This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like - We Are The Mighty
Articles

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

After the US downed a Syrian jet making a bombing run on US-backed forces fighting ISIS, Russia threatened to target US and US-led coalition planes West of the Euphrates river in Syria.


But while Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn’t fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US.

The US keeps an aircraft carrier with dozens of F/A-18E fighters aboard in the Mediterranean about all the time and hundreds of F-15s and F-16s scattered around Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan.

According to Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, Russia has “about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks.”

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
USS George H.W. Bush. Photo courtesy of the US Navy

“Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means,” Lamrani told Business Insider, “But the US has very heavy air superiority.” Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers.

So if Russia did follow through with its threat, and target a US aircraft that did not back down West of the Euphrates in Syria, and somehow managed to shoot it down, then what?

“The US coalition is very cautious,” said Lamrani. “The whole US coalition is on edge for any moves from Russia at this point.”

Lamrani also said that while F/A-18Es are more visible and doing most of the work, the US keeps a buffer of F-22 stealth jets between its forces and Russia’s. If Russia did somehow manage to shoot down a US or US-led coalition plane, a US stealth jet would probably return fire before it ever reached the base.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
USAF photo by Greg L. Davis

At that point the Russians would have a moment to think very critically if they wanted to engage with the full might of the US Air Force after the eye-for-an-eye shoot downs.

If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn’t just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back.

Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia’s missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams

Then, after neutering Russia’s defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.

Russia would likely manage to score a couple intercepts and even shoot down some US assets, but overall the Russian contingent in Syria cannot stand up to the US, let alone the entire coalition of nations fighting ISIS.

Russia also has a strong Navy that could target US air bases in the region, but that would require Russia to fire on Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar, which would be politically and technically difficult for them.

This scenario of a hypothetical air war is exceedingly unlikely. Russia knows the numbers are against them and it would “not [be] so easy for the Russians to decide to shoot down a US aircraft,” according to Lamrani.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo courtesy of Russian state media

And Russia wouldn’t risk so much over Syria, which is not an existential defense interest for them, but a foreign adventure to distract from Russia’s stalled economy and social problems, according to Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“Russia is not a great power by most measures, like GDP, population, living standard,” Borshchevskaya told Business Insider. “Russia has steadily declined. It’s still a nuclear power, but not world power.”

In Syria, “a lot of what Putin is doing is about domestic policies,” said Borshchevskaya, and to have many Russian servicemen killed in a battle with a US-led coalition fighting ISIS wouldn’t serve his purposes domestically or abroad.

MIGHTY TRENDING

President Trump rejects negotiations with the Taliban

U.S. President Donald Trump has rejected the possibility of negotiations with the Taliban anytime soon following a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.


“We don’t want to talk with the Taliban,” Trump said at a Jan. 29 luncheon with representatives of the UN Security Council. “There may be a time, but it’s going to be a long time.”

Kabul, in recent weeks, has been hit by several deadly assaults, including a massive suicide car bombing in a crowded central area on Jan. 27 that killed more than 100 people and was claimed by the Taliban.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
U.S. Army Capt. DeShane Greaser stands in a crater caused by a bomb dropped during an air strike conducting a Battle Damage Assessment outside a combat outpost in Afghanistan. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

At least 235 other people were wounded in the attack, including more than 30 police officers.

Following that attack, Trump called for “decisive action” by all countries against the Taliban, saying in a statement that the “murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.”

Speaking at the White House on Jan. 29, Trump said: “We’re going to finish what we have to finish” in Afghanistan.

He added that “innocent people are being killed left and right,” including children, and that “there’s no talking to the Taliban.”

Several Americans were killed and injured earlier this month in the 13-hour siege of a Kabul hotel claimed by the Taliban.

Afghan officials, along with the Trump administration, have accused neighboring Pakistan of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.

Also Read: ISIS latest attack was on a children’s charity in Afghanistan

Early this month, Washington announced it was suspending security assistance to the Pakistani military until it took “decisive action” against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network that are operating in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the freeze could affect $2 billion worth of assistance.

Captain Tom Gresback, a U.S. military spokesman for the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, said on Jan. 29 that Washington is “very confident the Taliban Haqqani network” was behind the deadly suicide bombing in Kabul over the weekend.

The United States has long said the Haqqani network has found safe haven in Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal on Jan. 29 that Islamabad “is extending whatever help and assistance is required” to combat terrorism.

“Our desire and support is for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and the early resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” Faisal said.

He added that Pakistan has “very limited influence” on the Taliban, “if any.”

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
A Marine fire team return to base after a routine patrol in Afghanistan.  (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups — including Islamic State extremists — since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Trump in August unveiled his new strategy for the South Asia region, under which Washington has deployed 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan to train, advise, and assist local security forces, and to carry out counterterrorism missions.

