Cyberwar – by Russia
The most enduring object lesson of NotPetya (one of Russia’s cyberwar tools) may simply be the strange, extra-dimensional landscape of cyberwar’s battlefield. The recent attack on Ukraine crashed the world—did you hear about it from the media?. This is the confounding geography of cyberwarfare: In ways that still defy human intuition, phantoms inside M.E.Doc’s server room in a gritty corner of Kiev spread chaos into the gilded conference rooms of the capital’s federal agencies, into ports dotting the globe, into the stately headquarters of Maersk on the Copenhagen harbor, and across the global economy. “Somehow the vulnerability of this Ukrainian accounting software affects the US national security supply of vaccines and global shipping?” asks Joshua Corman, a cybersecurity fellow at the Atlantic Council, as if still puzzling out the shape of the wormhole that made that cause-and-effect possible. “The physics of cyberspace are wholly different from every other war domain.”
From one of my West Point Classmates in Honduras
In our last newsletter I posted a letter from one of my classmates who is currently in Honduras. Here’s his final letter; he has now left that nation. This letter was written this month.
Unreported is the fact that on a daily basis 3 to 6 aircraft (from the US and some from Mexico) bring back caravan people. Last Friday there were 3 aircraft (two US, and one Mexico) that brought back somewhere between 600 to 700 people.
Local papers report that the caravan is being infiltrated by Africans from various countries, Cubans, Venezuelans, Middle East and Chinese. Some of these bribe local authorities and get a Honduran passport. Yesterday they found a group of Africans in San Antonio that nobody knew where they came from. Well, I think I know where they came from.
There are jobs for educated (specially English-speaking people) in Honduras. Work is available in Maquilas (mainly textiles like jockey, brassiere makers, T-shirts, etc.), tourism, and call centers (Comcast has a pretty large call center in San Pedro Sula). Unemployment is however high because a large part of the population has limited skills and is not well educated.
The caravans are composed mostly of these low skilled and uneducated individuals.
Employers think twice about hiring individuals because of high socialist taxes. In June, workers get what is called the 13th month, and in December they get the 14th month. In effect a worker will get 14 monthly checks. If you fire an employee you will pay one month’s salary for every year they worked. The salary is calculated by the Labor Department, so if you paid the individual $10, the labor Department will determine he was underpaid and calculates his salary at $12, $14 or whatever they determine.
Business and Industry cannot work efficiently because the Electrical Company is near collapse and they will arbitrarily cut electricity for 8-hours in any given day, and you have a factory that cannot operate. Most have back-up generators, but Diesel is expensive, and it is a poor alternative.
The police have fired about 8,000 police officers because they could not justify their balances in their bank accounts (bribes are rampant). Judges can be bought. Police are ineffective. Drug trafficking moved from Colombia and Venezuela to Honduras. Drug kingpins have houses that rival Fort Knox security.
The “US Embassy” pays for cars and houses of some officials involved in certain departments that interest US authorities (are these more bribes?).
Starting last Thursday, Mexican police are stopping caravans at the Mexico/Guatemala border. Thanks President Trump.
Organic change needs to occur before the situation gets better, and caravans are a thing of the past.
Air traffic is very high between the US and Honduras. United flies one 737 from Houston to San Pedro Sula, and one to Roatan on a daily basis. American has two flights from Miami and one from Orlando daily. UA and AA have flights from NYC daily. There are 3 or 4 flights to Tegucigalpa daily. Flights are full.
That is the end of my report.
Navy SEAL Found Not-guilty of Murder
The jury in the military trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher has found him not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder during a deployment to Iraq in 2017.
He was, however, found guilty of unlawfully posing for a picture with a human casualty.
The verdict was reached after about a day of deliberation. The government and defense attorneys both made closing arguments in the case after presenting testimony from numerous witnesses over two weeks.
Gallagher, 40, was charged with premeditated murder of the alleged stabbing of a wounded ISIS fighter in Mosul and attempted premeditated murder over alleged unlawful sniper shots taken at an old man and a young girl. He was also charged with wrongfully posing for an unofficial photo with a human casualty.
Understanding Military Customs and Traditions
Military traditions are important as they can bind loved ones or groups of people together. The military is built on traditions, customs and manners, and as a result its members share a common experience.
As a family member or friend of a service member, it can be valuable to learn about those traditions and customs your loved one participates in as a part of the military community.
Knowing the basics of common military traditions and customs can help you feel more comfortable visiting your service member on an installation or attending a military ceremony.
Take a look at some of the most common military customs for all service branches.
Montagnard-Medic from Vietnam
K Ben Nash was a Montagnard female nurse working with our Special Forces teams in Vietnam during the war. She recently met some of her former patients.
