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Tricare wants to be sure you aren’t calling this phone sex line

Be careful how you dial the newly minted Tricare East’s 800 number, or you could unintentionally end up on what appears to be a phone sex hotline.


That’s a lesson one Tricare East user learned the, er, hard way Jan. 24, when she misdialed the Tricare East contractor by one digit. Instead of dialing Humana’s number 1-800-444-5445, she dialed 1-800-444-5455.

“Hey there hot stuff,” a sultry female voice greets callers. “I’ve been waiting for your call. Are you ready for some tantalizing fun?”

It gets, uh, hotter from there. But for a $7.99 access fee plus $4.99 a minute, with a surcharge of $8.99 for “certain selections,” you hear even more than we did.

To be sure, the greeting is more entertaining than the one on Humana’s Tricare East number.

“Welcome to Humana Tricare East,” it states. “Medical emergencies should hang up and dial 911.”

Bor-ing.

Also Read: Chances are the hot model that added you to her social feed is a Russian spy

Tricare East and its new 800 number rolled out Jan. 1 as the system shifted from a three contractor, three region system — Tricare North, South, and West — to the two contractor, two region system of Tricare East and West. Tricare East is managed by Humana, while Tricare West is managed by Health Net Federal Services.

We stopped our unofficial investigation into the incorrect number short of entering our corporate credit card information — we didn’t think the bean counters would understand such research. But we’re not worried about the number showing up on the phone bill. After all, the recording promises that the whole thing is “discreetly billed.”

Neither Humana nor Tricare officials responded by deadline for requests for comment. But what is there to really say about this, anyway?

MIGHTY TRENDING

President Trump opts out of a visit to Korea’s DMZ

President Donald Trump is not planning to visit the border between North and South Korea known as the Demilitarized Zone when he visits Asia next month.


The White House says Trump instead plans to visit Camp Humphreys, a military base about 40 miles south of Seoul. The White House says time constraints would likely not permit Trump to do both, although plans could still change.

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Camp Humphreys. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Jaesang Ma)

Most US presidents have visited the border as a signal to South Korea and other allies that the US will not stand for any aggression from the rogue North Korean regime. Vice President Mike Pence visited the DMZ earlier this year.

South Korea is one of five nations Trump will visit during 12-day Asia trip in early November.

MIGHTY TRENDING

9 heartwarming, good news stories from 2017

Much of what the media report can seem negative or downright depressing.


That’s because two of the main objectives of journalists, especially those covering people in power, is to expose wrongdoing and shine a light on problems in society so they can be fixed.

But it’s also important to highlight the good that happens around the world — stories of triumph and courage, community and giving back.

This year was more divided than most, but Americans still came together to lift each other up. Here are nine heartwarming news stories from 2017:

9. Hurricane Harvey brings out the best in Americans.

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Texas National Guard soldiers arrive in Houston, Texas to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD)

Amid the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey in parts of Texas and Louisiana in August, many people came together to support the victims most in need.

Residents loaded up rowboats, pontoons, and fishing vessels to rescue survivors stranded on their roofs because the floodwaters in the Houston area were so high.

Miguel Juarez and others from the Texas Rio Grande Valley created a make-shift aid station, where people could pick through supplies like hygiene products and cereal. Juarez also set up a free water station at his truck.

One family near the Barker Reservoir in Houston escaped flooding on an air mattress. When journalists from the local news station ABC13 found them, they pulled them to safety aboard their vessel.

And grocery chain H-E-B, which is based in San Antonio, deployed a convoy of disaster-relief vehicles, including mobile kitchens and pharmacies, to Victoria, Texas. Grateful residents poured into the parking lot for a hot meal.

8. A Philadelphia man giving free haircuts to the homeless gets a free barbershop of his own — from a complete stranger.

In January, 29-year-old Philadelphia native Brennon Jones started a the charity “Haircuts 4 Homeless“, helping the homeless clean up so they could get jobs. His goodwill caught the attention of a Philly-area barber shop owner, who decided to donate a fully-furnished barbershop space for Jones to continue his work.


(Global Citizen | YouTube)”I decided what other way to help another brother out than to donate the shop,” Sean Johnson, the owner of Taper’s Barber Shop, told CBS Philly. “What he was doing down there, I was very impressed.”

Jones says it’s more than just a haircut. Cleaning up, and talking to a barber can boost morale and confidence, too.

“My very first haircut, his name is Braden,” he told CBS. “I cut his hair on 15th Walnut [Streets]. A few days later, I went to check up on him and he wasn’t there. I was hoping nothing bad happened to him. When we did catch up weeks later, he got offered a full-time job.”

