This is how vulnerable US satellites are to solar storms - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how vulnerable US satellites are to solar storms

The sunny side of planet Earth had all of its GPS communications temporarily knocked out Sept. 6 after the sun emitted two massive solar flares, showering the planet with radiation storms.


Both events were X-Class solar flares, the most severe classification, and one of them was the most powerful since 2005, Engadget reported. When solar flares like these are directed at Earth, the resulting radiation storm can easily impede radio and GPS communications. These resulted in heavy communications interference for a full hour Sept. 6.

The second storm was an X9.3, the strongest since 2005 and severe enough to cause the sun to spew out plasma from its surface in a coronal mass ejection. Radio emissions collected by the US Space Weather Prediction Center indicate that the storm caused a “wide area of blackouts” on the sunlit side of Earth, according to Space.com.

 

 

The Sept. 6 explosion spewed out plasma clouds several times the size of Earth at roughly 3 million mph, according to astrophysicist Karl Battams.

The most powerful sun storm ever recorded blasted the Earth with enough radiation in 2003 to disable NASA’s solar measurement equipment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Hundreds of trapped ISIS fighters are trying to escape Syria

Hundreds of defectors from Islamic State have massed in Syria’s Idlib province, with many planning to cross the nearby Turkish border and find ways back to the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.


Several dozen former fighters have already made it across the heavily patrolled frontier to towns and cities in Turkey’s south in recent weeks, the Guardian has confirmed. Four Saudi Arabian extremists arrived in a southern Turkish community in early September after paying smugglers $2,000 each for the perilous journey past border guards who have shot dead scores of infiltrators this year alone.

The exodus of fighters from areas controlled by ISIS to other parts of Syria and Iraq has continued throughout the past year, as the terror group has lost much of its former heartland to a concerted assault by Iraqi troops, forces allied to the Syrian regime and a US-led air coalition in both countries.

However, large numbers of militants and their families are now trying to leave the war-battered states altogether – posing significant challenges to a global intelligence community that, for the most part, views them as a hostile and unmanageable threat, and sees limited scope for their reintegration.

Image from VOA.

A Saudi national who fled Syria in late August told the Guardian that as many as 300 former ISIS members, many of them Saudis, had established a community north of Idlib city, which is now dominated by the al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra.

“Most want to leave, like me,” said the 26-year-old, who called himself Abu Saad. “A lot of them realise that the group they were with tricked them. Others don’t trust Nusra. There are not many who believe that the people that they were with were on the right path.”

Abu Saad said the Saudi nationals, as well some Europeans, Moroccans, and Egyptians, had gathered together as a buffer against al-Nusra, which has exerted its influence across Idlib and the surrounding countryside by toppling its rivals. ISIS has not had an organised presence in the area since early 2014 when it was ousted by a rebel assault that saw its members flee east to the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo hinterland and further into Minbij, Tabqa, Raqqa, and Deir Azzour.

ISIS patrol the streets of Raqqa, Syria. Image from Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently.

Former members of the group, however, have steadily been returning to Idlib and seeking refuge since late 2015. “That was when I left,” said Abu Saad, speaking days after he arrived in southern Turkey. “Others joined me later, and more are coming now.”

The full scale of the extremist exodus from ISIS-held parts of Iraq and Syria remains unclear, with most of the land it conquered having been recaptured, leaving a divided and demoralized rump with next to nowhere to hide. One of ISIS’s two main centers of power – Mosul in Iraq – fell in February, and the other – Raqqa in Syria – is slipping further into the hands of US-backed Kurdish forces who had already hounded the group from most of Syria’s northeast.

Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters are believed to have been killed in the battle to retain territory it seized from mid-2014, and thousands more homegrown extremists are believed to have returned to their communities.

An ISOF APC among the rubble in Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

But the numbers of foreign fighters who have survived and are looking to return to their homes have been more difficult to gauge. So too have the true intentions of men who had allied themselves to the world’s most feared terror group during its ascendancy, but claim no further part of it as its reach and influence dwindles.

French officials have said privately that they would rather that nationals who traveled to join ISIS died on battlefields and have no plans to support those who now want to return. Other European states have expressed similar sentiments.

ISIS defectors had at one point been of high interest to intelligence agencies who had made little ground in penetrating the group as it consolidated a hold on swaths of Syria and Iraq and plotted attacks in Europe and beyond.

As the group has capitulated, MI6, the CIA, and France’s DGSE have had increasing access to informants whom they have met within Kurdish controlled areas of Syria’s northeast and in northern Iraq. The increased access to informants with real-time information has left those who fled earlier with less leverage over governments who might otherwise have agreed to talk with them.

“It’s a lot better than it used to be,” said one intelligence official. “We have a more complete picture than we did.”

Abu Saad said he would not return to Saudi Arabia if doing so meant a prison sentence. “A rehabilitation program? Maybe,” he said. “I went to Syria some time in 2012. I went to support the Syrian people and in the first few months I was with the Muhajirin.”

“It wasn’t until early the next year that my unit swore allegiance to ISIS. It was a poisoned flower. It wasn’t what I expected.”

