US Navy practicing to 'up the game' against old but dangerous threat - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Some 8,600 personnel, 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, and two submarines from 18 countries are in the Baltic Sea this month for Baltic Operations.

The annual BaltOps exercise, led this year by the US Navy’s recently revived 2nd Fleet in its first major European engagement, allows partners to practice air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, amphibious operations, and mine warfare.

Mines are especially dangerous in confined, heavily trafficked waterways, like the Strait of Hormuz or the Baltic Sea.

Bordered by six NATO members, the Baltic is littered with World War I- and II-era mines, and Russia is believed to have the world’s largest arsenal of naval mines — as many as a quarter-million, by one estimate.


“The Baltic Sea is of vital strategic importance for the alliance,” said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, who stressed that the exercise was not targeted at any country but noted the deterioration of European security since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

BaltOps 2019’s Mine Warfare Task Group had sailors and experts, including more than 70 divers, from 11 countries manning more than 15 mine-countermeasures ships, 15 unmanned undersea vehicles, five drone ships, and airborne mine-countermeasures systems.

“There is a lot of value in this exercise as it supports not only our US capability, but our work with partner nations in the mine-warfare space,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Claytor, officer in charge of a detachment from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28.

Below, you can see how the US and NATO train for a uniquely complicated, and uniquely dangerous, form of warfare.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Researchers from the US Office of Naval Research and German Naval Research aboard FSG Konsort, conduct MCM Experimentations using an Mk 18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicles during BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Lt. Alex Burtness, left, a field support representative for Mk 18 Mod 2, prepares to lower a Mk 18 Mod 2 from the stern of FSG Kronsor during experimental Mine Countermeasure operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A Mk 18 Mod 2 is submerged from the stern of FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasure (MCM) operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

The Mk 18 Mod 2 UUVs being tested had two kinds of sensor packages: The Small Synthetic Aperture Minehunter and the Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey forward-looking sonar.

Small Synthetic Aperture Minehunter systems work on a range of wavelengths, providing fine-grain imaging of the seafloor and of small man-made objects as well as peering into the seabed to provide imagery and analysis of buried objects.

The SSAM II module used at BaltOps “provides higher resolution and is intended to hunt bottom mines,” said Navy Lt. Matthew Stroup, public affairs officer for the BaltOps 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group.

SSAM II “has two modes; linear [synthetic aperture sonar] mode for rapid search and circular SAS, which provides very high-resolution images to enable” reacquiring and identification, Stroup added.

Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey forward-looking sonar, known as ATLAS, has a wide search-area width that’s meant for volume mine-hunting, Stroup said. It can also be used to gather information, including mapping of clutter and large-object detection on the seafloor and to gauge ocean depth.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A Mk 18 Mod 2 unmanned underwater vehicle is submerged from FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasures operations at BaltOps in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

Mine warfare is key to maintaining sea lines of communications, particularly in ports and landing areas, said US Navy Rear Adm. Scott Robertson.

Robertson is commander of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center and led the BaltOps 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Lyle Valtron, a field support representative, operates an Mk 18 Mod 2 aboard FSG Kronsort during experimental Mine Countermeasure operations at BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A mine countermeasure ship attached to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) transports divers in preparation for an investigative dive during a mine countermeasure exercise in support of Baltic Operations 2019.

(NATO/CPO Brian Djurslev)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Patrick Miller operates the common console, used for both Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS), aboard a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A close-up of the common console aboard a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

The Airborne Laser Mine Detection System aboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter heading to the Baltic Sea during BaltOps 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A team of Norwegian explosive ordnancemen prepare to detonate a World War II-era, air-laid mine weighing approximately 1,000 pounds in the Baltic Sea, June 2019. The team is operating as part of an 11-nation Mine Warfare Task Group in BALTOPS 2019.

(US Nav photo by Lt. Matthew A. Stroup)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A team of Norwegian explosive ordnancemen prepare to detonate a World War II-era, air-laid mine weighing approximately 1,000 pounds in the Baltic Sea, June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

An unexploded A Mark I-VI mine at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. It was detected, identified, and detonated by Norwegian and Danish naval personnel during BaltOps 2019 in June 2019.

(Royal Danish Navy)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A diver attached to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) prepares an investigative dive during a mine-countermeasure exercise at Baltic Operations 2019.

