5 top international gang threats to the U.S. - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new transnational organized-crime task force on Oct. 15, 2018, furthering a crackdown on crime that he said has been a Trump administration priority since Day 1.

“The same day I was sworn in as attorney general, President Trump ordered me to disrupt and dismantle these groups,” Sessions said in remarks delivered in Washington, DC.

The Justice Department, following Trump’s lead, has intensified its efforts against the transnational gang MS-13, which started in the US and is now based in Central America. Sessions designated the group a priority for the department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which he said had been able to hit it “from all angles.”


Sessions directed that task force, as well as Justice Department officials, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to name the top transnational criminal groups threatening the US. Subcommittees within the new task force will focus on the five groups named by those officials.

“I have ordered each of these subcommittees to provide me with specific recommendations within 90 days on the best ways to prosecute these groups and ultimately take them off of our streets,” Sessions said.

Below, you can see the five groups on which the Justice Department’s new task force will focus.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

An MS-13 suspect bearing gang tattoos is handcuffed.

MS-13

Trump has inveighed against MS-13 throughout his time in office.

Often calling its members “animals,” Trump has claimed MS-13 has turned US communities “into blood-stained killing fields,” accused child migrants of being members (though the number of unaccompanied minors with suspected links to the gang is minuscule), and falsely claimed to have seen ICE agents “liberate towns from the grasp of MS-13.”

The gang started among migrants from Central America, El Salvador in particular, who fled civil wars in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of them ended up in Southern California, where, without family networks or other connections, they gravitated toward gangs.

Deportations returned many members to their home countries in the 1990s and 2000s, where the gang blossomed in the post-conflict environment.

The gang’s influence has since spread throughout the region, including to the US, where it often carries out extortion, robberies, and other crimes in areas with large migrant communities, like the Washington, DC, suburbs or Suffolk County on Long Island.

Though MS-13 members have committed particularly heinous crimes, experts have said the Trump administration misunderstands the reach and power the gang.

“Our research found that MS-13 is hardly a lucrative network of criminal masterminds,” Steven Dudley, a senior fellow at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University, wrote in early 2018. “Instead, it is a loose coalition of young, often formerly incarcerated men operating hand to mouth across a vast geographic territory.”

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

The Jalisco New Generation cartel, or CJNG

The Mexican organized-crime group CJNG is the youngest group on the list compiled by the Justice Department. It is believed to have sprung from one faction of the Sinaloa cartel, which is also on the list, around 2010.

Based in the southwest state of Jalisco, the CJNG has grown rapidly since then, expanding throughout the country. It often violently forces out competitors and has corrupted numerous law-enforcement officials.

It has focused on synthetic drugs like crystal meth, and it has helped push up homicide rates along Mexico’s Pacific coast, fighting for control of ports needed to bring in precursor chemicals needed to make those drugs. The CJNG has expanded into other criminal enterprises; in some parts of Mexico it is believed to be fighting for a piece of the lucrative oil-theft trade.

Perhaps the group’s most high-profile crime was shooting down a Mexican army helicopter over Jalisco in May 2015. The shoot-down killed six soldiers, who were among 15 people killed in wave of violence in the state that day. (Mexican authorities said in 2018 they caught the suspects responsible for bringing down the helicopter.)

In the years since, the CJNG and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka “El Mencho,” have become high-profile targets. The capture of a number of CJNG financial operators, including the wife of “El Mencho,” in recent years likely indicates Mexican authorities are trying to go after the gang’s money. (Though the wife was released on bail in September 2018.)

The group also appears to be facing competition at home. A group called the Nueva Plaza cartel, believed to be led by a one-time confidant of Oseguera, is thought to be challenging it on its home turf in Guadalajara, with backing from groups like the Sinaloa cartel.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is escorted by soldiers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as he is extradited to New York, January 19, 2017.

(Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office)

The Sinaloa cartel

Over the past two decades, the Sinaloa cartel has risen to the top of Mexico’s narco hierarchy, operating throughout the country and around the world, linking coca fields in South America and drug labs in Mexico to consumers in the US, Europe, and parts of Asia.

Formed in the western state of the same name, the Sinaloa cartel emerged in the 1990s, after the breakup of the powerful Guadalajara cartel. Led by cartel chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel muscled rivals out of valuable territories, including cities bordering the US.

In the process, the cartel helped stoke dizzying bloodshed in Mexico, making its cities some of the most violent in the world.

The cartel’s outlook has been cloudy since Guzman’s January 2016 arrest, which came about six months after he broke out of jail for the second time. Rumors of a looming third breakout appeared to be snuffed out in January 2017, when Mexican officials whisked him to New York and turned him over to the US.

Since then, the Sinaloa cartel appeared ready to crack up. Guzman’s sons and presumed heirs to the cartel were kidnapped by rivals in late 2016, and in early 2017 they were challenged by Guzman’s former right-hand man and his son.

But Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a shadowy cartel chieftain who helped form the group with Guzman and is backing Guzman’s sons, appears to have reestablished some of the cartel’s “cohesion” and avoided a major fracture.

The Sinaloa cartel is better understood as an alliance of factions rather than a hierarchical cartel — a organizational structure that is believed to give it some resiliency in the face of law-enforcement pressure.

With Guzman absent, the group is believed to have continued operating with a lower profile, led by experienced smugglers like Zambada. A sophisticated narco tunnel — a smuggling method pioneered by the Sinaloans— was recently discovered in Tijuana, where the group is still active despite a challenge from the CJNG.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas-Guillen.

The Gulf clan

The Gulf clan, or the Gulf cartel, was long one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal groups moving cocaine from South America to the US and meting out shocking violence along the way.

Gulf cartel’s formation can be traced to the mid-1980s in northeast Mexico, where criminal elements and officialdom have long intertwined. Around that time, it began cutting deals with Colombian traffickers and soon vaulted from a relatively small-time marijuana and heroin business to a billion-dollar cocaine smuggling operation.

The cartel also corrupted government officials, federal and local police forces, and attorneys general. In the late 1990s, it also began developing a military wing, recruiting former Mexican special-forces soldiers to help form a group of enforcers known as the Zetas.

The cartel, and the Zetas in particular, soon diversified into numerous criminal enterprises and expanded to target non-drug-related businesses and natural resources. The Zetas have also carried out some of Mexico’s most brutal crimes.

The Gulf cartel and the Zetas began to split in the late 2000s, sparking inter- and intra-cartel fighting that still makes northeast Mexico one of the country’s most violent regions.

In recent years, the Gulf cartel has “lost strength and has experienced rapid turnover in leadership,” the DEA said in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment. But the group remains influential in northeast Mexico, moving drugs into South Texas and controlling distribution hubs in US cities like Houston and Atlanta.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Hezbollah posters in the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War.

Lebanese Hezbollah

Hezbollah, or the “Party of God,” is the only group on the Justice Department’s list with its origins outside the Western Hemisphere.

It emerged after Israel’s 1982 invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon, which came amid a civil war in the latter country that ran from 1975 to 1990.

A Shiite Muslim political party and militant group, Hezbollah receives significant support from Iran and has fought with Iran in Syria to support that country’s dictator, Bashar Assad.

That campaign has improved Hezbollah’s operational capabilities and added to its weapons stockpiles, now believed to include weapons like guided missiles, armed drones, and anti-tank missiles.

Israel has launched strikes in Syria to deter Iran and Hezbollah and has increased its readiness to counter Hezbollah and Iranian action there. Hezbollah’s growing role in Lebanon and its expanding military capabilities have led experts to warn a future war between it and Israel could be bigger and more violent that the 2006 Lebanon War.

The US, which considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, has pushed Lebanon to cut Hezbollah’s access to its financial sector.

The group has also been active in the US and the Western Hemisphere for some time, though its focus there is believed to be on money laundering.

People in the region with links to the group are almost all considered not to be active members but rather “associates,” though at least one man has been accused of conducting surveillance in the US in support of potential Hezbollah attacks.

The US has also accused numerous Venezuelan officials of links to Hezbollah, including through an alleged black-market scheme to sell passports. Though some intelligence officials have said those allegations are overstated.

Hezbollah-linked actors in the region’s “activities have largely been involved in logistics support, providing funds back to Lebanon to Hezbollah itself,” Adm. Kurt Tidd, the former head of US Southern Command, told the Senate in early 2016.

The threat to the US

“Transnational Criminal Organizations — whether they are gangs, drug trafficking cartels or terrorist groups — are a scourge,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who will lead the new task force, said alongside Sessions on Oct. 15, 2018. “They sow violence and sell poisonous drugs. They bribe public officials and fuel corruption. They terrorize law-abiding citizens.”

While the groups named are responsible for violence and criminal activity in the US and the region, experts have differed with the Trump administration’s assessment of them.

Former Justice Department officials have told Business Insider that Sessions overstates the influence of and threat posed by MS-13.

While the gang’s members have committed heinous acts in the US, their crimes mostly target immigrant communities. Though the group’s members in the US have contact with leaders in Central America, the organization itself is decentralized and largely involved in crimes like extortion, drug possession, and homicide, as it isn’t powerful or organized enough for transnational drug-trafficking.

Mexico’s cartels also have a presence in the US, as the DEA has documented. But what they do in the US appears to be vastly different from what they do in Mexico.

“The cartels use gang members. They use individuals that are living here in the United States to basically do the distribution and the logistics here in the United States,” Mike Vigil, former director of international operations for the DEA, told Business Insider in 2017.

