US artillery strikes back new offensive in Syria - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US artillery strikes back new offensive in Syria

U.S. and coalition forces have increased airstrikes and artillery fire against Islamic State fighters in support of Operation Roundup, a new offensive aimed at defeating the terrorist group in eastern Syria.

Syrian Democratic Forces have resumed offensive ground operations against the remaining concentrations of terrorist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, British Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, deputy commander of strategy and support for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters at the Pentagon on May 8, 2018.


In the first phase of the operation, the SDF is securing the southeast portion of the Syrian-Iraqi border, “eliminating ISIS resistance and establishing defensive positions” in coordination with the Iraqi Security Forces, operating on Iraq’s side of the border, Gedney said.

Since May 1, 2018, U.S. and coalition forces have carried out 40 strikes against ISIS targets, he said.

“Coalition forces are supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces maneuver by conducting air, artillery and mortar strikes against ISIS targets,” Gedney said, describing how the increase in strikes have destroyed “eight ISIS-held buildings, six logistical assets, two explosive factories and two weapons caches.”

Gedney said it is difficult to estimate how many ISIS fighters hold ground in eastern Syria, but said it is “too many.” He also could not estimate how long Operation Roundup would take to complete.

“It is absolutely clear that those final areas are going to be a difficult fight,” he said, adding that “we are going to continue our aggressive pace of operations in our own strikes” until the areas are cleared.

There are signs that the new offensive is already having a “devastating effect on ISIS,” Gedney said.

“Observations from eastern Syria suggest that morale among ISIS fighters is sinking,” he said. “Frictions are mounting between native and foreign-born ISIS fighters as ISIS’ privileged leadership continues to flee the area, leaving fighters with dwindling resources and low morale.”

Despite the progress that has been made east of the Euphrates, coalition officials are concerned that ISIS fighters seem to have more freedom of movement on the western side of the river, which is under the control of pro-Syrian regime forces, Gedney said.

“We remained concerned about ISIS’ freedom west of the river Euphrates; it seems they have some freedom of action still because they have not been properly defeated by the pro-regime forces,” he said.

Gedney stressed, however, that the “coalition will relentlessly pursue ISIS, wherever they are, until they are defeated.”

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

Articles

‘The Bunker’ is helping veteran entrepreneurs launch the next big tech company

 


Many efforts exist to try and tap into the potential of separating military veterans as employees and leaders, but “The Bunker” fosters veteran entrepreneurs by helping them start and grow great technology companies.

“The Bunker is a veteran-operated, veteran-focused effort with an emphasis on finding and offering entry points into the technology community,” explains Todd Connor, CEO of The Bunker, in a YouTube video about the program (linked below).

The Chicago-based program helps military veterans tap into existing government programs while also providing networking opportunities for breaking into the technology sector.

These efforts, currently encompassing seven cities, all work by providing military veterans with shared office space, networking events, and speaker series focused on growing technology companies. They also provide mentorship and help new businesses find partners interested in working with veteran-owned businesses.

While the Bunker is based out of Chicago, interested parties can apply to be part of the program in six other cities including Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Washington D.C. Some programs, like those in Chicago and Kansas City, are fully up and operational while others, like the one in Tacoma, Wash., are planning to launch this year.

To see companies that have successfully partnered with The Bunker or to apply to be part of the program, check out their website.The Bunker, in addition to looking for more entrepreneurs, provides the option for people to apply as mentors, interns, and business partners.

MORE: 7 things people use every day that originated in the military 

AND: 17 Brilliant Insights From Legendary Marine General James Mattis 

Also Watch: Exclusive Video: McChrystal on why the US needs national service 

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why it was so important to make ‘The Last Full Measure’

In 1999, writer/director Todd Robinson was at Kirtland Air Force Base to attend a PJ graduation ceremony. In attendance was William F. Pitsenbarger, the father of Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, a PJ who was killed in action on April 11, 1966, when he volunteered to stay behind with the soldiers of the Big Red One during Operation Abilene.

During his speech, Mr. Pitsenbarger lamented the things his son, who died at the age of 21, would never do: fall in love and have a son of his own, and in doing so, understand his father’s love for him.

“I was floored,” recalled Robinson, “I remembered my own father’s fear for me during the Vietnam War and I thought about my own son.” He reflected on the brutality of the draft during the Vietnam War and what the experience was like for the veterans who were called to serve — and their families they left behind.

