Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Bloomberg has reported that the Feb. 7, 2018 attack on U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters by forces aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was actually conducted by Russian mercenaries, and that at least 100 of them died in the failed attack.


The attack happened just five miles east of the “de-confliction” line between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Russian-supported Syrian government in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region.

Some 500 “pro-Assad” fighters attempted to attack an SDF headquarters, but were repelled by American artillery and airstrikes that were called in by U.S. advisers on the ground. Russian nationals were suspected of being part of the attack, but no casualties were reported, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not think there were any Russian casualties.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the city of Manbij in northern Syria. (Wikimedia Commons photo from Kurdishstruggle.)

Bloomberg, however, reported that three Russian sources told them the attack was conducted by Russian mercenaries, and that as many as 200 Russian “contract soldiers” died in the attack.

Russia has denied that any of its forces were killed or wounded in the attack, but evidence that Russians had died have slowly begun to surface on Russian social media.

Also read: How militants shot down a Russian fighter in Syria

It is unclear who was paying the mercenaries involved in last week’s attack, or what group they were a part of, but reports of a Russian private military company (PMC) by the name of Wagner have surfaced throughout the last few years.

Reports of Wagner mercenaries in Syria

This incident is not the first time Russian mercenaries have been reported to be operating in Syria. Stratfor, an American geopolitical intelligence firm, recently reported that Wagner mercenaries had served in Ukraine, Syria, and parts of Africa.

In September 2017, two Wagner operators were reportedly taken prisoner by the terrorist group ISIS in Syria’s Deir Ezzor region, and in August 2016, Sky News interviewed Russian men who claimed to be mercenaries who fought at the Battle of Palmyra.

Related: Thousands of Russian private contractors are fighting in Syria

The independent Russian media outlet Fontanka published an investigation from 2016 that claimed that as many as 2,500 men from Wagner were operating in Syria. They reported that they had a training base in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region, and that many of the men in the group had fought in Ukraine’s Donbas war on the side of the separatists.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

In early February 2018, Igor Girkin, the former defense minister for the self-declared Donetsk Peoples Republic, a separatist region backed by Russia in eastern Ukraine, said Russian mercenaries operating in Syria who died in combat were cremated on sight, so as to hide the true cost of Russia’s involvement.

“‘No body, no criminal case’ — this Russian investigative principle is being creatively used in the military campaign,” Girkin said on the Russian social media website VKontakte. “It is possible to dispose of a considerable number of bodies without anyone noticing. What can I say? There has never been such cynicism in our country.”

Russian mercenaries are reportedly being used for two purposes: to achieve objectives that the poorly trained and equipped Syrian Arab Army are not capable of achieving alone, and to hide the true cost of Russia’s involvement in Syria.

The tactic is not unheard of. The U.S. employed mercenaries during its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their deaths were not reported in official counts. The U.S. continues to rely on PMCs in active warzones around the world.

If accurate, the losses sustained last week would make the number of Russian military deaths five times higher than the official count — and that does not even include previous losses sustained by Wagner.

Humor

13 funniest military memes for the week of Sept. 15th

There may come a day when I stop making military Rick and Morty memes. But today is not that day!


To all the troops out there providing aid to the regions affected by Hurricane Irma, these memes are for you.

#13: Leave an infantry platoon alone for too long and it would probably start taking orders from a severed blow-up doll head.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

#12: Recruiters never lie about “traveling the world and getting f*cked every day.”

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Terminal Lance)

#11: Toxic leadership is just like another thing that floats in sewers…

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

#10: Drop weapon. Carry on.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

#9: Picking up women outside of a military base is like being a wolf in the arctic, fighting for any (barracks) bunny he can find. Leaving the military, you take that exact same wolf and throw him in a petting zoo.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

#8: I swear, people from Florida are the LCpls of the civilian world.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme by WATM)

#7: I don’t know which is more terrifying. Seeing a killer clown in the movie theater during a movie about killer clowns or seeing that clown you call “sir” in civilian clothes.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme by WATM)

#6: Good going, Captain Ahab. You finally caught that whale!