7. A wounded Las Vegas shooting victim fights his injuries to stand when Trump comes to shake his hand.

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Thomas Gunderson fights his fresh gunshot wound to the leg to stand and shake Trump’s hand. (Image from Thomas Gunderson via Facebook)

When President Donald Trump toured a Las Vegas hospital in October after the US’s deadliest mass shooting in living memory, 28-year-old Thomas Gunderson pushed through his injuries to stand up and shake his hand when he entered his hospital room.

“Hey, this guy looks tough to me,” Trump said of Gunderson, who was recovering from a fresh gunshot wound to the leg.

“I will never lie down when the President of this great country comes to shake my hand!” Gunderson wrote in a video of the encounter he posted to Facebook, which has since garnered 26 million views.

6. After months of waiting, YouTube star April the Giraffe finally gave birth to a healthy male calf.

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April and her young male calf. (Image via Twitter @AprilTheGiraffe)

In April, at least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of 15-year-old April the giraffe giving birth in an enclosed pen in Harpursville, New York.

The video of April went viral after millions of fans had waited months for the giraffe’s impending birth.

Giraffes are usually pregnant for 13 to 15 months. Zookeepers thought April was overdue, but may also have also miscalculated her due date.

5. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana recovers after being shot by a gunman.

In June, Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was among four people shot during a practice for an annual charity baseball game featuring members of Congress.

Four months later, Scalise threw out the first pitch before a playoff game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. He received a standing ovation.

In September, he made a triumphant return to the House chamber to thunderous applausefrom his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Scalise’s presence at the practice was likely what prevented the incident from becoming a massacre, because his security detail as House Majority Whip was there to neutralize the shooter.

4. The wife of a fallen soldier tracked down the owner of her husband’s old car to buy and give it as a gift to her son for his 16th birthday.

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Justin Rozier’s mother bought him his dad’s old car for his 16th birthday. Rozier’s father died while serving in Iraq in 2003. (Photo from Jessica Johns via Facebook)

Justin Rozier barely knew his father. The former US Army lieutenant was killed while serving in Iraq in 2003, when his son was just 9 months old.

At the time, Justin’s mother, Jessica Johns, sold her husband’s car so she didn’t have to “keep chipping away at my savings to pay for a car that nobody was using,” she told NBC News.

This August, Johns made an appeal on Facebook in search of the car’s owner to see if she could buy it. She wanted to re-buy the car to give to her son for his 16th birthday so he had something to remember his father.

Johns tracked down the owner within days. He agreed to sell her the 1999 Toyota Celica, and she gave it to Justin for his 15th birthday.

“I think that your son will get more enjoyment out of having his dad’s car than I would,” the owner told her.

3. A 93-year-old Georgia man displays a photo on the table while eating lunch to honor his late wife.

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Clarence Purvis, 93, eats lunch with a photo of his wife, who died four years ago. (Image from WTOC Extras YouTube)

Clarence Purvis, 93, lost his wife Caroyln four years ago. They were married for 64 years.

Although she is gone, Purvis never eats lunch without her. During meals out at a restaurant where the couple used to go, Purvis sets up a framed photo of his wife on the table.

“Ain’t nobody loved one another more than me and my wife loved one another,” Purvis told a local news station. “She was always with me when we were livin’. She’s with me now.”

2. Homeless veteran gives his last $20 to help a stranded woman get home. In return, she raises nearly $400,000 for him.

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Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 34, who was once homeless, spent his last $20 to help a stranger, Kate McClure, 29, get home after she ran out of gas on the highway. (Image from Kate McClure via GoFundMe)

Kate McClure was stuck on a highway in Philadelphia when she ran out of gas. She didn’t have money and couldn’t get home. It was then that a 34-year-old homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., came up to her and said he would use his last $20 to buy her gas.

McClure and her boyfriend eventually repaid him. Then, they devised a plan to raise money for Bobbitt to get back on his feet. So she set up a GoFundMe page, soliciting donations.

“Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break,” McClure wrote. “Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him.”

Read More: This homeless veteran and good samaritan just bought a home

They ended up raising close to $400,000. The couple says the money will be used to rent Bobbitt an apartment and pay for his food, clothing, cellphone, and transportation.

“[Bobbit] definitely has the drive,” Mark D’Amico, McClure’s boyfriend, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He doesn’t want to be on the streets anymore. He wants to be a functioning member of society and not be sitting on a guard rail in Philadelphia.”

1. A US marine surprises his mother with a trip home.

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Naim Tauheed surprises his mother during a family reunion upon return from military deployment abroad. (Image via DailyPicksandFlicks YouTube)

Naim Tauheed, a US marine deployed abroad, hadn’t seen his mom in 2 years. Luckily, he had a 1-month window in between deployments and decided to surprise his mom during a family reunion at her home in Los Angeles.

