Here's how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

Instructors at the U.S. Army‘s Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course said they would serve under the first 13 female lieutenants who graduated the course “in a heartbeat.”


“They blew us away during our field training exercises,” said Staff Sgt. William Hare, an instructor at the course. “Their ability to plan, adapt on the fly and execute that plan in a clear and concise manner and communicate plan changes on the go — it was amazing.”

Also read: First 10 women graduate from Infantry Officer Course

Hare was among a handful of instructors and leaders who spoke to reporters about the first gender-integrated class of ABOLC that graduated 53 male and 13 female officers at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Thursday.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Students from the Armor Basic Leader Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, train during a combined competitive maneuver exercise at Benning’s Good Hope Training Area on Nov. 16, 2016. | U.S. Army photo

Two women and six men did not meet the standards and will recycle, Benning officials said. Two males were medically dropped from the course.

This is the latest step in the Army’s effort to integrate women into combat arms jobs such as armor and infantry.

In late October, 10 female lieutenants graduated from the first gender-integrated class of Infantry Officer Basic Leaders Course at Benning.

And in August 2015, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate Army Ranger School. Maj. Lisa A. Jaster became the third woman to graduate from Ranger School two months later.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December 2015 ordered all military jobs, including special operations, opened to women. His directive followed a 2013 Pentagon order that the military services open all positions to women by early 2016.

Thursday’s graduation of the 13 female officers from ABOLC is “consistent with what you have seen over the last 18 months,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Benning.

“We always knew that when we entered this effort that we wanted the process to be standards-based,” Wesley said. “In the case of Ranger School, we wanted to make sure there were clear objective standards to determine qualification to become a Ranger. In terms of IBOLC the same thing — it was all standards-based. And now, in the armor community, we have done the same thing.”

The 13 female graduates performed as well as their male counterparts on the High Physical Demands Test, a series of tasks designed to validate that any soldier serving in an MOS has “the right physical attributes to perform in that particular military occupational specialty,” said Brig. Gen. John Kolasheski, commandant of the Armor School at Benning.

“It’s gender-neutral, and they performed at the same rate as their male peers in all of those tasks.”

The new graduates now will go to the Army Reconnaissance Course at Benning. After that, some will go to Airborne School and Ranger School before being assigned to operational units, Benning officials said.

Once they leave Benning, female combat arms officers are being assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Staff Sgt. George Baker, another instructor at ABOLC, said he had his doubts initially about women in the armor community.

“There was some skepticism at first, just to see can they do it … but as soon as they started performing to those same standards — because we didn’t change anything and they performed to those same standards, and they met and exceeded those same standards — it solidified that they have a place here,” Baker said.

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President ponders review of terrorist suspect interrogation and black sites

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering an executive order setting up a review of interrogation practices, including whether to re-open so-called “black sites” run by the CIA under the George W. Bush administration.


According to a report by CBSNews.com on a leaked draft of the order, the initiative would reverse executive orders issued by President Obama regarding Guantanamo Bay and interrogation techniques. Those orders were signed on Jan. 22, 2009.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Photo provided by Crown Publishing

The draft order raises the specter of the return of enhanced interrogation techniques. One of those who developed the techniques, retired Air Force Lt. Col. James Mitchell, fiercely denied they were torture in a forum at the American Enterprise Institute this past December.

The order also would keep the detention facilities at the U.S. Navy’s base at Guantanamo Bay open, saying, “The detention facilities at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, are legal, safe, and humane, and are consistent with international conventions regarding the laws of war.”

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of Military Police at Camp X-Ray at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during in-processing to the temporary detention facility on Jan. 11, 2002. The detainees will be given a basic physical exam by a doctor, to include a chest x-ray and blood samples drawn to assess their health. (DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy)

“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell asked. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I personally waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”

When contacted for comments on the draft executive order, Mitchell said, “I would hope they just take a look at it.” He admitted he had not been contacted by the Trump administration or the Trump transition team, but pointed to an ACLU lawsuit that made him “damaged goods,” but did wish that they would “talk with someone who has interrogated a terrorist.”

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Senator John McCain campaigns for re-election to the senate in 2016. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

In a statement released after the reports of the draft order emerged, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said, “The Army Field Manual does not include waterboarding or other forms of enhanced interrogation. The law requires the field manual to be updated to ensure it ‘complies with the legal obligations of the United States and reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use or threat of force.’ Furthermore, the law requires any revisions to the field manual be made available to the public 30 days prior to the date the revisions take effect.”

