This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Dozens of bodies have mysteriously washed up on Japan’s shores over the past few weeks — and the evidence suggests they’re coming from North Korea.


At least 40 corpses from about 15 boats have washed up along Japan’s west coast since November, according to figures provided by Japanese authorities and calculated by Business Insider.

The most recent discovery was on Dec. 7, when authorities found two skeletons near an upturned boat near the western city of Oga, The Washington Post reported.

While Japanese authorities haven’t been able to definitively identify the origins of these “ghost ships” — vessels discovered with no living crew — multiple factors suggest they are from North Korea.

A boat found on the island of Sado in late November contained what appeared to be North Korean cigarette packets and jackets with Korean writing on them, Reuters reported.

Two bodies recovered from another boat found in Yamagata prefecture on Dec. 5 were also wearing pins showing the face of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong Un, according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo and The Associated Press.

Most of the discoveries have been gruesome — in multiple cases, Japanese authorities have said they found skulls and decaying corpses.

Not a new phenomenon

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
Ghost ships, presumably originating in North Korea, have been washing ashore in Japan with skeletal remains aboard. (Image Google Earth)

North Korean vessels have been showing up in Japan for years.

Eighty such ships drifted ashore in Japan in 2013, 65 in 2014, 45 in 2015, and 66 in 2016, said Satoru Miyamoto, a professor of political science and economics at Japan’s Seigakuin University, citing Japan Coast Guard statistics.

But at least 76 vessels have shown up on Japanese shores since the beginning of this year, and 28 in November alone, The New York Times reported.

These appearances usually occur more frequently toward the end of the year, when bad weather proves most dangerous to seafarers using old boats and equipment, The Times said.

So, why is this happening?

Life in North Korea is ‘grim and desperate’

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
Citizens of North Korea face an oppressive regime in the Kim family. (Photo from Flickr user Roman Harak)

The rising number of ghost ships in Japan indicates the dire food scarcity facing North Korea, some experts say.

Jeffrey Kingston, the director of Asian studies at Temple University in Japan, told Business Insider that “the ghost ships are a barometer for the state of living conditions in North Korea — grim and desperate.”

“They signal both desperation and the limits of ‘juche,'” he added, using the word for an ideology developed by Kim Il Sung that justifies state policies despite famine and economic difficulties within the country.

To make matters worse, North Korea suffered a severe drought earlier this year that dramatically damaged the country’s food production and is likely to result in further food shortages, the United Nations said in July.

While the extent of the crop damage remains unclear, the UN said the areas accounting for two-thirds of North Korea’s cereal production had been severely affected.

Also Read: Trump slaps North Korea with new sanctions over human-rights abuses

Earlier this year, doctors treating a North Korean soldier shot while defecting to South Korea found that he had a large number of parasites in his stomach, suggesting a widespread health crisis in the North, The Washington Post reported.

Seo Yu-suk, a research manager at the North Korean Studies Institution in Seoul, told Reuters that “North Korea pushes so hard for its people to gather more fish so that they can make up their food shortages.”

Kingston added, “These rickety vessels are unsuitable for the rough seas of the Sea of Japan in autumn, and one imagines that far more are capsizing that we will never know about.”

Or are they a sign of a booming North Korean economy?

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
An aerial view of North Korean capital Pyongyang, taken by photographer Aram Pam. (Image via Youtube)

Not all experts agree with the above assessment, however.

Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, an editor at North Korean Economy Watch, told Business Insider that it was “unclear to what degree it’s directly related to food shortages, per se.”

“If fishers are ordered out for longer periods of time, with bigger demands on the catch they bring back — and with less gasoline with them than they need, due to the sanctions and shortages — that is certainly a connection of sorts,” he said. He added,

It is also possible that to make the same level of revenue through selling seafood domestically — which seems to be the best option, given that they cannot export their products to China through formal ways due to current sanctions on seafood imports from North Korea — they would simply need to make bigger catches.

The UN Security Council, of which China is a member, unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korean seafood and other commodities in August in response to two missile tests Pyongyang conducted the month before.

It’s unclear, however, how much the sanctions have affected North Korea’s food situation or economy.

“Though the economy overall is under pressure from sanctions, food prices have not gone up to the degree that some may have expected, which suggests that there isn’t any acute scarcity as of now,” Katzeff Silberstein said.

He added, “On the other hand, there have been anecdotal reports of food scarcity increasing, particularly in the northeastern parts of the country, near the border to China, where agriculture is not at all as widely spread as in the southern regions.”

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
The Yalu River is a natural and political border between North Korea and China.

Miyamoto, the Seigakuin University professor, said the rise in North Korean fishing vessels found in Japan was indicative of a booming North Korean economy — because seafood is a luxury item.

“Many North Korean vessels are in the Sea of Japan because North Korea has promoted fishery policy since 2013,” he told Business Insider.

“They are fishermen [trying] to earn money,” he added. “Now North Korean economics, which adopted free-market partly, have grown and generated a wealthy class. A wealthy class demands not caloric food, but healthy food. So seafood, which are healthy, is popular in North Korea.”

He continued, “It is evidence not that the North Korean economy is deteriorating, but that the North Korean economy is growing … Hungry people demand not seafood, which are low-calorie, but cereal and meat, which are high-calorie.”

