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- 05/25/16--11:21: _B-52s perform show ...
- 05/25/16--11:47: _Ukraine may have ju...
- 05/25/16--13:50: _A Fort Hood soldier...
- 05/26/16--06:41: _The future of warfa...
- 05/26/16--09:18: _2 US Navy F/A-18s h...
- 05/26/16--09:32: _The US may restart ...
- 05/26/16--12:05: _US nuclear-launch c...
- 05/27/16--06:00: _24 heartwarming pho...
- 05/27/16--06:50: _Here are the Russia...
- 05/27/16--07:20: _North Korea threate...
- 05/27/16--08:22: _KRAUTHAMMER: 'Obama...
- 05/27/16--12:56: _The legendary B-52 ...
- 05/28/16--06:00: _24 military movies ...
- 05/28/16--06:27: _Humanity's most anc...
- 05/30/16--09:18: _Photo essay: 'When ...
- 05/30/16--10:12: _This political cart...
- 05/30/16--11:35: _Looks like Boeing w...
- 05/30/16--13:18: _One of the biggest ...
- 05/31/16--07:18: _This folding machin...
- 05/31/16--11:59: _China is preparing ...
- 05/25/16--11:47: Ukraine may have just found their Nelson Mandela
- 05/26/16--06:41: The future of warfare is coming, and it's bringing lasers
- 05/26/16--09:18: 2 US Navy F/A-18s have collided off the coast of North Carolina
- 05/26/16--12:05: US nuclear-launch capabilities still run from floppy disks
- 05/27/16--08:22: KRAUTHAMMER: 'Obama's naive idealism has caused havoc'
- 05/27/16--12:56: The legendary B-52 is about to get a lot more lethal
- 05/28/16--06:00: 24 military movies to watch over Memorial Day weekend
- 05/31/16--07:18: This folding machine gun hides in plain sight
- 05/31/16--11:59: China is preparing to 'pressure' the US on maritime issues
On May 24, two B-52 Stratofortress bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted a 35-hour, 14,000-mile round-trip mission to Jordan, to perform a show of force alongside the partner Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) in Exercise Eager Lion 2016.
As happened last year, during the nonstop mission (that included four aerial refueling operations) the B-52s conducted air intercept training with Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s and executed a live conventional weapons demonstration directed jointly by JAF and U.S. JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).
“Executing these global bomber training missions supports successful integration into geographic combatant command and multinational operations, such as the current B-52 deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander in a release. Indeed, the B-52s are currently deployed to the CENTCOM area or responsibility taking part in the air war against Daesh from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar.
USSTRATCOM’s bomber force regularly conducts theater security operations with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to launch and manage global strike missions anywhere.
The Buff’s participation in Eager Lion 2016 follows the deployment of B-52s to Morón Air Base, Spain, in February and March, to take part in Norwegian Exercise Cold Response and French Exercise Serpentex, as well as the deployment of B-2 Spirits to the Indo-Asia-Pacific in March.
Additionally, in April a B-52 flew a sortie to France to integrate with the French Air Force, and a B-52 also flew to South America to train with the Colombian air force.
Exercise “Eager Lion” is a recurring multinational exercise designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability between partner nations, and enhance regional security and stability.
Eager Lion 16 marks the second consecutive year of the integration of +50 years old heavy bomber into the exercise.
So after holding her in captivity for 708 days, the Kremlin has finally released its most famous hostage.
And as a result, Ukraine might have gained something it has long lacked -- and badly needs: a political figure with clear and unambiguous moral authority; someone unsullied by the past and uncompromised by the corruption of the current elite; someone who took herself to the brink of death for the sake of Ukraine and who flipped the bird at Vladimir Putin's kangaroo court.
Nadia Sacvhenko could -- and I stress could -- just turn out to be Ukraine's Vaclav Havel; or its Lech Walesa; or its Nelson Mandela.
She returns home a hero at a time when Ukrainians are deeply disillusioned with their post-Euromaidan leaders, frustrated by the slow pace of reform, and angry about the persistent stalling in the battle against corruption.
Ukraine's vibrant civil society has long been light years ahead of its political class -- even its pro-Western political class -- something that has become increasingly visible over the past two years.
As somebody who has suffered and persevered for the sake of their goals, Savchenko could now become a powerful lodestone for Ukraine's frustrated reformers.
She will also pose a moral challenge to the political elite -- from President Petro Poroshenko on down -- to live up to the promise of the Euromaidan revolution.
And she has a platform.
While in Russian captivity, Savchenko was elected to the Ukrainian parliament and is also a member of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.
Russian officials are clearly aware of -- and nervous about -- Savchenko's potential.
Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko accused the Ukrainian authorities of conducting "a campaign to present Savchenko as a national hero."
But at the same time, speculation is rampant that Moscow also hopes to benefit from releasing her.
Savchenko's release comes just days after Vladimir Putin held a conference call with Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande -- and just weeks before European leaders decide whether to extend sanctions against Russia.
Savchenko was just the most high-profile example of Moscow's recent habit of hostage taking, of snatching foreign citizens from their homelands and forcing them to endure ridiculous show trials in Russia.
It also includes dozens of Ukrainians Kyiv says are being illegally imprisoned in Russia -- many of them residents of the forcefully annexed Crimean Peninsula who have remained loyal to Kyiv.
For those released, the pattern is similar: the abduction, the transparently absurd charges and cover story, the show trial, and finally the exchange for Russians who have committed actual crimes.
