Keeping your head on a swivel, eyes always on alert, and being prepared for anything are just a few of ways Marines serving in the infantry stay vigilant while forward deployed.
With the constant threat of danger lurking around every corner, many veterans use music as a way to relax and recenter; some, like John Preston, take it one step further and use music to tell their stories and encourage others not to give up hope.
During a tour in Iraq, Preston began his music career by writing the song “Good Good America,” which propelled John into the industry and landed him a record deal upon his return home.
For the next few years, John slowly veered away from music and became a firefighter — but his passion for music didn’t die out.
Luckily, he managed to return to music signing with Pacific Records and quickly released his first single “This Is War” in the fall of 2014. The song became a national media topic after a Marine veteran made a call-to-action to veterans across the nation to make a stand against ISIS.
John’s musical momentum began taking shape once again as his record label released several of his songs in the following months.
“We are taking our message to the public, and today we tell the mainstream that we are here and we are loud. The perception of the broken veteran is a myth that we refuse to buy into,” Preston tells WATM. “My music is about our lives and the real battles we have and continue to fight: on and off the battlefield. We are here to show our community and the general public our talent, work ethic, and our drive to push forward through all adversity.”
Sadly, in January of 2016, John’s brother ended his own life after a hard battle with post-traumatic stress. The action almost convinced Preston to end his music career once again but has instead fueled his passion and his new single “Superman Falls.”
Preston is an executive producer on the album, which climbed to #21 on the iTunes rock charts. The song continues to spread throughout the veteran community as well as the mainstream music scene. To check out the John Preston’s music on iTunes click here.
Currently signed with Concore Entertainment/Universal Music Group, his newest single “Before I am Gone” was released on September 5, 2017. To check out the John plans on donating 100 percent of his profits to Stop Soldier Suicide.
John plans on donating 100 percent of his profits to Stop Soldier Suicide.
Check out John Preston’s video below to watch his behind the scenes footage.
Historically, civil air transport has played a major role in U.S. military mobilization. During the first two years of WWII, the Air Transport Association moved much of the military’s personnel and equipment by air until the Air Transportation Command built up its fleet of planes and trained crews to take on the strategic airlift mission.
In 1952, civil aircraft were again used to support a military mission during the Berlin Airlift. Following this, it was decided that a more defined agreement was needed for civil air transport to support the military during emergencies. The result was the Civil Reserve Air Fleet.
CRAF is divided into international and national segments. The international segment is further divided into long-range and short-range sections while the national segment serves all domestic requirements within the U.S. This reserve fleet can be called upon for minor contingencies all the way up to national defense emergencies.
The long-range international section is comprised of passenger and cargo aircraft capable of transoceanic flights. These aircraft augment the Air Mobility Command’s C-5 Galaxies and C-17 Globemaster IIIs in long-range inter-theater airlift operations. The short-range international section is made up of medium-sized passenger and cargo aircraft. They support offshore and intra-theater airlift operations.
Civilian carriers voluntarily join the CRAF. These carriers contractually pledge aircraft to CRAF segments to serve military missions if required. In return, the DoD brings business to the partner carriers by booking flights and shipping cargo with them to meet a predetermined dollar amount. For example, in 2005, the DoD guaranteed $418 million in business to CRAF airlines.
To be eligible for the CRAF international segment, carriers must meet certain requirements. First, they must be US registered. Second, they must maintain a minimum commitment of 40% of its CRAF-capable fleet. Third, they must commit and maintain a 4:1 flight-deck crew ratio for each aircraft accepted into the fleet.
As of August 2021, 24 carriers and 450 aircraft are enrolled in CRAF. This includes 37 aircraft in the national segment, 145 in the short-range international section, and 268 in the long-range international section. The Air Force notes that the numbers are subject to change on a monthly basis
The CRAF is activated in three escalating stages. Stage I is in response to minor regional crises. Stage II is used for major theater war. Stage III involves a full national mobilization. With orders from the Secretary of Defense, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command is the activation authority for all three stages of the CRAF.