He also told CNN the “ghost ship” phenomenon increased “after Kim Jong Un decided to expand the fisheries industry as a way of increasing revenue for the military.”

“They are using old boats manned by the military, by people who have no knowledge about fishing,” Miyamoto said. “It will continue.”

Japan’s response

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence the Kantei, in Tokyo, Aug. 18, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

The increased appearance of the vessels has reignited fears among some Japanese citizens who remain haunted by the spate of kidnappings carried out by North Korea that occurred along Japan’s west coast in the 1970s and ’80s.

When eight men claiming to be North Korean fishermen turned up in the coastal city of Yurihonjo two weeks ago, the local newspaper Akita Sakigake Shimpo ran the headline “Are they North Korean spies?” (They are not, local police told The Times.)

Pyongyang’s nuclear program and recent missile tests have also increased Japanese suspicion toward North Korea.

“Given recent missile and hydrogen-bomb tests, public anxieties and anger towards North Korea has increased, so sympathy for the ghost-ship crews has been limited,” Kingston said.

MIGHTY CULTURE

From bodybuilder to beauty queen, this Army officer is crushing goals

As a young girl, Angie DiMattia knew softball would be her way out of an impoverished life.

Growing up, she lived with her parents and shared a room with her older sister inside a crammed 500-square-foot mobile home in Phenix City, Alabama.

“I remember stray animals coming into the house from the holes in the floor,” said Angie, now a first lieutenant. “It was rough.”

Her father worked hard delivering mail to make ends meet, she said. But, one day, her mother, who suffered complications from Type 1 diabetes, told her they’d never be able to afford to send her to college.

She saw softball as her golden ticket. It also fed her competitive side that later forged her into a chiseled bodybuilder and United States of America’s Ms. Colorado.


The strong work ethic that blossomed from her humble roots pushed her to keep practicing softball. Yet, she needed extra lessons to be a better pitcher, her favorite position. With no money to pay for them, she decided to work for her coach, who owned a batting cage.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

A young Angie DiMattia poses for a photograph before a dance recital.

She picked up balls and swept the batters’ boxes in between customers. And at the end of the day, the coach helped with her form.

“That’s how I figured out how to pitch was through his lessons,” she said. “But I earned it.”

She also earned each of her wins with a used glove she had bought for 25 cents at a flea market. She pitched well with it throughout high school and got a scholarship to a nearby community college.

“That glove, and obviously my work, earned a college scholarship,” she said.

Competitor 

Angie shelved her lucky glove, but still used her industrious attitude in other competitions.

Now 34, Angie has raced in several marathons, Iron Man triathlons and often advises other soldiers on how to achieve their fitness goals.

Her motivation to care deeply for her own body partly stems from witnessing her mother suffer with hers.

“I just watched what life was like when your body fails you,” she said.

With her mother’s dietary restrictions, sugar was banned in the house and Angie learned how to eat healthy at a young age. She also saw sports and fitness as an outlet that taught her leadership, teamwork and camaraderie — skills that continue to resonate in her Army career.

“My life has definitely been geared toward taking care of my body, which takes care of my mind that takes care of everything else in my life,” she said.

Her efforts recently bore fruit.

Earlier this year, she competed in the Arnold Sports Festival, a massive competition with about 22,000 athletes. Out of nearly 20 contestants in her category, she finished second place.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

First Lt. Angie DiMattia is seen volunteering for the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, Georgia.

The road to get there was not easy. On top of her routine physical training for the Army, she added two more hours of cardio in addition to a weightlifting session every single day for numerous weeks.

“I’d be so tired, I’d plop down,” she said of when each day ended.

While preparing for the competition, the endurance runner-bodybuilder also tried something out of the ordinary — a beauty pageant.

“I’m the complete opposite of a pageant girl,” she said, laughing.

While at a volunteering event, she met the state director of the USOA Miss Colorado pageant who convinced her to sign up. The prize that finally persuaded her — if she won, she could use her title to highlight issues she cares about on a wider platform.

“The pageant was never my goal,” she said. “To serve military families and Gold Star families, that was my goal.”

To her surprise, Angie became the first active-duty soldier to ever win the “Ms.” category for single women over 29 years old.

After being crowned, she has been able to collect more donations for Survivor Outreach Services at Fort Carson, Colorado, where she once served as a family readiness leader with 4th Infantry Division.

Volunteer

To her, volunteerism is her life purpose. She sees competitions as “selfish goals” because it saps a lot of her time from selfless endeavors.

“I don’t do a lot of community service because I’m really busy,” she said of when preparing for contests. “But it’s good sometimes to balance life. You have to grow individually before you’re able to help others.”

That passion was ignited a decade ago when she began to serve as a fallen hero coordinator for the Soldier Marathon in Columbus, Georgia. Proceeds from the race benefit the National Infantry Museum and other military-related nonprofit groups.

“It isn’t just me, it’s this team of people who all have the same mission,” she said. “We all love to run and we all love to serve our community and our military.”

Cecil Cheves, who is the race director, said that Angie has been an integral part of the annual event.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Then-2nd Lt. Angie DiMattia conducts a dumbbell workout Feb. 23, 2018, at Fort Carson, Colorado.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)

She’ll research and produce a list of fallen soldiers from the local area and place their names on paper bibs that runners can run with in memory of them.

