US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
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US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Afghan forces backed by the U.S. airpower have intensified the offensive against the insurgents in the country, killing scores of militants including a Taliban shadow governor in fresh air raids, a security official said.


Mawlawi Helal, the Taliban’s self-proclaimed governor for northern Baghlan province, has been killed along with his top four commanders and up to 15 more fighters in Dand-e-Ghori district, Ikramuddin Saree, the security chief for the province, told Anadolu Agency.

Local media reported a few civilian casualties in the raid, but the officials have not acknowledged any.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel Hopping during a mission to disrupt Taliban forces in Larr village and establish a presence in the area. (DoD photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

In February, the Taliban confirmed the death of their governor for Kunduz Mullah Abdul Salam in a U.S. airstrike in the Dasht-e-Archi district.

In mid-April, the Afghan officials also claimed to have eliminated the militants’ shadow governor for Takhar province in the same district.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has stated in a message that three al-Qaeda affiliates have been killed in an air raid in southern Zabul province.

The Taliban, on the other hand, claimed to have killed a district police chief and 10 other policemen in the Shenkai district of the province.

Also read: 300 Marines will deploy to help counter Taliban insurgents

Zabul lies between Ghazni and Kandahar, where the Taliban are quite active, particularly in the rural parts.

Gul-e-Islam, spokesman for the provincial government, has only confirmed the death of district police chief Saifullah Hotak and one of his guards. He claimed the militants’ assault on security check posts has been repulsed.

The NATO mission in Afghanistan has announced strong desire to eliminate Daesh and other terrorist groups in 2017, however, aspiration for a peace deal with the Taliban has been expressed on a number of occasions.

Articles

Hundreds of enlisted airmen line up to fly drones

The Air Force has narrowed down hundreds of airmen in the running to become enlisted drone pilots to enter the next phase of the program.


The Air Force Personnel Center on Wednesday said 305 active-duty enlisted airmen were identified for an upcoming selection board tasked with picking the next enlisted group to attend remotely piloted aircraft training.

Also read: 5th generation fighters prove that tech is king

Officials didn’t disclose how many of those airmen will then be selected for formal training, set to begin in 2017. But they’re seeing a surge of interest.

The center received more than 800 applicants during this cycle. For comparison, the program normally gets around 200 applicants. Because of the boost, the center is processing potential candidates in groups.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
RQ-4 Global Hawk | Northrop Grumman photo via AF.mil

The Air Force last year announced it would begin training enlisted airmen to operate the unarmedRQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Officials in September touted that the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class, or EPIC, would begin on Oct. 12 with four of 12 total students training alongside 20 recently commissioned officers.

The formal training process spans an entire year.

“We have an incredibly talented pool of enlisted Airmen, and we’re confident that this rigorous selection process will yield excellent enlisted aircrew who will continue to provide combatant commanders with the ISR they need to win today’s fight,” Senior Master Sgt. Rebecca Guthrie, career enlisted aviator assignments manager at AFPC said in a release.

Candidates selected in Phase 2 “will need to get the required medical screening and commander’s recommendation and submit completed application packages to AFPC no later than Dec. 16,” the release said. If warranted, medical waivers will be due by Jan. 27, 2017.

The enlisted RPA pilot selection board will meet Feb. 6 – 9, with results expected by the end of that month, officials said.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Talented military child showcases her art in first exhibition

Victoria Reyes is a talented 11-year-old military child, who showcased her artful creations in her first exhibition, where she left people in attendance in such an awe that a few of them commissioned private artworks.


While walking through the exhibition room in Tampa, Florida, where artwork by Victoria Reyes was being showcased, attendees couldn’t help be drawn to the colorful representations of Japanese anime and the meticulous attention to details that had clearly gone into each piece. It didn’t take long for some of the people in attendance to commission the talented artist with private pieces, which she was happy to take on.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Discovering talent

Many of the great painters that have made art history began showing promising talent at a young age — Picasso, for example, was only nine when he completed his first painting. But the key figure behind most of these talented artists was usually a parent who had been able to first notice their child’s unusual creative abilities. In Picasso’s case, it was his father who noticed his talent two years before the young painter completed his first work of art.