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Sh*t my LPO Says)

#5: Still a better salute than most military movies (and a good quarter of the military)

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Sh*t my LPO says)

#4: Come for the shirtless beach volleyball, stay for the 4 year contract.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

#3: This dude is also probably the same Sergeant who hides in the smoke pit with the E-4s, lives in the barracks, and tries to set up a DD game while deployed.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Military Memes)

#2: Drinking water, changing your socks, and staying motivated

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

#1: “Okay. Let me break this down again Barney style…”

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
(Meme via Army As F*ck)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coronavirus: The 17 US states where you must wear a face mask if you want to mix with other people

As coronavirus cases continue to climb across the country, more state officials have made the use of masks or face coverings mandatory in public.

Currently, 46 out of 50 states have some form of face mask guidelines in place, but some are more lenient than others.


The most strict mask requirements exist in a total of 17 states, where residents are required to wear a mask outside at all times when social distancing isn’t possible, and also face penalties if they don’t abide by the rules.

It differs from the more lenient states that, for example, only make people wear masks in certain businesses. Four states — Iowa, Montana, Wisconsin, South Dakota — have no mask requirements at all.

The official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that everyone should be wearing face coverings in “public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

A recent study found that the use of face masks has been the most effective way to reduce person-to-person spread of the virus.

The US has seen one of its worst weeks since the start of the outbreak, recording more than 2.5 million cases and 125,539 deaths to date, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

Scroll down to see which 17 states have mandated the use of face coverings in public.

1. California

Gov. Gavin Newsom issues the order to make mask-wearing mandatory in most public places on June 19.

Under the new law, all Californians must wear some type of face coverings in public, including while shopping, taking public transport, or seeking medical care, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The same applies to public outdoor spaces where social distancing is not an option.

“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” Newsom said in a statement.

“California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations.”

There were no more details about how the order will be enforced or if violators will face any punishments, CNN reported.

2. Connecticut

Any Connecticut resident over the age of 2 must wear a face mask in a public space where social distancing isn’t possible, according to an executive order signed by Gov. Ned Lamont that came into effect on April 10.

This also includes public transport.

The only people exempt from this order are those with a medical condition, NBC Connecticut reported.

However if anyone refuses to wear a face covering, they aren’t required to provide proof that they’re medically exempt.

3. Delaware

Delawareans are required to wear face coverings in public places including in grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and on any form of public transportation, according to a statement issued by Gov. John Carney on April 20.

Only children under the age of 12 are exempted from this rule, due to the risk of suffocation.

“Wearing a face covering in public settings is important to prevent transmission of this disease. But wearing a face-covering is not permission to go out in public more often,” the statement said.

4. District of Columbia

While initially, there was some confusion around face masks rules in the district, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the use of face coverings when conducting essential business or travel and social distancing isn’t possible.

Masks or other face coverings are required in grocery stores, pharmacies, and takeout restaurants. On public transportation, face coverings are required if individuals are unable to be six feet apart. Children between the ages of 2 and 9 are advised to wear masks.

4. Hawaii

A state emergency order issued by Gov. David Ige on April 20 requires customers as well as employees at essential businesses to wear face coverings, according to local media.

However, masks are not required in banks or at ATM’s. Furthermore, those with pre-existing health conditions, first responders, and children under the age of five are exempt from this rule.

If anyone violates these rules, they could face a fine of up to ,000 or up to a year in prison, according to the order.

5. Illinois

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker ordered the use of face masks for anyone stepping outside their house as of May 1, local media reported.

This includes everything from shopping at essential businesses, picking up food, or visiting the doctor. It is also implemented in any public space where people cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance.

6. Kentucky

Even though Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an order requiring all state residents to wear a mask in public as of May 11, the governor also said that those who are caught not wearing one, won’t be fined or arrested.

However, the order does give businesses the right to turn away anyone who does not wear a mask and if law enforcement officers see unmasked people, they will ask them to don a mask.

Not everyone in the state has been following the order.

“It’s a concern,” Judge-Executive Mason Barnes of Simpson County — which has one of the highest infection rates in the state — told USA Today. “I’d say 70% to 80% of the people are not wearing masks when they’re out and about.”