As the group’s fate worsened, tensions increased within its ranks, Abu Saad claimed. Summary executions were carried out on increasingly flimsy pretexts, such as insubordination, or making contact with Syrian opposition groups, he said. Over time, arguments about the ideology and theology also intensified.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

“They don’t understand the Tawheed (the oneness of God). They are always arguing about it. I saw no justice with them. I saw cruelty. But how could I disagree? It had such a hierarchy. Everyone has a boss who they are afraid of. And above them all was [ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.] He was the ultimate authority and no one could argue with him about religious law. If you tried to defy them about anything, you put yourself in danger.”

“My job was to inspect prisons. If there were abuses then I would report on them. One time in Minbij, there was a lady in a cell for 13 days with no toilet and no water for cleaning. She was there because she threatened to kill a man who had killed her husband. There was worse than that though. There were people in prison who had done nothing wrong at all.

“In Idlib, there are around 300 people trying to escape. Many of them are Saudis. Some want to see their families one last time and they say they will accept what’s coming to them. I don’t know any of them who believe in the [Islamic] State. They all ran away for a reason.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA and AMVETS partner up to help ‘at-risk’ veterans

In August 2018, VA and American Veterans (AMVETS) announced a partnership to expand ongoing veteran suicide prevention efforts and establish intervention programs for at-risk veterans.

The partnership followed a January 2018 executive order signed by President Trump that directed the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to collaborate by providing mental health and suicide prevention resources to transitioning service members, and veterans during the first 12 months after their separation from service.


“VA and AMVETS are working together to identify and eliminate the barriers veterans face in accessing health care, enroll more at-risk veterans into the VA health care system, and provide training for those who work with veterans so that intervention begins once warning signs are identified,” said VA National Director of Suicide Prevention Dr. Keita Franklin.

The partnership’s keystone program is AMVETS’ HEAL, which stands for health care, evaluation, advocacy, and legislation. HEAL’s team of experienced clinical experts intervene directly on behalf of service members, veterans and their families and caregivers to help them access high-quality health care, including mental health and specialized services, for conditions including traumatic brain injury, polytrauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. AMVETS offers HEAL’s free services to anyone rather than exclusively to its members.

This example of expanded outreach is directly aligned with VA’s public health approach to veteran suicide, defined in the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, released in 2018. This approach looks beyond supporting the individual to involving peers, family members, and the community.

When it comes to preventing suicide, there is no wrong door to care. That’s why the VA-AMVETS partnership also provides processes for VA to refer veterans for HEAL services and vice versa. This collaboration will bring lifesaving resources directly to more veterans and their families and caregivers, even if the veteran in need is not seeking health care in the VA system.

HEAL support services can be accessed via the toll-free number, 1-833 VET-HEAL (1-833-838-4325), or by email at VETHEAL@amvets.org.

To learn about the resources available for Veterans and how you can #BeThere for a Veteran as a VA employee, family member, friend, community partner or clinician, visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/resources.asp.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.

Articles

Military spouse helps pass legislation to benefit military retirees in Arkansas

When Brittany Boccher was approached by retired Major General Kendall Penn and the Arkansas Secretary of State Military and Veterans Liaison Kevin Steele to help get proposed legislation passed to protect the retirement pay of military retirees, Boccher jumped at the opportunity to serve her current community.


Boccher, a mother of two and the spouse of a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, began the task by hosting the General and the Military and Veteran’s Liaison at one of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club meetings, where the men presented the proposed legislation to the local military spouses.

Brittany Boccher was invited to attend the signing of legislation into state law on Feb. 7, 2017. The law exempts military retiree pay from state taxes. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Boccher.)

The proposal specifically addressed the taxation of pay for military retirees. While active duty personnel in Arkansas do not pay a state tax, retired veterans’ pay is taxed.

That tax didn’t sit well with Governor Asa Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, who have seen their state ranked at 48 in attracting and retaining working age military retirees and veterans.

“A lot of them will retire really young in their 40s, 50s, 60s. And what do they do? They have that steady income and start other businesses or they go work a new job,” Griffin said.

Hutchinson agreed, saying, “I believe it will help us to bring more military retirees here, welcome them back to Arkansas.”

Boccher committed to calling or emailing every state senate committee member directly to discuss his or her support for Hutchinson’s proposed tax initiative. Then she set out to round up military families that would benefit the most from the initiative in order to testify before the state house and senate committees.

Boccher, a business owner in Arkansas herself, told We Are the Mighty that her family reflected the target audience the state was hoping to attract with the proposed tax break.

“They were seeking a young family close to retirement to showcase that they would have a second career after the military. We are a 17 year military family, we’re young, and with two small children. We want to stay in Arkansas and we own a business in Arkansas.”

Boccher said her family “checked all the boxes” for what Steele and Penn wanted to present as the ideal family the state was trying to attract.

Penn asked Boccher to testify before the state house and senate committees.

As a result of her hard work and commitment to the legislation, Boccher and her family were invited to the bill signing ceremony earlier this month.

On February 7, Hutchinson released a statement that read, in part, “…beginning in January [Arkansas] will also exempt military retirement pay. This initiative will make Arkansas a more military friendly retirement destination and will encourage veterans to start their second careers or open a business right here in the Natural State.”

