Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank - We Are The Mighty
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Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank

Former Army Ranger and West Point grad Matthew ‘Griff’ Griffin isn’t your average vet entrepreneur. He came up with the notion of building something of value when he was serving in Afghanistan during the early phases of the war, way before there was much of a logistics footprint in place. He saw that the Afghan people were in need of more than protection from the Taliban. They needed basic goods and services.


“I saw Afghanistan as a place to leverage the power of small business owners making a difference,” Griff said.  “The region could benefit from more micro loans and fewer armored vehicles.”

When Griff left active duty he returned to Kabul doing some clinic work, but beyond that he wanted to find a way to assist with the country’s stability by creating a manufacturing base, starting with a single factory he stumbled across on the east side of the capital. The factory had the infrastructure; it was just a matter of what to manufacture.

As he was leaving the factory he found a flip flop on the floor — it was unique and a little funky, the kind of design Griff thought might resonate with fashion-minded millennials. He held it up and asked the factory manager if he could make them, and the Afghan local said sure. Combat Flip Flops was born.

Griff and his brother procured the materials from a far eastern supplier and got everything set up, but they’d no sooner returned to the U.S. than they were informed that the factory was shutting down — a casualty of the volatile socio-economic climate of Afghanistan. But the brothers were undeterred, plus they had a lot of money wrapped up in the materials sitting in the factory in Kabul.

Without any U.S. military assistance — the most effective way to operate, according to Griff — they went back in on a private spec ops mission of sorts, one designed to salvage what they could from their investment and work that had been accomplished already.

“We rented a ‘Bongo’ truck and packed the inventory of flip flops into bags designed to hold opium,” Griff said. “We were riding around the streets of Kabul trying to look inconspicuous, two white guys sitting on a pile of opium bags.”

They stored the 2,000-some pairs of flip flops in a warehouse on the outskirts of Kabul, and as they did a closer inspection of their wares they realized that the quality was such that they couldn’t be sold. They wound up giving all of them away to needy Afghans, which was better than nothing but not up to the standards of Griff’s vision.

They found another factory, and once again secured a supplier (and paid for it using Griff’s credit card), and this time failure came even faster and the factory closed down before any materials for the order of 4,000 pairs had been shipped. It was time for a more dramatic pivot in the business plan.

“We wound up taking the guerrilla manufacturing route and assembling the sandals in my garage in Washington state,” Griff said.

The company’s potential big break came in the form of a phone call from one of the producers at ABC’s “Shark Tank” TV show. Griff and a couple of his co-workers will appear on the episode scheduled to air on February 5. (Check your local listings.)

“We’re stoked to bring the Combat Flip Flops mission to the tank,” Griff’ said. “Every Shark has the ability to expand the mission, inspire new recruits to join the Unarmed Forces, and manufacture peace through trade. Over the past few years, we’ve survived deadly encounters to create an opportunity like this. Attack Dogs. Raging Bulls. If we need to jump in the water with Sharks, then it’s time to grab the mask and fins.”

“We’ve all seen and heard Shark Tank success stories,” Donald Lee, Combat Flip Flops’ CMO and co-founder, added. “We set our minds to getting on the show and in true Ranger fashion, we accomplished the objective. We hope this is the catalyst our company needs to provide large scale, peaceful, sustainable change in areas of conflict.”

In 2015, Combat Flip Flops’ sales increased 150 percent over the previous year. In keeping with Griff’s original corporate vision, the company donated funds for schools to educate Afghan girls and cleared 1,533 square meters of land mines in Laos, which keeps the local population — especially children — safer.

Griff has leveraged his service academy pedigree and military experience in incredibly productive ways. His entrepreneurial sense and — even more importantly — his worldview defies most veteran stereotypes and associated bogus narratives. His outlook and drive are distinctly that of the Post 9-11 warfighter — “the next greatest generation.”

Combat Flip Flop’s mission statement captures it:

To create peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict. Our willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, “Business, Not Bullets”– flipping the view on how wars are won. Through persistence, respect, and creativity, we empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade.

