The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons - We Are The Mighty
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The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

The Pentagon, via the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is seeking $12-15 million to develop weapons which would select and engage targets without human intervention. The people who develop artificial intelligence think it’s possible that such weapons will exist within years instead of decades, including “armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria.” And those developers aren’t thrilled about it one bit.


The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Neither was Captain America, but I’m pretty sure he took care of the whole problem.

Current AI technology is built on the premise of human non-intervention. For example, on Patriot missile batteries, the automated system will select and destroy a target unless the user opts out, which can have disastrous consequences, especially for friendly fighter pilots trying not to die from Patriot missile attacks, because the AI isn’t always as smart as we like to think it is.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Willie sees you. Willie don’ care.

So with a current fail-safe system less secure than an iTunes gift card, why don’t American lawmakers and generals try to take a hint about the”AI Arms Race” from the most trusted, brilliant, and influential nerds who trying to warn us? Nerds like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak?

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
This pretty much sums it up.

The Defense Department says it’s to make the human more effective in combat. Because as anyone who’s ever lost their mobile phone knows, having all your numbers stored under names like “Josie Drunk Girl” and “Do Not Answer” makes your memory soooooooo much better.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Technology!

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

But the list goes on. According to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, the new technologies the Pentagon wants to develop will allow commanders to identify and analyze enemy defenses.

Further technological innovations would include wearable electronics, exoskeletons, greater use of drones and manned aircraft working together, and mother ships that would send out mini-drones to execute military missions, all of which could incorporate AI.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

The announcement comes not just against the urging of America’s tech mogul community, but also amid skepticism from within the Defense Department’s own ranks, presumably until Deputy Secretary Work actually told a packed conference at the Center for a New American Security the DoD wants to be able to “kick the crap out of people who grew up under an authoritarian reign,” at which point, I imagine they erupted in cheers and then partied like a group of tailgating Buffalo Bills fans.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

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The B-52 Stratofortress may stay in the Air Force for 100 years

They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to. That’s something that can be said for most things in modern society, all over the world. For some reason, it seems like everything used to be built to last and whatever we’re doing today just doesn’t measure up. 

For evidence of this fact, look no further than the B-52 Stratofortress bomber. Once built to fight World War III not long after the start of the Cold War, the B-52 has managed to stick around for well over 50 years. Now it looks like it might be around for another 50 years after.

When it was first introduced in 1955, the B-52 bomber wasn’t winning any beauty pageants. That’s how it earned the nickname “Big Ugly Fat F**ker,” or “BUFF” for short. But if it’s going to win anything, it’ll win a lifetime achievement award.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
“Oh, I really wasn’t expecting this! I just want to thank Boeing, the U.S. Air Force, all the pilots…” (Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo – U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force has built hundreds of these aging beauties, capable of flying more than 8,800 miles on eight turbojet engines without an aerial refuel, dropping 70,000 pounds on an enemy target and then, ostensibly, returning home (with an aerial refuel, of course). That’s a pretty big mission, one only the specially-designed B-52 could fulfill. 

On top of that, it was designed to carry nuclear weapons, as part of the Strategic Air Command’s Cold War-era deterrent strategy. These planes stay aloft for hours protecting the northern skies of the United States and its allies. 

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

Its staying power is largely due to its low cost of operation and maintenance, its ability to reliably drop ordnance on any target anywhere in the world and its combat performance – the B-52 has dropped bombs in almost every major American conflict since it entered service. 

“When we built the B-52, it was supposed to be a high-altitude nuclear bomber, right? Going to the adversary,” Maj. Gen. Andrew Gebara, Director of Strategic Plans, Programs, and Requirements at Air Force Global Strike Command, told Defense One. “Then it became a low-altitude nuclear bomber. And then it became a high-altitude carpet bomber in Vietnam. And then it became a standoff cruise missile shooter in Desert Storm. And then it became a precision strike close air support platform in Afghanistan and Iraq.” 