Mitchell was very critical of McCain’s statement, noting that it essentially boils down to relying on terrorists to voluntarily give statements about their pending operations. “It’s nuts,” he said, after pointing out that counter-terrorist units don’t reveal their tactics. He also noted that “beer and cigarettes” or social influence tactics, like those Secretary of Defense James Mattis favored, are not included in the manual.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Detainees at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay during prayer (DoD photo)

Retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis backed up Mitchell’s comments.

“I favor giving the interrogation decisions to those with the need to know.  Not all threats are the same and there are situations where tough techniques are justified,” Maginnis told WATM. “I’m not with the camp that says tough interrogation techniques seldom if ever deliver useful outcomes. That’s for the experienced operator to know.”

Maginnis also expressed support for the use of “black sites” to keep suspected terrorists out of the reach of the American judicial system. He also noted, “Some of our allies are pretty effective at getting useful information from deadbeats.”

Senator McCain’s office did not return multiple calls asking follow-up questions regarding the senator’s Jan. 25 statement on the draft executive order.

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This is how special operators ’embrace the suck’

For most people, joining the special operations community is just a dream — a fantasy born of countless hours playing video games and watching cool-guy action movies.


To a much smaller group, though, joining the military’s most elite is not boyhood fantasy — it is destiny. It is for those few that this article posted. And since we are not simply dreamers, I thought I’d begin with a sobering question: What makes you think that you will succeed while so many others fail?

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Be in great physical shape, callous your body and train your mind to not dwell on the pain that’s in store. (US military photo)

Really, think about it for a moment before you simply answer with “because I will never quit.” I’ve heard this same line parroted by some of the most impressive physical studs, to only see them one-by-one drop out. What makes you any different?

It all comes down to mindset.

Sure, be in incredible shape. Yes, be highly competent and motivated. But what it all boils down to — what proves to be the great separator of men — is what is between your ears.

If you are truly committed to joining special operations then you need to understand that preparing your mind for what is coming is even more important than preparing your body. When the pain starts and your body begins to fail you (no matter how fit you are you will reach this point many times over), your dedication, character, work ethic, and toughness will be put to the ultimate test.

I cannot prepare you for this, but what I can do is pull back the veil to give you some practical advice and mental “cheats” to master your pain and misery. Practice the following tips and store them away for the gut-checks that await you.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Imagine your girlfriend hiding her shame at your failure, then keep going. (US military photo)

Good luck to you. Train Hard. Train smart.

Tip #1: Keep your mind busy and distracted so it cannot dwell on the pain.

To focus on the pain is to certainly amplify it. Force yourself to think about something else. Think about fun memories, old flames, funny movies, future planning, pray, sing songs in your head – do anything except be alone with the pain.

Tip #2: Focus on your goal and draw strength from your commitment.

Remember that quitting is not an option. See yourself succeeding through the temporary anguish and draw strength from those that fall beside you.

If this doesn’t work, flip it and imagine your dream slipping away. Ponder the cost of failure. Imagine failing your friends and family who have bragged about you. Imagine having to explain for the rest of your life how you just couldn’t hang on a little longer.

Imagine your girlfriend hiding her shame at your failure.

Tip #3: Revel in the pain.

Convince yourself that the pain feels good or that the whole thing is just a hilarious game. Get furious at the pain if you like. Rebuke your body for being weak and your mind for trying to buckle for something so small as shaky arms from doing pushups. Also, if you can laugh at your misery, it is a great sign that you may survive it (just don’t let the instructors see you laugh or they will take it as a personal challenge to dole out more misery).

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Air base commander arrested by Turkish government in wake of failed coup

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Turkish F-16 taxis for takeoff at Incirlik Air Base. (Photo: TAF)


Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan continued his move to secure his increasingly Islamist regime in the wake of the failed coup from this past weekend. Among those arrested in the crackdown is the commander of Incirlik Air Base, where the United States Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing is based.

During the coup, Turkish F-16s reportedly had Erdogan’s plane in their sights, and harassed it, but they did not shoot it down. The Federal Aviation Administration has extended the ban on flights to and from Turkey through September 1, a sign that this crisis is expected to continue for weeks at the very least.

According to one media report, Turkish state media claimed that former air force commander Akin Ozturk had confessed to planning the coup, but in an appearance before a prosecutor, Ozturk denied any involvement. Erdogan has banned all “public servants” from leaving Turkey – an attempt to ensure that none of those who plotted the coup escape. The Turkish President is also stating that he will approve the reinstatement of the death penalty, abolished in 2004, should the Turkish legislature approve it. Such approval may well happen given the fact that Erdogan’s party has control of the Turkish Parliament. The European Union has stated that any use of capital punishment will end any chances of Turkey entering that body.

