It looks like the popular vision of the future has finally arrived. On April 20th in Monaco, AeroMobil will show off its new two-seater flying car, designed to both drive on the road and in the air. The race amongst companies like AeroMobil and Airbus to make flying vehicles a reality is set to change travel for ever. Futurism.com has more.
by Akaki / 99 Views
by Akaki / 83 Views
The U.S. military’s announcement that it dropped the “mother of all bombs,” one of the largest non-nuclear devices, against an ISIS facility in Afghanistan comes despite the U.S. assessment that only about 700 ISIS fighters remain in the country. It’s the first time the bomb has been used on the battlefield.
The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), which has a yield of 11 tons, targeted the tunnels and caves used by ISIS in Achin district, Nangarhar province, which is on the border with Pakistan. In comparison, Little Boy, the nuclear device dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, had a blast yield of 15 kilotons. Fat Boy, which was dropped on Nagasaki, was a 21-kiloton bomb. In other words, while the MOAB is one of the largest nonnuclear bombs, it’s far smaller than most nuclear weapons the U.S. possesses or the ones it has used.
The 30-foot-long MOAB was first tested in 2003. NPR reports it was then “deployed to bases in the Middle East where it could be loaded aboard an American aircraft” such as the the MC-130 Combat Talon, which opens its ramp and releases the weapon, as it did Thursday. The bomb is satellite-guided, making its delivery precise in a way the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter, MOAB’s predecessor, was not.
“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” General John W. Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement, referring to the ISIS-Khorasan group, the Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”
ISIS is a relative newcomer to Afghanistan, announcing its arrival in the country in January 2015. Since then it has claimed a number of high-profile and often horrific attacks against civilian targets—attacks that have drawn criticism even from the Taliban, whose rebels have fought the Afghan government and the U.S. since 2001. Nangarhar is ISIS’s stronghold, and it is there the U.S. and its allies in the Afghan military have been fighting the group, targeting militants with airstrikes as well as ground attacks. Just this week, a U.S. special-operation forces soldier was killed in the fighting the area.
“We have been conducting a series of operations against ISIS-K on a regular basis since the beginning of 2016 and have succeeded in reducing their number of fighters almost in half and their territory by two-thirds,” Nicholson told the Combating Terror Center at West Point in February. “We’ve killed their top 14 leaders.”
He added: “We’ve been striking them and eliminating people, but they are adapting. We have reduced their financial flows, but we haven’t eliminated them.”
The Trump administration has increased the pace of airstrikes the U.S. military has carried out in Afghanistan. From January to March, the U.S. Air Force dropped 450 bombs in the country; that number was close to 1,300 for all of 2016, according to the Air Force’s open-source database of such strikes.
“Our goal is to defeat ISIS-K in Afghanistan in 2017,” U.S. Navy Captain Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the U.S. military command in Kabul, told Foreign Policy. He said the MOAB “has the ability to collapse the tunnels” that ISIS fighters use to evade Afghan forces. It’s that capability that led to the expectation the MOAB would be used against an underground nuclear facility in a place like Iran or North Korea.
by Akaki / 93 Views
Threat after UK Defencomes ce Secretary demands Vladimir Putin rein in President Bashar al-Assad File photo of a Russian Navy landing ship Getty Images
Russia and Iran have warned the US they will "respond with force" if their own "red lines" are crossed in Syria.
Following Friday's cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base, in retaliation for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the week, the alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a joint statement threatening action in response to "any breach of red lines from whoever it is".
"What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well," the group's joint command centre said.
US President Donald Trump said the strike on al Shayrat air base, near Homs, with some 60 Tomahawk missiles was "representing the world". The base was allegedly used by Syrian forces to conduct the attack, which killed more than 70 peopel
On Sunday the UK's Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, demanded Russia rein in Mr Assad, claiming that Moscow is "responsible for every civilian death" in Khan Sheikhoun.
