Over half of NASA's Artemis Team of astronauts have served - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

It’s no surprise that many of NASA’s astronauts have military backgrounds. However, it may come as surprise that one of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis team on December 9, 2020 is a submariner and another is a Navy SEAL. The Artemis program aims to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024. Ten of the astronauts chosen for this historic program have military backgrounds.

Kayla Barron

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Barron graduated from the Naval Academy in 2010 and immediately went to grad school at the University of Cambridge in England as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She graduated with a Master’s in nuclear engineering and joined one of the first groups of female naval officers to serve in the nuclear submarine fleet. After serving aboard the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, USS Maine (SSBN-741), she became the flag aide to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.

Jonny Kim

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

If you haven’t heard of the Navy SEAL, doctor, astronaut, you might be living under a rock. Kim enlisted in the Navy out of high school and went straight from his Hospital Corpsman “A” School to BUD/S. During his time with the teams, Kim completed over 100 combat operations and earned a Silver Star with Combat “V”. He commissioned as an officer through the Navy ROTC program at the University of San Diego with a degree in mathematics. Afterwards, he earned a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.

Raja Chari

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Chari has earned a bachelor’s in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew the F-15E in combat mission over Iraq. Chari has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in the F-15, F-16, F-18, and F-35 fighters. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Chari was an Air Force Colonel select serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.

Matthew Dominick

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Dominick graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in electrical engineering and commissioned as a naval officer in 2005. He served as a naval aviator flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Dominick made two deployments with Strike Fighter Squadron 3 (VFA-143) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Afterwards, he earned a master’s in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G and has contributed to cutting-edge projects like the X-47B and F-35C. Dominick has accumulated over 1,600 flight hours, 400 carrier traps, and 61 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2017.

Victor Glover

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Glover is an experienced naval aviator with 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier traps, and 24 combat missions. He is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force’s Air University, and the Air Force Test Pilot School. In 2013, he was selected for astronaut training while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate. Glover currently serves as the pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched November 15, 2020. He will also serve as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64.

Nicole Mann

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Mann graduated from the Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering and commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 1999. She earned a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2001. Following grad school, she completed TBS at MCB Quantico and flight school at NAS Pensacola. She flew the F/A-18C during combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot. Mann has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft, 200 carrier traps, and 47 combat missions. She is currently training for the crew flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the first crewed flight for the vehicle.

Anne McClain

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

McClain graduated from West Point in 2002 and immediately attended grad school at the University of Bath. She trained on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and went on to earn ratings in the C-12 Huron, UH-60 Blackhawk, and UH-72 Lakota. Over her career, she has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in 20 different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. She was selected from astronaut training in 2013. Most recently, McClain served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 58 and 59.

Jasmin Moghbeli

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Moghbeli commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2005 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from MIT. She has since earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and has graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. She flew the AH-1W Super Cobra in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom and has flown the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters in test and evaluation roles. Moghbeli has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in over 25 different aircraft and more than 150 combat missions. She was selected for astronaut training in 2017.

Frank Rubio

Frank Rubio, Artemis

Rubio is a West Point graduate and Army Blackhawk pilot. He has accumulated over 1,100 flight hours during deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Rubio earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He served as a clinic supervisor, an executive medicine provider and a flight surgeon at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Rubio was serving as the battalion surgeon for the 3rd Battalio, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

Scott Tingle

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)

Tingle earned a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering and worked for three years at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California before commissioning as a naval officer in 1991. In 1998, he graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School and served as an Operational Test Pilot with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program. He flew with Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). The wing was one of the first responders after 9/11 and conducted strikes in Afghanistan in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Tingle has accumulated over 4,500 flight hours in 51 different aircraft, 750 carrier traps, and 54 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2009 and most recently served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 54/55.

“The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration,” said Vice President Mike Pence after announcing the names of the Artemis astronauts, “and that future is bright.” Artemis I is scheduled for 2021 and will be an uncrewed flight test. Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test and is scheduled for 2022.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
(NASA)
MIGHTY CULTURE

Veteran organizations pressuring congress on medical marijuana

Over the last few weeks, U.S. military veterans have been trying to persuade congress to expand VA research into the benefits of medical marijuana.


2019-03-06 Joint HVAC-SVAC Full Committee Hearing: Legislative Presentation of the VFW”

www.youtube.com

The charge for marijuana reform is being led mainly by representatives from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

It’s no secret that veteran issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries have been pushed to the forefront of thought of the general public. Vincent Lawrence, commander-in-chief of VFW, claims that this alone could call for the VA to look into the potential benefits of medical cannabis.

Lawrence went on to say that VA patients who also use marijuana for medical purposes are doing so without regimented care from the VA and therefore it is unregulated. However, he then went on to say, “This is not to say VA providers are opting to ignore this medical treatment, but that there is currently a lack of federal research and understanding of how medical marijuana may or may not treat certain illnesses and injuries, and the way it interacts with other drugs.”

This idea is not revolutionary or specific to the VA, Lawrence continued, “There is currently substantial evidence from a comprehensive study by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academic Press that concludes cannabinoids are effective for treating chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, sleep disturbances related to obstructive sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms, and fibromyalgia –– all of which are prevalent in the veteran population…”

There are already some bills that have been submitted for the advancement of medical marijuana research–such as the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act which would mandate that the VA conduct trials on the effects of medical marijuana for veterans afflicted with PTSD and chronic pain.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A similar piece of legislation was proposed last year but did not pass a floor vote.

Medical marijuana has also been linked to lowering instances of opioid abuse as well. Lawrence even mentions this before congress explaining, “states that have legalized medical cannabis have also seen a 15-35 percent decrease in opioid overdose and abuse.” Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) echoed Lawrence’s statements in support.