The surprise worked.

“I was just so blown away. I was almost blown off of my feet when I saw him, because I didn’t expect him to come,” Nekel Moore, Tauheed’s mother, told Fox News. “When I saw him walk through the door, it just floored me.”

Watch their incredible reunion:

(DailyPicksandFlicks | YouTube)
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Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

They’re surrounded, targeted by constant bombardments and slowly strangled of supplies and reinforcements for months so fighters for Daesh (aka ISIS) might reasonably have abandoned Mosul and tried to slink off into the night.


That’s what happened June 2016 in the battle to recapture Fallujah, when Daesh fighters were relatively quickly routed, and hundreds were killed by U.S. aircraft when their fleeing convoy was spotted in the dark with infrared targeting systems.

Everyone in the anti-Daesh coalition hoped for a similar retreat by demoralized terrorists that would separate them from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians still cowering in Mosul’s byzantine old city, on the west bank of the Tigris River.

But Daesh’s fighters are not abandoning Mosul, which, with the Syrian town of Raqqa, forms the twin-capitals of the self-proclaimed Islamist “caliphate.”

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Artillery units in Iraq serve two roles: to provide force protection for Coalition and Iraqi security forces and to support ISF ground maneuver, enabling them to defeat Daesh. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson)

They are falling back on defensive positions prepared for two years in the densely congested side streets and alleyways of the old city, gathering Iraqi civilians close as they can as “human shields” and apparently preparing for a last, desperate stand.

The result?

“The toughest and most brutal phase of this war, and probably the toughest and most brutal close quarters combat that I have experienced or even read about in my 34-year career,” Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve says.

A veteran of six combat tours, Townsend calls the fighting in Mosul “the most significant urban combat since World War II.”

The tragic byproduct has been an alarming spike in civilian casualties, including a U.S. strike against a reported ISIS truck bomb on March 17 that may have collapsed a nearby building and killed as many as 200 civilians gathered there by Daesh.

The U.S. military is still investigating the incident, which drew criticism from the United Nations and Amnesty International.

On a recent trip near the frontlines of the Battle of Mosul, Townsend found a possible explanation for Daesh’s determination to stage an apocalyptic fight to the death in the old city.

“Every movement has a well-spring or some home turf where it finds support, and in recently talking to Iraqi and coalition commanders and listening to their intelligence assessments, I heard about neighborhoods supporting ISIS that I remembered from being a brigade commander in Mosul 10 years ago, when those same neighborhoods were sources of support for Al Qaeda in Iraq,” said Townsend, speaking recently to defense reporters by phone from Baghdad.

If the Shiite-led Iraqi government fails to reach out to those and other neighborhoods and towns of disenfranchised Sunnis after the fighting stops, he noted, then Daesh’s expulsion from Mosul will likely prove a fleeting victory.

“What’s important after ISIS is defeated is that the government of Iraq has to reach out to these groups of people and make sure they feel like they have a future in the Iraqi state,” said Townsend.

A Pivotal Moment

With roughly three-quarters of Mosul recaptured and Daesh finally on the verge of losing its grip on Iraqi territory, the campaign against them is poised at an important inflection point.

Counter-insurgency experts have long understood that the actions of the Iraqi government and the various factions involved in the fighting the day after Mosul is recaptured will largely determine whether the group is defeated, or, once again, rises from the ashes of sectarian conflict.

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ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

The complex nature of the battlespace, combined with the anti-Daesh coalition’s sprawling nature, promises to complicate the transition from urban combat to whatever comes after.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is weak and has struggled to cope with the demands of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the fighting in Mosul.

The territorial demands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to the north, and possible acts of retribution against Sunni civilians by thousands of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen to the west of city, cast a dark shadow over the aftermath.

A continued spike in civilian deaths by U.S. and coalition air forces could further alienate the overwhelmingly Sunni population of Mosul and surrounding Nineveh Province.

And hanging over the entire anti-Daesh campaign is the question of a continued U.S. presence in Iraq after the group is expelled, and whether that engagement can be leveraged to help achieve the long-sought national reconciliation among Iraq’s feuding Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni factions.

Perhaps no U.S. military officer of his generation better understands this difficult terrain, and the momentous challenges ahead, than retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former top U.S. commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan and at U.S. Central Command.

