This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay - We Are The Mighty
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This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Bring your A-game if you want to play World of Warcraft with Karen Sakai, but check your negativity at the door.


“I’m a gamer,” she says. “A gamer likes to play their favorite games with people. So I give out my real information so I can do that. That’s who I am.” Being true to herself is how Sakai stays successful. She was born in Norfolk, Va. but her mother took her to Japan when she was young. She later ended up in the Navy town of Bremerton, Washington, where she experienced a lot of bullying as a kid, growing up biracial in an Asian community.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
LEFT: Sakai at five years old, photo by her father. RIGHT: Sakai at 24, photo ©2014 Renegade Photo

“There were many Japanese around,” she says. “I’m half-white and half-Japanese and the Japanese, they picked on me because I was half-white: I brought a disgrace to Japan, I’m ugly, blah blah blah. The older folks, they also saw me as kinda weird. They didn’t understand that people could be biracial. I didn’t know many mixed kids either. The friends that I did have didn’t care though, and that was the best.”

The racism she struggled with when she was younger was only compounded by her hobbies and love for all things considered nerdy and geeky. She experienced so much flak for the nerdy things she loved, she took a very long hiatus.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Sakai as Ms. Marvel (©2014 Renegade Photo)

“It was in 2003. I stopped doing it because I got bullied,” Sakai recalls. “But after a while, I thought to myself, ‘I’m an adult now. I can do whatever I want.'”

When Sakai joined the Navy as a Master-at-Arms in 2009, many of the issues surrounding her childhood faded away, despite being stationed in her Washington hometown (which, incidentally is what Sir Mix-A-Lot wrote about in his 1988 song, Bremelo).

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

“I loved being in the Navy,” Sakai says. “I met a lot of gamer, nerdy folks in the Navy and they thought it was really cool that I am a female who loves this stuff. Everyone was so accepting of me. They didn’t care where you came from as long as you came in and did your job and had a good personality.”

Sakai’s family has a long Navy tradition. Her father was a long time Surface Warfare Officer who practically spent his entire life on an aircraft carrier.

“He was a career officer, always an XO or CO,” she says. “He was in for 22 years and he talked about it his whole life. I think everyone should have an experience in the military, if its something they’re thinking about. I chose the Navy because it runs in my family.”

Sakai was in the Navy for four years and left to finish her dual degrees in Anthropology and Primate Behavior and Ecology. While in school, she began modeling and cosplaying. She found the cosplay community to be the most accepting of which she’s ever been a part.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Sakai as Rikku from Final Fantasy X-2 (©2014 Studio Henshin Photography)

“I’m a cosplayer who will openly admit I’ve been bullied and it hurt my feelings. I’m open about it because it’s all part of being human,” she says. “This community is a very happy place. It feels like family. People who enjoy the same things as you, they’re not going to criticize you. Comic-Con and events like that feel like a long distance family gathering. It’s a safe place where you can really be yourself.” She compares it to football fandom.

“I’m from Washington,” she says. “So I like the Seahawks. If you like anime and you’re among friends, it’s like a group of Seahawks fans meeting up at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game. But people respect each other’s preferences. No one is going to make fun of you for liking Black Butler over Dragonball Z. You can be who you are.”

For Sakai, modeling is a bit different.

“I’ve done car shows, lingerie, cosplay modeling, all that stuff. It’s an industry. Sex sells,” she says. “So they want that generic, skinny, ‘whatever’ because it sells. I’ve done tests on my Facebook page and whatnot, posting different kinds of pictures, seeing the interactions, likes, and views it gets. The ones that get the most attention are the ones where I’m slutty and generic. I’m completely fake in those pictures but they’re the ones that get the most attention.”

So which photos are the real Karen Sakai?

“The ones where I’m not wearing makeup and I’m in a sweats, not showing cleavage,” she says with a laugh. “I’m me. I do my own thing, if they want to see cleavage 24/7 then I’m probably not the person to follow.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Karen, now 25, lives with her boyfriend who is himself an Air Force veteran, in Washington state. They got together because he outdid her own nerdiness.

“If you one-up me and start a conversation about how wrong I am about something, then I know you are a true nerd,” she says. “He knows much more lore, more information, about games, anime, and comics in general.”

Sakai’s game is World of Warcraft. To her, it’s like cosplay.

“I made a character to live in a second world. I’m the hero in the game, not a little kid getting picked on. I create and customize a character who is strong, powerful, and pretty. When I dress up, I like to try and role play as a character I always looked up to or enjoyed. It’s fun to be someone else for a change.”

 

To hire Karen, email her: karensakaicosplay@gmail.com

To help Karen purchase material to build her own costumes (she loves to make armor) see her Patreon page.

NOW: These ‘Pin-Up’ girls entertain veterans with burlesque shows and sexy calendars

OR: Photos of amputee vets defy ‘wounded warrior’ stereotype

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 ways the UN nuclear ban treaty is historic

Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of war and therefore the ultimate weapons to prevent and avoid war.


This two-axis struggle is captured in competing treaties for setting global nuclear norms and policy directions. This also reflects the mantra of realism — amended to include the importance of good governance in the modern world — that international politics consists of the struggle for ascendancy of competing normative architectures. Military muscle, economic weight, and geopolitical clout stand arrayed against values, principles, and norms.

For almost half a century, the normative anchor of the global nuclear order has been the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). On July 7, 2017 122 states voted to adopt a new Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty (or ban treaty). This new treaty was opened for signature in the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20 and so far four countries have ratified and another 49 have signed. The ban treaty will come into effect 90 days after ratification by 50 states.

