US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago - We Are The Mighty
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US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

The start date of the offensive to oust Islamic State fighters from the city of Raqqa and end the terror group’s state-building project has been announced several times in the past few months, often with great fanfare by commanders in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the United States’ ground ally in northern Syria.


The last announcement came in March when Kurdish commanders said an assault on the city would begin April 1.

Two weeks later that start date, like many others, has come and gone, prompting the months-long question: when will the U.S.-backed SDF offensive shift gears from isolating Raqqa, which is hemmed in on three sides now, to mounting an assault to retake the capital of the jihadists’ self-styled caliphate?

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
A Marine directs an F/A-18D Hornet returning to an undisclosed location in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, and the wider international community, June 9, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)

Over the weekend, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the French news agency AFP he would support whomever wants to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa, but mocked the delay in an assault on the city, which U.S. officials believe is being defended by around 4,000 IS fighters.

“What we hear is only allegations about liberating Raqqa. We’ve been hearing that for nearly a year now, or less than a year, but nothing happened on the ground,” he said. “It’s not clear who is going to liberate Raqqa…It’s not clear yet.”

No firm answer about a new start date was forthcoming on April 15 from U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis when he met in Washington with his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik.

The Turkish defense minister again complicated the U.S. effort to choreograph an agreement among multiple local and international players about a Raqqa offensive by pressing Ankara’s long-standing demand for the U.S. to end its alliance with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, whose fighters dominate the ranks of the SDF.

There were no signs that the Turkish request made persistently by Ankara in recent months, and relayed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a February phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, will be heeded.

U.S. officials say they envisage the Raqqa battle will resemble the fight in neighboring Iraq, where local indigenous forces have been waging the struggle to retake the northern city of Mosul, the last IS major urban stronghold in that country.

Also read: Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

Some 500 U.S. special forces soldiers deployed in northern Syria are helping to train and advise SDF units.

Mattis later said at a press conference the U.S. remains in solidarity with Ankara when it comes to fighting Islamic State militants and Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, but he made no mention of discontinuing the alliance with the YPG, the armed wing of Syria’s Democratic Union Party, or PYD.

The Turks, who fear the emergence of a Kurdish state in north Syria, maintain there’s no real distinction between the PYD and the PKK, which has been waging an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

Mattis cited the long security relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, dating back to 1952 when Turkey joined NATO; but, in the wake of the April 16 constitutional referendum that greatly enhances the Turkish president’s powers, analysts say it is unclear how much Erdogan values his country’s alliance with the West, and whether his slim victory will embolden him to disrupt a Raqqa assault by the SDF.

Earlier in April, Erdogan ramped up the pressure on Washington, saying his government is planning new offensives in northern Syria this spring against groups deemed terrorist organizations by Ankara, including IS and the PYD’s militia.

In March, Turkish forces escalated attacks on the YPG in northern Syria, forcing the U.S. to deploy a small number of forces in and around the town of Manbij to the northwest of Raqqa to “deter” Turkish-SDF clashes and ensure the focus remains on Islamic State.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is being pummeled by airstrikes mounted by U.S.-led coalition forces and Syrian warplanes.

Local anti-IS activists say the air raids fail to distinguish between military and non-military targets; however, with IS fighters seeded throughout the city and surrounding villages, being able to draw a distinction is become increasingly challenging, say U.S. officials.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
U.S. Airmen load pallets of nonlethal aid for the Syrian Opposition Coalition onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at an undisclosed base May 9, 2013. U.S. forces provided humanitarian aid to refugees of the Syrian civil war. (Dept. of Defense photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Manzanares, U.S. Air Force)

“Civilians are now [caught] between the criminal terrorists on one side and the international coalition’s indiscriminate bombing on the other side,” said Hamoud Almousa, a founding member of the activist network Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, which is opposed to an assault on the city being led by the YPG.

“Liberating [Raqqa] does not come by burning it and destroying it over its people who have suffered a lot from the terrorist group’s violations,” he added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group that relies on a network of activists for its information, said that four civilians — two women and two children — were killed April 17 in an airstrike believed to have been carried out by coalition warplanes on the Teshreen Farmarea north of Raqqa.

The Observatory says between March 1 and April 10, airstrikes killed 224 civilians. They included 38 children under the age of 18, and 37 women.

Another mainly Arab anti-IS activist network, Eye on the Homeland, complains at the lack of international condemnation about the civilian casualties from the airstrikes, arguing civilians caught in the conflict are being treated inhumanely.

“We assert that the liberation of civilians from all forms of terrorism requires that military forces acting in the area avoid civilian killing, displacement, and the destruction of their properties whenever possible,” the network said recently on its website.

It warned the deaths will “be used to by terrorist organizations in their propaganda to convince civilians that these military forces do not have their interests at heart” and will “only further fuel radicalization.”

