Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

School. Streets. Military. In 1996, Curtez Riggs graduated high school and those were his options in Flint, Michigan. By that time, the auto industry that built “Buick City” had moved away. As a kid, Curtez picked up bottles, turned in cans and always had a side gig to bring in extra money. When it came time to make the decision, Curtez figured the Army was the best way to start his future.


His entrepreneurship did not stop when he joined the Army. Curtez continuously started businesses outside of his day job as a career recruiter. In this episode, you will hear how Curtez prepared for his military transition – years before he ended his active service.

Flint MI Then and Now

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Currently, Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military veterans looking to make the military transition with an entrepreneurial mindset. This year’s conference is in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8-10, 2019. Starting in 2020, the conference will be placed in a different region each year.

The conference has certain tracks attendees can follow:

  • “Going Live” – Podcasters and Video
  • Real Estate
  • Founders and Innovators
  • Social Impact
  • Content Creators
  • Empower – Milspouse Track
  • Workshops
  • Mighty Talks

#BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Air Force and Army veteran Erin McLyman.

    Enjoy the episode.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    8 signs you might be a drill sergeant

    Have you ever woken up to the same hellish nightmare of three-phase cycles repeatedly until you no longer know what day it is? Have you felt the uncontrollable urge to wield the greatest noncombative, yet lethal weapon known to mankind in every conversation? Does your forehead bear the markings of greatness from a wide-brimmed hat of woolen death?


    There are signs. These are the signs you may just be or have been a drill sergeant.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Photo Gallery: Marine recruits survive first night on Parris Island (media.defense.gov)

     

    You are basically a vampire

    It’s 4 a.m. on a good day and long before the crack of dawn. You’re there, in the dark, ready to delicately wake the trainees from their slumber. Likely, with an airhorn. Fast forward to sundown, and you’re three energy drinks in, waiting to put 200 almost soldiers, Marines, sailors, Coast Guardsmen or airmen to bed. Up before the dawn, home under the moonlight. You’re basically a vampire.

    Caffeine is your new blood type 

    The regulation states 6-8 hours per night, but cycle 2 has shown you humans can live (sort of) off much less. How do you function? Caffeine, copious and copious amounts of caffeine. Has anyone ever seen a drill instructor without a coffee or energy drink in hand? I think not. Pushing 18-20-hour days, seven days a week for two miserably long years requires such.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    (U.S. Army Reserve Photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato/released)

    Your stare is so terrifying, it produces cries on demand

    Perhaps nothing is as terrifying as a silent drill sergeant. Am I in trouble? Was that good? Is this horribly, horribly wrong? They have no idea, and that’s the entire point. What’s even worse? Dark glasses and silence. The memory will (hopefully) haunt their dreams.

    Multiple personalities are part of the gig 

    It takes far less than sixty seconds to royally piss off a drill instructor. Fear then rage, then empathy and more fear are all emotions drills can flip between without pause. It’s the terrifyingly good performance you must put on daily to keep the illusion that you still actually care. The daily goal is keeping the entire company on their toes.

    You speak in catchphrases 

    Yes-no, criss-cross pizza sauce, it’s not rocket surgery. Did you get that? You live the same three-phase cycle for two years, with hundreds of faces making almost the same mistakes as the last cycle. You’ve got to keep it interesting somehow. The more ridiculous you are, the better your impersonation will be when the trainees imitate you at the end of the cycle.

     

    You are the knife hand, and the knife hand is you

    The knife hand is strong with you. Its power is the multi-tool you never knew you were missing. It commands attention, corrects stupidity, instills fear, shows direction, and slices the air with precision. Its powers are so great, you no longer need to speak to converse clearly with trainees as to what they better hurry up and do.

    You produce legendary nicknames

    You’re reading off the roster and have no idea or could honestly care less about how to pronounce the next name. Instead, you improvise, gifting the lucky trainee with whatever condiment, thought or mistake they’re likely to make. Mistakes are often the go-to for renaming trainees to more accurately reflect the personality they are growing into. No shower shoes? Flip-flop is your new name, enjoy it buttercup.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    John Kennicutt, U.S. Marine Corps

    You are perpetually pissed

    Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, the sheer stupidity you witness day in and day out, or the fact that your last unit just deployed without you. Or maybe it’s all of it. Either way, you’re salty. Without the salt, you’d be normal, and normal is not part of the personality description behind drill instructors. The hatred boiling inside keeps you warm at night.