Robinson didn’t know if he wanted to make a war film until that moment. He became committed to the veterans. “If I could make a small contribution by looking into what the personal experiences were like for these men, it would be the least I could do,” he shared.

“I began to interview the veterans of that battle. Their stories were just so tragic, brutal, moving, unrequited…and they were looking for purpose: it was so important to them to see that this man’s valor was recognized before his father passed.”

He spent the next 20 years creating The Last Full Measure, a powerful retelling of the courageous acts of Airman 1st Class Pitsenbarger and the men who fought for his Medal of Honor.
The Last Full Measure – Arrives on Digital 4/7 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand 4/21

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The Last Full Measure is best described as a military movie made by a director who “gets it” — who understands that war is chaotic and that the complexities of PTSD for combat veterans require a conversation from our society as a whole.

One of the biggest takeaways he gained about the military community through the making and screening of this film was the notion of “service greater than self,” Robinson told WATM. Screening the film for veterans across the country, Robinson saw the spirit of Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice reflected in the men and women in uniform today. When it comes down to the wire, service members are there for the person at their side.

He also noticed that the film triggered a real need to have a conversation about the wellness of veterans — especially combat vets.

“We, as civilians, the people who benefit from the service of these people, don’t understand what they’ve been through. We don’t always embrace our own complicity in sending service members overseas. If you’re a taxpayer or voter, whether you agree with the policy or not, you’re responsible. We’re also responsible for bringing them home. They need to be given more attention than just a pat on the head, a business-class trip home, and some medication from the VA. We need to embrace our military community when they come home. We need to employ them. And we need to say, ‘You’re not alone,'” Robinson affirmed.

Robinson felt like he owed something back and this film was part of what he could give. Of course, it came with many challenges. In his own words, “Making a movie is organized chaos.” Robinson and his producing partner Signey Sherman, noticed a uniform error in one scene and a folded flag that was coming undone in another. They spent ,000 out of pocket to correct the errors in post-production. “It just looked disrespectful to me,” Robinson lamented.

Somehow a bootleg copy was released overseas containing the original errors and viewers complained. “Those kinds of things pop up. I suppose the real challenge is trying to explain to an audience, without feeling too sensitive, that a film is an impression of a story. My job was to identify the metaphor of the story and what we could say about the men who fought in Operation Abilene. It always came back to service before self.”

Todd Robinson and Ed Harris filming The Last Full Measure, 2017. (Photo by Jackson Davis)

To help accomplish that goal, Robinson hired veterans on and off camera. In the Medal of Honor ceremony scene, real PJs wear their maroon berets while veterans of Charlie Company fill the audience. There that day was retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant John Pighini, a decorated Vietnam War-era PJ and active member of the Pararescue community.

After that scene, Pighini came on-board as a technical advisor for the shoot on location in Thailand, where Robinson and his cast and crew had six days to shoot the entirety of the Vietnam scenes for the film — no small undertaking.

He had a crew of 300 with battle scenes featuring helicopters and explosions. There was no luxury of time. He gives credit to his editor, Richard Nord, and the expertise of his cast and crew. At the end of the day, the film, decades in the making, wasn’t done for financial profit or gain.

“We made this film for our veteran community. We tried to reflect back and let them know that people see them and we want to be part of the solution to whatever problems they face when they come home.”


The Last Full Measure is available now on Blu-ray/DVD and Digital from Lionsgate and features several special features such as a “Medal of Honor Ceremony Shoot” featurette and “The Others May Live: Remembering Operation Abilene” featurette.


Articles

This is how more vets will be able to cash in on education benefits

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached initial agreement on the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade, removing a 15-year time limit to tap into benefits and boosting money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.


The deal being announced early July 13 is a sweeping effort to fill coverage gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly changing job market. Building on major legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university — or the cash amount for private college students similar to the value of a scholarship at a state college — the bill gives veterans added flexibility to enroll in college later in life. Veterans would get additional payments if they complete science, technology, and engineering courses.

The Associated Press obtained details of the agreement in advance of a formal bill introduction July 13.

USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers

For a student attending a private university, the additional benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve could mean $2,300 a year more in tuition than they are receiving now, plus a bigger housing allowance.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R- Calif., praised the bill as a major effort to modernize the GI Bill, better positioning veterans for jobs after their service in a technologically sophisticated US military.

“It’s really about training the workforce in a post-9/11 GI Bill world,” he told The Associated Press. “Veterans are being locked out of a whole new economy.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo from US Congress.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, the bill’s lead sponsor, said he would schedule a committee vote next week. Pledging more VA reforms to come, McCarthy said the full House will act quickly, describing the bill as just the “first phase to get the whole VA system working again.”

