This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a 'fellow veteran' — which he's not - We Are The Mighty
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This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke incorrectly identified Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin as a “fellow veteran” in a photo Zinke tweeted from Air Force One.


Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, tweeted a photo of himself with Shulkin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on the way to Youngstown, Ohio, July 25 with President Donald Trump.

 

Perry is an Air Force veteran. Shulkin, a medical doctor, was appointed by President Barack Obama as the VA’s undersecretary for health in 2015 and became secretary this year. He did not serve in the military. He’s the first VA secretary who is not a veteran.

Representatives for Zinke and Shulkin did not respond to requests for comment.

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The new Titanfall trailer delivers a human look at robot combat

The video game “Titanfall” had a simple appeal. It was frontline combat in the future where humans, robots, and giant “titans” battled in a two-sided war.


Sure, there was a cool storyline and some bells and whistles, but the appeal was fighting battles in three-story metal juggernauts armed with rockets and cannons.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(GIF: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

Now, a “Titanfall 2” trailer is drawing players to the sequel with a more human appeal. A rifleman in the game, J. Cooper, describes what it’s like to fight side-by-side with the player-controlled pilots.

The story highlights some of the game’s new gadgets for pilots, including grappling hooks and the ability to create holograms.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(GIF: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

But it’s the narrative and great voice acting that really sells the experience. Check out the trailer below and prepare for titanfall.

(Video: YouTube/Titanfall Official)

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US suggests NATO should train Iraqi army

Washington wants NATO to assume responsibility for Iraqi troops once the Islamic State forces are defeated, a top military commander said on Wednesday.


A top US military commander has floated the idea of the Washington-led NATO military coalition to assume some responsibility for training troops in Iraq after Islamic State group militants are defeated there.

The 28-member Atlantic alliance “might be uniquely posturing to provide a training mission for an enduring period of time” in Iraq, General Joe Dunford told reporters during his flight back to the US from Brussels, where he attended a planning meeting ahead of next week’s NATO summit.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
Iraqi soldiers train to fight ISIS in April 2010. (Photo: US Army Sgt. Deja Borden)

“You might see NATO making a contribution to logistics, acquisitions, institutional capacity building, leadership schools, academies – those kind of things,” Dunford, who is Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

The issue is at the top of the agenda for next week’s summit, with US President Donald Trump pushing the allies to take on a greater role in combatting terrorism.

After months of brutal, street-by-street combat, IS has lost control of most of its stronghold of Mosul in Iraq, while the jihadi force is now largely isolated in Raqqa, over the border in Syria.

A change in who leads the training mission would likely also mean revamping the nature of the effort, Dunford said.

“We are not talking about NATO doing what we are doing now for combat advising in places like Mosul or Raqqa,” the general said.

“I don’t think we are at the point now where we can envision or discuss NATO taking over” all missions of the anti- IS coalition in Iraq, he added.

NATO’s top brass said on Wednesday they believed the alliance should consider joining the anti- Islamic State group coalition put together by Washington to fight IS in Syria and Iraq.

General Petr Pavel, head of NATO’s military committee, told reporters after chiefs of defense staff met in Brussels that it was time to look at this option.

“NATO members are all in the anti- IS coalition. The discussion now is – is NATO to become a member of that coalition,” he said.

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Disneyland honors fallen Marine by fulfilling his final wish – to be buried with a lightsaber

The deaths of 13 US service members at Kabul International Airport on August 26, 2021 shook the nation. Their deaths serve as a tragic punctuation mark to America’s longest war. One of the fallen was Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Indio, California.

Growing up in SoCal, Lopez was a huge Disneyland and Star Wars fan, similar to how growing up in Marceline, Missouri, gave Walt Disney his love of trains. The family has been annual passholders for decades. In November 2019, Lopez visited the park and built his own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop in Galaxy’s Edge. He loved it so much that, before he deployed, he told his parents that he wanted to be buried with it if he was killed.

His parents wanted to honor Hunter’s request, “but I just couldn’t find the courage to part with the lightsaber he built,” Mrs. Lopez tearfully told Disney Parks. So, six days after Hunter’s death, Mr. and Mrs. Lopez took their 18-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter to Disneyland to build a new one. Together, they would build a replica of Hunter’s lightsaber to bury with him.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
The Lopez family at Club 33 with the replica of Hunter’s lightsaber and the flag (Disney Parks)

“As we walked into Disneyland, the marching band was coming out onto Main Street [U.S.A.] and started to play a Star Wars song,” Mrs. Lopez recalled. “We don’t know if it was Disney magic or whether it was Hunter, but either way it felt good knowing he was there with us.”