7. Maine

Maine residents are required to wear face-coverings anytime they step foot into a supermarket, retail store, pharmacy, or doctor’s office, according to an order issued by Gov. Janet Mills which went into effect on May 1.

8. Maryland

Anyone taking public transport is required to wear face coverings, according to Gov. Larry Hogan’s order that came into effect on April 18.

Other places where this is mandatory include grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, laundromats, and hardware stores, according to USA Today.

Employees of essential businesses and customers over the age of 9 must also wear them.

9. Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, residents are not only required to wear face masks in public while indoors, but also need to wear them in outdoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

The order, issued by Gov. Charlie Baker, went into effect on May 6.

10. Michigan

According to Michigan state law, “any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth.”

This also applies to business owners, who must provide their workers with “gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.”

Businesses are also allowed to deny entry to anyone who refuses to wear a mask.

11. Nevada

Nevada was one of the most recent states to implement a mandatory mask order which went into effect on June 25.

Face coverings must be worn in public, but also in private businesses. Those who are exempted from the order include people with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, homeless people, and children between 2 and 9 years old, according to The Independent.

During his announcement last week, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said: “Wearing mask coverings saves lives, period. End of story. We owe it to each other to accept the fact that wearing face mask coverings saves lives.”

12. New Jersey

New Jersey was the very first state to make customers and workers wear face coverings at essential business sites.

Wearing a mask is also mandatory on public transit, and if anyone is seen without a mask, they could be denied entry, according to CNN.

13. New Mexico

Face masks are mandatory in New Mexico in all public settings, except while eating, drinking, exercising, or for medical reasons.

The mandate came into effect on May 15.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a news conference: “As the state opens up and our risk increases, the only way we save lives and keep the gating criteria where it is is if we’re all wearing face coverings,”

“It’s not a guarantee against the virus, but it really helps slow the spread, and that’s why we’re mandating it,” Grisham added, according to Las Cruces Sun News.

twitter.com

14. New York

New York, which was one of the worst-affected states at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, made it mandatory for everyone over the age of 2 to wear a face mask in public on April 17.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been very vocal about wearing face coverings while out, regularly reminding residents on Twitter.

15. Pennsylvania

Essential businesses must give their employees masks and are allowed to deny customers entry for those not wearing one, according to an order from Pennsylvania’s Department of Health which went into effect on May 8.

The rule on mask-wearing also applies to people on public transport, according to Pennlive.

16. Rhode Island

Rhode Island residents are required to wear face masks in all public settings, whether these are indoors or outdoors.

Gov. Gina Raimondo told news reporters on May 5: “You don’t leave your house without your car keys or your phone or your wallet, so don’t leave your house without your face mask,” NECN reported.

“We’re trying to strike a balance between compliance… but we don’t want to be overly heavy-handed,” she added.

A few days later, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island encouraged state residents to “socially shame” people not wearing masks, according to USA Today.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US needs to accelerate its hypersonic weapon development

The Defense Department is looking to step up its development of hypersonic weapons — missiles that travel more than five times faster than the speed of sound — DOD leaders said at the National Defense Industrial Association-sponsored “Hypersonics Senior Executive Series” here today.”

In 2018, China has tested more hypersonics weapons than we have in a decade,” said Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. “We’ve got to fix that.”

Russia also is involved in hypersonics, Griffin said. “Hypersonics is a game changer,” he added.


If Russia were to invade Estonia or China were to attack Taiwan tomorrow, Griffin said, it would be difficult to defend against their strike assets. “It’s not a space we want to stay in,” he told the audience.

DOD is looking at air-breathing boost-glide hypersonics systems, the latter being used by China, Griffin said. The United States has the boost-glide system competency to get these developed today, he noted.

On the flip side, he said, the U.S. needs to develop systems to counter adversary hypersonics. The place to take them out is in their relatively long cruise phase, in which they don’t change course suddenly. It’s not a particularly hard intercept, he said, but it requires knowing they’re coming. Current radars can’t see far enough. “They need to see thousands of kilometers out, not hundreds,” Griffin said.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin.

(U.S. Army photo by Bryan Bacon)

The Western Pacific is a particularly difficult area, he noted, because “it’s not littered with a lot of places to park radars, and if you found some, they’d likely become targets.”

