The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

In the middle of a war, the most crucial information is just how much of the enemy’s territory is captured by the other side. But the United States isn’t engaged in the kind of war that has a front, a rear, and can be delineated on a map somewhere. Even in the counterinsurgency kind of war, one might think it’s still important to track which areas are more or less under control. According to U.S. military commanders, they would be wrong.

For years, the U.S. military was happy to tell the American public just how much of Afghanistan it controlled and how much fell to the Taliban.

Not anymore.


The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

“Just shoot in any direction, I guess.”

For years, the government provided data on how much of the country is under control of the Afghan government and the ISAF mission, and how much is under the control of the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Between 2015 and November 2018, the percentage controlled by the Taliban is up. Way up.

In 2015, the Afghan government controlled 72 percent of the country. Since then the resurgent insurgency has fought back, causing that number to dwindle to 54 percent in October 2018.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

An Afghan security force personnel fires during an ongoing an operation against Islamic State.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; the body designated by Congress to monitor American spending in Afghanistan reported that the NATO-led mission, Resolute Support, “formally notified SIGAR that it is no longer assessing district-level insurgent or government control or influence.” The United States military in Afghanistan backed SIGAR on the move, saying district stability data “was of limited decision-making value to the commander.”

The report from SIGAR that announced the decision was released on May 1, 2019, and did not explain why the data was of no use to the commander. The only clue is that the United States has long questioned the accuracy of the models produced by SIGAR and is only based on unclassified data, which is not what the U.S. military is likely to use.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
U.S. Army soldiers from the 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, watch helicopters at Combat Outpost Terra Nova

John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told Morning Edition:

“The enemy knows what districts they control, the enemy knows what the situation is. The Afghan military knows what the situation is. The only people who don’t know what’s going on are the people who are paying for it, and that’s the American taxpayer.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

How advisors could win the war in Afghanistan instead of combat troops

US military troops in Afghanistan have begun working with smaller Afghan units to prepare them for a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban next year in a push to break the stalemate in the 16-year-old war, the top US commander for the Middle East said Oct. 12.


While acknowledging there is still much more to be done, Army Gen. Joseph Votel sounded a more optimistic tone, saying he is seeing some positive trends in the Afghan’s fight.

As more older Afghan commanders leave or are pushed out of their posts, younger leaders are taking over, he said, adding that the forces are conducting more operations and going on the offensive more often. As a result, he said, officials are seeing the number of casualties start to go down.

“I think we’re still very keen to break the stalemate and that’s what this effort is about here,” Votel told reporters at his US Central Command headquarters. “I’m not declaring victory here with this – but I think some of the steps we’ve taken … are positive steps that are moving us in that direction to break the stalemate.”

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Commander, US Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress last week that he still considers the war a stalemate. But he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured lawmakers that the plan to increase US forces in Afghanistan and beef up military support to the Afghan units will pay off.

Congress members, however, have expressed skepticism and frustration with the Pentagon, and complained that they haven’t gotten enough information on the administration’s new strategy for winning the war in Afghanistan and bringing greater stability to the broader region.

President Donald Trump in August approved a Pentagon plan to deploy as many as 3,800 additional US forces to Afghanistan, where there are already more than 11,000 serving. The additional American forces will be used to increase efforts to advise and assist Afghanistan’s forces, including putting advisers with smaller Afghan battalions, which they call Kandaks. Doing so puts American troops closer to the fight, but military leaders say it will allow them to better help the Afghans improve their ability to fight insurgents.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Lt. Col. Patrick Gaydon, battalion commander of 5/2 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, thanks the Soldiers from 562nd Engineer Company for their hard work and dedication during their time in southern Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. David Hauk.

Votel said the advisers will help those Afghan units get ready for next year’s fighting season.

The US troops would also be used to beef up US counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaeda and a growing Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban and other extremist groups.