A friend of the Lopezes helped arrange for the family to build the lightsaber in private. The friend, a member of the exclusive Disneyland Club 33, also arranged for the family to have lunch at the famous dining club afterwards. When Club 33 Member Services Coordinator Rex Roberts learned of the Lopez family’s visit, he advised resort leaders to see what else they could do that day.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
The plaque of the presentation flag presented to the Lopez family by Disneyland (Disney Parks)

Members of SALUTE, the cast member Business Employee Resource Group that supports veterans and service members, reached out to Vice President of Security Dan Hughes. “We took the American flag that was flying over Disneyland and quickly had it framed and created a plaque, so we could present it to the family,” Hughes said to Disney Parks. In just 90 minutes, he was on his way to Club 33 to meet the Lopezes. “Your son’s sacrifice means the world to our country and also to us at Disneyland, and it’s our honor to give you this token of our appreciation,” Hughes told the family as he presented them with the flag.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
VP of Security Dan Hughes presents a Main Street U.S.A. flag to the Lopez family in Hunter’s honor (Disney Parks)

“My son loved Disneyland,” Mrs. Lopez said as she broke down in tears. The whole room choked up at the emotional gesture. The gift prompted Mrs. Lopez to recount Disney-related memories of Hunter. His favorite ride was the Mad Tea Party with its iconic spinning tea cups. As a child, he loved Winnie the Pooh so much, Mrs. Lopez nicknamed him, “Hunter Pooh.” However, Star Wars was his true passion.

“He’d dress up as a Jedi for Halloween, he knew all the movies, all the lines — even the background characters,” Mrs. Lopez recalled. When she was pregnant with her second child, 5-year-old Hunter asked to name the baby Uncle Owen after Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen from Star Wars. The Lopezes liked the name (minus the “Uncle” part) and named their second son Owen. Owen signed his Airborne infantry contract with the Army just hours before the family received the fateful knock on the door from the casualty notification officers. Hunter advised his brother to join the Army with the goal of becoming a Ranger before following their parents into law enforcement with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department; Hunter’s own goal after transitioning out of the Marine Corps.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
13 glasses of champagne for the 13 KIAs in Afghanistan (Disney Parks)

On the day of the Lopez family’s visit, Club 33 also poured 13 glasses of champagne and lined them up on the service counter. The drinks served as a tribute to all 13 service members killed on August 26.

“Disneyland is all about celebration and happiness, so it’s not often that we see or hear this in our work,” Club 33 General Manager Luke Stedman told Disney Parks of the event. “But in this divisive world, when we can all come together and support something so meaningful, it’s a reminder of how much pride our cast can take in what this place means to people.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

A major US ally in the Pacific wants to scrap an important military deal with the US, and that may give China an edge

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte followed through on numerous threats to end his country’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the US on Tuesday, notifying Washington of his intent to withdraw, triggering a 180-day countdown.


On Friday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he thought the two sides could reach a political resolution, but recent history suggests the pact’s demise could be an opportunity for China in a strategically valuable region.

Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly criticized the US and US officials. The US, which ruled the Philippines as a colony in the first half of the 20th century, remains close with the Philippines and is very popular there — as is Duterte, who had 87% approval in December.

But the Philippine president nevertheless decided to end the VFA, with his spokesman saying it was “time we rely on ourselves” and that the country “will strengthen our own defenses and not rely on any other country.”

While President Donald Trump said he didn’t “really mind,” the US Embassy in the Philippines said it would “carefully consider how best to move forward,” and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said it was “a move in the wrong direction.”

Asked on Friday about the decision, McCarthy touted US-Philippine ties.

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A Philippine marine looks through the sights on a US Marine Corps M777 towed 155 mm howitzer at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base in the Philippines, during exercise KAMANDAG 3, October 12, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Donald Holbert

Washington and Manila have “a long history” of working “very hard together” and of “very strong” military-to-military relations, McCarthy told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. “We have about 175 days to work through this diplomatically. I think we can drive forward to an end state that will work out for all of us politically.”

The US and the Philippines are also bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, but ending the VFA would undercut those and the legal standing US forces have when in the Philippines.

