US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon's assault on ISIS - We Are The Mighty
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US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS

Lebanon’s US-backed military is gearing up for a long-awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of Islamic State militants from a remote corner near Syrian border, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by the extremists.


The campaign will involve cooperation with the militant group Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other side of the border — although Lebanese authorities insist they are not coordinating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

But the assault could prove costly for the under-equipped military and risk activating IS sleeper cells in the country.

The tiny Mediterranean nation has been spared the wars and chaos that engulfed several countries in the region since the so-called Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011. But it has not been able to evade threats to its security, including sectarian infighting and random car bombings, particularly in 2014, when militants linked to al-Qaeda and IS overran the border region, kidnapping Lebanese soldiers.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
An ‘informal tented settlement’ in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Lebanon is housing an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Photo from Department for International Development.

The years-long presence of extremists in the border area has brought suffering to neighboring towns and villages, from shelling, to kidnappings of villagers for ransom. Car bombs made in the area and sent to other parts of the country, including the Lebanese capital, Beirut, have killed scores of citizens.

Aided directly by the United States and Britain, the army has accumulated steady successes against the militants in the past year, slowly clawing back territory, including strategic hills retaken in the past week. Authorities say it’s time for an all-out assault.

The planned operation follows a six-day military offensive by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah that forced al-Qaeda-linked fighters to flee the area on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, along with thousands of civilians.

In a clear distribution of roles, the army is now expected to launch the attack on IS. In the past few days, the army’s artillery shells and multiple rocket launchers have been pounding the mountainous areas on the Lebanon-Syria border where IS held positions, in preparation for the offensive. Drones could be heard around the clock and residents of the eastern Bekaa Valley reported seeing army reinforcements arriving daily in the northeastern district of Hermel to join the battle.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Members of the Lebanese Armed Forces operate a Talon explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot with Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.1 during Resolute Response 16 in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Scott

The offensive from the Lebanese side of the border will be carried out by the Lebanese army, while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters will be working to clear the Syrian side of IS militants. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Assad’s forces since 2013.

On August 8, the army’s top brass conferred with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and interior and defense ministers at the Presidential Palace to plan operations in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

The committee took the “necessary counsel and decisions to succeed in the military operations to eliminate the terrorists,” Maj. Gen. Saadallah Hamad said after the meeting.

Experts say more than 3,000 troops, including elite special forces, are in the northeastern corner of Lebanon to take part in the offensive. The army will likely use weapons it received from the United States, including Cessna aircraft that discharge Hellfire missiles.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Two AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles. Photo by 玄史生 via Wikimedia Commons.

Keen to support the army rather than the better equipped Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the US and Britain have supplied the military with helicopters, anti-tank missiles, artillery, and radars, as well as training. The American Embassy says the US has provided Lebanon with over $1.4 billion in security assistance since 2005.

But the fight is not expected to be quick or easy.

According to Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, there are about 400 IS fighters in the Lebanese area, and hundreds more on the Syrian side of the border.

“It is not going to be a picnic,” said Hisham Jaber, a retired army general who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research in Beirut. “The Lebanese army will try to carry out the mission with the least possible losses.”

Jaber said the battle may last several weeks. “It is a rugged area and the organization (IS) is well armed and experienced.”

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Marines with Charlie Company and Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Soldiers of the Lebanese Army conduct a live-fire, combined arms range, May 12, 2012. Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad Kiehl

There are also concerns the offensive may subject Lebanon to retaliatory attacks by militants, just as the country has started to enjoy a rebound in tourism.

A Lebanese security official said authorities are taking strict security measures to prevent any attack deep inside Lebanon by sleeper cells. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said authorities have detained several IS militants over the past weeks.

Lebanese politicians say IS controls an area of about 296 square kilometers (114 square miles) between the two countries, of which 141 square kilometers (54.5 square miles) are in Lebanon.

The area stretches from the badlands of the Lebanese town of Arsal and Christian villages of Ras Baalbek and Qaa, to the outskirts of Syria’s Qalamoun region and parts of the western Syrian town of Qusair that Hezbollah captured in 2013.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

In a televised speech last August 4, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that once the Lebanese army launches its offensive from the Lebanese side, Hezbollah and the Syrian army will begin their attack from the Syrian side. He added that there has to be coordination between the Syrian and Lebanese armies in the battle.

“Opening two fronts at the same time will speed up victory and reduce losses,” Nasrallah said, adding that his fighters on the Lebanese side of the border are at the disposal of Lebanese troops if needed.

“I tell Daesh that the Lebanese and Syrians will attack you from all sides and you will not be able to resist and will be defeated,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

“If you decide to fight, you will end up either a prisoner or dead,” Nasrallah added.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Syrian brothers who are now refugees living in an informal tented settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo from DFID Flickr.

Some Lebanese politicians have been opposed to security coordination with the Syrian army. The Lebanese are sharply divided over Syria’s civil war that has spilled to the tiny country of 4.5 million people. Lebanon is hosting some 1.2 million Syrian refugees.

Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, is opposed to Assad while his national unity Cabinet includes Hezbollah as well as other groups allied with the Syrian president.

