Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

This week’s Borne the Battle features Wayne Hanson, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Wreaths Across America (WAA).

WAA is a national campaign that coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies at over 1,700 national cemeteries, culminating at Arlington National Cemetery. The three-fold purpose of WAA aims to remember fallen U.S Veterans, honor those who currently serve, and teach children the value of freedom. Here, Hanson explains WAA’s humble beginnings and its rise into the national organization that it is today.


What is Wreaths Across America?

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In this episode, Hanson discusses his time in the Army and the socio-political atmosphere of when he returned from Vietnam. He talks about transition and his gradual involvement at WAA. Lastly, he shares the four words from a stranger that kept him motivated to work even to this day.

For more information on Wreaths Across America, or for info on how to volunteer, visit the WAA website.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US PsyOps lured an African warlord to defect using his mother’s voice

A team of Fort Bragg soldiers set their sights on one of the top officials within warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army late last year.


The soldiers, working with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, tracked down the family of the official — communications chief Michael Omona.

He played a key role in the Ugandan warlord’s cultish militant group, which was built on the backs of former child soldiers abducted from their homes in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Fort Bragg soldiers – part of a regional psychological operations team deployed to Africa – weren’t targeting Omona with firepower. Instead, it was a campaign fueled by facts and meant to counter the misinformation Kony spread across his force.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, Col. Bethany Aragon, the commander of the 4th Military Information Support Group at Fort Bragg, described what happened next.

“If you can envision yourself walking through this dense jungle,” she said. “… As he’s walking through the jungle, he hears his mother’s voice begging him to come home.”

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Michael Omana, the communications chief for Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, walked for two weeks to defect after hearing his mothers voice piped through the jungles begging him to come home.

The voice came from a U.S. Army loudspeaker team, piping voices into the countryside.

A little while later, leaflets dropped from the sky. On them, images of Omona’s uncle, who raised him as a father, and his daughter; both pleading for Omona to turn himself in to authorities.

“We targeted him,” Aragon said. “And in January 2017… he walked for two weeks to defect.”

Omona’s defection gave authorities key information in the search for Kony and the LRA. He provided access to codes used by the group and inside information on the higher workings of the LRA.

It was one of the highest profile defections in the long-running effort to dismantle the LRA. And Aragon used the example to show the value psychological operations soldiers played in those efforts.

“For over two decades, they abducted over 60,000 children, massacred tens of thousands of civilians, displaced two million people and then really destabilized a region the size of California,” she said of the LRA.

Today, Aragon said the LRA has been rendered irrelevant. And a generation of stolen Uganda children have been returned to their homes as the LRA has dwindled from an army of thousands to less than 100 members.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Students walk in front of a recently constructed building before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. In October of 2002, regional instablitity forced the school’s students and faculty away from its current location in the village of Alanyi. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force, attacked civilians and attempted to seize control of villages throughout northern Uganda.

At AUSA, Aragon and other special operations leaders presented case studies on the value of their forces during a panel led by Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Often working with foreign partners, conventional forces and other government agencies, Tovo said the Army’s special operations forces provide a set of unique capabilities that can’t be easily reproduced.

They are complementary skills, Tovo said, that when mixed with other capabilities and forces form a “symbiotic whole” to fuel national objectives.

“To quasi-quote Tom Cruse in ‘Jerry Maguire,'” he said. “We complete each other.”

Tovo said there are about 4,300 special operations soldiers deployed around the world in 78 countries. That includes Special Forces, psychological operations, civil affairs, Army Rangers and other special operations troops.

While the more violent aspects of special operations tend to make the most headlines, Tovo’s panel largely focused on the more unheralded aspects of the force – what he called an “indigenous approach” to operations around the world.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Members of the Uganda People’s Defence Force and the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa stand for a class photo after the UPDF graduated from the third of a four-phase psychological operations training held at the Uganda Junior Command and Staff College, Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 15, 2017. The training was part of the U.S. mission of strengthening partner nation defense forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

“We live among, train with, advise and fight alongside people of foreign cultures,” Tovo said. “We think this indigenous approach provides a low-cost, high-impact option.”

Joining Tovo on the panel were Aragon; the former ambassador to Ukraine and current ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt; Brig. Gen. David Komar, director of the requirements integration directorate at the Army Capabilities Integration Center; 75th Ranger Regiment commander Col. Brandon Tegtmeier; and Lt. Col. Tom Craig, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

Tegtmeier discussed how the Rangers are working with Afghan partners. And Craig, who left Northern Syria about a week ago, discussed the task force comprised of Special Forces A-teams, special operations and conventional troops working to train and support Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State.