Like any aircraft that outlasts its expectations, it did require a facelift now and then. 

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Of course, we all know it’s what’s on the inside (lots of bombs) that counts (U.S. Air Force photo)

In 2013, the Air Force gave its B-52 fleet a major upgrade, called Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT). It involved replacing the B-52’s electronics, communications technology, computing and avionics. Software upgrades were added, as were new computer servers, modems, radios, data-links, receivers and digital workstations.

Part of that massive overhaul also included upgrading the plane’s primary capabilities: dropping bombs. Its internal weapons bays were adapted to fit modern JDAM bombs, cruise missiles and decoy missiles. It also got its bomb payload increased by 66%. So today’s B-52 Stratofortresses are smarter, relay more information to and from ground control and are deadlier than ever before. 

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
The majestic BUFF takes its grandchildren for an outing over the South China Sea (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Stevens)

Now the Air Force is considering giving the B-52 program another major overhaul to the 76 that are still flying today. They’ll be replacing its current Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines (first added in 1966) with new, more efficient ones. Combined with utilizing smaller aircrews, this means the B-52 could fly for more than 100 years, according to a new report from Defense One

The Air Force says it will be the biggest modernization program in the airframe’s history and will allow the B-52 to outlast its supposed replacements, the B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers. It will serve right alongside the Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, well into the 2050s.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Pictured: Functional beats flashy (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Marc Feliz)

Now, with the new modernization effort, the Air Force is going to turn the classic BUFF into a modern bomber of the 21st Century. According to Air Force officials, the B-52’s original design made it the perfect plane to upgrade for range and weapons capabilities. This also made it cheaper to upgrade than to design and build a new aircraft. 

They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Last survivor of group that killed foreign cyclists in Tajikistan dies in prison

DUSHANBE — The sole survivor of a group of attackers who killed four Western cyclists in Tajikistan in 2018 has died in a prison in the capital, Dushanbe.


Mansurjon Umarov, chief of the Main Directorate at the Tajik Justice Ministry’s Penitentiary Service, told RFE/RL on March 3 that prosecutors were investigating the cause of death of Hussein Abdusamadov, who was serving a life sentence for his role in the killing of the foreign cyclists on the Dushanbe-Danghara highway in July 2018.

“Abdusamadov’s body has been sent for an autopsy to exclude torture or violence as his cause of death,” Umarov said, stressing that Abdusamadov “was a dangerous terrorist.”

Abdusamadov’s relatives confirmed the report, telling RFE/RL that they received his body on March 2.

Four cyclists — an American woman and man, a Dutchman, and a Swiss man — were killed on July 29, 2018, when attackers plowed their vehicle into the group on a road and then stabbed some of them.

Two other foreign cyclists survived the attack, which occurred about 150 kilometers south of Dushanbe.

Four suspects in the attack, Zafarjon Safarov, Asomuddin Majidov, Jafariddin Yusupov, and Asliddin Yusupov, were killed by Tajik security forces.

Abdusamadov, who was named the group’s leader, survived, was found guilty of murder in November 2018.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after it occurred and released a video showing five men — at least some of whom appeared to resemble those identified by Tajik officials as suspects killed in a confrontation with security forces — pledging allegiance to the leader of IS.

The Tajik government, however, rejected the claim and instead blamed followers of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a political party that was banned by authoritarian President Emomali Rahmon’s government in 2015.

The leadership of the IRPT — which served for several years in the Tajik government — has denied involvement and called the authorities’ claims “shameless and illogical slander.”

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

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94-year-old reveals the most terrifying thing he saw while fighting behind Nazi lines

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Photo: i.imgur.com


A 94-year-old World War II veteran held a Reddit AMA, with the help of his grandson, in which he provides a startling look at his time serving behind Nazi lines as an intelligence staff sergeant.

