian Navy’s recent moves and its newest submarine plans, show a sign of changing strategy, with a new focus placed on challenging the US Navy’s dominance — particularly underwater.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US troops are laying miles of razor wire on the border

By the end of the day on Oct. 5, 2018, there were more than 5,000 active-duty troops deployed to the US-Mexico border, where they are laying razor wire in preparation for the arrival of migrant caravans consisting of potentially thousands of people from across Latin America.

There are roughly 2,700 active-duty troops in Texas, 1,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in California, the Department of Defense revealed Oct. 5, 2018. These figures are in addition to the more than 2,000 National Guard troops that were deployed to the border in April 2018.


This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

As many as 8,000 troops, if not more depending on operational demands, could eventually be deployed to the border in support of Operation Faithful Patriot

Source: The Wall Street Journal

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

“Barbed wire looks like it’s going to be very effective, too, with soldiers standing in front of it,” Trump, who considers the approaching caravans an “invasion” said at a rally in Cleveland on Oct. 5, 2018.

Source: ABC News

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

“There is no plan for US military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters Oct. 5, 2018, “There is no plan for the soldiers to come in contact with immigrants or to reinforce the Department of Homeland Security as they are conducting their mission. We are providing enabling capability.”

Source: CNN

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A dog adopted by coalition troops fighting ISIS is finally home

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Tracy McKithern loves dogs. She loves her dog, she loves other peoples’ dogs, she loves dogs she sees in memes and on TV shows. When she found a dirty little white stray sniffing around the camp she was stationed at during a one-year deployment in Iraq, only one thing was going to happen.

“I fell in love with her immediately.”


McKithern, a combat photographer from Tampa, Florida with the 982nd Combat Camera Co. (Airborne), was stationed at the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center, a multinational military organization responsible for the training of Peshmerga and Northern Iraq Security in and around Erbil, from April 2017 to January 2018.

The little dog and her mom had been wandering around the base for weeks, McKithern found out. Stray dogs are common in Iraq, and the culture is not kind to them. Erby and her mom were kicked and hit with rocks daily, and starving. Her brother and sister had disappeared before McKithern arrived.

Despite her rough experiences with humans to that point, Erby ran right up to McKithern the first time she held out her hand to the shaky little pup covered in scratches and dirt.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
(U.S. Army photo by Tracy McKithern)

“She loved everyone,” said McKithern. “She is the sweetest little soul. She came up to me immediately, probably hungry, but gentle. I think she was looking for love more than anything else.”

McKithern, together with soldiers from the Italian and German armies her unit was partnered with, took to caring for the little dog. They named her Erby Kasima, after nearby Erbil, the largest city in northern Iraq, and “Kasima” being the Arabic name for “beauty and elegance.”

The coalition soldiers would go on convoys into the surrounding countryside to train Iraqi army units six days a week, with McKithern documenting the missions. Every time they returned to the base, Erby was waiting.

“She ran up to our convoy every day,” McKithern recalled. “She was so tiny she would fall and trip all over herself to get to us.”

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
(U.S. Army photo by Tracy McKithern)

It didn’t take long for Erby and her mom to realize that, not only were they safe around McKithern and her Italian and German friends, but these humans would feed them too. As the weeks went by, their wounds began to heal and they started putting on healthy weight.

Eventually, the growing pup took to sleeping on the step outside McKithern’s quarters.

As the end of her deployment approached, she started to wonder how she could ever leave Erby behind when she went back to the states and lamented about it on her Facebook page.

“One night I posted a pic of us on Facebook, with a caption that read something like ‘I wish I could take her home,'” McKithern said. “I went to sleep, woke up and my friends and family had posted links to various rescue groups. I reached out to one of them, the non-profit Puppy Rescue Mission, and they responded immediately. We sent them $1,000 and they set up a crowd fund to get the rest. We needed an additional $3,500.”

The immediate outpouring of generosity was astounding, said McKithern.

“We raised the rest of the money very quickly, and most of it was from complete strangers!”

McKithern had many preparations to make before she left Iraq so Erby could eventually follow her. Vaccinations, documentation, travel arrangements — all had to be done somehow, in a war zone, while she was still fulfilling her duties as a Soldier. It seemed like an overwhelming task in an already overwhelming situation. Even though she now had the funding, McKithern began to lose hope that she’d have the time and energy to pull this off.

That’s when the brotherhood of the Coalition stepped in to help. Several Kurdish and German officers McKithern had befriended on missions stepped in and offered to tie up anything she couldn’t get done and get Erby onto the plane. With their help, everything got squared away. McKithern returned home, and Erby was set to follow her several weeks later.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter
(U.S. Army photo by Tracy McKithern)

McKithern had only been home in Florida for about a month when, in a cruel twist of timing, she received orders for a 67-day mission to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, leaving March 11, the very same day Erby was scheduled to arrive at JFK Airport.

