Podcast Episode 4-27-23
In this episode, we’ll be discussing several topics, which you probably haven’t seen in the news. As I always say, our media does a terrible job covering our military and potential hotspots, so I’m hoping to fill this void.
But, in addition to ending the podcast with some awesome motivation and wisdom, we’ll cover:
Timestamp: 5:05. Special forces swiftly evacuate US embassy staff from Sudan.
Timestamp: 10:17. Did President Biden “abandon” 16,000 Americans in Sudan? The accusations have already begun…
Timestamp: 19:30. Update on the current situation in Sudan.
Timestamp: 21:42. Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is upbeat after talk with China’s Xi Jinping.
Timestamp: 24:38. Russia can fund war in Ukraine for another year despite sanctions, leaked document says.
Timestamp: 27:43. A recently-released campaign assessment provided some juicy tidbits about the upcoming potential Ukrainian offensive.
Timestamp: 34:21. Ukraine’s Azov brigade races to rebuild ahead of fateful fight.
Timestamp: 39:25. Russia’s influence has actually expanded in Africa, with its Wagner Group, spreading across the continent as U.S. influence fades, leak reveals.
Timestamp: 44:440 Finally, we’ll cover plenty of motivation and wisdom.
Timestamp: 50:51. And if you want to learn more about me, my hope for the country (and for those listening), and about the 11 books I’ve written, jump to here on the podcast.
Welcome to the View from the Front podcast. If you just happened to stumble by, let me say a quick word about what we’re doing here.
For those who don’t know, my name is Stan R. Mitchell, and I’m a prior Marine and journalist.
Every week, I primarily do three things with my podcast:
Work to highlight what our military troops are doing around the world, while also trying to better educate Americans about looming hotspots and foreign policy news you absolutely should know. (Why I focus on foreign policy...)
Attempt to unite our country and remind us of how lucky we are to live in America. Our division and animosity toward each other is dangerous, and I want to do my small part to remind us that more unites us than divides us, and that most Americans are good and not screaming, crazy extremists like you see on the news all the time. (My thoughts on the division in this country...)
Finally, I always share plenty of motivation and wisdom at the end of the episode, because I want to do my small part to help encourage you and lift you up. Life is certainly hard, and I think it’s fair to say all of us need all the motivation and encouragement that we can possibly get.
In this episode, we’ll be discussing several topics, that I think will really interest you, and that I almost guarantee you haven’t seen in the news! T
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Enough of the sales pitch, I hope you enjoy today’s edition. Again, you should listen to it from the player above.
From the story in the AP:
U.S. special operations forces carried out a precarious evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Sudan on Sunday, sweeping in and out of the capital with helicopters on the ground for less than an hour. No shots were fired and no major casualties were reported.
With the final embassy employee out of Khartoum, the United States shuttered its diplomatic mission indefinitely. Remaining behind in the East African nation are thousands of private American citizens. U.S. officials said it would be too dangerous to carry out a broader evacuation operation.
Battles between two rival Sudanese commanders had forced the closing of the main international airport and left roads out of the country in control of armed fighters. The skirmishes have killed more than 400 people.
The Department of Defense provided quite a bit of detail about the operation:
U.S. forces evacuated just under 100 American staff of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan yesterday, U.S. government officials said.
President Joe Biden gave the order to evacuate the embassy from the embattled country. A small number of allied diplomats were also evacuated, State Department officials said in a telephonic news conference.
The Defense Department had deployed troops and capabilities to Djibouti just in case there was an order to evacuate the embassy in Khartoum, said Army Lt. Gen. Douglas A. Sims II, the Joint Staff's director of operations. "[Yesterday], the U.S. military evacuated those personnel in support of the State Department closing operations at the Embassy in Khartoum," Sims said. "[Yesterday] at 9 a.m. Eastern, a contingent of U.S. forces lifted off from Djibouti and landed in Ethiopia. The aircraft — including three MH-47 Chinooks refueled in Ethiopia before flying approximately three hours to Khartoum.
"The evacuation was conducted in one movement via rotary wing," Sims continued. "The operation was fast and clean, with service members spending less than an hour on the ground in Khartoum. As we speak, the evacuees are safe and secure."
Sims said there were just over 100 special operations personnel conducting the operation. The U.S. Marine Embassy guards were also evacuated.
"I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America's friendship and connection with the people of Sudan," Biden said in a written release. "I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety."
Biden also thanked the governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia who aided the U.S. evacuation operation.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said the evacuation was under command of U.S. Africa Command and conducted in close coordination with the U.S. State Department. "I'm proud of our extraordinary service members who executed and supported this operation with outstanding precision and professionalism," he said.
Two other important points from the Dept of Defense.
First, the Marines protecting the embassy have probably had an extremely challenging week, if you want to read into this statement some.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, praised the Marines who protected and defended the embassy during the past week. "Our Marines who protect many of our embassies overseas do not often get the credit they deserve," he said. "Their courage under duress represents America as its best again in this instance."
Also, this seems relevant: more Americans remain.
There are still American citizens in Sudan. "In the coming days, we will continue to work with the State Department to help American citizens who may want to leave Sudan," Maier said. "One of those ways is to potentially make the overland routes out of Sudan potentially more viable. So, DOD is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats."
Most news outlets are stating that 16,000 American citizens — many of them dual nationals, who do not work for the government — remain in Sudan.
Many other countries are trying to evacuate its citizens, including France, Germany, Egypt, China, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and other countries.
The situation remains tenuous as fighting continues in Sudan.
“I am concerned about the safety and security of U.S. nationals who’ve been serving in humanitarian missions or in other ways across the country,” Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) said Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
“There are quite a few U.S.-Sudanese dual nationals in the country, and the U.N. and the U.S. and a number of other countries will do their best to help return to civilian rule to end the fighting to support a stabilization in Sudan.”
The scramble to evacuate foreign nationals and diplomatic staff followed Sudan’s collapse into civil conflict, after political tensions between rival generals erupted into violence on April 15. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo — widely referred to by his nickname, Hemedti — heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group whose origins trace back to the Janjaweed militias that terrorized Darfur. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is the commander of Sudan’s armed forces and the country’s de facto head of state.
Together, the two men seized power in Sudan in 2021, toppling a civilian-led government. In December, under intense diplomatic pressure, they agreed to a draft deal aimed at returning the country to civilian rule. But they clashed over power-sharing and a timeline to integrate Hemedti’s forces into the military; Hemedti wanted a longer timeline to maintain his power base. The final deal was due in April, but instead the two generals went to war.
Now, already, this entire situation has become political.
But here’s the thing. Situations like this can spiral very quickly. And the United States helped arrange a temporary cease-fire. Even more complicating, often the U.S. citizens refuse to leave until it’s almost too late. (Humans always expect it won’t be as bad as it often gets.)
Could the State Department and our military have done more? Sure they could’ve. (And they may still do so.)
But here’s a list of warnings and updates about Sudan from the State Department website. Read it before you go assigning blame. (Just click the link and see how long it is…)
These things are never simple, so don’t listen to the bloviating opinion news host or your loud-mouthed friend.
As an update to the original reporting, there’s a ceasefire in place and hundreds of Sudanese are amassing at the borders of Sudan.
From the story:
Taking advantage of relative calm, many residents in Khartoum and the neighboring city of Omdurman emerged from their homes to seek food and water, lining up at bakeries or grocery stores, after days of being trapped inside by the fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary group. Some inspected shops or homes that had been destroyed or looted.
Russia and Ukraine news:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had a “long and meaningful” phone call Wednesday, their first known contact since Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, and Beijing appointed an envoy to pursue a “political settlement.”
The hour-long call came two months after Beijing, which has long been aligned with Russia, said it wanted to act as a mediator and a month after Xi visited Moscow. The call also coincided with indications that Ukraine is readying its forces for a spring counteroffensive.
U.S. intelligence holds that Russia will be able to fund the war in Ukraine for at least another year, even under the heavy and increasing weight of unprecedented sanctions, according to leaked U.S. military documents.
The previously unreported documents provide a rare glimpse into Washington’s understanding of the effectiveness of its own economic measures, and of the tenor of the response they have met in Russia, where U.S. intelligence finds that senior officials, agencies and the staff of oligarchs are fretting over the painful disruptions — and adapting to them.
