Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

From 2014

In today’s military, physical fitness is always important. Being in the infantry, you rely on your physical fitness to stay alive. Being a SMURF, if you’re not in TOP physical shape, people’s head can explode. That’s why I’ve made it my mission to explore different civilian programs and see how they get in shape. What immediately caught my attention was the civilian program called CrossFit. I knew that we were probably in way better shape than these civilian Crossfitters, but I wanted to see what it was about anyway.

The SMURF brass thought I was an idiot for trying to infiltrate the CrossFit ranks. In their opinion, the SMURF physical fitness routine couldn’t get any better. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, we would get up at 0430 and jog five miles in formation. Occasionally, we would do a max set of pull-ups. You heard me right… A single set. Almost every time we had the chance though, we’d do twenty “Marine Corps” push-ups. Which was fucking stupid because all that meant was 40 regular push-ups.

Our physical fitness program was world class. We’d been doing the same workout routine since World War I, and they had REALLY perfected it all through Korea and Vietnam. Warmup with push-ups and “10 count body builders” (read burpees), run 5 miles, do a max set of pull-ups, cool down circle. Very simple, very hard to get in better shape than that.

Alright. Seriously though, the Marine Corps and Army physical fitness routine is a joke. It’s time the old farts in the main office got their ass kicked. Why doesn’t the military do something more about physical fitness? Why aren’t infantrymen tested on their dead lift or back squat? If they can setup a Combat Fitness Test, they can schedule a time throughout the day to run everybody in the platoon through the gym on base to see what you can bench press. Better yet, if you can spend $250,000 on a gym in Djibouti, Africa, you can spend $25,000 on a CrossFit gym on Camp Lejuene.

So what is CrossFit really about?

When you’re done wasting your time on CF, you can join me on the beach for a 6-mile boots and utes.

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Kids do keep getting killed with rifles, Sandy Hook, now Parkland. It may happen again in the future. However, for every example of one kid in a school getting killed with an “assault rifle” there’s a hundred examples of people getting murdered with pistols.

My question is – why is there always a huge public outcry to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines after school shootings, but there is never a public outcry to ban pistols?

The overwhelming argument I hear is that civilians don’t need military weapons, AR-15’s have no purpose except to kill people.

Really? Go hunting deer or ducks with a pistol much?

What’s the purpose for owning a Glock with a 33-round magazine? Self-defense? What’s the purpose for owning an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine? Self-defense?

In 2010, 358 murders were reported involving a rifle while 6,009 were reported involving a handgun.

In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. weren’t even murders – they were suicides.

In 2016, 7,105 people were murdered with pistols and 374 with rifles and 262 with shotguns.

Deadly mass shootings have resulted in considerable coverage by the media. These shootings have represented 1% of all deaths using guns from 1980 to present.

Why lobby for an assault weapons ban when they are a tiny percent of the problem? Why not lobby for a pistol ban?

I understand that 17 kids dead is 17 too many. That’s 17 families devastated. Those kids were robbed of a lifetime of joy.

What about the 39 murdered by pistols this month in Chicago alone?

Since automatic rifles are already untouchable and you’re going after semi-automatic rifles now – Why not try to ban all semi-automatic pistols too? I mean, a semi-automatic gun is a semi-automatic gun, right? That would include revolvers.

Typically, I hear many different characteristics that constitute an “assault rifle.” A collapsible butt-stock, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a flash hider, a pistol grip (only banned on rifles though – not on actual pistols), and of course – rapid fire.

“In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.”

You know what I never hear referred to as an assault rifle? A M82A1 .50 caliber rifle. I guess the actual cartridge the rifle shoots is unimportant to most.

Why not lobby to ban all civilian ownership of ANY caliber firearm larger than the assault rifle’s .308 Winchester? (I’ve moved on now from the super popular AR-15 to the non-existent AR-10) No hunting in Florida requires a .50 caliber bullet.