He is widely credited with crafting and executing the counterinsurgency doctrine that pulled Iraq back from the abyss of sectarian civil war in 2007-2008 and decimated Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“The military defeat of ISIS is only the first step. The much more challenging task is to use all elements of American and coalition power to help achieve political solutions that will avoid once again creating fertile ground for extremists, and thereby avoid the rise of ISIS 3.0,” Petraeus told [Breaking Defense] in a recent email. “Our success in that mission will determine whether the U.S. military has to do this all over again in five years.”

Sectarian Civil War

After U.S. and Iraqi military forces and the Sunni tribes of Anbar Province routed Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) beginning in 2006-7, the remnants of the terrorist insurgency eventually went underground, only to rise Phoenix-like from the fires of Syria’s civil war.

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The Kurdish Peshmerga platoon of the Joint Iraqi Security Company marches to class, Mosul, Iraq. (Dept. of Defense photo)

That brutal conflict pitted a minority regime of Alawites, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, against a majority Sunni population.

Meanwhile, after the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, the Sunni tribes in western Iraq, which had turned against AQI in the “Anbar Awakening,” grew restive under the iron-fisted and openly sectarian rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who headed the Shiite-majority government in Baghdad.

A former AQI lieutenant named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had spent time in a U.S. detention facility in Iraq, realized that between weak Shiite-led governments in Damascus and Baghdad lay a swath of territory inhabited by millions of rebellious Sunnis.

From that strategic insight, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born, and in one of the most improbable military offenses in history, its terrorist army captured territory in Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a “caliphate” in land stretching between its twin capitals.

When the Obama administration reluctantly deployed aircraft and troops back to Iraq to defend a Baghdad government on the verge of collapse, it wisely used that leverage to help nudge out the sectarian Maliki and encourage the more moderate Abadi.

Since then Abadi has promised to lead “national reconciliation” by reaching out to Sunnis liberated from Daesh rule, and draw them back inside the government tent. He has often struggled, however, to control a fractious coalition government with many hardline Shiite politicians with close ties to Shiite Iran.

Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy and former senior Middle Eastern analyst for the CIA, worries about Abadi’s ability to bring the country together.

“I think Abadi is a very good man who wants what’s best for Iraq, to include a pluralist government, corruption reforms, and democracy. The problem is Abadi is not particularly good at building coalitions, and the Iraqi government is fragmented and paralyzed by this ongoing sectarian civil war,” he says. “Frankly, Nelson Mandela would have a hard time stabilizing Iraq at this point. So the United States needs to leverage the influence it has gained by helping fight ISIS to empower Abadi in his reconciliation efforts. And they must include limiting the activities of the Shiite militias.”

Reining in Militias

The key to Iraq’s future may lie with the Shiite-dominated militias called Popular Mobilization forces.

A number of these militias have direct links to Iran and they have been difficult for the Iraqi government to control. According to Human Rights Watch, Shiite militias involved in the battle of Fallujah last summer committed atrocities against Sunni civilians, including torture and summary executions.

In the operation to recapture Tikrit they reportedly burned hundreds of homes of Sunni civilians they accused of colluding with Daesh. If something similar happens after Daesh is expelled from the much bigger and more populous city of Mosul, the swamp of Sunni grievance is likely to rise once again.

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An Iraqi federal police takes a break before another day’s offensive to liberate and secure West Mosul, Iraq, March 2, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Sheikh Jamal Al-Dhari is a Sunni tribal leader who has lost more than 70 family members in Iraq’s sectarian wars.

“The ‘Anbar Awakening’ showed that the way to defeat Al Qaeda is to work with the Sunni tribes, but our efforts to take part in the anti-ISIS fight have been repeatedly rebuffed by the Baghdad government,” he said in an interview.

Now Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces and possibly U.S. airpower have inadvertently killed hundreds if not thousands of Sunni civilians in Mosul, he noted, and thousands of Shiite militiamen have captured Sunni majority villages to the west of the city.

“We fear that the use of excessive force will cost the lives of thousands of more civilians, creating hardships and hard feelings that will only set the stage for the next ISIS, or worse.”

To avoid Kurdish or Shiite forces fighting each other and mistreating liberated Sunni civilians, U.S. battle planners created separate corridors into the city.

“The U.S. military worked very hard to insure that neither the Peshmerga nor the Popular Mobilization forces would be involved in the close-in fight in Mosul, and that has been mostly successful,” said Michael Knights, an Iraq expert and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

But the Iraqi Security Forces leading the fight have suffered a lot of casualties and are very tired, he noted, possibly causing them to rely on more firepower to limit their losses.

“But the main reason we’ve seen civilian casualties increase is that ISIS is being much more aggressive in using civilians as human shields. Their backs are now against the wall in Mosul’s old city, and they seem to be preparing for a last stand.”