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5 little-known facts about R. Lee Ermey, the military’s favorite Gunny

Editor’s Note: On April 15, 2018, R. Lee Ermey passed away from complications of pneumonia. His long time manager, Bill Rogin, made the announcement via Ermey’s twitter handle. In honor of his passing, We Are The Mighty is proud to share these facts about America’s favorite Gunny.

Most people know R. Lee Ermey from his role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.” And if you somehow joined the military and never saw “Full Metal Jacket,” the first question anyone would ask is “How is that even possible?” But the second would be “How much do you know about this guy, anyway?”


Ermey didn’t go right into acting and if it weren’t for his Marine Corps-level determination, we might never know him at all. Which would be a shame, because his life before and after “Full Metal Jacket” is equally interesting.

1. His first job after the military was untraditional.

Ermey was medically retired from the Marine Corps and was at a loss about what to do as a civilian. He told Entertainment Weekly in a 1997 interview that he “bought a run-down bar and whorehouse” in Okinawa. He had to leave the business behind when the Japanese FBI caught wind of his black marketing. He escaped to the Philippines, where he met his wife.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
What Ermey actually looked like as a Drill Instructor in 1968.

2. His first role was an Army helicopter pilot.

It was while in the Philippines that the future Gunnery Sergeant was cast in “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola himself. Ermey was studying drama and did a number of Filipino films before Coppola discovered him. You can see him in yet another legendary war movie scene.

Coppola also hired him as the film’s technical advisor for all thing military.

Also read: 7 ooh-rah tips from the career of R. Lee Ermey

3. He wasn’t supposed to be in “Full Metal Jacket.”

Ermey was doing his job as technical advisor, reading the part of Sgt. Hartman while interviewing extras for the film. They already hired another actor for the part but Ermey had a plan to get the part. He got the job as technical advisor because of his other roles in Vietnam movies. He taped the interviews he did as Hartman and Kubrick cast him after seeing those tapes.

Interestingly enough, Ermey wrote the insults he hurled at the Marines in the film. Kubrick never gave him input on what a drill instructor might say. He wrote 150 pages of insults.

4. Ermey is the only Marine to be promoted after retiring.

He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant after spending 14 months in Vietnam and doing two tours in Okinawa. He was medically retired for the injuries he received during his service. But it was in 2002, that Marine Corps Commandant James L. Jones promoted Ermey to E-7, Gunnery Sergeant, the rank he became so well-known for. It was the first and only time the Corps has promoted a retiree.

5. He originally joined the Corps to stay out of jail – and almost went Navy.

In the old days, joining the military was an option for at-risk youth and juvenile delinquents to avoid real jail time. Ermey was arrested twice as a teen. He admits to being a bit of a hell-raiser. And he didn’t even know about the Marine Corps the day he decided to join.

 

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Actor and Retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey (center on right) with his 1966 Marine recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“Basically a silver-haired judge, a kindly old judge, looked down at me and said ‘this is the second time I’ve seen you up here and it looks like we’re going to have to do something about this,” Ermey told a gathering in 2010. He wanted to join the Navy because his father was in the Navy, but they rejected him on the grounds that he was a troublemaker.

Articles

Inside the Army’s secret Cold War ice base

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago


No, this picture doesn’t show a black and white image of the rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. It’s part of a semi-secret, nuclear-powered U.S. Army base that was built under the Greenland ice cap only 800 miles from the North Pole. The base was officially built to conduct scientific research but the real reason was apparently to test out the feasibility of burying nuclear missiles below the ice under an effort known as Project Iceworm. Remember, Greenland is way closer to Russia than the ICBM fields located in the continental U.S. Rumor has it that the Danish government had no idea that the U.S. was considering installing nuclear missiles on Greenland.

The 200-man base was massive , described by some as an underground city, and consisted of 21 steel-arch covered trenches; the longest of which was 1,100-feet long, 26-feet wide and 26-feet high. These tunnels contained numerous prefabricated buildings that were up to 76-feet long. The base was powered by a portable PM-2A nuclear reactor that produced two megawatts of power for the facility.

In all, the base featured:

Living quarters, a kitchen and mess hall, latrines and showers, a recreation hall and theater, a library and hobby shops, a dispensary, operating room and a ten bed infirmary, a laundry facility, a post exchange, scientific labs, a cold storage warehouse, storage tanks, a communications center, equipment and maintenance shops, supply rooms and storage areas, a nuclear power plant, a standby diesel-electric power plant, administrative buildings, utility buildings, a chapel and a barbershop.

The base operated from 1959 to 1966 when shifting icecap made living there impossible. Today, it’s buried and crushed beneath the Arctic snows.

