Marines Take Out Taliban Kingpin Responsible for Killing, Maiming Troops

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Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, board a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162, prior to conducting a night raid operation during Realistic Urban Training at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, August 25, 2017.

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 Marines Take Out Taliban Kingpin Responsible for Killing, Maiming Troops

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HOPE HODGE SECK, MILITARY.COM

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This article by Hope Hodge Seck originally appeared on Military.com, the premier source of information for the military and veteran community.

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A Taliban shadow governor who had planned and executed improvised explosive device attacks on Marines and Afghan soldiers for well over a decade was killed in a precision airstrike just days before Christmas, Marines here told Military.com.

Task Force Southwest, the 300-Marine element that deployed to Helmand province as an advisory force for the Afghan National Defense Forces in April, does most of its work from inside the wire, supporting the local troops who patrol and launch ground attacks. But this recent strike on local Taliban mastermind Qari Fida Mohammad illustrates the impact Marines continue to have on the active fight.

Mohammad, longtime shadow governor of the restive Helmand district of Marjah, was killed Dec. 20, task force spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz said.

Standing inside the unit’s operations center, where 11 large flat screens featured detailed live drone footage from around Helmand province, Capt. Brian Hubert explained how the strike happened.

“Through the work of the intelligence sections as well as the operations in here, and coordination with the Afghans as well, we were able to conduct a strike on him a few days ago,” said Hubert, battle captain for Task Force Southwest. “Basically, we’re very familiar with the battlespace now. So when we see the leaders we know are important there, we can kind of do a bead on them.”

The unit started tracking Mohammad with its eyes in the sky. When he was well positioned as a target, the Marines called in two Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons to execute the strike.

“He was in a vehicle traveling with deputies, bodyguards, and a cousin of his, who was also a sub-commander,” Hubert said. “We took the shot successfully, and [he was] dead on the spot, which was huge.”

Mohammad, who was based in the Taliban hotbed of Marjah, but operated throughout Helmand province, had been well-known to the Marines for years.

Col. Matthew Reid, deputy commander of the task force, told Military.com he had known about Mohammad in 2010, when he deployed to Helmand for active combat operations.

“We’re still not really fully aware of the exact ramifications of taking him out,” Reid said. “It was a pretty big takedown, so we’re pretty happy about it. He was behind a lot of attacks against Marines back in the day — really high profile attacks.”

Hubert said the task force was now tracking the impact of Mohammad’s elimination. Ahead of the strike, he said, Marines had watched via drone footage as local civilians took to their homes, fearful of being blamed and facing violent reprisal if any attack were launched on the shadow governor. Now, he said, newly leaderless Taliban fighters in southern Marjah are acting disorganized and confused, without orders to carry out.

“Supposedly, [Mohammad] also had a lot of intimidation where he killed full families; he was absolutely just a Mafia-style Taliban leader in that area,” Hubert said, adding that he regularly demanded ‘taxes’ from local civilians by force. “Taking him out … hopefully provides the residents of Marjah and the southern end a little bit of a ‘hey, maybe it’s a turn.’”

For the Marines, Marjah is a region full of history. It’s the site of some of the service’s most hard-fought battles in Helmand. Some 50 American troops died in the 2010 joint siege on Marjah, known as Operation Moshtarak. When Marines departed Afghanistan in 2014, Marjah was considered relatively stable; but by 2016 it had fallen back under Taliban control.

Marines are now working to empower Afghan troops from the local 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army to hold the line. When the small task force arrived, the provincial capital city of Lashkar Gah was on the verge of being overtaken by the Taliban, Marines said. Now, with support from the Task Force, the soldiers have restored stability to the town and are beginning to move offensively against the Taliban.

In a shura with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller on Dec. 23, Helmand provincial governor Hayatullah Hayat said Afghan troops continue to take daily casualties in the fight.

But task force personnel continue to exact a daily toll against the Taliban as well. On a December visit to the operations center, a dark plume of smoke rose from a road on one of the screens — evidence of a precision strike carried out only minutes before.

From the screens, Hubert said, Marines had watched a pair of Taliban fighters carrying weapons dig a hole in a road south of the Marjah district center, intending to emplace IEDs ahead of a trip Afghan National Security Forces intended to make to the center.

Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucanos were in the air at the time, and Marines reached out and shared what they were seeing, offering them the opportunity to take out the fighters.

“They couldn’t quite get it, so we stepped in,” Hubert said. “We took the shot with F-16s and killed the two enemy. So now, they’re free to move toward the Marjah district center unimpeded by any kind of enemy contact right now.”

