US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

An explosion during a training exercise injured a number of U.S. special operations forces at Fort Bragg on Thursday.


The soldiers were taken to the Army base’s Womack Army Medical Center for treatment, said Lt. Col. Rob Bockholt, a spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command, which is based at Fort Bragg.

Bockholt didn’t yet know the number of soldiers injured or the extent of those injuries. He also could not say what exactly caused them.

More than 50,000 active duty personnel are attached to Fort Bragg, located in Fayetteville, N.C. It is the largest Army installation by population and covers about 161,000 acres. The Special Operations Command has about 23,000 soldiers spread over several sites.

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WW2 vet dies while visiting country from which he fought 71 years earlier

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Marvin Rector visiting the Battle of Britain museum shortly before his death. (Photo: Susan Jowers)


Ninety-four-year-old Melvin Rector had one last item on his bucket list: He wanted to return to England where he’d served as a B-17 crewman. So earlier this month he hopped on an airliner and flew across the Atlantic to a place where he’d come of age 71 years earlier.

As reported by Florida Today, Rector was scheduled to visit his former base RAF Snetterton Heath in Norfolk but started the tour at the Battle of Britain Bunker in the Uxbridge area of London that first day.

“He walked out of that bunker like his tour was done,” said Susan Jowers, 60, who first met Rector when she served as his guardian during a 2011 Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.

As he walked out, Rector told Jowers that he felt dizzy, according to Florida Today. Jowers took hold of one of Rector’s arms while a stranger grasped the other.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Rector at his radio operator console aboard at B-17 during a bombing raid. (Photo: Rector family archives)

Rector died quietly there just outside the bunker. When the locals found out about it, they made sure his memory was honored appropriately.

“They just wanted something simple, and when I found out a little background about Melvin, there is just no way that we were just going to give him a simple service,” funeral director Neil Sherry told British ITV Network. “We wanted it to be as special as possible.”

Though no one knew him, the Royal Air Force, U.S. Air Force and historians in London attended and participated in the funeral with military honors.

“He certainly got a beautiful send-off,” Jowers said. “People everywhere, from Cambridge to London heard his story.”

U.S. Army Maj. Leif Purcell told ITV he thought he and a few other U.S. military personnel would be the only ones to attend the funeral, but was surprised.

“The representation from the Royal Air Force and the British Army that I saw here was phenomenal,” he said.

A funeral service for Rector, a father of six, is set for 11 a.m. June 9 at First Baptist Church of Barefoot Bay, Florida. Jowers told Florida Today that his remains were being repatriated on May 31.

Jowers, who said Rector became like a father to her after their first meeting in 2011, summed up his passing with this thought: “He completed his final mission.”

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This big ol’ plane is getting a big ol’ stand-down order

Air Mobility Command has grounded the C-5 Galaxy cargo planes operating at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware after a nose landing-gear unit malfunctioned for the second time in 60 days.


The stand-down order, issued July 17, affects all 18 C-5s stationed at Dover — 12 of them are primary and six are backup aircraft, according to a release.

The Air Force has 56 C-5s in service.

“Aircrew safety is always my top priority and is taken very seriously,” Air Mobility Command’s chief, Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, said in a release. “We are taking the appropriate measures to properly diagnose the issue and implement a solution.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

An Air Mobility Command spokesman told Military.com that both malfunctions involved C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft. On May 22 and again July 15, the planes’ “nose landing gear could not extend all the way,” the spokesman said. The C-5M was introduced in 2009 and is the latest model of the C-5.

Air Force personnel will perform inspections “to ensure proper extension and retraction of the C-5 nose landing gear,” Air Mobility Command said. The halt applies only to C-5s at Dover, and Air Mobility Command said it would work to minimize the effect on worldwide operations.

Also read: Behold, the largest plane in the US Air Force

The C-5 is the Air Force’s largest airlifter. It has a 65-foot-tall tail and is 247 feet long with a 223-foot wingspan. The first version, the C-5A, entered service in 1970, and several models have joined the fleet since then.

The C-5M was given more powerful engines, allowing it to carry more cargo and take off over a shorter distance. It can haul 120,000 pounds of cargo more than 5,500 miles — the distance from Dover to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey — without refueling. Without cargo, its range is more than 8,000 miles.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
USAF Airmen load an M1A1 Abrams Tank into an Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy cargo aircraft. (USAF photo by Roland Balik)

In recent years, budgets cuts and sequestration compelled Air Force leadership to begin taking C-5Ms out of service.

Everhart, the Air Mobility Command chief, said in March that total C-5 inventory had fallen to 56 from 112 a few years ago.

But the Air Force has made moves to reverse that deactivation, saying it plans to move at least eight mothballed C-5Ms back into service, using newly allocated funds, over the next four years.

That return to service would partially overlap with an upgrade project for the active fleet of airlifters that is slated to wrap up in 2018.

“I need them back because there’s real-world things that we’ve got to move, and they give me that … added assurance capability,” Everhart told lawmakers at the end of March.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

There’s no doubt the Trump Administration has long had a target for Iran. The Islamic Republic, for its part, makes it an easy antagonist for the United States. Now, the U.S. is taking the war of words one step further by designating the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.


