“Sir, my father was an Islamic State militant, but he divorced my mother in 2013,” said Jassem Mohammad, 21, pulling out his identification card and presenting it to the camp manager. “He now has two other wives.”
In a tiny patch of shade on the edge of a blistering desert camp outside of Mosul, the manager listened as Mohammad made his case. He wanted to leave the camp and go back to college. He had good scores, he said, and was never involved with IS.
Militant rule in Mosul has collapsed and IS fighters here are dead, fled, arrested, or in hiding. But as their relatives try to re-integrate into society, Iraqi authorities face impossible questions with only bad answers.
If someone loved or even tolerated an IS militant, is that person guilty? How do the relatives of the perpetrators make peace with the relatives of the victims?
Officially in Iraq, the answer to the first question is “no,” especially when speaking of small children. Women and children fleeing areas IS occupied are checked for bombs, and when cleared, they are considered civilians.
Unofficially, families of militants are shunned, feared and often separated from the “regular” people, all traumatized by violence and extreme poverty under IS. Many IS families now live in camps, like Mohammad, where they are not quite sure if they are being detained or protected. And both, in fact, are true.
“We’d need to see the divorce papers,” the camp manager explained to Mohammad. If Mohammad offered evidence that his father was not in his life during IS rule in Mosul, it might be possible for him to go back to school.
“I want to study and do humanitarian work,” Mohammad continued, pleading his case to a nearby journalist.
As Mohammad and the reporter chatted, the camp manager looked nonplussed and strolled away. A security officer, in contrast, was visibly annoyed and abruptly ended the conversation.
“You cannot talk to him without official permission,” he said, ushering all journalists out of the camp. Other Iraqi officers said they worry that news about camps set aside for IS families will make them look like monsters, locking up women and children.
“What can we do as the Iraqi government?” said a member of a community police force who didn’t want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “We are exposed to danger. They are families, but we can’t loose them without rehabilitation.”
Inside the city, at the base of a long-dormant Ferris wheel, a short row of tents served as a collection point for families fleeing Mosul in the final days of battle.
Women and children filed into the tents, some collapsing where they sat. Medics treated injuries and food and water alleviated some of the most pressing pains. Many of the people had been hiding in basements for weeks, after months of water shortages. The smell of unwashed bodies was pungent and the heat in the stagnant tents was overwhelming.
“We were imprisoned,” said Khalifa, 46, a mother of three. Unlike the rest of the women in the tent, she wore no veil and her curly hair was tousled. “We tried to run away and militants locked us in a basement. For the past three days we’ve had no food or water.”
“Once they brought us food in the basement,” adds Hoda, 25, her daughter. “He came down wearing a suicide vest.”
Their story echoed tales from families all over Mosul and, even if their husbands or fathers were IS fighters, it could still be true. However, local authorities worried they were lying, casting themselves as victims, rather than somehow complicit.
One man peppered Hoda with questions about the neighborhood she said she was from. IS militants in Mosul were often not stationed near their original homes. Hoda failed to identify the most famous church, mosque, and graveyard in the area.
“See, they are an IS family,” the man said. “They are lying.”
Another woman, Fatima, a mother of eight, said for relatives of IS omitting certain truths is a matter of survival. Sitting with an intelligence official, Fatima admitted she had two brothers that fought with IS. Both, she said, are now dead and she never supported their decision to join IS.
But when the officer walked away, she said at least one of her brothers is alive and now in Tal Afar, an Iraqi city still held by IS.
“We are afraid to tell them when we talk to family members who are with IS,” she whispered. “We don’t want to be blamed for what they did.”
Tell us a little about your background, from your service in the Navy to your career as a Private Investigator and finally to hosting Mysteries Decoded.
I graduated from high school in a town with one stoplight and really wanted to get out and see the world! The Navy recruiter was the first to call me and try to pitch the military. I told him he was wasting his breath and that I wanted to enlist…I might have been the easiest recruit he ever enlisted! I served in the Navy for five years and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and then separated honorably to attend college.
In 2014, after working in the entertainment industry for a few years, I went to Private Investigation school and opened my own company this year. The show came about because they were looking for a Private Investigator who ideally understood the world of television…and bam! Here we are. It’s a rare opportunity to be able to combine my two careers.
How did you feel about looking into a military establishment (Area 51)? Where is the boundary between military secrets and the people’s right to know? Or maybe even in this case, military secrets and Planet Earth’s right to know?
Area 51 was admittedly a difficult episode for me. My co-host on the show, Ryan, is a UFOlogist and a journalist without a military background (although very appreciative of veterans and their service). He heavily advocates for transparency. I understand the importance of keeping certain things under wraps for national security purposes.
There were also a few issues brought up in the context of the show that I was quiet about. I came across a few things during my service that are not common knowledge and it’s not my place to put them out for everyone to know. With that being said, if it is something outside of what I experienced while in the service, it’s fair game.
Area 51 is getting a lot of attention right now with the upcoming “raid” — what do you think people will learn if/when they show up to Groom Lake?
Honestly, I think most people will just chalk it up as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most people are not planning to raid. I fear for those who do intend on crossing that gate because it’s undeniable the military is prepared. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and unfortunately, if necessary, lethal methods as well.
To be fair, people have been warned to not cross into the base. I hope everything stays calm and people abide by the law, but my feeling is you’ll always have a few people who either don’t understand the consequences or don’t care.
What is something you learned when shooting this episode?
I learned a lot more about Bob Lazar, the whistleblower who claims to have worked at S-4. When I first read his claims and his background, I was inclined to dismiss him. The more I learned and the deeper I dug, I realized there was much more going on than most people knew. He is perplexing and his story is one of a kind.