Seriously though, how about this – stop wasting your time trying to ban something that there are over 19,000,000 of (assault rifles that is). Stop wasting your time trying to ban something that tens of millions of people are obsessed with. That’s like trying to ban alcohol all over again. You sound exactly like someone trying to ban cigarettes because A. you don’t smoke and B. second-hand smoke kills 374 Americans each year.

As a whole, we should be focused on the big picture.

Besides, theoretically imagine a renewed assault weapons ban. All production of AR-15’s is halted. Immediately, 1500 firearm manufacturing companies – many of which produce only AR-15’s – would go out of business. Accessory companies like Magpul would close their doors. Millions of people would loose their job.

Then, there’s dealing with the 19 million assault rifles already in existence. What happens when the bill passes and only 500,000 get turned in? More? Less?

What happens to America when the government actually does come for your (assault) guns? Wouldn’t it be less (gun) violent to NOT call for a ban on one of the most iconic and popular firearms in existence? The gun ban Nazis (no pun intended) are getting louder and louder every day. They are irrational in their demands.

It’s not 1994 anymore. I’m afraid for my son’s future.

After the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night, there have been widespread calls for gun control. Hillary Clinton should not be quoted or mentioned in any type of digital or printed media from this point forward. She is beyond irrelevant. A CBS executive was apparently fired for not having sympathy for all the redneck Trump supporters who were murdered at a country music concert. I feel like I need to remind 50 percent of the population (Trump lost the popular vote 65 mil to 62 mil) that we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. The population of the United States is 325 million. We are the 3rd most populated country on earth. China has 1.386 billion and India has 1.322 billion, and I cannot describe how lucky I feel to be living in the United States – even when things like this happen.

Over the last 15 hours, I’ve listened to the radio, watched television and read news articles online. I’ve pieced together, as best I can, what happened in Las Vegas last night. Jason Aldean was singing at an outdoor concert. At approximately 10 p.m., someone starting shooting an automatic weapon from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay hotel down into the crowd of concert goers. Out of apparently 22,000 people in the crowd, 59 were killed and 527 were some degree of injured. After several minutes, security guards in the hotel went to the room of the gunman. A security guard was shot in the leg. Police said Paddock killed himself before a SWAT team breached his hotel room overlooking the country music venue. Police report there being over a dozen guns in the hotel room.

So far, that’s all I know.

At this point, I think it’s important to watch this video by Paul Joseph Watson:

As much as I agree with this video, I don’t agree 100 percent. Machine guns aren’t banned. I own one. I made it myself. The ATF already knows – I sent them a form stating that I had manufactured one. Machine guns only melt silencers after 10 minutes of continual firing – read as “extremely rare.” Also, Mr. Watson mentions that the machine gun could have only been legal if purchased before 1986. This is also false. You can purchase a machine gun just as easily as you can a short barreled rifle or silencer – with a fingerprint card, passport photos, $200 and a 12-month wait for a background check. It is entirely possible that all 20-something firearms that the shooter was in possession of are completely legal – even if some are full automatic.

So there you have it. Nobody, on either “side” of this argument, is 100 percent correct. However, I will agree with Mr. Watson the majority of the time. Especially in this case, liberals are again showing that they are incredibly incompetent. The things that come out of some people’s mouth (or Facebook post or tweets) are shocking. How can they be so stupid? If you ban all guns, what happens to the 190 million guns current in circulation? They disappear? I’m dumbfounded on the internet each and everyday, but not just by liberals. I’m surprised at how soft Americans (even Trump supporters) are getting.

I want to get to the real reason for this blog post – perspective.

perspective

Here are some of the headlines I’ve seen today:

A Burst of Gunfire, a Pause, Then Carnage in Las Vegas That Would Not Stop

Las Vegas Shooting: One Minute Jason Aldean Was Rocking; the Next It Was ‘World War III

The drama that has unfolded today has been surprising. It happens after each and every mass shooting in America. The graphic below was made 12 hours ago, when the death count was 50 and not 59. However, you can see the rest of the mass shootings in the graph. The 1999 Columbine High School shooting had 13 as well.mass shootings

