Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A video shows the inside of a US military camp overtaken by Russian mercenaries working with Syrian forces, shortly after American troops abandoned it.

US forces left the Manbij camp in northern Syria early Oct. 15, 2019, following an Oct. 6, 2019, directive from President Donald Trump to leave a coalition with the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the terrorist group ISIS. A spokesman for the US operation confirmed the departure on Oct. 15, 2019.


The US’s decision to pull out gave Turkish forces the green light to invade Syria on Oct. 9, 2019, and drive out the SDF, which contains Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and has long vowed to destroy them. Over the weekend, the SDF allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to fight the Turkish offensive.

Here’s a video of the abandoned camp:

The man in the video was identified by the Times of London reporter Tom Parfitt as Oleg Blokhin, a Russian war correspondent known to be following the Wagner Group, a Russian private military organization that supports Syrian military operations, in northeastern Syria.

US troops formerly based at the camp willingly left it to Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, an SDF official near Manbij told Business Insider’s Mitch Prothero.

The broader Manbij area is under the control of Assad’s troops, who await an assault from Turkish troops from the north.

The video was first posted on Twitter by a defense blogger known as MrRevinsky. The SDF official confirmed its accuracy to Business Insider.

A second video posted by MrRevinsky appeared to show Blokhin raising and lowering a mechanical checkpoint barrier at the camp.

Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, and Turkey’s subsequent incursion, has unleashed chaos in the region and displaced thousands of Kurds. Dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners have escaped from detention, something that experts say could help the terrorist organization regroup.

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

Articles

F-35 forward deploys to Bulgaria

Two F-35A Lightning IIs and about 20 supporting Airmen arrived at Graf Ignatievo Air Base April 28 from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.


The F-35As are participating in the first training deployment to Europe. The aircraft and total force Airmen are from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“The United States and Bulgaria have a strong and enduring relationship,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Third Air Force commander, during a press event after the arrival. “We routinely train through joint and combined initiatives like Operation Atlantic Resolve and in flying exercises like Thracian Eagle, Thracian Summer and Thracian Star. Our commitment to Bulgaria is but an example of our unwavering support to all allied nations.”

Similar to the aircraft’s visit to Estonia on April 25, this training deployment has been planned for some time and was conducted in close coordination with Bulgarian allies. It gives F-35A pilots the opportunity to engage in familiarization training within the European theater while reassuring allies and partners of U.S. dedication to the enduring peace and stability of the region.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw

“I have to say that for us, this makes us very proud,” said Maj. Gen. Tsanko Stoykov, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. “Our efforts have been appreciated and we are trusted as a reliable ally and it immensely contributes to the development of the bilateral relations between our two counties and our two air forces.”

This is the first overseas flying training deployment of the U.S. Air Force’s F-35As. The deployment provides support to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe while demonstrating the U.S. commitment to regional and global security.

Related: Israel’s F-35s may have already flown a combat mission against Russian air defenses in Syria

“We are grateful to our Bulgarian friends for their support in making today possible,” Clark said. “Your cooperation helps prepare the F-35 for its invaluable contribution to our alliance. We look forward to many more years of our shared commitment and partnership.”

This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, allowing the U.S. to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the aircraft. It also assists in refining the beddown requirements for the F-35A at RAF Lakenheath in order to enhance Europe’s ability to host the future capabilities of the Air Force and coalition team. Also, it helps to integrate with NATO’s infrastructure and enhance fifth-generation aircraft interoperability.

The aircraft and Airmen began arriving in Europe on April 15, and are scheduled to remain in Bulgaria for a brief period of time before returning to RAF Lakenheath to continue their training deployment.

The KC-135 is from 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and is providing refueling support for the deployment to Bulgaria.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force flew this awesome A-10 over Normandy this D-Day

The Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron flew a specially painted A-10C Warthog over the beaches of Normandy on June 5, 2018, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

D-Day is one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history, with 156,000 allied troops landing on five beaches and about 13,000 paratroopers dropping behind German lines.

And the 107th, which took part in the invasion, flew a pair of A-10s, multiple C-130 Hercules and even dropped paratroopers over the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the historical event.

It was the first time the 107th was assigned a mission in France since World War II.

Check out the photos below:


Here’s the specially painted A-10 Warthog, which was actually painted in 2017, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 107th squadron.

Here's the specially painted A-10 Warthog, which was actually painted last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 107th squadron.


Source: The Aviationist

The paint job was inspired by the 107th’s P-51 Mustangs, which took part in the D-Day invasion.

The paint job was inspired by the 107th's P-51 Mustangs, which took part in the D-Day invasion.

