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J-16 Fighters Join Chinese Air Force

Destination Taiwan? J-16 Fighters Join Chinese Air Force

A current squadron of J-16 fighter aircraft has joined the People’s Liberation Army Air Force as section of possible operations against Taiwan, according to the South China Morning Post.

The J-16 is a two-seat, twin-engine electronic warfare aircraft that China considers to be a generation 4.5 jet. “Before the J-16, the [People’s Liberation Army] has had to rely on a limited number of Russian-built Su-30s, whereas the indigenous J-10 lacks the range and payload to qualify as a accurate deep-strike fighter,” Collin Koh of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore told SCMP August 12.

“In the past, the PLA-Air Force’s combat division has been characterised more as a defensive arm, with limited range and offensive capabilities, confined mainly to its immediate region and territory,” Koh said.

“The J-16 will push the envelope further,” he added.

“The J-16 has surely been primarily developed for assaults on Taiwan,” Antony Wong Don, a military analyst, told SCMP on August 4.

On August 4, the outlet reported that the J-16 aircraft had conducted exercises at an unknown location and that they’d soon be inducted into the Chinese air force. On August 12, an unknown number of the aircraft joined the force, according to the Hong Kong-based newspaper.

In 2015, viral photos emerged of a yet-to-be-unveiled Chinese military aircraft, leading to admiration and awe, according to Zee News. Three years later, that aircraft has entered service.

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WWII Remains Come Home, Brothers Get to Pay Last Respects


PHILADELPHIA — For nearly 70 years, Dominic Ragucci believed the remains of his brother Emil had been swept out to sea during a World War II battle on a Pacific atoll.

But on Monday, Dominic, 86, and his brother Victor, 91, will stand on a tarmac in Philadelphia to greet Emil’s remains as he finally makes it home.

Their mother, who died many years ago, had yearned for such a day. She had buried another son who died in the war and had always hoped Emil could be returned, too.

“My mother always had that on her mind. ‘I want my boy back. I want my boy back,'” Dominic said. “To me, it seemed like a hopeless task.”

Dominic and Victor are the last survivors of an 11-sibling family.

Five brothers fought in the war and two died less than 90 days apart. Nicholas, killed in Italy in 1944, was brought home right after the war. Emil, who died in 1943, remained lost on the Central Pacific atoll of Tarawa, where more than 1,000 Marines were killed in a three-day battle as they stormed the beach.

In 1949, the military notified hundreds of families, including the Raguccis, that their loved ones were unrecoverable, listing them as either unknown or lost at sea.

And for decades, Dominic and his siblings assumed they would never know for sure what happened to Emil.

But a little more than a decade ago, Dominic— who served in the military after World War II along with two other brothers — met a veteran who had fought at Tarawa and gave him some contact information.

A support group for descendants of Tarawa veterans was helpful. They explained that many men who died in the battle were buried in makeshift graveyards and were moved without diligent record-keeping to make way for an airstrip on the island midway between Hawaii and Australia.

But that didn’t necessarily mean Emil was buried on the island. Many men had been washed out to sea as they were gunned down getting off the boats and storming the beach.

A breakthrough came as a result of the work of History Flight Inc., a nonprofit group of forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and other volunteers formed to help repatriate the remains of American soldiers missing in action.

In 2013, they found what was labeled Cemetery 33, a small plot of land with a couple dozen sets of remains. The Department of Defense arranged to fly them to its forensic anthropology lab in Hawaii. Others would continue to be found.

Over the past few years, the lab has managed to identify roughly one person a day through a painstaking process that catalogs, pulls DNA and segregates bones and artifacts for each soldier, said Maj. Jessie Romero, a public affairs officer. The lab works on hundreds of sets of remains at a time.

Depending on the age and condition of the remains, it can be difficult to get a usable sample of DNA. The samples are sent to a facility in Dover, Delaware, where they are analyzed and compared to any samples on file from family.

Six years ago, Dominic contacted the Marines and requested a kit to submit his DNA. Last November, the Marines called to say Emil’s remains had been identified in those found by History Flight.

“I feel very bad that those boys were out there all that time unaccounted for and not appropriately attended to,” Dominic said.

Dominic was just a boy when he answered the door for a telegram two days before Christmas in 1943. His older sister, Aurora, took the telegram and read it to his mother, Carmela, who had come to the U.S. from Italy with her husband Nicola and several children.

