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

These are 10 of the longest-serving weapons in the US combat arsenal

As far as weapon systems are concerned, having the best available can be key to success on the battlefield.


But with rapid changes in technology, some weapons come and go rather quickly. Other times, weapons are so well designed and so effective, they stay in service for decades.

Here are 10 of the longest-serving weapons ever used by the United States military.

1. M1903 Springfield .30 Cal Rifle

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
U.S. Marines with M1903 rifles and bayonets in WWI France, 1918. (Imperial War Museum photo)

The M1903 was one of the first rifles to use the famous .30-06 round and was the standard American infantry rifle during World War I. Although officially replaced by the M1 Garand in 1937, it was still in service due to insufficient numbers of Garands. The Springfield .30 cal was retained as a sniper rifle through the Korean War and even into Vietnam before finally being retired after over 60 years of service.

2. M1911 .45 Cal Pistol

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
A U.S. Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s maritime raid force fires an M1911 .45 caliber pistol at a range in Jordan during Eager Lion 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The M1911 is a creation of the legendary gunmaker John Browning, and it endured in service for over 100 years. The pistol became an icon for its strength in battle and by those who used it. The M1911 was phased out in favor of the Beretta M9 9mm pistol in the late 1980s but has stayed in service with Marine Special Operations units and is now designated as the M45.

3. M1919 .30 Cal Machine Gun

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
A Navy machine gunner of the Riverine Force in Vietnam using an M1919 being fed by an upside-down M-13 link belt. (DoD photo)

The M1919 was another one of John Browning’s successes. An air-cooled version of the M1917 that served U.S. troops well in World War I, it saw extensive use in World War II and Korea. The M1919 was phased out in favor of the new M60 in the late 1950s. However, the Navy, having a surplus of the weapons, converted many to 7.62 mm and used them on gun boats patrolling the rivers of Vietnam.

4. M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
LCpl. Paul Rodas mans a .50 caliber machine gun as part of the security force during an exercise in the Central Command AOR. The 24th MEU is on their six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy Photograph by PH2(SW) Michael Sandberg)

The “Ma Deuce” is a weapon system loved by the troops who use it and feared by those it targeted. The gun was designed near the end of World War I, too late to see service, and entered full production in 1921. Also designed by John Browning, the weapon is so well-built that in 2015 a 94 year old example was found still in service. Though numerous other designs have been proposed, the military has no plans to stop using the M2 anytime soon.

5. B-52 Stratofortress

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Munitions on display show the full capabilities of the B-52 Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert J. Horstman)

The B-52 was designed to deliver nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. Despite never having to conduct this mission, the B-52 has been the workhorse of conventional bombing campaigns for more the 60 years. The Air Force plans to keep it in service into the 2040s.

6. M60 .30 Cal Machine Gun

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Staff Sgt. Clarence Neitzel of the 173d Airborne Brigade mans an M60 machine gun on Hill 875 outside of Dak To on November 22, 1967. (U.S. Army photo)

The M60 entered service in 1957, just in time to see heavy use in the jungles of Vietnam. The M60 served as the standard machine gun for the U.S. military until the 1990s when the M240 was adopted. However, more than 50 years later, the M60 continues to serve with some SEAL teams and as helicopter armament.

7. M14 .30 Cal Rifle

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Marcus Wrice fires an M14 rifle during a weapons qualification aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez)

The M14 had a short service life as the standard American infantry rifle from 1959 to 1964 when it was replaced by the M16. But the rifle never left service and was the basis for the M21 and M25 sniper rifles before making a serious comeback during the Global War on Terror when it was upgraded to the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle.

8. M16 5.56 mm Rifle/ M4 Carbine

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Sergeant Christopher L. Mc Cabe fires his rifle during monthly range training on May 15, 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Thomas J. Griffith)

Since replacing the M14 in 1964, the M16/M4 family of rifles has become the longest-serving standard rifle for the U.S. military. Despite its troubled beginning, the M16 and M4 have earned a hard-fought reputation as reliable and effective weapons. Despite numerous attempts to replace it, no competition has yielded a better rifle.