“The indigenous approach is absolutely working,” he said, explaining how special operations forces are uniquely suited to the ongoing fight against ISIS.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Hurst, 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) noncommissioned officer in charge, deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, serves as an observer, controller and trainer to members of the Uganda People’s Defense Force during a four-phase course that trains the UDPF to secure objectives through influencing attitude and behaviors. The training took place at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As the region continues to contend with multiple VEOs, a sustained international working relationship will only further efforts of global stability. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Craig said his Special Forces soldiers have language skills and cultural understanding built up over multiple deployments that allow them to have influence on the nation’s Syrian partners.

“In Syria, it’s important to note,” he said. “We are advising a partner who is in the lead.”

He said the relatively light footprint of U.S. forces in Syria allow them to be agile and flexible, while also providing important support.

Craig said troops are training, equipping, advising and providing air support and intelligence to their partnered forces.

Pyatt said that in a world of diffuse power and shifting threats, most challenges to American national security will happen in so-called “gray areas” between diplomacy and hard power.

Those are the areas in which special operations forces thrive, officials said.

Pyatt said the relationships between SOF and diplomats were critical.

“There’s a very, very high return on investments,” he said. “They don’t cost a lot of money, but they get a lot done.”

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Lance Cpl. Denis Nokrach and Capt. John Robert Mwonge, both Marines in the Uganda People’s Defence Force, review a psychological operations plan during training with the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) who are deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As a subordinate unit of U.S. Africa Command, CJTF-HOA uses the primary tool of military-to-military programs and operations, coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, to assist African nations strengthen their defense capabilities and build partnerships. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Komar said the conventional force was beginning to model some of its reforms after the SOF community, specifically with the creation of security force advise and assist brigades.

At the same time, he said the days of deconflicting between SOF and conventional forces were largely over. Instead, the Army has embraced and integration between the two types of units.

In addition to ongoing operations and recent case studies, the panelists discussed ways the special operations community was preparing for future fights.

Tovo said each special operations specialty has different skillsets, but complement one another.

Whether serving as a crisis response force or working alongside State Department personnel, special operations forces are able to provide unique perspectives and insight.

“When bad things happen in any part of the world and we’ve got SOF there,” he said. “… We provide the nation a suite of tools applicable across the full range of military operations.”

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
A force reconnaissance Marine goes over threat detection methods with a group of Ugandan soldiers, Feb. 28. Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12 sent a small team of Marines into Uganda, Feb. 3, to train Ugandan forces for the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia and the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s resistance army.

Aragon said the campaign against the LRA was the most effective psychological operations campaign in Africa to date.

She said the groundwork was laid in 2011, when a team of just four psyops soldiers from Fort Bragg deployed to the continent.

Aragon said Omona and other members of the LRA lived in dense jungle and worked for an unhinged leader. Most, like Omona himself, were former child soldiers abducted from their homes years ago.

“He’s susceptible,” she said. And so were others within the LRA.

The goal was to use radio, leaflets and area loudspeakers to reach disaffected members of the group.

Key to those efforts were buy-in from the Ugandan government, which offered amnesty for defectors, she said.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Students sit in a classroom during a music a rehearsal before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. The project provided two new student dormitories to house 300 students, a staff house, new latrines, three water-harvesting tanks, and new solar panels for a computer laboratory.

Early successes gave the psyops team additional weaponry – the voices and stories of former LRA members who could speak to the fair treatment they received.

The first mass defection came in 2013, Aragon said, when 19 combatants defected.

Omona’s name came up in latter conversations, identified through a nonprofit group dedicated to the reintegration of former child soldiers in Africa called Pathways to Peace.

Omona had been kidnapped by the LRA when he was 12. Twenty-three years later, he was personally in charge of Kony’s communications.

Aragon said soldiers enlisted the aid of Omona’s family. His defection helped the soldiers end their mission against the LRA earlier this year.

But for the next fight, potentially against a more advanced enemy force, Aragon said officials must begin their efforts now.

“We cannot wait until the deployment to find the next Michael Omona,” she said. “We have to be doing that persistently if we are to be ready and relevant.”

Articles

Satellites show N. Korea is amping up nuke program

In a revelation that has strategic implications for Japan, analysis of satellite imagery shows the existence of North Korea’s second submersible test-stand barge — a sign that the nuclear-armed country could be ramping up development of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.


According to the analysis released May 1 by the 38 North website, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the barge was identified in commercial satellite images taken April 19 of the Nampo Naval Shipyard on the country’s west coast.

The isolated nation already operates one barge on the country’s eastern coast, at the Sinpo South Shipyard, from where it has conducted at least four — but as many as six — test-launches of the Pukguksong-1, or KN-11, SLBM since 2014, when that barge was first seen.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

According to the report, the newly detected barge appears to be identical in size and layout to the original. Such barges are used by navies to test underwater new and modified submarine missile launch tubes and systems, and to conduct initial test-launches before the systems are installed in submarines.

“The discovery of a second missile test barge may have a number of implications for the future of North Korea’s SLBM program that appears to be an important priority for Kim Jong Un,” the report said, adding that the timing of the barges’ acquisition could help reveal the direction of the program.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

If both were acquired at the same time, the report said, it would imply that Pyongyang is planning a more extensive test program than it has conducted so far.