Maxine Reyes, Victoria’s mother, first noticed her daughter’s talent when Victoria was only three years old. “I noticed how well she could draw people,” Maxine said, “and I remember how I used to just draw straight lines to make the body of a person. The level of detail that Victoria added to her figures was out of the norm.”

A talented singer who entertained not only troops in the Middle East, but also NBA teams and even a U.S. President, Maxine is an artist in her own right and a retired military member who served for over 20 years in the Air Force and the Army. “She wasn’t doing the normal scribble scrabble,” Maxine said, “and that’s why I encouraged her to nurture her talent.”

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Art as a coping mechanism

Victoria, who is also a singer like her mother and a talented piano player, began finding comfort in drawing, especially during the challenging times military life inevitably brings. When her active duty Army father, stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, had to leave home for work for an extended period of time, Victoria found art to be a coping mechanism.

Given how therapeutic she finds drawing to be for her, Victoria dedicates most of her spare time to making art. “I remember watching Japanese anime shows on TV,” Victoria said, “and I was surprised by how detailed those cartoons were.” Inspired by what she saw, the young artist would eventually place that same level of attention to details to her own art, which is what made her parents take notice and reflect on how they could support her.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Supporting and encouraging young talent

“When I saw her drawings,” Maxine revealed, “they looked like something I would buy at an art show.” An art lover like her husband, Maxine was able to appreciate her daughter’s talent and support it from the very beginning. “My husband and I decided that we were going to encourage her and invest in her talent so that one day she will be able to live out her dream.”

That was the reason why Victoria’s parents planned a surprise birthday party for their talented daughter. “I printed her best artwork on canvas and turned her birthday party into her very first art show.”

Showcasing her artwork brought Victoria enormous success, and she was happy with the outcome, although she admits that, “I was a bit shy at first.” The talented military child is committed to pursuing her dream and working on her talents so that one day she can achieve her goal of becoming a professional artist.

If interested in purchasing Victoria Reyes’s artwork or getting in touch with her to commission a private piece, please visit www.victoriareyes.com or @iamvictoriareyes.

Articles

The Coast Guard and Navy just saved real-life castaways from a desert island

It’s not a movie this time.


The U.S. embassy in the Federated States of Micronesia’s city of Kolonia reported via Facebook that two castaways were rescued on the remote Pacific island of East Fayu after being lost at sea for 11 days.

The merchant vessel British Mariner reported seeing a flashlight signal them as they passed the otherwise uninhabited island on August 24.

The U.S. Navy overflew the island the next day in P-8A Poseidon aircraft. The Navy reported seeing a help message from castaways to the U.S. Coast Guard at the Guam Command Center.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
(U.S. Navy photo)

Navy observers saw “SOS” written in the beach sands by Linus and Sabina Jack, who left nearby Wenu Island on an 18-foot boat with limited supplies and no emergency equipment. They never reached their reported destination.


 

The pair left on August 17th and the Coast Guard began its search two days later when they failed to arrive at Tamtam Island. The multi-agency team searched some 16,571 square miles before the British Mariner saw their flashlight.

A patrol boat picked the castaways up on August 26.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
(U.S. Navy photo)

The international search for the couple lasted seven days and used a Coast Guard-sponsored ship reporting system designed to assist vessels under these exact conditions. Called AMVER, the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, the network is voluntary but is used worldwide. With AMVER, users can identify ships in the area of distress and ask them to respond or assist.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines wonder what to do next in the Middle East

In 2017, small American advisory elements here in Northern Iraq were operating at battle tempo as they mentored and assisted Iraqi units in a pitched fight to reclaim the city of Mosul from ISIS control.


That fight was won decisively, with an official Iraqi declaration of victory in Mosul in July 2017. And to further cement the advantage, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared complete victory over ISIS in Iraq on Dec. 9, 2017, just days before a Military.com visit to the country.

Among the Marine advisory units remaining at Al Asad and Al Taqaddum air bases in Anbar province, there is the satisfaction that comes with a mission accomplished.

But for some, victory brings its own unease: As the Marines endeavor to work themselves out of a job in Iraq, what lies beyond the current mission remains unclear.

When Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller paid visits to Al Asad, Al Taqaddum and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad during a December tour of deployed units, his tone was congratulatory.