The process of identifying targets and executing strikes is a collaborative one, Hubert explained. Often the Marines will share what they’re seeing and make recommendations to the Afghan troops about how to respond, but leave the decision-making to them. The Afghan troops also play a significant role in the intelligence-gathering: in addition to ground reports, they maintain their own ScanEagle drone, its footage featured on one of the screens at the operations center.

As one target smoldered on the screen, Marines were tracking another: two men traveling up a road, south of friendly forces, one carrying a weapon on his back, concealed by clothing.

“We can see [the weapon] by the shape and size of what it looks like, then we’ll see him take it out,” Hubert explained.

In the course of several hours that morning, the Marines would coordinate the elimination of a half-dozen Taliban fighters.

The recent strike against Mohammad, and the daily strikes on Taliban targets, illustrate the intensity of the fight the Marines are still waging, albeit from a greater distance than they were during active combat in support of Operation Enduring Freedom four years ago.

“I know we want to bring in governance, and I know we want institutional fixes. But right now, this is a fight,” said Reid, the task force deputy commander. “And as Marines, when we’re fighting, we’re going to kill the enemy, and we’re going to kill as many as we can.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com.

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A Marine Super Cobra Landed On A Baseball Field So The Pilot Could Pick Up His Phone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TASK AND PURPOSE MAGAZINE)

 

Hmm, a 30 minute drive you say? Nah, I've got a faster ride. Just don't tell the CO.

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A Marine Super Cobra Landed On A Baseball Field So The Pilot Could Pick Up His Phone

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“Gear accountability” is a long-standing maxim in the military, and it was probably on the mind of one Marine attack-helicopter pilot when he made an unorthodox landing on Nov. 18 in a public park on Mount Desert Island, Maine, to pick up his lost cellphone.

Jess Witherell, a server at The Thirsty Whale pub, located in the town of Bar Harbor, on the northern side of the island, received an unusual phone call from Hancock Airport in nearby Trenton, according to the Mount Desert Islander. After a group of Marines visited the restaurant for lunch earlier in the day, one of then apparently misplaced their cell phone —  and the caller was wondering if a pub employee could pop on over to the nearest stretch of green to drop it off.

When Witherell asked if the Marine would be walking or driving, the caller responded: “We’re landing a helicopter at the ball field.”

For most folks, that’d probably raise some eyebrows, but the staff figured that the helicopter crewman who lost the phone belonged to LifeFlight, an air ambulance service used by the island for evacuations in the case of medical emergencies, according to the Mount Desert Islander. But when pub dishwasher Bryce Lambert arrived at the field, there wasn’t an air ambulance waiting for him, but a AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter with a UH-1Y Venom circling overhead.

One of the pilots ran from the helo, met up with Lambert and, in exchange for his phone, “pulled the [velcro] patch off of his jacket and handed it [over]” to say thanks, Lambert told the Islander.

RELATED: MISCHIEVOUS NAVY PILOT IN HOT WATER FOR DRAWING ENORMOUS PENIS IN THE SKY »

The impromptu landing, while likely entertaining to many, is currently under investigation by the Marine Corps. The aviators belonged to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, a New Orleans-based reserve unit, and were in the area for a training exercise, according to Maj. Andrew Aranda, a spokesman with Marine Corps Forces Reserve Public Affairs.

“Marine Aviators are required to follow strict Federal and Department of Defense aviation procedures so this event is being looked into seriously,” 2nd Lt. Stephanie L. Leguizamon, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Forces Reserve, told Task & Purpose.

That said, an unexpected trip to a baseball field in an attack helicopter is probably less of a nightmare for a unit commander than having to explain why there’s a phallus-shaped smoke trail in the sky. As for why the aviators decided not to drive? The airport is a half hour’s journey to The Thirsty Whale, Popular Mechanics reports. But by helo, that’s just a few minutes. Maybe instead of a Super Cobra, they should call it an Uber Cobra.

UPDATE: This article has been updated with additional information from Marine Corps Forces Reserve Public Affairs. (11/21/2017; 4:43 p.m. EST)

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The Islamic Ambush That is Awaiting The American People

via The Islamic ambush awaiting us

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRITTUS BLOG SITE)

Almost 50 years ago, a young Marine lieutenant led a combat patrol through a village in Vietnam. Having witnessed numerous patrols of this sort before, villagers continued about their daily routine.

After hearing a village elder say something to a fellow villager, the lieutenant immediately stopped his men. With new orders issued and weapons at the ready, the patrol quietly advanced, ultimately surprising an enemy force just outside the village that had been waiting to spring an ambush on the Marines.