Here’s a close-up. The emblem on the side is for the 107th’s nickname, the Red Devils.

Here's a close-up. The emblem on the side is for the 107th's nickname, the Red Devils.


Source: The Aviationist

And it flew with another A-10 over Normandy on June 5, 2018.

And it flew with another A-10 over Normandy on Tuesday.

Here’s a close-up of the emblem.

Here's a close-up of the emblem.

The two A-10s flew with multiple C-130s over Normandy as well.

The two A-10s flew with multiple C-130s over Normandy as well.

The C-130s even dropped paratroopers in commemoration of the D-Day anniversary.

The C-130s even dropped paratroopers in commemoration of the D-Day anniversary.

During World War II, the 107th operated L-4, L-5, A-20 and Spitfire aircraft, and was later fielded with F-6As, the reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang.

During World War II, the 107th operated L-4, L-5, A-20 and Spitfire aircraft, and was later fielded with F-6As, the reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang.


Source: US Air Force

In the lead-up to D-Day, the 107th flew 384 missions between December 1943 and June 1944 to photographically map the French coast before the invasion.

In the lead-up to D-Day, the 107th flew 384 missions between December 1943 and June 1944 to photographically map the French coast before the invasion.

The 107th lost one aircraft during the recon mission. Lt. Donald E. Colton was killed in action near Roven, France, on May 9.

Source: US Air Force, Michigan Veterans Affairs

The 107th flew more than 1,800 after May 1944, participated in four campaigns after Normandy, and even received the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 107th flew more than 1,800 after May 1944, participated in four campaigns after Normandy, and even received the Presidential Unit Citation.


Source: US Air Force, Michigan Veterans Affairs

US Air National Guard photos

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines in Afghanistan will get Reaper drone support

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems has received a $39.6 million contract to provide MQ-9 Reapers to a Marine advisory unit in Afghanistan for air overwatch and reconnaissance, according to Pentagon announcements.

The Reapers, the first Group 5 unmanned aerial systems to be assigned exclusively to a Marine unit, may arrive in theater very soon, documents show. Group 5 is the largest class of UAS and includes platforms such as the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton.


According to the contract announcement, General Atomics contractors, not Marines, will operate the systems in Afghanistan. The award was first reported June 27, 2018, by The Drive.

While Task Force Southwest, a small contingent of several hundred Marines on the ground in Helmand Province, Afghanistan is primarily charged with providing advice and assistance to Afghan National Security Forces in their fight with local Taliban elements, a significant portion of the unit’s work involves coordinating strikes on enemy targets using UAS.

When Military.com visited the unit in December 2017 and toured its operations center, Marines coordinated three deadly strikes in a single morning, using small ScanEagle drones to identify targets and Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons to drop ordnance to take them out.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
F-16 Fighting Falcon

“This is what we do on a daily basis, is provide overwatch,” Capt. Brian Hubert, battle captain for Task Force Southwest, told Military.com at the time. “And then also, there’s a little bit of advising, because we will call them and say, ‘Hey, think about doing this, or we see you doing this, that looks good, you should go here.’ We’re trying to get them to the point where eventually, with their Afghan Air Force, they can do all themselves.”

Having Reapers, which can fly at top speeds of 300 miles per hour and can carry more than 3,700 pounds of ordnance, including Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II bombs and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, would allow the Marine task force to operate more independently rather than depending on other units for deadly force from the air.

“Task Force Southwest currently uses Group 5 [Unmanned Aerial Systems] extensively when they are provided from available assets in theater,” Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, commander of the task force, told Military.com in January 2018. “An organic Group 5 UAS capability will give us more capacity to assist our Afghan partners as they conduct continuous offensive operations against the enemy in Helmand province.”

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle flies a combat mission over southern Afghanistan.
(U.S. Air Force photo)

As an additional benefit, having the Reapers available may help the Marines prepare to receive and operate their own Group 5 drone, the MUX, which is now in the requirements phase.

That system, which will be designed to take off vertically from a ship and provide surveillance and network capabilities from the air, is planned to reach initial operational capability around 2027.

The contract award notice for the Reapers does not specify when the systems will arrive in Afghanistan. Earlier solicitations called for the capability by March 2018. But all work on the contract is set to be completed by November 2018, the announcement states.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is SecState’s plan to welcome Taliban into Afghan government

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Oct. 20 there is a place for moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s government as long as they renounce violence and terrorism and commit to stability. He also delivered a blunt warning to neighboring Pakistan, insisting Islamabad must step up action against terrorist groups that have found safehaven within its borders.