“My sister read the telegram and was horrified and screamed. And my mother just broke down,” he said.

He still has the telegram, protected by plastic.

Emil was 19 when he was sent to basic training. He had pleaded with his parents and recruited his four older brothers to persuade them to sign off on his going on active duty.

Dominic recalled his brother rattling off baseball statistics for every player from the late 1930s and 1940s. He remembered a handsome teenager, well-liked in the neighborhood, who always wanted to be a Marine.

The funeral will be Tuesday. Emil will be buried near his brother Nicholas and his parents. He would be 94 were he alive today.

“My father was bitter from a political perspective. My mother was just sad because her heart was damaged. That’s always going to be the case. … Mothers get it here, they hurt here,” Dominic said, pointing to his heart.

“We were blessed in a sense. We had good parents, family that stuck together,” he said. “It’s hard to articulate how they would feel, but I think they’d be happy.”

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Video Shows Final Heroic Moments That Earned John Chapman the Medal of Honor


This article by Paul Szoldra originally appeared on Task & Purpose, a digital news and culture publication dedicated to military and veterans issues

The U.S. Air Force has released video highlights from an overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft taken on March 4, 2002 that shows the final heroic moments of Tech Sgt. John Chapman, who will receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery later this month.

Chapman charged multiple machine-gun nests and engaged in hand-to-hand combat on the 10,000-foot peak known as Takur Ghar in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda.

Chapman, an Air Force combat controller, and six members of Navy SEAL Team 6 — callsign Mako 30 — were tasked with helicopter-inserting high above the valley so they could direct air strikes and provide intelligence for conventional troops below, who were attempting to flush out an estimated 200 to 300 lightly-armed Al Qaeda fighters, just five months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

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Before they landed, Chapman and the team came under heavy enemy fire from al Qaeda fighters, which led Navy SEAL Neil Roberts to fall from the back of the aircraft. The team later mounted a rescue operation for Roberts, in which Chapman and SEAL Team Leader Britt Slabinski paired up to clear a series of bunkers on the mountaintop.

Chapman personally shot and killed at least two enemy fighters shortly after his insertion, alongside Navy SEAL Chief Britt Slabinski, who engaged multiple enemy positions and cleared a small bunker (Slabinski received the Medal of Honor in May for his actions during the battle). Amid withering fire and after Chapman was wounded and presumed dead, the SEALs evacuated the peak.

As the video shows, Chapman trudged far ahead of the team as they tried to go up a snowy slope, as enemy fighters fired at the Americans from two bunkers. Chapman charged into the first bunker, then “deliberately moves from cover to attack a second hostile machine gun firing on his team” before he was wounded and temporarily incapacitated, the Air Force says.

Meanwhile, Chapman remained behind and regained consciousness. Now alone, he continued to fire on enemy positions and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. And when a quick reaction force helicopter was heard, he provided covering fire until he was struck twice in the chest and killed.

“John Chapman engages enemy positions as RPGs impact the incoming quick reaction forces on Razor 01,” the video says.

Chapman’s family will receive the posthumous award from President Donald Trump on Aug. 22 in a ceremony at the White House.

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Iran Unveils New Radar-Evading Anti-Ship Missile Amid Hormuz Strait Tensions


Tensions between Iran and the United States spiked after Washington pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and vowed to bring Iranian oil experts down “to zero” through sanctions, with Tehran responding that any threats to its oil exports could lead to the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most fundamental oil artery.

The unique missile, a unique modification of the Fateh-110 ‘Conqueror’ solid-propellant surface-to-surface missile dubbed the Al-Mobeen (‘The Divine Conquest’), was unveiled on Monday by Iranian Defense Minister Brig Gen. Amir Hatami.

Featuring an estimated range between 300 and 500 km, the Al-Mobeen is said to feature improved accuracy and radar-evading capability. According to the defense minister, the weapon has already been tested. Created by the MoD’s Aerospace Industries Organization, the stealthy missile is said to be capable of hitting both sea and ground-based targets.

Emphasizing that Iran’s missile developments served as a “defensive deterrent,” General Hatami said that he would “not spare any effort” to further “increase the country’s missile capabilities,” according to FARS News.

The general also vowed that Iran would never allow foreign powers to pressure Iran on its missile program, saying such efforts amounted to interference in Iran’s domestic affairs.