Upon activation, carriers have 24, 48 or 72 hours to have its aircraft ready for a CRAF mission depending on which CRAF stage is activated. The aircraft are maintained and operated by the carriers, however, AMC will assign their mission. The CRAF was previously activated to support Operation Desert Shield/Storm from August 1990-May 1991 and Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2002 to June 2003.
On August 22, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the commander of USTRANSCOM to activate Stage I of CRAF for Operation Allies Refuge. The activation augments the DoD’s support to the Department of State in the evacuation of U.S. citizens and personnel, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other at-risk individuals in Afghanistan. A total of 18 aircraft have been activated: three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Airlines, and Omni Air; two from Hawaiian Airlines; and four from United Airlines.
CRAF aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The DoD says, “They will be used for the onward movement of passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.” This allows military aircraft to focus on flights in and out of Kabul.
Already, Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar has reached its capacity to house Afghan evacuees. Bahrain recently allowed the U.S. to fly evacuees to Isa Air Base to continue flights out of Afghanistan. Once evacuees are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they are flown to other overseas bases and on to the U.S. for medical screening and further administrative processing. It is likely CRAF aircraft will augment the AMC in the latter aspect of the operation.
The DoD has confirmed that Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, and Fort Bliss in Texas will house Afghan evacuees. Individual states including New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Utah, and Iowa have also pledged to accept Afghan refugees.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
An aircrew member with the 15th Special Operations Squadron looks out at Puerto Rico from an MC-130H Combat Talon II, Sept. 27, 2017. Approximately 50 Air Commandos are part of a group deployed to provide humanitarian aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated islands in the Caribbean.
Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jean Fernandez, assigned to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) and a native of Bonao, Dominican Republic, conducts an inspection for an EA-18G Growler in preparation for flight operations on Misawa Air Base.
An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire training exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 25, 2017. 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment attached to 210th Field Artillery Brigade certified 16 crews in five hours as they completed their Table VI certification.
U.S. Army Pfc. Emmanuel Bynum, assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), reinstalls the fairings on a HH-60m Black at Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 27, 2017. The 101st CAB will be conducting medical evacuation and relief efforts to support FEMA in the recovery process of Puerto Rico after the devastation created by Hurricane Maria.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) transits the Baltic Sea Sept. 26, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Equipment Operator 2nd Class Patrick Reiter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, operates a rig during water well drilling operations in support of Southern Partnership Station 17. SPS 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America.
U.S. Marines adjust an 81mm mortar to improve defensive posture near Gereshk, Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2017. Several advisors with Task Force Southwest are assisting their Afghan National Defense and Security Force counterparts throughout Operation Maiwand Six, which is designed to thwart insurgent presence and promote security and stability in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Sanchezangel, an infantry Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, holds security for a rehearsal raid during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 27, 2017. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.
The Coast Guard Cutter James serves as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The cutter’s crew deployed to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations and the ship’s communications capabilities are being used to help first responders coordinate efforts.
Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Scott Smith of the Pacific Strike Team and Laredo Construction Project Manager Bob Springob evaluate removal operations for a displaced vessel here in Houston, Texas on Sept. 28, 2017. The Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency have been fully integrated into a Unified Command with the mission assignment of removing displaced or partially submerged vessels as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Best Last Stand: Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, “Anthropoid”
Operation Anthropoid was the Czech government-in-exile’s plot to kill SS General Reinhard Heydrich – the man who designed Hitler’s extermination of Europen Jews. Two Czech agents do the job and are tracked down in a cathedral by what seems like a battalion of Nazi soldiers. They and other members of the Resistance opt to not surrender.
Best Depiction of a Veteran Who Still Fits in his Old Uniform: Hugo Weaving, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Weaving plays Tom Doss, father of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who earned the medal of honor as a medic in WWII. In the film, he uses his status as a WWI veteran to get access to a general, but first he has to get in his old uniform. You know, for dramatic effect.
The elder Doss was at the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. Since Hacksaw Ridge takes place in 1942 when the younger Doss enlisted, we have to give credit to Tom Doss for being able to fit in that thing 24 years later.
