Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat - We Are The Mighty
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Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
Troops from the 82nd Airborne in Iraq in 2008 engaging in combat . . . something their commander says they won’t be doing when they go over this time. (Photo: Senior Airman Steve Czyz, U.S. Air Force)


The commander of approximately 1,000 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division headed to Iraq said Friday his troops are not going to fight the Islamic State.

Also, Watch: First Challenges of Training the Afghan National Army | Shepherds Of Helmand, Pt. 4 

“We will not be conducting offensive ground combat operations,” Col. Curtis Buzzard said in a phone interview Friday. “Anything we do will still be in an advise and assist role (with the Iraqi military). We’re helping them plan and execute these operations.”

Buzzard will lead the paratroopers from the 82nd’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. They will deploy in the next few weeks for a nine-month deployment. Their mission is to train and advise the Iraqi military as it prepares for a summer offensive to retake Mosul.

President Barack Obama said U.S. combat troops would not be used in Iraq in the past, but told Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of Central Command overseeing the fight in Iraq and Syria, told The Wall Street Journal Thursday no decision have been made on sending U.S. advisers forward with Iraqi divisions.

“I am going to do what it takes to be successful, and it may very well turn out…that we may need to ask to have our advisers accompany the troops that are moving on Mosul,” he said in a Wall Street Journal interview.

U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal Thursday two Iraqi divisions would be part of the offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city in the spring after completing four to six weeks of training. Buzzard’s men will be part of the training program. As he prepares to leave Fort Bragg, NC, his biggest concern is protecting his trainers, who will be based at Iraqi bases.

“Over nine months, you have to make sure you don’t get complacent,” Buzzard said. “We’ve seen incidents in Afghanistan over the last couple of years from an insider threat standpoint.”

There have been no inside attacks to date. The training program is off to a rocky start, according to recent news reports. There is a shortage of ammunition, forcing Iraqi soldier to yell “bang bang” to simulate firing and classes on “the will to fight’ are being taught after Iraqi fighters deserted their positions, according to a Washington Post report.

Buzzard said his men are focused on training the Iraqi leadership. He is bringing his most senior leaders, who will work closely with their counterparts as the offensive is planned.

“We’re looking forward to building relationships with our partners,” Buzzard said. “The feedback I’m getting so far is that it is very well received and it is having a significant impact at least on the planning stage of the counter offensive right now.”

On Thursday, Kurdish forces cut a key supply line to Mosul and pushed Islamic State fighters out of parts of northern Iraq, according to media reports. But US officials told The Wall Street Journal Thursday that this summer’s fight for Mosul will be difficult with booby-trapped houses and roadside bombs expected. Buzzard said he has been focused on the deployment and not on the current intelligence reports, but he said air power and ground forces have degraded the Islamic state.

“We’re still in the condition setting stage for the counter-offensive,” Buzzard said. “The Iraqi army still has to build up some combat power and decide which forces they are going to use and ensure they are properly trained and equipped, but I think they will be fully capable of executing the mission.”

NOW: Watch This Iraqi War Veteran’s Tragic Story Told Through The Lens Of A Cartoon 

OR: Here’s The Intense Training For Marines Who Guard American Embassies 

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Mother of Marine killed in Afghanistan adopts his working dog

A gold star mother from Rancho Cucamonga, California is honoring her Marine son’s last wishes by taking in his beloved working dog, Sirius. She made that promise the very last time she spoke to him.


Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Sgt. Joshua Ashley was soon killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device (IED). Sirius was with Joshua when he died. He was 23 years old.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
Sirius sits on a memorial dedicated to Sgt. Joshua Ashley, his handler. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

His mother, Tammie Ashley kept the promise four years later, after Sirius was retired from the Marine Corps. She picked the pup up at the airport in Ontario, California.

“It was the strangest thing,” Ashley told CBS Los Angeles. “He was smelling my face like he was going to lick it, and it was almost like ‘I recognize you.’ Like, ‘You were Josh’s mom.'”

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
Sirius during his deployment to Afghanistan (U.S. Navy photo)

Sirius, a German Shepherd, was 7 years old when Ashley died. It was a big loss. The team of Ashley and Sirius scored a 100 percent in their pre-deployment training class. Four months later, on July 18, 2012, Ashley hit the IED that killed him.

Their story is recounted in author Rebecca Frankel’s “War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History and Love.”

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The Navy is closing in on a next-generation Tomahawk missile

The Navy is accelerating deployment of an upgraded Maritime Strike Tomahawk missile designed to better enable the weapon to destroy moving targets at sea, service officials said.


The missile, which has been in development by Raytheon for several years, draws upon new software, computer processing and active-seeker technology, which sends an electromagnetic ping forward from the weapon itself as a method of tracking and attacking moving targets. The electronic signals bounce off a target, and then the return signal is analyzed to determine the shape, size, speed, and contours of the enemy target. This technology allows for additional high-speed guidance and targeting.

Also read: New silent killer welcomed into Navy fleet

The Navy’s acquisition executive recently signed rapid deployment paperwork for the weapon, clearing the way for prompt production and delivery, an industry source said.