John Cardinalli, who was sworn to secrecy for 65 years following the end of World War II, has taken to Reddit to explain his time with the US Office of Strategic Services. The OSS was the forerunner of the CIA, and it was dedicated to coordinating espionage and intelligence gathering behind enemy lines during WWII.

Cardinalli was unable to tell his story until the FBI and CIA declassified his mission in 2008. Now, realizing the historical importance of his role, Cardinalli has written the book “65 Years of Secrecy” about his roles during the war.

In the AMA, Cardinalli explains of how he joined the OSS in the first place:

I got into the OSS while in the infantry in North Carolina and I saw a sign that said “Men Wanted for Hazardous Duty, Need to know Morse Code, and must speak a Foreign Language, which I am fluent in Italian”. There is more to the story of how I actually was accepted, it is all in my book. I am not trying to push my book, but it has everything in there. It is available on Amazon “65 Years of Secrecy by John Cardinalli.”

Cardinalli described his exact role:

My role was an agent behind enemy lines collecting information and radio back to allied forces. I was a master at Morse Code, which is how most of our communication was done.

He also briefly explained how the OSS teams functioned behind enemy lines:

I worked with a small team that were grouped in twos. The code name who was in charge of all these teams was named “The Dutchman”. There is a lot to this, but basically, but the groups all had a task and a name. For example, we had a “married couple” named jack and jill. Yes, I was in Holland and spent a lot of time hiding in windmills which were strategically chosen along Rhine River.

Cardinalli also shared the scariest thing he ever experienced:

Battle of the Bulge. Our team completely split up, by ourselves, with just radios to communicate. Everyone was completely on their own for 2 days.

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the last German offensives in Western Europe against the Allies, during which US forces sustained the brunt of the assault. It was the largest and bloodiest battle that the US took part in during WWII.

Despite the amazing adversity that Cardinalli had to fight through during WWII, he also admits that he never missed a chance to lightheartedly poke fun at his fellow team members:

One of my team members needed a hair cut and I told him I was the best Italian Barber in the military. I never cut hair in my life. I cut his and he looked like a dog with mange. He literally almost shot me.

Cardinalli also shared his advice for those thinking of joining the military:

If one was going to join the military, go into intelligence.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy wants to deploy an unmanned ‘ghost fleet’

As the Navy advances plans for a 10-ship “ghost fleet,” leaders are assessing how much decision-making power to give large unmanned vessels that can operate without any humans aboard.

The Navy wants $400 million in fiscal 2020 to build two “large unmanned surface vessels.” Budget documents show service leaders plan to request $2.7 billion to build 10 of the ships over the next five years.

But with the programs still largely in the research and development phase, the plans raise questions about what the Navy is actually planning to buy, and how those ships would function in the real world. Not only is it unclear exactly what these future unmanned ships will look like, but also what capabilities they’ll have.


“Doing [research and development] and figuring out exactly the capabilities that we need, it’s critical,” James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition, recently told lawmakers. “…The real RD is in a lot of the guts: the autonomy, the decision-making, how are we going to control it, how are we going to do those things?”

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

James Geurts, the Navy’s assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition.

(US Navy photo)

The service has completed the first phase of testing on its large unmanned surface vessel, Geurts said, but much about those plans is shrouded in secrecy. Earlier in 2019, the Navy’s 132-foot-long medium-unmanned vessel named Sea Hunter sailed from California to Hawaii and back again, mostly without anyone aboard. Officials declined to talk to Military.com about the transit, citing operational security while it’s in development.

Rear Adm. Randy Crites, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters March 2019 that the large unmanned surface vessels will serve “as both a sensor and a shooter.” And since they’re smaller than conventional ships, he added, the 200- to 300-foot vessels should be cheaper to produce and operate.

The Navy’s budget also requests funding for dozens of underwater drone vehicles and unmanned aircraft.