Erdogan has also begun a series of purges, with the total number of police, judges, and military personnel being suspended or detained totaling at least 14,000. Many of those were supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan’s until they fell out over a 2013 corruption investigation. The BBC reported that Erdogan helped the Gulen supporters get jobs in the police prior to the end of their alliance.

On the diplomatic front, the United States and Turkey are heading towards a falling out. Erdogan has said that Turkey may need to “reconsider” its friendship with the United States. The Turkish president is also continuing to demand the extradition of Gulen, an influential cleric who supports education, religious tolerance, democracy, and is, by all appearances, a genuinely moderate Moslem. In response, Secretary of State John Kerry is saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could expel Turkey. Gulen has raised the possibility that Erdogan staged the coup himself to justify the purges. One European Union commissioner speculated that Erdogan’s regime may have had lists of people to arrest prepared beforehand, a claim that was dismissed by Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The arrest of the commander of Incirlik Air Base came after the officer’s request for asylum from the United States was denied. Tweets from Americans stationed at Incirlik vouched for the officer, who was taken into custody, and who is likely to be imprisoned, if not killed. Reports have surfaced that Turkish police and prosecutors are searching the air base, where the Federation of American Scientists believe that a number of B61 gravity bombs are stored.

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This top secret World War II drone mission killed JFK’s older brother

Operation Aphrodite was a top-secret attempt by the Army and Navy to turn old airplanes into suicide drones during World War II. B-17s and B-24s that were past their service life would be packed with several tons of Torpex, an explosive with twice the power of TNT, and then piloted into heavily-fortified targets.


The planes would take off under control of a pilot and flight engineers before they bailed out. The drones would then be remotely piloted to targets in Nazi Germany via a “mother-plane,” a specially outfitted bomber with remote control of the drone. The hope was that the concentrated mass of explosives would be successful in cracking bunkers and other defenses that survived standard bombing runs.

The program ran from August 1944 to January 1945 but was a massive failure: More Allied service members were killed than Germans and more damage was done to England than to Germany.

One of the pilots killed in the operation was the older brother of future-President John F. Kennedy.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Rabit

Navy Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy had completed his quota of missions months before, but he and his crew had stayed in theater to support the D-Day invasions and the beginning of the advance across Europe. They served primarily in anti-submarine patrols. By the end of July 1944, Kennedy’s crew was headed stateside.

Kennedy again volunteered to stay and joined Operation Aphrodite where he was assigned to fly drones to 10,000 feet before bailing and allowing the mother-plane to take over.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
A BQ-8 takes off. Photo: US Army Air Force

Kennedy and Lt. Wilford J. Willy flew a BQ-8, the designation for the converted B-24s, on August 12, 1944. Kennedy and Willy never made it to their bailout point. The cause of the mishap was never discovered, but the explosives on the Liberator detonated prematurely, killing both pilots and destroying the plane instantly.

Kennedy was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and the Air Medal.

The failed missions of Operation Aphrodite would continue until the following January when the program was indefinitely suspended and never restarted.

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4 weird things armies fight over

You get into a mammoth fight with another country, and you both have to go for every advantage you can get. In some cases, that means fighting for resources that most people may not realize are all that important. While everyone knows that steel and oil can make and break campaigns, it turns out that everything from coal to fish oil to guano can be important too:


4. Coal

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
The USS Jupiter was a collier ship that carried coal for other American ships before being converted to America’s first carrier, the USS Langley. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

While it’s usually either loved or hated for its role in making electricity, coal was a major fuel source for military operations during the time of America’s Civil War until a little past World War I. Even today, it’s important for industrial processes like forming steel for tanks and ships. And in World War II, Germany exploited a 1920s discovery that allowed them to turn coal into synthetic fuel and oil.

So, that hopefully explains why the Allies and Germans launched raids against coal reserves in and around Europe, often north of the Arctic Circle. The German war machine desperately needed enough fuel to fight on multiple fronts, especially when they began losing their oil fields in North Africa and the Balkans.

3. Diamonds

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
British commandos, like these two in a photo from the St. Nazaire Raid, launched a daring mission to secure Antwerp’s diamonds before the Germans could seize them. (Photo: Public Domain)

Like coal, diamonds are valuable during war for their use in industry. Their physical strength is needed for the manufacture of important items like radar as well as the tools for manufacturing weapons and vehicles.

So, when the Third Reich launched its massive assault through the low countries, Britain sent agents to buy, steal, and capture Dutch diamonds before the Germans could. Most concentrated on buying stockpiles and accepting bags of them from Jewish traders for safekeeping, but one officer actually broke into a massive vault and made away with the jewels just as Nazi paratroopers hit the building.