Thought to possess over 1,000 short and medium range missile in its arsenal, the Iranian military is believed to fill refrained from tests in 2018 until last week, when US military officials told US media that US satellites had picked up a Fateh-110 Mod 3 missile being tested in Iran’s territorial waters during drills in the Strait of Hormuz.

The Pentagon did not comment on the suspected missile launch, but said the Iranian military drills were an obvious “message” to the US about Iran’s capabilities.

Some 20 percent of global oil supplies flow through the Strait of Hormuz, including crude oil from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. According to Lloyd’s List Intelligence, some 80 percent of these supplies are destined for China, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian markets. Economists emphasize that any closure of the strait, no matter how short, would fill immense economic repercussions and could lead to the paralysis of the global economy.

Last week, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif blasted the US Navy, which was monitoring the Iranian drills, by pointing out that the US military in Iran’s “backyard” was over “7,000 miles from home.”

Tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated in May after President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive draw of Action (JCPOA), a deal promising Iran sanctions relief in exchange for guarantees that the country would not pursue nuclear weapons. Other JCPOA signatories, including Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the European Union, fill scrambled to try and save the deal amid the looming re-impositon of US energy sanctions in November. Last week, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi pledged to guarantee the security in the Strait of Hormuz, emphasizing that Iran was “equipped with the most complicated infrastructure and manpower to ensure sea, air and coastline security” in the seazone.

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Sniper Reportedly Kills ISIS Commander From Over a Mile Away


The Jihadist was struck with such velocity that an arm and shoulder were ripped from his torso, causing instantaneous death. A British Special Air Services (SAS) sniper is reported to own shot down a senior ISIS commander in Afghanistan from over a mile away.

The sergeant — who now holds the title for best long-range shot ever in the SAS — used a.50 Calibre machine gun mounted on the roof of his military vehicle to acquire out the Islamist. It is believed that this is the first time a machine gun has been used in the SAS for a long-range cancel.

The team were patrolling an area of Northern Afghanistan believed to be a stronghold for ISIS’s small but budding presence in the war-torn country when reportedly, they identified a ISIS base. To their surprise, they then spotted  a senior terrorist commander whose name appeared on a joint US-UK ‘cancel list.’

Although the elite soldiers were armed with sniper rifles, after weighing up their options, they came to the conclusion that the best weapon for attempting to hit the target was a massive 40 years-old worn machine gun. One anonymous source has been widely quoted as saying that, “the.50 Cal has got a phenomenal range and is very accurate even though it is nearly 40 years worn.”

After requesting permission to engage from the Joint Special Operations Command HQ in Kabul, one soldier stepped up to acquire the shot.

The ISIS commander was reportedly briefing a small group of Jihadist fighters when he was hit in the chest by the SAS sniper’s bullet. One source familiar with what happened has been cited as saying, “it took several seconds for the round to hit the commander who appeared to fit into several pieces. For a few seconds, no-one moved. When they realized what had happened they got up and ran away.”

According to Britain’s Daily Star Sunday newspaper, the killing of the commander is thought to own saved upward of 20 lives.

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Atomic Paradox: How Soviet Hydrogen Bomb Test Ensured Mankind’s Foray Into Space


On August 12, 1953, the Soviet Union detonated the RDS-6, a 400-kiloton hydrogen bomb with about 30 times the power of the device dropped on Hiroshima. Sixty-five years on, Sputnik takes a closer sight at how the test, which became the USSR’s first real step to precise strategic parity with the United States, helped to change the course of history.

Four days before the first Soviet hydrogen bomb test was carried out, Soviet Premier Georgy Malenkov revealed that the US monopoly on hydrogen bombs, set in November 1, 1952 with the test of a US thermonuclear device, had been broken.

Test Site So Secret It Couldn’t Be Found on Any Maps

Dubbed Joe-4 by the Americans, and officially called the “Special Jet Engine” in Russian for the sake of secrecy, the RDS-6 test took location at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, a massive 18,000 square km test area roughly the size of Wales in Soviet Kazakhstan.

