MIGHTY CULTURE

US, Indonesian Marines live and train together

U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment are conducting a month-long military exchange program with Marines from the Indonesian Korps Marinir in Eastern Java, Indonesia, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Aug. 6-29, 2019.

The exchange program, designed to strengthen the partnership between the two militaries, involves each country sending a platoon of Marines to live and train together at the others’ military bases. Working closely though a rigorous training schedule focused around individual, team and squad level tactics, Marines from both nations are able to learn from each other and continue to improve their ability to work together.


“For basic tactics, we do the same thing for shooting and maneuver, but we have a different terrain and environment,” said 2nd Lt. Gilang Kanandha, a platoon commander with the KORMAR. “We can make our Marine Corps better by learning new things and [the U.S.] Marines can learn something new too.”

U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment and Indonesian Marines patrol through the woods during Korps Marinir at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, Aug. 13, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Sasha Pierre-Louis)

Not only do the Marines share tactics with each other, they also develop new leadership styles and establish relationships with their partner nation counterparts.

“We are able to train together and be aggressive when it’s time to do that,” said 1st. Lt Joseph Artis, a platoon commander with Co. A., 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment. “But during our down time, we have the ability to just be Marines together.”

U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment and Indonesian Marines eat together during Korps Marinir at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, Aug. 13, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Sasha Pierre-Louis)

“Our relationship with our Indonesian counterparts is very strong,” said Staff Sgt. Nathanial Skousen, the company gunnery sergeant for Co. A., 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. He noted how naturally the Marines from both nations interacted with each other, “It’s as if the same type of people are drawn to serve their nation’s military,” said Skousen.

The KORMAR exchange enhances the capability of both services and displays their continued commitment to share information and increase the ability to respond to crises together across the Pacific.

A U.S. Marine with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment and an Indonesian Marine pose for a photo following training during Korps Marinir at Kahuku Training Area, Hawaii, Aug. 13, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Sasha Pierre-Louis)

“It causes us to open our eyes a little bit when we experience things with Marines from overseas,’ said Artis. “The fact that this is happening in different parts of the world, it gives us perspective that there is a global mission we are trying to achieve. It’s not just us in Hawaii trying to do this.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

Articles

Here’s what you need to know about Kim Jong Un’s missile arsenal

Upon taking the highest office in the land, President-elect Donald Trump will need to address the growing North Korean missile threat “almost immediately.”


“More often than not, we measure the mettle of presidencies by the unexpected crises that they must deal with,” said Victor Cha, a senior adviser and the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “For President Bush, this was clearly the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which completely changed every element of his presidency. For President-elect Trump, this crisis could very well come from North Korea.”

Also read: Former US general calls for pre-emptive strike on North Korea

Speaking on a panel at CSIS’s Global Security Forum, Cha added that the North would “challenge the new administration almost immediately upon taking office.”

The normally aggressive regime has been exceptionally busy in 2016 with an increased tempo in testing. The North has launched 25 ballistic missiles this year and remains the only country to have detonated nuclear devices in this century.

“Every launch that he launches, he learns more. He gets more capability,” retired US Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp, a former commander of US Forces-Korea said during the panel.

“UN Security Council resolutions have been numerous that have told him he cannot do this, and I personally think it’s time to start enforcing this,” Sharp said.

The acceleration and frequency in testing shows not only the North’s nuclear ambitions but also that the rogue nation has developed something of an arsenal.

The following graphic from CSIS’s Missile Defense Project illustrates specifications and ranges of North Korea’s ballistic-missile arsenal.

Center for Strategic and International Studies/Missile Defense Project

MIGHTY TRENDING

Terrifying video shows air force pilots flying through haze of smoke

Harrowing video posted to Twitter shows Royal Australian Air Force pilots navigating through a thick haze of orange smoke that prevented them from completing rescue missions in the bushfire-plagued towns of Mallacoota and Merimbula.

Australia is currently battling its worst bushfire season in history, and over the last few months bushfires have razed over 6.3 million hectares (15.5 million acres) of land nationally as of Saturday. At least 24 people have lost their lives, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and nearly 500 million animals are estimated to have been killed in the flames.


And while bushfires in Australia are very common during the hotter spring and summer months, scientists have said that Australia’s fire season is beginning earlier and becoming more extreme as a result of climate change.

As of Tuesday morning local time, there were over 130 fires burning across the country, the worst of which are burning in the states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Australia’s air force commander, Air Vice-Marshal Joe Iervasi, posted a video of the horrifying conditions that pilots are facing as they attempt rescue missions into towns and areas devastated by the disaster.