Kohver was charged with espionage after being kidnapped on Estonian territory while investigating a smuggling ring run by Russian organized-crime groups. He was exchanged for Aleksei Dressen, who was imprisoned in Estonia in 2012 after being convicted on charges of spying for Moscow.
Savchenko, of course, was abducted by pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine and charged with complicity in the deaths of two journalists who had been killed while she was already in captivity.
She was exchanged for Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev, two Russian intelligence officers convicted of attacking Ukrainian forces and fomenting armed rebellion in the Donbas. And possibly -- we'll see in the coming weeks -- for an end to EU sanctions.
It's a pattern that is bound to repeat itself as long as the Kremlin keeps getting away with it.
A Fort Hood soldier identified as Taylor Patterson is in custody today after escaping a cop car, firing a police shotgun through the roof of a cruiser, and leading police on a car chase in a stolen ambulance, KWTX Texas reports.
The odyssey began at 4 a.m. on Tuesday when police responded to a call stating that there was an unresponsive man in a vehicle behind a business in Harker Heights, Texas.
Officers called paramedics to the scene "due to the apparent intoxication of the individual," a police statement read.
Police then cuffed Patterson's arms behind his back and placed him in the back of a cruiser before buckling his seat belt and locking him in. However this failed to contain Patterson, of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
“He then defeated the locked prisoner screen and unsuccessfully attempted to obtain the vehicle shotgun from its locked rack, but managed to discharge the shotgun in the patrol car,” authorities told KWTX.
Patterson then escaped the car and stole a Harker Heights Fire Department ambulance with which he led police on a chase down Highway 190.
At that point Patterson used the ambulance's radio to tell the authorities that he had been trained by the Army as a Special Forces soldier, and that he was heavily armed, according to the police.
Shortly thereafter, Patterson lost control of the vehicle, wrapping it around a light pole.
“He then crashed the ambulance on US 190 without involving any other vehicles or individuals. The subject was uninjured and taken into custody, transported to the Bell County Adult Detention Center with several charges pending. There has been no bond set at this time,” according to the police release.
Patterson, 23, had previously served in South Korea and earned an Army Good Conduct Medal.
This week, both the British Ministry of Defense and the US Navy have made strides towards directed energy weapons that could change the face of warfare as we know it.
The British, for their part, are eyeing a laser system that could compliment the Phalanx close in anti-missile system, which detects, tracks, and can destroy approaching threats at closer ranges than other missile defense platforms.
Currently, the Phalanx is a computer-guided system that relies on a 20 mm Gatling gun. The British are looking to do away with the gun and substitute a laser.
"It's better to spend money on the laser than on the mount," Andy Rhodes, a business development executive at Raytheon UK told Defensenews.com.
Lasers offer a number of advantages over traditional guns. As they rely only on electricity, lasers can be fired for less than $1 a shot. Also, no round will ever travel anywhere near as fast as a laser, which obviously travels at the speed of light.
As military powers around the world race to create hypersonic weapons that can foil missile defenses through speed alone, the need for laser-aided missile defense becomes clear.
“The potential of laser based weapons systems has been identified as an opportunity and offers significant advantages in terms of running costs as well as providing a more appropriate response to the threats currently faced by UK armed forces,” the British MoD stated.
Additionally, lasers on lower power settings can be used to overwhelm enemy sensors and instruments.
The US Navy for their part has also taken a step towards directed energy weapons. On Monday Raytheon delivered pulse power containers for the Navy to test out on a new railgun design.
Unlike lasers, railguns fire actual projectiles, however they use directed energy to do it.
Raytheon says the pulse power containers, when incorporated into a completed railgun design, will be able to launch projectiles at speeds in excess of Mach 6, or about 4,600 mph. At those speeds, there is little need for an explosive round with a chemical charge.
"Directed energy has the potential to redefine military technology beyond missiles and our pulse power modules and containers will provide the tremendous amount of energy required to power applications like the Navy Railgun,"said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business.
The Navy's railgun could find itself aboard the Futuristic USS Zumwalt as soon as 2018, Reuters reports.
"The Navy is determined to increase the offensive punch of the surface warships," said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. "To do that with a limited budget, it needs to look at everything from smart munitions to railguns to lasers."
Two US Navy F/A-18s have collided off the coast of North Carolina and their pilots are being flown to the hospital.
US Coast Guard Petty Officer Fagal Niffin told the Virginian-Pilot that four people had been recovered from the crash and were being airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.
The two planes collided with each other about 25 miles east of the Oregon Inlet off the coast of North Carolina. The US Coast Guard, and a local fishing vessel in the area, responded to distress calls to come to the aid of the pilots, WVEC, an ABC affiliate, reports.
A Navy official has told ABC News that the pilots ejected safely from their planes and that the Coast Guard is continuing to search for the location of the aircraft.
The two jets were conducting routine training over the area at the time of the collision. A Naval Air Force Atlantic officials has told Reuters that the Navy will conduct a "mishap investigation" over the cause of the incident.
ABC affiliate WCTI12 reports that all four pilots were picked up by a local fishing vessel, before being airlifted to the hospital by a Coast Guard helicopter. Three of the pilots apparently are in good condition, while the fourth pilot has a leg injury.
F/A-18s are used by both the Marine Corps and the US Navy as fighter and attack aircraft.
US Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh made comments at an Air Force Association event on Thursday that were uncharacteristically bullish on the prospect of restarting the F-22 program.
Lockheed Martin shuttered the F-22 program almost five years ago. Since then, the top Air Force brass has been focused on the troubled F-35 program as well as looking decades forward to the Next Generation Air Dominance program.