As John Carlson, among others, has argued, the ban treaty has its technical flaws and even its advocates concede it will have no operational impact as all nuclear weapon possessing states have stayed away. Yet this treaty inspired by humanitarian principles is historic on five counts.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
United Nations General Assembly hall in New York, NY. (Wikimedia Commons photo by user Avala.)

5. It is the first treaty to ban the possession, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

This completes the legally binding prohibition of all three classes of weapons of mass destruction, after biological and chemical weapons were banned by universal conventions in 1972 and 1993 respectively. Like the NPT, the ban treaty is legally binding only on signatories. Unlike the new treaty, which applies equally to all signatories, the NPT granted temporary exemptions for the continued possession of nuclear weapons by the five nuclear weapon states that already had them in 1968, but banned proliferation to anyone else.

4. The ban treaty’s adoption marks the first divergence between the UN and the NPT that hitherto have had a mutually reinforcing relationship.

The NPT has its origins in several resolutions adopted in the General Assembly. Instances of non-compliance with binding NPT obligations require enforcement measures by the UN Security Council. But while almost two-thirds of NPT parties voted to adopt the ban, a strong one-third minority, including the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) — who coincidentally are the five nuclear weapons states — rejected the new treaty.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Training version of a B61 nuclear bomb. (USAF photo)

3. This is the first occasion in which states on the periphery of the international system have adopted a humanitarian law treaty aimed at imposing global normative standards on the major powers.

The major principles of international, humanitarian and human rights laws have their origins in the great powers of the European international order that was progressively internationalised. Ban treaty supporters include the overwhelming majority of states from the global South and some from the global North (Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland). The treaty’s opponents include all nine nuclear weapons possessing states (the five nuclear weapons states, plus India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan), all NATO allies, and Australia, Japan and South Korea. Thus for the first time in history, the major powers and most Western countries find themselves the objects of an international humanitarian treaty authored by the rest who have framed the challenge, set the agenda and taken control of the narrative.

Also Read: The United Nations seeks to head off rise of killer robots

2. This is the first time that the like-minded liberal internationalist states find themselves in the dissident minority in opposing a cause championed by the Nobel Peace Committee.

Between 1901 and 1945, three-quarters of the prizes were awarded to those who promoted interstate peace and disarmament. Since 1945 social and political causes have attracted the prize as well and in the last decade a majority of laureates have been activists and advocates for human development and social justice. The Nobel Peace Prize has increasingly functioned as the social conscience of liberal internationalism.

The disconnect between an internationalized social conscience and a national interest-centric security policy is especially acute for Norway, host of the first humanitarian consequences conference in 2013 and part of the negotiation that led to the ban treaty. While other Nobel prizes are determined by the Swedish Academy, the Peace Prize is awarded by a Norwegian committee. On December 10 Norway faced visual embarrassment when the glittering Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo recognized a treaty it opposed and honored a non-government organisation — the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) — to which it cut funding after the election of a conservative government in October 2013.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
UN Security Council during session.

1. This is the first occasion in the UN system when the General Assembly, where all 193 Member States have one vote, has asserted itself against the permanent five.

Previously the Assembly has occasionally acted in the face of a deadlock in the 15-member Security Council.

The ban treaty embodies the collective moral revulsion of the international community. Because the nuclear-armed states boycotted the ban conference and refuse to sign the treaty, it will have no immediate operational effect. But because it is a UN treaty adopted by a duly constituted multilateral conference, it will have normative force. (My recently published article in The Washington Quarterly that highlights the normative force of the ban treaty can be found here.)

The ban treaty will reshape how the world community thinks about and acts in relation to nuclear weapons as well as those who possess the bomb. It strengthens the norms of non-proliferation and those against nuclear testing, reaffirms the disarmament norm, rejects the nuclear deterrence norm, and articulates a new universal norm against possession.

Critics allege that another landmark agreement in history was the war-renouncing Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928 that proved utterly ineffectual. True, but there is one critical difference. That pact was entirely voluntary, whereas the ban treaty is legally binding — that is the whole point of the treaty. Once in force, it will become the new institutional reality, part of the legal architecture for disarmament.

Articles

11 Killer photos of jets in full afterburner

Check out these shots of jets turning pounds and pounds of fuel into speed when the pilots push the throttles into afterburner.


An F/A-18C launches off of Cat 3 with both GE F-404 motors in full burner.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Interesting to note that Hornet pilots take the cat shot with their right hand gripping the canopy rail and not on the stick. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

An Air Force F-16 launches out of Aviano, Italy at night with it’s single GE F-110 engine in full afterburner.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
(Photo: DVIDS)

An F-22 Raptor makes a high-G pass at an airshow with it’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines at full power.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
The F-119 is designed to allow the Raptor to reach supersonic speeds without afterburner. (Photo: Air Force)

And F-15 Eagle launches with both Pratt and Whitney F-100s in full afterburner.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
(Photo: USAF)

An F/A-18C Hornet raises the gear and starts a left hand clearing turn off the cat with vapes streaming off of the wingtips and both GE F-404s at full blower.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

They didn’t call the F-14 the ‘big fighter’ for nothing. Here a Tomcat rages down Cat 1 with it’s Pratt and Whitney TF-30s at Zone 5 (full power).

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Later Tomcat models used the GE F-110, which was generally considered a more powerful and reliable engine. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A B-1 ‘Lancer’ (better known as “The Bone” — B+one . . . get it?) turns at sunset with all four GE F-110s (same engine used on models of the F-16 and F-14) in full afterburner.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
The B-1 was designed for Cold War-era missions where pre-stealth conventional wisdom was to come into a target low and fast. (Photo: USAF)

An F-111B zorches over the water with wings swept aft and Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines at full power.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
While the TF-30 had compressor stall issues with the F-14 it worked well for the F-111. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Another shot of an F-14A Tomcat on the cat in afterburner.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Pilots would start cat shots with throttles at the Zone 2 setting and then push them forward to Zone 5 as the jet accelerated toward the carrier’s bow. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

A MiG-25 starts its takeoff roll with both Tumansky R-15B-300s at full power.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
The Foxbat is a scream machine, speed-wise, and has been clocked hauling at over Mach 3.