    Life on the trail is the hellish nightmare you love to hate. It’s an experience engrained in who you’ve become. Every service member remembers their drill sergeants, both with a fondness and fear that they’ll never forget.

    Articles

    Chinese military official warns that war with US under Trump is becoming a ‘practical reality’

    A Chinese military official has warned that war between the US and China is becoming “a practical reality” following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.


    On January 20, an official from the People’s Liberation Army wrote on its official website that the US’s “rebalance” in Asia, its deployments to the region, and its push to arm South Korea with the THAAD missile-defense system were provocative “hot spots getting closer to ignition,” The South China Morning Post reported Friday.

    Related: China tests missile that could muscle US out of the South China Sea

    Before his inauguration, Trump sparked controversy in China when he took a phone call from the president of Taiwan, going against the US’s decades-long protocol to respect a “One China” policy. At the time, Chinese officials lodged a complaint with the White House but referred to the call as a “shenanigan by the Taiwan side.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen with a demonstration of their capablities during a visit to the unit in China on July 12, 2011. | DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

    But that hasn’t put to rest all of China’s concerns. “The Taiwan question” is a core interest to the country, which, two PLA authors wrote in December, could push a more aggressive response as the US supports independence for Taiwan and more exports of weaponry.

    “We hope that the US will rein in at the brink of the precipice and avoid going farther and farther down the wrong path,” the authors wrote on the Chinese military’s official website.

    For now, China seems to be trying to get a read on what a Trump administration might do, especially in the contested South China Sea. But it is continuing to build up military preparedness and overhaul its ranks,according to SCMP.

    “As it’s highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington,” Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told the paper.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    The US just sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

    The United States has confirmed to RFE/RL its delivery of American-made, Javelin antitank missile systems to Ukraine in a move that is welcome in Kyiv but will almost certainly enrage Moscow amid a four-year conflict that pits Russia-backed separatists against Ukrainian national troops.

    “They have already been delivered,” a U.S. State Department official confirmed on April 30, 2018, in response to an RFE/RL query on the handover of Javelins.


    In a statement posted on Facebook, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also confirmed the delivery and said his country continues “to strengthen our defense potential in order to repel Russian aggression.”

    “I am sincerely grateful for the fair decision of [U.S. President] Donald Trump in support of Ukraine, in defense of freedom and democracy,” Poroshenko wrote. “Washington not only fulfilled our joint agreement, it demonstrated leadership and an important example.”

    A shipment of lethal aid would appear to deepen U.S. involvement in the simmering conflict and mark at least a symbolic victory for Ukraine in its effort to maintain Western backing in the ongoing conflict.

    After months of heated debate in Washington and, reportedly, much reluctance on the part of U.S. President Donald Trump, the White House was said to have approved the Javelin sale in December 2017.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    President Donald Trump

    That announcement sparked a sharp rebuke from Moscow, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accusing the United States of “fomenting a war.”

    Two sources who wished to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak publicly about it — one in Ukraine and the other in the United States — confirmed the Javelin deliveries to RFE/RL ahead of the State Department announcement.

    Neither disclosed when the missile systems arrived in Ukraine, whether all the promised missiles and launchers had been sent or where they were being stored; or whether Ukraine’s military had begun training on Javelins. But one of the sources added that the Javelins were delivered “on time.”

    The State Department provided no details beyond the confirmation of the delivery.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has lobbied hard to Western officials for more weapons, in addition to limited supplies of nonlethal aid from Washington and European allies so far and U.S. approval of commercial weapons sales.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

    A $47 million U.S. military-aid package approved in 2017, and confirmed in March 2018, specified 210 Javelin antitank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers, two of them spares, for Kyiv.

    State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in December 2017, that U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was intended to bolster that country’s ability to “defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.”

    Kyiv and Western governments say Moscow has armed and coordinated Ukrainian separatists as well as provided Russian fighters to help wrest control of swaths of territory that border Russia since Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.

    The Javelins’ delivery is likely to spur a response from Moscow, which rejects accusations of involvement despite mounting evidence that includes weapons movements and cross-border artillery barrages, captured Russian troops, and intercepted communications.

    Responding to the approved delivery of the missiles to Kyiv in December 2017, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said arming Ukraine would further inflame tensions between Moscow and Washington and push Ukraine “toward reckless new military decisions.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova

    Since 2015, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with $750 million in nonlethal aid, including Humvees, night-vision equipment, and short-range radar systems.