The momentum of medical marijuana in the VA is gaining some bipartisan steam, too. Recently, a similar proposal was brought to the floor by the ranking member on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs– Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) when he said, “The VA is where cannabis should be studied[…] Let’s find out the risks, the benefits, the black box warnings and so on. I could not agree more with you there.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)

While it’s clear that there is support for medical marijuana within the structure of VA, there is a long way to go before its application is widespread. The positive links between marijuana for medical purposes and veterans dealing with afflictions derived from service are apparent and numbered–and congress is starting to take notice.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Green Berets head ‘into thin air,’ training for mountain warfare in Nepal’s legendary Himalayan Peaks

The Army’s Green Berets need mountain warfare training — and what better place to do it than on the so-called roof of the world?

About the size of the US state of Georgia, Nepal is wedged between India and China along the length of the Himalayan mountain range. The mountain kingdom is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including 29,029-foot Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. For two 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets, this was the perfect turf on which to hone their mountain warfare prowess.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
Two 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) Green Berets stand along with their course mates and instructors atop Thorang Peak during the culminating exercise for the Nepali Army’s High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School in Nepal, October 2020. US Army courtesy photo via DVIDS.

In September and October, the pair of Special Forces soldiers spent six weeks with the Nepali Army High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School (HAMWS), training on all sorts of hard-charging mountain warfare skills, including ascending and descending techniques, survival and rescue techniques, the use of special equipment, and cliff assault tactics.

And for the pièce de résistance, the Green Berets put their new skills and equipment to the test scaling Thorang Peak, a 20,200-foot mountain. At that altitude, there’s roughly half as much air pressure — and half as much oxygen — as at sea level.

“Marrying a deep expertise in mountain warfare tactics and mountaineering techniques with breathtaking terrain, the program succeeded in not only sharpening our capabilities but in forging strong bonds between new friends,” a detachment commander from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) said, according to a Department of Defense release.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
Green Berets with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), navigate difficult terrain during the Nepali Army’s High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School in Nepal, October 2020. US Army courtesy photo via DVIDS.

Nepal has more than 13,000 peaks higher than 6,000 meters, or about 19,700 feet. (Alaska’s Denali, the highest mountain in North America, is 20,310 feet high.) For the past 30 years, the Nepali Army’s HAMWS has hosted some 16 foreign students from 23 participating countries. This year, four total students from the US, Pakistan, and Bangladesh participated.

US Special Operations forces have trained in Nepal for years — including parachute jumps in the shadow of Mount Everest in the country’s Khumbu region.

It was on one of those deployments when disaster struck.

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated much of Nepal’s Himalayan landscape, killing about 9,000 people. Ancient monuments in the capital city of Kathmandu were turned to rubble. A massive avalanche at Mount Everest base camp killed 24 people, National Geographic reported.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
A Green Beret with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) scales a wall using mountaineering techniques taught at the Nepali Army’s High Altitude and Mountain Warfare School in Nepal, October 2020. US Army courtesy photo via DVIDS.

After the 2015 earthquake, the deployed Army Green Berets ditched their training and went into real-world search and rescue mode. Among other efforts, they performed a helicopter rescue mission in the Himalayas, saving 30 stranded trekkers, including an American named Corey Ascolani.

US military personnel traveled to Nepal in 2017 for a humanitarian aid mission called Pacific Angel 17-4.

The US has another, more clandestine military connection to Nepal, dating back to the Cold War when the CIA supported Tibetan guerrillas based in Nepal’s Mustang region. Known as the Chushi Gangdruk, the CIA-backed irregular Tibetan force conducted cross-border raids against Chinese forces inside Tibet — a lingering point of contention between Beijing and Washington.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

In the era of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, training was frequent and necessary in order to maintain the level of combat readiness required to sustain and prevail in battle. While times have changed, our Operational Tempo (Optempo) has not.


The number of troops needed in combat zones has decreased significantly. The amount of funds needed to maintain those combat zones has decreased as well. Funds have been redirected to modernize equipment, further training and have helped our forces remain relevant and vigilant. But what is this current wartime Optempo and Personnel Tempo (Perstempo) doing to our troops and our families?

How much is it really costing us?

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Their lives

Since 2001, more than 6,000 U.S. service members and DOD civilians have lost their lives. Of that, over 5,000 were KIA. Even more staggering is the number of wounded in action (WIA) since then. At least 50,000 service members have been wounded in action (DOD 2019). Since the wars began in 2001, the United States has spent 0.4 billion dollars on medical care and disability benefits.

This is only the beginning of medical care for wounded troops.

According to Costs of War, the financial costs of medical care usually peaks 30 to 40 years after the initial conflict (Bilmes, et al. 2015). In a study, it shows that although veteran suicide rates have recently decreased in numbers, the rate of suicide of military members versus civilians is still substantially higher, and ever-increasing. Furthermore, the number of veterans who use VHA versus those who don’t also, have a higher rate of suicide (DVA 2018). The toll this is taking on military families is creating unsalvageable relationships, emotional distress for children, and, ultimately, lives that are forever lost.

Their families

At the start of the war in 2001, Perstempo policies have been disregarded by many. According to the GAO:

DOD has maintained the waiver of statutory Perstempo thresholds since 2001, and officials have cited the effect of the high pace of operations and training on service members; however, DOD has not taken action to focus attention on the management of Perstempo thresholds within the services and department-wide (GAO 2018).

Is there a lack of genuine concern for family stability and well-being? Understanding the expectation of family interaction would decrease during wartime, once the service member has completed their deployment, reintegration, and revitalization of the home and family must take place. Families have been neglected and left without the proper resources to cultivate a healthy family environment. The concern for service member readiness has been an on-going issue in recent years. Studies have been conducted, and programs implemented, but is that enough?

Marital issues have often been associated with Perstempo, such as length of partner separation, infidelity during separation, and other challenges encompassed in a military marriage. The stress on the family of a service member is immeasurable; oftentimes, even discounted in comparison to the stress the service member endures. Support or resources for military spouses seeking separation or divorce are nearly nonexistent. They have been conditioned to believe that the well being of their soldiers comes before their own.

Military spouses sacrifice their academic achievements and employment opportunities in support of their service member’s careers. As the budget cuts roll out for the fiscal year, more much-needed family programs are becoming extinct. Programs that provide support for spousal employment, childcare, and leisure activities are being defunded, which can destabilize already struggling families.

