US troops who suffered TBIs in missile attack recommended for Purple Hearts - We Are The Mighty
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US troops who suffered TBIs in missile attack recommended for Purple Hearts

An unspecified number of the more than 100 troops who were treated for traumatic brain injuries suffered in a January missile attack on Al Asad air base in Iraq have been recommended for Purple Hearts, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday.

Officials have previously stated that Purple Heart recommendations have come from unit commanders and the individual military branches for those injured in the Jan. 8 Iranian missile strikes on the air base.


“The Purple Heart submissions remain under review and are being processed in accordance with Defense Department and military service regulations,” Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said in a statement Wednesday. “Upon completion, service members entitled to receive the Purple Heart will be notified by their leadership.”

She gave no timeline for the process, but CNN, citing three defense officials, reported that “final decisions” on awarding possibly dozens of Purple Hearts could be coming soon from Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve and the Defense Department.

At a Feb. 3 news briefing, Pentagon chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman cited general standards for awarding the Purple Heart — standards that appeared to qualify most of the troops who were treated for TBI after the Iranian missile strikes.

He said Purple Heart eligibility for TBI required a doctor’s diagnosis and confirmation that the injury forced the service member to miss at least two days of duty for treatment.

Some of those injured in the Al Asad attack were evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and to the states for treatment and would appear to qualify for Purple Hearts.

Hoffman said recommendations for Purple Hearts were mainly “a question for the services” with final approval coming from the Defense Department.

“The process is going to play out,” he said. “Fortunately, all the cases to date have been characterized as mild TBI, which is the equivalent of concussions.”

In the early years of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military appeared reluctant to award Purple Hearts for TBI, but awards have been made more regularly as TBI from improvised explosive devices and other blasts became known as the “signature” combat injury of the wars.

In 2011, DoD updated the criteria for awarding the Purple Heart in cases of TBI, stating that the injury had to be caused by enemy action or suffered in action against an enemy, and had to require treatment by a medical officer or certification that it would have required treatment if available.

The Iranian missile strikes on Al Asad were in response to the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani.

President Donald Trump and Pentagon officials initially said there were no U.S. casualties from the missile strikes on Al Asad, but symptoms of TBI can often take days to appear.

On Jan. 16, U.S. Central Command stated that several of the troops at Al Asad “were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.”

When asked about the growing number of concussions, Trump told reporters in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22 that, “I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report that it’s not very serious. I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”

The Pentagon has since said that at least 109 troops at Al Asad on the night of the attacks suffered mild TBI.

In the early morning hours immediately after the missile attacks, and after briefing Trump at the White House, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said off-camera at the Pentagon that the launches “were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and equipment, and to kill personnel. That’s my own personnel assessment.”

His initial judgment was that the missiles carried 1,000-2,000 pound warheads.

On April 7, Air Forces Central Command published accounts from more than 20 Airmen at Al Asad testifying to the ferocity of the attacks that lasted an estimated 90 minutes.

Capt. Nate Brown recalled taking cover with others in a bunker.

Then, “the next wave hits. Then the next, and the next. I have no idea if anyone is alive outside this bunker.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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Here’s what happened to the F-35 that mysteriously disappeared

The F-35 that went missing in April 2019 crashed after the pilot lost his spatial awareness and slammed the fighter into the Pacific Ocean at almost 700 mph, the Japanese defense ministry said June 10, 2019, according to multiple reports.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter piloted by Maj. Akinori Hosomi of the 3rd Air Wing’s 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron mysteriously vanished from radar on April 9, 2019, about 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.

The US and Japan dispatched military assets to assist in search and rescue operations. The US ended its search in May 2019, but the Japanese military kept going until last week.


“We believe it highly likely,” Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya explained to reporters June 10, 2019, “the pilot was suffering from vertigo or spatial disorientation and wasn’t aware of his condition. It can affect any pilot regardless of their experience.” The 41-year-old major had over 3,200 flight hours, including 60 hours on the F-35, under his belt at the time of the crash.

Senior leaders from Japan’s Ministry of Defense, US Forces Japan, Pacific Air Forces, and Lockheed Martin at a Japan Air Self-Defense Force hangar to welcome the first operational F-35A Lightning II to JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 24, 2018.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

This conclusion was reached after careful analysis of the radar and flight control data, as well as conversations with other F-35 pilots.

The pilot did not send out a distress signal indicating that he thought he was in trouble, and there is no indication he tried to eject. Furthermore, there is no evidence the major tried to pull up as the fighter’s onboard proximity warning system, which was presumably alerting him of an imminent collision, Reuters reported.