The latter effect would endanger hundreds of military exercises and other military cooperation. US Special Forces troops have been stationed in the Philippines to help fight ISIS-linked militants, and the US military has trained there with other countries in the region. The Philippines has also hosted US troops deployed as part of Pacific Pathways, which is meant to allow US and forces in the region to build stronger partnerships and readiness.

Asked about the effect of the VFA withdrawal on US basing and training, McCarthy said Friday that “conversations are underway” particularly among the White House and State Department.

“The VFA, by changing that would change basically the freedoms that you have to do the training,” McCarthy said, “but this is a very close ally, and we would work through that, but it’s basically [changing] the protocols of how you would work together if it actually goes through.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5bb8f45dac0a63720f3f4e02%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=461&h=e1068bd36d8cf0ac85bdb90175ead720a1df44c362b1c7578598d1b273bd8667&size=980x&c=2487424571 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5bb8f45dac0a63720f3f4e02%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D461%26h%3De1068bd36d8cf0ac85bdb90175ead720a1df44c362b1c7578598d1b273bd8667%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2487424571%22%7D” expand=1]

US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jovanny Rios guides a Philippine marine in a combat life-saver drill during KAMANDAG 2, in the Naval Education Training Center, Zambales, Philippines, October 2, 2018.

US Marine Corps/Pfc. Christian Ayers

Day 181

There a number of reasons the VFA may ultimately survive. Philippine military and security forces value the relationship, under which they receive military assistance, training, education, and weapons.

Philippine officials have suggested a need to review the VFA “to address matters of sovereignty” but have stopped short of advocating withdrawal. Duterte’s foreign secretary also indicated on Tuesday that the announcement should be seen as a jumping-off point for such negotiations, saying “other reactions have been idiotic.”

But it’s not the first time the Philippines has pulled out of this kind of deal. In 1991, it did not renew a mutual basing agreement, leading to the closure of Naval Base Subic Bay, the largest US base in the Pacific, and the withdrawal of US forces.

Manila “quickly discovered that after it did that it was rendered largely defenseless with its limited military capabilities, and China actually started taking very bold actions in the South China Sea, including the occupation of the Mischief Reef,” Prashanth Parameswaran, a senior editor at The Diplomat, said on The Diplomat podcast.

“We’re now left in a situation where we’re not just hypothetically talking about what might happen,” Parameswaran added. “We actually have a historical record about what happens when the alliance goes through periods like this.”

Duterte has won concessions on other issues by pushing on Washington, Parameswaran said, calling a similar outcome this time the “optimistic scenario,” but in light of the impulsiveness of both Duterte and Trump, there remains “an element of risk.”

Agreements like the VFA take time to negotiate and ratify — after ending the basing agreement in 1991, the two countries weren’t able to establish the VFA until 1998 — and other countries in the region, like Australia and Japan, can’t replace US military assistance to the Philippines, leaving Manila weaker in the face of Chinese ambitions.

“That is the big, worrying scenario about Day 181,” Parameswaran said, “because the Philippine military, it’s building up in terms of its capabilities, but it’s still one of the weakest militaries in the Asia-Pacific, and that’s going to be laid bare on Day 181 if this doesn’t get sorted out.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Apparently Russia can’t even afford Putin’s problematic nuclear cruise missile

Russia can’t afford its Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, which still doesn’t work right and may not be combat ready for another decade, CNBC reports, citing US intelligence assessments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly boasted last year that the weapon could skirt enemy defenses and fly indefinitely, giving it unlimited range, but the farthest this missile has ever flown in testing is 22 miles.

The most recent test took place in late January 2019, The Diplomat reported in early February 2019, noting that Russia had decided to restart testing after a pause last summer.


The test was apparently only “partially successful,” The Diplomat explained, indicating that the weapon still doesn’t function as intended. No country has ever fielded a nuclear-powered cruise missile, although the US briefly flirted with the idea many years ago.

US intelligence currently assesses it might be another decade before the Burevestnik cruise missile is ready for combat, but even then, Russia is expected to only produce a few of these potentially powerful missiles because they are too expensive for the country to develop, CNBC reports.

This certainly isn’t the first superweapon Russia has hyped up that turned out to be unobtainable due to budget limitations.

Russia unveiled its hard-hitting T-14 Armata tank at the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, where one embarrassingly broke down and had to be towed away during rehearsal.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

Russian T-14 Armata tank.