Child and domestic abuse are an ever-growing concern within a community that is known for its patriotism and heroism. The families suffer in silence. Surviving recurrent deployments, solo parenting, housing issues, and the lack of program funding, the plight of the military family continues to decrease soldier readiness and morale.

Their mental well-being

The rate of PTSD and mental health diagnoses is on the rise for both service members and their families. However, services providing support and medical care for these issues have declined. The effect of time away from children has taken a toll on military children.

Neglect, abuse, and mental health issues are being ignored due to a lack of care. Some military installations cannot provide adequate mental health care because of their remote locations, and the costs to contract providers are often more than the proposed budgets allow. Because of this, the family’s needs go unmet.

With orders coming down the wire, Command Teams are obligated to carry out relentless training exercises, and soldiers are feeling the burn. Everyone is exhausted, each soldier doing the job of three, and families are becoming isolated. They lack sleep and proper nutrition, putting them at greater risk of making mistakes during training that may cost them their lives, but the soldiers march on.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

The way forward

Repairing family units are necessary for the success of soldier readiness. Programs and support for families should not be cut. Revisions of budget direction may be necessary in order to tailor programs in a way that both benefits the government and the well-being of the service member and their families.

Allow soldiers to receive mental health care without fear of retaliation or loss of career. Provide structured support programs for spouses that go beyond counseling. Long term care is necessary for service members and families upon redeployment. Taking a true interest in supporting our military members and families should be the priority for our Department of Defense. We are fighting wars but not fighting for our families. Cultivate strength by improving the quality of life for everyone.

MIGHTY CULTURE

USAA helps military “get inside” Petco Park & offers discounted MLB.TV subscriptions

Opening Day is quickly approaching! The San Diego Padres and USAA, the Official Military Appreciation Partner of the Padres, are honoring the military community all season long with two key initiatives:


35% off MLB.TV Subscriptions

To thank military, veterans and their families for their service, USAA has teamed up with the Padres to offer a 35% discount on MLB.TV subscriptions for this season. The discount is available for all tiers of MLB.TV and online authentication verification by GovX is required. To purchase your subscription, please visit Padres.com/USAA.

Military Padres Fans Cutouts

USAA is helping military Padres fans “get inside” Petco Park this season, via fan cutouts that will appear in seats all season long. Military and veterans were invited to upload a headshot photo of themselves in Padres or military themed gear. This free experience courtesy of USAA was fulfilled within minutes of being released. The military fan cutouts will be placed within “USAA’s Military Appreciation Section” – Section 325.

In 1995, the Padres were the first professional sports team to have a Military Affairs department, and since have been recognized as ‘The Team of the Military’ throughout professional sports. For more than two decades, the Padres have looked for ways to recognize and honor the men and women who serve. The Padres efforts in recent years have expanded to include First Responders under a broader ‘Those Who Serve’ initiative, paying respect to the sacrifices made by Americans who provide us the freedom and safety we enjoy.

Support for ‘Those Who Serve’ has become one of the signature identities for the Padres, continuously striving to deliver a best-in-class program.

The Padres and USAA thank the military and their families for their service and offer special pricing on Padres tickets

For more information on how USAA and the Padres honor the military community, please visit padres.com/military.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are the major lessons I learned from carrying the M27

Following the rulebook isn’t always a necessity. Well, that’s how the Marine Corps infantry feels about doctrine, anyway. Sure, there are hundreds of people who put their great minds together to come up with standard procedures for everything relating to warfare, but even still, us grunts take those “procedures” as suggestions. Why? Simple. We recognize that what may work for one unit doesn’t work for everyone.

This is the case with the fire team billet of “automatic rifleman.” The position is supposed to be held by the team leader’s second in command, usually a trusted advisor who can help run the team. But, over the years, Marines thought of a better person to hold the billet: boots. New guys. The FNGs. While some higher-ups might see this as hazing, the down-and-dirty, crayon-eating grunts disagree.

We argue that being an automatic rifleman teaches you these valuable lessons:


Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Accuracy is key. Pay attention and you might even score higher on the next qualification range.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

Accuracy

Some battalions have what’s called a “Squad-Level Advanced Marksmanship Course,” which is a fancy, Marine Corps way of saying, “automatic rifleman course.” That’s essentially what it is. But the focus is, as the name suggests, on marksmanship. Why? Because to be a good automatic rifleman, you must first be a good rifleman.

Learning how to engage accurately with an automatic weapon also teaches you how to be a substantially more effective rifleman. After all, you’re firing a high volume of bullets and, the more accurate you are, the more devastating to the enemy you are.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

You’ll want to let the rounds fly, but each one is important. Always be mindful of that.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)

Ammo conservation

It’s no secret that you get a lot of ammo as an automatic rifleman — around 18-22 magazines, to be exact, most of which you’ll be responsible for lugging around. But while learning about accuracy, you might also learn about conserving ammo.

The idea is this: You need to have enough ammo at the end of the fight to move on to the next fight. Especially if you’re the automatic rifleman, your fire team needs you.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

This lesson of control can even help you as a leader, telling your automatic rifleman what you want them to do.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aaron Henson)

Control

Quickly, you’ll learn that an automatic rifleman shouldn’t just unleash a barrage of bullets. You’ll learn when it’s appropriate to fire on full auto and when it’s appropriate to fire in 5-6 round bursts into large groups of enemies. This is important because, as you move up in rank and experience, you’ll be able to teach the next automatic rifleman about control.

This same control will help you with ammo conservation. More importantly, all these lessons will follow you into other fire team positions. In fact, if you become a squad leader, knowing how to use your automatic riflemen will be easier if you’ve been one.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Sergeant Major of the Army turns to Instagram to improve command climate, meme pages respond

As 2020 came to an end, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston reached out on Instagram for help improving leadership and morale going forward.

“Seeing a lot of pages on here that don’t seem to think we are talking to or actually caring about our Soldiers. Here are the core tenets of This Is My Squad – have been since Spring 2019. These are what we’re asking JR Leaders to do. I’m open to the feedback on what we’re missing … you can be part of the solution.”

