How the United States can avoid the next 'dumb war' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

While on the campaign trail, President Trump labeled the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “dumb war,” and the “worst decision” in American History. These statements should have received praise from Americans on both sides of the political aisle. Now, however, I’m not so certain that Trump is following through on his promises to avoid the next “dumb” war.

In May 2018, the president announced his intention to pull out of the Iran Deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal was, no doubt, flawed, but it did provide an inspections regime to limit and delay any Iranian attempts to go nuclear. Perhaps, being a creation of the Obama administration, the JCPOA was doomed from the start.


Iran is a mid-level menace. It aggressively pursues its interests through various proxy forces in the Mid-East — a sign of its weakness as much as power. The Islamic Republic has a burgeoning ballistic missile program (not covered by the JCPOA) and sometimes threatens Israel. This is all cause for concern and requires the U.S. military to balance and, perhaps, contain Iran. However, the Islamic Republic is decidedly not an existential threat to the United States. A more realist foreign policy must take this into account and avoid disastrous war.

Iran is nowhere near able to launch a (non-existent) nuclear weapon at Tel Aviv, let alone New York. Furthermore, as I have previously noted, Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. Iran’s GDP is about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, spend $66.7 billion, and $19.6 billion, respectively. Standing behind them is the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019, or $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP.

Moreover, the U.S. military faces two significant problems: Iran presents a formidable obstacle to invasion, and American forces are already desperately overstretched.

Remember back when Americans were assured that the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk?” We all know how that turned out. Iran is larger, more populous, and more mountainous than Iraq. It also has a fiercely nationalistic population, which, not-so-long-ago used human wave attacks to clear Iraqi minefields. Any U.S. invasion of Iran will require more troops and more years of patience than Washington or the populace have on hand.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
The April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square in in Baghdad shortly after the Iraq Waru00a0invasion.
(Department of Defense photo)

America’s formidable military is already spread thin, deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. Our ground and air forces actively engage in combat in Niger, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The U.S. Army is also busy sending brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and to shore up defenses in South Korea. Meanwhile, the Navy is patrolling the South China Sea, and ensuring access to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Bottom line: America’s warriors are quite busy.

The last thing Washington should do is take its eye off the ball in some seven ongoing shooting wars to start a new conflict with Iran. ISIS is not yet defeated, Iraq is far from politically stable, and — despite optimistic pleas to the contrary — the war in Afghanistan is failing. The best bet is for the U.S. military to cut its losses, avoid more counterproductive interventions, and cautiously disengage from the region.

The last thing American servicemen and women need is to fight a new, exhaustive war in Iran, with existing enemies to their rear. That would defy just about every sound military maxim on the books. Worse still, if we think Iran’s proxy forces are a problem now, imagine what will happen in the case of war, when Tehran would undoubtedly unleash them against U.S. bases and supply lines across the region.

Personally, this combat veteran trusts President Trump’s instincts more than those of his advisers. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Bolton are well-known Iranophobes with an ax to grind. Ditching the Iran Deal was definitely a win for these two. Still, scuttling the JCPOA does not have to mean war.

Trump eventually saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq for what it was: an unmitigated failure. Let’s hope he applies that instinct and avoids what promises to be an even more costly war with the Islamic Republic.

Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of us, overstretched veterans of 17 years of perpetual war in the Mid-East, are counting on a new deal.

One that doesn’t include a new war.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of September 21st

It was the Air Force’s birthday this week — and it seems like, in terms of gifts, they got a lot: Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Keith Wright spoke about “hybrid airmen,” which would make airmen more badass and less likely to be mocked by the other branches, the “Up or Out” rule is being evaluated because it was stupid to begin with, and the Captain Marvel trailer, featuring a superhero who was a USAF pilot, dropped the morning of its birthday.

Happy birthday, ya high-flyin’ bastards. Make another trip to the chocolate fondue fountain — you guys earned it.


How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

It’s been years and I still can’t figure out whether you’re supposed to say “you’re welcome.” 

I usually just respond with, “thank you for your support” and awkwardly give them the finger guns.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Sarcastic Memes Ruining Crewman’s Dreams)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Shammers United)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Disabled Marine Corps Minds)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

No lie. You can hate it all you want, but you’ll eventually say “screw it” and try it. 

Then you learn it’s for a single steak and you’ll nope the f*ck out of there and take your happy ass to the greasiest, most disgusting KFC known to man — which happens to be right next door.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Military World)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Try these 8 subscription boxes for kids

Keep those kids busy! Busy waiting for the mail … and enthralled with whatever was shipped in them. Luckily, there are a number of subscription boxes to choose from, allowing you to help keep kids busy while stuck at home. Whether you have babies at home, or are juggling homeschool assignments of teenagers, there are crate options to keep your learners happily entertained every single month.

