DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

DARPA, the group behind the modern internet and stealth technology, is taking a big swing at hack-resistant voting booths.


It has been working on new ways of securing computers and other electronic devices for years now in a program it calls System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware. The basic idea is simple: Instead of securing electronics solely or primarily through software, they can improve hardware and firmware—the programming at the most foundational level of how a computer operates so that hackers can’t get in.

Now, there’s a demonstration voting booth with some of these improvements incorporated into it, and DARPA is taking it on the road to a hackers’ conference.

To be clear, though, this isn’t a finished product, and DARPA hasn’t indicated that the demonstration booth will prove to be secure. In fact, there are 15 processors in development with university and industry teams working on this DARPA program, and only two will be made available for hackers to attempt and intrude upon.

The demonstration booth will be set up at DEF CON 2019, one of the largest and longest-running underground hacking conferences. It will have a set of processors, and the participating research teams will be able to modify those processors according to their proposed hardware and firmware security upgrades.

Hackers will then be able to attack the booth via USB or ethernet access.

Any weaknesses that the hackers identify will be addressed by the research teams as they continue to develop hardware designs and firmware upgrades to make voting booths more secure. Once the teams have finished products with robust security, DARPA will … probably close down the program.

Yeah, DARPA doesn’t typically create final designs of products or manufacture anything. It even does relatively little of its own research most of the time. The standard DARPA model is to identify a problem or opportunity, set up a program that recruits lots of researchers from academia and industry, give those researchers money according to performance metrics, and then let the industry partners buy up research and patents and create new products.

So the best case for DARPA isn’t that their demonstration voting booth fends off all attackers. It’s that the booth takes some real hits and the research teams find out what vulnerabilities still exist. Then the research teams can create awesome hardware architectures and programming that will be more secure. But DARPA does have one surprise twist from their standard model.

Instead of leaving most of the tech developed for the voting booths in private and academic hands, it’s pushing for the design approaches and techniques to be made into open-source technologies, meaning anyone can use them.

But still, don’t expect to see these amazing voting booths when you vote in 2020. DARPA wants to spend 2019 touring the booth at universities and allowing more experts to attack it, then bring it back to DEF CON in 2020 with new tech built on a STAR-Vote architecture, an open-source build with its own democratic safeguards like paper ballots. Most state and local governments don’t update their voting hardware all that often, let alone in the months leading up to a major election.

So the earliest you could see new, DARPA-funded tech at your local polling place is the 2022 mid-terms, and more likely the 2024 or later elections.

MIGHTY FIT

5 perfect fitness jobs for veterans

Do you still love fitness? Are you transitioning out of the military and thinking about what the next steps of your future career will be?

Think about a hobby you love. Can you make your hobby into a job or even just a part-time position for starters?

How about a job in the fitness industry? There are many veterans in the fitness industry, including myself, a tactical fitness writer. But writing is far from the only option in the multibillion-dollar fitness business. From personal trainers, gym owners, strength coaches, supplement affiliates, inventors and program developers to athletes who compete in all types of competitions, there are plenty of fitness-related career paths.


If fitness is part of your life or used to be, consider finding that love again. You might find something inside you that reconnects with the world you left behind when you first joined the military.

Here are some of the many fitness career paths that can help you get moving again, fine-tune your fitness knowledge and skills, and teach people who need your motivation, passion and example.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Carbajal)

​1. Group Trainer

One of the easier ways to get involved in training people is to lead a group at an established fitness center. Or you could build your own outdoor fitness boot camp program, especially if the weather permits most of the year. A group training instructor could be as basic as a boot camp fitness class or a learned training program on spin bikes, yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, barre, aquatic fitness or CrossFit. No matter what you pick, these are fun ways not only to teach others, but to get your own workout accomplished with a group of people who need your leadership. It can also be a good supplemental income if you can spare an hour or two a few days a week.

2. Personal Trainer

Like the title suggests, this business model is more personal, and you get to really know and develop training programs for the goals, needs and abilities of a client. Personal training is also better paying than group fitness. You can offer personal training as part of an existing fitness center or set up your own hustle and train people at their own homes or in an outdoor area.

3. Online Fitness Business

If you like to create content for people to read or view, you may find a promising business model with a website store and social media. Whether it is through your own products, articles and videos or using an affiliate model, you can make significant income online with just a little bit of technology skill.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

(U.S. Marine Corps photos by Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane)

4. Invent a Fitness Device

Two friends of mine created companies around their inventions. Randy Hetrick of TRX and Alden Mill of Perfect Pushup fame both created products that fit into the fitness industry very nicely and maybe even revolutionized it to some degree.