The F-35B Lightning II isn’t designed for speed as much as forward quarter lethality and survivability; but it’s single Pratt and Whitney F-135 does create a nice burner plume in this gorgeous sunset shot.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This combat wounded Vietnam veteran has the spice to make anything nice

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the grill master or pit mistress:

~ a pack of spice rubs from the kitchen of a Vietnam vetrepreneur ~

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

“One of the beauties of being a human being is that you have the ability to adapt.”

Gene (Cappy) Holmon is a force at a farmer’s market. I’d know. All it took him was five minutes talking to my wife about his local Los Angeles line of dry rub spices and she came straight home and put me in a headlock until I promised to include Cappy’s Dry Rub in the Mighty Holiday Gift Guide.

And she doesn’t really like meat. But she’s sure got a thing for Cappy.

I caught up with Holmon this week and got the 411 on how an Army veteran who was disabled during the Tet Offensive in 1968 first transitioned to a busy career as a FedEx Distribution Hub Director before pivoting to become the Meat Spice King of Los Angeles. Brace yourself. It involves losing an arm.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Holmon had been in Vietnam about 6 months when he was injured in combat, suffering damage from both AK-47 rounds and what he assumes was an RPG. Medics amputated his right arm above the elbow in a field hospital before sending him to Japan for recovery.

“…I was pretty depressed…I think it was probably three days before I actually looked to see if my arm was still there…I was in an amputee ward and I saw a lot of guys, you know, like me but with both legs gone…or both legs and an arm or something like that and at that point I said, well, hey, I’m not that bad off…At that point I just decided to get better.”

Holman returned home to San Francisco and studied business management at USF on the G.I. Bill. Then he returned to his previous employer, UPS. He quickly rose through the ranks to Division Manager of UPS Hub Operations for all of Arizona, New Mexico and Southern Nevada. That’s when FedEx poached him to help implement their new Super Hub Distribution Center in Memphis.

And as he tracked across the American South for business, he sampled the many flavors of sauce, spice and smoke upon which Southern culinary tradition pins its most heartfelt pride.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
You’ll want to lick your palms. Probably wash your hands first.

By the time he retired, Holmon was experimenting with his own blends of dry rub spices, perfecting his grill skills, and winning praise for his cooking at family events. When California Cottage Law went into effect in 2013, Holmon’s wife Paulette urged him to offer his blends to the public and Cappy’s was born. But because Cottage Law permitting initially limits sales to direct-to-consumer, Holman found that he’d have to adapt from being the distribution genius behind the scenes to being a grassroots-level, Face-of-the-Brand at farmer’s markets and local boutique grocery stores.

It can’t have been too hard. Insider knowledge: Cappy is a peach. As soon as you meet him, you’re sipping the paprika-flavored Kool-Aid.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Cappy’s has since expanded to online sales, which is where we wholeheartedly recommend that you go to order yourself one or several of his blends in time for Holiday cooking. Cappy’s Dry Rubs are great on meats, obviously, but check out how well they crossover to fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Articles

The idea of shooting drones out of a cannon started with this

Would you take targeting orders from an autonomous artillery shell? That’s the future the Army imagined in 1979.


A patent filed in that year and awarded in 1981 detailed an artillery round that would be fired towards a target area and then deploy a parachute. Then, it would slowly descend to the battlefield, taking pictures or video and identifying targets below. It would then feed the images and target positions to artillery batteries so the targets could be killed.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Figure: US Army patent application

That’s right, the artillery shells would’ve been feeding targets to the gun bunnies.

This would’ve reduced the need to put artillery observers into harm’s way when fighting against massed enemies. Instead of sending out a maneuver force or aerial reconnaissance patrol to find the enemy and feed targeting information back, the Army could just fire some rounds out there.

The system did include a “man-in-the-loop” function meaning that, like modern drones, a human would make the final decision on which targets would be killed. A crew chief would sit in a targeting van with a light-sensitive computer display. As the drone’s imagery and proposed targets came up on the screen, this chief could designate new targets or remove target designations as necessary with a light pen.

The patent author specifically noted the importance of the chief completing this task since most computer systems of the day were prone to identifying large rocks and bushes as targets. Also, the remains of a destroyed tank still look very tank-like and could cause the computers on the artillery rounds to keep designating an already dead target.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

Modern battlefields contain more collateral damage concerns than many people envisioned during the Cold War, so this man-in-the-loop would also be useful as a final check to make sure a family SUV isn’t targeted.

Once the computer had its final list of targets, more camera rounds would be fired at moving targets. These would contain explosive canisters instead of parachutes and antennas. The rounds would identify their designated targets, predict where the vehicles would be at the end of the rounds’ flight, and then steer themselves to their final impact points.

Fixed targets identified by the system could be engaged by standard artillery rounds. Each round’s impact point would be relayed to the firing artillery battery so that gunners could adjust their firing solutions if they missed.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
(Figure: US Army patent application)

The patent also mentions the possibility of using a similar technique with helicopters. In that case, missiles would be used instead of artillery rounds and the human in the loop would ride in the helicopter, disapproving or adding targets to the computer from there.

Also, in place of the first missile being used to photograph or film the battlefield, the helicopter could pop up from behind cover to grab the first image.