The Japanese defense ministry has ruled out a loss of consciousness or any problem with the plane as an explanation for the crash. Nonetheless, all Japanese F-35 pilots are being re-trained on avoiding spatial disorientation and gravity-induced loss of consciousness. All of its stealth fighters are currently grounded.

The ministry said in a statement that the fifth-generation fighter, following a rapid descent from an altitude of 31,500 feet, was flying 1,000 feet above the ocean’s surface at a speed of about 1,100 kph (683 mph) when the jet inexplicably disappeared from radar, according to Stars and Stripes. The defense ministry explained that the aircraft was destroyed “and parts and fragments scattered across the sea bottom.”

The aircraft, designated AX-6, is the second F-35A assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 Final Assembly Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan and is the first to be assigned to the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

(ASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Misawa Air Base, Japan.)

On June 3, 2019, Japan called off the search for the missing fighter and the remains of the pilot, who was declared deceased at a press conference on June 7, 2019, after it was confirmed that body parts found among wreckage discovered shortly after the accident were those of Maj. Hosomi.

The flight data recorder was found during a later deep-water search, but the memory was lost, leaving many questions unanswered.

“It is truly regrettable that we lost such an excellent pilot,” Iwaya said late last week. “We truly respect Maj. Hosomi, who was lost while devotedly performing his duty and we extend our heartfelt condolences and offer our deepest sympathies to the family.”

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

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These 3 snipers had more kills than Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam

While Carlos Hathcock is perhaps the most famous sniper of the Vietnam War, he actually ranks fourth in the number of confirmed kills.


Yeah, that’s right. Hathcock was out-scored by three other snipers during that conflict. So, who are the guys who bested Hathcock’s 93 confirmed sniper kills? Let’s take a look at them.

Carlos Hathcock | Photo: Marine Corps Archives

3rd place: Eric R. England – 98 confirmed kills

The Union County Historical Society reports that Eric England had his service in Vietnam cut short at seven months.

England also had a lengthy track record of success in competitive shooting, including winning the Leech Cup — the oldest competitive shooting trophy in the United States.

England rates as perhaps the most obscure of the snipers who out-shot Hathcock. Aside from some photos taken during the 2011 Memorial Day Parade in Union County, Georgia, few, if any, photos of this legend are publicly available.

Second Place: Chuck Mawhinney – 103 confirmed kills

Chuck Mawhinney served from 1967-1970 in the Marine Corps. According to a 2000 Los Angeles Times article, he spent 16 months in Vietnam. After leaving the Marine Corps, he worked in the United States Forest Service.

Mawhinney’s youth was spent hunting, and he chose the Marines because they allowed him to delay his entry until after deer season. Some Marine recruiter did his country a service with that call.

Mawhinney noted that every one of his kills had a weapon — with one notable exception: A North Vietnamese Army paymaster who he took out from 900 yards away.

Today, Mawhinney is talking about what he has done, seeking to dispel the many stereotypes of snipers that are in people’s minds.

This is the M40 sniper rifle used by Chuck Mawhinney during the Vietnam War. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1st Place: Adelbert Waldron — 109 confirmed kills

America’s top sniper of the Vietnam War wasn’t a Marine. He served with the 9th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Yeah, you read that right. Marines got all the press and the glory, but an Army guy was the top sniper shot of the Vietnam War.

Waldron had served in the United States Navy for 12 years before going to civilian life. In 1968, he enlisted in the Army. SniperCentral.com noted that Waldron spent 16 months in Vietnam. Waldron primarily used the M21 Sniper Weapon System, a modified M14.

Waldron was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice. He also was awarded the Silver Star and three Bronze Stars. Still, he never talked about his service with the media, and died in 1995. His total would be the top score for an American sniper until Chris Kyle totaled 160 during the Global War on Terror.

Adelbert Waldron, America’s top sniper of the Vietnam War.

So, when it comes to Vietnam War snipers, the legendary “White Feather” ranks at number four.

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Lawmakers want some aircraft carriers moved to Florida

Florida’s congressional delegation has restarted its campaign to move a Norfolk-based aircraft carrier to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.


In a March 20 letter to Jim Mattis and acting Secretary Sean Stackley, the legislators argued — as they have in the past — that homeporting all the East Coast carrier fleet in Hampton Roads is dangerous.

“The risk to our current and future carrier fleet far exceeds the one-time costs of making Mayport CVN capable,” wrote the state’s 29-member delegation.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation who serve on House or Senate armed services committees said in statements Wednesday the huge cost of building shore facilities needed to keep at carrier at Mayport are prohibitive.

