5 ways to support veterans all year long - We Are The Mighty
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5 ways to support veterans all year long

5 ways to support veterans all year long
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian McNeal


Each year over Veterans Day we witness a wonderful outpouring of love for our veteran community. “Happy Veterans Day,” parades, free meals, “thank yous,” and vet-centric events are par for the course over the holiday and the weekends that proceed and follow it.

But what about the other 51 weeks of the year?

While many of you are veterans yourselves, some of our readers are in a relationship of some kind with a currently serving veteran or a veteran of past conflict. We know how to support the veterans in our own homes.

But I believe we also have a responsibility to support the other veterans around us, and help our civilian neighbors do the same. We can lead by example.

So how do we do that? Here are five ideas.

1. Listen. Over Veterans Day weekend this year I worked with our community and the local Team Red, White Blue chapter to run a Veterans Town Hall. Inspired by an idea in Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe,” the town hall had a simple goal: give veterans a space to talk about their service, and the community a space to listen. While we did not have a huge turnout — only around 50 people — we were able to light a fire on what I hope will be a long-term movement of saying “happy Veterans Day” by listening. Through the simple act of listening we extended grace and understanding to our veteran neighbors. We can do more of that, and we can do it beyond Veterans Day weekend.

2. “Thank a Vet” in a video. Disabled American Veterans (DAV) has an awesome way to create a keepsake to #ThankaVet. You can upload a customized message and a few photos, and the site will turn them into a tribute video. The videos are something you can create and share year round.

3. Serve all year long. Veterans don’t just exist on Veterans Day. The Veterans Home in my little town’s downtown is there every day of the year. Veterans are homeless in our nearest major city. My veteran neighbor will always need his driveway shoveled after it snows. Not every act of service to our community takes a big effort. But every act matters.

4. Tell your civilian friends. When you get ready to help your community’s veterans, invite your civilian friends to come along. I find that my civilian friends don’t ignore veterans on purpose — they just don’t really know any. We can be the people who can help make that connection.

5. Join a veteran organization. Your local VFW and American Legion both have auxiliary memberships for non-veterans. Team Red, White Blue exists purely to connect veterans with their communities, and getting involved is incredibly easy. Team Rubicon is constantly seeking volunteers for the important work they do with disaster relief. Military spouses often focus their volunteer efforts on the currently serving population — and maybe you just flat out don’t have time to add something else to your plate. But if you do, consider even just showing up for one of these groups’ (or countless others’) events. You won’t be sorry.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing anyone a “happy Veterans Day” or using Veterans Day to shine the spotlight on veterans in our community. But let’s keep the momentum going all year long.

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The story of the most important Cold War spy most people have never heard of

One of the most significant US intelligence operations in modern history took place in the heart of Soviet Moscow, during one of the most dangerous stretches of the Cold War.


From 1979 to 1985, a span that includes President Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” speech, the 1983 US-Soviet war scare, the deaths of three Soviet General Secretaries, the shooting-down of KAL 007, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the CIA was receiving high-value intelligence from a source deeply embedded in an important Soviet military laboratory.

Over a period of several years and 21 meetings with CIA case officers in Moscow, Adolf Tolkachev, an engineer overseeing a radar development lab at a Soviet state-run defense institute, passed the US information and schematics the revealed the next generation of Soviet radar systems.

Tolkachev struggled to convince the CIA he was trustwory: He spent two years attempting to contact US intelligence officers and diplomats, semi-randomly approaching cars with diplomatic license plates with a US embassy prefix.

When the CIA finally decided to trust him, Tolkachev transformed the US’s understanding of Soviet radar capabilities, something that informed the next decade of US military and strategic development.

Prior to his cooperation with the CIA, US intelligence didn’t know that Soviet fighters had “look-down, shoot-down” radars that could detect targets flying beneath the aircraft. Thanks to Tolkachev, the US could engineer its fighter aircraft — and its nuclear-capable cruise missiles — to take advantage of the latest improvements in Soviet detection and to exploit gaps in the enemy’s radar systems.

The Soviets had no idea that the US was so aware of the state of their technology. Tolkachev helped tip the US-Soviet military balance in Washington’s favor. He’s also part of the reason why, since the end of the Cold War, a Soviet-built plane has never shot down a US fighter aircraft in combat.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Photo: U.S. Navy

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David E. Hoffman’s newly published book “The Billion Dollar Spy” is the definitive account of the Tolkachev operation. It’s an extraordinary glimpse into how espionage works in reality, evoking the complex relationship between case officers and their sources, as well as the extraordinary methods that CIA agents use to exchange information right under the enemy’s nose.

It’s also about how espionage can go wrong: In 1985, a disgruntled ex-CIA trainee named Edward Lee Howard defected to the Soviet Union after the agency fired him over a series of failed polygraph tests. Howard was supposed to serve as Tolkachev’s case officer. Instead, he handed him to the KGB.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Adolf Tolkachev in KGB custody. Photo: CIA

Business Insider recently spoke with Hoffman, who won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for The Dead Hand, an acclaimed history of the final decade of the Cold War arms race.

Hoffman talked about some of the lessons of the Tolkachev case. Successful espionage, he said, is like a “moonshot,” an enormous effort that only works when cascades of unpredictable variables are meticulously kept in check.

And as Hoffman notes, his book is a unique glimpse into how such an incredibly complex undertaking unfolds on a day to day basis.