Navy leaders are pushing funding for projects like the Sea Hunter as it faces new threats at sea from more sophisticated adversaries. The service’s 2020 budget request has some in Congress questioning the decision to push an aircraft carrier into retirement early, but leaders say it’s essential to use the savings the ship’s retirement would provide on newer cutting-edge technology, such as a self-driving ghost fleet.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

The unmanned prototype ship ‘Sea Hunter’ is part of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel program.

(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

“[That] led to some tough choices,” Geurts told lawmakers. “One of those is to retire that ship early in favor [of] looking at other technologies, other larger cost-imposing strategies.”

The Navy’s future aircraft carriers will include a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and boats that can operate on the surface or underwater as the service prepares to counter more high-tech threats at sea, leaders have said.

Geurts said he expects to see the development of large unmanned vessels pick up quickly over the next year.

“It’s less about the ship design, because you could make a lot of different ship designs autonomous,” he told reporters last week. “The capabilities you would put on there could be fairly flexible and fairly mobile, so our real emphasis, and where I think you’re going to see an acceleration versus a traditional shipbuilding program, is you’re going to focus more on the autonomy technology — the capabilities you want to strap onto the ship — and less about the ship hull form.”

The Navy is proving its ability to sail unmanned vessels with the Sea Hunter transit, Geurts said.

“We learned a lot from that,” he said.

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

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5 things to know about Air Force Secretary nominee Heather Wilson

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, President Donald Trump today announced that former New Mexico Republican Rep. Heather Wilson is his pick to serve as Secretary of the Air Force.


“Heather Wilson is going to make an outstanding Secretary of the Air Force,” Trump said in a release. “Her distinguished military service, high level of knowledge and success in so many different fields gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation’s Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity.”

Here are a few things to know about her:

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Official portrait of Congresswoman Heather Wilson. (US House of Representatives)

1. She is the President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Wilson took the post in June 2013 after two failed senate races. According to a release from the school, it was listed among the most veteran-friendly schools throughout her tenure as president of that institution.

2. She was a Rhodes Scholar

According to her official biography at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Heather Wilson’s graduate studies were at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. She earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D from the institution in 1985.

3. She would be the first Air Force Academy Graduate to serve as SECAF

According to the Air Force Times, Wilson is the first graduate of the United States Air Force Academy to be nominated for this position. Wilson was among the first women to attend the Air Force Academy and received her commission in 1982. She served for seven years mostly as a defense planner to NATO and the U.K. She separated as a captain and became an advisor to the National Security Council under President George H. W. Bush.

4. She is an instrument-rated private pilot

Congresswoman Wilson’s official bio at the home page of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology reveals she is an instrument-rated private pilot. We don’t know if that means she gets to fly any of the Air Force’s planes, though. We hope it does.

5. She served just over 10 years in Congress

Wilson first won a special election in 1998 to replace a congressman who lost a battle with cancer. According to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, she served until 2009, when she stepped down after losing a senate primary the previous year. She served on the Energy and Commerce and Select Intelligence Committees, according to the 2008 Congressional Directory, and also served on the House Armed Services Committee.

“America and our vital national interests continue to be threatened,” Wilson said in a statement after her nomination. “I will do my best, working with our men and women in the military, to strengthen American air and space power to keep the country safe.”

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13 best military memes for the week of Dec. 23

Look, if you’re not on Christmas block leave or libo or whatever your branch calls it by now, then you’re probably not going on it.


Let’s all just sit together with the funny military memes and try not to imagine what all those people with Christmas trees and matching pajamas are doing right now.

1. It’s the only dessert made up of 50 percent sadness (via Coast Guard Memes).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
The culinary specialists really know how to make it feel like home.

2. Gotta hit the ground running (via Air Force Memes Humor).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Welcome to the Air Force, with a vengeance.

3. That yellow bird is tired of your cadence calls (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
First, the mice. Then, the Corps!