The United States currently has around 14,000 uniformed personnel in the country.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korean troops fired 40 rounds at the defector in the DMZ

Four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea and hit him five times in the first shooting at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border in more than 30 years, the South’s military said Nov. 14.


South Korean soldiers did not fire their weapons, but the Nov. 13 incident occurred at a time of high animosity over North Korea’s nuclear program. The North has expressed intense anger over past high-profile defections.

The soldier is being treated at a South Korean hospital after a five-hour operation for the gunshot wounds he suffered during his escape across the Joint Security Area. His personal details and motive for defection are unknown and his exact medical condition is unclear.

South Korea’s military said he suffered injuries in his internal organs but wasn’t in a life-threatening condition. But the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul said the soldier was relying on a breathing machine after the surgery removed the bullets. Lee Guk-jong, a doctor who leads Ajou’s medical team for the soldier, described his patient’s condition as “very dangerous” and said the next 10 days might determine whether he recovers.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
A South Korean soldier stands guard within the Joint Security Area of the DMZ. Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson.

On Nov. 13, he first drove a military jeep but left the vehicle when one of its wheels fell into a ditch. He then fled across the JSA, with fellow soldiers chasing and firing at him, South Korea’s military said, citing unspecified surveillance systems installed in the area.

Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of about 40 rounds in a shooting that his office suggested started while the soldier was in the jeep.

Related: The 9 most-ridiculous North Korean propaganda claims

The solider was found beneath a pile of leaves on the southern side of the JSA and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him. A U.N. Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou medical center, according to South Korean officials.

The North’s official media haven’t reported the case as of Nov. 14. They have previously accused South Korea of kidnapping or enticing North Koreans to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Sgt. Dong In Sop, a North Korean defector was interviewed by two members of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC), and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission at UNCMAC headquarters on the Yongsan Army Garrison on September 16, 1999. The interview was moderated by Maj. Gen. Peter Sutter (Swiss member) and Maj. Gen Kurt Blixt (Swedish member). Sgt. Dong In Sop defected to South Korea on September 14, 1999. During the interview Sgt. Dong In Sop expressed a strong desire to remain in South Korea. (U.S Army photo by Spc. Sharon E. Grey)

The JSA is jointly overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (feet) apart. It is located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone, which forms the de facto border between the Koreas since the Korean War. While both sides of the DMZ are guarded by barbed wire fences, mines and tank traps, the JSA includes the truce village of Panmunjom which provides the site for rare talks and draws curious tourists.

Monday’s incident was the first shooting at the Joint Security Area since North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire when a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the JSA in 1984. A North Korean soldier defected there in 1998 and another in 2007 but neither of those events involved gunfire between the rivals, according to South Korea’s military.

The 1984 exchange of gunfire happened after North Korean soldiers crossed the border and fired, according to the U.N. Command. In Monday’s incident, it wasn’t known if the North continued firing after the defector was officially in the southern part of the Joint Security Area. The U.N. Command said Tuesday that an investigation into the incident was underway.

The Joint Security Area was the site of some bloodshed during the Cold War but there hasn’t been major violence there in recent years. In 1976, North Korean soldiers axed two American army officers to death and the United States responded by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate the North.

Articles

Pentagon investigating friendly fire in Army Ranger deaths

Two Army Rangers who were killed in Afghanistan earlier this week may have been struck by friendly fire, the Pentagon said.


Sergeant Joshua Rodgers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, both deployed from Fort Benning, Georgia, died during a Wednesday night raid targeting the emir of the Islamic State, a group also known as ISIS and ISIL. A third soldier was injured during the operation but is expected to recover.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Army Rangers conduct a raid in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elliott N. Banks)

Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said officials are investigating whether the soldiers were killed by American forces or Afghan commandos involved in the raid. He said it was “possible” the Rangers were struck by friendly fire but there are “no indications it was intentional,” he said.

“War is a very difficult thing, in the heat of battle, in the fog of war the possibility always exists for friendly fire, and that may have been what happened here and that is what we are looking into with this investigation,” he said.

Officials said 50 Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos were dropped by helicopter into the Nagarhar Province, located about a mile fro the site where the United States dropped the MOAB on April 13.

Several IS leaders and operatives were killed in the raid.

“We did know going in that this was going to be a very tough fight,” Davis said. “We were going after the leader of ISIS in Afghanistan and doing it in a way that required us to put a large number of people on the ground as part of this mission, and it was a mission that appears to have accomplished its objective but it did so at a cost”

Articles

ISIS just suffered a major defeat in Iraq

Iraq’s prime minister on July 4 congratulated his fighters on “the big victory in Mosul” — even as fighting with Islamic State militants continued in Mosul’s Old City neighborhood where Iraqi forces are about 250 meters from the Tigris River and facing increasingly brutal resistance.


