Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

U.S. officials are claiming that looming sanctions are putting economic pressure on Iran and helping to stir up street protests, with President Donald Trump saying he expects the economic “pain” to force Tehran to seek a deal with Washington.

“I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing. But I will tell you this, at a certain point, they’re going to call me and they’re going to say, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal. They’re feeling a lot of pain right now,” Trump said at a news conference in Brussels on July 12, 2018.


Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while attending a NATO summit in the Belgian capital, have been pushing European allies to increase the economic pain in Tehran by supporting the U.S. sanctions, which are due to go into effect on Nov. 4, 2018.

“We ask our allies and partners to join our economic pressure campaign against Iran’s regime,” Pompeo said in a tweet before meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

But Europe’s biggest economic powers — France, Germany, and Britain — have pledged to try to counteract the U.S. sanctions as part of their efforts to keep honoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which provided Tehran with sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May 2018 and announced the reinstatement of U.S. sanctions.

Pompeo has pointed to the recent arrest of an Iranian diplomat in Germany in connection with an alleged plot to bomb a gathering of Iranian expatriates in Paris in trying to convince U.S. allies to join the Washington’s pressure campaign on Tehran.

“There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence, and instability in one of our countries next,” he tweeted. “We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism and proxy wars.”

‘Malign Activities’

During a visit to Dubai on July 12, 2018, Sigal P. Mandelker, a U.S. Treasury undersecretary, said the economic pressures on Iran were helping fuel street protests and should prompt Tehran to stop what she called its “malign activities” in the Middle East.

“You’ve seen the Iranian people, of course, stand up loudly, at risk of their own lives, shouting in protest about the corruption that’s happening within Iran,” Mandelker said. “So much money has gone to support malign activities elsewhere, with very little focus on the economy itself.”

Iran’s support for the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group Hizballah, Shi’ite rebels in Yemen, and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad all represent a “despicable use of Iranian revenue,” she said.

Since the United States moved to reimpose sanctions on Iran, the Iranian rial has plummeted to 78,500 to the dollar, nearly half the official exchange rate, while unemployment has remained high.

Economic protests swept the Iranian countryside at the end of 2017 and have occurred in recent weeks as well. Wildcat strikes and demonstrations have also erupted over water scarcity.

Promised billion-dollar deals with Western firms that emerged after the nuclear deal was signed have evaporated in recent weeks, with businesses citing worries about being penalized by the U.S. sanctions and cut out of the U.S. consumer market if they continue to operate in Iran.

Reuters reported that Iranian oil exports to India, Iran’s second largest customer for crude, fell by 16 percent in May 2018 as privately owned refineries cut back purchases even as state refineries increased purchases from Iran.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

After a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 12, 2018, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top adviser said Russian firms are prepared to fill in for some of the loss of business.

“Putin said that Russia is prepared to continue its oil investment in Iran at the level of billion. It means Russia is ready to invest this amount in Iran’s oil sector,” Ali Akbar Velayati told Iranian state television.

“This is an important amount that can compensate for those companies that have left Iran,” he said.

Velayati claimed that one of Russia’s major oil companies has signed a billion deal with Iran, which he said “will be implemented soon,” without elaborating.

“Two other major Russian oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, have started talks with Iran’s Oil Ministry to sign contracts worth up to billion,” he said.

Mandelker said the Trump administration was aiming to “very significantly reduce” Iran’s crude oil exports. She said the administration also wants to make sure allies shut off financial avenues Tehran could use to evade the sanctions.

“The world needs to be wise to the ways in which they move deceptively,” she said.

However, limiting Iran’s ways of evading sanctions could prove difficult in the Persian Gulf region. The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), in particular, has a large ethnically Persian population and a long history of trade with Iran.

Iran has already exploited the U.A.E.’s free economic zones to set up companies to acquire otherwise-prohibited materials, and a recent report found that Dubai’s luxury real-estate market offers a money-laundering haven for Iranians.

Moreover, Dubai has traditionally served as a hub for exports to Iran, with data showing such exports totaled .9 billion in 2017.

Despite these extensive ties, Mandelker said Washington has an “excellent partnership” with the U.A.E. and that “there’s no question in my mind that working together, we can take significant action to disrupt [Iran’s] ability to fund themselves.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watching YouTube videos took this Green Beret from Afghanistan to the NFL

Everyone has a different way of passing the time during deployments. Some people work their way through seasons on Netflix, some CrossFit their way to a better physique, while others pursue academic goals. For Green Beret Nate Boyer, it was watching YouTube videos and practicing those skills that helped him chase his dream of becoming a professional football player.


