U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says 'All options are open to us' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

The United States formally withdrew on November 22 from the Open Skies Treaty, an 18-year-old arms control and verification agreement that Washington repeatedly accused Moscow of violating.

The withdrawal is the latest blow to the system of international arms control that U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly scorned, complaining that Washington was being either deceived or unfairly restrained in its military capabilities.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the move, noting six months had expired since notice of the pending exit had been issued and saying “the U.S. withdrawal took effect on November 22, 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies.”

The National Security Council confirmed the withdrawal and added that “Russia flagrantly violated [the treaty] for years.”

It quoted national-security adviser Robert O’Brien as saying the move was part of an effort to “put America first by withdrawing us from outdated treaties and agreements that have benefited our adversaries at the expense of our national security.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21 announced the U.S. intention to withdraw and gave the six-month notification to Open Skies’ 34 other members, as required under the treaty’s rules.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the U.S. decision.

“Washington has made its move. Neither European security nor the security of the United States and its allies themselves have benefited from it. Now many in the West are wondering what Russia’s reaction will be. The answer is simple. We have repeatedly emphasized that all options are open to us,” the ministry said in a statement on November 22.

Signed in 1992, the treaty, which entered into force in 2002, allows its 34 members to conduct short-notice, unarmed observation and surveillance flights over one another’s territories, to collect data on military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have taken place under the agreement.

The treaty’s proponents say the flights help build confidence by showing that, for example, adversaries are not secretly deploying forces or preparing to launch attacks.

But its critics, particularly among U.S. Republicans, have asserted the treaty has been violated repeatedly, first and foremost by Moscow.

In his May statement, Pompeo charged that Russian violations included restrictions on flights near breakaway regions over Georgia, along Russia’s southern borders, and limits on the lengths of flights over the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

“Russia has consistently acted as if it were free to turn its obligations off and on at will,” he said.

Arms control experts have said while some of the U.S. complaints have merit, others are misleading. And U.S. military and intelligence agencies will lose an important source of data by not being party to the treaty, they said, and NATO allies support the agreement.

“While Russia has violated the treaty, the United States has reciprocated. NATO allies support the treaty — which focuses first and foremost on enhancing European security — and wish the United States to remain a party,” Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador and arms control expert, said in commentary published last week.

The Trump administration has targeted several international treaties over the past four years, most notably the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a key Cold War agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union.

After years of complaining that Russia had secretly designed, then deployed, a treaty-violating missile, Washington withdrew in 2019 and the treaty collapsed.

Another more consequential treaty, the New START agreement, is also set to expire in February 2021, and U.S. and Russian officials have been struggling to find a way to keep it intact.

But Trump administration officials want to expand the treaty to include China. And they have also sent mixed signals about new conditions for extending New START, something Moscow has rejected.

Adding to the uncertainty is Trump’s expected departure from the White House on January 21, 2021, when Democrat Joe Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated and take office.

Biden has signaled support for extending New START and preserving other treaties.

“Instead of tearing up treaties that make us and our allies more secure, President Trump…should remain in the Open Skies Treaty and work with allies to confront and resolve problems regarding Russia’s compliance,” Biden said in a statement in May.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

This Marine turned from scout sniper to singer songwriter

You know the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”?  That’s precisely what you should remember when you meet singer-songwriter, Brandon Mills.


The six-foot-tall dirty blonde haired blue-eyed Mills isn’t just another pretty face; behind those blue eyes, there is a bad ass who was once known as Sergeant Brandon Lanham, Marine Corps reconnaissance scout sniper.

He goes by Mills because, as he puts it, “Mills is my middle name, all my favorite singer songwriter’s names are 3 syllables, not sure why but I think there is a method to their madness.”

Mills joined the Marine Corps with his brother and they attended boot camp together and were later reunited in the Recon community.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills.

Mills served his first tour in Afghanistan with Golf Co. 2nd Battalion 3rd Marines out of Hawaii. After some continued motivation from his brother, he took the leap, passed the requirements and indoctrination process, and got to 1st Recon Battalion, with whom he would deploy to his second tour in Iraq.