“You’re part of history now, because you were in Iraq when ISIS was defeated, tactically,” he said. ” … You have been catastrophically successful. The way this thing has turned in the last year is pretty epic. So, you should be proud of what you’ve done and what you’ve contributed to.”

Neller’s parting words to the Marines amounted to an order to hold down the fort for the duration of the deployment.

“You will not get blown up. You will not get attacked. No one will let anyone come in here who is a bad person and do anything to anybody … Do your job, until the wheels of that airplane leave the ground to take you home,” he said.

Drawing down

While pockets of ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and military advisers continue to pay attention to the Syrian border and work to prevent more extremists from entering the country, planners are already discussing how and when to bring home the Marine elements deployed in support of the fight.

These discussions dovetail with those ongoing at the joint level and in diplomatic channels.

The Associated Press reported Feb. 5 2018, citing a senior Iraqi official close to al-Abadi, that an agreement with U.S. leaders stipulated 60 percent of troops in Iraq will come home, while about 4,000 will remain in an advisory capacity amid ongoing efforts to eradicate remaining ISIS elements and restore security.

Also read: Why some Marines in combat zones don’t get Combat Action Ribbons

Decisions regarding individual units can be made and executed rapidly, as was seen in late November 2017, when officials with the joint task force overseeing the fight against ISIS announced that a Marine artillery unit deployed to Syria would be coming home early. A replacement unit, which had already conducted specialized training ahead of a planned deployment, was told to stay put stateside.

In Iraq, the first Marine Corps element to leave will likely be the additional security presence at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, roughly 150 Marines who have been sourced from the Corps’ crisis response task force for the Middle East since 2015. During his tour, Neller told Marines he looked forward to bringing that contingent home soon.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
James Mattis, then a Marine general, speaks to Marines in Iraq. (USMC photo)

“I think we’re close,” Col. Christopher Gideons, commander of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command, told Military.com during a December interview in Baghdad.

While pulling the extra Marine Corps element out of Baghdad would signal improved confidence in the local security situation, Gideons pointed out that the embassy could be reinforced again within hours if conditions change.

“It’s not like if we pull the Marines out of there, we’re leaving the embassy, and State Department personnel, alone and unafraid,” he said. “That’s an hour-and-a-half flight from [an undisclosed task force hub in the Middle East] to here.”

Decisions about how and when to redeploy contingents of several hundred Marines at Al Taqaddum and Al Asad will likely be made in spring 2018. In addition to security elements at each base sourced from the crisis response force, the Marines maintain smaller colonel-led advisory elements in each location: Task Force Spartan at Al Taqaddum, and Task Force Lion at Al Asad.

Related: How the Marines ripped through the Iraqis in Operation Desert Storm

For the Marine Corps, the smallest and most junior in rank of the services, the cost of providing these senior advisory units is not insignificant.

“You all came from units, and nobody came to your unit and replaced you when you left,” Neller told the troops at Al Taqaddum. “I’m sure they’d love to get you back. I’m anxious to get you back too. But I also don’t want to do something that would be so risky that it would cause you to risk all the success you’ve gained.”

Decision-forcing point

In an interview with Military.com, Neller pointed to the Iraqi parliamentary elections as a possible decision-forcing point. Whether or not al-Abadi is re-elected, Iraqi leadership will then be best positioned to express what support they would like from the United States going forward.

“You’ve got two colonels … at Al Taqaddum and Al Asad, people slated to come in to replace both of them, what are they going to do?” Neller said. “So this happened pretty fast; so we’ll give everyone some time to figure it out.”

While Neller said the two elements represented a very senior capability for what has rapidly become a sustainment mission, he also expressed concern that a hasty decision based on ISIS’ apparent defeat could lead to instability.

“Right now, we’re sitting, kind of adjusting and let the situation kind of settle,” he said. “Because it’s not settled; It’s settling … the [ISIS] caliphate is technically gone, but there’s still other things moving.”

A new focus

For the Marines’ crisis response task force in the Middle East, which operates across a half-dozen countries, the turn the fight against ISIS has taken could mean an opportunity to focus majority efforts on non-combat operations for the first time in the unit’s history.