When the dust of battle finally settles over Mosul, the most important decision confronting the Trump administration will be whether or not to keep a residual U.S. force inside Iraq to continue advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, and helping coordinate counterterrorism operations.

If the U.S. military packs up lock-stock-and-barrel and leaves once again, many experts believe it will only set the stage for “son of ISIS” to fill the vacuum.

“Only if U.S. forces remain in Iraq to secure the peace will we achieve a major military victory over ISIS,” said James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

The U.S. can leverage that presence not only to empower Abadi’s national reconciliation agenda, he said, but also to eventually find a political resolution to the Syrian civil war.

In “On War” [ Carl von] “Clausewitz said that the art of war was using tactical victories to achieve strategic ends,” said Jeffrey.

“We need to use the victories in Mosul and Raqqa to achieve the strategic end of a stable Middle East that is not dominated either by ISIS or Iran.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines just took tanks out of secret caves to train near Russia

US Marines from the 4th Tank Battalion withdrew tanks and weapons from caves in Norway early May, 2018, taking them east to Finland, where, for the first time, they took part in the annual mechanized exercise called Arrow 18.

The drills took place from May 7 to May 18, 2018, in southern Finland, which shares a long border with Russia and has a history of conflict with its larger neighbor. It involved about 150 armored vehicles and 300 other military vehicles. Only 30 Marines took part, but they were joined by thousands of personnel from Norway and Finland.


The live-fire event is led by the Finns, who perform the exercise with partner forces to test the fitness of their military, which is largely made up of conscripts.

“The Finnish Army’s mechanized exercise concentrates on mechanised units’ offensive and involves Army helicopter measures as well as Air Force flight activities,” the Finnish army said. “The exercise also aims at enhancing interoperability in cooperation with foreign detachments.”

Marines joined the multinational exercise for the first time “in order to increase interoperability, reassure partner nations, improve readiness and reinforce relationships,” a Corps spokesman told Marine Corps Times.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire a M1A1 Abrams tank during a low-light live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

The Marine Corps began storing vehicles, weapons, and other supplies in caves in Norway during the Cold War in an effort to pre-position equipment in case of conflict. The gear is housed in a chain of six caves in the Trondheim region of central Norway; the exact location is not known.

Three caves have everything from rolling stock to towed artillery. The other three hold ammunition, officials told Military.com in 2017. There is enough gear and food to stock a force of 4,600 Marines for several weeks of combat with everything except aircraft and desktop computers.

“All of our major equipment was drawn from the caves in Norway,” Capt. Matthew Anderson, a tank commander who participated in the exercise, told Stars and Stripes. “This exercise would not have happened without the caves. The equipment, forward-staged, allows us to conduct these exercises. Without it, it’s a whole lot less likely that we would have been as successful as we were.”

Below, you can see what Marines faced during their first time in Finland.

Tensions between Russia and other countries in Europe have been elevated since early 2014, when Russia intervened in Ukraine and annexed Crimea.

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U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion, fire the M1A1 Abrams tank during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 15, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

In the years since, NATO has reassessed its security posture in Europe, deploying more forces to eastern Europe and seeking to streamline operations.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, prepare to fire a 50-cal. machine gun mounted on a M1A1 Abrams tank during Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 17, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

The initiative, designated Operation Atlantic Resolve, has seen multinational forces stationed in rotations in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The US has also sought to rebuild its armored presence on the continent after withdrawing the last of its tanks in 2013.

The US Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, from the 1st Cavalry Division, known as the Ironhorse Brigade, recently arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, using the trip from the port to its base in Germany as a chance to practice the overland movements that a military mobilization would require.

Niether Finland nor Sweden are NATO members, but both countries have worked more closely with each other and the defense alliance to develop military capabilities and maintain readiness.

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A Finnish soldier overlooks live-fire training in Pohjankangas Training Area, Finland, as part of Exercise Arrow 18, May 15, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Helsinki said in early 2017 that it would increase troop numbers by 20% and add to its defense budget in response to rising tensions with Russia.

Source: Reuters

Russia singled out those moves closer to NATO by Finland and Sweden as a matter of “special concern.” Russia has also criticized neighboring Norway for allowing a US Marine rotational force to be stationed in the country — the first time a foreign force has been posted on Norwegian soil since World War II.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, drive the M1A1 Abrams tanks during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Reuters, Business Insider

The Marines deployed to Finland with M1A1 tanks for the exercise, where they were joined by soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment using Stryker armored vehicles. US personnel and a Finnish mechanized infantry brigade took part in a mock battle in woods and marshland in the western part of the country.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire a 50-cal. machine gun mounted on a M1A1 Abrams tank during Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 17, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Stars and Stripes

The exercise saw Marines working with Finnish soldiers to attack the enemy, a role filled by other Finnish troops. “We would punch holes through the enemy lines and the conscripts would come in and give us support,” Anderson, the tank commander, told Stars and Stripes.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire an M1A1 Abrams tank during a low-light, live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Finnish army cooks also supplied troops in the field with hot meals every day, sparing soldiers and Marines from having to eat Meals, Ready to Eat. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” Anderson said.