I’ve only been out for eight years and I doubt I could get my blues pants up to my waist.
Best Trailer: “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
No military movie was as anticipated as “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” the film adaptation of Ben Fountain’s book of the same name. Ang Lee’s movie looked spectacular but was received to mixed reviews.
Viewers may disagree but the one thing you can’t argue about is how great this trailer is.
So if you don’t like the movie, think of this as a trailer for the book. The book is really good. Really, really good.
Best Acting: Steven Lang, “Beyond Glory”
Most actors get an award nod for playing one role, but if WATM were handing out actual statues, we’d give Steven Lang eight of them for “Beyond Glory.” The actor travels around the world, for troops and civilians, telling the story of 8 Medals of Honor, as the guys who received them.
Go ahead, try to watch this movie without getting goosebumps. If you can, then check yourself into the nearest psych ward, because you might not be capable of feelings.
Breakout Performance by a Duo: John Krasinski and David Denman, “13 Hours”
The two men from the NBC series “The Office” reunited on the silver screen in 2016 as Jack Silva and Dave ‘Boon’ Benton in this obscure indie hit. They portray two security contractors working for the U.S. State Department in Libya in a plot to bring down Hillary Clinton. Or something. I don’t know, I don’t follow politics.
Krasinski’s career as an operator clearly began while he was an Air Force pilot at Joint Base Hickam-Pearl Harbor, when he asked Chris Kyle to teach him how to be operator AF.
Best Villain: The Sharks, “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage”
It’s hard to blame the Japanese submarine for sinking the Indianapolis. the Pacific War was still a war, after all (besides, the skipper of the Japanese boat came to Capt. McVay’s defense at his court-martial). What you can blame are the sharks who ate the survivors of the ship’s sinking.
For the days they spent waiting to be rescued, the sailors of the Indianapolis just hung out, waiting to be gnawed on like some shark’s pickled chum.
Best Combat Action Sequence: Mel Gibson “Hacksaw Ridge”
Leave it to the guy who brought you a medieval combat scene where someone gets hit in the face with a hammer to bring you World War II combat that tosses body parts around like confetti.
Nothing says “war is terrible” like showing the worst parts of it. Mission complete, Mel Gibson. On that note…
Best On-Screen Improv: This guy from “Hacksaw Ridge”
Using what’s left of your Battle Buddy like Captain America uses his vibranium shield isn’t exactly in the Army field manual, but the guys who wrote that weren’t writing it at Okinawa. If your Battle is supposed to save your life, then this guy did the right thing.
Best “Eat Pray Love”-style war movie: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
That movie would have been waaaaaaaay different if Julia Roberts went to Afghanistan instead of, say, Italy.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” even calls itself “the most American white lady story I’ve ever heard” in the middle of the movie. Special props to WTF for having Margot Robbie explain the “Desert Queen” principle, a longtime staple of deployment lore.
Best Director Who Actually Looks Like He’s In Combat: Michael Bay, “13 Hours”
I’m starting to believe everything Michael Bay does features explosions. Like, when he goes to get coffee or to the post office, a car down the street explodes. Most of us will never have a work photo take that looks this cool.
Drill Sergeant of the Year: Vince Vaughn, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Many cinematic instructors have come and gone over the years, from ones as memorable as Gunny Hartman to the less memorable Merwin Toomey.
You can decide where Vince Vaughn’s Sgt. Howell falls in the pantheon, but for 2016, he’s tops.
The United States, France, and Britain are warning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons as he launches a campaign to retake the last remaining rebel-held province in Syria.
In a joint statement issued late on Aug. 21, 2018, the three Western powers said “we remain resolved to act if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons again” as it embarks on a military offensive in Idlib Province after reasserting control over most other rebel-held areas of the country since 2017.
Assad’s forces have started heavily bombing and shelling Idlib, which lies next to the border with Turkey and where holdout rebels from all over the country were transported in recent months under Russian-brokered deals offering them safe passage to Idlib if they surrendered territory they once held around Damascus and other areas.