The lieutenant never knew if the elder had intentionally tipped him off or simply did not know he spoke Vietnamese, overhearing an ambush lay ahead. Being able to speak the local language fortuitously saved American lives.

This story holds a lesson we need heed in view of a meeting President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, just held with his staff.

McMaster informed his people that linking terrorism to radical Islam – a message Trump conveyed during his presidential campaign, in his inaugural speech and ever since then – is not helpful, as such terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

An Iraq war veteran and student of history, McMaster is apparently taking a stand – similar to that espoused by former President Obama – not to suggest Islam itself is violent but that extremists have hijacked Islam, giving it a violent interpretation.

It will be interesting to see how this interpretation plays out with Trump and whether he decides to throttle back on his own assertion about Islam or has McMaster throttle back on his. In his Feb. 28 speech to Congress, Trump did not back off from linking terrorism to radical Islam. As to whom, between these two, has the better grasp on the religion, another story need be told.

To protect his identity, an Arabic translator working in a refugee center in Germany, dealing with hundreds of Muslim migrants daily, will be referred to as “X.” A secret X has kept from all who reside at the center is that he is a Christian. Revealing this at the center would be a death sentence for him.

Speaking the language, X understands exactly what refugees think about non-Muslims who have opened up their hearts to them: They seek to carve those hearts out!

X attests it is frightening to hear what is said within these centers. Having escaped death in their native lands, having been given food and shelter in a non-Muslim land, having been given access to welfare programs to help them get on their feet, these Muslim refugees are not appreciative. What Germans do for the refugees is expected of them in recognition of Islam’s religious superiority.

But, most frighteningly, while accepting Western generosity, these refugees conspire eventually to relieve their hosts of their lives and property. These refugee centers are transitioning into dens of iniquity.

A group known as “Open Doors Germany” is documenting how this mindset thrives among Muslim refugees. Refugees attend mosques where clerics deliver hate-filled sermons against all non-Muslims, including their German hosts.

This leads to the persecution of Christians at the refugee centers. Christian refugees in Rotenburg who dared attend a church service, returned to the center to find threatening graffiti on the walls of their room reading, “Cut the Christians’ heads off!”

Such threats have not lain idle. Christians find it difficult to sleep in the centers, knowing someone in the next room believes his faith mandates he kill them. Hundreds of attacks are recorded. Open Doors revealed how there have been “assaults, stabbings, life-threatening situations … (with) some refugees end(ing) up in the hospital.”

Muslims admonish Christian refugees as “unclean.” Males assert their right under Islam to rape Christian women. As Germany and many other European countries have borne witness, Muslim males believe this right extends to native Christian women as well. This is evidenced today by rape epidemics in many of these Western countries.

We are foolish not to accept the fact mosques, whether in Muslim-majority countries or not, feed Islam’s followers with hate messages for non-Muslims. So fed, some opt to radicalize and act on them; some do not. But we need understand terrorism emanates from such hate speech against non-Muslims. Because Islam’s foundation is built upon this hatred, it is not extremists who have hijacked Islam to give it a violent interpretation; it is moderates who have hijacked Islam to give it a non-violent one.

Interestingly, several Muslim countries recognize that a link does exist between Islam and terrorism and, therefore, refuse to accept Muslim refugees.

This brings us back to McMaster’s instruction to his staff not to couch terrorism in terms of radical Islam and the Marine lieutenant who led his patrol in Vietnam.

McMaster’s guidance to his staff seems to stem from concerns non-radical Muslims, offended by our linking terrorism to Islam, might become radicalized. What he dismisses by doing so, however, is that Muslims are already fully indoctrinated by their clerics and the Quran to hate non-Muslims. Such indoctrination leaves us not knowing whom among them might opt for radicalization. But the possibility Muslims so programmed with a hateful ideology might be motivated to act radically imposes a duty upon our leaders to forewarn us of the danger that an ambush may lay ahead.

If the lieutenant leading his patrol in Vietnam had not understood the language, he would have led his patrol into an ambush. Few Americans understand Arabic and, thus, what clerics teach in their mosques or Muslim refugees discuss in their centers. Efforts by Open Doors to reveal this is critical to avoid the ambush Islam plots for non-Muslims and which it hopes, through our continuing ignorance, we not know lies ahead.