5. Can You Still Compete?

Many veterans are still going hard-core after service and compete in professional racing and sports from CrossFit Games, to the Olympics and Paralympic Games, to becoming sponsored and professional athletes in the racing world. Moving that athletic fame into social media and internet fitness businesses is a great way to continue training and helping others, as well as earning a living.

Fitness is important for the transitioning veteran. Whether you decide to make fitness part of a way to make extra income, or you just get involved in volunteer coaching in your community, you will find that the physical activity you do and the coaching and teaching you provide are helpful to you and others.

Find the Right veteran Job

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

popular

The reasons why you should shoot with both eyes open, according to a Green Beret

For years, military sharpshooting instructors taught their students to close their non-dominant eye as a fundamental of shooting. The idea behind this practice is to lower the activity of the half of the brain that isn’t technically being used, freeing it from distractions.


Over the years, well-practiced shooters have determined that closing one eye helps you line up your target more easily. So, why keep both eyes open?

Former Army Green Beret Karl Erickson will break down for you.

Related: This MARSOC recruiting video looks like a Hollywood movie

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Green Beret Karl Erickson spent 25 years proudly serving in the military.

When a hectic situation arises, and you need to draw your weapon, you’re going to experience physical and physiological changes. Most noticeably, the gun operator’s adrenaline will kick up, prompting the “fight or flight” response.

During this response, the body’s sympathetic nervous system releases norepinephrine and adrenaline from the adrenal glands, which are located right above your kidneys, as shown in the picture below.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Once these naturally produced chemicals surge through your bloodstream, your heart rate increases and your eyes dilate and widen.

These physical changes occur because the human brain is screaming to collect as much information as possible. When these events take place, it becomes much more challenging for the shooter to keep their non-dominant eye closed.

Thoughtfully attempting to keep that non-dominant eye shut can potentially derail the shooter’s concentration, which can result in a missed opportunity for a righteous kill shot.

Also Read: How to kick in a door like a Special Forces operator

So, how do we practice shooting with both eyes open?

When using shooting glasses, spread a coat of chapstick across the lens of the non-dominant eye. This will blur the image and help retrain the brain to focus a single eye on the target, and, over time, will eventually lead to good muscle memory.

Check out Tactical Rifleman’s video below to learn the technique directly from a Green Beret badass.

(Tactical Rifleman | YouTube)
Humor

6 ways to make the most of your urinalysis

One of the most uncomfortable things for everyone involved is a urinalysis. Unfortunately, it’s an integral part of how the military tracks the health and welfare of its troops and ensures that no illicit substances damage unit integrity.

Take it from us, the only way to make peeing in a cup while your NCO watches less uncomfortable for you is to actively make them more uncomfortable. Now, this shouldn’t be too hard because nobody wants to be there in the first place, but we’ve got some pro-tips for you.


Some advice, though: If you’re a guy, don’t make size jokes. You’re just setting yourself for a slam like the one in Jarhead.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

This one only works if you have time to prepare.

(Courtesy Photo)

Eat nothing but beets and asparagus

Fun fact: Eating a bunch of beets turns your pee a bright red color. You’ll probably fool someone into thinking you’ve got medical issues with this trick. Also, asparagus makes your piss smell nasty and unpleasant if you’re looking to make things that much worse.

If you know a urinalysis test in in your future, like after block leave, try it.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Ask for some soothing music

Seriously, the observer doesn’t have any desire to be there either, so they’ll do whatever is necessary to speed up the process. Usually, they’ll turn on a faucet to help get you going. Soothing music wouldn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

That’s when you say, “now I’m in the mood! Let’s do this!”

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

If they aren’t paying attention, mess with them.

The observer’s job is to ensure that the urine leaves the body. If they’re giving you privacy, they’re doing it wrong.

Keep them on their toes and say, “You wanted a stool sample, right?” Or the classic, “I can’t do this without any magazines…”

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Don’t break eye contact

A steady stream of eye contact is sure to make everyone involved very uncomfortable.

Get butt-naked to pee

Technically, the observer is supposed to make sure you’re not using a prosthetic. Yep, that’s right, because that’s a thing that dumb-f*cks have tried to get away with.

So, be extra helpful and make sure there’s no possibility that you’re using a fake by stripping all the way down.

“Stumble” while holding the filled cup in your hand

Just because you’ve finished the act doesn’t mean you have to stop messing with others.

If you pretend like you’re about to trip, everyone’s eyes will jolt open out of fear. You should be clumsier than infomercial people.

Articles

Hawaii just released a guide on how to survive a nuclear attack from North Korea

Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency released an ominous statement on how to survive and proceed in the event of a nuclear attack.