The post attracted hundreds of comments, many of them from popular military meme pages.

“When we look at how soldiers get information, I have to meet them where they are,” Grinston told Coffee or Die Magazine through email. “The internet flattens communication in a way we’ve never seen before. Official communication channels are still important, but social media offers another venue to hear what is important to Soldiers.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Responses to Grinston’s experiment ranged from positive and productive to comical and cynical.

“The issues in the Army today aren’t from the squad level,” a retired senior NCO wrote in one comment. “Hold Bn and Brigade level leaders accountable. That will inspire and empower squads and teams. Not a slide on just being a good dude.”

The wildly popular meme page tiktokbootz wrote, “Why is tiktok making not included here.”

“Next time,” Grinston responded.

As the conversation continued through the weekend and spilled over into follow-up posts, several topics stood out in the comments: destigmatizing behavioral health, improving leadership and morale, and suicide prevention.

“This weekend, I took a big gamble and called the milMeme community to the carpet,” Grinston wrote in a follow-up post Jan. 2. “What they brought was possibly one of the best command climate surveys you’ll get all year. If you’re in charge of Soldiers, you owe it to yourself to take a look through the comments and apply it to your formation.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

One commenter said the “alarming rate of suicides” at his unit were being “swept under the rug.”

“Leaders that actually care, can’t fix the issues,” he wrote. “They have their hands tied or are blocked out by caustic leadership […] that only care about the mission. The OP tempo is so constant and without pause that soldiers in the formation turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Any of your Junior NCO’s or E6’s that attempt to call it out openly are blacklisted and their progression halted. It’s what continues to force your good leaders out. They realize they cannot fix the formation […] That is why they turn here. There is, across Instagram, a fantastic source of leadership that comes here to vent. These men and women are who we need to stay in.”

The soldier behind the Hunter Seven Foundation Instagram page told Coffee or Die Magazine that the Army has a serious suicide problem that requires Grinston and Army leaders to “take command from the front and lead by example.” He said the conversations happening on Instagram are often more valuable than traditional surveys and communications about improving command climate and leadership.

“In the annual January briefings, we’ll hear all about ‘safety this and that’ and ‘say no to drugs’ and suicide awareness,” he said. “And then a month later during workup, your command turns a blind eye to your drinking problem and serious steroid use and doesn’t want to hear about your divorce and two kids and nightmares. And if the command does hear about it, they’ll yank you from your team. So yeah, this is extremely valuable.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston speaks at media briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, DC, Oct. 13, 2020. Photo by Lisa Ferdinando/Department of Defense.

One commenter suggested implementing a system by which leaders could be rated by their subordinates and that input be included in performance reports.

“The Army likes to talk about servant leadership, but when it’s time for leaders to get their grade, the very people who they are in charge of don’t have any input,” Patrolbasehero wrote. “I think it would help the culture of leaders continually looking up without realizing what (their Soldiers) they are standing on.”

Another post said soldiers should be able to seek behavioral health services and not be vilified for it.

“You shouldn’t have to suffer in silence until you break,” it said. “Leadership HAS to be better.”

In one follow-up post promoting the value of behavioral health services, Grinston posted, “Things can’t change until the stigma does. When you’re ready to talk, reach out. It’s a very small step, but the link in the bio will get you to a counselor for free. If you’re a leader and you think this makes your people weaker, go ahead and DM me.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

The Hunter Seven Foundation page commented, “THATS WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT SMA! Creating change, curving the stigma from the top down.”

“I think this type of engagement is valuable because there’s no repercussions because it’s anonymous,” the soldier behind Hunter Seven’s page said. “No one wants to be the guy known for calling bullshit. Sadly, the command climate frowns upon that. So if literal meme pages need to bog down the sergeant major of the Army’s account to get a response, I mean, strength in numbers. I know a lot of the guys behind these meme pages that have been interacting with the SMA, and they are solid men — operators who have really been there and done that. Most are senior NCOs or E-6 or E-7. Our NCO backbone is jammed between a rock and a wall.”

Grinston said he prefers to go out and talk to soldiers in person, but between the COVID-19 environment and time constraints, social media gives him more ways to listen and interact.

“I think the volume of messages we received showed that people were willing to share,” Grinston said. “There were a number of valid concerns they’d like addressed, and we’re working to address actionable items and identify where leadership may be able to provide support.”    

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston and New Zealand Army Sgt. Thomas Grant, New Zealand soldier of the year, sit on a panel July 10 in Auckland, New Zealand. Grant interviewed Grinston on professional development, personal insights and life advice. Photo by Staff Sgt. Monik Phan.

The follow-up post Grinston shared Jan. 2 was a screen grab of a comment from an active-duty senior NCO:

“WE NEED SUPPORT AND EMPOWERMENT […] I am charging all SGMs out there to truly dig into their formations and reengage back to their commanders to FIGHT for the very best of what the soldiers and people deserve. Be a voice for those at the bottom, FIGHT for them until you’re blue in the face and have ALL your 1SGs standing behind you to take up the filibuster.”

Grinston expressed his full support for the comment. “Our Soldiers are speaking,” he wrote. “LEADERS, the ball is in our court.”

He told Coffee or Die the overwhelming response he received on Instagram shows that social media is a valuable space to engage with soldiers and that leaders should be present on digital platforms.

“Soldiers want to see their leaders advocating and fighting for them,” he said. “And those first sergeants and command sergeants major have to be able to give NCOs time and space to operate and then have their backs when they take an action. I hope that being present and engaging people to hear from them will go a long way to show that Army leaders do care and are working to address legitimate concerns. I’m listening and taking action where I can, and leaders at every level, from team leader to the Sergeant Major of the Army owe that to our Soldiers.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 missions of the military working dog

“The relationship between a military working dog and a military dog handler is about as close as a man and dog can become. You see this loyalty, a devotion unlike any other, and the protectiveness.”
– Robert Crais


The United States military has utilized working dogs since the Revolutionary war. They were originally used as pack animals, carrying as much as forty pounds of supplies between units, including food, guns and ammo. Then during World War I, they were used for more innovative purposes, like killing rats in the trenches. However, it was during World War II that there was a surge in the use of military working dogs. The U.S. military deployed more than 10,000 working dogs throughout WWII. These specially trained dogs were used as sentries, scouts, messengers, and mine detectors. It is estimated that there are approximately 2,300 military working dogs deployed worldwide today.

