Britain, Canada, France, and D-Day: Gold, Juno, and Sword

(Map 1: Normandy Landings)

Earlier today I did a post on the 74th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings. This focused on the US, specifically as it highlighted the 82nd Airborne Division’s reenactment of their portion of the campaign over twitter. D-Day, however, was not just about the US’s efforts. It is important, given the current realities of the US’s relations with its closest allies, to remind ourselves what our allies and partners not only contribute as allies and partners, but what they are capable of doing. So before the 6th turns to the 7th, I wanted to take a moment and focus on Britain’s, Canada’s, and the Free French Forces’ portions of Operation Overlord, which were the landings on the Normandy coast’s named Gold (Britain), Juno (Britain and Canada), and Sword (Britain and France).

The planning for Operation Overlord was met with skepticism by Canadian and British military leadership as a result of the failure of the Allied raid at Dieppe on the French coast in 1942. From the BBC:

The British and Canadians had suffered their own disaster at Dieppe on 18 August 1942. More than two thirds of a 6,000-man raiding force had been left behind on the shingle beach, dead, wounded and prisoners.

On the eve of D-Day the Allied leadership was in a state of neurotic anxiety. Just after midnight on 6 June, a restless Churchill, haunted by memories of the disastrous Allied landings at Gallipoli 29 years earlier, bade his wife goodnight with the words, ‘Do you realise that by the time you wake up in the morning twenty thousand men may have been killed?’

The same night, the chief of the imperial general staff, General Alan Brooke, confided to his diary that ‘… it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war. I wish to God it were safely over ‘.

Nevertheless, Britain and Canada prepared to take part in Overlord. From Veterans Affairs Canada:

Allied aircraft paved the way for the landings, bombing the coastal defence in the months leading up to the attack. On June 6, 1944—D-Day—a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel to engage in Operation Overlord. Their destination: an 80-kilometre stretch of the heavily-defended coast of Normandy. There were five landing zones, given special code names: Juno Beach (Canada); Gold Beach (United Kingdom); Sword Beach (United Kingdom and France); and Utah Beach and Omaha Beach (United States).

Seven thousand vessels of all types, including 284 major combat vessels, took part in Operation Neptune, the assault phase of the D-Day offensive. Destroyers and supporting craft of the Royal Canadian Navy did their part and shelled German targets while many Royal Canadian Air Force planes were among the 4,000 Allied bombers (plus some 3,700 fighters and fighter bombers) which attacked the German beach defences and inland targets.

More than 450 Canadians parachuted inland before dawn on June 6 and engaged the enemy. A few hours later, some 14,000 Canadian troops began coming ashore at Juno Beach in the face of enemy fire. Their mission: to establish a beachhead along an eight-kilometre stretch fronting the villages of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, and Saint Aubin-sur-Mer. Once secure, the troops would push inland to capture the city of Caen, an important communications centre for the Germans.

Many Canadian soldiers in the Normandy campaign were young and new to battle, but their courage and skill meant they often helped lead the Allied advance against a determined enemy. Canadians soon captured three shoreline positions on D-Day and established themselves near the village of Creully, but this was to be only the beginning of the struggle to liberate France. Savage fighting in Normandy continued and grew even more intense as Canadian forces faced powerful German Panzer tank divisions in the struggle for Caen.

Through the summer of 1944, the fighting continued through choking dust and intense heat. The conditions were terrible and the enemy was ruthless, but the troops moved forward. Canadians played an important role in closing the “Falaise Gap” in mid-August as the Germans finally retreated in the face of the Allied offensive. On August 25, 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allies, bringing the Normandy campaign officially to a close.

And once again the BBC (emphasis mine):

On Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, British and Canadian troops were supported by the specialised assault vehicles of 79th Armoured Division. On all three, German strongpoints initially inflicted heavy casualties, but a combination of Petard mortar and Crocodile tank soon smashed the defences.

On Gold and Juno, British and Canadian forces pushed inland rapidly. On Sword, British 3rd Division was held up three miles short of Caen by a network of German defensive positions along a ridge. Finally, late that afternoon, the 21st Panzer Division launched a counterattack. Some units managed to reach the coast, though they were too weak to hold their positions.

The world learned the invasion was underway from German state radio, which announced landings in Normandy on its 07.00 news service, and promised the invaders would be swiftly annihilated.