9. LGM-30 Minuteman Ballistic Missile

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
An unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test Feb. 20, 2016, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford)

The Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile has served as part of the U.S. nuclear triad since entering service in 1962. The Minuteman was the first ICBM to employ multiple independent reentry vehicles, allowing each missile to deploy three separate warheads for greater chances of target destruction. The Air Force, responsible for the missiles, currently operates 450, down from the peak of 1,000 during the 1970s.

10. M61 Vulcan 20 mm Cannon

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
An AC-130A Spectre gunship’s 20mm Vulcan cannon ammo belt. This is the earlier belted M61. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The M61 is the United States’ primary armament for fixed-wing aviation. After entering service in 1959, the gun saw extensive use in Vietnam by all branches fighting in the skies. The gun was credited with shooting down 39 MiGs during the war. After over 50 years of service, the M61 is still found on American fighters and in the Navy’s Phalanx CIWS.

Articles

The Pentagon wants an ‘aerial dragnet’ to find enemy drones on the battlefield and in US cities

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
DARPA


The Pentagon’s research and development outfit wants to stop “UAS-enabled terrorist threats” with a new system it’s calling Aerial Dragnet that would track slow, low-flying drones — or what the military calls unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

“As off-the-shelf UAS become less expensive, easier to fly, and more adaptable for terrorist or military purposes, U.S. forces will increasingly be challenged by the need to quickly detect and identify such craft,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a news release. “Especially in urban areas, where sight lines are limited and many objects may be moving at similar speeds.”

DARPA is soliciting proposals for the program, which seeks to provide “persistent, wide-area surveillance” of multiple drones on a city-wide scale.

Drones have become a mainstay on the battlefield — especially where the US is involved — but many other countries have, or are producing, drones for use in combat. Then there are the smaller, off-the-shelf types, which have even been used for surveillance purposes and to deliver explosive devices by terrorist groups like ISIS, for example.

The proliferation of drones is going to continue, so it looks like DARPA wants a sort-of “super drone” that will tell US forces where all the other little ones are on the battlefield. That is a ways off, since the the Aerial Dragnet research program will take more than three years, after which it’s up to the Pentagon on whether any of the research is implemented in the field.

“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft — from small general aviation planes to large airliners — all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” Jeff Krolik, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”

Krolik also works on another DARPA program called “upward falling payloads” — a way of parking drones in sealed cases on ocean floors around the world, where they can be remotely activated to “fall” up and take a look around should trouble occur.

DARPA said the program is mainly designed to protect deployed troops, but the system “could ultimately find civilian application to help protect US metropolitan areas.”

The agency is hosting a proposers day on September 26, and full proposals for those interested in getting the contract are required by November 12.

Articles

Marines train with AK-47s, PK machine guns to prep for Afghanistan deployment

Marines are heading back to Helmand province, Afghanistan this spring for an advisory mission that will put them back in the thick of the fight between the Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces.


In preparation for the upcoming mission, the 300-man contingent of Marines assigned to Task Force Southwest spent a day honing foreign weapons skills to familiarize themselves with the arms the Afghans use every day. On Jan. 17, the Marines practiced firing two well-known Soviet-era Kalashnikov weapons: the PK general-purpose machine gun and AK-47 rifle, according to a news release from II Marine Expeditionary Force by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins.

Related: Service branches and elite units are testing a 60-round drum

Hopkins noted in the release that these weapons are used by both allies and enemies in the region, making it important for the Marines to understand them and their use.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Marines with Task Force Southwest fire PK general-purpose machine guns during foreign weapons familiarization training. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

“We want these Marines to familiarize themselves with weapons they might find down range,” Staff Sgt. Patrick R. Scott, the foreign weapons chief instructor with Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group, said in a statement. “They need to be able to talk intelligently about them to their foreign security force, and that’ll help them build rapport and hopefully help them become successful in the long run.”

The weapons course also included live-fire ranges with weapons systems more familiar to Marines: the Mk-19 machine gun and the 60mm mortar.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
A Marine with Task Force Southwest fires an AK-47 during foreign weapons and familiarization training. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Before the Marines deploy, they will also train with hired Afghan roleplayers–a mainstay of military cultural training.