The military working dogs of today are utilized in many different missions and specialties. After intensive training, each dog is then assigned to a specific specialty based on their strengths and abilities. Once the military working dogs are assigned their specialty, they are shipped out to military installations worldwide.

A few of the possible specialties these dogs can be selected for are:

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Sentry dogs

Sentry dogs are trained to warn their handlers with a growl, bark, or other alert when danger or strangers are nearby. These dogs are valuable assets, especially for working in the dark when attacks from the rear or from cover are the most likely. Sentry dogs are often used on patrols, as well as guarding supply dumps, airports, war plants and other vital installations.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Scout/Patrol dogs

Scout and patrol dogs are trained with the same skills that sentry dogs are. However, in addition, these dogs are trained to work in silence. Their job is to aid in the detection of ambushes, snipers, and other enemy forces. These particular dogs are somewhat elite among the military working dogs, because only dogs with both superior intelligence and a quiet disposition can be selected for this specialty. Scout and patrol dogs are generally sent out with their handlers to walk point during combat patrols, well ahead of the Infantry patrol.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Casualty dogs

Casualty dogs are trained in much the same way search and rescue dogs are. They are utilized to search for and report casualties in obscure areas, and casualties who are difficult for parties to locate. The time these dogs save in finding severely injured persons can often mean the difference between life and death.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Explosive detection

With the current war on terrorism, explosives hidden on a person, in a vehicle, or in a roadside location is a common threat. Explosive detection dogs are trained to alert their handlers to the scent of the chemicals that are commonly used in explosives. These dogs have such a superior sense of smell that it is nearly impossible to package explosives in a way that they cannot detect.

No matter what their specialty or their mission, the reality is these highly trained K9s are an invaluable part of today’s military. There has yet to be a technology created that can match the ability and heart that military working dogs sustain every day. These dogs are the unsung heroes of the U.S. military, and it is only in recent years that there has been a movement to make sure they are given the appreciation and benefits they deserve. There is constant research going into the best ways to protect them in combat. And along with a push to make K9 Veterans Day an official holiday, there is also a movement to make sure these four-legged heroes are taken care of when their time in service comes to an end.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Congress fixes ‘unfair’ rule that stopped service members from suing for damages

Members of the military who have long been barred by law from collecting damages from the federal government for injuries off the battlefield will finally be able to do so after Congress stepped in to amend the law.


The legislation represents progress for injured service members – but still limits who among them may press for damages.

Up until the end of World War II, the U.S. government enjoyed “sovereign immunity,” a vestige of British rule when “the king could do no wrong” and the government could not be sued.

But in 1946, faced with the prospect of World War II veterans returning from the front only to be hit and killed in an accident on base, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress felt that it was only fair to allow people to recover damages for personal injury from the government when the government was negligent or irresponsible about caring for people’s safety.

There were exceptions. Certainly Congress could not allow a soldier – or his family – to sue the government if, due to the orders of a superior officer, he were wounded or killed in battle. So the Federal Tort Claims Act prohibited suits by soldiers or sailors injured due to wartime combatant activities.

But later rulings limited servicemembers’ rights even more, in ways not suggested by the language of the act.

The first of these was a case filed by the surviving family members of a soldier. Lt. Rudolph Feres was a decorated World War II veteran who had parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He survived that battle and others through the end of the war only to return to the U.S. and die in a barracks fire caused, according to his wife, by the explosion of a boiler known to be faulty.

Feres’ widow also claimed that no fire guard had been posted on the fateful night. Joined to the case were two soldiers who claimed malpractice by army surgeons.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

upload.wikimedia.org

The court decided that the existing benefits scheme for military deaths and injuries was ample and denied the claims. To the further chagrin of the Feres family, the controversial ruling took on the name the “Feres Doctrine.”

Cases sustaining Feres expressed the concern that allowing civilian courts to intervene in cases of this type would interfere with military discipline. Thus, the court declared that soldiers could not sue the government for damages for negligently caused injuries “incident to service,” even if they did not involve combat.

Later suits building on Feres limited soldiers’ rights even more – barring claims by a soldier allegedly raped by her drill sergeant and by members of the military harmed by their exposure to nuclear testing and the defoliant chemical Agent Orange.

Questionable doctrine survives

All of these rulings meant that anyone who had the misfortune of getting hurt while on active duty, even if it wasn’t in combat, could never sue for damages – while if the same person had gotten hurt on the job as a civilian, they would have had that right.

This disfavored treatment for servicemen was underscored in the aftermath of the space shuttle Challenger explosion, during which families of civilian crew members were able to file lawsuits against the government, but the family of the pilot who was a Navy captain on active duty could not.

The Feres Doctrine were therefore seen by many as unfair. Others, like the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, criticized Feres because of its departure from the plain language of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which limits the exclusion to wartime “combatant activities.” Still others believe that Feres fails to hold the military accountable for the kind of mistakes for which others are required to pay damages.

The Feres Doctrine nevertheless has continued to hold sway, with the Supreme Court refusing to reconsider the doctrine as recently as May 2019. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent from the court’s denial of certiorari in that case, Daniel v. United States, paraphrased Justice Scalia in stating that “Feres was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the widespread, almost universal criticism it has received.”

In 1950, speaking for the Supreme Court in the Feres case, Justice Robert Jackson admitted, “If we misinterpret the Act, at least Congress possesses a ready remedy.” That “ready remedy” finally came almost seventy years later, due to the persistence of a soldier suffering from terminal cancer.

Green Beret goes to Congress

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal is a former Green Beret and wounded Iraq veteran whose military health providers missed a 3-centimeter mass in one of his lungs on a CT scan.