For her part, Boccher is proud of what she’s accomplished for veterans while simultaneously running an apparel company, a photography company, and a non-profit organization, the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition.

Additionally, Boccher is the president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Spouses’ Club and the 2016 and 2017 Little Rock Air Force Base Spouse of the Year.

Boccher had this to say about her work, “The military community is resilient, adaptable, dedicated, independent, supportive, and resourceful, but most of all they can make a difference, their voice can be heard, and they can and will make change happen!”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Seabees deploy for first time with 3-D printers

Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 deployed for the first time in mid-February 2019 to 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet AOR’s with organic 3-D printing capabilities.

The process known as additive manufacturing describes the technologies that build 3-D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal, or concrete. The process involves the use of a computer and special CAD software, which can relay messages to the printer so it “prints” in the desired shape.


NMCB-133 was outfitted with several “Tactical Fabrication (TACFAB) Kits” consisting of 3-D scanners, printers, laptops computers and the software to tie them all together. Cmdr. Luke Greene’s vision is to use his TACFAB kits both at the command headquarters in Camp Mitchell, Rota, Spain and also throughout NMCB-133’s various job sites in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Rear Adm. Brian Brakke, Commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, left, is briefed on the capabilities of additive manufacturing using a 3-D printer during a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 field training exercise at Camp Shelby.

The capability to engineer and print both original designs and certain stock numbered items will be a game changer for the Seabees. They are testing the ability to manufacture both Class IX repair parts and Class IV building materials. Access to these critical components can often be the difference between mission success and lengthy delays.

NMCB-133 is excited for this ground breaking opportunity coming off of a highly successful inter-deployment training cycle where they had a chance to use the printers summer 2018 during their Field Training Exercise (FTX). The goal was to test the proof of concept of using 3-D printers in the field to produce needed supplies and repair parts.

According to Lt. Michael Lundy, a reservist attached to the Fleet Readiness and Logistics staff for the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations who helped NMCB-133 facilitate the use of several 3-D printers in the field, the possibilities of this technology are endless.

“We printed more than 30 different parts and identified 50 others so far that need to be drawn up by engineering aids on the computer. Once these drawings are complete we link the computer to the printer,” Lundy said. “The upside to this process is with the proper database they can print repair parts as opposed to waiting 30 to 90 days for new parts to come in. The only constraint to this technology for Seabees is their imagination.”

A selection of more than 30 different parts made in the field using a 3-D printer in use during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133’s field training exercise on board Camp Shelby, Miss. Fifty other parts were identified that can be drawn up by Engineering Aids on the computer. Once these drawings are complete they can be linked to the 3-D printer via a computer and produced.

(Photo by MCCS Jeffrey Pierce)

Ensign Femi Ibitoye, NMCB-133’s Alfa Team Commander, worked in architectural design prior to his service in the Navy, and has experience useful for this technology.

“I have experience drawing plans in 3-D and in prototyping using specific programs. The iterative process used in architecture is very similar to the process used in Additive Manufacturing,” Ibitoye said.

Chief Construction Mechanic Gail Best was witness to the true potential of this technology.

“We were able to print a bushing for the adjustable shock absorber used on our medium tactical vehicle replacement tractors and wreckers. We cannot order this particular part separately, so if it fails, we have to replace the entire shock absorber,” Best said. “The shock absorbers cost K each, however, we were able to print a new bushing here in the field for about id=”listicle-2629427852″ and install it. We had three vehicles go down due to a failure of a minor plastic part. We were able to print them, install them, and get the vehicles back up and running,” Best said.

According to Cmdr. Joe Symmes, 22 Naval Construction Regiment’s supply officer, in the not-too-distant future, 3-D printing could give Seabees the ability to print needed supplies and repair parts on the battlefield.

“Additive manufacturing capabilities are an important component to future Seabee readiness. Imagine being able to carry a warehouse in a box that has the capability to print assets across almost all classes of supply,” Symmes said. “Now imagine that ‘virtual inventory’ has the ability to adapt to changing scenarios on the battlefield with minimal to no communications across the electromagnetic spectrum. For a logistician these concepts were the stuff of sci-fi films just a few years ago. Now they are available in commercial, off-the-shelf products that are accessible to households across America.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Saudi prosecutor indicts 11 in Khashoggi murder, not crown prince

Saudi Arabia is seeking the death penalty for five suspects in the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a Nov. 15, 2018 statement, the Saudi public prosecutor said that 11 suspects had been indicted in Khashoggi’s death and that he had requested the death penalty for five of them. None of the suspects were named.

The spokesman for the public prosecutor said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge of the killing, Agence France-Presse reported. Crown Prince Mohammed functions as an absolute monarch in Saudi Arabia with control over courts and legislation.


The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, echoed that claim, telling a separate press conference on Nov. 15, 2018: “Absolutely, his royal highness the crown prince has nothing to do with this issue.” He added that “sometimes people exceed their authority,” without naming any names.

The five people who were recommended for the death penalty are charged with “ordering and committing the crime,” the public prosecutor said.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who criticized the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed in articles for The Washington Post, died inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. He held a US green card and lived near Washington, DC, for at least a year before his death.