“This video shows how heavy smoke from bushfires has prevented some C27J C130J flights from reaching #Mallacoota #Merimbula,” Iervasi wrote, referring to the coastal holiday towns of Mallacoota in Victoria and Merimbula in New South Wales, which have been completed ravaged by the fires.

Australia’s Navy on Friday began evacuating some of the thousands of tourists and residents still trapped in Mallacoota because conditions on land were so dire.

But Iervasi’s video demonstrated that smokey conditions also made it challenging to conduct rescue missions from the air.

“Our people are highly trained professional, but not always able to complete the mission on first try,” he wrote.

On Monday local time, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged a billion bushfire recovery fund, which will assist in rebuilding devastated areas over the next two years.

“This money will go towards supporting small businesses, supporting local councils, providing mental health support, investment in social and economic infrastructure, as well as providing environmental protection and protection for native wildlife, which has been so badly hit by these tragic fires,” Morrison said at a press conference.

Celebrities have also pledged and raised millions of dollars for relief efforts, though rescue missions on the ground remain challenging and dangerous.

Weather conditions have been increasingly hot and dry in some areas, breaking heat records, which exacerbate fire conditions.

Bushfires have also now become so big that they are generating their own weather through pyrocumulonimbus clouds, which create their own thunderstorms that can start more fires. And two major fires burning on either side of the Victoria-New South Wales border are inching closer to one another, which may result in what officials are calling a ‘megablaze‘ that could balloon to 1.2 million acres in size.

Additionally, thick blankets of smoke from nearby fires have filled major cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra with hazardous air.

“The fires are still burning and they will be burning for months to come,” Morrison told reporters on Monday.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Also read:

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Diabetes education and training

When someone has diabetes, there’s a constant stream of questions. Did you check your blood sugar? Are you exercising and keeping a good diet? Do you have your insulin handy?

Mary Julius, a program manager for the diabetes self-management education and training at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, wants to help educate veterans and their families about how to self-manage diabetes.


Julius broke down the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes.

  • Persons with Type I diabetes produce little or no insulin.
  • Persons with Type II diabetes make insulin but there is a resistance to the insulin.

According to Julius, diabetes awareness and education are increasingly important for veterans and their families; “25% of veterans receiving VA care have been diagnosed with diabetes.” Without awareness and education, people diagnosed with diabetes put their health at risk. Thus, veterans who have been diagnosed with diabetes should work closely with their primary provider, but, she emphasizes, veterans and their family also need the tools and education to apply self-management techniques.

Finally, Julius shares how VA has been working on creating a virtual medical learning center for veterans and their families to learn more about diabetes and related topics. Veterans and their families can access this learning site at VAVMC.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how to watch SpaceX try its ‘most difficult launch ever’

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, said his rocket company’s toughest mission yet has arrived — and you can watch it live online.

Sometime between 11:30 p.m. ET on June 24, 2019, and 2:30 a.m. ET on June 25, 2019, a Falcon Heavy rocket will try to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Tonight’s launch attempt marks SpaceX’s third-ever with Falcon Heavy. The rocket design debuted in February 2018, has three reusable boosters, and is considered the planet’s most powerful launch system in use today.

“This will be our most difficult launch ever,” Musk tweeted on June 19, 2019.


What makes this mission, called Space Test Program-2 (STP-2), so challenging is what’s stacked inside the rocket’s nose cone: 24 government and commercial satellites that together weigh about 8,150 pounds (3,700 kilograms). When fully fueled, a Falcon Heavy rocket weighs about 1,566 tons (1,420 metric tons), or more than 300 adult elephants’ worth of mass.

An 8,150-pound (3,700-kilogram) stack of 24 government and commercial satellites inside the nose cone of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in June 2019.

(Official Space Missile Systems Center/DoD via Twitter)

After getting its behemoth rocket off the pad at Launch Complex 39-A, SpaceX has to deploy the two dozen spacecraft into multiple orbits around Earth over several hours. To do this, it must shut down and reignite the engine of an upper-stage rocket four times, according to the company.

One satellite holds NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock, which may change the way robots and astronauts navigate space. Another spacecraft is the Planetary Society’s LightSail, an experiment that could change how vehicles propel themselves to a destination. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also launching six small weather satellites built in partnership with Taiwan.

There’s even a spacecraft holding the ashes of 152 people, and it will orbit Earth for about 25 years before careening back as an artificial meteor.

But SpaceX will also be attempting to land all three of the rocket’s 16-story boosters back on Earth for reuse in future launches. The two attached to the side of the Falcon Heavy rocket are set to touch down on land a few minutes after liftoff.

Meanwhile, the central or core booster — which will fire longer and disconnect from the upper-stage rocket later in the flight — will try to land on a drone ship sitting about 770 miles (1,240 kilometers) off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.