Space-based sensors, along with tracking and fire-control solutions, are needed in the effort to counter adversaries’ hypersonics, Griffin said, pointing out that hypersonics targets are 10 to 20 times dimmer than what the U.S. normally tracks by satellites in geostationary orbit. “We can’t separate hypersonics defense from the space layer,” he said.

Getting to production, fielding

Congress has given DOD the funding and authorities to move ahead with hypersonics development, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan said, and the department wants competing approaches from industry.

Tough decisions lay ahead, he said in the development and engineering phase, operationalizing the technology and then in acquisition. Those decisions include how much to invest and how many hypersonics to produce. “Should it be tens of thousands or thousands?” he said.

Industry will respond, Shanahan said, but government needs to clear a path and help fuel the investments up front, as with the effort field intercontinental ballistic missiles decades ago.

DOD is not risk-averse, the deputy secretary said. “Break it,” he added. “Learn from the mistake. Move on. Break it again and move on, but don’t make the same mistake.” It’s much more expensive to do the analytics to prevent it from breaking than it is to break it, he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Ready for a new tattoo? The Air Force now has its own tattoo shop

No matter if you’ve been in for two months, two years or you are two generations removed from the military, everyone knows that tattoos and the service go hand in hand. Ever since the first tattoo shop opened its doors in America in 1846, ink has had a well-deserved place in the hearts and on the skin of service members.

Of course, tattooing didn’t get its start in America. Warriors from Maori tribes in New Zealand, to ancient Greeks, marked themselves to show strength, courage and confidence. Viking raiders tapped magical symbols into their skin using the ink made from sacrificial animals.


Even service members in the Revolutionary War were getting new ink to reflect their units and identities (not to mention to prevent being illegally conscripted by the British).

During the Civil War, pioneer tattooist Martin Hildebrant traveled to battlefields and inked various patriotic designs into service members’ skin. Records show that by 1925, as much as 90 percent of all US service members were tattooed; the Navy made up the bulk of those decorated. Apparently, sailors used new tattoos to showcase where they’d been, as a sort of secondary service record, and to showcase their achievements.

For example, a shellback turtle meant they’d crossed the equator, a golden dragon meant they crossed the International Date Line, and a golden shellback turtle meant they’d crossed both at the same spot.

But for as much as there’s always been ink in the military, there have also been regulations. It seems like every few years, some leadership gets it in mind that a new tattoo policy is in order. For years, there was a limit to the number of tattoos soldiers could have on their arms, but that’s no longer the case. However, the Army still doesn’t allow face, neck or hand tattoos, though a small ring tattoo can exist on each hand. As with all branches, there are always a few waivers that are granted by recruiters each year if it seems like a tattoo isn’t too distracting.

Just like the Army, the Air Force is revisiting some of its strict tattoo policies and lessening the regulations a bit. Before 2017, Airmen weren’t allowed to have tattoos on the chest, back, arms and legs that were larger than 25 percent of the exposed body part. Now, they’re allowed to have full sleeves or large back pieces, which is a big deal for anyone who’s been stuck halfway through getting a tattoo only to have to stop because of regulations.

So it goes without saying that getting a tattoo is as much a rite of passage in the military as is getting that first haircut in basic training. Of course, barbershops have been embedded at installations worldwide for decades, but for new ink, service members have always had to go off base. That’s led plenty of people to wonder why there isn’t a place to get new ink and a fresh fade all at the same place. Now, that’s no longer the case.

Nellis Air Force Base, located just outside Las Vegas, now has its own tattoo shop, making it that much easier to get a new tattoo. Senior leadership at Nellis said in a press release that they’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for Airmen and to lead from the front. So naturally, an on-base tattoo shop makes sense.

This is the first tattoo shop to be inside any Air Force or Army installation, making it incredibly unique. Now, we can’t speak to the quality of work you might receive there, but it’s still pretty cool that leadership is finally recognizing that there’s a very real, inky culture within the military and are taking steps to provide that service.