“I think it is inconceivable to consider spending almost a billion dollars on replicating a capability that already exists in Norfolk,” said Rep. Rob Wittman, who heads the House panel’s seapower subcommittee that oversees Naval operations. “As I consider options as to how to build a 355-ship , I can think of any number of other critical investments that are more important to the war fighter than building redundant infrastructure in Mayport.”

Senator Tim Kaine, a member of Senate Armed Services, agreed.

“Moving a carrier to Florida would cost a lot, stripping money away from other key defense priorities, without advancing our most pressing security goal. That is why past efforts to do this have always failed,” said the Virginia Democrat.

Left oken by both Florida and Virginia lawmakers is that hosting carriers represents a huge economic boost to a homeport. With the ship comes thousands of sailors, construction projects and lucrative support operations.

Mayport had once hosted conventionally-powered carriers, including the now-retired John F. Kennedy and Forrestal. However, all of today’s carriers are nuclear-powered, requiring more sophisticated base operations.

The Florida legislators argued the “over leverages risk to our carrier fleet” with one Atlantic homeport — particularly because it’s located near Newport News Shipbuilding, the sole builder of carriers.

“Not only are our operational CVN (carriers) in jeopardy, but our future capital ships under construction are practically co-located, risking tens of billions of dollars of assets as well as our ability to project power abroad now and in the future,” Florida legislators wrote in the letter, which was posted on Sen. Marco Rubio’s website.

Wittman contends the risk is overblown.

“In times of emergency, there are a multitude of ports available on the East Coast to support an aircraft carrier,” he wrote. “Furthermore, deep carrier maintenance would still be at Newport News.”

Hampton Roads is currently home to six carriers. Assigned to Naval Station Norfolk are the Harry S. Truman, George H.W. Bush, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Washington.

The Abraham Lincoln has been at Newport News for a three-year, mid-life refueling and overhaul that is to be completed by early summer. The George Washington is slated to enter the private yard in August to begin its three-year overhaul.

The newest carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, is nearing completion at Newport News and expected to delivered to the in the spring.

President Donald Trump has said he wants to enlarge the carrier fleet 12 but has not offered specifics of how it would be funded or possible future homeports.

The , which has been required by law to have 11 carriers, has been operating with 10 for several years — with congressional approval. It will be back to 11 when the Ford is delivered.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35 fighters promise a powerful show of force for North Korea

The U.S. and South Korean militaries will join together for a final military exercise to close out a heated 2017 with F-22 and F-35 stealth jets training right off North Korea’s borders.


The exercise, called “Vigilant Ace,” will run from Dec. 4-8 and involve 12,000 military personnel between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as 230 aircraft, a defense official told the Wall Street Journal.

It will also be the first time six F-22 Raptors will visit South Korea, and it will focus on enemy infiltration and precision airstrikes, according to Yonhap news.

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen

The drill will close out a heated 2017 where President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged vicious threats of destroying each other’s countries.

With the emphasis of stealth jets to the annual U.S.-South Korea exercises, this drill will be unlike any others. The US typically invites international observers to its military drills, but North Korea simply has no way to track stealth jets.

In late September the U.S. flew a B-1B bomber and a few F-15 fighter jets near North Korea, and Pyongyang never found out. In the past, the U.S. has had to tell North Korea about B-1B flights, because North Korea can’t detect them on their own, a South Korean defense official told NK News at the time.

That’s why stealth jets in South Korea is a nightmare for North Korea.

Also Read: Pacific Thunder, aka why North Korea cries, kicks off in South Korea

North Korea sees U.S. and South Korean military drills as preparation for an invasion to remove Kim. North Korea has specifically threatened to shoot down US B-1B bombers when they fly or where they rest at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Often, North Korea schedules its missile launches around the dates of U.S. and South Korean drills in protest.

But North Korea has no chance of spotting, tracking, or shooting down stealth jets, and the commonly accepted role of stealth platforms as being “door kickers,” or weapons systems to start wars off, will only aggravate Pyongyang’s worst fears.

So a year of record-high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea will end with practically invisible jets flying over the Korean Peninsula, and there is little that Kim Jong Un can do in response.

