6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Women quietly broke through barriers last fall when they became the first in the Army to earn the prestigious Expert Infantryman Badge at Fort Bragg.


The badge, which was created in the 1940s, only recently opened to women when the Department of Defense struck down regulations that prevented them from serving in infantry jobs. The women earned the badge during testing with hundreds of male candidates in November — about two years after infantry jobs opened to women.

“This historic achievement is a reminder of the great things we can achieve when women are seen and treated as equals and given the same chance to contribute to their country,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said in a statement. The Democrat from Illinois was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Image from Flickr)

In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Black Hawk pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard when it was struck down by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm.

“These six incredible women prove exactly why the Department of Defense was right to allow women to serve in all military roles, an action that was long overdue,” she said. “Remember, women have served attached to infantry units for decades without being formally assigned to the unit — so even when they meet the requirements, they technically could not earn the EIB until now.”

Through a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, all six women who earned the badge declined to talk about their achievement or the significance of the badge. The division did not name the women.

Division leaders declined interview requests for this story.

To earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, a soldier must successfully complete 30 tasks that prove mastery infantry skills. If a soldier makes three errors, he or she fails and must wait one year to try again.

At Fort Bragg, soldiers were tested on weapons proficiency and medical and patrol skills.

Soldiers assembled the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, claymore mine, Javelin, and AK-47 weapons systems. Among medical tasks, they performed first aid for a suspected fracture, open head wound, open abdominal wound and burns. In the patrol lane, soldiers decontaminated themselves and equipment, identified terrain features on a map, and applied camouflage.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Master Sgt. Renee Baldwin fires a .50-caliber machine gun during training last summer at Joint Multinational Training Command’s Grafenwoehr range in Germany. (U.S. Army photo)

The testing takes place over several days, during the day and at night.

Of the 1,000 candidates who tested for the badge at Fort Bragg in November, 287 earned it. The candidates came from Fort Bragg, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, 18th Airborne Corps and units at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Also Read: The first and only female Buffalo Soldier joined the Army disguised as a man

Traditionally, only about 18 percent of all candidates who test for the badge earn it.

Testing for the Expert Infantryman Badge is conducted at several installations each year. Standards for the test are set by the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

A ‘soldier skill’

As women became eligible for infantry jobs, Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Celestine said there was never skepticism that women wouldn’t be strong enough or trained well enough to test for the badge.

“No, there was no doubt,” said Celestine, command sergeant major of the Infantry School. “I’ve deployed on multiple times and I’ve been side-by-side with women. When we talk about technical competency, it’s not about ‘man or woman.’ This is a soldier skill. We’re all one team here.”

Col. Townley Hedrick, deputy commandant for the school, said the Army’s training has set women up for success, just like the men who have been training in those jobs for decades. He said he expected women to earn the badge.

“Women are going through infantry basic training,” he said. “They’re going through operations. We expect them to go through it and earn it just like a man.”

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who recently left command of the 18th Airborne Corps, said the corps and overall Army readiness has been strengthened as women integrate into combat arms jobs.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
A Soldier with 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team drags a simulated casualty to the finish line of Objective Bull Dec. 15, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Objective Bull was the final event of the Expert Infantry Badge testing, which was held Dec. 11-15. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup)

“Army forces must possess the capabilities — and be prepared to fight across multiple domains and through contested areas — to deter potential adversaries, and should deterrence fail, rapidly defeat them,” he said. “As the Army shapes the future force, we will ensure that every individual has the opportunity to maximize his or her potential.”

The achievement has fueled the passion for Jakhira Blue, a 17-year-old 2017 graduate of North Johnston High School, who had been planning to enlist in the Army as airborne infantry. She will head to Fort Benning for training in March.

She knows she’ll be in the minority in infantry training since the jobs opened to women. It doesn’t matter, she said.

“It’s going to make me push myself harder,” she said. “I want to show everybody I can do it.”

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of Nov. 4

Well, if you’re reading this, you survived Halloween. Good job. Now get ready to get your leave forms kicked back because it’s time for the holidays!


1. You figure the first General of the Air Force since Hap Arnold would like his job a little (via Air Force Nation).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Most believable part of his password? No special characters were used.