Russia had initially planned to mass produce and field as many as 2,300 Armatas by 2025, but that number was reduced to 100, as the cost of this state-of-the-art tank, which includes an unmanned turret and other expensive features, was way over budget.

Instead of buying more Armatas, Russia opted to upgrade and improve its older T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks, capable armor units but definitely nothing like what Russia promised for the Armatas.

The country decided to do the same with its fifth-generation Su-57 stealth fighter.

Rather than mass produce the aircraft, which was built to take down the US F-35s, Russia instead chose to purchase only a limited number and focus on improving its fourth-generation fighters.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Have Marines gotten bigger? New body scanner will answer so many burning questions

The Marine Corps is in the market for a new body scanner that can help officials equip Marines with the best-fitting body armor and gear — and it will even show how to squeeze leathernecks wearing full battle rattle into tactical vehicles.

The service recently published a solicitation for a full-body high-resolution anthropometry scanner capable of capturing 3D images of individuals, still and in motion, for the purpose of collecting data on what the average Marine looks like.

According to the solicitation, posted June 24, the scanner must be able to capture at least 20 seconds of motion, with at least 10 frames or full scans per second and a minimum of 30 different body measurements.


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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Team Rubicon’s co-founder receives the Pat Tillman Award for Service

Jake Wood has seen and done a lot in his life, so you know when he calls receiving the Pat Tillman Award for Service “humbling,” it’s a meaningful statement. The co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon was a United States Marine and scout sniper in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s testified in Congress on veterans’ mental health and briefed the last three Presidents of the United States about the issues returning veterans face.

Now, he’s been recognized by the ESPY awards, the annual presentation from ESPN and ABC honoring athletes for their performance in sports and sports-related activities. While deploying American military veterans to help disaster areas other rescue organizations won’t touch isn’t necessarily a sport, one can argue it’s definitely athletic.

But you don’t have to argue for Jake Wood.


This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

Tillman as a Ranger and as a Cardinal.

The Pat Tillman Award for Service is presented at the ESPYs to honor an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the Tillman legacy. Previous honorees include 2016’s Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, who overcame hip injuries sustained in Iraq but still became the world’s number one paraswimmer. In 2015, it was awarded to Danielle Green, who joined the military after playing basketball at Notre Dame and lost her arm in Iraq. Green returned to help other veterans struggling to adjust to life after the military.

For Jake Wood, this award hits close to home. Wood was playing on the offensive line at the University of Wisconsin when Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2004. It was after Tillman died that Wood told his coach he was off to join the Marine Corps, where he spent four years.

He was out for just three months before he saw the devastation in Haiti. It was in Port-Au-Prince that a handful of volunteers formed the first heartbeat of what would be come Team Rubicon. Now, the organization is 80,000 members strong.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

Wood in Haiti on Team Rubicon’s first mission.

And Jake Wood, the former o-lineman for the Badgers, is being recognized for forming a group that helps those most in need while giving struggling military veterans a new mission in life.

Pat Tillman would be proud.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army accidentally drops humvee 1 minute short of drop zone

Army testers accidentally dropped a Humvee from an Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft Oct. 24, 2018, about a mile short of the intended drop zone on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The Airborne and Special operations Test Directorate was testing a new heavy-drop platform loaded with a Humvee, base spokesman Tom McCollum told Military.com.

“They were going in for a time-on-target on Sicily Drop Zone at 1 p.m.,” McCollum said. “Everything was going well; they were at the one-minute mark to the drop zone.


“We don’t know what happened, but the platform went out early and landed in a rural area. There was no one hurt. No private property was damaged.”

The incident, which is under investigation, follows a similar airborne mishap that occurred in April 2016 when three separate Humvees came loose from their heavy-drop platforms and crashed onto a designated drop zone in Germany.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

The Texas Air National Guard 136th Airlift Wing’s C-130 Hercules aircraft completes a heavy cargo airdrop with a Humvee.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Julie Briden-Garcia)

For his role in the incident, Sgt. John Skipper was found guilty of three counts of destroying military property and one of lying during the investigation, according to Army Times.

A court-martial panel sentenced Skipper to be demoted to the rank of private and to receive a Bad Conduct Discharge.

In today’s accident, the C-17 was flying at 1,500 feet during the heavy-drop test, McCollum said.

“Basically what takes place is a heavy drop pallet is inside the aircraft and by this time the doors have already been opened,” he said, explaining that a pilot parachute pulls the platform out of the aircraft and three heavy-drop parachutes then open. “Everything worked as it was supposed to, except it went out early.”