Citizens of Hawaii are advised to look out for emergency sirens, alerts, wireless notifications, or flashes of “brilliant white light” that will indicate that a nuclear detonation is incoming or underway.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

From there, the agency instructs citizens to get indoors, stay indoors, and stay tuned via radio as “cell phone, television, radio, and internet services will be severely disrupted or unavailable.” Instead, expect only local radio stations to survive and function.

If indoors, citizens should avoid windows. If driving, citizens should pull off the road to allow emergency vehicles access to population centers. Once inside, Hawaiians should not leave home until instructed to or for two full weeks, as dangerous nuclear fallout could sicken or kill them.

Read the full release below:

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Courtesy of Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Navy’s best sub-hunting aircraft has some persisting problems

The P-8A Poseidon, introduced in 2013 to replace the P-3 Orion, has quickly become one of the most highly regarded maritime-patrol aircraft in service, fielded by the Navy and sought after by partner countries all over the world.

But the P-8A is dealing with some lingering issues that could affect the force as a whole, according to the fiscal year 2018 annual report produced by the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.


DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

US Navy crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo)

The Poseidon’s capabilities now include receiver air refueling, employment of the AGM-84D Harpoon Block I anti-ship missile, and several upgrades to its communications systems.

But, the report said, “despite significant efforts to improve P-8A intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, overall P-8A ISR mission capabilities remain limited by sensor performance shortfalls.”

Moreover, the report found, data from the operational testing and evaluation of the P-8A’s latest software engineering upgrade as well as metrics from the Navy “show consistently negative trends in fleet-wide aircraft operational availability due to a shortage of spare parts and increased maintenance requirements.”

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

A Boeing and a Raytheon employee complete installation of an APY-10 radar antenna on P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T2.

(Boeing)

Forward-deployed P-8A units have reported “relatively high mission capable rates” when they have access to enough spare parts, sufficient logistic supply support, and priority maintenance.

However, the report said, focusing on supporting forward-deployed units “frequently reduces aircraft availability and increases part cannibalization rates at other fleet operating locations.”

Shortages in spare parts for the Poseidon are exacerbated by the nature of the contracting and delivery system for the P-8A, according to the report.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Naval aircrewman (Operator) 2nd Class Karl Shinn unloads a sonobuoy on a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm. Specialist Keith DeVinney)

The use of engineering model predictions rather than reliability data from the fleet itself, “ensures that some mission critical spare part contracts lag actual fleet needs,” lengthening the already long six- to nine-month contracting process.

These delays are exacerbated by consumable-item processes at the Defense Logistics Agency, which requires depleting stocks and back orders before starting to procure new items, according to the report.

“These delays are a major contributing factor to the observed increases in aircraft downtime awaiting parts and higher part cannibalization,” it added, saying that the P-8A program is working with Naval Supply Systems Command to procure parts on a more flexible and proactive basis and to start basing procurement on fleet-reliability data.

Keeping an eye on things

More than 60 P-8As are in service for the US Navy. The plane is based on Boeing’s 737 airliner but built to withstand more stress and outfitted with a suite of electronic gear to allow it to detect and track ships and subs — even just their periscopes — across wide swaths of ocean, as well as to conduct surveillance of ports and coastlines.

“I went up on a training flight, and basically … they could read the insignia on a sailor’s hat from thousands of feet above,” Michael Fabey, author of the 2017 book “Crashback,” about China-US tensions in the Pacific, told Business Insider in early 2018. “It’s not the aircraft itself of course,” he added, but “all the goodies they put in there.”

The Navy plans to improve the aircraft’s capability going forward by adding the Advanced Airborne Sensor radar and by integrating the AGM-84 Harpoon Block II+ missile and the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability MK 54 torpedo.

Interest in the P-8A continues to grow.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

US Navy aircrew members on a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney)

India has bought 12 of the P-8I variant, and the country’s navy chief has said it’s looking to buy more. Australia is buying eight and has an option for four more.

Other countries in the Asian-Pacific region are looking to buy, too, including South Korea, to which the US State Department approved the sale of six in 2018.

NATO countries are also looking to reinvigorate their airborne anti-submarine-warfare capabilities, including the UK and Norway, which are adjacent to the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, a chokepoint for submarines traveling between the Atlantic and the Arctic, where Russia’s Northern Fleet and nuclear forces are based. The US recently sent P-8As back to the Keflavik airbase in Iceland, though it does not plan to reestablish a permanent presence.

