10 things to avoid saying to veterans - We Are The Mighty
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10 things to avoid saying to veterans

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century and America’s “forever wars” in the Middle East continue, it’s more important than ever to consider the plight of our veterans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were more than 18 million veterans in the United States in 2019. In Charles W. Hoge’s 2010 handbook Once a Warrior–Always a Warrior, the MD and retired Army Colonel writes: “Warriors and their family members are often surprised at how difficult the transition period is after coming back from a combat deployment. Many expect that they’ll need just a little time for things to go back to ‘normal,’ but find that ‘normal’ is elusive and time is relative.”

With that sensitivity in mind, here are some things to avoid saying to our brothers and sisters returned from the front line. Warriors recognize that most of these awkward overtures are well-meaning, but it’s worth developing a keener sense of empathy when relating to those who have served.

1. “Is it tough being away from your friends and family?”

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
Spc. Robert Costa, Human Resource Specialist of the 147th Human Resource Company, returned to his family and friends in Minnesota from a year long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

The answer to this question is usually contradictory. While being separated from loved ones can be challenging, warriors find new friendships and familial bonds in each other during deployments. 

2. “I would’ve joined, but…”

Projecting your own fantasy of the road not taken to a veteran only demonstrates self-centeredness, thwarting any meaningful connection. 

3. “How many people did you kill?”

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
A Green Beret assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) fires the M240B machine gun during a training exercise at Camp McGregor, New Mexico March 24, 2020. 

Asking this of someone who served might force them to relive a trauma they experienced – and the guilt, shame or rage associated with it. It’s a personal question that requires a great deal of trust. While some vets may be open to sharing this sensitive info with their closest friends or family, others prefer not to discuss it at all. Leave this one up to them.

4. “It must’ve been Hell over there.”

There’s an uncomfortable voyeurism to asking too many details of a veteran’s combat experience (unless that information is volunteered freely), but it’s also wrong to assume what the working environment was like for a soldier.

5. “My uncle or cousin was in this unit, did you know him?”

The U.S. Armed Forces are a humongous outfit. The Army’s 101st Airborne division alone has 18,000 soldiers. You probably don’t even remember everyone who went to your high school. Whoever said “there are no stupid questions” didn’t hear this one. 

6. “Do you have PTSD?”

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
Then 2nd Lt. Tom Blackburn sits in the turret of his tank while on a mission in Mosul, Iraq, in 2007. Blackburn’s deployment would leave many scars that he still deals with today.

Though we shouldn’t stigmatize mental disorders, it can be tough for those with PTS to talk about their experiences. As HelpGuide explains: “Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.”

7. “Did you lose any friends in combat?”

Trauma doesn’t only occur in those veterans who have taken lives, but from the survivors of combat as well. We should always tread lightly over these themes in conversation with warriors. 

8. “You must be happy to be home.”

The feelings of returning soldiers are often complicated. “Roughly two-thirds of all veterans (68%) say, in the first few years after leaving the military, they frequently felt proud of their military service.” It’s better to not risk patronizing a warrior by making broad assumptions.

9. “What do you think of the president?”

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One here at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Milwaukee, Feb. 16, 2021. Biden made his first official trip as president to tape a town hall meeting in Milwaukee. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Kellen Kroening)

This question puts veterans in a bind. They are required to respect the office and defend the Commander in Chief, but still do possess independent political views that fall anywhere across the spectrum. 

10. “I’m sorry you had to go through this.”

This is a condescending statement to make to anyone who has served, a sentiment expressed succinctly in a 2014 WSJ article: Treat Veterans With Respect, Not Pity.
For most of us, trying to connect with veterans comes from a good place. If you’re in doubt about what to say and what to avoid, here’s an easy rule: when in doubt, talk less and listen more. That’s the beginning of a real conversation.

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Lyrics you shouldn’t text your friends if you’re in the Air Force

The “Mileygate” witch hunts, the scandal over four instructor pilots and searches of their personal cell phones conducted with dubious legality, hit a new low. Despite no evidence of actual drug use, and each passing every drug test, three were stripped of their wings and given reprimands which will effectively end their careers. All because they were texting Miley Cyrus, JellyRoll, and other artists’ songs whose lyrics contain references to “molly,” slang for the club drug Ecstasy.


