Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

When Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby first interviewed to be Army Futures Command’s enlisted leader, he had no idea what to expect.

The command was still in its nascent stages with no headquarters building and he could only find a brief description of its vision to modernize the Army.

Instead, Crosby was focused on the battlefield, observing his troops defeat ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. The prospect of the new job seemed like a 180-degree departure from his post overseeing Operation Inherent Resolve’s Combined Joint Task Force.

He then reflected on the coalition troops he had lost during his tour. Then of the soldiers who never returned home from his other deployments, including back-to-back tours to Iraq from 2005 to 2008.


He decided he wanted to help change how future soldiers would fight, hopefully keeping them safer and more lethal.

“It’s something bigger than myself,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m fired up about this. This is a bold move by the Army.”

Embedded with industry, academia 

Inside a high-rise office building in the heart of Texas, the command’s headquarters bustled on a weekday in late June.

Unlike other Army units, the office space felt more like that, an office, rather than a typical military workplace.

The command had a low profile in its upper-floor nest inside the University of Texas System building, overlooking downtown and the domed state capitol.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Sgt. 1st Class William Roth, right, assigned to Army Futures Command’s Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team, conducts a live demonstration of new Army equipment at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas, April 11, 2019.

(Photo by Luke J. Allen)

Among the rows of cubicles, soldiers wore no uniforms as they worked alongside federal employees and contractors. Many soldiers went by their first name in the office, often frequented by innovators, entrepreneurs and academic partners.

The lowest-ranked soldier was a sergeant and up the chain were senior executive service civilians and a four-star general.

A few blocks down 7th Street, another group of soldiers and federal employees from the command were embedded in an incubator hub to get even closer to innovators.

The Army Applications Laboratory occupies a corner on the eighth floor of Capital Factory, which dubs itself the center of gravity for startups in Texas. The lab shares space with other defense agencies and officials call it a “concierge service” to help small companies navigate Defense Department acquisition rules and regulations.

“They’re nested and tied in with industry,” Crosby said.

The command also provides research funding to over 300 colleges and universities, he added

Those efforts include an Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that activated earlier this year.

In May, the University of Texas System also announced it had committed at least million to support its efforts with the command, according to a news release.

More recently, the command agreed to a partnership with Vanderbilt University in Nashville. As part of it, soldiers with 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team would work with engineers to inspire new technology.

Soldiers up the road at Fort Hood may also soon be able to do the same at UT and Texas AM University.

“That is what we’re looking to replicate with other divisions in the Army,” Crosby said. “It will take some time.”

In on the groundfloor

Since October 2017 when the Army announced its intent to create the command to be the focal point of modernization efforts, it wasted no time laying its foundation.

It now manages eight cross-functional teams at military sites across the country, allowing soldiers to team with acquisition and science and technology experts at the beginning of projects.

The teams tackle six priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality — all of which have since been allocated billion over the next five years.

The next step was to place its headquarters in an innovative city, where it could tap into industry and academic talent to develop new technologies that give soldiers an edge against near-peer threats.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Gen. John Murray, left, commander of Army Futures Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby, the command’s senior enlisted leader, participate in a command synchronization session at the University of Texas at Austin, April 26, 2019.

(Photo by Luke J. Allen)

After an exhaustive search of over 150 cities, the Army chose Austin. The move marked the start of the Army’s largest reorganization effort since 1973, when both the Forces Command and Training and Doctrine Command were established.

The location away from a military post was intentional. Rather than surrounded by a security fence, the command is surrounded by corporate America.

“We’re part of the ecosystem of entrepreneurs, startups, academia,” Crosby said. “We’re in that flow of where ideas are presented.”

As it nears full operational capability this summer, Futures Command has already borne fruit since it activated August 2018.

Its collaborative efforts have cut the time it takes project requirements to be approved from five or seven years to just three months or less.

Once prototypes are developed, soldiers are also more involved in testing the equipment before it begins rolling off an assembly line.

By doing this, the Army hopes to learn from past projects that failed to meet soldier expectations.

The Main Battle Tank-70 project in the 1960s, for instance, went well over budget before it was finally canceled. New efforts then led to the M1 Abrams tank.

Until the Army got the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, it spent significant funding on the Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle in the 1960s, which never entered service.

“So we’re trying to avoid that,” Crosby said. “We’re trying to let soldiers touch it. Those soldier touchpoints are a big success story.”

Culture change

Futures Command is not a traditional military command. Its headquarters personnel, which will eventually number about 100 soldiers and 400 civilians, are encouraged to think differently.

A new type of culture has spread across the command, pushing many soldiers and federal employees out of their comfort zone to learn how to work in a more corporate environment.

“The culture we really look to embrace is to have some elasticity; be able to stretch,” Crosby said. “Don’t get in the box, don’t even use a box — get rid of the box.”

Crosby and other leaders will often elicit ideas from younger personnel, who may think of another approach to remedy a problem.

“I’m not going to somebody who has been in the uniform for 20 to 30 years, because they’re pretty much locked on their ideas,” he said. “They don’t want to change.”

A young staff sergeant once told the sergeant major the command could save thousands if they just removed the printers from the office.

The move, which is still being mulled over, would force people to rely more on technology while also saving money in paper, ink and electricity.

While it may annoy some, Crosby likens the idea to when a GPS device reroutes a driver because of traffic on a road. The driver may be upset at first, not knowing where the device is pointing, but the new route ends up being quicker.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, center, deputy commanding general of Army Futures Command and commander of Futures and Concepts Center, talks with Josh Baer, founder of Capital Factory, during a South by Southwest Startup Crawl on March 8, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

(Photo by Anthony Small)

“You have to reprogram what you think,” he said. “I’m not used to this road, why are they taking me here? Then you come to find out, it’s not a bad route.”

For Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Robinson, his role as a human resources specialist is vastly different from his previous job as a mailroom supervisor at 4th Infantry Division.

As the headquarters’ youngest soldier, Robinson, 31, often handles the administrative actions of organizations that continue to realign under the budding command.

Among them are the Army Capabilities Integration Center that transitioned over to be the command’s Futures and Concepts Center. The Research, Development and Engineering Command then realigned to be its Combat Capabilities Development Command.

Research elements at the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command have also realigned to the Army’s new major command.

“The processes and actions are already in place,” Robinson said of his old position, “but here you’re trying to recreate and change pretty much everything.”

Since he started in November 2018, he said he now has a wider view of the Army. Being immersed in a corporate setting, he added, may also help him in a career after the military.

“The job itself and working with different organizations opens up a [broader perspective],” he said, “and helps you not just generalize but operationalize a different train of thought.”

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Crosby, left, Army Futures Command’s senior enlisted leader, participates in the command’s activation ceremony in Austin, Texas, Aug. 24, 2018, along with Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army; Army Secretary Mark Esper; and its commander, Gen. John Murray.

(Photo by Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf)

While chaotic at times, Julia McDonald, a federal employee who handles technology and futures analysis for the commander’s action group, has grabbed ahold of the whirlwind ride.

“It moves fast around here,” she said of when quick decisions are made and need to be implemented at a moment’s notice. “Fifteen minutes seems like an hour or two.”

Building up a major command is not without its growing pains. Even its commander, Gen. John Murray, has referred to his command as a “startup trying to manage a merger.”

“Everybody is just trying to stand up their staff sections and understand that this is your lane and this is my lane,” McDonald said. “And how do we all work together now that we’re in the same command?”

The current challenges could pay off once the seeds planted today grow into new capabilities that help soldiers.

For Crosby, that’s a personal mission. In his last deployment, nearly 20 coalition members, including U.S. soldiers, died in combat or in accidents and many more were wounded as they fought against ISIS.

“We have to get it right, and I know we will,” he said. “Everybody is depending on us.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian nuclear sub fires intercontinental missile for first time

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it has test-launched a Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile from its most advanced nuclear-powered submarine for the first time, striking a target thousands of kilometers away.

The ministry said on Oct. 30, 2019, that the missile was fired from an upgraded Borei-class nuclear submarine that was submerged in the White Sea near Arkhangelsk on Russia’s northern coast.

It said the missile carried a dummy payload that reached a test site in Russia’s Far East region of Kamchatka.


Vice Admiral Aleksandr Moiseyev said the upgraded model of the Borei-class submarine is scheduled to enter service with Russia’s Northern Fleet at the end of 2019 once it has completed trials that include weapons tests.

Meet Russia’s latest nuclear-powered Borei-class intercontinental ballistic missile submarine

www.youtube.com

The test comes amid tensions between Moscow and Washington following the demise of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty that has sparked fears of a growing arms race.

Global arms controls set up during the Cold War to keep Washington and Moscow in check have come under strain since the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned the deployment of short- and intermediate-range missiles.

In August 2019, the United States pulled out of the accord.

Washington said Moscow has openly disregarded the conditions of the treaty, a charge that Russia has denied.

The last major nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States, known as the New START treaty, is due to expire in 2021.

Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia are allowed to deploy.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China wants to block other countries from energy exploration

China is preparing to lock down potential oil and gas assets in the resource-rich, but hotly contested South China Sea by effectively banning exploration by countries from outside the region.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that China, as part of a longer-term strategy that seeks to divide its South East Asian neighbors on the issue, has embedded the proposal in part of a long-awaited code of conduct for the contested waters.

Beijing’s proposal, which is helping drag out tense negotiations over the code with southeast Asian nations, is a likely deterrent targeting US oil interests from securing access to the seas claimed by a host of nearby Asian powers.

China hopes its talks with southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea will bear fruit in about three years, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in Singapore on Nov. 13, 2018.


Xinhua reports that Li said in a speech at the 44th Singapore Lecture, titled “Pursuing Open and Integrated Development for Shared Prosperity (“在开放融通中共创共享繁荣”) that China reckons it would like to draw a line under talks on the COC by 2021.

According to a report in the Nikkei on Nov. 11, 2018, people close to the COC negotiations said China inserted the oil exploration ban into a working document proposal in August 2018.

With officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including US vice president Mike Pence gathering this week in Singapore, calls have grown for the language’s removal, suggesting the ban is at odds with standard international maritime laws.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Codie Collins)

The South China Sea is a critical commercial gateway for the world’s merchant shipping, and consequently an important economic and strategic flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific.

Moreover it is the growing focus of several complex territorial disputes that have been the cause of conflict and angst.

China, as it continues to develop its energy technologies and oil extraction infrastructure has in all likelihood inserted the latest sticking point language knowing full well that any delay suits its long-game strategy.

Knowing that a bloc of ASEAN members can and will not accept the proposal, secures China more time ahead of a finalized code of conduct while Beijing’s power in the South China Sea grows and its influence among sympathetic ASEAN nations grows.

ASEAN members are already split when it comes to making space for China and on its role in the region, particularly the South China Sea.

Cambodia and Laos have in recent years fallen further and further under Beijing’s dynamic influence as China has invested heavily in supporting public works that secure the regimes in Phnom Penh and Vientiane.

Meanwhile, firebrand Filipino President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, has enjoyed his role as a regional disrupter, at once isolating the US while hedging on Beijing.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Filipino President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte.

Duterte has embraced the confusion apparent in ASEAN waters as leverage for Manila, leaving a fractured bloc at the table with US and Chinese negotiators ahead of the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

The South China Sea comprises a stretch of roughly 1.4 million square miles of Pacific Ocean encompassing an area from the strategically critical passage though Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan, spanning west of the Philippines, north of Indonesia, and east of Vietnam.

Countries as diverse and numerous as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and, of course, China are all connected to the South China Seas, which goes some way to explain the waters’ inherent dangers to regional security.

It’s quite a minefield.

The major contested island and reef formations throughout the seas are the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas, the Natuna Islands, and Scarborough Shoal.

The islands are mostly uninhabited and have never been home to or laid claim by an indigenous population, making the issue of historical sovereignty a tricky one to resolve —China for example likes to say it has historical roots to the region established sometime back in the 15th century.

But their are many other aggravating maritime and territorial factors in this increasingly dangerous part of the world.

As ASEAN’s economic intensity has continued to build under the shade of China’s decades-long economic boom, so has the waterway become a critical channel for a growing percentage of global commercial merchant shipping.

China itself still depends heavily on access through the Malacca Straits to satiate its appetite for energy and resources.

Nearby Japan and South Korea, both net importers, also depend enormously on free access to the South China Sea for unhindered shipments of fuel, resources and raw materials for both import and export.

On top of that, these are oceans rich and unregulated when it comes to natural resources. Nations like Vietnam and China furiously compete through fleets of private fishing vessels organizedwith state backing in a rush to exploit fishing grounds in dire need of governance.

Yet, the source of the most intense friction is the widely held belief that the South China Seas are home to abundant, as yet undiscovered oil and gas reserves.

China and ASEAN have been discussing changes to a 2002 declaration on the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea that would give the rules legal force.

As it stands, the declaration has proved wholly unable to stop Chinese island-building in the waters.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

The Spratly Islands, where China has been reclaiming land and building strategic assets, 2016

(Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/CSIS)

South China Sea nations including China, Vietnam and the Philippines seek opportunities to develop the plentiful reserves of energy that the sea is thought to hold.

But with the notable exception of China, backed by its heaving state-owned behemoths, like Sinopec and CNOOC these countries independently lack well-developed oil industries.

Which is where the US enters the frame.

Beijing has obvious and probably well founded concerns that the US will seek to engage and then use joint oil development projects with ASEAN countries to build a legitimate commercial toehold and thus a greater presence in the sea.

The Nikkei Review noted that the South China Sea’s lack of clear maritime boundaries makes it a difficult place to ban oil exploration by outside countries, according to a specialist in international law.

As part of the code of conduct, China has also proposed barring outside countries from taking part in joint military exercises with ASEAN countries in the South China Sea.

ASEAN members including Singapore have not agreed to this provision, creating another obstacle to concluding the negotiations.

ASEAN is moving to strengthen ties with China, as shown by October’s first-ever joint military exercises. At the same time, the Southeast Asian bloc plans to hold naval exercises with the US as early as 2019.

Meanwhile, this week Chinese president Xi Jinping will travel to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea to meet with the leaders of the eight Pacific islands that recognise China diplomatically and welcome Chinese investment.

Beijing warned no country should try to obstruct its “friendship and cooperation” with Pacific nations that have already received over billion in Chinese investment.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Joint US-Europe military exercise canceled due to coronavirus

In a measure to keep troops from potentially contracting the COVID-19 virus, a joint American and European exercise has been canceled when authorities determined that it was necessary to stop the exercise to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus that is spreading through the European Continent right now.


Cold Response 20 was two days into operations when the Norwegians decided to cancel the remainder of the exercise. Authorities from Norway made the determination after several troops were put into quarantine over fears they might have been exposed to the coronavirus. The United States had 1,500 troops in Norway with the total Allied manpower for the exercise being at 15,000.

What is Cold Response 20?

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Cold Response 20’s aim is to enhance high-intensity fighting skills while collaborating with other countries’ forces under severe cold climate conditions while conducting exercises that include maritime, land and air events. The exercise’s aim is to maintain and build upon capabilities and cohesiveness in high-intensity warfighting in an arctic environment.

The exercise was supposed to be held during the month of March, with the 15,000 service members coming from over 10 countries. The nations that were part of the canceled exercise were Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In a statement, EUCOM said, “The decision is a precautionary measure in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and to protect the health and safety of all participants and local population. The health of our force continues to be a top priority and we are committed to maintaining mission readiness”.

After a Norwegian soldier tested positive for the coronavirus, it was determined he was in contact with over two dozen United States Marines. The Marines were put under quarantine, but the risk was too much for authorities to chance.

According to the most recent data, Norway currently has 277 cases of the coronavirus but have not had any deaths reported so far. However, the number of cases has almost doubled in recent days prompting the concern from officials of a massive spread of the disease.

The European countries with the most U.S. troops stationed there are Germany and Italy. Italy has shut down most of their country as they have had the third-worst national outbreak after China and Iran. South Korea and Japan have the most U.S. troops in Asia. South Korea’s rate of infections seems to have leveled off after getting up to over 7,000 as quarantine procedures have been implemented. Japan has had less than 600 cases as of yet.

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The move is the latest in a series of steps the United States military has implemented to prevent service members and their families from being exposed to the virus. There is also talk that the military will put a 60-day pause on troop and family relocations. While no word yet has come, it seems this will most likely affect troops with PCS orders, primarily in South Korea and Italy.

A training exercise in Africa has also been scaled down in breadth, and the Pentagon is considering scaling down or canceling additional exercises. Called African Lion, the exercise would pair Americans with troops from Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia admits to violating airspace, blames it on a ‘device malfunction’

An alleged incursion into South Korea’s airspace on July 23, 2019, was down to a “device malfunction” from its aircraft, Russian officials reportedly said to the South Korean government.

Russia’s defense ministry said it would “immediately launch a probe and take necessary steps,” a South Korean official said of the incident, according to Yonhap News and Reuters.

Russian military officials were said to have expressed “deep regret.”

South Korea’s claim of an apology from Russia has not yet been verified. Business Insider had contacted Russia’s Ministry of Defence for comment.


The alleged apology comes after Russia’s defense ministry denied its aircraft intruded into South Korean airspace.

South Korean F-15K and F-16K fighter jets were scrambled after two Russian Tu-95 bombers accompanied by two Chinese H-6 bombers crossed into Korea’s air defense identification zone.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

An F-15K Slam Eagle from the South Korean air force.

(US Air Force Photo)

The Russian aircraft were joined by their Chinese counterparts in what was the first long-range joint air patrol, according to South Korean officials.

A Russian A-50 observation aircraft was also spotted by South Korean and Japanese forces. The South Korean military said it fired flares and hundreds of machine-gun rounds near the Russian aircraft after it went beyond violating its air defense identification zone — a buffer around airspace controlled by a country — to intrude on its airspace proper.

In a statement, Russian military officials denied its Tu-95s received nearby fire but did not mention its A-50 aircraft, Reuters reported.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95.

Russia accused South Korean jets of “unprofessional maneuvers” and miscommunication.

China claimed the airspace was not an exclusive territory for South Korea.

Russia has been accused of frequently coming close to violating the airspace of numerous countries, including the US and UK.

In May 2019, US F-22 stealth fighters were scrambled after Russian Tu-95s entered Alaska’s air defense identification zone.

After the Russian bombers left the zone, they returned with Russian Su-35 fighter jets, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

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

Articles

Poll reveals military sentiments on POTUS

On Sunday, a poll from Military Times and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families displayed the thoughts and sentiments of active-duty military troops about President Barack Obama as he ends his eight years as commander in chief.


The results showed that U.S. service members have an overwhelmingly negative view of Obama — or a neutral view at best.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command
President Barack Obama (U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David B. Mosley/Released)

Overall, 60.3% of Marines, 53% of the Army, 49.6% of the Air Force, and 45.9% of the Navy said they disapproved of Obama — a plurality in each case. Enlisted soldiers and Marines were more likely than officers to disapprove of Obama, by about 4 percentage points.

In total, 29.1% of soldiers said they had a very unfavorable view of Obama’s leadership, and 18% said they held a very favorable view.

The poll elicited responses from 1,664 participants. The responses were weighted to better reflect the entire military, according to the poll. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Obama sought to reduce the role of the military during his presidency, with drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and a decrease in the overall size of the force.

Troops interviewed by Military Times said those steps possibly made the U.S. less safe, as the last few years of Obama’s presidency have seen the rise of ISIS in Iraq and a resurgence of Taliban aggression in Afghanistan.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Swarm of Iranian boats harassed US ships in Persian Gulf, Navy says

Close to a dozen vessels from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ navy spent an hour making repeated “dangerous and harassing approaches” near American ships operating in international waters on Wednesday, according to Navy officials.

The 11 vessels carried out the aggressive moves in the Persian Gulf, Naval Forces Central Command said in a news release. The U.S. ships, including four Navy vessels and two Coast Guard, were conducting joint operations with Army AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, the release states.


Video of #IRGCN vessels conducting dangerous harassing approaches on U.S. naval vessels in the international waters of the North Arabian Gulf.pic.twitter.com/zL9VKQ0eiQ

twitter.com

The Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of the Coast Guard’s Island-class cutter Maui and within 50 yards of the expeditionary mobile base Lewis B. Puller.

“The IRGCN vessels repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds,” the Navy’s news release states, adding that the dangerous passes increase the risk of miscalculation and collision.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels cross the bows and sterns of U.S. Military ships while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf, April 15, 2020.

(U.S. Navy)

The provocations came about two weeks after the U.S. moved a carrier strike group out of the region. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed the Middle East earlier this month.

It had been operating in the region with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, a rare move for the Navy which hasn’t had multiple strike groups in the region for years. The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group remains in the area.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have been high. In March, two U.S. troops were killed by a rocket attack in Iraq, believed to have been carried out by Iranian-backed militia groups.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels cross the bows and sterns of U.S. Military ships while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf, April 15, 2020.

(U.S. Navy)

In the Wednesday statement about the unsafe maneuvers, Navy officials said U.S. naval leaders are trained to remain vigilant and professional. But, they added, “our commanding officers retain the inherent right to act in self-defense.”

The other U.S. ships involved in the episode were the Navy destroyer Paul Hamilton and coastal patrol ships Firebolt and Sirocco, along with the Coast Guard cutter Wrangell. The crews have been operating in the region since March.

“The U.S. crews issued multiple warnings via bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns and long range acoustic noise maker devices, but received no response,” the release stated.

About an hour passed before the vessels responded to bridge-to-bridge radio queries, “then maneuvered away from the U.S. ships and opened distance between them,” the release added.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

PCS life hacks I learned from watching ‘Tidying Up’ on Netflix

As military spouses, when our husbands or wives announce they finally put in for orders, our minds drift in one direction after we’ve learned possible locations…

Prepping for our PCS

As we have moved from duty station to duty station, our family has collected PCS purges from other families, thrift store finds we needed while waiting for our own household goods to arrive, souvenirs and other mementos, and of course, boxes from three duty stations ago that we’re too afraid to even open and sort through.


Every PCS ends up the same way – we’re stressed out, frustrated about going through our stuff and hoping we’re still under the maximum weight allowance, and then we’re passing our stress, anxieties, and frustration onto our children because we’re now trying to do a million things before the movers arrive.

But what if I told you that it could be different? What if we didn’t have a million things to sort through? What if our homes were already pretty much prepped for the next PCS, no matter what time of the year it is? When I stumbled across Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, I was skeptical. I hadn’t heard of her before and I hadn’t read her books, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, though I had learned about how people within the Japanese culture often purge any objects within their homes that do not bring them joy on a regular basis.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

(Flickr photo by TheMuuj)

Like many other military families, we start sifting through our stuff months in advance of a PCS to get rid of what we don’t want or need anymore, and I wasn’t quite sure that anyone could make it easier than going systematically from room to room, starting with our storage.

And yet, as I watched, I was quickly sucked in because you could actually see the joy she experienced teaching people how to become more tidy, and she even has a system, which she calls the KonMari Method, which is to organize by category rather than by location, and also to tidy the five categories in the home in a specific order:

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Komono (Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage, and anything miscellaneous)
  5. Sentimental Items

According to the KonMari Method, you should hold each item individually and ask if it brings you joy. If it does not spark joy, it should be given to a friend or donated (check out your local installation thrift store information and how to donate!) However, if it is an item that is well used but does not spark joy (I’m sure my garage tools would fall under this), you can keep the item and try to change the way you feel about those items.

If you’ve been holding onto clothes that don’t fit, Marie says you should ask: do those clothes inspire you to work out so that you fit back into them or do they make you dread exercise because you don’t fit into them anymore? Marie also believes that folding your clothes is another way to show love and appreciation to your clothes, and to maximize storage space, she has a method of folding your shirts and pants into thirds so they can stand upright, which is similar to how servicemembers learn how to fold in bootcamp.

So what does it feel like for an item to bring you joy?

Marie says that the item should spark the same feeling as holding a puppy or wearing your favorite outfit, giving you a warm, positive feeling. If you do not get that feeling and it is not something that you use regularly, you should let the item go and thank each item before you donate or give it away.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

After you sort through the first three categories by taking everything out and touching each item, the next step is sorting through the Komono category, which includes all of your miscellaneous items (everything in your home that is not clothes, books, and papers (such as legal documents, orders, and military records) as well as the garage and kitchen.

Marie is a huge fan of using boxes to store items that are of like-size as well as sorting items into categories. She recommends standing items up when possible, designating spots for everything, and using tiny boxes in the kitchen to give everything a “home.”

For the final category, Sentimental items, there are many categories – memorabilia, old letters, photos, and even old medals, challenge coins, and uniform items could be considered to have sentimental value. Marie challenges you to store your sentimental items where you can view them, such as putting photos into frames and coffee table albums so that they can be more easily viewed. Military families could utilize shadow boxes for our uniform items and/or medals to display them, and there are also great challenge coin holders available on websites like Etsy.

Can our next PCS move be different?

The best thing about the KonMari Method is that she doesn’t expect you to complete this in a day – you are literally touching every item in your home and purging the items that do not bring you joy. Our family’s goal will be to use the KonMari Method in the spring and late fall so that the next time we need to move, it won’t be such an overwhelming process to purge all of the things we hadn’t been using in the past 2-3 years.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Our trainer will make you want to play Ruck Ruck Goose

In Los Angeles, a staple of the genteel fitness regime is what practitioners unironically refer to as “going for a hike,” but which, to the veteran eye, more closely resembles a Zoolanderian walk-off between sweat-averse yoga pant models.


Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command
It’s this, but with sneakers. (Photo from pixabay, gerneth, CCO)

Catching wind of this lunacy, Army vet and elite trainer Max Philisaire advanced on Runyon Canyon and surveilled the Hollywood hiker in his/her habitat. The rumors, he found, were all too true. Crushing an unripe avocado in each furious fist, Max declared that “this soft hipster fitness tourism will not stand!”

Because this is Max. Max doesn’t hike — he rucks. Max signs his autographs “Good Night and Good Ruck.” If Max were an action star? He’d be goddamned Ruck Norris.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command
In all sincerity, Max would like you to go ruck yourself. (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Suffering in good company is a furnace in which pride — and great big useful slabs of muscle — are forged. Max doesn’t want to be rucking Runyon Canyon alone. So he’s extending an invite. To you.

Don’t have 50 lb weights for your ruck sack? Use avocados. It’s LA. You know you can ethically source 100 of them. Don’t have a ruck sack, you say? A blue IKEA tote on each shoulder should more than get you to muster.

The point is, once you finish Max’s workout, no ruck march on earth will feel hard to you again. Because marching ain’t sprinting. And if you make it through the inclined lunges, that’s what you’re doing next. Eating Max’s ruck dust all the way to glory.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command
If Max was a child’s loveable plush toy? He’d be Teddy Ruck-Sprint. (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Watch as Max trains for his new movie, The Hud-Rucker Proxy , in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Max Your Body:

This elite veteran trainer will make you aim true

This elite veteran trainer is why your ammo shows up on time

This is how squats can open doors for you

This trainer will make you a card-carrying member of the log-carrying elite

This is how to beat the rope-a-dope

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghanistan doesn’t expect troop withdrawal to affect security

A significant reduction in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan won’t impact upon the security of the war-torn country, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani said on Dec. 21, 2018.

It was the first official Afghan reaction to reports in the U.S. media that President Donald Trump is considering a “significant” withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, with some quoting unnamed officials as saying the decision has already been made.

“If they withdraw from Afghanistan it will not have a security impact because in the last 4 1/2 years the Afghans have been in full control,” Ghani’s spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, said via social media.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed senior U.S. official on Dec. 20, 2018, as saying that Trump “wants to see viable options about how to bring conflicts to a close.”


The AFP news agency quoted a U.S. official as saying the decision has already been made for a “significant” U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“That decision has been made. There will be a significant withdrawal,” AFP quoted the official as saying.

CNN also reported that Trump has already ordered the military to make plans for a withdrawal of perhaps half of the current 14,000-strong force.

NATO has so far declined to comment on the reports, saying only that is aware of the reports.

In response to an RFE/RL question, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said, “The Afghan Army and police have been fully in charge of the security of Afghanistan for over four years. They are a brave, committed, and increasingly capable force, who have ensured the security of the parliamentary elections earlier this year.”

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

“Earlier this month, NATO foreign ministers expressed steadfast commitment to ensuring long-term security and stability in Afghanistan,” Lungescu said.

“Our engagement is important to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists who could threaten us at home.”

However, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, whose NATO-member country is a contributor to Resolute Support, voiced skepticism that even a partial U.S. withdrawal could be supplanted by the remaining members.

“Frankly, I do not believe that we can split forces and rely that something can be done in the absence of an important player. It’s difficult really to say,” Linkevicius told RFE/RL.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to counter attacks from the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops in 2014.

U.S. officials have been attempting to push the Taliban to the negotiating table with the government in Kabul. Many Taliban leaders insist that U.S. forces depart before substantial peace talks can take place.

The reports came a day after Trump surprised and angered many U.S. lawmakers, administration officials, and international allies by saying he was pulling “all” U.S. troops out of Syria, where they are leading a multinational coalition backing local forces in the fight against Islamic State (IS) militants.

It also came shortly before Trump announced that his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, would be leaving his post at the end of February 2019.

U.S. media are reporting that Mattis opposed Trump’s move to withdraw from Syria. In his resignation letter, Mattis said his views were not fully “aligned” with those of the president.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

A U.S.-led coalition has been in Afghanistan since 2001, when it drove the Taliban from power after Al-Qaeda militants — whose leaders were being sheltered in Afghanistan — carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

However, the Western-backed government in Kabul has struggled to counter attacks from the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO combat troops in 2014.

U.S. officials have been attempting to push the Taliban to the negotiating table with the government in Kabul. Many Taliban leaders insist that U.S. forces depart before substantial peace talks can take place.

‘Huge Mistake’

Mohammad Taqi, a Florida-based political analyst, told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that a rapid U.S. withdrawal would be “a huge mistake.”

“If we look at it in context of talks with the Taliban, then it seems [the] Taliban have already strengthened their position,” he said. “Now the reports of [a U.S. withdrawal] show a weakening stance by the U.S., which could subsequently undermine [the] Afghan government’s position.”

On Dec. 20, 2018, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special peace envoy for Afghanistan, questioned the Taliban’s determination to end the 17-year war after the group’s representatives refused to meet with an Afghan government-backed negotiating team.

Khalilzad said that, while he was certain the Afghan government wanted to end the conflict, it was unclear whether the Taliban were “genuinely seeking peace.”

Khalilzad’s remarks came following his latest face-to-face meeting in December 2018 with the Taliban, which was held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and was also attended by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The U.A.E. hailed the talks as “positive for all parties concerned,” while the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Khalid bin Salman, claimed the meetings will produce “very positive results by the beginning of next year.”

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

Articles

That time the US Army attacked veterans because they wanted their benefits

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command


Nearly 17,000 World War I veterans and some of their families had made camp on the shore of the Anacostia River south of Capitol Hill by the summer of 1932. They were all unemployed, and many of them had been so since the start of the Great Depression in 1929. They wanted the money the government had promised them as a function of their wartime service, and they wanted it immediately.

But the benefit they were due was a little more complicated than that. In 1924 Congress overrode a veto by President Calvin Coolidge and passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act. According to the act each veteran was to receive a dollar for each day of domestic service, up to a maximum of $500, and $1.25 for each day of overseas service, up to a maximum of $625 (about $7,899 in current dollars). Amounts of $50 or less were immediately paid. All other amounts were issued as Certificates of Service maturing in 20 years.

3,662,374 military service certificates were issued, with a face value of $3.638,000,000 ($43.7 billion today). Congress established a trust fund to receive 20 annual payments of $112 million that, with interest, would finance the 1945 disbursement of the $3.638 billion due the veterans. Meanwhile, veterans could borrow up to 22.5 percent of the certificate’s face value from the fund.

But in 1931, because of the Great Depression, Congress increased the maximum value of such loans to 50 percent of the certificate’s face value.

Although there was congressional support for the immediate redemption of the military service certificates, President Hoover and Republican congressmen opposed such action on the grounds that the government would have to increase taxes to cover the costs of the payout, and that would slow down any potential recovery.

On June 15, 1932, the House of Representatives passed the Wright Patman Bonus Bill which would have moved forward the date for World War I veterans to receive their cash bonus, but two days later the Senate defeated the bill by a vote of 62-18.

The Bonus Army, as the veteran squatters were known, decided to protest the Senate vote by marching from Anacostia to Capitol Hill. Once the march was over a number of vets decided not to return to Anacostia and instead they set up camp on Capitol Hill. They lived there for over a month waiting for lawmakers or President Hoover to do something on their behalf.

On July 28, 1932, Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the police to remove the Bonus Army veterans from their camp on Capitol Hill, and during that effort the vets rushed two policemen trapped on the second floor of a building. The cornered police drew their revolvers and shot at the veterans, two of which, William Hushka and Eric Carlson, later died.

When President Hoover heard about the incident he ordered the U.S. Army to evict the Bonus Army from Washington DC. The task fell to the 12th Infantry Regiment, commanded by one General Douglas MacArthur, who was supported by six tanks, under the charge of one Major George S. Patton who was attached to the 3rd Calvary Regiment.

When the vets saw the Army force they cheered, thinking they were there to support their cause. But MacArthur quickly showed them that wasn’t the case. The Army waded into the vets with tear gas and fixed bayonets. The vets retreated back to Anacostia, and President Hoover ordered the Army to stop the eviction. However General MacArthur, in a move that foretold his infamous showdown with President Truman years later during the Korean War, ignored Hoover’s order and continued his assault on the Bonus Army.

Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested. A veteran’s wife miscarried. A 12-week-old boy died in the hospital after being caught in the tear gas attack. The veteran shantytown was burned to the ground.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

MacArthur later explained his actions by saying that he thought that the Bonus March was an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.

Though the Bonus Army incident did not derail the careers of the military officers involved, it proved politically disastrous for Hoover. He lost the 1932 election in a landslide to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

MGM released the movie “Gabriel Over the White House” in March 1933, the month Roosevelt was sworn in as president. Produced by William Randolph Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures, it depicted a fictitious President Hammond who, in the film’s opening scenes, refuses to deploy the military against a march of the unemployed and instead creates an “Army of Construction” to work on public works projects until the economy recovers.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt quipped that the movie’s treatment of veterans was superior to Hoover’s.

Now: Bradley Cooper’s new movie is about how inflatable tanks fooled the Nazis

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how “RED Friday” became a thing and why it still matters today

It’s a tiny act that means much more than people seem to realize. On Fridays, civilians back home wear an article of red clothing — a shirt, a tie, anything — as a reminder to all to Remember Everyone Deployed. These Fridays became known as R.E.D. Friday.

Today, you’ll see this tradition honored by most AAFES workers, military family members, and supporters of the troops, but it actually got its start about a dozen years ago. Let’s talk about how this patriotic way of showing your support for the troops that are in harm’s way got started and why it’s an important movement.


Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

For once, we’re lucky that forwards from grandma don’t get filtered directly into spam…

There are actually two competing origin stories of this unofficial trend. The first says it all began in 2005 with a specific email that recipients were supposed to forward to others.

That email had a very polite snippet in it for a good cause:

If every one of our members shares this with other acquaintances, fellow workers, friends, and neighbors, I guarantee that it will not be long before the USA will be covered in RED — and make our troops know there are many people thinking of their well-being. You will feel better all day Friday when you wear RED!

Now, there’s no telling if this chain email tactic is really what got people wearing red on Fridays, but if it was, it has to be one of the only times that people actually read one of those chain emails.

Embracing a new culture at Army Futures Command

The tradition may not entirely be an American concept, but the sentiment is the same. Our brothers to the North still have troops in harm’s way, too.

(Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

In March, 2006, another more-tangible movement began in Canada that implored subscribers to wear red to support the troops who are deployed. Now, there’s no telling if this movement got its start from the previously-mentioned email chain, but they do credit it as being an “American initiative.”

Military spouses Lisa Miller and Karen Boier organized an event and rallied many of their fellow Canadians to show up wearing red. While the “RED” is the color that fits the acronym, it also happens to work perfectly with the Canadian flag.

These events gathered steam and grew continuously until, eventually, its reach extended all the way up to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. On Sept 23rd, 2006, Harper led a rally of thousands in a show of solidarity for the Canadian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terrorism.

RED Fridays seem to wax and wane in terms of popularity among civilians, but the core of the movement is important: to Remember Everyone Deployed. The Global War on Terrorism is now officially older than troops eligible to enlist and serve in that same war — it’s important to remember that we’ve still got men and women out there fighting for us.

It’s not hard to show your support for the troops: Simply pick something red from your wardrobe and be ready to wear it on Friday, volunteer your time organizing care packages for troops who still need essential items, or write a deployed troop. I know from personal experience that every letter I received was a boost to morale that I happily honored with a reply. Simple gestures go a long way.

Remember everyone deployed.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia upgrades stealth on its attempted F-35, F-22 killer

Russian media announced on Jan. 11, 2019, that it had significantly improved the stealth on its Su-57 fighter jet by applying a coating to the glass canopy on the cockpit, as well as similar upgrades to its Tu-160 nuclear bomber.

Russia’s state-owned defense corporation Rostec told Russian media the new coating “doubles radar wave absorption and reduces the aircraft cockpit’s radar signature by 30%” and added that Russia’s Su-57, Su-30, Su-34, Su-35, and MiG-29K jets already have the upgrade.


But none of those jets, including the Su-57, which Russia explicitly bills as a stealth fighter, are considered that stealthy by experts contacted by Business Insider.

While Russia’s Sukhoi fighter/bombers have enviable maneuverability and serious dogfighting capability, only the US and China have produced true stealth fighters.

A stealth scientist working on US aircraft previously reviewed pictures of the Su-57 and concluded in an interview with Business Insider that Russia had hardly even tried to make the plane unobservable to radar.

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(Russian Embassy via Twitter)

Conspicuous rivets jutting out of the airframe and accentuator humps spoiled any possible stealth in the design, the scientist said.

Radar absorbing materials have been used to disguise fighter planes since World War II and have some utility, but will do little to hide Russian jets which have to carry weapons stores externally.

Other experts told Business Insider the Su-57’s likely mission was to hunt and kill US stealth aircraft like the F-22 or F-35.

TASS, a Russian state-run media outlet, described the Su-57 as a “multirole fighter designed to destroy all types of air targets at long and short ranges and hit enemy ground and naval targets, overcoming its air defense capabilities.”

But Russia has declined to mass-produce the jet despite declaring it “combat proven” after limited engagements against rebel forces in Syria that didn’t have anti-air capabilities.

Russia’s next-generation tank, the T-14, also saw its promised mass production run scaled back as Russia struggles with weak oil prices and heavy sanctions on its economy.

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

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