2. It’s too late to take those life decisions back (via The Salty Soldier).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
But it’s not too late to dodge the retention NCO.

3. The Coast Guard is happy with even the minimal amount of love (via Coast Guard Memes).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
We see you, Coast Guard. We see you.

4. Take this seriously. Your ability to spot them could determine your survival (via Military Memes).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Notice how their dinosaur pattern blends in with the desolate wasteland of Best Korea.

5. The maintainers I met were more of the swamp-thing-with-a-mustache type (via Air Force Memes Humor).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
But maybe that was just at Pope AFB.

6. The nice thing about Navy surgeons is that you don’t have to pay either way!

(via Military Memes)

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Plus, they can identify most of the bones. Like, way more than half of them.

7. When the weekend warriors win so hard that you can’t even mock them:

(via Military Memes)

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Good job, nasty girls. Good job.

8. “Crossing into the blue” is when you’re done with the bleach and move on to the window cleaner (via Air Force Nation).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
The starter packs for all military E1s to E3s are surprisingly similar.

9. Accurate (via Military Nations).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Say a prayer for the poor NCOs who have to fix this.

10. Go anywhere. Park anywhere (via Coast Guard Memes).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
But watch out for power lines and tree branches.

11. Don’t get between the general and his chow (via Military Memes).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

12. “The night air is so clear! You can see all the stars and tangos!”

(via Military Memes)

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

13. Hey, as long as he gets the cavities out (via Navy Memes).

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
He’ll probably get every single bad tooth out in one try.

MIGHTY TRENDING

In the IRR? The military may want you back if you served in one of these jobs

At least one of the military services says it’s looking for members of the Individual Ready Reserve to come back into the fold — and the call goes beyond just those who served in medical specialties.

As the country faces a potentially monthslong emergency over the novel coronavirus crisis, the military services could turn to a pool of veterans who thought their days in uniform were behind them.


President Donald Trump signed an executive order last month giving the Pentagon the authority to recall some members of the IRR to active duty — a move that likely sent many veterans rushing to check their discharge papers. Veterans can typically be recalled to active duty for eight years after the start of their service contracts, even once they’re out of uniform.

Most of the services say they’re still assessing their needs in the wake of Trump’s new order. But Lt. Col. Mary Ricks, a spokeswoman for Army Human Resources Command, said they’re seeking volunteers who served in at least four fields outside medical jobs.

“The Army is also looking for soldiers who served in the areas of logistics, aviation, as drill sergeants or recruiters,” Ricks said. “Protecting our citizens from coronavirus is a whole-of-nation call, and we need the help of our Individual Ready Reserve and our Retired Soldiers to maximize this critical effort.”

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, she added, is an “extraordinary challenge [that] requires equally extraordinary solutions.”

The Navy and Marine Corps are still reviewing whether there’s a need to recall members of the IRR, spokesmen for those services said.

The Air Force expects to target medical personnel for mobilization first, but it could expand to other specialties. That includes command-and-control elements and logistics personnel, said Sean Houlihan, an Air Force Reserve Command spokesman.

While there’s not an immediate plan to tap former airmen who served in those fields, Houlihan said the Air Force has the authority to do so.

“[Air Reserve Component] members must be prepared for mobilization at any time,” he said.

This wouldn’t be the first time the military has turned to voluntary or involuntary recall to carry out a critical mission. The Army notified around 21,000 members of the IRR they were needed during Desert Storm, Ricks said. About 18,000 of them reported for duty.

The Marine Corps got the authority in 2006 to recall up to 2,000 members of the IRR for a one-year period, said Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a Marine Corps Forces Reserve spokesman. That was in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S., when combat missions in both Afghanistan and Iraq ramped up.

The military services have activated at least a portion of the Reserves to carry out missions tied to the coronavirus pandemic. The Army Reserve has several sustainment, logistics and civil-authority units providing services in Utah, as well as New Orleans and other U.S. cities.

The Navy has nearly 200 reservists serving on hospital ships in New York and California, said Lt. Cmdr. Ben Tisdale, a Navy Reserve Force spokesman. Dozens more Navy reservists are serving on COVID-19 response missions across the joint force, he added.