(NATO photo by CPO Brian Djurslev)

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A roughly 1,000-pound WWII-era air-laid mine detonates in the Baltic Sea after being discovered by the BALTOPS 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group and being rigged for detonation by a team of Norwegian explosive ordancemen in June 2019.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm Specialist Shannon E. Renfroe)

“There is a good chance we will find more of these mines as the exercise continues, and it’s reassuring to know our international task group has the training and expertise necessary to safely dispose of them,” Robertson added.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US is now testing an experimental Ebola treatment

A first-in-human trial evaluating an experimental treatment for Ebola virus disease has begun at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Phase 1 clinical trial is examining the safety and tolerability of a single monoclonal antibody called mAb114, which was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, and their collaborators. Investigators aim to enroll between 18 and 30 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 60. The trial will not expose participants to Ebola virus.


Ebola virus disease is a serious and often fatal illness that can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and hemorrhage (severe bleeding). It was first discovered in humans in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has caused periodic cases and outbreaks in several African countries since then. The largest outbreak, which occurred in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, caused more than 28,600 infections and more than 11,300 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In May 2018, the DRC reported an Ebola outbreak, located in Équateur Province in the northwest of the country. As of May 20, health officials have reported 51 probable or confirmed cases and 27 deaths. There are currently no licensed treatments available for Ebola virus disease, although multiple experimental therapies are being developed.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

“We hope this trial will establish the safety of this experimental treatment for Ebola virus disease—an important first step in a larger evaluation process,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Ebola is highly lethal, and reports of another outbreak in the DRC remind us that we urgently need Ebola treatments.”

“This study adds to NIAID efforts in conducting scientifically and ethically sound biomedical research to develop countermeasures against Ebola virus disease,” added Dr. Fauci.

MAb114 is a monoclonal antibody—a protein that binds to a single target on a pathogen—isolated from a human survivor of the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, a city in the DRC. Nancy Sullivan, Ph.D., chief of the Biodefense Research Section in NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC), and her team, in collaboration with researchers from the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) in the DRC and the Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland, discovered that the survivor retained antibodies against Ebola 11 years after infection. They isolated the antibodies and tested the most favorable ones in the laboratory and non-human primate studies, and selected mAb114 as the most promising. Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of INRB and one of the scientists involved in the original detection of the Ebola virus in 1976, played a key role in discovering mAb114.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
Researchers looking at slides of cultures of cells that make monoclonal antibodies.

In collaboration with the VRC, scientists at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, illustrated that the monoclonal antibody binds to the hard-to-reach core of the Ebola virus surface protein and blocks the protein’s interaction with its receptor on human cells. A single dose of mAb114 protected non-human primates days after lethal Ebola virus infection. The antibody was developed in partnership with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It was manufactured for clinical studies by the company MedImmune based in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“The discovery and development of this experimental Ebola treatment was a collaborative process made possible by Ebola survivors and the DRC scientists who first encountered the virus, as well as through collaboration with our colleagues in the Department of Defense. We are pleased to announce the start of this Phase 1 trial of mAb114,” said NIAID VRC Director John Mascola, M.D.

Martin Gaudinski, M.D., medical director in the VRC’s Clinical Trials Program, is the principal investigator of the new trial. The first three participants will receive a 5 milligram (mg)/kilogram (kg) intravenous infusion of mAb114 for 30 minutes. The study monitoring team will evaluate safety data to determine if the remaining participants can receive higher doses (25 mg/kg and 50 mg/kg). Participants will have blood taken before and after the infusion and will bring a diary card home to record their temperature and any symptoms for three days. Participants will visit the clinic approximately 14 times over six months to have their blood drawn to see if mAb114 is detectable and to be checked for any health changes.

Investigators expect that the trial, called VRC 608, will be fully enrolled by July 2018. For more information about the trial, please visit ClinicalTrials.gov and search identifier NCT03478891.

This article originally appeared on National Institutes of Health. Follow @NIH on Twitter.

popular

5 reasons why Luke Skywalker was the perfect boot

As moviegoers flock to their local cinemas to watch the latest installment of Star Wars, it’s important to remember that the whole film franchise wouldn’t be what it is today without the efforts of a young, highly motivated individual, named Luke Skywalker, who had big dreams, but was stuck in a small town.


The original film follows his dynamic journey from living with his uncle’s family to joining the resistance and taking down a dark empire.

It takes a unique character with big aspirations to pull all that off, and it makes us wish Luke was in our squad.