Haider al-Abadi spoke during a press conference in Baghdad, less than a week after he declared an end to IS’ self-styled caliphate after Iraqi forces achieved an incremental win by retaking the landmark al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City.

“Praise be to God, we managed to liberate [Mosul] and proved the others were wrong, the people of Mosul supported and stood with our security forces against terrorism,” al-Abadi said.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider Al-Abadi. Photo from Foreign and Commonwealth Office

His remarks came on the third anniversary of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s sermon at the al-Nuri Mosque, from where he declared an Islamic caliphate on IS-held lands in Syria and Iraq.

Also during the press conference, al-Abadi added that he has given instructions to rebuild and stabilize areas of the city already freed from the militant group.

Inside Mosul’s Old City, civilians fleeing Iraqi advance are increasingly desperate. The elderly and weak are carried across mounds of rubble in blankets. Soldiers — increasingly fearful of the Old City’s inhabitants after a string of suicide bombings — hurry the groups along.

A middle-aged woman with a gaunt, pale face fainted as she fled past the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque. Two soldiers carried her to the roadside and tried to revive her with cold water.

Largely cut off from food and water for months, humanitarian groups are reporting a spike in the number of displaced people suffering from malnutrition and dehydration.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Army photo by Cpl. Rachel Diehm.

“None of the previous battles were like this,” said Iraqi Maj. Faris Aboud, working at a small field hospital just outside the Old City.

“In a single day we received 300 wounded,” Aboud, a father of three continued. “For me, seeing the wounded children is the hardest, we see children who have lost their entire families under the rubble, they have no one now.”

Lt. Gen. Abdel Ghani al-Asadi, of Iraq’s special forces, said earlier in the day that Iraqi forces are just 250 meters (yards) from the Tigris River, in the western half of Mosul. The Tigris divides the city roughly into its western and eastern half, which was liberated from IS militants back in January.

IS militants who remain trapped in just a few hundred meters of territory in the Old City are now in a “fight to the death,” al-Asadi said, adding that IS fighters are increasingly resorting to suicide bombings and that he expects the fighting to get even heavier as they are pushed closer to the river.

Iraqi forces marked a significant victory this week when the Rapid Response Division retook Mosul’s main hospital complex on the city’s western side.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo from DoD.

The building that once held the city’s best medical facilities now sits devastated by the fight. For weeks, a handful of IS snipers perched in the main hospital’s top floors held back hundreds of Iraqi forces.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city, in October. IS overran Mosul in a matter of days in 2014. At the height of the extremists’ power, they held nearly a third of Iraq.

A man who asked to only be referred to as Abu Abid, for fear for his family’s safety, was waiting to get a spot on a truck after fleeing the Old City.

“That place, it was absolute death,” he said. “We will never be the same. Once the fear has been planted in your heart, you can’t get rid of it.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Doctors confirm that Russian activist likely poisoned

German doctors treating Pyotr Verzilov have said that the anti-Kremlin activist was probably poisoned, and a Moscow newspaper reports a possible connection with the killing of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) in July 2018.

The developments on Sept. 18, 2018, deepened the mystery surrounding the sudden illness of Verzilov, a member of the punk protest band Pussy Riot and the dissident art troupe Voina who was flown to Berlin for treatment three days earlier.

“The impression and the findings that we now have, as well as those provided by colleagues from Moscow, suggest that it was highly plausible that it was a case of poisoning,” Kai-Uwe Eckardt, a doctor at Charite hospital in Berlin, told a news conference.


Eckhart’s colleague, Karl Max Einhaeupl, said that there was so far no other explanation for Verzilov’s condition and no evidence that the activist, who was initially hospitalized in Moscow, was suffering from a long-term illness.

Eckardt said Verzilov’s condition was not life-threatening. He said the symptoms indicated a disruption of the part of Verzilov’s nervous system that regulates the internal organs, but that the substance responsible for the poisoning hadn’t yet been determined.

Verzilov, 30, fell ill on Sept. 11, 2018, after a court hearing in Moscow, and later suffered seizures while being taken to a hospital in an ambulance. Friends said he began losing his sight, speech, and mobility.

The Reuters news agency quoted Jaka Bizilj, the managing director of the Berlin-based Cinema for Peace human rights group, as saying his group had paid for Verzilov’s flight to Berlin and that Russia had been “cooperative.”

Bizilj said that Verzilov suffered seizures while being taken to a Moscow hospital by ambulance.

Verzilov’s ex-wife, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, told the German newspaper Bild he believed he was “poisoned intentionally, and that it was an attempt to intimidate him or kill him.”

Footage posted by Tolokonnikova showed Verzilov sitting up in the plane on the tarmac in Berlin and he appeared to be alert.