As terrible as it is for innocent concert goers to be randomly murdered on a Sunday night, the media needs to reel in the selective drama. “One second Jason Aldean was singing, the next it was WWIII.” In World War I, 38.8 million people were killed, wounded or went missing. A short 20 years later, World War II saw 73 million more people killed, wounded or missing. “Carnage in Las Vegas That Would Not Stop.” Do you know where in America there is actually “carnage that will not stop?” Chicago. So far this year, 519 people have been murdered in Chicago. The overwhelming majority of them are shootings. In September alone, 56 people were murdered. Where’s the outrage? Where’s the news article headlines reading, “A burst of gunfire, then Chicago carnage that will not stop” or “One minute it was a Chicago Bears game, the next minute it was WWIII?” Where’s the perspective?

The talk of assault weaponry, the term “mass” (as in more than one at a time), the misleading gun control drama that is meant to pull on liberal heartstrings needs to take a sideline to the talk on mental health and psychoactive drugs.

Recently at Florida State University, there was a shooting. Myron May, an assistant district attorney in New Mexico, went into FSU’s Strozier library and shot three people in the middle of the night. Apparently, documents from the investigation suggest that May was intent on ending the mental torment that had plagued him for months. He was consumed with paranoia and convinced he was a “targeted individual” being stalked and harassed.

The similarities between the Las Vegas shooter’s situation and May’s are weird. In this video, the shooter’s brother is completely shocked at his brother’s behavior. He claims no mental illness, no criminal record, no parking tickets, no religious affiliation, no political affiliation, he wasn’t a white supremacist or Muslim. So…why gun down 600 people and kill yourself? Gambling debt? Doubtful. Read more:

The mystery of Stephen Paddock — gambler, real estate investor, mass killer

Perhaps in the weeks to come, we’ll find out more.

Again, where is the perspective? We live in the greatest country in the history of the world. We also live in the relatively new modern age of technology – read as the easiest life for a human to have thus far. We slowly move from our air-conditioned houses to our air-conditioned cars so we can drive to our air-conditioned places of employment. There we stock the shelves at Wal-Mart or type on our computers all day while listening to Spotify or work a construction job at a $10 million company and still find the time to complain about NFL players taking a knee.

“Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. The world population as a whole did not recover to pre-plague levels until the 17th century.”

Ahhhh, those were the good ole’ days. I wish people realized how absolutely easy their lives are compared to historical events. I’ll spend my entire life not having to worry about the Mongols or Vikings invading my country and killing or imprisoning me. Even though I did my time in Iraq and Africa, it was nothing compared to invading Normandy or Iwo Jima.

Where’s the perspective? Yes, it’s terrible 59 people died in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. No, it is not time to ban all guns. What we need to see more of is people talking about how poorly people reacted at the concert. In one of the videos, a lady can be heard saying, “Stay down. Don’t move.” They were laying on the ground in the middle of the wide open among tons of other people. Don’t know where the shooting is coming from? Fine. However, the deer-in-the-headlights look so many people had in the videos was terrifying. No matter where the shooter was at, hundreds of people simply laid on the ground and waited to get shot. Arguably, people were probably shot and/or killed because they laid there and did nothing.

That’s my perspective.

By IBRAHIM BARZAK and PETER ENAV

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state headed to Cairo on Monday to try to end two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting that has killed at least 508 Palestinians and 20 Israelis and displaced tens of thousands of Gaza residents.

The new cease-fire efforts by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry followed the deadliest day of fighting since the escalation erupted on July 8.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council expressed “serious concern” about Gaza’s rising civilian death toll and demanded an immediate end to the fighting following an emergency session.

As Israeli airstrikes continued to pound Gaza, rescue workers near the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis were digging out bodies early Monday from the one-story home of the Abu Jamea family, flattened in one of the strikes overnight, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health ministry official.

Al-Kidra said the Palestinian death toll from the two-week offensive stood at 508 as of Monday morning. More than half of those victims — 268 — were killed since an Israeli ground operation in Gaza began late Thursday.

That total included 20 bodies that were found at the site near Khan Younis, where two people were pulled alive from the rubble, Al-Kidra said.