Even as violence in Mexican border cities has risen over the past decade, violence in US cities next to them has been below-average. And incidents of cartel-related violence in the US have usually been limited to people with ties to the cartels (though there have been cases of mistaken identity).

Hezbollah is also active in the US, but it appears largely focused on fraud and money laundering. Throughout the region, the group’s activities appear limited to financial and logistical support for the organization based in Lebanon.

Intelligence officials have also disputed assertions by US politicians that the Venezuelan government is collaborating with Hezbollah and other militant groups.

“The whole Hezbollah line has been distorted for political purposes by the more extreme elements of the US right wing,” a former CIA senior official told Reuters in early 2018.

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

Articles

Chattanooga shooting victims to receive Purple Hearts

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
April Grimmett | Twitter


The four Marines and a sailor killed by a gunman during a July mass shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will each receive the Purple Heart medal, as will a Marine sergeant who was wounded.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Wednesday that Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire D. “Skip” Wells, Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith would all receive the award.

The announcement comes the same day the FBI announced that the Chattanooga shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was “inspired by a foreign terror organization.” It’s not clear what organization Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kuwait, might have been emulating.

“Following an extensive investigation, the FBI and NCIS have determined that this attack was inspired by a foreign terrorist group, the final criteria required for the awarding of the Purple Heart to this sailor and these Marines,” Mabus said in a statement, referring to Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero, Sgt. Cheeley,” he added.

On July 16, Abdulazeez first attacked a military recruiting office in a drive-by shooting, then traveled to a nearby Navy Reserve center, where he shot five Marines, a sailor and a police officer before he was killed by police.

Cheeley, the Marine recruiter who survived a gunshot to the back of the leg, returned to work the same month, Marine Corps Times reported.

The shocking and tragic attacks inspired a wave of concern over the security of military recruiting facilities and prompted Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to call for better training and “physical security enhancements” to protect the military personnel working at such facilities.

“Although the Purple Heart can never possibly replace this brave Sailor and these brave Marines, it is my hope that as their families and the entire Department of the Navy team continue to mourn their loss, these awards provide some small measure of solace,” Mabus said. “Their heroism and service to our nation will be remembered always.”

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Mighty HEROES: Meet Louisiana ER Attending Physician Pat Sheehan

Pat Sheehan, a 32 year-old attending physician in New Orleans, Louisiana, is no stranger to the fast-paced environment of the emergency room.

“The ERs are always the frontlines,” he told We Are The Mighty. “We treat every patient that comes through the doors 24/7/365, whether it’s a gunshot wound or a stubbed toe, great insurance or no insurance, any race, religion, [or] creed.”

When cases of the novel coronavirus began popping up around the country, Sheehan admits that his response was likely similar to many other medical professionals.


“I think I responded how most ER docs did, thinking that this is probably like all of the previous viruses that we were told could become a public health crisis – SARS, MERS, ebola, etc. – and never came to be,” Sheehan said. “I’ll be the first to admit that as an ER doc, I am not a public health expert. We are great at treating the critically ill and/or dying patients within our own emergency department, but we certainly defer to public health officials regarding crises like this. When we started to see things unfold in Seattle [and] NYC, we immediately buckled down and tried to prepare.”

Sheehan works at the second busiest emergency department in the entire state of Louisiana.

“[We see] about 85,000 patients per year, so luckily we have significant resources at our disposal,” he shared. “Our hospital was one of the first to implement an action plan and we actually built an entirely separate triage/waiting room area to siphon off all potential COVID patients from others presenting to the ER. We created several dedicated ‘COVID Shifts’ so that certain doctors and staff members would be treating all of the COVID patients rather than exposing everyone. I’ve certainly been lucky to work at a hospital where administration took the threat seriously and gave us all of the resources we needed.”

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

While Sheehan takes a ‘head down and treat the patients as they come in’ approach, the weight of the situation is omnipresent.

“Seeing patients dying, not being able to have their family with them at the end, because of a sad, but necessary, no visitor policy,” Sheehan said when asked about a low point of the pandemic.

Even outside the emergency room, he admits coronavirus remains top-of-mind.

“The hardest part is probably worrying about bringing it home to my family,” he shared. “We have a newborn at home, so obviously that’s constantly on my mind. We’re being as careful as we can be, I strip off my scrubs on the front porch and go straight to the shower when I get home. I take my temperature twice a day. Washing my hands constantly. Wearing PPE all the time at work. It’s impossible to be perfect though, so there is always a chance of me getting my loved ones sick.”

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Through the crisis, Sheehan has documented his experience on Instagram, creating posts and videos with easy to understand information, terminology simplification and even explanations of how equipment, like ventilators, work.