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Popeye the Sailor Man was originally Popeye the Coast Guardsman

This may seem like blasphemy to some, but Popeye started his professional career as a civilian mariner and then Coast Guardsman. The famous sailor did join the Navy, but as of 1937, Popeye was firmly in the Coast Guard. A two-reel feature titled Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves introduces Popeye serving at a Coast Guard station. The sailor man’s creator did not live to see the United States enter World War II, but it was in 1941 that his creation joined the Navy and the legend of Popeye the rough and tumble U.S. Navy sailor was born.


Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves wasn’t Popeye’s first feature. He started life as a character in the comic strip Thimble Theater in 1929, a comic actually centered around his off-and-on girlfriend, Olive Oyl. When it became obvious that Popeye was the real star, he made a jump to feature films. In the aforementioned 1937 film is when we see Popeye in the Coast Guard, on guard duty and deploying to intercept “Abu Hassan” (aka Bluto), who is terrorizing the Middle East.

Spoiler alert: Popeye saves the day, but not before telling Bluto to “stop in the name of the Coast Guard.

It was during WWII that Popeye reached his incredible popularity. After enlisting in the Navy in 1941’s The Mighty Navy, Popeye’s clothing changed and reflected his status as a U.S. Navy sailor, wearing the distinctive white crackerjack uniform. Popeye would remain in uniform until 1978, when new cartoons put him back in his original outfit, with one exception: the white yachting cap he used to wear was replaced with a standard issue Navy “Dixie Cup” cap.

It should be noted that Popeye and Bluto once attempted to join the Army in a 1936 film short called I’m In the Army Now, but they really just ended up fighting in the recruiter’s office. Popeye left the office after beating Bluto to a surrender, but without actually joining. Popeye also regularly beats Bluto to the tune of “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”

Despite his dedication to service, Popeye never once tried to join the Air Force.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This former SEAL serves by helping burn victims

Ryan Parrott was a Navy SEAL on his first deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device. Parrott was launched out of the vehicle and suffered a mix of first-degree and second-degree burns – and he got the nickname “Birdman.”


Parrott would serve eight years with the SEALs, but when he left the military, an encounter would change his life’s direction. Parrott met an Army Ranger who had suffered third-degree burns while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. He was angered when the Ranger told him that things were as good as they would get after three dozen surgeries.

U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center surgeon, Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Christopher Burns, center, uses a surgical instrument to prepare a wound for surgery while, Burn Center Director, Col. (Dr.) Evan M. Renz, left, and OR technician Spc. Dennis Ortiz look on during the first surgery procedure performed in the new Burn Center OR on May 25 at the new consolidated tower of the San Antonio Military Medical Center. (DOD photo)

“I decided I could continue to serve my country away from the battlefield,” he told the online media outlet. Decided to channel his anger at the Ranger’s difficulty at getting treatment into action, Parrott founded Sons of the Flag, a non-profit organization intended to help fund research into burn treatments, and to also train doctors on how to treat patients suffering from burns.

Since it was founded in 2012, Sons of the Flag has connected over a thousand burn survivors to treatment. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what the charity does. It also has provided direct support to burn survivors and families, including rent assistance, utility assistance, travel costs, and assistance with special medication needs not covered by insurance.

Army veteran and burn survivor Omar Aviles. (Youtube screenshot)

Families of burn victims also receive “go bags” filled with essentials like water bottles, chargers for cell phones, snacks, toiletries, and a new blanket for while their loved one is being treated. The charity also steps in to help children and teenagers who suffer serious burns, providing items used for entertainment and rehabilitation as well as establishing pediatric “burn camps” for young survivors who may face bullying as a result of the lasting scars from serious burns.

In roughly five years, this charity has been making an impact, primarily in the Texas area. For more information on Sons of the Flag, go to https://sonsoftheflag.org/. One thing for sure – with this SEAL on a mission, survivors of serious burns have a much better chance at a good life.

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How Margaret Thatcher almost sent the SAS on a raid to supply besieged Brits in Kuwait

Margaret Thatcher considered an SAS-style raid to resupply Britain’s besieged embassy in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait, which was running out of water, food, and fuel in the run-up to the Gulf War in September 1990, newly released Downing Street papers reveal.


After his shock invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, Saddam Hussein had given the diplomats three weeks to transfer their operations to Baghdad but the British along with other embassies refused to leave.

Percy Cradock, Thatcher’s veteran foreign affairs adviser, was asked to investigate the possibility of using military special forces to resupply the embassy, where four remaining diplomats, including the ambassador, were living behind 3-4-meter (10-12ft) high walls topped with barbed wire.

“Outside, the embassy is under the surveillance of guards. Kuwait City itself is dense with Iraqi infantry. The occupants reckon they have supplies to last 50 days (about the end of October with reduced communications activity). After that they will need water, food, and fuel,” Cradock reported back to Thatcher.