Elsewhere in Gaza, he said, Israeli tanks opened fire on the home of the Siyam family west of Rafah in the southern part of the strip, killing 10 people, including four young children and a 9-month-old baby girl.

“Without any warning at all they began bombarding us at midnight, at 2 a.m., said Dr. Mahmoud Siyam, the head of the family. “We are not related to any military or political activities. We are civilized people (living) in this area of Gaza, what crime have we committed?”

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it foiled a Hamas infiltration attempt on Monday through two tunnels leading from northern Gaza into southern Israel. The military said 10 infiltrators were killed after being detected and targeted by Israeli aircraft.

On Sunday, the first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price, killing 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers and forcing thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their devastated Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians.

Palestinian medics tend to a boy who they said was wounded in an Israeli shelling, at a hospital, in …
Large sections of Shijaiyah were pulverized by a barrage of Israeli tank and artillery bombardments and repeated Israeli air strikes that buffeted the densely populated neighborhood for most of Sunday.

Speaking on national television shortly after the military announced the deaths of the 13 Israeli soldiers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Gaza offensive would continue “as long as necessary” to end attacks from Gaza on Israeli civilians.

Appearing with Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that Israel expected to complete its work neutralizing the Hamas tunnels leading into Israeli territory within several days — a possible hint of a timeframe for the end of the operation.

Still, much work remains if diplomats are to succeed in brokering a sustainable cease-fire. On Sunday, Kerry said the U.S. still supports the Egyptian proposal for a halt to the hostilities that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week.

Hamas remains deeply suspicious of the motives of the Egyptian government, which has banned the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Hamas closely identifies with.

The 13 Israeli soldiers who died in Shijaiyah brought the overall Israeli death toll to 20, including two civilians who died from rocket and mortar fire directed at Israeli towns and villages from different parts of Gaza.

On Sunday evening, Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri in Gaza claimed his group had captured an Israeli soldier. An announcement on Gaza TV of the soldier’s capture set off celebration in the streets of West Bank.

But there was no official confirmation of the claim in Israel. Earlier, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, said the Hamas claim was untrue.

For Israelis, a captured soldier would be a nightmare scenario. Hamas-allied militants seized an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid in 2006 and held him captive in Gaza until Israel traded more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom were involved in grisly killings, for his return in 2011.

Mr. McDonald,

Congratulations on your nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. As a good citizen you have agreed to take on one of the most demanding and important jobs in Washington.

As a veteran yourself you can appreciate how shaken veterans and their families are by the scandals and corruption that has been exposed throughout the Veterans Administration. I know you will agree that we owe our veterans the best care and we have failed to deliver.

Given the scale of the challenge, I hope you will not mind if, as someone who has spent nearly five decades in politics and government and has seen scores of cabinet secretaries come and go, I share a few thoughts on the position to which you’ve been nominated.

Should the Senate confirm you to this post, you will take command of the VA at the most troubled time in its history. The reports of corruption, incompetence, and corruption to hide incompetence have drawn the nation’s outrage and caused your predecessor to resign. How might you succeed at reform where so many others before you have failed?

Given your lifetime spent in business, probably you are familiar with W. Edwards Deming’s famous “Red Bead Experiment.” Deming used to carry around a bin full of red beads and white beads mixed together. He would describe to audiences his intention to gather up just the white beads, and then he would blindly plunge a scoop into the bin. To his ostensible frustration, the scoop would always emerge with a mix of both kinds of beads. Feigning disbelief, he would appoint a new person to wield the scoop. Invariably, he or she would fail as well. Then Deming would proceed to the next candidate, and so on.

The point of the Deming demonstration was to illustrate that a systems problem couldn’t be solved with new people, new slogans, and new speeches. When the system is broken, the personalities don’t matter. People will fail one after the next until the system is changed.

The range and scale of the misconduct at the VA shows that the corruption there, like the doomed attempt to isolate white beads, is not just a problem of personalities but more importantly of systems, and it goes to the very core of the bureaucracy. I have attached a map we have developed at Gingrich Productions which shows 55 VA sites with major problems. We are certain this number will grow as more parts of the VA are investigated and audited.