Watch SpaceX’s launch attempt live on Monday night

SpaceX is streaming the STP-2 mission live on YouTube, and the company said its broadcast would begin about 20 minutes before liftoff (about 11:10 p.m. ET).

There’s a 20% chance that SpaceX will delay its launch because of thunderstorms, according to a forecast issued by the US Air Force on Monday morning. If the launch is pushed to its backup window 24 hours later, there’s a 30% chance of delay.

If you want to follow the launch and deployment events, we’ve included a detailed timeline below the YouTube embed.

STP-2 Mission

www.youtube.com

Launch events and timing relative to the moment Falcon Heavy lifts off the pad are outlined below and come from SpaceX’s press kit for the STP-2 mission.

-53:00— SpaceX launch director verifies go for propellant load
-50:00— First-stage RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
-45:00— First-stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
-35:00— Second-stage RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
-18:30— Second-stage LOX loading begins
-07:00— Falcon Heavy begins prelaunch engine chill
-01:30— Flight computer commanded to begin final prelaunch checks
-01:00— Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
-00:45— SpaceX launch director verifies go for launch
-00:02— Engine controller commands engine-ignition sequence to start
-00:00— Falcon Heavy liftoff

Once the rocket lifts off, Falcon Heavy hardware and its payload will go through a series of crucial maneuvers. The side boosters and core booster will try to separate and land. Following that, the rocket’s upper or second stage will propel into orbit, then attempt to deploy its 24 satellites from a device called the Integrated Payload Stack over several hours.

The timing and events below are also relative to liftoff, in hours, minutes, and seconds.

00:00:42— Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:27— Booster engine cutoff (BECO)
00:02:31— Side boosters separate from center core
00:02:49— Side boosters begin boost-back burn
00:03:27— Center core engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:03:31— Center core and 2nd stage separate
00:03:38— 2nd stage engine starts (SES-1)
00:04:03— Fairing deployment
00:07:13— Side boosters begin entry burn
00:08:41— Side booster landings
00:08:38— 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:08:53— Center core begins entry burn
00:11:21— Center core landing
00:12:55— Spacecraft deployments begin
01:12:39— Second-stage engine restart (SES-2)
01:13:00— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
02:07:35— Second-stage engine restart (SES-3)
02:08:04— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-3)
03:27:27— Second-stage engine restart (SES-4)
03:28:03— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-4)
03:34:09— Final spacecraft deployment

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Some veterans went balls out and made a ‘Jurassic Park’ fan film

The craziest thing we could do for this franchise was to fly people and equipment to Hawaii and try to tell a story that has all the elements people love about Jurassic Park but from a tactical military perspective,” producer and Army veteran Gregory Wong told We Are The Mighty.

It was crazy — and somehow he pulled it off.

Wong brought members of the military, firearms, and Jurassic community together to execute his vision: an epic fan film for one of the most iconic franchises of all time.

Hold on to your butts.


Whatever it takes to get the shot.

“We had so many partners on this project and every one of them helped with different aspects of the film. Paradise Park welcomed us in to their home for two days in the most authentic ‘Jurassic Jungle’ any filmmaker could dream of,” said Wong.

The cast and crew had 5 days to get every shot they needed on the island. Like any indie filmmakers could attest, it meant a brutal schedule. Dogs of War helped with three locations and active duty service members stationed on the island helped transport cast and crew — and jumped in for stunts and background work.

Back at base camp, Travis Haley conducts tactical training.

Force Reconnaissance Marine Travis Haley, along with his company, Haley Strategic, was involved with development of prototype gear and equipment just for the film. Haley brought his Spec Ops background and weapons expertise to the film, and he got to learn first-hand how challenging it can be to navigate the military-Hollywood divide.

His knowledge brought authenticity to the film that’s often difficult for filmmakers to get right. Military operations might not always look dynamic on film, but Haley was up to the challenge of portraying realistic tactics while telling an entertaining story.

Cast members pose with two Jurassic Park jeeps provided by Sidney Okamoto and Jacob Mast.

The cast and crew were predominantly veterans, including U.S. Marines Travis Haley, Sean Jennings, and Robert Bruce; U.S. Army vets Byron Leisek and Greg Wong himself; U.S. Navy Corpsman Nic Cornett — who directed the project; and U.S. Air Force vets Mike Jones and (We Are The Mighty’s own) Shannon Corbeil.

Many had never acted on-camera before. Jones, AKA Garand Thumb, has a thriving social media channel and enthusiastic fan base of his own, but traditional film-making was a new adventure for him.

Shannon Corbeil and Mike Jones talk about Air Force things. Probably.

