How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

U.S. Army veteran Joshua Griffin trained with Rangers and Green Berets and saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan during his 13 years of military service. Then he decided to become an officer, join ROTC, and play college football.

The Staff Sergeant is now the oldest player in the country on a major college football team.

The 33-year-old walk-on is in his second season at Colorado State University and he credits his military service with much of his success.


Army Veteran Becomes Oldest College Football Player | NBC Nightly News

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Tom Ehlers, CSU’s director of football ops, was impressed with Griffin from the start.

First of all, Griffin cold-called Ehlers in person. At 5’10” and 208 lbs, Griffin certainly looked the part.

More than that, Ehlers quickly realized that “Griffin’s military background could be useful on a young football team in need of leadership.” The problem was that Griffin didn’t have any footage of himself playing — or even the SAT or ACT scores needed to qualify for college attendance.

Still, he was persistent — another skill courtesy of the United States Army. He was finally invited to the walk-on tryouts.

The term walk-on is used to describe an athlete who earns a place on the team without being recruited or, in the case of college football, awarded an athletic scholarship.

Griffin drilled alone in the weeks before tryouts after watching the team practice.

“I would study what the coaches had them doing during individuals and then after practice I would go to these fields right here and I would do exactly what they would do,” he told ESPN.

He was one of three who made the team.

Griffin was attached to the 10th Special Forces and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment while on active duty. His wartime experiences included 2½ years of service overseas — and he still carries unseen scars with him, including hypervigilance and trouble sleeping.

But he carries the brotherhood with him, too. The players, most of whom are a decade younger than Griffin, look up to him — a fact noticed by the coaching staff, who made him one of ten accountability leaders for the team.

“He’s a great example of what soldiers are like out there,” said Lt. Col. Troy Thomas, the professor of military science who runs CSU’s Army ROTC program.”…When you support people through their goals, it’s amazing what they can accomplish. We’ve been able to support Josh while he gets an education and plays athletics. I suspect great things for him in the future.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

No, NASA didn’t waste millions making the space pen

Look, this whole article is basically a rant written because we’re getting tired of seeing comments about this every time we talk about NASA and/or Roscosmos. Somewhere in the comments on those articles, on our videos, or really anywhere across the internet as a whole, you’ll see someone sharing that same stupid story of NASA investing millions in space pens while Russia sensibly used pencils instead.

Nearly all of that story is complete and utter nonsense.


How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

NASA astronaut and former Air Force test pilot Col. Gordon Fullerton, wearing communications kit assembly mini headset, watches a free-floating pen during checklist procedures on the aft-deck of Space Shuttle Columbia during the third shuttle mission, STS-3, in 1982.

(NASA)

A few quick things: First, neither NASA nor Roscosmos spent a single dime developing the space pen. NASA and Roscosmos both gave their spacefarers pencils and both of them hated to do so because floating graphite flakes can cause fires in sensitive electronics in zero gravity.

NASA, to cut down on the chance of a fire destroying their multi-million dollar spacecraft and killing their priceless astronauts, invested in insanely expensive mechanical pencils. The pencils were 8.89 each, or a grand total of ,382.26 for 34.

Man, imagine having to go to the supply sergeant for a box of those every time the major loses a few.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Astronaut Walter Cunningham writes with a space pen during the Apollo 7 mission in 1968.

(NASA)

Taxpayers, predictably, freaked out. They felt like pencils shouldn’t cost over 0 — fair enough.

So, NASA went back to cheaper pencils, but remained worried about their spacecraft and astronauts. Russia, in a similar vein, was worried about their cosmonauts.

Then, the Fischer Pen Company came to them with an offer to sell “anti-gravity” pens that could write upside down, under water, and in any temperature that humans could survive. It was the uber pen.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

A photo of an Apollo astronaut taking notes in space.

(Project Apollo Archive)

NASA paid a grand total of .39 per pen for 400 of them — a total of 6. Russia also bought the pen for the same price per unit (Well, Scientific American thought the cost was .39 each. A NASA historian citing old media reports pegged the number at per — still, not millions in either case).

Thus concludes NASA’s total sunk costs for the first delivery of pens. They paid in development or research costs. None.

Now, the Fischer Pen Company did spend a lot of money developing the pens — about id=”listicle-2608414142″ million, but they’re a private company counting on future sales to make up for the development costs.

And that was a sound bet. After all, lots of industries and the military need pens that can write in any situation. Miners, loggers, divers, soldiers, and a ton of other people in other professions need to be able to write in wet environments. So, Fischer would earn their research money back regardless.

So, please, when you want to make fun of the military or the government for wasting money, point to something else. The multi-million dollar space pen is and has always been bupkis.

Maybe point to the anti-aircraft weapon that attacked toilets or the slew of awesome weapons the military investigated but was unable to bring to fruition.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This amazing Air Force cadet is now a Rhodes Scholar

A U.S. Air Force Academy student from Tennessee has been named a Rhodes Scholar.


The Rhodes Trust said Nov. 18 that Jaspreet “Jesse” Singh, of Oak Ridge, is one of 32 students from the United States who will receive full financial support to study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
Each year 32 young students from the United States are selected as Rhodes Scholars.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

According to the trust, Singh is a senior at the Air Force Academy, where he is pursuing a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering. Singh‘s research addresses questions of policy, ethics, and the management of military assets and nuclear weapons.

Now Read: This Mayor took time off to go to war in Afghanistan

Singh has interned at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and conducts research at the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension. He also has completed several ultra-marathons.

At OxfordSingh will read for master’s degree in engineering science.

MIGHTY SPORTS

8 tips for surviving a local bowl game party

Military members come from all corners of the country and could end up being stationed anywhere — that’s one of the great things about military service. And, just like any other American, people in the military have a diverse range of interests — which may or may not include college football.

So, what does an airman who has no interest in college football do when they’re stationed near Montgomery, Alabama, and they get invited to a Crimson Tide playoff party?


First of all, always accept the invitation. Don’t let a lack of enthusiasm for the game keep you from having a good time with your friends. Parties are supposed to be fun and football parties are no different. Friends, food, and drinks are not something to be shied away from. That being said, there are ways you can be an effective partygoer, enhancing the fun instead of bringing everyone down.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Just enjoy the touchdowns.

8. There’s nothing wrong with not watching football. 

Just don’t make fun of it. Football fans are great. As long as their team isn’t getting blown out, they’ll be happy to explain what’s happening, the bare necessities to follow the game, and what’s at stake. In return for their guidance, all they want is that you have a good time and don’t let the conversation flow to a dark place. Speaking of which…

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

There’s nothing wrong with carrying a yellow flag just to throw it at “that guy.”

7. Don’t be “That Guy.”

For football, “That Guy” can take many forms — bringing up the politics surrounding your host’s team, bringing up the critical losses of the season, or talking about serious things that could be better left to another time. For example, it’s a pretty good bet that no one at a Super Bowl party cares about the kneeling thing, so you can bring that up to a different crowd.

You can also be a good guest by not cracking inane jokes or talking during crucial moments in the game (you’ll know because the room suddenly gets silent).

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Some teams are better than others. That doesn’t matter when it comes to fandom.

6. Pick a team and go with it.

If there’s one thing sports fans respect, it’s true fandom. If you were a fan of the Patriots before the Belichick era, you’ve got street cred. If you were still a USC fan after Pete Carroll left, good on you. If you’re still a Browns fan, you’ve earned respect. Don’t go switching teams because of your boyfriend or girlfriend and definitely don’t do it because Clemson has been slowly making their way to dominance.

And if you’ve never had a team before, pick one of the teams playing at the party and stay with them, win or lose. Cheer when they score, jeer when they get screwed by the refs. The only way you can go wrong is switching teams mid-game.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

How to win the football party.

5. Bring good food. 

Nobody is going to hate the guy or gal who brought the slow-cooked ribs. Nobody — even if you make that tired joke about the quarterback rounding the bases and scoring a basket. “That guy” (without the food) would not be invited back. “That guy” with the food will be invited to every party ever.

Related: 12 of the best football party foods, ranked

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

“And that’s how the Browns can still make the playoffs.”

4. Do the bare minimum of homework.

Watch some videos on YouTube and learn about one common penalty, like pass interference. When you see it called during the game, you can be one of those people who yells “BULLSH*T” or, if you watch closely, wonder aloud how the refs missed that blatant pass interference.

If you’re trying to pass yourself off as a fan, this is the fastest way. Learning things like “quarterback pressure” and what a “slot receiver” is will put you one head above other people pretending to be fans.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

3. Have an exit strategy.

If the game is big enough and the fanbase frustrated enough, the end of a big game could either mean depression or an explosion of anger should the home team lose. Having an excuse to leave after the game is a good idea. This is a great way to avoid seeing a darker side of your friends’ lives.

2. Keep to football.

You’re there for a football game, so do football things. Talk about football news, other football games, football players, or other teams in the division and how much we hate them. So, go play beer pong, eat wings, and remember that no one needs to hear your 2016 Presidential Campaign theories.

No one.

Also on the excluded list are things like religion, money, and true crime — unless there’s a Netflix documentary about it.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

You will probably never see “An Ode To Cheese” at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

1. Don’t confuse your halftime shows.

It may be difficult for even the most enthusiastic football watcher to keep track of who’s in which bowl game. Nobody expects anyone to know who’s playing in the Pinstripe Bowl (unless you’re in Wisconsin or Miami, I suppose). But in college, there are four main bowl games and then the BCS playoff national championship. None of those have a halftime show headlined by someone like Justin Timberlake.

That’s the NFL Super Bowl. You will likely miss the Sugar Bowl halftime show because you’re too busy shotgunning a Keystone Light.

Articles

Wing commander praises crew of wrecked B-52 for averting a larger catastrophe

The seven crewmembers of a B-52 that crashed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, during a takeoff on May 19 were applauded by their commander for their actions in the crisis.


“We are thankful that the air crew are safe,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander, told Pacific Daily News. “Because of their quick thinking and good judgment in this emergency situation, the air crew not only saved their lives, but averted a more catastrophic incident.”

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
A B-52 takes off successfully. Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman

The plane was taking off on a routine training mission and was carrying only inert munitions, which limited the potential danger to nearby civilians or to emergency responders. Still, it had a full load of fuel and both Air Force and local firefighters had to quickly cordon off the area and battle the flames.

The mission was part of the Department of Defense’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. Guam is a small island but has played an outsized role in U.S. Pacific strategy because of its placement near both important sea lanes as well as areas of the Pacific that are claimed by multiple countries, including China.

The Air Force is now working to investigate the crash while also limiting the environmental effects of the spilled fuel and oil from the wreck.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
B-2 Spirits have also had mechanical issues while flying out of Guam. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

This is the second B-52 crash at the base in eight years. A 2008 incident tragically claimed the lives of six crewmembers. In addition to the B-52 incidents, a B-2 Spirit was damaged in Guam due to sensor failures and a B-1 was damaged when it struck emergency vehicles during an emergency landing in 2008. In 2010, another B-2 was damaged when a fire broke out in an engine compartment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Commanders are excited about US Space Force

President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019, signed into law the US Space Force, the sixth military branch and first devoted to organizing, training, and equipping personnel to use and defend military space assets.

Trump signed a directive organizing the Space Force as part of the Air Force in February. With the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that Trump signed Dec. 20, 2019, US Air Force Space Command becomes Space Force but remains within the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is a part of the Navy Department.


“Going to be a lot of things happening in space, because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump said Dec. 20, 2019. “Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital … The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground.”

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

President Donald Trump speaks during an event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Dec. 20, 2019. Trump visited Andrews to thank service members before signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 which support the Air Force’s advanced capabilities to gain and maintain air superiority and the airmen that are essential to our nation’s success.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark)

Space Force is separate from NASA, the civilian space agency. Other agencies that work on space-related issues, like the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, will continue operating as before.

But most of the Pentagon’s space programs will eventually be housed under the Space Force. Staffing and training details for the new branch will be sorted out over the next 18 months, Air Force officials said Dec. 20, 2019.

Space Force is not designed or intended to put combat troops into space; it will provide forces and assets to Space Command, which was set up in August and will lead military space operations.

The exact division of responsibilities and assets has not been fully worked out, but when the creation of Space Command was announced in December 2018, then-Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan compared the relationship to that of the other five military branches with the four functional combatant commands, such as Transportation Command, which manages transportation for the military, or Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear arms.

There are “still a lot of things that we don’t know,” Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command and US Space Command, told reporters Dec. 20, 2019. Raymond can lead Space Force as chief of space operations for a year without going through Senate confirmation, which his successor will have to have.

“There’s not a really good playbook on, how do you stand up a separate service?” Raymond said. “We haven’t really done this since 1947,” when the Air Force was created.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

US Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 4 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, May 7, 2017.

(US Air Force)

While much remains to be decided about Space Force and Space Command, conversations about how the latter will support operations on earth have already started, according to Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of US European Command, one of the six geographic combatant commands.

“I talk to Gen. Raymond on a very regular basis. I would say probably once a week,” Wolters said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast on December 10, when about potential partnerships between Space Command, European Command, and European allies.

“From a US EUCOM perspective, we have space componency that Gen. Raymond extends to us to allow us to better defend and better deter, and with each passing day we’re going to find ways to align the assets that exist in space to better deter and to better defend.”

Wolters spoke after NATO officially recognized space as an operational domain, alongside air, land, sea, and cyber, on November 20.

That recognition allows NATO to make requests of members, “such as hours of satellite communications,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the time. NATO members own half of the 2,000 satellites estimated to be in orbit.

Wolters called that recognition “a huge step in the right direction.”

“In our security campaign, from a US EUCOM perspective and from a NATO perspective, we always have to improve in indications and warnings. We always have to improve in command and control and feedback, and we always have to improve in mission command. And we have to do that in space,” Wolters said.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

The Air Force launches a Wideband Global SATCOM satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, March 18, 2017.

(US Air Force/United Launch Alliance)

Supporters see a Space Force as a national security necessity in light of other countries’ advancing space capabilities and because of potential threats in space, such as interference with systems like GPS.

Critics say it’s not clear what capabilities a Space Force brings that Air Force Space Command doesn’t already provide and that its creation will spur an arms race in space.

In recognizing space as a domain, NATO ministers agreed that space was “essential” to the alliance’s ability to deter and defend against threats, providing a venue for things like tracking forces, navigation and communications, and detecting missile launches.

Stoltenberg declined to say how NATO’s space-based capabilities could work with US Space Command, telling press on November 19 that he would “not go into the specifics of how we are going to communicate with national space commands and national space capabilities.”

“What NATO will do will be defensive,” he said, “and we will not deploy weapons in space.”

Wolters didn’t mention space-based weapons in his remarks this month but did tout capabilities offered by operations in space.

“Obviously there are things that take place in space at speeds and with a degree of precision that are very, very attractive for deterrence, and space-to-surface [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] is one of those key areas,” Wolters said, adding that he and Raymond have discussed and will continue to discuss those “big issues.”

“It all has to do with seeing the potential battle space, seeing the environment, and being able to have quick feedback on what is taking place in that environment,” Wolters said. “If you can obviously utilize the resources that exist in space, you can probably do so at a speed that makes commanders happy because they have information superiority.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why these two Air Force bombers are on the way out

The Air Force recently announced its plan for when the B-21 Raider enters service, and it is not good news for two of the strategic bombers currently on inventory. While the B-52 will continue to serve until 2050, marking nearly a century of service, the B-1B Lancer and the B-2A Spirit will be retired as the B-21 comes online.


The Pentagon’s plan gives the B-52 an incredible 98 years of service from first flight to a planned retirement. An Air Force fact sheet notes that there are currently 58 B-52H Stratofortress bombers in active service, with another 18 in the Air Force Reserve.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

The Air Force is planning to buy as many as 100 Raiders, which could see initial operating capabilities in the middle of the 2020s. Given the Air Force’s history of bomber purchases, that number could be concerningly low.

The original production run of the B-2 Spirit was slated to reach 132 airframes but was stopped at 21. Currently, the Air Force has 20 B-2s in the active force. The B-1A, a predecessor to the Air Force’s essential B-1B Lancer, was scheduled for a production run of 270 planes at $102 million each to replace the B-52 in the late 1970s. Then-President Jimmy Carter canceled the B-1A in favor of air-launched cruise missiles, but his successor, Ronald Reagan, had 100 B-1Bs built. Currently, the Air Force has 62 B-1Bs in service.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

The Air Force used to have a larger force. “At the end of Desert Storm, in 1991, we had 290 total bombers,” the commander of Global Strike Command, General Robin Rand, said in an Air Force release.

Today, that force has dropped to 157 bombers at five bomb wings and 15 total force bomb squadrons. That’s a 46 percent decrease in our bomber force while we have conducted continuous combat operations, such as Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom’s Sentinel, in addition to continuous bomber rotations in the (U.S. Central Command) and (U.S. Pacific Command) areas of responsibility.
MIGHTY FIT

Is intermittent fasting the right choice?

Intermittent fasting, as a specific protocol, is pretty new on the dieting scene, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard of at least someone that’s used it successfully.

Even though there are probably more than a hundred different ways to diet, maybe even a thousand, intermittent fasting is a bit different since it includes long periods of fasting or going without food.


While this makes fasting unique, it also means it’s not the right idea for everyone.

If you’re interested in trying this diet, I’ll go over a few pros and cons that you should consider before jumping in.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Everyone wants more self control around fresh made baked goodness.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Webster Rison

Pro: Fasting can help you deal with hunger

I know it’s ironic, but fasting consistently can help you better deal with hunger.

How often do you feel that you’re close to the brink of death when you haven’t eaten in a few hours? If you’re like most people that eat three meals a day plus snacks in between, missing one of those opportunities can lead to a feeling that end times are near.

When you fast regularly, you’re teaching your mind and body to handle an extended time without food.

While it might suck for the first few days, fasting can change how your hunger hormones function and teach you that it’s okay if you happen to miss a meal or two.

Those hormones are a constant scapegoat for people who struggle to lose weight.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Think of it like an invisible flak vest. You can use it to make things harder or let it sabotage your performance. Your choice.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Garret Smith

Con: Fasting can make training and performance more difficult

Honestly, intermittent fasting isn’t a great idea if you train hard or have a high level of aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

Eating food ensures that the energy you have for muscle contraction is plentiful. When you fast for hours on end, your body turns towards stored fat and sugar in your liver to help you survive. But that’s not the best option if you need to train hard or perform for a long time.

Sure, fasting might not affect everyone the same, but if you usually eat around training, you’ll almost certainly see a dip in performance at first.

Unless you take a long time to adjust to how fasting affects performance (this is a similar protocol to what you would need to do on a keto diet.), you might want to opt for a different protocol if high performance is important to you.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

When you squeeze the trigger you better be sure you’re gonna hit what you’re aiming at. IF can help build your mental toughness, so you don’t miss even in the fog of war (simulated or real).

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Bryant

Pro: Fasting can teach you to perform on low fuel

In the same light, using fasting strategically can help you develop the mental fortitude necessary to really push yourself when you’re fatigued and don’t have food available.

Just as you use weights, sprints, and long ruck marches get mentally and physically hard, jumping into challenging workouts when fasted can help you develop the mental toughness to push through when the going gets tough.

Here’s how to use your workouts to do some serious mental toughness training.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

No food is a stressor. If you already have a lot of other sources of stress, like you would at a selective school like OCS, maybe don’t add another.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. George Nudo

Con: Fasting can make your recovery and improvement challenging

Again, food not only provides energy for performance but also the fuel your body needs to repair and grow. If you’re training hard and fasting every day, you could be missing out on recovery and growth.

You’ve probably heard of “bulking phases” where you’re not only training hard but also eating more than usual. When people bulk, they’re eating more food because those calories help support the growth and repair of muscles.

When you fast, eating enough calories becomes a bit difficult because you’re spending so much time not eating.

On this diet, you’re not only burning through calories for a large portion of the day, but you’re making it more challenging to make up for those calories you’re burning, like amino acids in the protein you eat.

Since you have less time to eat, you’ll be fuller from each meal. As a result, it might be challenging to eat the same amount of calories as you would with a full day of eating opportunities.

Most importantly, if you train hard, need to recover and want to develop muscle, strength, and power, you’re better off trying a different diet.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Send it back… or don’t. Just make a choice and stick to it.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Webster Rison

Better yet

Don’t diet at all. Dieting is temporary.

You want a solution that will last you a lifetime. Try using strategies like Green-light and Red-light rules that I lay out in The Ultimate Composure Nutrition Guide, it’s 100% free in my free resources vault.

Or give these a shot!

I highly discourage you from engaging in any diet that makes it harder to live your life. The point of eating food is to make you thrive, not just survive.

If you must, try this detailed protocol on how to cut weight for an upcoming weigh-in.

Maybe you prefer to fast as a part of your lifestyle. I often don’t eat until noon, that’s technically fasting. General McChrystal is a practitioner of the one meal a day protocol. Just ensure it’s something you can do consistently.

If it’s painful you won’t want to do it indefinitely and that’s the crux here. If you are struggling and need to talk to someone about losing fat, or your mind, contact me. I’ll give you 30 minutes of my time with no expectation of anything in return. I’ve seen enough people cause some serious damage to their bodies and minds with dieting. Don’t join that club, it’s avoidable.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This year’s ‘Best Warrior’ tests will be based on actual combat incidents

New events for this year’s Best Warrior Competition will come from the experiences of operational advisors deployed around the world by the Asymmetric Warfare Group, the lead organizer said Sept. 25, 2019.

The competition will take place Oct. 6-11, 2019, at Forts Lee and A.P. Hill, Virginia, with 22 competitors from the Army’s major commands and components vying for Soldier of the Year and NCO of the Year. Winners will be announced at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2019.

A small Asymmetric Warfare Group detachment at Fort A.P. Hill has been preparing for the competition since February 2019 under the leadership of 1st Sgt. Hunter Conrad.


Conrad served as an AWG operational advisor for three years, undergoing half a dozen deployments to nations such as Senegal, Uganda, Somalia and Tunisia. He also served for a year on AWG’s Leadership Development Troop, teaching brigade combat teams how to operate in a subterranean environment.

The competition’s events, though, don’t just come from his experiences; they’re based on real-world situations observed by operational advisors across all combatant commands, he said.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Spc. Hunter Olson, Maryland National Guard, dominates a water survival event involving a 100-meter swim in full uniform at the 2019 Region II Best Warrior Competition.

(Photo by aj. Kurt M. Rauschenberg)

“It’s been a team effort,” Conrad said, and that doesn’t just stop with the preparations. A team of about 15 soldiers from First U.S. Army at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, will be joining his detachment to conduct the competition.

Another 20 or so soldiers from AWG at Fort Meade, Maryland, will be going to A.P. Hill to help run the competition, he said, and a handful from the Army Medical Command will also be there.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston went to Fort A.P. Hill September 2019 for a validation and mission rehearsal of the competition. He made minor course corrections, Conrad said, based on his preference for enhanced, realistic training.

“The Best Warrior Competition is the essence of what we want to accomplish,” Grinston said. “We want to enhance Army readiness by building cohesive teams who are highly trained, disciplined and physically fit. Cohesive teams are the key to winning on any battlefield.”​

In order to enhance the realism, Conrad spent hours studying after-action reports that describe recent incidents around the world that tested the combat proficiency of soldiers. Many of those incidents will be re-created for the competition.

The competition actually begins at Fort Lee with the new Army Combat Fitness Test. Then competitors depart for the operational phase of Best Warrior at Fort A.P. Hill. There they will be tested on various soldier skills as part of a fictional combatant command scenario, Conrad said.

Every year, different skill level 1 tasks are tested, he said, in order to keep competitors guessing. They don’t know ahead of time what skills will be assessed, or in what order, so Conrad said they must be proficient in all of them.

Competitors won’t be able to “just memorize the sequence of events and perform them in a sterile environment,” like they do in warrior task testing lanes at many units, he said.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

Spc. Collin George, U.S. Army Reserve Soldier of the Year, reassebles an M240B machine gun with his eyes covered during a crew-served weapons class at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 14, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Kevin Long)

“We actually try to place them in a real-world scenario and grade them on their ability to execute the same tasks in a more stressful, realistically-simulated environment,” he said.

Last year the operational phase of the competition began with a ruck march in the dark carrying 50 pounds of gear. The initial event will be different this year, but Conrad added competitors “can expect to exert themselves physically.”

Additionally, Grinston noted, as the Army continues to study ways to enhance readiness, it must better understand biomechanics and cognitive performance to quantify soldier lethality.

“We need to establish a baseline for soldier performance through the Soldier Performance Model,” he said. “We have a team who will place sensors on each competitor to measure everything from stress and fatigue, to how their bodies process nutrition during the competition.”

“This will help us collect data to evaluate the impact of those factors, and others, on soldiers, and what we can do to help them perform better,” Grinston said.

Last year, Cpl. Matthew Hagensick from the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, earned the Soldier of the Year title. Sgt. 1st Class Sean Acosta, a civil affairs specialist with the 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, became NCO of the Year.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US was told no Russians were involved in deadly Syria attack

The Pentagon says U.S. military commanders were told by their Russian counterparts that there were no Russians in a paramilitary force whose attack on a base in eastern Syria early February 2018 led to a massive counterstrike by U.S. forces.


The comments by Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White on Feb. 22, 2018, add another piece to the puzzle surrounding the Feb. 7 incident, which Moscow said this week caused dozens of casualties among fighters from Russia and other former Soviet republics but did not involve uniformed Russian troops.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other U.S. military officials have repeatedly said that U.S. military commanders were in contact with their Russian counterparts at the time of the clash. But White’s comments are the clearest to date that the U.S. military was told there were no Russians in the attacking force.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“The strike in Syria — our strikes were done out of self-defense. We were very clear about that. We saw those — that group moving towards us. We still don’t know, and I won’t speculate, about the intentions or the composition of that group,” White said.

“What I can tell you is that we used our deconfliction phone line, and we used it before, during, and after the strike. And we were assured by the Russians that there were no Russians involved,” she said.

The clash in Deir al-Zor Province appears to be the first time that U.S. forces engaged directly with Russians in Syria, where Russian forces are backing President Bashar al-Assad’s government in a devastating seven-year civil war.

Also read: Turkey vows to defiantly attack US allies in Syria

The revelation that Russian mercenaries were killed stoked fears of an outright hostile confrontation between Russians and U.S. forces. But the Russian government has distanced itself from the incident and its public comments have been subdued.

The United States has said that air and artillery strikes launched after as many as 500 pro-government forces attacked a base housing U.S.-backed opposition forces and U.S. military advisers killed about 100 of the attackers.

Mounting evidence

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
Screenshot of Russian soldiers in the Syrian desert. (Screenshot via RamiroWTF YouTube)

No Russian official directly acknowledged that Russian citizens were involved until Feb. 15, 2018, when Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that about five people who were “presumably Russian citizens” may have been killed.

On Feb. 20, 2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry said “several dozen” citizens of Russia and other former Soviet republics were wounded in the lopsided exchange.

With accounts from relatives and acquaintances of Russian fighters in Syria mounting, some open-source researchers and media reports have said that dozens or hundreds of Russians were killed.

Related: What happened when Russian mercs tried testing the US in Syria

Russia has given Assad’s government crucial support throughout the war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on protests.

Moscow helped turn the tide of the conflict in his favor by launching a campaign of air strikes in 2015 and stepping up its military presence on the ground.

In Russia, anger is growing among relatives of the dead and survivors, and supporters of private military companies like Vagner, which is believed to have sent hundreds of contract soldiers to Syria.

The company is financed by a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is known for his close ties to the Kremlin.

Some relatives have said their loved ones were lured by the company’s relatively high wages but were deceived into thinking they were going to work on construction projects.

MIGHTY TRENDING

First US woman to ‘make general’ dies at age 97

On Jan. 7, the United States lost Brigadier General Anna Mae McCabe Hays, who died at the age of 97.


It took a while for women gain ground in the military. Hays didn’t let double standards or biases against her gender limit her during her military career. As a result of her fortitude and determination, she is now best-known for becoming the first female to be promoted to a General Officer rank in the United States armed forces.

Hays was born on Feb. 16, 1920, in Buffalo, NY. She had a love for music and would have applied to Julliard, but her parents could not afford the tuition.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
Gen. Hays seated in an Army hospital during her two-year deployment to India. (U.S. Army Medical Department)

Hays also had an affinity for nursing; as a young child, she would practice tying bandages on wooden chairs and when she grew up, she decided to attend Allentown Hospital School of Nursing. After graduation in 1941, she lent her talents to the American Red Cross, but she soon learned that she could aid her country in a higher capacity.

After the attack against Pearl Harbor, Hays drove to Philadelphia where she signed up for the Army Nursing Corps. Her first assignment was a military base hospital in Assam, India, where she treated construction workers and Army engineers who had the task of building a road to China.

Amputations were a common occurrence and Hays witnessed — and assisted in — many of them. Impressively, at the end of WWII, Hays decided to stay in the Army. She went on to deploy to South Korea and set up the first hospital in the city of Ichon.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on
Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays. (U.S Army)

Hays also helped lobby change for women by suggesting that married officers who became pregnant should not be automatically discharged. She also helped change the discriminatory age limitations that restricted women from joining the Army Nurse Corps Reserve.

Also read: These 6 women earned medals for gallantry in World War I

If that wasn’t enough, Hays also established the Army Institute of Nursing, which is now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Andrews AFB, Maryland. Her promotion to Brigadier General on June 11, 1970 was the first time a woman had worn stars on her shoulders. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, was present at her ceremony and presented her with the very stars her husband received when he was promoted to the same rank in 1941.

After three decades of military service, Hays stated, “If I had it to do over again, I would do it longer.” A woman of steadfast fortitude and astonishing work ethic, Hays paved the way for future leaders of our armed services — men and women alike — and she will never be forgotten.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s why the aircraft carrier sent to confront Iran is hanging back

The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier is hanging back outside the Persian Gulf, where US carriers have sailed for decades, amid concerns that tensions with Iran could boil over.

The US deployed a carrier strike group, bomber task force, and other military assets to the Middle East in response to threats posed by Iran. Although the Pentagon has attempted to shed some light on the exact nature of the threat, questions remain.

One US military asset deployed to US Central Command was the Lincoln, which was rushed into the region with a full carrier air wing of fighters but hasn’t entered the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a vital strategic waterway where Iranian speedboats routinely harass American warships.


As this symbol of American military might sailed into the region, President Donald Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” Both the White House and the Pentagon have repeatedly emphasized that the purpose of these deployments is deterrence, not war.

The US has employed a “maximum pressure” campaign of harsh sanctions and the military deployments, as national security adviser John Bolton called it, to counter Iran, while also offering to negotiate without preconditions. The US military has meanwhile been keeping the Lincoln out of the Persian Gulf and away from Iran’s doorstep.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

(Google Maps)

The carrier is currently operating in the Arabian Sea. “You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something,” Capt. Putnam Browne, the carrier’s commander, told the Associated Press June 3, 2019.

When the US Navy sent destroyers attached to the carrier strike group through the Strait of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf, they entered without harassment. But Iranian leaders immediately issued a warning that US ships were in range of their missiles.

Rear Adm. John F.G. Wade, commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, told Military.com the carrier is still in a position to “conduct my mission wherever and whenever needed.” He stressed that the aircraft carrier is there to respond to “credible threats” posed by Iran and Iranian-backed forces in the region.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln underway in the Atlantic Ocean during a strait transit exercise on Jan. 30, 2019.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Clint Davis)

And the carrier is certainly not sitting idle in the region.

Components of Carrier Air Wing 7 attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln linked up with US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bombers over the weekend for combined arms exercises that involved simulated strikes. “We are postured to face any threats toward US forces in this region,” Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the Combined Forces Air Component commander, said in a statement.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is building a massive amount of warships

The U.S. Navy’s 2016 shipbuilding plan called for 355 ships needed to compete in an increasingly contested international environment. The acting Secretary of the Navy has promised the Navy’s new plan will be complete by Jan. 15, 2020, but by all accounts, the number of ships will be reduced to 304, allotting for the construction of 10 new ships per year, fewer than the 2016 assessment.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Navy is increasing its naval presence – at a massive rate.


The People’s Liberation Army Navy is gearing up for the naval fight of the century, one that will likely happen without ever firing a shot. For control of the contested islands in the South China Sea, the PLAN is going to have to intimidate all the other naval forces of the world, but mostly the United States Navy. While China sees the waters around the Spratly Islands as its sovereign territory, other countries in the neighborhood don’t see it that way. The U.S. Navy, as part of its Freedom of Navigation mission, makes regular trips through these “Chinese waters,” challenging China’s claim to the islands and its territorial sea.

Basically, the U.S. Navy goes to contested sea areas and conducts operations inconsistent with “Innocent Passage,” which would be any action that doesn’t contribute to their quick and hasty movement through the territorial waters. When the U.S. Navy does something like launch planes or helicopters while in the disputed zones, it’s basically telling China, the U.S. doesn’t recognize their claim. In the South China Sea, there are at least two island chains in dispute between the Chinese and their neighbors.

The U.S. doesn’t take sides, but it also doesn’t recognize China’s Excessive Maritime Claims, so it frequently conducts Freedom of Navigation operations – and China hates it.

How this combat vet became a 33-year-old walk-on

(Forbes)

China’s response to the ongoing Freedom of Navigation operations has been to increase the presence of its deployed military hardware throughout the Spratly and Paracel Islands. It has even moved its vaunted DF-26 Ballistic Missile forces onto the islands in an effort to intimidate the U.S. Navy from continued operations. It has not been successful. China has even put its own ships in the way of the U.S. ships traversing the islands, threatening to stop them with one ship and sink it with another. But that is easier said than done. The United States Navy is the largest and most advanced fleet of ships in the world, with 11 aircraft carrier battle groups and hundreds of ships. It’s a lot to consider fighting.

Unless you also have hundreds of ships.

While the U.S. Navy is planning to build ten ships every year, the Chinese shipyards have been documented building up to nine ships at a time. The photo above shows nine Destroyers under construction, a number that would dwarf the UK’s Royal Navy, who has just six destroyers in service. This is only one yard, captured on social media for the world to see. China just finished its homegrown aircraft carrier, its second, and it boasts a crazy mysterious sailless submarine the United States knows very little about.

One day soon, the U.S. Navy’s intimidating Freedom of Navigation missions might just blow up in its face and it might find a fleet of Chinese ships waiting for it.