If the pandemic requires a large-scale military response, officials say there are a host of benefits to being able to tap into the IRR to recall service members.

“It is a pre-trained pool of manpower that is available for recall on short notice to fulfill service requirements,” Hollenbeck said. “This means that most IRR Marines will require only minimal screening and training in order to return to active duty.”

Ricks said former soldiers and retirees possess the skills, training and education to augment the Army’s COVID-19 responses.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

That could prove invaluable, she added, “to ultimately win this fight.”

The likelihood of involuntary recalls being used will probably depend on how many veterans who recently left the service volunteer to fill in-demand requirements.

The Army over the last several weeks has seen an influx of volunteers after asking medical professionals in eight specialties to return to service to backfill hospitals after troops were called on to fill emergency field facilities in areas hard hit by coronavirus outbreaks. More than 25,000 retired and former soldiers have offered to return to their former uniformed roles.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the drone ships being deployed by terrorists

Drone-controlled boats filled with explosives were reportedly used in at least one attempted attack on Saudi Arabia in early October 2018.

Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed that the A Royal Saudi Naval Forces frigate Al Madinah-class 702 intercepted two boats laden with explosives traveling toward the major port of Jazan, located directly north of the country’s border with Yemen.

Al-Malaki said the Navy spotted two boats approaching the port on Sunday morning that appeared to be remotely controlled. The boats, reportedly operated by the Houthi group in Yemen, were destroyed and caused only minor material damage.


He warned that coalition forces “will strike with iron fist all those involved in acts of terrorism.”

“Those hostile acts will not go by without holding the ones executing, plotting and planning them accountable for their actions.”

On Oct. 2, 2018, Saudi border guards said they rescued a Saudi fishing boat that came under fire from unknown attackers while in Gulf waters, according to Al Arabiya. Border guards said that three fishermen on board were being treated for injuries, and an investigation into the origin of attack was underway.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen.

Over the last year, regional forces reportedly intercepted several drone boat attacks.

In January 2017, Houthi forces struck a Saudi warship using a remote-controlled boat. And in April 2017, Houthi forces attempted to blow up a Saudi Aramco fuel terminal and distribution station in Jazan using a high-speed boat rigged with explosives.

Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet, told Defense News in 2017 that there is concern over the Yemeni rebel group having access to this remote type of weaponry.

“That’s not an easy thing to develop,” he said. “There’s clearly support there coming from others, so that’s problematic,” pointing to production support of the mobile weapons by Iran.

He added that explosive boats create a new category of self-destructive attacks.

“You don’t need suicide attackers to do a suicide-like attack.”

“So it makes that kind of weaponry, which would normally take someone suicidal to use, now able to be used by someone who’s not going to martyr themselves.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran sues US at the World Court for leaving the nuclear deal

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has confirmed that Iran has filed a lawsuit against the United States over the reimposition of sanctions against Tehran by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, claiming the move violates the nuclear treaty Tehran signed with the United States and five other world powers.

A U.S. State Department official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said on July 17, 2018, that Iran’s application was “baseless” and that Washington intended “to vigorously defend the United States before the ICJ.”


Confirmation by the court on July 17, 2018, came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the case was filed at the ICJ to hold the United States “accountable for its unlawful reimposition of unilateral sanctions.”

“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of U.S. contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations,” Zarif tweeted. “It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating international law.”

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

U.S. President Donald Trump

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Under the deal signed in 2015, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union agreed to lift international sanctions against Iran.

In return, Iran scaled back its uranium-enrichment program and promised not work on developing nuclear weapons.

The lifting of sanctions has allowed Iran to sell its oil and natural gas on world markets — although secondary U.S. sanctions remained in place.

But in May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump said during a NATO summit in July 2018 that with the U.S. increasing sanctions on Iran, “at a certain point they’re going to call me and say, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal.”

But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said on July 17, 2018, that if Trump wants to negotiate after pulling out of the international agreement, he would have to “initiate the call himself” because Iran’s top leadership was now rejecting any talks with the United States.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what it was like to train right next to North Korea

With things starting to look up on the peninsula, it’s hard to believe that, in 2014, we were sitting around waiting to see what, exactly, was going to be the straw to break the Korean camel’s back reignite the (technically still-ongoing) Korean War. Thankfully, the North was wise enough to know not to f*ck with a Marine Corps infantry battalion. Regardless, we kept training for the worst.