Also read: This musician and veteran invented Jell-O shots to beat base alcohol rules

All along the way, Mills was writing lyrics and honing his craft as a musician.

“I just wanted to travel and play music for everyone,” Mills said about his desire to perform.

“My youngest memory of recorded music is a Beach Boys greatest hits tape that I spent my lawn mowing money on,” reflects Mills as he explains his earliest passion for music that has stuck with him since playing the saxophone in school.

The love of music and the desire to create it has been a lifelong aspiration for Mills even before he joined, so it would make sense that he leave the Marine Corps and become a musician. Right?

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

Even after all his success and accolades in the Corps, Mills was not ready to aimlessly jump straight into the music scene when he left the Marines. He admits he was nervous — even scared — to chase the dream without a safety net, so he did what many Veterans do: he became a contractor.

Eventually, the bug bit harder and he found it impossible to not take the risk and pursue his true first love.

Now managing his own gigs, website, and social media, Mills has made his transition from Marine to musician rather successfully.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

He has played shows all over the country, supporting non-profits like Intersections International, Force Blue, and Society of Artistic Veterans. He has recorded several tracks and even shot a few music videos of himself performing.

Recently Mills finished a residency at Umami burger in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “That was just me hustling, literally going from business to business asking, do you guys do live music? If not, why? If you do, how do I get involved?”

That’s the work ethic and resolve all warriors take to their tasks.

(Brandon Mills | YouTube)It might go without saying that the persistence, determination, and even stubbornness are strong character traits in most, if not all, of our elite warriors.

You don’t make it into our military’s special units without being resilient, steadfast, and dedicated — Mills without a doubt carries those same values and characteristics into his music career.

I asked Mills if the transition was hard, going from stone cold warrior to writing and performing love songs. I wondered if there was any identity crisis there and how he dealt with it.

Also read: 8 songs that are essential to any successful military convoy

He explained that it was difficult dealing with other ideas of masculinity and letting that warrior machismo block his flow, but he has learned to temper those instincts and allow himself to feel the positive vibes and let his creativity through, not worrying about what others think and only focusing on great storytelling through song.

I don’t think Brandon would mind the comparison of his sound being somewhere between John Mayer in his vocal delivery and Jack Johnson in his light-hearted muted acoustic.  Mills’ vocals have that bluesy, gravely register that urges the listener to lean in and feel the lyrics, while his guitar style is playful and rhythmic like a campfire sing-a-long.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
(Photo courtesy of Brandon Mills)

Mills isn’t commercially successful yet, or famous for that matter; however, he understands that it’s a long road in the music industry, requiring a ton of work — but he feels he has all that in him.

He wants to help veterans tell their stories through music and let them know that it’s okay to express themselves through art, using himself as an example. Brandon’s music is all about spreading positivity, uplifting spirits, and connecting people with passion.

“I hope that I can give some people what they need,” Mills said, when discussing his forthcoming album. “I’m so critical of myself, I know what I want — if it’s not good enough I will do it again.”

It’s relentless drive and focus like this that will push Mills into the spotlight, eventually.

The strength, tenacity, and perseverance saturated in his warrior spirit will undoubtedly meld with his passion and creativity to help Brandon Mills become a renowned singer-songwriter for years to come.

Articles

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

While he’s more famous for being “The Man In Black,” Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War and was the first man outside of the Soviet Union to learn of Premier Joseph Stalin’s death.


Cash was born J.R. Cash and was raised in a hardscrabble family in Arkansas. He was forced to begin working at the age of 5 and he began playing and writing his own songs at the age of 12 after one of his brothers was killed in a farming accident.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

At the age of 18 in 1950, J.R. Cash joined the Air Force and was forced to change his name to John. He rose through the ranks and served as a Morse code operator. He spent much of his time quickly decoding communications between Soviet officials.

On March 3, 1953, he was a staff sergeant manning his post in Landsberg, Germany, when a surprising message beeped into his ears. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, who had suffered from ill health for years, had died.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

The leader of Russia had suffered a massive heart attack that day and died quickly.