“The filming schedule was rough but the people made it worthwhile. Most of us did this on our own dime and I hope the audience sees the passion we had for bringing this vision to life,” reflected Jones.

Baret Fawbush, a pastor and fundamental shooting instructor, was another social media influencer new to a narrative film set, but he was more than prepared to lend his expertise to the film, personally demonstrating the “manual of arms” for each cast member with a weapon.

Professional actors, like Jamie Costa (who is no stranger to fantastic fan films) and Barrett James, heightened the quality of the film with their talent, while also diligently training with their weapons and tactics.

U.S. Marine Robert Bruce conducts location scouting on Oahu.

Many, many brands came together to help Wong bring the film to the screen. A few of the major ones included Evike, JKarmy, PTS, Krytac, GP, and GG, who donated replica prop firearms and uniforms for the production. Ballahack Outdoor helped outfit the film’s leads with tip-of-the-spear footwear. There’s even a raptor puppet involved, created by Marco Cavassa, a prop builder for the film industry.

The film was primarily shot on a Sony A7Sii by Nero Manalo and VFX artists Kerr Robinson and Joe losczack crafted some very impressive weapon and dinosaur effects.

The obvious way to head to Costa Rica.

“I think a lot of people will appreciate the attention to detail and production value. Never before has a Jurassic fan film been so ambitious and daring. The making of such a project was a wild ride which we hope to embark on again soon,” said Wong.

Congratulations, Greg, you did it. You crazy son of a bitch, you did it.

Check out the film right here:

youtu.be

MIGHTY CULTURE

Russia’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ is the story from Mordor’s point of view

The Lord of the Rings saga is a gripping tale of teamwork, magic, and the triumph of good over evil against all odds… if you’re degenerate, decadent capitalist swine. The problem with the Lord of the Rings, in Russia’s view, is that history is written by the victors, Mordor might have been misunderstood, and it could have prospered if it weren’t for the external meddling of men, elves, and dwarves.


“Look, Sauron had a lot of good ideas.”

In 1999, Russian author Kirill Eskov penned, The Last Ringbearer, a version of the Lord of the Rings written from the view of Sauron’s forces. This alternative view of the saga features a lot of common historical ideas from the real Earth’s 20th Century applied to the fictional universe created by Tolkien, a departure from the Hobbit propaganda the Deep State (aka dwarves) would have you believe.

Eskov writes his novel under the premise that history is written by the victors, and a novel written by the vanquished would present an entirely different view of Tolkien’s creation. The Last Ringbearer is meant to counter Hobbit Propaganda that wants you to think that Gandalf and elves are anything but thieves and war criminals.

The Last Ringbearer actually accuses Gandalf of “crafting the Final Solution to the Mordorian problem.”

While readers of the Lord of the Rings were led to believe Mordor is an evil place, desolate and dedicated to the destruction of the world of men, The Last Ringbearer wants you to know the glorious world of Mordor was filled with engineers and artisans on the brink of a new industrial revolution, whose beauty was cut down in its prime by the imperialist pigs led by the Elves allied with the Elvish puppet Aragorn.

After the forces of Middle Earth slaughter orc civilians during an invasion of the land of Mordor, two orcs fleeing the elvish onslaught rescue a Gondorian noble who was sentenced to die for opposing the massacres of civilians. Together, they work to free the land of men from Elvish magic.

As if I needed any more proof Cate Blanchett is the root of all evil.

The book has never been officially translated into English, although amateur translations are available on the internet. The reason for this being the Tolkien estate is very protective of his work and will sue Eskov all the way to Vladivostok if given the opportunity. All kidding aside, it would be an interesting exercise for us all to consider our favorite stories and even real-world events from the point of view of the losers – maybe we would come to understand why some people are the way they are and accept them a little more.

Except Saruman. No one likes a turncoat.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is making the most of the coronavirus to dislodge the US as the world’s main superpower

China is aggressively pushing its foreign policy agenda while the world is focused on the coronavirus.

In recent months, as the coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan, China, spreads, the government led by President Xi Jinping has tried to strengthen its position around the world, while trying to dislodge the US from its position as a superpower.


It has done this by enforcing its sovereignty over the South China Sea, asserting control in Hong Kong by cracking down on protesters from last year, and intimidating Taiwan with increasing military measures.

China is also using its wealth to push its agenda. It pledged tens of millions of dollars to the World Health Organization (WHO) after the US government announced it would freeze its own funding, and it is providing relief on loans to African countries in exchange for them putting up national assets like copper mines as collateral, according to Vox.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project, a think tank in Washington, DC, told Vox: “When it sees opportunities, China moves to exploit them. And we are in a moment where the Chinese definitely see opportunities.”