“You can read a lot of literature about espionage but rarely do you get to coast along on the granular details of a real operation,” Hoffman says, in reference to the over 900 CIA cables relating to the Tolkachev case that he was able to access. “That’s what I had.”

The archive, along with the scores of interviews Hoffman conducted in researching the book, yielded unexpected insights into the realities of spycraft: “I was really surprised by both the sort of quest for perfectionism” among the agents who handled the Tolkachev case, says Hoffman, “but also by the enormous number of things that can and did go wrong.”

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

BI: Your book the story of a CIA triumph: They run this source in the heart of Moscow for 5 or 6 years and get this bonanza of intelligence. But it’s also a story of organizational failure — about how this asset was eventually betrayed from within the CIA’s own ranks.

Is there a message in these two interrelated stories about the nature of intelligence collection and the challenges that US intelligence agencies face?

David E. Hoffman: On the first point, I think the big message, which is still very valid today, is the absolutely irreplaceable value of human source intelligence.

We live in an era when people are romanced by technology, the CIA included. Between what you scoop up from people’s emails and what satellites can see and signals intelligence, there always seems to be a new technological way to get various kinds of intelligence.

But this book reminded me that there is one category of espionage that is irreplaceable, and that is looking a guy in the eye and finding out what the hell is going on that isn’t in the technology — that can’t be captured by satellites. Satellites cannot see into the minds of people. They can’t even see into a file cabinet.

Even in the cyber age, it seems to me that you still have to get that particular human source, that spy that will do what nobody else will do: to let you sort of bridge the air gap, plug in the USB thumb drive if that’s necessary, to tell you something that nobody has written down …

Tolkachev was that kind of human source, an absolutely sterling example of someone who could bring stuff that you couldn’t get any other way.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Photo: Wikipedia/NVO

The second point is, you called it institutional dysfunction but I think there’s a larger factor here which is counterintelligence …

[Intelligence] cannot simply be a matter of collection. You also have to have defenses against being penetrated by the other guys.

We live in a world where the forces of offense and defense are in perpetual motion. Counterintelligence is part of that. And counterintelligence is what really failed here.

I think it was also institutional dysfunction in the way they treated Howard. That wasn’t a counterintelligence problem so much it was a sort of incompetence: They fired a guy, they said get lost, and he was vengeful.

But I also think that — maybe not particularly in this case but just generally — the CIA did not value counterintelligence highly enough for a long time. Really the events that followed Tolkachev — [Aldrich] Ames [see here], [Robert] Hanssen [see here], that whole period of the 1985-86 losses [see here] — were a failure of counterintelligence …

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Aldrich Ames spied for the Russian for nine years before being arrested on February 24, 1994.

There were really some big vulnerabilities there. In the end Tolkachev was exposed and betrayed by a disgruntled, vengeful fired trainee. But there were other losses soon to follow that were caused by essentially not having strong enough counterintelligence in place.

BI: It’s interesting how much the success of the operation had to do with these agents understanding Tolkachev’s state of mind based on these very short meetings that would be spaced months and months apart.

And from that they would have to build out some kind of sense of who this guy was. From the looks of it they did so fairly successfully for awhile.

DEH: That’s my toughest question. Espionage at its real core is psychology. You’re a case officer, you’re running an agent — what is in the soul of that man? What’s in his heart, what motivates him?

These are all questions that you have to try to answer for headquarters but also for yourself, in trying to play on his desires and understand them. Sometimes it can be a real test of will as you saw in this particular narrative. This psychological business can be very difficult …

A couple of times early in the operation Tolkachev revealed his deep antipathy towards the Soviet system. He said I’m a dissident at heart, he describes how fed up he is with the way things were in the Soviet Union.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Joseph Stalin. Photo: YouTube/ITN

He gives only a very very skimpy factual account of his wife’s parents travails, but I was able to research them in Moscow and discovered that his wife grew up without her parents. Her mother was executed and her father was imprisoned for many years during Stalin’s purges. And Tolkachev was bitter about that.

He also came of age in the time when [Nobel-prize winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn] and [Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicist and activist Andrei Sakharov] were also sort of coming of age as dissidents.

All of that rumbled around behind these impassive eyes. It’s not as if he handed over a book saying, I’m a dissident and here’s my complaint. Instead he handed over secret plans and said, I’m a dissident and I want to destroy the Soviet Union.

This psychological war and test of nerves of constantly trying to read a guy is really the most unpredictable and most difficult part of espionage. In this case, I’m not sure it was always successful.

The case officers did grasp that Tolkachev was determined. He expressed this sort of incredible determination, banging on the car doors and windows for 2 years to get noticed.

And when he’s working for the CIA he gives them his own espionage plan that takes years and multiple stages that he had mapped out. He’s a very, very determined guy. But what’s driving that isn’t always clear to the case officers.

BI: How does Tolkachev’s story fit in to the larger story of the end of the Cold War arms race?

I don’t think you could make the extravagant claim that he ended the Cold War or that he ended the arms race. But that’s not to minimize what Tolkachev did do. One of the things I discovered was how uncertain we were about Soviet air defenses in that period at the end of the Cold War …

There was always a funny thing going on with the Soviet Union. They had a lot of resources and were a very large country and the state and the military industrial complex was a big part of it. They always built a lot of hardware.