The Man In Black passed the message up the chain and returned to work. Cash’s job already required that he have limited off-post privileges and contact with locals. Still, he couldn’t discuss what happened with even his close friends.

The rest of the world would soon learn of Stalin’s death and the ascent of Georgy Malenkov.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Johnny Cash as a newly signed musician at Sun Records in 1955. (Photo: Sun Records. Public Domain)

Cash, meanwhile, would leave the service honorably just over a year later and return to Texas where he had trained. He married his first wife the same year and signed with Sun Records in 1955.

He played the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time the same year.

Over the following 48 years, Cash wrote thousands of songs and released dozens of albums before his death in September 2003 at the age of 71.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US fighters and bombers sent clear warning to Iran

US fighters and bombers conducted a deterrence patrol over the Persian Gulf on May 12, 2019, as a warning to Iran, which the US has accused of plotting attacks on US interests in the region.

During the mission, US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers were accompanied by F-15C Eagles and F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The bombers and escorts were supported by a KC-135 Stratotanker providing aerial refueling.

US Central Command explained to Business Insider that the flight was intended to send a message to Iran and others that the US military is ready to defend its interests.


U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, May 12, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Gardner)

The bombers were deployed to the CENTCOM area of responsibility last week after the US reportedly received intelligence showing “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region,” a US Central Command spokesman said.

Source: US Central Command

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, May 12, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nichelle Anderso)

May 12, 2019’s patrol was the first mission for the four B-52s deployed to the CENTCOM area. “They’re here to defend our forces and interests,” a US Air Forces Central Command spokesperson told Stars and Stripes.

Source: Stars and Stripes

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

the USS Abraham Lincoln.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch)
U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

A U.S. B-52H Stratofortress aircraft assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron refuels from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 28th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, May 12, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

While emphasizing that the US does not seek war with Iran, the White House has stressed that any attack by Iran will be met with “unrelenting force.”

Source: White House

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

An Airman piloting an F-35A Lightning II receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

The fifth-generation F-35As were moved into the theater for the first time in April to support ongoing operations. These stealth fighters have already conducted strikes in the region.

Source: US Air Forces Central Command

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

An Airman piloting an F-15C Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

The F-15Cs were already in theater but were moved last week “to be best positioned to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region.”

Source: US Air Forces Central Command

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

F-15C Eagle refueling during deterrence patrol.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

As CENTCOM bolsters its firepower, Iran has issued several warnings, at one point calling the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier a “target” rather than a threat. Iran has not yet, it appears, escalated beyond rhetoric though.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Facing PCS backlogs, Army wants to increase incentives for soldiers to move themselves

The U.S. Army has issued hundreds of waivers for many military permanent change of station moves, despite a Defense Department-wide ban on international and domestic travel until at least June 30, top officials said Tuesday.

And while many PCS moves are halted amid the global pandemic, the Army is bracing for backlogs during the busy summer move season after restrictions lift, and are weighing what incentives it can offer to those who can ease the burden on logistics by moving themselves.


Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, said the service had roughly 48,000 personnel with PCS orders to move to their next duty station in March, when the travel ban took effect; “several hundred” of those were ultimately given permission to move anyway. To date, the vice chief of staff’s office, headed by Gen. Joseph Martin, has considered 500 waiver requests, he said.

Even with the latest stop-move order — which does not apply to basic training or deployments and redeployments within the combatant commands — officials said the upcoming summer months will still be the busiest for troops and their families trying to relocate. And springtime moves delayed by the travel ban will add to the summer rush, which is why the Army is bracing for backlogs to occur, added Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy chief of staff for logistics.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

media.defense.gov

“There are a limited supply of moving companies that exist every summer,” Gamble said. “We’re working to streamline the PCS process … making sure soldiers get orders quicker so they can get their moves scheduled quicker.”

That includes having families move themselves instead of waiting for the government to contact a moving company, he said.

The military commonly reimburses self-moves at a rate equal to 95% of what it would pay a moving company. But Gamble said officials are considering upping the rate to encourage more troops to take advantage of it. He did not offer additional details about the change.