We don’t have to tell you it’s cold on the Korean peninsula; you can read about that elsewhere. No, what you’re here for is to know what it was like for a Marine to be sitting three miles from the Korean Demilitarized Zone for a month and a half.


6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
We took the training more seriously at the time.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

Scary at first…

Yeah, it was. At the time, of course, we continuously called NK’s bluff because they did bark a lot for decades following the Armistice, but they’re enough of a loose cannon that some of us didn’t want to get complacent. It was better to assume that they were going to do something and we would be the first on the scene.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
We went on a DMZ tour and found out just how close it actually was.
(Photo courtesy of the author)

Of course, we didn’t realize how close we were to the DMZ until North Korea launched a few missiles. My company had been out on a range, police calling in the middle of the night when we noticed a couple of shooting stars streak across the sky. It was a beautiful site. That is, until we went back to base and saw that they were definitely missiles…

It didn’t help that the base didn’t have any ammunition for the first couple of weeks. We were basically sitting ducks, and if North Korea had known any better, it could have been huntin’ season.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
The biggest training challenge was the temperature.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb T. Maher)

…then it was boring…

After the edge wore off, we became super bored. It didn’t help that we were on a base that was small enough for you to be able to throw a rock from one end and hit some POG working on a Humvee on the other. The training itself wasn’t bad. It was all easy stuff. But it was the heavy amount of downtime that really threw us for a loop.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Seriously, so much Friends.

External hard drives containing anything from games to movies to adult entertainment were passed around the platoon. Cigarettes, smoked all the way to the butt, were deposited into the butt can at least five times per day (more when the temperature was above 50 degrees). In fact, we probably broke the record for how many times you can watch Friends from beginning to end in a single week.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
The ROK Marines were honestly pretty cool.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Mains)

…until the ROK Marines showed up.

It was a major snoozefest up until the Republic of Korea Marine Corps showed up. Then it quickly turned into a dog-and-pony show on top of the snooze fest. Then, training became much more frequent, so it quelled our boredom. We ended up forgetting that North Korea existed during that time, you know, except when our Battalion Commander reminded us during every formation.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
My platoon before a major training op that was called off because the range was set on fire.

All in all, training next to North Korea was hyped up beyond what it actually was. There was a lot of anxious excitement at first and then it was just, “what show are we watching today?” For a first deployment, I definitely expected a lot more, but, thankfully, it wasn’t any more exciting than it was because, you know, fighting in the cold would suck.

So, that’s what it’s like to train next to North Korea.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The amazing way France just honored this WW2 vet

Hundreds of people gathered in a South Georgia Medical Center lobby to honor a 93-year-old World War II hero.

George Aigen was bestowed the highest honor in France: induction into the French Legion of Honor as a knight, or chevalier, April 11, 2019, in Valdosta, Ga.

“More than 70 years ago, George Aigen risked his young life for the freedom of France and Europe,” said Louis de Corail, Consul General of France in Atlanta, who presented Aigen with the medal.


6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

George Aigen enters his pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

“France is what it is today, a free and sovereign country, thanks to the bravery of such veterans and thanks to the [United States]. We are now decades away from World War II and yet we still pay homage to veterans, the legacy of their courage and the fight for freedom in a time darkness and despicable ideologies came to power in Europe.”

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Matt Flumerfelt plays the French and United States national anthem and during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

In recent years, France made a special provision to honor all American veterans who risked their lives on French soil from June 6, 1944 to May 8, 1945, Aigen being one of them.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Veterans stand for the national anthem during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

In April 1945, as a 19-year-old Army corporal, Aigen fought alongside other soldiers in 1269th Combat Engineers Company B and was part of the group who liberated Dachau, the first concentration camp built by the Nazis in 1933.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Judy Hathcock, left, stands for the national anthem during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

In a previously recorded video interview, Aigen recounted what happened as they approached Dachau, “As I approached the gate, I was a 19-year-old corporal with a rifle in my hand. When we went up to the gate there was hellish chaos.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Joyce Aigen, left, and her daughter Judy Hathcock, stand for the national anthem, during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

“Everybody was looking for help, they were starving and in very bad shape. We brought in medical help, food and water, and helped as many as we could. Coming face-to-face with it, seeing it eye-to-eye … it was hell on earth. I always said the war was hell, but this is one step further.”