After military physicians repeatedly attributed his health problems to asthma or pneumonia, Sgt. Stayskal learned from a civilian pulmonologist that he actually had stage 4 lung cancer. Sgt. Stayskal continues to receive treatment for his cancer, although he says it is deemed incurable.

But Sgt. Stayskal was barred by Feres from pursuing a malpractice case in court.

So Stayskal enlisted the support of California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat, who introduced a bill to allow current and former service personnel to bring medical malpractice claims against government health providers.

A compromise version of the bill was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020. Adding the bill into a “must-pass” piece of defense legislation assured its passage. It was passed by both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. President Trump signed the measure into law on Dec. 20, 2019.

Cup only half-full

The new law does not cover everyone. A lawsuit like the original Feres case, by the survivors of someone who perished in a barracks fire, would still not be allowed. That’s because the legislation only allows claims by those who allege to have been victims of medical malpractice by military health care providers.

And claims cannot be brought in federal court, as is normally the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Rather, they must be pursued through a Defense Department administrative procedure under regulations that the Department of Defense is required to draft.

While Rep. Speier still thinks that military claimants “deserve their day in federal court,” this would not be the first time a legislature provided a remedy for personal injury through an administrative process outside the courts. Workers’ compensation and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund are examples of the use of administrative processes to determine compensation for injury.

Research suggests that most claimants don’t care whether their cases are decided through a court, an administrative procedure or even mediation. Rather, they care about having a respectful hearing in which a third party has carefully considered their views, concerns and evidence.

Those who worked to pass this legislation will likely scrutinize the Defense Department’s regulations and procedures to see whether such a forum has been provided.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US snipers train with ally to sharpen shooting skills

The art of sniping is more than just proper cover, concealment and sight alignment; it demands vigilant situational awareness, flawless timing and solid arithmetic skills.

U.S. soldiers had a five-day Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) with Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) snipers at a base outside of Amman, Jordan, in October 2019. The Military Engagement Team-Jordan (MET-J), 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard; in collaboration with Jordan Operational Engagement Program (JOEP) soldiers; 1st Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Regiment, 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division, New Jersey National Guard.


“As a group, we [MET-J, JOEP] were able to collaborate and come up with a good exchange,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Johnny Vidrio, with MET-J, 158th MEB, AZANG, “The sniper field is a perishable skill so you have to use it a lot to retain it. We are working with the JAF to keep our exchanges going.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A U.S. Army soldier, with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, adjusts the scope of a Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) snipers’ rifle during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

Snipers are known for their specialization in shooting targets from long-range distances with a modified weapon, as well as their reconnaissance abilities. Vidrio, who served as the Sniper SMEE team lead, has more than 20 years’ experience with various weapons systems through his civilian and military occupations.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A U.S. Army Soldier, with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, discusses a mathematical equation with Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) Soldiers during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

Vidrio explained how the MET-J shared information on how the U.S. Army executes sniper tasks and in turn, the Jordanians shared their way of doing the same task. The exchange not only reviewed basic sniper skills but incorporated different approaches to instruct the material to other soldiers. The two nations were able to work through the Jordanians’ Basic Sniper Manuel which provided a platform for the Jordanian snipers to hone their basic skills and enhance their teaching techniques.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A rifle faces downrange during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange between Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, and the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

“The more you teach with a group, the more comfortable you will feel teaching by yourself,” explained Vidrio, “That’s what we were doing, helping them feel comfortable about teaching.”

MET-J facilitates and conducts military-to-military engagements with regional partners within the U.S. Army Central area of responsibility in order to build military partner capability and capacity, enhance interoperability and build relationships.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) sniper looks downrange through a tactical monocular during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

Areas covered during the Sniper SMEE included setting up a comfortable firing position, weapons maintenance, correcting malfunctions, zeroing and determining wind values, to name a few. The snipers discussed how half value, full value, tail and headwinds affect the drift of a bullet. They examined techniques to find the directional movement of wind, such as observing the path of dust, smoke, trash or mirage waves, that are near an intended target. Target range estimation was calculated through a mathematical equation, but each nation used a different formula.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) snipers practice setting up firing positions during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

“They [JAF] have a different calculation for range estimation, this was new to American snipers,” said Vidrio “We learned a whole new way of estimating distance and ranges.”

SMEEs allow open information flow and an opportunity for coalition soldiers to work together, learn and grow from one another, which is beneficial to both counties. The United States is committed to the security of Jordan and to partnering closely with the JAF to meet common security challenges.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) snipers hold certificates of appreciation given to them by U.S. Army Soldiers after the completion of a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

One soldier who expressed favor in ongoing SMEEs with U.S. Army was JAF Sgt. 1st Class Ghareeb Alaomary, sniper instructor and logistics coordinator. He too specifically found value in the transfer of knowledge with the arithmetical equation calculations for target distance and range. “The mathematic equation formulas given [by the U.S.] were new information for us,” explained Alaomary, “It added to their [JAF snipers] knowledge to help make more accurate calculations.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) snipers pose for a photo after the completion of a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange with Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard, at Joint Training Center-Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

According to Alaomary, the exchange between the two countries was engaging and an abundance of wisdom was shared, which resulted in a successful exchange. They plan to take the knowledge gained through the Sniper SMEE back to their individual units to cross-train with their comrades.

“I would like to give a special thanks for the effort you [U.S. Army] have dedicated to the students and the valuable information you have provided,” said Alaomary.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

A U.S. Army Soldier, with 1st Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Regiment, 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 42nd Infantry Division, New Jersey National Guard, looks downrange through a tactical monocular during a Sniper Subject Matter Expert Exchange between the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) and Military Engagement Team-Jordan, 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Arizona Army National Guard at a base outside of Amman, Jordan in October 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla B. Hakeem)

The U.S. military has a long-standing relationship with Jordan to support our mutual objectives by providing military assistance to the JAF consistent with our national interests. Our people and governments have a historic, unbreakable, strategic relationship that spans decades and different administrations. Jordan is not only one of the United States’ closest allies in the region but in the world as a whole. This isn’t going to change.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

popular

Women in the military: Making waves since WWI

The history and role of military women throughout the years is fascinating. Dive in and take a look back at the role women have played in the U.S. military from WWI to the present day.