Created in late 2014 in the wake of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the unit was designed to be a multi-purpose 911 force custom-built for the region.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
(image via Marines)

The unit wasn’t built specifically for the fight against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria. But it was tasked with supporting Operation Inherent Resolve immediately. For its entire existence, the anti-ISIS fight has been the unit’s central focus.

Gideons, the task force commander, said roughly 500 Marines from the task force continued to operate in Iraq and Syria in support of efforts to defeat ISIS as of late December.

“But we still have a responsibility, day in and day out, to be a theater-wide crisis response force,” he said. “So I think it’s this juncture of, ‘OK, we’ve got a lot of capability in the [task force], let’s support OIR.’ But OIR is drawing down, do we want to keep that there … or take those things that we pushed into Iraq and Syria, make [the unit] kind of whole again and ready to respond across the region?”

There’s no lack of regional hot spots to vie for the unit’s time. Regions that may present missions for the task force, Gideons suggested, include Afghanistan, where U.S. troops advise local forces battling ISIS and the Taliban; Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels have attempted missile attacks on American ships; and the adjacent Bab el Mandeb strait, a key transit choke point between Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

“It’s an interesting crossroads,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of capability.”

Whether the unit will stay the same size in the transition process remains to be seen.

Read more: “Severe Clear” is the Iraqi War through the eyes of frontline Marines

Neller told Marines forward-deployed to Norway that he’d like to “pull back” from the Middle East slightly in favor of concentrating more manpower and resources on Russia and Europe.

The Marines’ 2,300-strong crisis response force, equipped with half a squadron each of MV-22 Ospreys and C-130 Hercules aircraft, is designed to be scalable, able to grow or shrink based on regional combatant commanders’ requirements.

But Gideons said he didn’t anticipate any change to the size of the unit in the near future.

“Just at my level, I think we’re probably about right; there’s an element of right-size,” he said.

Tasting victory

As senior leaders negotiate the way forward, Marines on the ground continue to ponder the implications of what they’ve accomplished.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Johnny Mendez, operations chief for Task Force Lion at Al Asad, is still marveling at how quickly and decisively the Iraqi troops he helped advise moved to defeat ISIS and reclaim their country.

Compared with what he observed during a deployment to Anbar province a decade ago in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mendez said he’d seen a transformation in the soldiers’ attitude, drive and determination to win.

“Ten years ago, we were doing operations; we were doing full support,” he said. “Now, it’s nice to see, from the backseat, that they’re actually taking pride in what they’re doing. It’s different.”

Related: These photos show Marines fighting ISIS from their new base in Iraq

The change had less to do, he said, with the Marines’ assistance than it did with an elemental struggle, driven by ISIS’ wanton destruction and disregard for human life and dignity.

“Honestly, it was just the fight between good and evil,” Mendez said. “I think it was the local population and the local people were done seeing so much bad being done. They took pride in, this is their country. I couldn’t put my finger on it [before], but that was it.”

Col. Damian Spooner, the commanding officer of Task Force Spartan at Al Taqaddum, said he had observed a similar change.

During a Military.com visit to the base, Spooner said it had been more than a year since it had come under enemy fire, another indicator of how Iraqi troops, rather than Marines, were prosecuting the fight.

“Ten years ago, when we were here, I would have given anything to have the Iraqis doing the fighting, instead of Marines dying every day over here,” Spooner said. “And now, here we are, and the Iraqis are going out. I think what’s important about that is, they have earned this. They have liberated Iraq, they have defeated Daesh, and it gives me hope for the country that there’s something there that they have earned, and they’re not going to give it up easily. I think that’s very important.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Carreon, current operations officer for the crisis response task force, cautioned that the fight isn’t over, and that ISIS, denied control of major cities, would move underground and mount an insurgency campaign.

But even in the current lull following a declaration of victory, Carreon said emotions are mixed among deployed Marines.

“I think Marines want to kill bad guys, right?” he said. “So if you take that out of the equation, I don’t know how that makes us feel. Probably not happy.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the US Navy canceled this routine Black Sea patrol

Christopher Anderson, an aide to former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, testified that the White House canceled a Navy freedom-of-navigation operation in the Black Sea after President Donald Trump complained to then-national security adviser John Bolton about a CNN report that framed the operation as a counter to Russia, Politico reported.