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

George Aigen listens to remarks during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

During the ceremony, the crowd reflected on the heroic and selfless actions of Aigen and all of the veterans who fought in the war and had a hand in the liberation of France.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

George Aigen salutes everyone in attendance at his pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

There are approximately 93,000 current Legion of Honor recipients, and for American veterans to qualify, they must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France in Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Joyce Aigen, and her daughter Judy Hathcock, embrace during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

Although Aigen’s actions qualified for the Legion of Honor, the process was not automatic. At an after-hours work event in 2016, Aigen and his wife Joyce met Dr. Christine LeClerc-Sherling, a local college professor, who submitted the application.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

Joyce Aigen gives remakrs during a pinning ceremony honoring her husband George Aigen.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

Within five days, the application was sent to the local consulate. From there, the two year journey began with the application traveling to the embassy in Washington D.C. then to Paris to be vetted. Ultimately, the official decree was signed by the President of the Republic of France, March 15, 2019.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge

George Aigen, and his daughter Judy Hathcock, embrace during a pinning ceremony.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Janiqua P. Robinson)

“At the time we thought it would be a four to 10-month process, but I can tell you that after these years, me and family are the most blessed from that wait,” LeClerc-Sherling said. “Being around George and Joyce has influenced my family so much. It made me a better citizen, a more committed family member and definitely a more loyal friend.

“George and Joyce are absolutely everything that is right with this world.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How a ragtag band of civilians got strong for service women

On the day I reported for duty as a volunteer in an extreme Army experiment of women’s strength, I stopped my car at the gate, watched the guard approaching, and thought about turning around. I’d seen the movies. I’d watched A Few Good Men and Private Benjamin and winced at the exhausting runs, pushups, shouting by grouchy drill instructors and general toughness required to thrive on a military base. I was a civilian at the edge of a world full of camo and shorn heads and running in formation and all I could think was, Do I have what it takes to get through this?

It was May of 1995, and scientists at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) on the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Command (USASSC) base in Natick, Massachusetts, were kicking off a seminal study to determine if women could get strong enough to perform the toughest military tasks usually assigned to men. With only one female soldier available for the seven-month program, the scientists had recruited 45 ordinary civilians. I was a 24-year-old cub reporter in average shape who loathed running. It was time to put on my big-girl pants and push myself past my limits.

From the start, our ragtag band of women seemed an unlikely crew to take on such a lofty pursuit. More weekend walkers than G.I. Janes, we came to the base at varying fitness levels, shapes and sizes, and our ranks included stay-at-home moms, teachers, a landscaper, a student, a prison guard, a bartender and one journalist. But with mighty hearts and iron will, we intended to smash through those expectations. They said women couldn’t do it. We hit back: Watch me.

Sara and several other women she trained with

We did everything asked of us and more. I strapped on a 75-pound backpack and hiked two miles over rugged terrain, and though I ended up shuffling more than running the first time, I finished (albeit with shredded heels and blood blisters). I ran until I was sick while dragging a 110-pound trailer through thick woods and a meadow choked with weeds and wildflowers. I lifted more, more, more each week, carried sandbags and heavy metal boxes until my hands were calloused, pushed through five-mile backpack hikes and sprinted up steep hills.

I was honored to carry water for the women doing the work of defending our country, and I felt pressure to show up for them—a lot of people were watching us, after all. The experiment had made international headlines even before it began when a controversy about women in combat almost shut us down, and now the big TV networks were pressing for access to the base to film us in action (they never got it—my newspaper had the exclusive). At the time, females were still banned from most ground combat roles. I knew that on average we possess around 50 to 60 percent of males’ upper body strength, but I also knew women who could perform incredible physical feats. I didn’t think it was fair for anyone to be banned from a job based on averages.