He needs to work on that salute, though. (Image via GIPHY)

Related: 7 reasons why you’d want ‘Pvt. Pyle’ in your infantry squad

Check out these five reasons why Luke Skywalker makes the perfect boot:

1. He was an orphan and could deploy at any moment, without question or notice.

After learning his adopted family has just been taken out by the Empire, Luke does what any motivated teenager would do — goes to war for some payback.

That look when you witness your whole world crumble to the ground. (Image via GIPHY)

2. Luke immediately believed everything he was told about the Force

You can get a boot to believe anything if you say it the right way.

Yes, it is — and no, it’s not. (Image via GIPHY)

3. Luke claimed he’s a crack shot, and it turns out he was pretty good.

“I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.” — Luke Skywalker

2. He’s a natural pilot and flew into the face of danger.

He managed to dodge all that incoming enemy fire like it was no big deal.

“It’s just like Beggar’s Canyon back home'” Luke. (Image via GIPHY)

Also Read: 9 fictional characters that would make great drinking buddies

1. Skywalker took down an entire Empire with two rounds on his first deployment.

That’s not bad for a freakin’ boot.

(Image via GIPHY)

Now we just have to hope he didn’t let all that success go to his head…

F*ck! We think it did:

It’s not the Medal of Honor, big guy. (Image via Giphy)

Can you think of any other reasons Luke would make an excellent boot? Comment below.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why Gerard Butler gave a Pentagon press briefing

Critics who say the Pentagon doesn’t give the press enough briefings had their prayers answered — even if they didn’t necessarily get their questions answered. On Oct. 15, the Pentagon gave a presser led by actor Gerard Butler. If you know anything about popular culture news, you probably guessed the brief focused on the Navy.


The actor has been doing a full-court press around the military community in support of his new film, Hunter Killer. Butler’s October Pentagon press briefing was the first one given by the Defense Department since August of 2018.

At the time of the actor’s briefing, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White were not at the Pentagon. They weren’t even in the United States. The two were on their way to Vietnam when Butler took the podium.

He came to thank the Department of Defense for their help with his new film, due in theaters October 26th. In the film, Butler plays a U.S. Navy submarine commander with the mission of taking Navy SEALs into Russian waters to rescue a deposed Russian president from a coup plot.

“It was one of my childhood dreams to be on a sub,” the actor told the gathered press room. “I didn’t think it would happen the way it did, taking off from Pearl Harbor and sitting on the conning tower with a submarine commander.”

Butler spent three days aboard a Navy submarine in preparation for the film. While on the boat, the actor learned about how a submariner’s small, metal world works and took part in numerous training drills. He told reporters it was incredible to see how sailors are constantly being tested and must think creatively and intuitively.

“What I really took out of it was the brilliance and the humility of the sailors I worked with,” he said. This isn’t the first time Butler has made visits and appearances in the military community.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Marines demonstrate Marine Corps Martial Arts techniques for actor Gerard Butler at Camp Pendleton during his 2016 visit — though we’re sure he already knew this move in particular.

(Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. Emmanuel Necoechea)

In 2016, the actor also flew with the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force’s fighter demonstration squadron, visited Marines at Camp Pendleton, and toured guided missile destroyers at Naval Base San Diego in support of other films.

For Hunter Killer, he wanted to be sure to show his support to the Navy.

“I’d like to thank the Navy for all their help because we couldn’t have done it without them – or we could, but it would not have been a good movie,” Butler said.
Articles

With ISIS nearly dead in Syria, guess who’s making a comeback

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate is consolidating territory in a major clash with a rival rebel group and could make the terror group a more formidable threat in the longer term than the Islamic State, US-based intelligence advisory firm The Soufan Group warns.


The warning comes amid a major clash between al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and another Islamist rebel group in the province that the Syrian regime and its allies do not largely control. The US, by and large, is focused on defeating ISIS in other areas of Syria and has largely given over a leadership role for post-ISIS Syria to Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime.

“The prospect of a sustained de facto governing presence by al-Qaeda in Idlib is a grave national security concern,” The Soufan Group noted. “The prospect may lead to US airstrikes, though the air space over Idlib is far more complicated and crowded than over Raqqa. Idlib is just to the east of Latakia, an Assad regime stronghold with a sizable Russian military presence,” the group added.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
Flag of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham from Wikimedia Commons

US-backed, anti-ISIS fighters have retaken approximately 40 percent of ISIS’s capital of Raqqa, but continue to have a long and grueling fight ahead of them. The fight consumes the majority of US resources in Syria.