2. Bat and bird crap

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Guano mines were an important source of saltpeter for munitions production. (Photo: Public Domain)

So, this one is probably the most surprising, but large deposits of bat and bird feces were actually a huge deal from soon after the invention of gunpowder through World War I. That’s because the animals have diets filled with insects and their feces are often filled with saltpeter, one of the key ingredients for gunpowder.

And major countries fought for large crap deposits. Spain invaded Peru and fought an alliance that included Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador over the Chincha Islands in the 1860s. A Confederate regiment had to guard the deposits in Austin, Texas, for use in the Civil War. And one of Japan’s prizes in World War II was Nauru, a crap-soaked island between Hawaii and New Zealand.

1. Fish oil

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
British commandos burn fish oil facilities in the Lofoten Islands in World War II. (Photo: War Office Capt. Tennyson d’Eyncourt, Imperial War Museum)

Not the stuff you get in capsules from nature made, we’re talking about huge vats of fish fats. The chemicals in the fish fat included glycerine, a crucial propellant for modern weapons. And that high flammability turns fish oil fires into massive columns of black smoke.

In World War II, this turned Norway and other countries that relied on the fishing industry into targets for the two sides. The Germans captured Norwegian fishing villages but failed to fortify them well, so the British and Canadian militaries sent commandos to trash the facilities and burn them to the ground, robbing the Germans of needed supplies and forcing them to defend far-flung facilities.

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This Mapuche Warrior fought the Spanish with actual knife hands

The Mapuche Tribes of what is today Chile and Argentina banded together to fight the Spanish colonizers of South America. During the Arauco War in 1557, the natives were fighting the forces of governor García Hurtado de Mendoza but were ultimately unsuccessful. That did not end the fighting.


But at the Battle of Lagunillas, the Spanish captured more than 150 warriors. As a punishment for their uprising, the governor ordered that some of the warriors should lose their right hand and nose, while leaders like one young man named Galvarino would lose both hands. The amputee POWs were then released as a warning to other natives. That’s not what happened.

Galvarino let the Spaniards take both of his hands without flinching or saying a word. He even asked the Spanish to kill him but they would not. When he was released, he returned to his army and urged the the Mapuche general Caupolicán to continue to fight the good fight.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

Once back in camp, he raised his handless arms in the air and warned his fellow warriors this was the fate that awaited them if they didn’t win the war. Caupolicán appointed Galvarino to command a new unit, but the warrior could no longer carry a weapon.

No problem: Galvarino attached knives to both his cauterized wrists, knives which historians describe as being as big as lances.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Galvarino Concept Art

Less than a month after his initial capture, Galvarino was back in combat, this time at the Battle of Millarapue. The plan was to surprise a Spanish encampment and destroy the army before its superior firepower could be brought to bear. The natives didn’t knock out the Spanish cannons, however, the ambush failed, and the colonizers would kill 3,000 native fighters.

In a Spanish account of the Arauco Wars titled Crónica, Galvarino is said to have waved his men forward with his knife hands,  saying “Nobody is allowed to flee but to die, because you die defending your mother country!”

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

Galvarino was captured during the battle and subsequently hanged, but not before he was able to kill the opposing army’s vice-commander. The Arauco War lasted a total of 300 years and the Mapuche still resist governments to this day.

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Turkey has seen several military coups over the last 50 years, but this one is different

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Turkish tanks move into position as Turkish people attempt to stop them in Ankara. Burhan Ozbilici / AP


The Turkish military apparently staged a coup on Friday night,deploying military into the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s largest city and capital, respectively.

“Turkish Armed Forces have completely taken over the administration of the country to reinstate constitutional order, human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, and the general security that was damaged,” a statement, published by a group calling itself the “Peace at Home Council” on TRT, Turkey’s state-run broadcaster, read.

But Turkish citizens began flooding the streets in support of President Tayyip Recep Erdogan after he called for citizens to gather and repel the coup.

The military in Turkey has forced out four civilian governments since 1960.

Here’s a brief outline, with information collected from Wikipedia, Al Jazeera, Foreign Affairs, and The Wall Street Journal:

1960: The military took over the government on May 27 during a time of heightened tensions between the government and the opposition, following some loosened rules on religion, but more restrictions on press. Prime Minister Adnan Mederes was executed.

1971: The military stepped in amid economic and socio-political troubles. The chief of the general staff gave a memorandum to the prime minister, who resigned shortly thereafter. The military then had a “caretaker” government installed.