US vs Iran – We’re winning
In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, popularly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The US then ramped up sanctions on the Iranian theocracy to try to ensure that it stopped nuclear enrichment. The Trump administration also hoped a strapped Iran would become less capable of funding terrorist operations in the Middle East and beyond, proxy wars in the Persian Gulf, and the opportune harassment of ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz.
The sanctions are clearly destroying an already weak Iranian economy. Iran is now suffering from negative economic growth, massive unemployment and record inflation.
A desperate Iranian government is using surrogates to send missiles into Saudi Arabia while its forces attack ships in the Gulf of Oman.
The Iranian theocrats despise Trump. They yearn for the good old days of the Obama administration, when the US agreed to a nuclear deal that all but guaranteed future Iranian nuclear proliferation, ignored Iranian terrorism and sent hundreds of millions of dollars in shakedown payments to the Iranian regime.
Our Southern Border
One of my West Point classmates found an article recently written in Mexico about the problem on the US-Mexican border. Here is a part of that article with my friend’s translation following. It looks like President Trump made a good decision here:
Ciudad de México. [Mexico City].
México desplegó unos 15,000 soldados y policías a su frontera norte para cumplir con el compromiso asumido con el gobierno de Estados Unidos de frenar a los migrantes, informó este lunes el jefe del ejército mexicano.
[Mexico mobilized some 15,000 soldiers and police to their northern border to comply with the agreement reached with the US government to stop the flow of immigrants, announced the chief of the Mexican Army.}
“Tenemos un despliegue total entre la Guardia Nacional y unidades del ejército de casi 15,000 hombres en la parte norte del país”, dijo el secretario de Defensa Nacional, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, durante la conferencia matutina del presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
[“We have a total between the National Guard and army units of almost 15,000 men in the northern part of the country” stated the Secretray of National Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, during the morning press conference of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.]
Consultado expresamente si, además de interceptar migrantes durante su trayecto por territorio mexicano, el ejército y la Guardia Nacional -conformada por policías militares, navales y federales- también procedían a detenerlos cuando intentaban cruzar la frontera con Estados Unidos, el jerarca respondió “Sí”.
[Asked specifically if, in addition to intercepting migrants in Mexican territory, the Army and the National Guard – composed of military police, navy and federals- could also detain them when they attempted to cross the border with USA, the chief answered “yes.’]
“Considerando que la migración no es un delito, es una falta administrativa, entonces nada más los detenemos y los ponemos a disposición de las autoridades” del Instituto Nacional de Migración, abundó Sandoval.
[“Considering that migration is not a crime, but an administrative fault, we only detain them and place them for resolution by the authorities” of the National Institute of Migration, added Sandival.]
En tanto, precisó que en la frontera sur -con Centroamérica- hay unos 6,500 uniformados para evitar el paso de miles de migrantes, en su mayoría provenientes de Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador, que buscan llegar a Estados Unidos huyendo de la violencia, la pobreza y de la falta de oportunidades.
[He added that in the southern border with Central America- there are about 6,500 uniformed to stop the advance of thousands of migrants, in their majority from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, that are trying to reach the USA, fleeing violence, poverty and lack of opportunities.]
5 Countries with the most Debt
Debt affects a nation’s ability to defend itself. If you were expecting the US to be number one on this list, you aren’t alone. And technically, America does owe the highest debt in the world: 29.27 trillion dollars. But when you take into account how much money the country brings in per year, Japan takes the top spot.
We Americans Need to Understand Each Other
We need to work at understanding fellow citizens who hold different positions on things than we do. Here’s a great story of that happening. This might be the future of our nation.
The Medal of Honor
President Trump presents the Medal of Honor to the first living recipient.
Oh, If Our Schools Could Be Like This
Our school system no longer really educates students. Here’s an example of what a great school would be like. This is the America we vets fought to defend.
AF Shortens Some Tours – Citing Burn Out
Airmen who volunteer for special duties including military training instructor, military training leader and technical training instructor will soon see tour lengths cut short.
The service announced that airmen in these enlisted special duties, as well as Professional Military Education (PME) instructors at the Noncommissioned Officer Academy, will have their tour duty length reduced from four to three years as part of an effort to get airmen back to their own career fields faster.
“The Air Force is committed to returning our experienced and professional workforce to their operational career fields and reducing the unique stressors associated with these special duty tours,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Leahy, Second Air Force commander, in a release. “The decision to reduce tour lengths is about increasing our readiness and lethality while growing today’s Airmen for the force we need.”
Future Smart Combat Glasses
Our new boss recently got a chance do shoot-house training with the latest Microsoft-based, smart soldier glasses.