Assad’s assaults against major rebel strongholds in the country’s seven-year civil war have followed a pattern, with initial heavy bombing and artillery attacks followed by the alleged use of chemical weapons in an apparent attempt to intimidate rebels and force civilians to flee the area under siege.
In light of this pattern, the three Western powers stressed their “concern at the potential for further — and illegal — use of chemical weapons.”
The ruins of the 2018 American-led bombing of Damascus and Homs.
Britain, France, and the United States said that “our position on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons is unchanged” since the three powers staged air raids in April 2018 to eliminate sites where chemical weapons allegedly were made, in response to an alleged chemical attack that occurred in Douma weeks earlier.
“As we have demonstrated, we will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, which has had such devastating humanitarian consequences for the Syrian population,” the three powers said.
Assad has denied using chemical weapons, and efforts by Western powers at the UN to rebuke Syria over alleged chemical attacks have been batted down by Syria’s biggest ally, Russia, in recent years.
The impasse at the United Nations is what led the United States, Britain, and France to act on their own in early 2018
The three allies released their warning to Syria on the anniversary of what they called a “horrific” sarin-gas attack in Ghouta outside Damascus that killed more than 300 people five years ago.
That attack, which the West blamed on Assad’s forces, led to a U.S.-Russian agreement to rid Syria of its chemical stockpile and its means to produce the deadly chemicals.
But despite the agreement, numerous chemical attacks have occurred since then, with most of them documented by the global chemical weapons watchdog and blamed on the Syrian government.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss the situation in Syria in August 2018.
The Air Force has taken a beating in recent years over its desire to retire the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II from those who fly the airplane, troops on the ground, and Congressional lawmakers. The aircraft is very clearly a beloved, useful close-air support tool.
For much of this time, the Air Force kept the A-10 on a very low profile, going so far as to suppress a video about it, made by its own Combat Camera unit. Now, it looks like the Air Force is embracing the ugly duckling of its tactical jet family.
“If I have them, I’m going to use them,” Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the head of Air Combat Command, told Defense One. “They’re a fantastic airplane and I’m going to take advantage of them.”
The A-10 Warthog is the only aircraft built specifically for the CAS mission. The signature design feature is its 30mm gatling gun. The gun is more than 19 feet long and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. The distinctive sound made by the weapon (the BRRRRRT – created as rounds fire faster than the speed of sound), is music to the ears of the troops on the ground, so much so, the plane sometimes called “the grunt in the air.” A-10 pilots often find themselves providing support at “danger close” distances.
The Air Force wanted to retire the slow-moving but hardy plane to make room in the skies and in their budget for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III says is “designed for the whole battlespace.” The A-10 is considered to have a single role. As the worldwide campaign against ISIS (Daesh) in Iraq and Syria intensified further, the U.S. sent an A-10 fleet to Turkey to support ground operations in that theater. As worldwide conflicts place a greater demand on U.S. airpower, the Air Force is making room in its budget to maintain its A-10 fleets.
“Eventually… we will have to retire airplanes, but I think moving it to the right and starting it a bit later and maybe keeping the airplane around a little bit longer is something that’s being considered based on things as they are today and that we see them in the future,” said Carlisle.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte pointed out to Military.com how only last year the Air Force predicted the plane wouldn’t survive in the fight against ISIS. Gen. Michael Hostage, Carlisle’s predecessor, said he “can’t send an A-10 to Syria. It would never come back.” In the most recent National Defense Authorization, Congress literally forced the USAF to keep the plane, take retired A-10 out of storage, and appropriated funding for their maintenance.
“I look forward to reviewing the Air Force’s budget request early next year as it relates to the A-10,” Ayotte continued. “If the Air Force decides to end its campaign to prematurely divest the A-10, it would be a great day for our ground troops and a terrible day for America’s enemies.”
Nobody wants to hear the phrase, “suck it up, buttercup.” But there’s a reason for it outside of being plain rude. The fact is, there isn’t much to be gained by complaining about something uncomfortable to others that are stuck in the same suck.