In April, however, Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio said in Congress: "In light of growing threats from a resurgent Russia and an aggressive China, further exploration into restarting the F-22 line is deserved."
Welsh's comments on Thursday represented a shift in the Air Force's official attitude toward reviving the F-22; it had previously said doing so would not be cost effective.
"I don't think it's a wild idea,"Welsh said, as Defensenews.com notes."I mean the success of the F-22 and the capability of the airplane and the crews that fly it are pretty exceptional. I think it's proven that the airplane is exactly what everybody hoped it would be."
"We're using it in new and different ways and it's been spectacularly successful and its potential is really, really remarkable," Welsh continued. "And so going back and looking and certainly raising the idea well, could you build more? It's not a crazy idea."
The Air Force could not only reboot the F-22, but improve on it as well. The jet's thrust vectoring could stand to be revisited, which would give the plane an edge in engagements that occur within visual range, as The Aviationist's Dario Leone notes.
Also, a helmet-mounted display, similar to the kind found in the F-35, could increase the fighter's abilities.
As Jamie Hunter, editor of Combat Aircraft Monthly, wrote in 2015: "How about a risk-reduced approach for NGAD? Take the almost perfect Raptor and put it back into production, albeit this time with the tweaks that make it truly the best fighter ever it can be. That approach may just help mitigate against the early cost overruns and delays and provide capability faster and when it's needed."
Floppy disks are the only thing standing between us and nuclear winter.
Did you think the 8-inch floppy disk died in 90s? Think again.The Government Accountability Office recently found that Department of Defense has been using the ancient technology to coordinate the operational functions of the country’s nuclear forces.
Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a DoD spokeswoman, told Agence France-Presse that the department uses the 1970s-era tech “because, in short, it still works.”
According to the report, an IBM Series/1 computer coordinates all the functions related to nuclear bombers, ranker support aircraft, and ballistic missiles.
The GAO said the government is spending a lot more to maintain its computer systems than it is to modernize and develop new technology.
During fiscal year 2015, the government dropped upward of $80 billion on federal IT, 75% of which was dedicated to operation and maintenance — a necessity when dealing with nearly 50-year-old technology.
But the floppy disks’ days are numbered.
“To address obsolescence concerns,” Henderson said, “the floppy drives are scheduled to be replaced with secure digital devices by the end of 2017.”
As America's commander-in-chief, President Obama is the supreme commander of the US's armed forces.
In this role, Obama has the final say on all matters of the country's military. But, additionally, as the head of the military, Obama must also cater to the morale of the US military and ensure that the nation's nearly 1.3 million active soldiers and veterans feel cared for.
Below are some of our favorite photos of Obama interacting with US military service members and veterans.
A soldier hugs the President as he greeted U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.
Obama claps as he passes by 'The President's Own' US Marine Band on the White House grounds.
Obama greets US troops as he holds a Veterans Day event at the US Army Garrison at Yongsan military base in Seoul November 11, 2010.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The images in this post were taken by the Belgian Air Force during their latest rotation of support to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
Flying out of Amari Air Base, Estonia, the Belgian F-16 jets augmented the Lead Nation Spain’s Eurofighter Typhoon jets from January to April 2016.
The aircraft were often launched to intercept and escort Russian planes flying over the Baltics. Among them, Su-27 Flanker, Tu-134AK, Il-76, An-72 and also an An-12PPS.
The An-12PPS “Cub-D” is a jamming variant of the Antonov medium military transport.
According to “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” by Piotr Butowski published by Harpia Publishing, one of the most authoritative sources on Russian-made military aircraft and helicopters today and set to become the standard reference work on the subject, the Russian Air Force operates several standoff ECM aircraft based on the standard An-12 airframe. Their task is to provide jamming cover to formation of transport aircraft carrying airborne troops by disguising the heading and composition of the formation during assault missions behind the front line.
Actually, the RF-90787 “19 Red” depicted in the photos taken by the BAF pilots lacks the most interesting equipment carried by the few An-12PPS aircraft: the Siren-D active jammer, usually mounted in four cigar-shaped pods, two under the forward fuselage and one on each side of the tailfin base. Still, it features another Cub-D’s distinctive feature: the SPS-100 Rezeda self-protection jammer built into the aircraft’s tail in lieu of the tail gunner’s turret.
According to “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” only a few such aircraft are currently in Russian Air Force service at Orenburg and Akhtubinsk.
North Korea threatened retaliation on Friday after South Korea fired what it said were warning shots when a patrol boat and fishing boat from the North crossed the disputed sea border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula.
The two vessels from the North retreated about eight minutes after the South Korean navy fired five 40 mm artillery shots at around 7:30 a.m. local time, South Korean officials told Reuters.
The North Korean boats had crossed the Northern Limit Line, a border that the North disputes, near the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, according to the South Korean military.
North Korea accused the South Korean navy of intruding into its waters and said the South fired at its ships in a "grave provocative act," the Supreme Command of the North's Korean People's Army was quoted as saying by the official KCNA news agency late on Friday.
"The provocation-makers are going to regret for ever how horrible the aftermath of their reckless firing first will be," it was quoted as saying.
North Korea frequently makes threatening statements against the South. Tensions have been high since the North conducted a nuclear test in January and a space rocket launch in February, prompting a United Nations Security Council resolution in March tightening sanctions against the isolated state.
North Korean fishing boats occasionally stray into South Korean waters. Over the years, navy vessels from both sides have traded fire in sometimes deadly incidents.