 

The text messages were originally found as the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) was looking into a case of an unprofessional relationship between another pilot and his student. One of the four pilots was ordered to give his cell phone up after being told OSI had a warrant for the phone, except the warrant was signed the day after the seizure. One pilot was refused a lawyer. Despite the ridiculous misunderstanding, the Air Force continued its persecution of the officers and is in full damage control mode. Lt. Col. Julie Huygen, chief of the military justice division, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, wants airmen to realize they are expected to abide by Air Force standards of professionalism at all times, even when they are off duty:

You must avoid offensive and/or inappropriate behavior on social networking platforms and through other forms of communication that could bring discredit upon on [sic] the Air Force or you as a member of the Air Force, or that would otherwise be harmful to good order and discipline, respect for authority, unit cohesion, morale, mission accomplishment, or the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.

With Lt. Col. Huygen’s warning in mind, WATM felt it necessary to help the Air Force bring you a few examples of other lyrics airmen should be careful of texting to their friends.

“She a hot tamale when she pop a molly, it’s time to party, we party hard/Drink and smoke it, drink and smoke it, drink and smoke it, we high for sure”

Try to remember you and your friends are airmen in the world’s greatest air force and not Chief Keef, 50 Cent, and Wiz Khalifa.

“How dare you bring another chick in my bed / You lucky I’m doing my yoga or you might be dead.”

This Miley Cyrus lyric is problematic at best, as adultery is punishable for military members under Article 134 of the UCMJ. Also, the military looks down upon threats of violence off the battlefield.

“I’m tryna give Halle Berry a baby and no one can stop me.”

Drake threatening to force a baby on Halle Berry is not only prejudicial to good order and discipline, it’s also punishable under Article 120 of the UCMJ.

“Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace, but I don’t give a f-ck, I ain’t no hippie.”

Miley strikes again.

“Loaded up the Smith with the hollow TIPS/It’s time to FLIP/And blast my way to the top ten LIST”

Big Pun can use hollow tip bullets, but under the Hague Convention of 1899, as a military member, you are forbidden.

“Put Molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.”

There’s so much wrong with this Rick Ross lyric, I don’t know where to begin. Mr. Ross, you need to attend SHARP training.

“A 50, 60 grand, prob’ a hundred grams though… I be smoking dope and you know Backwoods what I roll”

Fetty Wap can do a lot of things forbidden to U.S. military personnel.

“Let him hit it cause he slang cocaine/He toss my salad like his name Romaine”

Trading sexual favors for illegal drugs is forbidden under Article 112b and Articles 134-138 of the UCMJ. Even if it’s with Nicki Minaj.

“Coke on her back made a stripe like a zebra”

Kanye can say this because he’s not A1C West.

“MDMA got you feeling like a champion” Jay Z

“I’m used to Promethazine in two cups, I’m screwed up” – Lil Wayne

“Enough Oxycontin to send a f–king ox to rehab.” – Eminem

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 5 native tribes most feared by the US Army

Though they’re often overlooked by military historians – not Native historians, mind you – the Plains Wars of the post-Civil War era saw some of the most brutal fighting between the American government and the native tribes fighting for their way of life. Eventually, the U.S. government was determined to move the native people to reservations. Those who did not sell their land were moved by force.


The fighting on the Plains saw the Battle of Little Bighorn, the massacre at Wounded Knee, and the Sand Creek Massacre, just to name some of the bloodiest moments. The fighting West of the Mississippi claimed countless lives, not to mention the end of the traditional ways for many Native Americans. Still, some fought back, with varying degrees of success.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

Kiowa Warriors at Fort Sill, 1872.

Kiowa

An ally of the dreaded Comanche, the Kiowa were usually at war with anyone the Comanche went to war with, including the US Army. For 50 years, the Kiowa moved from the central United States westward to join the Comanche in raiding and trading from the American Southwest into Mexico, killing thousands. Even after most of the Kiowa moved to reservations in 1877, many warrior bands remained loose on the American frontier.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

A Cheyenne “Dog Soldier”

Cheyenne

As more settlers rushed to the Rocky Mountains area, the area began to fill up with heavily-armed militias who would raid neighboring Arapaho and Cheyenne tribal settlements. In response, the Cheyenne began to fight back, forming different kinds of warrior bands, including the now-famous Dog Soldiers – warriors who would hold their ground, no matter what came at them. The Dog Soldiers rallied Cheyenne and Arapaho tribesmen together to wreak havoc on the Colorado ranching industry.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

Sitting Bull, pictured, was one of the Sioux’s most famous leaders.