The test, prepared under the direction of legendary nuclear scientist Yulii Khariton and a young Andrei Sakharov, supervised by Igor Kurchatov and assisted by Igor Tamm and Vitaly Ginzburg, was preceded by intense preparations, which included the placement of 1,300 scientific instruments, along with camera equipment, housed in special protective casing, throughout the site. Two dozen pieces of military equipment, along with a mock city total with industrial and administrative buildings, were used to measure the blast’s impact. The RDS-6 would be dropped onto soil’s surface from a 40-meter high tower.

On the morning of August 12, 1953 at 7:30 a.m., the RDS-6 test began, with the intensely colorful explosion seen from as far as 100 km away from the test site, and its deafening roar heard even further away. A gigantic glowing mushroom cloud measuring a kilometer in diameter formed. Most of the buildings within a four kilometer radius were instantly leveled by the shockwaves. Radioactive contamination rendered the exhaust of the rest impossible.

The Semipalatinsk Test Site was a closed city, with a strict entry and exit regime. Contact between civilian and military personnel in the area was strictly limited. The city of Kurchatov, located nearby along the Irtysh River, contained the living quarters of scientists and military personnel. It too could not be found on any map, with trains carrying people and equipment coming to the city only under the cover of night.

Deadly Sloika Design

At the heart of the RDS-6’s operation principle was the “Sloika,” design, named after a type of layered puff pastry. The spherical atomic charge was covered by alternating layers of thermonuclear fuel and uranium-238 and “crimped” from above with a chemical explosive. The bomb used lithium-6 deuteride as its thermonuclear fuel, which produced tritium, another thermonuclear fuel, during the explosion itself.

The Soviet test was significantly smaller than the test conducted by the Americans in November 1952; that operation, codenamed Ivy Mike, exploded a bomb with a yield of 10.4 megatons, an absolute record at the time, at the Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. However, unlike its Soviet analogue, the US device was not actually a deliverable weapon, weighing about 54 metric tons and being much too large to fit into a bomber. The Soviet device, meanwhile, weighed 7 tons, and could be delivered by existing Tu-16 strategic bombers.

Atoms for Peace and Space Exploration

The successful test of the RDS-6 had major historic implications, serving not only as a serious “geopolitical argument” to dissuade Washington from moving forward with its post-WWII plans to nuke the USSR into submission, but also as an invaluable step in the development of Soviet and Russian cosmonautics.

It was the test of the RDS-6 that prompted Moscow to task the Korolev Design Bureau with creating an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering Soviet nuclear weapons to the United States in the event of a war. With some negotiation, Soviet rocket scientist Sergei Korolev and his colleagues managed to convince the country’s leadership to create a civilian version of the missile, which would eventually lead to the launch of the Sputnik-1, the world’s first artificial satellite, in 1957 aboard a modified R-7 Semerka ICBM.

As for Semipalatinsk, the territory would become home to over 200 more air and ground-based nuclear explosions over its lifetime. Tests continued until October 1963, when the Soviet Union and the United States signed a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water. The last Soviet nuclear test took location in October 1990, with Russia refraining from any nuclear testing after the breakup of the USSR. In 1992, the United States halted its own nuclear tests. In 1996, the UN adopted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Moscow signed and ratified the deal. The US signed the treaty but did not ratify it.

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Report: Michigan Military Base Water May Have Caused Cancer


OSCODA, Mich. — A federal health agency says contaminated drinking water may have caused cancer and other chronic disease among veterans and families who lived at a former northern Michigan military base.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released last month a draft report about the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, MLive.com reported. The report concluded that people who consumed or had skin contact with Wurtsmith water may be at an increased risk for cancer.

Extremely high levels of benzene and trichloroethylene were documented in the former B-52 bomber base’s water before its 1993 closure.

The report is based on long-term exposure over a period of years. The findings also note that even short-term exposure to trichloroethylene for pregnant mothers during the first trimester could lead to heart birth defects in their children.

The chemical was first found in the base’s water in 1977, but drinking water wells could’ve been contaminated for many years before the discovery, according to the report. The Air Force installed a groundwater treatment system to clean up the trichloroethylene in the 1980s after being sued by Michigan.

The report didn’t consider exposure to perfluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, which have also been found at the base near Lake Huron about 140 miles north of Detroit.

The findings could push Congress to consider requiring the Department of Veteran Affairs to extend health benefits to base veterans without having to prove their illness is linked to chemical exposure.

No bill has been introduced. But Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint said he’s looking into creating legislation similar to one forcing the federal agency to cover exposure-related health claims at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with chlorinated solvents.