In a Sept. 18, 2018 report the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said that on the day he was hospitalized, Verzilov was to have received a report from “foreign specialists” investigating the killings in C.A.R.

Russian journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Aleksandr Rastorguyev, and Kirill Radchenko, were killed on July 30, 2018, in C.A.R., where they were working on a documentary about the possible activities there of a shadowy Russian paramilitary group with alleged Kremlin ties.

The Novaya Gazeta report, which cited sources it did not name, said that Verzilov was a close friend of Rastorguyev and had himself been planning to travel to C.A.R. with the trio but decided to remain in Russia to support jailed Kremlin opponents.

Verzilov is a co-founder of the website Mediazona, which reports on the trials of Russian activists, prison conditions, and other aspects of the Russian justice system. He has both Russian and Canadian citizenship.

In July 2018, he was sentenced along with other Pussy Riot members to 15 days in jail for briefly interrupting the July 15, 2018 World Cup final in Moscow between France and Croatia by running onto the field wearing fake police uniforms.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

Pyotr Verzilov and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Verzilov became known as a member of the Voina (War) art troupe in the late 2000s.

He performed with then-wife Tolokonnikova, who went on to form Pussy Riot with Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova founded Mediazona in 2014, with Verzilov becoming publisher.

Kremlin critics accuse the Russian authorities of poisoning several journalists, Kremlin foes, and others who have died or fallen mysteriously ill since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

Verzilov’s sudden illness came against the backdrop of outrage over what British authorities say was the poisoning by Russian military intelligence officers of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in England in March 2018, and the death of a woman police say was exposed to the substance after the alleged attackers discarded it.

Featured image: Pyotr Verzilov.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

13 hilarious memes for the next time you need to mock an airman

Look, airmen are technically people. That’s why we can’t slap a fence around the Air Force, call it a zoo, and call the day done. Especially since we need a few of them to fly close-air support and whatever else it is that they do. So, the boys in blue tiger stripes are going to keep wandering around, quoting Nietzsche (even if they are finally getting rid of those stripes).


If you are forced to interact with one of them, here are some pics you can drop on the ground and escape while they argue the semantics or parse the meaning of it:

 

Remember: They’re more trained for large airbases than small unit tactics.

Keep them inside and they won’t rub their coffee grounds into their helmet like that.

 

All that fancy radar and signals intercept equipment, and this is what we get.

This does, however, really make me want to get into meteorology.

 

In her defense, she’s probably well schooled in PowerPoint.

You’re probably gonna have to just carry her out of combat, Sgt. Joe.

 

Must suck to be forced to use that internet for so much targeting and so little streaming.

Do it for Khaleesi, airmen.

 

There is a rumor that the Air Force has a shortage of elbow grease.

That poor Marine probably doesn’t even know that the task is never getting done by that junior airman.

 

Airmen are so prissy about teeth extractions and medical care.

They probably use anesthetic and hand sanitizer, too.

 

Most airmen don’t embody the “whole airman concept.”

Though, in their defense, they don’t all look like they ate a whole airman.

 

Shouldn’t the plane get its bombs at home and drop them while they’re out?

Oh crap, now I’m parsing the memes like some sort of over-educated airman.

 

President calls for Space Force. Air Force subsumes Space Force concept. Airmen check Stargate IDs.

Would be the coolest gate guard duty in the universe, though. Might even see some three-breasted women or something.

 

To be fair, airmen aren’t the only folks who will fall to their own forms.

All Department of Defense forms are ridiculously horrible.

 

 I could use a snack. And a nap.

Crap. Does the Air Force really have snack time? This is backfiring. I want to be an airman now. AIR POWER!

 

Seriously, why can Gru never get his slides right?

There’s no way an Air Force version of Gru would struggle with slides, though.

 

The Air Force version of Uber Eats is abysmal.

Worldwide delivery, but the deliveries might not be on time, complete, or structurally sound.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This sailor got his wallet back after losing it in Antarctica 53 years ago

The recovery of a lost wallet is always a relief. In the case of 91-year-old Navy veteran Paul Grisham, it was nothing short of a miracle. This is because Grisham lost his wallet during his tour on Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica 53 years ago.

Grisham was a Navy meteorologist who specialized as a weather technician and forecaster. The Arizona native enlisted in the Navy in 1948. In October 1967, Grisham was a Lt. JG when he received orders to Antarctica. “I went down there kicking and screaming,” he told the San Diego Union Tribune. Grisham was married with two toddlers and the 13-month assignment would take him away from them. But, like a good sailor, he followed his orders and shipped out to the bottom of the world.

Grisham was assigned to McMurdo Station on Ross Island. It was there that he lost his wallet. Unable to find it, he wrote it off and actually forgot about it later in life. However, in 2014, Grisham’s wallet was found behind a locker during a demolition building. Oddly enough, his was one of two wallets that was found. Returning the wallet was an endeavor that was undertaken by amateur sleuths Brian McKee, Stephen Decato and his daughter Sarah Lindbergh.