In 2010, 46 South Korean sailors were killed when their ship sank in what the South says was a torpedo attack by the North. North Korea has denied responsibility.
The two countries remain in a technical state of war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Pyongyang recently proposed military talks with Seoul, but the South dismissed the offer as "a bogus peace offensive" because it lacks a plan to end the North's nuclear program.
How do you distinguish a foreign policy "idealist" from a "realist," an optimist from a pessimist?
Ask one question: Do you believe in the arrow of history?
Or to put it another way, do you think history is cyclical or directional? Are we condemned to do the same damn thing over and over, generation after generation -- or is there hope for some enduring progress in the world order?
For realists, generally conservative, history is an endless cycle of clashing power politics. The same patterns repeat. Only the names and places change.
The best we can do in our own time is to defend ourselves, managing instability and avoiding catastrophe. But expect nothing permanent, no essential alteration in the course of human affairs.
The idealists believe otherwise. They believe that the international system can eventually evolve out of its Hobbesian state of nature into something more humane and hopeful.
What is usually overlooked is that this hopefulness for achieving a higher plane of global comity comes in two flavors -- one liberal, one conservative.
The liberal variety (as practiced, for example, by the Bill Clinton administration) believes that the creation of a dense web of treaties, agreements, transnational institutions and international organizations (like the U.N., NGOs, the World Trade Organization) can give substance to a cohesive community of nations that would, in time, ensure order and stability.
The conservative view (often called neoconservative and dominant in the George W. Bush years) is that the better way to ensure order and stability is not through international institutions, which are flimsy and generally powerless, but through the spread of democracy. Because, in the end, democracies are inherently more inclined to live in peace.
Liberal internationalists count on globalization, neoconservatives on democratization to get us to the sunny uplands of international harmony. But what unites them is the belief that such uplands exist and are achievable. Both believe in the perfectibility, if not of man, then of the international system. Both believe in the arrow of history.
For realists, this is a comforting delusion that gives high purpose to international exertions where none exists. Sovereign nations remain in incessant pursuit of power and self-interest. The pursuit can be carried out more or less wisely. But nothing fundamentally changes.
Barack Obama is a classic case study in foreign policy idealism. Indeed, one of his favorite quotations is about the arrow of history: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." He has spent nearly eight years trying to advance that arc of justice. Hence his initial "apology tour," that burst of confessional soul-searching abroad about America and its sins, from slavery to the loss of our moral compass after 9/11. Friday's trip to Hiroshima completes the arc .
Unfortunately, with "justice" did not come peace. The policies that followed -- appeasing Vladimir Putin, the Iranian mullahs, the butchers of Tiananmen Square and lately the Castros -- have advanced neither justice nor peace. On the contrary. The consequent withdrawal of American power, that agent of injustice or at least arrogant overreach, has yielded nothing but geopolitical chaos and immense human suffering. (See Syria.)
But now an interesting twist. Two terms as president may not have disabused Obama of his arc-of-justice idealism (see above: Hiroshima visit), but they have forced upon him at least one policy of hardheaded, indeed hardhearted, realism. On his Vietnam trip this week, Obama accepted the reality of an abusive dictatorship while announcing a warming of relations and the lifting of the U.S. arms embargo, thereby enlisting Vietnam as a full partner in the containment of China.
This follows the partial return of the U.S. military to the Philippines, another element of the containment strategy. Indeed, the Trans-Pacific Partnership itself is less about economics than geopolitics, creating a Pacific Rim cordon around China.
There's no idealism in containment. It is raw, soulless realpolitik. No moral arc. No uplifting historical arrow. In fact, it is the same damn thing all over again, a recapitulation of Truman's containment of Russia in the late 1940s. Obama is doing the same, now with China.
He thus leaves a double legacy. His arc-of-justice aspirations, whatever their intention, leave behind tragic geopolitical and human wreckage. Yet this belated acquiescence to realpolitik, laying the foundations for a new containment, will be an essential asset in addressing this century's coming central challenge, the rise of China.
I don't know -- no one knows -- if history has an arrow. Which is why a dose of coldhearted realism is always welcome. Especially from Obama.
The last B-52 Stratofortress rolled off the line in 1962 and quickly became a staple of the US's air power.
Now, more than five decades later, it's undergoing upgrades to compete in the modern battle space.
Last week, the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base became the first squadron to train B-52s with internal-weapons-bay upgrades.
The Military Standard 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade (IWBU) program, the latest in a long line of upgrades to the B-52's relatively ancient airframe, will allow the plane to carry ordinance inside the fuselage.
“The IWBU to the B-52H provides increased carriage capability for precision weapons to include the GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM),” said Capt. Kenny, a 96th Bomb Squadron instructor weapon-systems officer said in a US Air Force Release.
“This new capability also extends our range by reducing the amount of drag that external weapons produce,” continued Kenny.
The IWBU will first rewire the plane to drop eight JDAMs from a conventional rotary launcher bomb bay, and then they'll reconfigure the pylons to go from holding 12 to 16 JDAMs, nearly doubling the B-52's capacity for these high-tech bombs.
Previously B-52s were only able to drop unguided munitions, or "dumb bombs," from the weapons bay.
“The B-52’s pylons have had the capability to speak to the digital systems on precision weapons like JDAM for years, while the bomb bay remained analog and only capable of dropping unguided conventional weapons. That’s where the IWBU comes in.”
Kenny went on to explain why this small change potentially has so much meaning: “IWBU nearly doubles the number of JDAMs a single plane can carry,” Kenny said.