Speaking on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and other senior officials at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, Tillerson said the Taliban must understand that they will never win a military victory and should prepare to negotiate with the government.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Photo from US Department of State.

“Clearly, we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory,” Tillerson told a small group of reporters allowed to accompany him from the Qatari capital of Doha. “And there are, we believe, moderate voices among the Taliban, voices that do not want to continue to fight forever. They don’t want their children to fight forever. So we are looking to engage with those voices and have them engage in a reconciliation process leading to a peace process and their full involvement and participation in the government.”

Also read: Here’s what Mattis has to say about his loyalty to the White House

“There’s a place for them in the government if they are ready to come, renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable, prosperous Afghanistan,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson outlined to Ghani and Abdullah the Trump administration’s new South Asia policy, which the president rolled out last month and views the region through a lens that includes Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and India, both of which he will visit later this week. The approach is heavy on combatting and beating extremist groups in all three countries.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.

“We also want to work with regional partners to ensure that there are no threats in the region,” he said. “This is very much a regional effort as you saw. It was rolled out in the strategy itself, demanding that others deny safehaven to terrorists anywhere in the region. We are working closely with Pakistan as well.”

Tillerson will visit Islamabad on Oct. 21 and said he would be telling Pakistani officials that their cooperation in fighting extremists and driving them from hideouts on their territory is imperative to a good relationship with the US.

“It will be based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward for both creating opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan but also ensuring a stable future Pakistan,” he said. ” Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organizations that find safehaven inside of Pakistan. So we want to work closely Pakistan to create a more stable and secure Pakistan as well.”

The administration’s strategy for South Asia envisions it as part of what Tillerson referred to in a speech last week as Indian-Pacific Ocean platform, anchored by four democracies: India, Australia, Japan, and the United States. The US is placing high hopes on India’s contributions in South Asia, especially in Afghanistan where Tillerson said New Delhi could have significant influence and presence by creating jobs and “the right environment for the future of Afghanistan.”

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
Gen. John Nicholson. Photo from Dept of Defense.

Tillerson also met at Bagram with senior members of the US military contingent, including Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan. He underscored the ongoing US commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan but stressed it is “conditions based,” meaning that the government must meet certain benchmarks. He praised Ghani for his efforts to curb corruption and prepare for the country parliamentary elections next year.

Related: Former Pentagon chief warns against putting too much trust in generals to lead US through political fights

“It is imperative in the end that we are denying safehaven to any terrorist organizations or any extremists to any part of this world,” Tillerson said.

He arrived in Afghanistan cloaked in secrecy and under heavy security. He had slipped out of Qatar in the pre-dawn hours and flew a gray C-17 military plane to Bagram, jettisoning his public schedule, which had him meeting with staffers at the US Embassy in Doha.

Tillerson, a one-time private pilot, rode in the cockpit wearing a headset and chatting with the crew as the plane took off from the Al-Udeid Air Base outside Doha.

Articles

Army to deploy Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe

To address the potential Russian threat, the Army will start rotating Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe, starting next year.


According to a report by the Army Times, the first unit to handle a rotation will come from the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The European rotation will join Armored Brigade Combat Team rotations in South Korea and Kuwait.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
(PHC D. W. HOLMES II, U.S. Navy)

The Army also announced that a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in Georgia, will be converted from an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team.

An Armored Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Armored Division will also be moved from training duties to the active rotation. The deployments to Europe, South Korea, and Kuwait are for nine months.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
A U.S. Army Bradley during a training exercise. (Photo by Private 1st Class James Dutkavich)

At present, there are only nine Armored Brigade Combat Teams in the Active Army, with five more in the National Guard. The conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade will make it ten active Armored Brigade Combat Teams.

The only U.S. Army unit permanently deployed to Europe is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker unit. Earlier this year, the Army received the first M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker modified with the Mk 46 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems)

An Armored Brigade Combat Team has three battalions, each with two companies of M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and two companied of mechanized infantry that each have 14 M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

The brigade also has a reconnaissance squadron with three troops of 12 M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles each.

The Army had to withdraw its Armored Brigade Combat Teams from Europe five years ago due to budget cuts caused by sequestration. A 2015 Army Times report outlined that the cuts reduced the number of brigade combat teams from 45 in 2012 to 30.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army wants to outfit dogs with tiny cameras and other cool gear

Man’s best friend has been fighting on battlefields for centuries, but the modern four-legged battle buddy is much more sophisticated than his predecessor with more advanced gear.

The modern US military has multi-purpose tactical dogs, search and rescue dogs, explosive detection dogs, and tracking dogs, among other types of canines, and the dogs have their own special equipment.


Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Brian Zamiska, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), pulls security with a U.S. Air Force working dog, Jan. 6, 2013, during a patrol with the Afghan Border Police in Tera Zeyi district, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alex Kirk Amen)

The US Army, which is currently undergoing its largest modernization in decades, has been working hard to modernize the force, equipping soldiers with state-of-the-art gear, such as lightweight helmets that can withstand sniper fire and night-vision goggles that let them shoot around corners.

And military working dogs aren’t being left out of the modernization push.

Insider recently asked a senior scientist at the Army Research Office what’s next for military dogs, and he explained that there are a lot of interesting things on the horizon, despite the challenges of developing gear for canines.

“We are going to be able to help augment the animal with better cameras, better hearing protection, and better vision protection, and put those things all together so that we can get a smarter system out there,” Stephen Lee told Insider.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A military working dog wearing the CAPS with goggles.

(US Army photo by Zeteo Tech)

All military dogs use a collar and a leash, but just as there are different types of dogs for different missions, such as pointy-eared dogs like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois for tactical operations and floppy-eared dogs like Labrador Retrievers for screening activities, the various types of military dogs tend to have varied gear kits.

“Like the multipurpose dogs might have a harness, a vest that contains stab proofing or some sort of insert armor,” Lee explained, adding that they might also have goggles, hearing protection equipment, and special booties for snow, sandy or rocky environments.

There are also cooling vests and specialized kennels that cool to help the canines better operate in hot areas.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A US soldier carrying a military working dog.

(US Army)

And canine gear is continuously evolving.

“We are learning a lot from the robotics community because they need lightweight electronics. So we’re able to put small cameras on the dogs now and guide them at distances,” Lee said. “I’m excited about putting those new microelectronics on the canine.”

The US military has already made some strides in this area, equipping dogs with cameras, GPS trackers, and radios for better off-leash communication, but there is always the potential for more innovation.

The challenge, Lee told Insider, is that there is technically no military working dog research funding line in the military.

Lee has a PhD in physical organic chemistry and played an important role in the development of an artificial dog nose that is used for screening activities, but while it is an incredible tool, it lacks the ability to provide the full range of capabilities a working dog can.

“We spend billions of dollars making robots that can emulate dogs but don’t even come close,” he explained, adding that the military doesn’t really have any core research and development programs for dogs.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A military working dog surrounded by a soldier’s gear.

(US Army)

Much of the canine-related research is carried out by industry and academia with input from the military and law enforcement and funding pulled from various pools.

For instance, Zeteo Tech, Inc., a Maryland-based outfit, has developed an innovative solution to help prevent hearing loss in dogs with the help of the Small Business Innovation Research grant provided by the Army Research Office.

But, while military working dogs may not receive the same level of attention that human soldiers do, those who work closely with them understand well their value in the fight.

Conan, a military working dog that was recently honored at the White House, helped special forces take down Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the murderous leader of ISIS in October. Time and time again, canines have made important contributions to US military missions.

Lee told Insider that “we take for granted all that our dogs can do” on the battlefield.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Despite protests, Russia delivers advanced weapons to Syria

Russia says it has delivered S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Syria, despite objections from Israel and the United States that the weapons will escalate the war in the Middle Eastern country.

“The work was finished a day ago,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin during an Oct. 2, 2018 meeting broadcast on state-run Rossia-24 television.

Shoigu said that Russia delivered four S-300 launchers along with radars and support vehicles.


Speaking during a Security Council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin, he said it will take three months to train Syrian personnel to operate the system.

He repeated Russian statements that the purpose of the delivery was to protect Russian military personnel in Syria, where 15 Russian servicemen were killed when Syrian forces shot their reconnaissance plane down on Sept. 17, 2018.

Putin ordered the military to supply the missiles to Syria after the downing that Russia blamed partly on Israel, which was staging air raids on Iranian targets in Syria at the time.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

An Ilyushin Il-20M reconnaissance plane.

The Russian Defense Ministry accused Israeli warplanes of using the Russian aircraft as a cover to dodge Syria’s existing, Russian-provided defense systems.

Israel voiced regret afterward, but blamed Syrian incompetence for the incident and said it would continue bombing Iranian military targets in Syria.

“We have not changed our strategic line on Iran,” Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Oct. 2, 2018.

“We will not allow Iran to open up a third front against us. We will take actions as required,” he told Israel Radio.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she could not confirm that Russia had delivered the systems but added, “I hope that they did not.”

“That would be, I think, sort of a serious escalation in concerns and issues going on in Syria,” she said at a briefing.

