After 20 years of PCS, milspouse navigates 'staying put' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

After 20 years of PCS, milspouse navigates ‘staying put’

I’ve developed an itch.

No, not like that time in college.

The itch to pull up stakes, un-circle the wagons and head West…or East…or…ok you get it.

It’s time to move again. PCS.

It’s a familiar feeling to most military spouses. Birds have an innate sense when it’s time to migrate, and I think military families develop something like that. Every few years it’s time to fly.

It starts as a faint tingling on the back of your neck. Then you see dust bunnies frolicking on top of the refrigerator and decide to ignore them because you’re moving soon, so who cares? Those little freaks start to get it on everywhere — under the bed, the couch, that weird piece that was your grandfather’s that you feel compelled to keep, but have no real place for.


You say to yourself “Go on, spawn away, little humping dust bunnies. Soon a moving van will magically appear and nice men wearing low-slung pants will lift off your illicit hideaways and expose your obscene way of life…along with their butt-cracks.”

You download the assignment lists from the BUPERS website and fantasize about the possibilities. You prowl through Zillow, drooling over granite countertops and in-ground pools, and measure the distance to the nearest Target (i.e. bar). When your spouse walks in, you slap the laptop shut like a teenager caught in the act, knowing you’ll be chastised for getting your hopes up too early about one duty station or another.

You start challenging yourself to cook with nothing, but the ingredients in the pantry (coconut milk and chickpea casserole is surprisingly tasty — said no one ever). You stop going to the stock-up sales at the commissary. You secretly purge bags of old clothes and toys from your kids’ rooms while they’re at school and then fake concern over the missing items.

“What?? You can’t find that t-shirt with the torn sleeve and the kool-aid stain that you outgrew two summers ago? Oh no!! Wherever could it be?!” Parenthood Fakery should be an Oscar category…

It’s that time again for our family. We’ve been in China Lake, CA for nearly three years and are scheduled to PCS this summer. Our days wandering in the desert are supposed to be over. I came, I bloomed where I was planted, and now it’s time to go find a new adventure.

Actually, I shriveled up like a California raisin and could plant corn in the furrows that have developed on my forehead.

Regardless — it’s time to go.

Except it’s not.

We’ve been extended.

For an indeterminate amount of time.

What the hell am I supposed to do now?

I find myself more upset about this than I should be. It’s not that I don’t like China Lake. We’ve had a good tour here and I’ll have fond memories and lasting friendships.

(Photo by Arnel Hasanovic)

It’s that I feel like something is wrong. The routine is off.

Have I become addicted to moving? After nearly 20 years married to the Navy, it’s become part of my DNA.

Neither my husband nor I had ever moved until we left home for college. And once we started regularly relocating, I started to crave the fresh feeling that comes with it. The removal of baggage, so to speak. The cleaning out of cobwebs — mostly from beneath my furniture, but also from the corners of my mind. A wanderlust that says “this place was fine, but what’s around the next corner?”

One would think that I would have resisted such a nomadic life, having never experienced it as a child. But then again, perhaps if I had gotten to escape my surroundings as a kid I wouldn’t have pretended to be a popular cheerleader named Anastasia on my 8th grade trip to Washington DC. Even then I was desperate for reinvention…

And moving every few years gives me that fresh start. I find it very freeing. If I’m not satisfied with my surroundings, I know it’s only temporary. I don’t have the heavy burden of forever (well, I suppose in theory, marriage is forever, but a few more years of stumbling over boots left in the floor will probably take care of that…)

Now I find myself sitting here with the realization that not only am I not moving…but I don’t know when I will. And now I have to reinvent myself right where I am.

But forget about me having to stop obsessing over the future and concentrate on the present. There’s something way more concerning about staying put.

The only fate that is FAR WORSE than having to move.

Now I have to clean my damn house.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army and Navy just tested an advanced new air-to-ground missile

The Navy successfully completed its first Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) flight test on the AH-1Z helicopter on Dec.5 at Patuxent River.


During the flight, aircrew aboard the AH-1Z navigated the missile through various operational modes and exercised its active seeker to search and/or acquire targets, demonstrating its compatibility with the aircraft.

An AH-1Z helicopter. (Photo from U.S. Marine Corps)

“Initial results from the flight indicate the missile performed as planned,” said Liam Cosgrove, JAGM flight test lead. “We will continue to conduct a series of tests to prepare for live fire testing of the JAGM off the AH-1Z scheduled for early this year.”

JAGM, a joint program with the Army, is a precision-guided munition for use against high-value stationary, moving, and relocatable land and maritime targets. It utilizes a multi-mode seeker to provide targeting day or night in adverse weather, battlefield obscured conditions and against a variety of countermeasures.