1980: The chief of the general staff announced the coup on the national channel during a time of economic stress. The years following this coup “did bring some stability,”according to Al Jazeera, but the “military also detained hundreds of thousands of people; dozens were executed, while many others were tortured or simply disappeared.” Notably, while this was “the bloodiest military takeover in Turkey’s history,” it was also “highly supported by the public, which viewed military intervention as necessary to restore stability,” according to Dr. Gonul Tol, writing in Foreign Affairs.

1997: The military issued “recommendations” during the National Security Council meeting. Al Jazeera writes that the prime minister agreed to some measures, such as compulsory eight-year education. He resigned soon after. This is often referred to as the “post-modern” coup.

“E-coupe” in 2007: The military posed an ultimatum on its website to warn the Justice and Development Party (AKP) against backing Abdullah Gul for president. He belonged to an Islamist government. “The public and the AKP were outraged, and Gul was elected,” noted Tol in Foreign Affairs. “The military’s attempt to intervene against a popular party dealt a serious blow to its standing in society, and in an early vote held right after the e-coup, the AKP increased its vote share by 13%.”

As for 2016 …

Even though Turkey has seen a few military coups in recent decades, there are some notable differences between the ones in the past and the current one.

Business Insider reached out to Tol, director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies, who explained some of the differences:

“[T]he situation is still very fluid but this is a very atypical coup. In the past, the military acted on calls from the people and staged a coup against an unpopular government. That is not [the] case today. The AKP and Erdogan might be very polarizing and might have alienated an important segment of society, but they still have the backing of almost 50% of the population. And we also have not seen large-scale calls for a military intervention, security collapse, chaos, the factors that played an important role in past coups. Also missing in this coup is the chain of command. In the past, the top brass went on TV right after the coups and explained [to] the public the reasons for the intervention. That has not happened yet. So this coup might not have the backing of the top brass.”

As an endnote, Tol added that “if Erdogan survives this, his hand will be even more strengthened and he will be able to convince people more easily that a presidential system is necessary.”

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19 photos of Navy SEALs doing what they do best

As America’s elite, U.S. Navy SEALs are constantly called for operations around the globe.


With a motto of “the only easy day was yesterday,” the average day in the life of a SEAL is usually anything but. Whether they are deploying to global hotspots, honing new skills in some of the military’s toughest schools, or going through training evolutions stateside, SEALs learn to be ready for anything.

Here are 19 photos showing what they do best around the world.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
SEAL qualification training students from Class 268 take aim during a 36-round shooting test ranging from 100, 200 and 300 yards at Camp Pendleton. SQT is a six-month training course that all SEAL candidates must complete before being assigned to a SEAL team.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
An East Coast-based U.S. Navy SEAL practices shooting drills at the Naval Special Warfare Eagle Haven Indoor Shooting Range at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker/Released)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Navy SEALs demonstrate a special patrol insertion/extraction from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a capabilities demonstration as part of the 2009 Veterans Day Ceremony and Muster XXIV at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla. The annual muster is held at the museum, which is located on the original training grounds of the Scouts and Raiders.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Navy SEALs simulate the evacuation of an injured teammate during immediate action drills at the John C. Stennis Space Center. The drills are a part of the SEALs pre-deployment training.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Navy SEALs conduct immediate action drills at the John C. Stennis Space Center. The drills are a part of the SEALs pre-deployment training. (Photo by: Petty Officer 2nd Class Eddie Harrison)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
A Navy special warfare specialist assigned to Seal Team 7, a unit comprised of both active and reserve component members based in Coronado, Calif., climbs into the turret gunner position during a mobility training exercise through a simulated city. SEAL Team 7 is conducting a pre-deployment work-up cycle.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
U.S. Navy SEALs search for al-Qaida and Taliban while conducting a Sensitive Site Exploitation mission in the Jaji Mountains, Jan. 12, 2002. Navy Special Operations Forces are conducting missions in Afghanistan in support Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Turner)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
U.S. Navy SEALs exit a C-130 Hercules aircraft during a training exercise near Fort Pickett, Va.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
SEALs and divers from SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 swim back to the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) during an exercise for certification on SEAL delivery vehicle operations in the southern Pacific Ocean. The exercises educate operators and divers on the techniques and procedures related to the delivery vehicle and its operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Kirsop)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
A squad of U.S. Navy SEALs participate in Special Operations Urban Combat training. The training exercise familiarizes special operators with urban environments and tactical maneuvering during night and day operations.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
East Coast-based Navy SEALs fast rope during a training evolution on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Jan. 10. Fast roping is an asset SEALs utilize for quick insertion and when a helicopter is unable to land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
U.S. Navy SEALs from Naval Special Warfare Group Two rehearse ship-to-ship boarding procedures using Zodiac RIB boats deployed from the coastal patrol boat USS Chinook (PC 9), on April 28, 1996, during Combined Joint Task Force Exercise ’96. More than 53,000 military service members from the United States and the United Kingdom are participating in Combined Joint Task Force Exercise 96 on military installations in the Southeastern United States and in waters along the Eastern seaboard. DoD photo by Mike Corrado