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

Articles

This infamous gangster left the ‘Goodfellas’ life to join the 82d Airborne

“Goodfellas” would have been a totally different movie if Ray Liotta’s character had taken time out to join the Army and get himself straight.


But the real-life mobster Henry Hill — which Liotta played in the film — actually did just that.

Despite what Scorsese’s 1990 movie would have you believe, Hill joined the Army in 1960 at age 17, when he was sent to Fort Bragg and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.

According to Nicholas Pileggi’s book “Wiseguy,” (which was later adapted to the movie “Goodfellas”), Hill joined the Army to avoid scrutiny after a Senate investigation was launched to look into union ties to organized crime. In all, about 5,000 names were released by the report — including members of the Lucchese crime family that Hill worked for.

So Hill enlisted to go dark and take a step back from the crime family he served.

Sort of gives a whole new meaning to the term “E-4 Mafia,” right?

The young mobster spent three years as an enlisted soldier. He maintained his criminal contacts and hustled in the military the same way he hustled on the streets of New York. He sold tax-free cigarettes, loan sharked his fellow troops, and sold the extra food he picked up while on KP, according to Pileggi.

Hill spent two months in jail for stealing a sheriff’s car and getting into a bar fight with some Marines. But by the time he was released from the stockade, his enlistment was up. So he returned to what he called “the life,” and ended up getting so far in, he could never get out.

Not without ratting on his friends, that is.

In the video above, Hill talks about his time in the Army (fast-forward to 6:55). He spent time at Forts Dix, Benning, Bragg, and Lee. He called his time in the Army “the most fun I ever had.”

From there, he went on to restart his wiseguy career. He specialized in arson, but was also known for intimidation, stealing cars and holding up cargo trucks as they left JFK airport in New York.

After getting busted for narcotics trafficking (which was forbidden by the Lucchese family – it carried a death sentence), Hill eventually turned on the family and became a material witness for the government. He is famous for sharing his story with Associated Press reporter Pileggi.

Director Martin Scorsese made Pileggi’s book into the legendary movie “Goodfellas,” starring Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro, and Joe Pesci.

Henry Hill died on June 12, 2012, of heart problems related to smoking. He still had a $1 million bounty on his head.

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Starbucks is hiring 10,000 refugees – starting with interpreters for US troops

Executive orders to bar the entry of refugees from several Middle Eastern nations caused quite a stir over the weekend. The order restricts immigration from seven countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bans all Syrian refugees indefinitely.


This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
Starbucks employees in South Mumbai, India.

A few prominent corporate brands got creamed when their responses to the ban didn’t meet the expectations of the outraged protesters who poured into airport terminals all over the country. Others accidentally tapped the anger of the social media conservatives. One of the latter is the coffee giant Starbucks.

Related: A brief history of coffee in the US military

Anger at Starbucks Coffee boiled over when CEO Howard Schultz announced they would hire 10,000 refugees in countries where the company operates. Schultz sweetened the deal by adding that their first priority would be to hire those refugees who served as interpreters for American troops on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations,” Schultz wrote in a company-wide letter to the coffee chain’s employees. “And we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. And we will start this effort here in the U.S. by making the initial focus of our hiring efforts on those individuals who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”

Conservatives on Twitter and Facebook accuse the company of being steeped in liberal ideology. This isn’t the first time Starbucks found itself in hot water with the #TCOT. Starbuck’s holiday cup designs drew ire in 2015 on the grounds that it filtered out typical Christmas imagery (like snowflakes and snowmen) in its design.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

The next year, Starbuck released green cups to promote unity during a divisive 2016 election season. The company was accusing of liberal brainwashing. Each time a half-hearted boycott movement percolated around the brand on social media but didn’t reflect in the stores’ sales.

The chain’s dedication to hiring refugees who served with U.S. troops is consistent with the brand’s dedication to hiring American military veterans and assisting in the transition of military personnel into civilian life. The company dedicated its Starbucks College Achievement Plan to allow employee veterans (and their spouses) to earn a bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University online with full tuition reimbursement.

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Bombs for bases — Russia establishes permanent naval port in Syria

With Russia’s announcement of a new permanent naval base in Tartus, Syria – long a port used by Russian (and prior to 1991, Soviet) forces, Moscow’s expansion into that war torn country continues even as the Assad regime is wracked by civil war.


But Russia has had a long history in the Med.