Mysteries Decoded | Cases And Cover-Ups Trailer | CW Seed
Mysteries Decoded | Cases And Cover-Ups Trailer | CW Seed
You’ve been investigating a lot of mysteries for this show. Have any of them given you second thoughts? What are some of the biggest insights you’ve gleaned?
I went into Lizzie Borden based off the research I conducted believing she did kill her parents and through the investigation, came to the conclusion it absolutely was her. In my opinion, it is the oldest documented case of affluenza. She killed her parents and moved to an estate in a more upscale part of town. The only thing that did surprise me was the paranormal things we experienced while in the house. I was not a huge believer in that, but there were too many things that happened for me to look the other way or explain it away — as much as I wanted to.
An upcoming episode, The Bermuda Triangle, was fascinating for me. I loved the scientific aspect of it. We spoke to physicists, Navy officials, historians, pilots, you name it. What we uncovered made me understand why certain things may have happened there. Other things, however, still remain a mystery. It was fascinating delving into the science behind the disappearance of ships and aircraft.
Often times with a few of these cases, someone coming forward could have led to an earlier resolution. I see this in day-to-day life as well and especially in my practice. It takes courage to be transparent and do the right thing, but too many people don’t want to get involved. Definitely come forward, whether it’s something that would shed more light on a subject, or in other scenarios — help right a wrong.
One last questions: are there aliens at Area 51?
I don’t believe there are aliens walking around at the base, no. But have they ever been here? Not sure. Are their bodies at Area 51? Can’t say that either. But I think it’s pretty odd to believe we are the only intelligent beings that exist in the universe…there are a septillion planets. Statistically, the odds are not that we are alone… 🙂
It’s another weekly episode of Star Trek: The Original Series: The title – “Bread and Circuses.”
This time, Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy beam down to Planet 892-IV, a planet identical to Earth in almost every way – except Rome never fell.
Along with scantily clad space babes and gladiatorial games there are gun-toting Roman legionnaires. Not only did Rome never fall in this story, but apparently Denmark rises to become supplier of submachine guns to the empire, and a pretty badass submachine gun at that.
They are toting the Madsen M-50 9-millimeter submachine guns by Dansk Industri Syndikat. Its simplicity and ease of maintenance are stellar even if its popularity back on Earth was somewhat limited.
The M-50 is an open bolt, blowback submachine gun that fires only in full-auto at a cyclic rate of 550 rounds per minute. It has a 32-round box magazine and is slightly more than 30 inches long with the stock unfolded.
However, it’s most unusual feature is the way the operator field-strips the weapon. A barrel nut holds two halves of the hinged sheet metal receiver together – when the operator closes the stock and removes the barrel nut, he can open the receiver like it is clamshell housing, exposing the inner parts of the gun.
All the parts such as the bolt, operating spring and guide, and the barrel easily remove for cleaning. When finished, the person cleaning the weapon just reverses the process and snaps the sides of the receiver shut and replaces the barrel nut.
Besides, it looks exotic and foreign – probably one of the reasons movie and television armorers loved using it.
In the original Planet of the Apes films the M-50 was mocked-up in a futuristic shell to make the gun look even more alien – perfectly suited for a world where apes carried the guns and made the laws.
Also in 1968, the film Ice Station Zebra portrayed Soviet paratroopers carrying the gun, no doubt because of its foreign look.
Even legendary cinematic Italian crime families packed the gun. In The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Corleone “made men” are carrying M-50s as they provide security around the various family compounds depicted in the movie.
But “movie gun” was not what the Madsen’s manufacturer intended. In a world full of cheap, mass-produced World War II submachine guns like the M-3 “Grease Gun” or the Sten, the Madsen put up with a lot abuse without jamming.
The Special Forces Foreign Weapons Handbook describes it as a “well-made weapon” that “incorporates low-cost production features, sturdiness and simplicity of disassembly seldom found in weapons of this type” and that it possessed a stock that was “one of the most rigid types available and the weapon can be fired as easily with the stock folded as it can with the stock unfolded.”
Latin American military and police units used it widely. During the 1950s, Dansk Industri Syndikat sold thousands of M-50s to Latin American countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, and Venezuela.
Brazil also purchased the gun, but then produced its own licensed version called the M-953 or the INA – for Industria Nacional de Armas of Sao Paulo. The Brazilian makers of the INA originally chambered the weapon in .45 ACP, a caliber popular with most of their nation’s armed forces and police.
However, during the early 1970s Brazil’s defense ministers decided that 9-millimeter Parabellum would be a better choice in ammunition. They eventually ordered a massive conversion program to re-chamber the weapons in 9-millimeter as well as add a select-fire modification.
Special Forces and CIA operators during the Vietnam War frequently carried the M-50 or armed the “indigs” with the gun.
In South Vietnam, Green Berets frequently placed the weapon in the hands of the montagnards, the indigenous hill people who defended villages against the Viet Cong and served as rapid response forces alongside special operators.
Small enough to be secreted inside their woven pack baskets, M-50s gave the montagnards real firepower as they scouted hills and trails for Viet Cong activity.
Despite obvious interest in the M-50, sales of the weapon were good but not great. Its biggest competition was the veritable flood of surplus submachine guns from World War II that inundated the military market during the 1950s.
So, it became a movie gun – whether it was in “space, the final frontier” (at least as it was portrayed on television) or in dozens of movies on the big screen.
“On Nov. 25, Russian means of monitoring airspace spotted an air target over an international area of the Black Sea that was approaching the state border at a high speed. A Sukhoi-30 jet of the Southern Military District’s air defense was ordered into the air for interception,” a statement published by the Russian government owned media outlet TASS said.
The Su-30, flying as close as 50 feet, sped past the P-8A and turned on its afterburners. This maneuver caused the Americans to fly through the Flanker’s jet wash and resulted in the crew experiencing “violent turbulence.”