According to Anderson’s testimony, the news report in question came from CNN and characterized the operation as antagonistic toward Russia. Anderson testified that Trump called Bolton at home to complain about the article, and the operation was later canceled at the behest of the White House, Anderson said.


“In January, there was an effort to get a routine freedom-of-navigation operation into the Black Sea,” Anderson testified. “There was a freedom-of-navigation operation for the Navy. So we — we, the US government — notified the Turkish government that there was this intent.”

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook transits the Black Sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Edward Guttierrez III)

While Anderson in his testimony placed the report in January, details from his testimony match a story from early December, which had the headline “US makes preparations to sail warship into the Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions.”

Anderson said the White House asked the Navy to cancel the freedom-of-navigation operation because the report portrayed the operation as a move to counter Russia, which has increased its naval presence there since annexing Crimea in 2014. In November 2018, its forces attacked Ukrainian assets transiting the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Azov Sea. Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and held 24 Ukrainian service members captive.

“We met with Ambassador Bolton and discussed this, and he made it clear that the president had called him to complain about that news report. And that may have just been that he was surprised,” Anderson said.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Former national security adviser John Bolton.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“We don’t — I can’t speculate as to why, but that, that operation, was canceled, but then we were able to get a second one for later in February. And we had an Arleigh-class destroyer arrive in Odessa on the fifth anniversary of the Crimea invasion.”

The White House did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment. US 6th Fleet did not address Black Sea transits in December 2018, but said all operations in January and February of 2019 went according to schedule.

“U.S. 6th Fleet conducted our naval operations in the Black Sea region as scheduled in January and February 2019. The U.S. Navy will continue to operate in the Black Sea consistent with international law, to include the Montreaux Convention,” according to spokesman Cmdr. Kyle Raines.

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

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of June 10th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade conduct an airborne operation from a U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing C-130 Hercules aircraft at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, June 8, 2017. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projective forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Photos by Visual Information Specialist Davide Dalla Mascara

Oregon Air National Guard Capt. Jamie Hastings, (Left), and Lt. Col. Nick Rutgers (right), assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, prepare for an afternoon sortie in their F-15 Eagles at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to support the Weapons Inspector Course, June 6, 2017.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Army:

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System crew from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade fires a rocket off of the Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. dirt landing strip, June 7, 2017. 62nd Airlift Wing flew a HIMARS from Joint base Lewis-McChord to Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. to off load and fire a six round mission.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jacob Kohrs

Maj. Gen. John Gronski, the deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard for U.S. Army Europe, participates in a ceremony honoring World War II veterans held at the Omaha Beach memorial in St. Laurent-Sur-Mer,, France, June 6, 2017. The ceremony commemorates the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the largest multi-national amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history, and highlights the U.S.’ steadfast commitment to European allies and partners. Overall, approximately 400 U.S. service members from units in Europe and the U.S. are participating in ceremonial D-Day events from May 31 to June 7, 2017.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Army Photo by Master Sgt. Sean McCollum, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Navy:

U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, and a member of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, dive off the wreck of the Tokai Maru, a sunken WWII Japanese freighter in the Apra Harbor, off the coast of Guam June 9, 2017, as part of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Diving Exercise (WPNS-DIVEX) 2017. WPNS-DIVEX 2017 is a biennial diving exercise conducted by WPNS nations to enhance cooperation, interoperability, and tactical proficiency in diving operations in support of disaster response.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield

PHILIPPINE SEA (June 6, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Jesus Garcia stands safety observer as an F/A-18E Super Hornet, from the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Kenneth Abbate

Marine Corps:

VENTSPILS, Latvia – Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, transfer Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division and 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, to the shores of Ventspils, Latvia, for a beach-assault training operation during Exercise Saber Strike 17, June 6, 2017. The beach landings took place concurrently between exercise Saber Strike and Baltic Operations. Exercise Saber Strike 17 is an annual combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout the Baltic region and Poland. The combined training prepares NATO Allies and partners to effectively respond to regional crises and to meet their own security needs by strengthening their borders and countering threats.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ricardo Davila

ADAZI, Latvia – Marines with Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, fire from a M1 Abrams tank during Exercise Saber Strike 17 in the Adazi Training Area, Latvia, June 4, 2017. Exercise Saber Strike 17 is an annual combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout the Baltic region and Poland. The combined training exercise keeps Reserve Marines ready to respond in times of crisis by providing them with unique training opportunities outside of the continental United States.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Devan Alonzo Barnett