Sioux

The Sioux were not the first tribe to fight the U.S. government, and they weren’t the last, but they might be the most famous. The Sioux produced some of the most notable names and places in all the Indian Wars, including Little Bighorn, Custer’s Last Stand, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, to name a few.

When the Army came upon bands of Sioux warriors, they didn’t know if they would just be fighting the handful of warriors they saw or if another 5,000 to 7,000 were waiting somewhere they couldn’t see.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

Geronimo and three other Apache warriors.

Apache

If there’s one thing the Union and Confederate Armies could agree on, it was fighting the Apache tribes. In the early days of the Civil War, Confederate forces took on Apaches in the West before transferring to the actual Civil War they were needed to fight.

Clans of Apache rarely gathered in great numbers. They only did so in order to gather their forces to hit the U.S. Army in large formations. The US Army hated the Apaches so much, they would fight any sized organization they happened to come across, fearful of them massing numbers to form a war party. It took more than 20 years of concerted effort to end the Apache resistance.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

“Manifest Destiny? Never heard of her.”

Comanche

The Comanches not only stymied the Army’s effort to contain or destroy them, but they also took down other Native tribes, eradicating them or driving them out of their traditional lands. The reason the Spanish Empire stopped expanding northward was because they were stopped by Comanches. The Texan Republic stopped expanding westward because of Comanches. The United States frontier actually receded because of the Comanches.

By the end of the 1860s, the men who won the Civil War for the Union were now running the country and President Grant, Commander of the U.S. Army William Tecumseh Sherman, and Gen. Philip Sheridan were determined to end the Comanche threat, finally subduing them with overwhelming force in 1875.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The 5 best benefits of being an MP

It seems likes nobody (outside of cops themselves) likes cops. That sentiment translates to the military community as well and, speaking from personal experience, no one likes MPs but MPs.


Obviously, that isn’t completely true, but as a beret-wearing Security Forces member, it can feel that way more often than not. It’s not all hate and disdain, though.

Being a cop does have its perks and the distinction comes with a certain sense of pride. There are some things that are just plain ol’ cool about being a cop.

Related: 5 of the top excuses MPs hear during traffic stops

5. Cops look out for other cops

There’s a widespread belief that MPs will look the other way for other MPs in certain situations. Now, I am in no way saying that there should be unfair advantages given when it comes to the law. That being said, there is no denying that this practice exists in various ways.

MPs hold one another to a standard that is often a few pegs above the written, established standard. So, a lot of times the “looking out” comes in the form of keeping other MP to task and up to snuff when the human element rears its head. Sometimes, “looking out” means offering just a ride home — it depends on the variables.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
We always have one another’s back. (Photo by Suggest.com)

4. People want to be cool with you… when they don’t hate you

Everyone wants to be cool with MPs. It means they’ll probably get through the gate on personal recognition a little more frequently and, if they have an encounter with an MP, it’ll likely be pleasant.

This rapport is typically built through politeness, a few well-timed store runs, and some glazed pastries.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
Little Suzie knows what’s up! Befriend cops! (Photo by TMPA).

3. Face of the base

These days, we hear a lot of references to the ‘tip of the spear.‘ The expression is typically reserved for those special few among us who are truly and undeniably badass.

As a Military Policeman, not only are you the first face to greet every single visitor and vehicle to enter the base, you are, by definition, the tip of that extremely local spear. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but hey, that is a pretty big deal.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
That’s the smile waiting on you at the gate. (Photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart)

2. Rapid maturity

Having an authority that supersedes rank can be a lot to handle. With young MPs, you typically get one of two types:

Type A is someone who has walked with a big stick for most of their life and now they have some actual weight behind their actions. They are likely to push the limits of their authority a bit further than most until they learn better.