How Khashoggi died, according to Saudi Arabia

The Saudi deputy public prosecutor, Shaalan al-Shaalan, told reporters on Nov. 15, 2018, that Khashoggi died from a lethal injection after a struggle inside the Saudi Consulate and that his body was dismembered and taken out of the consulate, according to Reuters.

The agents killed Khashoggi after “negotiations” for the journalist’s return to the kingdom failed, Shaalan said.

He added that the person who ordered the killing was the head of the negotiating team that was dispatched to Istanbul to take Khashoggi home.

The whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body are not known, Shaalan added.

Riyadh has changed its narrative of the death multiple times, having initially claimed that Khashoggi safely left the consulate shortly after he entered and then said weeks later that Khashoggi died in a fistfight as part of a “rogue operation.”

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that the prosecutor’s Nov. 15, 2018 statement was not “satisfactory” and called for “the real perpetrators need to be revealed.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Cavusoglu said, according to the Associated Press: “I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory.”

He added: “Those who gave the order, the real perpetrators need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way.”

In early November 2018 Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused the “highest levels” of the Saudi leadership of being behind the killing.

Saudi officials have repeatedly tried to distance its leadership, particularly Crown Prince Mohammed, from the killing. There is increasing evidence, however, suggesting that people with close ties to the crown prince were involved in Khashoggi’s death.

In his Nov. 15, 2018 statement, the Saudi prosecutor also said the country had detained 21 people over the killing. Riyadh said in October 2018 that it had detained 18 suspects and dismissed a top general.

That general has since been named by The New York Times as Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, who was promoted to Saudi intelligence in 2017.

Riyadh wants the audio of Khashoggi’s last moments

The Saudi prosecutor on Nov. 15, 2018, added that the office had “submitted formal requests to brotherly authorities in Turkey” for evidence in Khashoggi’s death, including a purported audio recording of Khashoggi’s last moments that Turkish officials have repeatedly mentioned since October 2018.

The prosecutor added that Saudi Arabia was “still awaiting a response to these requests.”

Erdogan said in early November 2018 that he “passed on” the tape to the US, the UK, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country’s intelligence agents heard the recording, but France said it never received it. Britain and Germany declined to comment.

CIA Director Gina Haspel reportedly heard the recording during a visit to Ankara in October 2018 but was not allowed to bring it back to the US.

The audio features Khashoggi telling his killers “I’m suffocating” and “Take this bag off my head” right before he died, a journalist with Turkey’s state-run Daily Sabah newspaper told Al Jazeera.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Meet the Navy’s ‘Swiss army knife’

The rate of machinist’s mate has a long and proud history in the United States Navy. Established in 1880 as finisher, the rate changed names a couple of times before being settled as machinist’s mate in 1904.

According to the Navy CyberSpace website on enlisted jobs, “Machinist’s mates (non-nuclear) operate, maintain, and repair (organizational and intermediate level) ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, and outside machinery, such as: steering engine, hoisting machinery, food preparation equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, windlasses, elevators, and laundry equipment; operate and maintain (organizational and intermediate level) marine boilers, pumps, forced draft blowers, and heat exchangers; perform tests, transfers, and inventory of lubricating oils, fuels, and water; maintain records and reports; and generate and stow industrial gases.”

With such a wide array of skills and responsibilities, the machinist’s mates in George Washington’s engineering department prove the value and versatility of the rate to the ship and to the Navy as a whole.


Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Huizar samples liquid nitrogen in the cryogenics shop aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, October 14, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Seaman Krystofer Belknap)

Machinist’s Mate Fireman Gopika Mayell checks a steam usage reading in one of the flight deck catapult rooms aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, June 14, 2012.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class William Pittman)

“The main ways that machinist’s mates and engineering department support naval aviation is through the catapult shop and [oxygen and nitrogen] shop,” said Huizar.

“The catapult shop makes sure that all of the machinery is up to date and fully functioning in order to operate the catapult that launch the jets. As for [oxygen and nitrogen], we create aviator’s breathing oxygen and we also have a cryogenic plant that creates liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen. The liquid oxygen is used as aviator’s breathing oxygen and the liquid nitrogen is used as gaseous nitrogen for the airplane tires because it expands and contracts less at various altitudes.”

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Duane Hilumeyer, left; Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Kexian Li, center; and Machinist’s Mate Fireman Jacob Tylisz close a valve to maintain accumulator steam pressure on a catapult aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Sept. 24, 2014.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr.)

In order to convert each gas into liquid form, the air expansion engine lowers the temperature of the air to reach negative boiling points, separating oxygen and nitrogen from air.

The air in the expansion engine is frozen to negative 320 degrees Fahrenheit to separate nitrogen, and negative 297 degrees Fahrenheit to separate oxygen.

Air separation is vital to the mission of George Washington, regardless of where the ship finds herself in her life cycle.

According to navy.mil, “O2N2 Plants Bring Life to Airwing Pilot,” O2N2 plants provide oxygen to the aviators, nitrogen to the air wing, and gas forms of both for use throughout the ship.

Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Robert Howard, front, Machinist’s Mate Fireman Austin Martin, center, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Glen Spitnale, test a package conveyor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Aug. 5, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 3rd Class Kaleb J. Sarten)

Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brandon Amodeo performs maintenance on a pressure regulator in emergency diesel generator room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sept. 16, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS Seaman Apprentice Trent P. Hawkins)

The current refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) environment enables them to put their skills to the test in. Sailors from engineering department, such as Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Larissa Pruitt, auxiliary division leading petty officer, have provided significant support to accomplishing major ship milestones while in RCOH.

“The machinist’s mate is like the Swiss army knife of the Navy,” said Pruitt. “Since being in the shipyards, we have repaired all four aircraft elevators, started the five-year catapult inspection, restored fire pumps to support Ready to Flood operations, and refurbished the air conditioner and refrigeration units.”

Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Teran Vo, left, and Fireman Billy Price perform maintenance on a deck edge door track in the hangar bay aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Nov. 4, 2019.

(US Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

As a rate that has been around for roughly 140 years, machinist’s mates will continue to make an impact throughout the surface fleet and the naval aviation community. The hard work of the machinist’s mates ensures that George Washington will have a successful redelivery to the fleet.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, the second American to die while supporting operations in the country in January 2019.

Officials with Operation Resolute Support announced Jan. 22, 2019, that the death of the service member, whose service branch was not identified, is under investigation.

It’s not clear where the service member was killed. Defense Department policy is not to release the names of those who died supporting combat operations until 24 hours after next-of-kin is notified.


This most recent death comes five days after Army Sgt. Sgt. Cameron Meddock, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, died from combat wounds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on Jan. 17, 2019. Meddock was shot during combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 13, 2019.

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas.

(U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Earlier January 2019, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent were killed, along with an American DoD contractor and civilian worker, in a bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Three other American troops were wounded in the bombing.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

What a Special Forces sniper and one of NASCAR’s best have in common

At face value, it seems like no two professions could be further apart. The sniper lives in the world of slow and steady (if they move at all). Conversely, the NASCAR driver’s world is fast-paced and requires quick-thinking to react to new situations within fractions of a second. But life behind the wheel, just as behind the trigger, requires nerves of steel.


“Anyone can shoot a rifle, that’s probably the easiest part of the job,” says Mike Glover, a former U.S. Army Special Forces sniper. “But the mindset, the physical capabilities, the craft… those are all important elements to being a Special Forces sniper.”

Kurt Busch taking range lessons from Mike Glover, a former Army Special Forces sniper
(We Are The Mighty)

Kurt Busch is no slouch himself. He won the famous high-speed, high-stakes Daytona 500 in 2017.

“To be a NASCAR driver means you’re one of the elite drivers in the world,” Says Busch. “It’s a special privilege each week to go out there and race the best of the best.”

Now, Busch is working with one of the U.S. Army’s best: a former Green Beret.

Glover recently took NASCAR’s Kurt Busch to the shooting range to teach him how to shoot a sniper’s rifle using a spotter. Busch, who drives the #41 Monster Energy Ford, quickly took to Glover’s instructions.

Busch hit his target with his second shot — only one correction required.

He credited the preparation Glover provided him, as well as having the proper fundamentals explained to him. The teamwork, of course, was key. It turns out they have a lot more in common than they thought.

Busch and Glover training with pistols.
(We Are The Mighty)

“When you’re zoned in to your element, that’s when everything slows down,” Busch says. “That’s when you’re able to digest what’s around you.” Glover agrees.

“That internalization, that zen approach, is how we [Special Forces] release the monster within.”

Watch Kurt Busch take Mike Glover for a ride in his world, doing donuts in a parking lot, at the end of the video below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US government has a secret airline — and they’re hiring

Forget secret agent. If you want one of the most exclusive, top-secret jobs about there, consider becoming a flight attendant.


JANET airlines, the secret airline run by the U.S. government, is hiring flight attendants to shuttle employees and contractors out of a private terminal at McCarran National Airport in Las Vegas to their jobs in places like Area 51.

As Business Insider previously reported, while some joke JANET stands for “Just Another Non-Existent-Terminal,” it may actually mean “Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation.”

Related: 6 top secret bases that changed history

The JANET airlines hires will perform all the usual flight attendant tasks, including providing food and drink service, giving pre-flight safety demonstrations, ensuring passenger safety throughout the flight, and providing assistance during emergencies.

And, like flight attendants working for other airlines, JANET flight attendants must have a high school degree or the equivalent diploma, pass flight attendant training, and comply with the airline’s dress code and uniform guidelines, among other things.

Staff Sgt. Jimmie Williamson, 54th Airlift Squadron flight attendant, serves a purchased meal to 32 commanders from Scott Air Force Base, Ill on a C-40 aircraft Nov. 29. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade)

But JANET airline flight attendants bear the additional burden of qualifying for and maintaining a top-secret government security clearance and associated work location access.

According to the U.S. State Department’s website, “top secret” is the highest level of security clearance, and having this clearance gives you access to classified national security information.

Every application for security clearance is evaluated on an individual basis, and considerations include a number of deeply personal details including:

  • The person’s allegiance to the United States.
  • Foreign influence.
  • Foreign preference.
  • Sexual behavior.
  • Personal conduct.
  • Financial considerations.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Drug involvement.
  • Emotional, mental, and personality disorders.
  • Criminal conduct.
  • Security violations.
  • Outside activities.
  • Misuse of information technology systems.