Coast Guard:

Seaman Mia Mauro, stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser, prepares to shoot the .50 cal machine gun during a joint gunnery exercise between allied and partner nations in the Caribbean Sea, June 8, 2017 during Tradewinds. Tradewinds 2017 is a joint combined exercise conducted in conjunction with partner nations to enhance the collective abilities of defense forces and constabularies to counter transnational organized crime and to conduct humanitarian/disaster relief operations.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton

Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Cimbak, an aviation maintenance technician at Coast Guard Sector San Diego, hoists a simulated survivor from the Secretaría de Marina vessel Centenario de la Revolucion to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a joint search and rescue exercise with the Mexican navy off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico on June 7, 2017. The exercise simulated a vessel fire that required a coordinated international search and rescue effort.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of Jan. 12th

It’s the second week of January and the gym seems to be about back to normal.


The weather is getting there, so take advantage of drawing d*cks in the snow while you can. Looking at you, Navy.

13. “But the Marines took a lot of little islands!” — “We took a lot of little countries.”

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
(Image via Army as F*ck)

12. Pick something that has a weak enough scent that whatever you mix it in will over power it (like rum in a coke) and sip from it all day.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Everyone below E5, and most LTs. (Image via Army as F*ck)

11. “I keep paying $20 towards it a month. Why does it keep going up?”

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
We told you not to buy that stupid TV. (Image via Army as F*ck)

10. The PX barbershop only ever gives, like, four or five different haircuts. And yet they f*ck them all up.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Now you’re *really* not getting laid this weekend. (Image via Army as F*ck)

9. If a girl in a bikini can get 10,000+ likes, how many can we get for our homeless veterans?

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Make it rain, America. (Image via ASMDSS)

8. Since it’s the same four HDDs floating around, that means you probably re-downloaded the same videos at least twice by now…

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
You’re gross and we’re all judging you. (Image via Decelerate Your Life)

7. “But Sergeant! I need you to-“

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Back away slowly. Don’t make eye contact. (Image via Decelerate Your Life)

6. “Hearts and minds,” right? Two in the heart. One in the mind.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Double-tap so terrorists know you care. (Image via Military Memes)

5. If the Coast Guard goes to the range more than you do, you’re a super POG.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Semper Paratus. (Image via Military Memes)

4. Whatever you say, Staff Sergeant. Your neckline can only help you out so much.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
January PT hurts. (Image via Pop Smoke)

3. It’s even worse if you’re drunk.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
You’re probably why we even have safety briefs. (Image via Pop Smoke)

2. Can’t tell which one gave the least amount of f*cks: the NCO who signed off on the original DA 5988-E or the mechanic that typed it up.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
It’s next to the adjustable powerband. (Image via USAWTFM

1. Looks like an ingenious plan but if he got locked in there that CBRN gear will be Hell.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
I am begging you to shut those doors. (Image via USAWTFM)

Articles

South Korea wants North Korea to host some 2018 Winter Olympics events

South Korea’s sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, suggested that North Korea host some events at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic games in an attempt to engage Kim Jong Un and promote peace, the Guardian reports.


The idea reflects a larger effort by South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in, who seeks to revive the old “sunshine policy” whereby South Korea makes overtures of friendship and unity to the North to ease military tensions.

Moon has also pushed for both Koreas to host the 2030 World Cup, saying “if the neighboring countries in north-east Asia, including North and South Korea, can host the World Cup together, it would help to create peace.”

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

North Korean athletes have made limited appearances at global sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics, with two gold medals in Rio’s 2016 games. In soccer, the North Koreans haven’t fared as well.

Do said the Winter Games could go down as the “peace Olympics,” and help to “thaw lingering tensions” between the North and South, according to the Korea Herald.

But building stadiums and holding games in North Korea would raise two major questions: How sound is investment in a nation that continues to threaten its neighbors and enemies with an ever-evolving nuclear missile program, and would international travelers feel at ease visiting the country that just released a US detainee in a coma?