SAS Emblem from Wikimedia Commons

“We looked at the possibility of resupplying of our embassy by means of a military operation. This has been carefully examined in the Ministry of Defense and the military view is that the hazards in relation to benefits would be excessive. Kuwait and its approaches are heavily defended. There are mines on the beaches and plentiful air defense. The sea approaches are patrolled by Iraqi fast boats. We have no available submarine and a sea approach would involve bringing a destroyer or frigate dangerously close to shore,” he said.

A parachute drop was ruled out as impractical and while they could get a helicopter in it was unlikely to get out again, simply adding to the number of people to be fed and exposing the helicopter crew to probably fatal reprisals by the Iraqis.

Another idea considered was asking the Kuwaiti resistance to get local people to drop small quantities of supplies over the walls at night but an initial response indicates this was considered difficult and dangerous.

Nevertheless, the British remained along with the Americans, Germans, and French, who were also cut off from utilities. Nearly two months later a telegram dated 3 November 1990 appeared in the Downing Street file with a note: “From our man in Kuwait.” Signed “Burton,” it reported “regrettably there is little ‘haute’ about my cuisine, at least in these circumstances.

USAF photo by Ssgt. F. Lee Corkran

“We have one meal a day, consisting of rice and pasta alternately. We still have quite a lot of tins of tuna and a few of frankfurters, plus a lot of spices, mostly taken from the servants’ quarters.

“Unfortunately we are very short of onions, though we do have garlic, and have only a few tins of tomatoes and tomato paste. We have a little powdered milk left and ‘gram’ powder made from chickpeas, I think, so I can make white sauces. We have used up all our ordinary flour, which means I can no longer make bread, as I did in the early days.”

The besieged diplomat reported that curried tuna and tuna lasagna were both popular, and so was crab in cheese sauce: “Curried frankfurter is rather less so, though ‘sausage chasseur’ is accepted.”

In the event the British embassy held on until 16 December before making its way to Baghdad. The US-led coalition assault, known as Operation Desert Storm, started the following month, in January 1991, to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

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That real time three ex-Navy pilots fought a Hollywood-style brawl at 19,000 feet

FedEx flight 705 was scheduled for a routine flight from Memphis, Tenn. to San Jose, Calif. on a clear April day in 1994. Its captain, David Sanders, was an experienced ex-Naxy pilot. First Officer James Tucker was an ex-Navy flight combat instructor.


FedEx Flight Engineer Auburn Calloway – also an ex-Navy pilot –  didn’t know that when he tried to hijack the plane in midair.

Calloway was flying for free with the shipment, a perk for FedEx employees, so it wasn’t strange when Calloway informed the officers he would be hitching a ride. What was strange was that the official Flight Engineer for 705, Andy Petersen, kept finding the circuit breaker for the plane’s cockpit voice recorder turned off. He kept an eye on it, pre-flight checks were cleared and the plane headed for San Jose.

A FedEx DC-10 like the one Sanders commanded that day.

At 19,000 feet, with a total of four passengers, Calloway pulled a hammer from his guitar case – it was well before the increased security introduced after 9/11 – and attacked Petersen with repeated blows to the head. Next, Calloway assaulted Tucker and readied to attack Captain Sanders.

Calloway and Sanders wrestled before Sanders took a blow to the head himself, but this gave time for the other crewmen to wake up. Calloway retreated to the back to grab a speargun and, with the new weapon in hand, ordered them to sit down.

That’s as far as the hijacking got.

Tucker pulled on the controls and pulled the DC-10 into a steep climb. The other three men were tossed out of the cockpit. Captain Sanders and Petersen were wrestling over the speargun with the uninjured Calloway. Petersen had a fractured skull, severed temporal artery, and profuse bleeding. Sanders was a little better off, but not by much. They wouldn’t last long.

The First Officer and ex-Naxy flight combat instructor took control of the fight by taking control of the helm. He took the plane on its side, then upside down. As Calloway hit Captain Sanders in the head again, Tucker took the plane into a steep dive. But Tucker’s own fractured skull was starting to cause motor problems in his body. He began to lose movement and sensation as the plane plummeted to Earth.

Back in the galley, Calloway hit the Captain in the head one last time, but the Captain had enough. He caught the hammer, forced it from the attacker’s hands and beat him with his own hammer until Calloway stopped moving. They informed the Memphis air traffic control of the situation, requested an ambulance and a SWAT team and headed back to Tennessee.