Related: What you need to know about the banned missile the US is developing

“This missile will provide increased lethality and better targeting capabilities, beyond the Hellfire’s laser point designating capability that the AH-1Z currently has in theater today,” said Capt. Mitch Commerford, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager.

JAGM is managed by the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. It will initially be employed on the AH-64 Apache and Marine Corps’ AH-1Z helicopters and is compatible with any aircraft that can carry Hellfire missiles. The Army will complete a 48 shot test matrix by May 2018 on AH-64 Apache aircraft in support of Milestone C.

Articles

The Army has broken ground on its first national museum to celebrate a history of service

The Marine Corps opened its newest one to great fanfare in Quantico, Virginia, in 2006. The Air Force has had once since around 1950 and the Navy opened one in 1963.


So now, it’s the Army’s turn to get with the times.

Senior officials with the service and supporters recently broke ground on a new National Army Museum to be housed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The museum will be free-of-charge to visitors, and is expected to open in 2019. Plans for the 185,000-square-foot facility include more than 15,000 pieces of art, 30,000 artifacts, documents and images.

It’s the first of its kind for the Army.

“This museum will remind all of us what it means to be a soldier, what it means to serve with incredible sacrifice, with incredible pride,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley.

“And most importantly, this museum is a tribute to those 30 million soldiers who’ve worn this distinguished uniform … and their loved ones who supported them,” he said.

Milley, Army Sec. Eric K. Fanning, other Army leaders, donors, guests and Gold Star families attended the ceremony and groundbreaking  at Fort Belvoir Sept. 14.

The Army’s chief of staff said he believes the museum will offer visitors an experience that can’t be found in history books or online, and that a visit to the museum will enhance for them what they might have learned in school about both the United States and its Army, as well as “the cost and the pain of the sacrifice of war, not in dollars, but in lives.”

The National Army Museum, shown in this conceptual design, will be built at Fort Belvoir, Va., partly with funds from the Army Commemorative Coin Act signed by President Obama. (Photo from U.S. Army) The National Army Museum, shown in this conceptual design, will be built at Fort Belvoir, Va., partly with funds from the Army Commemorative Coin Act signed by President Obama. (Photo from U.S. Army)

In the museum, Army weapons, uniforms, equipment, and even letters written by soldiers at war will help visitors better connect with their Army, Milley said.

The Army, Fanning said, is even older than the nation it defends, and their history has been intertwined now since the beginning.

“We’ve waited 241 years for this moment,” Fanning said of the groundbreaking for the museum. “It’s almost impossible to separate the Army’s story from this nation’s story. In so many ways, the history of the Army is the history of America.”

From the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has borne the greatest share of America’s losses, Fanning said. Fully 85 percent of all Americans who have given their lives in defense of the United States and its interests have done so while serving in the U.S. Army.

Besides fighting the nation’s wars, Fanning said, soldiers have also been pioneers for the United States. He cited as an example the efforts Army Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Army 2nd Lt. William Clark. Together, the two led a team to explore and map the Western United States — an effort that came to be known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Another example of Army pioneering is the effort of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help build the nation’s roads, railroads, canals and bridges, Fanning said.

In the 20th century, he said, it would be Army scientists that took America through new frontiers, such as aviation, creating solar cells and the launching of America’s first satellite into space.

Fanning said he’s reminded of the Army’s history and pioneering every day by a framed piece of regimental colors in his office. Those colors, he said, are what remain of the standard carried in the Civil War by the 54th Massachusetts, the Army’s first African-American regiment, he said.

That small piece of flag will be displayed in the National Army Museum, “joining thousands of artifacts that will help tell our shared story,” Fanning said. “The museum will strengthen the bonds between America’s soldiers and America’s communities.”

Retired Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, who now serves as the chairman of the Army Historical Foundation Board of Directors, said the museum is meant to “tell the comprehensive story of the Army history as it finally deserves to be told.”

That story, he said, will include all components of the Army, and will also include the story of the Continental Army, which existed even before the birth of the United States.

The museum, he said, will be a “virtual museum, without walls, having connectivity with all of the Army museums.”

Also significant, Sullivan said, is the museum’s location. The site chosen at Fort Belvoir is less than 7 miles from Mount Vernon — the home of the Continental Army’s first commander-in-chief, Gen. George Washington.

Retired Gen. William W. Hartzog, vice chairman of the Army Historical Foundation Board of Directors, said one of the first things visitors will see when they enter the museum is a series of pictures and histories of individual soldiers.

“We are all about soldiers,” Hartzog said.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, attendees were able to hear some of those stories for themselves.

Captain Jason Stumpf of the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for instance, took the stage to talk about his wife, 1st Lt. Ashley White-Stumpf.