Last week, Hariri told reporters that Lebanese authorities are ready to negotiate to discover the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were captured during the raid on Arsal by IS and al-Qaeda fighters in August 2014. Unlike their rivals in al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group is not known to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

“The presence of Daesh will end in Lebanon,” Hariri said, using the same Arabic acronym to refer to IS.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The Super Bowl is getting the most awesome Air Force flyover ever

Fans tuning in to watch Super Bowl LII, where the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will face off to determine who is the best in the NFL, will also see a bit of history during the pre-game ceremonies. For the first time, the Air Force Heritage Flight, including a North American P-51 Mustang, will conduct the traditional flyover.


US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
A North American P-51 takes off from Iwo Jima, in the Bonin Islands. From this hard-won base our fighters escorted the B-29’s on bombing missions to Japan, and also attacked the Empire on their own. (USAF photo)

According to an Air Force release, the P-51 will be joined by two Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt close-air support planes and a Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. This is not unusual for the Heritage Flight, which routinely flies older aircraft alongside those currently serving.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Two A-10 Thunderbolts will also take part in the flyover. (USAF photo)

The Super Bowl flight is a first for the Air Force’s Heritage Flight, which honors the sacrifices made by those who have served, assists in recruiting and retention efforts, and displays the evolution of air power over the years. The P-51 will be flown by Steve Hinton (not to be confused with his son, Steven Hinton, who set a new speed record in a modified P-51 last year). The flyover will be broadcast live on NBC from multiple cameras, including one mounted on the P-51.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
A F-16 will also participate in the Super Bowl LII flyover. (USAF photo)

The P-51 Mustang entered service with the Air Force in 1942. It had a top speed of 437 miles per hour and a maximum range of 851 miles. It was armed with six M2 .50-caliber machine guns and could also carry bombs. After dominating the skies in World War II, the P-51 served as a ground-attack plane in the Korean War. It also saw action in the Soccer War of 1969. A version of the P-51 almost entered service with the Air Force in the 1980s as a close-air support/counter-insurgency aircraft, called the Enforcer.

We can’t wait to see this historic plane take to the skies once more!

Editorial Note: This article previously stated that Steve Hinton set a speed record in a modified P-51, but it has been corrected to reflect that it was his son, Steven Hinton, who set the record. 

Articles

This is how US subs make oxygen from seawater

Nuclear-powered submarines are considered one of the most lethal weapons in the American arsenal and have been protecting it citizens for decades from deep down in the dark oceans. You can’t see them, but they are out there defending the United States and hunting the enemy.


In modern times, many subs have the ability to dive over 170 meters, stay below the water line for up to six months without resurfacing, and can operate for 20-years before having to refuel.

The Ohio Class is the largest submarine in the US fleet and must deliver enough oxygen to the men aboard the well-designed vessel for months while remaining cloaked for days or weeks in the ocean’s depths.

Related: This is how German submarines changed the world during World War I

On average, each crew member needs 12 cubic meters of oxygen every single day to function — or more, depending on their level physical activity.

Typical vessels would have to come up for air every seven days, but with the innovative scientific method of extracting oxygen from the seawater that surrounds them, today’s subs can stay under much longer.

Modern submarines now use a process known as electrolysis to separate water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, thus creating the components for breathable air.

Also Read: This is actual footage of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri

Once the process occurs, the oxygen is collected and continuously pumped throughout the sub’s ventilation system and into the various inhabited chambers.

Check out the National Geographic video below to witness the magic of how the art of science helps submariners breath precious oxygen extracted from seawater.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaS_0-F4Y9M
(The News Paper, YouTube) 
Articles

Russia giving Assad Regime advanced strike aircraft

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Russian SU-24M2. (Photo: Toshi Aoki)


The Syrian Air Force is getting ten new Su-24M2 “Fencer D” all-weather strike aircraft, courtesy of Vladimir Putin. The regime of Bashir al-Assad received two right away, with the other eight coming soon. As a result, the Syrians gain a very capable weapon for use against ISIS or moderate rebels supported by the United States.

The Su-24M2 is the latest version of a plane that first took flight in 1967 – and it has been in service since 1974. The Fencer, comparable to the General Dynamics F-111, was designed to deliver over 17,600 pounds of bombs on target any time of day – or night – and in good weather, bad weather, or any in between. Su-24s are fast (a top speed of just over 1,000 miles per hour) and can reach deep into enemy territory (a combat radius of about 400 miles). The plane has seen action in the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, over Lebanon, Desert Storm, civil wars in Tajikistan, Libya, and Afghanistan, the South Ossetia war, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The Su-24M2, which first flew in 2001, adds the capability to fire the AS-17 Krypton anti-radar missile, the AA-11 Archer, and the KAB-500Kr television-guided bombs. The plane also received a more advanced “glass cockpit” with new multi-function displays (MFD), GLONASS (Russia’s knockoff of the Global Positioning System), a new heads-up display (HUD), and a helmet-mounted sight, allowing it to use the Archer to its maximum effectiveness.

The Soviet Union built over 1,400 Su-24s from 1967 to 1993. That 26-year production run alone is quite impressive. So was its wide exportation to a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including such responsible regimes like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya, Hafez al-Assad’s Syria, and the Sudan. Yes, all of them state sponsors of terrorism. A bunch of Iraq’s Su-24s made their way to Iran during Desert Storm. (Iraqi pilots preferring the Ayatollah Khameni’s hospitality to getting blown out of the sky by the allied coalition.)