“I find it… inspirational that I get to help and be a part of the step that gets Marines back into Afghanistan,” Sgt. Hayden Chrestmen, a machine gun instructor with the Division Combat Skills Center, said in the release “As an Afghanistan veteran, it’s extremely important they know how to operate these weapon systems because they’re protecting their brothers to the left and right of them.”

Intel

This Medal of Honor recipient thinks Donald Trump is wrong on Muslims

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
Photos: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey and Michael Vadon CC BY-SA 4.0


Medal of Honor recipient and Afghan War Veteran Dakota Meyer recently penned an essay on Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

Meyer, who fought beside Muslims while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, points out that Trump’s tactics will likely aid ISIS recruiting and threaten American security. It would also keep out the translators whose services saved American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the interpreter who Meyer worked to get into America safely.

Read Meyer’s essay over at Warriorscout.com 

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 fantastic Navy films that you should watch at least once

Hollywood does its best to try and capture the essence of what it means to be in the military and transcribes it for a civilian audience in ninety-minute chunks. Sometimes, they fall flat on their face. But, on occasion, there are outstanding moments when they knock it out of the park.

Most big-budget military films often put the focus on the Army or the Marines, leaving the Navy on the sidelines. When sailors do get an opportunity to shine on the silver screen, the glory often goes to the SEALs — or it’s Top Gun. But everyone’s already seen Top Gun and most sailors would roll their eyes if we mentioned it in this list.

In no particular order, here are six awesome films about sailors that you should put on your must-watch list:


‘Crimson Tide’

As was the case with many of the great war films set in the 1990s after the collapse of Soviet Union, Crimson Tide showcases the “what-if” of the Russian Federation squaring off against the United States in another Bay of Pigs incident.

Denzel Washington stars as the mild-tempered XO to Gene Hackman’s temperamental Captain. The two are at odds with one another on how to prevent World War Three. Fun Fact: Though uncredited, Quentin Tarantino wrote much of the pop-culturey dialogue.

‘Annapolis’

Annapolis is an indie drama that follows Jake Huard (played by James Franco) as he attends the Naval Academy. It’s the story of a poor nobody trying to make it as one of the elite. It kind of toes the line between being a Marine film and a Navy film because it’s never made clear which route he’ll take, but it’s still steeped in Navy traditions.

It tanked at the box office, but eventually found its footing with a home release. The fact that it shows pledges getting hazed upset the Department of the Navy so bad that they called for its boycott. It’s still a great film, in my opinion.

‘Anchors Aweigh’

This 1945 musical came out right before the Japanese signed the surrender and put an end to the Second World War. The film follows Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as two sailors on liberty in golden-age Hollywood. In this musical comedy, the sailors come across a lost, innocent kid who wants to one day join the Navy himself. Then, the sailors proceed to hit on his aunt.

It’s nice to see that nothing’s changed in the way sailors think since then.

‘Master and Commander’

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, this film is heavily focused on what it means to complete the mission and the importance of safeguarding the welfare of the troops underneath. Russell Crowe’s crew aboard the HMS Surprise are locked in seemingly eternal combat with French privateers.

It was nominated for ten Academy Awards the year it came out, including Best Picture and Best Director, but would lose all but two (Cinematography and Sound Editing) to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

‘Down Periscope’

Still one of the best military comedies is Down Periscope. It stars Kelsey Grammer, who plays one of the worst commanders in the Navy and who’s given an even worse crew of submariners who all manage to fail upwards.

It’s packed full of 90s comedians in their prime. It also stars William H. Macy, Rob Schneider, and even a young Patton Oswald.

‘The Hunt for Red October’

What else can be said about The Hunt for Red October? It’s a cinematic masterpiece. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you should honestly clear your evening schedule and watch it today.

Set during the conclusion of the Cold War, Sean Connery plays a Soviet submarine captain and Alec Baldwin is a CIA analyst. Both struggle to find peace while their respective forces do everything in their powers to avoid it. Technically, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, and Shadow Recruit are all sequels to this masterpiece, but none come close.

If you can think of any that we missed (and there are a lot), feel free to let us know! We’d love to hear it.

Articles

Here is how the Navy feels about finders keepers

The Navy tends to be very strict when people recover items from sunken wrecks. In fact, when an Enigma machine was taken from the wreck of U-85, the Navy intervened. They even tried to grab a plane they left lying around in a North Carolina swamp for over 40 years.