Shoigu at the meeting in Moscow also said the Russian military has added equipment in Syria for “radio-electronic warfare” and now can monitor the airspace in the area used for strikes on Syrian soil.

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.

(Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

Along with upgrading Syria’s missile defenses, Moscow announced that Russia would begin jamming the radars of hostile warplanes in regions near Syria, including over the Mediterranean Sea, to prevent further incidents that could cause harm to its troops.

A Russian lawmaker said that 112 Russian military personnel have been killed so far in Syria since it stepped up its involvement in the war in 2105, launching a campaign of air strikes and bolstering its military presence on the ground.

Russian and Iranian military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been critical in helping turn the tide of the war in his favor.

Over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began with a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2011, and millions more driven from their homes.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This timeline shows how the Niger operation went down

An attack in Niger that left four American Green Berets and five Nigerien soldiers dead earlier this month has sparked a nationwide debate over how the Trump administration has handled the incident.


During a condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, the widow of one of the men who was killed, President Donald Trump reportedly told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, a friend of Johnson’s family who listened to the call on speakerphone, called Trump’s remarks “insensitive.”

Also read: This is the general demanding answers for the families of the soldiers who died in Niger

In response, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Wilson an “empty barrel,” and said he was appalled that the congresswoman shared what she heard on that call. Trump fired off several tweets calling Wilson “wacky” and disagreeing with the widow’s impression of the call.

As the feuding continued, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford held a press conference at the Pentagon on Monday addressing reports that the Trump administration was withholding information about what really happened in Niger.

Here’s what we know about how the attack unfolded, according to Dunford’s timeline:

October 3: A reconnaissance mission

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A U.S. Army Special Forces weapons sergeant observes as a Nigerien soldier bounds forward while practicing buddy team movement drills during Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 11, 2017. Flintlock is a Special Operations Forces exercise geared toward building interoperability between African and western partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Zayid Ballesteros)

Dunford said 12 members of the US Special Operations Task Force joined 30 Nigerien forces on a reconnaissance mission from Niamey, Niger’s capital city, to an area near the remote village of Tongo Tongo.

October 4: The day of the attack

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
Tongo Tongo in Niger. (image Google Maps)

US soldiers and the Nigerien troops met with local leaders to try to gather intelligence information, Dunford said. Some of the soldiers stayed behind to guard their vehicles, a US defense official told CNN.

As the meeting came to a close, the soldiers became suspicious when the village leadership started stalling and delaying their departure.

When US troops started walking back to their vehicles mid-morning, they were attacked by approximately 50 militants. Dunford said the enemy was likely from an ISIS-affiliated group of local tribal fighters.

The militants fired on the US-Nigerien patrol team with small arms, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades. This apparently caught the Americans and Nigeriens by surprise.

One hour later: US troops request reinforcements

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries
A French Mirage fighter aircraft drops flares as it performs a high-speed pass during the French live fire demonstration near Arta Plage, Djibouti, Jan. 14, 2017. The Mirage and other fighter aircraft use flares as a countermeasure against incoming heat-seeking missiles. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by: Staff Sgt. Christian Jadot)

An hour into the firefight, the American soldiers asked for support to thwart the attack.

Dunford said a drone arrived overhead “within minutes,” although it was only sent to gather intelligence. French Mirage fighter jets capable of striking enemy targets arrived at the scene “within an hour.”

Later that afternoon, French attack helicopters arrived along with a Nigerien quick reaction force as well.

Sgt. La David Johnson was somehow separated from the rest of his unit. US military officials were not able to explain how or when exactly that happened.

“This [attack] was sophisticated,” an intelligence official told ABC News. “Our guys not only got hit hard, but got hit in-depth.”

Responding to questions about why the US troops didn’t request reinforcements sooner, Dunford said he wouldn’t judge why it took them an hour to ask for backup.

“I’ve been in these situations myself where you’re confronted with enemy contact, [and] your initial assessment is you can deal with that contact with the resources that you have,” he said. “At some point in the firefight, they concluded they then needed support, and so they called for additional support.”

That night: US soldiers evacuated

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Members of the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and French military board a French SA-330 Puma helicopter during air-to-water qualification training near Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Oct. 17, 2013. The U.S. and French members conducted this operation to enhance communication and build a stronger relationship to ensure Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa members are continually ready to support military operations in East Africa to defeat violent extremist organizations.

French military Super Puma helicopters evacuated US soldiers who were wounded during the firefight to Niamey.

Three soldiers killed in action were also evacuated: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright. One soldier, Sgt. Johnson, was still missing.