“I couldn’t believe it!” said McKithern. “But I’m a Soldier first, and my commander received an email looking for volunteers. The need at Fort McCoy was desperate at the time. It is a gunnery exercise, which was an opportunity to expand my skills and knowledge as a soldier. It killed me that it was going to keep me away from Erby for another two months, but it’s an important mission. It will all be worth it in the end.”

McKithern’s husband, Sgt. Wes McKithern (also a combat cameraman for the 982nd), met Erby at the airport and drove her home to Tampa, where she has been assimilating into an American life of luxury and waiting patiently to be reunited with her rescuer.

In a few short weeks, McKithern will fly home from Fort McCoy to be with her sweet Erby at last. It will be the end of a 16-month journey that’s taken her across the world to find a little dog in a war zone and — with the help of generous strangers, a nonprofit dog rescue, and soldiers from three different armies — bring her all the way back to become part of a family.

“I can’t believe it,” says McKithern. “It feels like a miracle is happening.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

China claims it’s winning the race to bring long-range superguns to its growing fleet, but experts say that even if these weapons work, they won’t make a difference in high-end conflict.

China announced it will “soon” be arming its warships with railguns, a technology which uses electromagnetic energy rather than explosive charges to fire rounds farther than conventional guns and at seven or eight times the speed of sound. The US Navy has spent more than a decade pursuing this technology, but naval affairs experts contend that even the best railguns have huge problems that make them a poor substitute for existing capabilities.


“You are better off spending that money on missiles and vertical launch system cells than you are on a railgun,” Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former US Navy officer, told Business Insider.

The Chinese navy made headlines when images of a Chinese ship equipped with a suspected railgun first surfaced in January 2018. Photos showed the vessel, initially nicknamed the “Yangtze River Monster,” docked on the Yangtze River at a shipyard in Wuhan. That same ship — the Type 072III Yuting-class tank-landing ship “Haiyang Shan” — reappeared in late December 2018, having possibly set sail for sea trials.

“This is one of a number of interesting developments that indicates that the [People’s Liberation Army] is quite enthusiastic about emerging capabilities,” Elsa Kania, an expert on the Chinese armed forces at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider.

The Chinese PLA is actively looking at the military applications of cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. China actually launched the first quantum communication satellite, which is said to be unhackable. For the Chinese navy, this means research into electromagnetic railguns, among other capabilities.

China says it has made major ‘breakthroughs’ with railguns

“Chinese warships will ‘soon’ be equipped with world-leading electromagnetic railguns, as breakthroughs have been made … in multiple sectors,” China’s Global Times reported recently, citing state broadcaster CCTV. The notoriously nationalist tabloid proudly asserted that “China’s naval electromagnetic weapon and equipment have surpassed other countries and become a world leader.”

China is expected to begin fielding warship-mounted electromagnetic railguns with the ability to fire high-speed projectiles as early as 2025, CNBC reported in summer 2018, citing US defense sources with direct knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on China’s railgun development.

Chinese military experts expect the new Type 055 stealth destroyers to eventually be armed with electromagnetic railguns.

‘It’s not useful military technology’

While conventional guns rely on gunpowder to propel projectiles forward, railguns use electromagnetic force to hurl projectiles at targets downrange at incredible speeds.

China is not the first country to take an interest in railgun technology. The US Navy took a serious look at the possibility of arming warships with the gun, which promised the ability to strike targets as far as 200 miles away with relatively inexpensive rounds traveling at hypersonic speeds.

During the development process, the US military discovered problems that make the gun more of a hassle than an asset.

“The engineering challenges that the US is seeing with railguns are fundamental to the technology,” Clark, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), told BI. “Any railgun is going to have these problems.”

While still cheaper than a missile, the rounds are more expensive than previously expected, as they require more advanced guidance systems to ensure that a simple GPS jammer doesn’t render them inoperable.

The rounds are more powerful than standard 5″ gun projectiles, but still lack the destructive power of missiles, making them less effective in strike missions. Missiles are also able to can chase down targets.

Even if each railgun shot packs a punch, its limited rate of fire — maybe eight rounds per minute — means it has little use for air and missile defense against fast-moving targets.

Maintenance and electricity generation are also huge problems. The gun requires an enormous amount of power to fire and the shear force of firing hypervelocity projectiles tends to wear out the barrel quickly. The barrel would likely need to be replaced after every few dozen shots, a problem that likely limits the gun to one short battle.

“They’re not a good replacement for a missile,” Clark said. “They’re not a good replacement for an artillery shell.”

“It’s not useful military technology,” he added.

Facing a handful of difficult-to-overcome challenges inextricably linked to railgun technology, the US Navy has slow-rolled its railgun development.

But, work continues.

High-Tech Railgun Promises New Military Advantage

www.youtube.com

Railguns could be useful someday

The US Navy has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade researching railgun technology, and research continues despite development setbacks.

“They are thinking that down the road they will eventually get some technological breakthroughs that would enable it to be more militarily useful,” Clark explained. “That is why they are continuing to invest in it rather than dropping it entirely.”

During 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, the Navy successfully test-fired hypervelocity projectiles meant for electromagnetic railguns out of the Mk 45 five-inch deck guns that come standard on cruisers and destroyers. The Army is looking at using the same high-speed rounds for its 155 mm howitzers.

