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The Russian Military Wants Authority To Shoot Passenger Jets Out Of The Sky
The Russian defense ministry is reportedly seeking the approval of new rules that would give the military permission to shoot down passenger planes deemed dangerous in emergency situations.
Existing legislation offers contradictory statements on how the military should respond to, for example, a 9/11 situation. The military is both allowed to fire on hijacked civilian aircraft and prohibited from destroying a passenger jet if there are hostages on board.
If the new rules are approved, the Russian military will be allowed to open fire on passenger jets that "refuse to obey commands to land," The Moscow Times reported Friday, citing the draft regulations submitted by the defense ministry for public debate.
The military would be required to warn the aircraft with visual signals or warning shots before taking steps to down it, and such extreme measures would only be taken if "there is a real risk of people's death or an environmental accident, including the direct threat of an air attack on critical infrastructure."
"Sadly, people on the plane will die, but this will prevent a more terrible catastrophe," Russian Senator Frants Klintsevich explained to Izvestia, a pro-Kremlin daily. He stressed that this would bring Russian policies more in line with those practiced in "many other countries."
The US military stands ready to shoot down hijacked commercial airliners, the New York Times reported in 2003, two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A senior general told the Times that the US military practices shooting down hijacked passenger jets three to four times a week. It's unclear if that pace has been maintained.
The policies are in place, though, but only as a last resort.
Russia has a tragic history when it comes to the downing of passenger planes. Russian soldiers are accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine in 2014 with a surface-to-air missile fired from a Russian anti-aircraft battery, Newsweek reported. Russia denies any involvement in the incident, which killed 298 passengers.
In 1983, the Soviet military, by its own admission, shot down a Korean Airlines flight, ending the lives of all 269 people on board. Locked in a Cold War with the US, the Soviets thought the aircraft was a US Boeing RC-135 spy plane, Russia Today reported.
The US made a similar mistake just five years later during the Iran-Iraq war, accidentally downing an Iranian passenger jet carrying around 300 people.
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While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.