Type B is someone who is timid and unsure of how to impose their authority the right away. They’re more likely to tiptoe towards competence with fewer mistakes along the slower road.

Both of these guys are going to have to make their way through the gauntlet fast if they hope to survive through their enlistments.

Also Read: 5 of the sneakiest ways people try to fool the front gate MPs

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
Gotta grow up real fast, Billy. (Photo by Sleeptastic Solutions)

1. Blue bond

The fraternal bond that exists throughout the law enforcement career field is thick. The blue bond never wears off, not even after retirement.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
Thin Blue Line (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).

Articles

This is how the Alamo Scouts became the first Special Forces

General Walter Krueger needed the most up-to-date intelligence against a strong and lethal opponent. For the U.S. Army fighting the Japanese in WWII, good intel could avert a catastrophe and save thousands of lives. Given the nature of the war, it would be a dangerous job.


Krueger sought volunteers who would go deep behind enemy lines to get troop strengths, numbers, and unit types, as well as information about their locations and destinations.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
An Alamo Scout in camouflage training. (U.S. Army photo)

To be an Alamo Scout required problem-solving skills and quick-thinking. It demanded physical strength – not necessarily athleticism, but the ability to withstand the rigors of long marches and missions. And of course, it required observation skills, land navigation, and cover and concealment. Anyone who expressed a burning desire to “kill Japs” was turned away.

The Scouts’ rigorous training center at Kalo Kalo on Fergusson Island, New Guinea also served as a base of operations. After six weeks of intense training, 700 men dwindled down to 138, who formed 6- to 7-man fire teams. There were no prescribed uniforms and they didn’t pay much attention to rank.

 

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
General Douglas MacArthur meets representatives of different American Indian tribes in the Alamo Scouts, representing the Pima, Pawnee, Chitimacha, and Navajo. (U.S. Army photo)

What started as an elite recon mission soon became an intelligence asset that could coordinate large-scale guerrilla operations in the Philippines. Alamo Scouts could move 30 or 40 miles in a day with little rest or food.

Their first mission came in February 1944: to get intel on the Japanese on Los Negros in the Admiralty Islands. No one knew if there was a Japanese presence there; it was presumed to be evacuated. An Alamo Scout team was landed by a PBY Catalina. Once there, they had 48 hours before the 1st Cavalry Division landed.

Alamo Scouts came to within 15 feet of Japanese lines on Los Negros. Not only were the Japanese there, they were well-fed and well-armed–an estimated 5,000 troops remained in garrison. After a few close calls with unknowing Japanese fighters, the Scout teams were able to report enemy numbers to the invading forces, who successfully overtook the island.

 

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
The Alamo Scouts Team who infiltrated Los Negros (U.S. Army photo)

The invasions of Madang, Wewak, Sarmi, Biak, Noemfoor, Sansapor and Japen Island were all subsequently preceded by recon operations conducted by Scout teams. They also liberated 66 Dutch POWs from their prison camp on New Guinea.

Their most famous feat was their recon and support for the 6th Rangers during the raid on the Cabanatuan POW Camp in the Philippines in 1945. The two Army units, along with Filipino partisans, liberated 511 prisoners and captured 84 Japanese POWs.

To get the most accurate information, Alamo Scouts approached to within a hundred yards of the camp’s fence dressed as Filipino rice farmers. The recon operation was never discovered.

 

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
The Alamo Scouts after the raid on Cabanatuan. (U.S. Army photo)

Alamo Scouts were also to be used preceding the Allied invasion of the Japanese Home Islands, but the unconditional surrender of all Japanese forces in 1945 ended their reconnaissance mission. They were added to the occupation Army and then disbanded later that year.

 

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
(U.S. Army photo)

Over their careers, the Alamo Scouts performed 106 missions deep in enemy territory over 1,482 days of sustained combat. Not one was ever killed or captured, though two were wounded in the Cabanatuan Raid. In 1988, the Alamo Scouts were added to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces lineage and its veterans were acknowledged with the Special Forces tab.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Air Force will drop its high-energy laser weapons program

Imagine you’re in the Air Force, working the flightline during a war with China when, suddenly, a Chinese J-20 is seen nearby. It’s about to come rain death on your base and — most importantly — you. Luckily, the ground-based laser defenses zap it out of the sky before the dorm rats even get a chance to raid the Burger King.