So far, it appears the most beneficial thing to come out of US railgun research is the round.

For China, it’s a PR victory

China, which will likely encounter issues similar to those the US Navy has run into, is potentially continuing its railgun development for another purpose entirely.

“This is a part of China’s strategic communication plan to show that it is a rising power with next-generation military capabilities,” Clark told BI. “It is always in the details that they sometimes fall a little bit short.”

“It’s a useful prestige thing for them, which is similar to other military systems they’ve fielded recently where it looks cool but it maybe isn’t all that militarily useful,” he further remarked, comparing China’s railgun pursuits to the J-20 stealth fighter, which lacks some of the features required to make it a true fifth-generation aircraft.

“The US has found that a working railgun, even if it met all the promise of a railgun system, is going to have very limited utility in strike or air defense,” Clark concluded, explaining that this technology is a tool which advances the narrative that China is a formidable force.

The Chinese military wants to demonstrate that it is on the forefront of next-level technology.

The Chinese military, like the US, may also derive new capabilities from its railgun research

One other program the Chinese are very interested in are building modern aircraft carriers. The Chinese navy has one carrier in service, another undergoing sea trials, and a third mystery carrier in development.

While the first and second rely on ski jump-assisted short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) launch systems, their is speculation that the third aircraft carrier could employ the much more effective electromagnetic catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) launch system.

“The same program that’s working on railguns at the naval engineering university has also been involved in their development of electromagnetic catapult system for their next-generation aircraft carrier,” Kania told Business Insider.

“The Chinese military has often intended to explore advanced technologies, including those that the US has deemed less relevant operationally because there is enthusiasm about next-generation capabilities and it wants to understand the art of the possible,” she added.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

It Sure Looks Like Cats Can Contract COVID-19

A Belgian housecat may be the first feline with a confirmed case of COVID-19, joining the more than 800,000 humans around the world who have contracted the disease to date.

Belgium’s Federal Public Service announced that the cat’s owner contracted the disease after a trip to Northern Italy, one of the most infected regions in the world. About a week after the onset of their human’s symptoms, the cat followed suit, with diarrhea, vomiting, and respiratory issues. Poor kitty.


This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

Tests conducted at a veterinary school in Liège on vomit and feces samples from the cat confirmed the vet’s suspicions: High levels of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus were found. Blood tests will be conducted once the feline exits quarantine and antibodies specific to the virus are expected to be found.

When COVID-19 first hit our shores, many media outlets (ahem, New York Times) were quick to jump on the fact that the virus was not yet shown to infect dogs. This has proven untrue — two dogs in Hong Kong were infected — and is beside the point. Dogs are not a primary vector for the disease, but if their owner is infected, they can certainly pass on the virus. This is why experts advise steering clear of strange dogs when you’re on solitary walks no matter how friendly they are.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

Still, the experts don’t seem too panicked about this development.

“We think the cat is a side victim of the ongoing epidemic in humans and does not play a significant role in the propagation of the virus,” Steven Van Gucht, virologist and federal spokesperson for the coronavirus epidemic in Belgium, told Live Science.

That’s good news for the humans of the earth, especially the cat people. The good news for the felines of the earth is that the cat in question recovered from the virus after just nine days with all nine of its lives intact.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian-backed separatists shoot down OSCE drone

Germany and France say Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine likely shot down a drone being used by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) monitoring mission, demanding that those responsible “be held accountable.”

In a joint statement on Nov. 1, 2018, Berlin and Paris also noted that in recent weeks, the drone had observed convoys entering Ukrainian territory across a nonofficial border crossing from Russia on “multiple occasions” and spotted a surface-to-air missile system before the loss of communication.


Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014. Russia has repeatedly denied financing and equipping the separatist forces despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, insisting that the fighting was a civil, internal conflict.

Germany and France, which have been working with Moscow and Kyiv as part of the so-called Normandy Format to bring an end to the conflict, said the drone operated by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) disappeared in the early hours of Oct. 27, 2018.

This airman gave his life to protect his daughter

OSCE Permanent Council venue at the Hofburg, Vienna.

The incident occurred while the long-range drone was following a convoy of trucks near the town of Nyzhnokrynske close to the Russia-Ukraine border, an area controlled by the separatists, the statement said.

It said evidence assembled by the SMM “suggests Russia and the separatists it backs bear responsibility” for the downing of the unmanned aerial vehicle.

The “severe” incident “stands in clear violation” of the SMM mandate as adopted by participating states of the OSCE mission, Germany and France said.

The SMM, a civilian mission assigned to report impartially on the situation in Ukraine, has hundreds of monitors in the country’s east where the separatists are holding parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The mission said in March 2018 it was reintroducing its long-range drone program more than 18 months after it was halted due to repeated shoot-downs.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine persists despite cease-fire deals reached as part of the September 2014 and February 2015 Minsk accords, and implementation of other measures set out in the deals has been slow.

Featured image: OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine.

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

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