ALSO READ: This C-130 landing on an aircraft carrier will make you rethink physics

4. Stay low on your pushups and avoid burpees (via The Salty Soldier).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Hopefully, the tall fellow will take the hit and absorb most of the blast.

5. Dig deep, everyone (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
The Air Force wants to at least get a laugh when you hurt their feelings.

6. Saving more Lincoln’s than a private box seat (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Just in time for Christmas, too.

7. Congrats on your restored ratings, Navy!

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Now, we are all one with the Rates.

8. Don’t necessarily want to fight another nation, but it would be super nice to have clear target identification (via Pop smoke).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

9. Remember to do some pushups between desserts over holiday leave (via The Salty Soldier).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Plus five burpees per present on Christmas morning.

10. If you think throwing up double birds when PCSing is fun, just wait till you ETS (via Lost in the Sauce).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
This one goes out to my first brigade CSM.

11. When you’re not about that Rack City life (via Sh-t my LPO says).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Not sure I can come up with 956 names.

12. In their defense, the table looks super stable (via Military World).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
I hope they were getting ready for a safety powerpoint.

13. Oooh, how will you survive?

(via Decelerate Your Life)

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Does the Air Force only use two fingers for their knife hands? It’s like a stiletto hand or something.

Secret bonus meme 1: My Coast Guard contacts have assured me that this is brilliant (via Coast Guard Memes).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

Secret bonus meme 2: Really, guys? This is literally an entire football field. Including the end zones (via Maintainer Humor).

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

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This is what the F-22 Raptor’s replacement will be like

The F-22 Raptor is already the most lethal fighter jet ever built, severely outclassing virtually every other aircraft of a similar class fielded by the rest of the world’s air forces.


But with the advent of newer anti-aircraft defense systems, stealth-defeating tracking technologies and the entrance of countries such as China and Russia into the stealth fighter foray, the F-22 will eventually need to be replaced with something even more powerful.

With the looming retirement of the F-15C/D Eagle, its secondary air superiority fighter, in the next decade, the Air Force has begun taking strides towards designing the F-22’s follow-on in order to maintain its combat edge over every other air force in the world.

Throughout the USAF’s history, each of its fighter jets have built upon the aircraft they replaced, incorporating lessons learned and proven concepts, while expanding on their capabilities with new technology and methods of prosecuting aerial combat. The F-22’s replacement, currently known as “Penetrating Counter Air,” will take shape in much the same way.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
A 6th generation fighter concept developed by Boeing for the US Navy (Photo Boeing)

It will likely be highly stealthy, carrying its weapons internally in order to minimize radar detection. It will also probably be supersonic, and able to actively defeat enemy sensors in a similar manner to the F-22 and F-35.

Among the most noticeable differences between the F-22 and its replacement will be the lack of tails. Every American fighter jet ever built has featured one or two vertical stabilizers which, as their names suggest, provide stability and yaw control in flight.

Instead, the PCA will likely remove the vertical stabilizers altogether to enhance stealth by decreasing the aircraft’s overall radar signature. The end result will look more like a sleeker and faster B-2 Spirit or a X-47B drone, instead of something similar to the twin-tailed F-35 Lightning II, or the single-tailed F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
An F-22 banking away after refueling in midair with a KC-135 Stratotanker (Photo US Air Force)

Additionally, the new fighter be built for long-range missions — especially escorting larger bomber aircraft like the B-2, or the upcoming B-21 Raider, deep behind the front lines to strike at the heart of the enemy’s war machine. This is a much-needed capability the USAF has sorely lacked for decades.

The PCA will be designed to work alongside the F-35 Lightning II, with both aircraft drawing upon each other’s strengths while mitigating weaknesses in capability. Given that the Air Force plans on retaining its F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet long for years and years to come, the PCA will likely also be capable of working with older “legacy” aircraft.

One of the key focal points of the PCA program will be developing an engine that gives the new fighter unprecedented range, while maximizing operational fuel efficiency.