In Sunday’s Super Bowl commercial, we see the journey of Nate Boyer. Following his service in the Army, Boyer wanted to go to college and to be a starter on the Texas Longhorns football team.

There was only one tiny wrench in his plan: he had never played football.

Boyer was told he was “too small, too slow, too old. Nobody wants a 30-year-old rookie on their team.” But just ask Boyer: he’s no ordinary rookie. Following tryouts, Boyer learned that there would be a starting position open as a long snapper for the Longhorns.

“I didn’t even know what a long snapper was,” he said.

Boyer learned and honed the skills through YouTube and watched as his dreams came true:

YouTube

www.youtube.com

YouTube

You’re never too old to pursue your dreams.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A soldier home for the holidays died trying to save people in the deadly Bronx fire

A National Guard soldier who was home for the holidays died while saving people from the massive apartment fire in the Bronx borough in New York City on Dec. 28, according to several news reports.


Emmanuel Mensah, a 28-year-old who immigrated from Ghana five years ago, returned to his apartment for the first time after joining the Army a year ago, according to The New York Times. He was among the 12 people killed in the blaze that consumed an apartment building near the corner of East 187th Street and Prospect Avenue.

Mensah lived with friends of his father — a married couple and their four children. He got that family out of the burning building safely before pulling four more people from the fire, said Twum Bredu, his uncle who lived next door. Witnesses cited in the Times’ report say Mensah disappeared after going back into the building to look for more victims.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
NewYork Army National Guard Pvt 1st Class Emmanuel Mensah who died during a fire in an apartment buiilding in the Bronx, New York City on Dec. 28, 2017.  (Photo courtesy New York Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion )

“He brought four people out,” Bredu told The Times. “When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.”

 

Mensah is believed to have died of smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Mensah had just begun his military career, based on photos which indicate he held the rank of a private first class.

“I thought maybe he was coming back,” said his father, Kwabena Mensah, according to CBS News. “Unfortunately, it turns out the other way.”

Kwabena, who reportedly searched for his son at nearby hospitals, said he was not surprised by his son’s final act.

“That’s what I think, because it was in his nature,” Kwabena said. “He wanted to help people out.”

Four children were among the 12 people who died in the fire, which is suspected to have occurred a few minutes before 7 p.m., after a 3-year-old boy played with burners on a stove inside an apartment on the first floor, New York Fire Department’s commissioner, Daniel Nigro, said during a news conference.

Also Read: This Afghanistan vet and victim of the Las Vegas shooting posted about firefights — months before his death

Four people were critically injured from the fire and were “fighting for their lives,” Nigro said.

“It seems like a horrible, tragic accident,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC radio.

The fire quickly spread upward in the five-story building. Over 160 firefighters responded to the incident. By 10 p.m., the fire was under control.

The fire is believed to be New York City’s deadliest since a 1990 blaze at a Bronx nightclub that killed 87 people.

Articles

College poll convinces thousands of Americans that the F-35 is a waste of money

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
Big and Little Brother: An F-35A sits in a run station on the Fort Worth, Texas, flight line, while an F-16 Fighting Falcon, also produced at the Fort Worth plant, takes off in the background. | Lockheed Martin


A new poll from the University of Maryland indicates that the majority of Americans favor of cutting funding from the U.S. defense budget in five out of seven major areas.

Specifically, they favor defunding one of the U.S.’ 11 aircraft carriers, and the F-35 Lightning II, DefenseNews.com reports.

“Given all the talk about increasing the defense budget, we were surprised to find how much Americans are not sold on increases, including a majority of Republicans nationwide,” said Steven Kull, director of the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation.

Indeed the survey, which polled more than 7,000 U.S. voters across the nation, shows that a majority of Republicans would prefer to keep defense spending where it is, a majority of Independents favor reducing the defense budget by $20 billion, and Democrats favor slashing the budget by $36 billion.

The survey presented 2015 figures on spending and offered alternatives. For example, when informed that cutting funding to the F-35 program would save $6 billion this year, and $97 billion through 2037, 54 percent of citizens polled supported cutting the program.

Though the desire to save money and be fiscally responsible is admirable and understandable, top brass in nearly all U.S. military services have expressed concern that nations like Russia and China threaten the U.S.’ foreign interests, and some have even gone as far as to call them existential threats.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons

Military leaders have stressed the need for progress and innovation to rise to the task of countering a resurgent Russia and a burgeoning China. Recently, the U.S. Air Force chief-of-staff warned that China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force will be poised to overtake the US Air Force by 2030, and a RAND Corp. report found that Russia could overtake NATO forces in the Baltics in 36 to 60 hours, should they choose to do so.