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This combat controller kept taking it to the enemy after he was shot in the chest

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez had accompanied top special operators in some of the most dangerous missions of the War on Terror, including the Battle of Shok Valley. He was a combat controller assigned to Army Special Forces, calling in attack runs from aircraft supporting the Green Berets.


In 2009 he was tested like never before when, during a raid to capture a high-level Taliban leader, Gutierrez was shot in the chest. The round passed through his lung, collapsing it and ripping a chunk out of his back.

Gutierrez had seen this kind of wound before and estimated he had three minutes left to live.

“I thought about [my job], what I would do before I bled out,” Gutierrez told Fox News while discussing the raid. “That I would change the world in those three minutes, I’d do everything I could to get my guys out safely before I died.”

He stayed on the radio, calling in strikes from aircraft to help the team escape alive. At one point, enemy fighters were lined up on a wall only 30 feet from him. Gutierrez called in three A-10 danger close gun runs against the fighters. The rounds struck so close to Gutierrez that his ear drums burst from the explosions. After the first of the three runs, he allowed an Army medic to insert a needle into his lung, relieving some of the pressure that was forcing his lungs closed. It was the only time he came off the radio despite his injuries.

In fact, through all the chaos of the fight, Gutierrez remained so calm and clear on the radio that the pilots supporting the operation didn’t realize he was injured until he was removed from the battlefield.

“He said he would be off of the mic for a few to handle his gunshot wounds,” Air Force Capt. Ethan Sabin told Business Insider. “Until that point he was calm, cool and collected.

Gutierrez was medically evacuated from the battle after nearly four hours of fighting and losing over half of his blood. No American lives were lost in the raid, a success credited largely to Gutierrez’s extraordinary actions. He recovered from his wounds and was awarded the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for valor awards.

Watch the ceremony below

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13 top American CEOs with military experience

There are plenty of differences between America’s biggest companies but for some there is a common bond: CEOs with military backgrounds.


While it’s not a requirement that a company leader have time in uniform, a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed it certainly doesn’t hurt. CEOs with military backgrounds are fairly conservative with company financials and often outperform peers during stressful times, the paper found.

Unfortunately, the number of corporate CEOs with backgrounds in the military is shrinking, but here are 13 of the biggest names, along with what they did in the military.

1. Alex Gorsky

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Photo: Johnson Johnson

Currently: CEO of Johnson Johnson

Military experience: Graduated from West Point, then served six years in the U.S. Army and attained the rank of Captain. Ranger and Airborne qualified with service in Europe and Panama.

2. Lowell McAdam

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: CEO of Verizon

Military experience: Spent six years in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps and attended Cornell on a Naval ROTC scholarship.

3. Bob Parsons

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: Founder and CEO of YAM Worldwide, Inc., and board member at GoDaddy, which he founded. He previously served as CEO of GoDaddy.

Military experience: Served as a U.S. Marine rifleman in Vietnam, where he was wounded by enemy fire while on patrol. He received the Combat Action Ribbon, Purple Heart, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

4. Fred Smith

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: Chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx Corporation

Military experience: Came up with the business model for Fedex will an undergrad at Yale, but took a break from school to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served two tours in Vietnam before he founded what would become FedEx in 1971.

5. Robert S. Morrison

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: Serves in board positions at Aon plc, 3M, and Illinois Tool Works Inc, among others. He previously served as the Vice Chairman at Pepsico, Inc., and the CEO of The Quaker Oats Company.

Military experience: Served as a Marine during the Vietnam war, where he received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for combat wounds. He left the Corps at the rank of captain.

6. Daniel Akerson

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: Special advisor at the Carlyle Group. Akerson previously served as the chairman and CEO of General Motors from 2010 to 2014.

Military experience: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1970 and served on the destroyer USS Dupont.

7. Robert McDonald

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He previously served as the CEO of Procter Gamble.

Military experience: A West Point graduate, McDonald served in the 82nd Airborne division and attained the rank of captain.

8. Scott Wine

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Photo: Polaris

Currently: Chairman and CEO of Polaris

Military experience: Graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1989 and served in the Navy Supply Corps.

9. Stuart Parker

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: CEO of USAA

Military experience: Served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly ten years, flying combat missions during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

10. James Mulva

CurrentlySits on the board of directors at GE. He previously served as the president and CEO of ConocoPhillips.