The trio had previously worked together to return a Navy ID bracelet to its original owner. Decato had worked in Antarctica for George Blaisdell who sent the two McMurdo wallets to him to return. McKee reached out to the Naval Weather Service Association to track down the owners. Grisham, a member of the association, was identified and reunited with his long-lost wallet on January 30, 2021. Sadly, the second wallet’s owner passed away in 2016. His wallet was returned to his family.

Grisham’s wallet was returned to him intact. It still contained Navy ID card, driver’s license, a beer ration punch card (arguably the greatest loss, especially at a posting like McMurdo), a tax withholding statement, receipts for money orders sent to his wife, and a pocket reference on what to do during a CBRN attack. “I was just blown away,” Grisham said about the return of his wallet. “There was a long series of people involved who tracked me down and ran me to ground.”

Grisham retired from the Navy in 1977. He lived in Monterey, California with his wife, Wilma, who passed away in 2000. He married his current wife, Carole Salazar, in 2003. The couple lives in San Diego.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Grisham and his wife look over his long-lost wallet (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Coast Guard is outnumbered 20-to-1 in the Arctic

Receding ice in the Arctic and Antarctic has drawn the attention of the world’s ocean-going powers, and the U.S. military, led by the Coast Guard, has been pushing for more resources to catch up to other countries operating in those regions.


The Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet is the backbone of its operations around the North and South Poles, but that fleet is comparatively small. Of the three it has, only two are operational: the heavy icebreaker Polar Star and medium icebreaker Healy, which mainly does scientific work.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
A U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Seaguard helicopter landing on the icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10) (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The Polar Star is charged with keeping navigation lanes open in the Arctic and Antarctic, but it was built in the mid-1970s and is already beyond its 30-year service life.

Crew members have had to shop online for replacement parts for the ship’s aging computers, and it sails with a year’s supply of food in case it gets stuck, according to CBS News. Considerable repair work is needed to keep the ship afloat. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft has said the Polar Star “is literally on life support.”

The Coast Guard is grappling these difficulties amid what has been called an “icebreaker gap” with Russia. (Though some have said Russian naval expansion, not icebreakers, is the real concern.)

As of May, Russia — which has the world’s largest Arctic coastline — had more than 40 icebreakers, including four operational nuclear-powered heavy polar icebreakers and 16 medium polar icebreakers.

The Coast Guard’s Pacific Area chief, Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, whose command ranges from the U.S. West Coast to Asia and from the Arctic to the Antarctic, told CBS News this week that Russia is still outspending the U.S.

“If you look at what Russia is doing, there’s almost a mini arms buildup going on in the Arctic,” he said.

Not all of Russia’s more than 40 icebreakers are of the same type, but Moscow is not the only country with an advantage over the U.S.

Finland has seven medium polar icebreakers, though four are designated for Baltic use. China has three, but all of them are light polar icebreakers. Canada has two operational medium polar icebreakers and two under construction, while Sweden has seven, though three are medium icebreakers designed for Baltic use.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
The Russian nuclear icebreaker ’50 let Pobedy’ in the Arctic. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

‘The Coast Guard must be funded as a military service’

Zukunft and the Coast Guard are pushing for more icebreakers. The Homeland Security Department has said the Coast Guard may need up to six new icebreakers — three heavy ones and three medium ones — to meet mission demands at high latitudes.

This fall, the Coast Guard and Navy released a joint draft request for proposal for the construction of a heavy icebreaker, with an option to build two more. The acquisition cost of a new polar icebreaker has been put at $1 billion, though the Coast Guard and Navy believe it could cost less than that.

But Zukunft told Defense Aerospace Report last week that there was still doubt about the service’s funding going forward, saying that the Coast Guard needed to be on the same footing as the other service branches and that it “cannot continue to operate on the margins” of the defense budget.

The Coast Guard draws the vast majority of its funding from non-defense discretionary spending, Zukunft said, and the potential for a reduction in that pool of money in order to expand defense discretionary spending threatens to further hinder Coast Guard finances after five years of funding below floors set in the Budget Control Act.

“Our funding mechanism has got to change,” he said. “The Coast Guard must be funded as a military service.”

Also Read: These are the Coast Guard’s special operations forces

Zukunft said he was proposing was a 5% annualized increase in the service’s operating expenditures, which “gets us out of the basement” and provides “parity with the four armed services.”

The commandant also suggested a floor of $2 billion for the Coast Guard’s acquisition budget.

“That would allow me to put icebreakers on budget within the United States Coast Guard,” he said. “That 5% and $2 billion floor allows me to grow my workforce by 5,000 active-duty and 1,100 reserves, and at the same time I don’t have to cut my equally valued civilian workforce. It’s not a big ask.”