On Tuesday, top Air Force acquisitions personnel took to Congress and re-asserted the need for the U.S.’ fifth generation fighter planes. “We’ve seen both Russia and China develop airplanes faster than was anticipated,” said Lt. Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, according to the Air Force Times.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
USS Wasp Night Ops: An F-35B off on the flight deck of USS Wasp (LHD-1) during operations, a part of Operational Test 1, or OT-1. | US Marine Corps photo

The survey suggested that Americans supported cutting the number of U.S. aircraft carriers to 10 from 11.

Surprisingly, nationally, the majority of Americans did not support shrinking the submarine fleet from 12 to eight, nor did they want to cut funding to development of a new long range strike bomber.

Articles

How the military uses video games to get better at killing

Troops go through seemingly endless amounts of training that can be expensive, boring, and even dangerous. In an effort to make training cheaper, safer, and more effective, the service branches have turned increasingly to video games and simulators.


Possibly the most immersive system in use today, the VIRTSIM system from Raytheon allows users to operate in an open area the size of a basketball court. Trainees wear a set of sensors and feedback gear that records their every action and feeds it into the simulator. Virtual reality goggles show them a simulated world that they move through as a team.

The system doesn’t use wires or tethers to power the suits or transmit data, so participants can move like they would in the real world.

Similarly, the Army’s Dismounted Soldier Training System allows troops to train as a squad in virtual reality. The system allows for customizable missions and incorporates all of a trainee’s movements except for actually walking. Because of the high cost of treadmills, each soldier stands on a rubber pad and moves through the environment with a controller mounted on their weapon, meaning they can’t train the muscle memory of leaping to cover or learn as well to operate with muscle fatigue.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
The Dismounted Solder Training System allows soldiers to train as a squad. Photo: US Army Maj. Penny Zamora

Still, the DSTS provides the chance for soldiers to respond to a mortar attack, react to a near ambush, or any number of dangerous situations that are impossible to train on in the real world.

One of the older simulators, the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, has even more limitations. Troops are confined to a room and can’t move their character through the simulation at all. Instead of looking through goggles to see the virtual world, a projection of the simulated battle is displayed on one or more walls and trainees engage targets in it.

The EST 2000 does have weapons that closely simulate actual M4s, M9s, and other commons systems. The weapons keep track of how the soldier aims and fires, catching even small actions like trigger squeeze. This allows marksmanship trainers to collect detailed information about what a service member is doing right or wrong.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
Soldiers train in the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 April 6, 2015 in before heading to live-fire training at Saber Junction 15. Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau

The military branches use simulators similar to the ESTS 2000 to train pilots and vehicle crew members. While not being able to walk limits training opportunities for ground troops, people in vehicles don’t have to worry about that. Warrior Hall at Fort Rucker allows new Army pilots to train on different helicopter airframes. The Navy and Air Force have similar programs for jet pilots.

While the simulators are great, the goal isn’t to replace the standard training but to augment. Troops can use the simulator to practice rifle fundamentals before heading to the range, experience hitting a building with their squad before their first visit to a shoot house.

And the military still has even more ambitious plans for simulations. The Future Holistic Training Environment Live Synthetic program would tie together different simulations and allow players to participate in massive exercises. Pilots training in New Mexico could fly support for infantrymen training in California while battle staff commanded from North Carolina.

Until then, there’s always video games.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

U.S. Air Force relief mission to COVID-19 crisis in Italy begins from Ramstein AB

USAF C-130s Flew Self-Contained Care Unit to Aviano Air Base in Italy on Friday.


The U.S. Air Force has deployed a C-130J Hercules transport from the 86th Airlift Wing from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Italy’s Aviano Air Base in the ongoing coronavirus relief mission. The U.S. aircraft arrived on Mar. 20, 2020, and joins other relief aircraft in the region, including a number of Russian Aerospace Forces Il-76 transports that departed Russia earlier today.

Photos released by the USAF show Airmen from the 721st Aerial Port Squadron loading pallets of medical equipment on board a Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules transport.

Part of the cargo deployed to Italy in the U.S. relief mission is the En-Route Patient Staging System, or “ERPSS”. The system can support the medical transport of up to 40 patients in a 24-hour period. It is equipped with 10 patient staging beds for treatment of patients.

Commander of U.S. Air Force, Europe (USAFE-AFAFRICA), General Jeff “Cobra” Harrigian, told reporters, “The COVID-19 pandemic requires that we work with our allies and partners to [meet] the challenges together. This effort demonstrates our mutual support as we team together in response to this public health crisis. We are working closely with our Italian friends, the U.S. Department of State, and U.S. European Command (EUCOM) to ensure we provide the right equipment in a safe and timely manner. It’s our privilege to support the Italian response, and our continued commitment reflects the values of the American people to provide to whenever and wherever it is needed.”