The territory presented a new challenge for the Marines.

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, review the scheme of maneuver for a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

“We’re used to operating in open terrain,” Anderson told Stars and Stripes. “This is very different. It is very forested, and we’ve had to adjust to the way Finnish tankers fight, more closely together.”

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Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, prepare their M1A1 Abrams tanks for a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kanakaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Stars and Stripes

One of Finland’s Leopard 2 tanks got stuck in a swamp during the training, giving Marines a chance to show off. “That was a lot of fun for my crew,” Sgt. Jonathan Hess, a recovery-vehicle mechanic, told Stars and Strips. “We showed the conscripts how to do recovering with our vehicle, because they have nothing like what we have.”

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Finnish soldiers stage Leopard tanks during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 18, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
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US launches practice bombing runs along North Korean border

The US military dispatched several powerful strategic military assets to the Korean Peninsula Aug. 31 in a “show of force.”


Two Air Force B-1B Lancers from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and four Marine Corp F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters from US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan drilled alongside four South Korean F-15 fighters, practicing bombing North Korea’s core facilities, according to US Pacific Command.

The B-1 carries the largest conventional payload of any Air Force bomber, and the F-35 is one of America’s top stealth fighters.

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Republic of Korea F-15K fighters drop munitions over Pilsung Range during operations alongside US F-35B stealth fighters and B-1B Lancer bombers. Photo by Republic of Korea Air Force.

“North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners, and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Commander, US Pacific Air Forces, said in a statement. “This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat. Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls.”

The display of allied military power comes just days after North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea/Sea of Japan and fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, raising alarms. North Korea called the second launch a “meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” a reference to its early warnings of possible strikes around the Pacific territory.

The US has sent B-1B bombers ripping across the peninsula before, typically after major provocations by the North. While these aircraft are no longer nuclear-capable, as the necessary components were removed years ago, North Korea often refers to these aircraft as “nuclear strategic bombers,” and they make North Korea extremely uncomfortable.

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Weapons dropped from US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers and U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II practicing attack capabilities impact the Pilsung Range, Republic of Korea, Aug. 30, 2017. Photo by Republic of Korea Air Force.

The North perceives Guam as a forward base for a preemptive/preventative strike on its territory, so for Pyongyang, bomber overflights are disconcerting. North Korea actually cited the B-1B Lancer flights over the Peninsula as one of the reasons it plans to fire missiles around Guam in its own display of power. North Korea revealed earlier this month it is considering launching a salvo of four Hwasong-12 IRBMs into waters around Guam to send a message to President Donald Trump.

The Trump administration has been pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure and engagement,” which involves using economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table for a diplomatic solution. Trump, however, said Aug. 30 that “talking is not the answer” with North Korea, while stressing that “all options are on the table.”

Secretary of State James Mattis later said, “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”

US policy is unclear as the Trump administration confronts a problem that has puzzled presidents for decades and is now more complex and dangerous than ever, given that two decades of failed North Korea policy have allowed the reclusive regime to develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to distant targets in South Korea, Japan, and even the continental US.

MIGHTY TRENDING

There will be a special exhibit at the National Mall this Memorial Day

This Memorial Day weekend, the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor will return to the National Mall in Washington D.C., featuring 645,000 poppies — each one representing an American service member who has fallen since World War I.

This year, in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the USAA Poppy Wall will also include a video featuring paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.


The red poppy became synonymous with fallen Allies during the First World War when the hardy bloom painted the heroes’ graves red, and it has remained a symbol of their sacrifice ever since.

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USAA’s poignant exhibit will feature a clear wall stretching 133 feet long and 8.5 feet tall filled with the red bloom, making a striking contrast to the National Mall. From Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26, visitors can see the wall on the southwest side of the Reflecting Pool — between the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

Also read: This is how the poppy became a symbol for fallen troops

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In addition to the exhibit in Washington D.C., everyone is invited to dedicate a poppy in tribute to a fallen service member. During a time when many Americans celebrate the beginning of summer with a long weekend, there are those who can never forget the price paid for that freedom.

Related: 7 things you didn’t know about Memorial Day

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Whistle-blower Snowden seeks extension Of Russian residence permit, says lawyer

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia, is preparing to apply for the extension of his Russian residence permit which expires in April, his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena told Russian media on February 7.


Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 after he revealed details of secret surveillance programs by U.S. intelligence agencies.

“At Edward’s request, I am drawing up documents for the Russian Interior Ministry migration service to extend his residence permit,” Kucherena said.

Snowden was charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for leaking 1.5 million secret documents from the NSA on government surveillance, prompting public debate about the legality of some of the agency’s programs, on privacy concerns, and about the United States snooping on its neighbors.

If convicted, Snowden faces up to 30 years in prison.

In September, Snowden called on French President Emmanuel Macron to grant him asylum. The French presidency did not comment.

Snowden had unsuccessfully applied for asylum in France in 2013 and several other countries.

“Everything is okay with him. He is working. His wife is with him,” Kucherena said.

Asked if Snowden plans to apply for Russian citizenship, Kucherena said, “I haven’t discussed this matter with him so far.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

B-52 conducts ‘provocative’ training mission through South China Sea

The US Air Force flew B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers through the disputed South and East China Seas on March 4, 2019.

“Two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and participated in routine training missions, March 4, 2019,” US Pacific Affairs told ABC News, explaining that while one bomber “conducted training in the vicinity of the South China Sea,” the other trained near Japan in cooperation with the US Navy and Japanese forces.

Online flight-tracking data for the flights indicates that one flew near the Philippines while the other conducted operations around Japan.


The last time the US Air Force sent bombers through the South China Sea was in November 2018. The US repeatedly sent bombers through the area in 2018.

The B-52 bombers stationed in Guam are there in support of the US Air Force’s Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission intended to deter any country with adversarial intentions.

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The B-52H Stratofortress.

Bomber flights over the South and East China Seas are perceived as challenges to China, which has attempted to assert its dominance over the strategic waterways. The US has, in the past, sent bombers to Korea in a show of force to the North in the wake of hostile actions.

As it does with US Navy freedom-of-navigation operations, Beijing has previously criticized US bomber flights over the South and East China Seas, calling them “provocative.”

The US has conducted two freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea in 2019, and the US Navy has also twice sent US warships through the Taiwan Strait.

In response, China has issued warnings, urging to steer clear of these areas, and even flexed its muscles by showing off its anti-ship weaponry, such as the “carrier killer” DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile.

B-52 bombers are high flying heavily-armed aircraft. Some are nuclear-capable bombers, while others have been denuclearized. It is unclear whether the B-52 bombers flying above contested waterways are nuclear-capable aircraft.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 more phrases old school veterans can’t stop saying — and we love it

We love our old-school veterans that don’t have a problem speaking their minds. They fought Nazis without the internet — they’re miraculous heroes, every damn one of them.


With that in mind, their generation has some pretty entertaining sayings that we should all know about:

1. “There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.”

If you’re deployed and occupying a foxhole — or fighting hole — chances are you’re freakin’ close to the enemy and sh*t could “pop-off” at any time.

When that intense firefight does break out, it’s common for troops to believe in a higher power suddenly.

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U.S. troops positioned in a foxhole in a forest in Germany, 1945. (Source: Pinterest)

2. “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

This Marine expression is commonly used during a hardcore PT session when it looks like someone is about to fall out — it also happens to be one of the Corps’ many slogans.

Regardless, this epic phrase continues to be a source of motivation far after someone receives their DD-214.

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OO-Rah! Sincerely, the Marine Corps.

3. “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”

Orders are orders — regardless of how much we don’t believe in them or want to fulfill them.

4. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”

During regular working hours — or when you’re still in uniform — senior troops don’t like to see their juniors just standing around not doing sh*t.

So, if you’re caught just hanging around, chances are you’re going to be cleaning something very soon.

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When you get caught leaning so hard, you have to wear a hard hat to clean up. (Source: DoD)

5. “Looking like a soup sandwich.”

A term for when someone in uniform looks freaking unsatisfactory. No real clue of how this saying came about, but we’re glad it did.

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At least attempt to get it right.

6. “It’s mind over matter; I don’t mind and you don’t matter!”

Many service members who had power didn’t seem to mind letting their junior troops know how they felt about them or their complaints. Completing the mission was most important aspect of any task.

7. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It’s common when the higher-ups want to modify or replace a piece of equipment regardless of how successful the prior model functioned.

Old school vets tend not to like too much change in their lives when they have something that works for them.

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Can you think of any others? Leave a comment!

MIGHTY MOVIES

How US military veterans are set to dominate the Paralympics

In March 2018, the United States Paralympic Team sent 18 U.S. military veterans to PyeongChang, South Korea to compete for Olympic gold. That’s just under a quarter of the whole U.S. team. They competed in alpine skiing, curling, and sled hockey, bringing home more than a couple of gold medals — 36 medals in all.