Try these 8 subscription boxes for kids:


How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Kiwi Co Facebook

Kiwi & Co.

This monthly box can be adjusted for your child’s age (0-11) or interests — four categories for ages 9 to 104. Boxes start at .95 (including shipping), but come with regular discount codes for added savings. Stock up on everything from age appropriate toys, crafts and science projects to promote learning and fun.

Sign up.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Little Passports on Facebook

Monthly Passports

Geared for ages 3-12, Monthly Passports is a box full of imaginative travel at .95 per box. Kids can learn about different countries through games, travel gear, maps, activities and more. Educational content can also be accessed online.

Start your journey.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Raddish Facebook

Raddish

Get your kids in the kitchen with Raddish. Each month a meal theme is delivered with recipes and experiment/crafts, kid-friendly utensils and access to Spotify playlists. Cooking is recommended for kids aged 4-14; boxes start at per month.

Dive in.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

OwlCrate Facebook

OwlCrate

Tweens and teens can get their fill of YA books with OwlCrate. New-release books are sent every month, along with keepsakes and personable collectables, like hand-written notes from the author.

OwlCrate Jr. is also available for kids aged 8-12. Subscriptions start at .99 per month.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Lovevery Facebook

Lovevery

For the littlest of kids, there’s a box of engaging, high-quality toys. Lovevery comes monthly for kids from birth to age 2 for and up, per box. Each shipment comes full of STEM-approved toys and age appropriate activities, including books and game ideas for parents.

Learn more.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

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Nike Adventure Club

Upgrade your kids’ shoes in style. Nike Adventure Club sends sneakers throughout the year (Nike or Converse) and a string of activities made just for new kicks. Choose from two subscription options: 4 pairs per year ( per month) or 12 pairs per year ( per month).

Get steppin‘.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Whippersnappers Facebook

Whippersnappers

While we’re on the subject of feet, surprise kids with fun monthly socks. Two pairs, every month, for . Simple, fun, efficient. Whippersnappers come in sizes for kids 3 to 12 with themed designs.

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How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Green Kids Crafts Facebook

Green Kid Crafts

Whether dealing with an upcoming deployment, or just stuck at home, Green Kid Crafts sends three projects per month. Instructions are geared toward nature and outdoor play through fun creation. Boxes start at per month plus shipping.

Go green.

Keep kids busy with the best type of mail around. What boxes will you order?

MIGHTY CULTURE

What it looks like when Marines fire their biggest guns

Last year, the Australian Army hosted one of its largest military exercises with participants from the U.S. Marine Corps and the French military working side-by-side with Australian forces. The three militaries practiced how to work with each other as well as how to best incorporate the strengths of each force.

And that gives us a perfect chance to watch the highly mobile, flexible and lethal Marine artilleryman at work.


For warfighting exercise Koolendong, the 3rd Battalion, 11 Marines brought out their “Triple Sevens.” These are M777 howitzers which fire 155mm shells. An M777 is capable of sending a 103-pound shell to a target almost 14 miles away and of hitting that target within 54 yards thanks to a GPS-guided fuze.

An extended-range version of the round can go almost 23 miles at maximum range.

But of course, the rounds and the howitzers are only as good as the artillerymen manning them, and the Marines in the video above prove themselves quite capable of using their weapon to maximum effect.

While other troops sometimes make fun of artillerymen with accusations that they’re too weak to walk all the way to the target or too dumb for other work, the fact is that artillery requires a crap-ton of math, even more upper body strength, and an insane level of attention to detail.

And that need for strength and attention to detail only gets greater the larger the gun is. And if artillery is king of the battle, the M777 is a roided-out king who could wrestle a lion.

There’s a Marine who ferries ammunition from the truck or ammo supply point to the weapon, which requires a quick movement of dozens of yards while carrying over 100 pounds every time he does it.

There are two Marines who work together to ram the round from its staged position into the breech, something that is accomplished with a massive, heavy tool that they sprint against.

There’s the gunner who’s trying to make sure his weapon is perfectly aimed after each shot, even though it settles into the dirt differently after every firing. The tiniest mistake in his measurements could send the round hundreds of yards off target.

And while the crew is firing at its sustained rate, of two rounds per minute, it can be tough. But their max firing rate is five rounds per minute, meaning that they have to repeat their physically and mentally challenging jobs every twelve seconds without fail. To see what that looks like, check out the video at top if you haven’t already.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A few of the unique challenges of being a female veteran

It was an exceptionally hot September day in Twentynine Palms, California, and I was sitting in the waiting room of the physical therapist’s office, waiting for my initial appointment. I was there for an injury I’d acquired rappelling in the Marine Corps in 2002 that never properly healed. Two years later I was finally getting in for physical therapy.