The test subjects formed fast, tight friendships to help get us through the rigorous training regimen and quickly developed our own rallying cry. In the first week, one of us blurted, “Do what?” when told to do something that seemed near impossible. “F— that!” I replied under my breath. For the rest of the study, we’d shout that call and answer to get psyched up before our toughest tests. Everyone on post knew who we were, and for a long time I noted skeptical glances and heard a snide remark or two while running through the base. But by the end, the soldiers, officers and civilian personnel were openly cheering us on.

This week marks exactly 25 years since the research scientists who designed the study, principal investigator Everett Harman and Pete Frykman, released their results. The full story of our journey is a little-known piece of military history that will be told for the first time in my forthcoming book The Strong Ones: How a Band of Civilian Women Made Their Mark on the Armyout February 9.

Spoiler alert: We did it. The data showed 78 percent of test subjects could now qualify for Army jobs categorized as “very heavy,” in which soldiers must occasionally lift 100 pounds, whereas only 24 percent could at the beginning. We also showed a 33 percent improvement on the 75-pound backpack test, going from 36 minutes to 27.5 minutes for two miles. And we did it all efficiently by training 1 ½ hours a day, five days a week.

News clip of the study proving women could pass army tests

In 2016 when I learned all military jobs were opened up to women, I began my research for The Strong Ones to find out how we might have helped change things. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say the test subjects affected future military women in more ways than one.

It’s been inspiring to watch women kicking butt in so many new roles in every branch over the past few years, and interesting to hear more than a few I’ve met along the way hit back at their doubters the same way we did back then: Watch me.

For a sneak peak, see The Strong Ones book trailer below.

Articles

US flies bombers over South Korea after the North’s latest nuke test

On Tuesday, the US dispatched two US Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in response to North Korea’s largest nuclear test.


The long-range supersonic strategic bombers were joined by Japanese F-2s for training to “enhance operational capabilities and the tactical skills of units.”

The bombers were then joined by South Korean F-15s and US F-16s for a low-level flight in the vicinity of Osan, South Korea. Upon completion of the bilateral flight, the B-1Bs returned to Andersen Air Force Base.

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
Two US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, conducted training with fighter aircraft from the Japan Air Self Defense Force and a low-level flight with fighter aircraft from the Republic of Korea. | Photo by US Forces Korea

“These flights demonstrate the solidarity between South Korea, the United States, and Japan to defend against North Korea’s provocative and destabilizing actions,” US Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris said in a statement.

“North Korea continues to blatantly violate its international obligations, threatening the region through an accelerating program of nuclear tests and unprecedented ballistic missile launches that no nation should tolerate. US joint military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific are always ready to defend the American homeland. We stand resolutely with South Korea and Japan to honor our unshakable alliance commitments and to safeguard security and stability.”

6 women just earned the Expert Infantryman Badge
A B-1B being escorted by F-16s Photo by US Forces Korea

On Monday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman said the rogue regime is ready to conduct an additional nuclear test at any time.

“Assessment by South Korean and US intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in the Punggye-ri area,” spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said, according to Reuters.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Chinese ‘re-education centers’ hold millions prisoner

In the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, many locals read endlessly, write often, and sing loudly.

But not by choice.

In extrajudicial indoctrination camps around Xinjiang, ethnic Uighur men and women are forced to study Chinese history, write personal reflections, and sing songs like “Without the Communist Party, there is no New China.” Many are beaten, tortured, and are unable to go home.


China considers this process “re-education.” It runs outside the court system with people dragged away for infringements like talking to a loved one overseas or having a beard, and there is no course for appeal.

A recent estimate put the number of people who have been, or are currently, interned since April 2017, in the hundreds of thousands, or even just over one million.

Though the exact total is unknown, Adrian Zenz, a social researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology, pored over local job ads and government bids to find new evidence of the system’s existence and scale.

Since 2016, there were government bids to construct or upgrade 73 facilities in Xinjiang that, despite various names, appeared as though they will operate, wholly or at least in part, as re-education centers.

Re-education centers are often disguised as vocational training hubs, as many were in these bids, but the details betray their hidden purpose.

Together, the facilities required guard rooms, video surveillance, security fences, police equipment, police living quarters, handheld security inspection devices, steel-reinforced concrete walls, and even iron chains.