In fact they had a huge number of air-defense fighters and bases positioned all around their borders. [Air defense] wasn’t such a big deal for us but for them, the enemy was at their doorstop, right in Europe. They also had the world’s longest land borders. They had a lot to defend.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Thanks to Tolkachev, the US knew all about the radar capabilities of the Soviet-built MiG-29, the advanced interceptor introduced in the mid-1980s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Tolkachev, the US knew all about the radar capabilities of the Soviet-built MiG-29, the advanced interceptor introduced in the mid-1980s.

The US saw all the deployments but there was also evidence that Soviet training was poor, that the personnel who manned all these things were not up to it, [and] that there was a goofy system where pilots were told exactly what to do by ground controllers and had very little autonomy.

The intelligence about whether the Soviets had look-down shoot-down radar was very uncertain. Some people said no, they don’t have it, some said yeah. And here’s were Tolkachev stepped into the breach.

Within a few years of his work, we knew exactly what they had and what they were working on. Tolkachev was also bringing us not only what ws happening now but what would be happening 10 years from now. A

nd if you think about it in real time, if you were in the Air Force and thinking about how you were going to deal with Soviet air defenses, getting a glimpse of their research and development 10 years ahead was invaluable …

There was also a fine line between [air defenses] and the nuclear issue. There were two aspects to strategic nuclear weapons that depended on air defenses and the kind of stuff Tolkachev brought us.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
A Tomahawk cruise missile launches from the stern vertical launch system of the USS Shiloh (CG 67) to attack selected air defense targets south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq on on Sept. 3, 1996, as part of Operation Desert Strike.

One was obviously bombers. In the early days of the Cold War [the US had] a high altitude strategy. B-52s would fly at a very high altitude and bomb from 50,000 or so feet.

Then we made a switch and we decided that the Soviets’ real vulnerability was at low altitudes. And it’s true. They did not have good radars at low altitude …

The strategic cruise missile scared the living daylights out of the Kremlin, because they knew they could fly right under their radars.

BI: Much of this book consists of reconstructions of scenes that were top-secret for many years but that you put together through researching the cable traffic and conducting interviews.

What do you see as the biggest challenge of writing about these dark spaces in American national security?

There are all kinds of missing jigsaw pieces in these narratives that we think we know, say, about terrorism, or about WMD. One of the things you find out if you’re one of those people who go with a pick and shovel at history and try to unearth rocks and tell stories is that pieces are missing — tiny little pieces, and also important things.

In this story there were a bunch of gaps that I had to report. I had enough to tell the story, but you never feel at the end that you know the whole story …

I still think there are big parts of what Tolkachev meant that are still in use and that are legitimately still classified. Even though this case is three decades old, it’s quite likely that some of that stuff is still considered pretty valuable intelligence.

More from Business Insider:

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Air Force is going to replace JSTARS

The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, better known as JSTARS, is a unique United States Air Force aircraft. What the E-3 Sentry does for aerial combat, the JSTARS does for ground warfare, providing all-weather surveillance and critical intelligence to troops in the fight. But the Air Force has now scrapped a planned replacement for the E-8 — what’s up with that?


In the wake of the cancellation of the JSTARS recapitalization program, the Air Force is planning to shift towards modifying both the Sentry as well as unmanned aerial vehicles to provide an interim replacement until a “system of systems” can take over.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
MQ-9 Reapers could receive a new radar to help replace JSTARS capabilities. (USAF photo)

Last year, the Air Force was seeking to replace the E-8 because the airframes that were equipped with the AN/APY-7 radar — the heart of the system, essentially — were second-hand Boeing 707 airliners. At the 2017 AirSpaceCyber, Lockheed’s proposed JSTARS replacement was part of a demonstration for a new mission planning system known as multi-domain command and control or, simply, MDC2. Unfortunately, as the Air Force’s needs have developed, something as large and centralized as the current JSTARS, and its slated replacement, is seen as archaic.

Now, the plan to replace the E-8s, which are slated to retire in the mid-2020s, has found its way back to square one — well, almost. Northrop Grumman’s new Ground Moving Target Indicator radar. Its modular architecture, like that of the AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar, should allow the company to use the technology on other offerings, ensuring that not all of its research and development go to waste.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
RQ-4 Global Hawks could also be equipped with newer Ground Moving Target Indicator radars. (USAF photo)

The Air Force also is planning to upgrade seven of its E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft with new communications gear instead of retiring them. Some MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles could also receive a new radar as well. At the same time, three E-8s that have become hangar queens will be retired.

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6 things that 330 Marines can do on their own

Russia recently announced that a nuclear strike was on the table after Norway allowed 330 U.S. Marines into the country.


Not 330 Marine divisions. Not 330 tanks and their crews. But 330 Marines with their personal gear.

You know, enough Marines to firmly hold a small town, but about 380,000 fewer troops than the U.S. used to invade Iraq.

But Russia has freaked out like this is a huge military force staged on their border instead of a couple of hundred troops 600 miles away. Frants Klintsevitsj, the deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee, even went on national TV and said that Norway had been added to Russia’s target list for nuclear weapons.

Listen to the author and other veterans talk about the damage 330 U.S. Marines can do on the Mandatory Fun podcast

Subscribe: iTunes | Google Play | StitcherMore Subscribe Options

It turns out that most people have been underestimating Marines since 330 of them are apparently such a strategic threat that it necessitates a nuclear deterrent. In light of this new information, here are six things that 330 Marines could do on their own:

1. Conquer Russia, obviously

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lienemann

Clearly. Russia has basically admitted it.