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

A USAF Airman assigned to the 721st Aerial Port Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, loads pallets of medical supplies and equipment onboard a C-130J Super Hercules in preparation for relief flights to Aviano Air Base in Italy on March 20, 2020 in support of the COVID-19 relief effort.

(Photo: USAF Airman 1st Class John R. Wright)

The 86th Airlift Wing received one of their most recent, new C-130J Super Hercules transports from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Georgia in early December, 2017. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced version of the celebrated C-130, which first flew over 65 years ago in 1956. The C-130J is the only version of the C-130 that remains in production today. The aircraft features a fuselage that is 15-feet longer than previous versions of the C-130. The aircraft is also designed to work with advanced loading/unloading equipment for specialty palletized cargo like the En-Route Patient Staging System.

The aid from the U.S. military several days ago, and Russia’s air force beginning today, along with missions from China, Cuba and other nations, support the Italian government’s escalating response to the COVID-19 crisis. The Italian government has deployed troops in some areas to monitor quarantine and help slow the spread of the deadly disease.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

NASA just selected astronaut Jeanette Epps for a historic space mission by Boeing — 2 years after the agency abruptly bumped her from a first flight

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps may finally be traveling to space.

The agency said Tuesday that it has assigned the 49-year-old rookie astronaut to Boeing’s Starliner-1 mission, slated to launch sometime in 2021.


The mission is actually the second that NASA picked Epps to fly. But she never made the first one, a Russian Soyuz flight that lifted off in June 2018, because the agency abruptly bumped her from the crew about five months ahead of launch.

“I don’t know where the decision came from and how it was made, in detail, or at what level,” Epps said during a conference in 2018 conference, but noted it was not medically related. “There were Russians, several of them, who defended me in the sense that it’s not safe to really remove someone from a crew that has trained together for years.”

NASA told Business Insider in a statement that a “number of factors are considered when making flight assignments,” adding that “decisions are personnel matters for which NASA doesn’t provide information.”

Despite the disappointing turn of events, Epps kept her composure over the years.

“Sometimes things don’t go the way that you planned,” she told “Business Insider Today” in 2019. “But I’m still in the astronaut corps.”

With her fresh assignment, Epps is once again poised to make history. The mission is to scheduled to be the first operational flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which should follow an uncrewed launch (possibly later this year) and a crewed flight test in 2021.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

The International Space Station. NASA

Epps will live and work aboard the space station for half a year

NASA selected Epps, an aerospace engineer, to be an astronaut in 2009. Prior to that, she worked at Ford Motor Company as a research scientist before moving on to the Central Intelligence Agency, where she was as a technical intelligence officer for more than seven years, according to her biography.

The Starliner-1 mission’s destination is the International Space Station, a facility that orbits 250 miles above Earth, and which people have inhabited continuously for 20 years. During her new upcoming mission, Epps will live and work aboard the 0 billion, football field-size laboratory for about six months.

Epps has not yet flown to space. She will join fellow spaceflight rookie Josh Cassada and veteran Sunita Williams. Williams, the Starliner-1 mission’s commander, has worked with Boeing and SpaceX over the past six years on the design and functionality of their new spaceships through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I can’t wait for her to join our crew,” Williams said in a video she tweeted on Tuesday.

Cassada tweeted a humorous video congratulating Epps, who grew up in Michigan, on her crew assignment.

“Just a couple of things I think we need to get sorted out. I know we both claim Michigan, I’m not going to arm-wrestle you for it — I’ve seen you in the gym. So maybe we can split it?” Cassada said. “The only other thing we need to get sorted out is, on the Starliner, I call shotgun.”

Starliner launched and landed on its first uncrewed mission, called Orbital Flight Test, in December 2019. However, the spacecraft experienced two “high visibility close calls” that might have resulted in the loss of the spacecraft, NASA said earlier this year.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is seen after it landed in White Sands, New Mexico, on December 22, 2019. Bill Ingalls/NASA

Boeing is now fixing its software, systems, and procedures to rectify the problems, and — at a cost of 0 million to the company — plans to refly the mission later this year. Assuming there are no further issues, veteran astronaut Mike Fincke, retired astronaut Chris Ferguson, and rookie astronaut Nicole Mann will fly the first experimental crewed flight in 2021.

NASA appears unfazed by a small air leak aboard the ISS, which a three-person crew is currently helping root out and repair.