While many groups are labeled as foreign terrorists by the United States, the IRGC is the first official military apparatus of an internationally recognized country to be labeled as such. Now what does that mean for the Revolutionary Guards and for Iran?

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

The United States and Iran have not been friends since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 ousted the Shah and installed the Islamic Republic – who allowed American citizens to be held hostage for 444 days. Ever since, the two powers have always stopped just short of an outright shooting war, choosing instead to cause malicious harm to one another behind the scenes. Iran provided material support and outright aid to insurgent groups fighting the U.S. military during the 2003-2011 Iraq War while the United States has consistently backed anti-Iranian operations throughout the region for decades. Labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization changes the game a little.

The Revolutionary Guards are a unit intended to defend the Iranian government, not just its borders; and its mandate extends to anywhere in the world that could pose a threat to the Ayatollah and his system of government. Its main concern isn’t limited to potential invaders, the IRGC will go after any group or person who poses a legitimate threat to Iran, traditionally through any means necessary.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Iranian soldiers in Iraq.

As of April 8, 2019, the Trump Administration has designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Now the IRGC is subject to a slew of financial restrictions that must be followed by citizens of the United States, and the move will pressure U.S. allies to follow suit. Americans and American companies cannot knowingly provide material support to institutions that might support the IRGC, specifically “currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.”

Revolutionary Guards members and people related to them can also be removed from the United States and any company holding IRGC assets must now retain them and report them to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. More importantly, this gives the U.S. more combat options under the most recent authorization for the use of military force.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

IRGC Commander Qasam Soleimani with Iraqi troops fighting ISIS in Iraq.

The United States has been operating on the post-9/11 AUMF passed by Congress since 2001. In that time, the AUMF has allowed the military to deploy to more than 150 countries in support of anti-terror operations, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. If the Trump Administration tries to extend the AUMF to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, it could be tantamount to using the full force of the U.S. military against known IRGC units anywhere, under the 2001 AUMF.

Basically, all the President has to do to get the funds to invade Iran is to make a compelling argument that it’s harboring al-Qaeda. Which, to be clear, it is not. The brand of Islam espoused by al-Qaeda, and the brand taught by the mullahs in Iran have been at each others’ throats for centuries – so that argument would have to be incredibly compelling.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thousands of flights cancelled, re-routed when Pakistan closed airspace

Thousands of flights around the world were canceled or rerouted when Pakistan closed its airspace amid flaring tensions between it and nuclear rival India.

Authorities in Pakistan closed the entire country’s air space after a confrontation between it and India over the contested Kashmir region, in which Pakistan says it shot down two Indian military planes.


The closure had a massive effect on the aviation industry, given Pakistan’s pivotal position between Asia and the Middle East.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Thousands of flights regional flights, as well as flight to Europe and Canada, were cancelled or rerouted to avoid Pakistani airspace.

Here are some of the airlines and routes affected by the closure across Feb. 27 and 28, 2019:

  • Thai Airways said on Feb. 27, 2019, that it had canceled all flights to Europe, as well as all flights to and from Pakistan. On Feb. 28, 2019, the airline said that it had resumed its flights to Europe, and that the flights would go through China instead.
  • Emirates cancelled 10 flights between Dubai and a number of Pakistan’s airports on Feb. 28, 2019.
  • Air Canada warned of delays of flights to Bombay and New Delhi on Feb. 27 and 28, 2019, because of airspace closures “due to political activity.”
  • Qatar Airways said that flights to Peshawar, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Sialkot were delayed or suspended until further notice.
  • Singapore Airlines said on Feb. 27, 2019, that a number of flights to Europe would be rerouted so they could stop to refuel en route to their destination.
  • British Airways was forced to reroute an unspecified number of flights, Reuters reported.

As of Feb. 28, 2019, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority’s website said that most flights scheduled to arrive in all of Pakistan’s airports are cancelled.

Flight tracking website Flightradar 24 shared an image of what it said was “the most extreme example yet of the circuitous routing required due to the closure of Pakistani airspace” on Feb. 28, 2019. The Uzbekistan Airways flight was from Uzbekistan to India.

Flightradar 24 also shared a map comparing airspace above Pakistan when the closure was made, versus a month before:

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority told passengers to contact their airlines for updates on their flights to and from Pakistan.

Tension has increased between two rival nuclear powers

Pakistan’s military on Feb. 27, 2019, said it had shot down two Indian aircraft that crossed into Pakistan’s side of the disputed Kashmir region, while India said that it had shot down one Pakistan Air Force plane.

Pakistan has one Indian pilot in custody, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

General Vijay Kumar Singh, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, described the pilot as “embodiment of a mentally tough, selfless courageous soldier” and called for his safe return.

“During these testing times the country stands, as one, behind him his family. Our efforts are on under the #GenevaConvention we hope that the brave pilot would return home soon,” he said.

Pakistan on Feb. 28, 2019, said that it would return the pilot on March 1, 2019, as a “peace gesture.”

Pakistan released a video of the detained pilot, which India called a “vulgar display” and an “unprovoked act of aggression.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said at a press conference on Feb. 27, 2019, that the two countries “should sit down and talk.” He urged “better sense to prevail.”