“She was doing what she did for a greater good and she always believed this,” he said. She was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

“She only wanted to help and answer the call,” he continued. “Ashley would be the first to stand in the entryway and say she’s not the only one that answered the call. Many before and many after her will do the same thing.”

White-Stumpf’s story will be one of the many relayed to visitors to the new Army museum.

Another story that will be told at the museum is that of now-deceased Staff Sgt. Donald “Dutch” Hoffman, uncle to Brig. Gen. Charles N. Pede, who now serves as the assistant judge advocate general for Military Law and Operations.

Pede said his uncle got the name “Dutch” because he’d been a tough kid growing up on the streets of Erie, Pennsylvania, and was always in trouble or “in Dutch.”

Dutch enlisted at age 17, Pede said, and soon found himself in Korea. During his first firefight, Pede relayed, Dutch had admitted to being scared. Shortly after, he attacked an enemy machine gun position by himself, rescuing wounded soldiers and carrying them to safety. He earned a Silver Star for his actions there.

He’d later be wounded in battle and left for dead, Pede continued. But a “miracle-working” Army doctor brought him back to life.

Finally, now-retired Brig. Gen. Leo Brooks Jr. spoke about his late father, retired Maj. Gen. Leo A. Brooks Sr. When Brooks the senior entered the Army in 1954, his journey was filled with challenges, the junior said, as the Army had only recently become desegregated.

Brooks senior had to earn the respect of others as a leader, his son said. That he became a leader was due to the sacrifices of others before him.

Brooks junior said he and his brother, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who now serves as commander of U.S. Forces Korea, U.N. Command and Combined Forces Command, both looked to their father for guidance — and followed him into the Army.

We “naturally followed in his profession because we could see and feel the nobility of the Army’s core values he instilled,” Brooks junior said.

Today, the Army is the only military service without its own national museum. The National Museum of the United States Army, to be built on 80 acres of land at Fort Belvoir, will remedy that.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how to beat the rope-a-dope

Follow the rules set forth by Max, The Body, Philisaire and you’ll be at the top of the rope in no time.


If Max “The Body” Philisaire has a Phil-osophy (a Maxim?) he lives by, it might go a little something like this:

Learn the rope. Or be the dope.

FYI: the dope (left) ends up on his ass. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons, Nicoleon, CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the army, Max did his time on the climbing rope, just like you did. Every branch climbs the rope. After all, the military, in its infinite wisdom, recognized early on that the game of large-scale global deployment would be won or lost on the proficiency with which its troops could drop into, and wriggle out of, The Danger Zone.

Max is Danger Zone Highway Patrol.

And so they dangled ropes off every structure taller than two stories and made you haul your ass up, down, and up again — sometimes with feet, often with not. How well this went for you depended on the upper body strength you were able to muster and/or the belligerent, spittle-flecked hatefulness of the sergeant whose job it was to motivate you.

Now, imagine a world in which the rope is no longer a crucible and you are no longer the dope being bamboozled by it. This world is called The Danger Zone. Max guards the on-ramp to the highway to this world. And if you approach the on-ramp with enough oomph (say, 100mph or so), he will waive you through.

Because this is Max. Max doesn’t so much pull himself up as he hauls the sky down to look him in the eye. Frequently the sky resents this and throws a tantrum. And that is why sometimes there is rain.

In this episode, Max addresses all your weaknesses at once. Because that is what the rope would do. To effectively master the rope climb, you need explosive power in your upper body (biceps, back, and forearm grip), a solid core, and strong legs (quads, glutes, and groin).

Do these exercises. Because it’s a tough world out there. And if you’re going to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you best be able to pull yourself up by a rope.

We haven’t even begun to discuss the chain… (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Watch as Max rumbles all the jungles, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Max Your Body:

This elite veteran trainer will make you aim true

This elite veteran trainer is why your ammo shows up on time

Our trainer will make you want to play Ruck Ruck Goose

This is how squats can open doors for you

This trainer will make you a card-carrying member of the log-carrying elite

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force will upgrade its ultimate bunker buster

The largest non-nuclear weapon in the Air Force‘s arsenal recently got an upgrade from Boeing, Air Force officials told Military.com.


While they couldn’t comment on how many GBU-57 weapons received the upgrade for operational security reasons, “the Enhanced Threat Response IV modification improved the weapon’s performance against hard and deeply buried targets,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. The announcement was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, the bomb is a bunker buster meant to take out hard, deeper-rooted areas, such as underground lairs. While the MOP weighs in at 33,000 pounds, its warhead is only roughly 5,300 pounds.

The MOP is a GPS-guided munition designed for bombers like the B-2 Spirit and, thus far, has never been used in combat.

A B-2 Spirit soars after a refueling mission over the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, May 30, 2006. The B-2, from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is part of a continuous bomber presence in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)

Whether or not the MOP is currently deployed was not disclosed.