‘Is it to create chaos in the Arctic?’

As ice around the North and South Poles recedes, icebreakers are gaining importance beyond maintaining sea lanes and assisting other ships.

Their ability to navigate in harsh conditions makes them useful for projecting power. And a number of countries already outstripped the U.S. when it comes to the icebreakers that can be deployed.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, commander of the Coast Guard’s 17th district — which encompasses Alaska and the Arctic — has said the U.S. is on good terms with its neighbors in the area, including Russia and China, with whom the U.S. cooperates on waterway management, search and rescue, and law-enforcement matters.

But Washington has eyed Russian plans for its icebreakers warily.

“In 2020 — and we’re monitoring this very closely — Russia plans to launch two icebreaking corvettes,” Zukunft told Defense Aerospace Report.

“So these are designed warships that can break ice and that can carry cruise missiles. To what end is opaque,” he added. “Is it to create chaos in the Arctic? Is it to make this an area that the United States would be denied access? We have to assume the answer to that question … is yes.”

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
The Coast Guard Cutter Healy’s crew poses in front of the cutter after reaching the North Pole Sept. 6. The Healy became only the second U.S. surface ship to reach the North Pole. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Zukunft said he was encouraged by the both President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy as well as the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, the latter of which includes a provision for the construction of at least one heavy icebreaker, which he said could be in the water by 2023.

But the Coast Guard commandant said there needed to be flexibility in how that icebreaker, and any that follow it into service, would be outfitted and deployed over its 30- to 40-year service life.

“We do need to look at potential militarization in the Arctic, so we need to reserve space, weight, power, if we have to put what I would call modules on an icebreaker to include an offensive weapon capability,” Zukunft said. “We’ve had great interactions with the Navy as part of this integrated program office to look at all potential requirements for an icebreaker well into the 21st century to include something more than just point-defense weapons systems.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

Soldier running her 100th marathon in Boston

It all started when she was stationed in Virginia 12 years ago. That’s when Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra Butler saw everyone training for the Marine Corps Marathon and decided to give the 26.2 mile race a try.

As a soldier, running was already a part of her daily life and physical fitness routine. She had ran several other shorter races to include the Army 10-miler and a few half marathons, so the challenge of a full marathon appealed to her. She wasn’t even afraid of the dreaded “wall” that everyone told her she would hit around mile 20 when her body would start shutting down as energy stores ran low and fatigue set in.


“I had never experienced the wall and was feeling pretty great,” recalled Butler. “I saw the mile markers for mile 19, then mile 20, then 21. I was feeling good and thinking to myself that maybe I avoided the wall. Then at mile 22, everything from my waist down locked up — it felt like I really did hit a wall. My muscles were in knots, my toes were cramping and every time I took a step it just hurt.”

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

Beofra Butler running in the 2018 Tunnel Vision Marathon in North Bend, Wash., Aug. 19, 2018. She set a personal record, finishing the race with a chip time of 3:34:11.

A lady tapped her on the shoulder and encouraged her to move off to the side and stretch before resuming the race.

“I wanted to cry,” she said. “I knew it was just four more miles. I wobbled to the finish along with a bunch of other people doing the exact same thing.”

After the race later that night, with ice bags on her legs and a computer on her lap, Butler signed up for her next marathon.

“I just had to do it again for myself so I could figure out how to do it without pain,” she said.

Butler ran her second marathon during a deployment, followed by another and another and another. She’s preparing to run her 100th marathon in Boston on April 15, 2019. The race will be her sixth Boston Marathon and she says that it is fitting because it’s her favorite event.

“There’s something special about running in Boston,” she said. “It’s the only race you have to qualify for to get in and after working so hard to be a part of it, you really enjoy the moment when you get there. The support of the crowd is amazing and it’s just a great place to be.”

She got there by figuring out how to avoid that wall of pain.

“For the most part, I don’t hit a wall anymore,” Butler said. “Now I know what that feels like and I never want to feel it again.”

How does she do it? The way anyone in the Army does anything — with an abbreviation. According to Butler, the key to running a successful marathon comes down to the 3P’s: pacing, patience and practice.

She says that you need to control your pace throughout the entire marathon and exercise patience as those around you start out fast or crowd the track. To refine your pacing and patience, you need to practice.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra K. Butler, administrative executive officer to the commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, poses with her five Boston Marathon marathon medals.

(Photo by Eve Meinhardt, FORSCOM)

“It comes down to having time on your feet,” said Butler. “You have to put in the time and stay positive.”

Her time comes from running at least five days a week. She averages 10 miles a day with Saturdays being her long run day of anywhere from 13 to 20 miles. She does speed work on Wednesdays, often bringing others along with her to help them train to meet their goals.