2. Kill Xerxes and use his bones to beat the rest of the Persian Army to death

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(Photo: Flickr/Guillaume Cattiaux)

The famed 300 Spartans at Thermopylae did a good job holding back the Persian forces, but they’re not a nuclear-equivalent force like the Marines are. And, the Marines enjoy a 10 percent size advantage against the Spartans. Expect the Marines to quickly cut their way through to Xerxes’ private traveling palace, dismantle the god-king, and use his bones as cudgels against the rest of the Persian army.

3. Install Gen. James Mattis as the Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Since Idi Amin died in 2003, the Earth has gone without a Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas. While Amin was seen as a lackluster Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas, this was mainly because he was more interested in being a tyrant of humans than anything else.

But, 330 Marines could easily quash the lions or any other animal who tries to claim dominion over our planet’s living creatures. This would allow them to install their favorite candidate for anything ever, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Also read: 15 quotes from Gen. Mad Dog’ Mattis, slayer of bodies

4. Stop the invasion of Mars currently being conducted by the legions of Hell

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(Video capture: WATM Logan Nye)

Since the traitor Olivia Pierce opened a portal to Hell and allowed legions of demonic forces with jetpacks and arm cannons to invade Mars, America has been cut off from the formerly steady argent energy produced on the red planet. But with only 330 Marines, the world could be cleared in days. It might be done within hours if the Marines can find any more of that power armor and some BFGs.

5 ways to support veterans all year long

 

5. Conquer all of Westeros and sit on the Iron Throne

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(Photo: Flickr/Pat Loika)

Seriously, it’s been six seasons already. It’s time for the Marines to end the ongoing instability of Westeros and install a strong leader. Mattis would be a great king if he’s not interested in beasts and fishes, but there are certainly other Devil Dogs who could sit on the throne. Rob Riggle might do it.

6. Claim the Arctic circle for America, including the parts that are already property of other countries

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(Photo: YouTube/BBC Newsbeat)

A race for resources has slowly gotten underway in the Arctic, and the 330 Marines in Norway could go ahead and take over the whole area. Since the Arctic circle is only 310 miles north of the Marines training area at Vaernes, Norway, it would actually be easier for them to head to the Arctic than for them to attempt an invasion of Russia.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldiers weigh in on new Army virtual marksmanship trainer

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

Beginning with weapons familiarization on the M4 carbine, M249 light machine gun and M9 Beretta pistol simulated weapon systems, soldiers from the 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commented on the differences between SAM-T and other training systems.


“It was a lot different from what I was expecting,” said Pfc. Sean Jacobs. “I thought it was going to be an expanded EST [Engagement Skills Trainer], but it turned out to be something entirely different. This new program delves into more squad tactics and is not a static engagement.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

While conducting squad movements, soldiers could maneuver through physical obstacles while reacting to an on-screen virtual simulation.

“We weren’t tethered to anything like we are at an EST, so we could move freely when doing squad-level drills with a wall-sized screen,” said Sgt. Micah Yaklich. “The weapons, and even the magazines, had the same weight and feel of our regular systems.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

Using the system’s ability to simulate different training scenarios, such as room-clearing, the squads that participated were able to react to the on-screen avatars controlled by a system-operator nearby.

5 ways to support veterans all year long

Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division were some of the first outside of training units to test the Squad Advanced Marksmanship-Trainer system March 20-21, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Phillip Tross)

“In a five man team, you have different scenarios and on-screen characters that interact with you, such as civilians and enemy who respond differently though the training,” said Pfc. Jacobs.

At the end of the training, the soldiers shared their thoughts on the SAM-T system.

“I think everyone needs to go through it … infantrymen, truck drivers, cooks, everyone, because at the end of the day you’re a rifleman first,” said Pfc. Blake Smith.

Articles

This glamour model thanks the Air Force for jump-starting her life

Ashley Salazar did a lot of stupid stuff growing up, probably no different from the stupid stuff we all did. But unlike many who made mistakes as teen, Salazar was “saved” by joining the Air Force.


5 ways to support veterans all year long
Suddenly a Cubs fan.

“A lot of people don’t even believe I served in the military,” she says. “All they see is a pretty girl, but I was a tomboy growing up. Everyone does the kind of stupid stuff I did. When I joined, Uncle Sam became my dad in a way, making sure I stayed out of trouble. It pushed me to be more than I ever thought I could be.”

She joined the Air Force because of the September 11th attacks. She actually had a potential modeling and acting career before enlisting, since her mother was also a model. But enlisting was something Salazar felt she had to do.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Slicksleeves (aka Airman Basic, E-1)

“I had a modeling agent, but I was really affected by 9/11. I was seventeen years old then,” she recalls. “I had to wait a year to join. But I did as soon as I could. I talked to Marine recruiters  and I talked to Coast Guard recruiters, but the Air Force seemed to call me the most. I wanted to serve my country. We have to fight for ourselves as Americans, but we also have to fight for those who don’t have the freedoms we have.”

The Air Force got a super troop in Airman Salazar. She was an element leader in basic training and despite a few stumbles, she graduated from Radiology technical training with a Commander’s Award that hadn’t been awarded in five years. Adversity is where Salazar thrives.