When you have that many places in trouble simultaneously you are not dealing with a few bad apples, a failure of a few leaders, or a need for better inspections. With that many places simultaneously in trouble, you have a system and a culture that have been corrupted and are collapsing.

The agency’s own audit found that 70 percent of VA medical facilities were using improper scheduling practices to hide long wait times by falsifying data. The wait times persist despite (or more likely because of) the fact that VA doctors see less than half as many patients as doctors in the private sector.

This is a department that has 40 percent more employees and costs 90 percent more money than it did in 2006. Operating rooms close at 3:00 pm so the union cleaning staff can leave by 5:00. Officials get bonuses no matter what their performance, apparently (though 100 percent of them were given “fully successful” performance reviews or better last year–a remarkable achievement in light of the agency’s widespread mismanagement).

It takes 175 days to transfer a veteran’s medical records from the Department of Defense to the VA. The DoD and the VA spent $1.3 billion and four years trying to build software to solve this issue before announcing in February that they had given up.

Failure this thorough points to a system–the giant, fossilized bureaucracy–that is hopelessly broken and must be replaced rather than repaired. Unfortunately, the entrenched bureaucrats, the unions, and the President, along with many others in Congress who are ideologically committed to a failed model of delivering health care, all oppose the systemic changes that could actually work.

Mr. McDonald, you are about to become the next guy holding the scoop at the VA. The prison guards of the past might write legislation to give you a bigger scoop, and then they will call the problem solved. Your job, as the new champion of our nation’s veterans, will be to focus the public’s outrage and to marshal support for real change.

Opportunities to force the kind of transformation the VA needs come along once or twice in a generation. It would be a tragic mistake if, after the enormous human pain that led to your appointment, you allowed the moment to pass.

What would systemic change look like? It would begin with enforcing the right metrics, with measuring success not by how well the Department serves the bureaucrats but by how well it serves our veterans. This would mean insisting the VA meet the standards our veterans are accustomed to as consumers in every other aspect of their lives–the world where services work and are increasingly digital, mobile, virtual, and personal.

The VA is a long way from that today, and to get there it will have to become a radically different agency with many fewer bureaucrats operating under a new set of assumptions. The fight to change the VA will be big. But the ramifications could extend well beyond your single department. The whole federal bureaucracy is broken, swollen into an unrestrained fourth branch of government. If you can harness public support to transform the current VA into a system based on choice, accountability, and efficiency, you could be setting the pattern for replacing the entire bureaucratic state with a government for the modern world.

It would be a fitting conclusion to a century plagued by bureaucracy if the renewal of American governance were to begin at the VA, a department which exemplified the system’s worst tendencies from the start. Charles Forbes, the first person to hold the position to which you have been nominated, stole tens of thousands of dollars from the bureau after World War I, as did many of his cronies. The corruption is not new, but nearly 100 years of it is enough.

I hope you will be the Secretary with the courage to demand the fundamental change our veterans need. The American people will be with you, even if many in Washington are not.

Sincerely,

Newt Gingrich

From LBEB:

Progress: it is the reason why the majority of us are in the gym every week. However you measure progress, whether you want bigger lifts, bigger muscles, less bodyfat or a faster 400m split, progress is what keeps us training day in and day out. Disregard the individuals that are going to the gym to “maintain”, that is just an excuse to not work hard. But, what if everything you put into your training doesn’t amount to a hill of beans? Here are 10 things that can indicate whether or not your programming & training is being spent wisely.

1. You don’t understand the difference between difficult and useful.
Just because something is hard to do, does not mean it is useful, or will do anything to progress your lifting career. I could spend 3 months mastering a strict muscle up, but will that really help me as a Strongman? Spend your time wisely, time is finite.

2. You aren’t eating enough carbs.
If I had a nickel for every time we added carbs in to someone’s diet improved their lifts, I would have more nickels than you. Carbs are not your enemy, stagnation is. Steak and broccoli is not eating big, so for the love of progress, put a potato on the barbie.