At the end of January 2019, Boeing was awarded a .46 billion modification to an existing contract for the production and delivery of 19 P-8A Poseidons — 10 for the US Navy, four for the UK, and five for Norway.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Your guide to 2019 military discounts for Major League Baseball games

Major League Baseball teams are showing their appreciation for service members, both past and present, with military discounts on 2019 game tickets. Many teams also hold military appreciation days to honor those who have served our country.

Look for your favorite team in the list below and take advantage of the military discounts that can help get you to the ballpark for less.

Play ball!


DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Sailors and Airmen present a giant American flag before the 2012 major league baseball All-Star Game. More than 30 Sailors and 45 Airman held the flag during the singing of the National Anthem and pregame events.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason C. Winn/Released)

American League

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles offer a discount off of all tickets for military and their families, available at the Oriole Park Box Office. You can also find bigger discounts by contacting your nearest ITT/Leisure Travel office.

Houston Astros

Members of the military are invited to purchase discounted tickets (online only) to 2019 Houston Astros home games. There is a limit of 6 tickets per person per game. Choose from all Monday through Thursday games and for the Mariners Weekend Series on 9/6 – 9/8. Blackout dates include the Yankees Series (4/8 – 4/10) and Cubs Series (5/27 – 5/29).

Kansas City Royals

Active duty and retired military may purchase up to 4 half-price tickets for all regular season Kansas City Royals games (excluding Opening Day and Marquee game dates) in the Field Plaza, Outfield Plaza and View Level seating areas.

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels offer discounted tickets to military personnel. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification.

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins offer Military Mondays. For select games throughout the season, active military members or veterans, plus four guests, receive half-price tickets in Home Plate View seating locations.

Oakland Athletics

The A’s offer a military discount to all 2019 home games. Active-duty, reserve, veterans, and retired military personnel are able to purchase tickets at 25% off the dynamic rate in any Field Level or Plaza Level section.

Seattle Mariners

Military members receive 10% off select Main, Terrace and View Level seats at all regular season home games, excluding Opening Night. Limit four tickets per ID.

Tampa Bay Rays

Military members can receive two complimentary tickets to select Monday home games, additional bonus dates and special ticket offers throughout the season. MacDill Air Force Base ITT also offers discounted tickets to Tampa Bay Rays games.

Texas Rangers

Military members receive special pricing on game tickets. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Sailors man the rails while Marines hold up the American flag during the pre-game ceremony of the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Petco Park.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chad M. Trudeau)

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Military members receive special pricing on game tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification. Service members can enjoy up to 50% off select locations for every game of the season.

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves offer discounted tickets for all regular season home games during the 2019 season. They are offering off seats in the Terrace Infield and Home Run Porch, along with 50% off seats in the Grandstand Reserved seating locations. Get this discount online after verification or at the SunTrust Park ticket windows with valid ID.

Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds offer special pricing on tickets to active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired service members and families. Tickets are available in a variety of locations on a first-come, first-served basis. Get discount online after verification.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies offer active duty, retired military, reservists and veterans discounted tickets to select home games throughout the 2019 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates offer military and their families special pricing on game tickets (up to half off) after verification online.

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres offers military discounts, including 50% off Sunday Military Appreciation tickets. Tickets for military and their families are available online through verification or at the Padres Advance Ticket Windows at Petco Park. And military personnel can also get discounted Padres tickets at the San Diego MWR.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have a special ticket offer for active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired military personnel. Military service members can also receive discounted tickets through MWR and ITT offices at area bases and the Pentagon.

Keep up with all military discounts

Whether you’re an active duty service member, a military family member, or a veteran, stay on top of all the military discounts you’re eligible for, from travel accommodations to auto and entertainment deals. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to get full access to all discounts.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

The 5 best benefits of being an MP

It seems likes nobody (outside of cops themselves) likes cops. That sentiment translates to the military community as well and, speaking from personal experience, no one likes MPs but MPs.


Obviously, that isn’t completely true, but as a beret-wearing Security Forces member, it can feel that way more often than not. It’s not all hate and disdain, though.

Being a cop does have its perks and the distinction comes with a certain sense of pride. There are some things that are just plain ol’ cool about being a cop.

Related: 5 of the top excuses MPs hear during traffic stops

5. Cops look out for other cops

There’s a widespread belief that MPs will look the other way for other MPs in certain situations. Now, I am in no way saying that there should be unfair advantages given when it comes to the law. That being said, there is no denying that this practice exists in various ways.

MPs hold one another to a standard that is often a few pegs above the written, established standard. So, a lot of times the “looking out” comes in the form of keeping other MP to task and up to snuff when the human element rears its head. Sometimes, “looking out” means offering just a ride home — it depends on the variables.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
We always have one another’s back. (Photo by Suggest.com)

4. People want to be cool with you… when they don’t hate you

Everyone wants to be cool with MPs. It means they’ll probably get through the gate on personal recognition a little more frequently and, if they have an encounter with an MP, it’ll likely be pleasant.