The only other person in the waiting room with me was a gentleman, probably about 250lbs, with a beard down to his chest and an old ball cap with a fishing hook stuck through the bill. He looked (and smelled) like he hadn’t showered in weeks. I was pretty sure he was homeless, and had just ducked into the office for a moment of shade and relief from the 120 degree temps outside. In tattered jeans, tennis shoes with holes in them, and at least 3 shirts, he clearly wasn’t ready for physical therapy.

After what seemed forever, a receptionist poked her head into the waiting room, looked directly at the man next to me, and said “Mr. Foley? We’re ready for you.”

The man just stared at her and then looked at me, confused. “I think she means you,” he muttered.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
Photo: Wikipedia/Rose Physical Therapy Group from United States

“I’m Foley,” I told the woman.

“Oh. Our paperwork says you’re the veteran. I’m so sorry, we’ll fix that to reflect the dependent of the veteran. Come on back,” she pushed the door open for me, barely pausing to breath as she went on. “I really hate it when they mess up this stuff. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to write ‘spouse’ in the margins or something!” The woman laughed at her brilliance, going on. “Anyway, I’m sorry. We’ll fix it. How are you today?”

“I’m the veteran,” was all I said.

The woman stopped walking, shocked. “Oh. I didn’t…uh…I didn’t realize girls got injured in the military,” she offered weakly, her voice trailing off in complete confusion.

“Yeah. It happens.” That’s all I could think to say.

Thus was my introduction to life as a female veteran.

Also Read: 4 most annoying regulations for women in the military

Once, during a ceremony at Mount Rushmore, the tour guide asked the veterans in the group to raise their hands. When I raised my hand, he glared at me and practically spat out “Darlin, I mean military veterans. Not their wives. You don’t serve.”

Another time, I sat in a pre-deployment brief filled to the brim with wives when the fiery boot lieutenant fresh from IOC and heading up the Remain Behind Element demanded that all the staff sergeants stand up. Then the sergeants. Then the corporals and so on and so forth. Confused, all kinds of wives stood up when their husband’s ranks were named. Then he shouted for everyone to sit down because none of them had earned any rank. I stayed standing.

He raced up to me and screamed right in my face to sit the f*ck down because I’d never served a day in my life. When I simply told him I was in the Marines, he walked away and never spoke another word to me.

It’s a thing, and it’s a fairly common thing that every female service member and veteran will experience, and often.

In fact, it’s such a common situation that female veterans and service members barely blink when it happens, and male veterans and service members don’t even realize it’s happening.

Recently, I asked some of my female veterans and active duty service member friends to share their experiences on being female veterans with me. I wasn’t at all surprised by some of the responses.

There is a female pilot that works with my husband. Every time she calls somewhere, she gets asked for her husband’s social. Prior to the Marines, she was a cop, so you’d think she’d be used to it and have found a solid way to avoid this. No. Even my own husband used to refer to her as “the female pilot” instead of just by her name like the rest of his buddies. It’s annoying as hell. Also, she isn’t even married.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
A female pilot smiles for the camera. (Image used with permission)

Another friend, who went into finance post-Army, spoke about how, in the military, we are taught that we have to work twice as hard to appear to be half as professional as our male counterparts. It sucks but it’s true. We had an entire period of instruction in Marine bootcamp about having to hold ourselves to a far higher standard in order to be seen as even remotely equal to our male peers. But in the civilian world, doing that makes her seem “unapproachable” or “too intimidating,” and she gets told to “be more feminine.” How civilians equate “be more feminine” with “don’t be as professional as your male counterparts” is beyond me, but it’s a thing.

Then there is the female pilot who was told she probably should find a way to get out of SERE school (it’s required for all pilots) because what if she has her period during SERE? Sorry to break it to you, dudes, but periods happen. And, in case you didn’t know, our periods don’t alert bears or the Taliban to our presence.

Or the female who got promoted meritoriously to corporal and staff sergeant (in different commands, several years apart) and got asked several times (in complete seriousness) after each promotion who she sucked off to get the promotion. How many male service members get asked that after a feat like TWO meritorious promotions?

There is the reservist, who is also a new mother. At her last battle assembly, she inquired about where she could go to pump. Her commander stared at her like she’d grown three heads and refused to speak to her for the rest of the time. Also note, men: women have breasts, and after a baby, they require pumping. No one is asking for special treatment, just directions to the nearest head to dump some of her milk into a freaking bag.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden

That’s part of the problem. If a female asks to be treated with an ounce of respect, she’s accused of trying to get special treatment, so she doesn’t ask. She doesn’t demand or insist. For the most part, the female service members and veterans just suck it up and accept it as part of being a girl; they have to be careful around the fragile egos that might get offended if she acts like she might be an equal.