In the end, there’s no evidence that the rounds were ever completed. The Army had already experimented with placing cameras in artillery rounds in the 1970s, but that project was canceled due to technical problems. The patent for the autonomous system was filed in 1979 after the earlier program was already shut down.

The Army’s plan to use aerial drones to target artillery lived on, though. Before drones were armed, they would designate targets for artillery or cruise missile strikes, a trick they can still do when necessary. In civil wars like those in Ukraine and Syria, both sides have used drones to spot targets for their artillery batteries.

Today, it’s the Navy that’s leading the charge for firing drones out of cannons. Their LOCUST program calls for dozens of drones to work together to canvas and attack a target. While other drones could be fitted into the program later, the ones currently being used are fired out of air cannons before spreading their wings and flying to their target.

Articles

These bomber pilots pulled a ‘Top Gun’ and buzzed the 1943 World Series

The 1986 classic Top Gun has put the idea of buzzing the air traffic control tower in the minds of many aviators. Such high-speed, low-altitude passes are extremely dangerous and violate every safety regulation in the book, it makes such occurrences the stuff of legend. Such was the case for four bomber pilots who found themselves flying over New York City during WWII.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
The B-17 Flying Fortress is the third-most produced bomber of all time (Public Domain)

On October 5, 1943, four B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were flying up to Maine before crossing the Atlantic to England after a training exercise in Florida. The lead bomber, “Thru Helen Hiwater,” was piloted by 2nd Lt. Jack W. Watson. Piloting the other three bombers were 2nd Lts. Robert Sheets, Elmer Young and Joseph Wheeler. The formation flew over the Hudson and headed up toward the Bronx.

At the same time, Game 1 of the 1943 World Series was underway at Yankee Stadium. It was the top of the eighth and the Yankees had the Cardinals down 4-2. “Let’s go down and take a closer look,” Watson radioed the flight as he led them in a shallow dive.

The bombers roared in over the stadium in a low pass from home plate to center field. “Look up at those glorious planes,” the New York WOR radio announced called out, breaking off his play-by-play of the game. “There they are, our brave boys off to fight the Hun!” The impromptu flyover was thought to be a scheduled demonstration of airpower and got the excited crowd on its feet.

The formation of B-17s climbed and circled the field. Watson, however, went back down to give the crowd an encore. This time, though, his bomber cleared the upper-deck flagpoles by just 25 feet. The Associated Press later reported, “an Army bomber roared over Yankee Stadium so low that Slats Marion could have fielded it.” Not everyone was pleased with the surprise flyover though.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Watson (rear-right) and the crew of Thru Helen Hiwater (Public Domain)

New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia was outraged by the dangerous stunt pulled by Watson and the other pilots. “That pilot should be properly disciplined, endangering the lives of the citizenry of New York in that manner,” he exclaimed. When the flight landed in Maine, all four pilots were confined to quarters to await a courtmartial. However, the need for bombers and trained crews in Europe was so great that they were released just a few days later. Each pilot was given a formal letter of reprimand and fined $75.

Watson went on to fly combat missions in Europe, including one particularly close call on January 11, 1944. His B-17 lost two engines on a bombing run by the time they were headed for home. Watson ordered his crew of nine to bail out over Holland. Tragically, four airmen landed in the water and drowned. Of the five who landed safely, four were captured and became POWs. Only one airman managed to evade capture and make it back to England. With just two engines, one of which was spewing flames, Watson skillfully landed his battered bomber in England. It took ground crews more than two hours to put out the fires.

Watson later took part in a radio interview where he brought up the Yankee Stadium incident. “I wonder whether Mayor La Guardia will forgive me,” Watson wondered.

La Guardia, a WWI Army pilot himself, heard Watson’s interview and sent a reply. “Delighted to get your message. All is forgiven. Congratulations. I hope you never run out of altitude. Happy landings. Will be seeing you soon,” he cabled. Watson completed his 35-mission tour in June 1944 and was promoted to Captain in December that same year.

Watson also sent a reply to La Guardia. “Thank you, Mr. Mayor, and it can’t be too soon for me,” he said. “We’d sort of like to go back together some day and drop in on the Rose Bowl game.”

Feature image: Watson’s encore flyover (public domain)

Articles

F-35s may fly with loaded up B-52s as ‘arsenal planes’

The Pentagon’s emerging “Arsenal Plane” or “flying bomb truck” is likely to be a modified, high-tech adaptation of the iconic B-52 bomber designed to fire air-to-air weapons, release swarms of mini-drones and provide additional fire-power to 5th generation stealth fighters such as the F-35 and F-22, Pentagon officials and analysts said.


It is also possible that the emerging arsenal plane could be a modified C-130 or combined version of a B-52 and C-130 drawing from elements of each, Pentagon officials said.

Using a B-52, which is already being modernized with new radios and an expanded internal weapons bay, would provide an existing “militarized” platform already engineered with electronic warfare ability and countermeasures designed to thwart enemy air defenses.

“You are using a jet that already has a military capability. The B-52 is a military asset, whereas all the alternatives would have to be created. It has already been weaponized and has less of a radar cross-section compared to a large Air Force cargo plane. It is not a penetrating bomber, but it does have some kind of jamming and countermeasures meant to cope with enemy air defenses. It is wired for a combat mission,” said Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of analysis at the Teal Group, a Virginia-based consultancy.

Flying as a large, non-stealthy bomber airplane, a B-52 would still present a large target to potential adversaries; however, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said part of the rationale for the “Arsenal Plane” would be to work closely with stealthy fighter jets such as an F-22 and F-35, with increased networking technology designed to increase their firepower and weapons load.