She also has a “vivacious personality” that she reveals as an announcer when runners cross the finish line.

“She gives off energy that draws others to her,” Cheves said.

But she is not self-focused, he noted, and is very interested in people.

“She’s the kind of person every organization, like the Army, would want,” he said. “She’s very much a team player.”

Angie also strives to use her current role as Ms. Colorado to raise awareness of fallen service members during other events, such as motorcycle rides that honor veterans.

Similar to the marathon, she hands out bibs with the names of deceased troops for riders to wear. If someone donates money for a bib, she gives it directly to Survivor Outreach Services.

“I’ve never taken a dime from it, not even to pay for my gas, not to pay for the printing materials, anything,” she said. “I pay it out of my own pocket.”

Army officer

In 2012, Angie first joined the Georgia National Guard as an enlisted truck driver so she could be assigned to a unit that was close to her ailing mother.

But soon after she completed training, her mother passed away.

“I was only here so I could be next to her,” she said.

She decided to enroll in the ROTC program at Columbus State University and earned a bachelor’s degree. She became an intelligence officer, then a strategic communicator and is now preparing to switch careers to be a space operations officer in Colorado.

As a child, she was obsessed with space. She painted her ceiling black and mapped out the night sky with stars and planets that glowed in the dark.

“It isn’t something you hear about very often,” she said of the Army’s space career field. “When I realized that this was an opportunity, I was so excited.”

Being able to rise above the “rough patches” she was dealt with as a child has also made her a better leader, she said.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

The strong work ethic that blossomed from her humble roots in Alabama has pushed 1st Lt. Angie DiMattia to accomplish many goals in life.

To her, she’s not embarrassed of the way she grew up. It actually shaped her desire to assist others facing their own challenges.

“I can influence beyond the chain of command with my community service and charity work,” she said. “But then I can relate to my junior soldiers through me being real. I know what it’s like to struggle a bit in life.”

When she gives advice to her soldiers, she says to seek mentorship from someone different from them and that way they can learn more.

She also likes to recite a quote on achieving goals that a Buddhist teacher once told her: “You just need to be yourself, but be all of you.”

But, perhaps, the greatest lesson she has learned is time management. If things in one’s life do not bring added value, she said, they need to be eliminated.

“My time is more important than my money,” she said. “You can invest money and get a return, but you cannot invest time and get time back.”

She suggests soldiers need to first define who they are and where they want to go before they try to conquer a goal in life.

“Let’s start mapping out these stepping stones,” she said, “that are going to be crucial to getting you to that next goal.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why NATO went to an emergency session in the latest meeting

NATO leaders entered a special emergency session on July 12, 2018, after President Donald Trump was said to have spoken very bluntly about his demands that the countries spend more on defense.

During the summit, Trump broke diplomatic protocol by calling German Chancellor Angela Merkel by her first name, saying, “Angela, you need to do something about this,” a source told Reuters.

Leaders of Afghanistan and Georgia, non-NATO members, were asked to leave for the emergency session.


Trump singled out Germany on July 11, 2018, when he accused the country of being “totally” controlled by Russia because Russia provides a large share of its oil and natural gas. Merkel fired back that Germany was independent and a strong NATO ally.

“The language was much tougher today,” a source told Reuters. “His harshest words were directed at Germany, including by calling her Angela — ‘You, Angela.'”

Trump emerged from the session to make an unscheduled statement where he said that he had communicated to other NATO countries he would be “extremely unhappy” if they didn’t quickly up their spending but that they had agreed to do so.

“We had a very intense summit,” Merkel told reporters after the session, per Reuters.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

The 2018 NATO Brussels Summit.

Trump’s NATO grudge

Trump and other US presidents before him have pressed European leaders to spend more on defense to contribute to NATO, but Trump has consistently advocated an accelerated timeline.

NATO countries agreed to each spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024, but so far only a handful meet that mark. Germany, Europe’s richest country, spends 1.24% of its GDP on defense, and it’s an unpopular topic there.

Not only did Trump demand on Twitter on July 12, 2018, that countries meet the 2% level by this year, not 2024, but he also said they should eventually hit 4%, which is more than even the US currently spends. Spending 4% of GDP on defense would represent nearly wartime levels of investment.

Trump has repeatedly slammed Merkel for supporting a new pipeline that would cement Berlin’s client relationship with Russia and increase Moscow’s influence. Energy exports represent Russia’s main source of revenue, and Trump argues that the pipeline undermines NATO’s purpose, as it’s designed to counter Russian aggression.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO chief demands that Russia release Ukrainian sailors

The head of NATO has demanded that Russia release Ukrainian sailors and naval vessels it seized in a confrontation at sea, while Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says concerns that Moscow could seek to create a “land corridor” linking Russia to Crimea are “absurd.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke on December 3 as Russia continued to hold the 24 Ukrainian seamen in Moscow jails on border-violation charges Kyiv rejects.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OmQTh9TX0g
NATO chief warns Russia over Crimea incident after chairing emergency talks

www.youtube.com

“Russia recently seized Ukrainian ships and sailors near the Kerch Strait. There is no justification for this use of force. We call for calm and restraint. Russia must release the Ukrainian sailors and ships,” Stoltenberg said on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers who will address that issue, among others.

