When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war? - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

In the past 15 years, state-sponsored cyber attacks have increased significantly, from hacking government and military computers to obtain information to shutting down or defacing websites to interfering with power stations.

And that’s just what we know from the news, and in my experience (cyber threat analysis at the NSA), if something is public knowledge, then the classified story behind it is way more vast and comprehensive.

Make no mistake: countries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are attacking the United States and other global players every day — just ask Mattis…or Sony. I mean, we traced North Korean hacking during our last summit with North Korea.


So why aren’t these cyber attacks considered acts of war? Let’s get into it.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

The United States, for example, knows that we’re being targeted by cyber attacks. And we’re really good at tracking down who is behind the intrusions. So, when a country like Russia targets the United States for a cyber attack, why isn’t it considered an act of war?

Well, it can be. But it depends on the attack and how the law of war applies to it, even though those rules predate the invention of the internet. The United States government has identified cyberspace as an operational domain in which the armed forces must be able to defend and operate, just like land, sea, air, and space.

But just like the Chinese navy can aggressively fly past a ship without it being an attack, state-sponsored hackers can intrude on a network without it necessarily being an attack.

Chinese jet intercepts U.S. surveillance plane

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Per the Department of Defense Law of War Manual, codified cyber operations include all sorts of activity, from disrupting our websites to stealing our nudes to bringing down infrastructure. Other cyber operations include reconnaissance, securing access to key network systems, implanting malicious codes or access tools, acquiring foreign intelligence, or gaining information about an adversary’s military capabilities and intent.

But the DOD also makes it clear that not all “attacks” are created equal. So most “cyber attacks” fall short of the legal and common-sense definitions of “attacks” during the conduct of hostilities. It’s not an act of war to steal a copy of The Interview, even if you leak the ending online before the movie even comes out.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Rude, Kim Jong Un. We wanted to see those Rogen-Franco antics while they were still fresh.

But, cyber operations can cause a variety of effects, and some of these could be defined as an act of war. If the effects of cyber operations cause the same damage as dropping a bomb, then that cyber attack becomes subject to the same laws as physical attacks.

And this is possible. In fact, it’s already happened.

The New York Times reported a cyber assault that hit a petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia. The attack was designed to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion. That’s a pretty clear-cut case, but it still might not be in a country’s best interest to launch physical military attacks over the issue. After all, Syria didn’t attack Israel even though Israeli jets are sometimes hitting targets in the Syrian Civil War because Syria can’t afford a new state-level enemy right now.

Which makes sense. Would we really want to start a war with North Korea, China, or Russia, even if they managed to damage some infrastructure in the U.S.? (The answer is, hopefully, no.)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

So in general, we use the same guidelines for assessing cyber attacks as we do any other kind of attack or intrusion. If it’s peacetime intelligence and counterintelligence activities, we take it on a case-by-case basis. International law exists to determine the legality of intel operations — and we apply the same or similar rules for how we operate within cyberspace.

But we still recognize our right to self-defense, in cyberspace and any other battlefield. Publicly the U.S. has made a commitment to respond to a cyber attack just as we would any other attack — and by any means: diplomatic, economic, or military. But we try to exhaust all options, even our own cyber arsenal, before the use of military force.

And, we have to be certain that we’re retaliating against the source of the original attack, which can be tough when countries like Russia hide behind shadowy hacker groups and any sophisticated hackers can take steps to mask their digital footprints.

Therefore, I can almost guarantee that a cyber “war” is raging…but it doesn’t make the news. The United States and Russia do not want to actually launch missiles at each other. No one wants that kind of damage. We also have an economic relationship with them that benefits both parties. The same is true with China. But ideologically, we are not very compatible.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

I’ve been out of the game for awhile, but I suspect that when we catch Russia sneaking into our systems, we just sneak right back. It’s an information war, and I’m actually not sure about who’s winning. While the US has made mistakes, for the most part, we play by the rules, and our adversaries…don’t.

Right now, it’s kind of like the Cold War, with mutually-assured destruction keeping everyone on their best behavior. But the truth is, a cyber attack has the potential to cause devastating effects. Imagine if an adversary manipulated the stock exchange or an air traffic control center at an international hub.

Such attacks would be violations of the law of war, but terrorists don’t play by the rules. So far we’re lucky that they don’t have the same sophisticated technology as major global players, but the threat is real, which is why we must continue to develop our own capabilities and remain superior in the cyber battlespace.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why peacetime training actually matters

It’s easy to complain about training for a sh*t deployment to Okinawa, Japan, when there’s an active war going on that you would rather be fighting in. Realistically, training exists for a reason. If there wasn’t a solid reason for it, you’d go straight from boot camp graduation to combat, but, after centuries of warfare all over the world, we’ve learned a thing or two.