This rapport is typically built through politeness, a few well-timed store runs, and some glazed pastries.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Little Suzie knows what’s up! Befriend cops! (Photo by TMPA).

3. Face of the base

These days, we hear a lot of references to the ‘tip of the spear.‘ The expression is typically reserved for those special few among us who are truly and undeniably badass.

As a Military Policeman, not only are you the first face to greet every single visitor and vehicle to enter the base, you are, by definition, the tip of that extremely local spear. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but hey, that is a pretty big deal.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
That’s the smile waiting on you at the gate. (Photo by Senior Airman Debbie Lockhart)

2. Rapid maturity

Having an authority that supersedes rank can be a lot to handle. With young MPs, you typically get one of two types:

Type A is someone who has walked with a big stick for most of their life and now they have some actual weight behind their actions. They are likely to push the limits of their authority a bit further than most until they learn better.

Type B is someone who is timid and unsure of how to impose their authority the right away. They’re more likely to tiptoe towards competence with fewer mistakes along the slower road.

Both of these guys are going to have to make their way through the gauntlet fast if they hope to survive through their enlistments.

Also Read: 5 of the sneakiest ways people try to fool the front gate MPs

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Gotta grow up real fast, Billy. (Photo by Sleeptastic Solutions)

1. Blue bond

The fraternal bond that exists throughout the law enforcement career field is thick. The blue bond never wears off, not even after retirement.

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Thin Blue Line (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch these vets give their opinions about whether Hollywood gets the military right

WATM hosted groups of veterans to answer several questions about their time in the military. The vets kept it real when responding to topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.


In this episode, our group of veterans discusses whether or not Hollywood portrays the military accurately on the big screen.

Editor’s note: If you have ideas for questions that you’d like to see a group of veterans answer, please leave a comment below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

REVIEW: ‘Once a Warrior’ is one from the heart

Within a decade after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Madison, the author serves as a Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq, co-founds the nonprofit Team Rubicon — and writes his first book.

His Take Command, Lessons in Leadership: How To Be a First Responder in Business was published in 2014 as a “tool kit” and is a fast read from the “evolving leader.”

A year after, Jake Wood is one of two veterans profiled in Joe Klein’s book about post-military service, Charlie Mike. Since then, Wood has fared better than the other subject, former Navy SEAL, founder of The Mission Continues, and author Eric Greitens, who resigned ignominiously as governor of Missouri.

Half a dozen years later Wood is back in hardcover. This time, in Once a Warrior, he writes about developing Team Rubicon — and, rewardingly, about becoming Jake Wood. (That’s his rear side on the front of the book jacket, although he is not identified. The book has his back, so to speak.) 

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

By now the disaster-response organization and its CEO Wood are familiar names. Their mutual success is regularly lauded, and in 2018 Wood received the ESPN-ESPY Pat Tillman Award for Service, named for the soldier and former NFL player killed in Afghanistan in 2004. 

Given Wood’s established public image, is there anything else to know about him?

Plenty, and Once a Warrior is valuable for its intimacy. The 37-year-old’s memoir is about leading from the heart. From his and, ultimately, to yours.

“Coming home from war is a lifelong process. Sometimes we try to fool ourselves into thinking that we’ve made it back, but that’s never the case.” The book “explores both the harrowing cost of military service” and the subsequent search for healing.

On one level, you get Rubicon rigor and resilient Wood, whose proposal for this publication was rejected 37 times six years ago. “On a higher level, this is the story of America’s veterans and the battles they continue to fight. Some prevail; others do not.”

His persistence gives him and his story power. The Iowa-born, 6-foot-6, college football-playing guy in an American-English “gray” (not the book’s British-English “grey”) Team Rubicon T-shirt is open about complexities, such as:

What makes a warrior: “I once drank whiskey until the sun rose with two men that were on the Osama bin Laden raid. […] But if they are the yardstick by which warriors are measured, then maybe I wasn’t one.”

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it

Ill-heeled boots: Nine months after returning from Iraq, his battalion deploys to Afghanistan. “The Pentagon threw a thousand Marines into the bloodiest province of Afghanistan, told them to hold the line, and wished them luck.”

Intimations of mortality: “I’m amazed at the ease with which violence was normalized. I don’t say that with regret. I’m not sure I would have survived Iraq and Afghanistan if I hadn’t become comfortable with death.”