“The U.S. aircraft was operating in international airspace and did nothing to provoke this Russian behavior,” Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said to CNN. “Unsafe actions have the potential to cause serious harm and injury to all air crews involved.”
By now, we should all understand the life of Ian Fleming’s signature British spy is nothing like the real world of clandestine international espionage agents. The Silver Screen Bond is less clandestine, more clandestish. Even so, there are probably a million reasons any guy would want to be James Bond, and most of those reasons are why he’s a terrible spy.
1. He uses his real name
Secrecy is the most necessary element in the world of spies, so it’s a bad idea to use a real name. Even if James Bond is a cover name, he still uses the same cover name every time. Which is pretty much the same thing and seems like terrible espionage. Knowing how great Bond is with disguises, if he had to make up his own cover name every time, it would probably be just as useless.
He’s much better at thinking of bad puns after killing people. No wonder he needs so much help on every mission. Helping Bond can be hazardous to your health. For instance, a guy named Quarrel helps Bond throughout Dr. No and 007 lets Quarrel get torched by an armored flamethrower. Valentin Zukovsy saves Bond, his missions, and the world banking system in two films and Bond lets him get shot to death. And then, like a uniquely British STD, there’s the slew of women who die after a night with him.
2. He cares more about bedding women than any mission
That 007 cares more about sleeping with women than completing (or starting) a mission comes up more than once. In fact, in the first few movies, he doesn’t start his super-important missions until after sleeping with some woman he just met.
That those women usually don’t make it to the end credits is more evidence that James Bond should not be the clandestine agent Great Britain depends on for its security. It’s almost as if these women had to sleep with James Bond.
If Bond cared about them, they would probably have a higher survival rate. The only woman Bond ever saved without banging was M, and he couldn’t get away fast enough. It literally took 5 seconds. This also probably why she survives to be in other movies.
If Bond doesn’t care about them, he sure takes it personally every time one of them dies or betrays him — another terrible trait for a spy. Natalya Simonova was one the best Bond girls, but driving a tank around St. Petersberg trying to save her is a great way to blow your cover. Speaking of which…
3. He blows his cover on every mission
In Dr. No, Bond spends half the movie trying to convince an islander to help him infiltrate Dr. No’s radioactive island. He finally does and they sneak on in the middle of the night, only for Bond to give them away first thing the next morning when he sees a woman in a bikini.
In Goldfinger, he’s supposed to monitor Goldfinger, but instead of that, he immediately breaks into Goldfinger’s suite, introduces himself to Goldfinger’s employee, taunts him via radio, forces him to lose thousands of dollars, then bangs his employee! Is anyone surprised when Goldfinger knocks Bond out in his own kitchen? In my opinion, Jill got dipped in gold paint because she makes poor life choices.
That was Goldfinger’s employee. In Thunderball, 007 sleeps with his mark’s girlfriend.
4. He drinks like it’s his job
The drinking. All the drinking. The guy is clearly an alcoholic. In the U.S., you can’t even get a top secret security clearance with that much alcohol use, let alone be the top field agent. How does Bond not die in alcohol-related incidents? Or of cirrhosis?
He needs booze to do anything. Sure, we can give him a pass for having a drink while gambling. That helps maintain an effective cover. But how many does he need for that purpose? This is the guy who keeps a bottle of chilled champagne in his tricked-out Aston-Martin just in case he has a lady in need of an emergency picnic. And he pops the compartment open in a move that would make Glenn Quagmire proud.
With the exception of Timothy Dalton’s chronically misdressed Bond (he wears a shabby wool suit to work and a tuxedo to the carnival), 007 always looks impeccable. How does Bond always manage to look so suave and clean? With as much as he drinks and spends all night every night shagging some new girl, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be tired, unshaven, and smelling like liquor.
5. He gets captured all the time
Dr. No captures Bond and serves him breakfast. Bond immediately allows himself to be drugged by drinking the coffee like it was life-giving vodka. When he’s trying to turn a Russian general’s girlfriend in The Living Daylights, he CHUGS the martini she gives him. Drugged again. It’s a miracle he ever escapes anything alive. Poisoned vodka should have been enough to kill 007 in 1965 but then again, alcohol poisoning should have done him in a dozen times.
Alec Trevelyan captures him twice. In Afghanistan, he escapes capture from the Soviets, only to be immediately captured by the Muhajeddin. Elecktra King doesn’t have any special powers or weapons and she captures 007 AND M. Goldfinger captured 007 and carted him around the world for at least a week. James Bond drove up to Harlem in the 1970s, tailing a gangster, then walked right into his nightclub. He was captured and held at gunpoint in about thirty seconds. Later in the same movie (Live and Let Die) he does it again.
6. He never notices the mole in MI6
Every time he travels, every where he goes, the enemy always knows his exact schedule. It doesn’t matter if it’s Eastern Europe, Turkey, or Jamaica, enemy agents always know when his flight arrives and what the world’s top secret superspy looks like. It also doesn’t matter who the enemy is, SPECTRE, Russia, or Dr. No. Ignoring M16’s mole entirely, Bond spends a lot of tim in Dr. No trying to interrogate his people. When he finally subdues a geology professor who tires to kill him, 007 just shoots him instead of asking him anything.
In Casino Royale, he doesn’t even bother to check what bank account Vesper Lynd transfers the money to. That could have been a great clue into what was really going on.
7. He rarely searches his hotel rooms for thugs, bugs, or anything
In Goldfinger, Bond blows up a drug lab and then walk right to the bar (surprise) to bang a dancer (big surprise). He walks into her room and starts undressing, missing the thug waiting to kill him. He only notices in the reflection on her eyeball. As the attacker drops the blow, he spins around and lets the lady take it.
In From Russia With Love, after not being in his hotel for two days, he just waltzes in, disrobes and orders breakfast. He doesn’t search for bugs or bombs or anything. THERE’S SOMEONE IN HIS BED and he doesn’t even notice. When he finds out its a woman, He even allows himself to be filmed having sex with her, his Russian informant, who is double crossing him.