Watch Griff’s presentation at TED Talks Tacoma:

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ISIS is facing one of its most serious setbacks yet

ISIS is currently facing one of its greatest military challenges since the group proclaimed a caliphate following the seizure of Mosul and much of western Iraq and eastern Syria last summer.


According to an intelligence brief from The Soufan Group, ISIS is experiencing losses around its “capital” of Raqqa, representing both an operational and symbolic setback for the group.

Although ISIS has continued to expand and hold onto territory in Iraq, the militants have come under increasing pressure in Syria.

ISIS has lost territory in a number of key battles. Most notably, Kurdish YPG forces have dealt ISIS defeats at the towns of Tal Abyad and Ayn Issa.

ISIS once hoped to cut off major Syrian Kurdish regions from one another by holding these towns near the Turkish border. Now, the Kurds have foreclosed on that strategy, beating back the jihadists’ momentum and even moving into some of ISIS’s most important territory.

“With the most recent YPG moves against the town of Ayn Issa, the Islamic State is facing perhaps its most serious symbolic and meaningful threat since it declared itself a caliphate almost one year ago,” The Soufan Group notes. “Its capital, Raqqa, the center of the group’s authority and image, is under threat.”

By seizing and securing Ayn Issa, the YPG, in conjunction with US-led coalition airstrikes, have embedded themselves only 31 miles away from ISIS’ de facto capital. The YPG also seized the Syrian military base Liwa-93 from ISIS in the surrounding region. The rapid advance of the Kurdish forces, which ISIS nearly overwhelmed during a crucial battle in the border city of Kobane last summer, has dealt a blow to the militant group, which promoted itself through a doctrine of “remaining and expanding” on multiple simultaneous battlefronts.

Following the YPG’s gains, ISIS forces began digging trenches around Raqqa in an attempt to fortify their capital, Reuters reports. ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani also addressed the losses in a Ramadan audio broadcast stating that “God never gave the mujahideen a promise of victory every time.”

Although the Kurds do not have immediate plans to attack ISIS in Raqqa, the seizure of territory around the city could deal a significant blow to the militant organization. Tal Abyad, located by the Turkish border, functioned as a key smuggling point through which fighters and supplies could reach the jihadists.

With its opponents taking control of the territory north of Raqqa, ISIS could experience significant logistical disruptions — and face the crisis of enemy forces advancing closer to the heart of the group’s power.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Edgar Vasquez, a spokesperson for the US State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, said that “should anti-ISIL forces continue to hold the city, there is the potential for a significant disruption of ISIL’s flow of foreign fighters, illicit goods, and other illegal activity from Turkey into northern Syria and Iraq.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here are all the features on the new Air Force OCPs

In addition to a new camouflage pattern, the Air Force‘s new utility uniform will offer different features from the current Airman Battle Uniform.

The service announced in May 2018, it will adopt the Army Combat Uniform, known as the ACU, which sports the Operational Camouflage Pattern, or OCP. The Air Force plans to have all airmen wearing the new uniform by April 2021.


“The decision to move to this new uniform outfits our airmen in the best utility uniform available in the inventory,” Maj. Kathleen Atanasoff said in a statement.

So far, the Air Force is calling the uniform the OCP.

“The [OCP] is proven for better form, fit and function and will be an important part in preserving our service and squadron identities,” Atanasoff said

Here’s a look at the different features of the new Air Force Uniform:

The OCP has two slanted front chest pockets compared to the ABU‘s four pockets on the blouse, which date back to the Battle Dress Uniform design. It has two shoulder pockets, with side zippered closures and Velcro for mounting unit patches.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
(U.S. Air Force photo)

The rank identification patch for both officers and enlisted personnel is located in the center of the chest instead of on the sleeves for enlisted and collars for officers on the ABU. Name and service tapes, rank and patches are all attached with Velcro.

Airmen will have the option to sew on their name tape and service tape, Air Force officials say.

Officers will wear their rank on their patrol caps. The OCP’s patrol cap features a Velcro-mounted name tape on the back.

The Air Force uniform will differ from the Army’s in Velcro patches, name tape and insignia by using a “spice brown” color, service officials said. The Air Force will redesign patches used for commands down to the squadron level so they incorporate the spice brown color.