It is unclear if the new barge was acquired or manufactured by the North, but since there have been no indications of barge construction work at the North’s west coast naval shipyards over the past year, that suggests the vessel had been acquired from abroad.

“Since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet,” the report said. “None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.”

The Pukguksong-1 would give the reclusive state a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent since the threat of a retaliatory second-strike would throw a wrench into any scenario where the U.S., South Korea, and Japan attempt to preemptively destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Related: US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

According to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pukguksong-1 has a maximum range similar to the North’s Rodong missile of about 1,250 km, allowing it reach most or all of Japan from a submarine located near the Korean coast.

However, the North’s submarine fleet remains limited in range as it is undergoing a modernization revamp, and would currently be easily detectable by superior U.S., South Korean, and Japanese anti-submarine warfare technology.

Experts say any scenario involving an attempted firing of a Pukguksong-1 from the Sea of Japan by submarine would effectively be a suicide mission for the North.

MIGHTY TRENDING

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

Officials in four provinces of Afghanistan say a series of Taliban attacks on security checkpoints have killed at least 32 members of the Afghan security forces and pro-government militias.

The attacks took place in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar, and in the western province of Badghis on Jan. 10, 2019.

In Kunduz, Qala-e Zal district chief Ahmad Fahim Qarluq said attacks by a large number of Taliban fighters in the early morning hours killed 10 soldiers and police and wounded 11.


Qarluq said 25 Taliban fighters were killed in those clashes.

In neighboring Baghlan and Takhar provinces, local Afghan officials said the Taliban killed 16 members of pro-government militias.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

They said the militants also suffered heavy casualties.

Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the governor of Badghis Province, said six members of the security forces were killed and 10 wounded in clashes at checkpoints and other security outposts.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He said in a statement that Taliban fighters killed dozens of Afghan troops and had seized a large amount of ammunition and weapons.

The Taliban has ramped up attacks on security forces and government facilities in recent months, while Afghan and U.S. troops have increased operations against the militants’ field commanders.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Delta Force Marine earned the Navy Cross in Benghazi

Minutes after Tate Jolly arrived at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a mortar hit the compound where an ambassador and another American had been killed and dozens more were trapped.

The Marine gunnery sergeant was one of only two U.S. troops with a small task force that rushed to respond to what quickly became clear was a coordinated attack on the U.S. State Department facility.

It was a remarkable mission. The closest military backup was hours away, which later led to fierce debate about how U.S. troops should be postured to protect Americans and diplomatic posts overseas.


“There was no one even remotely close to being able to go and get them in North Africa,” a source familiar with the operation planning said. “The nearest airplanes were hours away and the nearest ground troops a day away or further.”

The source spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the Sept. 11, 2012, incident, which remains a topic of controversy in Washington seven years later.

The scene was chaotic when the team arrived, and they quickly tried to restore order. There were nearly 30 panicked people who needed to be evacuated quickly, but the compound was under fire from multiple sides.

“Unfortunately, it was not a whole lot of offense; it was a whole lot of just holding guys off as long as they could to try and get out,” the person familiar with the mission said.

Jolly, who declined a request for an interview, would ultimately be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there. The soldier with him, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Army‘s Distinguished Service Cross. The valor awards are exceeded only by the Medal of Honor.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Navy Cross.


Little has been known about the Jolly’s actions in Benghazi. There was no public ceremony when he received his valor award and, until recently, his name has not been publicly tied to the mission in media reports.

His hometown paper in North Carolina, the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, recently reported that the 36-year-old who’d graduated from high school about 90 miles north of Charlotte was the Marine who’d gone above and beyond to save other Americans. Jolly recently retired as a master sergeant.

According to testimony, public documents and the person familiar with his actions, Jolly was calm in the face of deadly chaos. He and Halbruner are credited with saving numerous lives that day.

With a rifle strapped to his back amid an onslaught of mortars and machine-gun fire, Jolly tended to the wounded, at one point throwing a man onto his back and shuffling him down a ladder amid a barrage of enemy fire. He helped some get back into the fight and provided vital care to others with life-threatening injuries.

Here’s how then-Gunnery Sgt. Jolly helped get other Americans to safety during a situation that caused a years-long political firestorm thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C.

A Delta Force Marine

Jolly, an infantry assault Marine, was assigned to a Delta Force detachment in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack. It’s rare, though not unheard of, for Marines to join the elite Army special-operations teams.

The Marine had deployed to Iraq twice before joining the secretive counterterrorism force, spending about five years carrying out clandestine missions before the Benghazi attack and another five after, according to information about his career obtained by Military.com.

He racked up more than a dozen total deployments with Delta Force.