We are way past the time our leaders need worry honestly about Islam’s hatred and intolerance for us might possibly radicalize Muslims to undertake acts of terrorism. That seed has already been implanted by Islam’s clerics into their followers’ collective psyche. It is time our leaders now be honest with us, educating the American people and acknowledging that Islam, indeed, promotes terrorism.

Copyright 2017 WND

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/the-islamic-ambush-awaiting-us/#fWvu9iPoPH60audC.99

John Glenn: A True American Hero: Astronaut, Senator, Dies At 95

 

How John Glenn Became an Astronaut, as Told in 1962

March 2, 1962
Cover Credit: BORIS ARTZYBASHEFFThe March 2, 1962, cover of TIME 
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

The history-making pilot, astronaut and Senator has died at 95

Astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth and the third in space, died Thursday. A former U.S. Senator from Ohio, he was 95.

Glenn landed on the cover of the March 2, 1962, issue of TIME after circling the globe three times in 4 hours and 56 minutes—at speeds of more than 17,000 mph—on Feb. 20, 1962.

The achievement came 10 months after Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space and made one full orbit around Earth (April 12, 1961) and nine months after Alan Shepard became the first American in space (May 5, 1961), followed by Gus Grissom (July 21, 1961). Thus, his mission was a critical step in the American mission to win the Cold War in space by fulfilling President John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s commitment to “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

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TIME launched its profile of Glenn by pointing out that the grandeur of the undertaking was quite matched by the affect of the man: “In his flight across the heavens, John Glenn was a latter-day Apollo, flashing through the unknown, sending his cool observations and random comments to the earth in radio thunderbolts, acting as though orbiting the earth were his everyday occupation. Back on earth, Glenn seemed to be quite a different fellow—an enormously appealing man, to be sure, but as normal as blueberry pie.”

The Ohio native’s life had indeed started out in complete normalcy: he spent his time playing football and basketball, and reading Buck Rogers. He later joined the Marine Corps, becoming a decorated test pilot and a combat flyer, earning the rank of colonel. (Ted Williams, the legendary Red Sox left fielder who was also a Marine pilot, told TIME, “The man is crazy,” referring to the way he apparently liked to show off his flying skill in dangerous stunts.) But, though his achievements as a pilot were notable, as a career it was still within the range of ordinary.

So how did he get to be an astronaut? TIME explained:

Early in his career, Glenn developed the art of “sniveling.” Explains Marine Lieut. Colonel Richard Rainforth, who flew beside Glenn in both World War II and Korea: “Sniveling, among pilots, means to work yourself into a program, whether it happens to be your job or not. Sniveling is perfectly legitimate, and Johnny is a great hand at it.” In 1957 Glenn sniveled the Marines into letting him try to beat the speed of sound from coast to coast. Flying an F8U, Glenn failed by nine minutes, but he did knock 23 1/2 min. off the coast-to-coast speed record by covering the distance in 3 hr. 23 min. at an average speed of 726 m.p.h.

Then, in 1959, Glenn resolutely set out to snivel his way into the toughest program of all: Project Mercury. He started with two handicaps: he lacked a college degree, and, at 37, he was considered to be an old man. But Glenn managed to get permission to go along as an “observer” with one prime candidate of the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics. When the candidate failed an early test, recalls Rainforth, “Johnny stepped up, chest high, and offered himself as a candidate. They took him.”

…Candidate Glenn and 510 others were run through a wringer of mental and physical tests. Doctors charted their brain waves, skewered their hands with electrodes to pick up the electrical impulses that would tell how quickly their muscles responded to nerve stimulation. Glenn held up tenaciously under tests of heat and vibration, did especially well with problems of logical reasoning. Says Dr. Stanley White, a Project Mercury physician: “Glenn is a guy who lives by facts.”

To the surprise of no one who ever knew him, Glenn was one of the seven former test pilots who were picked to become the nation’s first astronauts.

In terms of what it felt like to be in space, he reported “no ill effects at all” from zero gravity and described weightlessness as “something you could get addicted to.” It was also “hot” inside the Friendship 7 capsule at times; at one point, the temperature hit 108º in the cabin. He saw four “beautiful” sunsets and said nightfall in space is akin to nightfall in the desert “on a very clear, brilliant night when there’s no moon and the stars just seem to jump out at you.”

While TIME declared, “Not since Lindy had the U.S. had such a hero”—referring to Charles Lindbergh, who accomplished the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean—Glenn tried to emphasize at a press conference following his splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean that spaceflight still had a long way to go: “If you think of the enormity of space, it makes our efforts seem puny. But these are all step-by-step functions we go through. The manned flights we’ve had to date have added information. This flight, I hope, added a bit more. And there are more to come.”