Reasons to return: “My urge to go back to war was not born of patriotism or idealism or a defense of good versus evil. It was driven by guilt and fear. Guilt that I’d come home unscathed. Fear that I would never be able to honor and make sense of my friends’ deaths.” 

Being invisible: Wood describes a traumatic “recurring dream” that is a full-fledged nightmare: He is in the back seat of a car, in dress blues “with rows of shiny medals adorning my chest.” In the front seat are two men “in crisp green Marine Corps uniforms” and on death-notification duty, and they ignore him. Wood finally realizes the vehicle is arriving at his childhood home, and his parents are at the door. “I scream but hear no sound.” 

Emerging from guilt: His fellow sniper and “smart and handsome” friend Clay Hunt killed himself in 2011, and he remains a beacon to Wood and Team Rubicon — but with an emotional toll. Might Wood have done more to keep Hunt alive?

“I was carrying Clay’s lifeless body with me through life, no differently than if I had slung him over my shoulder on the battlefield. 

“I sought the weight because the weight brought pain. I wanted the pain because pain was the price I needed to pay for letting him down” in a “self-imposed sentence of guilt.” 

Only “when I’d forgiven myself for Clay’s death,” Wood writes, is he “able to love [his wife], or anyone, again.”

DARPA has a new voting booth, and it wants you to hack it
Jake Wood, author of Once a Warrior, with Team Rubicon. Photo courtesy of Team Rubicon.

Wood work: The book ends during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when Rubicon volunteers “gutted 1,078” damaged homes in Houston. One of the houses is Hunt’s family’s, and Wood finds the folded flag he handed to Susan Hunt during her son’s memorial service six years earlier. 

Susan approaches Jake. They pause. They think about Clay. They go on. “Come on,” he tells her, “we’ve got a job to finish.” 

His Rubicon job is perhaps a mission in making sense. His losses are “no less tragic. The aching no less dull. But they were buoyed by a new sense of purpose and hope for a better tomorrow.”

What? A “hope for a better tomorrow”? The cliche is superfluous in a book whose strength is in its exposing wounds, not decorating them. Such a lapse into truism (“service was in their blood” is another) muddies the message. May his next book resist profundity’s temptation and rely on Wood’s personable style, evident here:

After a deadly firefight in Anbar province another Marine offers Wood a cigarette. His first. 

Wood puffs, and the combat-tested, blood-stained cigarette “whispered sweet nothings and my body relaxed.” 

He laughs. What’s so funny in a combat zone?

“I never smoked before,” he tells his buddy, “because this shit will kill you.” 


 Once a Warrior: How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Homeby Jake Wood, Sentinel, 320 pages, $27

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Vietnam vet worked to bring home missing troops for 40 years

Johnie Webb’s corner office is full of memories from a grim but fulfilling mission.

As the Army veteran leans over his desk — strewn with gifts given to him over the course of a 40-year career — he grabs a wooden box and pulls out a modest bracelet. Engraved on stainless steel reads the name of a staff sergeant killed in the Vietnam War.


When he begins to share the story of how he received it, his light blue eyes well up with tears.

“I keep it on my desk, because this is what we’re all about,” said Webb, deputy of outreach and communications for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Since 1975, Webb has traveled dozens of times to former combat zones as a Soldier and later as a civilian for the joint agency or one of its predecessors. The agency is responsible for locating the remains of the more than 82,000 Americans who are still missing from past conflicts.

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upper right, deputy of outreach and communications for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, sits with team members during a recovery mission in Papua New Guinea in 1978.

While much of his time had been in search of those fallen service members, Webb, 72, is now an advocate for their families who continue to wait for updates.

“I’m not going to say closure, because I’m not sure if there ever is closure when you lose a loved one. But at least [we can] provide them answers and give that loved one back,” he said. “That’s extremely important and I’m honored to play a small part.”

Vietnam veteran

Early in his Army career, Webb, a retired lieutenant colonel, led convoys as a logistics officer all over Vietnam to ensure bases had fuel for operations during the war.

Under the constant threat of roadside bombs and ambushes, he briefed his Soldiers to move their vehicle out of the road if it were ever hit so other vehicles could escape.

“If you block the road, then we’re all done,” he recalled saying.

During one of those missions, a Soldier did just that after a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cab of his 5-ton vehicle and left him with severe burns.

His sacrifice was something Webb never forgot.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t survive,” he said. “But he probably saved the rest of us by doing what we were trained to do and that was to get his truck off the road.”

A few years after his tour, the Army assigned Webb to the Central Identification Laboratory-Thailand, which was later moved to Hawaii and consolidated into DPAA.

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Johnie Webb holds a stainless steel bracelet given to him by the father of a Soldier whose remains were found by the agency.