    There has been a recent uptick in fighting between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatist forces, according to reports from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission (OSCE SMM).

    A 3-year-old cease-fire deal known as Minsk II has helped to reduce the intensity of the fighting, but it has not ended the war.

    The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in March 2018, that while the Javelin sale would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine” and “help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

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

    Articles

    Here’s a tragic reminder that Americans are still in the fight in Afghanistan

    The Pentagon released the name of a Special Forces soldier who was killed by an improvised bomb attack during a night raid with Afghan commandos in the restive Helmand province, a reminder that the fight continues 15 years after American troops first landed there.


    Staff Sgt. Matthew Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, was killed while accompanying Afghan special forces on a raid near Lashkar Gah. Thompson was a Green Beret with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces group based in Washington and died Aug. 23 alongside six of his Afghan comrades.

    Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, died Aug. 23, 2016, of wounds received from an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

    Another American servicemember was wounded in the attack and remains in stable condition at a hospital in Afghanistan, officials say.

    “This tragic event in Helmand province reminds us that Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and there is difficult work ahead even as Afghan forces continue to make progress in securing their own country,” Pentagon chief Ash Carter said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and our NATO partners to bolster the capabilities of the [Afghan national defense and security forces] so they can provide the people of Afghanistan the peace they deserve.”

    The deaths came on the eve of a brazen attack on the American University in the Afghan capital Kabul that killed 14 and wounded 35. No Americans are among the casualties so far.

    The top spokesman for the NATO mission in Afghanistan said special operations troops, many of them Americans, are on missions nearly every night throughout the country advising Afghan commandos who are targeting Taliban holdouts in key areas. He said that about 10 percent of Afghan special forces missions include NATO troops, but they’re not usually engaged in the fighting.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Commandos from the 7th Special Operation Kandak prepare for the unitís first independent helicopter assault mission, March 10, 2014, in Washir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan The mission was conducted to disrupt insurgent activity. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard B. Lower)

    “This is something that we do nationwide [so] it’s possible that we have some NATO [special operations force] element out in the field on any given night,” said Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland during an Aug. 25 press conference. “Our role in that, of course, is that we don’t participate, we don’t go on the objective, but we provide the assistance they require.”

    Cleveland said about 80 percent of Afghan special operations missions are conducted solo, with another 10 percent incorporating NATO and U.S. help in the rear, including intelligence and surveillance support.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    A U.S. Special Forces soldier, attached to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, and an Afghan National Army commando, of 6th Special Operations Kandak, scan the area for enemy movement after taking direct fire from insurgents during an operation in Khogyani district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, March 20, 2014. Commandos, advised and assisted by U.S. Special Forces soldiers, conducted the operation to disrupt insurgent freedom of maneuver. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Connor Mendez)

    He added that the Taliban have been unable to hold any major city or town, and typically raid a checkpoint, steal equipment and are pushed out by Afghan forces some time later.

    The operation in which Thompson was killed included an effort by Afghan special forces to interdict Taliban insurgents on the outskirts of the key Helmand town of Lashkar Gah. It was a “fairly large operation,” Cleveland said.

    “It was an effort to clear out Taliban strongholds so conventional forces could move in,” he said.

    Though violence has been on an upsurge as the summer fighting season crests, officials say the Taliban isn’t able to mount an effective, large-scale assault to win coveted territory and sanctuary.

    “The idea that they’re this invincible force, moving ahead and claiming territory we don’t believe is accurate,” Cleveland said. “We don’t think there’s a massive, invincible offensive coming from the Taliban.”

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Vets can get free flu shots at VA and Walgreens

    During flu season, protecting your health with a flu shot is easier than ever and as close as your local VA or neighborhood Walgreens. VA and Walgreens care about your health and are partnering to offer enrolled Veteran patients easy access to flu shots.

    VA and Walgreens are national partners, providing no-cost standard (Quadrivalent) flu shots to enrolled Veterans of the VA health care system.

    If you are interested in finding out more about other vaccine options, especially if you are aged 65 or older, contact your VA health care team.


    During the program, which runs from Aug. 15, 2018, through March 31, 2019, enrolled Veteran patients nationwide have the option of getting their flu shot at any of Walgreens’ 8,200 locations in addition to their local VA health care facilities.