5 top international gang threats to the U.S.
A U.S. Marine Corps F3A-1 aircraft of Marine Air Group 91 commanded by LCol Joseph M. Renner. (U.S. Navy photo)

According to a 2004 AP report, the plane in question was very valuable. It was the only known surviving Brewster F3A “Corsair.” Well, let’s be honest here. The F3A can best be described as a Corsair In Name Only, or CINO. Brewster’s Corsairs had problems — so much so that in July, 1944, the Navy cancelled the contract and Brewster went out of business less than a month after D-Day.

Brewster was also responsible for the F2A Buffalo, a piece of crap that got a lot of Marine pilots killed during the Battle of Midway.

According to that AP report, the story began with a fatal accident on Dec. 19, 1944, which killed Lt. Robin C. Pennington, who was flying a training mission in the F3A. The Navy recovered Pennington’s body and some gear from the Corsair, then left the wreck. Eventually, the plane was recovered by Lex Cralley in 1990, who began trying to restore the plane. A simple case of “finders keepers, losers weepers,” right?

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

Nope. The Navy sued Cralley in 2004 to get the plane back. After the report appeared, comments were…not exactly favorable towards the Navy at one normally pro-military forum.

Eventually, then-Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) got involved. According to a May 28, 2004 report by Hearst News Service, Jones eventually authored an amendment that settled the lawsuit by having the Navy turn the F3A over to Cralley.

The Navy usually has been very assertive with regards to wrecks. According to admiraltylawguide.com, in 2000, the Navy won a ruling in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal preventing Doug Champlin from salvaging a TBD Devastator that had survived both the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Soviets fired this secret heavy cannon while in orbit

If you’ve ever wanted to be a space shuttle door gunner, pay attention: the weapon you might be operating could look something like this monster – the only projectile weapon designed for and fired in orbit around the Earth. Of course, it was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, who else would do that?


5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

These are the people who taught terrorists to hijack planes just to be dicks to the West.

Despite some initial successes, the Soviet Union ended up losing the Space Race in a big way. Their loss is exemplified by the fact that the same day the Americans put men on the moon, the Soviets failed to land a probe there. So after a while, the disparity in technology irked the Soviet Union.

Most important to the USSR was the idea of American spacecraft being able to literally get their hands on Soviet satellites. Anti-satellite operations were something both powers prepared for, but the idea that the satellite itself would need protection up there all alone prompted the Soviets to arm one of theirs, just to see how that would go.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

This is how that would go.

The Soviets built a station code-named “Almaz,” a space station that held spy equipment, radar, and the R-23M, a 37-pound 14.5mm automatic cannon that could fire up to 5,000 rounds per minute that was accurate up to a mile away. There was just one problem: aiming the cannon. The cosmonauts in the station would have to rotate the entire space station to point the weapon.

It was supposed to be the first manned space station in orbit, but the Russians were more concerned with developing the weapon than they were other aspects of the capsule, like sensors and life support. So instead of building their grand space station, they slapped together what they had with the R-23M and a Soyuz capsule, called it the Salyut before launching it into space in 1971.

5 top international gang threats to the U.S.

All this space station and not one Death Star joke.

The CIA knew about every iteration of the Soviet Salyut spy stations, but what they – and much of the world – didn’t know is that they actually fired the R-23M while in orbit. On Jan. 24, 1975, Salyut 3 test fired its weapon before the station was supposed to de-orbit. The crew had not been aboard for around six months at this point. While the Soviets never released what happened during the test, the shots and the station were all destroyed when they re-entered the atmosphere.

Firing a gun in space would be very different from firing on Earth. First, there is no sound in the vacuum of space, so it would not go bang. Secondly, the Soviets would have had to fire some kind of thruster to balance out the force exerted on the capsule by the weapon’s recoil; otherwise the Salyut would have been pushed in the opposite direction. The weight of the projectile fired would determine how fast you would fly in the opposite direction.