The Air Force probably never saw its High-Energy Laser Flexible Prototype that way, but it’s definitely how it could have played out. But we’ll never know, because the lasers are gone for now.


10 things to avoid saying to veterans

Artist rendering of the High-Energy Laser Flexible Prototype in action.

The military isn’t giving up on lasers entirely, despite the recent cancellations of laser weapons systems by both the Air Force and Army. The Pentagon just isn’t sure where the focus of directed energy should be right now. The purpose of the original High-Energy Laser Flexible Prototype was to build a ground-based defense system, then scale it to individual aircraft defenses. The Air Force is no longer interested in that direction.

We’re trying to understand where we actually want to go,” Michael Jirjis, who oversees the Air Force strategic development, planning, and experimentation office’s directed-energy efforts, told Air Force magazine. “Internally to the Air Force, we’ll hold another DE summit sometime later in the spring to understand senior leader investment and where they want to go for the community at large.”
10 things to avoid saying to veterans

Firms like Lockheed-Martin are still developing laser defenses for tactical aircraft.

(Lockheed)

But developing lasers and microwave systems will continue, just not with the HEL, which would have been operational around March 2020 if everything went as planned. The scrapping of the program took little more than a month after requests for proposals were sent out.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How vets kicked out under DADT can upgrade their discharges

On Sept. 20, 2011, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed. The policy served as a sort of compromise between people who wanted to continue to ban gay men and women from serving in the military, which had been the case prior to 1993, and those who felt that Americans should be eligible to serve regardless of sexual orientation.

In other words, until Sept. 20, 2011, service members were punished and even discharged with prejudice for being gay or bisexual. Now, it’s time to restore their honor and give them the benefits they deserve. Here’s how:


82-Year-Old Gay Veteran Receives Honorable Discharge

www.youtube.com

There are several different types of discharges:

  • Honorable — For service members who meet or exceed the required standards of service. An honorable discharge comes with four major benefit programs, including disability compensation and medical care as well as pension programs and education.
  • General — For service members whose performance is satisfactory but is marked by a considerable departure in duty performance and conduct. A general discharge will also come with the benefit programs available to those honorably discharged.
  • Other Than Honorable — The most severe form of administrative discharge, representing a serious departure from the conduct and performance expected of military members. The majority of veterans’ benefits are not available to individuals who receive an Other Than Honorable discharge.
  • Bad Conduct — A punitive discharge that can only be given out by a court-martial. Virtually all veterans’ benefits are forfeited by a Bad Conduct Discharge.
  • Dishonorable — A punitive discharge handed out by a court-martial for the most reprehensible conduct, including sexual assault and murder.

Downgraded discharges not only result in the loss of benefits, they carry with them shame and stigma, as well.

As reported by The Bay Area Reporter, “Advocates for LGBT veterans estimate that roughly 114,000 U.S. service members were “involuntarily separated” from the military due to their sexual orientation between the end of World War II and the repeal in 2011 of the homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred LGBT people from serving openly in the military. While many of those veterans could likely qualify to correct or upgrade their discharges, just 8% had done so as of 2018, according to a report presented that April at a conference held at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.”

Vets can also receive help from non-profit organizations like Modern Military Association of America, dedicated to advancing fairness and equality for the LGBTQ military and veteran community, or Swords to Ploughshares, which provides assessment and case management, employment and training, housing, and legal assistance to veterans.

Veterans are being encouraged to upgrade their discharges to finally receive the benefits they deserve. Veterans can start by reading some of the literature shared by Swords to Ploughshares about what to expect from the process. They can reach out to a non-profit to ask for help and advocacy, or they can go directly to the Veterans Affairs website and apply for a Discharge Update.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Marines are cannibalizing Humvees for the JLTV

The High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle, best known as the Humvee, has been a mainstay of the United States Military for three decades, replacing the classic Jeeps. These vehicles are now giving way to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, which has some big shoes to fill.

However, the Humvee is likely going to help its successor along — by being a parts donor.