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
An East-Coast based U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) climbs a caving ladder during visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, July 16. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William S. Parker/Released)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
U.S. Navy SEAL Qualification Training students ride an inflatable boat in San Diego Bay after plotting a course on a map during their 12 days of maritime operations training on June 16, 2009. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau, U.S. Navy. (Released)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Kodiak, Alaska. (December 14, 2003) — Advanced Cold Weather training not only allows operators to experience the physical stress of the environment, but how their equipment will operate or even sound, in adverse conditions. The training covers a broad area of tactics, techniques, and procedures necessary to operate efficiently where inclement weather is the norm. This includes, but not limited to, Cold Weather Survival, Land Navigation, and Stress-medical Conditioning.Special Operations is characterized by the use of small units with unique ability to conduct military actions that are beyond the capability of conventional military forces.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Remote Training Facility (February 22, 2004) — Members of a SEAL Team practice desert training exercises in preparation for real world scenarios.Official U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon, Naval Special Warfare Command Public Affairs Office. (RELEASED)

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics

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No luggage? No problem. Stow a weekend’s worth of clothes in your tactical pants

You get a call on the way to the office and your boss says he needs you in Dubuque on the next flight.


If you’re not there, the deal won’t get done, and you’ll have to stand tall before The Man.

As a vet, you remember how your cammies held everything for a patrol — from bottled water to extra gloves to a couple of spare mags. So why would it be any different in civilian life?

Today’s tactical pants borrow from the utility of military versions with civilian-worthy styling that doesn’t scream “SEAL wannabe!” while still delivering the storage and durability those issued trousers were known for during service. They can hold another AR mag and a bottle of water or two, but since your “business trip” no longer entails kicking in doors and grabbing tangos, those pockets now serve a far more pedestrian purpose.

So you’re on the clock, you don’t have time to pack a bag. Can your tactical pants pick up the slack and help you make that crucial meeting two states away?

Here’s a basic loadout that’ll get you through a couple of days in front of a client.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Who needs an overnight bag when you have a sturdy pair of tactical pants? Go ahead, be a TSA nightmare! (Photo: We Are The Mighty)

Think you can’t fit that into your TacPants? Think again…

1. Skivvies are essential

Think about it folks, who wants to face down a big business deal with skanky set of drawers? Success demands feeling fresh, and that requires a extra set of skivvies to deal with sweaty “subjects.”

2. Batten down the button-down

Rolling on an unannounced trip usually means planes, trains, and automobiles. And when you finally arrive at the destination, you’re probably going to look like a soup sandwich.

So go-ahead, pack that fancy button-down to turn heads — there’s room for that.

3. Don those Dockers

Sure, we all love our tactical pants — heck, that’s what got you to your destination ready to roll, right?

But sometimes those civilian types might think you’re from Delta Team 6 come to snatch bin Laden if you’re sporting pants that feature pockets for extra pistol mags. So bring those Dockers to the party, you’ve got room for them!

4. Prepare for after hours

The client dug your pitch and signed on the dotted line. What better way to celebrate your victory than with a couple of beers out on the town with your new business partners?

But those nights can get cold on the road, and any former trooper worth his salt is going to pack some snivel gear for when the sun goes down and the temps drop. Fortunately, you still have plenty of room to pack your pants with fleece.

5. Don’t forget fresh breath

All the other gear is worthless if you’re sporting bad breath and low-reg grooming. Would gunny flame spray you if you sauntered up to formation with a 5 o’clock shadow? Then you can probably figure that the deal won’t get sealed if you’re rolling in looking like a college puke who spent last night at a Chi O mixer.

Cellphone, schmellphone — stash that toothpaste and razor right up front and make sure you’re as fresh as a boot in the squad bay for that all-important pitch.

Sure, it’s pretty unlikely you won’t have time to zip home and pack a duffel for that FRAGO from your boss. But isn’t it nice to know that the folks who’re designing the street-legal version of today’s combat gear have your back — with a fashion-forward place to stow all your gear and still dress for success?

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This is why the US must win the ‘Cyberspace Race’

The cyber threat is now our greatest national security challenge, a 21st Century “weapon of mass destruction” that is currently having serious impacts on America and is getting worse – militarily and economically – across public and private sectors, and socially across all segments of society.