“The seeker suite will enable the weapon to be able to engage moving targets in a heavily defended area,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Kara Yingling told Scout Warrior.  “The Maritime Strike Tomahawk enables the surface fleet to seek out and destroy moving enemy platforms at sea or on land beyond their ability to strike us while retaining the capability to conduct long-range strikes,” she said.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
A Tomahawk missile launches from the stern vertical launch system of the USS Shiloh. | US Navy photo

The active seeker technology is designed to complement the Tomahawk’s synthetic guidance mode, which uses a high-throughput radio signal to update the missile in flight, giving it new target information as a maritime or land target moves, Raytheon’s Tomahawk Program Manager Chris Sprinkle said in an interview with Scout Warrior.

The idea is to engineer several modes wherein the Tomahawk can be retargeted in flight to destroy moving targets in the event of unforeseen contingencies. This might include a scenario where satellite signals or GPS technology is compromised by an enemy attack. In such a case, the missile will still need to have the targeting and navigational technology to reach a moving target, Sprinkle added.

An active seeker will function alongside existing Tomahawk targeting and navigation technologies such as infrared guidance, radio frequency targeting, and GPS systems.

“There is tremendous value to operational commanders to add layered offensive capability to the surface force.  Whether acting independently, as part of a surface action group, or integrated into a carrier strike group or expeditionary strike group, our surface combatants will markedly upgrade our Navy’s offensive punching power,” Yingling said.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
A Tactical Tomahawk Cruise Missile launches from the forward missile deck aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut during a training exercise. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leah Stiles

Rapid deployment of the maritime Tomahawk is part of an ongoing Navy initiative to increase capability and capacity in surface combatants by loading every vertical launch system cell with multimission-capable weapons, Yingling explained.

Tomahawks have been upgraded several times over their years of service. The Block IV Tomahawk, in service since 2004, includes a two-way data link for in-flight retargeting, terrain navigation, digital scene-matching cameras, and a high-grade inertial navigation system, Raytheon officials said.

The current Tomahawk is built with a “loiter” ability allowing it to hover near a target until there is an optimal time to strike. As part of this technology, the missile uses a two-way data link and camera to send back images of a target to a command center before it strikes.The weapon is also capable of performing battle damage assessment missions by relaying images through a data link as well, Raytheon said.

The weapon is also capable of performing battle damage assessment missions by relaying images through a data link as well, Raytheon said.

The Navy is currently wrapping up the procurement cycle for the Block IV Tactical Tomahawk missile.  In 2019, the service will conduct a recertification and modernization program for the missiles reaching the end of their initial 15-year service period, which will upgrade or replace those internal components required to return them to the fleet for the second 15 years of their 30-year planned service life, Yingling said.

“Every time we go against anyone that has a significant threat, the first weapon is always Tomahawk,” Sprinkle said. ” It is designed specifically to beat modern and emerging integrated air defenses.”

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This Hornet pilot makes energy shots loved by special operators

Energy drinks are one of the staples of military service. They’re all around the combat zone, a must for going into the field, and a favorite in care packages.


Marine Corps Maj. Robert Dyer, now an instructor at the Naval Academy and a former member of Marine Special Operations Command, wanted an energy drink that his Marines and he could drink that was caffeine free and contained all the vitamins, minerals, and other supplements that they’d normally take a handful of pills to get.

When they couldn’t get it from the current supplement industry, they decided to make it themselves and created RuckPack, a 3-ounce shot designed to keep troops going without risking a caffeine or sugar crash. In addition to the vitamins and minerals, the shot features amino acids to promote awareness and muscle recovery. And for those who want their nutritional supplements with a little caffeine, a new strawberry flavor contains 120mg of caffeine pulled from green tea.

The company makes an effort to assist veterans. They donate 10 percent of their profits to non-profit organizations such as the MARSOC Foundation, the Navy Seal Foundation and the Green Beret Foundation. Also, they’re recruiting veterans into a distribution network that pays a 10-percent commission for sales to independent retailers. And they have a program for people to donate RuckPacks to those deployed overseas.

RuckPack’s website has some impressive testimonials from athletes as well as more information about their product and business model.

RuckPack was featured on Shark Tank where Dyer spoke about the business and pitched the company. Check out this video:

MORE: ‘The Bunker’ is helping veteran entrepreneurs launch the next big tech company 

AND: The Mighty 25: Veterans Poised To Make A Difference In 2015 

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This artist did a World War 2-Star Wars mashup and the result is intense

Thirteenth Floor is an Akron, Ohio art and clothing store whose run by Billy Ludwig, an artist working under the name Impale Design.


“All of the artwork is my own, Ludwig says. “Although my work can take on different styles and personalities, the majority of my work revolves around the paranormal and macabre.”

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

He has a small staff who runs his Akron-based warehouse, from where they run their online store. Ludwig and Thirteenth Floor also sets up shop at Comic-Cons and horror conventions throughout the United States.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

“I was renting an old store front in Massillon, Ohio, our original location,” Ludwig recalls. “[It was] as a rehearsal studio, and I decided to convert it into an art gallery to sell my artwork along with other regional artists.”