According to a release from Marine Corps Systems Command, Humvees will be capable of donating their gun turrets to JLTVs. This turret, known as the Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield, or MCTAGS, helps protect the folks manning the machine guns from enemy small-arms fire.

The MCTAGS entered service in 2005, replacing the older Gunner’s Protection Kit. One of the major advantages offered by MCTAGS is increased situational awareness for the gunners, enabling them to better see and more quickly target the enemy.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

The Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield has been used since 2005, but will continue on much longer thanks to a procedure that allows it to be transplanted on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

(BAE Systems)

Marines recently proved that the MCTAGS can be transplanted from a Humvee to a JLTV by carrying out a proof-of-principle operation, but it’s not the only piece being donated. The Improved TOW Gunner’s Protection Kit, or IT-GPK, is also fit for transfer, alongside radios and other communications gear.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will enter service in 2019.

(Oshkosh Defense)

Not only will this second-hand gear enhance the survivability of the JLTV by giving gunners better situational awareness, it’ll also help the Marines save a fair chunk of change. By using existing technology, the Marines will save on development and manufacturing costs. Additionally, many who will operate the JLTV have previous experience with the Humvee’s similar configuration, meaning there’ll be no additional training — another savings.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

A Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield being transplanted on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. This will save time and money for the Marine Corps, while increasing the combat capabilities of the JLTV.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Murphy)

Marines are currently carrying out the Operational Test and Evaluation process on the JLTV. The first units to get the JLTV will be the Marine Corps School of Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton, California; School of Infantry-East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; and Motor Transport Maintenance Instructional Company at Camp Johnson, North Carolina, which are scheduled to get the vehicles early next year.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea abruptly pulled out of DMZ liaison office

North Korea abruptly withdrew from a liaison office that allowed it to communicate with South Korea, marking a major setback to the ongoing peace talks between the historic rivals.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Pyongyang’s decision on March 22, 2019, citing “instructions from the superior authority” in the North, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

The two countries set up the joint office in Kaesong, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ), after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for the first time April 2018.


North Korea’s withdrawal comes shortly after the US imposed fresh sanctions on Chinese companies that allegedly helped North Korea evade international sanctions.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018.

International sanctions have proven to be a sore point for North Korea.

Talks between Kim and President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, abruptly broke down in February 2019 over disagreements over sanctions.

Trump said Kim had demanded a full relaxation of international sanctions on his country in exchange for only a few nuclear site closures.

But North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Pyongyang had only asked for a partial — not full — lifting of sanctions. Ri added that North Korea offered to dismantle its primary nuclear facility and to permanently halt the testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, but the US asked for more.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans

President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hanoi.

The North blames the South for strained relations with Trump

The site of the liaison office had been a symbol of the improving collaboration between the two Koreas, which technically remain at war.

North Korean media have been criticizing South Korea’s limited influence in improving US-North Korea relations since the failed Hanoi summit, NK News reported.

The state-run Meari news outlet said on March 22, 2019, according to NK News: “How can the South Korean authorities, which cannot do anything without the US’s approval and instruction, play the role of mediator and facilitator?”

Meari added that the Moon administration had not taken any “practical measures to fundamentally improve inter-Korean relations,” and is “walking on eggshells around its master, the US.”

Chad O’Carroll, the founder of NK News and chief executive of the Korea Risk Group, said that North Korea’s withdrawal also sent the message: “What’s the point of [inter-Korean] talks when sanctions prevent practical cooperation?”

‘Sad and unfortunate’

South Korea’s vice minister of unification, Chun Hae-sung, told reporters that the withdrawal was “sad and unfortunate,” and that Seoul will need time to figure out next steps, according to CNN.

“We regard such a withdrawal as very sad and unfortunate [and] we hope that the North will return shortly and hope that the liaison contact office will operate normally as soon as possible,” Chun said.

A statement by Seoul’s Unification Ministry also called the decision “regrettable,” but ensured that South Korea would continue staffing the office, the AP reported.

The two Koreas had been hoping to revive a joint industrial complex in Kaesong that combined the South’s capital and technical knowledge with the North’s cheap labor, the AP reported.