An “Arsenal Plane” networked to F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters would enable the fighter aircraft to maintain their stealth properties while still having substantial offensive bombing capability. If stealth fighters attach weapons to their external pylons, they change their radar signature and therefore become more vulnerable to enemy air defenses. If networked to a large “flying bomb truck,” they could use stealth capability to defeat enemy air defenses and still have an ability to drop large amounts of bombs on targets.

Such a scenario could also likely rely upon now-in-development manned-unmanned teaming wherein emerging algorithms and computer technology enable fighter jets to control the sensor payload and weapons capability of nearby drones from the cockpit of the aircraft. This would enable Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets to more quickly relay strategic or targeting information between fighter jets, drones and “Arsenal Planes.”

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
China’s J-20 | Chinese Military Review

Aboulafia explained that air fighters being developed by potential adversaries, such as the Chinese J-20 and other fighters, could exist in larger numbers than a US force, underscoring the current US strategy to maintain a technological edge even if their conventional forces are smaller.  An “Arsenal Plane” could extend range and lethality for US fighters, in the event they were facing an enemy force with more sheer numbers of assets.

“There is a concern about numbers of potential enemies and range. When you are dealing with a potential adversary with thousands of jets and you’ve got limited assets with limited weapons payloads, you have got to be concerned about the numbers,” he said.

An effort to be more high-tech, if smaller in terms of sheer numbers, than rival militaries is a key part of the current Pentagon force modernization strategy.

“In practice, the “Arsenal Plane” will function as a very large airborne magazine, networked to fifth generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes, essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities,” Carter told reporters. Aboulafia added that an idea for an “Arsenal Plane” emerged in the 1980s as a Cold War strategy designed to have large jets carry missiles able to attack Soviet targets.

Carter unveiled the “Arsenal Plane” concept during a recent 2017 budget drop discussion at the Pentagon wherein he, for the first time, revealed the existence of a “Strategic Capabilities Office” aimed at connecting and leveraging emerging weapons and technology with existing platforms. This effort is aimed at saving money, increasing the military’s high-tech lethality and bringing new assets to the force faster than the many years it would take to engineer entirely new technologies.

“I created the SCO (Strategic Capabilities Office) in 2012, when I was Deputy Secretary of defense to help us to re-imagine existing DOD and intelligence community and commercial systems by giving them new roles and game-changing capabilities to confound potential enemies — the emphasis here was on rapidity of fielding, not 10 and 15-year programs,” he said.

Carter said “Arsenal Plane” development would be funded through a $71 billion research and development 2017 budget request.

While Carter did not specify a B-52 during his public discussion of the new asset now in-development, he did say it would likely be an “older” aircraft designed to function as a “flying launchpad.”

“The last project I want to highlight is one that we’re calling the “Arsenal Plane,” which takes one of our oldest aircraft platforms and turns it into a flying launchpad for all sorts of different conventional payloads,” Carter added.

The Air Force is already surging forward with a massive, fleet-wide modernization overhaul of the battle-tested, Vietnam-era B-52 bomber, an iconic airborne workhorse for the US military dating back to the 1960s.

Engineers are now equipping all 76 of the Air Force B-52s with digital data-links, moving-map displays, next-generation avionics, new radios and an ability to both carry more weapons internally and integrate new, high-tech weapons as they emerge, service officials said.

The technical structure and durability of the B-52 airframes in the Air Force fleet are described as extremely robust and able to keep flying well into the 2040s and beyond – so the service is taking steps to ensure the platform stays viable by receiving the most current and effective avionics, weapons and technologies.

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay
Did you bring enough for the rest of the class?

Weapons Upgrade

Aboulafia said the new B-52 “Arsenal Plane” could, for the first time, configure a primarily air-to-ground bomber as a platform able to fire air-to-air weapons as well – such as the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile, or AMRAAM.

The integration of air-to-air weapons on the B-52 does not seem inconceivable given the weapons upgrades already underway with the aircraft.  Air Force is also making progress with a technology-inspired effort to increase the weapons payload for the workhorse bomber, Eric Single, Chief of the Global Strike Division, Acquisition, told Scout Warrior in an interview several months ago.

The 1760 Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade, or IWBU, will allow the B-52 to internally carry up to eight of the newest “J-Series” bombs in addition to carrying six on pylons under each wing, he explained.

B-52s have previously been able to carry JDAM weapons externally, but with the IWBU the aircraft will be able to internally house some of the most cutting edge precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles, among others.

“It is about a 66 percent increase in carriage capability for the B-52, which is huge. You can imagine the increased number of targets you can reach, and you can strike the same number of targets with significantly less sorties,” said Single.

Single also added that having an increased internal weapons bay capability affords an opportunity to increase fuel-efficiency by removing bombs from beneath the wings and reducing drag.

The first increment of IWBU, slated to be finished by 2017, will integrate an internal weapons bay ability to fire a laser-guided JDAM. A second increment, to finish by 2022, will integrate more modern or cutting-edge weapons such as the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, JASSM Extended Range (ER) and a technology called Miniature Air Launched Decoy, or MALD. A MALD-J “jammer” variant, which will also be integrated into the B-52, can be used to jam enemy radar technologies as well, Single said.

IWBU, which uses a digital interface and a rotary launcher to increase the weapons payload, is expected to cost roughly $313 million, service officials said.

The B-52 has a massive, 185-foot wingspan, a weight of about 185,000 pounds and an ability to reach high sub-sonic speeds and altitudes of 50,000 feet, Air Force officials said.

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B-52s in the Pacific. | US Navy photo

Communications, Avionics Upgrades

Two distinct, yet interwoven B-52 modernization efforts will increase the electronics, communications technology, computing and avionics available in the cockpit while simultaneously configuring the aircraft with the ability to carry up to eight of the newest “J-Series” precision-guided weapons internally – in addition to carrying six weapons on each wing, Single said.