“We’re making recommendations to the Joint Staff and to the leadership for these changes,” he said, adding a proposal to streamline Personally Procured Moves (PPM), more commonly known as DITY moves, will be sent to the Office of the Secretary of Defense this week.

On Tuesday, Army Human Resources Command also published a new survey for troops projected to move this summer, asking them to weigh in on policies.

Roughly 7,000 people moved themselves over fiscal 2019, he said.

“Juxtapose that against 48,000 [in just a few months],” Gamble said, explaining that government moves still make up the majority of PCS moves. “If we continue on the current policy, we have to move five months of people in three months.”

Seamands said the Army is considering exceptions to the stop-movement order on a case-by-case basis for personnel facing hardship and those deemed mission-essential. “We’re encouraging soldiers to seek help from their chain of command” to get their permanent change-of-station move done, he added.

Mission-essential personnel who had already begun the process of relocation were given preference to proceed with their moves, Seamands said. Mission-essential designations are up to the gaining command, he explained.

Officials “coordinate with the losing command to see if the losing command is prepared to allow [a soldier] to leave based on the COVID situation, their area and other readiness issues,” he said. “Then the gaining command comes up through the Army staff to the vice chief of staff of the Army, who from the strategic level makes an assessment on whether or not to support the soldier to make the move based on how mission-essential they are.”

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

Intel

William Shatner is traveling the US on a crazy-looking motorcycle to promote vets

Set phasers to stun — Capt. Kirk’s new ride looks even cooler than the USS Enterprise.


Famed Star Trek actor William Shatner is about to embark on an eight-day road tour on a crazy-looking motorcycle in order to raise awareness of The American Legion veterans organization. According to the Legion, Shatner will have select members of The American Legion Riders and the makers of the bike alongside him on the trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Shatner will be riding the Rivet Motors “Landjet” 3-wheeled motorcycle. Created by Wrench Works, the sleek, V-8 powered trike looks like it’s been pulled straight out of the Klingon Empire, but Shatner seems too excited by the motorcycle’s futuristic design to worry about what the Federation might think.

The 8-day road tour will begin on June 23 outside of the Windy City, and will pass through several major cities including Oklahoma City, Flagstaff and Las Vegas.

To see hear more about Shatner’s tour, check out the video below:

DON’T MISS: The Pentagon is developing a dirt bike that barely makes a sound

(h/t New York Daily News)

MIGHTY TRENDING

There will be a special exhibit at the National Mall this Memorial Day

This Memorial Day weekend, the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor will return to the National Mall in Washington D.C., featuring 645,000 poppies — each one representing an American service member who has fallen since World War I.

This year, in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the USAA Poppy Wall will also include a video featuring paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.


The red poppy became synonymous with fallen Allies during the First World War when the hardy bloom painted the heroes’ graves red, and it has remained a symbol of their sacrifice ever since.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

USAA’s poignant exhibit will feature a clear wall stretching 133 feet long and 8.5 feet tall filled with the red bloom, making a striking contrast to the National Mall. From Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26, visitors can see the wall on the southwest side of the Reflecting Pool — between the Lincoln Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

Also read: This is how the poppy became a symbol for fallen troops

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

In addition to the exhibit in Washington D.C., everyone is invited to dedicate a poppy in tribute to a fallen service member. During a time when many Americans celebrate the beginning of summer with a long weekend, there are those who can never forget the price paid for that freedom.

Related: 7 things you didn’t know about Memorial Day

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force’s special ops supercar will blow your mind

This fully customized Dodge Challenger was built by Galpin Auto Sports of Van N California, and is outfitted with special gullwing doors, a carbon fiber body kit, and a “stealth” exhaust system that, when activated, allows the Vapor to run almost silently. Its features include cutting edge technology used by the , such as a forward looking infrared system for night operation and a high-resolution 360-degree surveillance camera with 1/4 mile range.