Think about it this way: it’s like being stuck down in a well with a few others. What good does it do for anyone if you start whining about how you hate wells?
Everyone around you is dealing with the same problems. You can either work on improving what you can change, embrace the things you can’t, and joke about the suck with everyone else — or you could just get out. These are the comfort zones you’ll learn to abandon by joining the military.
Nobody wants to wake up early. Nobody. It’s impossible for any human being to willingly enjoy the idea of getting less sleep because they feel the need to get some physical exercise. If that does describe you, I seriously doubt that you’re a human being, but rather some sort of autonomous robot.
We do it because we must.
The human body
Before you know it, you’ll end up in communal showers. There, you’ll see plenty and plenty will see you.
And we’re not talking about exposed genitalia — you’ll get over that real quick. You’ll see sores, fluids, and all sorts of nastiness that some happens to the human body during a deployment. If you’re a medic or Corpsman, expect your friends to randomly ask, “hey, doc, does this look infected to you?”
It’s not just knee and back pain, or “weakness leaving your body” as the PT instructor calls it. That’s guaranteed. Expect an amount of unnecessary physical pain. If your battle buddy is an idiot, expect to get smoked with them. If they have a loud mouth at the bar, expect to get punched in the face at least once throughout your career.
Just get used to waking up in the morning and wondering what happened to your 18-year-old body. Be prepared to ask yourself why you’re complaining about the same pains as your grandmother.
Lack of personal space
If you maintain a personal space bubble and feel awkward when someone comes within a foot of you, curb it. You probably shouldn’t be claustrophobic either.
You won’t have any room to do anything or anywhere to be by yourself.
Sharing personal details
Don’t feel like spending 12 hours at a time with the options of staring at a blank wall or talking with some random person? Too bad. You’re about to turn into Forrest Gump and tell them everything.
Learning you’re not special
Individualism is a blight on the uniformed services. It’s “one team, one fight,” not “everyone plus this guy.” This rule applies to everyone — and not just the person crying because Sergeant gave them a dirty look. Even the troop that is damn-near Captain America is guilty if they start demanding the military start handing out opportunities.
The military doesn’t owe anyone anything unless it’s earned. And even earning something doesn’t mean the door is now open for making more demands.
The Battle of the Bulge was a Hail Mary pass by a führer who was quickly running out of options. Hitler desperately needed a decisive victory on either his Western or Eastern front. Remembering his series of victories after sneaking through the Ardennes forest in 1940, he went for a repeat in 1944.
On Dec. 16, 200,000 German troops and 1,000 tanks slammed into 80,000 Allied troops. Listen to troops who were there explain what it was like to turn away Hitler’s desperate gambit.
1. Over 1 million men were involved in the battle.
Instead, rookies became veterans overnight and fatigued veterans dug deep to slow the German advance. Anti-tank teams targeted choke points in villages and mountain passes, creating flaming barricades of destroyed German armor that slowed the Blitzkrieg to a crawl.
3. The famous “NUTS!” response to a surrender request was basically bored paratroopers joking around.
Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe and Col. Harry Kinnard II at Bastogne after the battle. Photo: US Army courtesy of the Eisenhower Archives.
McAuliffe had twice said, “Nuts,” when briefed on the surrender request, first to his acting chief of staff that woke him and then to his headquarter staff. When it came time to draft the formal response, McAuliffe couldn’t think of what to write. His men, who had found the “nuts” comments funny, urged him to just respond with those four letters.
4. German soldiers illegally wore American uniforms to sneak behind enemy lines.
A major part of Hitler’s gamble was the belief that he could sow disorder in the American lines by sneaking English-speaking Germans in and having them sabotage equipment.
5. One of the worst war crimes committed against Allied troops in World War II took place during the battle.
The Malmédy Massacre occurred Dec. 17, 1944, when a group of over 100 Americans, mostly artillerymen with the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, were captured by German SS troops taking part in the German attack.