“We’ll move it out this month,” McCarthy said.

Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said he would introduce a companion bill, while Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the panel’s senior Democrat, said he was “encouraged” by the bipartisan plan. Veterans’ issues have been one of the few areas on which Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have found some common ground, as they remain sharply divided on health care, tax reform, and other issues.

The education benefits would take effect for enlistees who begin using their GI Bill money next year.

US National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Wiseman

Kristofer Goldsmith, 31, says he believes it would benefit many former service members who, like himself, aren’t ready to immediately enroll in college after military service. Goldsmith served in the US Army as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, reaching the rank of sergeant, but returned home to constant nightmares and other PTSD symptoms. He was kicked out of the military with a general discharge after a suicide attempt, barring him from receiving GI benefits.

Now an assistant director for policy at Vietnam Veterans of America, Goldsmith advocates for veterans with PTSD and is appealing his discharge status. He’s heading to Columbia University in the fall.

“I feel extremely lucky I have found my passion in veterans’ advocacy,” Goldsmith said. “But I’ve taken out tens of thousands of dollars to go to school. GI benefits are something service members earn while they serve. They shouldn’t lose it just because they aren’t transitioning back the way the government wants.”

Army Photo by Staff Sgt. James Burroughs

According to Student Veterans of America, only about half of the 200,000 service members who leave the military each year go on to enroll in a college, while surveys indicate that veterans often outperform peers in the classroom. The bill is backed by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, which says hundreds of thousands of former service members stand to gain from the new array of benefits.

“This is going to be a big win,” said Patrick Murray, associate director at VFW.

The legislation combines 18 separate House bills, also providing full GI Bill eligibility to Purple Heart recipients. Previously, those individuals had to serve at least three years. The bill also would restore benefits if a college closed in the middle of the semester, a protection added when thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Tech.

The bill hasn’t been free of controversy.

A draft plan circulated by Roe’s committee in April drew fire after it initially proposed paying for the $3 billion cost of upgraded benefits over 10 years by reducing service members’ monthly pay by $100 per month. Veterans’ groups sharply criticized that plan as an unfair “tax on troops,” noting that Army privates typically earn less than $1,500 per month.

Army Photo by Sgt. Alexander Snyder

“The GI Bill is a cost of war, and Congress needs to pay for it as long as we are at war,” said Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA’s founder and CEO.

The latest proposal would be paid for by bringing living stipend payments under the GI Bill down to a similar level as that received by an active-duty member, whose payments were reduced in 2014 by 1 percent a year for five years.

Total government spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years.

Rep. Tim Walz, the senior Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and a bill co-sponsor, praised the plan, saying it will “improve the lives of future generations of veterans … without asking our troops or American taxpayers to pay more.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

What happens when a working dog retires into its handler’s home

Two four-legged police officers ended their long careers with the Marine Corps Police Department aboard MCLB Barstow by getting their forever homes with their human partners, Sept. 12, 2018.

Military Working Dogs “Ricsi” P648, and “Colli” P577, both German shepherds, were officially retired in a ceremony held at the K-9 Training Field behind the Adam Leigh Cann Canine Facility aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow.

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Silkowski, MCLBB executive officer; Darwin O’neal, MCPD chief; Danny Strand, director, Security and Emergency Services; fellow police officers, and members of the Marine Corps Fire Department aboard the base gathered to see the two MWDs into their well-deserved retirements.


“Tony” Nadeem Seirafi was the first of five handlers Ricsi worked with beginning in 2010 aboard MCLB Barstow. He has since moved on to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., but returned for the first time in years to pick up the dog he considers to be a friend.

“I love that dog and I’ve been dreaming about doing this for years,” Seirafi said. “Retired police dogs can be a little more stubborn than a regular dog, but they just basically want to be loved and lay on the couch and be lazy.”

Jacob Lucero was a Marine Corps military policeman partnered with MWD Colli when he was stationed Marine Corps Air, Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., from 2011 to 2012. Lucero moved on after the Corps to become a correctional officer and is now a student in his native Kingman, Ariz. Colli was sent to MCLB Barstow in 2016.

A United States Air Force Belgian Malinois on a M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle before heading out on a mission in Kahn Bani Sahd, Iraq, Feb. 13, 2007.

“I started working with Colli when he was about a year and a half old,” Lucero said. “He’s now nine, which is a good age for a police dog to retire.”