In October 2017 The Aviationist website posted an account of Northrop Grumman-made B-2s simulating airstrikes across various targets in Missouri. According to the witness, the strikes, simulated in the Ozarks, resembled a practice run in a mountainous terrain such as Afghanistan or North Korea.

Meanwhile, citing a test and evaluations report, Aviation Week recently reported that three B-2s, each armed with a GBU-57, struck at targets at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in May, 2017.

The MOP outweighs the Air Force’s Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb. However, the air-burst MOAB — first deployed in combat in 2017 — is the most powerful conventional bomb with 18,000 pounds of explosives, equivalent to about 11 tons of TNT.

Also Read: Watch classic jets test out napalm and other bombs

The 21,600-pound GBU-43 — nicknamed “mother of all bombs” — dropped from an MC-130 special operations cargo plane onto a specific location in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan in April 2017. The intention was to take out militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s branch Khorasan, or ISIS-K, amassed in a tunnel complex.

That strike killed at least 94 militants, a U.S. military official said at the time.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy is struggling to stop Chinese theft of military secrets

US Navy defense contractors and subcontractors have reportedly suffered “more than a handful” of disconcerting security breaches at the hands of Chinese hackers over the past year and a half.

“Attacks on our networks are not new, but attempts to steal critical information are increasing in both severity and sophistication,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer said in an internal memo in October 2018, The Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the memo, reported Dec. 14, 2018.


“We must act decisively to fully understand both the nature of these attacks and how to prevent further loss of vital military information,” he added.

Although the secretary did not mention China specifically, evidence indicates that Beijing is responsible for what is considered a debilitating cyber campaign against the US.

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer.

In 2018, Chinese government hackers stole important data on US Navy undersea-warfare programs from an unidentified contractor. Among the stolen information were plans for a new supersonic anti-ship missile, The Washington Post, citing US officials, reported in June 2018.

China has been striving to boost its naval warfighting capabilities, and there is evidence that it is relying on stolen technology to do so.

And it’s not just the US Navy. Adm. Philip Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2018 that Beijing is “stealing technology in just about every domain and trying to use it to their advantage.”

China is believed to have been behind multiple cybersecurity breaches that facilitated the theft of significant amounts of data on the F-22 and the F-35, among other aircraft. That information is suspected to have played a role in the development of China’s new fifth-generation stealth fighters.

Beijing denies that it engages in any form of cyberespionage.

A senior US intelligence official warned Dec. 11, 2018, that concerning Chinese cyberactivity in the US is clearly on the rise, and there is evidence that China is targeting critical infrastructure to lay the groundwork for disruptive attacks, Reuters reported.

National Security Agency official Rob Joyce, a former White House cyber advisor for President Donald Trump.

(USENIX Enigma Conference)

And US officials say Chinese state hackers are responsible for a data breach at Marriott that affected 500 million customers, according to recent reports. The Trump administration has repeatedly criticized Beijing for the alleged theft of US intellectual property that’s worth several hundred billion dollars a year, one of several sticking points in the ongoing trade spat.

The breaching of US defense contractor networks is particularly problematic as China modernizes its force, building a military capable to challenge the US.

“It’s extremely hard for the Defense Department to secure its own systems,” Tom Bossert, the former homeland security adviser in the Trump administration, told The Journal. “It’s a matter of trust and hope to secure the systems of their contractors and subcontractors.”

Contractors and subcontractors across the entire military lack the desired cybersecurity capabilities and regularly suffer serious breaches, an intelligence official said.

The most active Chinese hackers are reportedly a group known as Temp.Periscope or Leviathan, which is focused on maritime interests but also hits other targets.

One defense official told The Journal that China was targeting America’s “weak underbelly,” calling cybersecurity breaches “an asymmetric way to engage the United States without ever having to fire a round.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Vladimir Putin celebrated his re-election this weekend

Vladimir Putin has coasted to a fourth term as Russia’s president, scoring a landslide victory in an election Kremlin opponents said was marred by fraud and international observers said gave voters no “real choice.”


A nearly complete ballot count showed Putin winning 76.7 percent of the vote, Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said on March 19, 2018 — more than he received in any of his three previous elections and the highest percentage handed to any post-Soviet Russian leader.

Also read: Russians are making fun of election ballots skewed for Putin

Voter turnout was over 67 percent and the other seven candidates were far behind, she said.

While tainted by allegations of fraud — in some cases backed by webcam footage appearing to show blatant ballot-box stuffing — the resounding win sets Moscow’s longest-ruling leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin up for six more years in office amid severely strained ties with the West.

Putin’s government-stoked popularity and the Kremlin’s sway over politics nationwide after years of steps to sideline challengers made Putin’s victory a foregone conclusion.

The Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

“Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice,” Michael Georg Link, special coordinator and leader of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) short-term observer mission, told reporters in Moscow.

“But where the legal framework restricts many fundamental freedoms and the outcome is not in doubt, elections almost lose their purpose — empowering people to choose their leaders,” he added.

Pamfilova said voting results had been annulled in five districts amid reports of ballot-stuffing, but she denied any incidents of observers being attacked or blocked from polling stations, despite apparent video evidence posted online.

She asserted that were “at least two times fewer” violations than in the 2012 presidential vote, which put Putin back in the Kremlin after four years as prime minister.

The OSCE, which had more than 500 observers in Russia for the vote, said that while legal and technical aspects of the election were well administered, “the extensive coverage in most media of the incumbent as president resulted in an uneven playing field.”

Foreign reactions

Among the first leaders to congratulate Putin was Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has just been handed a second term himself and appeared to be positioned for indefinite rule after presidential term limits were lifted last week.

 

 

Other authoritarian leaders — incuding Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbaev, Belarus’s Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro — were also quick to congratulate Putin.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has received crucial Russian backing in a devastating civil conflict that has led to war crimes accusations, congratulated Putin on a result he called the “natural outcome of your outstanding… performance.”

More: Russia now claims the US is interfering in their elections

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Aleksandar Vucic, the president of traditional Russian ally Serbia, also congratulated Putin.

But amid worsening tensions between the West and Russia after the poisoning of a former spy with a potent nerve agent — an attack Britain blames on Moscow — many leaders chose their words cautiously when they spoke to Putin.

 

 

In a phone call, French President Emmanuel Macron wished Putin “success for the political, democratic, economic, and social modernization” of Russia, and urged him to shed light on the “unacceptable” poisoning, the Elysee Palace said.

Angela Merkel’s spokesman said at midday on March 19, 2018, that the German chancellor would send Putin a congratulatory telegram “very soon,” but also pointed to tension in relations with Moscow.

“We have differences of opinion with Russia and we very clearly criticize Russia’s policies on some issues — Ukraine, Syria,” Steffen Seibert said, adding that it was nonetheless important to maintain contact with the Russian leadership.

Heiko Maas, Germany’s new foreign minister, questioned the fairness of the election and said Moscow will remain “a difficult partner,” although he added that the European Union must be able to continue to talk to Russia.

“The result of the election in Russia was as unsurprising to us as the circumstances of the election. We can’t talk about a fair political competition in all respects as we would understand it,” he said in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

“Russia will remain a difficult partner. But Russia will also be needed for solutions to the big international conflicts and so we want to remain in dialogue,” Maas said.

Putin: ‘No new arms race’

The United States on March 15, 2018, imposed another round of sanctions on Russian entities and individuals over what Washington says was Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Amid severely strained ties, Putin said on March 19, 2018, that Russia wanted to build “constructive” relations with other countries but that “not everything depends on us.”

Russia will not “instigate some arms race” and “will spare no effort to settle all disputes with our partners by political and diplomatic means,” Putin said, adding that Moscow will always defend its own national interests.

Putin — who warned the West on March 1, 2018, that Russia had deployed or developed formidable new nuclear arms — vowed to decrease defense spending but said there will be no problem finding money for weapons and national defense.

The editor in chief of state-funded network RT, meanwhile, asserted that Western policies and attitudes had prompted Russians to unite around Putin and made him stronger than ever. She seemed to suggest he could remain in power indefinitely.

Related: 10 hilarious times Russia trolled the West on Twitter

Railing against the West and praising Putin in a tirade on Twitter, Margarita Simonyan said that “as soon as you declared him the enemy, you united us” around Putin.

“Before, he was just our president and he could have been replaced. But now he is our chief,” she wrote, using a noun — “vozhd” — that is often associated with Stalin. “And we will not let [you] replace him.”

Putin and the seven dwarves

Putin’s comments about foreign ties came during a meeting with the other candidates, whom he called on to cooperate and “be guided by the long-term interests of Russia and the Russian people, always putting group or party preferences on the back burner.”

Putin’s record-high official result put him miles ahead of the seven others on the ballot, who Kremlin critics have said were window-dressing to create the illusion of competition.

The election commission said Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin was second with almost 12 percent, followed by flamboyant ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with almost 6 percent and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak with about 1.7 percent.

The four other candidates — liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, nationalist Sergei Baburin, Communists of Russia candidate Maksim Suraikin, and centrist Boris Titov — had 1 percent apiece or less.

One of the other four Russian candidates, Grigory Yavlinsky.

Speaking to reporters after a late-night rally on voting day, Putin suggested that he would not seek the presidency again in 2030 –when he would next be eligible because of a limit of two consecutive terms.