A special BBC news bulletin came two-and-a-half hours later. John Snagge announced that D-Day had come and all was going according to plan. At 12.00 Churchill repeated this news in a statement to the House of Commons. Despite Eisenhower’s worries about the situation on Omaha beach, by mid-afternoon it was clear that even on Omaha the battle was running in the Allies’ favour.

When Churchill again addressed the House of Commons at 18.00 it was to announce an astounding success. To secure a lodgement on the coast of France, the Allies had taken 10,000 casualties, 3,000 of whom were dead – mostly airborne troops or those who had landed at Omaha Beach.

Losses were far lighter than anticipated, a tribute to years of planning and preparation, a bold command decision, and a lot of good luck.

I want to make sure to include the Free French Forces’ contribution. There weren’t a lot of them involved in the landing and assault on Sword Beach, but they fought with distinction.

On June 6, 1944, the Free French land forces deployed on Sword Beach are composed of two troops and a section. There are 177 commandos (1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins) led by Commandant Philippe Kieffer.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, four sticks of 8 paratroopers from Free France belonging to the 3rd battalion under Bourgoin were dropped over Brittany.

The Free French air forces that participated in Operation Neptune from June 5 to 6, 1944, are the following: 3 fighter squadrons and 2 light and heavy bomber squadrons (which had previously fought in North Africa).

On many Allied war ships participating in Operation Overlord, one could find some crewmen French Libres. There are four Free French ships (which had been almost all built by the British):

In front of the German coastal artillery battery of Longues-sur-Mer (between Omaha Beach and Gold Beach) are deployed the Free France cruisers “Montcalm” and “Georges Leygues”.

In front of Omaha Beach is the Free France destroyer “Roselys”.

In front of Juno Beach is the Free France destroyer “La Combattante”.

 

(Image 1: Kieffer Commando’s Monument)

Here’s a documentary about the Allied – British, Canadian, and Free French – portion of Operation Overlord:

Open thread!

 



D-Day and Operation Overlord: The 74th Anniversary of the Normandy Landing

Today is the 74th anniversary of D-Day, which was the Normandy landing portions of Operation Overlord. The 82nd Airborne Division’s social media team, with, I would expect, an assist from the Division historian, are doing a historical reenactment via twitter of the All American Division’s part of the operation 74 years on.

Eisenhower’s letter to the troops:

And his letter taking responsibility in case it all went wrong:

There is the occasional dig on their rivals in the 101st Airborne Division:

And there are maps of the battlespace!

They have about an hour or so left to go in their social media reenactment, so if you’re a World War II buff or just curious, click across and check out the whole thing.

All the way!

Open thread.

ETA: Ike’s letters.

 



From Memorial Day 2017 To Memorial Day 2018: The Tally Of The Fallen

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Those who have died in service to the US from 29 May 2017 to 28 May 2018:

Sergeant Erik M Houck

Sergeant William M. Bayes

Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge

Private First Class Hanson B. Kirkpatrick

Sergeant Jonathon M. Hunter

Specialist Christopher M. Harris

Technical Sergeant David Board

Specialist Allen Levi Stigler, Jr.

Sergeant Roshain Euvince Brooks

Staff Sergeant Aaron R. Butler

Specialist Alexander R. Missildine

Staff Sergeant Dustin M. Wright

Sergeant La David T. Johnson

Sergeant Jeremiah W. Johnson

Staff Sergeant Bryan C. Black

Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims

Sergeant First Class Stephen B. Cribben

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith

Sergeant First Class Hughton O. Brown

Corporal Todd L. McGurn

Specialist Avadon A. Chaves

Sergeant First Class Mihail Golin

Specialist Javion S. Sullivan

Sergeant Christina M. Schoenecker

Sergeant First Class Maitland D. Wilson

Captain Christopher Zanetis

Captain Mark Weber

Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso

Master Sergeant William Posch

Captain Andreas O’Keeffe

Staff Sergeant Carl Enis

Staff Sergeant Dashan Briggs

Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar



Megan McArdle Knows Absolutely Nothing About Any Form Of War And Wouldn’t Even If A Member Of The Military Bit Her!

Which I wouldn’t recommend, because despite all the vaccinations they’re given, I’m pretty sure they don’t cover whatever variant of Jakob Cruetzfeldt disease afflicts libertarian pundits who have never held an actual job and have absolutely no real world experience. But I repeat myself!

Now that the throat clearing is out of the way, I want to make a quick follow on point to AL’s cataloguing of McArdle’s idiocy. Specifically that the US has never actually fought a civil war. A civil war refers to a form of low intensity warfare – as in less than interstate war* -where the supporters of two or more claimants to power fight for control of the state. The claimants may have either de jure (legal) or de facto (extant) claims to control the state. This is not what happened in the US in the 1860s. Rather, what we call the US Civil War was actually a rebellion in support of secession from the state in the attempt to set up a new one. There was no dispute as to the legitimacy of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. What was in dispute is that the southern states that would become the Confederacy refused to accept the election’s outcome and sought to breakaway and form their own nation-state.

Had supporters of Secretary Clinton, including Democratic elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, refused to accept the President’s election as legitimate and contested his inauguration, including violently, once they learned that the US intelligence community had determined that the Russians had interfered in the US election with the specific objections of electing the President, then we’d be talking about a civil war. That did not happen despite some of the comments posted here over the past 18 months or so…

What McArdle doesn’t understand, because she knows nothing about war – theoretically, conceptually, and/or experientially – is that there has been a low level insurgency in the US going back decades. We sometimes call this the culture war. Sometimes it’s referred to as the Southern Strategy, but it involves one of the two major political parties and its supporting movements, including religious movements, in the US refusing to accept the legitimacy of any other ones. It includes frequent use of dehumanizing language and threats of violence ranging from legislatively and regulatorily directing the power of the state, utilizing lawfare, and actually threatening and sometimes undertaking violence against their opponents or the objects of their dehumanization campaigns when the insurgents don’t get their way. And these people – elected, appointed, voters, supporters, pundits, etc – are McArdle’s fellow travelers! They are part of the larger political, ideological, dogmatic religious, and sub-cultural groups and movements that McArdle has been marinating in since she was an undergraduate.

They also make the mistake that they are the only ones that get to define patriotism and to actually care about the US and its ideals. They have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who can properly interpret the Constitution when in fact they are the poorest of linguistic and political historians of the late 18th Century, which leads to constantly misunderstanding and misapplying the Constitution. And they have deluded themselves into thinking that because their opponents believe in civility that their opponents are also unwilling to actually defend themselves in the political, ideological, social, religious, economic, and/or legal arenas. And those delusions include the mistaken belief that they don’t have the means to do so.

Right now the US is experiencing one of its periodic bouts of growing pains. As was the case in the 1780s and 1790s, the 1830s and 1840s, the 1860s, the late 1870s through the 1890s, during WW I, in the mid to late 1930s, and in the middle 1960s through the early 1970s, a period of imperfect progress is being met with a backlash against it. It is ugly. It is unpleasant. It is damaging. People who do not deserve to be hurt are being hurt. The real question that McArdle should have asked, yet is incapable because she is as the one who does not know how to ask, is what does it really mean to form a more perfect union? And what are the best ways to go about perfecting the union? Those are the real questions of American civic life. Not whether Democrats in urban areas know how to use guns.

Finally, that McArdle would even contemplate tweeting about this on Memorial Day weekend is insensitive and disrespectful for those who have given their life in service to the US. Discussing whether Americans should or could kill each other again en masse in pursuit of political power on this of all weekends should lead her to remove herself from opining. She needs to flee the public square and contemplate that the people who have given their lives for the US, with the exception of those fighting on behalf of the Confederacy, did so despite their political and ideological and regional and religious differences. They did it to ensure there would be a union to continue to perfect. McArdle is a poor excuse for a public intellectual. Unfortunately she’s an all too perfect an example of a poorly informed and poorly educated American ideologue.

And in case she or one of her followers sees her name in the post title on Cole’s twitter feed and decides to pop over and ask who am I to question her expertise in regard to war, here’s my abbreviated professional bio:

Adam L. Silverman is a consulting national security subject matter expert. In 2016 he assisted XVIII Airborne Corps in their strategic assessment of the Iraqi and Syrian Operating Environment for their deployment as the command element of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. In 2015 he served as a Senior Fellow at SOCOM’s Center for Special Operations Studies and Research. Prior to that he served as a Subject Matter Expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe from June through August 2014. From July 2010 through June 2014, he was the Cultural Advisor and Professor of National Security and Strategy at the US Army War College. In June 2014 he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by MG Anthony A. Cucolo, III.

Dr. Silverman has advised and provided support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue, US Central Command, US European Command, US Special Operations Command, US Army Europe, the US Army Institute for NCO Professional Development, the US Army Sergeants Major Academy, US Army Special Operations Command, US Army Central, the US Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General and US Army Corrections Command, I Corps, III Corps, XVIII Airborne Corps, 1st Armored Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the Department of State’s Near East and South Asia Desk, and JIEDDO’s Science Directorate. From NOV 2013 to AUG 2014 he served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of US Army Europe on temporary assignment. From OCT 2012 to NOV 2013 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Civil Affairs Branch Chief on temporary assignment. During 2012 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of III Corps on temporary assignment from JAN through AUG. In 2010 he was the external subject matter expert on temporary assigned control to US Army Civil Affairs Branch’s Capability Based Assessment and then through JUN 2011 to the US Special Operations Command’s Joint Civil Information Management Test Development program. He previously served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division from OCT 2007 through OCT 2008 and was deployed with the brigade in Iraq in 2008. Upon returning from Iraq he served as a social science advisor in US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s G2 (2009). He routinely provides operational support to a number of US Army, DOD, and other US Government elements. Dr. Silverman holds a doctorate in political science and criminology from the University of Florida, as well as masters’ degrees in comparative religion and international security.

* An interstate war involves two or more sovereign states whose militaries are fighting in uniform under their states’ flags with a minimum of a thousand battlefield deaths. Interstate wars will often include types of low intensity warfare, such as rebellions, revolutions, insurgencies, and terror campaigns on one or more sides of the conflict.

Open thread!



Pompe-NO

Trump’s sycophantic CIA director, Mike Pompeo, will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly to make the case for his own confirmation as US Secretary of State. Trump wished his flunky well in his bid to succeed the ousted Tillerson, confident that Pompeo would never call him (Trump) “a fucking moron.”

Odd that Trump appended the good luck wishes to a whiny, self-congratulatory, incoherent walk-back of his recent tough-guy babblings in Putin’s general direction. Or fitting, actually. Every single Democrat should vote “nay” on the elevation of the extremist Pompeo when the “America’s Next Top Diplomat” show gets underway.

People who’ve met Pompeo claim he comes across as an intelligent and charming dude. Be that as it may, he’s a kook — an Islamophobe and an anti-gay, anti-choice, climate change denier.

Without scraping the bottom of the wingnut media barrel or snatching random Fox News rage-grandpas out of their duct-taped recliners and parking them at Foggy Bottom, it would be hard to come up with someone more ill-suited to represent the US abroad than Mike Pompeo, given the turmoil in the Middle East, the reemergence of reactionary fascism worldwide and the worsening climate crisis.

Approving this nomination would thrust the dangerous troika of Trump, Bolton and Pompeo upon an already inflamed planet. Democrats should do everything humanly possible to gum up the works. It’s not a hopeless battle either; there’s word that the ailing McCain is a “NO” vote, and Rand Paul (member of the SFRC) has said he won’t support the nomination either.

Of course, relying on Weather-Vane McCain and the Labradoodle of Kentucky as allies is a mug’s game. But we’ve got to try. This person is dangerous, and we already have too goddamn many nut-jobs and incompetents with their filthy mitts on the levers of war.



A Battle of Eight Armies: Syria Update

Events have begun to spin out of control in Syria. Last week the Israelis lost an IAF F-16I Fighting Falcon. Though both the pilots were able to safely eject and survived. They came down in Israeli controlled territoryThe Israelis, of course, responded to the downing of their F-16 with a large scale reprisal. This included shooting down an Iranian drone – based on the US drone the Iranians downed in 2011. So we can now confirm that actually happened.

While this Israeli Vs Iranian in support of Syria and backed by Russia engagement was happening, the Syrian/Iranian/Russian coalition stepped up their attacks on Idlib and Ghouta.

The Turks lost a rotary wing (helicopter) craft last week as well. It was shot down by the US allied Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) near Afrin. Two Turkish Soldiers were killed.

Syrian Arab Armed Forces also conducted an attack against the US allied Kurds, which prompted a response from the US led coalition – Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF OIR):

US Special Operations Forces (SOF) are currently stationed in Manbij in a train, advise, and assist mission to the YPG.

It has been reported that anywhere between 100 (the official-ish number) and 600 Russian contractors fighting in Syria were killed in the US Coalition strikes last week.

While LTG Funk, Commander 1st Corps US Army and Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve talked about deconfliction and deescalation in the CNN clip above, he has a battlespace that is becoming more and more complex by the day. There are a lot of moving pieces in his operating environment (OE): Kurdish militia forces being supported by US SOF, the Syrian Arab Army and Air Force, Russian contractors, Iran’s Qud’s Force, Hezbullah’s military wing in support of Syria and Iran, the Turkish military, and Israel. And don’t forget ISIS. They may have lost almost all of the territory they seized to form their caliphate, but they are by no means finished. That is a lot of deconfliction and deescalation!

Moreover, while all of this is going on, and the US is being sucked deeper into the mess that is the Syrian Civil War, Russia continues to expand its interests in the region. In November it struck a deal with Egypt for basing Russian Air Force planes. Just last week the Russians and the Sudanese (that’s the northern, Republic of Sudan of the Sudans) came to an agreement for Russian military support to train and modernize the Sudanese Army.

Finally, it is unclear what the official US response will be. While the US led coalition is sticking with its Kurdish allies in Syria, it is unclear what decision will be made in DC by the National Command Authority. The President’s predilection for Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept the new, Congressionally mandated sanctions from being imposedAnd it appears that the decision to get rid of the Interagency produced, properly put together list of Russians to be named and shamed was made by a senior administration official, which lead to the rush job copy and paste from Forbes that was released.

A “name-and-shame” list of Russian oligarchs who made their money corruptly from their ties with Vladimir Putin was compiled by the US government agencies but then cancelled last week by a senior administration official, according to a Russia expert who was consulted on the list.

It was replaced by an all-inclusive list of rich Russians apparently copied straight from the Forbes magazine’s ranking of wealthy Russians, together with the names of some top Kremlin officials.

While the President has been very solicitous of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan even as Erdogan drags Turkey farther and farther into autocracy, he also warned the Turks against escalating against the US led coalition in Syria. The Turks have disputed the US account of this conversation.

U.S. President Donald Trump urged Turkey on Wednesday to curtail its military operation in Syria and warned it not to bring U.S. and Turkish forces into conflict, but a Turkish source said a White House readout did not accurately reflect the conversation.

“He urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties,” a White House statement said. “He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

However, a Turkish source said the White House statement did not accurately reflect the content of their phone call.

“President Trump did not share any ‘concerns about escalating violence’ with regard to the ongoing military operation in Afrin,” the source said, referring to one comment in the White House summary of their conversation.

 “The two leaders’ discussion of Operation Olive Branch was limited to an exchange of views,” the source said.
Right now there are a lot of moving pieces in Syria. All of them are rubbing against each other in a confined (battle) space. And the alliances don’t really line up with how the President seems to see the world. He’s favorably inclined to Putin and Erdogan. Yet the former is allied with the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbullah and the latter’s actions have the potential to pit NATO allies against each other. Since there is no clearly delineated US policy, or rather policy change, to what the US is trying to achieve in the Syrian part of the Levantine theater from the past administration to the current one, it is unclear what the President really wants to do. How deep he wants the US and the US led coalition involved in the Syrian Civil War. And just what end state he envisions as a result of the US’s actions in this highly complex theater of operations.

Stay frosty!

Open thread!



What Does Penetration at All Levels Actually Mean

This morning Cheryl wrote about a newly reported on email about another conservative activist attempting to set up a meeting between the President, when he was a candidate, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to The NY Times reporting, the email’s author, Paul Erickson, specifically recommended establishing an early “first” contact at the NRA’s annual meeting.

I just wanted to take a little time and explain why this is part of the penetration at all levels portion of the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign that we’ve been tracking since June 2016 and what I mean by the term penetration at all levels.

Working in reverse order, penetration at all levels refers to establishing connections and building a network through a wide variety of elites, notables, organizations, and institutions across as many societal sectors as possible. By doing so one has the ability to both influence and leverage the political, social, economic, religious, educational, entertainment, and military realms. Not all of this is nefarious. Not all of it is done to be detrimental to the US. And the US, as well as American organizations, do this in other countries too. A lot of it is not nefarious or intended to be, but some, like what we’ve been observing of the Russian active measures campaign against the US, definitely are.