Not to mention that shooting the weapon into Earth’s orbit could cause the bullets to hit the station itself from the opposite direction.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan security forces killed during attacks on checkpoints

Taliban militants have killed several Afghan security forces in fresh attacks on several security checkpoints in the northern Sar-e-Pul Province, according to officials.

In one of the Jan. 1, 2019 attacks in the Sayyad district of the province, local police chief Khalil Khan was killed along with four other officers, a source told RFE/RL.


The dpa news agency quoted provincial council member Mohammad Asif Sadiqi as saying a high-ranking provincial official with an Afghan spy agency and an army company commander were also killed in the attacks on two security posts, which it said left 23 Afghan security forces dead.

Gunbattles raged for several hours in the Sayyad district as heavy artillery fire by Afghan troops trying to beat back the insurgents sent locals fleeing for safety.

AP quoted Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi as claiming responsibility for both attacks.

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Sar-e Pul Province in Afghanistan.

The violence comes a day after Iran said a Taliban delegation made a rare visit to Tehran for talks with a senior Iranian official on efforts to end Afghanistan’s 17-year-long war.

It also occurred just over a week after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to prepare for the withdrawal of 7,000 American troops deployed in Afghanistan, about half of the U.S. contingent in the country.

Many observers warned that the partial withdrawal could further degrade security and jeopardize possible peace talks with the Taliban aimed at ending its insurgency.

U.S. forces make up the bulk of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission that is training and advising Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban and Islamic State militants.

The U.S. military also has some 7,000 troops deployed in a separate U.S. counterterrorism mission.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how WW2 Marines made ice cream at 30,000 feet

Every job has its unexpected perks. Even being a Marine Corps aviator in World War II had some unexpected benefits. This is because Marines make do, as the saying goes, and are used to making the most out of whatever Uncle Sam provides them to get the mission done. They will even make miracles happen when it’s not part of the mission.

That’s just what Marines do, even when it comes to ice cream.


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You read that right.

Everyone loves ice cream and I state that firm belief as someone who has been lactose intolerant his entire life. Marines these days give the Air Force a lot of smack for (almost) always having sweet treats present wherever there’s an Air Force dining facility. But let’s be real, after a few days, weeks, or however long being deprived of even the simplest luxury, a bit of ice cream goes a long way. Marine aviators in the Pacific Theater thought so, too.

The United States captured the island of Peleliu from Imperial Japan after more than two months of hard fighting toward the end of 1944. Marines on Peleliu were within striking distance of the enemy, but since there was no real threat at the time, they were not on combat patrols or supporting operations elsewhere in the theater. The Marines were getting bored and if you’ve ever made it past basic training in any branch of the military, you know there are few things more inventive or more dangerous than bored Marines.

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The crew of the USS Lexington raided the ice cream stores after being torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942. That’s not a joke.

One squadron commander, J. Hunter Reinburg, figured he could probably raise morale among his men if he could fix one of his F4U Corsair fighter-bombers to become a high-altitude ice cream maker. It wouldn’t be that hard. His crews cut the ends off a drop tank, created a side access panel, and strung a .50-caliber ammo can in the panel. He instructed the mess sergeant to fill the ammo can with canned milk and cocoa powder. All he had to do was get it cold enough to freeze – no problem for a high-altitude fighter.

There was something to Reinburg’s thinking. Ice cream has long been a staple of American morale. During the years of Prohibition, ice cream and soda jerks replaced bar nuts and bartenders for many Americans. Ice creams were marketed toward helping people cope with suffering during the Great Depression. When World War II broke out, other countries banned ice cream to enforce sugar rations — but not the United States. Americans loved the sweet treat so much the U.S. military even planned to build a floating ice cream factory and tow it into the Pacific Theater.

For Marines stranded on a hot island with no fresh food and no refrigeration, high-altitude ice cream was a great idea.

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I need to get me one of those old-time ice cream makers.

Army Air Corps bombers had been making the sweet treat in the same way for years, flying at frigid high altitudes while the hum and vibrations from the engine churned the milk and sugar into frozen ice cream. For the Marines, the first run was a disaster. Reinburg circled the island at 33,000 feet for 35 minutes. When he landed, the mixture was still liquid. But Marines don’t give up so easily.