U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
The Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar on display in the museum’s third building. (U.S. Air Force photo)

In addition, the car’s blacked-out “command center” interior is equipped with aircraft style controls, a passenger side steering wheel, and a windshield head-up display with both night and thermal vision capability, and its advanced computer system allows remote operation from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
The Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar on display in the museum’s third building. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Vapor Supercar toured the  for more than seven years with the  Recruiting Service, educating the public on opportunities for officers and enlisted airmen by showcasing   ingenuity, state-of the-art technology, and innovation.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Air Force’s customized Vapor Special Ops Supercar in the museum’s restoration hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo)

According to National Museum of the   Deputy Director and Senior Curator Krista Strider, having the Vapor Supercar on display at the museum will not only allow visitors to appreciate the advanced technology and unique aspects of the car, but could also lead to some extended mileage for its recruiting mission.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
The stealth-black Air Force Challenger ‘Vapor’ features a biometric access to open the vertical doors, a custom stealth body kit with jet enhancements and a carbon fiber exterior trim. Other exterior components include one-off carbon fiber wheels, a custom stealth exhaust mode that allows the vehicle to run in complete silence or the headers can be opened facilitate the aggressive sound of the engine. The vehicle features a shaker hood, radar-absorbing paint, proximity sensors and a 360-degree camera with a quarter-mile range. The Vapor is one of the Air Force’s newest mobile marketing assets and will be touring high schools and a variety of Air Force sponsored events as part of the 2009 Super Car Tour. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Reed)

“The special features and innovative technology associated with the Vapor Supercar is really interesting for visitors to see,” said Strider. “A major part of the museum’s mission is to inspire our youth toward an  or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, and the Vapor Supercar is another asset that we can utilize to help  accomplish that goal.”

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
The stealth-black Air Force Challenger ‘Vapor’ interior featuers aircraft style controls, a passenger side steering wheel, GPS tracking, night and thermal vision via a film on the front windshield, and the most technologically-advanced computer system with remote control UAV-type access from anywhere in the world utilizing the Internet. The ‘Vapor’ also comes with two custom flight helmets in line with the Air Force theme of the vehicle. The Vapor is one of the Air Force’s newest mobile marketing assets and will be touring high schools and a variety of Air Force sponsored events as part of the 2009 Super Car Tour. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott Reed)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bosnian war criminal reportedly dies after drinking poison in court

Croatian state TV reported Nov. 29 that a convicted Croat war criminal has died after swallowing what he said was poison seconds after a United Nations judge confirmed his 20-year sentence for involvement in crimes during the Bosnian war of the 1990s.


In a stunning end to the final case at the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Slobodan Praljak yelled, “I am not a war criminal!” and appeared to drink from a small bottle.

Tribunal spokesman Nenad Golcevski, when asked by AP if he could confirm the death, said, “I have no information to share at this point.”

The courtroom where the dramatic scene unfolded was sealed off and Presiding Judge Carmel Agius said that it was now a “crime scene” so that Dutch police could investigate. Police in The Hague declined comment on the case.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Convicted Croat war criminal Slobodan Praljak drinks poison. (Screengrab from ICTY video)

Croatian state TV reported that President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic decided to cut short an official visit to Iceland and the government was holding an emergency session.

Praljak, 72, had been in the tribunal’s custody ahead of the hearing and it was not clear how he could have got access to poison or how he apparently managed to smuggle it into the tightly guarded courtroom.

Also Read: ‘Butcher of of Bosnia’ sentenced to life in prison for genocide

Agius had overturned some of Praljak’s convictions but upheld others and left his sentence unchanged. Praljak, standing to listen to the judgment, then produced what appeared to be a small bottle, threw back his head and seemed to pour something into his mouth.

Agius shut down the hearing and cleared the courtroom.

The hearing later resumed and, ultimately, all six Croats charged in the case had their sentences, ranging from 25 to 10 years, confirmed. Judges overturned some of their 2013 convictions, but left many unchanged.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
A small portion of the 6,100 gravestones at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1995, more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks were massacred during the Bosnian War. (Wikimedia Commons photo by Michael Büker)

The other suspects showed no emotion as Agius reconfirmed their sentences for their involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat ministate in Bosnia in the early 1990s.