    No appointment is required. Simply go to any Walgreens, tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility and show your Veterans Health Identification Card and another form of photo ID. (Patients will also be asked to complete a vaccine consent form at the time of service.)

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    Your immunization record will be updated electronically in your local VA electronic health record. Walgreens has the capability to electronically send vaccination information to the VA electronic health record.

    The VA-Walgreens national partnership is part of VA’s eHealth Exchange project. This national program ensures that many Veterans get their no-cost flu shot at their local Walgreens, satisfying their wellness reminder because they either found it more convenient or did not have a scheduled appointment at a local VA health care facility.

    Other options for immunization

    VA health care facilities:

    You may receive a no-cost flu shot during any scheduled VA appointment if you are admitted to one of our VA health care facilities, or at one of the convenient walk-in flu stations. For more information on locations and hours contact your local VA health care facility.

    Other non-VA providers and pharmacies:

    Many local retail pharmacies offer flu shots that may be covered by private insurance or programs such as Medicare. There may be a charge for your flu shot at these locations. If you do not have insurance, there will usually be a charge.

    This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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    This is the multi-million dollar dance of the ‘Yellow Shirts’

    Flight deck operations on an aircraft carrier have often been compared to a ballet. Sailors at work on a flight deck wear an assortment of colored jerseys to specify their job. The yellow shirt is one of the most coveted.


    After watching how the flight deck operates for a while, it is clear the yellow shirts are in charge of the big dance, and those jerseys are worn by aviation boatswain’s mates.

     

    The aviation boatswain’s mates who work on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz are directly responsible for the handling and maneuvering of aircraft as well as the safety of all personnel during flight operations. Any mistake or lack of better judgment can cause damage to equipment or injury to personnel on the flight deck.

     

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    USMC photo by Sgt. Christopher Q. Stone.

     

    “At first being a yellow shirt was scary, but now that I have some confidence, I would say there is a sense of pride,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Melanie Cluck, an aviation boatswain’s mate. “On the flight deck, we are not only responsible for directing aircraft, but also for directing people. Normally, anyone who needs guidance on the flight deck looks for a yellow shirt. Safety of all the personnel on deck is a big part of our job as well. So we don’t only need to know our job, but everyone else’s as well.”

    Blue Shirts 

    Before donning the sought-after yellow jersey, aviation boatswain’s mates wear blue jerseys to indicate that they are in a more junior status. These sailors are normally newer airmen who have yet to acquire all of the necessary qualifications. Their main responsibilities during flight operations include chocking and chaining, running elevators, and tractor operation.

    “Being a blue shirt is hard work, but it makes you tough,” said Seaman Michael Lothrop. “It’s hot up there right now, and we work long days, but you have to be on alert at all times and ready to get the job done whenever you are needed.”

     

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ian Kinkead

     

    Blue shirts are normally covered in grease and always carrying something heavy, whether it be a chain, tractor bar, or chock. They play a big part in the maneuvering of aircraft on the flight deck because they do most of the hands-on work. During their time wearing blue, they learn the ins and outs of properly directing aircraft, which helps build the foundation of a high-performance yellow shirt.

    The job requires attention to detail and an extreme amount of knowledge to be performed well. The training and the number of hours a sailor needs to put in to become a yellow shirt is impressive.

    “There are two main qualifications you get as a blue shirt, but from there, it’s all about if your chain of command sees you have the initiative to take on being a yellow shirt,” Cluck said.

    Earning the Yellow Shirt

     

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley

    Sailors must qualify as flight deck observers and learn directing and handling in addition to the qualifications all sailors are required to attain when they report to Nimitz. The requirements take roughly 12 weeks to complete. Sailors then take a written and oral test administered by the flight deck leading petty officer, assistant LPO, and any other yellow-shirt-qualified chief petty officers or first class petty officers who decide to attend.

    Once sailors earn the right to wear the yellow jersey on the flight deck, they enter an apprenticeship period called “under inspection.” This means they need an experienced yellow shirt to help them along the way toward becoming an expert at their new job on the flight deck.

    UI yellow shirts are always accompanied by a seasoned mentor who is observing every signal and decision they make.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Fenaroli

    “It’s a case-by-case basis on how long the UI process takes,” Cluck said. “The process is just there to make sure you fully understand what you are doing on the flight deck. It’s extensive work to say the least, but it helps you build character. The goal of the process is just to build you up to be the great yellow shirt you are supposed to be.”