Russia, he said, “must also allow freedom of navigation and unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian vessels — military as well as civilian — have the right to navigate through the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.”

Russia has been holding the sailors — crewmen from three Ukrainian naval craft — since the confrontation on November 25 in which Russian Coast Guard ships rammed a Ukrainian Navy tugboat and fired on the boats before special forces boarded them.

The clash has added to tension over Crimea, which Russia occupied and took over from Ukraine in March 2014, and raised fears of a flare-up in a simmering war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

The Russia-backed separatists hold parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including a piece of shoreline that lies between the Russian border and the Ukrainian Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA5ZX6CCI7I
NATO chief on Russia and hacking allegations

www.youtube.com

Peskov dismissed concerns that Russia could seek to gain access by land to Crimea by seizing or helping the separatists to seize territory on the Azov shore from Mariupol to the isthmus further west that links the Ukrainian mainland to Crimea.

“It’s an absolutely absurd claim. It is another attempt to generate tension. Regretfully, attempts like this will most likely continue as we approach” the Ukrainian presidential election scheduled for March 31, he said.

Peskov claimed that “Russia has never invaded anything or created any corridors anywhere.”

But in addition to occupying and taking over Crimea, Kyiv, NATO, and Western governments say there is ample evidence that Russia has given the separatists in eastern Ukraine major military support in the war.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for one of the Ukrainian sailors confirmed on December 3 that all 24 had been charged by Russian authorities with “illegal border crossing.”

Nikolai Polozov, who is representing Denys Hrytsenko, said the sailors were formally charged on November 27.

Dzhemil Temishev, an attorney for another of the sailors, said on November 29 that 21 of the detainees were being transferred from Russia-annexed Crimea to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow.

Russian authorities say three other Ukrainian sailors wounded on November 25 were receiving medical treatment at a different, unspecified detention center.

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said on December 3 that the detained Ukrainian sailors had food, “clothes, and all the necessities.”

In remarks that appeared aimed to portray the jailing of the sailors as a strictly legal issue and tell the world that they were not being mistreated, Moskalkova said on state-run Rossia-24 TV that rights monitors “have visited the sailors and spoken with every one of them.”

She said the sailors “have no complaints about custody conditions or medical aid” and that lawyers had access to their clients. Her comments could not be independently verified.

The incident has raised tensions between Kyiv and Moscow to their highest point since Moscow seized Crimea.

Ukraine imposed martial law for 30 days in 10 regions, including all of those that border Russia or have coastlines on the Black Sea or the Sea of Azov.

Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the altercation. Russia closed the Kerch Strait to all sea traffic during the incident, and Kyiv says Russia has continued to deny passage to Ukrainian commercial traffic in and out of Mariupol and Berdyansk, another port on the Sea of Azov.

Western leaders — including all members of the G7 leading industrialized states — have called on Russia to release the Ukrainian crew and return the seized navy ships to Kyiv.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch this awesome time-lapse of an F-15 paint job

This may be the coolest paint job a military jet has ever had. It’s a special variation for an F-15E Strike Eagle. Airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base did the job.


The paint job commemorates the Wing’s 75th anniversary. The Fighter Group was activated in 1942 during WWII. Since then, the group has flown nine types of aircraft and destroyed 1,500 enemy aircraft.

The paint job took over a month to finish and will stay on the jet for a year.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Don’t believe it: Chuck Norris is not dead

The celebrity dead rumor mill is at it again. This time the (supposed) victim is Chuck Norris. According to rumors circulating on social media, the 80-year-old martial arts action movie star and Air Force veteran was felled by the novel coronavirus.

What fools these mortals be.


Norris, who served in the Air Force in Korea and beyond, is alive and well still, and maybe forever. He’s just the latest target of the endless rumor mill surrounding celebrity deaths — a rumor mill that had better watch its back.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Especially if it’s going to target Chuck Norris. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Corporal Ben Eberle)

Celebrities are frequently the targets of such rumors, dating all the way back to Mark Twain, who was famously reached for comment about his own death in a June 1897 issue of the New York Journal. Beyonce, Clint Eastwood and — arguably the most famous — Paul McCartney have all supposedly died before their time.

The age of COVID-19 has brought out a lot of new rumors surrounding celebrity deaths, given the misunderstandings about the virus and its lethality. Many celebrities have (really) contracted it, including actors Tom Hanks and Tony Shalhoub, singer-songwriter Pink and even the UK’s Prince Charles. All went into isolation to prevent the spread of the virus.

Chuck Norris isn’t one of those. Chuck Norris puts the coronavirus in isolation.

According to the Poynter Institute, the Chuck Norris rumor comes from a Facebook post on June 11th in the group “Are You Not Entertained?” It read:

“Corona Virus claims a black belt. Carlos Ray ‘Chuck’ Norris, famous actor and fighter, died yesterday afternoon at his home in Northwood Hills, TX at the age of 80.”

Like many things on Facebook, readers apparently only read one part of the gag and then ran with it to spread the “news” among their networks. If they had kept reading, they would have arrived at the obvious joke.