The second run saw ammo cans bolted onto the underside of wings to keep the ice cream base far from the hot engines. The mixture froze, but didn’t have the creamy texture the men wanted so badly. The third run was the most inventive of all. This time Marines rigged the ammo cans themselves with propellers which turned a screw inside the ammo cans, churning the ice cream as it froze.

This time the ice cream was perfect. The only hitch was they forgot to let the Operations Officer, a Colonel, have a ration of ice cream.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time the CIA did a favor for a single Afghan family

It’s good to have friends in high places, especially when you can do almost nothing in return. One Afghan family found that out when they asked the CIA for help in rescuing their daughter from the Taliban, just as the U.S. was preparing to invade the country.


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So it has nothing to do with the Soviet Union.

The first Americans inside of Afghanistan were teams of what has come to be known as “the Horse Soldiers,” advanced units from the CIA’s special activities division. They were US special operators and CIA officers that were helping coordinate multiple units of anti-Taliban Afghan resistance fighters. The Northern Alliance fighters combined with the direction of the CIA and the support of the U.S. military were able to overthrow the regime without the use of traditional ground forces in many areas.

They were so effective at fomenting resistance to the Taliban and persuading the locals to their cause, they were not only able to capture entire cities and provinces but were also able to transform the lives of individual families. One such family approached a CIA hideout one day, asking for a favor.

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Where the first CIA officers in Afghanistan slept.

The smoke had barely cleared at Ground Zero in New York City before the United States sent CIA teams into Afghanistan to coordinate the resistance to the Taliban. But first, they needed the most up-to-date intelligence. The first Northern Alliance Liaison Team landed in Afghanistan on Sept. 26, 2001. They brought everything they needed to sustain them for however long their mission would take – including 40 pounds of potatoes. Sleeping in a traditional Afghan mud hut, they braved the winter as they gathered info for the coming revenge against al-Qaeda.

One day a young boy approached their shack and told them of the plight of his teenage sister. A local Taliban warlord forcefully took her as a bride, and she was no longer able to spend time with the family. Since this was long before politics would enter the relationship between US personnel and Afghan locals, the CIA officers gave the boy a tracking device and told him to give it to his sister, who should activate it when the warlord returns home.

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Northern Alliance fighters in the Panjshir Valley, September 2001.

When she did, the team swooped in on the Taliban leader. They raided his compound, rescued this sister and returned her to her brother and her family. The senior Taliban leader was one of the first enemy targets of the coming Global War on Terror.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Japan was suckered into revealing Midway was a target

The Battle of Midway is remembered as one of the greatest naval victories in American history. The big moments — whether it was the heroic sacrifice of Torpedo Squadron 8 or dive bombers catching three Japanese carriers exposed and vulnerable — are well known. But those moments wouldn’t have happened without a single undersea cable and a brilliant idea.


In the weeks before the Battle of Midway, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was fighting his own battle — and it wasn’t with the Japanese. Instead, it was against bureaucrats in Washington who were proving to be the bane of Nimitz’s existence. With the attack on Pearl Harbor still fresh on everyone’s mind, a fierce debate raged over a single question: Where will the Japanese strike next?

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Wilfred J. Holmes (call him “Jasper”) was the man responsible for the gambit that led Japan to reveal Midway as their target.

Nimitz needed to know the answer to this question for two reasons: One, the Pacific Fleet was outnumbered — big time. Two, he wanted the bureaucrats in Washington off his back. If he followed their advice and things went wrong (as in losing Midway and/or the carriers), he knew who’d take the heat — and it wasn’t gonna be the folks in Washington. It was then that an intelligence officer, Jasper Holmes, came up with a plan.

Long before World War II, America laid an undersea cable to send messages across the ocean. Nimitz used this line to broadcast an unencrypted message, saying that the fresh-water condensers on the atoll were broken and they needed a shipment of H2O.

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The Battle of Midway, where Japan lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma and four carriers, was one of America’s greatest victories.

(US Navy)

The hope was that the Japanese would pick that message up and pass it on. They did — and the Americans were listening in. Surprisingly, the Japanese didn’t give pause as to why such an operational vulnerability would be revealed via radio broadcast. Nimitz had the proof he needed that Midway was, indeed, the next Japanese objective.