Maybe the decision to open the tattoo shop on base is a signal that leadership hopes artists and the Airmen can better handle the Air Force guidance on tattoo size and placement. Of course, that’s not to say whether or not the tattoos will be any good, but at least they’ll be within regs.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why Kim Jong Un should fear the Lancer

Recently, a B-1B Lancer took part in Vigilant Ace 18, a massive U.S.-South Korea joint air exercise. According to FoxNews.com, the Lancer simulated strikes in the eastern part of the country, which drew the expected condemnation from North Korea.


This is not the first time this year that B-1s have participated in drills on the peninsula. Similar exercises took place in May and July. North Korea blustered then, too. So, why are the B-1Bs such a big deal to the belligerent state?

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
A B-1B Lancer releases its payload. There’s a lot of bombs there. (USAF photo by Steve Zapka.)

Maybe the North Koreans know that, despite what they tell people about Kim Jong Un, there’s no way he can keep the Lancer from inflicting a lot of hurt. You see, next to the A-10, the B-1B Lancer could possible be the most effective weapon against North Korea’s army. GlobalSecurity.org estimates North Korea has over 3,500 main battle tanks and 560 light tanks.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
A North-Korean-built M-1978 KOKSAN displayed at the Al Anbar University campus in Ramadi, Iraq is to be removed by U.S. Forces. (USMC photo)

But the B-1B Lancer has a way of dealing with a lot of tanks: It’s called the CBU-97. This is the weapon that enables the Lancer to protect the Baltics from Russian aggression. A B-1B can carry up to 30 of these internally, plus at least 14 more on rarely-used, external pylons.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
CBU-105 at the Textron Defense Systems’s trade booth, Singapore Airshow 2008 in Changi Exhibition Centre. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a little math: Each CBU-97 has 10 BLU-108 submunitions, each with four “skeets” that fire an explosive projectile capable of going through the top of an enemy tank. A single B-1B carrying 30 of these can, therefore, deliver 1,200 “skeets” in one sortie. Each B-1B Lancer has the potential firepower to handle about 30 percent of North Korea’s tank force.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
A CBU-87 Combined Effects Munition cluster bomb equipped with the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser Kit. This is called the CBU-103. (US Air Force photo)

And you can safely bet it wouldn’t be just a single B-1B. Other B-1B Lancers might carry CBU-89 cluster bombs, which dispense GATOR mines in a mix of anti-tank and anti-personnel varieties. Others still might the CBU-87 cluster bomb, containing 202 BLU-97 bomblets. The fact is, North Korea’s army is primarily made up of massed ground forces — the kind of target that cluster bombs are really good at dealing with.

It makes sense that North Korea fears the Lancer. Especially since Secretary of Defense James Mattis just decided that the United States wasn’t going to give up cluster bombs after all.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why so many in the military are getting STDs

Unfortunately, we’ve got some decidedly unsexy news for you. The number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise across the U.S. Specifically, there’s been in increase in cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – the later of which was on the verge of extinction just ten years ago.


Just how bad are the increases in STDs? According to the military’s Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, released September 2017, the number of syphilis cases has doubled over the course of a decade.

While there’s been an increase in cases among civilian populations, the rate of STDs is three to six times higher among the enlisted. Many military medical professionals are starting to ask themselves, “why is it that the odds of contracting an STD increase when a troop first puts on a uniform?” The reasons are many.

First, joining the military makes you part of an expanded social network. Not only are troops looped into a group that’s made up, primarily, of young adults, they’ll also be sent to bases in new cities with entirely new local populations. Couple those two additions to a troop’s existing community back home—that’s a lot of potential partners.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Oliver Arceo draws blood for a Sailor’s annual Human Immunodefificiency Virus (HIV) test at North Island Medical Clinic, Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, Calif. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Marie A. Montez)

Second, demographics matter: almost half (44%) of troops enlisting are from the South, where gonorrhea and chlamydia are most present. Many STDs have delayed or subtle symptoms, meaning it’s easy to unwittingly bring something with you to the barracks. Now, this isn’t a dig at the south—just plain statistics.

Third, perception is key. A recent study of Navy women reveal that many believe carrying or insisting on the use of condoms makes them appear sexually promiscuous. We all remember our high-school health teachers parroting that abstinence is the only way to prevent STDs entirely, but the second best (and more reasonable) solution is to use protection. Unfortunately, there’s a stigma associated with contraceptive use, potentially contributing to the rate at which STDs are spreading.