The OCP’s blouse has a front zippered closure instead of the ABU’s buttons. Similar to the ABU, the OCP has a two pen slots on the blouse sleeve.

The OCP’s trousers feature slanted cargo pockets as well as smaller pockets above each ankle.

For female airmen, the OCP is less boxy and includes multiple sizes for women.

Airmen will also be required to wear the same coyote brown boots as the Army, Air Force officials said.

Both the OCP and the ABU fabric weight and same 50/50 percent nylon-cotton blend, Atanasoff said. There is no permanent press treatment on the OCP like the ABU. In addition, the OCP has an “insect shield” permethrin treatment.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The VA finally approved benefits for this WW2 human test subject

Arla Harrell, a 90-year-old Missouri veteran who was intentionally exposed to mustard gas during World War II, has been awarded his backdated benefits from the VA, following a decades-long fight and legislation from US Senator Claire McCaskill on behalf of Mr. Harrell and his fellow service members.


The VA’s decision cited McCaskill’s legislation, and her testimony on the family’s behalf, in the awarding of Mr. Harrell’s benefits.

McCaskill testified in July at Mr. Harrell’s Veterans Affairs claim appeals hearing after the VA’s repeated denial of his benefits-asking the judge to take a careful look at his case and grant him the right to hear that his government believes him.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled for Arla and his family, that after so many decades being told ‘no’, so many claims denied, so many bureaucrats refusing to believe he had been mistreated by his own government-the VA is finally saying ‘yes'” said McCaskill, herself the daughter of a World War II veteran, and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. “This law, that so many folks put party aside to pass, is already getting results: long-overdue justice and the simple recognition of what Arla and so many of his fellow soldiers, sacrificed for their country. And three simple words that the government should have said to Arla decades ago, ‘we believe you.'”

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey greets Senator Claire McCaskill (right). Photo from SecDef Flickr.

In August, President Trump signed McCaskill’s Arla Harrell Act into law after it was approved by the Senate, capping a two-year battle and paving the way for decades-overdue relief to veterans intentionally exposed to mustard gas.

As the document granting Mr. Harrell’s claim states, the reversal comes after McCaskill, who is listed as a witness for Mr. Harrell, passed her legislation. “During the pendency of the Veteran’s appeal, the President of the United States… signed legislation [the Arla Harrell Act] that directs the VA to reconsider previously denied claims for disability compensation for veterans who allege full-body exposure to nitrogen mustard gas, sulfur mustard gas, or Lewisite during World War II… [ Arla Harrell’s claims] will be reconsidered in light of this new legislation.”

During World War II, thousands of US servicemen were exposed to mustard agents through secret US military experiments. By the end of the war, 60,000 servicemen had been human subjects in the military’s chemical defense research program, with an estimated 4,000 of them receiving high levels of exposure to mustard agents.

For decades, these servicemen were under explicit orders not to discuss their toxic exposure with their doctors or even their families. The US military did not fully acknowledge its role in the testing program until the last of the experiments was declassified in 1975. The military did not lift the oath of secrecy until the early 1990s.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Alra Harrell. Photo from the Harrell family via St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Following her investigative report, McCaskill battled what she called a “decades-long record of ineptitude and failure” at the VA, and enlisted the support of Republican and Democratic colleagues, including Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana, who introduced companion legislation in the US House.

McCaskill also rallied veterans service organizations in support of her bill, and successfully pressured President Trump’s Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin in support of the legislation.

The law required a re-examination of Arla Harrell’s claim for VA benefits, and the inclusion of Camp Crowder on the list of sites where full body testing took place. It also mandates a quick review of previously denied claims, places the burden on the VA (instead of the veteran) to prove or disprove exposure, revamps the VA’s application and adjudication process in the future, and mandates an investigation by both agencies to determine what went wrong with this process and officially acknowledge the horror these servicemen endured.

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Watch this year’s Marine Corps birthday message celebrating 240 years of service

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank


The Marine Corps’ top leaders are wishing Marines everywhere a happy 240th birthday in a new video released on Oct. 23.