Click through the jump to see more pictures of the base and to watch a great video on its construction. The last photo shows a map of the base’s location in Greenland.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
One of the base’s 16 escape hatches onto the surface of Hoth, I mean Greenland.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Under construction

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

 

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
The base water well, dug 150-feet into the ice where a heating coil then melted ice for fresh drinking water.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
The nuclear reactor

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
The reactor controls

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Camp Century in 1969, three years after it was abandoned

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
The base’s layout

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
The location of Camp Century

More from Military.com

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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7 legends of the US Navy

During its 241-year history the U.S. Navy has had it’s fair share of swashbucklers, iconoclasts, groundbreakers, and innovators. Here are seven among the most noteworthy of them:


1. John Paul Jones

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

“The Father of the American Navy,” John Paul Jones rose to early prominence in the Revolutionary War period by taking prize ships and inflicting damage on the British in the waters off the North American coast. But he truly made his name when he sailed the Bonhomme Richard into British waters and engaged with the Royal Navy’s Serapis.

After a vicious engagement that seemingly had the American warship defeated and about to sink, the British captain asked JPJ if he was ready to give up. The American captain responded, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and he went on to lead Bonhomme Richard to a decisive victory.

Jones is buried in a crypt beneath the chapel on the campus of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

2. Stephen Decatur

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Stephen Decatur joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 19, following in his father’s footsteps. His first major task was to oversee the construction of the original six frigates, including the United States, which he would later command.

At the turn of the century Decatur was among a group of officers who convinced a timid President Jefferson to allow the fledgling fleet to sail over the horizon to make an impact on the Old World. He led a daring raid to burn the Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor after it had run aground, a mission that Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson himself called “the most bold and daring act of the age.” Word of the raid got back to the States and Decatur became a national hero.

Decatur was later killed in a duel with James Barron over a rumor that Decatur had besmirched Barron’s honor.

3. Alfred Thayer Mahan

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Mahan has been called “the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century.” His concepts of sea power, famously presented in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783, had an enormous influence in shaping the strategic thought of navies across the world and contributed to a European naval arms race in the 1890s that culminated in the First World War.

Ironically, his skills in actual command of a ship were not good, and a number of vessels under his command smashed into both moving and stationary objects. He actually tried to avoid active sea duty.

Nevertheless, the books he wrote ashore made him arguably the most influential naval historian of the period, and his ideas still influence the U.S. Navy’s doctrine.

4. Chester Nimitz

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
After being court martialed for running a ship aground while he was an ensign (something no junior officer could survive today), Nimitz reinvented himself as a submariner, eventually becoming the U.S. Navy’s foremost authority on the construction and tactical uses of them. Along the way he commanded surface ships and subs alike, and he also stood up the nation’s first NROTC unit (at UCal Berkeley, which seems sort of ironic now).

Ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Nimitz became the commander of the Pacific Fleet, and he oversaw the “island hopping” campaign that carried the Allies to victory. In 1944 he was promoted to five-star. Nimitz signed for the U.S. when the Japanese surrendered aboard the Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay. His final tour was as Chief of Naval Operations.

By virtue of his five-star rank, Nimitz never technically retired and retained full pay and benefits until his death in 1966.

5. Jesse Brown

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Brown was the first African-American aviator in the U.S. Navy, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War.

He flew 20 combat missions before his F4U Corsair aircraft came under fire and crashed on a remote mountaintop on December 4, 1950 while supporting ground troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Brown died of his wounds despite the efforts of wingman Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., who intentionally crashed his own aircraft in a rescue attempt, for which he received the Medal of Honor.

Because of Brown’s successes in breaking through barriers in the segregated U.S. military, the frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF 1089) was named in his honor.

6. Hyman Rickover

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
“The Father of the Nuclear Navy,” Rickover’s unique personality and drive created the “zero defect” culture of nuke power that exists today, one that has avoided any mishaps (as defined by the uncontrolled release of fission products to the environment subsequent to reactor core damage).

Rickover’s major career advances were made by going around his immediate chain of command and getting the support of the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who saw the potential of nuclear power. Rickover led the construction of the U.S. Navy’s first nuclear powered vessel, the USS Nautilus, a submarine.

For the next three decades Rickover held the nuclear Navy with tight reins, even insisting on personal interviews with every ROTC and USNA candidate who wanted nuke power. (Those interviews remain the stuff of legend because of the outrageous questions Rickover sometimes asked the young midshipmen about their academic records and personal lives.)

Always controversial and largely unpopular (especially with those who worked closely with him) Rickover was retired against his will after a record 63-year career, by Secretary of the Navy John Lehman who believed that Rickover’s accomplishments were in the past and that his grip on the community had outlasted its utility. Rickover went down swinging, including calling Lehman all sorts of names in the Oval Office while President Reagan was trying to show him the door.

7. James B. Stockdale

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
A year after being told by his superiors to keep quiet about the fact that he saw no enemy forces from the air the night of the “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” that President Johnson used as the justification for the U.S. entering the Vietnam War, Stockdale was shot down over North Vietnam while flying his A-4 on a bombing mission.

He was held as a prisoner of war in the Hoa Lo prison (popularly known as the Hanoi Hilton) for the next seven and a half years. As the senior Naval officer, he was one of the primary organizers of prisoner resistance. Tortured routinely and denied medical attention for the severely damaged leg he suffered during capture, Stockdale created and enforced a code of conduct for all prisoners that governed torture, secret communications, and behavior.