“However, after his minor inconvenience of death, Chuck has made a full recovery, and is reported to be doing quite well. It has also been reported that the Corona virus is in self isolation for 14 days due to being exposed to Chuck Norris.”

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

(Are You Not Entertained/Facebook)

Remember to keep a skeptical eye toward rumors of celebrity deaths. Just because your favorite celebrity’s name is trending somewhere, doesn’t mean they’ve met their maker. They might have instead met Chuck Norris.

As for Chuck, when Chuck Norris actually decides to die, you’ll know. Chuck Norris doesn’t cheat death, he wins fair and square.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US at greatest risk in decades according to bipartisan report

Were the US to go to war with China or Russia today, it might lose, a new report to Congress from a panel of a dozen leading national-security experts warns.

“If the United States had to fight Russia in a Baltic contingency or China in a war over Taiwan, Americans could face a decisive military defeat,” the report from the National Defense Strategy Commission — a bipartisan panel of experts handpicked by Congress to evaluate the 2018 National Defense Strategy — explained, calling attention to the erosion of America’s edge as rival powers develop capabilities previously possessed only by the US.


The commission highlights China and Russia’s energized and ongoing efforts to develop advanced anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) weaponry, systems that could result in “enormous” losses for the US military in a conflict. “Put bluntly, the US military could lose the next state-versus-state war it fights,” the report concludes.

The National Defense Strategy Commission has concluded that US national security is presently “at greater risk than at any time in decades.”

“America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt. If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.”

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to Moscow in May 2015.

The report calls into focus a concern that the US military is trying to address — that while the US put all of its efforts and energy into the fights against insurgents and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere, adversarial powers have been preparing for high-end conflict.

“Many of the skills necessary to plan for and conduct military operations against capable adversaries — especially China and Russia — have atrophied,” the commission argues.

The National Defense Strategy emphasizes the return of “great power competition,” placing the threat posed by rival powers like China and Russia above terrorism and other challenges. The military branches are, in response, shifting their attention to the development of future warfighting capabilities — even as the ISIS fight and Afghanistan War grind on.

Preparation for high-end conflict is visible in the efforts across the Army, Navy, and Air Force to develop powerful stand-off weapons, such as long-range artillery and hypersonic strike platforms.

The commission is supportive of the National Defense Strategy, but it calls for faster measures and clearer explanations for how America plans to maintain its dominance. The report also called for an expansion of the current 6 billion defense budget, the bolstering of the nuclear arsenal, and innovative development of new weapons systems.

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

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of Feb. 16th

I really want to hear the safety brief from the Seabees this week. Any time any lower enlisted screws up, they single that dude out and crucify him in front of the unit to make sure it never happens again. When officers screw up, they play it off as a thing that everyone does wrong and remind everyone that they’re the real victim here. Especially if it’s the same officer who screwed up.


“Alright, guys. I know you might have heard about this streaking epidemic, but that stops today!”

Anyways, here’re some memes.

13. He’ll be fine. That drone flying overhead has a sweet Valentine’s Day gift for him.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

    (Meme via PNN)

12. Always trying to look for that last f*ck to give.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Untied Status Marine Crops)

11. Throwing up doesn’t make you less of an alcoholic. It just means you’re making room for more!

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Veteran Humor)

10. F*ck Jodie; you can always find a new wife. But what about your dog?

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Sh*t my LPO says)

9. Feels like you’re wearing nothing at all… nothing at all… nothing at all…

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Military Memes)

8. Come on, Seabees. There’s a time and place for running around naked.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

7. As long as they only think the party is “just loud,” you’re doing it right.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Salty Soldier)

6. It’s not like they had the balls to try sh*t during the Cold War…

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

5. Ever wonder why so many Marine brats are born 9 months after the Marine Corps Ball?

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

4. Just enough motivation to check off the box.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

3. Marines will also yell back if they even think you say, “Marine” without capitalizing it.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

2. About to leave and you heard the words, “Hey there, hero! Where do you think you’re going?” And Retention wonders why no one speaks to them…

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme via Army as F*ck)

1. Supposedly, you only get Good Conducts for not screwing up for 3 years. Even if you do, you’ll probably still get one anyways…

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Meme by WATM)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how the French special forces hostage rescue operation unfolded

Two French commandos were killed during a night operation to rescue two hostages in the west African country of Burkina Faso on May 10, 2019.

The two petty officers, Cédric de Pierrepont, 32, and Alain Bertoncello, 27, were confirmed to have died in the operation, according to the French Navy.

Here’s how the operation unfolded.


Two Frenchmen, one American, and one South Korean were abducted and taken to Burkina Faso, in West Africa.

French citizens Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, both of them tourists, were visiting a wildlife preserve in Benin when they were abducted on May 1, 2019.

Their tour guide was fatally shot and their car was burned.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

The location where French citizens Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas were abducted.

(Google Maps)

The South Korean and American hostages, both of them women, were held for 28 days. The US State Department did not release the American hostage’s name due to privacy concerns but said she was in her 60s.

The French Foreign Ministry previously issued a travel guidance in the region.

Source: NPR, Vox, NBC News

It was unclear who the captors were, but terror organizations, like the Islamic State, have operated in the area.