October 6: Johnson’s body is finally discovered

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Sergeant La David Johnson and three other soldiers were killed in action in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

Dunford said US officials continue to investigate how Johnson separated from the team and why it took 36 hours to recover his body.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, meanwhile, has insisted that Johnson was not “left behind.”

“The US military does not leave our troops behind, and I would just ask you not question the actions of the troops who were caught in the firefight and question whether or not they did everything they could in order to bring everyone out at once,” he said.

An intelligence official told ABC News that Johnson’s locator beacon was giving unclear reports, and he seemed to be moving.

“Johnson’s equipment might have been taken,” the official said. “From what we now know, it didn’t seem like he was kidnapped and killed. He was somehow physically removed from where the combat took place.”

That same day, the Pentagon identified the three other soldiers who were killed.

October 7: Johnson’s body is returned to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland

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Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright (left), Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson (center), and Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black. Photos from US Army.

October 16: Trump first addresses the incident publicly

During a press conference at the White House, CNN asked Trump why it took so long for him to come out with a statement about what happened in Niger.

“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls,” Trump responded. “A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate.”

Obama administration officials pushed back hard on that claim, calling it false.

That exchange was the first time Trump addressed the Niger ambush publicly.

Tuesday, October 17 to Monday, October 23: The condolence call controversy

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Trump, Kelly, and Wilson exchanged barbs last week, disagreeing over what the president said during his condolence call with Myeshia Johnson, Sgt. Johnson’s widow.

The Gold Star widow broke her silence on Monday, saying that Trump had trouble remembering her husband’s name and told her that “he knew what he signed up for.” Johnson said she cried after she got off the phone.

After the interview aired, Trump tweeted, “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

“If my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name? That’s what made me upset and cry even more,” she told “Good Morning America.”

October 23: Dunford outlines key details in the attack

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Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with reporters about recent military operations in Niger Oct. 23, 2017, at the Pentagon. DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

In a 45-minute briefing on Monday, Dunford acknowledged that many looming questions about the attack are still unanswered.

Questions he’s hoping the military’s investigation can uncover include:

  1. “Did the mission of US forces change during the operation?”
  2. “Did our forces have adequate intelligence, equipment and training?”
  3. “Was there a pre-mission assessment of the threat in the area accurate?”
  4. “How did US forces become separated during the engagement, specifically Sgt. Johnson?”
  5. “And why did they take time to find and recover Sgt. Johnson?”

“These are all fair questions that the investigation is designed to identify,” he said.

(Featured image: Nigerian army soldiers shoot targets under 60mm illumination mortar rounds as a part of Exercise Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, March 9, 2017. Department of Defense photo.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

93 year-old ‘Rosie the Riveter’ makes appeal to Congress

Mae Krier was on Capitol Hill, hoping to get Congress to recognize March 21 as an annual Rosie the Riveter Day of Remembrance.

Rosie the Riveter was an iconic World War II poster showing a female riveter flexing her muscle.

Krier also advocating that lawmakers award the “Rosies” — as women involved in the war effort at home came to call themselves — the Congressional Gold Medal for their work in the defense industry producing tanks, planes, ships and other materiel for the war effort.


During a visit to the Pentagon March 20, 2019, Krier told Air Force airmen that her lifelong mission is to inspire the poster’s “We Can Do It!” attitude among young girls everywhere.

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Air Force Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, director of staff, Headquarters Air Force, right, points out a Pentagon display to Mae Krier, center, March 20, 2019. With them is Dawn Goldfein, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

(DOD photo by David Vergun)

The spry 93-year-old walked around the Pentagon’s Air Force corridors, gazing at pictures and paintings of female airmen who were pioneers, telling every airman she met — both men and women — how proud she is of their service and giving away red polka-dotted Rosie the Riverter bandannas.

Humble beginnings

Krier said she grew up on a farm near Dawson, North Dakota. “Times were hard for us and for everyone else,” she said, noting that it was the time of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression in the 1930s.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Krier said, she and her sister had gone to a matinee. Upon their return home, they found their parents beside the radio with grave expressions. They had just learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

She said she remembers never having heard of Pearl Harbor. “Nobody had,” she said.

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Mae Krier, an original Rosie the Riveter, arrives at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., for her first-ever visit March 20, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian Cadiz)

Call to duty

Young men in Dawson and elsewhere were soon streaming away from home to board vessels that would take them to Europe and the Pacific war theaters, she said.

Among them was her brother. After seeing him off at the train station and returning home, she said, she saw her father crying — something he never did. The war “took the heart out of our small town and other towns across the country,” she said. “People everywhere were crying.”