    Yellow shirts have to communicate through hand signals with pilots and other personnel working on the flight deck to safely move aircraft onto the catapults and off of the landing area.

    “You have to be able to really get control of your aircraft and understand the pilot,” Cluck said. “It’s a gut feeling that you develop during your training. If you feel you need to slow the aircraft down, you can, and you start to learn when exactly to turn it. We have hundreds of hand signals we can use to take control of the aircraft on deck. The people in the pilot seats are officers, so you have to be professional, and every motion you make has to be crisp and precise to prevent accidents.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Sheldon Rowley

    The working environment of a yellow shirt is unlike anywhere else on the ship. The yellow shirt locker, or crew area, is on Nimitz’ flight deck. The tight-knit group of men and women spends their time out of the scorching heat joking, laughing, and preparing to launch multi-million dollar aircraft into the sky. It is here where the instructors of the world’s most dangerous ballet reside. It is here where the yellow shirts dwell, mentally preparing themselves to launch aircraft as their ship sits at the tip of the spear.

    Articles

    Reaper drones can now be armed with JDAMs

    Airmen from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the 26th Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, made history earlier this week by employing the first GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition from an MQ-9 Reaper.


    While the JDAM has been around since the late ’90s, the munition has just recently been validated and now proven for real world engagements marking a significant step in the Reapers’ joint warfighter role.

    “We had a great opportunity to drop the first live GBU-38s in training,” said Capt. Scott, a 26th WPS weapons instructor pilot. “The GBU-38 is a weapon we’ve been trying to get on the MQ-9 for several years now and we had the opportunity to be the first to drop during training.”

    While waiting for the aircraft to approach the target area, members of the weapons squadron waited anxiously. After the bombs successfully struck their practice targets in a controlled environment, the entire room cheered.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    The MQ-9 Reaper can be armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser guided bombs. Now the Air Force has added the JDAM to the drone’s arsenal. (Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

    For the past 10 years skilled MQ-9 aircrew have been employing AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, but the JDAM brings new global positioning system capabilities to the warfighters.

    “The GBU-38, just like the Hellfire and GBU-12, is a very accurate weapon and the fact that it’s GPS-guided gives us another versatile way to guide the weapon, specifically, through inclement weather onto targets,” Scott said.

    The JDAM being added to the arsenal is another step in furthering the attack capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper force.

    “There’s definitely times when I could’ve used the GBU-38 in combat prior to this,” Scott said.

    Not only does the GBU-38 perform through poor weather conditions, it also helps the munitions Airmen and the weapons load crew members who load them.

    “The GBU-38 has a 20 minute load time compared to the GBU-12, which has a 30 minute load time,” said Senior Airman Curtis, a 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron load crew member. “The GBU-38 is a quicker load compared to the GBU-12 and gets the plane in the air quicker.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    Incorporating this new munition into the total strike package will give MQ-9 aircrews additional capabilities.

    “Our job at the weapons school is to train to the highest standard possible,” Scott said. “We’re going to take the GBU-38 and incorporate it into our advanced scenarios, prove the weapon and integrate with all Air Force assets. What that gives us is the ability to take it downrange and employ in the most demanding circumstances possible.”

    The JDAM will add flexibility and efficiency to the targeting process. Aircrews will continue to employ the AGM-114 Hellfires and GBU-12s downrange in addition to the GBU-38 that is now ready for combat.

    “The overall impact of the GBU-38 is aircrew will have more versatility for the commanders to provide different effects and make a difference for the guys on the ground,” Scott said. “It has a different guidance system and it opens the bridge to more GPS-guided weapons in the future.”

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Remembering the pilot of first Challenger flight

    Paul Weitz, a retired NASA astronaut who commanded the first flight of the space shuttle Challenger and also piloted the Skylab in the early 1970s has died. He was 85.


    Weitz died at his retirement home in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Oct. 23, said Laura Cutchens of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. No cause of death was given.

    A NASA biography says Weitz was among the class of 19 astronauts who were chosen in April 1966. He served as command module pilot on the first crew of the orbiting space laboratory known as Skylab during a 28-day mission in 1973.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    NASA Astronaut Paul J. Weitz, pilot of the Skylab 2 mission, works with the UV Stellar Astronomy Experiment S019 during Skylab training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, March 1st, 1973. Photo courtesy of NASA.