On April 18, China struck back at protesters in Hong Kong. More than a dozen key people were arrested for their roles in protests that gripped the city between August and October. According to The New York Times, “The arrests signaled a broader crackdown on the anti-government movement.”

On the same day, China strengthened its position in the South China Sea. China created two new districts for cities on Yongxing Island, which, along with earlier renaming the areas, was part of an attempt to assert its sovereignty, according to The Diplomat.

An island in the South China Sea might not sound like much when it’s only about 12 square miles of land, yet the city covers 1.2 million square miles of sea, and China’s push for sovereignty clashes with other claims made by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

As for Taiwan, on April 23, Al Jazeera reported China was escalating military drills around the island, signaling discontent towards Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen who was reelected earlier in the year.

Throughout April, China increased military exercises, including having five warships sail unusually close by, conducting a 36-hour endurance exercise, and having its air force reportedly conducted its first night mission in the area.

In Africa, China’s using the struggling nations’ debts to gain assets. China is the continent’s largest creditor. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studied African governments are indebted to China for about 3 billion.

As debt continues to grow some governments are considering handing over assets to China in exchange for relief, according to the Wall Street Journal. For instance, Zambia was considering handing over its third-largest copper mine.

The most obvious recent occurrence of China moving in on the US was its offer to provide funding to WHO. Business Insider’s Rosie Perper previously reported on its pledge to give WHO million after President Donald Trump announced earlier in April that the US would freeze 0 million in payments, which was previously the largest contribution from a single country.T

John Lee, a former national security adviser to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, told Business Insider the new contribution was not from goodwill but was designed to boost its “superficial credentials” as a “global contributor” dealing with the coronavirus.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The world’s 7 goofiest-looking military uniforms

Not all uniforms are created equal. If you need any proof of that, just look at an American airman standing next to a United States Marine while both are in their dress blues. Or check out the Navy’s old “blueberries.” Hey, we all make mistakes, but the important thing is that we handle it and fix what we need to. Some militaries don’t. This is about the ones who don’t.


To be perfectly clear, winning a war isn’t about the coolest or sharpest uniform. But respecting an adversary might help prevent a war, and wearing a uniform that looks like Willy Wonka designed it isn’t going to earn respect. For the record, I fully acknowledge all of these guys are badass and would easily murder me in any altercation.

They’re probably on their way to my house now.

All I want is gin.

British Beefeaters

While the Beefeaters are a real military unit (and can probably totally kill me with a matchstick if they wanted to), I still have to question their use of the throwback jersey. The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign’s Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary (their full name) is comprised completely of British soldiers who have at least 22 years of service under their belt but there is nothing utilitarian about their choice of dress. Is that guy going to impale someone with the replica of a palace?

Greek Evzones guarding the Ministry of Funny Walks.

Greek Presidential Guard

I question any uniform that has little balls on the toes. The Greek Presidential Guard – also known as the Evzones – still wear the uniform of an elite Greek soldier from yesteryear. And while I praise other units who do this, like U.S. Marines, and the French Foreign Legion, the outfit’s foustanella (the skirt-like item) has 400 folds, one for each year of Turkish occupation. I genuinely question any uniform that has their undying grudge sewn into it. Also, I have to say if you’re going to wear a 100-year-old-plus military uniform, it’s weird to carry an M1 Garand rifle.

Italian Carabinieri

Italy’s Carabinieri police force are totally awesome crime fighters who are now part of the country’s official armed forces. Although that’s a relatively new development, the Carabinieri have been around since the mid-1800s. They look like they should be the captains of wooden sailing ships back then.

Ugandan People’s Defense Forces Air Force

Uganda’s air force work uniform looks like they couldn’t decide if they wanted to blend in with the ground or with the water and decided not to make a choice. To make it worse, the dress uniform looks like it hasn’t changed much since the days of Idi Amin.

Malaysian Guards

While I totally respect traditions, I will always question the efficiency of wearing two uniforms at the same time. I don’t mind the look of a skirt-like uniform, but when the wearer is already wearing pants, I begin to question how this uniform came to pass.

The Spanish Legion

I genuinely love the history of the Spanish Legion, but their dress uniforms make them look like a cheap male stripper who came to Kathy the secretary’s bachelorette party or someone’s mother accidentally shrank the entire unit’s shirts while doing laundry this week.

North Korea

North Korean dress uniforms are what people who steal valor think dress uniforms are supposed to look like. I can only think of two countries North Korea has fired shots at since Kim Il-Sung was born from a star’s vagina or whatever they say his origin was, and most of the North Korean soldiers who fought in the Korean War were killed in it. What the hell are all these medals and orders for? Fewest calories consumed?