The transfer comes as part of Russia’s military assistance to Assad’s regime. Syria had 22 Su-24s prior to this deal, 21 of which were bombers, one a reconnaissance plane. The Syrians had been upgrading some of their planes to the Su-24M2 standard. Now, they will be getting another ten very advanced deep-penetration bombers.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Congress doesn’t want to sell the F-35 to this NATO ally

A US defense bill would bar delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey until the US government provides an assessment of the relations between Washington and Ankara — a move that comes over the objections of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and underscores growing tensions between Turkey and its NATO partners.

The conflict with Turkey — which fields NATO’s second-largest army and hosts important NATO infrastructure — stems largely from its decision to buy the Russia-made S-400 air-defense system, one of the most advanced systems of its kind on the market.


NATO officials have cautioned Ankara about the purchase, saying the missile system would not be compatible with other NATO weapons and warning of “necessary consequences” for acquiring it. Using the F-35 and the S-400 together could compromise the F-35 and expose sensitive information.

Turkey plans to buy roughly 100 F-35s and has already received two of them. The country’s defense industry has also taken an active role in the jet’s development, with at least 10 Turkish companies building parts for it.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS

S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

But the measure agreed upon by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on July 23, 2018, would bar Ankara from getting any more F-35s until the Pentagon delivers a report on how the measure would affect US-Turkey relations, what impact Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 will have, and what the effects of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program would be for the US industrial base, according to Bloomberg.

The bill also includes a statement calling on Turkey to release “wrongfully detained” US citizens Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.

The Defense Department has 90 days to submit its assessment. The defense bill, which allots 7 billion for fiscal year 2019, still needs final approval; the House is expected to vote this week and the Senate could do so in early August 2018.

Mattis also urged Congress not to block Turkey from acquiring the F-35, telling legislators in a July 2018 letter that doing so would cause an international “supply chain disruption” that could cause delays and additional costs.

“If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, it would result in an aircraft production break, delaying delivery of 50-75 F-35s, and would take approximately 18-24 months to re-source parts and recover,” Mattis said.

In the letter, Mattis said the Trump administration was pressuring Turkey over the S-400 as well as the detention of US citizens on charges the US has called exaggerated. He also acknowledged lawmakers’ concerns with Turkey’s “authoritarian drift and its impact on human rights and the rule of law.”

Mattis has cautioned lawmakers against sanctions on other partners, like India or Vietnam, for buying Russian weapons, including the S-400, arguing that they need to time to shift away from that weaponry. The compromise reached by US lawmakers would let Trump waive sanctions on countries doing business with Russia if the country in question is working to distance itself from Russian defense and intelligence firms.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS

An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The dispute over the S-400 purchase comes amid broader friction between Turkey and its partners in NATO — tensions that Turkey has helped stoke by boasting of the S-400’s abilities to target NATO aircraft.

Erdogan has said he pursued the Russian-made system because NATO countries declined to extend deployments of their Patriot air-defense systems and would not sell Turkey a comparable system. Erdogan has also expressed frustration with the EU over its response to a coup attempt against him in 2016 and accused the bloc of “messing us about” on issues like visas and Syrian migrants.

The US’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria has also created tension with Turkey, which recently said it would not abide by Washington’s request that other countries stop buying oil from Iran.

While tensions with NATO may push Ankara to consider new relationships, it remains closely entwined with the trans-Atlantic defense alliance and its defense industry is reliant on Western firms. Turkey could expand dealings with other non-US partners in Europe, but it’s not clear those countries or the US would assent to such a shift.

Turkey’s warming relations with Russia and Erdogan’s crackdown have already alienated some in the US.

“Turkey may be an ally, but it is not a partner,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations and former director of policy planning for the State Department, said in September 2017.

Featured image: President Donald J. Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

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

Articles

Here are 8 things you don’t miss about basic training

For anyone who’s been through it, recruit training (or boot camp or whatever your service calls it) conjures up memories of hard work, new life lessons and a real sense of accomplishment.


But while the reward at the end of the experience seems worth it when it’s over, a lot of boot camp just plain sucks.

So here are eight things you surely don’t miss about basic training.

1. Losing sleep

The days of sleeping until noon are over. Getting up at 0400 or 0500 every morning is the norm. At times, trainees only get four hours of sleep due to night training events. Eventually, recruits learn to take “power naps” during moments of downtime to make up for the lack of sleep.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
But don’t get caught. Recruits run in place during an incentive training session March 5, 2015, on Parris Island, S.C. Incentive training consists of physical exercises administered in a controlled and deliberate manner and is used to correct minor disciplinary infractions, such as falling asleep in class. (Photo by Sgt. Jennifer Schubert)

2. Eating in a hurry

During basic training, you have mere minutes to eat your food. This is where the old saying of “eat your chow in a hurry, you’ll taste it later” earns its meaning.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
U.S. Navy recruits eat lunch in the galley of the USS Triton barracks at Recruit Training Command, the Navy’s only boot camp, Oct. 31, 2012.. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom)

3. Fire Guard

You are sleeping comfortably following a long day of training when suddenly a fellow trainee wakes you up and tells you “it’s your turn for fire guard.”

It’s 0200, you walk around the barracks or sit at a desk while making sure the doors are secure and everyone is accounted for is part of military conditioning during training.