    Weitz also piloted the first launch of the ill-fated shuttle Challenger in April 1983. The five-day mission took off from the Kennedy space Center in Florida and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Challenger was destroyed and seven crew members killed during its 10th launch on January 28, 1986.

    In all, he logged 793 hours in space and retired as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in May 1994.

    Also Read: This is what the potential US Space Corps could look like

    Weitz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1932, and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1954, according to NASA. He then joined the Navy, serving on a destroyer before being chosen for flight training and earning his wings as a Naval Aviator in September 1956. He served in various naval squadrons, including service in Vietnam, before joining the Astronaut Corps.

    According to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Weitz returned to the Navy after his mission on Skylab mission and retired as a captain in July 1976 after serving 22 years. He then came out of retirement to re-join NASA.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Space Transportation System Number 6, Orbiter Challenger, lifts off from Pad 39A carrying astronauts Paul J. Weitz, Koral J. Bobko, Donald H. Peterson and Dr. Story Musgrave, April 4, 1983.

    “Paul Weitz’s name will always be synonymous with the space shuttle Challenger. But he also will be remembered for defying the laws of gravity – and age,” said Curtis Brown, board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and an astronaut and veteran of six space flights. “Before it became commonplace to come out of retirement, Paul was a pioneer. He proved 51 was just a number.”

    The foundation is supported by astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Space Station programs and annually provides scholarships for 45 students.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    US quietly lowers threshold for conflict in the South China Sea

    The US has been steadily ratcheting up the pressure on China’s sea forces in a way that could lower the threshold for conflict in the South China Sea, already a hotbed of tension and dispute.

    The US is signaling a tougher stance toward the Chinese maritime militia, a paramilitary sea force disguised as a fishing fleet and known to harass foreign rivals to enforce China’s vast sovereignty claims in the contested waterway.

    The Chinese maritime militia “thrives within the shadows of plausible deniability,” according to Andrew Erickson, a leading expert at the US Naval War College, but it can no longer hide like it once could.


    The Department of Defense first called attention to the maritime militia in its 2017 report on China’s military power. The report explained that China uses its commercial fishing fleet to engage in gray-zone aggression, “to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes)

    It wasn’t until this year, though, that the US really began putting pressure on the militia forces.

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson warned his Chinese counterpart during a meeting in Beijing in January 2019 that the US Navy will treat coast guard and maritime militia vessels as combatants and respond to provocations the same way it would a Chinese navy ship, the Financial Times reported.

    In March 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly assured the Philippines that the US would come to its defense in the event that it was attacked in the South China Sea. “Any armed attack,” the secretary explained, “on Philippine forces, aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations.”

    US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim clarified the earlier assurances on June 14, 2019, telling reporters that US security guarantees apply to potential acts of aggression by the Chinese maritime militia.

    “Any armed attack, I would think that would include government-sanctioned militias,” the ambassador explained, according to The Philippine Star. He did not say what type of behavior would constitute an “armed attack.”

    The increased pressure is intended to change China’s strategic calculus in the disputed waterway, experts argue.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    (Photo by Mark Taylor)

    “By injecting greater uncertainty about how the US will respond to China’s grey-zone coercion,” Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Financial Times, “the US hopes to deter Chinese destabilizing maritime behaviour, including its reliance on coast guard and maritime militia vessels to intimidate its smaller neighbours.”

    At the same time, it potentially makes it easier for a lower-level dispute between China and its neighbors to escalate, especially considering the ambiguity surrounding both the US deterrence posture and the role of the maritime militia.

    Incidents involving Chinese fishing vessels, potential members of the maritime militia, are frequent occurrences in the South China Sea. It is unclear exactly what kind of incident might trigger US defense obligations.

    For instance, in April 2019, more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels allegedly swarmed Thitu Island, a Philippine-occupied territory in the Spratly Islands.

    And, last week, a suspected Chinese vessel allegedly rammed a Philippine ship in the South China Sea, sinking it and then sailing off as nearly two dozen Filipino fishermen fought for their lives in open water.

    China has denied allegations of misconduct.

    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.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    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.

    Related video:

    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.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    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.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Check out the new hard rock EP from the vets of Jericho Hill

    Jericho Hill is a band created by Army veteran Steve Schneider and Navy corpsman McClain Potter. They began writing music together in 2012 while attending college, bonding over their military experiences.