“More than anything I would just want people to understand how hard ERs work across the country work to treat the sick and dying every day, not just during COVID-19,” Sheehan said. “If you have to wait a few hours or somebody forgets to get you that blanket you asked for, just remember that it might be because in the room next to you staff is trying to revive an unresponsive infant, performing CPR on an overdose, or comforting family of a patient that didn’t make it. We’ll do our best to help you and make you comfortable, but sometimes we just need a little understanding.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Haqqani network founder dead from illness, says Taliban

The founder of the Haqqani network, one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous and feared militant groups, has died after a long illness, the network’s ally, the Afghan Taliban, has announced.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose son Sirajuddin Haqqani now heads the brutal group and is also the Taliban’s deputy leader, died “after a long battle with illness,” the Taliban said in a statement in English on Twitter early on Sept. 4, 2018.

The Taliban claimed that Jalaluddin “was from among the great distinguished Jihadi personalities of this era.”

The United States, after allying with Haqqani to fight the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, by 2012 had designated his organization a terrorist group.


The elder Haqqani was paralyzed for the past 10 years, AP reported. Because he had not been heard from in several years, reports of his death were widespread in 2015.

Haqqani was once a minister in the Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion in 2002 that followed the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Prior to the U.S. invasion, Haqqani fostered close ties with Arab extremists, including the now-deceased Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, who set up militant camps in Afghanistan before being run out of the country into hiding in Pakistan by U.S.-led NATO forces.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

The Haqqani network has been blamed for spectacular attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

It was blamed for the truck bombing in the heart of Kabul in May 2017 that killed around 150 people, though the group denied its involvement.

The network has also been accused of assassinating top Afghan officials and holding kidnapped Westerners for ransom.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Navy veteran and legendary actor Sean Connery turns 90. Here are his best military roles

“Bond. James Bond.” These are Sir Sean Connery’s first lines in 1962’s Dr. No as he brought Ian Fleming’s spy of mystique to life on the silver screen. Ironically, Fleming didn’t want the working-class, bodybuilding Scotsman to portray his suave and dapper British super-spy. However, Connery went on to play the role a total of seven times, and each time was met with critical acclaim. In 1964, Fleming even wrote Connery’s heritage into the Bond character, saying that his father was from Glencoe in Scotland. On August 25, 2020, the veteran actor celebrated his 90th birthday. What many people don’t know about him is that before he played Commander James Bond, Connery was a sailor himself.


5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

“Bond. James Bond.” (United Artists)

In 1946, at the age of 16, Connery enlisted in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. He received training at the naval gunnery school in Portsmouth and was assigned to an anti-aircraft artillery crew. His first and only ship assignment was the Illustrious-class aircraft carrier HMS Formidable. After three years of naval service, Connery was medically discharged due to a duodenal ulcer.

After leaving the Navy, Connery went into bodybuilding and football (the European sort). Though he was offered a contract with Manchester United, the short-lived career of a footballer deterred him. “I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23,” Connery recalled. “I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”

Connery started his acting career onstage in the 1953 production of South Pacific. Back in uniform, albeit a costume, Connery played a Seabee chorus boy before he was given the part of Marine Cpl. Hamilton Steeves. The next year, the production returned out of popular demand and Connery was promoted to the featured role of Lt. Buzz Adams.

When Connery made the transition to motion pictures, it wasn’t long before he was portraying military men again. Less than two weeks after Dr. No was released in the UK, The Longest Day hit theaters with Connery playing the role of Pte. Flanagan. After six Bond films, Connery traded his onscreen Naval rank for an Army one. The 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express featured Connery as British Indian Army Officer Colonel John Arbuthnot. Three years later, Connery took on one of his most iconic military roles in 1977’s A Bridge Too Far, portraying Major General Roy Urquhart and his command of the British 1st Airborne Division as they attempted to hold a bridge in Arnhem during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden.
5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Connery wearing the iconic paratrooper’s red beret (United Artists)

The 1980s would see Connery reprise the role of Commander James Bond one last time in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. The Scotsman also donned an American uniform, playing Lt. Col. Alan Caldwell in the 1988 film The Presidio. Serving as the Post Provost Marshal, Caldwell clashes with maverick SFPD detective and former Army MP Jay Austin, played by Mark Harmon.

Exploring the uniforms of other nations, Connery then went behind the Iron Curtain as Soviet Submarine Captain Marko Ramius in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October. If I have to explain this one, your weekend assignment is to watch it.
5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

“One ping only” (Paramount Pictures)

1996 saw Connery play the role of a military man one last time in The Rock. As former British SAS Captain John Mason, Connery starred alongside Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris in this action thriller directed by Michael Bay and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, the production duo that brought us Top Gun.

Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on July 5, 2000. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute when he announced his retirement from acting on June 8, 2006. When asked if he would return to acting to appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Connery announced that he would not, saying, “Retirement is just too much damned fun.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Camp Blaz is the first new USMC base in nearly 70 years

On October 1, 2020, the United States Marine Corps activated its first new base since 1952. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz will host roughly 5,000 Marines of III Marine Expeditionary Force on the island of Guam. The Marines will relocate from their current station in Okinawa, Japan over the next five years. 1,300 Marines will be permanently stationed at Camp Blaz while the remaining 3,700 Marines will serve as a rotational force.

The new Marine Corps strategy in the Pacific calls for a smaller, more agile and lethal force. “We have to spread out,” said the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger. “We have to factor in Guam.” Camp Blaz will allow the United States to distribute its premiere amphibious fighting force across the Pacific. Operating from Guam, the Marine Corps will be able to respond to a wider array of aggressive actions from China. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) is officially the largest navy in the world. While the United States more than doubles the PLAN in tonnage and outclasses it in quality, the threat of numbers cannot be ignored.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Brig. Gen. Blaz’s official Marine Corps portrait (U.S. Marine Corps)

Camp Blaz is named for the late Brig. Gen. Vicente Tomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to reach the rank of general officer. Blaz was born on Guam on February 14, 1928 and lived through the Japanese occupation of the island during WWII. After the war, he attended the University of Notre Dame on a scholarship and commissioned as a Marine officer in 1951.

Over his 29 years of service, Blaz earned the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star Medal with a Combat “V” for valor, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross for his service in Vietnam. Following his retirement from the Corps in 1980, Blaz worked as a professor at the University of Guam. In 1984, he was elected to the House of Representatives as the delegate from Guam. He served in Congress until 1983 when he retired. Blaz died in 2014 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The new base that bears this Marine’s name solidifies the union between the Corps and the people of Guam. “As the Marine Corps presence on Guam grows, I am confident that we will live up to our motto of honor, courage, and commitment,” said Col. Bradley M. Magrath, Camp Blaz’s first base commander. “We will honor the history of the island of Guam, we will have the courage to defend it, and we will remain committed to preserving its cultural and environmental resources.” The Marine Corps plans to hold a formal activation ceremony in spring 2021.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Marines conduct the first flag raising at Camp Blaz (U.S. Marine Corps)
MIGHTY HISTORY

Their first battle: George A. Custer charges into Manassas

Famous Maj. Gen. George A. Custer is probably best known for his exploits after the Civil War, but he graduated from West Point in June 1861, arriving in the regular Army just in time to lead cavalrymen in the First Battle of Bull Run that July. Yeah, Custer rode into combat the month after he graduated college.


5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Cadet George A. Custer at West Point in 1859.

(Public domain)

The First Battle of Bull Run, or the First Battle of Manassas as it was known in the South, focused on the railroad intersection at Manassas. The railroads that intersected there were key to Washington’s ability to send troops and supplies south into Virginia in case of an invasion of the South. Both sides knew this and wanted to control the junction.

The South stationed an army there, but those men largely fell back when 30,000 Union troops assembled nearby in June 1861. Just weeks later, the field commander of the Union Army, Gen. Irvin McDowell, proposed using his 30,000 men to further drive back the Confederate defenders and then advance on Richmond. His goal was to capture the Virginia capital, recently selected as the second capital of the Confederacy.

While the Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard had fallen back when the Union troops showed up, they were obviously not willing to leave the capital undefended. They had to fight the Union at Manassas Junction.

Custer arrived in Washington D.C. on July 20, 1861, the day before the battle broke out. He had been held on West Point’s campus for disciplinary reasons right after he had graduated from the school as the 34th ranked student in a class of 34. Because of his late start after this detainment, he barely reached D.C. in time for the battle.

He reported to the Adjutant-General’s office and was told that he had been assigned as an officer in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. (This was an auspicious assignment. Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee had commanded the unit until January 1861.)

But after giving Custer his orders, the adjutant offered to introduce Custer to Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott. At the time, Scott was the Commanding General of the United States Army. Custer gave his assent, and Scott asked Custer if he would rather spend the following weeks training recruits or if he desired “something more active?”

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

A Union artillery battery is overran at the First Battle of Bull Run.

(Sidney King, public domain via Good Free Photos)

Custer said he wanted more active work, and Scott ordered him to procure a horse and report back by 7 p.m. to carry dispatches to McDowell, the field commander. Custer did so, introduced himself to the general and his staff, and then reported to his regiment.

Because of West Point’s detaining him, Scott had managed to ingratiate himself with the Army’s top commander and its top field commander mere hours before its first engagement, a fight he would now ride in. It was a pretty great start for a bottom-of-his-class West Pointer.

But when the actual battle touched off, Custer was present and in the saddle, but did not see serious action. The Union commanders had seven cavalry troops on the field, but largely used them attached to infantry brigades where they would, at most, protect the infantry’s flanks or do a little reconnaissance.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Custer, on the right, as a captain after he captured one of his West Point classmates.