On fire guard, you must also be alert because drill sergeants could show up at any time to make sure guards are not sleeping on duty. They may even ask you some military questions or ask you to recite your general orders.

4. Running everywhere

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
United States Air Force basic trainees from the 323rd Training Squadron run in formation during morning physical training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 8, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Trevor Tiernan)

Some days you may have felt like Forrest Gump because at boot camp you “just kept running” everywhere you went. “Double time” is a way of life.

5. Buffing floors

It feels like trainees should earn a special badge for the number of times they buff the floors during basic training. The sad part is those floors only stay clean for about a half day.

6. Doing push-ups

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Luedecke, a company commander at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., motivates a recruit through incentive training, July 31, 2013. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)

 

Doing hundreds of push-ups every day will make you stronger. However, at some point your arms will feel like they are going to fall off.

7. The gas chamber

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Recruits of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, break the seals on their gas masks while in the gas chamber Aug. 25, 2015, on Parris Island, S.C. (Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Jennifer Schubert)

I don’t think anyone misses the feeling of choking, thinking your eyes are coming out of their sockets and mucus flowing out of your nose.

8. Getting yelled at all day long

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
A U.S. Marine drill instructor motivates recruits with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, as they perform knee-striking drills during the Crucible at Parris Island, S.C., Dec. 3, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D.Sutter)

After finishing boot camp, you’ll appreciate having a conversation with someone who isn’t 1 inch from your face and screaming in your ear.

Tell us what you don’t miss from basic training/boot camp in the comments section below.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

MIGHTY MOVIES

Ellen surprised this vet and even Robert Downey Jr. cried

Look. Surprising veterans never gets old.

And the holidays just makes it even more impactful and meaningful, which is why celebrities and talk shows often reach out and give back to troops during this time of year. Ellen is no different — but this “Greatest Night of Giveaways” just got better and better.

I watched the whole thing. With the sound on. I recommend you do the same:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIbE0TN8D6k
Robert Downey Jr. and Ellen DeGeneres Give USMC’s Roy Gill and His Mom a New Car and House! (Part 2)

www.youtube.com

Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Roy Webster and his mother were guests on the show, which already started out strong.

Since Iron Man is Webster’s favorite movie, Ellen pretended like she was going to give him a DVD of Avengers: Endgame but instead, Robert Downey Jr. popped out of a box.

This would have been enough.

But that wasn’t the surprise.

No. RDJ was just there to be an elf who help dole out more surprises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCt89wuGlj0
USMC Lance Corporal Roy Gill’s Story: Third-Grade Teacher Helped Him Triumph Over Adversity (Part 1)

www.youtube.com

USMC Lance Corporal Roy Gill’s Story: Third-Grade Teacher Helped Him Triumph Over Adversity

The nineteen year-old Marine didn’t have an easy time growing up, but he credits his mother and his third-grade teacher for helping him learn about how to take care of others.

So Ellen decided to bring out his teacher.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.

But Ellen wasn’t done. She gave the teacher and her husband an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!!!

But Ellen still wasn’t done. Grab some tissues and watch the first video above to see what she did next.

Happy Holidays, everybody. Take care of each other out there.

Articles

ISIS is digging up Nazi land mines in Egypt to use for IEDs

The European battlefields of WWII aren’t the only ones littered with unspent ordnance. In fact, many claim Africa may be the world’s largest unexploded minefield.


The North African battlefields still have an estimated 17 million mines buried beneath the sands, especially in Egypt, where the Nazi Africa Korps fought Britain’s 8th Army – including the legendary Second Battle of El Alamein, which turned the tide for the Allies on the continent.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
A mine explodes close to a British artillery tractor as it advances through enemy minefields and wire to the new front line at the Second Battle of El Alamein. (Imperial War Museum photo)

Egypt even has a government minister dedicated to mine clearance. He has said more than 150 Bedouins have reported injuries and deaths from the mines since 2006. The dangerous areas also extend into modern-day Libya, where ISIS has a significant presence.

Now, the Egyptian government says ISIS (and likely other groups) are digging up the old ordnance to use for improvised explosive devices and other weapons. Security has devolved since 2004, when the first attack using these relics killed 34 people in the resort town of Taba.

RELATED: After 100 years World War I battlefields are poisoned and uninhabitable

The most recent attack occurred on a road near the Red Sea in March and killed five members of Egyptian security forces.

In Syria, rebels and ISIS forces are using whatever weapons are available. A Syrian rebel faction called the “al-Tawhid Brigade” stumbled on an arms cache of 5,000 German WWII-era Sturmgwehr 44 (STG-44) rifles. Another video posted to Facebook in April 2016 shows rebels using German Wehrmacht artillery.


Newsweek also reports insurgents using the minefields as a safe haven from government security forces who will avoid the hazardous areas at all cost. All jihadis have to do is hire a local guide who knows the route in and out, making travel for anyone – from the Egyptian Army to foreign tourists – an uninviting thought.

It’s a troubling prospect for a country whose tourism revenues account for an estimated 11 percent of its GDP.

The best solution, according to Ahmed Amer, head of the Land Mine Survivors Association, is for the World War II combatants to come pick up their toys.

“They can’t just come here and then go away,” he told Newsweek. “They must clean this up.”

Articles

Why airborne units are obsolete

This article originally appeared at The Havok Journal.


I recently read an article that posed an interesting question: Does the Army need airborne? The short answer is no. The long answer is we need the capability; there is a small fraction of operations where an airborne assault might be the only way to go, but we don’t need as much “airborne” as we currently have.

Bear with me. I know there are some seriously butt hurt people right now reading this. The tactic has value — limited, but still some.

The unit as an organized structure that practices the airborne tactic has no value — zero, nada, and zilch. The reason is simply the risk; a new person jumping one time is just as much at risk as a veteran jump master on his 1,000th jump.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
(U.S. Army paratroopers conduct an airborne operation on Oct. 20, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Juan F. Jimenez)

The singular benefit of airborne operations is to get troops on the battlefield when there are no other means available and when those same troops might secure the means themselves.

WWII was a perfect example. The night of June 5, 1944, airborne operations began to place large numbers of troops behind German lines to tie up reinforcements trying to reach the Atlantic Wall fortifications and prevent the beach invasion.

Also read: Here are 10 things everyone experiences in jump school

It was known and accepted that those airborne troops were effectively lost and might never be recovered as a unit. We routinely accept injury in airborne operations that would be unacceptable in other training, all for a tactic that has limited utility.

Had the beach landings failed, the airborne teams would have been cut off and without support. At best they could have surrendered; at worst, they would be dead. This was not an assumption. This was a specific and recognized outcome of the invasion.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena

For all the vaunted legend of the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne, the fact is that the units had little cohesion, fought mostly in small numbers, and took several days to re-form into fighting units. Unity of command was not lost; it was impossible to obtain from the beginning.

I am not denigrating the men of the 82nd and the 101st. I am saying any unit could have accomplished the same tasks without any special training involving parachute operations. The difficulties would have been the same.

Soldiers were intermingled between companies, battalions, brigades, and divisions as the confusion of the battlefield worked its magic. Fortunately Americans took advantage of the confusion and managed to win the day.

In that one demonstration on the field of battle, they proved that Airborne was not “all the way” and that the technique of vertical envelopment of the battlefield has a limited utility best used sparingly and only if you are ready to lose those involved.

Which is why for the next sixty years the activities in wartime were expressly limited. In part, we had other means, but ultimately it became clear that this is a tactic that only serves its use in specific operations or as an act of desperation.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
U.S. Army Airborne School. (Photo: U.S. Army Kristin Molinaro)

The operational characteristics, fully published in FM3-99 Airborne and Air Assault Operations, show the limitations clearly. Even during peacetime, the physical threat to personnel from the jump alone is high.

In fact, regardless of the number of jumps a person has, the risk to life and limb is the same each time they jump. The experience they receive does not affect the process once they exit the aircraft. The senior commanders are just as exposed to risk as the privates.

They are at the mercy of the weather. And that alone can render an entire operation a failure.

With the risk being the same for a jump master with 1000 jumps or the cherry on his first jump, we can say, from a risk management standpoint, we don’t need Army Airborne.

We can still, when the need arises, utilize airborne operations. All risk being equal, there is no difference to the mission to drop an entire unit using a small cadre of experienced personnel while the rest of the personnel just straps on the parachute and falls.

I know it works. This was also proven in WWII by the same units. Many of those men had no training in parachute operations. They were taught to put it on and they got in the plane and jumped into combat.

We don’t need units like the 82nd or battalions like the 1/501st. We need each unit to have a small cadre of jump masters and if the military decides to utilize personnel on an airborne operation, the cadre will ensure everyone is suited up and rigged, and then push them out the door.

There is no reason to have a specialized unit with nifty hats just to practice a tactic that is not really necessary. All they do is fall. They don’t have to open the parachute because the static line does that. While the appropriate parachute landing fall (PLF) might be worthwhile to prevent injury, it is not really worth the effort of a 3 week school just to teach that.

Airborne school teaches the PLF and weeds out those too scared to jump. Other than that, it does not teach you anything particular.

Putting on the parachute does not require training beforehand — the jump master is responsible for making sure you put in on right anyway. Rigging your equipment is not an experience-based skill. Just wrap it up using a pictogram and you are done.

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS
Paratroopers jumping off C-130 Hercules. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael J. MacLeod)

We don’t need specialized airborne units. Airborne, as practiced by the 82nd AA, was obsolete at the end of WWII.

The Army just doesn’t want to admit that because it looks good. But none of them want to admit that the casualties, from the jump and from war, would make any airborne operation a risky adventure.

They know it; they just don’t want to talk about it.

In combat, a unit that sustains 15% casualties is still combat capable but only marginally. What gain do we have from a military unit that could receive those losses from entering combat before they face the enemy?

The jump alone could cause that damage, and this does not include the fact that it could be the senior command leadership, key weapons vital to the mission, or any number of critical items lost on the drop.

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U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

Those are the risks not once, but every time a jump occurs. It is not cost effective to maintain a unit that faces those risks every time just for practice. It would be better to only pull out this operation when necessary.

If we are going to accept the potential risk, it is not any more dangerous to accept a leg unit that did an airborne operation as a onetime act of desperation.

Airborne pride is an expensive attitude for a military tactic of desperation. It is time to close the books on that chapter.

We can still use the tactic — but we don’t need to enshrine the idea behind it.

Articles

Why this French nobleman’s Paris gravesite is filled with dirt from Massachusetts

The United States owes its success in the Revolutionary War to help from France. The chief architect of that help was Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette. In America, we simply call him “Lafayette.”

When France needed help during World War I, a squadron of American airmen volunteered their skills to fight against Germany. They called themselves the Lafayette Escadrille. When American troops finally arrived in France years later, their leaders walked into the tomb of the nobleman and announced, “Lafayette, we are here.”

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The Escadrille Lafayette in July 1917 (U.S. Air Force photo)

The relationship between the Marquis and the United States has endured for many centuries because of his admiration and service to a country that was not his own. That admiration runs so deep, that the nobleman is buried in American soil – in Paris. 

When the Marquis de Lafayette came to the United States to fight the British in the Revolution, he was so committed to the cause that he volunteered to serve without pay. Unlike other French officers volunteering, Lafayette had the military pedigree to be of use and soon came to be the right hand man to Gen. George Washington himself. 

That pedigree didn’t come with much experience. Lafayette would be learning as he served the American cause. Luckily, as a wealthy man, his personal contributions more than made up for what he lacked in military experience. But as he gained that valuable experience, he proved himself an able commander.

A dedicated Enlightenment thinker, his devotion to the cause of American ideals led him to fight in several battles, to be wounded at the battle of Brandywine, and encourage France to recognize American independence. Most crucially, it was Lafayette’s forces that harassed Cornwallis on his way to Yorktown.

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John Ward Dunsmore’s 1907 depiction of Lafayette (right) and Washington at Valley Forge (Wikimedia Commons)

This forced the British to move across the James River, where they were eventually trapped by Washington, Lafayette and Comte de Rochambeau  by land and the French fleet by sea. He was forced to surrender his army after an almost three-week siege. It was the beginning of the end of the war, and the start of the American experiment.

Lafayette fought in the Continental Army all over the colonies, from New England to the Mid-Atlantic to the South, and was one of the few things that all the new states of the United States had in common. He so loved the ideals of the American Revolution that he tried to export them to France when he returned home. 

His advocacy for American liberty would serve him and his wife well in the coming years of the French Revolution. The French admiration for American values saved the lives of the noble and his wife. 

Lafayette would return to the United States many times in the years following the revolution. His visits would confirm the idea that the Founding Fathers had created a functioning democracy, based on the egalitarian values of the Enlightenment. He came to love the United States and proclaimed that he wanted to be buried in American soil.

Marquis de Lafayette
Lafayette’s grave (Wikimedia Commons)

On his final visit to the United States, Lafayette filled a trunk full of earth from the land near Boston’s Bunker Hill. When the noble died in 1834, his son interred him in the dirt from America. The American flag has flown over his grave continuously since 1850, a simple site behind an innocuous high stone wall.

Articles

CIA veteran: The Obama administration does not understand how to fight ISIS

US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS


The Obama administration isn’t capable of fighting the type of war necessary to defeat the Islamic State, a former CIA official told The Hill.

“I don’t think they understand the kind of war they need to fight,” Henry Crumpton, a former CIA official who led teams in Afghanistan against the Taliban, told the publication. “They’re waging the war they want to fight but not the one that will lead to success.”

The Obama administration’s efforts against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, have been aimed at propping up the Iraqi government in Baghdad while conducting airstrikes against jihadist targets throughout Iraq and Syria.

The US has also expressed support to use the Shiite-dominated Iraqi central government to channel arms and other forms of aid to Sunni tribal fighters and members of the Kurdish militia.

But the US has refused to directly assist groups outside the Baghdad government for fear of stoking sectarianism within the country. The Obama administration has also pledged not to send combat troops to Iraq and not to expand the US’ on-the-ground military presence beyond small deployments of military advisers and trainers.

Crumpton, who joined the CIA in 1981, believes this limited support is insufficient when facing an enemy like ISIS. In his view, the US needs a greater military and intelligence footprint in Iraq if it wants to fully dismantle the militant group.

“You have to have an intelligence presence on the ground. It really is a question of deep intelligence and empathy,” he told The Hill. This would allow the US to conduct a larger number of precision strikes against the group while also better anticipating its future moves.

A more robust intelligence network would also allow the US to understand the political dynamics at the ground level. This information could be leveraged to form alliances and work toward political solutions among Sunni tribes disgusted with both ISIS and the central Iraqi government.

US airstrikes against ISIS are also becoming less effective because the group has changed its tactics. It now houses prisoners within its main buildings and is increasingly fighting within densely populated civilian areas. These new practices are aimed at deterring airstrikes, as the US is reluctant to take actions that would harm civilians.

ISIS’ adaptive tactics, coupled with US reluctance to become more deeply involved in the conflict, has led to a cold streak in the fight against the group. In May, ISIS seized the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi, just 77 miles from Baghdad. At the same time, the Iraqi military has proved less and less capable of fighting the group.

SEE ALSO: Everyone should see these powerful images of wounded vets

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s what warfare may be like in 2025

With the technology of war rapidly changing, military leaders will have to rewrite the books on tactics and strategy.


Here’s WATM’s take on what an infantry assault will look like in 2025, considering that by then we’ll have cyborg insects, powered body armor, and steerable sniper rounds.

The mission

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A rifle platoon is tasked with assaulting a compound consisting of four buildings using only their own manpower plus a sniper team.