And if she has the audacity to, say, write a noncontroversial article about female grooming standards in the military? She gets ripped to shreds and accused of not even being a veteran based on her photo next to her byline.

Because we all know female veterans don’t color their hair. And male veterans don’t put on 50lbs and grow beards when they get out.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Explainer: Why the U.S.-NATO exercises in Eastern Europe are important

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended several military exercises, but now that restrictive measures have been eased some are going forward, albeit in a scaled-down form.

Two kicked off in early June in Poland and the Baltic Sea, drawing particular interest around the world, and not just because of the logistics of holding them amid an ongoing pandemic. The proximity of the training to Russian territory is seen by many as a possible signal that the U.S. military is shifting its interest in Europe eastward.


What Are The Exercises?

The first exercise involves 4,000 U.S. soldiers and 2,000 Polish troops in northwestern Poland. The bilateral training features a Polish airborne exercise and division-size river crossing from June 5 to June 19.

Dubbed Allied Spirit, the exercise was supposed be linked to a much larger U.S.-led multinational exercise in Europe, including NATO members, called Defender Europe 20, which had to be significantly scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second one, Baltops 20, runs from June 7 to June 16 in the Baltic Sea region. The maritime-focused exercise, which has been held annually since 1972, involves 28 maritime units, 28 aircraft, and up to 3,000 personnel from 19 countries, with Finland and Sweden being the only non-NATO participants.

Both exercises are designed to show international resolve against any potential threat and improve the “interoperability” of national armies’ land, sea, and air assets.

How Has COVID-19 Affected The Exercises?

The pandemic has forced military commanders to modify and reduce the scale of Defender Europe 20. The exercise was originally planned to be the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe in more than 25 years, involving 20,000 soldiers and nine NATO allies practicing military maneuvers in several European countries.

Before the pandemic shut down most of the continent, more than 6,000 U.S. soldiers and 3,000 pieces of equipment had already arrived in Europe. Most of the original plans were scrapped but the U.S.-Polish exercise received a green light in mid-May.

Baltops 20 has also been modified. There will be no land element to complement the air and sea operations to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This means normally standard features of naval exercises such as amphibious landings, exchanging personnel between ships, and merchant vessel boarding will not take place.

Are The Exercises Directed At Russia?

The U.S. military and NATO have been quick to point out that all exercises are “defensive in nature.” Lisa Franchetti, the commander of the Naples-based U.S. 6th Fleet, told journalists that Baltops 20 should not be interpreted as a threat to any specific country and exercises are held in international waters and international airspace. Franchetti encouraged the Russian military to behave professionally.

However, many observers expect the Russian Navy to make close approaches to the exercises and that Russian jets may “buzz” allied planes, meaning that they will fly so close as to create “wake turbulence.”

A NATO official recently told RFE/RL that, in 2019 alone, allied aircraft took to the skies 290 times to escort or shadow Russian military aircraft across Europe. Even though the alliance doesn’t reveal numbers for specific regions, it is believed most of the incidents occurred around the Baltic Sea.

The Allied Shield exercise takes place in Drawsko Pomorskie, some 350 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. When Defender Europe 20 was announced, Russia planned its own war games in direct response but called off its exercise as the coronavirus pandemic hit. Moscow has called on NATO to scale down military activity and move them away from Eastern Europe to reduce tensions.

Will The Russian Military Officially Observe The Exercises?

No. U.S. military officials told RFE/RL that they “were not aware of any Russian notification to inspect exercise Allied Spirit in Poland.” The threshold for required observation in accordance with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Vienna document on the transparency of military exercises is 13,000 troops — twice as many as will be present in Poland in June. Naval exercises such as Baltops 20 are not subject to notification and observation requirements enshrined in the Vienna Document.

Why Is The Presence Of U.S. Troops In Poland Politically Significant?

Because of what is happening in Poland’s western neighbor, Germany. U.S. President Donald Trump has authorized a plan to reduce the U.S. permanent troop presence in Germany by 9,500 from the 34,500 service members who are currently there. The move will also cap the number of American soldiers in Germany at 25,000. More than 1,000 of the troops leaving Germany may be redeployed to Poland, adding to the 4,500 already there on a rotational basis.