(Library of Congress)

Still, he made himself present and provided warnings to commanders, leading to a citation in reports from the battle and impressing George C. McClellan. The battle went badly for the Union, and McDowell was removed from command. That might seem like a problem for the cavalry officer who had just impressed McDowell, but McDowell was replaced by McClellan.

As McClellan re-organized and re-trained the Union military, he kept an eye on Custer who was quickly impressing others, largely through brash actions. During the Peninsula Campaign, he saw a debate about whether it was safe to ford a river and ended the argument by riding into the middle of it and reporting that, yeah, he wasn’t dead. It was probably fine.

His bravado earned him fans, and his connections to top officers got him looked at for commands that a young officer likely wouldn’t have gotten looked at for. In fact, he rose so quickly that he received a brevet promotion to brigadier general of volunteers at the tender age of 23.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier saved a two people from a burning wreck

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

The fitting Martin Luther King Jr. quote is a personal favorite of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Davis, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) artillery cannon crew member and section chief. Davis, an Ellijay, Georgia native, received the Soldier’s Medal on Jan. 22 at Shaw Gymnasium in front of his unit and division leadership for his actions that saved two lives last year.


“Often in times in combat, we have moments of self-reflection,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding general. “We have visions of who we are, we have expectations of who we are, but it’s not until that first moment under duress that our strength and character is tested. Through that crucible of fire, we prove who we are. That’s exactly what Staff Sgt. Davis did.”

On June 9, 2017, Davis was traveling to Georgia when he came across an overturned vehicle. Trusting his gut and noting the lack of concern from other commuters, he pulled over to make sure no one was in danger.

“I was pulling up, and I noticed there was a small engine fire underneath the belly of the car, so I jumped out and ran up to the vehicle,” Davis said.

There he found Rick and Sharon Steiert, trapped and soaked in gasoline from a container that had been thrown from the back of the car. Davis immediately got to work and pulled Rick from the inverted vehicle first, and then began working to save Sharon, who was still trapped inside by her seatbelt.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

As I was [unbuckling her seatbelt] the whole vehicle caught fire, and I just felt a blanket of fire wrap around my body, and everything just happened in a matter of seconds from there,” Davis explained. “But before I could get the other half of her body out, she caught fire from all the fuel that was on her. I noticed she was on fire [shortly] before noticing that I was on fire, too.

Davis worked quickly to free Sharon from the burning vehicle, then committed his efforts to extinguishing the flames that were still burning their legs.

After emergency personnel transported everyone to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Davis was diagnosed with severe second-degree burns on more than 75 percent of his lower leg. Sharon’s burns were more severe, and Rick also sustained injuries.

“They [doctors] said five seconds longer and I would have been halfway through a third-degree burn and almost into the fourth degree,” Davis said. “It was a very painful recovery, but nothing compared to what Sharon had to deal with; so I don’t complain about it.”

After a long recovery process, Davis received a heartfelt letter from Sharon’s daughter, Britney Balduc. In the letter, Balduc expressed her family’s desire to reunite with him.

“It was an emotional letter [sent] from their daughter because they were burned so badly and unable to write,” said Davis who was also eager to reconnect with the family he helped save.

Also Read: Soldiers hailed as heroes for saving crash victim from burning car

Davis said that he and the Steiert family have since built a lifelong friendship. Sharon and Rick, along with their son, Scott Capodice, were also in attendance at Shaw Gymnasium and joined Davis and his family as he was honored.

The Soldier’s Medal is a military award that recognizes peacetime acts of valor where a Soldier voluntarily puts himself or herself in personal danger, something that Davis said he did without a second thought that day.

“I did it because that was somebody’s life, and that somebody’s life means something to someone,” Davis said. “I couldn’t imagine if I was in their situation and no one came to help me.”

During the ceremony, Poppas said that Davis serves as an example for all Soldiers to emulate.

“A lesser man, a lesser Soldier, a lesser person, never would have stopped, let alone gone in two separate times and pulled them to safety,” said Poppas. “We’re honoring his acts that are an example for us all. It’s who we should be, no matter what the endeavor, and how we should act when we come across an event like he did.”

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Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding general, pins the Soldier’s Medal on Staff Sgt. Nicholas Davis, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) artillery cannon crew member and section chief, during a ceremony held at Fort Campbell, Jan. 22, 2018. Davis, an Ellijay, Georgia, native and seven-year combat veteran with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, received the award for heroism and his lifesaving actions when he rescued a couple from a burning vehicle, June 9, 2017. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen)

Davis, a seven-year combat veteran with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, received praise for his heroism, and his leadership spoke highly of his character.

“He’s just an all-around good Soldier,” said 1st Lt. Charles Trumpfheller, Davis’ platoon leader. “He’ll do anything for anybody and really, he’s one of those [noncommissioned officers] who you can count on to get things done.”