The Navy Cross Jolly received for his actions in Benghazi was his fourth valor award. He has two Bronze Stars with combat “V” devices — one of which he earned for undisclosed reasons during his time with Delta Force, and a second from a 2004-2005 deployment to Ramadi, Iraq.

Jolly also earned a Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during that deployment.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Purple Heart.

(Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

According to his award citations, Jolly repeatedly braved enemy fire in Ramadi to help take out an enemy sniper who had ambushed a government center. He received the Navy Commendation Medal for risking his life to destroy roadside bombs when an explosive ordnance disposal team couldn’t reach his unit.

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Jolly was about 600 miles away from Benghazi in Tripoli — roughly the same distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C. Since Jolly and Halbruner were some of the only troops in-country, the operation was coordinated not by U.S. Africa Command, but the CIA.

Team Tripoli, made up of Jolly, Halbruner and five others, arrived in Benghazi at about 1:30 a.m. That was about four hours after the attack began, and two since Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens had last been seen alive.

The team was led by Glen Doherty, a Global Response Staff (GRS) security officer and former Navy SEAL, who was later killed. He was Team Tripoli’s medic.

The plan, according to the person familiar with the mission, was to leave the airport and head to the hospital, where they believed Stevens was being treated. When they found out Stevens had died, the first ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979, the team headed to the consulate to bolster the diplomatic security personnel and GRS, a group of private military contractors who were fending off the attackers.

“It could’ve gone really, really bad,” said the source familiar with the mission. “It could’ve become 30 American hostages in North Africa. There were seven shooters going in to protect people who don’t shoot for a living.”

By the time they arrived, Sean Smith, a State Department foreign service officer, had also died. It was still dark, just after 5 a.m., according to a congressional timeline of the attack. Within minutes, the first mortar hit.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Sean Smith.

The attacks continued, with one witness estimating there were as many as 100 insurgents spotted surrounding their location in 20- or 30-man groups. It was a skilled enemy, one of the troops there later told members of Congress.

“It’s not easy … to shoot inside the city and get something on the target within two shots — that’s difficult,” the witness testified. “I would say they were definitely a trained mortar team or had been trained to do something similar to that.

“I was kind of surprised,” the service member added. “… It was unusual.”

They were there a matter of hours, but at times witnesses said the team feared they wouldn’t make it out alive. It began to “rain down on us,” one of them told lawmakers.

”I really believe that this attack was planned,” the witness said. “The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries.”

In total, six 81-millimeter mortars assaulted the annex within a minute and 13 seconds, a congressional report on the attack states. Doherty and Tyrone Woods, another former SEAL with the GRS, didn’t survive.

Dave Ubben, a State Department security agent, and Mark “Oz” Geist, another GRS member, were badly hurt. The men were defending the compound from the rooftop, determined to make it look like they had a lot more firepower than they actually did.

“There was a lot of shooting, a lot of indirect fire and explosions,” the source with knowledge of the response said. “It was just guys being really aggressive and doing a good job at making it seem like their element was bigger than it was, like they were less hurt than they were.”

Ubben — who’d testified before a federal court in 2017 that he took shrapnel to his head, nearly lost his leg, and had a grapefruit-sized piece of his arm taken off — was losing blood fast. Geist also had a serious arm injury that needed immediate attention.

Jolly and Halbruner were determined to save them. Amid the fight, they were tying tourniquets to the men’s bodies.

Ubben is alive because Jolly helped move him from the rooftop to a building where diplomatic personnel were hunkered down. Gregory Hicks, who became the acting chief of mission after Stevens died, later described how the gunny did it during a congressional hearing.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens.

“One guy … full of combat gear climbed up [to the roof], strapped David Ubben, who is a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder, saved him,” Hicks said.

Jolly and Halbruner also went back out to the rooftop to recover the bodies of the fallen.

“They didn’t know whether any more mortars were going to come in. The accuracy was terribly precise,” Hicks said. “… They climbed up on the roof, and they carried Glen’s body and Tyrone’s body down.”

It was for Jolly’s “valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm’s way” to save numerous unarmed Americans’ lives that he earned the Navy Cross, according to his citation.

Bracing for the worst

That attack was traumatic for many of the civilians trapped inside one of the buildings, according to the person with knowledge of the operation. They’d lost their ambassador and another colleague, and they had no experience being caught in a life-and-death combat situation.

Once Jolly and Halbruner brought the injured men in from off the rooftop, the diplomatic staff helped treat their wounds, according to the source familiar with the situation. It gave them a mission as the onslaught continued outside.

As the sun came up, the remaining team members worried that terrorists would overtake the facility. First believed to be the work of the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia group, the attack was coordinated by several networks in the region, including al-Qaida affiliates.

Throughout the night, the Americans had the advantage of night vision, the person familiar with the mission said. In the daylight, it could quickly become an even playing field.

Surprisingly though, it got quieter. They gathered inside one of the buildings and formed an evacuation plan to move the diplomatic staff to the airport and eventually out of Benghazi.