He agreed with Seirafi there are some unique challenges to adopting a police dog, but they are worth it for the loyalty and love they give in return.

“One of the issues of adopting a working police dog,” Lucero said, “is that they sometimes need more socializing because they had only been with their handler or in a kennel.”

Both MWDs received certificates of appreciation acknowledging their retirement from the K-9 unit and “In grateful recognition of service faithfully performed.”

Lieutenant Steven Goss, kennel master, MCPD, concluded the ceremony with the reading of the short poem “He Is Your Dog”:”He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia detains retired Marine on espionage charges

The family of a U.S. citizen being held by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) over suspected spying says he is innocent and was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Paul Whelan, a retired Marine, was last heard from on Dec. 28, 2018, according to a statement from his family, obtained by RFE/RL on Jan. 1, 2019.

His failure to contact his family “was very much out of character for him,” the statement said.


“We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected,” it added.

Whelan, 48, could face between 10 to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Russian officials did not disclose any details of his alleged involvement in espionage.

David Whelan told RFE/RL in a direct message via Twitter that his brother “has a corporate security role” with BorgWarner, a U.S.-based supplier of automotive parts and components.

Brother of accused spy speaks out

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BorgWarner said in a statement sent to RFE/RL on Jan. 1, 2019, that Paul Whelan was the company’s global security director. It added that he is responsible for overseeing the company’s facilities in Auburn Hills, Michigan, “and at other company locations around the world.”

BorgWarner has 60 manufacturing sites in 18 countries, but none of them are listed as being in Russia.

A spokeswoman for BorgWarner told RFE/RL that the company “does not have any facilities in Russia.”

Russia’s state-owned conglomerate Rostec said in 2013 that its truckmaker, KamAz, had a long record of collaboration with a subsidiary of BorgWarner known as BorgWarnerTurboSystems.

David Whelan told AP in a Jan. 1, 2019 interview that his brother had been to Russia “several times” before and was helping a former U.S. Marine friend of his plan a wedding with a Russian woman.

On the morning of the day he was detained, Paul Whelan had given a tour of the Kremlin museums to a group of wedding guests, his brother said. He failed to show up for the wedding on the evening of Dec. 28, 2018.

David Whelan said his absence led the family to fear he had been in a car accident or perhaps mugged, and were searching the Internet for news about “dead Americans in Moscow.”

The U.S. State Department has said it knows about “the detention of a U.S. citizen by Russian authorities” and had been formally notified by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The State Department said on Dec. 31, 2018, that it had requested consular access to Paul Whelan and expected “Russian authorities to provide it.”

David Whelan said in the AP interview that his family was told by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow that it has been unable to speak with Paul Whelan.

David Whelan said his brother had previously worked for Kelly Services, an international office-staffing company that does have offices in Moscow, and had been to Russia on business and to visit friends he had met on social-media networks.

Paul Whelan reportedly had a page on the Russian social-media site VKontakte on which he writes messages in basic Russian.

David Whelan said his brother was stationed in Iraq several times with the U.S. Marines and has been living in Novi, Michigan.

The announcement of Whelan’s detainment came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow remains open to dialogue with Washington in a New Year’s greeting to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Relations between the United States and Russia remain strained over a raft of issues including Russia’s role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, its alleged meddling in elections in the United States and elsewhere, and the poisoning of a Russian double agent in Britain.

At the end of November 2018, Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Argentina, citing tensions after Russian forces opened fire on Ukrainian Navy boats before seizing them and capturing 24 Ukrainian sailors.

The detention of Whelan comes weeks after Russian Maria Butina pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to acting as an agent for the Kremlin.

The Kremlin has denied that Butina is a Russian agent and has organized a social-media campaign to secure her release.

In the past, Russia has arrested foreigners with the aim of trading prisoners with other countries.

In his annual year-end news conference on Dec. 20, 2018, Putin said Russia would “not arrest innocent people simply to exchange them for someone else later on.”

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

Articles

The only time the Soviet Union officially fought the US was in brutal air combat

In October 1944, WWII was still raging all across Europe. On the Eastern Front, Red Army troops in Yugoslavia were making their way to bolster other Soviet forces in the region when American P-38 Lightning fighters started raining lead on them.


In response, the Soviet Air Force launched two groups of its premiere fighter of the time, the Yakovlev Yak-3. The Yaks fought the Yanks for a good 15 minutes over the Yugoslav (now Serbia) town of Niš. No one knows exactly how or where the error started, but each side fought the other viciously, thinking they were fighting Nazis.