Read the full cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Spaceman Glenn

Former Iranian Hostages Should Not Be Compensated With American Tax Dollars

 

For those of us who are old enough to remember the Iranian hostage debacle where the American embassy in Tehran was over ran by ‘students’  loyal to the new Islamic Revolutionary government in the fall of 1979 was the beginning of the end for one Demon and the rise of the Devil who took his place. Now our President with the stroke of his pen has brought this event back into the news concerning payments to all the former hostages and their families is just another slap in the face of the American tax payers. For those of you who are too young to remember this event that lasted 440 days, ending the day Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush was sworn into office (January 20th, 1981) you need to crack open the history books and enlarge your knowledge of this event. This was a major black eye to all Americans and it did hasten the downfall of President Jimmy Carter as our President.

 

I do not blame the people of Iran for being livid with the American government for their (our) backing of their Dictator the Shaw of Iran. This monster murdered thousands of his own countrymen and imprisoned and tortured many thousands more. Our government had a long track record of backing people like him and Saddam as long as our government got things like a listening post, Airfields or Bases that we could have access to we turned a blind eye to the murders and torturing of the citizens. Plus the fact that this gave our military industries here in America extra customers that was worth many billions of dollars to their stock holders and did help create and keep thousands of Americans employed in well paying jobs. We had no moral high ground when it came to propping up these blood thirsty foreign leaders, it is/was no wonder that the people of Iran hated our country. But there again is the issue of reality, we the people didn’t know what was going on in Iran, but our governments security agencies did know and they still gave the Shaw the weapons to kill his own people with. It is quite stupid to believe that a countries people (here in America) should be held at charge for what they had no knowledge of yet we do teach that a person or people are (guilty by association). When a government is evil (aren’t they all) it is easy to paint the citizens of that country with the same brush their leaders are painted with. This is ignorant yet we humans do still make this mistake often in our everyday laws.

 

When a person takes a job with the government and you are assigned to one of our embassies you know very well that you just became a target for those who hate your flag and that your position comes with dangers. The people working at the Tehran embassy knew their lives could be in danger for working there yet they accepted the jobs they had and the pay checks and benefit packages that came with their position. Then there is the matter of the Marines who were guards there at that time, they darn sure knew the dangers of that job before they ever stepped foot into the compound. What I am saying is that what happened back then was part of the job that they all knew could happen, or even worse, do you remember Benghazi Libya a couple of years ago?

 

Buried deep in the federal spending bill that President Obama signed this past week is an allocation of money to be given to those 53 former hostages (only 36 are still alive) and their families. I hate what those people had to go through at the hands of those so called students but you and I should not have to pay each of them 4.4 million dollars as compensation plus $600,000 to each of their surviving spouses and grown kids (97) of them. If anyone should have to pay this bonus to these people it should be the then Vice President in waiting George H. W. Bush and his estate. Why should he have to pay this money? My answer to that is simple, Mr Bush (study your history) who coined the phony phrase “America doesn’t negotiate with terrorist” cut a deal with the government of Iran to keep those Americans as hostages until he and Mr Reagan took office. We (American government) gave the Iranian government missiles and other weapons to keep our people as hostages because he (Mr Bush) did not want the Carter Administration getting the credit for their release. In my opinion, Mr. Bush’s actions were criminal as well as treasonous just as his Iran Contra actions a couple of years later where we sold weapons to Iran for the cash to support our illegal (Congress said so) attempt to over through the government in Nicaragua. Now do you see why I believe that if anyone should have to put money out of pocket to cover these ‘bonuses’ it should be the Bush estate not the American people. Mr. Bush also signed off the hostages ‘right’ to sue the Iranian government for their country’s actions, nice caring ‘leader’ huh?

 

I am going to end this article with some numbers for you to digest. To the former hostages themselves we the tax payers are paying those 53 people a total of $233,200,000.00 plus the $600,000.00 to another 97 spouses and children totaling $58,200,000.00. Folks that is a total of $291,400,000.00 that you and I have to cough up in order to pay this bill. I as a person like seeing these people getting this life altering amount of cash, good for them, their children, and their grandchildren but you and I should not have to pay this bill. These poor souls suffered a lot during their time of being kidnapped by this Demonic Iranian horde but the fact still remains that they received their pay checks while in the employment of the American government during and after this event. Mr Bush being he is the one that negotiated with these terrorists I believe if anyone should have to cough up that money it should be the Bush family, not we the people.

 

 

Damien Parrott

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