As the administrative executive officer to the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, her work schedule can often be hectic and conflict with her training time. To mitigate this, Butler is a conscientious meal planner, preparing all her meals, to include snacks, on the weekends. She says she often hits the pavement at 3 a.m. just so she can ensure she gets time to run.

“I just love the feeling of running,” she said. “It’s freedom. I don’t listen to music. I listen to my heartbeat. My footsteps. My breathing. It’s a meditation and I’m always trying to get better.”

Butler says that running is wonderful because you can do it wherever you are and with no special equipment. For those aspiring to run in races of any distance, she said that it’s important to find a training plan.

“Training is a part of learning yourself,” she said. “It helps you become more comfortable when you’re out there. You need to trust your training and just enjoy the moment.”

Despite the fact that Butler says that she could probably roll out of bed and run an impromptu marathon, she still finds ways to challenge herself. Five of her marathons were ultra-marathons ranging from a 50K to a 100 mile race.

Butler’s most recent race was her third All American Marathon here at Fort Bragg. She led the 4:15 pace group. Her pacing was right on point with her crossing the finish line at 4 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds and still placing first in her age group.

Her personal record is 3 hours and 34 minutes and she says that she would like to get that down to 3:30.

“After Boston, I’m not racing again until August,” she said. “I’m going to be training for my PR and I’m going to get it.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kurdish forces strike a deal with Syrian army

The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria announced on Oct. 13, 2019, that it had struck a deal with the Syrian army in order to combat an intensifying attack by Turkish forces in the region.

Turkey has embarked on major air and land offensives against The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who control a sizeable area of land in Syria’s northeast which runs along the Turkish border. The move comes just days after Trump announced that he would soon be pulling out US troops still stationed in the region.

On Oct. 13, 2019, the Kurdish-led administration announced that it had reached a deal with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and that Syrian government troops would be deployed in the north in order to fend off the Turkish incursion.


“In order to prevent and confront this aggression, an agreement has been reached with the Syrian government… so that the Syrian army can deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” the statement said, according to Al Jazeera.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

Syrian President Bashar al Assad

The statement added that the Syrian deployment would also help “liberate” areas held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups like Afrin, a city which was occupied as a result of the Turkish military operation in 2018.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported that Syria’s army had begun moving north “to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory.” The agency also condemned Turkish “massacres” against locals in the north.

The move represents a shift in alliance for the Kurds after US ‘stab in the back’

The surprise move represents a major shift in alliance for Kurdish forces, who were once the United States’ main allies in the region and had been fending off Islamic State militants alongside US troops for years.

The SDF has called Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops a “stab in the back” and has vowed to “defend our land at all costs.”

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like

U.S. and Turkish military forces in northeast Syria.

(Photo by Spc. Alec Dionne)

Turkey’s assault on Kurdish-held areas stems from the group’s ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the PKK, which has long fought an armed conflict for Kurdish independence against Turkey. Turkey and other allies have labeled the PKK a terrorist organization, and Turkey has expressed concern that Kurdish forces along its southern border could pose a security threat in the future.

Videos have surfaced online which appear to show Turkish-backed rebel groups slaughtering Kurdish fighters. The US State Department also confirmed on Sunday that Havrin Khalaf, the civilian secretary-general of the Kurdish movement called the Future Syria Party, was captured and killed by Turkish forces.

On Oct. 13, 2019, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the US was officially preparing to withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops. The hasty pullout has reportedly left dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners behind in the area gripped by chaos.

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

Articles

An American flag’s journey across the United States

Old Glory traveled through 10 states and touched more than 8,000 hands on its 4,216 mile journey across America this year. Now the third annual Old Glory Relay across the United States has come to an end.


Organized by Team Red, White Blue, the national event spans 62 days and brings together runners, cyclists, walkers and hikers who have a shared interest in connecting with veterans and civilians in the communities they call home.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo: Tim Kolczak

“We really wanted this to be a unifying event for the organization and to demonstrate the power and the inspiration that comes with a community of veterans working on an epic undertaking together,” said Team RWB Executive Director Blayne Smith. “We figured if we could run a single American flag averaging 60 miles a day … that would be a demonstration of the good that we could do together if we all worked together formed as a team and committed to a big goal.”

With support from incredible members and sponsors like Microsoft, Westfield, The Schultz Family Foundation, Amazon, Salesforce, Starbucks and La Quinta Inn Suites, the event raised more than $1,250,000! Team RWB will then use the donations to help establish new chapters across the United States and to sponsor events where veterans and community members with a shared interest in social and physical activities can get together for a little PT and camaraderie.