The added American troops have already started moving into Afghanistan, including a significant number of Army soldiers and some Air Force personnel who went in with an extra six F-16 fighter jets. The Pentagon, however, has repeatedly refused to even provide estimates of how many of the additional troops have deployed, despite promises that the department will be more transparent with the American people about how many US service members are serving there, in harm’s way.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Col. Henry Rogers, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, walks to his F-16 for a sortie with the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 27, 2015. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him on Oct. 11 that more than a dozen NATO allies have agreed to boost their commitments to Afghanistan, although some may just be a symbolic increase.

The Taliban, meanwhile, continues to be a resilient enemy, launching a series of high profile attacks — including a recent rocket assault at the airport in Kabul while Mattis was on the ground in the country.

Mattis and other senior leaders say they need to increase the military effort in the country in order to force the Taliban to the negotiating table where they can get a political resolution to the war. On Oct. 12, Votel said he is hopeful and believes that peace talks are possible.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Vampyr’ is perfectly placed in World War I London

Video games are as much an artistic medium as any other form of entertainment. Some games have stories that are so well-crafted that they draw gamers into a believable, fictional world while they play. Add enticing gameplay on top of that mesmerizing story and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game.

Dontnod Entertainment’s Vampyr offers exactly that.

The game casts you as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a doctor-turned-vampire in 1918 London. This leaves the player to navigate impossible moral choices, forced to decide between abiding to the Hippocratic Oath — to first do no harm — and succumbing to the bloodlust that comes with being a creature of the damned.


Players can decide to drain the blood out of every single character they meet — turning London into a giant vampire breeding ground — or they could join the side of the light, resisting the draw to feed at the cost of becoming weaker. All of the abilities and weaknesses in the game are true to established vampire lore.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
(Dontnod Entertainment)

The heavy focus on narrative storytelling falls directly in line with the developer’s other game, Life is Strange, which earned plenty of critical acclaim. But what’s going to make this game stand out from other vampiric offerings is that it has real history carefully woven into every fiber.

Related: Why ‘Far Cry 5’ is the most veteran AF game ever

Originally, the game was supposed to be set in the 1950’s America, juxtaposing a demonic hunger with the happiness of a newfound suburban lifestyle. Instead, the developers decided to take the game to a place few others have gone: London during the summer of 1918 — just before the armistice was signed.

Stéphane Beauverger, the game’s narrative director, told Polygon,

“This war at the beginning at the 20th century is the root of so many things. It’s the beginning of communism. It’s the beginning of feminism. It’s the end of the old empires. Darwin has killed God. God is dead, now we know where we come from — it’s all genetic. It’s a brand-new era.”

This historical flare is evident from the very beginning of the game when you awaken from a mass grave. The corpses within the grave aren’t the result of warfare, but rather the Spanish Flu. The main character, Dr. Reid, is a combat medic who just returned from the front lines of the First World War. He is attacked by vampires who are using the widespread death caused by the pandemic to mask their lethal hunger.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
The only real restriction in the game is that you’ve got to end them. You still get to chose how.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

In real life, this virus took its toll on humanity — far worse than the Black Death and The Great War itself. The Black Death took 75 million lives over a decade. The war took 18 million in four years. The Spanish Flu took somewhere between 50 and 100 million in just one year. Historians haven’t nailed down when or where this virus began, but the first known case was in Fort Riley, Kansas and it was quickly spread when American GIs rapidly deployed across the world.

The close quarters, the filthy living conditions, the idiotic decision to quarter live animals alongside men, and the generally terrible hygiene of troops in the trenches meant that a single cough could kill entire platoons. The poor handling of remains meant that the virus would quickly spread. Troops who contracted the flu were shipped to every other corner of the globe and, with them, the virus spread.