Until Putin’s active measures campaign against the US, the EU, and NATO became clear, perhaps the best example of penetration at all levels in the US was by the Israelis. The Israelis are able to leverage both the Jewish American and Christian (specifically the evangelical Christian Zionists) religious communities, politicians from both political parties, the entertainment industry, other business sectors, think tanks, and the military (there is a US Army Military Education Level 1 Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy aka WINEP aka The Washington Institute). This isn’t intended as a screed about Israelis, rather it is simply a quick recounting of how the Israeli government pursues its interests in the US. What Putin and his proxies have done is similar, though nowhere near as thoroughly as the Israelis. That we know of…

In the Russian case a lot of the penetration that is being reported on and made public appears to have been focused solely on more politically, socially, economically, and religiously conservative sectors, groups, and organizations in the US. The Daily Beast first reported on Russia’s connections to the NRA back in February 2017. This was the first of three articles that delineated the creation of a Russian firearms sporting organization partially led by Marina Butina. Specifically:

Two of Butina’s friendships in particular have raised eyebrows. She started a business with Paul Erickson, a decades-long Republican Party activist. And she served as a special assistant to the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank, Alexander Torshin, a former Russian senator belonging to Vladimir Putin’s political party with alleged ties to the Russian mob world.

 As chilled vodka flowed through an ice sculpture—a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle—she took some time to brag. She brazenly claimed that she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, two individuals who were present said. On other occasions, in one of her graduate classes, she repeated this claim.

Erickson and Butina have been seen in public frequently, at the invitation-only Freedom Ball after Trump’s inauguration; and holding court at Russia House, a Russian-themed bar in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. At one such gathering in the fall of 2016 Erickson bragged that he was advising the Trump transition team, according to two sources who were present; he is also said to have told a story about introducing Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, to former NRA president David Keene. (Kalashnikov allegedly inspired the creation of “The Right to Bear Arms,” Butina’s gun rights group.)

The two appear to have gotten close: Erickson formed a limited liability corporation with Butina in February 2016, according to the South Dakota secretary of state. It is unclear what this organization, Bridges, LLC, actually does. (Despite living in Washington, D.C., Butina has a cellphone number with a South Dakota area code.)

In The Daily Beast‘s second report, Tim Mak expands on his reporting from February 2017 by digging into the meeting between members of the NRA and Dmitry Rogozin, one of Putin’s hard line deputies and the head of the Russian Shooting Federation, which would make him either Butina’s partner or boss. The Daily Beast‘s third article on this topic delves even deeper to who was at the meeting with Rogozin. Specifically former Milwaukee County Sheriff, Fox News analyst, extremist anti-US government Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer Association Sheriff of the Year, campaign proxy and Republican National Convention prime time speaker, and withdrawn nominee for political appointment at the Department of Homeland Security David Clarke. And former NRA President and current board member David Keene.

Here’s Rogozin’s tweet about the event. You’ll notice Clarke’s in the second photo. Keene is in the first standing next to Rogozin.

Putin, via his proxies, hasn’t just established connections to the NRA and through NRA officials like Clarke to anti-US government groups like the pro-militia and pro-Bundy Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. They’ve also worked very hard to establish connections to conservative Christian groups in the US.

Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Brown was taught to think of the communist Soviet Union as a dark and evil place.

But Brown, a leading opponent of same-sex marriage, said that in the past few years he has started meeting Russians at conferences on family issues and finding many kindred spirits.

Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has visited Moscow four times in four years, including a 2013 trip during which he testified before the Duma as Russia adopted a series of anti-gay laws.

“What I realized was that there was a great change happening in the former Soviet Union,” he said. “There was a real push to re-instill Christian values in the public square.”

On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.

The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia. To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base for then-candidate Donald Trump did not wane even after he rejected the tough tone of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s No. 1 foe, and repeatedly praised Putin.