We get it. You didn’t join the military in the post-9/11 era just to be sent to some stable country in East Asia, but you knew the deal when you signed the contract: Where you go and what you do when you get there is officially no longer your choice after you set foot on those yellow footprints.

But just because there’s a war going on doesn’t mean your “peacetime” training is pointless or worthless. Here’s why:


When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Just cause you use fake rifles now doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it that way forever.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brendan Mullin)

So you don’t get complacent

It’s been famously said — complacency kills. If you get too used to training against a fictional enemy to the point of no longer putting forth effort, you’re just going to start performing that way. If you’re slacking when real bullets are flying, there’s a good chance you’ll f**k things up.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

You don’t want to be the unit that goes to combat only to get whooped by the enemy.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

So you’re prepared for the next real mission

You don’t train like you fight, you fight like you train. If you train like sh*t, you’re going to fight like sh*t. If you take every training event as seriously as real combat, your unit will be better off for it.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Depending on where you’re at and what you’re doing, chances are a mistake in training won’t get someone killed.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Christian Ayers)

So you can learn from your mistakes the easy way

If you step on a simulated IED, you won’t lose your limbs — but you’ll sure-as-hell remember the mistakes you made that led you there. This is a little bit easier than waking up in a hospital room wondering what you could’ve done differently.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Train your boots like their life depends on it.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dylan Chagnon)

So you can prepare the next generation 

Even if you never go to combat while you’re in, you’ll still be responsible for training the FNGs as they fill the ranks. But here’s the thing — they’re going to stick around long after you’re gone and they’re going to train the guys after them. This cycle continues until, eventually, someone goes to war — and they’ll have generations of experience at their backs.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Those Korean Marines just might experience some real sh*t after you leave.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

So you can prepare other countries

If you get the opportunity to train with another country, keep in mind that they might be using the knowledge they gain from you on a combat mission in the near future. You can teach them to be just as lethal on the battlefield as you are and they’ll get the chance to prove it.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Actually, the military probably needs these beerbots

The Pentagon’s funding of MIT’s “beerbots” is getting some attention lately. Congress, reasonably, has posed the question of, “Why is the Pentagon researching beer delivery robots, especially while hotels and bars are already deploying robot bartenders?”

Well, the answer is a little more logical than you might think. So, Alexa, crack open a cold one and let’s talk about beerbots.


When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Waiters that are part of MIT’s “beerbot” program go into an office to work with humans.

(MITCSAIL)

First off, we think it’s awesome that Congress accepted the possibility that the military was researching beer-delivery robots in order to distribute cold beers more cheaply (and was seemingly okay with it so long as it wasn’t redundant). That being said, the actual MIT program is focused on figuring out how to get robots to best coordinate their actions in uncertain environments, something that could prove vital for everything from future hospitals to underground fighting.

See, MIT was building a system of cooperative robots, robots which could communicate with each other and share sensor data and other observations to work more efficiently. When they designed a complex, real-world situation to test them in, one obvious angle was to have them serve drinks in an office. And, surprise, the drink that graduates students want is beer.

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And so, the “beerbots” were born. There’s a “PR2” robot that picks up drinks and places them in coolers which are carried by the “turtle bots,” and the turtle bots act as waiters. The turtle bots move from room to room, taking orders and either filling the orders or marking that the room has no orders.

And here’s the key part: The robots share their data with each other. The PR2 doesn’t know what orders are placed until the turtles get close, and the turtles rely on each other to map out routes and obstacles and to share drink orders to figure out the most efficient path to fill them.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, take part in an Army Asymmetric Warfare Group program designed to improve military tactics, techniques, and procedures while fighting underground.

(U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Sonise Lumbaca)

This is actually a complex logic problem for the bots when they also have to deal with humans moving from room to room and constantly creating and changing obstacles in the office.

And this is basically the starter level for robots that could help humans on battlefields of the future. Take subterranean warfare, an area so important that the U.S. is considering naming it as a new warfighting domain, for example. Robots helping humans underground will be physically limited in how they can communicate with one another as concrete or subterranean rocks block electromagnetic signals and lasers. So, robots will need to aid the humans there by carrying loads or ferrying supplies, and then communicate directly with one another to determine what’s going on in each section of the underground network.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Paratroopers with 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, fire during a squad live-fire exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, March 14, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Lytle)

Or, take a battle above ground. The Marines think they may be denied conventional radio communications in a war with China or Russia. Any robots helping them will only be able to communicate within a short range or by using lasers. Lasers, obviously, become short range communications when there are a lot of obstructions, like dense foliage or hills, in the way.

So, these robots will also need to complete moment-by-moment tasks while also coordinating their actions whenever they can communicate. All of this requires that the robots keep a constantly updating list of what tasks need completed, what humans haven’t been checked on in a while, and what areas are safe or unsafe for the robots to operate in.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

MIT’s PR2 robot loads beers into the cooler of a “turtle” waiter bot as part of a program to improve robots’ ability to coordinate their actions in challenging environments.