3. You ask everyone on the internet for advice, and listen to all of it/none of it.
Either way you end this equation, you are going to lose. If you try to follow everyone’s cues and tips, you will go nowhere, because everyone on the internet has different opinions about the “right” way to do things, which may not apply to you at all. If you listen to none of it, you are wasting everyone’s time, especially yours. Pick someone’s advice that you trust, put on your blinders, and follow their orders.

4. You think a supplement will make up for calories. No supplement is going to replace the calories you need to get bigger and stronger, if it comes in a pill, it has little or no calories in it. Pills and powders don’t get you big on their own, that’s why it is called a supplement, not a replacement.

5. You want to get better at everything, and you want it to happen yesterday. Arguably, a lot of us are guilty of this. However, the line that separates those who want to be good and those who want to become good is the ability to break goals into smaller pieces, and accomplish them in segments. World records aren’t built in a day.

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6. You view training gear as non-primal/cheating. I am going to let you in on a secret: if you are reading this article while connected to the internet, you are about as far removed from a primal state as you can be, why should your training be any different? I am not afraid to venture a guess that I am stronger than my cave dwelling ancestors, because I am not afraid to use proper assistance gear when lifting. Belts, straps, chalk, and wrist wraps are your friend, if you think that is cheating, you should start walking barefoot to work and start living in the nearest redwood forest.

7. You aren’t recording your lifts. Unless you are doing bodybuilding movements, you probably don’t need to watch yourself in a mirror while lifting. However, recording your lifts and watching them after is an excellent way to study your movements and learn how to improve them next time. If you think good athletes don’t record and post their videos, you are in for a rude awakening.

8. You are afraid to compete. I can personally attest to this, because I was once afraid to compete. Sometimes failing at a competition is exactly what you need, in order to do better the next time. I have yet to work with someone who, after their first competition, did not have a fire lit under their ass to compete again ASAP.

9. You think bench/squat/deadlift is all you need to do to be a good lifter. This may be true for those first starting out, but as you progress, you will see that it is simply not true. By not adding in supplementary bodybuilding movements, your weaknesses will still be your weaknesses as you get stronger. Suns Out, Guns Out.

10. You don’t know how to detach. What if I told you that there was a whole world out there, full of people and places that have no idea about lifting, or care about it? Sometimes getting out of the “community” for a short period of time is exactly what you need to get your mind right. Familiarity breeds contempt, and all too often we get extremely familiar with our lifestyles. Take some time off and hit lifting with renewed vigor.

By Colin Freeman, 5:50PM BST 10 Jun 2014

Militants storm northern city of Mosul, freeing thousands of prisoners, as Iraqi prime minister declares state of emergency and offers to arm citizens who volunteer to fight against militants

Al-Qaeda seized control of Iraq’s third biggest city on Tuesday, freeing thousands of imprisoned fellow fighters in a series of jailbreaks and sparking a mass exodus of refugees.

The assault on the city of Mosul, 225 miles north west of Baghdad, saw the Iraqi army retreat to the outskirts after a sustained assault by men armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

As well as seizing the main governorate building – forcing the city’s governor to flee – the gunmen were also reported to have gained control of three different jails, numerous police stations and an airport, where several military planes and helicopters were based.

The loss of the city, home to around one million people, is potentially a huge challenge to the Iraqi government, which has been struggling to quell a regalvanised al-Qaeda insurgency for more than two years.

As residents fled in their thousands, they spoke of seeing militants raising al-Qaeda’s black flag from buildings, and of newly-released prisoners running through the streets in yellow jumpsuits.

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Iraqis fleeing violence in the Nineveh province wait at a Kurdish checkpoint (AFP)

“Mosul now is like hell. It’s up in flames,” said Amina Ibrahim, who like many others was heading for northern Iraq’s more stable Kurdish-controlled zone. “I lost my husband in a bomb blast last year, I don’t want my kids to follow him.”

The militants are believed to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the joint Iraqi-Syrian al-Qaida affiliate that is also fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in neighbouring Syria. Seizing control of Mosul, which lies on a stretch of the Tigris less than 100 miles from the Syrian border, would help the group in its aim of carving out a swathe of uncontested territory straddling the two borders.