Eight B-52s have already received a communications (coms systems) upgrade called Combat Network Communication Technology, or CONECT – a radio, electronics and data-link upgrade which, among other things, allows aircraft crews to transfer mission and targeting data directly to aircraft systems while in flight (machine to machine), Single explained.

“It installs a digital architecture in the airplane,” Single explained. “Instead of using data that was captured during the mission planning phase prior to your take off 15 to 20 hours ago – you are getting near real-time intelligence updates in flight.”

Single described it key attribute in terms of “machine-to-machine” data-transfer technology which allows for more efficient, seamless and rapid communication of combat-relevant information.

Using what’s called an ARC 210 Warrior software-programmable voice and data radio, pilots can now send and receive targeting data, mapping information or intelligence with ground stations, command centers and other aircraft.

“The crew gets the ability to communicate digitally outside the airplane which enables you to import not just voice but data for mission changes, threat notifications, targeting….all those different types of things you would need to get,” Single said.

An ability to receive real-time targeting updates is of great relevance to the B-52s close-air-support mission because fluid, fast-moving or dynamic combat situations often mean ground targets appear, change or disappear quickly.

Alongside moving much of the avionics from analogue to digital technology, CONECT also integrates new servers, modems, colored display screens in place of old green monochrome and provides pilots with digital moving-map displays which can be populated with real-time threat and mission data, Single said.

The new digital screens also show colored graphics highlighting the aircraft’s flight path, he added.

Single explained that being able to update key combat-relevant information while in transit will substantially help the aircraft more effectively travel longer distances for missions, as needed.

“The key to this is that this is part of the long-range strike family of systems — so if you take off out of Barksdale Air Force Base and you go to your target area, it could take 15 or 16 hours to get there. By the time you get there, all the threat information has changed,” said Single. “Things move, pop up or go away and the targeting data may be different.”

The upgrades will also improve the ability of the airplane to receive key intelligence information through a data link called the Intelligence Broadcast Receiver. In addition, the B-52s will be able to receive information through a LINK-16-like high-speed digital data link able to transmit targeting and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or ISR information.

The CONECT effort, slated to cost $1.1 billion overall, will continue to unfold over the next several years, Single explained.

Twelve B-52 will be operational with CONECT by the end of this year and the entire fleet will be ready by 2021, Single said.

B-52 History

Known for massive bombing missions during the Vietnam War, the 159-foot long B-52s have in recent years been operating over Afghanistan in support of military actions there from a base in Guam.

The B-52 also served in Operation Desert Storm, Air Force statements said.  “B-52s struck wide-area troop concentrations, fixed installations and bunkers, and decimated the morale of Iraq’s Republican Guard,” an Air Force statement said.

In 2001, the B-52 provided close-air support to forces in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, service officials said. The B-52 also played a role in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On March 21, 2003, B-52Hs launched approximately 100 CALCMs (Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles) during a night mission.

Given the B-52s historic role in precision-bombing and close air support, next-generation avionics and technologies are expected to greatly increase potential missions for the platform in coming years, service officials said.

WATCH: B-52s are blasting ISIS targets

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11 weapons from pop culture we could totally use right now

DARPA does a great job of designing new and exciting weapons for the military. But here are 11 weapons from movies and video games that the U.S. fighting forces would like to see rolling out of a DARPA lab soon.


1. Iron Man’s shoulder-mounted guns

Iron Man’s shoulder-mounted guns each have six barrels filled with rounds that can curve in flight and are linked up to a targeting system that can differentiate between friend, foe, and civilian. Basically, every infantryman in urban combat could walk through a city slaying bad guys and accepting the praise of grateful survivors.

Of course, if the weapons were actually mounted on an Iron Man suit that would be even better.

2. Noisy cricket

Sure, it’s small and causes a lot of collateral damage. But, it packs a huge punch in a tiny fist. It could be used for two purposes. First, troops assigned to public positions like embassy guard could conceal the weapons on their body, allowing them to appear lightly armed while they secretly have direct fire artillery in their pockets. Second, it could be used as a breaching tool.

3. Lawgiver Pistol

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Photos: Youtube

Capable of firing everything from normal rounds to grenades to nonlethal munitions, the Lawgiver pistol is part of why Dredd is such a badass. For soldiers in the field, this would provide a wide variety of force options in a very small package. Also, they have a very strong anti-theft mechanism.

In the cons column, it has to be hard to safely run ranges with weapons like this.

4. Sonic Shotgun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8deYjcgVgm8feature=youtu.bet=1m33s

One of the most effective nonlethal weapons on this list, the sonic shotgun can hurl bad guys a dozen feet back, charges quickly, and is apparently easy to aim from the hip.

5. Laser Rifles

Pick your brand (Star Wars, Halo, whatever), laser rifles would provide most of the capabilities of standard rifles, plus they would melt right through enemy armor. Just don’t give us the ones that Stormtroopers use. They are way too inaccurate.

6. Phaser

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Photo: flickr.com/Ryan Somma

It’s like a laser rifle, but you can choose “stun” and “disintegrate” as firing modes.

7. Cerebral Bore

The cerebral bore is not only a rifle with homing rounds, it also marks enemies in hiding and its rounds make their way through enemy flesh, seeking out the brain and exploding within it.

8. Mjolnir (but a gun)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou4yoD-9wL8

Thor’s mighty hammer gives the ability to fly, which would be great. More importantly though, it can only be lifted by the worthy. That would mean that when friendly positions are overrun, weapons that are abandoned couldn’t be turned around and used against the original owners.

9. ZF-1

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Photo: Youtube.com

Like the Lawgiver pistol, the ZF-1 allows its users to select between a wide range of munitions including missiles and nets. The ZF-1 is larger since it’s a rifle/flamethrower, but soldiers will likely find a way to carry the extra weight in exchange for gaining the ability to shoot flames and darts when necessary.