(MITCSAIL)

Or, as MIT graduate student Ariel Anders said, “These limitations mean that the robots don’t know what the other robots are doing or what the other orders are. It forced us to work on more complex planning algorithms that allow the robots to engage in higher-level reasoning about their location, status, and behavior.”

From an MIT article about the team’s paper:

“These uncertainties were reflected in the team’s delivery task: among other things, the supply robot could serve only one waiter robot at a time, and the robots were unable to communicate with one another unless they were in close proximity. Communication difficulties such as this are a particular risk in disaster-relief or battlefield scenarios.”

So, yeah, at MIT, a beerbot is never just about beer. And the actual tech underlying these social-media-friendly beerbots is actually necessary for the less sexy but more vital missions, like disaster relief. And, potentially, it could even save the lives of troops under fire or wounded service members in the next few years or decades.

Let the military have its beerbots. And, if they sometimes use them for beer instead of medical supplies, well, they would’ve found a way to get drunk anyways.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 dumb things only military spouses do

Everybody does dumb stuff, and military spouses are no exception. (Example: eating Ben & Jerry’s for dinner every night during a deployment and then wondering why we didn’t hit our goal weight.)


But there are a few dumb things that only military spouses do, such as:

Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy. But give me your number. And be the emergency contact for my baby.

Every PCS means starting over, in every way. We get three to five weeks to unpack and arrange everything, get everyone registered for school, find a doctor, find a dentist, find a … oh yeah, find a place to live. Wonder of wonder, during that mad dash, what we didn’t manage to find was a friend we would trust with our child’s life.

For military spouses, emergency contacts are the proverbial Canadian girlfriend/boyfriend from summer camp. “I swear I know people, and they like me enough to take my kid to the ER, but they just don’t live here.” So, we list the name of, literally, the very first person we meet, cross our fingers and hope no one gets hurt this year.

Ooh! PCS stickers! I can craft with those!

When the ever-lengthening “Home is Where” plaque in the entryway doesn’t make the point loudly enough, we peel those little PCS stickers off the backs of our furniture and use them to make Christmas ornaments, maps, and other crafts.

Because nothing says “holiday spirit” and “welcome home after a hard day,” like a passive-aggressive homespun visual that basically means “remember that time your job forced the whole family to move to Ft. Huachuca? Where there are TARANTULAS! Good times…”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

As if we don’t see enough camo…

Make a purse out of a uniform.

Why, and I mean why, do we do this? The ACU pattern was ugly and impractical when soldiers wore it. Multi-cam and MARPAT look like a pigeon flew over after an all-night sugar binge. Basically, anything that ends in “uniform” was not designed to be stylish, except for maybe the Navy blueberries (Why did they want sailors to blend in with the OCEAN? If a sailor is in the water, don’t we need to see him so we can fish him out? I digress.) None of these handbags are cute.

But that doesn’t even touch on the real issue, which is – these are old clothes. Worn by people who get paid to do dirty, sweaty, disgusting things. You don’t see the wives of garbage collectors making diaper bags out of threadbare, bright orange coveralls for a reason. Why are you putting your baby’s bottle and snack pack of Cheerios into something your husband wore on the Darby Queen, Kayla? It’s not even hygienic.

Gauge life events by location and childbirth.

Forget journals and Facebook memories, we can tell you what was going on in the world in any particular year by recalling where we lived and which child was born there. “Let’s see, we were at Camp LeJeune, and Jackson was a newborn … he had the worst colic, you know … so that must have been 2016 and Hurricane Matthew.”

Get itchy every three years.

Fish and houseguests start to smell after three days. For duty stations, it’s more like three years. Three years into each move, the grass starts looking greener elsewhere, and the luster of our current location begins to wear off. We’ve eaten in all the good restaurants, visited all the local sites, shopped in all the cute boutiques, and now all we notice is what this duty station doesn’t have.

At the first rumor of a new base, we start googling, joining Facebook groups, and surfing real estate apps. If Uncle Sam wanted us to be settled and content, he wouldn’t keep moving us all over the planet.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Prom photo? Military ball? What’s the difference?

Go to Prom every year until menopause.

Okay, so it’s not really prom, but it’s the same rubbery chicken, the same DJ, the same up-do and mani-pedi, and the same expensive dress we’ll never wear again (or at least not until we PCS). Military balls feel a lot like prom, except there’s alcohol, uniforms, symbolism, and patriotism.

Well, even if it isn’t prom, we still feel like Cinderella getting ready for the ball, just like we did in high school.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch: A National Guard Chaplain activated in Los Angeles shares his story

Over the last month, the United States (and parts of the world) erupted in protests after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmuad Abery. While their deaths drew the ire of many Americans, they set off an angry and passionate reaction to the bigger problem of police brutality and systemic racism.

Unfortunately, protests can be marred by people taking advantage and the marches that have occurred in all 50 states have seen some people take to rioting and looting. While the vast majority of protests have been peaceful, the magnitude of people on the street and looting caused some states to activate their respective National Guard units.


Director and Army Veteran Robert Ham was able to link up with National Guard Chaplain Major Nathan Graeser who was part of a California National Guard Unit that was assigned to downtown Los Angeles. With the noise of protestors in the background demanding reform of police and the end of the systemic racism that plagues this country, Graeser talked about why the National Guard was there and the mood of the troops. When asked about the atmosphere in the area Graeser said, “Seeing this today, I kept thinking to myself… this is what makes America great.”

Mighty Talks | Chaplain Graeser

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In addition to being an Army Chaplain in the California National Guard, Nathan is also a social worker. He is an expert on programs and policies that support service members transitioning out of the military. Nathan is an advocate for veterans and leads multiple veteran initiatives in Los Angeles. He has spent thousands of hours counseling veterans and their families to deal with the challenges of service and returning home.

Graeser talks about the disconnections we have with one another, exacerbated by COVID-19 and how those disconnections flared up in the wake of these deaths. He knows, because he sees the same disconnection with his soldiers and with veterans as they themselves struggle to connect to the community they took an oath to serve.

But, Graeser said he sees the similarities between the young soldiers and young protesters, “These 19 year olds,” referring to the guardsmen, he said, “They are thoughtful, they are kind, even their interaction with the looters is as gentle as can possibly be.”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

While the riots have been waning, the cries for action have not. What does the future hold for the rest of 2020 and beyond? We can only guess at this time.

But there is hope in what Graeser sees.

“We are out here to see what the next chapter is,” he shared. “One thing I know is wherever we go, we are going to need everybody.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This might be the best Ranger panties ad ever made

For the first time ever, I find myself seriously considering buying Ranger panties. And not just buying them; wearing them to all sorts of events. These are about to be the centerpiece (and possibly only piece) of my Valentine’s Day outfit. And it’s all thanks to this ad from Dog Company of some battalion or another:


When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Look at it. Really look at it. It’s got puns, it’s got rhymes, it’s got suggestive language, it’s got a joke at the expense of cavalry scouts (thanks for securing our routes, sorry about all the jokes).

It even suggests that Ranger panties are perfect for signing into the unit when you get to Dog Company, which, come on, if you’re not checking to see if they have openings for your MOS already, you’re doing it wrong. My old MOS, unfortunately, does not appear in any infantry MTOEs, so I have to long after these shorts from afar.

But not Dog Company. No, these guys apparently get to throw on their Ranger panties, smack their significant other on the Ranger panty-clad butt, and then charge into battle against communists with guns firing and thighs open to the air, absorbing the sun’s rays and warmth while the commies are absorbing the bullets.

When they’re done with that, they get to have a short meeting with first sergeant, still in the Ranger panties and ostensibly still covered in the gore of their enemies, before going to a wedding or two and a few children’s parties.

The clown isn’t going to be the scariest thing at that party. Thank Valhalla for that.

We’re still not sure which infantryman found a keyboard and typed up this beautiful masterpiece. The fact that they found a keyboard indicates maybe an XO, but the fact that the final advertisement is quality indicates a specialist or corporal.

Maybe it was a team-up? Regardless, grab a pair if you happen to be in Dog Company (all proceeds benefit the FRG!). If you’re not, just get your panties from Ranger Joe’s or your own FRG or whatever. We can’t help you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Graphic novel series explores the life of the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor

Mary Walker, the only woman to be issued a Medal of Honor, is about to get some prime-time coverage, thanks in part to a graphic novel series produced by the Association of the U.S. Army. The latest edition of “Medal of Honor,” shines a light on the bravery and valor of Mary Walker, the first woman in the U.S. to earn a medical degree and the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor.

Dr. Mary Walker attended Syracuse Medical College before the start of the Civil War. Her parents encouraged her to pursue her education, and she graduated in 1855 with a medical doctor degree – the first woman to do so in the almost 100-year-old United States.


She knew she wanted to serve her country, she just didn’t know how it would happen. Dr. Walker worked in private practice for a few years until the Civil War broke out in 1861. Despite her best efforts to join the Army, she was denied on the grounds of being a woman. And since she’d worked so hard to earn a medical doctorate, Dr. Walker was nonplussed at the suggestion that she join the Army as a nurse.

Instead, she decided to volunteer and work for free at a temporary hospital set up at the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. There, Dr. Walker continued to face discrimination, as the male surgeons refused to address her as “Dr.” and instead regulated her duties to that of an assistant.