Articles

The Taliban just trolled the White House over its Afghanistan war plan

The United States should withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan and stop listening to “stooges” in Kabul, the Taliban warned in an open letter to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.


The Trump administration is working to finalize a regional strategy that could include nearly 4,000 additional US troops, part of a NATO-led coalition, that have been requested by commanders in the country.

Two Taliban religious police beating a woman in public because she dared to remove her burqa in public. (Hidden camera footage courtesy of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan)

That plan has faced skepticism in the White House, where Trump and several top aides have criticized years of American military intervention and foreign aid.

“Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might,” the Taliban said in the English-language letter released to media and addressed to Trump.

The Taliban, seeking to restore Islamic rule, have been waging an increasingly violent insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government since losing power in a US-led military operation in 2001.

In the lengthy statement, the Taliban criticized the Afghan government as “stooges,” “lying corrupt leaders” and “repulsive sellouts” who are providing Washington with overly optimistic “rosy pictures” of the situation in Afghanistan.

“The war situation in Afghanistan is far worse than you realize!” the statement said, while arguing that the only thing preventing the insurgents from seizing major cities was a fear of causing civilian casualties.

Members of an Afghan and coalition security force move into a field of grass during an operation in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. (U.S Army photo by Pfc. Elliott N. Banks)

The statement also took aim at generals, who the Taliban said “are concealing the real statistics of your dead and crippled” soldiers.

“We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethink your new strategy in Afghanistan,” the letter said. “A number of warmongering congressmen and generals in Afghanistan are pressing you to protract the war in Afghanistan because they seek to preserve their military privileges.”

The senior US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has requested several thousand additional troops to act as advisers to the struggling Afghan security forces.

Powerful voices in the US government, including Republican Senator John McCain, have also called for an “enduring” US military presence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban letter concludes by saying the conflict could be resolved by the withdrawal of foreign troops.

“Everyone now understands that the main driver of war in Afghanistan is foreign occupation,” the Taliban said.

“The Afghans have no ill-intention towards the Americans or any other nation around the world but if anyone violates their sanctums then they are mighty proficient at beating and defeating the transgressors.”

Articles

Russian bombers and patrol planes carry out major probes around Japan

Heightened tensions in the East Asia region increased after Japan scrambled F-15J Eagle fighters in response to Russian military activity.


According to a report by the Daily Mail, the first incident involved a pair of Tu-95 “Bear” strategic bombers. Japan then scrambled the Eagles, which are locally-built versions of the F-15C Eagle in service with the United States Air Force.

The Russians later sent two pairs of maritime patrol planes. One consisted of Tu-142 “Bears,” the other were Ilyushin Il-38 “May” aircraft.

A Russian Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ photographed from a RAF Typhoon Quick Reaction Alert aircraft (QRA) with 6 Squadron from RAF Leuchars in Scotland. (Photo by Ministry of Defense)

The actions come as the United States and Japan are planning what Reuters called a “joint show of force” in the East China Sea. The United States has sent the Nimitz-class carrier U.S. Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to the area as the tensions have risen, and Japan reportedly plans to deploy destroyers alongside the American carrier.

In March 2017, the United States and Japan conducted joint drills, and Japan sent their newest carrier, the Izumo to the South China Sea.

The Tu-95 “Bear” is Russia’s primary strategic bomber. According to the Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation, it has a range of 8,100 nautical miles without aerial refueling.

Depending on the version, it can carry up to 16 AS-15 “Kent” cruise missiles that have nuclear or conventional warheads. The plane can also carry anti-ship missiles or regular bombs.

The Tu-142 is an antisubmarine-warfare aircraft based on the Tu-95. This plane was exported to India in the 1980s, and it served until late March 2017, when it was replaced with P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

The Il-38 is a maritime patrol aircraft that is smaller than the Tu-142. According to the Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation, the Il-38 has a range of 3,890 nautical miles, a top speed of 390 knots, and can carry up to 11,000 pounds of ordnance.

The Il-38 was involved in a February 2017 incident in which the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) was buzzed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

TSA catches man smuggling gun in DVD player at US airport

A New York man was arrested after a handgun was discovered hidden inside a DVD player he had packed in his checked bag at John F. Kennedy International Airport on April 13, 2019.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered the handgun when the bag was going through security scanning. The 9mm handgun was wrapped in aluminum foil and hidden inside a DVD player, according to a TSA press release. The gun was not loaded.

The man, who is from Queen’s, New York, was arrested at his gate before boarding a plane to Mexico. He has been charged with weapons violations.


In the US, TSA regulations outright forbid passengers from possessing firearms on their persons and in their carry-on luggage.