But he left the door open to a potential move to change the constitution in order to maintain power past 2024 in some capacity, saying only that he is “not planning any constitutional reforms for now.”

Reports of fraud

With help from state media, Putin is riding a wave of popularity on the fourth anniversary of Moscow’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea region and in the wake of a military intervention in Syria that has been played up on Russian television as a patriotic success.

But reports of fraud dogged the election. Independent monitor Golos received reports of nearly 3,000 alleged violations.

Sergei Shpilkin, a physicist and data analyst who has studied fraud in previous Russian elections, suggested that nearly 10 million “extra” votes — apparently all for Putin — may have been added through falsified turnout figures.

Voters were bussed to the polls in many places, according to supporters of Aleksei Navalny, the opposition leader barred from running in the election.

They also reported hundreds of cases of alleged voter fraud, notably in Moscow and St. Petersburg, two areas where Putin has relatively low support.

More: The NSA chief is unauthorized to fight Russian cyber attacks

Some voters in various regions said they had been pressured by their employers or teachers to vote and take a photograph of themselves at the polling station as evidence of their participation.

While official turnout was robust even in Moscow, where it has often been lower than in the provinces, there was palpable apathy at some polling stations.

Some Russians said they felt powerless to influence politics in a country dominated by Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999.

“There is no real choice,” said 20-year-old Yevgeny Kiva, who was paid by a local election committee to wear a clown suit and dance with children at a polling station in Moscow.

Navalny, who has organized large street protests and alleged extravagant corruption among the ruling elite, was barred from the ballot because of a conviction on embezzlement charges he contends were fabricated by the Kremlin.

Articles

This Navy SEAL will receive posthumous promotion

The Navy announced Thursday that a SEAL killed in action last week will be posthumously advanced to senior chief petty officer.


Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, died Jan. 29, 2017, in the Arabian Peninsula of Yemen, of wounds sustained in a raid against al-Qaida.

The Navy approved an exception to policy request for Owens’ posthumous advancement, effective the day of his death.

Owens was eligible for the fiscal year 2018 active duty Senior Chief Petty Officer Selection Board, which will convene in April.

Also read: US Army gives heroic Marine a posthumous medal upgrade to Silver Star

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The 10 worst British military aircraft of all time

While the British boast a perfect record in World Wars — including a gritty victory over Germany’s seemingly unstoppable Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain — it is a country that has made some truly bad aircraft.


The Spitfire fighter and the Lancaster bomber ruled the skies throughout World War II. The Harrier Jump Jet served at sea honorably for decades. But the aircraft you don’t hear about are usually pretty awful.

Also Read: Why this light machine gun was the worst standard-issue weapon ever

“If you want something done slowly, expensively, and possibly very well, you go to the British,” begins the first-ever YouTube video from Hushkit, an aviation blog from Joe Coles.

From a nuclear-capable, fatality-prone navy plane to impossibly hard-to-fly transport planes, relive the forgotten history of the 10 worst British planes ever built in the video below:

 

(Hush kit | YouTube)
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what happened when the VA tried to slash money for homeless veterans

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told a group of veteran advocates that he was cutting funding to a program that addresses veteran homelessness, according to a Dec. 6 report from Politico.


The conversation reportedly happened over the phone, with “advocates for veterans, state officials, and even officials from HUD” reacting to the news from Shulkin in outright anger.

The program, co-sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), allocates $460 million a year to housing homeless veterans. It seems to have been working, too, as veteran homelessness is down 46 percent from 2010.

First, La Crosse. Next, the country? (Photo from Tomah VA Medical Center)

Nevertheless, Shulkin determined that nearly $1 billion should be moved from “specific purpose” funds to “general purpose” funds. This means moving all of the funding used specifically to ameliorate veterans homelessness.

According to a Sept. 2 memo, the VA believes that money designated to specific programs, like addressing veteran homelessness, transplant programs, amputation care, and women’s health, would be better used in a general fund, leaving veterans hospitals to decide for themselves how to use the money. The memo states that the move is designed to support “the Secretary’s five priorities” and could be used for administrative things, like hiring more VA employees.

The memo does not state how each individual hospital must use its newfound funds. Rather, it simply notes that network directors will have control over how much (if any) to give to specific programs.

Also Read: This city ended veteran homelessness in just 100 days

The Senate Committee on Appropriations responded to Shulkin’s plans to move the funds with a bipartisan, strongly worded letter signed by every member. In it, the committee reminded the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that his department had previously been extended the privilege of flexibility to move money without review because of its willingness to be transparent. That transparency, the letter argued, would all but disappear should Shulkin divert the specific purpose funds.

The letter closed with what seemed like a warning in the form of a suggestion: Stop, think, and before you do anything, submit to us a detailed “funding allocation plan” in the future.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. Photo courtesy of VA.