By 1862, Dr. Walker was living in Virginia and working at field hospitals throughout the state. A year later, her medical credentials were finally accepted by the Army. This was only because of the recommendation of Maj. Gen. William Sherman and Maj. Gen. George Thomas. Without their letters of recommendation, it’s likely that Dr. Walker would have continued to work as an unpaid surgical assistant, despite being a highly trained doctor.

With her recommendation letters in hand in hand, Walker moved to Tennessee and was appointed as a War Department surgeon, which is equivalent to today’s rank of either a First Lieutenant or Captain. Her position in Tennessee was paid.

Dr. Walker quickly became well-known among the troops and units. She would routinely risk crossing enemy lines to tend to wounded personnel or civilians. It was during one of these forays into enemy territory that Dr. Walker was captured by Confederate forces. Dr. Walker was sent to the infamous Castle Thunder Camp, located in current-day Richmond, Virginia. She was held as a POW for about four months and was eventually exchanged in a POW swap for Confederate medical officers.

Castle Thunder was mainly used for civilian prisoners, not POWs, so it’s not entirely clear what Dr. Walker witnessed and experienced during her time as a POW, but it probably wasn’t pleasant. But, true to her nature, Dr. Walker saw an opportunity instead of internment. While imprisoned, she cared for the ill and the wounded at Castle Thunder. She is credited with having saved several lives while waiting for her own life to resume outside the prison walls.

After being released by the Confederate Army, Dr. Walker worked as a medical director at a hospital for women prisoners in Kentucky. She was routinely seen wearing men’s clothes and was arrested several times for impersonating a man, always stating that the “government” gave her permission to dress that way. She was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson even though she’d never officially been commissioned as an officer. That’s why her medal was rescinded in 1917, just two years before she died. Dr. Walker refused to return the medal and wore it until she died.

Due in part to the efforts of her family, President Jimmy Carter restored her Medal of Honor in 1977. As part of the Army’s efforts to bring to light the courageous acts of service personnel, Dr. Walker’s story is now available in graphic novel form. Her story is the third installment of 2020. A final issue for 2020 will feature Holocaust survivor and Korean War veteran Cpl. Tibor Rubin. Read Dr. Walker’s graphic novel here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a U.S. troop pled guilty to murder but got off scot-free

The most interesting thing about pleading guilty to a capital crime in a military court is the defendant needs to be able to convince the presiding judge that he or she is actually guilty of the crime, and not just taking the deal to avoid the death penalty. Another interesting tidbit is that defense lawyers can only allow the defendant to make such a plea if they truly believe he or she is guilty.

So when Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez offered to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty for murdering two of his officers in Iraq, you’d think that would be a gift to the prosecution. You’d think that, you really would.


When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Lt. Allen left behind four children with his wife.

Martinez convinced his lawyers of his guilt and offered to plead guilty to premeditated murder, convince the judge, and avoid the death penalty. He was willing to testify that he threw a claymore mine into the window of a CHU occupied by his commanding officers, Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and First Lt. Louis E. Allen on a U.S. military base near Tikrit, Iraq in 2005.

The claymore exploded and tore the two sleeping officers to shreds, as it was designed to do. It was the first fragging accusation of the Global War on Terror. Witnesses told the 14-member jury that Esposito derided Martinez for his lax operation of the unit’s supply room. Another witness testified that she had delivered the murder weapon to Martinez a month prior. Another witness said Martinez simply watched the explosion happen, unconcerned about a follow-on attack. It was a well-known fact that Martinez and Esposito did not get along.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

A temporary memorial for US Army officers Phillip Esposito and Louis Allen erected in Tikrit, Iraq in June 2005 after both officers were killed in an alleged fragging incident at Forward Operating Base Danger on June 7, 2005.

(US Army)

Martinez was arrested and transferred to Fort Bragg for trial. A New York Times investigation revealed that Martinez offered the guilty plea two full years before his trial ever took place – but the offer was rejected by the prosecution, who wanted to send Martinez to death row.

“This offer to plea originated with me,” Martinez wrote in the plea offer. “No person has made any attempt to force or coerce me into making this offer.”

If the defense offered it to the prosecution, it means they truly believed their client was guilty, as per Army regulations. Then Martinez would have to convince the judge of his guilt. The judge could then accept or reject the plea. Martinez never made it to the judge. The Army took it to trial and lost their case against Martinez in just six weeks.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Esposito with his daughter Madeline before deploying in 2005.

The defense argued that all the evidence and witness accounts were purely circumstantial and since no one took receipt of the claymores, which was usual for the Army then, it can’t be proven that Martinez had access to them or even knew the rarely-used mines were available.

Martinez was cleared of the charges, released from prison, and honorably discharged from the Army. He died in January 2017 of unknown causes, and no charges have ever been filed for the deaths of Capt. Esposito and Lt. Allen.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Pin-Ups for Vets proves women can be strong AND feminine

From Military Police to Medical Corpsmen, Gina Elise’s 2020 Pin-Ups are continued proof that military veterans aren’t just men with high-and-tight haircuts.

Pin-Ups for Vets is a non-profit organization that supports hospitalized and deployed veterans and military families. Founded by Gina Elise, who describes herself (accurately) as a very patriotic citizen, the organization is comprised of volunteers — many of them veterans — who visit service members at their bedside in VA and military hospitals; attend military events; and help raise funds for hospital equipment, gold star families, and deployed vets.

They embody service after service — and they’re changing the perspective about women in the military.


When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Erikka Davis on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Erikka Davis, U.S. Army

Erikka Davis enlisted when she was 17 and quickly deployed to Iraq as Military Police attached to the 4th Infantry Division, where she helped conduct raids, provide convoy escorts, house inmates, and support local law and order. She survived an IED attack against her three vehicle convoy, hired and retrained local Iraqi Police, and held a leadership position in the early stages of the Iraqi conflict — not an easy position for anyone.

“As a female MP, it is difficult to be respected, so hardening my personality seemed to be an effective way to keep up with my fellow male soldiers. This has been a difficult switch to turn off. Pin-Ups for Vets is slowly reminding me that I am not only allowed to be a veteran, but a lady as well.”

Davis is not the first veteran to describe this mentality — that somehow women are expected to suppress a part of themselves in order to earn the respect of male peers. Pin-Ups for Vets allows female veterans to reclaim that part of themselves within a community — and as a bonus, they get to continue to give back to the community at large.

“If I can do anything to aid in the boosting of morale for our veterans and active duty members, I would gladly partake.”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Jessica Bowling on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Jessica Bowling, U.S. Army

Jessica Bowling supported EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Operations in the United States Army for eight years, during which she deployed to Afghanistan in support of 10th Mountain Division. Her company was formally recognized for its live-saving efforts by General David Petraeus, the four-star general who served as Commander of U.S. and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

“We had a code in the Army: ‘leave no one behind.’ I love that Pin-Ups for Vets is taking care of vets and is doing so much to honor and celebrate women veterans. My passion is women veterans and ending homelessness in our veteran community,” proclaimed Bowling.

She’s in the right place; Pin-Ups for Vets has supported homeless female veterans with makeovers and gifts of clothing to help them get back on the right track.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Erika Velasquez on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Erika Velasquez, U.S. Coast Guard

Erika Velasquez served for 15 years as a Medical Corpsman in the U.S. Coast Guard, assisting in search and rescue operations. Medical Corpsmen have fought with their brothers and sisters in “every clime and place” since their creation — it’s a competitive and critical career field.

When asked why she wanted to volunteer with Pin-Ups for Vets, Velasquez said, “I always want to acknowledge and remind the community at large of the sacrifices of our veteran community. I am thankful to each individual who has served and contributed to better the world through their service to others.”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Gina Elise in the upcoming 2020 calendar, now available for pre-order.

Gina Elise, Founder of Pin-Ups for Vets

Elise has been creating her iconic calendar for 14 years now. “The calendar images are starting a conversation about women in the military. People see the images, and they want to know the stories behind the ladies. They ask, ‘Who is she?’ ‘Where did she serve?’ ‘What did she do in the military?’ The stories of our lady veterans need to be told. The ladies tell me that people often assume that they are not veterans because of their gender. One of our ambassadors, Jovane Marie, who is a Marine Veteran, has summed it up: ‘There is nothing that says I can’t be a hard-charging Marine and a lipstick-wearing pin-up — so I choose to be both.’ These ladies are changing the narrative of what it means to be a veteran. They are breaking the stereotype.”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Pin-Ups for Vets ambassadors — all military veterans — gather for a group shot on set at Perfect 10 Beauty Studios during the 2020 calendar shoot.

Finding a community after service

Elise produces the calendar herself, but she has gathered together an incredible team. Ana Vergara styles the retro hair and make-up for each of the models, including Elise. Voodoo Vixen provides the dresses and vintage-inspired fashion for the shoots. Shane Karns photographs the entire calendar.

Her team has allowed the organization to donate over ,000 to help VA hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and provide financial assistance for veterans’ healthcare programs. Her volunteers have visited over 13,000 veterans at 68 hospitals across the country. The organization has also provided makeovers for veterans, military spouses, and gold star wives.

There are good days and bad days when it comes to hospitalization or mourning a fallen hero. When Gina Elise and her pin-up volunteers are around, it usually means it’s going to be a good day.

You can support the organization by pre-ordering your 2020 calendar — or donating one to a hospitalized or deployed service member!

MIGHTY CULTURE

This newly discovered planet gives Tatooine a run for its money

Planet: LTT 1445 A b

The discovery: This overheated planet, about 1.4 times as big around as Earth, has a sky that one-ups Star Wars’ Tatooine – three stars instead of two. It is one of 12 recent discoveries just added to NASA’s Exoplanet Archive, and was found by a Harvard Center for Astrophysics team using data from the TESS space telescope.

Date: July 26, 2019


Key facts: Likely a rocky planet, LTT 1445 A b takes only five days to go once around its star – a “year” on this world, which is about 22 light-years away from Earth. Its scorchingly close orbit helps explain why its surface basks in temperatures on the order of 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 Celsius) – comparable to a preheated oven.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

A newly discovered exoplanet, LTT 1445 A b, orbits its parent star tightly; that star, in turn, orbits two others, making a three-star system. The arrangement is not unlike that of our nearest exoplanet neighbor, Proxima b, also with three stars in its sky, as shown in this artist’s rendering.

(ESO/M. Kornmesser)

Details: While the planet itself remains in what is probably a stable orbit around its star, that star also orbits, at greater distance, two sibling stars that are locked in close orbit around each other. This isn’t the first three-star system to be found with at least one planet. Our nearest stellar neighbor, in fact, is Proxima Centauri, orbiting the more distant pair, Alpha Centauri A and B. Proxima is only 4.25 light-years away from Earth. In orbit around it is Proxima b, a small, probably rocky world that takes an estimated 11 days to circle its star.

Fun facts: All three stars in the LTT 1445 system are red dwarfs, cooler and far longer-burning than larger yellow stars like our Sun. The planet also is the second-closest discovered so far that “transits” its star – that is, the orbit of LTT 1445 A b is tilted at the correct angle to, from our vantage point, pass across the face of its star. The “transit” observing method allows space telescopes like TESS to detect planets orbiting other stars by the shadows they cast – the tiny dip in starlight as the planet makes its crossing.

The very nearest transiting planetary system so far discovered is HD 219134 bc, about 21 light-years away.

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons to participate in Giving Tuesday Military

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is widely known as “Giving Tuesday.” Nonprofits compete for your donations and your social media feeds are filled with fundraisers. But this year, three military spouses are asking you to give only one thing: kindness.


Started by three Armed Forces Insurance Spouses of the Year, the Giving Tuesday Military movement hopes to showcase one million acts of kindness on Dec. 3, 2019. With 56 “Chapter Ambassadors” around the world, the three founders — Army Spouse Maria Reed, National Guard Spouse Samantha Gomolka and Coast Guard Spouse Jessica Manfre — are hoping to change the world through simple acts of kindness.

Here are 5 reasons to participate in this year’s Giving Tuesday Military:

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

Volunteers beautify Fort Carson.

DVIDS

Science says it’s good for everyone — you included

We’re going to give you the super obvious reasons like “it’s the right thing to do” and “kindness is fun!” in a hot minute. First, we’ll start with science. “Studies have proven that not only will you change lives by being kind,” Manfre said, “but that brain scans reveal the person doing the giving is flooded with happy hormones. Moral of the story, kindness lifts you too!”

Don’t believe Manfre? How about Dartmouth? “Witnessing acts of kindness produces oxytocin, occasionally referred to as the ‘love hormone’ which aids in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also increases our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re anxious or shy in a social situation.”

Kindness is the great uniter

Can’t get through a phone call with your mom without getting into it about politics? Ready to light your neighbor’s yard signs on fire? Somehow find yourself debating the 2nd Amendment in line at the Commissary? Here’s one thing we can finally all agree on: Kindness.

Gomolka said, “Kindness breaks down the walls that appear to divide us as a nation. It heals wounds and forges relationships. Kindness does not favor a race, religion, political party or economic status. It is literally a language of love that connects us at the core of everything that is human.”

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

The Single Marine Program at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point encourages service members to volunteer in the surrounding communities.

DVIDS

You set an example

Those little people that seemingly follow you everywhere and are always wanting snacks and typically refer to you as “mom” or “dad” take their cues from you. Teaching them about kindness is one thing. Showing them an act of it, or better yet, involving them is another. Raise a generation of kids who are tolerant and kind, you know, just like their badass parents.

Can you say FOMO?

A million acts is a lot. Which also means you’ll be on the wrong side of history if you don’t participate. Whether you do it for the Facebook post (for real: be sure to tag #GivingTuesdayMilitary) or all the right reasons (serving others, being a role model, because you have a soul, etc.), don’t miss out on the movement.

Reed said, “Many military spouses in remote locations have reached out sharing that this movement is giving them an opportunity to be a part of community and have a sense of belonging. Giving Tuesday works both ways, for the recipient and the giver.”

Be the change!