Though the nearly 10-minute video is a bit early — the Marines’ birthday isn’t until Nov. 10 — the video message from the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps have become a staple of the Corps in recent years.

This year is no different, with a message from new Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green filmed at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

“We hope each of you will have a chance to reflect on our history, remember those who sacrificed and reaffirm your commitment to the strengthening of our Corps,” Neller says in the video.

The video features interviews with other Marines, along with historical footage from past battles, including The Battle of Iwo Jima, which was fought 70 years ago.

“Happy birthday Marines, wherever you are. … We must continue to uphold the legacy of those who have gone before, and we remain Semper Fidelis,” Neller says in closing, using the Marine Corps Latin motto, meaning “Always Faithful.”

Watch:

MIGHTY TRENDING

This amazing Air Force cadet is now a Rhodes Scholar

A U.S. Air Force Academy student from Tennessee has been named a Rhodes Scholar.


The Rhodes Trust said Nov. 18 that Jaspreet “Jesse” Singh, of Oak Ridge, is one of 32 students from the United States who will receive full financial support to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Each year 32 young students from the United States are selected as Rhodes Scholars.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

According to the trust, Singh is a senior at the Air Force Academy, where he is pursuing a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering. Singh‘s research addresses questions of policy, ethics, and the management of military assets and nuclear weapons.

Now Read: This Mayor took time off to go to war in Afghanistan

Singh has interned at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and conducts research at the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension. He also has completed several ultra-marathons.

At OxfordSingh will read for master’s degree in engineering science.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A Marine vet is one of the best zombie writers around

Mark Tufo wrote Zombie Fallout, a 16-book series that follows Marine Corps veteran and family man Mike Talbot as he tries to keep his family safe in a world overrun by zombies.


Like the character Talbot, Tufo served in the Marine Corps before returning to civilian life, starting a family, and adopting an English bulldog. The similarities end when Talbot’s neighborhood is taken over by flesh-eating and brain-hunting zombies, forcing him and his family to fight their way out.

Zombie Fallout book cover

Tufo’s writing about the zombie apocalypse is a refreshing take on the genre because the character of Talbot thinks tactically about what he’s doing. He drives his jeep slowly to protect his radiator, keeps food handy, and has survivors pull watch. And the whole family knows how to use their guns, obviously.

Now, Talbot and his family might be getting their own TV series. Brad Thomas, a television producer and fan of the series, has teamed up with Tufo to bring the zombie epic to the silver screen. WATM got to spend a day with them and some military veteran fans on the set as the crew filmed a teaser for the show.

You can also check out the music video teaser for Zombie Fallout.

Articles

Friendly fire kills 18 US allies

At least 18 members of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in a U.S.-led coalition air strike that mistakenly targeted them in Syria’s Raqqa province.


In a statement released on April 13, U.S. Central Command said 18 SDF fighters died in the air raid south of the city of Tabqa on April 11. The attack was believed to be hitting members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL, also known as ISIS).

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in al-Shaar neighborhood, in the rebel-held side of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (IZEIN ALRIFAI/AFP/GImages)

SDF was founded in Syria’s mainly Kurdish northeastern region in October 2015, and is made up of at least 15 armed factions, mostly fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the Free Syrian Army.

“The strike was requested by the partnered forces, who had identified the target location as an ISIS fighting position. The target location was actually a forward Syrian Democratic Forces fighting position,” CENTCOM said.

“The coalition’s deepest condolences go out to the members of the SDF and their families. The coalition is in close contact with our SDF partners who have expressed a strong desire to remain focused on the fight against ISIS despite this tragic incident.”

The coalition added it is assessing the cause of the friendly fire attack.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on April 13 at least 25 other SDF fighters were killed in clashes against ISIL in the suburbs of Tabqa.

The incident occurred as U.S.-backed Syrian forces prepare to retake Raqqa, ISIL’s stronghold in Syria, as they move in from the city’s north.

SDF captured the strategic Tabqa airbase from ISIL in March. The airbase is 28 miles west of Raqqa,

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran boasts about its increased uranium enrichment capacity

Iran says it is continuing to acquire uranium and is close to finishing a plant where it can build more centrifuges to enrich uranium.