Most viruses are dangerous to infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Because the Spanish Flu attacked lungs and bloodstream, it was lethal even to young, healthy adults. So, how did they treat this horrific ailment in real life? Blood transfusions — which brings us right back to the video game about vampires. Dr. Reid was, according to the game, one of the world’s most renown blood doctors before becoming a vampire.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Being a vampire gives you a different perspective on how blood transfusions work.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

The game also plays with the disillusionment of the common folk. Each and every character that roams the streets of London has their own thoughts, goals, and lifestyle. It’s up to you, as both a healer and a feeder, to discover their stories — either by befriending them or consuming their very essence.

In 1918, the world was ripe with social and political revolutions. In game, some citizens show communist sympathies while others are proponents of the first-wave feminism, which was born after women took more direct agency of their lives in the absence of nearly all the country’s men.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
All are equal prey if that’s how you want to play the game.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

Vampyr is an expertly crafted game that is definitely worth picking up for both fans of the occult or history in general.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy to start flying Union Jack in honor of their greatest naval victory

The Navy on Feb. 21 released a NAVADMIN 039/19 directing the display of the union jack instead of the first Navy jack aboard Navy ships and craft.

U.S. Navy ships and craft will return to flying the union jack effective June 4, 2019. The date for reintroduction of the union jack commemorates the greatest naval battle in history: the Battle of Midway, which began June 4, 1942.

“Make no mistake: we have entered a new era of competition. We must recommit to the core attributes that made us successful at Midway: integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “For more than 240 years, the union jack, flying proudly from jackstaffs aboard U.S. Navy warships, has symbolized these strengths.”


MIGHTY TRENDING

This WW2 veteran recalls guarding Nazi POWs and the Dachau concentration camp

Jack Shamblin was a fresh-faced 18-year-old in 1945 when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He soon became part of the occupation forces at an airbase near Frankfurt, Germany.


As a base MP and guard for German prisoners at Keslterbach, the young Oklahoman would learn deep lessons about the duality of man and the destruction of war. Walking along streets with buildings in rubble, and through the Dachau concentration camp, he shuddered at the atrocities.

“What got me, was that steel building they gassed them in … told them people they were going to delouse them, and then shot that poison gas in there … you could see the scratch marks on that steel door,” Shamblin said. “How could people be that evil and wicked? But they were … That got me.”

As a guard, Shamblin would get to know several German POWs during his nine months in Germany. He said he felt that many of the German people were good, and unaware of the horrors taking place around them. But they knew the Americans were coming to end the war.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

“I talked to a lot of the POWs, and one of them said ‘I look up in the sky when the Air Force was bombing Germany … and everywhere you look the sky was full.’ He said ‘I knew then the war was over with.’ I thought about that … They paid a high price, Germany did, but they’ve built the country back now so it’s one of the richest nations in the world.”

At his home near Roland with his wife of 69 years, Lily, the 90-year-old veteran looks back on his life with gratitude for being born in the United States and becoming a member of the Cherokee Nation through his mother’s lineage.

Also read: These stories of female concentration camp guards will haunt your dreams

Shamblin and several other members of the Cherokee Nation were recently flown to Washington, D.C., as part of the fourth annual Cherokee Warrior Flight. In addition to several fellow World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans, joining him on the Warrior Flight was his grandson, Zack Wheeler, to visit the grave of a war hero at Arlington National Cemetery.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, Zack Wheeler’s brother and Jack Shamblin’s grandson, was killed in combat Oct. 22, 2015, during an operation in Hawijah, Iraq, with Kurdish allies to storm a prison and save about 70 prisoners being held by Islamic State fighters. Authorities felt the prisoners were in jeopardy of imminent execution, and it was thought many of them were crucial for Iraqi operation intelligence. The heavily decorated U.S. Delta Force soldier was 39 when he was shot, becoming the first U.S. military casualty in Iraq since 2011. His fourth son, David Paul Wheeler, had just been born that summer.