World War I

Many people know that women were part of WWI, but did you know about the women who worked as switchboard operators? The Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit had to be bilingual, speaking in both French and English to ensure orders were heard by everyone. Over 7,000 women applied, but only 450 were accepted and even though they wore Army Uniforms and were subject to Army Regulations they were not given honorable discharges. Grace Banker was one of these women. She led a team of 38 women and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for her service.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

World War II

During WWII, over 350,000 women served in the U.S. Armed Forces. And while many women worked as nurses, secretaries and telephone operators, there were several other jobs that women filled. The two most influential groups were the Women Armed Service Pilots (WASP) and Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES)

Women Armed Service Pilots (WASP)

Women were called up to serve as pilots during World War II to allow men to serve on the front lines overseas. While these women were promised military status, they joined before the final law was passed and, in the end, served as civilians and were not given veteran status until years later. During the time of the program, WASP flew over 60 million miles, transported every type of military aircraft, towed targets for live anti-aircraft training, simulated missions and transported cargo.

Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES)

This program authorized the U.S. Navy to accept women into the Naval Reserve as commissioned officers and enlisted troops. The purpose of the legislation was to release officers and men for sea duty and replace them with women on shore establishments. The first director of the WAVES was Mildred H. McAfee. The WAVES served at 900 stations in the U.S. The WAVES peak strength was 86,291 members. Many female officers entered fields previously held by men, such as engineering and medicine. Enlisted women served in jobs from clerical to parachute riggers.

In 1948, the role and future of military women changed. The Women’s Armed Forces Integration Act of 1948 granted women permanent status in the Regular and Reserve forces of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and newly created Air Force.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Korean War

The Korean War marked a turning point for women’s advancement in the armed forces. While we typically think of Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) from Vietnam, they actually got their start in Korea. The first one was led by Margaret (Zane) Fleming and 12 other Army nurses. This role put the nurses much closer to the front lines and direct combat than anyone had anticipated. On Oct 9, 1950, while moving from Inchon to Pusan they came under attack. They hid in a ditch and helped treat the wounded. Because they all survived the attack, they began calling themselves “The Lucky Thirteen.”

While over a third of women serving were in the medical career field, women served as administrative assistants, stenographers, translators and more. Additionally, the first female chaplains and civil engineers served in the Korean War.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Vietnam War

Approximately 11,000 women served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Nearly 90 percent of these women were nurses. They were an all-volunteer force and arrived in Vietnam as early as 1956. Other women served as physicians, air traffic controllers, intelligence officers, clerks and more. Master Sergeant Barbara Jean Dulinsky was the first female Marine to serve in a combat zone in 1967. Five Navy nurses were awarded the Purple Heart after they were injured in a Viet Cong bombing of an officer’s billet in downtown Saigon on Christmas Eve 1964. They were the first female members to receive that award during the Vietnam War. Commander Elizabeth Barrett in November of 1972, became the first female naval line officer to hold command in a combat zone.

The first female Marine promoted to Sergeant Major was Bertha Peters Billeb. She was the first woman to become the Sergeant Major of female Marines. It was a billet similar in duties and responsibilities to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. Six women would fill this position until it was eliminated in 1977.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Desert Storm/Shield

In Desert Storm, the role and influence of women in the military had integrated into almost every military unit. Over 40,000 women deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, with 15 women killed in action and two women taken prisoner by Iraqi forces. Although women were restricted from combat, a new frontier for women was established as the lines of combat began to blur. Congress began rescinding the statutory restrictions which barred women from combat aircraft and vessels. It was a key step in shaping female service in the military today.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had dramatic impacts on female military service today. The military has continued to rely on women service members as the front lines of battle have been eliminated; fighting a war that relies on Improvised Explosive Devices, and surprise attacks both on and off base. But the military has realized the value of women on the battlefield, and began creating teams that partner with military infantry units, such as Team Lioness and Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which eventually paved the way for Female Engagement Teams.

In 2016, after years of women proving their capabilities on the battlefield all jobs were opened to women. Although women have been serving on the front lines of war for decades the regulations preventing women from serving in career fields that were held historically by men were finally rescinded. Since then we have seen women sign up for and complete the rigorous training programs required to serve in some of the most elite military groups.

Women have proven their willingness to answer the nation’s call and take on new roles at each challenge. Where will they go next?

MIGHTY CULTURE

Green Beret to receive Medal of Honor for actions in Battle of Shok Valley

More than a decade ago, Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams earned the Silver Star Medal for saving several of his Special Forces comrades during an hours-long mountainside firefight in Afghanistan.

This week, the Green Beret will see that decoration upgraded to the highest level — the Medal of Honor.

Williams was born Oct. 3, 1981, and spent most of his childhood in the small town of Boerne, Texas. He initially wanted to be a detective or work for the FBI when he grew up, so he got his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.


But after 9/11, Williams started rethinking how he could serve his country. He did some research into Special Forces programs and, in September 2005, joined the Army. Two years later, he became a weapons sergeant — someone who knows U.S. and foreign weaponry well and often goes behind enemy lines to help friendly forces train and recruit.

On April 6, 2008, then-Sgt. Williams was on his first deployment with several other Special Forces operators for Operation Commando Wrath, a mission to capture or kill high-value targets in Afghanistan’s Shok Valley.

His team and about 100 Afghan commandos were dropped into the mountainous area by helicopter. As the leading edge of the group began moving up a jagged mountainside, insurgents started attacking from above.

“It was kind of quiet, then all of a sudden everything exploded all at once,” Williams later explained in an interview. “[The insurgents] had some pretty good shooters, and a lot of people up there waiting for us.”

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A map pinpoints the Operation Commando Wrath insertion point in Shok Valley, April 6, 2008.

(Army graphic)

The part of the group under attack, which included the ground commander, was trapped. Meanwhile, Williams and the rest of the team had trailed behind at the bottom of the mountain, and they were forced to take cover while trying to fight back.

When Williams got word that some in the group ahead of him were injured and close to being overrun, he gathered several of the commandos.