Auburn Calloway’s FedEx ID Badge.

As the crew flew with the autopilot on, Tucker kept the speargun on Calloway. But the moment Tucker’s injuries caused the speargun to dip from his hands, Calloway attacked again.

They tried to pin him down, but their injuries restricted their movements. Once Sanders was able to help his fellow crew mates, Tucker beat Calloway with the hammer again.

By the time the captain got back to the cockpit, alarms were blaring. The fully-loaded and fully-fueled plane would not have enough room to stop on the runway provided. Even worse, Calloway was waking up again, so there was no time to do another pass. At the last second, Sanders hit another runway that had more room.

Just 300 feet off the ground, Calloway was struggling for the hammer one more time. The plane landed hard, barely stopping with just 900 feet of runway left. Petersen and Tucker were in critical condition. Luckily all three men survived. Though they received medals for their heroism, they were medically unfit to fly from then on.

Captain Sanders walking off an ambulance after landing FedEx flight 705.

It turns out Calloway was a martial arts expert and originally planned to be the official flight engineer. He would have only had to kill two people.

The assailant’s life had taken a turn in the past four years. He lost his wife and children and was on the verge of losing his job for forging flight documents. So after transferring large amounts of cash and securities to his wife, he planned to disable the cockpit recorder then crash a plane so his kids would get his life insurance settlement, ensuring they could go to school.

Instead, he got two life sentences without parole.

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North Korea tried to launch a missile, but couldn’t get it up

North Korea attempted to fire a missile April 16, the day after the anniversary of its founding, but it blew up within seconds.


While North Korea’s missile program may be the shadowiest on earth, it’s possible U.S. cyber warriors were the reason for the failed launch.

A recent New York Times report uncovered a secret operation to derail North Korea’s nuclear-missile program that has been raging for at least three years.

Essentially, the report attributes North Korea’s high rate of failure with Russian-designed missiles to the U.S. meddling in the country’s missile software and networks.

The North Korean Hwasong missile has been tested with varying success, most recently in February 2017. (Photo: KCNA)

Though North Korea’s missile infrastructure lacks the competence of Russia’s, the Soviet-era missile on which North Korea based its missile had a 13% failure rate, while the North Korean version failed a whopping 88% of the time, according to the report.

Also read: This is what a war with North Korea could look like

While the missile failure on April 16 could have just been due to poor workmanship, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland seemed to leave room for speculation about espionage, telling Fox News: “We can’t talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations, so I really have no comment.”

On April 17, Vice President Mike Pence  visited the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, saying that “all options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country,” and that “the era of strategic patience” with North Korea “is over.”

To those in the know, the campaign against North Korea came as no surprise. Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for Comodo with experience in the National Security Agency, told Business Insider that cyberoperations like the one against North Korea were the norm.

These aren’t the guys who hacked North Korea…but they could be. (U.S. Air Force photo)

While the U.S. hacking another country’s missile program may be shocking to some, “within military intelligence spaces, this is what they do,” Geers said. “If you think that war is possible with a given state, you’re going to be trying to prepare the battle space for conflict. In the internet age, that means hacking.”

North Korea’s internal networks are fiercely insulated and not connected to the internet, however, which poses a challenge for hackers in the United States. But Geers said it was “absolutely not the case” that hacking requires computers connected to the internet.

A recent report in The New Yorker on Russian hacking detailed one case in which Russia gained access to a NATO computer network in 1996 by providing bugged thumb drives to shops near a NATO base in Kabul, Afghanistan. NATO operators bought the thumb drives, used them on the network, and just like that, the Russians were in.

“That’s where SIGINT (signals intelligence) or COMINT (communications intelligence) comes into collaboration with HUMINT (human intelligence),” Geers said.

Related: North Korea threatens a pre-emptive nuclear attack

He described the present moment as the “golden age of espionage,” as cyberwarfare remains nonlethal, unattributable, and almost completely unpunished.

But a recent missile salvo from North Korea suggests that even a prolonged, sophisticated cyberattack can’t fully derail its nuclear-missile program.

“Imagine you’re the president. North Korea is a human-rights abuser and an exporter of dangerous technology,” Geers said. “Responsible governments really need to think about ways to handle North Korea, and one of the options is regime change.”

The test-fire of Pukguksong-2 in February 2017. (KCNA/Handout via Reuters)

Furthermore, Geers said, because of the limited number of servers and access points to North Korea’s very restricted internet, “if it ever came to cyberwar between the U.S. and North Korea, it would be an overwhelming victory for the West.”