It’s a good thing SPECTRE is as incompetent as he is. Even Blofeld, the most epic of all his nemeses, met an ignominious end when Bond dropped his WHEELCHAIR down a smokestack.
8. He hangs out with the supervillains he’s supposed to take out
In Live and Let Die, 007 disarms and captures a woman by burning the assailant’s drawn gun hand with a cigar while breaking into his hotel room. She says she’s CIA… and that’s good enough for James Bond, even though she can’t do any actual spy stuff or shoot a weapon. He sleeps with her anyway, then spends the next day fishing with her.
Bond spends DAYS with Pussy Galore and Goldfinger without trying to escape even once. He drinks with Emilio Largo, vacations with Electra King, and bangs media baron Elliot Carver’s wife while staying at his house in Hamburg.
9. He’s a huge drain on the taxpayer
And doesn’t James Bond live a really lavish lifestyle for spy? Tuxedos, Aston-Martins, Gambling in the Riviera, not to mention all these other exotic locales? Why doesn’t SPECTRE set up shop in places that are little more out of reach for the West, like Sudan or North Korea? The Bahamas seems like a terrible place to start an evil plan or terrorist group. Bond’s life is one of tuxedos, luxury cars, and champagne.
Cost Benefit analysis: how much does it cost for James Bond to stop these villains vs. What the villains actually want. How much was that invisible car? How many people died to get Bond in Space? At some point we have to wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper just to let the bad guys win one. But be advised: When he doesn’t get his way, he rebels and becomes an enemy of the state.
10. He destroys everything
He destroys national monuments, kills local cops, and troops who are only doing their job, even when Russia isn’t the bad guy. It’s not like the cops know who he is, they’re just trying to protect the innocent. Someone let James Bond know Blue Lives Matter. And he can’t just kill someone. It takes four cars, two helicopters, and a train to get to the bad guy. Even when he’s assigned to get one guy, 007 blows up half an african embassy to do it (and gets caught on camera in the process).
On that note, who is the bad guy here? Isn’t M16 supposed to be supporting justice and peace? Instead their main guy is blowing up dams and trashing cities. He drove a tank through an apartment in St. Petersburg.
If he pulled this stuff in the U.S. it would be on Fox News in heartbeat, and there goes his cover. He ruins weddings, birthdays, and lives.
BONUS: Q Branch isn’t that great either.
Pen grenade? Awesome. Magnet and/or laser watch? Perfect. Crocodile suit? Are you kidding me, Q?
With the surprising (to some) victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, one issue that will come into sharp focus is how he will handle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist group.
During the campaign, he promised to “bomb the sh– out of” ISIS. Realistically, with the militants hiding among civilians in densely populated cities in the Middle East, a “bomb the sh– out of” them campaign would be a tough sell. So maybe it’s a good idea to see what similar air wars are in the historical playbook to get an idea of the cost.
This is the crowning masterpiece of the career of Sir Arthur Harris. In mid-February 1945, four massive raids with 722 Royal Air Force bombers and 527 more from the United States Army Air Force (which also contributed over 750 P-51 Mustang fighters) delivered almost 4,000 tons of bombs on target.
Dresden was firebombed for several nights, killing an estimated 130,000 Germans. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
For the loss of eight planes, over 200 factories were damaged. Not a bad ratio, except of course the fact that over 100,000 civilians were estimated to have been killed in the days-long fire bombing.
Kinda why the Air Force developed precision bombing.
The B-29 bombing offensive against Japan had not been entirely effective using daylight attacks from high altitude. That was when Gen. Curtis LeMay decided to change the game. Instead of high-altitude bombing during the day, he sent 334 B-29s against Tokyo on the night of March 9, 1945. He wanted to fly along with the raid, but since he had first-hand knowledge of top-secret military code-breaking efforts, the risk of his capture was too high and he was grounded.
Of the planes sent, 27 were lost due to enemy action.
But once again, 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped, annihilating 16-square miles of the city costing an estimated 130,000 lives. Emperor Hirohito toured the city in the aftermath of the raid, he began to work to get Japan out of the war.
With the Paris Peace talks stalled over ending the Vietnam conflict, President Richard Nixon acted decisively. For nearly two weeks in late December 1972, 207 B-52 Stratofortresses, along with hundreds of other planes, launched a massive aerial assault on Hanoi. Dubbed the “Christmas Bombing,” over that 11-day period, over 15,000 tons of bombs were dropped by the BUFFs, with the tactical aircraft dropping more. In all, 16 B-52s and 12 other planes were lost.
B-52 Stratofortress bombers dropped more than 15,000 tons of ordnance on Hanoi during the Christmas bombing campaign. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
The North Vietnamese ultimately resumed negotiations, and the Paris Peace Accords were signed on Jan. 27, 1973. Some reports indicate nearly 1,000 Vietnamese were killed during the raids.
During Operation Desert Storm, the B-52Gs sent to targets over Iraq and Kuwait delivered up to 40 percent of the wartime bombing tonnage. Most of their operations involved carpet-bombing the Republican Guard and other Iraqi ground forces. Joe Baugher noted that in 1,620 sorties, one B-52G was lost due to an electrical failure on Feb. 3, 1991, and three others suffered combat damage.
5. War on Terror
The current bomber force may have drawn down, but in the 1990s, the B-52, B-1B Lancer, and B-2 Spirit were all equipped to handle precision-guided munitions. Today, they have been delivering lots of bombs on various terror groups, including al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban.