Ryan McCarthy, who is now serving as acting secretary of the Army, and incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville traveled to Fort Pickett, Virginia earlier this spring to try out early prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.
The Army awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft in November to develop IVAS — a high-tech device that relies on augmented reality to create a synthetic training environment for soldiers. The experience is reportedly similar to first-person shooter video games. The system is being designed to also be worn in combat, projecting the operator’s weapon sight reticle into the glasses.
“He and I literally put them on, and we went through a shoot house together,” McCarthy told Military.com on a flight to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
“Here’s the thing — they are empty rooms, because we had the synthetic feed.”
McCarthy then described how the IVAS device presented targets that resembled enemy fighters from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“I literally came in a room … and they looked like Taliban targets and ISIS guys with black turbans,” he said. “They had one where they had a guy holding a civilian. It looked like a very good video game.”
All Afghan Peace Summit
A surprise announcement by President Trump seemed to accelerate the expected time frame for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan ahead of an all-Afghan peace summit planned for July in Qatar. The gathering apparently will be held on Taliban terms as there will be no official Afghan government representation.
Trump said that nearly half of all American troops have already been pulled out. That pullout was expected to be announced as part of a time frame being negotiated by Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is in the middle of talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
“I’ve wanted to pull them out. And you know, I have pulled a lot out. We were at 16,000. We’re down to about 9,000, which a lot of people don’t know,” Trump said, according to the transcript of the interview shared with The Associated Press.
According to a senior US defense official, however, there are still close to 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan – a number that has remained fairly steady for many months.
Ukraine, NATO Exercise in the Black Sea
About 3,000 troops from 19 countries are taking part in military drills in the Black Sea, an exercise that has raised concerns in Russia.
The 12-day Sea Breeze 2019 exercise, involving Ukraine, the US, a dozen other NATO allies and a few other nations, began this month in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. It will involve 32 warships and 24 aircraft.
The Russian military says it is monitoring the exercise.
Relations between Russia and the West have plummeted to post-Cold War lows in the wake of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow has voiced concern about previous NATO’s drills near its borders, saying they threaten its security, while NATO allies have expressed worries about Russian military maneuvers.
The US Constitution
When members of our Armed Forces are sworn in, we all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The entire document, including all amendments, takes slightly less than 7600 words. We veterans and, indeed, all patriots, should read this document over and over again. It’s not complicated.
Anyone advocating allowing the enforcement of a foreign law—particularly Sharia law—is hostile to our constitution. Our courts should not deal with any law but US law.
There are two national organizations that are focused on making our nation aware of, and practicing, the Constitution—and I’m active in both of them. First is Concerned Veterans for America (cv4a.org). Then, there’s Combat Veterans for Congress (CVC.org).
A New Feature
On each newsletter we will be posting two challenge questions regarding the US Civil War. The answers will be provided in the following newsletter (along with two more questions). These challenges are here “to entertain, to learn, always for fun.” My former West Point roommate, retired Col Dave Wade is providing them. Enjoy:
1. Where was Appomattox Plantation?
2. Who was the only woman to have her picture on American currency, specifically, the Confederate $100 bill? Minded 1864.
Retired Navy CAPT Joe John has done many things in his life; I’ve asked him to share a few words of wisdom with us:
A marching cadence that I often marched to, way back then. The Prettiest Girl I Ever Saw
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
Today on the NATO line, our military forces face east to prevent a possible invasion. On the other side of the line, the Soviet forces also face east to prevent their people from leaving.
We must never forget why we have, and why we need our military. Our armed forces exist solely to ensure our nation is safe, so that each and every one of us can sleep soundly at night, knowing we have ‘guardians at the gate.’
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
13-19 July: Congressman and retired Marine General Jack Bergman will discuss the situation in Iraq. Then former Army Ranger Kris Tanto Paranto will discuss Benghazi and some of the challenges our nation is facing. And retired Col Michael McGurk will discuss our Army’s new physical fitness test.
20-26 July: Marine vet Chipp Naylon will discuss his book on being a military advisor in Afghanistan. Next, Dana Pittard will discuss his book, Hunting the Caliphate, describing his search for ISIS. And Elaine Donnely from the Center for Military Readiness will discuss transgenders in the military.
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Forgive me for using humor with a political part, but this is so funny that I couldn’t resist.
Subject: New Golf Ball Marker
A Golfer walks into the new “Government National Golf Course” pro shop and asks the golf pro if they sell ball markers.
The golf pro says that they do, and they are $1.00.
The golfer gives the golf pro a dollar.
The golf pro opens the register, puts the dollar in, and hands the player a dime to use as a marker.
This economic model is part of Bernie Sanders 90% tax plan to restore the US economy. Please make sure all golfers are aware!
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)