Had NASA allowed Epps to fly on the 2018 Soyuz mission, she would have been the first Black astronaut to live and work aboard the ISS for an extended amount of time. However, that honor will likely go to Victor Glover, who’s slated to fly NASA’s next commercial mission with people, called Crew-1. (SpaceX successfully launched and returned its first astronaut crew on an experimental flight earlier this year.)

Similar to Starliner-1, the Crew-1 mission will be SpaceX’s first operational flight of its commercial spaceship, called Crew Dragon. That mission is slated to fly to the space station as soon as October 23, and Glover will launch with fellow astronauts Shannon Walker and Mike Hopkins, as well as JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

The Starliner-1 mission could prove especially important to Epps’ career, in that she is one of 16 active female astronauts in NASA’s corps who may return humans to the moon. Jim Bridenstine, the agency’s administrator, has repeatedly said NASA’s Artemis program will fly the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface in 2024.

“Business Insider Today” asked Epps about that possibility during a 2019 interview.

“It’s mind-blowing to think about being the first [woman] to step on this object that you see in the night sky,” she said. “I would hope that my mission would inspire the next generation of women, of all engineers and all scientists to kind of propel us forward, even beyond Mars.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Coast Guard caught a sea turtle with $53 million in cocaine

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis was just doing their thing in November, 2017, hunting smugglers and mapping America’s puddles (or whatever it is they do), when they came across the ultimate smuggler: an ancient sea monster with $53 million of drugs in tow.


Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

USCGC Thetis transits past the USCGC Tampa Bay in Key West.

(U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

The Coast Guard first spotted the drugs with an Over The Horizon small boat, identifying it as a debris patch with contraband likely in it. When the pursuit mission commander arrived at the debris field, he identified both the cocaine and a sea turtle caught in the middle of it.

Despite catching the sea turtle swimming with bales of contraband on it, the commander kept an open mind about whether or not the sea turtle was involved in the underlying crime.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

A crewman from the USCGC Thetis prepares to cut a sea turtle free of bales of cocaine.

(Coast Guard

The Coast Guardsmen identified chaffing on the sea turtle and went to render aid. Speaking of which, seriously guys —do not leave trash lines in the ocean. Slowly dying of infection from chaffing or starvation because you can’t hunt is a horrible way to go.

The Coast Guardsmen cut the turtle free and allowed it to swim away without further investigation, instead concentrating on recovering what turned out to be 1,800 pounds of cocaine valued at million. They also recovered the 75 feet of lines and cords which would’ve been a persistent threat to sea turtles and other wildlife.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

For some reason, these are the best photos the Coast Guard released of the sea turtle rescue. Not sure if all Coast Guardsmen are limited to smart phones from 2008 or what, but we would include better photos if we had them.

(U.S. Coast Guard)

The encounter was part of Operation Martillo, and USCGC Thetis was on a 68-day patrol where the Coast Guard and its partners ultimately captured 5 million worth of drugs, mostly cocaine and marijuana.

While the Coast Guard is often mocked as being not real military or being “puddle pirates” (see the intro paragraph), the service does amazing work in the Pacific, capturing massive amounts of drugs otherwise destined for illegal U.S. markets. For the past few years, they’ve captured three times as many drugs at sea as the rest of law enforcement has captured within the U.S. and at all land borders.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

USCGC Thetis arrives in Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in 2010.

(U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Bill Mesta)

And the Coast Guard has done this while being dramatically under-resourced for such a large mission. They can often only put three cutters onto the mission at a time, and are only able to interdict 20 to 25 percent of the seaborne drugs headed into the country.

As one Coast Guard officer put it to Men’s Journal, “imagine a police force trying to cover the entire U.S. with three cars. That’s the tactical problem we’re trying to solve.”

The U.S. isn’t the only country involved in the efforts. Operation Martillo has been going on since 2012 and has member countries from South America and Europe, and Canadian forces were part of the sea turtle rescue. SOUTHCOM says the operation has scooped up over 693 metric tons of cocaine, nearly 600 sea vessels and aircraft, and nearly 2,000 smugglers since it was launched in early 2012. It’s also nabbed million in bulk cash.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the US military’s global edge is diminishing

The United States Institute of Peace released a wide-ranging report on the U.S. military’s capabilities and outlook from the National Defense Strategy Commission, a body tasked to assess the U.S. military’s capabilities within the environment it is expected to operate — and the analysis isn’t good.

America’s ability to defend its allies, its partners, and its own vital interests is increasingly in doubt,” the report says. “If the nation does not act promptly to remedy these circumstances, the consequences will be grave and lasting.

As American military advantages degrade, the country’s strategic landscape becomes more threatening, the report says. The solution is to rebuild those advantages before the damage caused by their erosion becomes devastating.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

More than 900 Sailors and Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit America march to the ship to take custody of it.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Vladimir Ramos.)

The USIP is a body independent from government and politics, though it was founded by Congress. It seeks to keep the U.S. at peace by addressing potential conflicts before they explode into violence by offering training, analysis, and outreach to organizations and governments working to prevent those conflicts. Their 2018 report, Assessment and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission, was commissioned by Congress in 2017.

While the panel praises the efforts and strategies enacted by Defense Secretary James Mattis in January, 2018, it also warns about continuing issues that need to be addressed immediately. The commission’s report is the first step to addressing these issues.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Marine Corps Cpl. Johnathan Riethmann, a mortarman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, walks to a staging area in preparation for Exercise Sea Soldier 17 at Senoor Beach, Oman, Feb. 15, 2017.

(Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

The biggest threats to American interests are authoritarian competitors, like China and Russia, who seek to become regional hegemons to neutralize American power in their areas through military buildup. Less powerful actors, like Iran and North Korea, seek technological advances and asymmetrical tactics to counter U.S. power, while transnational threats, like jihadist groups, will fight American power with more and more capability.

Nowhere are these challenges to American power more apparent than in what the report refers to as “gray-zone aggressions,” areas somewhere between war and peace. Here, adversaries large and small are in competition and conflict with the United States in areas of cyber warfare and diplomacy.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

U.S. Army Soldiers wait to be picked up by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters south of Balad Ruz, Iraq, March 22, 2009. The Soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Walter J. Pels)

Chiefly to blame for the decline in American advantage is the dysfunction in competing American political parties, who have failed to enact “timely appropriations” to U.S. defense. This is particularly true in the case of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which ended the debt-ceiling crisis of that same year. The act required some 7 billion in spending cuts in exchange for a 0 billion increase in the debt ceiling. These cuts hit the Department of Defense particularly hard, affecting the size, modernization, and readiness of the U.S. military.

The report goes on to say that current National Defense Strategy “too often rests on questionable assumptions and weak analysis, and it leaves unanswered critical questions regarding how the United States will meet the challenges of a more dangerous world. We believe that the NDS points the Department of Defense (DOD) and the country in the right direction, but it does not adequately explain how we should get there.”

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Senior Airman Mario Fajardo stands guard Jan. 25 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The 355th Security Force Squadron is responsible for the worldwide force protection and security of seven flying squadrons and 4,400 tactical and stored aircraft on Davis-Monthan AFB worth more than 32.3 billion dollars.

(U.S. Air Force)

Writers of the report say the U.S. needs substantial improvements in military capability based on relevant, operational warfighting concepts. The United States military must also invest in favorable military balances while diminishing the power exerted by adversaries and regional hegemons and limiting military options available to them. Most importantly, the DoD muse clearly develop plausible strategies to achieve victory against any aggressor in the event of a war, noting that much of current defense policy includes meaningless buzzwords.

There is also a lot the U.S. has never addressed, like how to counter an adversary in a way that falls short of a full-scale war or if the United States limits technological development with potential rivals and keep threatened defense-related industries from seeking agreements with those rivals.

These are just a few of the recommendations the commission makes to rebuild the U.S. military and its advantages at home and abroad. You can read the full report at the United States Institute for Peace site.

Articles

US commander sees major progress with Iraqi army after Mosul fight

Gunfire sounds in the background. In an adjacent alleyway, Islamic State snipers keep watch for movement. On the roof above our heads the Iraqi Security Forces are pouring fire into buildings occupied by the terrorists.


Five members of the Iraqi Federal Police sit on chairs and boxes in a street, sheltered from the battle. One of their colleagues is busy trying to pry open a box of .50 caliber ammo, as another man feeds a belt of bullets into the squad’s machine gun. It’s the sixth month of the battle to re-take Mosul and coming up on the third anniversary of Iraq’s war against ISIS.

In the battle for Mosul, the Iraqi Army has deployed a variety of its best units, including the 9th Armored Division, the black-clad Special Operations Forces, and the Federal Police.

The name may conjure up traffic stops and men rescuing kittens from trees, but in the Iraqi context “federal police” is a mechanized infantry unit: thousands of men in dark blue camouflage with Humvees and machine guns. Accompanying them is another elite unit called the ERD, or Emergency Response Division.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
Iraqi special forces are moving closer to the city center of Mosul to knock ISIS out of Iraq. (Dept. of Defense photo)

Together they have done the heavy lifting since January, when the operation to liberate West Mosul began. Street-by-street they have fought to dislodge what remains of the “caliphate.” There are fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters left, according to the Iraqis and their American-led coalition allies. But these are the hard core — many of them foreign fighters, such as the Chechen snipers who have been dealing death on this front for months.