The announcement on July 18, 2018, comes a day after Iran filed a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States in response to President Donald Trump’s decision in May 2018 to pull his country out of the 2015 nuclear accord and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other hard-liners in Iran have questioned whether Iran should continue honoring its obligations under the landmark deal with world powers after Trump’s decision.

Under the terms of the 2015 agreement — which also was signed by Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union — Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


The other signatories have said they will remain a part of the deal. Iran has demanded financial concessions from Europe to compensate for losses caused by Washington’s renewed sanctions.

Khamenei in June 2018 announced his country was preparing to increase uranium-enrichment capacity at its Natanz nuclear facility.

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran will continue adhering to the nuclear deal and that the country’s stepped-up nuclear activities will remain within the limits set by the accord.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters that the organization was aware of Iran’s announcement but had no comment.

Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes, while Washington has accused it of attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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Here’s how a government shutdown would affect military families

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank


Although all indicators right now point to no government shutdown, there’s still a chance lawmakers won’t get their acts together before midnight on October 1. If they don’t pass a bill funding the government by that time, we’ll be looking at a government shutdown. That makes it a good idea for military families to figure out what, exactly, a shutdown will mean to them. Here’s the deal:

Military Pay

Yes, your active duty service member still has to go to work during a shutdown. No, he might not get paid for it until later.

Unless congress passes a law funding pay for active duty military members during a shutdown like they did in 2013, a government shutdown would mean no paychecks starting October 15 (if the shutdown were to last that long). It could probably also mean canceled drill for National Guard and Reserve members (and, therefore, no drill pay).

Starting to freak out about how you’re going to cover your bills during that time? Several banks, like USAA, are planning to offer their active duty users interest-free pay advance loan in the event of a missed paycheck. USAA officials said they will work with their members on repayment details should this become a needed option.

Military Commissaries

Just like in 2013, most military commissaries would close in the event of a shutdown. Rural and overseas stores, however, would stay open according to a DoD memo issued late this month.

Although officials at the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) haven’t given specific details, the process would probably work much as it did in 2013. At that time stores were open on October 1 but shuttered October 2. They were closed five to six days until the DoD ordered civilian employees back to work.

Like last time, the commissary is unlikely to put food on clearance in preparation for the closures. (That probably won’t keep shoppers from rushing the stores, though, like it’s the beginning of some kind of serious chicken shortage.)

Because military exchanges aren’t run through taxpayer dollars, they will still be open.

Military Hospitals and Healthcare

According to a memo issued by the DoD, the only hospital activities that will continue in the event of a shutdown are: inpatient care at military treatment facilities (MTF), emergency and acute care at MTFs and active duty dental clinics, any care provided off-base by Tricare (at civilian, non-MTF clinics) and wounded warrior medical care.

That means if you have an appointment at a clinic at an MTF with your primary care provider or a specialist, it’s not going to be happening during a shutdown.

On-Base Schools

If your kid attends a DoD Education Activity (DoDEA) school, he will continue to go if there is a shutdown. However, all outside school hours activities, like sporting events, will be canceled, according to the memo. The only exception would be if the event is funded by non-taxpayer money, such as through an outside sponsorship or through MWR.

On-Base Childcare and Recreation

This is a tricky category. The DoD said childcare centers will definitely stay open, but MWR activities (and employees) will only keep working if they are totally funded by non-tax payer dollars.

The snag here is that MWR does functions regularly with a little book-keeping switcheroo where they convert tax-payer money into their non-taxpayer fund accounts to help with cash flow. That’s completely well and good normally, but in the event of a shutdown it means that any activities funded with that money have to stop.

That means some of the MWR closures will be on a case-by-case basis. In 2013, for example, we saw that many on-base libraries closed while many on-base gyms remained open. This one is going to be more of a wait and see.

Military PCS Moves and TDY Travel

Unless you’re supporting one of the exempted activities (and the best thing to do is to ask your chain of command if that’s the case) your military move will be postponed your TDY canceled.