“This gives us the option to reduce the number of aircraft required to execute a mission, lowers our fuel requirements and provides us with more flexible load outs, enabling us to strike a wider range of target types during any given mission.”
“The B-52 has always been capable of executing a wide variety of missions,” Kenny said. “The IWBU provides more flexibility and capability in order to more effectively execute these diverse set of missions across numerous combatant commands.”
Currently, the B-52 is slated to remain active in the Air Force's fleet until 2040, at which point it would have completed nearly a century of service. Even as the Air Force pushes toward the B-21, a new bomber platform, the B-52 remains relevant due to regular upgrades like the IWBU.
B-52s operating out of Qatar are supporting coalition and allied forces in the fight against ISIS with the Combined Joint Task Force's Operation Inherent Resolve.
Few things have the power to transport people as the cinema.
Who can forget Robert Williams' "Good morning, Vietnam" to Marine Corps DI Hartman's memorable quotes.
The following list is of our favorite military movies.
The Longest Day (1962)
The Longest Day tells the story of heroism and loss that marked the Allies' successful completion of the Normandy Landings on D-Day during World War II.
The film stands out due to its attention to detail, as it employed many Axis and Allied D-Day participants as advisors for how to depict the D-Day landings in the movie.
Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
Based on the exploits of British Army Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence during World War I, Lawrence of Arabia tells the story of Lawrence's incredible activities in the Middle East. The film captures both Lawrence's daring, his struggles with the horrific violence of World War I, and the incredible British role in the foundation of the modern Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
The Great Escape (1963)
The Great Escape is based on a novel of the same name, which was a non-fiction account of a mass escape from a German prison camp in Poland during World War II. The film follows several British German prisoners of war as they try to escape from the Nazis and make their way back to Allied-controlled territory.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The world community has yet to find an adequate response to cultural destruction as shown by the deliberate wrecking of ancient sites in Syria and Mali by Islamist radicals, the head of the UN's cultural organization said.
Irina Bokova, director general of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said it took some time for authorities to respond to the significance of what extremist groups were doing.
Such groups typically sought to clear the ground to persecute minorities and consolidate power by "cultural cleansing", removing traces of other cultures, she told Reuters in an interview in Kabul.
Fifteen years ago, the Afghan Taliban provided one of the most notorious recent examples when it blew up two giant ancient statues of the Buddha in 2001, decreeing they were un-Islamic.
But the razing of medieval shrines in Timbuktu by Malian jihadists in 2012 and then the destruction by Islamic State militants in Syria of parts of the ancient city of Palmyra last year brought the danger home, said Bokova, among candidates to become UN Secretary General later this year.
"I have to say that at the beginning of the Syrian crisis we were not taken that seriously when we started denouncing this destruction," said Bokova, a former acting foreign minister of Bulgaria who is among candidates to become UN Secretary General later this year.
"Now I think people see what the danger is. I know it is not easy but now everybody takes seriously the destruction of heritage and culture as part of this extremist strategy. Probably the most visible embodiment of this, even," she said.
But she said the world was still grappling with how to deal with the problem, which had pushed matters once the preserve of museums firmly into the strategic sphere.
"I think it is a new type of phenomenon that is emerging and we are seeking a response."
Last year's U.N. Security Council Resolution 2199, which specifically targets the illegal trade in antiquities alongside oil and hostages as a means of shutting off funding to groups like Islamic State and Al Qaeda, was one example, she said.
The trial of the radical Islamist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi in the International Criminal Court over the destruction of the religious sites in Timbuktu was another.
Bokova on Friday signed a culture trust fund agreement with the Afghan government, aimed at bolstering efforts to promote cultural industries and re-affirm the importance of cultural and national identity.
How far such programmers can hope to succeed in countries torn by competing visions of social, religious and cultural identity remains open.
In Afghanistan, a country with more than 30 languages and multiple different ethnicities which has undergone civil war and conflict for most of the past four decades, the notion of cultural identity remains particularly fluid.
"I don't say it's easy," Bokova said. "But it is necessary and we have to start from somewhere."
SEE ALSO: The 50 most violent cities in the world
The bartender at the Communist-themed pub in former East Berlin scrunches up his face and readjusts his glasses. Lenin looms on the wall beside him. “This is from Berlin?” I ask him.
“No, it’s from a little town, you’ve probably never heard of it,” he says of the bottle of doppelkorn liquor he has just poured me.
“What’s it called?” I inquire, taking a tiny sip from the clear liquid.
“Nordhausen,” the barkeep replies.
“Sure, I know it.”
“You do?” he gasps, amazed an American should know of a Podunk village in Lower Thuringia.
“Sure, my great-uncle liberated a concentration camp there,” I tell him.
Silence thicker than Berlin’s humid summer air. After a clumsy moment like so many when the Holocaust is mentioned in modern Germany, he replies: “I did not know there was a concentration camp there.”
* * *
Seventy years earlier, in April of ’45, the German army was in tatters and retreating before the Allies. American troops approached the city of Weimar in central Germany on April 11 and liberated the first Nazi concentration camp: Buchenwald. Among the skeletal prisoners famously photographed in the grim barracks was future Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
But that same day, 40 miles to the north, a US Army detachment entered another, lesser-known camp outside the town of Nordhausen. The Mittelbau-Dora facility used slave labor to build V-2 rockets and worked thousands to death. Among the men of the 104th Infantry Division was a medic from Brooklyn, New York. A 21-year-old American-born son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Jules Helfner was fluent in German, kept a pistol in his boot, and was armed with a camera.