But a reopening would require the US to make exceptions on its stiff sanctions on Pyongyang because the factory is near the Korean DMZ.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Former director of CIA and NSA hospitalized after stroke

Michael Hayden, who previously served as CIA director and National Security Agency director, was hospitalized after suffering a stroke at his home late November 2018.

Hayden, 73, is “receiving expert medical care,” and his family has requested privacy, according to a Nov. 23, 2018 statement from the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University.

“The General and his family greatly appreciate the warm wishes and prayers of his friends, colleagues, and supporters,” the Hayden Center said.


Hayden achieved the rank of a four-star general in the US Air Force and went on to lead the NSA from 1999 to 2005 for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; he led the CIA from 2006 to 2009.

National security experts offered their messages of support.

“Michael Hayden is one of this country’s noblest patriots, dedicating his life to America’s national security,” former CIA director John Brennan said on Twitter. “A man of tremendous integrity, intellect, decency, he has been a role model for countless intelligence professionals over several decades. Speedy recovery, Mike.”

“On behalf of the men women of CIA, I want to wish Gen. Hayden a speedy recovery,” CIA director Gina Haspel said in a statement. “Mike’s long career of public service commitment to national security continue to be an inspiration to all intelligence officers. Our thoughts are with Mike, Jeanine, their family.”

Hayden, who regularly appears on CNN as a national security analyst, has become an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s administration. In August 2018, Trump was reportedly weighing the possibility of revoking Hayden’s security clearance in addition to other former White House and Justice Department senior officials who publicly criticized his policies.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

These pocket-sized drones could be a game changer on the battlefield

US soldiers have started receiving pocket-sized drones that could be a game changer for troops on the battlefield.

Soldiers with the 3 rd Brigade Combat Team, 82 ndAirborne Division recently got their hands on FLIR Black Hornet personal reconnaissance drones, a part of the Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor (SBS) Program.

These drones, which are small enough to be carried on a soldier’s person, allow troops to see the field of battle more clearly without putting themselves in harms way.


10 things to avoid saying to veterans

A soldier with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division trains with a personal drone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(US Army photo by Patrick Ferraris)

The personal reconnaissance system includes two drones, one for day and one for night, as well as a base station, which connects to a handheld controller and a display.

These drones are small — only about 6 inches in length — and extremely lightweight, making it possible for soldiers to carry these tiny unmanned aerial vehicles on a utility belt.

Able to fly out to roughly one and a half miles, these little drones allow soldiers to assess the situation beyond them without abandoning their cover.

This technology, according to the Army’s PEO Soldier, “mitigates future losses of life and injuries by having a drone complete dangerous work that combat soldiers would usually perform on their own,” such as sending out a fire team to gather intel and conduct field reconnaissance.

One of the engineers involved in the project likened the new drones to flying binoculars that allow soldiers to see their surroundings like never before.

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A personal reconnaissance drone flies in the sky at Ft. Bragg.

(US Army Photo by Patrick Ferraris)

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division will take these drones with them on their upcoming deployment, which will be the first time these UAVs will be deployed at the squad level.

Soldiers trained for a week at Fort Bragg in North Carolina with the new drones, getting a feel for the possibilities provided by this technology.

“This system is something new that not a lot of Soldiers have touched or even seen before, so it’s cool to test it out and push it to its limits before we take it with us on our deployment,” Army Sgt. Dalton Kruse, one of the operators, said in a statement.

He further commented that most of the operators who were trained on this new system had never flown a drone before, but they were able to adapt to the technology quickly.

“It was easy to pick up and fly, very user-friendly, and I can already tell that this system will benefit my unit downrange,” Kruse explained.

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A soldier with the 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division gets his turn during the recent fielding at Fort Bragg.

(US Army Photo by Patrick Ferraris)

This is life-saving technology that helps reduce the risk soldiers face on the battlefield.

“This kind of technology will be a life-saver for us because it takes us out of harm’s way while enhancing our ability to execute whatever combat mission we’re on,” Sgt. Ryan Subers, another operator, said in a statement.

The Army plans to eventually equip every squad with its own personal reconnaissance drone.