More from Military.com

This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

That story of Chinese chip-spying might be completely wrong

In October 2018, Bloomberg published a bombshell report about how Chinese spies managed to implant chips into computer servers made by SuperMicro, an American company.

If true, the report raised questions about whether sensitive US government and corporate data may have been accessed by Chinese spies, and whether it’s all data stored on PCs is essentially at risk.

But since then, a series of statements from government officials and information security professionals — including some named in the stories — have cast doubt about the report’s main claims.


On Oct. 10, 2018, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security denied the report in a Senate hearing — the strongest on-the-record government denial yet.

“With respect to the article, we at DHS do not have any evidence that supports the article,” Kirstjen Nielsen said on Oct. 10, 2018. “We have no reason to doubt what the companies have said.”

(During the same hearing, FBI Director Chris Wray said that he couldn’t confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation into compromised SuperMicro equipment, which was claimed in the Bloomberg report.)

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

(photo by Jetta Disco)

Nielsen’s denial comes on the same day as a senior NSA official said that he worries that “we’re chasing shadows right now.”

“I have pretty great access, [and yet] I don’t have a lead to pull from the government side,” Rob Joyce, perhaps the most public-facing NSA cybersecurity official, said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting.

“We’re just befuddled,” Joyce said, according to Cyberscoop.

Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former head of security, called Joyce’s denial “the most damning point” against the story that he had seen.

The increasing doubt about Bloomberg’s claims come as lawmakers demand additional answers based on the series of reports. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Marco Rubio asked SuperMicro to cooperate with law enforcement in a sharply worded letter on Oct. 9, 2018. Senator John Thune also sent letters to Amazon and Apple, which Bloomberg said had purchased compromised servers.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank

NSA advisor Rob Joyce.

(USENIX Enigma Conference)

Sources walk back 

But government officials aren’t the only people who are now having second thoughts about the stories.

One prominent hardware security expert, Joe Fitzpatrck, who was named in the story, ended up doing a revealing podcast with a trade outlet that’s more technical than Bloomberg, Risky Business.

Journalists who write stories based on anonymous sources often call up experts to fill out some of the more general parts of a story and improve the story’s flow.

But Fitzpatrick said that’s not what happened.

“I feel like I have a good grasp at what’s possible and what’s available and how to do it just from my practice,” Fitzpatrick explained. “But it was surprising to me that in a scenario where I would describe these things and then he would go and confirm these and 100% of what I described was confirmed by sources.”

He went on to say that he heard about the story’s specifics in late August 2018 and sent an email expressing major doubt. “I heard the story and it didn’t make sense to me. And that’s what I said. I said, ‘Wow I don’t have any more information for you, but this doesn’t make sense.'”

Several notable information security professionals used Fitzpatrick’s quotes as a jumping-off point to express their doubts with the story:

Bloomberg sticks by its story

Bloomberg’s report was obviously explosive and had immediate effects.

Super Micro lost over 40% of its value the day of the report. Apple and Amazon, which the report said had bought compromised servers, fiercely denied the report in public statements.

While Bloomberg put out a statement that said that it stood by its reporting shortly after the first story, the loudest institutional support for the story came in a followup story by Bloomberg that said new evidence of hacked Supermicro hardware was found in a U.S. telecom.

Bloomberg didn’t name the affected telecom.

“The more recent manipulation is different from the one described in the Bloomberg Businessweek report in October 2018, but it shares key characteristics: They’re both designed to give attackers invisible access to data on a computer network in which the server is installed; and the alterations were found to have been made at the factory as the motherboard was being produced by a Supermicro subcontractor in China,” according to the Bloomberg followup report.

But even the source for the followup now says he’s “angry” about how the story turned out.

“I want to be quoted. I am angry and I am nervous and I hate what happened to the story. Everyone misses the main issue,” which is that it’s an overall problem with the hardware supply chain, not a SuperMicro-specific issue, Yossi Appleboum told Serve The Home.

But everyone says it’s possible

But the tricky thing about Bloomberg’s story is that nearly everyone agrees something like it could happen, it just didn’t happen the way the report suggests.