“[They had to talk about] things like, ‘What happens if they came under attack on the way out? Do you know where to go if you are separated from the group or are being shot at?'” according to the person familiar with the plans.

They prepared for the worst: that as the convoy left the compound, they’d be ambushed, everyone would panic, and the terrorists would take hostages. But they made it to the airport without issue and, by 7:31 a.m., the first plane with survivors took off for Tripoli.

“Who would’ve thought seven people could go into Benghazi and get more than 25 people out? Especially without traditional military support?” the person familiar with the mission said. “… But you can do a lot if you’re determined and have no other choice.”

The Defense Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later faced a host of criticism over their response to the attack. Critics called it too slow — a congressional investigation finding that despite President Barack Obama and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta clearly ordering the military to deploy response forces, none were sent until almost eight hours after the attacks began.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

President Obama and Secretary Clinton honor the Benghazi attack victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14, 2012.

(State Department photo)

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked to explain why he hadn’t dispatched F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from Italy. He told lawmakers it would’ve been “the wrong tool for the job.”

The Marine Corps, the nation’s go-to crisis-response force, has been particularly responsive in the aftermath of the attack. Since there aren’t enough amphibious ships to stage Marines everywhere they’d like to be at sea, they’ve set up land-based crisis-response forces built to respond to emergencies quickly. Those units include up to 2,200 personnel, along with aircraft and logistics capabilities.

Those units are now based in Europe, the Middle East and Central America. Those assigned to Africa and the Middle East have fielded several State Department requests to evacuate embassy personnel or shore up security when intelligence has indicated a high risk for attack.

The Marine Corps and State Department have also bolstered the number of embassy guards placed at diplomatic posts around the world, standing up dozens of new detachments that previously did not have military personnel.

It was a tragedy to see a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed in Benghazi but, sadly, it sometimes takes an awful situation to get the attention of those in charge of policy, the person familiar with the response said.

“It was a bad situation, but a lot of priorities changed after this tragedy that would otherwise never have gotten fixed.”

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

Articles

US combat troops will not remain in Iraq after terrorist defeat

U.S. combat troops will not stay on in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group is over, Iraq’s Prime Minister said April 5 — a statement that followed an Associated Press report on talks between Iraq and the United States on maintaining American forces in the country.


A U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government told the AP that talks about keeping U.S. troops in Iraq were ongoing.

The U.S. official emphasized that discussions were in early stages and that “nothing has been finalized.” Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

In his statement, Haider al-Abadi emphasized that there are no foreign combat troops on Iraqi soil and that any American troops who stay on once IS militants are defeated will be advisers working to train Iraq’s security forces to maintain “full readiness” for any “future security challenges.”

While some U.S. forces are carrying out combat operations with Iraqi forces on and beyond front lines in the fight against IS, al-Abadi has maintained that the forces are acting only as advisers, apparently to get around a required parliamentary approval for their presence.

Also read: US commander sees major progress with Iraqi army after Mosul fight

Any forces who remained would continue to be designated as advisers for the same reason, the Iraqi government official had told the AP.

Regardless of how the troops are designated, talks about maintaining American forces in Iraq point to a consensus by both governments that a longer-term U.S. presence in Iraq is needed to ensure that an insurgency does not bubble up again once IS militants are driven out — a contrast to the full U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
An Iraqi federal police takes a break before another day’s offensive to liberate and secure West Mosul, Iraq, March 2, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Currently, the Pentagon has close to 7,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, many not publicly acknowledged because they are on temporary duty or under specific personnel rules. At the height of the surge of U.S. forces in 2007, there were about 170,000 American troops in the country. The numbers were wound down eventually to 40,000, before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

The U.S. intervention against the Islamic State group, launched in 2014, was originally cast as an operation that would largely be fought from the skies with a minimal footprint on Iraqi soil. Nevertheless, that footprint has since expanded, given the Iraqi forces’ need for support.

Iraqi forces are struggling to retake the last remaining Mosul neighborhoods that IS holds in the city’s western half, but even after a territorial victory, Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition officials have warned of the potential for IS to carry out insurgent attacks in government held territory.

Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.

Articles

The United States is sending BUFFs and Lightnings to Korea

Recent North Korean missile launches, including four into the Sea of Japan earlier this month, have prompted a major deployment of U.S. forces, including B-52 Stratofortress bombers, also known as BUFFs (for Big Ugly Fat F*ckers), and F-35B Lightning II fighters to the Korean peninsula.


According to a report by The Sun, the deployments come as part of the Foal Eagle exercises, which are held by American and South Korean forces. Other assets being deployed in support of the exercises include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and its strike group, as well as B-1B Lancer heavy bombers.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

The B-52s can carry a wide variety of ordnance.