Khan said that given the two nations’ nuclear arsenals, “My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on Wednesday and said India and Pakistan should sit down and talk.

(Sky News)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Feb. 28, 2019, that “the entire country is one and is standing with our soldiers.”

He did not specifically mention Pakistan, but said “When our enemy tries to destabilize the country, when terrorists attack – one of their goals is that our progress should stop, our country should stop moving ahead,” CNN reported.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Operation Safety Net concludes with 35 missing children located, permanent missing child unit established in Ohio

Operation Safety Net concluded Monday with the successful recovery of 35 missing and endangered children, according to a US Marshals Service press release. The Marshals started the operation a month ago and partnered with local and state law enforcement to search for and recover the missing children.

Forty cases were referred to the Marshals Service, and the ages of the children ranged from 13 to 18 years old. All but five children were located. The task force found the missing children in Cleveland, Euclid, Akron, Mansfield, Columbus, and other cities in Ohio, as well as Miami, Florida. The press secretary for the Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Steve Irwin, reported that there are 664 missing children as of Monday.


Approximately 20% of the 40 cases referred to the Marshals Service fell under human trafficking and were forwarded to the Human Trafficking Task Force in Cuyahoga County. The operation is considered concluded, but members of the task force will continue to work with local law enforcement to locate the five remaining missing children, according to the press release.

“We are proud to assist in Operation Safety Net and I commend the United States Marshals Service for their hard work and dedication toward locating these children,” Newburgh Heights Police Department Chief of Police John T. Majoy said in the release. “Many times, they do not know they are a victim and this operation offers hope, freedom and safety they would not otherwise have. This is a fine example of local, state and federal partners all working together for a notable cause. Together we can all make a difference.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

US Marshals planning the next move during Operation Not Forgotten, whose mission is similar to Operation Safety Net. Photo courtesy of US Marshals/Shane T. McCoy.

Operation Safety Net’s success has led the Marshals Service to establish a permanent Missing Child Unit (MCU) in northern Ohio. This newly established unit will focus on locating “missing, abused, neglected and trafficked juveniles” within the 40 counties of that region.

“This was new unchartered territory and the first time we conducted an operation like this. I am very proud of our law enforcement, community and media partners who worked tirelessly to bring our missing and most vulnerable children to safety,” US Marshal Pete Elliot said in the press release. “The establishment of a permanent unit in Northern Ohio will ensure that our most vulnerable missing children will continue to be found and brought to safety.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wrote an annual report, “2019 Missing Children Clearinghouse,” detailing missing and endangered children in 2019. Of the 18,638 children who were reported missing last year, 17,292 were between the ages of 13 and 17; 1,214 were 6 to 12 years old; and 132 children were between the ages of 0 and 5.

According to the report, “Authorities reported that 97.9%, or 18,246 children, were recovered safely by the year’s end. Open source data revealed that six children reported missing were found deceased in 2019.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s an after-action report on Russia’s massive European wargame

Russia finally concluded its quadrennial Zapad-2017 military exercises last week.


The exercises, which were held in Belarus and western Russia for six days, tested Russia’s defensive capabilities against the fictional country of Veishnoriya which had supposedly been infiltrated by western-backed militias.

The games were not, as many eastern European leaders and even some US generals feared, used to occupy Belarus, invade Ukraine or for some other deceitful act.

In fact, Russian tank and airborne units are currently leaving Belarus and heading home.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
A Russian T-72B3. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Vitaly Kuzmin.

The games also did not, as many in the west said, appear to involve 100,000 or more Russian troops.

Moscow claimed that only 12,700 troops participated — just under the 13,000 figure that requires foreign observation according to the Vienna Document — and that “official count … in Belarus and parts of nearby Russia was … probably fairly accurate,” Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at CNA, told Business Insider.

“The trick is that they have a lot of other official exercises that seem to be taking place nearby,” Gorenburg said.

Russia’s Northern Fleet Moscow conducted exercises in the Barents Sea, and its Strategic Rocket Forces test launched two new RS-24 YARS ICBMs. Additional exercises were also held, including some with China and Egypt in other parts of Russia.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Zapad 13 military exercise. Photo from Russian Kremlin.

“Most of these exercises are not part of Zapad 2017, but as always, it’s a bit hard to tell,” Michael Kofman, a senior research scientist at CNA, recently wrote.

Gorenburg said it’s still too difficult to discern how many troops participated, but guessed that roughly 60,000-70,000 took part. Some analysts have estimated a similar range.

These overblown western estimations of 100,000 or more troops, along with fear of occupations and invasions, Gorenburg said, were a political win for Russia, which “is trying to show its military is back and strong.”

The Kremlin can also now “credibly claim that the West overreacted and fell victim to scaremongering and reporting rumours that Moscow was not being transparent about the nature of the exercise and its intentions,” Mathieu Boulègue, a research fellow at the Chatham House, wrote.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Embassy of the United States in Moscow. Photo from Wikimedia Commons user NVO.

“Short of entrapment, proving the West wrong is increasingly part of the Kremlin’s political strategy which, in turn, strengthens Russia’s sense of superiority,” Boulègue wrote.