Together with his handwritten notes, Jules’s unique photographs, published here for the first time, bring to life a Jewish foot soldier’s personal experience in the 104th. They document four months of Helfner’s service after landing in France in late 1944, chronicling the march into Germany, liberation of a Nazi labor camp, and his eventual encounter with fellow Jewish soldiers in the Red Army at the climax of World War II.
All too often, this aspect of the Holocaust story — the Jewish liberators — is overlooked in Israel.
“He went through hell and back again,” Shirley Helfner, Jules’s younger sister, now 85, said. She was a kid when Jules enlisted and was shipped off to Europe but remembers his return to Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood after the war ended. Speaking with me at her home in Phoenix, she described Jules as quiet and refined, reserved but “with good humor.”
He was brilliant, she said, a polyglot fluent in English, French, German and Yiddish, the language spoken at home.
The army wanted to send him to medical school, but, pressed for time as the Allies mobilized for Operation Overlord, the epic invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944, it drafted Jules as a field medic instead, she said.
The 104th began its tour in Europe after D-Day, as the Allies pushed into the Low Countries and moved on Germany. The earliest dated photo in Helfner’s collection — which his children kept safely over the decades, and which I only saw for the first time last year — is from the Belgian city of Verviers, which served as army headquarters during the bitter winter of ’44.
As the Allies advanced into the Reich, the 104th was at the front, capturing Cologne at the beginning of March and moving east toward Berlin.
Jules posed, leaning against a truck, outside the city’s famed cathedral. (As Jules and the 104th fought through Cologne, his younger brother, Benjamin, was on the opposite side of the globe.
Serving as a sailor aboard the USS General Harry Taylor, Ben was halfway between Hawaii and Wake Island, crossing the 180th Meridian, bound for the Pacific theater. Ben was my grandfather.)
Several photos taken by Jules show him and his army friends along the way, occasionally with the rubble of ruined buildings as the backdrop.
One guy, Julian “Broncho” Nagorski from Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, is named. Nagorski received the Bronze Star for valor, moved to Montana and died in 2008.
The dates written on pictures are sometimes incorrect, suggesting he annotated them sometime after the war.
Though Jules rarely spoke of his experience, his annotations offer poignant insights. “German 88 piece,” he wrote on the back of a photo taken near Cologne. “The gun we feared most.”
But the most startlingly personal reflections were written on the photos from Nordhausen.
* * *
In mid-April, about 60 miles west of Leipzig, the unit entered the Mittelbau-Dora camp. The German military had already abandoned the facility, in which prisoners were worked to death building buzz bombs. Thousands of bodies were strewn in the open air. Several hundred starving survivors remained, and despite the medics’ best efforts, some of those liberated died in the days following.
“To see photographs is one thing,” Fred Bohm, an Austrian-born Jewish corporal technician with the 104th, recounted in a 1979 interview, “but to go in and smell and be exposed to this horror you cannot really be ready for that.”
“But what really struck me is the impact it made on the other guys,” Bohm said. “They were staggered, literally. They were sick.”
Jules spoke little about his experience in the war, let alone at Nordhausen. But the one time he related it to his younger sister he said “the guys went wild,” Shirley recalled.
“They went back to the German town [Nordhausen] and they were killing the Germans left and right,” she said he told her. “Such a horrible, horrible experience.”
His dozen or so photos from Mittelbau-Dora show rows of emaciated corpses in brutal clarity (inexplicably, they’re all dated March 27). One caption distills the outrage Jules must have felt. “Nordhausen Concentration Camp,” he wrote, before switching to capital letters: “3500 JEWS WERE SLAUGHTERED HERE.”
American officers ordered German civilians from the nearby town to bury the thousands of bodies.
“I was put in charge of the burials and I insisted that the Germans from Nordhausen come for the occasion in their Sunday best,” W. Gunther Plaut, a Jewish chaplain with the unit, recounted in an interview years later. “Of course, we did not have enough space to do the work. But in my anger, now turning toward revenge, I told the burghers to use the knives, forks and spoons from their homes. I ordered the women to come out and help wash the bodies."
A handful of pictures captured the German townsfolk carrying and burying the dead. A unique image, Judith Cohen, director of the photo archive at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, said, shows several burghers going underground into the subterranean factory.
“Two charred bodies of inmates of the Nordhausen concentration camp being lifted out of their faulty shelter by German civilians for burial,” reads the caption. One shot, taken below ground, shows the German “robot bomb” — the V-2 rockets — assembly line “worked by the inmates of the Nordhausen concentration camp,” he wrote.
* * *
In the weeks following the capture of Mittelbau-Dora, the 104th pressed eastward, eventually encountering the advancing Red Army. The two allied forces met on the Mulde River, just east of Leipzig. German forces were shattered, their vehicles destroyed and burning on the side of a road. Civilians fled and German soldiers surrendered in droves and were pressed into disposing of armaments.
“These Nazis chose to give up to the 104th US Inf. Div. rather than give up to the Russians,” reads a caption of a photo taken on the Mulde. It would be a familiar story, with millions of Germans fleeing the Soviets at the end of the war, desperate not to fall behind what Churchill would later call the Iron Curtain.
“German prisoners of war crossing the Mulde River on an improvised pontoon bridge. These Nazis chose to give up to the 104th US Inf. Div. rather than give up to the Russians.” April 1945, near Bitterfeld, Germany. (Jules Helfner)
Possibly the most improbable images are those in the final days of the war in Europe. The American and Soviet armies stood on opposite banks of the Mulde, and men from either side met in the city of Wurzen. In a brief moment of comradely warmth before the Cold War set in, Russian and American soldiers stood arm in arm in the conquered town square.