Speaking to media prior to the service in 2015, Zack Wheeler said his brother exemplified bravery and he considered him the “best soldier in the world.” Many his family felt he was “Superman.” His grandfather fondly recalls taking the Wheeler brothers fishing, and what he can only explain as “supernatural” event the Saturday morning after Josh Wheeler was killed. Shamblin said he was taping a news feature on Wheeler when something happened.

“Seven o’clock in the morning I heard the front door slam … and in my TV you could see somebody go upstairs. I saw this soldier in camouflage walk up that step. I thought, ‘Who in the world would be coming Saturday morning, a soldier, to see me?'” Shamblin said.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Sgt. Titus Fields, infantryman, Honor Guard Company, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), places an American flag in front of a gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery during May 24, 2013 (U.S. Army Photo)

He turned off the TV, walked upstairs and looked all the way through the house. He asked his wife, who was sitting in a chair reading, if she saw someone. She hadn’t seen anyone.

“Then I got shook. I figured it was Josh,” Shamblin said. “I’ve heard about people coming back and visiting them … I thought about that a whole lot.”

Shamblin, who retired from Georgia-Pacific Dixie Plant after 42 years, comes from a long line of men and women who have served in the military. Just two and three generations behind him were Civil War veterans — grandfather Andrew Jackson Shamblin, a Confederate captured at the Battle of Vicksburg, and great-grandfather Capt. James Womack, a Confederate chaplain.

Ted Shamblin, Jack’s older brother, as well as three cousins, were in World War II. One of this three daughters was an Army helicopter technician serving in South Korea. In all, Jack and Lily Shamblin have 25 great grandchildren and a great-great grandchild on the way.

“It’s amazing what we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Lily Shamblin said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Team Rubicon’s co-founder receives the Pat Tillman Award for Service

Jake Wood has seen and done a lot in his life, so you know when he calls receiving the Pat Tillman Award for Service “humbling,” it’s a meaningful statement. The co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon was a United States Marine and scout sniper in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s testified in Congress on veterans’ mental health and briefed the last three Presidents of the United States about the issues returning veterans face.

Now, he’s been recognized by the ESPY awards, the annual presentation from ESPN and ABC honoring athletes for their performance in sports and sports-related activities. While deploying American military veterans to help disaster areas other rescue organizations won’t touch isn’t necessarily a sport, one can argue it’s definitely athletic.

But you don’t have to argue for Jake Wood.


The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

Tillman as a Ranger and as a Cardinal.

The Pat Tillman Award for Service is presented at the ESPYs to honor an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the Tillman legacy. Previous honorees include 2016’s Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, who overcame hip injuries sustained in Iraq but still became the world’s number one paraswimmer. In 2015, it was awarded to Danielle Green, who joined the military after playing basketball at Notre Dame and lost her arm in Iraq. Green returned to help other veterans struggling to adjust to life after the military.

For Jake Wood, this award hits close to home. Wood was playing on the offensive line at the University of Wisconsin when Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2004. It was after Tillman died that Wood told his coach he was off to join the Marine Corps, where he spent four years.

He was out for just three months before he saw the devastation in Haiti. It was in Port-Au-Prince that a handful of volunteers formed the first heartbeat of what would be come Team Rubicon. Now, the organization is 80,000 members strong.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

Wood in Haiti on Team Rubicon’s first mission.

And Jake Wood, the former o-lineman for the Badgers, is being recognized for forming a group that helps those most in need while giving struggling military veterans a new mission in life.

Pat Tillman would be proud.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Was this ‘Game of Thrones’ episode a metaphor for the Iraq War?

In episode five of season eight of “Game of Thrones,” countless civilians were burned alive in dragon fire as the city of King’s Landing was “liberated” by Daenerys Targaryen from the tyrannical ruler Cersei Lannister.

Prior to the devastating attack, Daenerys’ advisers pleaded with her to spare civilian lives and she responded that a destructive show of force will actually be an act of “mercy” by sparing future generations from the oppression of Cersei.

Instead, Daenerys indiscriminately rained fire down upon helpless men, women, and children, even after it was clear victory was at hand. As the fleeing civilians died, they left only their charred bodies to line the streets in an ashen city.


A lot of people think the horrific genocide is a metaphor for US foreign policy, in the sense that an ostensibly benevolent and powerful leader justified the killing of thousands of innocents in the name of what she claimed was the greater good.

Many people took to social media and drew parallels between US foreign policy — and particularly the US invasion of Iraq under former President George W. Bush — and Daenerys’ unilateral attack:

Since the US launched the so-called “war on terror” following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, over 480,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — including at least 244,000 civilians, according to the Watson Institute’s Cost of War project at Brown University.

Many experts, including those behind the Costs of War project, have contended the US could’ve pursued non-military options to pursue those responsible for 9/11 and spared many lives in the process.

The US military is still present in Afghanistan and Iraq, and continues to conduct air strikes and drone strikes in many places as part of its global war on terror, among other military operations. In the fight against the Islamic State group, or ISIS, the US has killed thousands of civilians in Syria and Iraq. Recent reporting also suggests the US has killed civilians with strikes in Somalia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China unveiled its new H-20 stealth bomber in a big dig at the US

China may have released a video teaser of its H-20 stealth bomber and trolled the US’s stealth bombers in the process, according to The Drive.

China’s state-run aviation and defense company, Aviation Industry Corporation of China, recently posted a video celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, a subsidiary of AVIC, The Drive reported.


The video, which China Daily tweeted, ends with a shadowy wide shot of bomber-looking aircraft covered in a sheet with text reading “The Next” appearing on the screen.

The shot looks eerily similar to a Northrop Grumman advertisement of the B-21 Raider, which ran during the 2015 Super Bowl, The Drive reported, adding that China Defense Online may have also added the ending itself. As such, it’s unclear if it’s legit.

Still, China has been in search of a long-range bomber.

In 2015, Chinese defense experts said China needed to develop a long-range bomber that could strike targets far from its coast, AFP reported at the time.

Then in 2016, General Ma Xiaotian, a PLA Air Force commander, said China was researching the development of such a bomber, according to Popular Science.

The Drive also reported that conception of the H-20 may have even come before that, citing Airforce Monthly as saying that XAC had built small models of it, but in 2011, the program came to a halt.

In any event, the Pentagon confirmed in 2017 report that China was “developing a strategic bomber that officials expect to have a nuclear mission,” also noting that “[past] PLA writings expressed the need to develop a ‘stealth strategic bomber,’ suggesting aspirations to field a strategic bomber with a nuclear delivery capability.”

To that end, the H-20 needs to be capable of carrying a 10 ton payload and have a range of 5,000 miles, The Drive reported.

Popular Science reported that the H-20, in order to strike different continents, needs a 6,200 mile range and carry a 10-20 ton payload, which would most likely require four WS-10 turbofan engines.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
An artist’s rendering of the JH-XX.

Whatever the specifications would be, a researcher working with the US Air Force told Business Insider that the H-20 is a four engine stealth bomber and that the details have not been “revealed except it is to have a dual [nuclear and conventional] role.”

The researcher also said that China has built three static H-20 airframes without electronics and engines.

The Drive reported that the H-20’s main weapon would probably be KD-20 cruise missiles, and Popular Science reported that it would carry the KD-20s in its internal weapons bays.

The H-20 might eventually even carry “GB-6A stealth cruise missiles and hypersonic scramjet missiles,” and act as a command and control aircraft, Popular Science reported.

The “deployment and integration” of a nuclear bomber “would provide China with its first credible nuclear ‘triad’ of delivery systems dispersed across land, sea, and air,” the 2017 Pentagon report on China’s military said.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This sergeant could get the attention of the whole world

If you’ve been in the Army, Air Force, or Marines, you probably remember that your sergeant could get and hold your attention – especially in a one-on-one setting. Some sergeants can easily get the attention of a squad, a platoon, or even a division when they go off. But one sergeant was capable of getting the attention of the whole world.


The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

The MGM-29 Sergeant served for 15 years with the United States Army.

(U.S. Army)

The sergeant in question has been in retirement for over 40 years, according to the United States Army. He can’t exactly sign autographs, either. That’s because this sergeant isn’t a person, it’s a missile. To be precise, it’s the MGM-29 Sergeant missile.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

A MGM-29 Sergeant launches. It had a maximum range of 84 miles,

(U.S. Army)

The MGM-29 started out as the SSM-A-27 and was a replacement for a system known as the Corporal. The Sergeant system entered service in 1962 and proved to be a much safer, solid-fueled rocket. In fact, while it took nine hours for a Corporal to be readied for launch, preparing a Sergeant took less than an hour.

The Sergeant had a maximum range of 84 miles and came with one of two warheads. One was a high-explosive warhead and the other was a 200-kiloton W52 nuclear warhead. That’s about 13 and a third times as powerful as the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima near the end of World War II. This is why the Sergeant commanded the world’s attention.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB_6In8pQ_E

www.youtube.com

West Germany also operated this missile

The Sergeant served with the United States Army until 1977 when it was replaced by the MGM-52 Lance in the same roles. Like other tactical missiles, the Sergeant was also exported to West Germany, where it served until 1979.

Learn more about this missile in the video below:

MIGHTY CULTURE

49ers’ Garland wears a different kind of uniform off the field

When Air Force Academy football player Ben Garland broke his left hand at practice in 2009, Head Coach Troy Calhoun thought he might miss the rest of the season. Garland played that week.

“You thought, ‘My goodness, this guy, he’s a pretty special human being,”’ Calhoun said.


Garland, 32, is now entering his sixth NFL season overall and his second season with the San Francisco 49ers. For the last nine years, the offensive lineman has spent his offseasons with the Colorado Air National Guard.

“It shapes who you are,” Garland, a captain with the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard, said of his military training. “It teaches you that teamwork, that discipline, that work ethic. A lot of things that are valuable to the team, I learned in my military career.”

Garland was 5 years old when he attended an Air Force football game with his grandfather, who was a colonel. That experience led the determined boy to vow to play on that field someday and become an officer.

Garland played on the defensive line at the Air Force Academy from 2006 to 2009, earning all-Mountain West conference, second-team honors as a senior. He signed with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent and placed on the reserve/military list for two years so he could honor his military commitment.

Garland became an offensive lineman in 2012 and has been on three teams that reached the Super Bowl — the Broncos after the 2013 season, the Atlanta Falcons after the 2016 season and the 49ers last February. Garland started at center during San Francisco’s 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

“I’m definitely known around the wing as the guy who plays in the NFL,” said Garland, who is 6 feet 5 and weighs 308 pounds.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

Capt. Ben Garland. Courtesy photo.

Garland has worked primarily in public affairs with the Air National Guard, handling media and community relations as well as internal communications. He has deployed abroad, including to Jordan in 2013.

He was also the recipient of a 2018 Salute to Service Award, in part, because of actions off the field including donating game tickets each week to service members, visiting the Air Force Academy annually to speak to students, working with Georgia Tech ROTC and mentoring local young officers, according to the NFL.

“Once you join the military, you are always an airman or soldier or whatever branch you choose, but we’re all service members,” said Major Kinder Blacke, chief of public affairs for the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard. “I don’t really think you take that uniform off. I guess I would say I see him as a guardsman who’s an excellent football player and has pursued both of those dreams at once. It’s really admirable.”

Garland said he cherishes his time at Air Force.

“It was extremely challenging and physical, and you were exhausted at times, but the challenging things in life mean the most to you,” he said. “It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I have some of my closest friends from it.”

Garland served on active duty from 2010-12 after graduation. He was already a member of the Air National Guard by the time he made his NFL debut for the Broncos against the Raiders in Oakland on Nov. 9, 2014.