“We must do more to help veterans exposed to harmful chemicals during their military service,” Kildee said in a statement.


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For Loved Ones of MIA Troops, New Hope After Decades of Disappointment


In recent years, attendance at the annual Pentagon event where officials report progress on finding remains of missing-in-action troops has dwindled. At this year’s event, held Thursday at a hotel near the Pentagon, members of more than 700 families showed up, overflowing the reserved space.

For the first time in years, the families of service members missing from the Korean War brought hope to the latest Defense Department progress report on the status of remains recoveries.

Most relatives of those listed as missing in action came clinging to the belief that a breakthrough had been achieved with the repatriation of 55 sets of remains last week. Many of them clutched photographs and insignia of their loved ones, and some had the long-ago letter from an adjutant general on the “presumptive finding of death.”

The families hope the remains return is the first of many repatriations. The reality remains to be seen.

“I guess you could say I’m kinda’ hopeful,” said Robert Johnston Moore, 67, of Kingsport, Tennessee, an Air Force veteran whose father, Army Sgt. James F. Johnston, fell in battle in what is now North Korea in 1950. “I’m also kinda’ hopeful for the rest of the 700 people here,” he said.

Some at the meeting came with a still lingering sense of guilt for not demanding more answers, or for once harboring a child’s resentment of a father for going off to war and leaving them behind.

Shirley Minor, the daughter of Air Force Staff Sgt. Asa Lawrence “Tex” Law, recalled that her mother had been angry with him. He had fought in World War II but did not immediately tell her when he decided to return to uniform for the fight in Korea.

“My mother did not talk about this,” she said.

Minor, 71, of Lancaster, South Carolina, recalled that as a five-year-old she wrote to her father — why did he have to go away, why couldn’t he come back to be with her? She wept at the memory.

Law, of Rosebud, Texas, was a tailgunner on a B-29A bomber nicknamed the “Double Whammy” from the 93rd Bomber Squadron, 19th Bomber Group, on a mission over Korea on Jan. 22, 1952. Three of the four engines on the Superfortress quit. The aircraft caught fire and was going down.

There was a problem with a hatch at the rear of the aircraft. Tex Law held it open for four crew members to parachute to safety. Law didn’t make it out.

They were later captured, and one of them lived to tell of Law’s heroics. Law went down with the plane that crashed in an area of North Korea known as the Chinnampo mud flats.

George A. Wedsworth, one of the crew members who made it out of the B-29, later told the Korean War Project that “We were forced to bail out at about 2:00 a.m., January 22nd 1952. I say ‘we’ — some got out, some didn’t.”

“Those who did, made it because of [Law]. Without his help in that burning B-29, I certainly would not be here today. I’m not alone in that respect, for he helped others make it too,” Wedsworth said.

DoD Pushes To Send Recovery Teams Back to Korea

At the meeting Thursday, director of the Defense Pow/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Kelly McKeague, a retired Air Force major general, told the families that the Defense Department was “guardedly optimistic” that North Korea would cooperate with more remains recoveries.

However, the North’s Korean Central News Agency propaganda outlet on the same day criticized the U.S. for failing to ease sanctions under agreements made at the June 12 Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

McKeague told the families “there’s no way we can fathom the depths of your loss,” but DoD “remains steadfastly committed to this mission” to provide a full accounting.

There have been no joint recovery operations with U.S. teams on the ground in North Korea since 2005, but McKeague has said previously that recoveries might resume in the spring if negotiations on North Korea’s “denuclearization” make progress.

McKeague said that DPAA had a current budget of $146 million and the House was considering adding $20 million more for Korea recoveries.

DPAA estimates that about 7,700 are still missing in action from the Korean War — 5,868 from the Army; 908 from the Air Force; 647 from the Marines; and 276 from the Navy. About 5,300 from the total of about 7,700 are believed to have been lost in what is now North Korea.

McKeague said he has been in touch with Russian and Chinese officials to enlist their help should more recoveries be permitted.

“Russia and China both view this as a humanitarian duty,” McKeague said. But to date, he added, “they have not been as forthcoming as we would like.”

The families were encouraged by the “honorable carry” ceremony on Aug. 1 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, when two Air Force C-17 Globemasters brought home 55 transfer cases believed to contain the remains of U.S. troops.