The role of the new unit was to find the remains of Americans from the Vietnam War.

At first, he was confused, he said, since he knew nothing about the organization or its mission. In the Army’s eyes, though, he was qualified for the job because as a young lieutenant he once took a course on graves registration.

It would eventually come full circle for Webb in 1985, when he was chosen to lead the first recovery team into Vietnam only a decade after the end of the war.

“It became very personal for me,” he said, regarding the sacrifices made by fallen comrades. “We couldn’t let them be forgotten.”

Being back in Vietnam was initially “unnerving,” he said. After all, he had once fought an enemy there and it was uncertain how his team would be treated.

The mission was to search for human remains from a B-52 bomber crash site near Hanoi. But the team’s visit to Vietnam was also an opportunity to rebuild the diplomatic relationship between the former warring nations.

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Johnie Webb points to a photo of him published in a book on U.S.-Vietnam diplomatic relations after the war inside his office at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, March 13, 2018.


The Vietnamese still distrusted Americans then, he said, and even photographed his team with cameras that were crudely hidden in briefcases.

Now, more than 30 years after that first mission, Vietnamese officials work closely with the DPAA teams that rotate in and out of the country each year. The agency is even permitted to permanently base one of its detachments in Hanoi to support teams as they search for roughly 1,600 Americans missing from that war.

“We were there before we had diplomatic relations. We were there before an embassy was ever established,” Webb said. “A lot of groundbreaking effort went into getting us to where we are today.”

North Korea

While the agency’s mission started with the work to account for those lost in Vietnam, it grew to include sites from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and other conflicts.

Webb was again behind another pioneering effort, but this time in North Korea. He and others took several trips to the country and helped negotiate with the North Koreans so teams could conduct missions at former battle sites from 1996 to 2005.

They even traveled from the capital, Pyongyang, to the Chosin Reservoir, where a decisive battle had taken place in the winter of 1950. As they were driven through the country, Webb recalled seeing how desperate the North Koreans had lived.

“It was very interesting times,” he said, “but it made sure you were really appreciative of being an American.”

As U.S. and North Korean governments currently aim to thaw relations between each other, Webb hopes it will lead the reclusive country to reopen its borders to the agency’s teams.

About 7,700 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War, with the majority believed to be in North Korea.

“If we want to get answers to the families, and we definitely want to get them answers, we’re going to have to get access back into North Korea,” he said.

With the days of digging at excavation sites now behind him, Webb maintains a pivotal role in keeping families, distinguished visitors and veterans service organizations apprised of agency efforts.

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Johnie Webb stands next to then-President Bill Clinton during his visit to an excavation site.


“I couldn’t say enough good things about Johnie Webb and the fact that he is literally one of the staunchest contributors to this mission,” said Kelly McKeague, the agency’s director.

McKeague, a former Air Force major general, credits Webb’s “Texas roots” for his compassion and calm demeanor. There is no better person, McKeague said, to speak with families struggling with loss.

“Johnie has a sense about him to be able to communicate with them, to be empathetic to them, and to literally not just be their friend but be their confidant,” he said. “They have so much confidence in him.”

Family advocate

Whether in a foreign country or back at the headquarters in Hawaii, Webb said the younger troops at the agency have always impressed him.

“Most of them weren’t even born when the guy who they are trying to recover was lost,” he said. “Still, they feel that kinship to that military buddy who wore the uniform for them.”

The “grunt work” these troops — many of whom are Soldiers — do at an excavation site can take months to years to find remains, if there are any. Once recovered, it can take even longer to identify them by lab staff.

While the long process sometimes leaves families irritated, the agency wants to ensure human remains are properly excavated and identified.

“Not only is it frustrating to the families, it gets frustrating for us as well because we want to provide those answers,” Webb said. “We want to return that loved one, but we want to do it right.”

When the answers do come, some family members do not want to believe them.

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Johnie Webb consoles a grieving family member.


Inside a wooden box on his desk, the engraved bracelet reminds Webb of one such family member.

The father of the staff sergeant whose name is on the bracelet often spoke to Webb about his missing son before he was found. He had hoped his son was still alive and pleaded to Webb to bring him back.

A team then discovered remains from a site of a crashed helicopter, which the staff sergeant was on. Shortly after, Webb advised the father to prepare to receive his son’s remains so he could honor his life.

“It was clear that he was not wanting to hear that,” Webb remembered.

Webb asked other families who knew the grief-stricken father and had also lost loved ones to talk to him so he could come to terms with the news. He finally did.

When his son’s remains were returned to the family, there was a huge outpouring of public support. The funeral had full military honors and even dignitaries showed up to it.