This Friday, February 26, Fred Lewis will lead his all-military team to muscle through setbacks due to aging equipment. Lewis and his team of patriots are no strangers to delays, but one team member is particularly hedging his bets on this endeavor. ‘This needs to work out, I don’t want to be another homeless vet,” said Kyle Pletzke. This quote reveals more about the team than before. Pletzke is one of the nation’s homeless veterans who joined Lewis in Discovery’s Gold Rush in pursuit of fame and fortune. Homelessness is an in issue so pervasive that even I, the author, was a homeless veteran at one point in the not-too-distant past.
Time and again Lewis and his crew go through the gauntlet. Reinforcements arrive as the situation grows dire. Mitch Blatshke from Parker’s crew leaves no man left behind and renders aid to the other team’s machines. Will it be enough or too little too late? Mitch races against the clock to accomplish the mission.
In 2019 there were 37,085 homeless veterans registered with the VA’s PIT Count. The goal of the PIT count (point-in-time count) is to show Congress there is a need to end homelessness amongst veterans. From 2018 to 2019 the program reduced the homeless population by 2.1% by providing shelter.
Another resource is the Salvation Army. When I was homeless, the VA and the Salvation Army’s case workers banded together to help me find temporary housing. The irony of the situation was I could work from home, yet I didn’t have one. Long story short, my roommates lost their jobs due to the pandemic and instead of giving me a heads up to find my own place they kept me in the dark until we abruptly had to move.
If it wasn’t for We Are The Mighty and the fans who read my work I probably would have ended up a statistic. This artform is a cathartic release that pulled me through my darkest days. My mother lost her kidneys to Lupus and was fighting for her life. I’m still taking care of my sister. Veterans are proud and we won’t ask for help. However, it is important to call broken arrow when your back is against the wall.
Help is there and it will come.
That’s why this episode resonates so deeply for me. Another veteran is out of ammo and is fixing his bayonet, refusing to accept defeat. Gold Rush paints the perfect example of the camaraderie forged in the fires of combat. The other veterans also share their stories of their past and how they got into gold mining. Gold Rush is one of the few shows that accurately displays the brotherhood of the military.
Gold Rush airs this Friday at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery, followed by the military Gold Rush special at 10 PM ET/PT on Discovery. Fans can also binge all previous seasons of Gold Rush on Discovery+.
The challenges the United States sees from Russia and China are similar because both have studied the America way of war, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Oct. 1, 2018.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford was visiting Spanish officials after attending the NATO Military Committee meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
The bottom line for the United States and the country’s greatest source of strength strategically “is the network of allies we’ve built up over 70 years,” Dunford told reporters traveling with him. At the operational level, he added, the U.S. military’s advantage is the ability to deploy forces anywhere they are needed in a timely manner and then sustain them.
“Russia has studied us since 1990,” Dunford said. “They looked at us in 2003. They know how we project power.”
Russian leaders are trying to undermine the credibility of the U.S. ability to meet its alliance commitments and are seeking to erode the cohesion of the NATO alliance, he said.
Russia has devoted serious money to modernizing its military, the chairman noted, and that covers the gamut from its nuclear force to command and control to cyber capabilities. “At the operational level, their goal is to field capabilities that challenge our ability to project power into Europe and operate freely across all domains,” Dunford said. “We have to operate freely in sea, air and land, as we did in the past, but now we also must operate [freely] in cyberspace and space.”
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, center, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attends the official welcome ceremony before the start of the NATO Military Committee conference in Warsaw, Poland, Sept. 28, 2018.
(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
The nature of war has not changed, but the character of war has. The range of weapon systems has increased. There has been a proliferation of anti-ship cruise missiles and land-to-land attack missiles. Cyber capabilities, command and control capabilities, and electronic warfare capabilities have grown.
Great power competition
These are the earmarks of the new great power competition. Russia is the poster child, but China is using the same playbook, the chairman said.
“What Russia is trying to do is … exactly what China is trying to do vis-a-vis our allies and our ability to project power,” Dunford said. “In China, what we are talking about is an erosion of the rules-based order. The United States and its allies share the commitment to a free and open Pacific. That is going to require coherent, collective action.”
Against Russia, the United States and its NATO allies have a framework in place around which they can build: a formal alliance structure allows the 29 nations to act as one, Dunford said.
However, he added, a similar security architecture is not in place in the Pacific.
The United States has treaties with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. Politically and economically, the United States works with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“I see the need for all nations with an interest in the rules-based architecture to take collective action,” Dunford said. “The military dimension is a small part of this issue, and it should be largely addressed diplomatically and economically.”
He said the military dimension is exemplified by freedom of navigation operations, in which 22 nations participated with more than 1,500 operations in 2018. “These are normal activities designed to show we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and not allow illicit claims to become de facto,” the chairman said.
China and Japan are redefining the nature and purpose of the Coast Guard. Americans still think in terms of air-sea rescue or chasing drug smugglers when they think about their Coast Guard. China and Japan think about their Coast Guards in terms of realpolitik.
The two nominally civilian services are on the front lines of territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Both countries are adding to their coast guard fleets at a breakneck pace. One could almost call it a Coast Guard arms race, except that the vessels are lightly armed if armed at all.
Japan is reinforcing its Coast Guard contingent in the waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea with 10 new 1,500-ton patrol craft and two new helicopter- equipped vessels. This is in addition to six other cutters already in the region. Tokyo will no longer have to borrow vessels from other Coast Guard districts allowing them to concentrate on routine Coast Guard duties such as rescuing ships in distress.
Tokyo is also overhauling its main operational base on the island of Ishikagi, the closest Japanese island to the Senkakus, with enlarged port facilities to handle the new vessels. It is close to another small island where Japan recently opened an army garrison to protect a new radar base (a well as asserting sovereignty in case China expands its designs on other islands in the Ryukyu chain.)
Both Japan and China assert their claims to the uninhabited Senkaku islands with coast guard cutters rather than ships of their regular navies. On an average of once every two weeks, two or three Chinese Coast Guard vessels enter Japanese territorial waters. They stay for a couple hours then leave. Meanwhile, Japanese Coast Guard vessels regularly patrol the disputed waters ordering anyone inside the territorial zone to leave.
China is also expanding its fleet and building ports of call to maintain them. The growing fleet allows Beijing to assert its claim and support its interests over the entire South China Sea. At present, Coast Guard ships are stationed near the Scarborough Shoal claimed by the Philippines; another routinely patrols the Laconia Reefs off the coast of Malaysia.
While it once depended on former naval frigates, China is now commissioning purpose-built cutters. It is currently commissioning two of the world’s largest Coast Guard cutters, ships that could alter the balance of power in the South and East China Seas (one ship is to be stationed in each sea).
Known only by their hull numbers, in this case Haijing 2901 and Haijing 3901 (the first digit denotes which sea it is to patrol). They displace 10,000 tons, possibly more when fully outfitted. That makes them larger than the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga- class cruisers and Japan’s 6,500-ton Shikishima- class Coast Guard cutters previously the largest in the world.
The U.S.S. Forth Worth, a Littoral Combat ship based in Singapore, which has undertaken Freedom of Navigation patrols in the Spratly islands, displaces a mere 1,200 tons. A warship like the Fort Worth could, of course, defend itself from a Chinese maritime enforcement vessel on a collision course, but it would mean firing the first shot.
This may be a coast guard “arms race” except that the competing vessels are not heavily armed. The new Japanese cutters are armed with 20 mm cannons and water cannons. The new Chinese super cutters are not necessarily heavily armed either. Pictures that have been published so far show that they lack gun turrets. It is not armaments that make these two Coast Guard Dreadnaughts so formidable; it is their sheer size.
The military version of the People’s Daily, the press organ of the Chinese Communist Party, boasted that these powerful new ships could ram and possibly sink a 9,000-ton vessel without damaging itself. That makes them a potential threat to regular naval vessels of the U.S. and Japanese navies.
Ramming has been a tactic in territorial disputes in both the East and South China Seas, harkening back to the days of the Romans and Carthaginians. A large Chinese fishing vessel rammed a Japanese Coast Guard cutter near the Senkakus in 2011. Earlier this year another Chinese Coast Guard vessel rammed one of its own fishing trawlers that had been taken into custody by Indonesian authorities for allegedly illegally fishing in Jakarta’s 200-nautical miles exclusive economic zone.
Retired USN Captain James Fanell, formerly chief of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, calls the Chinese Coast Guard, “A fulltime marine harassment organization. Unlike the U.S, Coast Guard, the Chinese service has no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s extravagant claims,” he says.
Fanell notes that China is building new Coast Guard vessels, like the two super cutters, at “an astonishing rate.”
The regular navies of Japan and China generally stay in the background, but Tokyo is also suspicious about the recent activities of the regular Chinese Navy in waters near the disputed islands. A contingent of Chinese frigates now hovers about 70 km away from the Senkaku, close enough to come to the aid of any of its coast guard vessels that gets in trouble.
For its part, the Japanese government recently made public what the cabinet had decided earlier in the year, that Japanese naval vessels might intervene should the Coast Guard be unable to do its normal “policing” duties. “If it becomes difficult for the police and the Japan Coast Guard, then the Maritime Self Defense Force (navy) could respond,” said defense minister Gen Nakatani. That could happen if Chinese navy ships actually entered Senkaku waters.
The use of “white hulls,” mostly unarmed or lightly armed Coast Guard cutters, rather than “gray hulls,” has been a stabilizing element in the numerous territorial encounters of the past few years. But the recent remarks suggest that Tokyo expects to see more gray hulls than white hulls in the coming year.
In his final year in Congress, 87-year-old Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, a legendary Air Force fighter pilot in Korea and Vietnam and a former prisoner of war, is backing a bill to give enlisted Medal of Honor recipients and POWs the same honors as officers in burials at Arlington National Cemetery.
“My fellow POWs who served honorably demonstrated the utmost patriotism, but not all of them were eligible for full military honors at their burial, simply due to their rank. I believe this is wrong,” Johnson said in a statement.
Current rules restrict full honors at in-ground burials at Arlington, including a military escort and a horse-drawn caisson, to officers, warrant officers, senior non-commissioned officers, and service members killed in action.
Eligibility rules for in-ground burial at Arlington, which is running out of space, are the strictest of all the national cemeteries. They may in future be limited to those killed in action and recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart, according to a current proposal under consideration.
Prisoners of war who were discharged honorably and died after Nov. 30, 1993, are also eligible, according to the Code of Federal Regulations. There were no immediate figures available on how many enlisted MoH recipients or POWs may have been denied full honors at Arlington due to current rules.
Most honorably discharged veterans can request Arlington as their final resting place, but the eligibility rules are lengthy. (The list of rules can be found here.)
Arlington National Cemetary.
Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Michigan, is the main sponsor of the Full Military Honors Act, which was introduced in the House in early September 2018. He said he came to the issue at the behest of the family of a deceased constituent, Army Pfc. Robert Fletcher, a Korean War POW who was buried without full honors at Arlington in June 2018.
“America’s POWs and Medal of Honor recipients have sacrificed immeasurably in service to the United States, regardless of their rank,” Bishop said in a statement. “So I was shocked to find out that earlier this year a former POW from Michigan was denied a full honors burial at Arlington National Cemetery based solely on his enlisted rank. This has been an issue for too long, and my legislation will ensure those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty are provided the full military honors they have earned for their end-of-life ceremonies.”
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, co-sponsored the bill. “I’m proud to join in introducing the Full Military Honors Act,” said Walz, who retired from the Army National Guard as a command sergeant major after 24 years. “To help ensure we honor the sacrifices these heroes and their families have made for our country, we must pass it without delay.”