ISIS has burrowed into the Old City of Mosul, into buildings that date back hundreds of years. Here they are making one of their last stands around the Nuri Mosque, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate in 2014.

They’ll fight to the death in the basement of the mosque, an Iraqi officer thinks.

Lieutenant Col. John Hawbaker, commander of a combat team of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is advising and assisting the Iraqi forces, served in Iraq during the surge of 2005-2006, when America was fighting the Iraqi insurgency. He says the contrast today is extraordinary.

Ten years ago the Iraqi Army was more limited than today.

“The Federal Police are extremely professional and disciplined and capable, and that’s one of the biggest differences from 10 years ago,” he declares. The U.S.-led coalition that is helping to defeat ISIS stresses that the Iraqis are fully in charge of the operation and they are the ones leading it.

Jared Kushner and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford were in Baghdad on April 3 to illustrate the high priority the U.S. puts on Iraq’s efforts to crush ISIS.

That’s obvious on the ground. Although the coalition provides artillery and air support, there is no visible presence of coalition forces at the front. It is Iraqis carrying the fight.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions
A member of the Iraqi federal police stands guard on a street during operations to liberate and secure West Mosul, Iraq, March 2, 2017. The breadth and diversity of partners supporting the Coalition demonstrate the global and unified nature of the endeavor to defeat ISIS. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

The older Iraqi officers have been fighting ISIS in Fallujah, Ramadi, and other cities for the last two years. They say the battle for Mosul is difficult, because ISIS cannot retreat there and has to fight to the last man. But they’ve seen more serious battles in 2015 when ISIS was stronger.

Their men have been forged in this war. As we crawled through holes smashed in the walls of houses to make our way to the roof of one position, soldiers were in each room. One team was looking out for snipers, another preparing RPGs, and others catching a bit of rest on cots. On the roof, soldiers are unlimbering an SPG-9, a kind of long-barreled cannon on a tripod that fires RPGs through a small hole cut in the wall.

“The ISF have victory in hand — it is inevitable; they know it and ISIS knows it. Everyone can see and knows they will win,” says Hawbaker.

ISIS was like a shot in the arm for Baghdad; it provided the existential threat that has led to the creation of an increasingly professional, stronger army that is more self-assured than it was before 2014. The next years will reveal if Iraq can build on that success.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of November 16th

The weeks between major four-day weekends always blow. You get into a rhythm of sitting on your ass, drinking, and playing video games for an extended period of time only to have a few days of extremely intense duty to make up for all the work you’ve been missing and will miss over the holidays.

Meanwhile, you’re getting pressure to get that damn certificate in to the training room because Uncle Sam won’t let you take block leave unless you’ve proven to them that your car isn’t sh*t and you won’t drive while tired.

But on the bright side, it’s payday week and there’re a lot of video games coming out for you to waste your paycheck on. Anyway, enjoy some memes.


Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

1. What’s worse? Dealing with 110-degree heat, the constant threat of enemy attacks, actual enemy attacks, incoming mortar fire at 0200, and being treated like absolute garbage by your unit, foreign allies, and the locals you’re defending or dealing with your civilian coworker’s bullsh*t on Monday mornings?

Tough call.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Military Memes)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Private News Network)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via I am an American Soldier)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Uniform Humor)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Belgian F-16s intercept 2 Russian nuclear-capable supersonic bombers

Belgian Air Force F-16s scrambled to intercept two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack supersonic, nuclear-capable bombers, accompanied by two Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters over the Baltic Sea on Sept. 17, 2019.

The Belgian Air Force has been guarding the Baltic airspace since Sept. 3, 2019, when it took over the police mission from fellow NATO member Hungary, which was supported by Spain and the UK in its mission. Four Belgian F-16s and at least 60 soldiers have been deployed to protect Baltic airspace from unwelcome incursions, according to the Belgian Ministry of Defense.

Sept. 17, 2019’s interception was Belgium’s first since it began its rotation over Baltic airspace, and seemingly at very close range.


Russian aircraft have engaged in several provocative actions over NATO airspace this year. In June 2019, British Typhoon fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian Su-30 Flanker fighters twice in two days.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

An British air force Typhoon fighter jet, foreground, with a Russian fighter over the Baltics.