Dutch police, an ambulance, and a fire truck quickly arrived outside the court’s headquarters and emergency service workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, went into the court shortly after the incident. An ambulance later left the building, but it could not be confirmed if Praljak was inside.

The Nov. 29 hearing was the final case at the groundbreaking tribunal before it closes its doors next month. The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia. It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic (seated, left) and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (seated, right) sign the Croat-Muslim Federation Peace Agreement in the Old Executive Office Building, March 18, 1994. (Photo courtesy of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library)

The appeals judges upheld a key finding that late Croat President Franjo Tudjman was a member of a plan to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia, but that finding, which angered Croat leaders, was largely overshadowed by Praljak.

The original trial began in April 2006 and provided a reminder of the complex web of ethnic tensions that fueled fighting in Bosnia and continues to create frictions in the country even today.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NATO invites Russia to observe its massive war games

NATO allies and a handful of partner countries are gearing up for the alliance’s largest joint military exercises in decades.

Ahead of the Trident Juncture exercises, which are expected to include 45,000 troops, 10,000 vehicles, 60 ships, and 150 aircraft from 31 countries training side by side in and around Norway in fall 2018, the alliance is stressing strength and transparency, and just invited Russian observers so they can get the message up close.

The US Navy admiral commanding the exercise hopes Russia will take them up on the offer.


“I fully expect that they’ll want to come. It’s in their interests to come and see what we do,” Admiral James Foggo told reporters at the Pentagon on Oct. 5, 2018, “They’ll learn things. I want them to be there so they can see how well [NATO allies and partners] work together.”

“There’s a strong deterrent message here that will be sent,” he said. “They are going to see that we are very good at what we do, and that will have a deterrent effect on any country that might want to cross those borders, but especially for one nation in particular.”

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

Soldiers load an M777 howitzer during live-fire training at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Sept. 10, 2018, as part of Exercise Saber Junction 18.

(Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

So far, Russia has yet to accept the offer.

The drills, Article 5 (collective defense) exercises, will include land, air, and amphibious assets training to repel an adversary threatening the sovereignty of a NATO ally or partner state. The admiral refused to comment on whether or not the exercise would include a nuclear element, as an earlier Russian drill did.

Although it was previously reported that these exercises are the largest NATO drills since the Cold War, they are actually the biggest since 2002, Foggo clarified at Oct. 5, 2018’s briefing. The allied drills come on the heels of massive war games in eastern Russia involving tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Russian and Chinese troops preparing for large-scale military operations against an unspecified third country.

The purpose of Trident Juncture, according to handouts presented at Oct. 5, 2018’s briefing, is “to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction.”

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

Articles

Iran may bankroll pro-government fighters in Syrian conflict

The Syrian government has asked Iran to take over the supervision and payroll of thousands of Shi’ite militiamen fighting alongside Russian and Syrian troops in support of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a government source and a news report.


The pro-opposition Syrian news website Zaman Al Wasel reported that it obtained a Syrian defense ministry document saying the Assad regime has approved a plan to give Iran responsibility for paying foreign fighters – mostly Shi’ites of varying nationalities. Shi’ite fighters mostly are paid in cash from Iran, the Syrian government and coffers of the Lebanese-based, pro-Iranian Hezbollah, according to analysts.

Iran would foot the bill alone in the future, a Syrian official told VOA on the condition of anonymity, confirming the Al Wasel report.

“The number of Shia militia has increased dramatically during the last two months,” the official said. “While a big part of these militia were recruited by Iran, a relatively big part was recruited by the Syrian government directly. We are speaking about more than 50,000 militants from different nationalities. The Syrian government requested that Iran provide for all of the mentioned militias.”

The document from Al Wasel put the number of fighters to be paid at 88,733 — a figure analysts say is exaggerated. They estimate that about 10,000 Iranian combat troops are in Syria fighting alongside thousands of fighters from Lebanon’s Tehran-affiliated Shiite militia Hezbollah and assorted Shiite militia made up of renegade Pakistanis, central Asians and other nationalities. Since January 2013, more than 1,000 members of Iran’s elite Quds Force or other elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units have been killed fighting in Syria.