If that sounds like the job for you, find the listing at AECom.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Did admirals conspire to falsely punish a Navy SEAL?

A military judge ruled Oct. 24 that the Navy Judge Advocate General illegally intervened in the sexual assault trial of a decorated Navy SEAL.


Air Force Col. Vance H. Spath ruled Oct. 24 that Vice Adm. James Crawford, the Navy’s top lawyer, exerted unlawful command influence in the case of Senior Chief Keith E. Barry in 2015.

The naval officer overseeing Barry’s judge-only court-martial had planned to overturn his 2014 conviction, having decided the SEAL was not guilty of sexual assault against a girlfriend with whom he had an intense sexual relationship.

But the now-retired Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge was persuaded not to act by Adm. Crawford, who was the Navy’s second-ranking lawyer at that time.

Vice Admiral James W. Crawford III, Navy Judge Advocate General. Photo from US Navy.

“Actual or apparent unlawful command influence tainted the final action in this case,” Col. Spath wrote in his opinion Oct. 24.

The Air Force judge also bemoaned the effect the intervention has brought to the military justice system.

“As the judge who conducted the … hearing, it appears the final action taken in this case is unfortunate as it does not engender confidence in the processing of this case or the military justice system as a whole,” said Col. Spath, the Air Force’s chief trial judge.

Mr. Lorge, who was the convening authority in the Barry case in San Diego, stayed silent for two years. But last summer he swore out an affidavit saying he was riven by guilt and should have stuck by his guns.

Rear Adm. Patrick J. Lorge. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kiona Miller.

The Washington Times first reported on the extraordinary action by Mr. Lorge, a former combat pilot.

David Sheldon, Chief Barry’s civilian defense counsel, said: “This morning a Military Judge made extraordinary findings in a case that will shake the very foundations of the military and the Navy JAG Corps. The court found that the current Judge Advocate General of the Navy committed unlawful command influence when he advised and persuaded a Convening Authority to approve the findings of a court-martial against a US Navy SEAL for political reasons, despite the Convening Authority’s firm belief the SEAL was not guilty of the charge and had not received a fair trial.”

Also Read: Reports of sexual assault in the military increase

The military justice system has been under intense political pressure from Congress to convict those charged with sexual assault.

The next step is for the case to go back to the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which had ordered the inquiry by Col. Spath. The military’s highest court decreed that no Navy or Marine Corps judge be involved.

A gavel sits on display in a military courtroom Jan. 29, 2014, at Dover Air Force Base. USAF photo by Airman 1st Class William Johnson.

Col. Spath oversaw a two-day hearing last month at the Washington Navy Yard. His opinion depicts an anguished Adm. Lorge wanting to overturn the conviction but being pushed by his legal adviser to affirm it and being persuaded by Adm. Crawford.

Then-Adm. Lorge reviewed the trial record in April and June 2015.

“RAM Lorge developed significant concerns about the case,” Col. Spath wrote. “His particular concerns were related to his perception the trial judge was not objective, his belief that the appellant may not have committed the crime for which he stood convicted, and his belief that the appellant had not received a fair trial.

During Adm. Lorge’s deliberations, Adm. Crawford had two conversations with him, one by telephone the other in person.

USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse.

Col. Spath wrote about the first conversation: “RADM Lorge’s ultimate impression was that VADM Crawford believed RADM Lorge should approve the findings and sentence in the case. While VADM Crawford may not have said these actual words, based on the conversations during the meeting, RADM Lorge was clearly left with that belief after the meeting. The meeting confirmed the pressures on the system at a minimum.”

“What seems evident is RADM Lorge believes pressure was brought to bear on him to take particular action in this case,” the colonel wrote.

Related: Anonymous reports reveal military sexual misconduct truths

The Navy Judge Advocate General at that time, Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi, also spoke to Adm. Lorge, but well before the Barry court-martial. She talked about the intense pressure the Navy was under from Congress in sexual assault cases.

Col. Spath explained her discussion: “She told RADM Lorge that every three or four months decisions were made regarding sexual assault cases that caused further scrutiny by Congress and other political and military leaders. She also told RADM Lorge that a good deal of her time was being taken up with testimony and visits to both Capitol Hill and the White House.”

Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi (right), US Navy’s judge advocate general, talks to sailors who work at the Justice Center in Parwan, Nov. 6, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. Katie D. Summerhill.

President Obama had ordered the Pentagon to launch a comprehensive campaign to wipe out sexual harassment and assault.

“VADM DeRenzi was simply discussing the realities of the current environment in which she and commanders were operating at the time, particularly in relation to sexual assault,” Col. Spath wrote.

“RADM Lorge did not take the action he wanted to take in this case; RADM Lorge was influenced by conversations with senior military leaders; specifically VADM DeRenzi and VADM Crawford when taking action in this case,” the Air Force judge concluded.