“Red Army soldiers names Ivan + Aleksis with a GI from the 104th,” scrawled Jules. “These Red Army soldiers were Jewish.”
On what may have been the same day in Wurzen, the beaming smiles of 16 women, the only ones in any of Jules’s photographs, radiate in the spring sun.
“A group of Jewish girls liberated by the 104th Inf. Div. at Wurzen, Germany. The entire group numbered 1000, most of them were Hungarians, Romanians, Polish, Russian + Austrian.”
Jules and the men of the 104th returned to the US and were decommissioned in the fall of 1945. He returned to New York.
His mother Ruth and and sister Shirley both would tell that Jules returned a changed man, quiet and reserved but retaining the sense of humor he shared with his brother, Ben.
“When he returned,” Shirley said, drawing on 70-year-old snippets of memories, “he gambled away all his back pay of $500.” Jules and his friends got together and got drunk, she recalled; one buddy passed out wasted, so they put him in the bathtub.
His daughter, Lisa Becker, who lives in Western Massachusetts, said he never really mentioned his wartime experience to her.
“The photos were kept in my dad’s desk drawer, not under lock and key, but as kids we never had any occasion to be looking around because we simply thought only office supplies, house bills and other related info must be in there,” she told me.
Despite Jules’s aspirations to go to medical school, the GI bill would only cover four years of it. Instead he worked as an engineer for Grumman. He died in 1978, seven years before I was born, of complications of a heart attack and stroke.
“It was not until his death in 1978 when my mother was clearing out his desk that she came across the envelope that contained the pictures. By that time my siblings and I were adults,” Becker said, “and my mother finally shared them with us.”
NOW WATCH: Humans are defying the law of evolution
Since ISIS first started making rapid gains in Iraq and Syria in June 2014, President Barack Obama has faced serious pressure across the political spectrum to strongly intervene.
US-led international efforts against ISIS have made a major impact against the group. Targeted airstrikes have crippled large segments of ISIS's infrastructure. And the US spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve has recently said that ISIS has lost 45% of its territory in the Middle East.
But despite these gains against ISIS, the terrorist group still controls Iraq's second-largest city and significant territory in Syria. Detractors have said that Obama has not done enough to face the ISIS threat, especially as the group has gone on to carry out terrorist attacks across Europe.
Cartoonist Jack Ohman of The Sacramento Bee published this cartoon about the difficulties in facing ISIS. The cartoon helped him win the 2016 Editorial Cartooning Pulitzer Prize.
Boeing Co is set to win a 2-billion-pound ($2.92 billion) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for new Apache helicopters, The Telegraph reported.
The MoD has decided to give Boeing a 50-aircraft contract, including servicing, and the announcement could come as early as July, the newspaper said.
Italian aerospace manufacturer Leonardo Finmeccanica SpA had been a contender for the contract, the Telegraph said.
U.S. planemaker Boeing is offering the helicopters at a lower price by tacking them on to the end of a larger Apache order from the US military, the paper added.
The British government has committed to NATO's defense spending pledge of 2 percent of GDP for the next five years, but the MoD will be under pressure to opt for the most cost effective option as it juggles spending on a number of big projects.
Boeing and the MoD could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Iraqi army stormed to the southern edge of Fallujah under US air support on Monday and captured a police station inside the city limits, launching a direct assault to retake one of the main strongholds of Islamic State militants.
A Reuters TV crew about a mile (about 1.5 km) from the city's edge said explosions and gunfire were ripping through Naimiya, a largely rural district of Fallujah on its southern outskirts.
An elite military unit, the Rapid Response Team, seized the district's police station at midday, state TV reported.
The unit advanced another mile northward, stopping about 500 meters (yards) from the al-Shuhada district, the southeastern part of city's main built-up area, army officers said.
The battle for Fallujah is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever fought against Islamic State, in the city where US forces waged the heaviest battles of their 2003-2011 occupation against the Sunni Muslim militant group's precursors.
Fallujah is Islamic State's closest bastion to Baghdad, and believed to be the base from which the group has plotted an escalating campaign of suicide bombings against Shi'ite civilians and government targets inside the capital.
As government forces pressed their onslaught, suicide bombers driving a car and a motorcycle blew themselves up in the capital. Along with another bomb planted in a car, they killed more than 20 people and injured more than 50 in three districts of Baghdad, police and medical sources said.
Separately, Kurdish security forces announced advances against Islamic State in northernIraq, capturing villages from militants outside Mosul, the biggest city under militant control.
The Iraqi army launched its operation to recover Fallujah a week ago, first by tightening a six-month-old siege around the city 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
Fallujah, in the heartland of Sunni Muslim tribes who resent the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to fall to Islamic State in January 2014. Months later, the group overran wide areas of the north and west of Iraq, declaring a caliphate including parts of neighboring Syria.
On Monday, army units were "steadily advancing" to Fallujah's southern outskirts under air cover from a US-led coalition helping to fight against the militants, according to a military statement read out on state TV.
A Shi'ite militia coalition known as Popular Mobilisation, or Hashid Shaabi, was seeking to consolidate the siege by dislodging militants from Saqlawiya, a village just to the north of Fallujah.
The militias, who took the lead in assaults against Islamic State in other parts of Iraq last year, have pledged not to take part in the assault on the mainly Sunni Muslim city itself to avoid aggravating sectarian strife.