Related: Russia denies funding the Taliban

Tehran says its forces are in Syria to protect the Zeinab Shrine in Damascus, a Shi’ite holy site. But since 2011, Iran has been a major backer of the Syrian regime in its war with rebel groups across the country, at first sending advisers, then forces from the IRGC and expanding far beyond the shrine area.

Iran has long expressed a desire to command a unified army in the region, particularly in Syria, and its growing power in Syria and Iraq is causing unease in Western capitals. In an interview with the Mashregh news agency last August, Mohammad Ali Falaki, an IRGC leader, announced formation of a unified army in Syria which appears to have come to loose fruition.

“It would hardly be abnormal for Iran’s IRGC to be controlling yet more Shia jihadists,” said Talha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute.

In the long run, the formation of a unified army in Syria under Tehran supervision appears very practical, analysts say.

“It seems plausible that the Syrian government shift the responsibility for management and organization of the militias, especially where financial burden is concerned,” said Rasool Nafisi, a Middle East affairs expert in Washington.

Asserting its military prowess would help Iran push its political agenda in the region, some analysts believe.

“The bigger and more advanced army you control, the stronger voice you have,” said Daryoush Babak, a Washington-based retired Iranian military adviser.

But unifying Assad supporters under Tehran’s umbrella could worsen sectarian conflict in the region between Shi’ites and Sunni, analysts say.

Iran is looking for any chance to increase its influence and gain an upper hand against Saudi Arabia, its strongest rival in the war of minds and hearts, analysts say. Saudi Arabia and Iran support rival groups in Syria’s civil war. And In a speech in Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump accused Tehran of contributing to instability in the region.

“Tehran and Riyadh … keep contradicting each other to prove whose ideology leads the region,” said Nafisi.

While Syria has relied on Iran militarily in the fight against rebels and Islamic State, it’s unlikely to grant Tehran a controlling foothold in the country, analysts say.

“In Syria, it is not likely to happen as long as the Assad regime harbors ambitions of regaining sovereignty rather than being reduced to an Iranian protectorate,” said Alfoneh.

VOA’s Noor Zahid contributed to this report.

Humor

7 more phrases old school veterans can’t stop saying — and we love it

We love our old-school veterans that don’t have a problem speaking their minds. They fought Nazis without the internet — they’re miraculous heroes, every damn one of them.


With that in mind, their generation has some pretty entertaining sayings that we should all know about:

1. “There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.”

If you’re deployed and occupying a foxhole — or fighting hole — chances are you’re freakin’ close to the enemy and sh*t could “pop-off” at any time.

When that intense firefight does break out, it’s common for troops to believe in a higher power suddenly.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
U.S. troops positioned in a foxhole in a forest in Germany, 1945. (Source: Pinterest)

2. “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

This Marine expression is commonly used during a hardcore PT session when it looks like someone is about to fall out — it also happens to be one of the Corps’ many slogans.

Regardless, this epic phrase continues to be a source of motivation far after someone receives their DD-214.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
OO-Rah! Sincerely, the Marine Corps.

3. “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.”

Orders are orders — regardless of how much we don’t believe in them or want to fulfill them.

4. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”

During regular working hours — or when you’re still in uniform — senior troops don’t like to see their juniors just standing around not doing sh*t.

So, if you’re caught just hanging around, chances are you’re going to be cleaning something very soon.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
When you get caught leaning so hard, you have to wear a hard hat to clean up. (Source: DoD)

5. “Looking like a soup sandwich.”

A term for when someone in uniform looks freaking unsatisfactory. No real clue of how this saying came about, but we’re glad it did.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
At least attempt to get it right.

6. “It’s mind over matter; I don’t mind and you don’t matter!”

Many service members who had power didn’t seem to mind letting their junior troops know how they felt about them or their complaints. Completing the mission was most important aspect of any task.

7. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It’s common when the higher-ups want to modify or replace a piece of equipment regardless of how successful the prior model functioned.