Not sure that Dr. Seuss knew what he was doing with the whole green eggs and ham thing, but he was definitely right about this: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Never underestimate the power of one small act of kindness. It might change a life… or even save one. We’ll throw another quote at you (thanks, Gandhi): “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

No matter what reason you have for joining the movement, we know you don’t have a good one not to do it. We’ll see you on Giving Tuesday.
MIGHTY CULTURE

Teen flies plane before driving car and sets sights on military career

It could be said that high school senior and military kid Nilah Williamson has her head in the clouds — literally. While many teens were pursuing their driver’s licenses, this Arlington, Virginia teen has been so singularly focused on flying that she ended up flying a plane before ever driving a car. 

The 17-year-old has not yet taken a driver’s classes or test. 

“I have different priorities than other teenagers,” she said.

Williamson says the love of aviation was sparked when she attended a leadership program in the sixth grade. Through Leadership LINKS, a program that exposes young girls to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, she was able to take a practice flight in a simulator. One flight and she was hooked. 

“It’s the age when you can’t decide if you’re going to be a vet or a doctor,” she said. 

“It changed my life and I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Since that time, Williamson continued to thrive in her pursuit of STEM activities. Last year, she took a year-long aviation class at a local career center. 

“The aviation portion of the class is everything I hoped for,” she said. “The physics, the engineering — it ended up being exactly what I wanted.”

After studying throughout the spring and summer, Williamson passed her written pilot exam in September. 

“I’m really proud that I did this one thing during COVID,” she said. 

Nilah Williamson Military Families Magazine
High school senior Nilah Williamson with her mentor Retired Adm. Arthur Johnson, a former Naval aviator.

Retired Adm. Arthur Johnson, a former Naval aviator, became Williamson’s mentor after the two found themselves routinely crossing paths at different STEM and aviation events in the Washington, D.C. area. Over the years, he watched Williamson achieve her goals. 

“This child is committed. She’s not talking a good game. She’s walking that talk,” he said. 

“That’s what really motivates me about Nilah. She is not afraid of hard work. She’s driven and I have no doubt in my mind that she’s going to get it done. I’ve got years of experience watching her achieve goals that she set for herself,” Johnson said. 

Johnson’s company, Destiny Aviation Services, introduces aviation and aeronautics to elementary through high school students via classroom education, simulator training, flight instruction and aviation operations. The company focuses on showcasing aviation career opportunities to populations who may not have had access to airplanes. “The goal is to introduce kids to the thrill of aviation,” he said.  

The introduction of technology, including flight simulators, has disrupted the previous model of aviation training, making careers attainable more than ever before. Johnson says that sim training is a great way to show kids that aviation can be a possibility for them.  

“A young person can decide early and spend time preparing themselves for that endeavor. . . by the time they get a little old enough to get a license, they can actually be quite skilled,” he said. 

Read: Military kids lauded for accomplishments in academics and volunteer work

This is the case for Williamson, who currently serves as a high school ambassador for Destiny

“Seeing things in action allows people to embrace and pursue. She’s inspiring a lot of kids,” Johnson said. 

Both Johnson and Williamson see mentorship and the values of the military as important aspects of their connection. 

“Kind of like Nilah, I was a military brat growing up and I had a lot of people who touched my life in significant ways and so that’s the opportunity I have today by helping people identify what it is they want to do and track a course to get there,” he said. 

Williamson’s ultimate goal is to become a Naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Nilah Williamson Military Families Magazine
High school senior Nilah Williamson’s ultimate goal is to become a Naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps. Photography courtesy of RLJ Photography.

“I have four generations of military service in my family,” she said. “I just am inspired by the people in my family who also were in the military.”

“For me, the values of the Marine Corps are the values of success,” she said. 

In the meantime, Williamson is finishing up her senior year and applying to college. While her extracurricular activities, including MCJROTC, varsity track and cross-country and National Honors Society keep her busy, aviation remains her focus. She’s working towards gaining the 40 hours of flight time required for completing her pilot’s license and hopes to have it completed before graduation. 

Williamson said that she’s grateful for this time during COVID and for the lessons she’s learned from Johnson while working towards her pilot’s license. “It’s perfect that I get to go through this journey will him,” she concluded. 

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 28th

Next week is the Fourth of July and there’s countless celebrations planned all around the country. Of course, there’s the fireworks and the air shows, but we can’t forget about all the military parades. Speaking from personal experience, military parades for the general public are the worst.

You get there five hours in advance and your NCO is hounding you not to even make the slightest wrong move. Then when you’re actually marching in formation through the designated route, there’s always going to be those people in the crowds that try to jump to the “join” the formation.

I get it, if it’s a kid – I’ll smile down at them, tell them they’re getting it (regardless if they are or not) and keep moving. My problem is when the douche bag bros hop in the back and say some sh*t like “I’m just like you guys!” If this was just a one time thing, I would chalk it up as a bad encounter. But this happened three different times to me outside two different Army posts.


Anyways, here’s some memes while I wrap myself in my DD-214 blanket to forget about douchey civilians.

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Not CID)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Call for Fire)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)