It didn’t take long for Shulkin to shift gears and reverse his earlier statements. “There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs,” Shulkin wrote in a statement released Dec. 6.

However, Shulkin added, “we will not be shifting any homeless program money to the Choice program.” It is not immediately clear whether the Choice program is where Shulkin suggested the funds would go in his Dec. 1 phone call.

Upon further review of the VA’s budget brief, the department does, in fact, plan to cut funding from “certain Veterans’ benefit programs” to offset the cost of money borrowed from the nearly bankrupt Veterans Choice Program, a program designed to offer veterans medical care closer to where they reside.

The brief does not specify which programs will be cut.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens to attack U.S. troops in remote base

Russia has warned the US that its military and allied Syrian forces are ready to attack a key US-held base near the borders of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, US defense officials said in a CNN report published on Sept. 6, 2018.

The Kremlin is said to have accused the US-led coalition base At Tanf of protecting nearby militants, with Russia delivering two warnings in the past week, CNN said, citing US officials. At Tanf, from which a coalition of dozens of US troops and Syrian rebels launch operations against the Islamic State terrorist group, is seen as a critical location within the scope of Iranian, Syrian, and Russian influence in the region.


“We have absolutely advised them to stay out of At Tanf,” a US official told CNN. “We are postured to respond.”

“The United States does not seek to fight the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing it support,” another official added. “However, if attacked, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend US, coalition, or partner forces.”

US troops would not need permission from superiors to defend themselves if attacked, which the US reiterated to the Kremlin, CNN reported.

A state-sanctioned attack by Russia could spark a flashpoint conflict in the region. Tensions were raised in February 2018 after dozens of Russian mercenaries were killed during a failed assault on a US-held position near the city of Deir al-Zor.

Russian forces have not recently been seen amassing their troops; however, the US military is still on alert, officials said. Senior military officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are aware of the warnings, CNN said.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(Dept. of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Russia’s warnings come amid a looming assault by Syrian and Iranian forces against the city of Idlib, where Syrian rebels have been cornered. Russia delivered an ominous warning in August 2018 that some experts saw as an indication that the Syrian government might indiscriminately use chemical weapons against the city.

The US followed with a threat of its own, warning Syrian President Bashar Assad that if he “chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately.”

“President Donald J. Trump has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement.

Featured image: Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new terror supergroup is filling the void left by ISIS in Syria

With up to 90% of its territory lost, ISIS appears effectively defeated as a conventional foe. But while the black flag of ISIS is being lowered, another may soon take its place — the white flag of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.

A new report in the Wall Street Journal details HTS’ rise as it consolidates power in northwest Syria. Led by a former Al-Qaeda militant, HTS is mostly based in Syria’s Idlib Governorate and has taken advantage of the US-led coalition’s focus on ISIS in the East, as well as the Syrian government and Russia’s focus on other parts of the country.


HTS came into existence when Jabhat Fath al Sham, previously known as the Al Nusrah Front and Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria until its re-branding in July of 2016, announced a merger with four other islamist groups operating in Syria.

Combined with the other groups, HTS — or the Assembly for Liberation of the Levant — was created.

The reason for its existence, according to its propaganda, is “to unite our banners and to preserve the fruits and the jihad” of the revolution against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, so that it can “be the seed of unifying the capacities and strength of this revolution.”

Bashar al-Assad

The group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, has said that he wants his followers to engage in “a war of ideas, a war of minds, a war of wills, a war of perseverance,” according to the Wall Street Journal, and that he will conquer Damascus — Syria’s capital — and implement Sharia law.

The group announced in February 2018, that it had defeated the remnants of ISIS militants in Idlib, and a month later said that they had taken control of up to 25 villages in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

It has created a religious police force in its territory, similar to ISIS’ Hisbah. They enforce Sharia law, control services like electricity and water, and collect taxes from citizens.

The group has also been fighting forces from the Syrian government in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. But while the terror group continues to grow and solidify its control, the Syrian government and US-led coalition have their attention elsewhere.

“The area seems to be out of focus for Western powers,” Hassan Hassan, an analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told the Wall Street Journal. “The jihadis are having a honeymoon there.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Explainer: Anger among Iranians over long-term deal with China

Iran is negotiating a controversial 25-year agreement with China that has led to accusations that parts of Iran are being sold to Beijing.

Some critics — including the U.S. State Department — are comparing the proposed deal to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay between Persia and tsarist Russia, under which the Persians ceded control of territory in the South Caucasus.

Iranian officials have dismissed the criticism as baseless while promising to make the text of the agreement public once it is finalized.

What Do We Know About The Agreement?