Poppas shared Trumpfheller’s sentiments.

“You’re an inspiration to us all Staff Sgt. Davis,” he said after adorning the Soldier’s Medal onto Davis’ uniform. “Thank you for your actions; we all have something to learn from you.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Ukraine destroy a Russian-built fighting vehicle

The Ukrainian Military recorded what looks like a ceasefire violation on Feb. 22, 2018, that resulted in the destruction of a separatist infantry fighting vehicle.


The incident took place near the city of Dokuchayevsk, just south of Donetsk, the capital of the self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic. Video shows a guided anti-tank missile hit a vehicle while artillery strikes land in the area.

Also read: In a surprising twist, US agrees with Russia over Ukraine

“An enemy infantry fighting vehicle has been destroyed near the occupied town of Dokuchayevsk thanks to the skills of servicemen from the ‘Mospyne’ tactical group of the United Forces,” according to a statement posted on the official account for Ukraine’s ongoing anti-terrorism operation.

The statement also said that the IFV was most likely on a reconnaissance mission. It is not immediately clear what type of IFV the vehicle is.


Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in its Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts — a region known as Donbas. Two peace agreements have been signed between the warring parties and their sponsors, but ceasefire violations happen almost every day along the conflict line.

This incident is particularly rare because it involved an IFV. According to Minsk II, one of the ceasefire agreements, heavy weapons like armored vehicles and artillery are supposed to be withdrawn from the frontlines, in an effort to create a 31 mile long “security zone.”

The engagement comes amidst plans for the US to supply the Ukrainian military with 35 FGM-148 Javelin fire-and-forget anti-tank launchers, and at least 210 missiles.

Related: Watch as a massive ammunition depot blows up in Ukraine

The Javelin is one of the most advanced anti-tank weapon systems available, and has been requested by Ukraine repeatedly, but former President Barack Obama never approved the deal. The Trump administration now says the missiles are being provided to Ukraine strictly for defense.

Iryna Lutsenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, claimed on Feb. 23, 2018, that Canada and “European countries” will also provide Ukraine with weapons in the coming years.

Ukraine’s intelligence recently reported that up to 200 officers from the Russian Military arrived in the country as part of a rotation of Russian servicemen in the region.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of Jan. 13

Look, nobody get ninja punched this weekend and maybe we’ll stop getting these safety briefs every Friday. But who are we kidding? Someone is going to be on the carpet first thing Monday.


Oh well. Here are some funny military memes before the festivities start:

1. It’s gonna be out of this world (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments)

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The tape plays at three times the speed of sound.

2. No such thing as a “touch” of food poisoning (via The Salty Soldier).

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But the chili mac was good.

3. Stalin, you’re holding your fist wrong (via Military Memes).

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ALSO READ: 6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

4. Come on. Push ups and flutter kicks are just good physical training (via Lost in the Sauce).

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Guess I’ll just have him practice individual movement techniques for the next few hours. Mostly just the low crawl.

5. What the —!? Don’t do it! Think of the bad juju!

(via Coast Guard Memes)

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Y’all acting like you want the terrorists to win.

6. You’re about to get eviscerated, buddy (via Air Force Memes Humor).

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Maybe try to play dead or something.

7. “My friends and I are here for the violence.”

(via Military Memes)

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I wonder if he laughs more or less when it’s not a rehearsal.

8. The USS New York is ready to visit freedom on everyone who seeks to destroy it (via Navy Crow).

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Maybe don’t aim at skyscrapers anymore.

9. Just pray that it’s a late sunrise and all the NCOs are hungover (via The Salty Soldier).

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But maybe save some of your strength for the smoke session, just in case.

10. Yeah, seems about right.

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If you stay in long enough, you get to be the bear.

11. New Air Force tattoo policy be like:

(via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

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Hope some of you had money invested in tattoo parlors near Air Force bases.

12. Remember: profiles are just suggestions until the commander signs off on them (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments).

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Looks like someone is going to spend the next few months driving the command and staff vehicles.

13. Recruiters are like D.A.R.E. officers. “Just say no.”

(via Devil Dog Nation)

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Special bonus meme 1:

(via The Salty Soldier)

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Special bonus meme 2:

(via Devil Dog Nation)

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

MIGHTY GAMING

This controller gives gaming back to wounded veterans

One of the struggles that many returning, wounded veterans face is trying to find a new normal after a horrific incident. What was once a simple pastime, like playing a quick round of your favorite video game to relieve stress, is taken away from someone who has lost the ability to hold and operate a controller as they once did.

This is what Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed to alleviate. And any little thing that can help give our wounded brothers and sisters a better chance at living a comfortable, normal life should definitely be counted as a win for the veteran community as a whole.


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AbleGamers has founded many Accessibility Arcades to give gamers with disabilities a space with a wide variety of modified controllers.