Sir Michael said the attack had happened "on their watch" and that Vladimir Putin must now live up to previous promises that Mr Assad’s chemical weapons had been destroyed.
Experts have dismissed Russia’s claim that a rebel chemical weapons facility caused the deaths.
Britain, the US and France accused Mr Assad's regime of gassing civilians in the opposition-held town, but Damascus claimed it destroyed its toxic stockpiles following an international agreement struck in 2013.
The Russian defence ministry put out a competing version of events claiming legitimate Syrian air strikes against "terrorists" had struck a warehouse used to produce and store shells containing toxic gas, which were allegedly being sent to Iraq.
The joint command centre also said on Sunday the missile strike would not deter it from "liberating" Syria, and that the US military presence in the north of the country amounted to an illegal "occupation".
Mr Putin and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani have called for an objective investigation into the chemical attack.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that Moscow had failed to carry out the 2013 agreement to secure and destroy chemical weapons in Syria.
"The failure related to the recent strike and the recent terrible chemical weapons attack in large measure is a failure on Russia's part to achieve its commitment to the international community," he said on ABC's This Week.
Mr Tillerson is expected in Moscow in the coming days for talks with Russian officials.
He stopped short of accusing Russia of being directly involved in the planning or execution of the attack.
But he said the US expected Russia to take a tougher stance against Syria by rethinking its alliance with Mr Assad because "every time one of these horrific attacks occurs, it draws Russia closer into some level of responsibility."
Additional reporting by agencies
by Akaki / 78 Views
As the US navy deployed a strike group towards the western Pacific Ocean, to provide a presence near the Korean peninsula, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China agrees with the Trump administration that “action has to be taken” regarding North Korea.
Tillerson told CBS’s Face the Nation, in an interview broadcast on Sunday, that when Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping met at Mar-a-Lago this week, they “had extensive discussions around the dangerous situation in North Korea”.
“President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken,” Tillerson said.
Tillerson described a “shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become”.
In view of the regional threat now posed by North Korean missile tests and nuclear ambitions, he said, the Chinese “do not believe the conditions are right today to engage in discussions with the government in Pyongyang”.
“We’re hopeful,” he added, “that we can work together with the Chinese to change the conditions in the minds of the DPRK leadership. And then, at that point, perhaps discussions may be useful.
“But I think there’s a shared view and no disagreement as to how dangerous the situation has become. And I think even China is beginning to recognize that this presents a threat to even to China’s interests as well.”
The Carl Vinson strike group, which includes an aircraft carrier, was first scheduled to make port calls in Australia but was redirected from Singapore to the western Pacific.
“US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson strike group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the western Pacific,” said Commander Dave Benham, spokesman at US Pacific Command.
“The No1 threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” he said, in an unusually forceful statement.
On Sunday, Trump national security adviser HR McMaster told Fox News Sunday the strike group had been moved because “it is prudent to do it”.
The news followed a Friday report by NBC that the National Security Council had included the return of nuclear weapons to South Korea in options presented to Trump for dealing with North Korea. Killing North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was also presented as an option, NBC reported.
Discussing that report on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, a Democratic member of the Senate’s foreign relations committee, said such moves would cause “an escalation of tension that could lead to nuclear war”. The US, Markey said, should work with China to establish direct talks with Kim, as the best way to tackle “this boiling, bubbling cauldron”.
On Saturday the White House said Trump had spoken to the acting president of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-Ahn. North Korea, meanwhile, called the US missile strike on Syria on Thursday night “an intolerable act of aggression”.
Analysts have said the Syria strike, launched after the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US is not afraid to exercise the military option. Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Tillerson strongly suggested as much, saying of Syria: “If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.”
Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbour’s nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang’s response on Saturday suggested it was determined to continue.
“Swaggering as a superpower, the US has been picking only on countries without nuclear weapons and the Trump administration is no exception,” a foreign ministry spokesman said, according to the KCNA news agency.
The comments were Pyongyang’s first since Trump ordered the strikes on Syria.
“The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.
“The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.
“The Syria attack thoroughly reminds us the fact that it is absolutely dangerous to have any illusions about imperialism and only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression.
“We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression.”
The North has carried out five nuclear tests – two last year – and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth. Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing programme ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.
Asked on ABC if North Korean development of an intercontinental missile would be a “red line” for Trump, Tillerson said: “If we judge that they have perfected that type of delivery system, then that becomes a very serious stage of their further development.”
He added: “With no further testing, their program does not progress and that’s what
we’ve asked for before we can begin to have further talks with them.”
by Akaki / 72 Views
Third Fleet says USS Carl Vinson making its way to the Western Pacific Ocean following North Korean 'provocations'.
The Carl Vinson strike group includes an aircraft carrier [Erik De Castro/Reuters]
The Pentagon says a group of US warships is headed to the western Pacific Ocean to provide a physical presence near the Korean Peninsula.
The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore towards the Korean Peninsula.
The development comes in response to North Korea's "reckless, irresponsible" conduct, a US navy official said, referring to recent missile tests.
"US Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific," Commander Dave Benham, spokesperson at US Pacific Command, told AFP news agency.
"The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."
In a statement late on Saturday, the US navy's Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination.
The military vessels will operate in the western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia, it said.
Deployed from San Diego to the western Pacific since January 5, the Carl Vinson strike group has participated in numerous exercises with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force and Republic of Korea Navy, various maritime security initiatives, and routine patrol operations in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, North Korea tested a liquid-fuelled Scud missile which only travelled a fraction of its range.
This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un, have repeatedly indicated that an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president and celebrated annually as the Day of the Sun.
North Korea is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead, and has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.
Expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth, with US intelligence officials warning that North Korea could be less than two years away from developing a nuclear warhead that could reach the continental US.
Trump's national security aides have completed a review of US options to try to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.
These include economic and military measures but lean more towards sanctions and increased pressure on China to restrain North Korea.
In February the North simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles off its east coast, three of which fell provocatively close to Japan, in what it said was a drill for an attack on US bases in the neighbouring Asian country.
Last August North Korea also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500km towards Japan, far exceeding any previous sub-launched tests, in what Kim described as the "greatest success".
by Akaki / 76 Views
“With this step Washington has struck a significant blow to Russian-American relations, which were already in a sorry state,” Peskov said on Friday. The Russian response to the missile strike was one of almost unanimous condemnation, though it is unclear how much appetite Moscow has for a real escalation with the US in Syria.
Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Facebook that the strike left the US “on the verge of a military clash with Russia”.
Putin held a meeting of his security council to discuss the Russian response on Friday lunchtime. “The participants expressed deep concern at the inevitable negative consequences of these aggressive actions for the joint efforts to fight terrorism,” said Peskov.
He said the security council also expressed regret at the harm the strike would do to US-Russia relations, and they discussed ways to continue the Russian airforce operation in Syria to give support to Assad’s army.
Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defence ministry, said Russia would help Syria strengthen its air defences, though he did not mention whether Russian air defences currently in place in Syria were told to stand down. He said a “range of measures” would be put in place to help “protect the most sensitive Syrian infrastructure facilities”.
Konashenkov claimed only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles reached the base, with the rest missing the target. He said six Syrian fighter jets at the base had been destroyed, but many remained undamaged and the runway was undamaged. The Pentagon claimed all but one of the missiles had hit their target.
Russia continues to scoff at evidence that Syrian government forces carried out the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhun earlier this week. Peskov claimed Syria had no chemical weapons, and that the destruction of them had been monitored by international observers.
Russia has claimed the incident could have happened when government jets bombed a factory where rebels were making chemical weapons. A recent visit by a Guardian reporter to the town discredited this theory.
Konashenkov said Moscow was also pulling out of an airspace safety agreement with the US, which had been put into place to ensure there were no collisions or misunderstandings between the two countries. Russian analysts said the move was largely symbolic and would not greatly alter how the countries operated in the air in Syria.
Moscow may wait until secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s first visit to Russia next week before weighing up how to respond fully. For now, the response has been mainly rhetorical.
“This step will have far-reaching consequences,” said the Russian MP Mikhail Yemelyanov. “There’s a risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and the US and the consequences could be very difficult, right up to an armed clash and exchanging strikes – nothing can be excluded here.”
Higher-ranking politicians sounded equally angry but refrained from making threats of such consequences, possibly waiting for the Kremlin line on the issue. While the rhetorical anger is predictable, only time will tell whether Russia braces for heightened confrontation with Trump’s administration or is amenable to compromise over the role of Bashar al-Assad, whom the Kremlin has supported since the start of the conflict.
Tillerson is due in Moscow on Tuesday and is expected to meet the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Putin on Wednesday. The meeting will take place amid continuing concerns about the role of Russia in the election of Donald Trump, but now the focus will be on what is next for Syria.
The analyst Mark Galeotti wrote that Trump’s gambit opens up “an opportunity for Moscow to show some kind of flexibility and willingness to come out of the trenches” by ditching their unwavering allegiance to Assad in return for other guarantees. “My money, sadly, is on their not being willing or able to make the move,” he wrote.
It may be that little changes on the ground in Syria. For now, the main effect of Trump’s move seems to be a final disillusionment with Trump, and realisation that for all Trump’s warm words about Putin, he may not be the easy president to deal with that some had hoped.
“Soon after his victory, I noted that everything would depend on how soon Trump’s election promises would be broken by the existing power machine. It took only two-and-a-half months,” wrote Medvedev.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded Russia Today television network, wrote after Trump’s victory that she was so happy she wanted to drive through the streets of Moscow waving an American flag. On Friday, she tweeted: “Well, my friends, we had a chance. The chance has been completely fucked up. And not by us.”
by Akaki / 75 Views
The micro-blogging service, which has struggled to grow its user base in recent years, is carrying out surveys to “assess interest” in the idea.
Paying members would get access to an enhanced version of Tweetdeck, Twitter’s souped-up interface that offers more functionality than Twitter.com.
The company has not made any indication it is considering charging regular users of the service.
But a premium membership scheme could offer Twitter a new revenue stream at a time when users are increasingly turning to other networks such as Snapchat.
Twitter’s active user base has plateaued - and advertising revenues, currently the firms only meaningful income stream, are in decline. Twitter’s struggles come despite the online advertising market growing considerably in the past year.
Twitter has surveyed a small selection of its users about the idea.
In a statement, the company said: "We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people’s Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we're exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals.”
In an email to selected users, the company described how the new tool would work.
"This premium tool set will provide valuable viewing, posting, and signaling tools like alerts, trends and activity analysis, advanced analytics, and composing and posting tools all in one customizable dashboard,” the note said.
"It will be designed to make it easier than ever to keep up with multiple interests, grow your audience, and see even more great content and information in real-time.”
If it goes ahead with premium accounts, Twitter will be competing with more established players like SocialFlow and HootSuite - companies that have offered enhanced ways to use Twitter for many years.
Why it has taken the company this long to roll out its own initiative is not clear. In 2009, co-founder Biz Stone said the firm had hired a product manager to develop premium features, but these never materialised - and Mr Stone left the company in 2011.
by Akaki / 72 Views
Waymo - a company spun out of Google - filed a lawsuit in February claiming former employee Andrew Levandowski had stolen 14,000 documents relating to LiDAR, a core technology used to guide autonomous vehicles.
Mr Levandowski went on to co-found Otto, a self-driving truck company acquired by Uber for $660m last year.
Waymo requested a judge grant an injunction on the use of the disputed technology, which could take Uber’s self-driving fleet - currently being tested in a few locations in the US - off the roads.