The pact was proposed in a January 2016 trip to Iran by Chinese President Xi Jinping during which the two sides agreed to establish their ties based on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, while announcing discussions would begin aimed at concluding a 25-year bilateral pact.

The announcement received the support of Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was quoted by Iranian media as saying that the agreement reached between the two sides was “wise.”

The text of the agreement, which will need to be approved by parliament, has not been released. But in recent days an 18-page document has been making the rounds on social media that outlines future cooperation between the countries, including Chinese investment in Iran’s energy sector as well as in the country’s free-trade zones.

RFE/RL cannot verify the authenticity of the document, which has been cited by some Iranian and Western media as a leaked version of the planned pact between Iran and China.

Analysts note the agreement being circulated is very light on details and appears to be the framework of a potential deal.

According to the text, which is labeled “final edit” on its front page and dated the Iranian month of Khordad — which starts May 21 and ends June 19 — the two sides will also increase military and security cooperation while working on joint-projects in third countries.

Iran has in recent months increasingly reached out to China in the face of growing U.S. pressure to isolate Tehran. China remains Iran’s main trading partner but trade between the two sides has dropped due to U.S. pressure in recent years.

Analysts say China is not ready to give Tehran the support it seeks while also suggesting that some of the cooperation envisaged in the pact may never materialize.

Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said, given its importance, the U.S. will always trump Iran for China.

“Iran is a small, risky market, sanctions have severely impeded business [there], and the regime is isolated,” she told RFE/RL. “Meanwhile, China has major economic interests in the U.S. and the trade war is still an important concern for China, which will inevitably shape its relationship with Iran.”

“If we look into what we know about the document and make some educated guesses, we see that the agreement is little more than a comprehensive road map based on the 2016 framework, which does not resolve the main issue of the China-Iran partnership — its implementation,” Jacopo Scita, an Al-Sabah doctoral fellow at Durham University, told RFE/RL.

Why Is The Treaty Controversial?

The pact is being discussed at a time when Iran is under intense pressure due to harsh U.S. sanctions that have crippled the economy and a deadly coronavirus pandemic that has worsened the economic situation.

The timing as well as the scope and duration of the agreement has led to increased concerns that Tehran is negotiating with China from a position of weakness while giving Beijing access to Iran’s natural resources for many years to come.

A distrust in the Iranian authorities that intensified after a deadly November crackdown on antiestablishment protests and the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet — which was initially seen as a coverup — has also contributed to the criticism of the proposed deal.

A lack of trust in China, as well as rising anti-China sentiments due to the coronavirus pandemic, has also contributed to the controversy surrounding the pact.

Tabatabai, the co-author of a book on Iranian ties with Russia and China, says the relationship between Tehran and Beijing has long been perceived as benefiting China far more than Iran.

“The perception isn’t fully inaccurate,” she said. “From the elite’s perspective, China makes big promises and delivers little. And from the population’s perspective, China has been benefiting from the sanctions on Iran, it’s flooded the Iranian market, pushed out Iranian businesses, and has delivered products that are subpar.”

She added: “Many Iranians feel like this deal will cement this unbalanced relationship.”

What Are The Critics Saying?

Criticism of the planned pact appears to have increased following comments by former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who warned in a speech in late June that a 25-year agreement with “a foreign country” was being discussed “away from the eyes of the Iranian nation.”

Others have since joined the criticism, including former conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari, who appeared to suggest on Twitter that before signing the pact Iran should raise the fate of Muslims who are reportedly being persecuted in China.

Scita, who closely follows Iranian-Chinese relations, says some of the hype and anger surrounding the agreement were boosted by public figures with political agendas, including Ahmadinejad, who is said to be eying the 2021 presidential election.

The exiled son of the shah of Iran, the country’s last monarch who was ousted following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has also criticized the pact.

Reza Pahlavi, who’s taken an increasingly active role against the Islamic republic, blasted the “shameful, 25-year treaty with China that plunders our natural resources and places foreign soldiers on our soil.” He also called on his supporters to oppose the treaty.

Twitter

twitter.com

The Persian account of the U.S. State Department referred to the planned agreement as a “second Turkmenchay” and said that Tehran is afraid to share the details of the pact because “no part of it is beneficial to the Iranian people.”

What Are Iranian Officials Saying?

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that Tehran was negotiating an agreement with China “with confidence and conviction,” while insisting there was nothing secret about it.

Since then, officials have defended the deal while dismissing claims that Iran will sell discounted oil to China or give Kish Island to Beijing.

President Hassan Rohani’s chief of staff, Mahmud Vaezi, said over the weekend that the framework of the agreement has been defined, adding that the negotiations are likely to be finalized by March 21.

Vaezi also said the agreement does not include foreign control over any Iranian islands or the deployment of Chinese military forces in the country.

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