5 ways to support veterans all year long

“I first got pregnant with my daughter in radiology school. I was having very hard time as a C student. But something happened to me, where she made me go from C student to A student – from the bottom to the top of my class.” She was promoted early in a “Below the Zone” promotion and made Staff Sergeant this first time she tested for the rank.

See Also: 32 Terms Only Airmen Understand

She spent much of her career at Keesler and Scott and she did everything she could to be part of the Air Force mission. She trained into mammography, volunteered to deploy to field hospitals, and even volunteered for Security Forces augmentee duty, a job few Airmen look forward to.

“All the cops were deployed,” she says. “I was young, 18 years old, and I could go do my part. Not just for the civilians back home but for all the military members who had spouses and children. I could deploy so they don’t have to. I did have to experience things I would have rather not have seen. Everyone does.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long
(This is not one of those things.)

Salazar was stationed at Keesler AFB in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Mississippi, and Alabama. As hospital personnel, she was not able to evacuate the base and spent the aftermath, using X-rays to identify bodies —and body parts. In the meantime, she lost everything in the storm. When it came time to be relocated, she opted for Scott AFB in Illinois, to be closer to her family.

She liked her hospital job, but her favorite aspect of her Air Force career was a much higher calling: Honor Guard.

5 ways to support veterans all year long

“I did over 600 Honor Guard ceremonies between the two bases and I was flight leader while at Scott,” Salazar recalls. “Being able to give back and thank the families is the most gratifying thing I’ve ever experienced. I know someday when I pass, someone is going hand a flag to my family and it means a lot, it was and honor and it was humbling to be able to do that for people.”

Her modeling came up again after photos of her at an Air Force Christmas party wearing a red dress appeared on the Medical Group’s website. Everyone wanted to know who that woman in red was. The base photographer who took the photos begged Salazar for months to let him use her as a model. She was never really thinking of being a model.

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Salazar was Playboy’s Miss Social of 2013

 

“To be honest, I’m 5’7″ and a little bit big around the top,” she says. “And they like women who are thin and not shapely in the fashion world. Besides, I felt old at 23 or 24 and I thought 18-year-olds were the ones who modeled, not 24 year old airmen with kids. I finally caved and we did some photos. Shortly after, I was signed with an agency and then I got my first billboard across from the St. Louis Cardinals stadium.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long
But… what about those Cubs?

After that, she started doing regular modeling work using her military leave, while still maintaining her Air Force career. She even expanded into doing her own photography for others. Eventually, she did a volunteer charity calendar that got her into hot water.

“Being a Super Troop kinda hurt me in the end because the standards of professionalism in the Air Force are so high, if you mess up once, it’s unforgiving,” Salazar says. “It was a dress jacket with a little cleavage, nothing from the waist down, and I was just saluting. Which cost me my quarterly award. They also took an oak leaf cluster. I didn’t want to bring any discredit on myself or on anyone.”

Salazar left the Air Force in 2008, when the U.S. job market was tanking on an epic scale. People were losing their jobs, no one was hiring. As a recently divorced, recently separated airman, Ashley Salazar had to take care of her daughter and her mother. She turned to her creative work.

“I started this blog when I started photography,” she says. “I would interview people and take their photos and put them on this Tumblr page. Fast-forward five years and now we have this thing called MollMag which is now wildly popular. It’s been my baby and now I’m taking it to the next level. We have a new international edition released in South Africa which we started in 2013.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long
Salazar is also a supporter of breast cancer research, as the disease runs in her family.

Ashley is also currently in a contest to be the model for Pink Lipstick Lingerie. For her, it could mean a huge difference in her life and for her family.

“The one thing I haven’t been able to do as a model is be a model for a lingerie company,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity to get into a catalog. A lot of these companies also use models for those funny Halloween costumes they have at stores every year. If I win this vote, they’ll fly me to New York to do these shoots for them. Once you get into the catalog industry, its much more likely for your career to take off.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long

Through all her hard times, her experience in the Air Force has always stayed with her. It toughened her, it changed her, it prepared her for anything she might have to do in the civilian world. That experience gives her an edge, a down-to-earth, can-do mentality that keeps her from giving up where so many others might have in her position.

“I’ve been told no so many times for so many things,” she says. “Being a mom means I have a couple of stretch marks. Real women do. In the beauty world, that’s not ideal. It’s a competitive industry and it’s hard. My husband now taught me to embrace my body to accept myself my body for what it was and be happy with myself as we started to fall in love, I began to feel more comfortable and that’s when the bikini photos started to come out.”

5 ways to support veterans all year long

“They only show one perspective of beauty out there, but real women are mothers too. I wanted to see a mother in Playboy, because it affects people around the world. Women all over the world see these women and then hold themselves to that standard. And they might think ‘well, if I don’t look like that, then I’m not beautiful,’ but that’s not true.”

After the Air Force and her husband, Ashley credits her glamour model success to her fans.

“I’m lucky to have fans,” she says. “I’m grateful for every one of them. I don’t care if they follow all my work or just like my Facebook page because they think I’m hot. I’m thankful for each fan and I hope they stick around.”

To see more of Ashley Salazar’s work, visit her website.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Footage appears to show Iran’s attack on US drone

Iran’s military has released footage of what it says was its attack on a US drone on June 20, 2019.