    True to form, they’ve just released a new EP that touches on themes of anger, mental health, and losing comrades and loved ones.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Jericho Hill in Nashville, Tennessee, recording a track for Mission: Music, a music competition for veterans and their families. Jericho Hill made it to the finals after a nation-wide search. (Image courtesy of USAA and We Are The Mighty)

    Loss comes up a lot for Jericho Hill — as it does for many veterans. One of their traditions during their shows is to dedicate a song to the fallen.

    The EP, named Dvda@ the BB, contains three songs that demonstrate their diversity within the hard rock genre:

    Devil in Disguise shows a bit of attitude with a taunting tempo and lyrics like “I’m from the land of the wicked ones, and I’ve come out to play.”

    The second track, Fuel to the Fire, amps up the intensity both in instrumentals and tone: “You’re only adding fuel to the fire. Tonight we light the funeral pyre.”

    Finally, there’s Sins of the Son, a mellow piece that starts with a confession and continues with questions: “What do you get out of running away? I don’t know.”

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur
    Jericho Hill vets from left to right: Steve Schneider (U.S. Army), McClain Potter (U.S. Navy).

    Jericho Hill is currently hustling, playing gigs in the Pacific Northwest, and planning their full album. Check them out on Facebook and let them know what you think of their new tracks.

    Speaking of which, the EP is on Spotify (or other streaming services like iTunes, YouTube, and Pandora). We’ve also embedded it right here for you, because we’re cool like that:

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The benefits of a vegetarian meal: Where’s the beef?

    Eating vegetarian is a personal choice and it isn’t for everyone. However, many people find that reducing their meat intake not only improves their health, but that it also helps their wallet, as vegetarian protein foods are often cheaper than animal proteins. Plus, with climate change on the social conscience, new emerging data touts the earth-friendly benefits of reducing our dependency on farm-raised meats.

    If, like me, you were raised on “meat and potatoes,” meatless meal planning may leave you scratching your head. And if your family is accustomed to having meat at every meal, they may be resistant to the idea. How can we overcome these obstacles?


    First, let’s clarify what is defined as a “vegetarian meal.” It is a meal that does not include any meat, poultry, fish or other seafood. It may also exclude dairy and/or eggs. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diets, and ovo-vegetarians include eggs in their diets. A vegan meal excludes all forms of animal-derived ingredients, including eggs, dairy products, gelatin, honey, whey, etc. There are more options when preparing vegetarian meals compared with vegan meals since vegan diets restrict more foods.

    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    Because meat and animal products are good sources of important nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12, there is worry that a vegetarian or vegan diet may put one’s health at risk. This is a valid concern, especially if you are not familiar with how to get these nutrients from other sources. But there is no need to fret. With a little research and a proper planning, you can create nutritious, tasty vegetarian or vegan meals.

    What are appropriate vegetarian or vegan substitutes that contain these nutrients?

    • Protein: Vegan sources include nuts, seeds, soy foods (soy milk, tofu, edamame, tempeh), beans, legumes and seitan. Vegetarians may also choose to include dairy products and/or eggs.
    • Iron: Legumes, many iron-fortified cereals, nuts (especially cashews), leafy green vegetables, and tofu are all vegan friendly options. Vegetarians may also include eggs.
    • Calcium: Vegan sources include leafy green vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, spinach) and fortified soy or nut milk. Vegetarians may also choose to include dairy products.
    • Vitamin B12: Nutritional yeast, nori (dried seaweed), and shitake mushrooms are vegan friendly sources. Eggs and dairy products also contain B12, and may be included in some vegetarian diets.
    Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

    (Photo by Filip Mishevski)

    Creativity in the kitchen

    Vegetarian or vegan cooking can foster creativity in the kitchen. Broccoli and cauliflower can be grilled like steak, eggplant and mushroom can be sautéed to a “meaty” texture, and nuts (combined with a few other ingredients) can be ground down to a gooey, cheese-like consistency. The possibilities are endless, with more recipes being shared each day through platforms like social media.

    Try starting with just one meatless meal a week. For recipe ideas, check out these yummy vegetarian dishes from the Phoenix VA!

    For more information on vegetarian diets, take a look at this list of myths and facts. Also consider contacting your local VA dietitian (RD) for more information on vegetarian or vegan diets and assistance with meal planning to meet your goals!

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

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