Military experience: Graduated from Navy ROTC from The University of Texas in 1969 and served as a Navy officer until 1973.

11. Robert Stevens

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Photo: Lockheed

Currently: Retired. Served as chairman, president, and CEO of Lockheed Martin, and later as Executive Chairman.

Military experience: Stevens enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1970, serving three years in III Marine Amphibious Force.

12. Jim Skinner

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Photo: McDonalds

Currently: Chairman of Walgreens. Previously, he was the vice chairman and CEO of McDonalds.

Military experience: Over nearly ten years of service, completed two tours in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy.

13. Robert Myers

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan

Currently: Chairman and CEO of Casey’s General Stores, Inc.

Military experience: Enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966, and served for 22 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He served in Germany, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, according to Fortune.

SEE ALSO: 17 wild facts about the Vietnam War  

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Easter Seals, Disney, and USAA team up to find jobs for vets and spouses

The beginning of November saw three important organizations come together for the Heroes Work Here initiative. Easter Seals, Disney, and USAA held a conference to compel the leaders of Midwest-based companies to improve their veteran hiring programs and teach them how to integrate and celebrate veterans in their work forces.


J.R. Martinez, an Army veteran attended the event and spoke with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the President and CEO of Easter Seals, the Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, the Director of Veterans Initiatives for the Walt Disney Company, the founder of the Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, the Program Manager of Veteran Hiring Initiatives for Sears Holding Company, and Military Affairs Relationship Director of the USAA.

Travis Mills, also an Army veteran and author of Tough As They Come, is a quadruple amputee who joined the major players, devoting time and effort to bring American companies into the Heroes Work Here fold. He lent his voice to the conference as a guest speaker to advocate on behalf of Easter Seals.

“Easter Seals is really leading the way with Walt Disney, USAA, and Sears, and all these other great companies here in support of this event,” Mills said.

United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert A. McDonald was the keynote speaker at the event.

“This is a national challenge to all of us,” McDonald said.  “[We need] to make sure we take care of the quarter of a million veterans who are coming out of the service, making sure their transitions into their communities is seamless, and that they have jobs.”

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Oldest Navy Pearl Harbor salvage diver dies

In the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the battleships USS California (BB 44), USS West Virginia (BB 48), and USS Nevada (BB 36) were severely damaged while the battleships USS Arizona (BB 39) and USS Oklahoma (BB 37) were sunk.


Four of those ships would eventually be salvaged, three of which returned to service, thanks to the efforts of brave Navy divers.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the oldest living diver to have worked on that immense project, 103-year-old Ken Hartle, died on Jan. 24. He had been a ship-fitter when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and as a result, was unable to join the Navy until 1943 when his skills were necessary to repair ships that had suffered battle damage.

He later volunteered to be a Navy diver.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
The USS West Virginia during salvage operations. Photo: US Navy

According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, Navy divers carried out over 4,000 dives, covering 16,000 hours to salvage the ships at Pearl Harbor. The operations were not without risk. The Union-Tribune report listed a number of dangers Hartle and fellow divers faced, including getting trapped in wreckage, the “bends,” and attacks from sea creatures — all while wearing uninsulated canvas suits and using 200-pound copper helmets and having breathable air pumped down to them.

Hartle was nothing if not a survivor. During his life, the Union-Tribune reported that he was kicked by a mule at age 3, stabbed in the neck during a brawl at age 9, survived a rattlesnake bite, a scorpion sting, a car accident that threw him several hundred feet, six bypass surgeries, two bouts with cancer, and a fall while trimming trees at age 97.

US-backed forces killed a Taliban leader in Afghanistan
Cmdr. Daniel M. Colman, commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor-based Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One (MDSU) 1, address attendees during a change of command ceremony at the USS Utah Memorial on Ford Island. Colman was being relieved by Cmdr. John B. Moulton. The MDSU-1 mission is to provide combat ready, expeditionary, rapidly deployable Mobile Diving and Salvage Detachments (MDSD) to conduct harbor clearance, salvage, underwater search and recovery, and underwater emergency repairs in any environment. The suit to Colman’s left is similar to one used by Ken Hartle, who died Jan. 24 at the age of 103, during salvage operations at Pearl Harbor in World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush)

A memorial service for Hartle will be held on Mar. 4.