This isn’t a new problem. As far back as WWI, the military has struggled with STD rates among the ranks, and it’s no surprise why. Being part of the military means high stress, so it only makes sense that troops seek an outlet. However, it’s still mystifying as to why the enlisted, who have free access to health care, condoms, and screenings are affected more than civilians.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
Hello, ladies. (British Army Poster used during WWII, 1944)

We’re not going to tell you to keep it in your pants, but we do suggest you bag it up. Not just for your health, but for the health of your partners, your partners’ partners, and populations worldwide.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Celebrities and veterans teamed up to raise millions to fund mental healthcare for post-9/11 vets

On October 19, 2018, a crowd of over 700 guests gathered at Pier Sixty at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers for one reason: to help provide mental healthcare to the men and women who fight for our freedoms. During their 6th annual gala, Headstrong, an organization that provides cost-free, stigma-free, and bureaucracy-free mental healthcare to post-9/11 military veterans, put on a fun-filled event — and raised over $2 million in the process.


Headstrong is making a huge impact on the veteran community.

“We have served over 750 veterans over 16,000 therapy sessions by 150 best-in-class clinicians in 23 cities across the country. All through private donations. Simply incredible,” said Army veteran and Headstrong Executive Director Joe Quinn.

During the event, three veterans seeking treatment through Headstrong, Amanda Burrill, Derek Coy and James Byler, opened up about their struggles and successes in finding effective mental healthcare. Their stories inspired the hundreds in attendance.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Left to Right: Joe Quinn, Executive Director of the Headstrong Project; Derek Coy; Amanda Burrill; James Byler

Despite the seriousness of the organization’s goals, the night wasn’t without a good dose of levity — after all, it was more than a fundraiser, it was a celebration. World War II veteran and former POW, Ewing Miller, was celebrating his 95th birthday — and he did so by being served cake by actor Jake Gyllenhaal and late night host Seth Meyers.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Left to Right: Seth Meyers, Host of ‘Late night with Seth Meyers’; Jake Gyllenhaal, Actor; Ewing Miller, WWII veteran; CNBC’s Kenny Polcari

Ewing Miller served from 1942 to 1945. On February 5, 1945, his aircraft was shot down — he was the sole survivor. He endured capture by the Germans until he was eventually freed by legendary military leader, General George S. Patton. Ewing earned several decorations during his time in service, including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with two clusters, the POW Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal.

When the lights finally dimmed on the evening’s celebrations, Headstrong had raised over million, which will be used to directly improve the lives of many post-9/11 veterans that are struggling with mental health — and it’s a cause worth championing. Marine veteran and Founder of Headstrong, Zach Iscol, said,

“When you put goal-oriented veterans together with top mental healthcare providers, they get better. The panic attacks go away, the anxiety goes away, the anger goes away, the self-medicating goes away…they blossom,”

To learn more about Headstrong, their initiatives, and what you can do to support veteran mental healthcare, visit their website.

MIGHTY TRENDING

England drops big money into laser and radio weapons

The British Ministry of Defence announced July 9 that it’s investing up to $160 million in testing, procuring, and fielding directed energy weapons for their three military branches, starting with tests on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles by 2023. Directed energy weapons require serious juice from a generator or other power source but can inflict targeted damage without ammo.


Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Britain’s plans center on three demonstration weapons that use lasers or radio waves to damage enemy forces and equipment.

One is a British-designed weapon that earned a lot of attention. The Dragonfire laser weapon system packs a 50 kW laser that is a significant jump from the American 30 kW laser once deployed on the USS Ponce for training. (The American program aims to eventually support weapons up to 300 kW, and American researchers are part of the current U.K. effort.)

The lasers are primarily aimed at taking out drones, mortars, rockets, planes, and missiles that have already come close to the laser-armed vehicle or ship. Traditional interceptors like missiles will deal with targets further away.

(U.K. Ministry of Defence, Crown Copyright)

In addition to lasers, England will be testing radio frequency weapons that could disable target computers and electronics.