In the summer of 1969, he was locked in leg irons in a bath stall and routinely tortured and beaten. When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so he couldn’t be used as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, he beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition.

He received the Medal of Honor for his leadership and courage during his time as a POW. When later asked what mindset got him through the trial he said the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Board Chairman Cheryl L. Mason: Paving career paths for military spouses

Cheryl L. Mason understands the life of a military spouse — for more than 20 years, she lived it. Now, as Chairman of the VA Board of Veterans Appeals who oversees a staff of 1,200, Mason works to ensure that military spouses at the Board have the support they need to be successful. One of her many missions is to make it easier now than it was when she was a military spouse to find and maintain fulfilling positions and careers.

Recognized as a “military spouse champion,” Mason works with Hiring Our Heroes and the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) to help military spouses land portable positions and careers across the federal government and private sector.


Military spouses are well-educated and highly qualified for a range of careers. But of the more than 600,000 military spouses worldwide who are actively seeking employment, 30% are unemployed and 56% are underemployed. One of the many challenges they face is the reluctance of employers to hire them due to their spouse’s service-related relocations, according to Mason.

In this interview, Mason shares her career path as a military spouse: how she rose to the top political position at the Board of Veterans Appeals where she oversees 850 lawyers, 102 Veterans Law Judges, and 200 operations and legal staff.

This post is part of a blog series VA Careers has developed along with other initiatives and activities to recruit and hire military spouses for careers at VA. At VA, we value the experience of military spouses and offer remote work options that accommodate the transient nature of military service.


What does a typical day look like for you at the VA Board of Veterans Appeals?

It depends on the day. I’m the CEO of the Board, so I set the vision and direction and provide overall leadership. The Board’s mission is to resolve appeals by holding hearings and issuing decisions on Veterans’ VA benefits and services. Each day, I have a series of internal meetings to discuss strategy, structure and procedures. I work closely and collaboratively with colleagues at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration, Office of Information and Technology, and Veterans Experience Office. Externally, I also work and collaborate with Veteran Service Organizations and other stakeholders. In addition, I serve as an ambassador to the PREVENTS [President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide] task force on suicide prevention.

How does your experience as a military spouse help you in your day-to-day duties at VA?

When you’re surrounded by military people as I was, you understand what active duty military and Veterans are going through or have gone through; you understand the culture. I’m able to navigate the military health care system, which is very important. Every time my son went to the doctor, I had to recite his medical history. Sometimes military members won’t go to the doctor because they don’t want to go through a five-minute recitation of their medical history every time or because they’re concerned that going to the doctor means they won’t be able to perform their duties. So when I see Veterans’ files, I’m able to identify gaps and read between the lines. I understand the situation because I lived it.

When we relocated to Germany, I had to leave my job in Washington, D.C., but was excited to be able to support my husband and the mission. I applied for 200 jobs and got none of them. While I was obviously a little discouraged, I had to get creative and, like a true military spouse, make the situation work. I initially went to work for Central Texas College running their paralegal program, which reached across several countries, and I taught paralegal studies to service members and family members. I eventually got a position as an executive assistant to an Air Force colonel who oversaw military contracts, information technology, budget and Air Force personnel for all of Europe.

I learned a lot of great lessons in Germany, such as how to lead, multitask and be agile. I’m grateful for my time there, and I don’t think I could have been as successful as I’ve been in my career, or in this position, had I not had that experience in Germany.

What appealed to you about a career at VA?

I’m the daughter of a World War II Veteran who died by suicide, so serving Veterans and VA’s mission are very important to me. My family and I received benefits from VA after my father died, which allowed me to go to college and law school. I know firsthand the difference VA benefits and services make in a person’s life.

I graduated college with a degree in psychology and political science and decided to go to law school. When I came to the Board and started writing decisions, I realized the work I was doing allowed me to use both my law and psychology degrees, because many of the appeals I was working on were related to mental health. I could really sink my teeth into the work. I went to law school to make a difference, and I found I could do that at VA. I could be the one making a difference for thousands of Veterans and their families every day and, hopefully, help them the way VA helped me.

Why is VA a good career move for military spouses?

Military spouses are incredibly unique. Many have put aside their own careers to support their service member and eventually transition with them to Veteran status. People forget that when a service member serves, their family serves with them. The choice to come to VA is a perfect transition for military spouses because we understand the mission and live with it every day.

Now, more than in the past, VA allows you to both have your career and move with your military member wherever duty calls. You can also support your military member as they transition into Veteran status. Military spouses have a spot in all career areas at VA because we bring a different perspective. For example, I’ve facilitated many nursing careers for military spouses because they bring such experience and talent to the job. Military spouses can make a difference in how VA operates, which is why VA needs them.

What advice would you give military spouses who are considering a career at VA?

Military spouses aren’t always valued the right way, either in government or the private sector. I usually tell military spouses not to sell themselves short or [not to] take no for an answer. I certainly didn’t, and I wouldn’t be sitting where I am today if I did. Military spouses are extremely resilient and talented — and can think on their feet because they have to. I tell them to use their [military and VA] networks because we have strong ones — and to look for the opportunities.