Our adversaries around the globe, from rivals like Russia and China to belligerents including ISIS, Iran, and North Korea, have developed significant cyber capabilities.  This “global cyber proliferation” is serious and growing worse by the minute.  In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the emerging Cold War’s battlefront included the Space Race with the Russians, and eventually a symbolic American on the moon. Today, we have a similar situation: A “Cyber Space Race” which will represent the dominant high ground for decades to come.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Louisiana Army National Guard photo by Spc. Garrett L. Dipuma

We are being hacked and attacked every day in America. Our personal accounts and lives, our critical infrastructures, and there are undoubtedly many serious incursions that we have not detected or have gone unreported.  A few recent examples illustrate this point: State-backed Iranian hackers conducted a denial of service attack against US banks to attack United States infrastructure, and not just the banks themselves.

Russian-backed hackers sought to influence elections in the United StatesFrance, and throughout Europe.  The Chinese military has carried out cyber-espionage attacks against US companies, hacking intellectual property from US public and private entities, including sensitive military IP worth billions. North Korea foreshadowed their cyber capabilities when hacking Sony Pictures, but has recently demonstrated a far more robust cyber arsenal, an alarming threat to the public and private sectors of America and its allies. Equally alarming is the Islamic State’s recruiting of jihadists who are then connected to encrypted sites for further radicalization and operational instructions.

The worst-case scenario is a potential “Cyber Pearl Harbor” or a “Cyber 9/11.” While once found only in doomsday thrillers, a massive cyber threat is now very real.

Related: Get hacking! America’s cyber warfare force is now operational

While America’s public and private sector cyber defenses have grown since the mid-1990s, the threat to all elements of national power has grown even more rapidly. America is at high risk. Of particular concern is our soft commercial-sector underbelly, which comprises 85% of Internet use in the United States.  Cyber breaches present an unprecedented and often disastrous risk to the value of commercial entities.

Consider the Target, Home Depot, Sony, and Equifax cyber intrusions. Each cost the companies billions in market valuation, lost revenue, employee productivity, reputation, and expenses. While it is harder to quantify than a stock price, companies and institutions are successful in large part due to trust. An individual company violating that trust with their customers can have devastating effects for that company, but the magnitude of recent data breeches strikes fear in the hearts of all Americans and undermines trust in the fundamental institutions of our society.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Cadets, pay attention — our future could be in your hands. (U.S. AF photo by Raymond McCoy)

Just as techniques and technology developed in America’s space program resulted in innovations benefitting the full range of American life, so, too, can military-grade cyber capabilities be leveraged to harden vulnerable government and commercial entities. Techniques and technologies such as the commercial sector onboarding of military-grade technologies, implementing network segmentation to protect sensitive information, applying advanced encryption techniques to protect large databases, ensuring protection from insider threats, and using advanced analytics to uncover risks to commercial internal or external networks.

America must win the 21st Century “Cyber Space Race.” We must mobilize the entire spectrum of American enterprise, from the cyber education of our children to the highest levels of academia, business, and government. The US commercial sector must do everything possible to protect themselves, their customers, and this nation. This includes using military-grade cyber defense capabilities to ensure commercial viability, thus securing America’s increasingly vulnerable economic engine.

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If the battle of Thermopylae was fought today with 300 Marines

The legendary defense of the Spartans at the “hot gates” of Thermopylae has gone down in military history as one of the greatest last stands.


But what if 300 Marine infantrymen, along with a couple thousand other fighters, had to repeat what Leonidas, 300 Spartans, and their Greek allies did in 480 B.C. against a modern foe?

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
(Photo: flickr/Guillaume Cattiaux)

First, the battlefield at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. was very friendly to defenders. The mountains pressed close to the sea, leaving only a thin gap of land through which Xerxes could press his army. This gap was further constricted by the Spartans when they repaired a low wall.

For the modern Marines, the gap could instead be narrowed with fighting holes, barbed wire, machine gun positions, and mines. Similarly, the fatal back path that Xerxes marched his “Immortals” through to doom Leonidas and his men could be blocked the same way, forcing an attacker to pay for every yard in blood.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

Unfortunately for the Marines, their enemy can afford a few bloody engagements. While the Marines would boast 300 infantrymen and 6,000 other combat arms Marines, their enemy would number somewhere around 100,000.