The captors were believed to be handing the hostages off to an al-Qaeda group in Mali. The French Gen. François Lecointre told reporters it would have been “absolutely impossible” to successfully conduct a rescue operation under those circumstances.

Around 4,500 French troops are deployed to the region after the country set out to eliminate ISIS activity in Mali in 2013. Twenty-six French troops have been killed since the conflict.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times, France 24

The raid relied on intelligence from the US and France.

The original objective was to rescue the two French hostages.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that neither South Korea nor the US were “necessarily aware” of the abduction of their citizens, according to Reuters.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Operators of the National Gendarmes Intervention Group (GIGN), an elite French force, during a demonstration in June 2018.

French officials, who were tracking the kidnappers, decided to strike after they set up a temporary camp.

“France’s message is clear. It’s a message addressed to terorists,” Parly said after the raid, according to Reuters. “Those who want to target France, French citizens know that we will find track them, we will find them, and we will neutralize them.”

Source: Vox

French commandos launched their raid on Thursday night.

The mission was personally approved by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The commandos in the mission were part of Task Force Sabre, a contingent of troops based in Burkina Faso. It was unclear how many troops took part in the raid.

During the onset of the mission, a lookout was killed after he spotted the approaching commandos roughly 30 feet away. The French commandos then hit the nearby shelters after heard the sounds of weapons being loaded.

Four of the kidnappers were killed and two reportedly escaped.

Source: The Guardian, Fox News, The New York Times

Two French commandos, Cedric de Pierrepont, 33, and Alain Bertoncello, 28, were killed.

Petty officers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello joined the French Navy in 2004 and 2011, respectively.

“France has lost two of its sons, we lose two of our brothers,” France Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. François Lecointre said.

Bertoncello wanted to join the French Navy after graduating highschool, Jean-Luc, Bertoncello’s father, said to RTL.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

The two French special forces soldiers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello who were killed in a night-time rescue of four foreign hostages including two French citizens in Burkina Fasso are seen in an undated photo released by French Army, May 10, 2019.

“What he loved was the esprit de corps … he was doing what he wanted and he always told us not to worry … he was well prepared,” Jean-Luc reportedly said. “They did what they had to do. For him it ended badly, for the others, it was a successful mission.”

Source: The Guardian

Three of the hostages were taken to France.

The French hostages said they regretted traveling to the area, even after officials warned that it could be dangerous.

They also expressed their “sincere condolences” for Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.

“All our thoughts go out to the families of the soldiers and to the soldiers who lost their lives to free us from this hell,” Laurent Lassimouillas said.

France pays tribute to Petty Officers Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.

A ceremony was held for Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello at the Invalides, in Paris on May 14, 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the mission as “necessary” and spoke to family members of de Pierrepont and Bertoncello.

“France is a nation that never abandons its children, no matter what, even if they are on the other side of the world,” Macron said in a speech. “Those who attack a French citizen should know that our country never gives in, that they will always find our army, its elite units and our allies on their path.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everybody involved in that dino puppet reenlistment video just got fired

In the worst military overreaction since the Faber College ROTC pledge pin incident of 1962, the Tennessee National Guard’s adjutant general announced April 18, 2018, that everyone involved in a recent viral video of a kooky reenlistment ceremony would have their careers wrecked, because that’s how you honor our military traditions, dammit.


The controversy revolved around an Air National Guard master sergeant in the Volunteer State who took her oath of reenlistment with a tyrannosaurus rex hand puppet mouthing her words. The internet being the internet, video of the ceremony got around, and some watchers decided it just wasn’t in keeping with the highest traditions of service… unlike all that readily available online imagery of service members reenlisting as imperial stormtroopers; at gunpoint; underwater; in gas chambers; in GameStops; or with rigged-up explosions behind them.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan

Unlike all those clearly well-intentioned, lighthearted reenlistments, this sinister dino-puppet thing “goes against our very foundation,” according to the Air National Guard’s commanding general. That grave assessment led to this not-at-all bonkers Facebook post from Maj. Gen. Terry M. Haston, the Tennessee Guard’s top cheese, announcing that the master sergeant with the puppet, the colonel who administered the oath to her, and the NCO who acted as cameraman are all fucked, absolutely and utterly fucked (emphasis added):

I am absolutely embarrassed that a senior officer and a senior NCO took such liberties with a time-honored military tradition. The Tennessee National Guard holds the Oath of Enlistment in the highest esteem because that oath signifies every service member’s commitment to defend our state, nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. Not taking this oath solemnly and with the utmost respect is firmly against the traditions and sanctity of our military family and will not be tolerated…
Over the past few days, the leadership of the Tennessee National Guard has conducted a thorough investigation of the event with the following results:
The Colonel (O-6) administering the oath was immediately retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (O-5).
The Senior NCO taking the oath has been removed from her full-time position with the Tennessee Joint Public Affairs Office and other administrative actions are underway.
The Senior NCO who recorded the event has been removed from his position as a unit First Sergeant and has received an official reprimand, but will be retained in the Tennessee Air National Guard…

Let’s get this straight: A colonel was reduced in rank and sent packing, a senior enlisted leader who was reupping is now being drummed out, and the dude with the camera lost his billet and career momentum. Because of a dinosaur hand puppet.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army created a new, safe vaccine for the Zika virus

Three Phase-1 human clinical trials evaluating an Army-developed Zika purified inactivated virus vaccine, known as a ZPIV, have shown it was safe and well-tolerated in healthy adults and induced a robust immune response. Initial findings from the trials were published early in December in the medical journal “The Lancet.”