Between 500 and 700 militants are in Fallujah, according to a US military estimate. The US-led coalition conducted three air strikes near Fallujah over the past 24 hours, destroying fighting positions, vehicles, tunnel entrances and denying the militants access to terrain, it said in a statement.
ISLAMIST MILITANT STRONGHOLD
Fallujah has been a bastion of the Sunni insurgency that fought both the US occupation ofIraq and the Shi'ite-led Baghdad government that took over after the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003.
American troops suffered some of their worst losses of the war in two battles in 2004 to wrest Fallujah back from Al Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent group now known as Islamic State.
The latest offensive is causing alarm among international aid organizations over the humanitarian situation in the city, where more than 50,000 civilians remain trapped with limited access to water, food and health care.
Fallujah is the second-largest Iraqi city still under control of the militants, after Mosul, their de facto capital in the north that had a pre-war population of about 2 million.
It would be the third major city in Iraq recaptured by the government after Saddam's home town Tikrit and Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's vast western Anbar province.
Fallujah is also in Anbar, located between Ramadi and Baghdad, and capturing it would give the government control of the major population centers of the Euphrates River valley west of the capital for the first time in more than two years.
On the northern front, the security forces of the autonomous Kurdish region launched an attack on Sunday to oust Islamist militants from villages about 20 km (13 miles) east of Mosul so as to increase the pressure on Islamic State and pave the way for storming that city.
The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, have retaken six villages in total since attacking Islamic State positions on Sunday with the support of the US-led coalition, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said on Monday. That represents most of the targets of their latest advance.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hopes to recapture Mosul later this year to deal a decisive defeat to Islamic State.
Abadi announced the onslaught on Fallujah on May 22 after a spate of bombings that killed more than 150 people in one week in Baghdad, the worst death toll so far this year. The worsening security in the capital has added to political pressure on Abadi, struggling to maintain the support of a Shi'ite coalition amid popular protests against an entrenched political class.
Monday's bombings targeted two densely populated Shi'ite districts, Shaab and Sadr City, and a government building in one predominantly Sunni suburb, Tarmiya, north of Baghdad.
A car bomb in Shaab killed 12 people and injured more than 20, while in Tarmiya eight were killed and 21 injured by a suicide bomber who pulled up in a car outside a government building guarded by police. In Sadr City, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed three people and injured nine.
The battle of Fallujah is helping Abadi refocus the attention of Iraq's unruly political parties on the war against Islamic State, so as to defuse popular unrest prompted by delays in a planned reshuffle of the cabinet to help root out corruption.
In a speech to parliament on Sunday, he called on political groups to "put on hold their differences until the military operations are over."
Washington says Islamic State's territory is steadily being rolled back both in Iraq and in Syria, where it has lost ground to US-backed, mainly Kurdish insurgents in the north and to the Russian-backed forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
(Additional reporting by Saif Hameed and Kareem Raheem in Baghdad; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Peter Graff)
The Magpul FMG9 (Folding Machine Gun 9mm) gives a whole new meaning to “concealed weapon.” Unlike a handgun tucked away in a pair of pants or coat, this gun hides in plain sight.
“This weapon system could be described as a chameleon, it totally disappears,” said the host in the American Heroes Channel video below. “It’s sort of innocuous and then when you snap it out, you have little mini submachine gun.”
You may have seen a similar weapon used by Hob, the drug dealing teenager in RoboCop 2 (1990), played by Gabriel Damon. The weapon in the film is an ARES FMG designed by Francis J. Warin for ARES Inc. Warin made the weapon with personal security in mind after a spree of kidnappings and murders of VIPs and CEOs in South America during the early 1980s.
The FMG9 is the latest weapons system in the folding machine gun class and a nod to the 80s design by ARES Inc. It’s the perfect covert firearm when applied for its intended use, unlike the little violent Hob in RoboCop 2. Simply show up to your operation like an innocent bystander and snap it out when things get hot.
After clearing the room fold it back into place and walk out like nothing ever happened.
Now watch this short (three-minute) feature:
China will "pressure" the United States on maritime issues at talks in Beijing next week because of Chinese concern about an increased U.S. military presence in the disputed South China Sea, a major state-run newspaper said on Tuesday.
China has been angered by what it views as provocative U.S. military patrols close to islands China controls in the South China Sea. The United States says the patrols are to protect freedom of navigation.
"Beijing will pressure Washington over maritime issues during the upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue, as the United States' increasing military presence in the South China Sea is among China's major concerns," the official China Daily said, citing unidentified officials.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
This month, Beijing demanded an end to U.S. surveillance near China after two Chinese fighter jets carried out what the Pentagon said was an "unsafe" intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.
The South China Sea is also likely to feature at a June 3-5 security forum in Singapore known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.
China's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday that Admiral Sun Jianguo, a deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, would lead China's delegation at the Singapore talks.
At the Beijing talks with the United States, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend, other issues will also be on the table.
China will bring up the issue of self-ruled Taiwan - claimed by Beijing but which elected a pro-independence party to power in January - as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula, the China Daily added.
"The two countries have differing pursuits on major issues at the strategic level. However, the two still have many common interests," the paper said.
"Whether it is on the South China Sea issue or on the Korean Peninsula issue, the two countries have a shared security goal to maintain regional stability," it added.
The newspaper did not elaborate.
China is reclusive North Korea's only major ally but has been angered by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests and signed up to tough U.N. sanctions against it in March.
(Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel)