6 amazing female military pioneers - We Are The Mighty
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6 amazing female military pioneers

Women in the military have only just begun to join combat jobs, but their influence on military service has been felt for decades. Some of their contributions changed the way we treat our veterans or even changed the way we live our lifes. They all advanced the cause for women becoming equal partners in service to their country. Here are the stories of six of these female military pioneers:


1. Grace Hopper – U.S. Navy, Creator of Modern Life

If you’re not familiar with the effects of the COBOL programming language, it can best be summed up by saying that the average American requires at least 13 uses of the code every day. It’s used for business transactions, things like placing phone calls, taking public transportation, or using credit cards. There are 200 times more processes using COBOL applications than there are Google searches. Every. Day. This language was developed by Grace Hopper in 1959 after she had already been in the Navy for 16 years.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Grace Hopper at her promotion to Commodore (O-7) in 1983.

Before “Amazing Grace,” computers only spoke to each other in binary, which humans couldn’t read or interact with. COBOL was an offshoot of the first programming languages, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC. She also created the compiler, which changes source codes in the programming language to the computer language (often a binary code). She originally retired from the Naval Reserve in 1966 at the rank of Commander, but was recalled to active duty a number of times, promoted to Commodore in 1983 (then the Navy’s O-7), and was allowed to stay on active duty well beyond mandatory retirement, by special order of Congress. She died in 1992 at age 85.

2. Kit Coleman, First Female War Correspondent

The pen name of Canadian journalist Kathleen Blake, Kit Coleman covered the Spanish-American War for the Toronto Mail in 1898. She was the first accredited female war correspondent and was the first president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

6 amazing female military pioneers

The Toronto Mail sent Coleman to Cuba to write feature stories, not news from front line combat there. After receiving her accreditation from the U.S. government, she was authorized to follow U.S. troops. Male journalists tried to sabotage her and leaver her in Florida but she made it to Cuba anyway. her coverage of the aftermath of battles and the human casualties made her famous.

3. Valentina Tereshkova – Soviet Air Force, The First Woman in Space

Tereshkova was the first woman in space and is still the only woman ever to conduct a solo space flight. On her first trip, she orbited the earth 48 times over the course of three days. At the time, she was a decade younger than the youngest Mercury 7 astronaut, Gordon Cooper. With her 1963 flight, she logged more time in space than all American astronauts combined.

6 amazing female military pioneers

She kept a meticulous log and took photos of the Earth’s horizon, which were used to identify aerosol layers in the atmosphere. She would later become a prominent Soviet politician and goodwill ambassador. The Tereshkova Crater on the moon is named in her honor.

4. Linda Bray – U.S. Army, The First Woman to Lead U.S. Troops in Combat

U.S. Army Captain Linda Bray was leading a Military Police company in Panama during Operation Just Cause. The U.S. invaded the country to oust the dictator Manuel Noriega, ensure the neutrality of the Panama Canal Zone and uphold the Torrijos-Carter Treaty. Bray’s platoon was ordered to neutralize a canine unit belonging to the Panamanian Defense Force and prevent their communicating warning of the invasion. When her unit, the 998th Military Police Company, approached the dog kennel building, they instead found an arms cache and a unit of the Panamanian special forces.

6 amazing female military pioneers

She led her platoon in the ensuing firefight, killing three and taking one prisoner before being forced to withdraw. Her unit took no casualties. This action earned her the distinction of being the first woman to lead a U.S. military unit in combat.

5. Dr. Mary E. Walker, First Female POW and Only Female Medal of Honor Recipient

After graduating from Syracuse Medical College in Upstate New York, Mary Walker started a lucrative medical practice. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. Walker, a dedicated abolitionist, offered her services to the Union Army. She treated wounded soldiers in the Washington, D.C. area, which makes Walker the first female surgeon in the U.S. military as well. She pulled wounded soldiers off the battlefields in the middle of firefights and often used her medical abilities to cross the lines, retrieving wounded soldiers while collecting information as a spy.

6 amazing female military pioneers

On one such occasion, she was arrested by Confederate troops as a spy and sent to a POW camp near Richmond, Virginia until she was exchanged for a Confederate major. After the war, she was awarded the Medal of Honor for her extended, heroic service to frontline troops. As of 2016, Dr. Walker remains the only female Medal of Honor recipient.

6. Nell Gwyn, Founder of the First Veteran’s Hospital

An actress and sometime prostitute in Shakespearean England, she came from some of the most violent slums of London. She would come to the entrances of theaters to sell oranges and hope for a part in a play. King Charles II met Gwyn while disguised and going about the theaters of London one night. She was with a high-born “customer” in one of the theater boxes that night. The man, Lord Buckhurst, recognized the king. She ended up spending a lot of time with the king and the public grew to like her.

6 amazing female military pioneers

She felt for the aging soldiers who fought for Charles and the monarchy in the relatively recent English Civil War. They were neglected and dying en mass. While most ladies at this time would use their pull with the nobility to get titles and money, Gwyn used hers to found Chelsea Hospital, the first hospital exclusively to treat and care for veterans.

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A valor thief lived in the Fort Bragg barracks for months before anyone noticed

6 amazing female military pioneers
Triston Chase allegedly claimed to be an EOD tech attending a top-secret school while squatting in barracks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Pictured: How badly Chase would have likely stood out if placed next to actual EOD soldiers. Photo: US Army


Valor thieves are some of the most obnoxious wannabes on the planet, but at least they’re easy to spot. With all the militaries’ peculiar rules and jargon, most stolen valor culprits are quickly outed by a misplaced uniform ribbon or a slip of the tongue.

Which makes it all the more amazing that one likely survived for months on an active duty post while living in special operations barracks and surrounded by actual soldiers. And, he was conducting room inspections and signing out keys to others while he did it. He was only caught after being arrested for DUI.

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This guy allegedly lied and committed felonies to live in such glamorous living accommodations as these. Photo: US Marine Corps

So how did a poser manage to get access to one of America’s most active bases, slip into the ranks among some of the nation’s finest warriors, and then get the keys to the building he was squatting in? According to an investigation uncovered by the Fayetteville Observer, a 20-year-old kid just lied. And not even that well.

The Observer’s writer, Amanda Dolasinski, matched up details from the Army investigation to the arrest of Triston Marquell Chase, a 20-year-old. Chase has a criminal record for various felonies including identity theft.

Chase allegedly used the ID card of another soldier, which he found or stole, to get on base. He then got a key to the barracks from someone other than the barracks manager. To get out of physical training and other formations, he told people that he was an explosive ordnance disposal technician attending a top secret school. Once in the barracks, he set up a cozy life for himself.

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Actual EOD techs are smart enough to engineer their way past anti-tank mines. Triston Chase is so dumb he thinks that talking openly about top-secret schools is a thing. Photo: US Army Pfc. Elizabeth Erste

He invited women, who would often bring food, into the third-floor room. Other soldiers reported that he conducted room inspections and signed rooms out to new soldiers. So, this squatter successfully gained the ability to run the building he was illegally staying in.

He also borrowed vehicles from soldiers in the barracks and filled his Snapchat account with photos from around the building.

Chase’s amazing alleged adventure came to an end when he pulled into the Fort Bragg KFC’s parking lot where military police were talking to a driver who had attempted to flee. Chase, visibly intoxicated, pulled up to the scene and told police that he was worried about one of his soldiers.

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When driving drunk, most people avoid police officers who know how to use rocket launchers. Triston Chase is not one of those people. Photo: US Army Spc. Christopher Grammer

The police administered a field sobriety test (because as police officers that’s a thing they can do). According to the investigation, Chase then told the police, “Yeah, I’m wasted.”

Chase’s completely sober female passenger at the time was allowed to leave. No report on why he didn’t ask her to drive him.

Once 3rd Group became aware of the suspect incident, they quickly launched an investigation. When the investigating officer caught up with Chase, the fake soldier was leading a formation of six people. He told the officer that he had recently transferred into 3rd Group from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Delta company.

For the record, 82nd has a lot of Delta companies. That’s why actual soldiers will also list the battalions and brigades of the Delta company they were in.

As the officer began calling the valor thief on his bull, the story quickly unraveled and the Fort Bragg Provost Marshal Office got involved. Chase was arrested and is facing a number of new felony charges. Meanwhile, 3rd Group is trying to get their ducks in a row in terms of barracks security.

Chase may go down in history as one of the ballsiest valor thieves ever caught. Not many of them take over barracks buildings or lead formations.

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Judge rules that Army vet is genderless

6 amazing female military pioneers


Last week an Oregon judge ruled that Jamie Shupe, an Army vet, can legally be considered “nonbinary.”

Up to that point, Shupe considered himself female, although he doesn’t identify with either sex.

“It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said.

Shupe was male at birth, but he started transitioning to a female in 2013, more than a decade after retiring from the military as a sergeant first class.

“Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female,” said civil rights attorney Lake J. Perriguey, who filed the petition, according to CNN.

“The law just says, ‘change.’ Historically, people have asked for a gender change from male to female and the other way around, but Jamie is the first to ask for the gender of “nonbinary,” Perriguey said.

It’s unclear what the ruling will have nationally, but it certainly has the potential to complicate the Pentagon’s already-challenging gender integration efforts. Special operators are just now adjusting to the idea of having females in their ranks. Are they ready for nonbinaries?

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Iran may bankroll pro-government fighters in Syrian conflict

The Syrian government has asked Iran to take over the supervision and payroll of thousands of Shi’ite militiamen fighting alongside Russian and Syrian troops in support of President Bashar al-Assad, according to a government source and a news report.


The pro-opposition Syrian news website Zaman Al Wasel reported that it obtained a Syrian defense ministry document saying the Assad regime has approved a plan to give Iran responsibility for paying foreign fighters – mostly Shi’ites of varying nationalities. Shi’ite fighters mostly are paid in cash from Iran, the Syrian government and coffers of the Lebanese-based, pro-Iranian Hezbollah, according to analysts.

Iran would foot the bill alone in the future, a Syrian official told VOA on the condition of anonymity, confirming the Al Wasel report.

“The number of Shia militia has increased dramatically during the last two months,” the official said. “While a big part of these militia were recruited by Iran, a relatively big part was recruited by the Syrian government directly. We are speaking about more than 50,000 militants from different nationalities. The Syrian government requested that Iran provide for all of the mentioned militias.”

The document from Al Wasel put the number of fighters to be paid at 88,733 — a figure analysts say is exaggerated. They estimate that about 10,000 Iranian combat troops are in Syria fighting alongside thousands of fighters from Lebanon’s Tehran-affiliated Shiite militia Hezbollah and assorted Shiite militia made up of renegade Pakistanis, central Asians and other nationalities. Since January 2013, more than 1,000 members of Iran’s elite Quds Force or other elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units have been killed fighting in Syria.

Related: Russia denies funding the Taliban

Tehran says its forces are in Syria to protect the Zeinab Shrine in Damascus, a Shi’ite holy site. But since 2011, Iran has been a major backer of the Syrian regime in its war with rebel groups across the country, at first sending advisers, then forces from the IRGC and expanding far beyond the shrine area.

Iran has long expressed a desire to command a unified army in the region, particularly in Syria, and its growing power in Syria and Iraq is causing unease in Western capitals. In an interview with the Mashregh news agency last August, Mohammad Ali Falaki, an IRGC leader, announced formation of a unified army in Syria which appears to have come to loose fruition.

“It would hardly be abnormal for Iran’s IRGC to be controlling yet more Shia jihadists,” said Talha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute.

In the long run, the formation of a unified army in Syria under Tehran supervision appears very practical, analysts say.

“It seems plausible that the Syrian government shift the responsibility for management and organization of the militias, especially where financial burden is concerned,” said Rasool Nafisi, a Middle East affairs expert in Washington.

Asserting its military prowess would help Iran push its political agenda in the region, some analysts believe.

“The bigger and more advanced army you control, the stronger voice you have,” said Daryoush Babak, a Washington-based retired Iranian military adviser.

But unifying Assad supporters under Tehran’s umbrella could worsen sectarian conflict in the region between Shi’ites and Sunni, analysts say.

Iran is looking for any chance to increase its influence and gain an upper hand against Saudi Arabia, its strongest rival in the war of minds and hearts, analysts say. Saudi Arabia and Iran support rival groups in Syria’s civil war. And In a speech in Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump accused Tehran of contributing to instability in the region.

“Tehran and Riyadh … keep contradicting each other to prove whose ideology leads the region,” said Nafisi.

While Syria has relied on Iran militarily in the fight against rebels and Islamic State, it’s unlikely to grant Tehran a controlling foothold in the country, analysts say.

“In Syria, it is not likely to happen as long as the Assad regime harbors ambitions of regaining sovereignty rather than being reduced to an Iranian protectorate,” said Alfoneh.

VOA’s Noor Zahid contributed to this report.

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Vet congressman wants this Green Beret’s recognition upgraded to the Medal of Honor

Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee, a Green Beret in the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Group, was presented the Silver Star for actions in Afghanistan in 2013. California Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, doesn’t think the Silver Star is enough for Plumlee and is appealing to Army Secretary Eric Fanning to review the award.


According to the Washington Post, Rep. Hunter believes McHugh downgraded Sgt. 1st Class Plumlee’s Medal of Honor because the Special Forces NCO faced a criminal investigation for illegally selling a rifle scope online.

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor for heroism in repelling a Taliban ambush. The nomination was downgraded to the Silver Star by then-interim SECARMY John McHugh with a recommendation from the Senior Army Decorations Board. The Silver Star is two levels below the Medal of Honor, which an Inspector General report deemed appropriate.

In August 2013, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) touched off a complex Taliban attack on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ghazni. The FOB is home to the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team and a fortified NATO base housing about 1,400 people.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Polish soldiers pull security near a breach in the perimeter wall following a complex attack on Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Aug. 28, 2013. Coalition partners, with the help of the Afghan National Army, defeated the Taliban attack. (Operational photo courtesy of Polish Land Forces)

The VBIED blew a hole in the perimeter wall. Insurgents dressed as Afghan National Army soldiers poured into the breach. Unfortunately for them, the other side of the wall contained the 1st Special Forces Group, including one Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee.

Four operators, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Colbert, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Busic, then-Staff Sgt. Earl Plumlee, and Sgt. 1st Class Nate Abkemeier drove a truck to blast site as fast as possible. Once there, all dismounted from the truck and started returning fire.

While the others moved for cover, Plumlee walked right into Taliban attack. He hit one insurgent in the chest with a round from his sidearm and the man exploded – the fighters were all rigged with suicide vests.

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Left to right: Sergeant First Class Busic, Staff Sergeant Earl Plumlee, Chief Colbert, and Sergeant First Class Nate Abkemeier.

The fighters had the men surrounded. Busic recalls Plumlee killed four or five insurgents then moved back to Busic’s position to clear the rest. They searched the surrounding area for anything or anyone that might be part of the attack.

Plumlee even pulled a severely wounded soldier out of harm’s way, conducted proper first-aid, and directed an Army civilian and soldier to get the wounded to a surgical center.

“It was probably the proudest moment of my career,” Plumlee said at his Silver Star ceremony. “Just to be with those guys, at that time, on that day was just awesome.”

Four Afghan civilians, three police officers, 10 Taliban fighters, and one soldier, Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, were killed in the attack. Ten Polish soldiers were also wounded. It could have been a lot worse. One Special Forces officer told the Army that Plumlee and the other special operators who rolled up on the attackers saved the base that day.

“It’s no exaggeration when I say they saved FOB Ghazni,” the Special Forces officer said. “If they would have arrived 10 seconds later than they did, the insurgents would have been in the more densely populated part of FOB Ghazni.”

Rep. Hunter requested that the Defense Department explain how it came to the conclusion to downgrade the award, to justify the Secretary of the Army’s authority to downgrade the award, and to determine if Plumlee’s criminal investigation was the reason for the downgrade. An Inspector General report on Hunter’s requests was obtained by Military Times.

“The review process… found that the nominee’s valorous actions did not meet the MOH criteria outlined in Army Regulation (AR) 600-8-22, “Military Awards,” dated June 24, 2013. By majority vote, the SADB recommended the SS.”

One member of the Senior Army Decorations Board told the IG that Plumlee was doing his job as an NCO and the standard to receive the Medal of Honor should be higher for someone of that rank.

“… a senior NCO, versus a private who would be seized by the moment and take extremely valorous and courageous action; there’s a difference between those two. One’s a leader. One’s a Soldier. And so when I looked at the circumstances and, although the battle was ferocious and unfortunately a couple members were killed, I just thought that it wasn’t a sufficient level for the Medal of Honor based off of the individual and the circumstances and that, I just felt there was an expectation of a leader who did a phenomenal job, that there was something more that [the nominee] needed to have done in order to, in my mind, to make a recommendation for a Medal of Honor.”

The board member specifically mentioned to the IG that even though Plumlee took out almost half of the attacking insurgents, that fact wasn’t in the eyewitness statements supporting Plumlee’s Medal of Honor award.

6 amazing female military pioneers
SFC Earl D. Plumlee, assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (A), is presented the Silver Star Medal for his actions in Afghanistan at Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington on 1 May, 2015. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Codie Mendenhall).

Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor three months after the battle. His nomination was even approved both the JSOC commander and by Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan at the time. Dunford wrote that Plumlee’s actions “clearly meet the standard” for the Medal of Honor.

For now, Plumlee’s Silver Star award will stand. At their own Silver Star ceremony, Busic and Colbert told Stars and Stripes it wasn’t about the recognition anyway.

“We don’t do our job for awards or accolades,” he said. “We just do it to serve.”

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These elite Russian special forces want to take over Aleppo

The elite Russian special forces who took over Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 are now doing the same thing in Aleppo, Syria.


The number of Russian special ops troops in Syria is likely in the “low hundreds,” but they are the eyes and ears on the ground to carry out precision airstrikes, and have been used to directly target rebel leaders, according to experts who spoke with the Wall Street Journal.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Russian Special Forces. (Photo: The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has been the site of a bitter battle for control between pro-government forces and rebels since the war broke out in 2011. Meanwhile, millions of innocent civilians have been caught in the middle, recently cut off from receiving aid such as food, water, and medicine, as Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies besieged the city.

There are also anywhere from 100 to 300 US special operations forces operating in Syria and Iraq, though they are focused on advising Iraqi army forces in Mosul, and targeting ISIS leadership.

According to the Journal, Russian military chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov visited the headquarters of US Special Operations Command in 2012 for a meeting, intent on learning how Russia could build a special operations force similar to the United States’.

Makarov previously signed a framework of understanding with then-Navy Adm. Mike Mullen in 2009 that offered military-to-military exchanges and operational events, orientation at the West Point military academy for Russian cadets, and sharing of ideas among both countries’ combined arms academies.

At the time, US military officials were hopeful for the reestablishment of military-to-military bonds with Russia. Four years later, however, that framework and sharing of information may come back to haunt them.

“From the helmets to the kit,” the Russian special forces “look almost identical” to their US counterparts, a US military official told the Journal.

In early 2014, Russian special forces infiltrated Ukraine’s Crimea region and seized control after the pro-Russian government was ousted from power in Kiev. The heavily-armed men — which some nicknamed “little green men” — wore no identifying insignia and denied that they were Russian.

Russian President Vladimir Putin later acknowledged he had deployed the Russian soldiers, and Russia instituted a national holiday called “Special Forces Day” to commemorate the invasion the following year.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal

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Travis Manion Foundation honors fallen Marine — and builds America at the same time

Travis Manion Foundation empowers veterans and families of fallen heroes while striving to strengthen America’s national character. The non-profit was named for 1st Lt. Travis Manion, a Marine who was killed by an enemy sniper while saving his wounded teammates on April 29, 2007.

Today, Travis Manion Foundation exists to carry on the legacy of character, service, and leadership embodied by Travis and all those who have served and continue to serve our nation.


Now, three Gold Star family members are carrying on the legacy of their own fallen loved ones through Travis Manion Foundation. Ryan Manion, Amy Looney, and Heather Kelly sat down with Jan Crawford from CBS This Morning to share how they are working to impact their local communities, strengthen America’s character, and empower veterans.

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When asked what they would say to other family members suffering the loss of a service member, Travis’ sister Ryan said, “Your suffering is probably the most horrible thing that will ever happen to you but there is a light ahead.”

Over the past decade, TMF has helped over 60,000 veterans, and it began with a phrase Travis said before he left for his final deployment. “If not me, then who?” He is not the first person to speak those words, but in many ways, he captures the spirit that our military takes to heart when they volunteer to serve.

6 amazing female military pioneers

A testament to Travis’ impact, in fall 2014, at the age of 73, Sam Leonard set out to walk across the country to raise funds for the Travis Manion Foundation. He began in Florida but was forced to stop in Houston when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He sadly passed away four months later. Albie Masland, the TMF west coast veteran service manager reached out to his good friends and TMF ambassadors Nick Biase and Matt Peace, to see if they wanted to help honor Sam by completing the last 1,500 miles of his journey and raise money for the TMF on his behalf. They finished the trek in 30 days at the USS Midway and on the anniversary of Travis’ death.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anna Albrecht/ Released)

Travis Manion Foundation volunteers help by cleaning up communities here at home, building houses in underdeveloped countries, and inspiring school-aged children growing up in America. The organization is defined by its core values:

  • Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat
  • Be accountable
  • Purpose begins with passion
  • Out of many, one
  • We are fueled by gratitude
  • Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo

Travis Manion Foundation is launching a Legacy Project, with ten projects over ten days beginning April 20, 2018. Volunteers can make a difference in their own communities by joining an Operation Legacy Project.

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Pentagon denies it tried to quash report on $125 billion in waste

The Defense Department on Tuesday denied it tried to quash a 2015 study that found it could save $125 billion in noncombat administrative programs but admitted it has so far only found a small fraction of those savings.


The department hopes to save $7.9 billion during the next five years through recommendations in the study of back-office waste, which itself cost about $9 million to complete, the Defense Departments acting deputy chief management officer told a House panel.

The study’s original findings as well as a perceived lack of action from the Defense Department riled members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which held the hearing on the fate of the report as President Donald Trumps administration plans a $54 billion boost in defense spending by cutting other federal programs such as foreign aid.

Read More: 85,551 things the Pentagon could have bought with that wasted $125 Billion

“I think the one thing I would take unequivocal issue with is that the report was in any way suppressed,” said David Tillotson III, who is acting as the Defense Department deputy chief management officer. “It was actively discussed within the department at the time and it has formed the basis of discussion since that time.”

The study found more than one million Defense Department employees perform noncombat related work, such as human resources, finances, health care management and property management, and $125 billion could be saved by making those operations more efficient. The study was conducted by the Defense Business Board, an advisory body to the Pentagon, and included work by two contracted groups.

The saved money could be enough to fund 50 additional Army brigades or 10 Navy carrier strike group deployments, the Defense Business Board found.

So far, most of the projected $7.9 billion in savings will come from information technology purchases and services contracts, according to Tillotson.

He said finding more savings might be difficult due to the Pentagons long-running resistance to efficiency and audit efforts, and that lawmakers could help with legislation such as a new round of base realignments and closures to help the department shed excess and costly real estate.

“There is an internal challenge, that is our job, we will go fight those battles and in some instances we are assisted by actions on The Hill,” he said.

The Washington Post reported in December that the Pentagon tried to shelve the findings because it feared Congress might use them to slash its budget.

At the time, the chairmen of the Senate and House armed services committees, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the report of $125 billion in potential waste was not surprising and both had been working for years to trim back the growth in headquarters staff, civilian workers and contractors.

Lawmakers on Tuesday wanted to know why the department has not used the report to find more savings.

“Did we waste $8-9 million dollars of the taxpayers money on a report on identifying waste in the Pentagon and if we didnt waste it, what have been the savings that came out of this report,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

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How the US is caught between Turkey and the Kurds

Turkey and the US-backed YPG forces — which have been helping the coalition fight ISIS in Syria — have been clashing off and on since at least April.


At the end of that month, the two sides exchanged rocket fire, which Turkey says killed 11 YPG fighters. In early July, Turkey deployed troops to the Kurdish-held border in northwest Syria, which the YPG commander called “a declaration of war.”

YPG and Turkish-backed rebels — who the YPG call mercenaries — clashed in northwest Syria on July 17, Reuters reported. The YPG said it killed three Turkish-backed rebels and wounded four more.

Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group and extension of the PKK, which has been trying to set up its own Kurdish state within Turkey for decades. And the US has placed itself right between the two sides.

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President Trump (left) and President Erdogan of Turkey (right). (Photo from Moscow Kremlin.)

Turkey is the third-largest purchaser of US weapons, and in early May, the US began supplying weapons to the YPG to help in the coalition’s fight against ISIS.

The latter move has angered Turkey even more than the US’s unwillingness to extradite Fethullah Gulen, according to Kemal Kirisci, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Gulen is a Muslim cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and has been accused by Turkey of organizing the attempted coup in 2016.

These developments have coincided with Turkey’s gradual drift toward Russia. Ankara and Moscow recently agreed to build a pipeline through Turkey, which allows Moscow to bypass Ukraine, and last week, Turkey signed an agreement with Russia for the $2.5 billion purchase of Moscow’s advanced S-400 missile-defense system.

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SA-400. (Photo by Vitality Kuzmin)

Turkey is also one of the three guarantors, along with Russia and Iran, of the Syrian de-escalation zones.

Kirisci told Business Insider that he can’t prove there is a direct connection between Turkey moving closer to Russia and the US supplying the YPG with weapons, but he did say, “You don’t need to be escorted to a village that you can see in the distance.”

“[Turkey] has been pissed off at the US for a long time,” Aaron Stein, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider. “They’re not leaving NATO, but they’re trying to show everyone that they have options.”

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Stein added that “the US is partly to blame” for increased tensions between Turkey and YPG, but, he said, “all sides have blood on their hands in this thing.”

Kirisci also said that “the Pentagon is running its own show,” and the US State Department doesn’t appear to be checking its decisions.

“We are concerned [about increased tensions between Turkey and YPG] but doing everything we can to defuse the situation,” Marine Corps Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.

Rankine-Galloway said that the weapons, which are tracked with serial numbers, will be collected from the YPG after the fight with ISIS concludes.

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A fighter for the Free Syrian Army loads a US-made M2. The YSA is supplied by the US, but opposes the YPG, also supplied by the US. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

But Kirisci and Stein both said they were doubtful that the US will be able to collect the weapons from the YPG. “They’ll try, but it won’t happen,” Stein said.

It’s “to be determined” if a full-scale war will break out between Turkey and the YPG once the fight against ISIS is over, Stein said. The US probably won’t leave northwest Syria for a while, and its presence will help deter fighting between the two sides.

The skirmishes that have happened between Turkey and the YPG have happened in areas where there is no US troop presence.

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‘Transpecos’ offers a gritty, detailed look inside the world of Border Patrol agents

“Transpecos,” winner of the SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award, deals with what happens to a Border Patrol agent when he gets dragged to the other side by a drug cartel. It’s an impressive directorial debut from independent filmmaker Greg Kwedar.


6 amazing female military pioneers

Kwedar, whose work includes commercials, documentaries, and short films, took six years to make “Transpecos.” To research the film, he worked with the U.S. Border Patrol, an agency that’s reluctant to share its methods – for good reason.  Their mission isn’t just keeping illegal immigrants out of the United States, they’re also fighting a massive, brutal enemy with unlimited funding and firepower, and no rules.

“Transpecos” is the story of three Border Patrol agents, a rookie named Davis (played by Johnny Simmons), a seasoned professional, Flores (Gabriel Luna), and salty veteran Hobbs (Clifton Collins, Jr.). They man a remote checkpoint somewhere near the U.S.-Mexican border. When one stop goes from routine to nightmarish, all three end up fighting for their lives.

“There’s this famous Western line: ‘silver or lead?,'” says Greg Kwedar, the director who co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley. “Money’s not a vulnerability for everyone. They [Border Patrol] have higher standards to live by. The leverage can be their own personal safety or that of their family. If an agent can rise above that then the cartel might say, “Who do you care about? We’ll use them.”

That’s exactly what happens in the film. Drug cartels use an agent’s family to force him to allow shipments of cocaine across the border. The Border Patrol agents find themselves torn between duty and family, between fulfilling their mission and protecting their own.

6 amazing female military pioneers
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

To get access to the real Border Patrol agents Kwedar and his team went out into the desert and got lost (or pretended to be) in the hopes of finding agents who were on the job — a highly unorthodox and potentially dangerous process.

“Once they realized we weren’t antagonistic, that we really wanted to know more about them and their work, they really opened up to us,” Kwedar says. “They invited us into their world and from that we found real friendships, running the gamut from grabbing a beer in a one-stoplight town to sitting down with their families at dinner.”

The characters – Davis, Flores, and Hobbs – are the heart of the film. The Border Patrol depicted in “Transpecos” could just as well be any military checkpoint or remote combat outpost anywhere in the world. It’s hot and desolate. The guys manning the checkpoint can be just as bored as any troops on deployment at any given time. They even have to go out on foot patrols.

“It was 110 degrees Fahrenheit on some of those days,” says Johnny Simmons, who portrays the green Agent Davis. “Our boots were melting, we were covered in sweat at the end of the day when we took off our Kevlar. My brother is a Marine and working on this film brought me a little closer to what it must be like for him … only he and so many others do it every day.”

6 amazing female military pioneers
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

The credit for this realism goes to the film’s technical advisor, Sam Sadler. Sadler is a retired Border Patrol agent who joined the service at age 17. Before he retired, he was the second in command at Deming Station, New Mexico, the area where “Transpecos” was filmed. He rode ATVs; he rode horseback. He tracked people through the desert by their footprints, the way Native American tribes used to – a practice still in use by agents today. By the end of his 25 years on the border, Sadler was the go-to guy.

“[Kwedar and Sadler] gave us a great roadmap to the script,” said Clifton Collins, Jr., who plays the experienced, by-the-book Agent Hobbs. “They took us off the leash in regards to the research and I really brought a lot of that to the table.”

At heart, Kwedar made the film for Border Patrol agents and their families. Sadler taught the actors the protocol and search methods to make sure they got the details right.

“These guys are so isolated, and it takes a special person to be able to do that,” Gabriel Luna, who plays Agent Flores, said. “Working on this film really cleared up my view of the Border Patrol. These men and women are just regular people. They’re human, they’re doing this job day in and day out, and it’s such an incredible thing.”

6 amazing female military pioneers

“Transpecos” is now available nationwide on demand and digital including Comcast, DirecTV and iTunes. It will be released on DVD September 27, 2016.

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This veteran’s PTSD recovery story is the most uplifting video we’ve seen all day

PTSD is the slow, silent killer crippling many of our returning veterans.


It is a serious public health challenge affecting 8 million people — 2.5 percent of the total population — every year, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Related: Every warrior should have access to this PTS healing experience

Individuals suffering from PTSD may lose their families, careers, or even commit suicide. These were the challenges JJ Selvig was facing as it crept into his life seven years into his service.

And the death of his friend put Selvig over the edge.

“An unauthorized absence and an other than honorable discharge, I went home,” Selvig said in the video below. “I blamed the Marines, my family, myself, my destroyed relationships; then Sam committed suicide, and my narrative changed.”

Building on his military service as a foundation, he deployed to Hurricane Sandy with Team Rubicon to honor his friend’s death.

“The cuts and scrapes from broken wood and shingles covered me while uncovering me at the same time, a light began to flicker inside,” he said.

With each Team Rubicon deployment, the feelings of sadness and anger faded as he as he became a leader again. He was creating positive change in people’s lives, and it was helping him become a better person inside and out.

“I’m still human; I’m never going to not have rough edges,” he said. “But Team Rubicon helped sand them down as much as possible.”