Work at VA today

Cheryl Mason’s experience as a military and Veteran spouse enriches her career serving Veterans and other military spouses. If you’re a military spouse, see if a VA career is right for you, too.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine Corps offering former pilots $30K to return to service

The Marine Corps is offering some former Reserve pilots lucrative bonuses to get them back in the cockpit.

Former captains and majors qualified to fly certain aircraft who are willing to rejoin a Marine Corps squadron can pocket up to a $30,000 lump-sum bonus if they agree to a three-year term in the Active Reserve. Those willing to serve two years in the Reserve are eligible for a $20,000 payout.

It’s called the Active Reserve Aviator Return to Service Program, and it targets six types of fixed-wing, rotary and tiltrotor pilots “in order to fill critical aviation shortfalls,” a service-wide message on the bonuses states.


Top priority will be given to former F/A-18 Hornet and MV-22B Osprey pilots, along with KC-130 Hercules aircraft commanders, according to the message. But the program is also open to former AV-8B Harrier, UH-1Y Venom and CH-53E Super Stallion pilots.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

Capt. Christopher Prout with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing shoots an AIM-7 Sparrow missile from an F/A-18C Hornet airplane

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Christopher Prout)

“The retention incentive is distributed as a lump sum of 20,000 dollars for the 24 month service obligation or a lump sum of 30,000 dollars for the 36 month service obligation, less any applicable taxes,” the message states. “Lump sum payment will not be paid out until the member is joined to the [Active Reserve] program.”

The incentives will be paid out on a first-come, first-served basis “until funds are exhausted,” it adds.

Only aviators who previously qualified for — or had not yet applied for — career designation are eligible. Those who applied for but were not offered career designation in the Active Reserve are ineligible, the message states.

Pilots who were already career designated on the Active Reserve will automatically be career designated upon re-accession. Those who hadn’t previously applied for career designation will be able to do so once they rejoin.

Top assignments will involve flying operations at the squadron level across several Reserve units in the continental U.S., including California, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Maryland or New Orleans. Assignments aren’t limited to those squadrons though, the message adds.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 232, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing fly F/A-18C Hornet airplanes.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gregory Moore)

Captains who served more than 10 years of active-duty service who weren’t previously considered for major on an Active Reserve promotion board are eligible to apply. So are majors who weren’t previously considered for O-5 who served more than 12 years on active duty, and those who were considered for lieutenant colonel who served more than 15 years.

Earlier this year, the Marine Corps announced it would be offering big bonuses to active-duty pilots as well.

Top bonuses targeted Marines in the grades and communities with the biggest pilot shortages. Active-duty pilots were eligible to earn up to 0,000 bonuses if they agreed to keep flying for eight more years.

The bonuses targeted captains and majors who fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8 Harrier, MV-22 Osprey, C-130 Hercules, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-53 Stallion.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea claims to have tested a new weapon I guess?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “supervised” the test firing of a new tactical guided weapon, according to the country’s propaganda outlet on April 17, 2019.

It is unclear what type of weapon it was, but the regime claimed the test served as an “event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power.”

North Korea claimed the weapon has a guiding system and was capable of being outfitted with “a powerful warhead.”


The test comes months after the summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam ended with no tangible results. Last week, Kim said he was willing to meet Trump for the third time later this year, but tempered expectations by saying it would be “difficult to get such a good opportunity.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

North Korea has long argued that the United State’s “maximum pressure” sanctions policy was detrimental to diplomacy.

“If it keeps thinking that way, it will never be able to move the DPRK even a knuckle, nor gain any interests no matter how many times it may sit for talks with the DPRK,” Kim said, according to North Korea’s propaganda agency.

North Korea made similar statements on an undisclosed weapon system in November, when Kim was said to have supervised a test of a “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon.”

Experts theorized at the time that the purported weapon was not nuclear in nature. Instead of a long-range missile with the capability to strike the US, South Korean experts suggested the weapon could have been a missile, artillery, anti-air weapons, or a drone, The Associated Press reported.

INSIDER reached out to the Pentagon for more information and will update as necessary.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A-10s join NATO forces all along the Russian border

US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts are back in the Baltics, practicing for rough landings on improvised runways as a part of Saber Strike 18, the annual exercise where NATO and partner forces work to improve their ability to operate across Europe and with NATO’s forward-deployed battle groups.

In early June 2018, A-10s from the Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron, based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, practiced landing and taking off from a rural highway in Latvia and an abandoned runway in Estonia.


During the Cold War, highways were considered an option for fixed-wing aircraft, as standard airstrips were likely to be targeted first in the event of conflict. But the A-10s only recently resumed the exercise.

During the 2016 iteration of Saber Strike, Warthogs from the Michigan National Guard landed on a strip of highway in Estonia— the first such exercise since 1984. In August 2017, A-10s from the Maryland National Guard practiced landing and taking off from a stretch of highway in northern Estonia.

“The requirement that we’ve been tasked with to be able to force project into battle spaces where the assumption is that the enemy is going to immediately try to destroy or limit capabilities on known airfields,” said Air Force Maj. David Dennis, the detachment director of operations for the 107th Fighter Squadron.

“So the A-10 has been tasked with being able to forward deploy into areas a little bit more austere,” he added, “whether they’re old airfields, riverbeds, old highways, whatever the case may be, so we continue to provide close air support to the guys on the ground.”

The 107th Fighter Squadron is currently deployed to Latvia. Working with members of the 321st Special Tactics Squadron’s combat controllers, the 107th’s A-10s carried out landings and takeoffs from an abandoned runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, on June 7, 2018.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, assigned to the 107th Fighter Squadron from Selfridge, Michigan, practiced landing on an austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, during Saber Strike 18, June 7, 2018.

The exercise is part of Saber Strike 18, the latest version of a US Army Europe-led training exercise involving NATO countries and partner forces. This year’s iteration focuses on improving land- and air-operational capabilities, with the additional goal of training with NATO’s enhanced forward presence battle groups.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
On a rural highway in northern Estonia, a pilot flies an A-10 Thunderbolt II attached to the 107th Fighter Squadron, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., from Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, to practice landings and takeoffs, during the Exercise Saber Strike 18 on June 7, 2018.
(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. David Kujawa)

NATO’s enhanced forward presence battle groups have been deployed to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland over the past two years and are made up of units from various NATO member countries. They are still on station in those four countries and now number over 4,500 personnel in total.

“We’re landing on Estonian soil, so we have Estonian defense forces here, providing security. We have local fire departments on standby, in case there is some sort of incident,” Dennis said. “So it involves a host of people.”


Austere-landing exercises contribute to the goal of providing close air support. “So day five, day six, day ten of the war, the assumption is that the airfields that the Air Force has been operating out of are probably compromised in some manner,” Dennis said.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

A US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, assigned to the 107th Fighter Squadron from Selfridge, Michigan, practice landing on a non-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, during Saber Strike 18, June 7, 2018.

“So in order to continue to force project, and to continue to drop bombs and protect the troops on the ground, we’re going to have to find other suitable means with which we can continue our combat operations,” Dennis added. “So they would literally truck in the bombs, the bullets, all the things they need to, to austere environments, like an old airfield, a highway, whatever have you, so that we can continue to operate and ultimately save lives on the ground.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, checks an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

The A-10, introduced in the 1970s, was a key component of the NATO’s frontline defense during the Cold War. It served as the main antitank platform and was equipped with heavy armaments, like the AGM-65 Maverick missile and a 30 mm Gatling gun, and was heavily armored itself in order withstand ground fire.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, marshals an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

A-10 pilots were given a coloring book to help train them to recognize Soviet tanks. The book, filled with deadpan humor and titled “What you always wanted to know about the T-62 but were afraid to ask,” color-coded sections on Soviet vehicles to instruct pilots on which parts to target and which to avoid.

“The point of the article is to highlight for newly assigned pilots the improved vulnerabilities of the tank from a side or rear attack,” Andy Bush, a retired A-10 pilot, told War is Boring in 2014. Bush said he had “no idea who wrote it or where.”

Cold War planners were not optimistic about the A-10’s chances in a war. In the 1980s, the Air Force planned to put 68 A-10s at each of six forward operating bases in West Germany. Their estimates assumed a 7% loss rate for each 100 flights, meaning each forward operating base would lose at least 10 A-10s every 24 hours. At that rate, the roughly 700-plane A-10 fleet would be shot down in less than two weeks.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alex Goulette, crew chief assigned to 127th Wing maintenance squadron in Selfridge, Michigan, and Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, communicate with A-10 pilots about landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

Source: War is Boring

Current tensions with Russia are far from the level seen between the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. But the austere-landing exercise and other drills are meant to keep pilots and aircrews sharp and reassure allies.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

A US Air Force A-10 practices landing on a non-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

“Why did we choose Haapsalu over other areas? Inside the country of Estonia, essentially inside the Baltic region … it’s part of reassuring our NATO alliances,” Dennis said. “We continue to force-project airplanes, not just the A-10 but other NATO assets, all throughout the Baltic region. So what we have done is we’ve analyzed different areas, not just inside of Estonia, but also in Latvia and Lithuania as well, that are suitable landing sites.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, marshals an A-10 after landing in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

There are three important training objectives, Dennis said.

“The first is, trust the pilots right? So the larger Air Force in a whole needs to trust that the A-10 pilot group is capable of executing this in a very important mission set.”

“The next thing is the pilot trusting the airplane. As you operate this these sort of austere environments, the pilot has to have confidence that he or she can actually land in these environments, and execute the operation safely.”

“And the third, and I think equally as important, is we exercise the Special Tactics Squadrons, and other people that are involved in controlling us, and keep them proficient and current.”

Even in a training situation, landing on rough surfaces poses risks. “The airplanes can blow tires. The concrete isn’t as well grooved. In this case, the concrete is not even nearly the same as it would in a normal airfield,” Dennis said. “So there’s a lot of challenges that, physically, the airplane will face when … the rubber actually meets the concrete.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Master Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf, public affairs assigned to the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, records an A-10 Thunderbolt practice landing on a un-operational, austere runway in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

“There’s a lot of detailed planning that goes into ensuring that all of these areas have been properly looked at,” Dennis added. “The Special Tactics Squadrons have a very methodical way with which they come and analyze and basically evaluate these landing surfaces.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

US Air Force Staff. Sgt. Clinton Kennedy, combat controller assigned to 321st Special Tactics Squadron in Mildenhall, England, checks the runway for foreign-object debris after A-10 landed in Haapsalu, Estonia, June 7, 2018.

The A-10, however, is the best plane for this kind of job. “The reason the A-10 does this is because it was designed to do this,” Dennis said. “In the design phase of the actual airplane, [there] was the consideration for this type of environment. So landing gear all the way up to the high-bypass engines, that sit above the airplane, all of that is specifically designed so the airplane is not just survivable, but can operate in these austere environments.”

US Air National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Bobbie Reynolds

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

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Articles

Now you can race to the Rhine fueled by 80-proof liquid Patton

Your local exchange’s package store could soon have a surprise for you military history buffs: a little taste of “Old Blood and Guts” for your tumbler.


Kentucky’s Boundary Oak Distillery is now distributing a liquor bearing the face of the famous Gen. George S. Patton. Even though it hails from Kentucky and is made by a bourbon distillery, the libation isn’t actually bourbon. Instead, the manufacturers call the barrel-aged cane liquor “Patton Armored Diesel” after the tradition Patton started during World War II.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

According to Boundary Oak, that World War II-era drinking tradition included a “drink, a cup, and a sign his troops associated with Armored Diesel.” The bootleg hooch was made differently from division to division, using a mixture that included bourbon, whiskey, scotch, and white wine. One variation even had a shot of cherry juice to represent “the blood of our enemies.”

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago

“Everybody who has seen this has been equally as excited as we are about it,” Boundary Oak owner and master distiller Brent Goodin told the Associated Press.

Patton commanded the 7th Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily in World War II and then led the 3rd Army through France and Germany after the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944. He died in a car accident shortly after the end of the war in Europe.

He is one of the most celebrated leaders in the history of the United States Army.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
And you thought that movie was just a drama. (U.S. Army photo)

Part of the revenues from Patton Armored Diesel will benefit the General George Patton Museum and Center of Leadership at Fort Knox. The liquor has the endorsement of the Army and the Patton family. Patton’s grandson, George Patton “Pat” Waters, told the AP the product was “a real tribute to all those soldiers who served over there with Gen. Patton.”

Waters will help promote Patton Armored Diesel, which retails for around $46 per bottle.

Its first big promotion features a limited edition collector’s case for the bottles. The case is designed to look like a mini version of the general’s footlocker, complete with the stenciled “PATTON” lettering on the lid.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Patton’s dog Willie mourns after the general’s 1945 death. (U.S. Army photo)

“We’re not trying to glorify alcohol, we’re just trying to glorify him,” said Goodin in the same AP interview. “This generation, they enjoy craft American spirits, and we want to give them a history lesson along with a good drink.”

Articles

Head of US Marine Corps aviation: The F-35B is ready to go to war right now

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation, discusses the future of Marine aviation at AEI in Washington, DC, on July 29. | AEI.org


When asked on Friday if the F-35B could fly combat missions to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the US Marine Corps’ head of aviation said, “We’re ready to do that.”

Noting that the decision to deploy the fifth-generation jet into combat would come from higher command, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation said that the F-35B is “ready to go right now.”

“We got a jewel in our hands and we’ve just started to exploit that capability, and we’re very excited about it,” Davis said during a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on the readiness and future trajectory of Marine aviation.

Davis, who has flown copilot in every type of model series of tilt-rotor, rotary-winged, and tanker aircraft in the Marine inventory, said that the F-35 is an airplane he’s excited about.

“The bottom line is everybody who flies a pointy-nose airplane in the Marine Corps wants to fly this jet,” Davis said.

Last summer, then Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford declared initial operational capability (IOC) for 10 F-35B jets, the first of the sister-service branches.

“There were a lot of people out here in the press that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC because it would be politically untenable not to do that,'” Davis said.

“IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat. That’s not a decision I was gonna take lightly, nor Gen. Dunford,” he said.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
An F-35B flies near its base at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina. | Lockheed Martin

Ahead of IOC, Davis said that the Marine Corps “stacked the deck with the F-35 early on” by assigning Top Gun school graduates and weapons-tactics instructors to test the plane.

“The guys that flew that airplane and maintained that airplane were very, very, hard graders,” he said.