“The way he is able to have a full plate but to do it with such drive and energy, he has an enormous amount of work capacity,” Calhoun said.

The coronavirus pandemic has altered the sports calendar and left a question mark over Garland’s NFL career. There is no guarantee that Garland will be with his teammates for the 49ers’ scheduled opener against the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sept. 13.

Regardless, Garland still possesses a clear vision for what lies ahead.

“Once my NFL career is over, I’d love to do more stuff with the military,” he said. “It just depends where my body’s at. …[In] the military, you get people from all walks of life to come together to be one of the best teams in the world. These selfless, incredible, courageous people, you get to know and be friends with. I definitely want to be a part of that as long as I can.”

Keep up with Garland’s career updates by following him on Instagram.

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.


Articles

US special operators, artillery, gunships support Raqqa offensive

United States Special Forces have been deployed on several fronts around the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, supporting the offensive of the Kurdish militias and other allied factions laying siege to the city, according to a British war monitor.


US troops are deployed to the north, east, and west of al-Raqqa, considered the capital of the caliphate of the Islamic State, and includes US special ops units, US Marines artillery (155mm/M-777’s), and US Apache helicopter gunships supporting the advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led armed alliance that launched an offensive to retake the city, according to the UK’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The US-led coalition’s aircraft are also providing the Kurdish fighters with intensive air support.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Syrian Democratic Forces march in Raqqa in 2016

Currently, there are clashes between the SDF and the US Special Forces on one side against IS, on the other, at the former base of Division 17, North of al-Raqqa; also on the outskirts of the Haraqala area and around the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the West.

SOHR said the SDF controls 70 percent of the al-Meshlab area, on the eastern side of al-Raqqa, where progress is being hampered by IS snipers and mines, although the Kurdish militia stated on Wednesday it completely controlled the area.

There are no civilians left in this district since they were evacuated days ago by the radical fighters, who have dug trenches and tunnels to defend the area, the NGO said.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

For their part, the SDF reported in their Telegram account that they have managed to break into the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the western part of al-Raqqa.

On June 5th, this force launched an offensive on the city.

This offensive comes on the third anniversary of the proclamation of its caliphate on June 29, 2014, by IS in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, there are some 500 US troops deployed in Syria.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Want your own supersonic fighter? Paul Allen’s MiG-29 is up for sale

Paul Allen may have made a name for himself as the co-founder of Microsoft, but within the aviation community, the late entrepreneur was known for something different: owning some of the most incredible aircraft ever to hit the market. When Allen passed last October, he left behind a sizeable collection of vehicles that included two superyachts and a veritable air force worth of jets, helicopters, and specialized planes.


Now, it seems that portions of Allen’s estate are being liquidated, placing some of the rarest and most exotic platforms in the world on the market. Among these treasures is perhaps a one of a kind Cold War-era MiG-29 — a fourth-generation fighter built just before the fall of the Soviet Union that even saw operational use in Ukraine during the Soviet dissolution.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

This MiG-29 is up for sale (in case you really want to impress your prom date).

(Mente Group)

Despite the number of headlines garnered by fifth-generation fighters like America’s F-35 and F-22, the vast majority of the combat operational fighters in the world remain squarely within the fourth generation. These jets, like the F-15, F-16, and Russia’s Su-35 are considered highly capable despite lacking the stealth and network capabilities that differentiate them from their successors, but in many ways outside of those qualifiers, fourth-generation platforms are more capable than even the high-cost F-35. And the MiG-29 in question is certainly no exception. In fact, it remains in use in the Russian (and a number of other) air forces to this day.

This particular MiG-29 was demilitarized by the Ukraine Air Force and put on the private market in 2005, where it began its long and treacherous journey to Allen’s collection here in the United States. By the time it arrived, the aircraft needed to be restored and reassembled, a task left to importer and military aviation aficionado John Sessions. Sessions not only restored this aircraft to its former glory, when he was finished, it was perhaps the single best example of a MiG-29 left in existence, along with a few uniquely American accents like changing the gauging and cockpit indicators to English.