Watch Selvig tell his uplifting story in this short three-minute video:

Team Rubicon, YouTube
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The coolest military tech coming in 2016

America’s troops have cool gear coming their way in 2016. Here’s a look at some of it:


1. The first Ford-Class supercarrier will take to the seas

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Aidan P. Campbell

The PCU Ford will join the fleet in 2016. It will be the largest and most expensive warship to ever float and features a number of technological improvements over its predecessors. Electromagnetic catapults allow it to more quickly launch aircraft and it has better generators for powering sensors, weapons, and other necessary systems.

2. Soldiers will get an app for calling in artillery strikes

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo: Network Integration Evaluation Katie Cain

Nett Warrior, a tablet-based computer system to allow soldiers to keep track of one another on the battlefield, will be getting an app that will allow soldiers to more quickly and accurately call for artillery strikes.

3. Black Hornet drones will reach Army units

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo: Richard Watt/MOD via Wikipedia

These mini-drones weigh about 18 grams but pack both standard and thermal cameras for reconnoitering enemy positions. U.S. Special Forces tested the drones in 2015 and the British have used them since 2013. PEO-Soldier, the Army office that acquires this kind of gear, is looking to field an unknown number of the drones in 2016.

4. The Navy is getting two new attack submarines

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Casey Hopkins

The submarine fleet will welcome two new Virginia-class fast attack subs, the USS Colorado (SSN 788) and the USS Washington (SSN 787). While new Virginia-class subs typically feature the latest and greatest tech in submarine warfare, everything from improved sensors to better acoustic camouflage, the specifics are classified for obvious reasons.

5. New night-vision goggles will let troops see thermal signatures better

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo by: US Army Spc. William Lockwood

The Army’s newest night-vision goggles will be fielded to soldiers in 2016. They provide improved thermal detection over a wider area and will be able to communicate with future weapon sights so soldiers can always see the impact point of their weapon, even when firing from the hip or through smoke.

Unfortunately, the weapon sights they work with won’t be ready until at least 2019.

6. New machetes will help prepare the Army for a war in the Pacific

6 amazing female military pioneers
Photo: US Army Sgt. Austin Berner

While new machetes may not be as sexy as drones and submarines, the U.S. Army is part of the pivot to the Pacific and that means preparing for jungle warfare. The Army PEO-Soldier is looking for new machetes with a double-edged blade. One side would be for chopping through vines and the other for sawing through branches.

The Army will also be looking at new materials for uniform items, especially boots, in the coming years for operations in the Pacific.

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6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rejoiced when retired Gen. James “Warrior Monk” Mattis was picked for the top job at the Pentagon by President-elect Donald Trump.


The hard-charging Marine is known for his tenacity both on and off the battlefield. He expects the same tenacity among those who serve under him (just ask Col. Joe Dowdy).

But the Mattis love can get a little out of hand.

6 amazing female military pioneers
Or… right at hand. (Vato Tactical and Kinetic Concepts Design)

So we tried to come up with a few ideas of what the Pentagon employees might expect now that Mattis could be next Secretary of Defense.

1. The “Run, Hide, Fight” active shooter policy will be simplified.

The Department of Homeland Security prepares citizens to respond to an active shooter scenario using the phrase “Run. Hide. Fight.” Which is great… for DHS. James Mattis’ DoD won’t run. And they definitely won’t hide.

2. Incoming employees must submit a plan to kill everyone in their work section.

6 amazing female military pioneers

One of the former General’s most colorful quotes goes:

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

Mattis isn’t going to be the kind of SECDEF that won’t put his money where his mouth is.

3. No more TVs; just mandatory fun reading time.

Mattis himself has never owned a television.

6 amazing female military pioneers
This man does not care about the new Gilmore Girls episodes.

He spent the time most of us spend on TV, video games, a wife, children, hobbies, etc. reading Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Patton, and Thucydides.  That’s where he earned the nickname “Warrior Monk.”

Bring a book. And don’t think “Harry Potter” will cut it.

4. Every employee’s in-processing checklist will include getting shot at.

As the Marine once said:

“There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”

6 amazing female military pioneers
Don’t flinch.

5. No more “Mad Dog.”

Now that Mattis will be in command again, the nickname so many use for him (including the President-elect) will have to be killed, slowly and deliberately, because according to NBC News, he really doesn’t like it.

6 amazing female military pioneers

And it’s unwise to continue to use a nickname for someone who doesn’t like it, especially when that person is known to enjoy shooting “some assholes in the world who just need to be shot.”

6. No more sauerkraut in the cafeteria.

The place still stinks to high hell from Robert Gates’ Reuben sandwiches. From now on, everyone will be required to drink three small glasses of fruit punch-flavored pre-workout drink Mattis invented, known as “The Blood of Our Enemies.”

6 amazing female military pioneers