Ultimately, the Battle of the Bulge failed and the Americans continued their advance. With the large losses of both men and material Germany suffered in the Battle of the Bulge, the Third Reich was doomed. Hitler would go on to kill himself Apr. 30, 1945 (or, maybe not) and Germany surrendered May 8.
Two US bombers tore through the hotly-contested South China Sea on Oct. 16, 2018, an apparent power play signaling US determination to continue to fly and sail wherever international law allows ahead of a key meeting between US and Chinese defense chiefs Oct. 18, 2018.
A pair of Guam-based US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers “participated in a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea,” Pacific Air Forces told CNN in a statement, adding that the flights were in support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission focused on deterring regional challengers.
The Pentagon did not specifically identify which islands the aircraft flew by, but open-source flight tracking data suggests they may have been near the Spratly Islands, the location of a recent showdown between a Chinese destroyer and a US warship carrying out a close pass of the islands. During the incident, which occurred late September 2018, a Chinese naval vessel nearly collided with destroyer USS Decatur.
Following that incident, Vice President Mike Pence warned that “we will not stand down.”
“What we don’t want to do is reward aggressive behavior like you saw with the Decatur incident by modifying our behavior,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Joe Felter, according to CNN. “That’s just not going happen. We’re going to continue to exercise our rights under international law and encourage all our partners to do the same.”
The flight was seemingly intended to send a message that the US will not change its behavior in response to Chinese aggression at sea.
The “Chinese have successfully militarized some of these outposts and their behavior’s become more assertive and we’re trying to have an appropriate response,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver told the reporters while traveling abroad with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver.
China does not see the situation the same way, having previously described bomber overflights in the South China Sea as “provocative.”
China “always respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by other countries under international law,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing Oct. 18, 2018, adding that China “firmly opposes to relevant country’s act to undermine the sovereign and security interests of littoral countries and disrupt regional peace and stability under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation and overflight.'”
“We will take necessary measures to safeguard our sovereign and security interests,” he warned.
The flight, one of many through the disputed East and South China Seas in recent months, came ahead of a meeting between Mattis and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Wei Fenghe, the Chinese defense minister. The meeting had been previously canceled amid rising tensions over trade, territorial disputes, sanctions, and Taiwan.
Their meeting was described as “straightforward and candid” on Oct. 18, 2018, with Pentagon officials saying that relations with the Chinese military may be stabilizing, according to the Associated Press. The discussions covered numerous topics but focused heavily on tensions in the South China Sea.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The US Navy caught a Russian destroyer on video nearly colliding with a US warship in a dangerous close encounter at sea.
The Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov closed with the US Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville on June 7, 2019, putting the sailors on board at risk, the US 7th Fleet said in a statement.
The US Navy says the Russian vessel engaged in “unsafe and unprofessional” conduct at sea. Specifically, it “maneuvered from behind and to the right of Chancellorsville, accelerated, and closed to an unsafe distance of approximately 50-100 feet.”
The Russians are telling a different story, accusing the US Navy of suddenly changing course and cutting across the path of its destroyer. The US Navy has videos of the incident to back its narrative.
(1/2) USS Chancellorsville Avoids Collision with Russian Destroyer Udaloy I DD 572
Naval affairs expert Bryan Clark offered some clarity on just how risky this situation is, explaining that 50 feet to 100 feet for a destroyer is comparable to being inches from another car while barreling down the freeway.
“It’s really dangerous,” he told Business Insider. “Unlike a car, a ship doesn’t have brakes. So the only way you can slow down is by throwing it into reverse. It’s going to take time to slow down because the friction of the water is, of course, a lot less than the friction of the road. Your stopping distance is measured in many ship lengths.”
“When someone pulls a maneuver like that,” Clark added, “It’s really hard to slow down or stop or maneuver quickly to avoid the collision.”
(2/2) USS Chancellorsville Avoids Collision with Russian Destroyer Udaloy I DD 572
The Russian version of the story is that the US ship is to blame.