Poland, whose government enjoys close ties with the Trump administration, is pushing for an even bigger American presence on its soil and hopes to capitalize on its special relationship with the United States in the future. The very fact that a joint exercise has been resuscitated despite the pandemic can be seen in this light.

It can also be viewed against the backdrop of tensions between Washington and Berlin over everything from Germany wanting to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring Russian gas directly to Germany under the Baltic Sea, Germany failing to meet its NATO military-spending target, trade tensions, and a host of other disputes including the Iran nuclear deal and climate change.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Spiders will help produce the newest military uniforms

Military uniforms have been made from a variety of fabrics over the years: Cotton, wool, polyester blends… all have had their turn as what uniforms are made of. Now a new spin on one of the oldest fabrics could come into play.


That fabric, of course, is silk, which first entered the scene in China almost four millennia ago. Only this isn’t the silk that is used for the high-fashion dresses you see on the red carpet. That is from silkworms. According to a report from Marketplace.org, this silk is from spiders.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
A female spider wraps her prey in silk. (Wikimedia Commons)

Okay, before you get carried away – no, this is not quite like the Spider-Man suits. The key, though is that the spider silk is strong. It has to be. Spider silk makes webs, which spiders usually use to catch food.

There’s just one problem. You need a lot of spiders to make silk, and spider’s just don’t get along with each other. We’re not talking things that can be worked out. Face it, when the critters you are counting on to produce material try to eat each other, productivity’s gonna be taking a nosedive. That doesn’t get the uniforms made.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
A small piece of artificial spider silk produced in a lab. (Wikimedia Commons)

So, the answer has been to genetically engineer silkworms to produce spider silk. This is not the only method in operation. Michigan State University researchers have figured out how to make a silk-like product from the deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, of spiders, and DNA sequencing is becoming much cheaper than it was in the past.

Either way, the material that is produced will have far more applications than the Kevlar used in the uniforms of present day. The spider silk could also be used to make protective underwear as well as improved body armor. That’s good news for the troops.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what it would take to clear out North Korea’s nukes

A top Pentagon official has said the only sure way of eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities would be by putting US boots on the ground — a move that some worry could prompt Pyongyang to use biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapons against Japan and South Korea.


“The only way to ‘locate and destroy — with complete certainty — all components of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs’ is through a ground invasion,” Rear Adm. Michael J. Dumont, vice director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote in a blunt assessment to US lawmakers on the realities of reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

Dumont’s letter came in response to questions by US Reps. Ted Lieu of California and Ruben Gallego of Arizona in regards to military planning and casualty estimates in the event of conflict with the nuclear-armed North.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
Rear Adm. Michael J. Dumont, pictured above, is convinced that the only way to completely disarm North Korea would be to put Troops in harm’s way. (Photo courtesy of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Dumont said that a detailed discussion of US capabilities “to counter North Korea’s ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons located in deeply buried, underground facilities,” would be best suited for a classified briefing.

The military, Dumont wrote, “would be happy to join the Intelligence Community to address these issues in a classified briefing.”

His letter also noted that the North “may consider the use of biological weapons as an option, contrary to its obligations under the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention,” adding that it continues to bolster its research and development capabilities in this area.

North Korea, the letter went on, “has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents and it likely possesses a CW stockpile.”

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
High-ranking US military officers are concerned that Kim Jong Un, pictured here during a visit to Germany early in 2017, wouldn’t hesitate to use chemical weapons in a combat situation. (Image from Driver Photographer.)

The country “probably could employ CW agents by modifying a variety of conventional munitions, including artillery and ballistic missiles, though whether it would so employ CW agents remains an open question,” Dumont said, again noting that a detailed discussion would need to be held in a classified setting.

The Pentagon also said it was “challenging” to calculate “best- or worst-case casualty estimates” for any conventional or nuclear attack, citing the nature, intensity, and duration of any strike, as well as how much advance warning is given.

In a joint statement in response to the letter, 16 US lawmakers — all veterans — called the prospect of a ground invasion “deeply disturbing.”

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff has now confirmed that the only way to destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is through a ground invasion,” they wrote. “That is deeply disturbing and could result in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting.”

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
South Korean soldiers stand guard within the Joint Security Area of the DMZ, day and night, ready for anything. (Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson.)

These estimates echoed a report by the Congressional Research Service released late last month that said renewed conflict on the Korean Peninsula could kill hundreds of thousands of people in the first few days alone, a figure that excluded the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Even if North Korea “uses only its conventional munitions, estimates range from between 30,000 and 300,000 dead in the first days of fighting,” the report said, citing North Korea’s ability to fire 10,000 rounds per minute at Seoul.