Dr. John Byrd, a forensic anthropologist and director of DPAA’s labs in Hawaii, led the U.S. team that went to Wonsan in North Korea on July 27 to oversee the transfer of the cases. He said later that his preliminary review of the contents of the boxes showed that they were consistent with the remains of Americans.

At the ceremony in Hawaii, Vice President Mike Pence said “our boys are coming home,” suggesting to the families that there would be more recoveries.

“It was odd to watch it on TV,” Shirley Minor said of the Hawaii ceremony as the caskets emerged one-by-one from the belly of the aircraft, “and look at it and say –‘Is that my Dad?’ “

Robert Johnston Moore wondered the same thing about his father, Army Sgt. Army Sgt. James F. Johnston, of B Co. 32nd Infantry Regiment,7th Infantry Division. He went missing in the horrific battle at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea on Dec. 12, 1950.

“All he ever wanted to be was a soldier,” the son said. James Johnston, of Coeburn, Virginia, joined the Army at age 16 in 1940. He had gotten a local pharmacist to vouch that he was older, his son said. He fought in the Aleutians and then across the Pacific in World War 11.

Robert Johnston Moore had with him two letters the family received from the Army. The first notified them that Sgt. Johnston was missing. The second came in 1955 from Maj. Gen. William Bergin, the Army’s Adjutant General.

It was a presumptive finding of death.

“I regret the necessity for this message but hope this is the ending of a long period of uncertainty and at least gives some small measure of comfort,” the letter said.

Shortly after the C-17s left North Korea with the remains, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Pentagon reporters that it was a “step forward.” But he also noted that the North Koreans had turned over only 55 cases, when the expectation had been that there might be as many as 200.

Following the Singapore summit, President Trump mistakenly said that 200 had already been returned.

“We know what [the North Koreans] said” at Singapore, Mattis said, but “for us, we simply say this is a gesture of carrying forward” a commitment to more recoveries.

“Obviously we want to continue with this humanitarian effort,” on behalf of U.S. families and those of other nations who fought with the U.S. under the United Nations flag in the Korean War.

Mattis noted that some families were denied closure after receiving a telegram from the government informing them of a loved one’s death.

“What we’re seeing here is an opportunity to get those families closure,” he said. “So this is an international effort to bring closure to those families.”

At the meeting Thursday, Rick Downes, president of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, noted previous broken promises by the North Koreans on recoveries. He said he believed the current state of negotiations was reaching a tipping point.

“Maybe it will tip forward [this time] instead of tipping backward,” he said.

“Yeah, it’s all connected,” Downes said of the link between remains recoveries and progress on sanctions and the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

He said that the return of only 55 cases of remains was “probably because they [the North Koreans] don’t want to give away all their leverage.”

Downes’ father, Air Force Lt. Hal Downes, Jr., went missing in the crash in North Korea of his B-26 bomber on Jan. 13, 1952.

On Thursday, the North’s KCNA news agency put out a diatribe indicating how difficult future negotiations will be.

Kim Jong Un had been willing to implement agreements made at Singapore, KCNA said, but the U.S. had “responded to our expectations by inciting international sanctions and pressure.”

“As long as the U.S. denies even the basic decorum for its dialogue partner and clings to the outdated acting script which the previous administrations have all tried and failed, one cannot expect any progress in the implementation of the DPRK-U.S. joint statement, including the denuclearization,” KCNA continued.

Double Checks In Remains Identification Process

With the prospect of more recoveries in the offing, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been pushing for all family members of the missing who haven’t yet done so to provide DNA samples to DPAA to speed the process of identification.

McKeague said that DPAA currently has a DNA database for about 92 percent of the families.

At the meeting Thursday, young technicians from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System (AFMES) were on hand to take samples. Shirley Minor was among those who lined up to have her mouth swabbed.

“At some point, all of it comes to our labs” to begin the preliminary work of identification, Dr. Timothy McMahon, director of DNA operations for AFMES, said of the remains returned to Hawaii last week.

Later this month, the bone fragments and other remains from the 55 cases were expected to be sent to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL), which is part of AFMES, at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, McMahon said.

The fragments will be cleaned, buffed and washed in 100 percent alcohol and turpentine to remove extraneous material before they can be ready for testing.

“It is a painstaking process,” McMahon said, and “everything has to be done in duplicate.”