Why here’s Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley at the National Prayer Breakfast. This picture was originally posted to his Instagram account:

Makarov is a member of the United Russia Party and is the head of the Duma’s Budget Committee. Why, exactly, is Russia sending a sixteen member delegation of senior officials to the US National Prayer Breakfast, an event largely promoted and attended by elected, appointed, and otherwise well connected American social and religious conservatives? Penetration at all levels in pursuit of influence. It is also important to remember that the National Prayer Breakfast is the premier annual event of The Family, the secretive, ultra-Christian conservative and neo-fascist organization that runs a boarding house for Christian conservative members of Congress.

Vice President Pence gave a keynote address at Franklin Graham’s summit on religious violence against Christians. He also met with Russian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Alfeyev. Alfeyev runs the Russian Orthodox Church’s external relations department.

Even the sponsor of the President’s foreign policy address in April 2016, The Center for the National Interest, appears to have ties to Russia.

That Trump would choose the Center for the National Interest as the place to premier his new seriousness on foreign policy has Manafort’s fingerprints all over it. For Manafort and the Center have something very important in common: both have ties to the Russian regime of President Vladimir Putin, (whose ambassador to the United States sat in the front row for Trump’s address).

As for the Center, both it and its journal, the National Interest, are two of the most Kremlin-sympathetic institutions in the nation’s capital, even more so that the Carnegie Moscow Center, which has evolved from a hub of Russian liberalism into an accomodationist, intellectually-compromised think tank.

Center director Dmitri Simes worked as an aide to Nixon and for decades has used his connections to the Kremlin — real or perceived — to cultivate a reputation in Washington as one of the few Russia hands who intimately knows that country’s politics. For years, the Center for the National Interest partnered with the Russian government-funded Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a New York-based institution whose head, Adranik Migranyan, was personally appointed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to a State Department cable released by Wikileaks. In May 2014, the two think tanks held a press conference defending Russia’s position in Ukraine.

Another association connecting Trump to the Center is Richard Burt, chairman of the National Interest’s advisory council, and a former ambassador to Germany and State Department official during the Reagan administration. According to a knowledgeable source, Burt, who had previously worked as an unpaid advisor to former Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, has been enlisted by Manafort to join Trump’s campaign and helped draft his speech (neither Burt nor Manafort responded to inquiries). Burt sits on the senior advisory board of the Russian Alfa Bank.

Burt is the lobbyist and former diplomat who contradicted AG Sessions testimony that he hadn’t been at dinners hosted by the AG when he was a senator. He also helped to draft the President’s April 2016 speech on foreign policy, while he was lobbying on behalf of Russia.

It is important to note that the editor of The Center for the National Interest’s publication, The National Interest, has publicly disputed Politico‘s reporting in Politico. His refutation in Politico was also one of the items used to impeach AG Sessions memory over one of his meetings with Ambassador Kislyak:

Speaking for myself, after briefly meeting Trump at a reception in the Senate Room of the Mayflower, where a number of politicians and Trump advisers, such as Senator Jeff Sessions and ambassadors, congregated before the event, I can’t claim any kind of conversion experience.

The reason for all of this outreach, networking, and connection making is to both allow for influence operations to proceed and to facilitate contacts and create opportunities for even more leverage and influence. The reason the NRA annual meeting was proposed for a meeting is that Rogozin was already scheduled to be there under cover of his Russian shooting sports organization. And because most media outlets aren’t going to cover the event. And those that do, which tend to focus on the firearms industry or shooting sports, aren’t going to be paying a lot of attention to Rogozin and his organization other than to note how great it is that Russians are looking to the US in pursuing the natural and civil rights to self defense.

And the reason these Russian contacts want meetings and want to take selfies is it gives them access, influence, and leverage. Do I actually think that Senator Grassley is compromised because he was seated with Member of Duma Makarov? No. But that selfie can be used to provide the impression that maybe he can’t be trusted, beyond just simple partisanship and his noted cantankerousness, to run an objective, above board Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Do I think Clarke or the other NRA board members that went to Russia to meet with Rogozin are compromised by the Russians? Doubtful, but hopefully they didn’t do anything strange in their hotel rooms because I’m sure they were under a variety of electronic and signals intelligence throughout their trip.

This is penetration at all levels. Though in this case it is selective, for the time being, on the center right to right in American political, religious, economic, and social spheres. It is intended to provide access, influence, and leverage. Combined with the other portions of the Russian active measures, specifically the cyber warfare campaign, it has been very effective while it has also been very clumsy. Only time will tell just how effective and how much actual damage it has done.