Some of the things that they can deliver a lot of to the North Koreas, if Kim Jong Un continues on his present course, include dumb bombs (usually the Mk 82 500-pound bomb or the M117 750-pound bomb, but Mk 84 2,000 pound bombs are an option as well), AGM-86 cruise missiles in both conventional or nuclear versions, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, CBU-87 cluster bombs, CBU-97 cluster bombs, GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (2,000 pound GPS guided bombs), the AGM-142 HAVE NAP missile, the AGM-158 JASSM, and the AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon.

The F-35s that will participate are Marine Corps F-35B variants that are based in Japan. The F-35Bs are fifth-generation multi-role strike fighters, capable to engaging targets in the air or on the ground. The planes carry AIM-120 AMRAAMs, AIM-9 Sidewinders, JDAMs, JSOWs, and cluster bombs.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Two F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, prepare to land at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The planned exercises will involve 315,000 troops, most of them South Korean. North Korea has routinely claimed that the Foal Eagle exercises are rehearsals for an invasion. Earlier this month, a battery of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missiles were deployed to South Korea, a decision criticized by China, which vowed to make South Korea “feel the pain” for allowing the deployment.

Someone needs to tell Kim, “You’re making Chaos angry. You will not like it when Chaos gets angry.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force medical team saves heart attack victim on flight

A reserve aeromedical evacuation crew from the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron with the 433rd Airlift Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, was flying to support patient transport missions out of Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland when they came together to save the life of a man suspected of having a heart attack Sept. 19, 2018.

About 45 minutes into the commercial flight from Dallas to Maryland a 74-year-old man sitting next to Staff Sgt. April Hinojos, 433rd AES aeromedical evacuation technician, complained to his wife that he felt faint.

Hinojos heard this and asked the man some questions to gauge how he was feeling. She said the man’s eyelids started to flutter, and he stopped responding. Hinojos immediately got assistance moving him to the floor and evaluating his condition.


“He didn’t have a pulse, so we immediately started (chest) compressions,” said Hinojos.

The man’s wife started yelling for a doctor.

“I had just started the movie and through my headphones I hear someone screaming for help,” said Maj. Carolyn Stateczny, flight nurse.

She said she thought, “Screaming for a doctor means something is going on.”

The pilot came over the intercom, and asked if any medical personnel were on the plane.

The rest of the aeromedical evacuation crew, which was scattered throughout the plane, started working their way to Hinojos and the man.

The flight attendants assisted Stateczny by collecting the plane’s medical supplies for the medical crew. Stateczny then got the automated external defibrillator from the flight attendants and prepared it for use. Capt. Justin Stein, flight nurse, attempted to start the man on intravenous fluids, but was unable, because his blood vessels were constricted due to the suspected heart attack.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Tech. Sgts. Robert Kirk and Edgar Ramirez, both aeromedical evacuation technicians, worked on the man’s airway and provided oxygen. 1st Lt. Laura Maldonado, a flight nurse, assisted the rest of the crew by working with the flight attendants and providing supplies as needed.

At this point, the crew was unsure if the man was going to recover.

“I’ve been a nurse for sixteen years; in my expertise, I thought he was dead,” Stateczny said. “He was completely grayish, his lips were blue, and his eyes had rolled to the back of his head. He was not responding at all. He had no pulse.”

The man’s wife was very distraught throughout the ordeal, so the crew requested that she be moved to the rear of the plane, so they could gather the man’s medical information from her.

Stateczny requested that the plane land so the man could get required medical attention.

After getting the automated external defibrillator pads on the man, Stateczny said he moaned, developed a pulse and started to show signs of recovery. They continued with oxygen and kept trying to start an IV.

“He slowly started arousing,” said Statezcny. “It took some time, and he could tell us his name. He started getting some color, and then asked ‘What’s going on?'” The man thought he had just passed out.

The plane diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, where emergency medical services were waiting to take over patient care.

The aeromedical evacuation squadron members serve in a variety of careers such as nurses, medical technicians, administrative specialists and more. The 433rd AES is ready to fill the need when events like natural disasters, war or routine medical transportation by air is required. AES crews typically consist of five people, two nurses and three medical technicians. The crew carries with them the necessary equipment to turn any cargo aircraft in the Air Force into a flying ambulance almost instantly.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This 102-year-old WWII veteran fulfilled her dream of skydiving

The Army is investigating a TikTok video in which an unidentified 18th Airborne Corps soldier at Fort Bragg drinks from an Ocean Spray bottle while lip-syncing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” during a static line jump. The video in question was inspired by the viral TikTok video by Nathan Apodaca which caught the attention of Ocean Spray CEO Tom Hayes and earned Apodaca a new truck. 

However, while the unidentified paratrooper has found himself in hot water due to the addition of juice and “Dreams” to his jump, another soldier has made her dreams come true under the canopy of a parachute.