(USDA photo by Bob Nichols)

The disabled gaming community has had to find ways to compensate for many years, going to either extremely costly or very frustrating lengths to do so. If a gamer with disabilities isn’t able to successfully adjust the way they play to fit their condition, they have to abandon the game, wasting cash and taking a hit to morale as they have to say goodbye to their favorite titles.

And then came the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which requires tech companies to outfit all forms of communication, including laptops, smartphones, and video game consoles, with accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since the CCVAA’s passing, nearly all tech giants have taken steps in the right direction, introducing many text-to-speech features for the visually impaired and other accessibility options, like color-blind support settings in most major game titles. Then, Microsoft moved leaps and bounds ahead of the wave when they announced a partnership with AbleGamers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving accessibility in the video game space.

The engineers at Microsoft began working on a versatile prototype controller that can interface with all types of external input devices, allowing for an adaptive remapping of inputs. There are 19 ports on the back of the controller that can be connected to joysticks, standard controllers, buttons, switches, or whatever other type of device is most accessible to the gamer. If need be, any Xbox game can be played with one hand and a foot, one hand and a shoulder, one shoulder and a foot — whatever allows the gamer to play most comfortably.

The controller has been released to the public — and at a reasonable price. Our friends at Operation Supply Drop were given many adaptive controllers to be deployed to military hospitals around the world. The chief medical officer of OSD, Maj. Erik Johnson, has long been a supporter of using video games as a therapeutic tool for wounded troops.

With these controllers, many more wounded veterans will be able to bring gaming back into their lives.

Articles

Mysterious Air Force space plane lands after 2-year mission

An unmanned US military space plane has landed at NASA’sKennedy Space Center following a mission lasting more than two years.


The , which looks like a miniature space shuttle, touched down May 7, causing a sonic boom as it landed on a runway once used for space shuttles which have been mothballed.

The sonic boom caused dozens of nearby residents to take to Twitter, with one saying her house “shook” and her dog had “gone into a frenzy”.

Exactly what the space plane was doing during its 718 days in orbit is not entirely clear, with the US Air Force saying the orbiters “perform risk reduction, experimentation and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.”

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The U.S. Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida May 7, 2017. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft that performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The cost of the mission – the fourth and longest so far – is classified.

The Secure World Foundation, a non-profit group that promotes the peaceful exploration of space, says the secrecy surrounding the suggests intelligence-related hardware is being tested or evaluated aboard the craft.

At 29 feet-long and with a wingspan of 15 feet, the Boeing-built craft is about a quarter of the size of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s now-retired space shuttles.

This mission began in May 2015, when the plane set off from nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas 5 rocket built by United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

Its first mission was eight-months-long from April 2010, its second from March the following year lasted 15 months.

A third took off in December 2012 and ended after 22 months.

Another mission is scheduled later this year.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, sonic booms used to be common in the area during the 30 years of NASA’s manned space shuttle programme, with landings at the Kennedy Space Center preceded by a loud double boom.

But the last of those shuttles landed nearly six years ago.

There is also a type of rocket – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 – which produces sonic booms and these were last heard earlier this month.

But officials had refused to confirm the return date for the , so its arrival was not expected by residents.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy just commissioned a new Littoral Combat Ship

The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest warship, the USS Omaha, on Feb. 3. The futuristic, $440 million vessel is named for the Nebraska hometown of billionaire Warren Buffett, who was on hand for the ceremony.


The Omaha, a 218-foot-long littoral combat ship, was commissioned at its new home port in San Diego.

Buffett’s daughter, Susie Buffett, who was designated as the ship’s sponsor, gave the traditional order for officers and crew: “Man our ship and bring her to life.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” they replied and ran to the ship as a band struck up “Anchors Aweigh.”

The aluminum-clad Omaha is designed for missions close to shore. It has high-tech computer capabilities and can be reconfigured for various missions, including anti-submarine warfare and anti-mine operations.

“She is a beautiful ship,” said Cmdr. Michael Toth, the commanding officer. “To be at her helm is more akin to flying an aircraft with a pilot and a co-pilot than to conning a traditional warship.”

Other dignitaries at the ceremony included Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, and former Nebraska Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Navy veteran and Medal of Honor recipient.

“I am proud to share our name, our heritage, and our community values with USS Omaha and its commander,” Stothert said. “We wish you safety on your missions.”

Also Read: The Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships are getting hellfire missiles

Ricketts, whose state is landlocked, said it was a unique honor, and designated the entire crew as “an admiral in the great Navy of the state of Nebraska.”

The ship is the fourth to carry the Omaha name since 1869. The last vessel was an attack submarine that was decommissioned in 1995.

“She represents the strength and the fortitude of her city and her state,” U.S. Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said at the ceremony. “This ship is ready to deliver the fight tonight.”

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