Related: This is what would happen if North Korea popped off an H-bomb in the Pacific

More pressingly for Japan, the report noted is that “Pyongyang could also escalate to attacking Japan with ballistic missiles, including the greater Tokyo area and its roughly 38 million residents.

“The regime might see such an attack as justified by its historic hostility toward Japan based on Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, or it could launch missiles in an attempt to knock out US military assets stationed on the archipelago,” the report said. “A further planning consideration is that North Korea might also strike US bases in Japan (or South Korea) first, possibly with nuclear weapons, to deter military action by US/ROK forces.”

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
South Korean Soldiers in the 631st Field Artillery Battalion, 26th Mechanized Infantry Division Artillery, coordinate fires from a battery of six K9 Thunder 155 mm self-propelled howitzers. North and South Korea have a huge amount of artillery pointed at one another, waiting to inflict massive, mutual harm.

US President Donald Trump, who kicked off his first trip to Asia as president with a visit to Japan on Nov. 5, has regularly noted that all options, including military action, remain on the table.

The global community has been ramping up pressure on North Korea after it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test so far on Sept. 3. In September, the UN Security Council strengthened its sanctions, including export bans as well as asset freezes and travel bans on various officials.

For his part, Trump, together with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has taken an approach of “maximum pressure” in dealing with Pyongyang.

But Trump, known to derisively refer to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “rocket man,” has also variously threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” and to “totally destroy” the country of 25 million people if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies, including Japan.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

This possibility of military action has stoked alarm among allied nations and within the US Congress, including questions about planning and the aftermath of such a move.

“It is our intent to have a full public accounting of the potential cost of war, so the American people understand the commitment we would be making as a nation if we were to pursue military action,” the 16 lawmakers wrote in their statement.

Related: Here’s the kind of damage North Korea could do if it went to war

The Trump administration, the lawmakers said, “has failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean Peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over.”

“With that in mind, the thought of sending troops into harm’s way and expending resources on another potentially unwinnable war is chilling,” they said. “The President needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk.”

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Minister of Defense Song Young-moo look to the north from the Demilitarized Zone between the Koreas. You can almost see the tactical wheels turning in Mattis’ head. (DoD photo by US Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.)

The United States has roughly 50,000 troops stationed in Japan and 28,500 based in South Korea.

“Invading North Korea could result in a catastrophic loss of lives for US troops and US civilians in South Korea,” the lawmakers said. “It could kill millions of South Koreans and put troops and civilians in Guam and Japan at risk.

“As Veterans, we have defended this nation in war and we remain committed to this country’s security. We also understand that entering into a protracted and massive ground war with North Korea would be disastrous for US troops and our allies,” they said. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff, it appears, agree. Their assessment underscores what we’ve known all along: There are no good military options for North Korea.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone… a farewell to Navy veteran and soul singer Bill Withers

Bill Withers died earlier in the week from complications from heart disease at age 81. Withers was known for his amazing vocals, soulful songs and was one of the best soul singers of all time. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy.

His death has resulted in an outpouring of mourning and grief from singers, artists and fans cross the world.

Regarded as one of the best songwriters of his generation, his influence has been seen in multiple genres of music and generations of artists. Withers gave us such classics as ‘Lean On Me,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ ‘Just the Two of Us’ and ‘Lovely Day.’

But there is one song that really resonates with veterans. In 1973, Withers released a song he had written while America was still involved in Vietnam.

Bill Withers – I Can’t Write Left Handed

www.youtube.com

Withers was born July 4, 1938, in Slab Fork, West Virginia. He was afflicted with a stutter from the time he was a child. He enlisted in the Navy at 18 where he served as an aircraft mechanic. He had good reason for wanting that field.

Withers told Rolling Stone, “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward. So I went to aircraft-mechanic school. I still had to prove to people that thought I was genetically inferior that I wasn’t too stupid to drain the oil out of an airplane.”

While he was in the Navy, he was able to do speech therapy so he could stop stuttering. In fact, he stayed in the Navy as long as he could so he could work on his speech. He overcame his stutter using various techniques while also developing an interest in singing and songwriting. After nine years of service, he was discharged in 1965 and moved to Los Angeles to try and break into the music business. Withers worked for the aviation industry during the day while playing local night clubs at night trying to get noticed. His hard work paid off, when in 1970, he was signed to a record contract. His first album came out a year later and his career took off shortly thereafter.

After a couple of years of hits, Withers would write and perform a song that would be hailed as one of the most poignant songs about veterans and the war in Vietnam.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

“I Can’t Write Left-Handed” was written from the perspective of a wounded warrior. It wasn’t a political statement, it wasn’t self-righteous, it wasn’t inflammatory. It was simply what he thought Vietnam Veterans went through and what they were going to go through. It was one of the first songs to touch on the mental anguish and post traumatic stress many Vietnam Veterans experienced in the years after the war.