While some of Russia’s economic elites might not agree with the country’s course in Ukraine, and sanctions have hurt their businesses, they are unlikely to withdraw support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an assessment that appears to date from early March.
It looks like the Ukrainian spring offensive is still days or weeks away, but I wanted to talk about that a bit.
The Institute for the Study of War released a campaign assessment on Sunday that had some juicy tidbits about the upcoming potential Ukrainian offensive.
The short of it is two important facts:
First, the offensive could be twice as large as the one that took so much land around Kharkiv (in Eastern Ukraine) back in September 2022. (As a reminder, that offensive recaptured 7,500 miles of territory for Ukraine.)
Second, the Russians have deployed most of their front-line troops to the line and appear to have almost no reserves to deal with break throughs. That is HORRIBLY bad if you’re on the Russian side.
This report assumes, in particular, that Ukraine will be able to conduct a coordinated multi-brigade mechanized offensive operation making full use of the reported nine brigades being prepared for that operation. That task is daunting and larger than any offensive effort Ukraine has hitherto attempted (four Ukrainian brigades were reportedly used in the Kharkiv counter-offensive, for example). It also assumes that Ukraine will have integrated enough tanks and armored personnel carriers of various sorts into its units to support extended mechanized maneuver, that Ukrainian mechanized units will have sufficient ammunition of all sorts including artillery, and that Ukraine will be able to conduct long-range precision strikes with HIMARS and other similar systems integrated with and supporting maneuver operations as it has done before. It further assumes that Ukrainian forces will have the mine-clearing and bridging capabilities needed to move relatively rapidly through prepared defensive positions. ISW sees no reason to question any of these assumptions given the intensity with which Ukraine has reportedly been preparing for this operation and the time it has taken to do so, as well as the equipment reportedly delivered to Ukrainian forces by Western countries.
Russian forces in Ukraine are operating in decentralized and largely degraded formations throughout the theater, and the current pattern of deployment suggests that most available units are already online and engaged in either offensive or defensive operations.
The Azov brigade, hailed by Ukrainians for its tenacity during Russia’s siege of Mariupol, is scrambling to rebuild from heavy combat losses as it seeks to play a muscular role in Ukraine’s next major assault.
The high-profile unit is hoping to recruit 6,500 new fighters who will provide restored combat heft even as its leaders push for the return of more than 1,000 brigade troops who remain in Russia as prisoners of war.
“We are ready to liberate territory,” Maj. Bohdan “Tavr” Krotevych, who is the brigade’s interim commander and is leading the rebuilding effort after his release from Russian captivity in the fall, said in an interview.
The Wagner Group is moving aggressively to establish a “confederation” of anti-Western states in Africa as the Russian mercenaries foment instability while using their paramilitary and disinformation capabilities to bolster Moscow’s allies, according to leaked secret U.S. intelligence documents.
The rapid expansion of Russia’s influence in Africa has been a source of growing alarm to U.S. intelligence and military officials, prompting a push over the past year to find ways to hit Wagner’s network of bases and business fronts with strikes, sanctions and cyber operations, according to the documents.
U.S. officials depict Wagner’s expanding global footprint as a potential vulnerability. … One document in the trove lists nearly a dozen “kinetic” and other options that could be pursued as part of “coordinated U.S. and allied disruption efforts.” The files propose providing targeting information to help Ukraine forces kill Wagner commanders, and cite other allies’ willingness to take similar lethal measures against Wagner nodes in Africa.
Motivation and Wisdom:
I truly hope these help pick up your spirits, revive your hopes, and make you a better person.
Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Focus on the things that you can.
That’s it for this edition.
As a reminder, please be kind and try your best to love your fellow Americans.
So many men and women have sacrificed, fought, and died to keep this country together the past 240-plus years. Please work daily to unite our country again. The vast majority of Americans are decent, loving, great people.
Also, please try to be a better person each and every day. Try to be kinder on social media and how you interact with others with whom you disagree.
Please join me again in our next episode, and please stay safe until then.
And with that, I’m out.
Love and peace,
Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a motivational self-help book about President Obama, and two realistic war novels: one about World War II and one about Afghanistan. You can find all of these books on Amazon.