Security experts agree that the security of the factories that make electronics is an ongoing issue, even if no malicious chips have been found yet.

“What we can tell you though, is it’s a very real and emerging threat that we’re worried about,” Sec. Nielsen said shortly after saying she had no evidence in favor of the story.

And as one manufacturing expert told Business Insider, “I don’t actually think it’s hard to inject stuff that the brand or design team didn’t intentionally ask for.”

Chinese industrial espionage has been an issue for many years, and it’s a talking point for President Donald Trump, who accused Chinese exchange students of being “spies” in a conversation with CEOs including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

But there is evidence that Chinese spies do spy on American companies. In October 2018, a Chinese officer was extradited to the United States to face espionage charges related to stealing secrets from companies including GE Aviation.

The FBI also arrested a Chinese national in 2018 who had worked for Apple and allegedly was taking self-driving car information to a little-known Chinese startup.

So there’s a lot of evidence that there are spies who are actively working to steal American industrial secrets. Just maybe not with malicious chips inserted through the supply chain — yet.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran found his lifeline at the end of a leash

After battling night terrors and the pain and anxiety of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for decades, an Air Force veteran found his lifeline at the end of a dog leash.

Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager in the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, vividly remembers a few years ago when he would regularly find himself in the depths of fear and despair; reliving troubling images from deployments as a security forces military working dog handler and later as a logistics specialist.

Kaono’s wife, Alessa, said she felt helpless, with no idea how to help him.

“You see a look in their eyes that they’re suffering but you don’t know what you can do to help them. It’s a terrible feeling watching someone suffer through PTSD,” she said.

Those memories seemed so hopeless at times that Kaono attempted to end his life.

After taking numerous prescription drugs in 2010 in a bid to permanently end his pain, Kaono finally reached out for help and started receiving the support and understanding he needed.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, takes his service dog Romeo for a walk around the building.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

“I had previously attempted (suicide) but this time I actually sought treatment,” Kaono said.

After being hospitalized for his suicide attempt, the veteran began a treatment program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles.

“When I was first diagnosed, group therapy didn’t work for me,” the Hawaii-native said, “so I actually left the group and started volunteering at a (German Shepherd) rescue in California.”

Dogs had always played a part in Kaono’s life from when, as a toddler, his family’s old English sheepdog, Winston, picked him up by the diaper to deliver a wandering Ryan back to his front yard.

“I realized (while volunteering at the rescue) that the interaction with the dogs really made me feel better,” he said.

Not content to just help himself, Kaono worked with the VA hospital to help other veterans interact with the rescue dogs and promoted animal therapy.


“The VA does equestrian therapy where they’ll take veterans to horse ranches and they get to ride horses … same premise, animal therapy works wonders,” he said.

It wasn’t long before Kaono, with a wealth of dog training knowledge from his time as a MWD handler, had veterans asking for help to train dogs so they could have their own service animals.

This support was especially important to Kaono since the average wait time for a VA-trained service dog can exceed two to five years.

“By then, we’ve already lost between 9,000 – 20,000 people due to suicide in a five-year period,” he said.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, shares a laugh with a videographer during an interview while his service dog Romeo keeps a steady eye on the photographer.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

That’s based on a 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs study that showed roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide every day from 1999-2010.

“That’s just way too many,” he said.

During this time, while helping to train dogs for other veterans, Kaono decided to add his name to the list for a VA-issued service dog.

After a two-year wait, he was notified they were ready to pair him with a dog. During the interview process, however, he was denied an animal because he already had a couple of dogs as pets and service dogs can’t be added to a home unless it is pet free.

“I was disheartened,” he said, but he continued to help train animals for other veterans.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no mandated certification for a service dog and it allows people to train their own animals. So three years ago, when Kaono moved to San Antonio, his wife encouraged him to work on training his own service dog.

“I thought I’d just take one of the dogs we had at our house and train it to be a service dog,” Kaono said, until Alessa pointed out a Chihuahua probably wasn’t the best choice for his particular needs.