The bill has been endorsed by the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America, the National League of POW/MIA Families, the Special Operations Association, the Special Forces Association, and the American Fallen Warriors Memorial Foundation.
At a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel in March 2018, officials warned that space for in-ground burials at Arlington would eventually run out because surrounding communities restrict its expansion.
“We are filling up every single day” at the 154-year-old historic site across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., where an average of 150 burials take place each week, said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries.
Estimates on when Arlington will run out of space vary, but some put the date for closing the cemetery to new burials in the 2030s or 2040s.
Members of the Navy Ceremonial Guard transfer Medal of Honor Recipient Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner to his final resting place at Arlington National Cemetary, April 4, 2018.
(DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
As of August 2017, there were 5,071 living former POWs in the U.S., according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are currently 72 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, 45 of whom were in the enlisted ranks when they received the award, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
The full honors issue has resonated over the years with Johnson, a retired Air Force colonel and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts.
During the Korean War, he flew 62 combat missions in a F-86 Sabre and was credited with shooting down one MiG-15. In Vietnam, he flew the F-4 Phantom II. On his 25th combat mission in Vietnam on April 16, 1966, Johnson’s aircraft was shot down over North Vietnam. He was a POW for nearly seven years, including 42 months in solitary confinement.
A battered tin cup he used to tap on the walls to communicate in code with other prisoners is now in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. In the prison camps, Johnson was part of a group dubbed the “Alcatraz 11” for their resistance to the guards.
“Any veteran who served honorably as a prisoner of war or whose actions earned them the Medal of Honor has already demonstrated extraordinary dedication to defending freedom,” Johnson said in his statement. “In return, they deserve to have the country they fought for bestow full military honors if they are eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.”
Since the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in August 2018, Johnson is the only former POW serving in Congress. Early 2018, he announced that he would retire at the end of the term after serving in the House since 1991.
In his statement upon McCain’s death, Johnson, who was often at odds with the late senator on issues, paid tribute to the former Navy pilot who was with him in the prison camps.
“We have lost a genuine American hero today. John and I were fellow POWs at the ‘Hanoi Hilton,’ and I can testify to the fact that he did everything he could to defend freedom and honor our great nation — not just in that hell on Earth, but beyond those bleak years,” Johnson said. “John’s strength of spirit, commitment to democracy, and love of God and country all shape the inspiring legacy of service he leaves behind. God bless you, partner, and I salute you.”
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Considered the deadliest sniper of all time, Simo Hayha joined Finland’s Civil Guard at the age of 17 and quickly established himself as an excellent marksman. It was here that he honed his skills with the Mosin-Nagant, developing a talent that the Soviets would soon come to fear.
Hayha regularly practiced his warfighting craft by accurately firing his bolt-action rifle 16 times per minute at a target 500-feet away — which is a challenging task.
In 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Finland in what would become known as the “Winter War,” or the Russo-Finnish War.
Although the Finns were highly outnumbered, they had the home-field advantage and turned to guerrilla-style fighting to defend their territory from the encroaching Red Army.
In the beginning, Hayha found himself fighting against an enemy force of 4,000 with just 31 other men at his side.
On Dec. 31, 1939, Hayha scored 25 kill shots while dressed in all white to perfectly camouflage himself among the snow-covered terrain. The talented marksman would stalk his targets in freezing temperatures for several hours. Using the surrounding snow, Hayha packed himself deep within the frozen ground to decrease his chances of being noticed.
Hayha preferred using iron sights instead of optic scopes as other snipers had grown to favor. Although it was harder to get a fix on a target, using iron sights helped him avoid detection from light reflected off the scope.
As Hayha tallied up his kills, he was given a nickname that would write him into the history books — “The White Death.”
He tallied 505 kills, the highest count from any significant war. All of the kills were accomplished in fewer than 100 days — meaning he averaging over five per day. Hayha ended up getting wounded in the war; shot by an explosive bullet which nearly took off his lower left jaw.
He survived the wound and continued to live a long life. Hayha passed away in a veteran’s nursing home in 2002 at the age of 96.
Check out Simple History’s video below to learn more about this talented sniper’s record-setting life.
Every Memorial Day we remember those veterans who have departed or paid the full measure. But how do they want to be remembered? I believe I know.
Assigning meaning to Memorial Day can be more difficult than Veteran’s Day. On Veteran’s Day, we can shake a hand (bump an elbow) and thank them for their service. Memorial Day, on the other hand, is much more introspective. Fresh flowers and flags on the rows are designed not only to honor, but to remind us of the awesome sacrifices that come with freedoms we enjoy. These concepts are noble, but to be honest, I usually found myself thinking much more locally. I often recall my great uncle who bore a tremendous sense of guilt over his younger brother’s ultimate sacrifice on “The Rock”, Corrigedor toward the end of World War II.
Like so many stories of that time, three brothers – my grandfather Frank and his two younger brothers Emanuel “Mindy” and Maurice “Morsie” all served in combat in the Army during WWII. At the start of the war in Europe, Frank was already an ROTC grad, and an officer with the Corps of Engineers. Mindy was back home in Ohio running the family hardware store. When the clouds of war began to gather and it became clear America’s involvement was inevitable, he convinced himself and his friends that the best thing to do was to enlist together and get into “parachute school” so they could all make a higher rate of pay than your basic GI. (PS: There was no question why Mindy was chosen to run the family business.) In this posse who made their way to the recruiter’s office that day (seven in all) was Mindy’s younger brother Morsie, then just barely 18, still in high school.
Of all those men that day, all but one washed out of jump school: Morsie. He took Mindy’s advice even further by training to become a combat medic and went to war an SP5. Having jumped his way into combat all the way down the South Pacific, on his fateful day (in fulfillment of MacArther’s promise), the planes faced tricky winds – they jumped too low, and many – including Morsie – did not survive the landing. His older brother Mindy never forgave himself. His only consolation was to admit so much every time he told us Morsie’s heroic story.