At a hearing earlier this week, Uber sought to convince a judge that an injunction would be unfair.
"Waymo's injunction motion is a misfire,” said Angela Padilla, a lawyer for Uber, in a statement on Friday.
"There is no evidence that any of the 14,000 files in question ever touched Uber's servers, and Waymo's assertion that our multi-lens LiDAR is the same as their single-lens LiDAR is clearly false.”
Part of Uber’s defence is also an admission that it lags behind its competitors in the autonomous race. It said while it has been developing its own LiDAR tech, it has so far needed to rely on third-party companies to provide the system for its cars.
"If Waymo genuinely thought that Uber was using its secrets, it would not have waited more than five months to seek an injunction,” Ms Padilla added.
"Waymo doesn't meet the high bar for an injunction, which would stifle our independent innovation - probably Waymo's goal in the first place."
Pleading the fifth
Waymo argued that blueprints, mistakenly sent to Waymo via email last December, showed Uber’s plans to use the stolen designs in future.
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage caption
The company dismissed Uber’s assertion that none of the files were on its servers by pointing out that the firm’s search had not been able to include the computer belonging to the man at the centre of the controversy, Mr Levandowski.
At a recent court hearing, held in private but leaked to the press, Mr Levandowski invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, a constitutional clause that allows US citizens to resist any request to share information that could put them at risk of self-incrimination.
The presiding judge advised that Uber should be firmer with Mr Levandowski in order to get access to the files - such as threatening to fire him if he did not co-operate.
"If you cannot find them in your files there is going to be a preliminary injunction,” Judge William Alsup warned Uber.
"You're not denying it, no one is denying he has the 14,000 files. You keep on your payroll someone who took 14,000 documents and is liable to use them.”
He added: "This is an extraordinary case. I have never seen a record this strong in 42 years. So you are up against it.”
by Akaki / 65 Views
Image copyrightREUTERSImage caption
The US is "disappointed but not surprised" at Russia's response to its strikes on a Syrian air base suspected of storing chemical weapons.
At least six people are reported to have been killed in the US missile strikes early on Friday.
Syria's ally Russia accused the US of encouraging "terrorists" with its unilateral actions.
"I'm disappointed in that response," said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
"It indicates their continued support for the Assad regime and, in particular, their continued support for a regime that carries out these type of horrendous attacks on their own people.
"So I find it very disappointing, but, sadly, I have to tell you, not all that surprising," he added.
Moscow has promised to strengthen Syria's anti-aircraft defences.
It is also closing down a hotline with the US designed to avoid collisions between their air forces over Syria.
Media captionWATCH: What is Trump's plan in Syria?
According to Idlib's opposition-run health authority, 89 people, including 33 children and 18 women, died in the suspected nerve agent attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday. Syria denies using nerve gas.
- US missile strike in Syria leaves Russia bruised
- Five key things we learned
- Why now and what next?
- Dramatic turnaround for Trump
The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told an emergency session of the UN Security Council that the US had acted to ensure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would never use chemical weapons again.
"We are prepared to do more but we hope that will not be necessary," she said. "It is in our vital national security interest to prevent the spread and use of chemical weapons."
She blamed Iran and Russia for standing by the Syrian government when it committed crimes. "Strengthening Assad will only lead to more murders," she said.
Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, described the US strikes as "illegitimate".
"When you take your own path, this leads to horrible tragedies in the region," he told the Americans.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he was preparing further economic sanctions against Syria.
by Akaki / 62 Views
Jeff De Young served in Afghanistan with a bomb-detection dog named Cena N641, a black Labrador. In the intense atmosphere of war the two developed an unbreakable bond. This is the story of how Cena helped Jeff survive not only war, but also life after war.
The day I turned 18 I started Marine Corps boot camp, and 15 months later I went to Afghanistan. It was 2009 and I was absolutely terrified.