“The US guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville suddenly changed course and cut across the path of the destroyer Admiral Vinogradov coming within 50 meters of the ship,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “A protest over the international radio frequency was made to the commanders of the American ship who were warned about the unacceptable nature of such actions.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Afghan officials said unknown aircraft hit Taliban forces in a province along the border with Tajikistan, killing eight militants, a day after a shooting that left at least two Tajiks killed.
The origin of the aircraft was unclear. Tajik officials denied its warplanes or helicopters were involved, as did Russia, which has a sizable military contingent in Tajikistan.
Khalil Asir, spokesman for police in Afghanistan’s Takhar province, said the aircraft struck early on Aug. 27, 2018, in the Darqad district near the border area. In addition to the dead, six other militants were wounded, he said.
Cross-border clashes are rare along Afghanistan’s 1,400-kilometer border with Tajikistan. However, security in some border provinces, including Takhar, has deteriorated over the past few months and regular clashes have broken out between Afghan security forces and militant groups, including the Taliban.
Spokesman Khalil Asir says eight Taliban militants were killed in the attack.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed the attack, saying it broke out between drug smugglers and Tajik border guards. Mujahid said the aircraft bombed a forested area used by smugglers.
Mohammad Jawid Hejri, the provincial governor’s spokesman, also said the clash had occurred between drug smugglers in Afghanistan and Tajik border guards. He said the area is under Taliban control.
Asked by RFE/RL’s Tajik Service about the reported airstrike, border guard spokesman Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev said he could not confirm it.
“An operation to search for and detain armed individuals is ongoing” in a neighboring region, he said. “But the Border Guards Service didn’t use helicopters there.”
Other Tajik security agencies did not immediately respond to queries about other aircraft in the area.
The incident came one day after two Tajik foresters were killed in a shooting incident along the border. A Tajik security official, who asked not to be named, told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that the shooting — either gunfire or mortars — came from the Afghan side of the border.
A third Tajik forester was also wounded in the Aug. 26, 2018 shooting, according to Sulton Valizoda, the head of the Farkhor district.
“Foresters, along with an employee of a livestock farm, were out gathering hay. They had official permission,” Valizoda told RFE/RL’s Tajik Service. “But they were attacked, and two were killed. The case is being investigated.”
The Tajik Border Guard Service said in a statement on Aug. 26, 2018 that the three were all forest rangers.
A US Army spokesman told INSIDER that the fan had a point but that calculating the exact dollar amount isn’t so simple.
Here’s the backstory.
After defeating Hydra in World War II, Captain America was lost in the Arctic north from 1945 to 2011. During those six decades on ice, he was never technically discharged. As a result (the theory goes), the government owes him payment for those 66 years of service.
Redditor Anon33249038 crunched the numbers and concluded that the First Avenger is entitled to $3,154,619.52, adjusting for inflation.
The analysis factors in the Army’s 1945 pay grade, biannual raises, and how long Cap spent on ice before he returned to active duty in 2011 at the start of “The Avengers.”
Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman, says there’s more to it than that.
“If Capt. Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) were not a fictional character and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and recovery actually real, he may actually be entitled to receive back pay,” Hall told INSIDER in an email. “However, a wide variety of variables would have to be taken into consideration to actually calculate the true amount of back pay to which he would be entitled to receive; given that he is a fictional character we cannot truly capture all of those variables accurately.”
Hall went on to say that the Redditor had some of his facts wrong.
“Yes, it is correct that the O-3 (Army captain) pay grade in 1945 was $313.50; however it was a monthly pay rate vs. quarterly as the original poster indicated.”
The fan theory also “misinterpreted military pay scales” when arriving at the figure for the biannual increase of pay, Hall said, and failed to take in “any potential promotions that may have been bestowed upon Rogers while he was listed in a ‘Missing’ status.”
Whatever the final amount of back pay the government would owe Captain America for his decades of service, it’s almost certain that he would still have way less money than Tony Stark.
A decorated US Marine Corps veteran, who a federal judge ruled was an American citizen, is facing deportation to Mexico in a case that has been criticized as a cruel and extraordinary application of immigration laws.