“Many of these facilities are heavily secured, to an extent that they do not just aim to keep potential intruders out, but to keep those inside under tight surveillance.” Zenz told Business Insider.

Twenty bids listed new or upgraded monitoring or video surveillance. One bid from January 2018, wanted 122 cameras to cover the whole facility without leaving any “dead angles.”

One center required security nets, the renovation of a guard room, and “four watchtowers.” Another, submitted on April 25, 2018, requested an 86,000 square-foot “underground facility.”

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These security features, according to Zenz, confirm reports that vocation centers frequently function as internment camps, though many facilities likely sit on a continuum.

“All we know is that a substantial number of facilities, likely capable of holding at least several hundred thousand, are geared more towards the re-education side. Some are explicitly and directly marked as re-education facilities. More than likely, facilities with a stronger vocational training focus can likewise hold several hundred thousands,” said Zenz.

“Some even specifically state that they are designed to perform ‘re-education.’ An official government notice from April 2017, pertaining to these facilities in a particular prefecture mandated that training topics include military drill, Chinese language, legal knowledge, ethnic unity, religious knowledge and patriotic education.”

Job ads are also a huge giveaway

As easy as it may be to silently whisk away thousands of people to new re-education centers, skyrocketing prisoner would also require a huge recruitment drive.

According to Zenz, from May 2017, counties with large ethnic minority populations “initiated a wave of recruitments” for so-called education and training centers.

But ads for such staff were often listed in the same ads as open police positions, and some ads even preferred recruitees with a military or police background.

Other job ads conflated the two roles, hiring “training center policing assistants.” If the staff were being hired to work at a regular vocation center the high number of security personnel would be “difficult to explain,” said Zenz.

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Armed Police soldiers in the street of Urumqi.

Ads also frequently lacked required skills or qualifications that would normally be crucial to providing vocational training. Many required only a middle-school education whereas other provinces, where few Uighur would live, usually require at least a bachelor degree.

In one Xinjiang country, where Uighurs make up 95% of the population, 320 jobs available at a “training center” had three criteria: have a middle-school education, be loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, and be part of the ethnic majority Han.

Re-education isn’t the only problem Uighurs face

In an attempt to crack down on religious extremism, authorities in Xinjiang have targeted almost any form of religious expression by Uighur Muslims.

Women have been banned from wearing burqas and veils. Residents were barred from fasting during Ramadan with restaurants ordered to stay open despite religious obligations. And in 2016, millions of Xinjiang residents were ordered to surrender their passports and must seek permission to travel abroad.

Authorities have installed surveillance apps on residents’ phones and begun collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types from all Xinjiang residents aged between 12 and 65. They have also collected voice samples that may be used to identify who is speaking on tapped phone calls.

There’s also 40,000 facial-recognition cameras that are being used to track, and block, the movement of Uighurs in the region.

Xinjiang is considered by experts to be a testing ground for what the US State Department has described as “unprecedented levels of surveillance.”

The concern is Xinjiang could also be a testing ground for a nationwide re-education system.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Russia’s only carrier would fight an American carrier

It wasn’t so long ago that the British and Russians exchanged trash talk over carriers. That all started when the then-Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, called the Admiral Kuznetsov “dilapidated.” The Russians responded by calling the first of the Royal Navy’s new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, “a large, convenient target” and warned the Brits to keep their distance.


Now, both carriers have had their problems. If you’re a loyal WATM reader, you have followed the Kuznetsov Follies. We are talking a first deployment that featured two splash landings, needing to operate planes from land bases, not to mention the fact that the new fighter is a possible dud and the carrier is a floating hell for the crew.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth has a problem of her own, though. No planes. In fact, she may have to operate F-35Bs from the United States Marine Corps, which will require some adjustments. Any fight here would be tough to call, but give the Brits the edge. Once the F-35s clear out the Kuznetsov’s air wing (largely because they are far more advanced than MiG-29s and Su-33s), the Kuznetsov will only have 12 SS-N-19 Shipwreck missiles to use. No problem for the Queen Elizabeth’s escorts.