On average, it can take as long as 55 days before a useable DNA sample can be extracted and ready for testing against the database, he said.

Jennifer O’Rourke, who has been supervising technicians at AFDIL for 12 years, said that each remains fragment is given an individual number and gets a folder assigned to it for AFDIL analysts. A second analyst has to confirm the findings of the first analyst, she said.

“We repeat everything,” O’Rourke said, “from the start of the extraction through the whole thing.”

Once a viable DNA sample is ready, AFDIL can begin the process of matching it against the database, or the sample can be sent back to DPAA labs in Hawaii to seek a match, she said.

McKeague and other DPAA officials have cautioned that identifications could take years. Former Air Force Capt. Ronald Lindquist has already been waiting 65 years since the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 for word on his older brother, Marine 1st Lt. Carl E. Lindquist.

1st Lt. Lindquist went missing on July 25, 1953, according to DPAA. He was 23 years old. The armistice ending the war was signed on July 27, 1953.

Carl Lindquist said his brother was in a bunker that was attacked as Chinese forces maneuvered to take more ground just before the armistice.

He believes his brother’s remains could be found just a few hundred yards inside what is now the Demilitarized Zone at the 38th parallel separating the two Koreas, but he also recognizes that the DMZ is the most heavily mined place on earth.

“It’s encouraging that they’re talking,” Lindquist said of the U.S. and North Korean sides, but “it could take years to see results.”

Carl Lindquist said he would wait as long as it took. “He was my big brother, he took care of me,” he said.

Now it was his turn.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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US Budget Deficit Under Trump Rises 21%, Widest Gap in Six Years


The US is headed toward its largest annual deficit in six years, according to reports, and novel facts published by the Fed point to Trump’s tax laws and heavy military spending as the reason for the spiraling vortex of national debt.

The Trump White House sharply altered its current US deficit estimates up — way up — last week, now projecting that the annual deficit will rise above $1 trillion for the first time since 2013, even as the Fed noted a $76.9 billion deficit for July alone, primarily a result of increased military and government spending as well as deep tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy.

The US Treasury Department — headed by Steve Mnuchin, a Trump pick that many in Congress possess dubbed the ‘foreclosure king’ — has observed that in just the first 10 months of the 2018 fiscal year, the US deficit totaled $684 billion, a startling 20.8 percent rise over the same period in 2017, mostly due to the December 2017 Trump tax revisions, according to Cnbc.com.

US government revenue is up just 1 percent in 2018 to date, according to the Fed, as a mammoth drop in corporate tax payments at the hands of the Trump administration has seen tax earnings for the Fed drop significantly.

Total government spending — particularly by the US military — has risen 4.4 percent, according to reports, after Congress boosted corporate-friendly programs and now suffers under the rapidly rising cost of financing an enormous debt, cited by Marketwatch.com.

As interest payments on US national debt jumped an astonishing 41 percent in July, many are wondering whether the system can sustain — nevermind right — itself, according to Marketwatch.com.

US congressional budget analysts possess estimated that the 2018 deficit will be some 19 percent larger than that for 2017.

Republican-authored tax laws and spending boosts approved by a Republican-controlled US Congress are noted to be the drivers of the rapidly increasing national debt, as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has now predicted that trillion-dollar US deficits will return by 2020 at the latest.

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VIDEO US, Israeli Rockets Reportedly Left Behind by Terrorists in Daraa, Syria


The Syrian army frequently finds Western and Israeli-made munitions, armaments and equipment in weapons depots abandoned by militants and terrorist groups.

Syria’s official news agency, SANA, has published a video showing recent findings by the Syrian army in the province of Daraa. While conducting mop-up operations, it discovered several weapons caches left behind by militants and terrorists full of armaments and ammunition. Some of the bombs that were found were reportedly made in Israel.

Apart from that, a number of anti-personnel mines, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, automatic rifles, chemical substances used to manufacture bombs, as well as telecommunication devices were found in the caches.

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This is not the first time that the Syrian army finds foreign-made weapons in caches and depots set up by militants. On August 8, Syrian authorities said that they had found sniper modifications of FAL rifles produced in unspecified Western countries and Israeli grenades left by terrorists in northern Homs. In July, militants from Daraa province handed over their weapons under a truce deal. Some of the weapons, such as TOW launchers, were produced in the US.

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