They will be wearing TALOS armor, an “Iron Man”-like suit which covers nearly their entire body, cools them off when necessary, and actively assists their movements to improve performance and reduce fatigue.

-15:00 — The platoon stages for the assault

The platoon moves into its assault and support positions. It has all of the troops it did in 2015, plus a drone operator.

Its weapons squads will be providing the base of fire, and are separate from where 1st, 2nd, and 3rd squads are preparing to assault. The sniper team is on overwatch, protecting the platoon from a nearby hilltop.

-5:00 — Drones are prepared for the operation

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Photo: Youtube.com

The drone operator activates his quadcopters. These small bots are capable of flying through buildings, creating 3D maps, providing surveillance, and lifting up to nine pounds. Four drones come from a special pack that the operator carries in place of a standard rucksack. Another eight come from two LS3 Mules moving with the platoon. The operator has 12 drones total, split into six pairs.

Weapons squad brings up video feeds from two of the drones on a tablet.

0:00-1:00 — The assault begins

At the platoon leader’s command, the platoon sergeant moves forward with 1st squad and initiates the breach into the enemy area. 1st squad fights the enemy personnel on the perimeter, forming an opening for follow on forces.

Simultaneously, the drone operator orders eight of his drones to fly to the target buildings ahead of the platoon.

Weapons squad begins laying down a base of fire. Weapons squad’s close combat missile teams begin searching for the enemy’s anti-drone, counter-rocket/artillery/mortar laser trucks.

They see the first laser truck between themselves and the compound. It knocks one of the advancing drones out of the sky, but the missile team fires two Javelin missiles at it. The laser swivels to counter the new threat and shoots down one missile in flight, but the second strikes the truck and destroys it.

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Photo: Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/US Marine Corps

Another drone goes down to laser fire when a still-hidden truck engages it.

1:00-4:00 — Breaching and mapping

Second and 3rd squad begin moving onto the objective as 1st squad forms and holds the breach in the enemy’s perimeter defenses.

Two drones are down, but the six remaining on target redistribute themselves to form three pairs. The first two pairs move into the the southernmost buildings on the compound and begin mapping from the inside. The robots move quickly to avoid enemy fire, dodging in and out of windows and flying close to ceilings.

One drone is taken down when an enemy soldier strikes it with his rifle butt and then immediately stands on the drone, holding it in place. The drone operator sees an alert and sends the self-destruct signal. A pound of C4 explodes inside a fragmentary case, killing the first soldier and wounding two others.

The other three drones send their maps to the advancing 2nd and 3rd squad leaders who relay key information to their men as they reach the entrances to the building. The drones then fly to the roofs and park themselves on the edges, looking for the other enemy laser.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Joseph Guenther

4:00-5:00 — Striking the second laser and establishing an automated perimeter

One of the drones is spotted by the enemy laser team as it lands on the roof. The laser team waits for the drone’s rotors to stop spinning and then burns through its body, destroying it. The sniper team detects the beam on a sensor and uses it to spot the truck.

They radio the platoon sergeant and fire on the laser turret, cracking the glass and disabling the system.

With the counter-drone lasers down, the operator is free to signal the four drones that remained with the LS3 mules. The drones begin taking flares, mines, and sensors from the mules and deploying them at pre-programmed points around the objective.

The two remaining rooftop drones take off again and head to the third target building to begin mapping.

An Argus — a drone that can tell what color shirt the enemy is wearing from 17,500 feet overhead — heads to the battlefield.

5:00-6:00 — Securing the first buildings

Second and 3rd squad hit the first pair of buildings. Second squad knows to expect enemy casualties in the first room since the drone went off there. With the drone-generated maps, the squads know ahead of time where windows, doors, and most furniture are in the rooms. They take the buildings quickly and capture two enemy soldiers.

With the first buildings secure and no enemy personnel spotted around the perimeter, 1st squad attacks the laser truck and kills the crew. It then breaks into its fire teams and holds the captured buildings while 2nd and 3rd squads prepare to move on the second pair of buildings. The medic sets up a casualty collection point and begins treating the POWs. A Medevac is called.

6:00-8:00 — Hitting the second pair of buildings

The sniper team sees a man flee from the fourth target building and radioes the platoon leader. One spotter keeps an eye on the runner until the Argus comes on station and takes over, covering 15 square miles and tracking all people on the battlefield from 17,500 feet. The spotter returns to watching the remaining target buildings.

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Photo Credit: LiveLeak (courtesy of PBS Nova)

The drones mapping the third target building are captured and the operator orders both to detonate. 2nd squad hits the third building with a mostly complete map while 3rd squad takes the fourth building more slowly. 3rd squad takes one casualty during the attack, a gunshot wound that catches a soldier through a gap in the stomach armor of the TALOS. The TALOS immediately squeezes the fibers in that part of the suit, putting pressure on the wound. It also alerts the medic, squad leader, and platoon leadership.

8:00-12:00 — Treating the wounded

The squad leader orders a fire team to move the soldier to the casualty collection point. The medic is low on medical supplies but knows he has a patient with a gunshot wound through the abdomen coming in. He requests additional supplies to the CCP from the drones and the drone operator confirms it as a top priority.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Jordan Fuller

Two quadcopters with the Ls3 mules grab an aid bag from a mule’s back and fly it to the medic’s position, arriving at the same time as the patient. The medic grabs an injector of ClotFoam from the pack and tells the TALOS to relax the pressure on the wound. He places the injector into the hole formed by the bullet and fills the soldier with foam that will stop bleeding, hold the damaged organs in place, and be easily removed in surgery. He alerts the platoon sergeant that the patient is ready to be medically evacuated.