10. Lightsabers

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Not for the purpose you think. It’s unlikely troops could be properly trained to handle lightsabers well enough to fight with them and they definitely couldn’t deflect bullets with them. However, the sabers could be used by anti-tank teams to crack into enemy armor as well as by engineers to cut through absolutely any enemy defenses. The safety training Powerpoint for these would be hell though.

Runner up for these purposes: Wolverine’s claws. They’re even more portable than a lightsaber and would be nearly impossible to lose, but soldiers without genetic healing mutations would bleed just, all the time.

11. Plasmids

From the hit video game Bioshock, plasmids give the user the ability to fire flames from their hands, suck health from enemies, and even mind control enemies.

Of course, the weapon developers would need to solve the whole, “insanity” thing that goes along with most plasmids, but that’s probably do-able.

NOW: The 19 most game-changing weapons of the 21st century

OR: The top 5 weapons the US Navy needs right now

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This is why ‘General Butt Naked’ was the most feared warlord in Liberia

To oust a dictator as terrible as Liberia’s Charles Taylor, some warlords committed even more heinous crimes. Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence in the UK after being convicted of 11 war crimes in the Hague in 2013.


Joshua Milton Blahyi went by a different name when he controlled the streets of Liberia’s capital of Monrovia during its 14-year civil war. Going into urban combat wearing nothing but sneakers and a crazed look, he earned the title “General Butt Naked.”

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Warlords in the streets of Liberia from 1989-2003 were given names based in popular culture. It spawned such nicknames as “General Bin Laden” and “General Rambo.”

While “General Butt Naked” may sound laughable as a nom de guerre, the warlord’s methods were anything but funny. Of the 250,000-some Liberians killed in the conflict, Blahyi estimates he is responsible for at least 20,000.

The crimes he freely admits to don’t stop there. He recruited children to act as his street enforcers, teaching them that killings and mutilations were all part of a game. And so they would also fight naked in the streets of Monrovia. Blahyi himself was a teenager when the conflict broke out.

Anecdotal evidence of the atrocities committed by “General Butt Naked” is numerous and graphic.

When Taylor was finally ousted in 2003, the man once known as “General Butt Naked” began a new life as a pastor. These days, when he isn’t preaching, he visits the families of his victims and begs for forgiveness — complete forgiveness. He doesn’t want lip service; he wants the biblical forgiveness that comes from the victim’s heart.

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Those victims don’t want any part of it. Only 19 of the 76 families he has visited heard him out. The remainder goes about as well as one might expect.

Blahyi built a mansion where he houses former child soldiers. It’s a place where he says he teaches them skills like farming and bricklaying. According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, he also feeds them.

At least one former soldier will attest to the work of Blahyi’s NGO, “Journeys Against Violence.” Luke Barren told Reuters that he earned his job as a mason because of Blahyi’s effort. Other say Blahyi’s whole enterprise is a farce combined with a cash grab.

The former warlord walks free where Taylor is imprisoned because of jurisdictional rules in The Hague. The court can only prosecute war crimes committed after its founding in 2002. There was never a special tribunal for prosecuting war crimes in Liberia, as there was from Rwanda, Cambodia, and the former Yugoslavia.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 11th

Just as a step away from the regularly scheduled news that is probably left in better hands than the “meme guy,” did you know that former President George W. Bush had his museum debut at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. this week?

Yeah. And I mean, they’re actually pretty good. He’s got plenty of artwork that you can find around, but his most recent series has been stylized portraits of wounded Post-9/11 veterans – with the exception of the veteran’s eyes, which are drawn realistically. I’m no art critic, but I can tell that it draws you in, and you find yourself staring into the very souls of the veterans, and the rest kinda pulls you into how they feel.

I guess that goes to show you that after he got his “Presidential DD-214,” even the former commander-in-chief made a name for himself in the art world. See? Now can you all get off my back for using my GI Bill on a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree?


Anyways, here are some memes while I reevaluate my creative endeavors.

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(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

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(Meme via Army Veteran Style)

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(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

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(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

(Photo via US Army WTF Moments)

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(Meme via Grunt Works)

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(Meme via Disgruntled Decks)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

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(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

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(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

This Navy veteran found confidence and community in the world of Cosplay

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

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(Meme via Pop Smoke)

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Pictures reveal possible new Chinese IFV

China may be working on a new infantry fighting vehicle – less than a decade after introducing its latest vehicle, the ZBD-04.


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A ew Chinese infantry fighting vehicle (right) is seen in this photo circulating around discussion forums. (Photo from CJDBY via Janes.com)

Janes.com reports that a photo possibly showing the new Chinese IFV next to a ZBD-04 emerged on discussion forms in early February. The vehicle’s major upgrade appears to be the addition of an unmanned turret. ArmyRecognition.com notes that the ZBD-04 made its debut in 2009. This video shows the ZBD-04 taking part in a parade.

The ZBD-04 has a very similar armament suite to Russia’s BMP-3. It has a 100mm main gun, a 30mm coaxial gun, and three 7.62mm machine guns. The 100mm gun is capable of firing the AT-10 “Stabber,” a laser-guided missile. The vehicle can carry up to seven soldiers, and has a crew of three. The vehicle is also capable of some amphibious operations as well.

Russian experience with the BMP-3 has shown some problems with the basic design. The vehicle is relatively lightly protected. This means it can ford a river, but if it gets hit, the crew and infantry squad inside are very likely to go out with a bang. ArmyRecognition.com reported that Russian BMP-3s have reportedly been blown apart at the welds when the onboard munitions go up.