“It is the start of an era where every squad will have vision beyond their line of sight,” Nathan Heslink, the Assistant Program Manager for SBS with PEO Soldier, explained. “This allows soldiers to detect threats earlier than ever, meaning it is more likely Soldiers won’t be harmed during their missions.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Yes, Big Brother IS watching: Russian schools getting surveillance systems called ‘Orwell’

MOSCOW — You might think governments seeking digital oversight of their citizens would avoid invoking the author who coined the phrase “Big Brother is watching you” and implanted the nightmare of total state surveillance in the imaginations of millions of readers.

Think again, because Russian officials appear to disagree.

According to the business daily Vedomosti, contracts exceeding 2 billion rubles ($29 million) have been signed for the procurement and installation in schools across Russia of surveillance cameras linked to a system that has facial-recognition capability and is called Orwell, after the British author of dystopian novels 1984 and Animal Farm.


The company tasked with executing the project on behalf of regional governments is the National Center of Informatization (NCI), a subsidiary of state defense and technology conglomerate Rostec, Vedomosti reported on June 15.

The video surveillance systems have been delivered to 1,608 schools across Russia, an unnamed representative of the company told the newspaper, adding that the equipment was intended to keep tabs on students’ comings and goings and identify strangers who attempt to enter school grounds, among other things.

Elvis-Neotech, a subsidiary of state nanotechnology company Rosnano, is responsible for preparing the systems for sale, according to Yevgeny Lapshev, a representative of that company. Lapshev told Vedomosti that the Orwell system will become a security feature in all of Russia’s schools in the coming years — more than 43,000 in all.

On June 16, the media outlet RBK cited an anonymous NCI representative who disputed aspects of the Vedomosti report, saying that the company had not signed contracts for the delivery of video equipment to 43,000 schools.

The representative told RBK that NCI had taken part in a pilot program to equip 1,600 Russian schools with video surveillance systems that were not equipped with facial recognition, and that a decision on expanding the program to all Russian schools was yet to be made.

‘Total Surveillance’

The reported plans come after a rise in recent years in violent incidents at Russian schools, including a spate of stabbings in late 2017 and early 2018 that prompted renewed calls from lawmakers for increased security measures and strict monitoring of visitors.

“The requirements for training and certifying employees of private security organizations, especially those guarding schools and kindergartens, must be as strict as possible,” Vasily Piskarev, chairman of parliament’s Committee on Security and Corruption Control, said after a knife incident in October 2019.

But amid the push to expand monitoring capabilities and beef up security at schools, rights activists in Russia are warning that facial recognition and other surveillance technologies are being used much more widely and with minimal oversight, leading to a curtailment of freedom of speech and movement and ultimately toward a loss of data privacy.

Since March, when Russia’s coronavirus epidemic began, the authorities have used facial-recognition technology to identify and fine quarantine violators, deploying — in Moscow alone — a network of over 100,000 cameras that link to a central database accessible to thousands of law enforcement officials at any time.

In addition, a range of smartphone apps and digital passes unveiled since March — some of which remain mandatory for people with COVID-19 symptoms despite the lifting on June 9 of many lockdown restrictions — have prompted fears among data-privacy campaigners that those and other new digital tools may integrate into a ratcheted-up, post-pandemic surveillance apparatus.

Alyona Popova, an activist who launched a lawsuit in October 2019 against Moscow’s use of facial-recognition cameras, warned that “under the guise of fighting the coronavirus,” officials are working to implement “total surveillance.”

Last fall, Russia’s Education Ministry clarified the criteria under which facial recognition could be used in schools. All parties, including school employees and the parents of students, would have to give permission, the newspaper Izvestia quoted an official as saying.

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

Articles

North Korea just tried to show how it would ‘take on’ the US Navy

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system on June 8 in Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast. And though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was a pretty weak showing.


The missiles flew about 125 miles, South Korea said, and fired from tracked launchers with forest camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but they showed off a new launcher that can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of being set up.

But those are about the only nice things you could say about these missiles.

In the photos released by North Korean media, it’s clear the missiles are striking a ship that isn’t moving.

10 things to avoid saying to veterans
The ship appears anchored, with no wake. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.

North Korea also lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.

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Photo by Rodong Sinmun

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.

Unlike its practice with ballistic-missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.

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Photo by Rodong Sinmun

But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.

In a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that has surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a threat to the US Navy, Kim showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.

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