Soviet Yak-9s in flight. ‘The pilots who flew it regarded its performance as comparable to or better than that of the Messerschmitt Bf-109G and Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3/A-4. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Americans’ small taste of the brutality of Eastern Front combat cost dozens of Soviet and American lives.

The Soviets claimed the American fighters were 400 kilometers off course, and thus saw the Red Army ground forces as an unknown German force. Others believe the meetup was intentional, but that the Red Army moved faster than anticipated. When the Americans encountered a significant force 100 kilometers ahead of the expected Allied position, they engaged.

(Norwich University)

No matter what, the result was an intense air battle that both countries have kept classified for decades. Norwich University calls it the 8th largest air battle in history, even though the exact number of American fighters is unknown.

In fact, most official details are still classified, but both the United States and Russia admit the event occurred. An estimated 30 Soviet ground troops and airmen died in the fighting and Soviet accounts tell of P-38 fighters being shot down.

Another account of the battle, from Soviet Colonel Nikolai Shmelev, details American fighters strafing the airfields near Niš as Russian Yakovlev-9 planes were taxiing to fend off the U.S. Lightnings.

This would not be the only time Soviet and American fighter pilots would tangle with each other in the coming years. They would also fight (unofficially) over the Korean Peninsula and Vietnam, not to mention the numerous Cold War incidents of airspace violations and interceptions.

Enjoy some WWII gun camera footage from the P-38:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gender revealed for the dog that helped take down ISIS leader

A White House official on Nov. 25, 2019, said that Conan, the military working dog that helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria in October 2019, was a female.

However, a few hours later, a White House official said the dog was in fact a male, adding to a debate that developed after President Donald Trump tweeted a photo of the dog after the raid.

Conan was awarded a medal and a plaque by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Nov. 25, 2019. Trump, Pence, and Conan walked out to the White House lawn, where the president described Conan as “the world’s most famous dog” who had an “incredible story.”


President Trump Brings Conan, Military Dog Injured In al-Baghdadi Raid, To White House | TIME

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Trump, who referred to the dog with male pronouns several times, said he thought it was a good idea to “put a muzzle on the dog” because of its “violent” tendencies, though it was unmuzzled throughout the ceremony. The president’s remarks did not deter Pence, who petted Conan several times on her head.

There was speculation over Conan’s gender after Trump released her name and a photo of her in an abrupt tweet after the raid. But former military dog handlers and canine experts were still at an impasse, with some intensely examining the photo.

“I’ve seen the photo of the dog,” a former military dog handler told Business Insider after the raid. “And if you blow up that photo, it’s not a female dog — it’s a male dog.”

“Conan was very badly hurt as you know, and they thought maybe he was not to recover,” Trump said Nov. 25, 2019, referring to injuries the dog received when she touched exposed electrical wires during the raid. “Recovered very quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”

Conan is a Belgian Malinois, the same breed used in the 2011 raid against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The dog is named after comedian Conan O’Brien, according to a Newsweek report.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Intense bombing brings Syrian rebels to the bargaining table

Rebels in besieged areas of southwestern Syria say they are returning to negotiations with Russia over a possible pullout after an intensive bombing campaign by Russian and Syrian forces.

The move by rebel forces on July 5, 2018, comes after a brief suspension of the Moscow-brokered negotiations that have produced agreements already to return more than 30 towns to government control in the strategic zone of southern Syria bordering both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

A brief collapse of the talks on July 4, 2018, ushered in a blitz of Russian and Syrian air strikes, barrel bombs, and missiles, following a pattern Russia and Syria have pursued repeatedly to regain control over rebel territory.


The bombing barrage sent an estimated 320,000 civilians fleeing the area in what appeared to be one of the fastest displacements in Syria’s seven-year civil war, prompting an international outcry and meetings at the United Nations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s goal is to recapture Syria’s entire southwest, one of the last rebel strongholds in the country.

Within 24 hours of the resumed bombing, rebels said they wanted to return to negotiations, with the talks focusing on their pullout from the territory they still control in Daraa’s western countryside and the southern half of the provincial capital.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Daraa is considered to be the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Assad that triggered the devastating war, which has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions.

Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south’s joint rebel command, accused Russia of pursuing a “scorched-earth policy” to force rebels back to the negotiating table.

As rebels agreed to renewed talks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported a halt to both Russian and Syrian government air strikes over the south.