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A Chinese ZBD-04 infantry fighting vehicle. A new IFV in development is replaces the combined 100mm gun and 30mm cannon turret with an unmanned turret with a 40mm gun. (Chinese Defense Ministry photo)

The new Chinese IFV may be dispensing with the 100mm/30mm combo in favor of a new 40mm gun.

Jane’s reports that the new gun could be chambered for cased telescoped ammunition. According to ThinkDefence.co.uk, such a system packs the payload inside the propellant, allowing more rounds to fit in a given volume.

China displayed a 40mm cannon that could fire cased telescoped ammunition in November, 2016. The United Kingdom is considering the use of a similar cannon in the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and the Ajax reconnaissance vehicle.

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13 best military memes for the week of Dec. 23

Look, if you’re not on Christmas block leave or libo or whatever your branch calls it by now, then you’re probably not going on it.


Let’s all just sit together with the funny military memes and try not to imagine what all those people with Christmas trees and matching pajamas are doing right now.

1. It’s the only dessert made up of 50 percent sadness (via Coast Guard Memes).

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The culinary specialists really know how to make it feel like home.

2. Gotta hit the ground running (via Air Force Memes Humor).

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Welcome to the Air Force, with a vengeance.

3. That yellow bird is tired of your cadence calls (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

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First, the mice. Then, the Corps!

ALSO READ: This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

4. Stay low on your pushups and avoid burpees (via The Salty Soldier).

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Hopefully, the tall fellow will take the hit and absorb most of the blast.

5. Dig deep, everyone (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

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The Air Force wants to at least get a laugh when you hurt their feelings.

6. Saving more Lincoln’s than a private box seat (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

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Just in time for Christmas, too.

7. Congrats on your restored ratings, Navy!

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

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Now, we are all one with the Rates.

8. Don’t necessarily want to fight another nation, but it would be super nice to have clear target identification (via Pop smoke).

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9. Remember to do some pushups between desserts over holiday leave (via The Salty Soldier).

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Plus five burpees per present on Christmas morning.

10. If you think throwing up double birds when PCSing is fun, just wait till you ETS (via Lost in the Sauce).

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This one goes out to my first brigade CSM.

11. When you’re not about that Rack City life (via Sh-t my LPO says).

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Not sure I can come up with 956 names.

12. In their defense, the table looks super stable (via Military World).

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I hope they were getting ready for a safety powerpoint.

13. Oooh, how will you survive?

(via Decelerate Your Life)

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Does the Air Force only use two fingers for their knife hands? It’s like a stiletto hand or something.

Secret bonus meme 1: My Coast Guard contacts have assured me that this is brilliant (via Coast Guard Memes).

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Secret bonus meme 2: Really, guys? This is literally an entire football field. Including the end zones (via Maintainer Humor).

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First 10 women graduate from Infantry Officer Course

Ten female lieutenants completed the first step in becoming U.S. Army infantry platoon leaders on Wednesday by graduating from the first gender-integrated class of Infantry Officer Basic Leader Course.


Twelve women started the 17-week course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and 10 met the standards to graduate alongside 156 male classmates.

“The training of an infantry lieutenant is a process until they step in front of that rifle platoon, and this is but the very first step in that process,” Lt. Col. Matthew Weber, battalion commander of the course, told reporters Wednesday at Fort Benning. “It’s a critical one because we are very much focused on training and preparing the soldiers, the lieutenants, to ultimately lead a rifle platoon.”

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FILE – Soldiers participate in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s Cultural Support Assessment and Selection program. | US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika

The graduation of first 10 women from the infantry course comes a little more than a year after Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first women to graduate Army Ranger School in August 2015. Maj. Lisa A. Jaster became the third woman to graduate from a gender-integrated Ranger course two months later.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December 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.

Army officials maintain that it hasn’t taken long for gender integration to become the norm in training.

“We have been integrating women into the military for years; they have fought and bled beside us for years,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning. “This is an important moment, but this is something that is in many ways business as usual.”

Fort Benning officials would not release the names of the 10 female graduates. Their next stop is Ranger School, Weber said.

Then, whether they are successful or not, they will go into other courses, including Airborne School, Striker Leader Course and then Mechanized Leader Course — a process that will take about a year to complete.

“Once they have completed all those courses, then we will have deemed them fit to lead whatever type formation out in [Forces Command] and they will depart Fort Benning,” Weber said.

Female infantry officers will leave Fort Benning and go to Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Wesley said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has directed that gender-integration first focus on leaders at those two installations, Wesley said.

“We are priming the pump and enabling success by initially focusing on two installations and then ultimately they will start to migrate out to other installations,” he said.

Griest and Haver are following the same path.

Griest, a military police officer from Connecticut, was granted transfer to the infantry branch April 25, 2016. Haver, an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot from Arizona, has been approved to transfer into the infantry, and “we are still awaiting final word on when that is going to come down,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Jones, commandant of the Infantry School.

“Upfront, I will tell you this makes us a better Army and the reason it makes us a better Army is that this whole issue has driven us — it has been a forcing function, to ensure that we had the right standards aligned to each occupational specialty in the Army,” Wesley said.

Establishing gender-neutral standards has been the “culmination of two years of different work done by Training and Doctrine Command, with physical scientists looking at what is the physiology of moving weight and what is the difference between infantrymen and field artillerymen?” Jones said.

“We have the scientific data that shows these are the propensity skills that you have to do and the physiology to do those.”

Benning officials maintain that gender integration has not lowered standards.

“There has been no change in the standards,” said Infantry Officer Basic Leader Course Command Sgt. Major Joe Davis. “There is no change in the course … we are in the business of producing leaders. It doesn’t matter if they are male or females.”

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