You could hear the rounds snap overhead, and then when the round went past you, you heard a zing almost like a whistle
They paired us with the dogs based on our personalities. Cena was a slightly goofy, quiet dog, and I was a slightly goofy, quiet kid, so it made sense for us to be with each other.
Together we were known as Kid and Chicken. Chicken was one of those nicknames that you don't remember where it came from, it just kinda stuck. And although I was 19 by this stage, I looked like I was about 12, I didn't even have any facial hair. As a joke, the Marines mailed a permission slip home for my mom to sign because I looked so young they didn't believe that I was allowed to be over there.
I would operate Cena using hand and arm commands and a whistle. I'd be in front of the patrol and Cena would be further ahead again, so if either of us walked on an improvised explosive device, although we would have been hurt, the rest of the patrol would be safe. I'd never been faced with a situation like that before and it felt like a crash course in adulthood, responsibility, and survival.
Cena had been a champion bird dog. When waterfowl falls from the sky there is no scent trail to follow like there would be with a rabbit or a deer, so the dog has to investigate the area and find the scent on the wind, it's amazing.
Dog's noses are so much more powerful than ours. We smell cookies, but they smell the flour, the nutmeg, the butter, the eggs, the milk - they can dissect everything and they can detect smells that we don't even know exist.
He'd been trained to detect more than 300 different types of explosives and if he smelled something interesting on patrol he would lie down and notify me, and then I'd call in an explosives technician.
We had to trust each other - we would have a dozen, two dozen marines behind us and any mistake could have been fatal.
Media captionListen: Jeff describes how Cena supported him during his darkest hours serving in Afghanistan
The battle of Marjah was a turning point in my life. We approached the town before the sun came up, no-one was talking, no-one was joking. It was very tense. You could hear the rounds snap overhead, and then when the round went past you, you heard a zing almost like a whistle.
I was so worried about getting Cena to safety, I even had to lie on top of him to protect him from gunfire. Another time I carried him through a freezing cold, flooded river on my shoulders like a hunter would a deer.
It got so cold in the fighting holes that even Cena's body heat didn't help, so one day I offered an Afghan soldier the entire contents of my wallet for his scratchy, olive, drab wool army blanket. I had $100 (£80) in my wallet. I was either going to burn the money or get the blanket, that's how cold I was. I still have that blanket.
The first week inside Marjah I lost a couple of very good friends. One of them was a former room-mate I'd trained with, Lance Corporal Alejandro Yazzie. He was 23, a Navajo, and an all-round good guy. His grandfather had been a wind talker [code talker] in World War Two. When I found out it was Yazzie I was devastated. I held on to Cena and cried into him.
Yazzie was the first of seven friends I lost in Afghanistan. I carried a flag inside my helmet and whenever a friend would pass away I'd add their name to it.
Eventually I just couldn't cope any more. I grabbed my military rifle and went to the latrine area. I remember sitting there trying to prepare my mind and make peace, and then Cena peeked around the corner. His ears went up like in the cartoons and he opened his mouth like he was smiling. His tail started spinning so hard that his whole body was rocking back and forth like he was excited by a piece of bacon.
I started laughing, and I laughed so much that I just broke down crying. I realised then that I couldn't leave Cena because I didn't know if his next handler would love him the way I did. He really was the only person in my life that I had a deep relationship with at that time. I left the latrine, put my rifle back and focused on work.
Find out more
- Jeff De Young spoke to The Documentary: It's a dog's life on the BBC World Service
It's really hard to explain what it's like, psychologically, coming back from war. Even the drive home was strange. New music was out, new cars were on the roads, there were new stores. It felt like when you leave the cinema to get popcorn and then miss the best part of the film.
I got married three days after returning and I was so busy doing all this happy stuff, it was like a Band-Aid over Afghanistan. But I wasn't really taking care of myself and dealing with what had happened over there.