According to a Ministry of Defence press release, “The MOD also has over 30 years’ experience in Radio Frequency DEW, during which time the UK has become a world leader in developing new power generation technologies and a global hub for the performance testing and evaluation of these systems.”

Britain is creating and staffing a joint programme office to oversee this new effort, and they expect that the demonstrator weapons will be ready for broad fielding with 10 years.

“Laser and Radio Frequency technologies have the potential to revolutionise the battlefield by offering powerful and cost-effective weapons systems to our Armed Forces” said British Defence Secretary Penny Mourdant.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Four myths about war

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley is a firm believer that a strong military is key in a whole-of-government approach to national security issues.

Still, he cautions, there are Americans who believe some myths about the military.

Here are his four “Myths of War”:


Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan in the general’s tent.

(Library of Congress)

1. The ‘Short War’ Myth.

This is a very prominent myth and one that recurs throughout history, Milley said.

President Abraham Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion in 1861. He was so sure it would be a quick war that he only called for 90-day enlistments. Both the French and Germans in 1914 believed the conflict would be short, but World War I lasted four years and took millions of lives.

“War takes on a life of its own,” Milley said. “It zigs and zags. More often than not, war is much longer, much more expensive, much bloodier, much more horrific than anyone thought at the beginning. It is important that the decision-makers assess the use of force and apply the logic we’ve learned over the years. War should always be the last resort.”

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Gen. Mark Milley, then Army chief of staff, at the 2019 Army Birthday Ball, in honor of the 244 Army Birthday, at the Hilton in Washington, DC, June 15, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke)

2. The ‘Win From Afar’ Myth.

Americans’ belief in technology encourages this myth. At its heart is that wars can be won from afar, without getting troops on the ground. Whether it is the strategic bombing during World War II or launching cruise missiles, there are those who believe that will be enough to defeat an enemy.

“These allow you to shape battlefields and set the conditions for battle, but the probability of getting a decisive outcome in a war from launching missiles from afar has yet to be proven in history,” Milley said.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Troops of the US Army 2nd Infantry Division.

(U.S. Army photo)

3. The ‘Force Generation’ Myth.

This is the idea that it is possible to quickly generate forces in the event of need.

In World War I, it took more than a year for American forces to make a significant contribution on the battlefields of France after the United States declared war in April 1917. In World War II, the US Army fought on a shoestring for the first year.

War has only become more complicated since then, Milley said, and it will take even longer for forces to generate. “I think for us to maintain strength and keep national credibility, we need a sizable ground force, and I have advocated for that,” he said.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria

Milley at the Anakonda 16 opening ceremony at the National Defense University in Warsaw.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Betty Boomer)

4. The ‘Armies Go to War’ Myth.

“Armies or navies or air forces don’t go to war. Nations go to war,” Milley said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This secret Air Force spaceplane just got shot into orbit again

A military space plane spread its wings and a rocket stretched its legs during SpaceX’s Sept. 7 launch of a classified mission from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.


The 230-foot Falcon 9 rocket rumbled from historic pad 39A at 10 a.m., as weather cooperated a day before Brevard County planned mandatory barrier island evacuations ahead of Hurricane Irma’s projected arrival.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 is seen after at NASA ‘s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida May 7, 2017. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft designed to perform risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

On top of the rocket was the Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, an unmanned mini-shuttle resembling one of NASA’s retired orbiters, but about a quarter the size at 29 feet long and windowless. The program was riding for the first time on a SpaceX rocket, after four turns on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V.

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5) is being staged in preparation for its upcoming launch on September 7, 2017.

To preserve the mission’s secrecy, SpaceX cut off its broadcast a few minutes into the flight, after nine Merlin main engines cut off and the first-stage booster fell away.

About two hours later, Gen. John Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command, confirmed on Twitter that the launch was a success.

Boeing, which built and operates two reusable X-37B orbiters housed in former shuttle hangars at KSC, did the same.

After separating, the roughly 16-story Falcon booster pirouetted in space and flew back toward a pad on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The rocket stage touched down on four landing legs, announcing its return with sonic booms that reported across the region.