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Ludwig has been a Star Wars fan since he was able to say the word “Star Wars.” He was inspired to create a signature poster series, merging World War II imagery with imagery from Star Wars.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

“Many of George Lucas’ concepts for Star Wars came from WWII,” he says. “I thought it would be interesting to combine the two. It was just something I did for fun, and over time has gained quite a large following.”

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Ludwig is currently creating a fourth series of posters, and plans to create some interesting surprises for his series and for the fans who frequent his work.

Check out Thirteenth Floor’s Instagram and Website for more beyond the “SWVSWWII” Series.

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10 career fields for military spouses that aren’t direct sales

As a military spouse, it can feel overwhelming to try to have a career of your own, and even then, its tough to find one you want that meshes well with the military lifestyle.


Recently I came across an article We Are The Mighty syndicated a few years ago: The 10 coolest jobs for military spouses. The list was filled with things like “be a babysitter!” and “be a dog groomer!” among other things.

I understood the premise behind the article: careers that are mobile. But overall, it was a list of starter jobs that — when you’re in your mid 30s and trying to have a serious career — don’t exactly scream “I am a professional!”

Adulting is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re constantly moving, constantly having to search for a new job, and constantly juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and spousehood and…you get the point.

This made me wonder if typical spouses generally just settle into jobs like babysitting and dog grooming and selling mascara, so I went to a group of military spouses who’ve managed to have successful careers and successful marriages, and I asked them to tell me what they do.

The following careers are all careers that current and former Military Spouses of the Year have, and it just goes to show that being a military spouse does not have to mean you’re doomed to sell makeup or babysit for the rest of your service member’s career (that is, if you don’t want to).

*Note: there isn’t anything wrong with direct sales. In fact, I’ve done direct sales, and a lot of spouses do, because it is extremely mobile. The purpose of this list is to think outside of the “military spouse” box.

Entrepreneur:

  • Brittany Boccher owns an apparel company called Mason Chix
  • Lakesha Cole owns a brick and mortar children’s boutique called SheSwank in Jacksonville, NC
  • Valerie Billau founded a kids consignment shop, which she sold after three years when her husband took orders elsewhere
  • Melissa Nauss owns Stars and Stripes Doulas

Sports:

  • Andrea Barreiro is an agent for professional athletes.
  • Heather Smith is a tennis coach.
  • Ellie OB coached college basketball for 12 years

Physical and Mental Health care:

  • Lisa Uzzle is the director of healthcare operations at a medical facility
  • Melissa Nauss is a certified doula
  • Alexandra Eva is a nurse practitioner who hosts clinics in rural areas of third world countries that don’t have much access to medical care. She has worked in Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, and Mozambique, among others
  • Paula Barrette is a licensed optometrist, though due to the difference in each state’s current licensing laws, she often finds herself volunteering as an optometrist at military clinics rather than getting paid
  • Dr. Ingred Herrera-Yee is a clinical psychologist for the Department of Defense, and the founder of a network for military spouses in the mental health field
  • Amber Rose Odom works as an administrator in a dental office
  • Michelle Lemieux is a registered nurse for adolescent psychiatry
  • Zinnia Narvaez is a medical assistant, and practices OB/GYN at a community health center
  • Stephanie Geraghty became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) in order to provide better care for her son, who has special needs. In some states, the state will pay for up to a certain number of hours per day of in home nursing care, and in Geraghty’s state, immediate family members qualify to provide the care. Geraghty put herself through the schooling and passed the board, and now officially works for her son

Executive:

  • Anna Blanch Rabe is the CEO of a communications company that specializes in service non-profit organizations with high quality communications content, strategic planning, and business advice. She started her professional career as an attorney, but current licensing issues prevent her from practicing in most states her service member gets orders to
  • Erica McMannes is the CEO of an outsourcing and virtual staffing agency for military spouses
  • Amy Hanson is the executive assistant to the Vice President of a “billion dollar company”
  • Lisa Wantuck is the Director of National Sales for an IT staffing company
  • Elizabeth Groover is an executive management specialist for a chemical and biological firm

Non-Profit:

  • Kori Yates and Cassandra Bratcher founded non-profit organizations that involve military spouses
  • Maria Mola is the development director for a non-profit that focuses on providing 24 month transitional housing for homeless veterans and families and formerly incarcerated veterans
  • Erin Ensley, along with her daughter, make and send teddy bears for the Epilepsy Foundation
  • Amy Scick is the Director of Community Relations for a non-profit that focuses on military spouse employment
  • Leslie Brians is a graphic designer and creative director for a military spouse focuses non-profit
  • Mindy Patterson works with an agency that is addressing the need for assisted living for people who don’t qualify for it through other various government programs

Cyber:

  • Jessica Del Pizzo is an account manager for a cyber security firm
  • Alex Brown works in cybersecurity, and notes that analysts, remote support, network security design, consultants, and even administrative database managers are excellent remote positions, and with the need for cybersecurity specialists, most places are willing to work with remote employees

Education and child focused:

  • Jennifer Delacruz is a special education teacher, who also writes children’s books about special education
  • Elizabeth Lowe is a personal in home one-to-one therapy caregiver to a child with severe special needs
  • Brittany Raines is in foster parenting licensing
  • Rebekah Speck is a “parent navigator” for a state run program that provides families of disabled children with an advocate to help them address things like IEPs, etc
  • Courtney Lynn is a 3rd grade teacher

Administrative:

  • Christina Laycock is an accountant
  • Stacy Faris is a business administrator
  • Grace Sanchez is a bookkeeper
  • Kelli Kraehmer is an account manager for a large wireless company
  • Kennita Williams is a legal aid for a DoD Staff Judge Advocate
  • Ashley Ella is an agricultural appraiser
  • Hannah Weatherford is a braille transcriptionist

Independent Consulting and Freelance:

  • Loree Bee is a life coach
  • April Alan is a freelance writer and independent blogger
  • Susan Reynolds insists her official title is “badass”. She is an advocate, a freelance writer, and the hostess of SpouseSpouts
  • Tara Glenn is a freelance writer when she’s not working for the Navy

Others:

  • Tesha Jackson and her children paint, sew, crochet, and knit — among other things — and they sell those projects through Jackson’s website
  • Ann Woyma is a veterinarian
  • Kelly Stillwagon is a paranormal investigator, and when she and her husband are stateside, they run classes on how to become investigators
  • Brian Alvarado is a real estate executive, and the Vice President of Marketing for a real estate brokerage in San Diego
  • Hope Griffin is a pastor, and an author of Christian books
  • Vivian Vralstad is a medical writer for a pharmaceutical company, but she began her STEM career as a neuroscientist
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F-35 forward deploys to Bulgaria

Two F-35A Lightning IIs and about 20 supporting Airmen arrived at Graf Ignatievo Air Base April 28 from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.


The F-35As are participating in the first training deployment to Europe. The aircraft and total force Airmen are from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

“The United States and Bulgaria have a strong and enduring relationship,” said Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Third Air Force commander, during a press event after the arrival. “We routinely train through joint and combined initiatives like Operation Atlantic Resolve and in flying exercises like Thracian Eagle, Thracian Summer and Thracian Star. Our commitment to Bulgaria is but an example of our unwavering support to all allied nations.”

Similar to the aircraft’s visit to Estonia on April 25, this training deployment has been planned for some time and was conducted in close coordination with Bulgarian allies. It gives F-35A pilots the opportunity to engage in familiarization training within the European theater while reassuring allies and partners of U.S. dedication to the enduring peace and stability of the region.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw

“I have to say that for us, this makes us very proud,” said Maj. Gen. Tsanko Stoykov, the Bulgarian Air Force commander. “Our efforts have been appreciated and we are trusted as a reliable ally and it immensely contributes to the development of the bilateral relations between our two counties and our two air forces.”

This is the first overseas flying training deployment of the U.S. Air Force’s F-35As. The deployment provides support to bolster the security of NATO allies and partners in Europe while demonstrating the U.S. commitment to regional and global security.

Related: Israel’s F-35s may have already flown a combat mission against Russian air defenses in Syria

“We are grateful to our Bulgarian friends for their support in making today possible,” Clark said. “Your cooperation helps prepare the F-35 for its invaluable contribution to our alliance. We look forward to many more years of our shared commitment and partnership.”

This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, allowing the U.S. to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the aircraft. It also assists in refining the beddown requirements for the F-35A at RAF Lakenheath in order to enhance Europe’s ability to host the future capabilities of the Air Force and coalition team. Also, it helps to integrate with NATO’s infrastructure and enhance fifth-generation aircraft interoperability.

The aircraft and Airmen began arriving in Europe on April 15, and are scheduled to remain in Bulgaria for a brief period of time before returning to RAF Lakenheath to continue their training deployment.

The KC-135 is from 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and is providing refueling support for the deployment to Bulgaria.

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This Marine legend went from the beaches of Iwo Jima to the fields of the Negro League

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat


The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Greason’s voice echoed from the curved white ceiling of Bethel Baptist Church. Direct and robustly musical, Greason’s message pulsed around his congregation.

“I didn’t buy this breath,” he said. “Somebody gave it to me.”

Greason, 90, still measures in at a lanky 5’10” and, other than a smattering of grey, resembles his 1948 Birmingham Black Barons rookie card. His eyes retain their youthful charm and twinkle with wisdom and humor.

He is slow to talk about himself and his accomplishments, but his story is one that begs to be told.

The tale of Bill Greason begins long before he was scouted as a baseball wunderkind by the Negro American League, and contains more substance than a beefy ERA.

Greason was born in 1924 and grew up in Atlanta, Ga., on Auburn Avenue, across the street from playmate Martin Luther King, Jr. Auburn Avenue, also known as Sweet Auburn, was a historically black neighborhood deep in the heart of the segregated South.

Greason explained that he and his four siblings were aware of racial inequality, but were not defined by their circumstances or overcome by anger.

“My parents taught us ‘you are somebody,’ Greason said. “Don’t let anybody make you feel that you’re not. If anybody doesn’t like the color of your skin, tell them to talk to God. But your character — that’s on you.”

Greason’s character and sense of identity fortified him when he joined the Armed Forces in 1943 after graduating from high school.

In the midst of World War II, Greason was called to enlist and serve among the first black Marine recruits, The Montford Point Marines. These exceptional men had been denied access to full democratic freedom at home and were prepared to die for their country, yet Greason and his comrades continued to experience prejudice from their white counterparts during service.

“We were told in the beginning that we weren’t wanted in there,” Greason said. “So we had to prove ourselves.”

This is exactly what they did. In what became one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, Greason and fellow Marines took to the shores of Iwo Jima, Japan to win a decisive victory for the United States, despite heavy casualties.

On Nov. 23, 2011, President Barack Obama signed legislation to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to the Montford Point Marines, the highest civilian honor.

“As the Congressional Gold Medal for the Montford Point Marines is issued, it is a special privilege to extend our fullest appreciation to Reverend William Greason and salute his exceptional life and service to his community and his country,” said U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus in a tribute to Greason in 2012.

“Surviving the island,” Greason said, “was a miracle that had an everlasting impact.”

“When I was on the island of Iwo Jima, with the Marines dying all around and two of my best friends were killed, I promised the Lord that if he saved me, if I was able to get off that island, anything He wanted me to do I would do it,” he said.

Greason left Iwo Jima unscathed, but memories of the island remain with him and he is eager to share their lessons.

“It taught you something about life and how precious it is,” Greason said. “You don’t want to destroy anybody — you want to help wherever you can.”

After occupational duty in Japan for 13 months, Greason returned stateside with a rekindled passion for life and a new talent: baseball.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Most of the literature on Greason’s remarkable baseball career concerns itself with statistics: his 3.61 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 1953, the pennant he led the Black Barons to in ’48, his snappy curving fastball and his nickname, “Double Duty,” earned for his workhorse mentality on the mound and at the plate.

The numbers provide a chill, sterile glance — a press box view — of a history won in grit, nerve and determination.

When the undefeated Black Barons suffered their only loss to the Asheville Blues at the hands of 24-year-old Greason in 1948, player-manager Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was in the process of scouring the Negro League for raw talent to add to his unrivaled team. Recruiting Greason was a no- brainer.

Black players in America’s favorite pastime had a special burden according to Greason.

“We were blessed to be part of this great history of Negro League Baseball,” he said. “Wherever we would go and play, they recognized us as being gentlemen.”

The Birmingham Black Barons and other Negro League teams seemed to understand that baseball, unlike other sports at the time, held national significance. They stepped up to bat and they represented not only themselves, but also the hope of equality for their entire race.

“We were taught to retain and maintain our dignity,” Greason said. “We didn’t disgrace our parents. We didn’t disgrace the people we worked for. We didn’t disgrace the city.”

1948 proved to be the last year of the Negro League World Series, and though the Barons lost the championship in the final hour to the Homestead Grays, Greason’s physical talent and emotional maturity preceded him.

He pitched two years in the Mexican League (1950–1951); eight in the minors (1952–1959), as the first black player for the Oklahoma City Indians; and five years in the winter leagues (1951; 1954- 1958), where he notably played against Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba.

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, there was a major decline in support for the Negro Leagues. As the players were scouted into minor and major leagues, fans followed, ultimately sealing the Negro League’s fate.

In 1954, after returning from serving in the Korean War, Greason was scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals as the team’s first black pitcher. He was honored September 2014 with a Living Legend Award.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Greason said. “It gave our players opportunity to earn more money in ‘organized ball’ as they called it.”

It is the entrepreneurial spirit of the Negro League players that Ora Jerald, executive director of the American Negro League Baseball Association, is striving to inspire in Birmingham youth.

Along with Greason and other Black Barons legends, Jerald established the legacy initiative Project HELP (History Entrepreneurs Leadership Program).

What started out as baseball camps and demonstrations developed into a pointed effort to prepare economically compromised children for brighter futures.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership is very much a part of the overall history of the Negro Leagues,” Jerald said. “And the legacy then is to make sure that something profound is left in the lives and hearts of the children.”

Jerald explained that the historical impact of Greason’s life has helped inspire children beyond the baseball diamond.

“We’ve developed something that we think — entrepreneurship and leadership, certainly — is reflective of what the Negro League baseball history stands for and what it represented at the time when Greason was at his peak as a player,” Jerald said.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat
In addition to Project HELP, Greason, in collaboration with members of his congregation at Bethel Baptist, has curated a museum depicting not only his life in baseball: uniforms, trophies and awards, but also the lives of outstanding community members, including Michael Holt.

“We want our community to see that your circumstances don’t define who you are,” said Holt, who spent 31 years in government service as the assistant director for Homeland Security.

The Rev. William “Bill” Greason Museum of Legends is currently open to the public and is most easily accessed on Sundays after church at Bethel Baptist.

When asked what he wishes his legacy to be, Greason smiles and says, “Humility. The way up is down. It’s a paradox. Popularity wanes, but character is retained.”

Wise words from a man with much to be proud of.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Market Magazine.

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Meet the kids terrorizing Bangladesh

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat


Last Friday evening, just before 9pm, seven heavily armed terrorists stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upscale café popular with expats, diplomats and wealthy locals in the Gulshan area of Dhaka.

The neighborhood is considered one of the most secure in Bangladesh, attracting embassies and high commissions to locate there.

Only a lucky few managed to escape in the initial moments of the attack. Most of the 20 to 25 guests and a similar number of employees were taken hostage. Attempts by Bangladeshi police to enter the siege were met with gunfire and grenade explosions, killing two officers and injuring others. Security personnel attempted to negotiate with the terrorists, without success.

The siege went on for 11 hours before Bangladesh Army para-commandos finally stormed the building using armored personnel carriers.

The operation, codenamed “Thunderbolt,” recovered 13 hostages – including three foreigners. But it was too late for most. The terrorists had already killed up to 20 foreign nationals – including nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, an American of Bangladeshi origin and two Bangladeshis. After being shot, their bodies were hacked with machetes and knives.

The security forces killed six gunmen and captured one alive.

ISIS waited a few hours before claiming responsibility for the attack through its official Amaq news agency. Amaq continued to post updates on the attack throughout the night, along with pictures from inside the restaurant – in all likelihood taken by the perpetrators and then digitally transmitted to their handlers.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

The pro-ISIS hacker group Sons of Caliphate Army also published a poster promoting the attack.

Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat

However, the next day, Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said none of the hostage takers were part of ISIS, nor any other international terrorist organization for that matter. Rather, they were home-grown members of the banned JMB.

So who were the attackers?

Less than 24 hours after the siege ended, ISIS published pictures of five of the terrorists. No information was provided about the killers’ real identity – only their noms de guerre. But here’s what we know of the attackers:

1. Nibras Islam

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Nibras Islam was identified as one of the assailants from the photo posted by ISIS matching his Facebook wall, which has since been deactivated. Nibras went missing from Dhaka in February. He studied at the Turkish Hope School and then the North South University, a leading private university in Dhaka. From there, he went on to pursue higher studies at Monash University’s Malaysia campus.

2. Meer Saameh Mubasheer

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Meer Saameh Mubasheer was a class 11 or A-level student when he too went missing from Dhaka at the end of February. He’d been on his way to a coaching center, according to Facebook posts that were widely circulated. One of the posts at the time he went missing was from Mahamudur Rahman. “I am just astonished,” Rahman wrote on July 2, “‘because this was the same guy! He is Meer Saameh Mubasheer”. Unconfirmed sources say he studied at Scholastica, a top English medium school in Dhaka.

3. Rohan Imtiaz

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The third assailant has been identified as Rohan Imitiaz. He’d also been missing for the last few months according to a Facebook post from his father, Imtiaz Khan Babul, on June 21. He shared an old photo of the two of them, asking his son where he was and pleading for him to return. Rohan’s father is said to be a Dhaka city Awami League (ruling party of Bangladesh) leader. According to some reports, Rohan also used to be an A-level student of the Scholastica English medium school in Dhaka.

4. Khairul Islam

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Khairul Islam was the son of a day laborer from Bogra district, Rajshshi division, in northern Bangladesh, and studied at a madrassa. He’d been missing for the past year. Bangladeshi police believe he was involved in at least three murders in northern Bangladesh during the last seven months. Several ISIS-claimed attacks – targeted assassinations – have taken place in northern Bangladesh during this period.

And the other three?

Social media is abuzz with talk of two more attackers being identified: Raiyan Minhaj and Andaleeb Ahmed. There has been no confirmation of this from mainstream media nor the Bangladesh government.

5. Raiyan Minhaj

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Raiyan Minhaj graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Monash University campus in Malaysia last December.

6. Andaleeb Ahmed

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Andaleeb Ahmed also graduated from the Monash University campus in Malaysia. No further details are available beyond the many social media posts matching his picture with one of the photos of the attackers published by ISIS.

7. The Mysterious Professor

There’s a missing link in the incident. Sections of the Bangladeshi media have reported sightings of a bald man, who was one of the hostages – yet he appeared remarkably comfortable in the otherwise extremely tense situation.

Screenshots from video footage during the siege show the man smoking on the first floor of the café during the early morning of July 2, with two terrorists standing behind him. The bald man, along with his companions, were later rescued by the security personnel.

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The man was later identified as Hasnat R Karim, a professor at Dhaka’s North South University. He’d gone to celebrate his son’s birthday with his family at the Holey Artisan Bakery.

What’s Next?

In the second part of this analysis, to be published next week, we will explain how this attack was all too predictable given our recent analysis of the ‘new emir’ of ISIS, which we forecast in January of this year and was formally announced in April.

We will also explore the geopolitical ramifications of this attack, and the high probability of future incidents in Bangladesh, due to the government’s refusal to acknowledge the growing domestic threat posed by ISIS.

Phill Hynes and Hrishiraj Bhattacharjee’s probe of the Dhaka terrorist attack continues tomorrow with analysis of ISIS’s stronghold in Bangladesh as its bridgehead to Southeast Asia. Hynes and Bhattacharjee areanalysts for ISS Risk, a frontier and emerging markets political risk management company covering North, South and Southeast Asia from its headquarters in Hong Kong.

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SecDef Mattis puts North Korea on notice over ‘provocative behavior’

Kim Jong Un may have just received his only warning to shape up or risk upsetting Secretary of Defense James “Chaos” Mattis. And when Chaos Mattis gets pissed off… well, it would be a lie to say it was nice knowing Kim Jong Un.


According to a report by CBSNews.com, Mattis indicated that the United States could very well end up deploying the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, formerly known as the “Theater High-Altitude Area Defense” system, to South Korea. Either way, the system, dubbed THAAD, is used to shoot down ballistic missiles like those pointed at Seoul from the north.

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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis meets with South Korea’s acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 2, 2017. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

“Well, you know, North Korea has often acted in a provocative way, and it’s hard to anticipate what they do,” he told reporters, according to a DOD transcript of a press gaggle on board his aircraft as it was en route to Osan Air Base in South Korea.

“There’s only one reason that we even have this under discussion right now, and that is North Korea’s activities,” he added. “That THAAD is for defense of our allies people, of our troops who are committed to their defense. And were it not for the provocative behavior of North Korea we would have no need for THAAD out here.”

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The first of two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors is launched during a successful intercept test. The test, designated Flight Test Operational-01 (FTO-01), stressed the ability of the Aegis BMD and THAAD weapon systems to function in a layered defense architecture and defeat a raid of two near-simultaneous ballistic missile targets. (DOD photo)

THAAD is a ballistic missile defense system. According to Army-Technology.com, the system has a range of at least 200 kilometers (124 miles), and is able to hit targets almost 500,000 feet above ground level (ArmyRecognition.com credits THAAD with a range of 1,000 kilometers – equivalent to over 600 miles).

A Missile Defense Agency fact sheet notes that each THAAD launcher holds eight missiles. The system also uses the AN/TPY-2 radar to track targets. Currently, six batteries are in service per the MDA fact sheet. A 2016 Defense News article notes that each battery has six launchers.

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Missile defense test reportedly fails after sailor presses wrong button

A missile defense test went awry last month after a Navy sailor accidentally pressed the wrong button, an investigation into the matter revealed.


The Missile Defense Agency conducted a test of the SM-3 Block IIA missile interceptor in late June. A medium-range ballistic missile was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, the MDA explained in a statement at the time. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones detected and tracked the missile using the on-board radars and launched an SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which ultimately failed to intercept the target.

An MDA investigation into the failure revealed that a sailor pressed the wrong button, causing the missile to self-destruct. The MDA reported that there were no problems with either the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor or the Navy’s Aegis combat system, according to Defense News.

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A Standard Missile-3. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

A tactical datalink controller mistakenly identified the incoming ballistic missile as friendly, causing the missile to unexpectedly self-destruct mid-flight, according to sources familiar with the recent missile intercept test.

The test in late June was the fourth flight test of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, which is being developed by Raytheon and is a joint missile defense project between the US and Japan. The new interceptor was developed to counter the rising ballistic missile threat from North Korea.

North Korea has tested a batch of new short-, medium-, intermediate-, and long-range missiles this year, increasing the threat to its neighbors and extending the danger to targets in the US.

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US Pacific Command has deployed the first elements of the THAAD to South Korea. Photo courtesy of DoD.

The failed test was preceded by a successful test in May of the ground-based, mid-course defense system, which defends the US against intercontinental ballistic missiles. An interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California eliminated a mock long-range missile fired from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Earlier this month, the US successfully tested the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system against an intermediate-range ballistic missile, with a THAAD unit in Alaska eliminating a target missile launched from an Air Force Cargo plane to the north of Hawaii.

The failure of the SM-3 Block IIA, which was tested successfully in February, initially represented a setback. That the cause of the failure was likely human error may come as a relief for those involved in the weapon’s development.

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US paratroopers are testing this new tactical chest rig

The US Army is testing a new fighting load system for paratroopers, designed specifically for airborne operations.


“The Airborne Tactical Assault Panel, or ABN-TAP, was developed with the paratrooper in mind and will allow the paratrooper a greater degree of comfort, mobility, and safety during static line airborne infiltration operations,” said Rich Landry of the US Army Soldier Systems Center laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts.

Previous fighting load system designs interfered with the fit of the T-11 parachute harness and moved T-11 reserve activation handle further away from the paratrooper’s grasp.

The ABN-TAP, which is similar to the old Load Bearing Equipment or LBE, enables soldiers to rig the fighting load under the parachute harness but below the reserve parachute.

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Fort Bragg paratroopers in action. Army Photo by Sgt. Steven Galimore.

“This will allow paratroopers to properly adjust the T-11 parachute harness to their specific sizing requirements and keep the T-11 reserve parachute handle well within reach,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Seymour, Test NCO from the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, or ABNSOTD.

The ABN-TAP design actually draws its lineage from the older LBE system used with the T-10 and MC1-1 parachute systems by paratroopers for decades.

Soon after the Global War on Terror began, all branches of the armed services rushed to modernize field equipment to meet the rigors of modern combat and allow for the constant presence of body armor, according to Mike Tracy, deputy test division chief at ABNSOTD.

“With the vest/plate carrier systems seeing overwhelming soldier acceptance, the task of providing the paratrooper with a modern design compatible with current parachute systems is challenging to say the least,” Tracy said.

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Soldiers from the 57th Sapper Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, assemble the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel. US Army photo by Jim Finney.

The ABN-TAP bridges this gap by providing both new and old capabilities to the paratrooper.

Tracy explained that this new fighting load system allows not only for rigging under the parachute harness and reserve, but can be rapidly adjusted to serve as a “chest rig” design upon landing.

“Ground troops consider this to be the most efficient design under current operational conditions,” said Tracy.

“Operational testing using airborne paratroopers, collects data which truly allows the Army to evaluate the suitability and safety of the ABN-TAP when worn during static line airborne operations and follow-on missions,” Tracy said.

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The Airborne Tactical Assault Panel (ABN-TAP) rigging configurations. Photo from US Army.

Before testing soldiers participated in New Equipment Training, which included familiarization with the system, fitting and proper rigging of the ABN-TAP with the T-11 parachute system.

Soldiers then conducted parachute jumps from a C-17 aircraft at 1,250 feet above ground level over Sicily Drop Zone at Bragg.

Upon completion of testing, the ABN-TAP could potentially be issued to Army airborne forces worldwide.

“Any time soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing, they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future soldiers will use in combat,” said Col. Brad Mock, the director of all the Army’s Airborne testing.

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Debate rages over what the US military should look like in the next 10 years

Five of the top national security think tanks exchanged widely varying proposals on the force structure and funding the U.S. armed services would need to confront the global security environment 10 years from now.


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An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

The proposals ranged from the minimalist, mind-your-own-business plan from the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, which would cut defense funding $1.1 trillion below the Obama administration’s long-term budget projects over 10 years, to the aggressive, act-like-a-global-power concept from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which would add $1.3 trillion — with any force reductions or increases tracking to the funding levels.

The other think tanks — the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies — fell in between those two extremes on both funding and force levels.

In the conference held in the Newseum’s Knight Studio Oct. 18, AEI’s Tom Donnelly said “we bought almost everything” the president has asked for, but still don’t have the military America needs.

“That tells you how much cutting has been done over the last generation,” he said.

Donnelly based his big increases in spending and force structure on a view that “the world is going to hell in a hand basket,” that from a global view of security “the trend lines are all negative,” and “the old post-Cold War world doesn’t exist any more. We need to build something new.”

Cato’s Benjamin Friedman, however, said his budget and force structure plans were based on “a strategy of restraint,” which “differs from the current prevailing view in Washington.”

“Given our geography, wealth and strategic prowess, we would be secure in the US regardless of how much we buy. This is about how much insurance we need,” Friedman said.

The three others, Paul Scharre of CNAS, Mark Gunzinger of CSBA, and Todd Harrison of CSIS, all agreed that the growing threats required additional spending, but generally favored selective modernization rather than the major force structure growth that Donnelly proposed.

The Navy would fare reasonably well in nearly all the projections, even getting smaller reductions within Cato’s heavy cuts. The submarine force was generally favored by all, with two proposing a new class of guided missile subs to replace the four converted ballistic missile SSGN boats. Cato and CSIS would cut four of the 11 aircraft carriers but CSBA and CNAS called for more carriers.

The Navy would get the biggest boost from CNAS, which called for an increase from the current battle force fleet of 272 to 345. The Navy’s goal is to reach 308 ships by 2020.

CSBA noted that the carriers’ ability to project power is threatened by the proliferation of long-range precision defense weapons and suggested off-setting that by fielding an unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft. The Navy currently plans to follow up its experimental X-47B carrier-capable UAV with the pilotless MQ-25, primarily used as an air refueling aircraft with some ISR capabilities.

The Marine Corps got widely varying support from the five organizations, with Cato proposing to cut it by one-third, CNAS eliminating four infantry battalions and CSIS cutting 6,000 Marines and one air group. Analysts at CSBA proposed an increase to 187,000 Marines from the current plan for 182,000. The Corps probably would gain under AEI’s funding boost.

The Army generally would be increased in size or strengthened by all of the think tanks, except of course Cato, with Donnelly advocating a major boost in armored brigades, which would be used to bolster NATO against Russia.

The Air Force also generally would be strengthened although not substantially increased by the other think tanks, while Cato called for cutting it by one-third. CSIS, CSBA and CNAS all proposed giving the Air Force a low-cost, light-attack aircraft in addition to the F-35A.

Other than Cato, which wants to cancel the entire program, the F-35 was favored along with other stealthy aircraft, including the Air Force’s existing F-22 Raptors and its still-on-paper B-21 long-range strategic strike bomber, now under development. Donnelly urged the Navy to buy the F-35B jump jet version the Marines are getting so it could put them on its aircraft carriers but off-load them in the forward theater to bolster ground forces.

While Cato would chop the nuclear deterrent triad to just the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, the others all appeared to favor current plans to modernize the Air Force’s nuclear capable bombers and Minuteman III missiles, as well as buying the replacement subs for the Ohio-class SSBNs.

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