Rebels say Russia has insisted that opposition factions hand over their heavy weapons all at once, while rebels want to relinquish their arms in several phases.

Moscow also reportedly has refused rebel requests for safe passage to opposition-held territory in other parts of Syria, as was granted to rebels who agreed to pull out of Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo.

During the renewed fighting, regime forces retook control of a security checkpoint on the Jordanian border for the first time in more than three years, the monitoring group said.

Rebels then handed some 275 square kilometers of territory near the border to government forces without a fight, said observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Nearly 150 civilians have died since the government assault in the south began two weeks ago, according to the observatory.

Many of the area’s 320,000 displaced people have been fleeing south to the borders with Jordan and the Golan Heights, the UN says.

But both Israel and Jordan have kept their borders closed, despite mounting calls to let Syrians escape to safety.

The International Rescue Committee said displaced families are struggling to cope with 45-degree heat, scorpions, and snakes in the open desert area.

Rebel territory in southern Syria was included in a cease-fire zone created last year in a deal between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the government’s assault.

Near the start of the government’s offensive, Washington indicated it would respond to violations of the cease-fire deal, but it has not done so yet and rebels said it had told them to expect no American military help.

The onslaught has sparked calls for restraint and an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on July 5, 2018. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that an “estimated 750,000 lives are in danger.”

But Russia blocked the council from adopting a statement on the issue. A diplomat said on condition of anonymity there had been a fruitless push to persuade Moscow to accept a pause in fighting to distribute humanitarian aid.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Russian Army will soon get this sniper rifle tested by Putin

The Russian Army will soon receive the new Chukavin SVCh sniper rifle, according to Popular Mechanics.

The Chukavin fires 7.62x54mmR, .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua Magnum rounds, Popular Mechanics reported. The rifle also has a maximum range of more 4,200 feet, depending on the round, according to armyrecognition.com, a magazine that covers military technology.

Designed by Kalashnikov Concern, the maker of the AK-47, the Chukavin will replace the Dragunov SVD, which has been in Russian military service since the 1960s.


Russian President Vladimir Putin himself fired the Chukavin five times in September 2018, hitting a target nearly 2,000 feet away with three of those shots, according to Russian state-owned media.

Russia: Putin tests Kalashnikov’s latest sniper’s rifle

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Unveiled at Russia’s Army 2017 forum, the Chukavin is shorter and lighter than the Dragunov without compromising durability, according to Kalashnikov.

Alexey Krivoruchko, the CEO of Kalashnikov, told Russian state-owned media outlet TASS in 2017 that the Russian Defense Ministry as a whole and the Russian National Guard were interested in the rifle, according to thefirearmblog.com.

Russian state-owned media reported in May that the Russian Army will also replace the AK-74M with Kalashnikov’s AK-12 and AK-15.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army’s cyber force is now fully operational

All 133 of U.S. Cyber Command’s cyber mission force teams achieved full operational capability, Cybercom officials announced on May 17, 2018.

Having Cybercom achieve full operational capability early is a testament to the commitment of the military services toward ensuring the nation’s cyber force is fully trained and equipped to defend the nation in cyberspace.


To reach full operational capability, teams met a rigorous set of criteria, including an approved concept of operation and a high percentage of trained, qualified, and certified personnel. As part of the certification process, teams had to show they could perform their mission under stress in simulated, real-world conditions as part of specialized training events.

“I’m proud of these service men and women for their commitment to developing the skills and capabilities necessary to defend our networks and deliver cyberspace operational capabilities to the nation,” said Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, Cybercom’s commander.

Cybercom leaders emphasize that while this is an important milestone, more work remains. Now, the focus will shift toward readiness to perform the mission and deliver optimized mission outcomes, continuously.

“As the build of the cyber mission force wraps up, we’re quickly shifting gears from force generation to sustainable readiness,” Nakasone said. “We must ensure we have the platforms, capabilities and authorities ready and available to generate cyberspace outcomes when needed.”

The cyber mission force has been building capability and capacity since 2013, when the force structure was developed and the services began to field and train the force of over 6,200 Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians.

The mission did not wait while teams were building. While they were in development, or “build status,” teams in the cyber mission force were conducting operations to safeguard the nation.

(Georgia Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Tracy J. Smith)

“It’s one thing to build an organization from the ground up, but these teams were being tasked operationally while they were growing capability,” Nakasone said. “I am certain that these teams will continue to meet the challenges of this rapidly evolving and dynamic domain.”