But the Old Glory Relay takes that connection one step further, linking together Team RWB’s 210 chapters and over 115,000 members with their love for the Stars and Stripes.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo: Team Red, White Blue

“This is all about connecting folks to the American flag,” said Donnie Starling, Team RWB’s national development project manager. “One hand-off after another, under the symbol of Old Glory.”

“People see the flag, and they see different things,” remarked Navy veteran Sean Kelly. “But when they see people together in their community, they’re drawn to it. I think it’s an interesting time in our country – and to see a positive force that tries to pull people together, that’s a super important mission that I’m excited to be a part of.”

The Old Glory Relay began on Sept. 11 under the Space Needle in Seattle. Runners carried the flag through the Pacific Northwest, through California and across the desert Southwest and deep south.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo: Tim Kolczak

The relay ended on Veterans Day in Tampa. And while it was a long journey through some grueling country, the feeling of accomplishment showed through from all the participants.

For Shawn Cleary, a runner in Arizona who delivered the flag to the Tucson team to finish out the Phoenix leg, being part of Team RWB has helped him to get to know a culture he wasn’t a part of as a civilian but had always respected as a military child.

“My life before Team RWB was kind of a college lifestyle,” Cleary says. “It started about two and a half years ago, I wanted to get healthy again, and I was starting to run.”

A friend suggested Cleary run with Team RWB. “I was just hooked,” he says.

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Photo: Tim Kolczak

There are tens of thousands of veterans and civilians alike who have gotten “hooked” and found a home with Team Red, White Blue. Through the organization, they continue to give back to one another and the community at large – and have an incredible time doing so!

There are many ways to get involved with Team Red, White Blue, so join the team and get started today. There are always local events happening, and keep an eye out for Team RWB’s national events like the Old Glory Relay!

Articles

Turkey has seen several military coups over the last 50 years, but this one is different

This is what an air-to-air war between Russia and the US in Syria would look like
Turkish tanks move into position as Turkish people attempt to stop them in Ankara. Burhan Ozbilici / AP


The Turkish military apparently staged a coup on Friday night,deploying military into the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s largest city and capital, respectively.

“Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and the general security that was damaged,” a statement, published by a group calling itself the “Peace at Home Council” on TRT, Turkey’s state-run broadcaster, read.

But Turkish citizens began flooding the streets in support of President Tayyip Recep Erdogan after he called for citizens to gather and repel the coup.

The military in Turkey has forced out four civilian governments since 1960.

Here’s a brief outline, with information collected from Wikipedia, Al Jazeera, Foreign Affairs, and The Wall Street Journal:

1960: The military took over the government on May 27 during a time of heightened tensions between the government and the opposition, following some loosened rules on religion, but more restrictions on press. Prime Minister Adnan Mederes was executed.

1971: The military stepped in amid economic and socio-political troubles. The chief of the general staff gave a memorandum to the prime minister, who resigned shortly thereafter. The military then had a “caretaker” government installed.

1980: The chief of the general staff announced the coup on the national channel during a time of economic stress. The years following this coup “did bring some stability,”according to Al Jazeera, but the “military also detained hundreds of thousands of people; dozens were executed, while many others were tortured or simply disappeared.” Notably, while this was “the bloodiest military takeover in Turkey’s history,” it was also “highly supported by the public, which viewed military intervention as necessary to restore stability,” according to Dr. Gonul Tol, writing in Foreign Affairs.

1997: The military issued “recommendations” during the National Security Council meeting. Al Jazeera writes that the prime minister agreed to some measures, such as compulsory eight-year education. He resigned soon after. This is often referred to as the “post-modern” coup.

“E-coupe” in 2007: The military posed an ultimatum on its website to warn the Justice and Development Party (AKP) against backing Abdullah Gul for president. He belonged to an Islamist government. “The public and the AKP were outraged, and Gul was elected,” noted Tol in Foreign Affairs. “The military’s attempt to intervene against a popular party dealt a serious blow to its standing in society, and in an early vote held right after the e-coup, the AKP increased its vote share by 13%.”

As for 2016 …

Even though Turkey has seen a few military coups in recent decades, there are some notable differences between the ones in the past and the current one.

Business Insider reached out to Tol, director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies, who explained some of the differences:

“[T]he situation is still very fluid but this is a very atypical coup. In the past, the military acted on calls from the people and staged a coup against an unpopular government. That is not [the] case today. The AKP and Erdogan might be very polarizing and might have alienated an important segment of society, but they still have the backing of almost 50% of the population. And we also have not seen large-scale calls for a military intervention, security collapse, chaos, the factors that played an important role in past coups. Also missing in this coup is the chain of command. In the past, the top brass went on TV right after the coups and explained [to] the public the reasons for the intervention. That has not happened yet. So this coup might not have the backing of the top brass.”

As an endnote, Tol added that “if Erdogan survives this, his hand will be even more strengthened and he will be able to convince people more easily that a presidential system is necessary.”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information