While the exact picture in Mosul was still confused on Tuesday because of the ongoing fighting, the militants appeared to have made significant ground in routing Iraqi security forces, some of whom were filmed being pelted with rocks as they pulled out of the city.

“The city of Mosul is outside the control of the state and at the mercy of the militants,” an interior ministry official told the Agence France Presse news agency, saying soldiers had fled after removing their uniforms.

Several residents told the Associated Press that the militants were now touring the city with loudspeakers, announcing that they had “come to liberate Mosul and would fight only those who attack them”.

“The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,” said Umm Karam, a government employee. “We are afraid… There is no police or army in Mosul.”

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Iraqi soldiers prepare to take their positions during clashes with militants in Mosul (AP)

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the government would provide weapons and equipment to citizens who volunteer to fight against militants.

Maliki, in a statement broadcast on state TV, said the cabinet has “created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming”.

The assault follows similar attempts by ISIL in January to seize the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, which Iraqi security forces are still fighting to regain control of some five months on.

Mosul, however, represents a potentially far bigger prize, as the regional capital of the non-Kurdish section of northern Iraq. It has been a stronghold of al-Qaeda for nearly a decade, ever since militants attempted a similar takeover in late 2004, when US troops were in control. While other Iraqi cities were later largely cleared of al-Qaeda during the US troop “surge” in 2007, the group was never properly routed from Mosul, where it has since rebuilt its presence.

Last year, diplomats in Baghdad told The Telegraph that the group had also established a thriving Mafia-style extortion empire in the city, raking in up to £1 million a month in “protection” fees from local businesses.

The assault on Mosul began around four days ago, around the same time that gunmen briefly took around 1,000 students hostage at a university campus in Ramadi. Having gained control of most of the western side of Mosul, the insurgents seized the government complex – a key symbol of state authority – late on Monday.

According to Reuters, the city’s governor, Atheel Nujaifi, was trapped inside the provincial government’s headquarters but managed to escape while police held back an assault by hundreds of militants. Just earlier that day, Mr Nujaifi had made a televised plea to the city’s residents to stand up to the militants.

“I call on the men of Mosul to stand firm in their areas and defend them against the outsiders, and to form popular committees through the provincial council,” he said, speaking with the Iraqi flag draped behind him.

Several army officers told Reuters that the Iraqi forces were demoralized and outgunned by ISIL. “Without urgent intervention of more supporting troops, Mosul could fall into their hands in a matter of days” said a senior security official.

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Armored vehicles take position during clashes between army and militants in Mosul (AP)

Another officer added: “They are well trained in street fighting and we’re not. They’re like ghosts: they appear to strike and disappear in seconds.”

Following the taking of the governor’s office, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, on Wednesday asked parliament to declare a state of emergency. “Iraq is undergoing a difficult stage,” he said, acknowledging that militants had taken control of “vital areas in Mosul.”

The Turkish government said it was investigating reports that 28 Turkish lorry drivers had been taken hostage in Nineveh, the province that surrounds Nineveh.

Having effectively been reduced to a spent force by 2008, al-Qaeda’s brand of Sunni Muslim extremism has gradually regained strength in Iraq thanks to growing discontent with the Shia-led government among the country’s minority Sunni community, who ruled during the late Saddam Hussein’s time.

Many Sunnis accuse the government of treating them as second-class citizens, and while not all of them support al-Qaeda’s ideology, the growing sense of discontent has driven some to see al-Qaeda as an ally again. The Iraqi government’s slow response to the demands of a new Sunni-led civil rights movement, based on the Arab Spring protests in neighbouring countries, has also inflamed tensions.

Violence in Iraq is now running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority. More than 900 people were killed last month, according to figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government.

Security officials also attribute the spike in violence to the organisational capabilities of the new local leader of al-Qaeda, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who formed ISIL under the nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

As well as strings of attacks involving carbombings and gun assaults, al-Baghdadi organised a previous mass jail break from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad last summer, freeing an estimated 500 hard-core militants.