The US government’s ongoing effort to deport George Ybarra, who is currently locked up in an Arizona detention center, has shed light on the vulnerabilities of foreign-born Americans who have served in the military, along with the deportation threats that can plague even those who are deemed to be citizens and have deep ties to the country.
Ybarra, who was honorably discharged after serving in the Persian Gulf war and earning numerous badges and medals, is facing deportation due to a criminal history that his family says is tied to mental health struggles and post-traumatic stress disorder from his service. While there have been growing concerns about the removal of veterans and the harsh policies of deporting people for minor crimes, Ybarra’s case is particularly troubling to immigrant rights’ advocates given a judge’s acknowledgement that he is US citizen.
“George hopes he will be able to stay in the country he fought for,” Luis Parra, Ybarra’s attorney, told the Guardian. “He is a third-generation [US] citizen … It would be a very extreme hardship for George to have to relocate to Mexico.”
Ybarra, whose story was first reported in the Tucson Sentinel, has a complex immigration and citizenship battle dating back more than a decade, including deportation threats under Barack Obama’s administration.
Ybarra, also known as Jorge Ibarra-Lopez, was born in Nogales in Mexico, just south of the Arizona border, in 1964, according to his court filings. He moved to the US months after he was born, and his maternal grandfather was a US citizen, born in Bisbee, Arizona, his lawyers wrote. Ybarra has long argued that he has “derivative citizenship,” meaning he is a citizen by virtue of his mother’s status.
An immigration judge eventually agreed that there was “sufficient evidence” that the 52-year-old father of five should be considered a US citizen, but the US Department of Homeland Security challenged that decision in 2011 and has since continued to try to deport him, records show.
The deportation proceedings stem in part from a number of criminal offenses, including drug-related charges. He was also convicted of firing two rounds through the front door of his home in Phoenix in 2011 in the direction of two police officers, according to the Sentinel. The paper reported that no one was hurt and that Ybarra said he was suffering from a PTSD-induced episode of delusion at the time and believed federal authorities were coming to “take away” his family.
Ybarra ultimately served a seven-year sentence in state prison for aggravated assault, but instead of returning to his family after he completed his time, he was transferred into the custody of federal immigration authorities last month. Ybarra and his family now fear he could soon be deported.
Parra argued that Ybarra should be released while the ongoing dispute about his citizenship is resolved. US Citizenship and Immigration Services had previously denied his application for a certificate of citizenship, but there are numerous ways he can have his status formally recognized, according to Parra.
His family has argued that he should get treatment and other government support as a disabled veteran with PTSD.
“He basically has no family in Mexico,” said Parra, noting that Ybarra’s children and grandchildren and other relatives in Arizona are all US citizens. “He has a very supportive family living in the Phoenix area, including his mother, who depends on George.”
Ybarra is distraught and worried about his continued detention, Parra said. In a Sentinel interview last month in an Arizona state prison, Ybarra said, “I’ve got a lot of anger, a lot of anxiety over this. They know I’m a citizen, they know I’m a combat veteran. I don’t see where they’ve ever shown that they care.”
A spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Ybarra’s case, but said in a statement that the agency “does not knowingly place US citizens into removal proceedings”, adding, “ICE deportation officers arrest only those aliens for which the agency has probable cause to believe are amenable to removal from the United States.”
When ICE does detain US citizens, the statement said, it’s usually because there is a misunderstanding about their status.
“The job for ICE deportation officers is further complicated by some aliens who falsely assert US citizenship in order to evade deportation, which is not uncommon,” the statement continued.
A Northwestern University analysis of government data found that hundreds of US citizens have, in fact, been detained by immigration authorities.
Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney and expert on military cases, said the deportation of veterans has been an ongoing challenge under both Obama and Donald Trump, but that she has never seen a case like Ybarra where the government threatens to deport someone ruled a citizen by a judge.
“If you can deport this guy, you can also try to deport all kinds of other people,” she said.