Krier’s brother served in the Navy and survived a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944. “Our family was lucky that no one was killed during the war,” she said.

Adventures in Seattle

As a restless teen seeking adventure in 1943, Krier said, she set off by train to Seattle. She recalls the windows of her train being stuck open, with snow flying in.

The big city life was exciting to the farm girl. She said she loved to listen to big-band music. She also loved to go to the dance hall, and was particularly fond of the jitterbug.

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Gwendolyn DeFilippi (left) the Headquarters U.S. Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for manpower, personal and services, and a Rosebud, takes a moment to speak with Ms. Dawn Goldfein, spouse of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Mae Krier an original Rosie the Riveter during Krier’s first-ever visit to the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., March 20, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian Cadiz)

While dancing the Jitterbug one day in 1943, she said, she was charmed by a sailor, whom she would marry in 1944. He, too, was lucky, she said. He participated in the Aleutian Islands campaign in Alaska, where the Japanese had landed on the islands of Attu and Kiska.

They would be married for 70 years. He died recently at 93.

Becoming a Rosie

Krier said she doesn’t remember the exact details of how she ended up as a riveter, but she found work doing just that in a Boeing aircraft factory in Seattle, where she riveted B-17 Flying Fortress and B-29 Superfortress bombers.

“We loved our work. We loved our flag. We all pulled together to win the war,” she said. “It was a good time in America.”

Meeting Air Force leaders

Krier said she enjoyed her visit to the Pentagon and meeting dozens of leaders and enlisted personnel. Among those she met were Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and his wife, Dawn.

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Lt. Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, Headquarters Air Force director of Staff, gives Mae Krier, an original Rosie the Riveter, a tour of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., during her first-ever visit March 20, 2019. Krier was accompanied by Dawn Goldfein, the spouse of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian Cadiz)

Goldfein gave Krier a hug, and she exclaimed that she could now say she hugged a general. Goldfein replied: “Now I can say I hugged a Rosie the Riveter.”

Krier also met Air Force Lt. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, director of staff, Headquarters Air Force, who, along with Dawn Goldfein, led her around to see the various wall exhibits in the corridors. Krier was pleased to hear that Van Ovost was an aviator as are so many other female airmen today.

“Women have come a long ways,” she said.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why fake soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie got the boot from Berlin

The fake Cold War-era GIs will no longer be crowding the guardhouse recreation in Berlin where the actual Checkpoint Charlie once stood. In the years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, a group of actors stood dressed in faux-American uniforms to take photos with tourists for a voluntary donation – except it wasn’t voluntary. Now the German government stepped in to give them the boot.


The public order office in the central district of Mitte says the actors began to shake tourists down for money, harassing passersby and demanding fees for photos of them and the wooden Checkpoint Charlie guard hut. The soldiers demanded as much as €4 for anyone taking a photo and could pick up as much as €5,000 on a good day. But then the fake troops tried to shake down the wrong “tourist” – a Berlin cop. That’s not all.

One or more of the 10 in the acting troupe who work(ed) the checkpoint site for the past 17 years stand accused of verbally abusing and physically intimidating tourists who don’t volunteer any cash for taking photos. The troupe’s behavior found its way to the public order office, who quickly informed the actors a special permit has been required for the past 17 years, one they did not have. They were told to pack it up and go home.

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The reverse side of the Checkpoint guard shack.

(Blake Stilwell)

Checkpoint Charlie has long been a tourist destination since even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was the only crossing point in a divided Berlin for Allied citizens who desired to visit East Germany and come back. Tourists who couldn’t cross the wall would sit in nearby Cafe Adler, whose view over the wall would accompany a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. The original Checkpoint Charlie guard shack is in the Allied Museum in Berlin, The metal one in the street is a recreation erected in the 1980s.

Critics of the move – namely, the actors involved – say the government of Mitte kicking the fake troops out is part of a plan to rebrand Berlin’s history, a process of “de-Disneyfication” of the tragic history of Cold War-era Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie is just one more tourist site where locals hawk cheap souvenirs and chunks of concrete claiming to be from the real Berlin Wall.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new ‘unlimited range’ missile just embarrassed the Russian military

A Russian cruise missile that the country touted as having “practically unlimited” range appears to be falling short, sources with knowledge of a US intelligence report told CNBC.

The cruise missile, which Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled at a Russian Federal Assembly in March 2018, only flew for around two minutes and traveled 22 miles before it lost control and crashed, CNBC reported May 21, 2018. Another missile test reportedly lasted just four seconds with a distance of five miles.


Russia tested the missile four times between November 2017, and February 2018, at the behest of senior officials, even though engineers voiced doubt over the program, according to CNBC’s sources.