HTS and the Islamist rebel group have now struck a tenuous truce giving HTS control of the city of Idlib. The terrorist group has changed its name several times and falsely declared to cut ties with the global al-Qaeda network in order to court less extreme opposition groups on the ground in Syria.

Experts fear the terrorist group will deepen its roots in Syria and may able to launch external terror plots against the West using its new sanctuary.

“The battle against the Islamic State in Raqqa is not to be the most consequential ongoing fight in Syria,” The Soufan Group lamented.

Articles

Why Iran’s favorite weapon is the cyber attack

In a piece written for The Cipher Brief, Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute details Iran’s weapon of choice for imposing its will on domestic and foreign threats alike — cyber attacks.


Eisenstadt, as well as experts contacted by Business Insider, say that Iran has a weak conventional military that couldn’t possibly hope to push around stronger countries. For that reason, cyber attacks represent the perfect weapon.

Related: US may have to consider firing on Iranian boats after latest attack

Cyber attacks are cheap, ambiguous, hard to pin on any one actor, and almost completely without precedent when it comes to gauging a military response.

Cyber attacks allow Iran “to strike at adversaries globally, instanta­neously, and on a sustained basis, and to potentially achieve strategic effects in ways it cannot in the physical domain,” writes Eisenstadt.

Unlike the US, which wields nuclear weapons and the world’s finest military, Iran relies on its ability to potentially wreak havoc in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s busiest oil shipping routes, its funding of terrorist organizations, and its arsenal of ballistic missiles to deter attacks, according to Eisenstadt.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
“Hack those guys over there.” | Creative Commons photo by Mohammad Sadegh Heydari

However, Tehran cannot hold the Strait of Hormuz in an outright confrontation, its terrorist allies have become increasingly vulnerable and targetable by world powers, and if Iran ever used a ballistic missile, it would soon find itself on the receiving end of a blistering counter attack.

Therefore cyber attacks give Iran a fourth kind of deterrence, one which the US has repeatedly failed to punish. Indeed, cyber attacks are new territory, and the US still hasn’t found an appropriate and consistent way to deal with cyber attacks, whether those attacks come in the form of Russian meddling in the US election, North Korea’s hack of Sony, or China’s stealing valuable defense data.

Eisenstadt addresses this lack of US response as a “credibility gap,” which the US must somehow fill.

Articles

The world’s two biggest terror groups may go head to head in Syria

Experts have been warning for a while now that Al Qaeda is still very much a presence as a jihadist group, posing perhaps an even bigger long-term threat than ISIS.


And now, Al Qaeda is planning to challenge ISIS in its stronghold — Syria.

American and European officials told The New York Times recently that Al Qaeda has started moving veteran operatives to Syria as the group plans to escalate its fight with ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh), which operated under the Al Qaeda umbrella until the two groups split off and became rivals.

And though ISIS has been grabbing most headlines with its gruesome propaganda machine and bold proclamations about building a “caliphate” that will take over the world, Al Qaeda has been quietly focusing on its strategy to be the last group standing when the dust settles.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front fighters carry their weapons on the back of a pickup truck during the release of Lebanese soldiers and policemen in Arsal, eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. | YouTube

Al Qaeda is now “taking an opportunity off of what ISIS did” to make itself a main focus of the West’s fight against terror, Ali Soufan, the CEO of strategic-security firm The Soufan Group, said earlier this month at a national-security conference at Fordham University in New York.

“What ISIS did made so many people in the Muslim world think, ‘Al Qaeda are the good guys. ISIS are the bad guys,'” said Soufan, a former FBI special agent who has investigated high-profile terror cases.

“Even when you hear some people testifying on Capitol Hill that, ‘It’s OK. Let’s support al-Nusra or let’s support Ahrar al-Sham because they probably will fight ISIS’ — well al-Nusra is … an official affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria,” he continued, referencing the group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting ISIS for control of territory in Syria.

While ISIS has made a show of its excessive violence — through beheading videos and other propaganda distributed online in several languages — Al Qaeda has been more cautious. The group holds the same brutal ideology to which ISIS subscribes, but it’s been more patient with winning over the Syrian population.

“You can see Al Qaeda taking advantage thinking strategically,” Soufan said. “ISIS is not thinking strategically. ISIS is just doing crazy stuff, a lot of violence, trying to bring a lot of people in.”

And while ISIS has lured thousands to its territory with its violent advertising and declaration of the “caliphate,” or pseudo-state ruled by a strict interpretation of Islamic law, recent reports indicate that fighter defections within the group are increasing and the flow of foreign fighters to ISIS territory has slowed. On top of that, the group has been losing territory without gaining much new land.

“ISIS is becoming like a smoke screen. We’re all looking at ISIS all the time. ‘Oh, look, ISIS, they did a video, or they put out another thing of Dabiq,'” Soufan said, referring to the group’s English-language online propaganda magazine.

He added: “They are technically more advanced than Al Qaeda, but I think Al Qaeda is looking into the long term.”

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
ISIS fighters in Syria | YouTube

Al Qaeda’s strategy seems to be predicated on waiting for Syrians to slowly come around to the idea of Islamic rule. That lowers the chance of a successful uprising if Jabhat al-Nusra is able to establish Syria as an Islamic “emirate” — land that would be controlled by the group and run under strict Islamic law, similar to ISIS’ so-called caliphate.

Charles Lister, a fellow at the Middle East Institute who has written a book on the insurgency in Syria, said at a recent event in Washington, DC, that Al Qaeda has sought to grow not just acceptance of its rule in Syria, but also support from the general population. He also assessed that Al Qaeda is playing a long game.

“This is an organization that has spent the last five years growing durable, deep roots in Syrian opposition and revolutionary society,” Lister said. “ISIS, on the other hand, has shallow roots. It hasn’t deigned to acquire popular support — it controls populations.”

Al Qaeda’s emirate might now come sooner rather than later — The Times reported that the Al Qaeda operatives being funneled into Syria have been told to start creating a headquarters in Syria and to lay the groundwork for establishing an emirate. The emirate would be in direct competition with ISIS.

Eric Schmitt wrote in The Times that Al Qaeda establishing an emirate in Syria would mark a “significant shift.” Al Qaeda has so far resisted declaring an emirate — it’s part of the group’s long-term strategy to avoid acting too hastily before leaders feel confident that fighters could hold the territory they seize.

Syrians on the ground seem to have been expecting this for a while.

Ahmad al-Soud, the commander and founder of the Syrian rebel group Division 13, told Business Insider earlier this year that “Nusra’s stated goal throughout all of Syria from when they first started until today is to turn Syria into an Islamic emirate.”

“They don’t want any other armed group in Syria except for them, and they want to turn it into kind of what Afghanistan was under the Taliban,” al-Soud said. “Once they … get rid of all the other groups, [Jabhat al-Nusra] can finally duke it out between them and ISIS for who’s the worst.”

Schmitt notes in The Times that “establishing a more enduring presence in Syria would present the group with an invaluable opportunity” because it would “not only be within closer striking distance of Europe but also benefit from the recruiting and logistical support of fighters from Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.”

With the collapse of the ceasefire in Syria, the timing might be good for Al Qaeda to increase its presence there. The ceasefire — between the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and the rebels who oppose his rule — never applied to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, but it allowed the Syrian government and its allies to focus its fire on jihadists rather than moderate rebels.

Additionally, the West seems to have focused mostly on hitting ISIS in Syria — US officials are emphasizing operations to drive ISIS out of its strongholds in Syria and Iraq and deprive them of more territory.

The dysfunction in Syria provides the perfect vacuum for Al Qaeda to move in and exploit.

Soufan explained:

Al Qaeda’s position is, “Let’s create a lot of these vacuums where there is no strong government, and let’s operate under a different name.” Bin Laden actually, before he died, in his letters, he was telling Al Qaeda, “Do not use Al Qaeda’s name. I do not want anyone to use Al Qaeda’s name, because the moment you use Al Qaeda’s name, the West and the locals are going to come and they’re going to beat you up.”

Al Qaeda has done this in Syria with Jabhat al-Nusra, which is always referred to as such rather than simply “Al Qaeda.”

Articles

This Chinese province may be filled with the descendants of a lost Roman legion

Around 36 BCE, Chinese forces from the Han Dynasty fought a group of rebels called Xiongnu at a fortress in what is now Kazakhstan.


During the battle, the Chinese noticed their enemy employed a strange but distinctive formation. One historian at the battle recalled a unit that formed a unique “fish-scale“-style of protection using their shields.

Some modern historians think that “fish scale” was a Roman phalanx.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

 

The battle took place in a city that was once known as Liqian, now a part of Gansu province in Northern China. And strangely, people living where the old city once stood are known to have interesting genetic traits unlike people in the rest of the country.

Aqualine noses, green eyes, and fair skin are just a few of the features found among the villagers of Zhelaizhai, where the ancient city once stood.

Some historians believe the people of Zhelaizhai are descended from the Roman Legionaries who fought with the Han Chinese.

Just 17 years before the battle in Kazakhstan, Parthians fighting the Romans at the Battle of Carrhae (in modern-day Turkey) delivered one of Rome’s most crushing defeats. They captured 10,000 legionnaires and sent the powerful Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus packing (parts of him, anyway).

Parthians were known to use captured soldiers as border guards and sent their POWs to the Far East, where escape was all but impossible. That Far East outpost is thought by some to be the ancient area of Liqian.

Nowadays, the Gobi Desert border regions are full of ethnically Chinese people whose DNA tested 58% Caucasian.

The theory does have naysayers. Some believe the DNA could be the result of contact from Silk Road trading between Rome and the Far East. Others say Caucasian Huns and warriors with other racial backgrounds fought through this area of Asia at the time.

At least one expert believes there just isn’t enough physical evidence to say these Chinese are descended from Roman legionaries.

“For it to be indisputable, one would need to find items such as Roman money or weapons that were typical of Roman legionaries,” Maurizio Bettini, an anthropologist from Siena University, told La Repubblica. “Without proof of this kind, the story of the lost legions is just a legend.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what it’s like to enlist after growing up in the post-9/11 world

It was a cold February in 2014 when I was staying at a tiny U.S. Army installation right near the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea with the rest of my company. We hadn’t been there long before we got our first mail drop, right before Valentine’s Day. Some of us got care packages, but everyone in my platoon got a letter.

These letters were sent by elementary school kids back in the States — probably around third grade — and they were just as you’d expect: immaculate spelling, artwork that rivaled the classic greats, and fine calligraphy. Jokes aside, receiving that letter put me in an interesting head-space.

At that point, the war in Iraq had mostly died down. Marines were still being sent to Afghanistan, but just a handful of months prior, we were reflecting upon the 12th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks that kick-started the whole shebang.


US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

1st platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in South Korea. C. 2014.

(Dave Grove)

What I realized then and there is that, just a decade earlier, I was the elementary school kid writing a letter to some service member who was, at that time, fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, I was even younger than whoever penned my letter when I saw the events of that fateful September day repeated on the news. The kid who wrote the letter in my hands now wasn’t even around in 2001.

It never occurred to me, especially back at the turn of the century, that I would one day enlist to fight in the same war that started when I was a kid.

When I was growing up, you’d hear this left and right: “Don’t join the military, you’ll go to war and die.” I always dismissed it as ignorant. After all, my father fought in the war before this one and he came back, didn’t he? But, at the time, half of that statement was true. If you enlisted immediately after 9/11, there was a near guarantee you’d go to war.

That sentiment followed me through boot camp.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and I was still sure I’d go to war. But, with time comes change — and that’s exactly what happened. From the time I went to MEPS and had an old guy tell me to turn my head and cough to the time I walked across the parade deck at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, everyone said I would go to war. My recruiter, my drill instructors, everyone.

But once I got to the School of Infantry, things had mellowed out a bit.

I never went to war. In fact, a lot of people I served with never did. The crazy thing is that it was the reason we enlisted. We were kids when 9/11 happened and we grew up during the war that it spawned. We had time to grow angry about what had happened and we enlisted for a lot of the same reasons as our predecessors.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Marine Corps Ball in 2014. That’s me on the left.

(Dave Grove)

What blows my mind the most, however, is that I completed my service over two years ago and that war is still going on, even if the Marine Corps infantry isn’t actively involved. Meanwhile, that kid who wrote me the letter is probably sitting in a high school classroom learning about 9/11 as a historical event — not as something that happened to them.

Makes you feel old, doesn’t it?

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why Robert E. Lee wore a colonel’s rank during the Civil War

When Robert E. Lee left the Union Army to command the Army of Northern Virginia, he was just a colonel – a far cry from being the military leader the Confederate forces needed him to be. Despite his promotion in the army of the Confederacy and his rise to prominence as the most able leader the southern states had, he still wore the rank conferred upon him by his former country.


Even as he negotiated the surrender of his new country.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

Judging just by ranks, the guy holding Robert E. Lee’s chair almost matches his rank.

Every time we see the leader of the Confederate army in photos or paintings, he’s wearing the rank we’ve come to know as Lieutenant General, a design of three gold stars in the Union Army. But when the Confederacy broke away from the Union, they didn’t just adapt every American military custom and design. Much of the Confederate leadership, especially in the military, were men from West Point who had devoted their lives to military customs and courtesies. Of course, they’re going to change things up.

That was especially true for military uniforms. They took on the color gray for their uniforms in general and did keep a lot of customs held by the Union Army, but they completely revamped the officers’ rank symbols.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

A general of Robert E. Lee’s stature in the Confederate Army would still be wearing gold stars, but his gold stars would have a golden wreath around them and would have a different sleeve design. Instead, the three gold stars he wore every day in Confederate uniform were the equivalent of his last rank in the Union Army, a colonel, despite being named one of the Confederacy’s first five general officers. But Lee didn’t just want to be conferred to a General’s rank.

Instead, Lee had hoped that he could be properly promoted after the Civil War, assuming the Confederacy won its independence. He wanted to be promoted to full General during peacetime, presumably so he could celebrate his new promotion properly, instead of having to push McClellan back from within six miles of Richmond, Va. though some speculate at first it was the highest rank he felt qualified to wear.

Strange reasoning for the man who would essentially take command of the entire war for the South. It’s more likely the man just preferred the simple design of the colonel’s uniform and chose to wear that because he could. Who’s going to argue with Robert E. Lee?

Humor

11 things your platoon medic would never say

Corpsmen and medics have to be the Jacks-of-all-trades when they’re out on patrol. They’re considered riflemen until one of their boys gets wounded or sick, then they have to jump into doctor mode.


As much as they love their brothers-in-arms — and will do anything for them in battle — living with your unit stateside requires a much different mentality.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
Navy Corpsman Daniel Jacobs and Adam Petree chat during an early morning meeting at the 52 Area Branch Medical Clinic (SOI) in Camp Pendleton, Calif. (DoD photo by Fred W. Baker III)

For the young “Docs” who live in the barracks, their job doesn’t stop once the medical clinic — or B.A.S. — closes for the day. They are embedded with their grunts every day of the year.

Even though they’re considered “one of the guys,” there is a limit to what they’ll offer up when not deployed.

So, check out some calls you’ll probably never hear your platoon medics ever say.

1. “Everybody stop by my barracks room bright and early waking me up before morning PT if you need an I.V. to help cure your nasty weekend hangover.”

A quick fix to cure a nasty hangover. (Image via Giphy)

2. “Hey lance corporal, do you mind if I carry your M240? My M-4 is too light, and this is ‘arm’ day.”

Maybe you should carry that .240. (Image via Giphy)

3. “It’s 1700 on a Friday, but sure, come on into sick call, and we’ll take care of you even though it can wait until Monday.”

What would happen if a Doc actually said those terrible words. (Image via Giphy)

4. “I’ve got the thermometer prepped and ready. Who wants the silver bullet?”

5. “Please, let me go on this long and pointless hike instead of watching everybody from the safety vehicle.”

Hikes never seem to end. (Image via Giphy)

6. “If you don’t volunteer to spend the next few nights out in the field, I will.”

7. “It’s okay, you deserved to get promoted over me.”


8. “Doesn’t the rank of ‘seaman recruit’ have such an awesome ring to it?”

9. “Who needs a social life when you can stand duty at the BAS.”

Preach. But somebody always has to stand duty. (Image via Giphy)

10. “Can I please take his bleeding hemorrhoid patient over the Marine with a simple sore throat?”

11. “I’ll come in and work at the clinic, but only if it’s on a Saturday.”

popular

4 languages active duty troops should learn

Sun Tzu once said, ‘To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy’.” The armed forces operate across the globe. A basic understanding of the language of the enemies of freedom is important for troops abroad. Leaders anticipate problems and prepare for future battles. Right now, the world is at peace — relative to the world conflicts of the past. It is the perfect opportunity to learn the language and culture of enemies of the next wars.

languages
Which language will you pick?

1. Mandarin

The pacific theater is heating up again with continuous, aggressive actions of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government has built several illegal man-made islands that serve as forward operating bases. These islands are built in preparation for a conflict in the South China Sea. The title ‘South China Sea’ is also communist propaganda because that area does not belong to the Chinese. It belongs to Indonesia and other countries that have internationally recognized claims to the area.

The communists have set up concentration camps to exterminate the Uighur population in China. They are not above using sexual abuse and systematic murder as the means to justify an end. The Chinese have hacked over 80% of Personal Identifiable Information of U.S. adults. They do not respect international law. They do not refrain from direct attacks against American citizens and are the biggest threat to the free world since the Nazi Party.

Learning Mandarin is important because it is the premier way of collecting intelligence on the ground from the local population. It is the most used language in China but if you understand it, you can also understand Cantonese and other dialects. Fuzhounese is another rare language in China that is almost completely different than Mandarin. It is the language most spoken by the elite and loyalists of the capital. It is a useful dialect for gathering intelligence from Chinese military officers and officials.

The People’s Republic of China are infecting the world with their evil brand Communism. They are a fever slowly boiling the world alive one degree at a time. Mark my words, the next major conflict for the future of humanity will be against the Chinese the second they are no longer a beneficial trade partner to the United States.

2. Arabic

It is no surprise that the middle east is a hot bed for conflict. The official language in Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The Quran is written in classical Arabic. So, even if other countries speak other languages such as Farsi, the Afghanistan dialect, they use the Arabic alphabet. Religious leaders speak Arabic because they must in order to read the Quran. There is an additional benefit because Arabic is used in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Western China – all areas of interest to the United States.

Arabic is in the Afro-Asiatic family while Farsi is in the Indo-European family.

Nicole Piazza, Lingualinx

3. Korean

This language serves a better use to coordinate with our allies south of the Demilitarized Zone of the Korean Peninsula. From my experience training alongside with the South Korean Marines, they are some of the most hard charging military allies we have in the pacific. They’re tough and dedicated to bringing honor to their country as we are to our own. After a real-world situation, we deployed from the southern tip of the country to conducted military exercises. Together we were ready to defend against the threat of North Korea. Kim Jong Un and his dishonored troops withdrew back to the north and our Marines received the Korean Defense Medal.

The South Koreans are the most genuine allies I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. The Mayor of Pohang and the children of the city hosted a banquet and gave us bolo ties as gifts, thanking the U.S. Marine Corps. Korean civilians are the kindest foreign people I’ve ever met, probably ever.

4. Spanish

Our allies south of the border speak this language and it is in our best interest that we continue our partnership in our fight against narco terrorism – no, not Mexico, with everyone else. Mexico is the leading threat to U.S. interests south of Texas. Other countries known for their socialist and communist synthesizers pale in comparison to the danger drug lords in Mexico present to the every day American. Even Venezuela, a failed state, is responsible for less American deaths than the poison trafficked across the Mexico border.

Although it is unlikely that the U.S. will go into full-fledged conflict against Mexico, it is a known fact that Washington D.C. sends special forces into the jungles of the former Aztec Empire and beyond. If becoming a secret squirrel is in your future you better learn some Spanish.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Ranger Up needs to be under your tree this Christmas

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the one who takes patriotism seriously and laughs at danger:

~ tees from the only vet lifestyle brand to produce its own action movie ~

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat
Photo credit: (YouTube screenshot)

It might be tempting to take a cue from Ranger Up’s proprietary brand of black snark and say that all you need to know about the company widely considered a godfather of the vetrepreneurship movement is this:

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

But we would never say that 1) because that would be reductive and stupid, b) because we fear the inevitable comeuppance, and fourthly, because we’ve got a little history between us.

We Are The Mighty sat down with Ranger Up founder Nick Palmisciano for an interview this May and dug deep into the mound of mud, sweat, and beers upon which he built his Warfighter/MMA/Veteran-serving empire.

No need to relitigate all that good journalism and fraternal butt-patting here. Suffice to say that few organizations are working harder than Ranger Up to take the veteran experience and describe its essence in the modern media age.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

“…our whole concept is we want to entertain our friends. That’s the way that we look at our business. How can we entertain, educate, or just generally amuse our friends? If we do that right everything falls into place. And if we don’t do that right, we’re just another t-shirt company.”

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

From their iconic message tees and relentless Instagram bullhorning (along with brothers-in-arms @mat_best_official and @timkennedymma) to their history-making feature, Range 15 and the adjoining documentary Not A War Story, these dudes are forcibly carving out space for an important conversation to be had…

…a conversation that might start something like this:

Hi there, society! As you may know, there’s a whole, huge community of men and women who went forth and served their country. Our country. That took bravery and immense personal sacrifice. Now that they’re back, these warriors are wondering what you, society, really mean by “Welcome home.”

Fair warning, this conversation may require bravery. And a sense of humor.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

US Navy practicing to ‘up the game’ against old but dangerous threat

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