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. (Photo from Wikimedia)

Tartus Naval Base has been used by the Russians since 1971. In those 45 years, it served as a forward operating location for the Fifth Eskadra (5th Operational Squadron). This unit was intended to counter the presence of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Med. The base had not been able to permanently support major vessels like the Kuznetov-class carrier; the Kirov-class battlecruisers; the Slava-class cruisers; or even modern destroyers and frigates in Russian service. The new construction at the base is intended to make it a permanent base for carriers and larger vessels as opposed to just a place to park.

The Fifth Eskadra was formed in 1967 after the Egypt-Israel Six Day War. The Soviets had been unable to find a way to inflict damage on the Sixth Fleet in the event of a war with the United States. This was not a solid strategic position from its perspective, and Russian naval legend Sergei Gorshkov pestered his superiors until the unit was formed.

The unit usually consisted of as many as 80 vessels, including two guided-missile cruisers and a number of smaller escorts like the Mod Kashin-class destroyer or Krivak-class frigate, ten diesel-electric submarines, and a host of auxiliary vessels. The Sixth Fleet usually had half that total, but much of its strength would be concentrated in a carrier battle group which could make life exciting (not to mention short) for the Soviet vessels.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians disbanded the Fifth Eskadra at the end of 1992 — a little over 25 years after the squadron was formed. Two decades later, in 2013, the Russians re-formed the squadron as the Syrian civil war heated up.

Now with about 10 vessels, it is a shadow of the force that faced off with the Sixth Fleet. Still, it is a sign that Russia is reasserting itself in the region.

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5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has once again given top-performing American gear to Santa to assist him with his Christmas mission, despite Saint Nicholas’s ongoing refusal to release his aviation technology to the U.S.


Santa has received DARPA research the past two Christmas seasons under the High-speed Optimized Handling of Holiday Operations initiative. The HO HO HO initiative has previously gifted Santa with the tools to protect his network from hacks, land more safely on slanted roofs, and more effectively scout homes for people who are awake before he places the presents.

This year, DARPA’s gift features five major programs.

1. New tools for seeing through snow, dust, and fog

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(Illustration: DARPA)

The Multifunction RF program is working on creating new sensors for aircraft that can detect obstacles, terrain, and other aircraft during flight — even in severe dust and snowstorms. The military wants the technology to prevent crashes during dangerous operations.

But Santa can use it to more safely approach houses in severe snowstorms and dust storms. This will become increasingly important as Santa fights to maintain his tight timeline with more kids to serve every year.

2. A fancy new Santa suit will help prevent strain injuries

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(Photo: DARPA)

The Warrior Web suit is designed to protect soldier’s joints and muscles from damage while the wearer is carrying heavy loads, sometimes topping 100 pounds. To do so, the suit uses a bare 100w of power to augment the muscle work done by the user, lessening their muscle fatigue and injury risk.

While Santa’s average load from the sleigh to the tree is unknown, his sack sometimes has to accommodate dozens of toys, books, and electronic devices. Hopefully, a new Santa suit featuring Warrior Web technology will help Santa more safely move up and down the chimneys.

3. The TRADES program will lead to new toy designs

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
An artist created this concept art of an artist creating concept art. (Illustration: DARPA)

The Transformative Design program is trying to give engineers new tools to model the properties of possible equipment designs and to figure out manufacturing processes to create those products.

For top elves, this means that they can start fabricating new toy designs that would have been impossible just a few years ago. The new technologies will be especially useful for 3D printing.

4. New computer chips will keep the North Pole’s computers cool

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(Illustration: DARPA)

As Santa and his staff serve a growing population, DARPA has become worried that the computer servers processing all that information will overheat.

To help prevent this, they’ve offered the Man in Red access to their Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling research. Computer chips integrating this technology are cooled more efficiently and are less likely to fail during high-demand tasks such as when Santa makes his list and checks it twice.

5. Programs from the Cyber Grand Challenge will defend against hacks by the naughtiest of children

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not
(Photo: DARPA Camilla Sjoden)

The Cyber Grand Challenge provided millions of dollars in prizes to teams who put created automated bug hunters and defenses against hacking and then pitted those software programs and machines against each other on a Las Vegas stage.

Now, DARPA has turned some of that research over to Santa to help him keep his computer systems secure. While there’s little evidence that any hackers have made it into the system so far, the Naughty/Nice list is too obvious a target to be unprotected.

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