Old school vets tend not to like too much change in their lives when they have something that works for them.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’

Can you think of any others? Leave a comment!

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how North Korea’s new missile can strike the US

Early the morning of Nov. 29th, North Korea test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile to a record-breaking speed and altitude for the isolated nation.


North Korea’s new show of force follows an ICBM test launch in July and a powerful thermonuclear test blast in September.

Officials in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea confirmed that North Korea launched the new missile, called Hwasong-15, from Sain Ni, North Korea. Its payload soared about 2,800 miles into space before falling back to Earth, ultimately landing in the Sea of Japan some 53 minutes later and about 620 miles away from the launch pad.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
The ballistic missile, launched from Sain Ni, near Pyongsong, North Korea, was launched at an angle so as to arch sharply and fall into the Sea of Japan, avoiding crossing over enemy countries. (Image Google Earth and We Are the Mighty)

Launching a missile nearly straight up and so high may seem strange, if not unbelievable. For reference, the International Space Station orbits Earth from about 250 miles above the planet’s surface.

But David Wright, a physicist and missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said this arc avoids flying over Japan and other nearby nations — limiting political fallout — and represents a “very impressive” feat.

This is because the new missile, if tilted toward the U.S. during launch, could achieve a top speed of more than 17,000 mph — and a target radius of roughly 8,100 miles.

“This missile could reach all of the United States,” Wright told Business Insider, adding a critical caveat: “But it doesn’t mean much without considering the payload.”

ICBM nuclear threat

The intended payload for North Korea’s ICBM program is a nuclear  warhead (although chemical weapons like VX nerve agent, which the nation allegedly possesses and has used, are another option).

Wright said ICBMs burn rocket fuel for about three to five minutes before deploying a warhead on top. The warhead continues coasting through space for another 30 minutes or so, falling toward Earth under the force of gravity until it reenters the atmosphere, reaches its target, and detonates.

This alarms North Korea’s adversaries because the nation recently detonated a thermonuclear device that yielded the energy of perhaps 300 kilotons of TNT — about 20 times as much as the bomb the U.S. detonated over Hiroshima in 1945.

See Also: This is what would happen if North Korea popped off an H-bomb in the Pacific

But Wright doubts such a weapon, also known as a hydrogen bomb, will be miniaturized into a missile-ready warhead by North Korea anytime soon. Rather, he thinks the first type of warhead North Korea may be capable of launching is a less powerful, Hiroshima-style atomic weapon.

Being able to deliver such firepower “is still a big deal,” he said, but is by no means a proven capability.

“There’s a big debate going on in the technical community that works on these things, and it’s exactly about how heavy the warhead would be that North Korea could build, and what capabilities they can get out of their rocket engines,” he said.

‘This is not a fluke’

For now, experts such as Wright assume North Korea’s recent ICBM launched with a very lightweight dummy payload to give the missile alarming show of range. An actual warhead built by North Korea might weigh “several hundred kilograms,” or more than 600 pounds.

“That’s going to significantly reduce the distance,” Wright said, likely enough to keep an armed missile payload from striking American cities.

What’s more, the current estimated accuracy of North Korea’s weapons may be as poor as six to 12 miles. (U.S. and Russian missiles can hit a target within a couple of hundred feet.) If North Korea targeted San Francisco, for example, there’s a chance the bomb could miss the city entirely and detonate over the Pacific Ocean.

U.S. officially withdraws from Open Skies Treaty; Moscow says ‘All options are open to us’
Map showing the ranges some North Korean ballistic missiles can reach. (Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

“It’s kind of like throwing a baseball,” Wright said. “The farther away your target is, the harder it is to hit. If the speed or aim is off by a tiny amount, those small errors add up to big distances over intercontinental ranges.”

Wright said the Nov. 28 test launch is an incremental step for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, but emphasized that it’s important not to dismiss.

“It shows this is not a fluke, that they’re continuing this progress toward something more and more capable,” Wright said. “If things continue along they way they’re going, I think there’s little doubt North Korea will eventually have the capability to hit targets in the U.S. with nuclear weapons.”

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