“North Korea can do a Sony attack or attack the White House, but that’s because that’s the nature of cyberspace,” Geers said. “But if war came, you’d see Cyber Command wipe out most other countries pretty quickly.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Germany backs up France in calls for European army

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling for the eventual creation of a European army, echoing a suggestion by French President Emmanuel Macron that recently angered the U.S. president.

“What is really important, if we look at the developments of the past year, is that we have to work on a vision of one day creating a real, true European army,” Merkel said in a speech before the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Nov. 13, 2018.

“A common European army would show the world that there will never again be war between European countries,” she said.


Merkel said she envisioned a European army that would function in parallel with NATO and come under a European Security Council, centralizing the continent’s defense structure.

“Europe must take our fate into our own hands if we want to protect our community,” Merkel said.

Her comments came a week after Macron called for a European army that would give Europe greater independence from the United States as well as defend the continent against such possible aggressors as Russia and China.

His comments provoked an angry response from U.S. President Donald Trump and prompted Trump to step up calls on European countries to increase their contributions to NATO.

President Donald J. Trump visits Suresnes American Cemetery to honor the centennial of Armistice Day, Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018.

(Photo by Cpl. Kevin Payne)

On Nov. 13, 2018, after returning from a visit to France where his clash with Macron featured prominently, Trump tweeted again on the subject.

“Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China, and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One Two — How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!” Trump wrote.

Macron did not publicly respond to Trump’s latest tweet. But former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted that France helped the fledgling United States win its war of independence against Britain in the 18th century and criticized Trump for “insulting our oldest ally.”

“Stop tweeting! America needs some friends,” Kerry said.

The French and German proposals to create a European army are controversial within NATO and the EU, where many member states are reluctant to give up national sovereignty on defense issues.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said “more European efforts on defense is great, but it should never undermine the strength of the transatlantic bond.”

That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Nov. 13, 2018.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“We see NATO as the cornerstone for the protection of Europe in the security realm and we fully support nations doing more to carry the load,” Mattis said.

France has proposed the initial launch of a European intervention force backed by a small group of member states to handle crises in regions such as Africa, which could later be expanded into a European army.

Germany is critical of that proposal, however, as Macron would like to establish the new force outside the EU framework so as to involve the soon-to-depart Britain, which is a defense heavyweight within NATO.

The EU already has so-called battle groups to respond in crisis situations, though they have never been deployed.

Merkel’s speech came days after she announced that she will step down as chancellor when her current term ends.

The EU stands at a critical juncture, with Britain preparing to leave the bloc in March while populist, anti-EU forces are on the rise.

As head of the EU’s largest economy, Merkel has wielded considerable influence in the bloc during her nearly 13 years as chancellor.

But political wrangling at home has diminished her powers. Following months of infighting in her three-way coalition government and two disastrous state elections, Merkel announced on Oct. 29, 2018, that her current term as chancellor would be her last.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the Navy is trying to get sailors to extend their sea duty

Navy announced Feb. 21, 2018 that Sailors serving on sea duty in Japan, Guam, and Spain now have an increased set of incentives available to them, in NAVADMIN 042/18.


According to the NAVADMIN, Sailors who voluntarily extend their sea duty at the listed locations to a minimum of 48 months, will have any remaining sea time left on their prescribed sea tour waived and be allowed to rotate to shore duty for their next assigned tour. Those who extend their tours by 12 months or more will be given preferential consideration for announced billets in Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID).

Also read: The Navy will offer some sailors $100,000 to stay in the Navy

Eligible Sailors who extend their sea tours for at least 12 months still have the option of Sea Duty Incentive Pay. The Overseas Tour Extension Incentive Program also remains an option for eligible Sailors.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman)

Additionally, with the release of this NAVADMIN, first-term Sailors in grades E-3 and below are now authorized accompanied orders to overseas locations where dependents are authorized.

“Our goal is to reward those Sailors who volunteer to extend to meet the demands from the fleet,” said Rear Adm. John Meier, director, Career Management Department, Navy Personnel Command (NPC). “In addition to the incentives already in place, which remain options for Sailors who meet extension criteria, these additional incentives should make it easier for Sailors who make the decision to extend.”

Sailors interested in taking advantage of these incentives must request an extension by submitting an Enlisted Personnel Action Request (NAVPERS 1070/7 Rev. 1/03) 18-14 months prior to their Projected Rotation Date. For assistance, Sailors should contact their command career counselor.

For more information, read NAVADMIN 042/18 at www.npc.navy.mil, or contact the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (827-5672) or via email at cscmailbox@navy.mil.