Bailey as a WAC Lt. (Millie Bailey)

Vivian C. “Mille” Bailey was born in Washington, D.C. in 1918. In 1942, she commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. During WWII, she commanded a WAC detachment and earned several awards throughout her career. Bailey was honorably discharged in 1946 as a 1st Lt. She continued her service in the government working for the Veterans and Social Security Administrations. At the height of her career, Bailey served as a division director responsible for roughly 1,100 employees. She is also a long-time community activist, having served 23 years on the Howard County General Hospital Board of Trustees in Columbia, Maryland.

Though Bailey retired in 1975, she has stayed active as a volunteer and adventure seeker. In fact, at the age of 102, she checked off the most extreme item on her bucket list: to make a parachute jump. Bailey was inspired by President George H. W. Bush who celebrated his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays with parachute jumps. With the help of Skydive Baltimore, Bailey made her dream come true.

On October 18, 2020, Bailey took on her latest adventure which she called, “The thrill of a lifetime.” Bailey had wanted to make the jump for 10 years. “At one point when we were tumbling in the air, I felt like I was by myself. I thought, ‘Where did the paratrooper go?’”

On top of her service in WWII, long career of public work and volunteering, and successful jump, Bailey has received honors from President Trump and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, had a police award named after her—the Vivian Millie Bailey Making a Difference Award, and now has a park in Howard County named for her as well. “So there are a lot of things that I can look back on,” Bailey said. “I am thoroughly happy and feel blessed that I’ve been able to do whatever I’ve been able to do.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens to attack U.S. troops in remote base

Russia has warned the US that its military and allied Syrian forces are ready to attack a key US-held base near the borders of Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, US defense officials said in a CNN report published on Sept. 6, 2018.

The Kremlin is said to have accused the US-led coalition base At Tanf of protecting nearby militants, with Russia delivering two warnings in the past week, CNN said, citing US officials. At Tanf, from which a coalition of dozens of US troops and Syrian rebels launch operations against the Islamic State terrorist group, is seen as a critical location within the scope of Iranian, Syrian, and Russian influence in the region.


“We have absolutely advised them to stay out of At Tanf,” a US official told CNN. “We are postured to respond.”

“The United States does not seek to fight the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing it support,” another official added. “However, if attacked, the United States will not hesitate to use necessary and proportionate force to defend US, coalition, or partner forces.”

US troops would not need permission from superiors to defend themselves if attacked, which the US reiterated to the Kremlin, CNN reported.

A state-sanctioned attack by Russia could spark a flashpoint conflict in the region. Tensions were raised in February 2018 after dozens of Russian mercenaries were killed during a failed assault on a US-held position near the city of Deir al-Zor.

Russian forces have not recently been seen amassing their troops; however, the US military is still on alert, officials said. Senior military officials, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are aware of the warnings, CNN said.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis.

(Dept. of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Russia’s warnings come amid a looming assault by Syrian and Iranian forces against the city of Idlib, where Syrian rebels have been cornered. Russia delivered an ominous warning in August 2018 that some experts saw as an indication that the Syrian government might indiscriminately use chemical weapons against the city.

The US followed with a threat of its own, warning Syrian President Bashar Assad that if he “chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its Allies will respond swiftly and appropriately.”

“President Donald J. Trump has warned that such an attack would be a reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict and would risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement.

Featured image: Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S., U.K. blame Russia for 2019 cyberattack on Georgian websites

TBILISI — The United States and Britain have joined Georgia in blaming Russia for a massive coordinated cyberattack last year that took thousands of Georgian websites offline and even disrupted TV broadcasts.

Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimer Konstantinidi told a news conference in Tbilisi on February 20 that the cyberattack was planned and carried out by Russia.


“The investigation conducted by the Georgian authorities, together with information gathered through cooperation with partners, concluded that this cyberattack was planned and carried out by the main division of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” Konstantinidi said.

Meanwhile, the United States and Britain said in separate statements that the attack was carried out by a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm.

Sandworm is known as a single group of hackers within the GRU and security experts have linked it to such cyber breaches as the theft of 9 gigabytes of e-mails from the French presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron, a similar campaign against the Democratic National Committee in the United States in 2016, as well as the malware that hit Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and spread globally.

Britain has also linked the group to two attacks against Ukraine in 2017, including NotPetya and BadRabbit, which affected the nation’s financial and energy sectors as well as the Kyiv Metro and Odesa’s airport.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

“The United States calls on Russia to cease this behavior in Georgia and elsewhere,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that Washington would provide assistance to Georgia to help improve the country’s ability to fend off such attacks.

“We also pledge our support to Georgia and its people in enhancing their cybersecurity and countering malicious cyber actors,” Pompeo added.

Russia denied involvement in penetrating Georgian government websites.

“Russia did not plan and is not planning to interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs in any way,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told Russian news agencies.

static.kremlin.ru

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment.

More than 2,000 state, private, and media websites as well as two private television stations — Imedi and Maestro — were knocked out on October 28. The targeted websites included those of the president’s office and local municipality offices.

In many cases, website home pages were replaced with an image of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the caption “I’ll be back.”

