Photo via Special Operations Command - Philippines Army
In late October, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared victory over the ISIS-inspired Maute group after a five-month pitched battle left more than 1,000 dead in the sprawling city of Marawi. The siege, which prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and the Pentagon to deploy an unidentified detachment of special operations forces, finally culminated with the deaths of two top terror leaders. Now, more than a month later, the AFP’s own elite forces are taking a victory lap.
On Nov. 28, the AFP’s Special Operations Command published an eight-minute sizzle reel detailing the rise of the ISIS-inspired groups and AFP special forces’ months-long struggle to expel them from the city:
We’ve had to sit through plenty of disconcerting (if informative) ISIS propaganda videos as the terror group made its last gasps in its former Iraqi and Syrian and strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa, so the AFP clip is pretty sweet, even if it’s a highly produced state public relations product.
At the same time, there’s one thing worth noticing in this video: the non-presence of the many U.S. special operations forces deployed to the Philippines — ostensibly to provide “technical support” against Islamist groups. It’s possible that American commandos are present in the footage and simply dressed out like their Philippine counterparts rather than in distinctive U.S. uniforms; they’ve done that before, with the black kit worn by the Iraqi military’s elite Counter Terrorism Service’s “Golden Division,” which the American operators assisted during the battle for Mosul last March.
There’s no footage of the deployed U.S. SOCOM forces in DVIDs, the military’s public affairs imagery database … nor would you expect there to be; perhaps American special operators remained quiet professionals while deployed in the Philippines, even in someone else’s touchdown dance.
The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Roys)
The Navy is investigating reports that a female Marine discovered a hidden camera in one of the women's restrooms aboard the USS Arlington, an amphibious transport dock that's currently on at port in Greece, NBC News originally reported.
It's been 30 years since an explosion inside the number two gun turret on the USS Iowa killed 47 American sailors, but for Mike Carr, it still feels like yesterday.
"I knew all 47 guys inside that turret because as part of the ship's policy we had rotated between all three turrets," Carr, who served as a gunner's mate in the Iowa's aft 16-inch turret, told Task & Purpose. "We all knew each other rather intimately."
On April 19, 1989, the day of the blast, the ship was preparing for live-fire training at Vieques, Puerto Rico Naval Training Range.
Carr was wearing headphones that allowed him to hear what the crews in the other turrets were saying.
"At 10 minutes to 10 a.m., somebody came over the phones and said, 'We're having a problem, Turret 2, center gun,'" Carr recalled. "Then approximately two minutes later, I recognized Senior Chief [Reginald] Ziegler, who was the chief in charge of Turret 2, yell into the phones: 'Fire, fire, fire! Fire in center gun, turret 2. Trying to contain it.'"
Then came the blast, which was so strong that it ripped the headphones right off Carr's head.
As a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a newly minted second lieutenant, I felt well-prepared to tackle the challenges facing a junior field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. When the time came to leave the Army, however, I was much less prepared to make the transition into the yet-unknown civilian sector.
One of the primary issues facing veterans after we transition is that we lack the same sense of purpose and mission that we had with our military careers. Today, more than ever, our service members volunteer to put themselves in harm's way. They are defending our freedom across the globe and should be recognized as our country's true heroes. It's critical that employers educate veterans and provide viable options so we can make informed decisions about the rest of our lives.
The two-star general in charge of the roughly 15,000-strong 2nd Marine Division has turned micromanagement into an art form with a new policy letter ordering his Marines and sailors to cut their hair, shave their faces, and adhere to a daily schedule that he has prescribed.
In his "Policy Letter 5-19," Maj. Gen. David Furness lamented that he has noticed "a significant decline in the basic discipline" of troops he's come in contact with in the division area, which has led him to "FIX IT immediately," instead of relying on the thousands of commissioned and non-commissioned officers below him to carry out his orders.