The cyber mission force is Cybercom’s action arm, and its teams execute the command’s mission to direct, synchronize and coordinate cyberspace operations in defense of the nation’s interests.

Cyber mission force teams support this mission through their specific respective assignments:

— Cyber national mission teams defend the nation by identifying adversary activity, blocking attacked and maneuvering to defeat them.

— Cyber combat mission teams conduct military cyberspace operations in support of combatant commander priorities and missions.

— Cyber protection teams defend DoD’s information network, protect priority missions and prepare cyber forces for combat.

— Cyber support teams provide analytic and planning support to national mission and combat mission teams.

Some teams are aligned to combatant commands to support combatant commander priorities and synchronize cyberspace operations with operations in the other four domains — land, sea, air and space — and some are aligned to the individual services for defensive missions. The balance report directly to subordinate command sections of Cybercom, the cyber national mission force, and Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Network.

The cyber national mission force plans, directs and synchronizes full-spectrum cyberspace operations to deter, disrupt and if necessary, defeat adversary cyber actors to defend the nation. National mission force teams are aligned to support the cyber national mission force.

Joint Force Headquarters-DoD Information Network, which also achieved full operational capability in 2018, provides command and control of DoD information network operations, defensive cyber operations and internal defensive measures globally to enable power projection and freedom of action across all warfighting domains.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

How ‘Saving Private Ryan’ could use a sequel, but not in the way Hollywood thinks

There’s no doubt about it. Steven Spielberg’s 1998 war epic, Saving Private Ryan, was a masterpiece in every aspect of filmmaking. It won five of the eleven Academy Awards for which it was nominated. The immense scale of the invasion of Normandy was expertly recreated for film in a way that hasn’t been replicated since — and likely never will be.

Despite the massive war that characterizes the film, the movie’s primary conflict wasn’t between warring nations, but rather between Tom Hanks’ character, Captain Miller, and his duty to return Pfc. Ryan (as played by Matt Damon), who refuses to leave behind the brothers with whom he’d fought so far.


The film, being the masterpiece that it is, wraps the story up nicely, leaving few loose ends, but there’s that ever-burning question in Hollywood — how do you make that special lightning strike twice? How can you create another story surrounding the incomparable D-Day and find just as much success?

The truth is, simply, that you can’t. The story has already been perfectly told by one of the finest filmmakers in Hollywood at just the right moment. But that doesn’t mean that the story has necessarily ended…

What made this scene so great wasn’t the million put into it — it was Tom Hank’s reaction to everything happening around him.

(DreamWorks Pictures)

As stated by Jack Knight of War History Online, there is serious interest in following-up Saving Private Ryan by continuing the story of the Rangers at D-Day and the mission that occurred at Pointe du Hoc. What made the beach landing scene so spectacular wasn’t the battle itself, but rather how the battle was seen — through Capt. Miller’s eyes.

The audience felt the immense gravity of war in a truly human way. In one moment, we’re listening to a guy joke on the landing craft; one second later, his blood is splattered on Miller’s face. This is the essence of what made Saving Private Ryan so great. World War II was just the backdrop to a more personal story, but the sheer, raw horrors of war were still very much present.

The audience saw the enemy in the distance, but the focus was entirely on the Capt. Miller. Any spiritual successor (or direct sequels) should keep that in mind.

It’s a grim reality, but it’s comforting in it’s own way.

(Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Such a sequel, a movie that follows someone’s personal life after a major conflict, has been dreamt up before. One film, known as “the greatest war film never made,” that was to explore this theme was to be called The Way Back.

The 1955 film To Hell and Back was an amazing anomaly. It was the World War II experience of Audie Murphy, based on the autobiography of the same name that was written by Audie Murphy and David McClure, starring Audie Murphy himself. But this wasn’t the only film the war hero wanted to make. Everyone wanted to see his heroic stand on the back of the Sherman, but he never got the finances for the script that told the story of what happened after he was bestowed the Medal of Honor.

He struggled daily with post-traumatic stress. His family life was, to put it lightly, troubled. He turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain. He even famously locked himself in a dirty motel room to kick his morphine addiction. He was lost in a world that wanted “him,” but not the real him. But he knew countless children looked up to him, so he put one foot in front of the other with a forced smile on his face.

This movie, were it ever made, would’ve been a powerful piece. Audie Murphy, arguably the greatest soldier to ever don a uniform, would’ve told everyone that not everything is fine when the war’s over. There’s a pain there that nobody can see, but many of us feel.

It’s not like there are too many war films out there specifically made for Post 9/11 vets. The bar is set kinda low…

(Summit Entertainment)

War films are a dime a dozen in Hollywood and rarely will they have any impact on the public because they’re just action scenes after action scenes until the credits roll. If Hollywood really wanted a powerful message to send to the world, they could make a grounded story following the life of one of the Rangers after D-Day. Use Saving Private Ryan’s personal approach and make it about one soldier. They could keep the action scenes, but make them a background to the story of just surviving. Then, as Act II rolls around, shift the story to show how a returning soldier survives this world he left behind to fight in D-Day.

Hollywood could have their cake and eat it to while also sending a powerful message to the countless returning veterans of the Post-9/11 wars, telling them that they’re not alone.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Five reasons you should join an online Veteran network

Networking, while not a new concept, has become a significant component of modern life. Commonly associated with career advancement, the evolution of online social platforms has extended networking far beyond just opportunities to further one’s career.

While networking can be important and beneficial to anyone, it may be even more so for military members, Veterans and their spouses.

Former service members are aware of the difficulties that can come from adjusting to life outside of the military. Whether it’s acclimating to a new job title and company or understanding the inner workings of today’s corporate culture, Veterans often face obstacles not well-understood by those without similar experiences.


Given this reality, it makes sense for any Veteran to start forming connections and building relationships with those who understand their unique point of view.

Here are several ways joining a Veteran network can help a service member, Veteran or their spouses.

It’s where your battle buddies hang out.

Every service member knows that there will be a transition to civilian life, but it impacts everyone differently. Your experiences while in the military, how long you served, where you served, your circumstance upon returning to civilian life – these all come together to form a unique set of circumstances.

For some Veterans, leaving the military means leaving a way of life and community behind. Their housing or homes may have been on base or provided by the military. Their food, alcohol, home furnishings, jewelry, or even their car shopping might have been on base, as well as their place of work, socializing and recreational events. The support network is built into each military installation.

There’s also a substantial difference in which attitudes and behaviors are appreciated and sought after in the military versus in the civilian community. The more conversations a member can have with those who have been through or are going through a similar situation, the more they can learn what behaviors from the military should be kept and what should be shed, what’s to be amplified and what’s to be silenced.

Humans are social, relational creatures, meaning the friendships and personal connections we create and foster matter. The difficulty transitioning to civilian life is an all-too-common story. But through the empathy and shared experiences of other Veterans in your network, this challenging transition can be made smoother.

You’ll get a better understanding of the civilian work culture.

There aren’t any first shirts, no XOs, no squad leaders, no platoon guides, or section chiefs outside the military. The daily language is practically a foreign language in corporate America and one that’s not easily understood. No one’s reporting at o’dark thirty for required PT, let alone in cadence while double timing. Instead, there’s an entire new lexicon and lingo in the civilian workplace, and mastering it soonest means connecting with new colleagues, with your new tribe, in valuable ways.

Trying to make the switch from the military to a role in a company can be one of the greatest and most critical challenges a Veteran will face. With a network of fellow Vets who have been through comparable situations, it’s likely someone has directly applicable words of wisdom or experiences to offer.

You’ll find a place to build your community and network.

Many service members spend years training and mastering their skills, and even longer using them throughout the world. Their next job and career might not take advantage of those skills. The earlier a member can connect with their future community and learn the culture, terminology and ways of dress and business practice, the better.

Within a wide network, there will be plenty of firsthand advice specific to your new role. Beyond the commonalities of military service and transition, a refined network of individuals in the same position and industry offers a valuable resource that you likely won’t find on the job.

They have access to resources and information.

Where a military member is from, where they served, and where they’re going after the military may all be different places. Building an online network means developing real relationships and local knowledge for your next chapter of life – wherever it may take you.

Having a vast network of peers available to connect with makes it easier to gain firsthand knowledge about a community that might be a potential next home. It can also provide you with actual connections in that very community, offering an invaluable support system upon arrival.

You get the opportunity to make an impact.

Joining a Veteran’s network isn’t only about gaining advice and knowledge. It’s also about giving it. You never know how your experiences might be helpful to someone else. As an advisor or mentor, or potentially even as just an acquaintance or connection, you could be an excellent guide for how someone can best succeed within a new company, school district, soccer league, church, or even a homeowner’s association.

The bonds you make during military service are unique. The unity, camaraderie and shared experience can extend beyond your service and play a role in helping yourself and fellow Veterans make the most of life outside of military duty. It just takes a little networking.

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