The first thing the Marines would want to do against an enemy attack is copy the advantage that the Spartans used at Thermopylae, greater infantry range and stronger defenses. The Greek Hoplite carried a spear with slightly better range than the Immortal’s swords, and Hoplite armor was constructed of bronze strong enough to protect from Persian arrows.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
The M16 is bulkier than the M4, but boasts greater range. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

The Marines would need to reach back in their armories for a similar range advantage. While the M4 has an effective firing range of 500 meters, the same as the AK-74 and other common infantry weapons, the M16 has a 550-meter range against a point target, a 10 percent boost. And the Marines’ body armor and defensive fortifications would give them an advantage over attackers similar to the Hoplites’ bronze armor.

Unfortunately for the Marines, modern warfare isn’t limited to infantry fighting infantry, and so they would need to reckon with enemy artillery and air assets.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning)

While the U.S. faces an artillery range gap in relation to Russia and China, the Marines defending the pass could use the mountains on their west to place their guns at greater altitude. This would give their guns greater range and force the enemy to come within the envelope of the U.S. cannon to try to take out Marine artillery positions.

Air defenders would also need to position themselves up the mountains to provide an effective screen to protect their troops from enemy air attacks.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
(Photo: U.S. Navy Seaman Levingston Lewis)

Luckily for the Marines, the Corps is one of the few military organizations that has invested heavily in short takeoff, vertical landing aircraft — meaning that Ospreys and Super Stallions can deliver supplies to the besieged Marines while F-35s and Harriers provide air support either from small, forward refueling and rearming points near the front or from a nearby ship.

All of this adds up to a Marine force enjoying much of the same successes during the early days of the battle as the Spartans did. Enemy infantry and cavalry would be forced to maneuver into a narrow gap and be cut down by Marine rifles and missiles.

Even better, their artillery could force the enemy guns to fire from afar and break up forces massing for an attack, advantages that the Spartans lacked.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Akeel Austin)

But, like the Spartans before them, the Marines would eventually be overcome by their numerical limitations. Even with approximately 6,000 other Marines, the 300 infantrymen simply could not hold out forever.

Enemy assaults would make it deeper into the pass each time as engineers whittled away at the Marines’ defenses and artillery crews braved American guns to get rounds onto the defenders’ heads.

After a few days, the Marines would have amassed a stunning body count, possibly even as high as the 20,000 Persians credited to Leonidas and his forces, but they would be burned out of Thermopylae.

Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Giannetti)

But if they could buy enough time, it’s unimaginable that the Navy and Marine Corps would not be able to get follow-on forces to Greece. And, using the Marine Corps’ amphibious capabilities, reinforcements could be rushed to the beaches just south of the battle.

Meanwhile, the Navy could press its jets into the fight, ensuring air superiority and providing a reprieve for the defenders.

Thanks to the mobility of America’s sea services and Thermopylae’s location on a coast, the battle could end much differently for the Marines standing where the Spartans once fell.

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Vet organizations rally behind the Khans

Khizr Khan came to national prominence after his impassioned speech at last week’s Democratic National Convention. His remarks touched on the value of his son’s sacrifice for the country and why he believes Muslim immigrants should be allowed to take part in the American process.


Here’s how female grads of Armor Leader Course overcame skeptics
Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan, next to his wife Ghazala, speaks during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016. | YouTube

Some of Khan’s remarks were aimed directly at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, including asking whether Trump had ever read the Constitution. In response, Trump fired back in a way that has offended many in the veteran community. Trump specifically addressed the silence of Capt. Khan’s mother, Ghazala Khan, and implied that she likely didn’t speak because her husband (and the Muslim faith) wouldn’t allow it. She later addressed his comments in a Washington Post op-ed and told him it was a mother’s grief, not her religion, that rendered her incapable of speaking.

In a joint letter, seven veterans organizations have asserted that the Khan family’s right to question the intentions and actions of presidential candidates and other potential elected officials should be respected.

The full letter is embedded below:

Other Gold Star families released their own letter to Trump today, calling him out for attacking the Khan family and for comparing the sacrifices of Gold Star families to the work he did building his company. The letter begins as follows:

We are all Gold Star Families, who have lost those we love the most in war. Ours is a sacrifice you will never know. Ours is a sacrifice we would never want you to know.

Your recent comments regarding the Khan family were repugnant, and personally offensive to us. When you question a mother’s pain, by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us. When you say your job building buildings is akin to our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice.

You are not just attacking us, you are cheapening the sacrifice made by those we lost.

Capt. Khan was an ordnance officer inspecting troops on guard duty on Jun. 8, 2004. When an orange taxi approached the soldier’s position in a suspicious manner, Capt. Khan ordered the rest of the soldiers to “hit the dirt” and moved forward alone to confront the driver. The driver set off an IED in the vehicle and killed Khan. Khan posthumously received the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his actions.