They represented all branches of the U.S. military and have deployed to all areas of the Earth in support of the United States. According to the New York Times, the games are, in a way, getting back to their military roots. The Paralympic Games started off as the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948 which, at the time, were specifically for wounded World War II veterans.

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Kirk Black is a Team USA Wheelchair Curling Teammate and U.S. Army veteran.

Today, funding for Paralympic athletes is more readily and widely available to aspirants who are also military veterans. Even as the number of returning, wounded veterans gets lower overall, the number of vets on the Team USA roster swells. It’s just more difficult for a non-veteran to get a start, considering the support that comes from the Department of Veterans Affairs and nonprofits like the Semper Fi Fund.

But once on the team, they’re Team USA — all the way. There is no rift between the veterans and non-veterans. This year’s USA Sled Hockey Team featured five Marines and two Army veterans among the 17 members of the team. They took home the gold.

I’m honored and proud to be able to wear our colors and the big ‘USA’ on the front of our jerseys,” says Rico Roman, one of the two Army veterans. “It’s great to be out there with other veterans and to be able to represent our country on the highest level of Paralympic athletics in our sport of sled hockey.

Justin Marshall, who is a non-veteran member of the USA’s Wheelchair Curling Team, says he would never be resentful of the extra funding available to veterans. They’re his teammates.

“Almost every guy in my family served in the military, and I probably would have followed except I had my spinal cord stroke when I was 12,” Marshall told the New York Times. “It helps them so I can’t be mad at them for it. I wish I had that extra funding, but I don’t, so I just try to find another way to take care of that.”

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The 2018 Sled Hockey Team. (Photo by Joe Kusumoto)

The USA took its third straight Sled Hockey gold medal in 2018. In fact, 2018 was Team USA’s most successful Paralympics year since 2002.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why a North Korean defector fled the for the South

The 24-year-old North Korean defector who successfully made it across the North Korean border and into South Korea under a hail of gunfire was reportedly involved in a crime “that led to a death,” according to South Korean intelligence officials cited in Donga Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, on Jan. 23.


Chung-sung Oh reportedly confessed to the alleged crime, according to intelligence officials who are investigating his background as part of the standard procedure involving North Korean defectors. The National Intelligence Service, the primary intelligence agency in the country, was said to be looking into all circumstances of the alleged death, including whether it was a murder or an accidental death.

Related: Watch a North Korean defector dodging bullets to cross the DMZ

A reporter from Chosun Ilbo, another South Korean news organization, also said he received a similar unconfirmed report in December, in which Oh is believed to have been involved in a vehicle accident involving another person and may have defected in fear of being punished.

Oh, who has been recovering after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds, is said to have a carefree personality, according to government sources. But those sources noted that his testimony seemed to change depending on his mood. The investigation is expected to extend beyond February.

If reports of Oh’s statement proves to be true, it could complicate the proceedings and exclude him from benefits for North Korean defectors, according to the South Korean newspaper. But because the government does not have an extradition treaty with North Korea, Oh does not appear to be at risk of being sent back to the North.

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A defector from North Korea dodges bullets as he crosses the DMZ.

Meanwhile, South Korean intelligence officials have publicly denied Oh’s testimony and said those involved with the matter had “never made a statement of that kind.”

The Ministry of Unification, the government body responsible for inter-Korean relations, said that it could not confirm the account because the investigation was still ongoing.

News surrounding Oh has become a hot-button subject in Korea after footage of his dramatic escape in November was captured in stunning detail. Following Oh’s rescue, those involved in the recovery, including his physician, have been the center of media attention in the country.

Articles

Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

President Barack Obama commuted the majority of WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence on Tuesday, with only three days left in office.


Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act, among other charges, in 2013 after she stole secret documents from a computer system she had access to while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq and leaked them to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She received a 35-year sentence for the leak and has served seven years in Fort Leavenworth. She will now be freed in five months, on May 17.

Manning, a transgender woman, has attempted suicide twice while in prison.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said last week that he’d agree to be extradited to the US if Obama grants clemency to Manning.

The US has threatened to prosecute Assange over the 2010 leak. Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of sexual assault.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told The New York Times on Tuesday that there’s a “pretty stark difference” between Manning’s case and that of former government employee Edward Snowden.

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Chelsea Manning | via Twitter

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

Snowden declared his support for Manning on Twitter.

“In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!” Snowden tweeted.

The president has not granted clemency to Snowden.

Obama pardoned 64 other people on Tuesday and shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners. Over his two terms, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 people and granted 212 pardons.

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