However, they may be permitted in checked luggage if very specific regulations are followed.

A handgun was discovered in the man’s checked bag.

(TSA)

“Firearms carried in checked bags must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in,” the TSA said on its website. “Check with your airline to see if they allow firearms in checked bags.”

“When traveling, be sure to comply with the laws concerning possession of firearms as they vary by local, state and international government,” the agency added.

According to the TSA, it is not uncommon for passengers to be caught with guns and other firearms at its checkpoints.

The TSA discovered 91 guns in the carry-on bags of the 16.3 million passengers screened between April 8 and April 14, 2019.

Of those 91 guns, the agency said 81 were loaded and 35 had a round chambered.

Those who are caught in possession of a firearm at a TSA checkpoint can be arrested or subject to a fine of up to ,333.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iraqi Army’s recent gains are fragile as US draws down

From their outpost on Iraq’s westernmost edge, U.S. 1st Lt. Kyle Hagerty and his troops watched civilians trickle into the area after American and Iraqi forces drove out the Islamic State group. They were, he believed, families returning to liberated homes, a hopeful sign of increasing stability.


But when he interviewed them on a recent reconnaissance patrol, he discovered he was wrong. They were families looking for shelter after being driven from their homes in a nearby town. Those who pushed them out were forces from among their “liberators” — Shiite militiamen who seized control of the area after defeating the IS militants.

It was a bitter sign of the mixed legacy from the United States’ intervention in Iraq to help defeat the militants. American-backed military firepower brought down the IS “caliphate,” but many of the divisions and problems that helped fuel the extremists’ rise remain unresolved.

The U.S.-led coalition, which launched its fight against IS in August 2014, is now reducing the numbers of American troops in Iraq, after Baghdad declared victory over the extremists. Both Iraqi and U.S. officials say the exact size of the drawdown has not yet been decided.

Also read: Twin bombings in Baghdad kill 38, shatter post-IS calm

U.S. and Iraqi commanders here in western Iraq warn that victories over IS could be undercut easily by a large-scale withdrawal. Iraq’s regular military remains dependent on U.S. support. Many within Iraq’s minority communities view the U.S. presence as a buffer against the Shiite-dominated central government. Still, Iranian-backed militias with strong voices in Baghdad are pushing for a complete U.S. withdrawal, and some Iraqis liken any American presence to a form of occupation.

That has left an uncomfortable limbo in this area that was the last battlefield against the extremists. Coalition commanders still work with Iraqi forces to develop long-term plans for stability even as a drawdown goes ahead with no one certain of its eventual extent.

Hearts and minds — again

“Let’s go win us some hearts and minds,” Sgt. Jonathan Cary, 23, joked as he and Hagerty and the patrol convoy set off from a base outside the town of Qaim, evoking a phrase used in American policy goals for Iraq ever since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

U.S. Army military police provide crowd control while Iraqi citizens line up for food and water being distributed to citizens in need in April 2003. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson.)

After just a few hours moving on foot across farmland and orchards to a cluster of modest houses, Hagerty realized the families he thought were returnees to the area were in fact newly displaced. Their homes in Qaim had been confiscated by the government-affiliated Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, made up mainly of Shiite paramilitary fighters backed by Iran.

“Our end goal is a stable Iraq, right?” Hagerty said later, back at the base. “But when you see stuff like that, it makes you wonder if they are ever going to be able to do it themselves.”

After victories against IS, the PMF has built up a presence in many parts of Sunni-majority provinces, including western Anbar. It formally falls under the command of the prime minister, but some Iraqi commanders accuse the PMF of being a rival to government power.

PMF flags line highways crisscrossing Anbar. At a PMF checkpoint outside al-Asad airbase — a sprawling complex used by both Iraqi and coalition forces — U.S. convoys are regularly stopped for hours while busloads of PMF fighters are waved through.

U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom works closely with the branches of Iraq’s security forces — Sunni tribal fighters and the Iraqi army — who are increasingly concerned about the rise in power of the PMF. Iran has given no indication of dialing back its support after the defeat of IS extremists.

Popular Mobilization Forces fire a mortar during the Hawija offensive in 2017. (VOA photo by Dlshad Anwar)

“The biggest question I get now is, ‘how long can we count on you being here?'” Folsom said of his conversations with Iraqi commanders and local politicians.

That decision ultimately rests with Iraq’s political leadership, he said.

“I guess some people could see that as a cop-out, but at the same time it’s not my place as a lowly colonel to define how long the U.S. presence is going to be.”

‘Forward line of freedom’

For the senior officers leading the current fight against IS, decades of U.S. military intervention in Iraq has defined their careers.