12:00-15:00 — The runner returns with friends

The Argus operator radios the platoon leader and tells him the runner is returning the the battlefield with two friends in a vehicle with a mounted machine gun.

Weapons and 1st squad are establishing the platoon perimeter and the platoon leader alerts them and the sniper team to the inbound threat.

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Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth

A missile team moves to the expected contact side, but the sniper team already has eyes on the target. Knowing the vehicle will be moving quickly and bumping on the road, he loads EXACTO rounds. He leads the target and fires. The vehicle speeds up while the round is in the air, but the sniper continues to mark the target and the round turns in the air, finally ripping through the driver’s neck. With the vehicle stopped, the snipers quickly dispatch the other two fighters.

23:00 — Medevac and site exploitation

The medic gets his patients onto the Medevac bird and the platoon begins site exploitation. Their exploitation is protected by a drone that can watch the surrounding 15 square miles for threats, static defense placed by their drones, a sniper team with steerable rounds on overwatch, and their platoon perimeter.

NOW: 6 pieces of gear you won’t believe the military used

OR: 7 Post-9/11 heroes who should have received the Medal of Honor — but didn’t

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is the hilarious new podcast from the creators of Terminal Lance and Duffel Blog

Spending an hour listening to “After Action with Max and Paul” –a podcast about national security, military life, and other random bullsh*t – is like spending an hour with Max and Paul themselves. While you’re listening, you genuinely feel as if you’re hanging out with your best veteran friends… if your best veteran friends are prominent members of the Marine Corps veteran community, that is.


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Look for this logo.

Max Uriarte is the mind behind “Terminal Lance,” a Marine Corps-based comic strip he created while he was still in the Corps. He also created Terminal Lance’s crowdfunded offshoot, “The White Donkey.” Since being published in 2016, “The White Donkey” has become a New York Times bestseller and Uriarte is working on an “omnibus” of Terminal Lance strips.

Paul Szoldra is the creator of Duffel Blog, the military-themed satire site that’s so popular with active duty personnel, civilians, and veterans from of all branches. He just released Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One.

The two are very busy. And they are really good friends. And it shows as you listen to their podcast.

“Me and Max hang out quite a bit and we always have these conversations” Szoldra says. “We’re just talking about the news or what’s going on in the military space, and it always bounces around so much. One day we both realized, hey, we should record this. This might be something people would like to listen to. So, we did.”

For all the joking about their other projects, they are extremely grounded in reality and it shows in what they choose to talk about — some of the most divisive wedge issues among the military-veteran community. The Trump trans-ban, North Korea, and whatever else may have come up that week, for example.

The issues many veteran-related blogs and websites are polarized about Max and Paul laugh and riff on – then they inject a dose of reality or humor to the discussion.

Paul: Most of the arguments against women in the infantry are really dumb. They could be dismissed pretty easily. Most of them against are basically like “men are shitty.” Or, like, “Oh, they’re gonna inconvenience everybody ’cause they gotta use different toilets,” or something. Really, like that’s gonna be so difficult?

Maximilian: I think what’s funny is men … we can get super feminist, political about this because this is sort of a larger issue too. … You know, men get so worried about women’s genitals. They’re like, “How are they gonna handle their period?” Let them worry about it.

Paul: They already go to the field. They already go to basic training.

Maximilian: “They’re bleeding down there. I don’t know, it’s a problem. What are they gonna do? I don’t think they should be there.” I don’t know. They handle it.

Paul: “And they attract bears. You know that, right? It’s science. Okay?”

Maximilian: I think there could be a discussion about the logistical difficulties, but it’s one of those things where we’re so past the point of debate. You can’t go back with it now. Right now it’s more like, “How do I make this work?”

Paul: Yeah, and everybody’s still yelling about, “Women shouldn’t be the infantry.” It’s like, well-

Maximilian: They’re already out there.

It’s not all about serious issues with Max and Paul. The same conversation recounted above eventually evolves into a discussion about women in the infantry in “Starship Troopers,” movies in general, and then dragons.

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Tune in to the podcast to find out how.

As with most discussions that turn to politics, not everyone will agree with Max. Or Paul. Or Max and Paul. But what you get is a really hilarious and irreverent back and forth that will make even the most closed-minded person crack a smile. They may even rope in one of their Marine friends via phone or Skype (in their second episode, they call Jack Mandaville, star of “Range 15” and outspoken “former Marine”).

“We’re sort of both leveraging our kind of pseudo-celebrity status to get the coolest guests that we can get,” Uriarte laughs. “We got a lot of great people coming on the show. Everyone seems to like it a lot.”

But there is something for everyone, not just Marines. And not just veterans. Max and Paul are two very talented, educated, and witty individuals — and it shows in their work, especially “After Action With Max and Paul.”

Here’s Mandatory Fun’s interview with Max Urierte in which he explains the  “After Action” podcast.

Subscribe to Mandatory Fun: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher

“After Action With Max and Paul” can be found and downloaded on Stitcher and iTunes and probably elsewhere, because this is the veteran podcast we’ve all been waiting for.

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