Withers opened the song with a spoken intro….

“We recorded this song on October the 6th. Since then the war’s been declared over. If you’re like me you’ll remember it like anybody remembers any war: one big drag. Lot of people write songs about wars and government … Very social things. But I think about young guys who were like I was when I was young. I had no more idea about any government, or political things or anything. And I think about those kind of young guys now who all of a sudden somebody comes up, and they’re very law-abiding, so if somebody says go they don’t ask any questions they just go. And I can remember not too long ago seeing a young guy with his right arm gone. Just got back. And I asked him how he was doing. He said he was doing all right now but he had thought he was gonna die. He said getting shot at didn’t bother him, it was getting shot that shook him up. And I tried to put myself in his position. Maybe he cried, maybe he said…”

The lyrics then tell us the story of the man with a missing right arm.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

I can’t write left handed

Would you please write a letter to my mother
Tell her to tell the family lawyer
Try to get a deferment for my younger brother

Tell the Reverend Harris to pray for me, lord, lord, lord
I ain’t gonna live, I don’t believe I’m going to live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never
Bless his heart I ain’t never done nothin’ to, he done shot me in my shoulder

Boot camp we had classes
You know we talked about fightin’, fightin’ everyday
And lookin’ through rosy, rosy colored glasses
I must admit it seemed exciting anyway
But something that day overlooked to tell me
Bullet look better I must say
Rather when they comin’ at you.
But go without the other way

And please call up the Reverend Harris
And tell him to ask the lord to do some good things for me
Tell him, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never seen, bless his heart I
Ain’t never done nothing to, he done shot me in my shoulder

After a long career with many hits, Withers withdrew from the music industry. He felt that he was too old and that touring and performing were a young man’s game. Withers will go down as one of the true icons of soul and one of the best vocalists of his generation. Let us also remember him for his service to our country as well as using his talent to give a voice to those who served in Vietnam. Rest in peace, Sir.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’
MIGHTY MOVIES

Disney plans for 3 more Star Wars movies

Han and Luke may be gone but the Star Wars film franchise remains alive and well, as Disney’s updated theatrical release schedule revealed that three Star Wars films are slated to hit theaters over the next few years. The currently untitled movies are scheduled to be released Dec. 16, 2022, Dec. 12, 2024, and Dec. 18, 2026.

As of now, we know virtually nothing about these movies outside of their release dates, which is pretty par for the course for the tight-lipped franchise. But based on reports, the upcoming movies will look a lot different from what viewers have come to expect from a Star Wars film-going experience. After all, Skywalkers have always been at the center of the cinematic universe but these new films seem to represent a shift that will allow filmmakers to explore the rest of the Galaxy far, far away. December 2019, Rise of the Skywalker will bring a definitive end to the epic nine-picture saga about the titular family.


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser

www.youtube.com

While the Obi-Wan and Boba Fett spin-offs may have been force-choked into oblivion, Disney has made it clear that fans can expect a lot more Star Wars movies. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is getting his own trilogy entirely “separate from the episodic Skywalker saga” and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are also penning their own Star Wars trilogy that will not involve Anakin, Luke, Leia, or Kylo.

“We are looking at the next saga. We are not just looking at another trilogy, we’re really looking at the next 10 years or more,” Kennedy told The Hollywood Reporter.

As far as what all this means, right now, even searching the Force might not provide answers.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Stuck inside? Get free e-books at Project Gutenberg

Veterans stuck inside can turn to reading a catalog of more than 61,000 classic, free e-books and audio books at Project Gutenberg.

People can read books online or download them for reading offline, including popular e-readers.

In addition to reading, there’s a selection of audio books available on the site. The site also offers books in dozens of languages, including hundreds in Spanish.


The books are mainly older literary works whose copyright expired. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Jack London and Jane Austen are some of the celebrated authors. People can read about characters such as Moby Dick, Frankenstein, Peter Pan, Tiny Tim and Alice in Wonderland.

Searching for books

Users can search for books a variety of ways. Project Gutenberg offers a list of the most popular books, latest books, a search feature, or a random book selection. Users can also browse the digital bookshelves by categories, genre, age group or topic.

The bookshelves are broken into categories. These range from animals to history to science.

One of these categories is a section called the “Wars Bookshelf.” This section has books about the Revolutionary War, Boer War, English Civil War, Spanish-American War, U.S. Civil War, and both world wars. Selections from this bookshelf range from Marine landings in the Pacific during World War II to stories of Bull Run to audio versions of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. The U.S. Civil War and World War I are the biggest sections, with hundreds of titles.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

live.staticflickr.com

There’s also a “Children’s Bookshelf” that offers fairy tales, fiction books, school stories and more.