Putin previously touted a new generation of weapons in a presentation that displayed missile trajectories going from Russia to the US. In addition to the cruise missile, Putin teased unmanned underwater drones purportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a hypersonic glide vehicle.

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graphic showingu00a0an ICBM payload in space.

“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: All what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Putin said in a speech. “You have failed to contain Russia.”

Russia’s cruise missile capabilities may have missed the mark, but sources said it succeeded in other aspects. The hypersonic glide vehicle, which is believed to be able to travel five times the speed of sound, would render US countermeasures useless and could become operational by 2020, according to CNBC.

“We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us,” US Air Force General John Hyten, the commander of US Strategic Command, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March 2018.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How an F15-E shot down an Iraqi gunship with a bomb

America’s F-15 Eagle has long since secured a position in the pantheon of the world’s greatest fighters. With an incredible air combat record of 104 wins and zero losses, the fourth generation powerhouse we call the F-15 remains America’s fastest air superiority fighter, beating out even the venerable F-22 Raptor. But the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-15’s multi-role sibling, was never really intended to serve as a dedicated air-to-air platform. Instead, the F-15E’s goal was to leverage the speed and payload capabilities of an F-15 for ground attack missions — making it one of the most capable multi-role fighters of its generation.

In 1993, Air Force Capt. Tim Bennett was serving as a flight leader for the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Al Kharj AB in central Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Desert Storm. He and his F-15E would fly a total of 58 combat missions through the deployment, but one stands out as particularly exceptional: The time Bennett and his weapons officer, Capt. Dan Bakke, managed to shoot down an Iraqi helicopter using a 2,000 pound laser guided bomb.


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(USAF photo courtesy of Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

February 14, 1993: Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day of 1993, Bennett and Bakke were conducting an early morning Scud combat air patrol — flying around northwest Iraq looking for mobile Scud missile platforms that could pose a threat to American forces. They were flying above the cloud cover, waiting to receive targeting coordinates from a nearby AWAC, when they received a different kind of call: An American Special Forces team had been operating secretly more than 300 miles from the border identifying Scud launchers for engagement, and they’d been discovered by the Iraqi military.

As the AWAC relayed that there were five Iraqi helicopters closing with the Green Beret’s position, Bennett diverted toward the special operators. He and his weapons officer called back in to the AWAC as they spotted the helicopters on their radar, traveling west to east.

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(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

“We don’t have any friendlies in the area. Any helicopters you find, you are cleared to shoot,” Bennett was told over the radio.

As Bennett closed with the helicopters, he and Bakke noticed that they were flying and stopping at regular intervals, and it seemed as though they were dropping off ground troops to continue engaging the Special Forces team. In effect, the helicopter and ground troops were coordinating to herd the American Green Berets into an unwindable engagement.

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Polish Mi-24 Hind (WikiMedia Commons)

“By this time, we were screaming over the ground, doing about 600 knots–almost 700 mph. The AAA [Anti-Aircraft Fire] was still coming up pretty thick. Our course took us right over the top of the Iraqi troops to the east of the team. We didn’t know exactly where our team was, but it was looking to us like things were getting pretty hairy for the Special Forces guys,” Bennett later recalled.

Bennett decided to engage the lead helicopter, but not with his Aim-9 Sidewinders which were designed for air-to-air engagements. Instead, he planned to lob a 2,000 pound bomb in its direction. Chances were good, he knew, that it wouldn’t hit the helicopters, but it would kill the troops on the ground and likely startle the Hind pilots, allowing his wingman to get a clear shot with a Sidewinder.

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Polish Mi-24 Hind (WikiMedia Commons)

Because they were moving so quickly, the unpowered bomb actually had a greater range than the Sidewinder missile. Bennett released the bomb 4 miles out from the Hind-24 Bakke was carefully keeping his laser sighted on.

“There’s no chance the bomb will get him now,” Bennett thought as the Hind-24 lifted off the ground and began to accelerate.
“I got a good lock with my missile and was about to pickle off a Sidewinder when the bomb flew into my field of view on the targeting IR screen.”
“There was a big flash, and I could see pieces flying in different directions. It blew the helicopter to hell, damn near vaporized it.”

Of course, scoring the F-15E’s first air-to-air victory might be a point of pride for Bennett and Bakke, but they still had a job to do. They moved on to engage a mobile Scud on a nearby launchpad before heading home.

“The Special Forces team got out OK and went back to Central Air Forces headquarters to say thanks and confirm our kill for us. They saw the helicopter go down. When the helos had bugged out, the team moved back to the west and was extracted.”

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.