MIGHTY CULTURE

In a war with Russia, both sides could focus on this 60-mile stretch

There are a number of potential vulnerabilities in NATO territory if the Cold War ever goes live, but three countries are especially scared of an attack to close the Suwalki Gap, a spot where NATO territory is only 60 miles wide with Belarus on one side, Russia’s Kaliningrad Enclave on the other, and relatively flat ground with little forest or natural defenses in the middle.


A German Army Soldier directs military vehicles onto land during one of the largest combined exercises in Lithuania, the Suwalki Gap River Crossing, as media observe the event, June 20, 2017.

(U.S. Army Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

If Russian tanks and other forces quickly span the gap and dig in, they could cut Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia off from the rest of Europe and NATO for easy digestion, leaving the rest of NATO to decide whether its worth it to risk their own troops re-securing them.

These sorts of geographic and political choke points aren’t new. Cold War weapons development was heavily influenced by the Fulda Gap, one of Soviet Russia’s most likely routes of advance if they invaded western Europe. And in World War II, France fell so quickly partially because it had counted on holding Germany at the Albert Canal and River Meuse in Belgium, but Germany had gotten Belgium to rescind its alliances with France before the invasion.

But the Suwalki Gap is a particularly vulnerable and important point. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave that borders the Baltic Sea, and Belarus is a historic ally of Russia. Russia could easily muster troops in both areas for a mad dash across the line, and it could do so quickly and with little warning.

Battle Group Poland U.S. Soldiers locate their sector of fire for their weapons as part of the Bull Run training exercise near Suwalki, Poland, July 16, 2017.

(U.S. Army Spc. Kevin Wang)

On paper, NATO would be required to respond, but NATO’s joint defense clause has only been invoked one time, and that was when America was attacked on September 11, 2001. That’s part of why deploying to Afghanistan usually results in a service member receiving a NATO medal. The whole alliance was party to the invasion because one member of the alliance had been attacked.

But that was NATO allies backing up their most powerful member while invading a relatively weak, authoritarian state. The Taliban had little air force or proper army assets, and it quickly fell. Getting NATO allies to muster in Poland for an attack into Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia would be much more challenging, especially since many countries would be interested in holding back at least some of their military forces to defend their own borders as the situation developed.

Poland might be especially reluctant. The gap shares its name with a Polish city and a Polish County, and Poland shares a much larger border with Kaliningrad and with Belarus. It might legitimately need its troops to hold the line against further Russian attacks.

The Iskander-M is likely a violation of the INF Treaty, and it gives Russia the ability to cover the entire Suwalki Gap and most of Eastern Europe with a few missile launchers

(Boevaya mashina, CC BY-SA4.0)

Meanwhile, remember how Russia is under a lot of pressure to get back in line with that INF Treaty that bans missiles of certain ranges, especially ones that can carry nuclear warheads? Well, a lot of the Iskander and Iskander-M systems that are likely in violation of that treaty are kept in Kaliningrad, where they could threaten U.S. and NATO ships in the Baltic Sea and army formations approaching Suwalki from the south.

An Iskander launcher could likely cover the entire Suwalki Gap from any point in Kaliningrad. Multiple launchers could take turns shooting and then scooting before they could be hunted down. Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion force would be north of the gap, conquering the NATO countries and setting up defenses ahead of the NATO counterattack.

The Suwalki Gap is something Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges talked about when he was the commanding general of NATO, saying that an invasion of NATO countries wouldn’t make any sense to him, but then neither had the seizure of Crimea or the Russian deployment to Syria.

Battle Group Poland tested its readiness and interoperability as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence during Bull Run, a simulated training exercise, July 16, 2017, near Suwalki, Poland.

(U.S. Army)

For comparison, while the Suwalki Gap is 60 miles long, the annexation of Crimea created an approximately 85-mile-long front between Russia and Ukraine, though NATO wasn’t obligated to take part in that fight and much of that border is covered in water, making a Ukrainian counterattack much more risky and challenging.

Of course, all of this only matters if Putin is ready to do something even crazier than kidnapping an Estonian intelligence officer, annexing Crimea, or invading Georgia or the Donbas. While all of those actions were baffling for international observers, the annexed territory, at least, did have populations sympathetic to Russian rule.

While Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania do have some Russian-speaking populations, the countries as a whole strongly support NATO membership and have even inked agreements to move more U.S. and other NATO troops into the countries or allow more forces to transit through them. So, Russia would likely find it challenging to actually hold the countries permanently.