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But how well would the Kuznetsov fare against an American carrier? If anything, it’s even more of a slaughter. According to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World, the Kuznetsov can carry 18 Su-33 Flankers or MiG-29K Fulcrums, four Su-25 Frogfoot trainers, 15 Ka-27 Helix ASW helicopters, and two Ka-31 Helix airborne early warning choppers.

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By comparison, it should be noted that a typical American carrier air wing has four strike-fighter squadrons of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets or F/A-18C Hornets, each with a dozen multi-role fighters. So, the Russians are fighting at the wrong end of eight-to-three odds. The American carrier’s air wing, by the way, does offer electronic-warfare assets as well.

Once the Kuznetsov’s fighters are gone, the American carrier can then either launch an alpha strike to sink the Kuznetsov, or support an attack by B-1B Lancers carrying LRASMs. Either way, the Kuznetsov is going down. Heck, even an old Midway-class carrier could take the Kuznetsov.

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Articles

The US seems to have ended its CIA program to arm anti-Assad militias in Syria

President Donald Trump appears to have confirmed ending a CIA program to arm and train rebels battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.


In a post on Twitter criticizing a Washington Post report, the president said late July 14, ” The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad.”

Trump didn’t specify what was wrong with report by the newspaper, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos.

The Washington Post had reported Trump decided to end the aid almost a month ago after meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in the Oval Office. It was before the G20 Summit in Germany when met on July 7 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Photo courtesy of Kurdish YPG Fighters Flickr.

The Russian government, which backs the Assad regime, has opposed the program, which was begun by President Barack Obama in 2013.

Officials said the CIA program will likely be phased out “over a period of months.” US ally Jordan, which has hosted training sites for the Syrian rebels, backs the move, according to the newspaper report.

The White House did not dispute the story last week.

A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment on Trump’s tweet.

On July 21, the leader of US special forces appeared to confirm the end of the program.

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“At least from what I know about that program and the decision to end it, absolutely not a sop to the Russians,” Army Gen. Raymond Thomas said at a national security forum in Colorado. “It was, I think, based on an assessment of the nature of the program, what we’re trying to accomplish, the viability going forward.”

He said it was a “tough, tough decision.”

“It is so much more complex than even I can describe, that’s not necessarily an organization that I’ve been affiliated with but a sister, parallel activity that had a tough, and some would argue, impossible mission based on the approach we took.”

After his speech, he told reporters he hadn’t confirmed anything and was referring only to “public reporting.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russians may be testing ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons in violation of treaty

A top U.S. military official has said that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia may be conducting low-yield nuclear testing that may be violation of a major international treaty.

Lieutenant General Robert Ashley said in a speech on May 29, 2019, that Russia could be doing tests that go “beyond what is believed necessary, beyond zero yield.”

The problem, he said, was that Russia “has not been willing to affirm” they are adhering to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.


Asked specifically whether U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded Russia was conducting such tests in violation of the treaty, Ashley, who is director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said, “They’ve not affirmed the language of zero yield.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbIgtTfPYQw
U.S. Accuses Russia Of Conducting Low-Level Nuclear Tests

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“We believe they have the capability to do it, the way that they’re set up,” Ashley said during an appearance at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is the Defense Department’s main in-house intelligence organization.

There was no immediate comment by the Kremlin or the Russian Defense Ministry about the conclusions, which were first reported on May 29, 2019, by The Wall Street Journal.

But Vladimir Shamanov, chairman of the defense committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, called Ashley’s statement “irresponsible.”

“It would be impossible to make a more irresponsible statement,” Interfax quoted Shamanov as saying.

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Vladimir Shamanov.


“These kinds of statements reveal that the professionalism of the military is systemically falling in America,” said Shamanov, a retired colonel general and a former commander of Russia’s Airborne Troops. “These words from a U.S. intelligence chief indicate that he is only an accidental person in this profession and he is in the wrong job.”

The U.S. assertion comes with several major arms-control treaties under strain, largely due to the toxic state of relations between Washington and Moscow.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump’s administration announced it was pulling out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an agreement that eliminated an entire class of missiles.

Another treaty, New START, is due to expire in 2021 unless the United States and Russia agree to extend it for five years.

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

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