The rest was history. One of America’s greatest victories had come about because an American commander got the enemy to help him get Washington off his back.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These Nazis cracked codes like wishbones

The German Kriegsmarine was once one of the most feared military forces on Earth, particularly the U-boat fleet. While the German surface fleet was smaller and weaker than the navies of its opponents, the “wolf packs” patrolled beneath the waves, shattering Allied convoys and robbing Germany’s enemies of needed men and materiel.


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A German sailor works on U-boat communications.

(Marz Dietrich)

But the U-boats didn’t do this on their own. One of the most successful code-breaking efforts in the war was that of the Beobachtung Dienst, the Observation Service, of German naval intelligence.

The German service focused its efforts on decoding the signals used by the major Allied navies — Great Britain, the U.S., and the Soviet Union — as well as traffic analysis and radio direction finding. With these three efforts combined, they could often read Allied communications. When they couldn’t, the traffic analysis and radio direction finding made them great guessers at where convoys would be.

B-Dienst peaked in World War II at 5,000 personnel focused on cracking the increasingly complex codes made possible by mechanical computers. The head of the English-language section, the one focused on the U.S. and U.K., was Wilhelm Tranow, a former radioman who earned a reputation in World War I for figuring out British codes and passing them up the chain.

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German U-boats could get actionable intel from their intelligence services just a few hours after the signals were intercepted.

(DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)

A lean but effective infrastructure grew around Tranow and his team. At their best, the team was able to intercept communications between Allied elements and pass actionable intelligence to U-boat captains within a few hours. Their efforts allowed Germany to read up to 80 percent of British communications that were intercepted. For most of the war, they were reading at least a third of all intercepted communications.

Allied merchant marine and navy personnel were rightly afraid of U-boat attacks, but they seem to have underestimated how large a role the B-Dienst and other German intelligence services played. This led them to make errors that made the already-capable B-Dienst even more effective.

First, Allied communications contained more data than was strictly necessary. The chatter between ships as they headed out could often give German interceptors the number of ships in a convoy, its assembly point, its anticipated speed and heading, where it would meet up with stragglers, and how many escorts it had.

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A destroyer, the USS Fiske, sinks after being struck by a German U-boat torpedo.

(U.S. Navy)

This allowed B-Dienst to identify the most vulnerable convoys and guess where and when the convoy would move into wolf-pack territory.

Nearly as damaging, the British would sometimes send out the same communications using different codes. When the British were using some codes the Germans didn’t know, these repeated messages end up becoming a Rosetta Stone-like windfall for the intercepting Nazis. They could identify the patterns in the two codes and use breakthroughs in one to translate the other, then use the translations to break that code entirely.

When the Allies weren’t repeating entire messages, they were sending messages created with templates. These templates, which repeated the same header and closer on each transmission, gave the Germans a consistent starting point. From there, they could suss out how the code worked.

All of this was compounded by a tendency of the British in particular and the Allied forces in general to be slow in changing codes.

So, it took the British months after they learned that the Germans had broken the Naval Code and Naval Cypher to change their codes. The change was made in August 1940 and was applied to communications between the U.S. and Royal navies in June 1941.

But with the other missteps allowing the B-Dienst to get glimmers of how the code worked, the code was basically useless by the end of 1942.

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German U-boats in World War I had to hunt for their targets. Their World War II counterparts still hunted, but frequently benefited from their great intelligence services.

(Painting by William Stower, The Sinking of the Linda Blanche)

This had real and devastating effects for Allied naval forces who were attempting to pass through U-boat territory as secretly as possible. 875 Allied ships were lost in 1941 and 1,664 sank in 1942, nearly choking the British Isles below survivable levels.

But, despite the B-Dienst success, the Battle of the Atlantic started to shift in favor of the Allies in 1942, mostly thanks to increases in naval forces and advanced technology like radar and sonar becoming more prevalent. Destroyers were more widely deployed and could more quickly pinpoint and attack the U-boats.

New anti-submarine planes, weapons like the “Hedgehog,” and better tactics led to the “Black May” of 1943 when the Allies sank approximately one quarter of all U-boats. The German ships were largely withdrawn from the Atlantic, and convoys could finally move with some degree of security.

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