(UK mInistry of Defence/Twitter)

But NATO countries aren’t merely reacting to Russian aggression. In August 2019 alone, US and UK aircraft sent clear messages to Russia:

  • US B-2 Spirit stealth bombers flew with UK F-35s, the B-2’s first time flying with non-US F-35s.
  • B-2 Spirit bombers landed in Iceland for the first time. The B-2, which operates from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and Royal Air Force Fairford in the UK, needs specific conditions to support its stealth capabilities.
  • B-2 bombers flew their first extended sorties over the Norwegian Sea earlier in September 2019 — right in Russia’s backyard.
Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Two US Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, fly alongside two Royal Air Force F-35B Lightning aircraft from RAF Marham near the White Cliffs of Dover, England, Aug. 29, 2019.

(US Air Force/UK Ministry of Defense)

NATO countries share the mission of protecting Baltic airspace, as the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — don’t have the infrastructure to protect their own airspace and are considered at risk of destabilization or invasion by Russia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army-funded research nabs Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physics

Professor Frances Arnold won a 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for research initially funded by the U.S. Army in new enzyme production that led to the commercial, cost-effective synthesis of biofuels tested on the U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters in 2013, and are now approved by the aviation standards body for use in commercial aviation.

Arnold is only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history.

Gérard Mourou, a French scientist and pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and lasers, won a 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for Army-funded research in fundamental physics that led to new developments high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulses which led to a number of commercial advancements from masonry, i.e., drilling tiny holes, to medicine’s Lasik eye surgery.


With a modest single investigator grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Army Research Office in the 1990s, Arnold demonstrated the ability to modify an enzyme that provided robust native activity but at higher temperatures. Through a process of protein sequence alteration and selection, directed evolution stretches the boundaries of enzyme activity and function beyond what nature provides.

During this grant period, Arnold also developed a computational algorithm called SCHEMA which provides a means of improving molecular evolution searches toward targeted protein sequence alterations. Through SCHEMA, she demonstrated that this algorithm can be used to design variations of a model protein that confers functional diversity (e.g. enhanced activity, enhanced thermal stability, altered substrate specificity).

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Dr. Frances Arnold, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

(California Institute of Technology photo)

In 2003, the Army began funding Arnold through the Army’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies (AICB) in Santa Barbara. There, Arnold has utilized SCHEMA to design novel activities for a broad host of enzymes including activity and stability improvements in enzymes capable of degrading cellulosic biomass toward renewable fuel synthesis and developed new machine learning tools to enhance the selection of novel engineered enzymes.

Most notably, as a transition of Army basic research funding, Arnold co-founded a start-up company (Gevo) in 2005 that received its initial funding through the AICB applied research program. Gevo’s business goal was to scale-up processing systems that utilize SCHEMA-designed enzymes incorporated into microorganisms for the cost-effective synthesis of biofuels. From these beginnings, Gevo developed into a business that is the world’s only commercial producer of renewable isobutanol and in 2013, the US Army successfully flew the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter on a 50/50 blend of Gevo’s ATJ-8 (Alcohol-to-Jet).

“This recognition validates the way ARO pursues basic research,” said ARL’s Dr. Robert J. Kokoska, program manager in microbiology.

“Twenty years ago, an ARO program manager recognized a potentially unique and exciting approach that could change the way biology can be used to expand the possibilities and range of biochemical synthesis. As Prof. Arnold successfully pursued her vision in large part through this modest initial investment and then through the AICB, the Army can take great pride in knowing that it helped nurture this ground-breaking research which has provided valuable tools for enhancing the creativity of biologists and engineers within the Army research enterprise and the research community at-large. The exciting Army-impactful industrial biofuel transition further validates ARO’s basic research investments,” Kokoska said.

Trump says Iran will seek a deal to ease the pain of sanctions

Dr. Gerard Mourou, Nobel Laureate in Physics.

(University of Michigan photo)

Arnold is the Linus Pauling professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

The Nobel Prize in Physics winner, Mourou, was initially funded while he was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There, he created ultrashort, high-intensity laser pulses, called chirped pulse amplification, that were used to develop a positron source for positron spectroscopy. According ARO program manager Dr. Richard Hammond, this research will lead to new kinds of directed energy sources for the Army. Mourou continues his research at the Ecole Polytechnique, public institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris.

“It is good the world recognizes the value of the research funded by ARO,” Hammond said.

“This research opened the door to an entirely new kind of physics, both in spectroscopy to and high intensity physics interaction leading to directed energy include X-rays, neutron beams and beta rays. This work could lead to developments in new detection mechanisms of future failure of rotors in helicopters, finding voids in materials for electronic and photonic devises, and in radiation therapy,” Hammond explained.

Arnold shares the prize in chemistry with George Smith, who developed a method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage — a virus that infects bacteria — can be used to evolve new proteins.

Mourou shares the prize in physics with Dr. Donna Strickland, of Canada, who is only the third woman to win the prize in physics.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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