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America

With the rise of cyberattacks, Navy ships are now equipped with defense from hackers.

Russia has fraught relations with its southern neighbor, which is seeking to join Western organizations, including the European Union and NATO, moves that Moscow opposes.

Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after which Russia recognized the independence claim of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which comprise 20 percent of its territory.

Russia is one of only a few countries that recognizes the two regions’ independence.

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

Articles

North Korean fires missile over Japan’s airspace

North Korea has launched what appears to be a missile headed towards the northern end of Japan at around 5:58 a.m. local time, according to Japanese government officials.


Japan’s NHK News reported that the missile passed over Japan and warned people in northern Japan to take necessary precautions.

Although three missiles were fired, according to Japanese officials, it was not entirely clear if all of them were headed towards the same trajectory. NHK also reported that a missile broke off into three pieces before splashing down into the Pacific Ocean.

South Korean military officials have also confirmed reports of the missile launch and  said that it flew  for about  1677 miles.

During the tense moment, multiple prefectures in Japan were reportedly put on alert.

“We’ll take utmost efforts to protect the public,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said, shortly following the launch.

The latest act of provocation from North Korea comes amid a spate of questionable moves, despite regional leaders, including Russia, denouncing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently called for his county to prepare to “immediately switch to offensive operations” if the North makes a “provocation that crosses the line,” NK News reported.

On September 1, 1998, North Korea fired a missile towards Japan’s airspace, offering no explanation for the incident.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Articles

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

Israel received three F-35s from the US on Tuesday, bringing its total inventory of the revolutionary fighter up to five, but according to a French journalist citing French intelligence reports, Israeli F-35s have already carried out combat missions in Syria.


In the Air Forces Monthly, Thomas Newdick summarized a report from Georges Malbrunot at France’s Le Figaro newspaper saying Israel took its F-35s out on a combat mission just one month after receiving them from the US.

Malbrunot reported that on January 12 Israeli F-35s took out a Russian-made S-300 air defense system around Syrian President Bashar Assad’s palace in Damascus and another Russian-made Pantsir-S1 mobile surface-to-air missile system set for delivery to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Related: F-35s will take part in NATO drills

Israel has repeatedly and firmly asserted its goal to make sure weapons cannot reach Hezbollah, a terror group sworn to seek the destruction of Israel.

In March, Israel admitted to an airstrike in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “when we know about an attempt to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah, we do whatever we can to prevent this from happening, provided we have sufficient information and capabilities to react,” according to Russian state-run media.

However, the other details of the story seem unlikely. The only known S-300 system in Syria is operated by the Russians near their naval base, so hitting that would mean killing Russian servicemen, which has not been reported at all.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Land-based S-300 surface-to-air missile launchers | Creative Commons photo

Also, as Tyler Rogoway of The Drive points out, the Pantsir-S1 air defenses would certainly bolster Hezbollah in Lebanon, but Israel wouldn’t be under immediate pressure to destroy this system. Their jets have advanced air defense suppression and electronic warfare capabilities that limit the threat posed by the Pantsir-S1, and make it unlikely that they would risk F-35s to attack them.

Also read: 3 reasons why Airwolf is more badass than the F-35

But parts of the French report hold up. There was an airstrike on January 12 at Mezzeh air base, where the French report said it took place. The BBC reports that the Syrian government accused Israel of a strike at that time and place.

Jeff Halper, author of War Against the People, a book that looks at the military ties between Israel and the US, told Al Jazeera that Israeli pilots may be the first to see combat action in the F-35.

“Israel serves as the test-bed for the development of these kinds of new weapons,” said Halper. “The F-35 will be tested in the field, in real time by Israel. The likelihood is that the first time the plane is used in combat will be with Israeli pilots flying it.”

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Israeli Air Force

Indeed the F-35’s stealth abilities remain untested, and only in a heavily contested environment could the F-35 really meet its match. In the past, F-35 pilots have complained that surface-to-air threats are not advanced enough to provide realistic training, and the Air Force has run short on adversary services to provide enough competition to really prove the F-35’s capabilities.

In the case of the S-300, experts have told Business Insider that it would take a stealth jet like the F-35 to safely take them out.

While the details remain sketchy and wholly unverifiable, Halper’s “test-bed” assertion has certainly been true of US-Israeli defense projects, like missile defenses, in the past. Rogoway also noted Israel’s history of rushing new platforms to the front lines as possible supporting evidence.

Borne the Battle: Army Veteran Wayne Hanson, Wreaths Across America
Could Israel have flown combat missions in the F-35 one month after receiving it? | U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw

On Wednesday night, Syria’s government again accused Israel of an airstrike near Damascus International airport.

Short of taking responsibility for the attack, Israeli officials said it was a strike on Hezbollah targets, which they support.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio: “I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran. Naturally, I don’t want to elaborate on this,” according to the BBC.

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