The top U.S. general in Iraq — Lt. Gen. Paul Funk — served in Iraq four times: in the Gulf war in 1991; in the 2003 invasion; in the surge when some 170,000 American troops were serving in Iraq in 2007; and most recently in the fight against IS.

Related: The US is beginning to draw down from fighting in Iraq

“It will definitely be positive,” Funk said of the legacy of the U.S. role against IS in Iraq. “People see their young men and women out here defeating evil. That’s a positive thing.”

On a recent flight from Baghdad to a small U.S. outpost in northern Syria near Manbij — a trip that traversed the heart of the battlefield with IS for the past 3½ years — Funk described the future of the fight as ideological and open-ended.

“The problem is people believe it’s already over, and it’s not,” he said. “Beating the ideology, destroying the myth, that’s going to take time.”

Touching down outside an orchard on the perimeter of the Manbij base, Funk exclaimed: “Welcome to the front line of freedom!”

Funk predicts the ideological fight could take years and easily require U.S. troop deployments elsewhere. He said that is one reason he believes it’s so important to visit U.S. troops on the current front lines — to show them “the American people believe in their purpose.”

“We have got to recruit the next generation,” he said.

More reading: This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

Many of the young U.S. troops interviewed by The Associated Press said they didn’t know anything about the Islamic State group when they enlisted.

Rayden Simeona, a 21-year-old corporal in the Marines, enlisted in 2014, when all he knew about the U.S. military was from movies and video games.

“I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere with my life, I had no idea what IS was. I just knew I wanted to go to war,” he said. Once deployed, he said talk rarely broached the big questions of “What we are doing here?” or “Why?”

“But I do wonder all the time: Why are we spending all this money in Iraq?” he said. “There’s probably some greater plan or reason that someone much higher up than me knows.”

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Along Iraq’s border with Syria, the two Iraqi forces charged with holding a key stretch of territory lack direct communication. Because one force falls under the Defense Ministry and the other under the Interior Ministry, their radios are incompatible.

Instead, the troops use Nokia cellphones in a part of the country where network coverage is spotty to nonexistent.

At the nearby coalition outpost near Qaim, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brandon Payne spends much of his time filling communications gaps by relaying messages between different branches of Iraq’s military.

“The coordination is not where we hoped it would be,” Payne said. “But they do talk to each other, and we see that as a sign of progress.”

Tactical shortcomings within Iraq’s military are partially what fueled the expansion of the coalition’s footprint in Iraq in the past three years. As Iraqi ground forces demonstrated an inability to communicate and coordinate attacks across multiple fronts, U.S. forces moved closer to the fighting and sped up the pace of territorial gains.

Despite the caliphate’s collapse, those weaknesses have persisted. Iraqi forces remain dependent on coalition intelligence, reconnaissance, artillery fire, and airstrikes to hold territory and fight IS insurgent cells.

Payne regularly shuttles between his base, Qaim and the Syrian border, meeting with different members of Iraqi forces to coordinate security and repel IS attacks from the Syrian side.

Read more: ISIS’ last town in Iraq falls to Iraqi security forces

“I would say we are still needed,” Payne said. “We are getting great results with this model, but you see how much goes into it.”

The base, once a small, dusty outpost, now houses a few hundred coalition troops and is a maze of barracks, gyms, a dining facility, laundry services and a chapel.

“At some point, someone much higher up than me is going to decide the juice is just not worth the squeeze,” Payne said, referring to the cost of such a large outpost in a remote corner of the country.

Rotten leadership

Iraqi army Lt. Col. Akram Salah Hadi, who works closely with Payne’s soldiers at the Qaim outpost, said coalition training and intelligence sharing have improved the performance of his unit. But overall, the U.S. effort in Iraq gives him little hope for the future.

Corruption in the military, Hadi said, remains as bad as it was in 2014, when it was seen as a major reason why entire Iraqi divisions simply dissolved in the assault on Mosul by a few hundred IS fighters.

This soldier instructs a motivated group of Iraqi troops. (Image from DoD)

Young Iraqi soldiers with ambition and talent can’t rise through the ranks without political connections. Top ranks are bloated with officers who have bought their promotions. Within his division alone, Hadi said he can think of 40 officers with no military background who attained their rank because of their membership in a political party.

“With leadership like this, the rest will always be rotten,” he said.

Coalition programs that have trained tens of thousands of Iraqi troops have largely focused on the infantry, not the junior officers needed to lead units and instill a culture of service that will make a professional force.

Folsom, the U.S. Marine colonel, said military power will not root out corruption or heal Iraq’s longstanding divisions.

“I have a saying out here,” he added, “‘You can’t want it more than them.'”