He then decided to work with San Antonio’s Quillan Animal Rescue to find a potential service dog. The rescue suggested a Doberman at first but Kaono wasn’t interested in such a large animal. One of the workers then recommended a mixed breed animal named Romeo that was in need of rehabilitation after being hit by a car. The only drawback was Romeo had already been promised to another family in California after his recovery.

“I said yes because that would give me the opportunity to work with a dog again,” Kaono said.

That was February 2016 and by May, he and Romeo were inseparable, Kaono said.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank
Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, takes his service dog Romeo for a walk around his work center.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

By June, Romeo had recovered and he was sent to California. Kaono said he was heartbroken.

“I secluded myself. I didn’t want to go to work. I took sick leave … I just didn’t want to be around anybody and make connections with people like I did with him and have them shattered,” he said.

“Romeo was kind of a fluke,” he added, because the California family decided they couldn’t keep him so Romeo returned to San Antonio.

When Romeo arrived back in Texas, Kaono had a trainer from Service Dog Express assess him. The local organization works with veterans to train service animals. Romeo passed the evaluation and was accepted as a service dog in training.

Kaono and the trainer then used techniques from Assistance Dogs International, considered the industry standard for dog training, to ready Romeo. Two months later, Romeo took the organization’s public access test, the minimum requirement for service dog training, and “blew the test away,” Kaono said.

He’s been going to work with the AFIMSC employee every day since passing his assessment on Aug. 1, 2016.

For Kaono, Romeo is much more than a four-legged companion. He’s a lifesaver who is trained in various disability mitigating tasks to help the veteran cope with PTSD.

These include deep pressure therapy where Romeo climbs into Kaono’s lap when he can sense anxiousness, agitation or frustration. He then applies direct pressure to the veteran’s body, considered a grounding technique, to bring focus to him instead of what’s causing the anxiety or agitation.

“Before him, I would have to sit there through it until it essentially went away,” Kaono said. “Now within two minutes I’m back to normal. I’m back to being productive again.”

Romeo also applies blocking techniques when the duo are in a group or crowded space to create a buffer between Kaono and those around him.

“People are cognizant of him being there so they give me the space to actually feel comfortable,” Kaono said.

Ranger takes flip flop company from Kabul to the Shark Tank

The service dog also fosters personal interaction, Kaono added.

“I don’t make solid relationships with people,” he explained. “I would prefer to be and work alone. Having Romeo actually forces me to interact with people on a regular basis. He causes people to talk about things that aren’t necessarily work related. He’s a calming factor, not just for me.”

Romeo has completely changed Kaono’s life to allow him to better “live” with PTSD, Alessa said.

“I’m sure many people say this about their dog or service dog but Romeo’s truly a godsend,” she said. “He has changed and impacted our lives in so many ways.

“He’s gotten Ryan out more when it comes to crowds,” Alessa said, and Romeo is Kaono’s “sidekick and stress reliever at work.”

When the duo get home, Alessa added, Romeo “is just like any other dog … he loves to play and loves treats, especially ice cream.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Watch Russian tanks cut fruit, dance, and draw pictures

The Russian Army showed off the precision of its tank crews in a bizarre demonstration.

According to Zvezda, the media outlet of the Russian armed forces, T-80 tank crews conducted demonstrations during Army-2019 forum, held near Moscow. One tank crew had a marker attached to its main gun and, with the help of its stabilizer, drew five-sided star on an easel.


“Undeniable proof that American tank crews have been outgunned by their Russian counterparts in arts and crafts,” Rob Lee, a Ph.D. student focused on Russian defense policy, joked on Twitter.

The demonstration also included a fruit-focused portion.

With a knife attached to the tank’s gun, the crew halved a watermelon, sliced through what appears to be a smaller melon, and then, as the finale, chopped an apple in half.

In a nod to the classical Russian arts, two T-80 tanks also “danced” to a piece from Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” a ballet in which a prince falls in love with a woman who is cursed to be a swan during the daytime hours.

According to Zvevda, this exercise was intended to show off the maneuverability of the tanks as they moved in unison in a muddy field.

US forces have also done silly things, although in a less official capacity. In 2017, a Navy fighter pilot drew a penis with contrails from his jet in the sky over Washington state, a stunt for which the flier was disciplined.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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