He led them across a 100-meter valley of ice-covered boulders and through a fast-moving, waist-deep river on a rescue mission up the mountain. When they got to the forward group, the Afghan forces kept the insurgents at bay while the Americans figured out their next move.

“I went about halfway down, called a couple more of our guys and asked them to bring more commandos up so we could basically make a chain to pass these casualties down, because they were going to be on litters (stretchers),” Williams said.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Army Sgt. Matthew Williams and other team members assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group pose for a photograph as they to be picked up by a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan in late spring 2007.

(Photo by Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams)

As they were setting up, another soldier was hit by sniper fire. Williams braved the enemy onslaught to give him first aid, get him on his feet, and help him climb down the mountain.

Williams then fought his way back up to the top to bring the rest of the endangered men down.

“I knew we couldn’t go up the same way we’d gone other times because it had been getting pretty heavy fire,” Williams said. “There was a cliff face that went around to a little outcropping. I saw that if we could scale that, we could get onto this outcropping, and we’d be able to come up from behind where those other guys were.”

It was a near-vertical, 60-foot mountain.

When Williams and others made it back to the top, he killed several insurgents and helped get communications back up and running. Then, still under fire, he went back to moving the wounded men down the mountainside to a little house they were using as their casualty collection point.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Army Sgt. Matthew Williams, assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, conducts long-range weapons training at Camp Morehead, Afghanistan, during the fall of 2009.

(Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams)

But they still weren’t safe; insurgents were threatening that position, too. So, over the next several hours, Williams led the Afghan commandos on another counterattack against more than 200 insurgents, keeping the enemy at bay until helicopters were able to fly in and evacuate the wounded.

“They were taking fire the whole entire time,” Williams said of the helicopter crews. “They were awesome pilots. They saved the day, really.”

Williams helped load the wounded men into the helicopters, then continued to direct fire to quell the enemy attack. That gave the rescue patrol time to move out without any further casualties.

The whole ordeal lasted more than six hours. Thankfully, no American service members were killed.

“That day was one of the worst predicaments of my life,” Williams said. “But the experience from that has helped me through my whole entire career — remain level-headed and focus on what needs to happen as opposed to what is happening.”

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Army Sgt. Matthew Williams poses for a photo with his operational detachment’s interpreter in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in the spring of 2007.

(Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams)

Earning accolades

Several months later, for his amazing leadership under fire, Williams and nine of the men with him during that mission each received Silver Stars. Now, his decoration is being upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He’ll receive the award Oct. 30, 2019, in a ceremony at the White House.

“I think it’s an honor for me to receive this on behalf of the Special Forces regiment, hopefully representing them in a positive manner and helping get the story out about what it is that we’re actually doing and what Green Berets are capable of, ” Williams said.

Williams is the second member of his detachment to receive the nation’s highest honor for this operation. Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II received it a year ago.

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Williams poses with his wife, Kate, just before they attend a friend’s wedding in October 2013.

(Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams)

After his 2008 deployment, Williams went home and met his wife, Kate. They had a son. Williams has deployed five times since then and has done several extended training rotations in the field.

The family lives at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where Williams continues his role in the Special Forces. He said he’s hoping to keep that up, even with the notoriety that comes with being a Medal of Honor recipient.

This article originally appeared on Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Air Force’s ‘Dirt Boyz’ keep bases working and jets soaring

Continuously working out in the sweltering Arizona heat, pouring concrete and maintaining the flight line, the airmen assigned to the 56th Civil Engineering Squadron here are nicknamed the “Dirt Boyz” — and for a good reason.

“We get dirty and run heavy equipment,” said Tech. Sgt. John Scherstuhl, 56th CES horizontal construction section chief. “We have stockpiles of dirt and many dump trucks. We do a lot of ground work for building pads and sidewalks.”

For Luke’s mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready airmen, the runways have to be clear for the jets to takeoff and land. “Dirt Boyz” assist in keeping the runways clear of foreign objects. They also continuously monitor for cracks in the runway’s concrete, repairing any damage they discover in approximately three hours.

“Our main priority is the airfield,” said Airman 1st Class Anibal Carrillo-Farias, 56th CES constructions and pavement heavy equipment craftsman. “We have to keep those jets in the air. Our mission to keep the runway in perfect condition so it doesn’t hurt the jets in any way, shape or form.”


Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Jones, a 56th Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and heavy equipment operator, shovels dirt, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 12, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman Brooke Moeder)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Airmen assigned to the 56th Civil Engineering Squadron fill an obstacle with water before the 56th Force Support Squadron’s 2018 Jump in the Mud 5K, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, June 22, 2018.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Newton, left, and Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Jamison, right, 56th Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and heavy equipment operators, use an asphalt road cutter to remove chunks of asphalt, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 12, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman Brooke Moeder)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Jamison, 56th Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and heavy equipment operator, uses a mini excavator to dig in the road while Staff Sgt. Robert Newton, 56th CES pavements and heavy equipment operator, ensures the mini excavator doesn’t cause damage during a valve-replacement project, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 12, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman Brooke Moeder)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Staff Sgt. Winston Spears, 56th Civil Engineering Squadron heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning technician, checks his soldering work at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, July 20, 2018.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Zoie Rider)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Firefighters from the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron and Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, prepare to participate in a joint aircraft and structural live fire training, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 14, 2018.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Airmen from the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron participate in a drill testing the BAK-12 arresting system at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Feb. 22, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Zoie Rider)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Luke firefighters assigned to the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department and Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field, listen to a safety brief before igniting a training structural fire at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, November 14, 2018.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Firefighters with the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron and Gila Bend Fire Department spray water onto a fire during training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Dec. 7, 2016

(US Air Force/Senior Airman James Hensley)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Fifty-sixth Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters use a rapid intervention vehicle to respond to an aircraft fire during training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Dec. 7, 2016.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman James Hensley)

Over half of NASA’s Artemis Team of astronauts have served

Senior Airman Jerrad Bailey, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron operations management journeyman, works on the Interim Work Information Management System at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, July 15, 2016.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman James Hensley)

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