Aside from my children being born and the day I was married, that was the happiest day of my life, it was like all of my Christmases rolled into one
A couple of weeks after coming home the post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and separation anxiety from being away from Cena really hit me. I'd always understood that I wouldn't have him forever but I'd had no idea how being apart from him would affect me. I felt like a stranger at home and I didn't feel comfortable unless I was with my battalion members or other veterans. I had nightmares and spent many nights crying in the bedroom corner or talking out loud to my fallen friends.
Over the next four years Cena was always on my mind, but as time went on it became hard to keep up hope that we would be together again.
Then one day, when I was in college, I got a call. The woman on the phone said: "Mr De Young? My name is Mrs Godfrey, would you like to adopt your bomb dog?" Without even thinking I said, "Heck, yes!" That was 24 April 2014, one day shy of four years since Cena and I had been separated.
It was just a turmoil of emotions on the car ride there. When Cena came down the aisle I very awkwardly - like a guy crossing a high school dance floor - ran up, kneeled down and started hugging him. He leaned into me like, "Hey man, what's up?" and started licking my face.
Aside from my children being born and the day I was married, that was the happiest day of my life. It was like all of my Christmases rolled into one.
I'd been married for four years by the time I got Cena back. Unfortunately, my inability to recognise that I had issues as a result of being in Afghanistan ultimately led to my divorce. Cena was helping me with healing and support but the damage to my relationship was already done. On 5 June 2015 I ended my marriage.
I have three daughters, they are six, five and two-and-a-half. Cena took to them instantly, and they love him back - they try to paint his nails and put bows on him. Before getting Cena back, the sound of a child crying would trigger a panic attack in me, as a result of an incident in Afghanistan, and it was tough knowing that I couldn't help my kids because my brain couldn't process that memory.
The military teaches us how to put the uniform on, but it doesn't teach us how to take it off, metaphorically speaking
With Cena, if my daughters cried I would sit on the couch, put my forehead to his, scratch his ears and just breathe. Gradually, Cena would only need to be beside me and I could cope.
By the time my third daughter was born I was able to do a lot of the diaper changes and bottle feeding even if she was crying, and to finally be able to help my daughter felt like being released from jail, it was freedom.
I'm a military ambassador for the American Humane Association now and I travel around the country raising awareness about how important it is to reunite service dogs with their handlers, and how the dogs can be a vital form of treatment for veterans with PTSD. My work is most definitely therapy for me, too. The military teaches us how to put the uniform on, but it doesn't teach us how to take it off, metaphorically speaking. I've lost count of how many friends I've lost now, who've taken their lives - four just last year alone.
I couldn't even think about talking about what I saw in Afghanistan four or five years ago, but slowly, by opening up to other veterans, by putting myself out there and airing everything that happened it's becoming so much easier.
I've recently found out that I have a heart condition called tachycardia. The doctors say it was probably triggered by an explosion or something that happened in Afghanistan. When I'm stressed my heart rate goes up to 200 beats per minute, high enough for a heart attack, so I'm having an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) fitted in my chest. I'm still mentally processing the idea that soon I'm going to have an electronic box in my chest to keep my heart in check.
Cena is in OK health, although his front wrist bothers him and his hips are pretty bad. He'd been back to Afghanistan, and I tracked down two of his other handlers through Facebook. I keep them up to date with how he is doing and I hope to get them to come to Michigan to see him - it's been years since they've seen Cena too.
Cena was retired after his third deployment because of a hip injury and there's no doubt in my mind that he has PTSD. I think he has memories of things that he saw that he doesn't like. He has nightmares, he'll whimper, he'll run around in his sleep and his teeth will snarl. But he's always by my side - we go to the gym together, we go to college together - my college even wants to get him his own cap and gown for when I graduate.
Cena's nine-and-a-half now. Dogs tend to live to 11 or 12, so I've started making peace with the fact that he may pass away soon. I've been preparing my mind for that.
Jeff De Young was interviewed by Sarah McDermott and Rose de Larrabeiti.