Iran Military Tube, a YouTube channel that describes itself as the force’s unofficial media center, published a 52-second-long video that seems to show an Iranian missile launcher shooting at a object in the sky, followed by an explosion.

Watch Iran’s video — which came with dramatic backing music — below. It has been republished by outlets including The Washington Post and Sky News, which attribute the clip to Iran’s military. Reuters also published a screengrab from the video, attributing it to Iran’s IRINN news agency.


The purported video of the strike is dark because the attack took place early June 20, 2019, around 3.30 a.m. local time.

Footage of Iranian air defence shooting down American RQ-C Global Hawk in Persian Gulf

www.youtube.com

The video concludes with a map showing Iranian and international airspace around the Gulf, and the purported flight path of the drone, a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk.

Washington maintains that the drone had been in international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz, and never entered Iranian airspace.

President Donald Trump said that the drone attack was a “terrible mistake” by Iran, and reportedly approved plans for military attack before abruptly pulling out.

The US Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order prohibiting US operators from flying in Iran-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman in the wake of the drone attack.

Multiple airlines, including Australia’s Qantas and the Netherlands’s KLM, have also diverted or canceled flights that would fly over parts of Iranian airspace.

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

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Iran-backed rebels attack US ship for third time in a week

For the third time in a week, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason came under attack off the coast of Yemen by Iran-backed insurgents.


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Guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94), front, steams in formation with USS Stout (DDG 56), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Monterey (CG 61) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). The Mason and Nitze have been involved in three missile ambushes by Iran-backed Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen in recent weeks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

Guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94), front, steams in formation with USS Stout (DDG 55), USS Mason (DDG 87), USS Monterey (CG 61) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). The Mason and Nitze have been involved in three missile ambushes by Iran-backed Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen in recent weeks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

As was the case in the previous attacks, the incoming missiles were apparently fired by Houthi rebels late Saturday night and did not hit the destroyer. Yemen is about 7 hours ahead of the East Coast of the United States.

According to a report by NBC News, the Mason used countermeasures to avoid being hit. The previous attacks on Oct. 9 and Oct. 12 apparently used Noor anti-ship missiles, an Iranian copy of the Chinese C-802. In the Oct. 9 incident, USS Mason used a Nulka decoy as well as an SM-2 and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles to defeat the attack.

The second attack was defeated using what a DOD statement termed as “defensive countermeasures.”

Following the Oct. 12 attack, USS Nitze (DDG 94) launched three Tomahawk cruise missiles on radar stations officials believed helped the Houthis target the U.S. ships.

The Pentagon reported the radar stations were destroyed, but there had been speculation that the Houthi rebels used personnel in small boats or skiffs to spot targets for the anti-ship missiles.

Iran responded to the attack by deploying at least two surface combatants off the coast of Yemen.

The Mason and Nitze were deployed near Yemen with the USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) after the former Navy high-speed transport HSV-2 Swift was attacked by Houthi rebels using RPG rockets. At least two of the anti-tank rounds hit the Swift, which suffered a fire, and has been towed from the area.

In a statement after the Nitze launched the Tomahawks against the Houthis, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook warned, “The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic, as appropriate, and will continue to maintain our freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandeb, and elsewhere around the world.”

Apparently, the Houthi didn’t think the United States was serious.

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Mar. 18

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team deputes their 2017 routine during the 81st Training Group drill down at the Levitow Training Support Facility drill pad March 10, 2017, on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The team comes to Keesler every year for five weeks to develop a new routine that they will use throughout the year.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. David J. Murphy

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, takes off March 10, 2017, at Andersen AFB, Guam. The B-1B’s are deployed to Andersen as part of U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence operations. This forward deployed presence demonstrates continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Most importantly, these bomber rotations provide Pacific Air Forces and USPACOM commanders an extended deterrence capability.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo

ARMY:

U.S. Army Spc. Vincent Ventarola, assigned to Cobra Battery, Field Artillery Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, pulls the lanyard on a M777 Howitzer during Exercise Dynamic Front II at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 9, 2017. Dynamic Front is an artillery operability exercise and focuses on developing solutions within the theater level fires system by executing multi-echelon fires and testing interoperability at the tactical level. It includes nearly 1,400 participants from nine NATO nations.

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U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach

Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters from 12th Combat Aviation Brigade conduct environmental qualifications and sling-load training with M777 howitzers, Jan. 18, 2017, outside Grafenwoehr, Germany. Aircrews practice flying in whiteout conditions areas with heavy snow fall and wind.

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U.S. Armyphoto by Capt. Jaymon Bell

NAVY:

EAST CHINA SEA (March 16, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Jesse Harris, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), braces himself as an MV-22B Osprey, assigned to the “Flying Tigers” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262, takes off during an air assault exercise. Bonhomme Richard is on a routine patrol operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance warfighting readiness and posture forward as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jesse Marquez Magallanes

SUEZ CANAL (March 10, 2017) Sailors gather on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to view the Friendship Bridge as the ship transits the Suez Canal. George H.W. Bush and its carrier strike group are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael B. Zingaro

MARINE CORPS:

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryce Meeker, a hospital corpsman with 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, scouts out the terrain during Exercise Forest Light 17-1 at Somagahara, Japan, March 10, 2017. Forest Light is designed to maintain readiness of Japan Ground Self-Defense and deployed U.S. Marine Corps forces to ensure an effective and rapid response to any contingency in the region.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs during the Battle Color Ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, March 2, 2017. The ceremony was held to celebrate Marine Corps history using music, marching and precision drill.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christian Oliver Cach