“It was a day of celebration for this young man to come back home,” Webb said. “I was happy that he had honored his son the way he should have been honored.”

A few weeks later, a brown envelope addressed to Johnie Webb came in the mail. In it, there was a “thank you” note along with the bracelet, which the father always wore.

“I’m giving to you the POW bracelet that I have worn since my son was lost,” Webb said, recalling what the father wrote. “I finally took it off when he came back home. I want you to have it as a token of my appreciation.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How DoD is trying to get more artificial intelligence in the field

In its continued efforts to develop and deploy artificial intelligence to address some of the nation’s toughest defense challenges, the Defense Department, in coordination with Army Research Lab, hosted its second AI Industry Day on Nov. 28, 2018.

More than 600 attendees from 380 industry, academic, and government organizations participated in the event in Silver Spring, Maryland, to discuss the department’s progress in AI and identify partnership opportunities.

Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer, discussed the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center established in 2018.


“DOD is open for business in AI,” Deasy said. “Our goal is for the JAIC to have and deliver the capabilities to solve very large, unique problem sets that touch multiple services. To this end, we’ll build out data sets, infrastructure and tools that the [Defense Department] components can use.”

Accelerating adoption of capabilities

The center will help DOD accelerate the adoption of AI-enabled capabilities, scale AI’s department wide impact and synchronize the department’s AI activities to expand joint force advantages.

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Dana Deasy, DOD’s chief information officer.

Although JAIC is in its early stages, officials said, it is already composed of about 25 representatives from across the Defense Department. Ultimately, the JAIC is building toward a distributed model, with a main office in the national capital region and satellite locations to leverage and foster innovation districts throughout the United States.

During the event, Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, director of defense intelligence for warfighter support, provided an update on the Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team’s work on Project Maven.

“AWCFT used the last year to deliver initial operational capabilities and apply lessons learned to improve subsequent capability deliveries,” Shanahan said. “We have come a long way, and the partnerships we forged with industry and academia have been essential to success.”

Project Maven is a fast-moving effort launched in April 2017 to accelerate the department’s integration of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning into DOD intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance programs.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Warriors in their Own Words: The ‘Tunnel Rats’ of Vietnam

If fighting the well-defended Viet Cong on their home turf wasn’t dangerous enough, imagine having to crawl your way through a series of extremely tight and narrow underground tunnels to capture or kill them.

Such a terrifying prospect was reality for the brave “tunnel rats” of Vietnam, soldiers tasked with entering and clearing the makeshift tunnels dug by the VC in Vietnam. CW Bowman, Gerry Schooler and Art Tejeda spent days maneuvering through the tunnel complexes, clearing and destroying lethal booby-traps. Hear their stories:


In 1946, Viet Minh (a predecessor to Viet Cong) resistance fighters began digging the tunnels and bunkers throughout the countryside to combat the French, whom they would eventually defeat. By the time the Vietnam War broke out, the Viet Cong had over 100 miles of tunnels from which to spring deadly ambushes on American and South Vietnamese forces before vanishing. The numerous ‘spider holes,’ as the tunnel entrances were sometimes called, were conveniently located and well camouflaged — nearly impossible to detect.

Armed with only a flashlight, a single pistol, or maybe just a knife, a “tunnel rat” didn’t have much in the way of defense as they crawled in to clear these tunnels.

Here’s what you didn’t know about these courageous troops:

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Sgt. Ronald H. Payne, a “tunnel rat”, bravely searches a tunnel’s entrance during Vietnam War

1. The shorter the better

Many of the “tunnel rats” from Austraila, New Zealand, South Vietnam, and America volunteered for the dangerous position.

However, the brave troops that were picked for the job were commonly the shortest grunts in the platoon — for obvious reasons.

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2. Most “tunnel rat” dogs didn’t work out

It’s well-known that dogs are great at detecting IEDs in modern warfare, but they weren’t too good at sniffing out the many booby traps placed by the North Vietnamese around tunnel entrances.

3. Their rate of fire

If a soldier took enemy contact, their training taught them to adjust their rate of fire. Instead of firing multiple shots, the troop would commonly fire single shots, making use of echoes to confuse the enemy. After deafening shots rang out and reverberated off of tunnel walls, the enemy would left puzzled as to how many rounds they had left.

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4. To wear a gas mask or not to wear a gas mask…

When entering a tunnel, many troops decided against wearing gas masks as they obstructed breathing and vision. Although crawling into a wall of gas was a possibility, many “tunnel rats” chose to take their chances.

Check out Simple History‘s video below to learn more about the dangerous job these brave tunnel rats had.

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