Patty Babb, a spokeswoman for Adm. Crawford, issued a statement: “On October 24, 2017, the military judge presiding over the DuBay hearing in US v. Barry issued findings of fact in the case. Those findings will now be considered by the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. As always, the Navy wishes to preserve the integrity of the court’s deliberation, and it will therefore refrain from commenting on matters related to the case at this time.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia denies claim poisoning suspect is Russian intelligence

The Russian government and media are casting doubt on a new report claiming to reveal the true identity of a Russian man Britain accuses of the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in southern England.

The Sept. 26, 2018 report by the investigative website Bellingcat and its Russian partner, The Insider, claims to have conclusively demonstrated that the poisoning suspect known publicly as “Ruslan Boshirov” is, in fact, a decorated colonel in the Russian military whose real name is Anatoly Chepiga.

Russia has repeatedly denied and mocked British allegations that it is responsible for the March poisoning of Skripal and his daughter with the Soviet-developed toxin Novichok in the city of Salisbury.


Earlier September 2018, Britain announced charges against the man known as Boshirov and his associate, known as “Aleksandr Petrov.”

Both men publicly acknowledged being in Salisbury at the time of the poisoning but said they had arrived as tourists — a claim that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman called “an insult to the public’s intelligence.”

British officials have not publicly confirmed the details in the Sept. 26, 2018 report by Bellingcat and The Insider, though Reuters cited two unidentified “European security sources familiar with the investigation into the Skripal poisoning as saying that they were accurate.

A CCTV image issued by London’s Metropolitan police showing Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov at Salisbury train station.

British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson, meanwhile, said on Twitter following the report that the “true identity of one of the Salisbury suspects has been revealed to be a Russian colonel” but subsequently deleted the tweet without explanation.

Here’s a look at how Moscow has dismissed the alleged revelation of the poisoning suspect’s true identity — and how Russian media outlets have cast doubt on the new report.

‘Diverting attention’

Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, suggested in a Facebook post late on Sept. 26, 2018, that the release of the report was deliberately timed to coincide with May’s address at the UN Security Council “during which she again aired accusations against Russia.”

During the address, May said Russia “recklessly deployed a nerve agent on our streets” and accused Moscow of seeking “to obfuscate through desperate fabrication” in connection with the poisoning.

“There is no proof, so an information campaign is continuing with the primary goal of diverting attention to the main question: WHAT HAPPENED IN SALISBURY?” Zakharova wrote.

She did not provide any substantive rebuttal of details reported by Bellingcat and The Insider.

‘Typical conspiracy theory’

A senior Russian lawmaker laughed off the report with a reference to Major Pronin, a fictional Soviet-era secret agent who successfully battled spies and generated scores of popular jokes revolving around the character’s incredible counterespionage abilities.

A handout picture taken in Salisbury of Aleksandr Petrov (right) and Ruslan Boshirov.

“It’s a typical conspiracy theory,” Frants Klintsevich of the defense committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency. “You could just as easily say Ruslan Boshirov is named Major Pronin, if one recalls such a character from Soviet-era jokes.”

Klintsevich added: “What we warned about is continuing.”

“More and more details will accumulate so that the plot doesn’t get dull,” he was quoted as saying. “Interestingly, one gets the impression that the British media are working hand in glove with authorities. And that’s completely depressing.”

‘Complete nonsense’

A Russian news outlet owned by Klintsevich’s fellow lawmaker, Vitaly Bogdanov, published interviews with a retired major-general in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) who claimed documents used in the investigation by Bellingcat and The Insider could not have made their way into the public domain.

“It’s complete nonsense. How could secret documents become publicly available?” the retired officer, Aleksandr Mikhailov, told National Sluzhba Novostei (NSN).

Mikhailov said the British media “together with turncoats” will “spin tall tales” and suggested that the key piece of evidence in the report — a 15-year-old passport photo of Chepiga showing a man resembling Boshirov — could have been doctored.

‘Completely unprofessional’

NSN also published an interview with Andrei Vedyayev, a writer focusing on Russia’s security services, who said the poisoning suspects are unlikely to be officers for Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, as British authorities alleged.

The Bellingcat/Insider report said it had confirmed that Chepiga is actually a GRU colonel who was previously awarded Russia’s highest state medal: Hero of the Russian Federation.

“First of all, they don’t admit this,” Vedyayev said, referring to the interview with the two suspects on Russia’s state-funded network RT that May’s spokesman said was full of “lies and blatant fabrications.”

“Secondly, they don’t resemble [GRU officers] at all,” Vedyayev added. “From the perspective of security-service officers, if they carried out this task as has been told and described, then they acted completely unprofessionally: roaming around the city, being filmed by video cameras.”

Interpol

Other Russian media outlets published reports focusing on the fact that searching for the name “Chepiga” yields no results on the publicly available portion of Interpol’s database of “red notices.”

That appears to have first been reported by the Russian news agency Interfax and subsequently picked up by RIA Novosti and Kremlin-friendly outlets Life.ru and Ren-TV.

This is, in fact, no surprise. Interpol itself notes that most red notices — which alert police worldwide of at-large suspected criminals wanted by a particular government — “are restricted to law enforcement use only.”

“Some member countries choose to make an extract publicly available,” Interpol says on its website.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans unload on Roy Moore’s comment about fighting in a foxhole

Politicians who are veterans of the US armed forces have long touted their military records, or their connections to the military during campaigns for public office. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is no exception.