COAST GUARD:

Coast Guard and NOAA responders confer during whale disentanglement operations off Maui March 11, 2017. The services received a report of an entangled humpback whale off Maui prompting a two-day response to remove a large electrical cable from the mouth of the whale.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Lester

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 rescue helicopter rescued overdue kayaker Josh Kaufman (center) during the morning of March 17, 2017, after being stranded on the uninhabited island of Desecheo, approximately 13 nautical miles off Rincon, Puerto Rico. Kaufman, 25, a resident of Fla. was visiting his family in Puerto Rico, when he was reported being overdue to the Coast Guard from a kayak trip in Rincon March 16, 2017.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

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French train hero Spencer Stone hospitalized after being ‘repeatedly stabbed’ in Sacramento

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U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane


Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone has been hospitalized in stable condition after being “repeatedly stabbed” in Sacramento, California on Wednesday night, NBC News is reporting.

“A1C Spencer Stone has been transported to a local hospital, and is currently being treated for injury,” Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said in an email in Air Force Times. “The incident is currently under investigation by local law enforcement. He is currently in stable condition.”

The incident occurred around 12:45 a.m. between 20th and 22nd street in Sacramento. Stone was stabbed “multiple times” in the chest following an altercation, police told KCRA-TV. Sacramento Police reported the incident as not being terrorism-related, tweeting that alcohol was believed to be a factor since it happened near a bar.

The airman was one of three Americans who thwarted an attack on a French train in August. During the attack, Stone, 23, tackled and disarmed the gunman, who slashed him in the neck and nearly sliced off his thumb with a box cutter, according to NBC Bay Area.

The Air Force medic is originally from Sacramento and stationed at Travis Air Force Base, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Alek Skarlatos, Stone’s friend and fellow hero of the French train attack, tweeted his support:

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Project goes into the woods with ‘off the grid’ veterans

A few years ago a team of journalists from Syracuse University traveled to rural Washington state to tell the stories of hundreds of veterans living there, some off-the-grid, away from the country for which they fought.


The project includes the story of Chad Olsen, a Marine who killed his wife and himself in 2009, and the stories of those who knew him. It features the stories of Ryn Rollins and Adam Howerton, who (at the time) were 18 and enlisting in the Army. The project also shows how one Marine veteran who struggles with post-traumatic stress and returning to everyday life after three tours in Iraq.

The project also follows “trip-wire veterans,” a small group of vets who escaped their lives into the wilds of American back country because they were unable to face their war memories and were provided little help when they returned. The term “trip-wire” comes from the Vietnam War, where the Viet Cong would booby trap trails used by U.S. servicemen to injure and maim troops outside their bases.

The term was first coined in the early 1980’s, when around 85 people were documented living in the Washington wilds. It was not known then how many were out there. One former trip-wire vet was Mike McWatters. He lived in New York’s Adirondack Mountains for two years after seeing heavy combat in Vietnam. In 1983, he started work to reach out to these veterans to encourage them to seek treatment.

“I know one vet who went into the woods naked,” McWatters said. “He came out in full leather clothing, having gained 40 pounds, carrying weapons he’d made.”

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Photo by Juliette Lynch

When these veterans were first discovered, the media often inaccurately portrayed them as criminals and drunks or worse. In June, 1988, Dan Rather and CBS News interviewed six “Vietnam veterans” who admitted to killing civilians or seeing friends killed in action, and had since become homeless, suicidal drug users after the war. Later investigations showed none of it was true.

The reality is not so black and white. The project hit important topics beyond PTSD – women, race (specifically Native Americans) and the wives and children veterans leave behind, all from the rural town of Republic, Washington.

 This team did more than just tell tales of the people living there. They provided thoroughly researched background information on veteran suicide, the steps to getting a VA disability claim, and an infographic on U.S. wars from 1900 (current as of 2010) and those who fought them.

Now: A top US intelligence official ‘privately floated’ a potential deal to bring Snowden home 

 

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Here’s why the US Navy isn’t worried about Russia and China’s supposed threats to its fleet

On Tuesday, the Navy announced that the USS Coronado had completed initial operational tests and evaluations with Raytheon’s SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system, and in doing so, they answered a big question.


Anti-ship cruise missiles have long been an area of concern for US military planners as China and Russia develop increasingly mature and threatening missiles of that type.

Effectively, both Russia‘s and China‘s anti-ship missiles and air power have the capability to deny US or NATO forces access to strategically important areas, like the South China Sea, the Black Sea, and the Baltics.

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USS Coronado arriving in San Francisco | Flickr

And that’s where the SeaRAM anti-ship cruise missile could potentially be a game changer. Building upon the already capable Phalanx close-in weapons system, a computer-controlled 20 mm gun system that automatically tracks and fires on incoming threats, the SeaRAM system simply replaces the gun with a rolling-airframe-missile launcher.

The autonomous firing controls of the SeaRAM system, as well as it’s use of the existing Phalanx infrastructure, means that the system will have relatively low manning costs, and that its procurement was affordable.

The tests showed that the SeaRAM system performed in hostile, complicated conditions. Raytheon claims the system shot down two simultaneously inbound supersonic missiles as they flew in “complex, evasive maneuvers.”