Davis added that the jet proved to be “phenomenally successful” during testing: “It does best when it’s out front, doing the killing.”

The Marine Corps’ first F-35B squadron is scheduled to go to sea in spring 2018.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force could declare its first F-35 squadron combat-ready as early as next week.

Articles

US Official says alliance with Philippines solid despite leader’s ‘colorful’ anti-US statements

The top U.S. diplomat in the Pacific told reporters this month strong anti-American statements by the president of the Philippines are more rhetoric than reality, calling them “colorful” and arguing there has been no substantive change in the military relationship with the U.S. ally in the Pacific.


US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
Philippine Marine Pfc. Japeth Inocencio, from Jamindan, Philippines, shakes hands with U.S. Marine Cpl. Todd Jenkins, from Long Beach, Calif., at Colonel Ernesto Ravina Air Base, Philippines, during Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise 33 (PHIBLEX), Oct. 10, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nelson Duenas/Released)

In September, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte called for severing military ties with the U.S., saying he would end joint Philippine and U.S. counterterrorism missions in Mindanao and stop joint naval patrols in the South China Sea. More recently he has forged a closer relationship with China, saying his country was “separating from the United States” and would be dependent on China “for all time.”

But U.S. officials caution that Duterte has made no moves to sever its ties with the U.S. military and that what he’s saying in public doesn’t match his actions behind closed doors.

“I’m not aware of any material change in the security cooperation between the U.S. and the Philippines,” said Assistant Sec. State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russell during an Oct. 12 interview with reporters in Washington.

“President Duterte has made a panoply of statements … the operative adjective is ‘colorful,’ ” he added. “But what that will ultimately translate to in terms of the ability of the Philippines to work with the United States on issues directly germane to its security and the regional and global challenges that it faces — from piracy to illegal fishing to disaster relief and counterterrorism — is a question that we don’t have an answer to just yet.”

No matter how strongly Duterte denounces the U.S. and its leaders in public, Russell added, the close historical bond between America and the Philippines is something that transcends the politics of the day.

“For our part, we love the Philippines. The relationship between Americans and Filipinos is as warm as you can get,” Russell said. “We’re very close with each other not only by these cultural and personal and historical ties but also by shared interests and by some common threats.”

Russell added that early conversations with the Philippine president, who assumed office in June, indicated he was committed to the U.S.-Philippine military and trade alliance.

But more recently, Duterte has begun to forge closer ties with China despite a decision in July by an international Law of the Sea tribunal that ruled in the Philippines’ favor against China’s control of certain sea lanes close to the island nation — a conflict Russell warned could have led to a war between Manilla and Beijing.

China has rejected the international court’s ruling.

On a recent trip to China, Duterte reportedly forged a $13 billion economic deal with Beijing, calling it the “springtime of our relationship” with China. The apparent shift away from the U.S. and toward the communist nation has caused alarm in some diplomatic circles in the U.S.

But Russell urged calm.

“There’s clearly increased dialogue” between China and the Philippines, Russell said. “In principle that’s a good thing. … As long as that dialogue is … consistent with international law.”

“There’s a lot of noise and stray voltage in the media,” he added. “But ultimately the decisions about the alliance operationally are going to be taken in a deliberate and thoughtful way.”

MIGHTY BRANDED

These wounded warriors compete against NFL alumni in a show of solidarity and respect

At the College of San Mateo this year, Kaplan University sponsored the Wounded Warrior Amputee vs. NFL Alumni Flag Football game prior to Super Bowl 50. The flag football game is a chance for these veterans to compete together against NFL greats, to raise awareness, and inspire their audience with their determination. Kaplan University proudly supports the Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team, a team made up of service members who were injured in the line of duty, in their drive to inspire their fans and prove their ability to go above and beyond all expectations.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new ‘unlimited range’ missile just embarrassed the Russian military

A Russian cruise missile that the country touted as having “practically unlimited” range appears to be falling short, sources with knowledge of a US intelligence report told CNBC.

The cruise missile, which Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled at a Russian Federal Assembly in March 2018, only flew for around two minutes and traveled 22 miles before it lost control and crashed, CNBC reported May 21, 2018. Another missile test reportedly lasted just four seconds with a distance of five miles.


Russia tested the missile four times between November 2017, and February 2018, at the behest of senior officials, even though engineers voiced doubt over the program, according to CNBC’s sources.

Putin previously touted a new generation of weapons in a presentation that displayed missile trajectories going from Russia to the US. In addition to the cruise missile, Putin teased unmanned underwater drones purportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a hypersonic glide vehicle.

US-backed forces were supposed to assault ISIS capital two weeks ago
graphic showingu00a0an ICBM payload in space.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Putin said in a speech. “You have failed to contain Russia.”

Russia’s cruise missile capabilities may have missed the mark, but sources said it succeeded in other aspects. The hypersonic glide vehicle, which is believed to be able to travel five times the speed of sound, would render US countermeasures useless and could become operational by 2020, according to CNBC.

“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” US Air Force General John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2018.

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

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