But Moore received some criticism on Dec. 11 when he applied an allegory that combined military procedure with a politically divisive topic related to some troops currently serving in the armed forces.

“I know we do not need transgender in our military,” Moore said during a campaign rally in Alabama, according to the Associated Press. “If I’m in a foxhole, I don’t want to know whether this guy next to me is wondering if he’s a woman or a man.”

The polarizing discussion over whether transgender people should be allowed to openly enlist in the US military has been a point of contention for some conservatives since President Donald Trump proposed a policy change on the matter in July. Moore, a West Point graduate and Vietnam War veteran, has vehemently opposed transgender rights during his campaign.

But the term “foxhole” is not only interpreted as a literal defensive fighting position. It also invokes the intimate experience of bonds forged between servicemembers in the midst of battle — be it during the snow-covered Battle of the Bulge in World War II, or in the backdrop of picturesque views from Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Roy Moore, twice removed from the judge bench, seen here after a phone call with President Trump in September. (Image Roy Moore Twitter screen grab)

Veterans and lawmakers came out to condemn Moore’s remarks. Some of them pointed out the damaging sexual-harassment allegations that surfaced last month.

“I’d rather be in a foxhole with the brave trans men and women already serving overseas than in Congress with a pedophile,” Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a former infantry Marine Corps officer and Iraq War veteran, tweeted.

“You won’t be in a foxhole. I might be, though, and if I am, I don’t want to have to worry my daughter might get molested by a US Senator while I’m gone,” David Dixon, a US Army armor officer and Iraq War veteran, said on Twitter.

Other veterans took issue with the exclusionary nature of Moore’s sentiments, which may contrast with certain aspects of warfare and military readiness.

Read Also: Pentagon lifts ban on transgender troops serving openly in military

“This is not a thing anyone who ever served in a foxhole has worried about,” Brandon Friedman, a former Housing and Urban Development official and US Army officer tweeted.

“In the Marine Corps, politics don’t matter. Your color doesn’t matter,” Lee Busby, a Republican write-in candidate in the Alabama Senate race and a former colonel in the US Marine Corps, tweeted. “You fight for the Marine in that foxhole next to you because you love them and would do anything for them. Alabama is no different to me. I am willing to fight and claw for every single person in this state,” Busby said.

Moore’s own military service has since been called into question.

In Vietnam, the troops Moore commanded derisively nicknamed him “Captain America,” according to a 2005 report from the Atlantic. Reporter Joshua Green wrote for the publication at the time that Moore “was so much disliked that he feared being killed by his own troops, and slept on a bed of sandbags so that he couldn’t be fragged by a grenade rolled under his bed.”

A fuel dump burns at Khe Sanh behind the walls of sandbags. (Photo: Public Domain)

One of Moore’s former professors, also a Vietnam War veteran, reportedly said veterans told him that Moore, while on the ground in Vietnam, wanted to be saluted for his rank; a tradition that, while normal by military standards, is discouraged while in an active war zone.

“When you go to Vietnam as an officer, you don’t ask anybody to salute you, because the Viet Cong would shoot officers,” Guy Martin, former adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of law, told The New Yorker in October.

“You’ve heard this a million times in training,” Martin continued. “There’s nothing more telling about a person’s capability and character and base intelligence. It’s crazy.”

While the US Defense Department previously concluded, after a yearlong study, that allowing transgender people to enlist and serve openly would have a minimal impact on military readiness and cost, Moore has been unwavering in his opposition.

“To say that President Trump cannot prohibit transgenderism in the military is a clear example of judicial activism,” Moore reportedly wrote in a statement in October, following a federal judge’s decision to partially block Trump’s transgender ban. “Even the United States Supreme Court has never declared transgenderism to be a right under the Constitution,” Moore said.

At an October campaign rally, Moore said, “We don’t need transgender bathrooms and we don’t need transgender military and we don’t need a weaker military … We need to go back to what this country is about.”

The Pentagon celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender Pride Month. (US Navy photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

Moore’s views struck a nerve with veterans

“Roy Moore — This is me in a real foxhole,” a widely known Twitter user who goes by the alias “Red T Raccoon” tweeted on Sunday morning with an accompanying photo. “I didn’t care who was next to me as long as they had the American flag on their uniform. Bigotry has no place in the military and especially the Senate,” the man, a former combat medic, who is now a veterans advocate, said.

Business Insider viewed the man’s US Army service records and independently verified his identity following an interview Monday night. He has asked to remain anonymous.

“A bullet or [improvised explosive device] does the same damage to anyone,” the man told Business Insider. “We all did what we had to do to survive and we all just wanted to go home. Sexuality or gender identity had nothing to do with those goals.”

“I treated good men and women in the field that never made it home,” he continued. “He has no right to question their service to our country,” the man said of Moore.

Following his tweet, photos of uniformed servicemembers — some of whom tweeted messages endorsing Jones — began to circulate:

 

 

 

 

Regardless of the outcome of the Nov. 12 special election in Alabama, the responses from veterans following Moore’s comments shows that the military, despite being uniformed in appearance, is comprised of political views as unique as the men and women who serve.