Here is the SeaRAM tracking and firing on a target:

“The successful testing on the Independence variant (USS Coronado) demonstrates the self-defense capabilities of the ship and systems and installs confidence in Coronado as the ship prepares for its maiden deployment this summer,” said LCS program manager Capt. Tom Anderson in the statement.

Currently, the Navy plans for the Coronado to take an extended deployment to Singapore.

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Sailors assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) load a rolling-airframe-missile launcher onto the ship on August 12, 2015. | US Navy photo

“USS Coronado is designed to fight and win in contested waters, where high-end anti-ship cruise missiles pose a significant threat to naval forces,” Cmdr. Scott Larson, Coronado’s commanding officer, said in a NAVSEA statement.

“Today’s test validates the Independence variant’s ability to effectively neutralize those threats and demonstrates the impressive capability SeaRAM brings to our arsenal.”

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7 undeniable signs you’re a super POG

Look, not everyone can be a hardcore, red-blooded meat eater. Someone has to man the phones at the big bases and that’s just the job for you. You’re a vital part of the American war machine, and you should be proud of yourself.


But there are some things you’re doing that open you up to a bit of ridicule. Sure, not everyone is going to be a combat arms bubba, embracing the suck and praying they’ll get stomped on by the Army just one more time today. But some of us POGs are taking our personal comfort a little too far and failing to to properly embrace the Army lifestyle.

Here are seven signs that you’re not only a POG but a super POG:

1. You’re more likely to bring your “luggage” than a duffel bag and rucksack

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(via NavyMemes.com)

There are some semi-famous photos of this phenomenon that show support soldiers laughing in frustration as they try to roll wheeled bags across the crushed gravel and thick mud of Kandahar and other major bases.

This is a uniquely POG problem, as any infantryman — and most support soldiers worth their salt — know that they’re going to be on unforgiving terrain and that they’ll need their hands free to use their weapon while carrying weight at some point. Both of those factors make rolling bags a ridiculous choice.

2. You actually enjoy collecting command coins

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(Photo: WATM)

Seriously, what is it about these cheap pieces of unit “swag” that makes them so coveted. I mean, sure, back when those coins could get you free drinks, it made some sense. But now? It’s the military version of crappy tourist trinkets.

Anyone who wants to remember the unit instead of their squad mates was clearly doing the whole “deployment” thing wrong. And challenge coins don’t help you remember your squad; selfies while drunk in the barracks or photos of the whole platoon making stupid faces while pointing their weapons in the air do.

3. You don’t understand why everyone makes such a big deal about MREs (just go to TGI Fridays if you’re tired of them!)

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(via Valhalla Wear)

More than once I’ve heard POGs say that MREs aren’t that bad and you can always go to the DFAC or Green Beans or, according to one POG on Kandahar Air Field, down to TGI Friday’s when you’re tired of MREs. And I’m going to need those people to check their POG privilege.

Look, not every base can get an American restaurant. Not every base has a DFAC. A few bases couldn’t even get regular mermite deliveries. Those soldiers, unfortunately, were restricted to MREs and their big brother, UGRs (Unitized Group Rations), both of which have limited, repetitive menus and are not great for one meal, let alone meals for a year.

So please, send care packages.

4. You think of jet engines as those things that interrupt your sleep

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Afterburners lit while an F-22 of the 95th Fighter Squadron takes off. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

I know, it’s super annoying when you’re settling into a warm bed on one of the airfields and, just as you drift off, an ear-splitting roar announces that a jet is taking off, filling your belly with adrenaline and guaranteeing that you’ll be awake another hour.

But please remember that those jets are headed to help troops in contact who won’t be getting any sleep until their enemies retreat or are rooted out. A fast, low flyover by a loud jet sometimes gets the job done, and a JDAM strike usually does.

So let the jets fly and invest in a white noise machine. The multiple 120-volt outlets in your room aren’t just for show.

5. You’ve broken in more office chairs than combat boots

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Pretty obvious. POGs spend hours per day in office chairs, protecting their boots from any serious work, while infantryman are more likely to be laying out equipment in the motor pool, marching, or conducting field problems, all of which get their boots covered in grease and mud while wearing out the soles and seams.

6. You still handle your rifle like it’s a dead fish or a live snake

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No, POGs, you don’t.

While most troops work with their weapons a few times a year and combat arms soldiers are likely to carry it at least a few times a month on some kind of an exercise, true super POGs MIGHT see their M4 or M16 once a year. And many of them are too lazy to even name it. (I miss you, Rachel.)

Because of this, they still treat their weapon as some sort of foreign object, holding it at arms length like it’s a smelly fish that could get them dirty or a live snake that could bite them. Seriously, go cuddle up to the thing and get used to it. It’ll only kill the things you point it at, and only if you learn to actually use it.

7. You’re offended by the word “POG”

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Yes, it’s rude for the mean old infantry to call you names, but come on. All military service is important, and it’s perfectly honorable to be a POG (seriously, I wrote a column all about that), but the infantry is usually calling you a POG to tease you or to pat themselves on the back.

And why shouldn’t they? Yes, all service counts, but the burdens of service aren’t shared evenly. While the combat arms guys are likely to sleep in the dirt many nights and are almost assured that they’ll have to engage in combat at some point, the troops who network satellites will rarely experience a day without air conditioning.

Is it too much to let the grunts lob a cheap insult every once in a while?

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