Spectacular vertical take off MIG 29 at RIAT 2015

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With a top speed of 1,491 mph (around Mach 2.25) this MiG would leave even America’s premier F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the dust. In fact, this MiG would beat just about anything that isn’t an F-15 in a drag race, which is impressive for a combat aircraft, but even more so for a civilian jet with functioning ejection seats you could feasibly take to visit your mom in Orlando. In fact, at top speed, you could get there from New York in less than an hour.

The fighter is up for sale through the Mente Group, and according to the listing the entire airframe has only 570 operational hours on it, with only 60 of those hours taking place after the entire aircraft (including the engines) were completely overhauled. In other words, this jet may have been built in the late ’80s, but its cockpit still very much possesses that “new fighter” smell.

Because its been demilitarized, this MiG-29 lacks the machine gun and seven hardpoints used for mounting missiles or bombs, as well as the infrared search and track (IRST) ball it originally used for targeting, but as Tyler Rogoway at The War Zone points out, IRST systems from the MiG’s era never worked all that well anyway.
The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

A fully loaded Bangladesh Air Force MiG-29 with six missiles and an external fuel tank.

(Bangladesh Air Force via WikiMedia Commons)

The MiG-29 likely won’t see use as an aggressor aircraft (used by the U.S. Air Force for mock combat training exercises) in large part because the U.S. military has already gotten their hands on a number of MiG-29s and most of its performance capabilities can be mirrored by other available platforms. That means this MiG likely won’t see use in military contractor circles, making it that much more promising as dad’s new grocery getter.

There’s no price on the listing, but seeing as Sessions has stated in the past that it cost him at least million to restore the aircraft to its current white-glove condition and the fact that Allen’s purchase price has never been divulged, it’s safe to say that this Cold War fighter will probably set you back quite a bit more than most commuters on the market.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This ‘wooden shoe’ was really a deadly anti-personnel mine

Landmines have long been a fiendish weapon of war. Nazi Germany, though, developed one landmine that was particularly heinous. It was called a “shoe mine” by the Allies, but despite the innocent sounding name, it was one of the Nazis’ nastier pieces of work.

Its actual name was the Schützenmine 42, and it more of a wooden box than a shoe. Inside the box was an ignition device, a detonator, and some TNT. This wasn’t a particularly powerful mine — there were only about eight ounces of TNT — but it didn’t need a big boom to be feared.


Though the blast wasn’t huge, it would still do some real damage to the unlucky GI who stepped on it. He wouldn’t be killed — but he’d be seriously wounded, and other GIs or a medic would have to get to him before he bled out. The Nazis made millions of this type of extremely simple mine. So, where there was one, there were probably more.

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A look at the components of a “schu mine” – there was very little metal, making it hard to detect and easy to mass produce.

(US Army)

That wasn’t even the most diabolical part. The mine was housed in a wooden box. This made it both extremely simple to make and extremely hard to detect. Aside from the detonator, there just wasn’t a lot of metal, and most land-based minesweeping methods involved using metal detectors. This meant that the mine potentially could seriously wound (or kill) the specialists whose job it was to neutralize mines.

The US will no longer track how much of Afghanistan it controls

The best way to detect the “schu mine” was through the use of dogs, who could sniff out the explosives.

(Imperial War Museum)

Ultimately, the Allies turned to dogs to sniff out the explosives in these mines. Although Nazi Germany lost the Second World War, their design was copied and employed by a large number of countries after the war. While the “schu mine” wasn’t the worst thing the Nazis did in World War II, it still ranks very high up among their foul deeds, and is one that still kills and maims to this day.

Learn more about this diabolical wooden box in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHpmE5D8NbI

www.youtube.com

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