This year, for the first time, I figured out how Morsie wants to be remembered. On April 6, 2020, the most decorated officer of the 82d Airborne and Medal of Honor nominee Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Magellas died at age 103. I had the good fortune in 2014 to have interviewed him for an article I wrote in US Veteran’s Magazine that same year. Maggie had left such an impression on me that we stayed in touch over the years. Upon his passing, I went back to his interview and reflected on his brand of leadership philosophy. However, what caught my attention was the part of the interview where he discusses how veterans want to be remembered. Like a voice from beyond, Maggie was telling me first hand how he saw his legacy. It spoke directly to us all in 2021.
On this first Memorial Day since his passing, here is that transcript:
“What was it we were fighting against (in WWII)? It threatened those things that we hold dear: rule of law, anti-discrimination, respect for others. We were against violence … instead of hatred, we believed in tolerance. The enemy embodied all those things, and that’s what we fought.”
“When I was with the guys, I never knew whether they were Republicans or Democrats or where they came from. It made no difference; that was never a factor, ever or since. What held us together was the adversity we were facing together and looking out for each other.” Maggie said, pointing at me for emphasis.
“Respect the other guy.” He paused for effect. “We are not all the same; diversity is what makes us great … [the Allies] were against gangs and against violence and bullying,” Maggie said, voice animated.
Off record Maggie told me that he decided at some point to stop speaking and taking questions about his battlefield experiences and leadership decisions. He understood the interest in it but thought there was something far more important that he wanted to talk about. He was afraid that we were losing our respect for one another. When asked about the war his stock answer became “it’s all in my book.” (His book All the Way to Berlin is considered one of the best accounts of the American European campaign, and was source material for the film and series Band of Brothers.)
He then decided to go to schools and military bases and speak to youth about integrity and leadership. By 2014, when I interviewed him, he had done more than 250 speeches, ranging from high school students in Phoenix, Arizona, to active 82nd Airborne troops in Afghanistan. With a razor sharp mind at 97, he spoke like a philosophy professor to those who he believed are the true “legacy of every veteran”. Here is an excerpt from one of his speeches to high school students:
“You are in a beautiful school because someone paid the price. If you want to honor me, and you want to honor veterans, then you will bide your lives along those principles for which we fought … I’ve left a lot of buddies that I buried over there who lost their lives so you could come to this beautiful school … we fought to preserve our way of life.”
It’s as if Maggie is speaking to us all this Memorial Day 2021, as we emerge into a post-COVID world of separation, with so many things designed to bring out our worst nature, tribalism and partisanship. We must use this day for its purpose to let their sacrifice bring us together and refresh our resolve to care for each other, respect one another, one and all.
So on this Memorial Day, I have decided to remember my uncle Morsie – not by lamenting where he fell, but by celebrating where he rose. Taking his brother’s sage advice, he challenged and educated himself to excellence in all his actions in service to our way of life, and moreover in service to his brethren as a combat medic. I also thank Maggie for recalibrating how we should all be remembering our veterans, and the character we should bring as a country in their honor. Defense of our way of life does not refer to the maintenance of a prosperous economy, but truly a nation of citizens who strive to accept and respect everyone equally, and who can celebrate in its own diversity.
In closing, I send Maggie’s message to our students and their parents who struggled through a hard year, and need to hear his words more now than ever. Maggie said, “I always speak to students, because if [veterans] have a legacy to leave, it’s got to be with the students. If our service changes the life of one child, it was worth it.”
Yes, Maggie, it was worth it. Thank you and God Bless your soul.
Frank Connelly serves as producer for ‘Those Who Serve,’a feature-length documentary, that gives a compelling and personal look at three psychologically wounded American combat veterans who committed crimes and now struggle to find a just outcome in our nation’s courtrooms.
China’s increasingly powerful navy launched its most advanced domestically produced destroyer on June 28, at a time of rising competition with other naval powers such as the United States, Japan, and India.
The first 10,000-ton Type 055 entered the water at Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard on June 28, the navy said in a news release.
It said the ship is equipped with the latest air, missile, ship, and submarine defense systems. China is believed to be planning to launch four of the ships.
“The launch of this ship signifies that our nation’s development of destroyers has reached a new stage,” the release said.
A photo on the Chinese Navy’s website showed multicolored streamers being shot out of tubes while sailors and shipyard workers stood dockside next to a massive Chinese flag. It said chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s General Armaments Department Zhang Youxia presided over the ceremony, in which a bottle of champagne was broken over the ship’s bow.
The Type 055 is significantly larger than China’s other modern destroyer, the Type 052, representing the rising sophistication of China’s defense industries. Once heavily dependent on foreign technology, China in April launched its first aircraft carrier built entirely on its own, based on an earlier Ukrainian model.
In terms of displacement, it is roughly equivalent to the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer.
China’s navy is undergoing an ambitious expansion and is projected to have a total of 265-273 warships, submarines, and logistics vessels by 2020, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Naval Analysis. That compares with 275 deployable battle force ships presently in the US Navy, China’s primary rival in the Asia Pacific, although the once-yawning gap between the two is narrowing rapidly.
China says it needs a powerful navy to defend its 14,500 kilometers (9,010 miles) of coastline, as well as its crucial maritime shipping routes.
However, it also appears increasingly willing to challenge actions by the US — long the region’s pre-eminent military power — especially in the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
Beijing has also long nurtured resentment against Japan over its past invasion of China, and their dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has at times threatened to break out into open confrontation.
India, meanwhile, also shares a disputed border with China and has grown increasingly concerned over the Chinese navy’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean, facilitated in part by Beijing’s close alliance with New Delhi’s arch rival Pakistan.