Each of the three studies included in the paper was designed to address a unique question about background immunity, vaccine dose or vaccination schedule. A fourth trial with ZPIV is still underway in Puerto Rico, where the population has natural exposure to other viruses in the same family as Zika (flaviviruses), such as dengue.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
A team of U.S. Army researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are developing a Zika vaccine that has induced a strong immune response in early trials. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Thompson, WRAIR)

“It is imperative to develop a vaccine that prevents severe birth defects and other neurologic complications in babies caused by Zika virus infection during pregnancy,” said Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, WRAIR’s Director for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Zika program co-lead and the article’s lead author. “These results give us hope that a safe and effective vaccine will be achievable.”

Across the three trials, a total of 67 healthy adult volunteers (55 vaccine, 12 placebo) received two vaccine injections, four weeks apart. Researchers measured the immune response by monitoring levels of Zika virus-neutralizing antibodies in the blood. More than 90% of volunteers who received the vaccine developed an immune response against Zika.

Read More: Here’s what US troops should do if they’re worried about Zika

“Not only is the development of a Zika vaccine a global public health priority, but it is also necessary to protect Service Members and their families,” said Col. Nelson Michael, director of WRAIR’s Military HIV Research Program and Zika program co-lead.

The ZPIV vaccine candidate was developed as part of the U.S. Department of Defense response to the 2015 outbreak of Zika virus in the Americas. WRAIR researchers conceived the ZPIV vaccine in February 2016 and were able to advance the candidate to a Phase 1 human trial by November of the same year.

“WRAIR has previously steered to licensure a similar vaccine for Japanese encephalitis, a flavivirus in the same family as Zika, which helped speed our vaccine development effort,” said Dr. Leyi Lin, who led one of the trials at WRAIR.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
A team of U.S. Army researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are developing a Zika vaccine that has induced a strong immune response in early trials. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Thompson, WRAIR)

In the volunteers who received the vaccine, neutralizing antibody levels peaked two weeks after they completed the 2-dose vaccine series, and exceeded the threshold established in an earlier study needed to protect monkeys against a Zika virus challenge. Researchers also found that antibodies from vaccinated volunteers protected mice from a Zika virus challenge, providing insight into how this vaccine might prevent Zika infection.

Next steps include evaluating how long vaccine-induced immunity lasts, and the impact of dose, schedule and background immunity. Michael added that, “Army researchers are part of integrated, strategic US Government effort to develop a vaccine to protect against Zika.”

The ZPIV program is led by Col. Michael and Dr. Modjarrad. The principal investigators at each of the study sites were Dr. Leyi Lin at WRAIR, Dr. Sarah L. George at SLU and Dr. Kathryn E. Stephenson at BIDMC. The sponsor of the investigational new drug application for two of the studies (WRAIR and SLU) is the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The BIDMC study is investigator-sponsored by Dr. Kathryn Stephenson.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
A team of U.S. Army researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are developing a Zika vaccine that has induced a strong immune response in early trials. (U.S. Army photo by Jonathan Thompson, WRAIR)

 

MIGHTY TRENDING

9 hilarious memes that actually teach military history

Look, we get it, military history is one of the more exciting histories to learn, but it’s still a bunch of history lessons. All the descriptions of amazing heroics and bold battle plans are watered down by the years of failed diplomacy, post-war reconstructions, and industrial build ups.

Luckily, we found these nine awesome military memes that hit a lot of the high notes:


At the start of World War I, people from all over the world were surprised to learn that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand had triggered a series of dominoes that resulted in them needing to cross oceans and fight people they never met for confusing reasons. Extensive treaty networks and colonial relationships dragged country after country into what was originally a single territory’s attempt at revolution.

Yes, troops from New Zealand, Australia, and India were sent to fight for the British Empire against Germany and the other Centrists powers. French colonial forces did the same thing. Some battles were actually fought in those far-flung colonies, resulting in locals in places like Africa and southern Asia being surprised by sudden battles erupting around them.

Napoleon was one of the most capable and revolutionary military leaders in history, so much so that he was able to rise from commoner to first consul to Emperor of France. But then he forgot to win some battles and was exiled from France to the Isle of Elba.

But then he decided to leave Elba and win some battles again. That plan was short-lived because just about every kingdom in Europe agreed that Napoleon should be either dead or somewhere else, so they sent their best forces, generals, and admirals to make him either pretty dead or at least get him off the continent.

Napoleon was defeated again in 1815 and exiled some more, this time to the island of Saint Helena. He died there, partially thanks to arsenic-based home decor.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Piximus.net)

In case you don’t remember dates well, June 5, 1944, was the original date for D-Day, but it got postponed to June 6 due to weather, which is what this particular meme is referring to.

Speaking of the weather, the Allies had better weather reports than the Axis, so their top weatherman called for a few good, clear hours of decent seas on the morning of June 6 thanks to a break in a storm. Rommel and the Axis did not know about this break, and so they figured they could screw off and go to birthday parties and stuff.

Yeah, for real, Rommel left the beaches to go celebrate his wife’s birthday. The beach defense didn’t go perfectly for the Germans, and Hitler was facing a two-front war.

(Three, if you count fighting in Italy, which no one does because a bunch of the best forces in Italy were diverted to Operation Dragoon soon after the D-Day landings, so there were insufficient forces around to press the attack north quickly. They did tie up German Army Group C and eventually win, though.)

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(@avalonnicholls95)

But that new front in France was sort of hard to win. While most history classes talk about D-Day and then yada-yada to the Battle of the Bulge, those yada-yadas cover a lot of horrible fighting. The first big troubles came in the hedgerows just past the beaches.

The fields and gardens of Normandy were crisscrossed with hedges that formed thousands of tiny little enclosures, and soldiers had to punch through one right after another. Each enclosure could be defended by snipers, machine gunners, and other forces. The infantrymen and tankers couldn’t know whether an RPG team was waiting for them at every breach.

So, yeah, they took heavy losses.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Reddit)

While we love to point out that the British Imperial Army was the largest on Earth during the Revolution, Britain couldn’t afford to actually send many to the colonies to put down the rebellion. But the troops they did send were some of the best trained in the world, and they did have thousands of high-grade mercenaries.

British forces, counting their American Loyalists, did typically outnumber their U.S. counterparts, but thanks to weapons and powder sent from France, America had a fighting chance. Gen. George Washington made plenty of mistakes, but he had a keen military mind and learned from each one.

As his men gained experience, he began to achieve some stunning victories while also avoiding defeat. And, for most insurgencies, avoiding defeats is enough to eventually win. Britain got tired of fighting in what it saw as a backwater and bailed on the conflict. (Something very embarrassing for the men who had to surrender to Washington.)

Yup, Germany sank our ships and killed our civilians. But, in their defense, the U.S. was providing all sorts of materials to Allied combatants in World War I (and later in World War II). So, while the American government and military were “neutral” for most of the war, its industry was very much not neutral.

Germany, understandably, found this objectionable. But their policy of unrestricted submarine warfare just galvanized the American public, especially after the Lusitania was sunk.

So, bit by bit, Germany attacked American industry and people until the government and military did join the war. And then America started pouring 10,000 troops or more a day into Europe to fight Germany.

It went badly for Germany.

This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
(Piximus.net)

In Britain’s defense, declaring independence didn’t make America independent either. It was mostly the “drunken libertarian farmers and fishermen” thing mentioned before.

We’re not going to go through the whole American Revolution thing again.

Fun fact: China was once the hands-down most powerful nation on Earth. Its population benefited from the simple economics of old-time agriculture. Rice produced more calories per acre than wheat and other grains, and China’s rice lands were super productive. This allowed Chinese people to specialize more and make technological advances.

They invented all sorts of nifty stuff, including gunpowder. But then they focused on arts and culture, and they stopped focusing on technology or military investment. That, compounded with Britain smuggling metric tons of opium into the country, eventually broke China’s back.

Sure, they had advanced past torch-fired rockets long before America built its first F-22, but you get the point.

If you don’t know about White Death, Simo “Simuna” Häyhä, boy are you missing out. The Finnish sniper fought in the Winter War from November 1939 to March 1940. The Soviet Union had hundreds of thousands more troops, better equipment, and the benefit of knowing that no other nations in the area would join the war against them

Thanks to all of this, Russia … Wait, lost? Yeah, Russia took approximately 350,000 losses to Finland’s 70,000. This was partially thanks to Häyhä’s efforts, as the sniper killed more than five Soviets per day for 100 days. He wore a white mask to help him blend in with the snowfields, and he would hold snow in his mouth to prevent his breath fogging where Russian soldiers would see it.

Häyhä took a shot to the face in 1940 that ended his frontline career, but he survived until 2002.

Of course, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Soviet Union re-invaded Finland, capturing more Finnish territory and forcing Finland to pay many of the monetary costs of the war.

Articles

DARPA just announced it’s one step closer to building a hypersonic space plane

The Pentagon’s research and development shop is moving one step closer toward building a hypersonic space plane that could shuttle satellites or people into space in record time.


In an announcement on Wednesday, DARPA said that Boeing, which was selected for phase one of the project, would keep working on its advanced design for the Experimental Space plane (XS-1) program with additional funding for phases two and three.

While Phase One of XS-1 was more of a drawing board/concept phase, phases two and three are all about actually building a space plane and conducting flight tests, demonstrations, and hopefully, delivery of a satellite into orbit.

Here’s how DARPA describes what it hopes XS-1 may one day pull off:

The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.

Related: Mysterious Air Force space plane lands after 2-year mission

Since it’s DARPA, the project is focused on national security, and there’s no doubt the Pentagon could save plenty of money and time by launching satellites via a low-cost space plane. But the agency also notes in its announcement that another goal is to “encourage the broader commercial launch sector,” and it will release testing data out to companies who are interested during phases two and three.

So it looks like the military won’t be the only ones having fun flying planes into space, Mr. Skywalker.

DARPA has been behind a number of huge technological advances that have made their way to the private sector, like the Internet, a ton of the components of modern-day computing, and GPS, just to name a few.

“We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. “Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities.”

Check out the demo video below:

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