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A New Piece Of ISIS Sniper Gear May Signal A Bloody Era In The War on Terror
In 1991, the overwhelming success of night vision-equipped U.S. troops in the Gulf War inspired a brand new axiom of the modern American military: We own the night. But new ISIS propaganda video, released following the expulsion of the terror group from their last de facto stronghold in Raqqa, has a clear message for Western forces: Not anymore.
The six-minute video, “Snipers of the South – Wilāyat al-Janūb” published to social media on Nov. 10 shows an ISIS sniper and spotter using “a U.S. M4 with an unknown scope” and a $5,000 FLIR BHM thermal camera originally designed “to help maritime vessels see debris, rocks, other boats and landmarks in pitch-black conditions,” Army Times reports. Although U.S.-made military-grade night vision and thermal imaging gear are restricted export items under the Department of State’s jurisdiction, it is quite possible the equipment was liberated from Iraqi or U.S.-led coalition depots by ISIS militants in recent years — or simply purchased online and smuggled into Iraq and Syria by foreign-born fighters.
The video follows a September sizzle reel documenting the terror group’s last stand against the coalition siege on Raqqa, which showed an ISIS sniper wielding a 7.62mm Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle — the go-to designated marksman rifle for troops fighting under U.S. Special Operations Command.
The proliferation of night-vision goggles among terrorist ranks isn’t just confined to ISIS. In July, a Taliban propaganda video showed a fighter rocking a 7.62mm FN Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) with high-tech goodies straight out of a Special Operations Peculiar Modification Kits; the same video showed fighters touting M16 rifles with Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG) scopes. In a July “exclusive,” CNN showed fighters with M4 carbines outfitted with night vision accessories alongside infrared laser sights and ACOG scopes. And in April, Taliban propaganda videos showed militants wearing AN/PVS 7b night vision goggles.
For years, militants' emerging night vision capabilities remained a negligible threat to the Department of Defense. Only a handful of Taliban and Al Qaeda were trained to use their few night-vision devices effectively in combat, as Adam Raymond reported for Task & Purpose in July, "nor did they fully grasp how much the U.S.’s night vision capability had improved, leaving them unaware that they were just as visible in the darkness as they were in daytime."
But that advantage has evaporated in recent months. The ISIS video comes amid reports that Taliban insurgents belonging to an elite “Red Unit” outfitted with sophisticated night-vision equipment —described by the New York Times as “Star Wars-like headgear containing Russian-built night goggles” — slaughtered scores of Afghan police officers this month. Despite their past inexperience, Taliban fighters now appear to, as Raymond put it, "fully understand the power of night vision" like the foreign fighters who fill ISIS ranks in Iraq and Syria
Speaking to Task & Purpose correspondent Marty Skovlund in Kabul on Nov. 4, U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan insisted that Afghan National Defense and Security Forces “consistently” defeated the Taliban on a regular basis. But the “Red Unit” spree is a demoralizing blow to Afghan security forces that just weeks ago saw nearly an entire Afghan Army unit “wiped out” by militants using stolen U.S.-supplied Humvees loaded with explosives. “The Taliban are trying to capture the entire province,” one local Afghan official told the New York Times, “and they have modern weapons.”
With ISIS fully expelled from its urban strongholds of Raqqa and Mosul, it’s likely that Syrians and Iraqis who have endured years of horrors under the so-called caliphate are feeling a glimmer of hope. But with thousands of ISIS militants now scattered to the winds and planning the group’s next bloody resurgence, the Afghan experience with night-vision-equipped Taliban militants may portend a new era of ISIS terror that is silent and deadly — and can see in the dark.
Top Navy official calls out government lawyers for spying on legal team of Navy SEAL accused of war crimes
In a scathing letter, a top Navy legal official on Sunday expressed "grave ethical concerns" over revelations that government prosecutors used tracking software in emails to defense lawyers in ongoing cases involving two Navy SEALs in San Diego.
The letter, written by David G. Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Navy's Defense Service Offices, requested a response by Tuesday from the Chief of the Navy's regional law offices detailing exactly what type of software was used and what it could do, who authorized it, and what controls were put in place to limit its spread on government networks.
"As our clients learn about these extraordinary events in the media, we are left unarmed with any facts to answer their understandable concerns about our ability to secure the information they must trust us to maintain. This situation has become untenable," Wilson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Task & Purpose on Monday.
Those really sweet, hand-held drones that the Army bought in January were finally put to the test as they were fielded to some lucky soldiers for the first time at the beginning of May.
For many people, millennials are seen as super-entitled, self-involved, over-sensitive snowflakes who don't have the brains or brawn to, among other noble callings, serve as the next great generation of American warfighters.
Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven is here to tell you that you have no idea what you're talking about.
Supreme Court refuses to hear yet another challenge to the controversial Feres Doctrine on military medical malpractice
The Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition to hear a wrongful death case involving the controversial Feres Doctrine — a major blow to advocates seeking to undo the 69-year-old legal rule that bars U.S. service members and their families from suing the government for injury or death deemed to have been brought on by military service.
FORT IRWIN, California -- Anyone who's been here has seen it: the field of brightly painted boulders surrounding a small mountain of rocks that symbolizes unit pride at the Army's National Training Center.
For nearly four decades, combat units have painted their insignias on boulders near the road into this post. It's known as Painted Rocks.