Some have even argued that Russia made western media look like fake news, and that these western exagerations were done out of ignorance or to fit their own political agenda.

Despite not appearing to have gone over or been close to the 100,000 or more figure, Russia nevertheless seems, according to Gorenburg and many other analysts, to have had more than 13,000 troops participating in the overall Zapad exercises, which is in violation of the Vienna Document.

While Belarus was rather transparent, and invited foreigners to observe the games, it makes sense that Moscow would want to limit such foreign observation as much as possible. After all, Zapad means “west” in Russian, and the games were essentially a simulation of how well Russian military branches could coordinate a defensive against NATO.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the Zapad ’17 military exercises. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

The first three days of the exercises were purely defensive, initially defending against a large aerial attack, which Russian military leaders have determined is the US and NATO’s traditional opening move during invasions, according to the Jamestown Foundation.

The last three days of the exercises were all about “counterattack,” Gorenburg said. For a thorough breakdown of all Russia’s military maneuvers during the exercises, check out Kofman’s blog summarizing all seven days of Zapad-2017.

Ultimately, Russia was able to repel the simulated western invasion, and while “it will take a more detailed analysis” to see how well Russia faired, Moscow initially seems to think “it went fairly well,” Gorenburg said.

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Marines eye plan to put women through West Coast combat training

The US Marine Corps for the first time is eyeing a plan to let women attend what has been male-only combat training in Southern California, as officials work to quash recurring problems with sexism and other bad behavior among Marines, according to Marine Corps officials.


If approved by senior Marine leaders, the change could happen as soon as next spring. And it could be the first step in a broader campaign to give male Marines who do their initial training on the West Coast the opportunity to work with female colleagues early in their career.

Marine leaders are also considering allowing women to attend boot camp in San Diego, the officials said. Currently all women recruits go through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., while male recruits go either there or to San Diego. The combat training comes after troops have finished boot camp, and is done both in South Carolina and at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, but women attend the course only on the East Coast.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
A Marine with Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, performs mountain climbers during Battalion physical training on Parris Island, S.C., June 15, 2016. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mackenzie B. Carter

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter because final decisions have not been made, so they spoke on condition of anonymity. The boot camp decision is still under discussion.

Marine leaders have come under persistent criticism from members of Congress because the Corps is the only military service to separate men and women for portions of their boot camp. And only the Marine Corps allows a full half of its recruits to go through initial training without any female colleagues.

Because there are only a small number of female Marines, they all go through boot camp at Parris Island, where they are separated from the men for portions of the training. Congress members have been highly critical of that policy and demanded changes, and the Corps has been reviewing the issue.

Marines have argued that the separation from the men is needed so the women can become more physically competitive before joining their male counterparts. They also have argued that it gives the female Marines the support they need during their early weeks of boot camp. Women make up 8.4 percent of the Marine Corps, and that is the smallest percentage of all the armed services.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Pfc. Christina Fuentes Montenegro is one of the first women to graduate infantry training with Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion. (US Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul S. Mancuso/Released)

But Marine Corps officials are now suggesting that training half of their recruits on the West Coast with no females in their units could be contributing to some of the disciplinary problems they’ve had. Giving the male Marines greater exposure to females during training could foster better relations and greater respect over time, some have suggested.

Over the last several years, Marine leaders have battled persistent accusations that the Corps is hostile to women. The Marines were the only service to formally request an exception when the Pentagon moved to allow women to serve in all combat jobs. That request was denied in late 2015 by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

More recently, the service was rocked by a nude-photo sharing scandal in which Marines shared sexually explicit photos on various social media and other websites and included crude, derogatory, and even violent comments about the women. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is looking into the matter and several Marines have been disciplined.

A Marine task force has been reviewing a range of options and changes for several months to try and reduce the problems.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
US Marine Corps recruits run 800 meters during an initial Combat Fitness Test on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., May 13, 2017. US Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau

Months ago, Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, told Congress that the service has been looking at the recruit training issue. But to date, no major changes have been made.

The nude-photo sharing investigation represents a broader military problem. In a report issued earlier this year, the Pentagon said that nearly 6,200 military members said that sexually explicit photos of them were taken or shared against their will by someone from work, and it made them “uncomfortable, angry or upset.” But, across the services, female Marines made up the largest percentage of women who complained.

More than 22,000 service members said they were upset or angry when someone at work showed or sent them pornography. And, again, female Marines represented the highest percentage of complaints from women.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What life is like for ISIS’ child soldiers

Recruited as a child soldier into Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Lal Mohammed accompanied his elder teenage brother, Bakht e Ali and their father, Taweez Khan, into the training and indoctrination for a promised life of religious glory. They lived for almost two years as members of the Wilayet e Khorasan, or Islamic State Khorasan Province, in Eastern Afghanistan.


“I was nine years old when I was with them. Now I am 12. They used to show us videos on how to fight and carry out suicide bombings,” Mohammad said.

His older brother was around 16 when he joined the militant group.

Islamic State, known regionally as ISKP, emerged in the region in early 2015. Most originally belonged to the Pakistani Taliban, which had been displaced from their stronghold in Pakistan’s tribal areas by a military operation.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
An Afghan village elder directs a crowd of eager school children as Afghan Special Security Forces arrive to distribute school supplies in Shadel village, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 3, 2017. ASSF drove ISIS from the village during fall offensive operations, allowing the locals to regain their farmland and re-open schools. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Klene)

Across the border in Afghanistan, 15 years of war had left vast swathes of territory without government. The age-old Pashtun tradition of welcoming guests helped them find shelter in the homes of local Shinwari tribesmen, who had been refugees during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and were eager to return the favor.

Eastern Afghanistan, particularly Nangarhar province, became an IS stronghold.

Later, many of those who provided shelter had to flee with their families, often leaving their belongings behind.

“When Daesh (ISKP) came to our area, most people already sympathized with them,” Ali said. “Our tribal elders and religious clerics started backing them. Daesh commanders started sitting with us in our homes. They would show us videos of the infidels oppressing Muslims.”

The militants told the locals their police and army were puppets of infidels and they needed to rise up in jihad, a holy war. Some of the locals, like Khan and his sons, joined their ranks.

Life with ISKP

Life with ISKP for the boys was regimented. They woke up before dawn to offer morning prayers, followed by religious lessons focused on jihad, then daily chores, and, finally, weapons training.

Ali recalled around 100 to 150 kids who lived and trained with them, including some who were under 10 years old, like his brother, Mohammad.

I saw it with my own eyes. They used to tell these young kids that if they carried out suicide bombings, all their troubles would be over and they would go straight to paradise. They were so good at indoctrination that any child who listened to them for a month would not listen to anyone else.

All the children’s needs, clothing, weapons, food, were taken care of. Khan, their father, received a salary from ISKP.

The two brothers remember their training to be very disciplined. The ultimate goal was to make them suicide bombers.

One day, they took the younger brother on a mission. “Daesh fighters told me we were going to be in a firefight, and that they would stay behind and open fire from the check post. I should go forward and explode my suicide vest,” Mohammad said.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
An Afghan boy receives a school bag from Afghan national army soldiers and a Marine special operations company’s team members. The ANA and MSOC unit were visiting a Helmand province village in late February. (Courtesy PhotoNATO Training Mission Afghanistan 2008)

ISKP lost that fight and had to retreat. He came back alive.

The militants focused on molding young minds by showing videos and playing militant music to increase the boys’ sense of affiliation with IS. The brothers said the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves, a battle between good and evil, felt good.

‘We wanted to slaughter someone’

Militants punished anyone who did not follow their fundamentalist brand of sharia. “We’ve seen torture. We’ve seen it happening to our own friends or relatives,” Ali recalled.

He also recalled how normal it was to kill someone.

We saw a lot of people get slaughtered. We also wanted to slaughter someone because we were told that this would bring us holy rewards from God. People who disagreed with Daesh were slaughtered.

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

Khan said, “Sometimes, they would tie people’s hands and feet, and then slaughter them. Sometimes they would hang a man from a tree and just leave him there to die. Sometimes they would just beat someone up with batons ’til he died,” he said.

Escaping from the militants

Not everyone was happy with the militants, but if someone tried to escape, ISKP militants usually went after them to punish or kill them.

Despite that danger, and the promises of heaven and glorious rewards from God, the father and sons said the atrocities became too much for them to handle.

Khan described a growing sense of alienation from the group, which he started seeing as foreigners oppressing his countrymen.

“These men from TTP (Pakistani Taliban) started working here as IS. They started taking land and trees from the locals as spoils of war,” he said. “They used to kidnap Afghanis to get ransom,” he added.

Eventually, Khan decided to take his sons, and some other men under his command, and escape to a government-controlled area. They surrendered to local police. He now works with the police.

“Even now, if IS finds out we are here, they will find us and kill us,” Ali said.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Afghan kids take a moment to smile for the camera. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Meanwhile, they have no idea of the fate of dozens of other child soldiers who were living with ISKP.

According to a Human Rights Watch report, the Taliban have also trained and deployed scores of children for military operations and used them to plant homemade bombs.

The United Nations has documented the use of child soldiers by Afghan police.

In December last year, the Afghan government signed an initiative called the Child Protection Policy, with the aim of protecting children in conflict zones, including barring its security forces from using children in armed conflict.

But for children like Ali and Mohammad, there is no effective program to de-radicalize and re-integrate them into society. Now, Bakht e Ali works as a security guard, while Lal Mohammad stays at home and has not joined school again.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Marines compete for HITT championship

Four days, seven challenges, several dozen competitors, but only two may become champions.

Marines from far and wide accept this annual challenge, and there is no exception this year at the 2019 High Intensity Tactical Training Championship aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 9 through Sept. 12, 2019.

The championship has been hosted by Marine Corps HITT and Semper Fit for the past five years, and has evolved with every passing year. The HITT program’s primary mission is to enhance operational fitness and optimize combat readiness for Marines. The program emphasizes superior speed, power, strength and endurance while reducing the likelihood of injury.


“1-2 instructors have been pulled from major Marine Corps installations,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Atkins, a force fitness instructor for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. and Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. HITT centers. “We all came together to brainstorm what the Marines would be doing for the athletic events.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Sgt. Miguel Aguirre, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., competes in the fourth challenge of the High Intensity Tactical Training Championship at Butler Stadium aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sep. 10, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by James Frank)

The events for the championship are drafted by HITT instructors and confirmed by a board of various Marine Corps fitness specialists.

“It’s a grind, straight grit,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Frank, a competitor from MCB Camp Pendleton. “You can’t just be good at one thing.”

“You have to be well rounded physically and mentally.”

The seven events for the 2019 HITT Championship included a marksmanship simulator, combat fitness test, weighted run, combat swimmer challenge, obstacle course, pugil stick fight, BeaverFit assault rig, live-fire fitness challenge, and HITT combine.

“We run through it ourselves so we can understand what they are going through too,” said Atkins.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

A U.S. Marine competes in the fourth challenge of the High Intensity Tactical Training Championship at Butler Stadium aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sep. 10, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by James Frank)

The intensity and nature of the challenges, create a risk of injury. To mitigate an ambulance is always on site and numerous medical personnel were present. The Marines are also being monitored closely by high-tech equipment that records their heart rates, core temperature and other vital information, which gives an in-depth idea of their overall health provided by Western Virginia University.

“The tactical drill was my probably my favorite because it included live-fire, and it was awesome to see how your body reacts to being under physical and mental duress,” said 1st Lt. Frances Moore, a competitor from MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.

The competitors are awarded points based on each timed event. The goal at the end of the competition is to have the most points. The championship culminates at the end of day four, when the scores have been determined and the male and female champions are awarded.

“They come in and train every single day and get coaching advice from all the staff,” said Frank. “Then I get to come here and actually see them put all that effort into the competition.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS still has 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria

Despite the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and most of Syria, the extremist group still has around 20,000 to 30,000 militants in the two countries, according to a United Nations report.

The report circulated on Aug. 13, 2018, said the estimate came from governments it did not identify. It includes a “significant component” of foreign fighters.


The militants were equally divided between Iraq and Syria, said the report to the Security Council by experts monitoring sanctions against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

Many of the key IS operatives were being relocated to Afghanistan, where the group has between 3,500 and 4,000 fighters and is growing, the experts said.

The militant group led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also has significant affiliated supporters in Libya, Southeast Asia, and West Africa.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Military training in Erbil, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2018. This training is critical to enabling local security forces to secure their homeland from ISIS. Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve is the global Coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

Islamic State overran large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014, but by January 2018, the group was confined to small pockets of territory in Syria.

According to the UN report, IS “is still able to mount attacks inside Syrian territory. It does not fully control any territory in Iraq, but it remains active through sleeper cells.”

The flow of foreign fighters to IS in Syria and Iraq has come to a halt, the experts said, but “the reverse flow, although slower than expected, remains a serious challenge.”

They said Al-Qaeda’s global network also “continues to show resilience,” with its affiliates and allies much stronger than the IS group in some spots, including Somalia, Yemen, South Asia, and Africa’s Sahel region.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon will aggressively implement new Electronic Warfare strategy

The Pentagon is aggressively implementing major provisions of its recently completed Electronic Warfare (EW) strategy by working closely with the military services to accelerate development of a wide range of EW weapons and technologies designed to meet fast-emerging, near-peer threats in the electromagnetic spectrum.


Emphasizing both offensive and defensive applications of EW, Pentagon officials familiar with the new strategy point to the Air Force’s Electronic Warfare and Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority effort, the Army’s growing investments in Multi-Function EW, and various Navy plans to advance the Next-Generation Jammer, among other things.

“While the air, land, and sea domains each have their unique features, all threat investments in A2/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) capabilities require long-range sensors, long-range guidance, very capable missile seekers, and long-range communication capabilities. Each of these threat capabilities depends upon the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum continues to grow in importance each year,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told Warrior in a statement.

Related: This is North Korea’s far-fetched chance of defeating the US

This DOD electronic warfare strategy took on new urgency following Russia’s successful use of advanced EW technologies in Ukraine and the pace of global technological progress in the area of EW systems, according to industry and government sources.

Electronic weapons can be used for an increasingly wide range of combat activities – from detecting and defending IED attacks to jamming enemy communications or even taking over control of enemy drones.

“Hardening the kill-chain,” for example, uses EW tactics to prevent an armed U.S. drone from being “hacked,” “jammed,” or taken over by an enemy. Also, EW defenses can better secure radar signals, protect weapons guidance technologies and thwart attacks on larger platforms such as ships, fighter jets, and tanks.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
Captured fixed-wing insurgent drone. (Photo from Russian Air Force)

The strategy also identifies cross-geographical boundary radiated energy technologies designed to strengthen U.S. platforms and allied operations, DOD officials said.

The concept is to use less-expensive electromagnetic weapons to destroy, intercept or jam approaching enemy missiles, drones, rockets, or aircraft. An electronic weapon is much less expensive than firing an interceptor missile, such as a ship-fired Rolling Airframe Missile or Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each. This tactic prods enemies to spend money on expensive weapons while decreasing the offensive and defensive weaponry costs to the U.S.

Improving electronic warfare modeling and simulation to better prepare for emerging weapons systems is also a key element of the strategy. This can help anticipate or train against future weapons threats which may not exist yet but nevertheless pose an emerging threat.

Authors of the new Electronic Warfare strategy have worked closely with the Pentagon Electronic Warfare Executive Committee, which was created in August 2015 to translate electromagnetic experimentation into actual capabilities for deployment.

The Air Force is revving up electronic warfare upgrades for its F-15 fighter to better protect against enemy fire and electronic attacks, service officials said.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
F-15s from Kadena Air Base, Japan, taxi for takeoff at Gwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea, Dec. 04, 2017. The fighter aircraft are participating in the peninsula-wide routine exercise, Vigilant Ace-18. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jessica H. Smith)

Earlier this year, Boeing secured a $478 million deal to continue work on a new technology with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS.

These updated EW capabilities replace the Tactical Electronic Warfare Suite, which has been used since the 1980s, not long after the F-15 first deployed. The service plans to operate the fleet until the mid-2040’s, so an overhaul of the Eagle’s electronic systems helps maintain U.S. air supremacy, the service said.

Various upgrades will be complete as early as 2021 for the F-15C AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and as late as 2032 for the various EW (electronic warfare) upgrades, Air Force officials said. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is also integrated with an AESA radar.

The Navy is engineering a new, more powerful, high-tech electronic warfare jamming technology, called the Next-Generation Jammer, designed to allow strike aircraft to destroy enemy targets without being detected by modern surface-to-air missile defenses.

The Next-Generation Jammer, or NGJ, consists of two 15-foot long PODs beneath the EA-18G Growler aircraft designed to emit radar-jamming electronic signals; one jammer goes on each side of the aircraft.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
A U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler assigned to the USS Carl Vinson breaks away from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron after conducting in-air refueling May 3, 2017, over the Western Pacific Ocean. The 909th ARS is an essential component to the mid-air refueling of a multitude of aircraft ranging from fighter jets to cargo planes from different services and nations in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

The NGJ departs from existing EW systems in that it can jam multiple frequencies at one time, increasing the scope and effectiveness of attacks. This better enables U.S. aircraft to elude or “jam” more Russian-built air defenses able to detect aircraft on a wide range of frequencies, such as X-band, VHF, and UHF. Russian-built S-300 and S-400 air defenses are believed to be among the best in the world.

Radar technology sends an electromagnetic ping forward, bouncing it off objects before analyzing the return signal to determine a target’s location, size, shape, and speed. However, if the electromagnetic signal is interfered with, thwarted or “jammed” in some way, the system is then unable to detect the objects or targets.

Baldanza told Warrior the Navy plans multiple technology development contracts for NGJ Inc 2. “The program will address the mission need for a robust low band radar and communications jamming capability from an airborne platform that will require capabilities beyond the currently deployed system,” she said.

The emerging system also uses AESA. It will be the only AESA-based carrier offensive electronic attack jamming pod in DoD. The NGJ, slated to be operational by 2021, is intended to replace the existing ALQ 99 electronic warfare jammer currently on Navy Growler aircraft. The new jammer is designed to interfere with ground-and-air based threats, such as enemy fighter jets trying to get a missile “lock” on a target, developers explained.

Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the emergence of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or roadside bomb as a major threat, the Army has fielded a host of technologies to thwart or “jam” the incoming signal from a Radio-Controlled IED (RCIED), thus delaying or preventing detonation and potential injury to soldiers.

The majority of existing EW systems used by the Army, such as the vehicle-mounted DUKE v3, soldier portable Thor III, and GATOR V2 tower use standard RF jamming techniques; many of these, industry experts explain, are effective in thwarting detonation signals but often emit a larger, more-detectable signal themselves. A key emphasis when it comes to next-gen EW, is more targeted or pinpointed electromagnetic spectrum attacks to better obscure a point of origin from enemy detection.

Also Read: The first time the US tested an EMP weapon was a doozy

The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, which works on near-term requirements to fast-track available combat technologies to the theater, has an interim solution and COTS focus. At the same time, REF leaders say, they often find that existing Army development programs have near-term, deployable solutions which can be brought forward.

Overall, particularly in light of Russia’s use of EW in Ukraine and fast-evolving EW technologies around the world, the U.S. Army realizes it needs to think differently about EW to position itself for potential near-peer adversaries.

“As an Army, we have fallen behind because of where we have been the last 10 to 15 years. How do we close the gap? We are changing how we look at EW, including doctrine, organization and other things,” REF director Col. John Lanier Ward told Warrior in an interview earlier this year.

Ward explained that more EW capability can, in the near term, come to fruition by a simple move to use a stronger, better antenna, improved software or more powerful amplifiers. Additional means of integration or application, also, can expand EW capability. The REF, Ward explained, is now advancing a program called EW TV, electronic warfare for tactical vehicles where cutting-edge functional weapons are placed on military vehicles.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion
The DUKE V3 vehicle-mounted jammer. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Some of the jammers fielded during the initial years of the war, such as the vehicle-mounted Duke V2 and Warlock jammers, were the basis for subsequent upgrades designed to defeat a greater range of threat signals. For instance, the Duke V3 vehicle-mounted jammer, now fielded on thousands of vehicles in theater, represents a technological improvement in capability compared to prior systems.

The Thor III is a soldier-portable counter RCIED “jamming” device designed to provide a protective envelope for dismounted units on patrol. The device is configured with transceivers mounted on a back-pack-like structure that can identify and “jam” RF signals operating in a range of frequencies. Thousands of Thor III systems, which in effect create an electromagnetic protective “bubble” for small units on-the-move, continue to protect soldiers in theater.

GATOR V2 is a 107-foot retrofitted surveillance tower equipped with transmit-and-receive antennas designed to identify, detect and disrupt electronic signals. The GATOR V2 establishes a direction or “line of bearing” on an electronic signal and can use software, digital mapping technology, and computer algorithms to “geo-locate” the origin or location of electronic signals within the battlespace.

Baldanza said the Army is growing its investment in Multi-Function Electronic Warfare from $4 million to $24 million from 2017 to 2018.

Overall, the new strategy could be described as two-fold; it will work to sustain an open architecture approach in order to upgrade existing EW technologies, often by adding software upgrades to hardware. Also, the effort is expected to emphasize the exploration of a wide range of emerging technologies, such as the utilization of more SIGINT platforms, directional antennas and use of a greater number of frequencies simultaneously.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Navy veteran recounts island-hopping in the Pacific after D-Day

Julius Shoulars is 94 and resides in a cozy second-floor apartment in a Virginia Beach retirement community.

During an oral-history interview, he recounted his service in the US Navy as a coxswain during WWII with the 7th Naval Beach Battalion during the D-Day invasions. He later went island hopping in the Pacific aboard an attack transport and returned to Norfolk after serving in both theaters of war.

He started off with, “Well, I got a letter from Uncle Sam saying to report to Richmond.” It was 1943, and the Maury High School graduate reported for screening.


While seated in a room with other recruits, he recalled that, “they asked for 30 volunteers for the Navy and I raised my hand. In the Navy, you get three square meals, a clean bed to sleep in and water to take a shower each day.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Julius Shoulars, a 94-year-old US Navy veteran, recalls his service during WWII as a coxswain who took part in the D-Day invasion and fought across the Pacific.

(US Navy photo by Max Lonzanida)

Training took him to Camp Sampson, New York and Camp Bradford, Virginia. Bradford was on the Chesapeake Bay, and he recalled mustering at the commandeered Nansemond Hotel in the Ocean View section of Norfolk.

At Bradford, “we were assigned to an experimental outfit called a Naval Beach Battalion. We were issued paratrooper boots, Army jackets, Army pants, Army helmets, and Navy underwear.”

His parents resided in Norfolk, and he visited often. With a smile, he recalled that a friend of his had joined the Army, and left his girlfriend, Ruby back in Norfolk. He was instructed not to talk to her, “but by hell I did. You had to be a fool not to.” This blossomed into a relationship that endured.

By January 1944, they crossed the Atlantic. In England, he recounted, “you know the phrase over here, over paid and over sexed. I think somebody made that up.”

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

An LCM landing craft, manned by the US Coast Guard, evacuating US casualties from the invasion beaches, brings them to a transport for treatment on D-Day in Normandy, France June 6, 1944.

(U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives)

At the “end of May 1944, we were transported to ships taking part in the invasion. We headed out on the 6th aboard anything that would float, even fishing boats from England.”

On the morning of June 6th, 1944 at H-hour, troops hit the “blood red” beaches of Normandy, in an operation that liberated Europe.

While crossing the English Channel, he recalled that, “some of the men were happy, some were anxious, some were sad, some were scared to death. I felt it was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do, so why cry or be joyful; just take it.”

His unit was attached to the 29th Infantry Division, who took Omaha Beach on June 6-7, 1944. Nearly a month was spent there directing landing craft, clearing obstacles, moving supplies, and clearing and burying the dead; a solemn task he recalled with tears in his eyes.

US special ops troops injured in Bragg explosion

Shoulars, seated, recalls his service as a coxswain assigned to the 7th Naval Beach Battalion, which went ashore during D-Day in June 1944.

(US Navy photo by Max Lonzanida)

His unit headed stateside, and a period of leave was spent in Norfolk with his parents and girlfriend, before joining the crew of the newly commissioned USS Karnes (APA-175) on the West Coast.

He served 18 months on the Karnes, “island hopping” in the Pacific for a total of 76,750 miles. This took him to Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guam, Tinian, Okinawa, Eniwetok Atoll, Ulithi, Subic Bay and Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, among other ports of call while transporting cargo, evacuating the wounded, and transporting service members.

After the Japanese surrendered, the Karnes made its way back to San Francisco. He boarded a train back to Norfolk and was discharged. One of the first things he did was get married, and “eat a 30-cent hamburger at Doumars.”

Doumars on Monticello Avenue was where he first met Ruby. They didn’t want to get married during the war, for fear of making Ruby a widow. They got married upon his return home and spent 66 years together before she passed in 2013.

As for the friend who instructed him not to talk to her, Julius recalled that, “well, me and him never spoke again.”

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

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