Articles

West Point names first female commandant

general-diana-holland-west-point


Brig. Gen. Diana Holland has been named the first female commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Holland is serving as the deputy commanding general (support), 10th Mountain Division (Light) on Fort Drum, New York. She will replace Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, who relinquished command of the Corps of Cadets during a ceremony at West Point Monday. He has been named commanding general, 1st Cavalry Division on Fort Hood, Texas.

Acting Army Secretary Eric Fanning praised the selection of Holland. “Diana’s operational and command experiences will bring a new and diverse perspective to West Point’s leadership team,” Fanning said. “She is absolutely the right person for this critical position.”

Holland will assume command as the 76th commandant of cadets during a ceremony scheduled at West Point, Jan. 5.

“I am very honored to be named the next commandant of the U.S. Corps of Cadets,” Holland said. “It’s a privilege to be part of the team that trains and develops leaders of character for our Army. I look forward to continuing the legacy set by Maj. Gen. Thomson and all previous commandants.”

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent at West Point, said Holland will be a valuable addition to the team.

“Diana Holland is a superb leader who has a phenomenal reputation throughout the Army,” Caslen said. “She is immensely qualified for the job and we look forward to her joining the West Point team as commandant.”

Holland graduated from West Point and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers in 1990.

Her military service began in Germany, where she served as a vertical construction platoon leader in the 79th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), and as a company executive officer and battalion assistant operations officer in the 94th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy).

Following company command with the 30th Engineer Battalion (Topographic) on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Holland earned a Master of Arts degree at Duke University en route to a teaching assignment at West Point. She then attended the Army Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies, known as SAMS, where she earned a Master of Military Arts and Sciences degree.

She was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division in July 2004, and deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, serving as a division plans officer and then as the operations officer in the 92nd Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy).

Upon return from Iraq, she served as a plans officer in the Operations Directorate, U.S. Central Command on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Holland commanded the 92nd Engineer Battalion (Black Diamonds) from July 2008 to June 2011. She deployed with Task Force Diamond to eastern Afghanistan from May 2010 to April 2011. After relinquishing command, she was a U.S. Army War College Fellow at Georgetown University.

In 2012, Holland assumed command of the 130th Engineer Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The following year, she deployed with the brigade headquarters to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where the unit served as the theater engineer brigade, Joint Task Force Sapper. The brigade redeployed to Schofield Barracks in June 2014 and Holland relinquished command in July.

During the first half of this year, Holland served as executive officer to the director of the Army staff at the Pentagon. In July, she was appointed as the deputy commanding general for support, 10th Mountain Division (Light) on Fort Drum. She was the first female deputy commanding general of a light infantry division.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon chief worries military doesn’t say ‘no’ enough on risky training

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said September 18th that he’s going to look into the possibility that the military’s “can do” attitude may be responsible for the recent spate of deadly training accidents.


Almost 100 service members have been killed in training accidents since June, which reflects a definite spike in recent years, and Mattis said he’s examining whether military leaders have pushed troops beyond what they’re able because of a desire to always say “yes” to operational demands.

Also read: Mattis hints at secret ‘kinetic’ military options for North Korea

“I would say, having some association with the U.S. military, we’re almost hardwired to say “Can do.” That is the way we’re brought up,” Mattis said. “Routinely, in combat, that’s exactly what you do, even at the risk of your troops and equipment and all. But there comes a point in peacetime where you have to make certain you’re not always saying, ‘We’re going to do more with less, or you’re going to do the same with less.'”

Why Russia is hiring mercenaries to fight in Syria
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Mattis noted, however, that the military applauds people who decline to continue training precisely because they feel their troops aren’t prepared.

“But my point is that we always look for this and we reward people for raising their hand and saying, ‘No more. I’ve got to stop.’ We’ve had people actually stop training where they thought their troops needed to rehearse before they went forward,” Mattis said. “And that’s not that unusual, tell you the truth. So I am not concerned right now that we’re rewarding the wrong behavior.”

So far, in response to the collisions involving the destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald, the Navy has relieved six senior officers of duties, including the commander of the 7th Fleet, which is located in Japan. The Navy stated that the 7th Fleet commander was removed because of a loss of confidence in command ability.

Mattis was similarly noncommittal about whether there was a direct line from sequestration and budget cuts to training accidents, but pledged to look into that possibility.

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