Project Gutenberg also needs help digitizing, proofreading and formatting, recording audio books, and reporting errors. People interested in helping can find more information on the website. They can help produce e-books by proof-reading just one page a day.

The website receives hundreds of thousands of downloads each day and several million each month.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

popular

6 reasons why an Afghanistan deployment is just like ‘Star Wars’

There aren’t any real ways to describe what Afghanistan was like to civilians. Life on deployment is just so bizarre that the only thing you can do is compare it to something else.

You could say that it’s a blisteringly hot desert with creepy-ass bugs that’s peppered with some assholes who want us dead, but a more telling analogy would be to compare it to Star Wars‘ desert planet of Tatooine.


How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

But you might find something that someone else might find interesting. Won’t be you though.

(Photo by photo by Senior Airman Jessica Lockoski)

Constantly looking around for nothing

There are moments on deployment when things get intense. That’s not up for debate. But there is a significant difference between the number of troops who’ve been deployed and the number of troops who’ve seen actual combat. For the most part, patrols come back having received nothing more than a few glares from the locals.

You might have one of the few grunts who was constantly on-mission for duration of your deployment, but for the other 99.99 percent of us, there’s a lot of nothing going around.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

…during which, you guessed it, nothing will happen again.

(Photo by Sgt. Steven Quinata)

Nothing to do if you’re on an outlaying FOB

Even when troops get back to the FOB — surprise! — there’s still nothing going on.

The two-thirds of the “Fobbits” who didn’t join you have nothing interesting to talk about and you’re just twiddling your thumbs waiting until the next time you can go out on patrol.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Chances are, you’re not going to find a droid with an encoded message from a princess, so just enjoy your recording of a movie that came out three years ago.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal)

The locals sell old hand-me-downs

Despite popular civilian belief, you actually can snag some solid quality-of-life things from the local bazaars.

But it’s never anything actually useful — unless you’re interested in a collection of ripped DVDs of some 90s sitcom. It’s like the old hunk-of-junk droids that Luke buys. I mean, yeah, they kick off the Hero’s Journey for Luke, but everyone else who buys that crap is probably going to hawk it off to the next guy.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Definitely smells about the same…

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka)

The main airfields were just weird

At first glance, Kandahar Airfield sounds like a Mos Eisley-esque, wretched hive of scum and villainy. Many years ago, that may have been true, but now it’s just… odd.

Everyone from all the NATO nations are headquartered there and with that diversity comes an odd mixture of cultural identities. Everyone seems so happy for no reason, despite there being a literal pond full of sh*t just downwind.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Both aren’t known for their spectacular aim, either.

(Courtesy Photo)

The terrorists are basically the Tusken Raiders

Terrorists are aggressive and attack when you least expect them to. Once, there was a time when they were feared for their ability in battle.

Truth is, they’re garbage and get wasted pretty fast whenever they show their faces.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

It’s hard to differentiate the two sometimes. They’re usually the only fat people people in a war-torn and impoverished nation, but no one ever says anything about it…

(Photo by Sgt. Tracy Smith)

The warlords are basically Jabba the Hutt

The Afghan leadership thinks they have control over the warlords, but they really don’t. No one wants to call them out for their criminal enterprises; it’s not a fight anyone is willing to take.

Accepting that you have to pay off the Hutts to get things done is the norm on Tatooine. It’s basically the same in Afghanistan.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Marine vet in Russia seeks bail on espionage charges

A lawyer acting for a former U.S. Marine detained in Russia on espionage charges has filed an appeal with a Moscow court seeking to have his client released on bail, Russian news agencies report.

Paul Whelan, who also holds British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship, was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on Dec. 28, 2018.


The court has received the appeal, but has not yet set a date for a hearing, agencies reported.

Whelan’s family says he is innocent and that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

On Jan. 9, 2019, the Kremlin denied Western allegations that it was using Whelan as a pawn in a political game.

“Russia never uses people as pawns in some diplomatic game,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Russia “carries out counterintelligence activities against those who are suspected of espionage,” Peskov said. “This is done regularly.”

Peskov spoke after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned last week that Whelan should not be used as a pawn in “diplomatic chess games.”

Media reports have speculated that Whelan was detained to facilitate a possible spy swap with a Russian agent arrested abroad, possibly Marina Butina, a gun-rights campaigner who has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

On Jan. 5, 2019, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that discussing a swap involving Whelan would be premature because Whelan hadn’t been formally charged.

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

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