The PCA program seeks nearly $300 million in funding from Congress over the next few years in order to complete its research and analysis goals while developing and investigating new technologies that will make the F-22’s replacement arguably the deadliest and most powerful fighter aircraft ever conceived.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines will soon need swimming skills to be promoted

Marines can fight from the air, the land, and the sea. But can they swim?


The commandant isn’t so sure.

During a brief visit to Marines assigned to the Corps’ crisis response force for Africa in Morón, Spain, in December, Gen. Robert Neller said he wants to make proven swimming skills a requirement or contributing factor for promotion.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jered T. Stone)

The revelation came just days after the Marine Corps announced, at Neller’s direction, the return of the Battle Skills Test, another promotion requirement that will ensure Marines can accomplish essential tasks such as applying a tourniquet or employing a map and compass.

“I know nobody wants to have another requirement,” Neller said of the prospective swimming obligation. “[But] it’s either that or accept the fact that somebody might go into the water off a ship or off an airplane and they drown.”

In an interview, he told Military.com that the idea to implement a more rigorous swimming requirement had come to him after Marines were lost in late July 2017 when the MV-22 Osprey carrying them went down off the coast of Australia.

“We lost three Marines in that crash,” Neller said. “I don’t think it was because they couldn’t swim. But … we teach everybody basic life-saving or basic swimming at recruit training, but we never test again. So why don’t we test?”

The Marine Corps and Navy take similar approaches to swimming requirements. Both services require a basic swimming competency for all recruits at entry-level training.

Also Read: How to survive the first 4 weeks of Marine boot camp

For Marine recruits, the minimum requirement is call water survival basic. It requires Marines, clad in cammies and boots, to strip off protective gear, including body armor and a rifle, while in the water under 10 seconds; jump into the pool from a 15-foot tower and swim 25 meters in deep water; employ a floatation device made from a pack; tread water for four minutes, and complete another 25-meter pack swim. This qualification is good for two years and must be renewed when it expires.

For the Navy, the minimum third-class swim test requires that a recruit can swim 50 yards, complete a deep-water jump, do a five-minute prone float, and inflate clothing to float with. A sailor can also choose to incorporate a 500-meter swim as part of the annual physical readiness test.

For both services, there are more advanced qualifications that can be obtained. But unless Marines enter a more specialized role, such as reconnaissance, swimming qualification ends there.

For the Marine Corps, making swim skills a more regular requirement would mean ensuring that every service installation has a usable pool, and that every Marine has access to one.

“Part of the problem is, what do you do with people who are on recruiting duty or independent duty or the reserves?” Neller said in the interview. “How do you do that? So I don’t have a detailed plan yet.”

But, he added, he isn’t planning to give up on the goal just because it might require effort and money to execute.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
A Marine candidate with the Scout Sniper Screening Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, conducts a 500-meter swim as part of the Scout Sniper Physical Assessment Test at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 19, 2015. The 500-meter swim was the first of several physically demanding events that tested endurance, strength and speed. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

If the plan does move forward, it’s not clear yet what skills Marines will have to demonstrate or how it will be incorporated into requirements. Neller expressed interest in making swim skills part of a Marine’s cutting score, the number that signals a Marine’s eligibility for promotion to corporal or sergeant.

“If you add it to cutting score, it incentivizes it,” he said. “If you’re not qualified for promotion unless you can swim, or you’re more qualified if you’re a better swimmer … There’s a whole lot of things going on, there’s a whole list of things we’re trying to do, and we’ll have to poke on this one again to see where we are.”

One thing is clear, however: Neller wants Marines to be ready.

“If there’s a pool here and you’re not a good swimmer,” he told the Marines, “you’ve got to get your butt in the pool.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Military dad writes children’s book to explain PTSD to his kids

After sixteen years spent deployed to Qatar, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Army Reserve First Sgt. Seth Kastle retired and returned home to Wakeeney, Kansas. And while he was happy to be back with his wife Julia and daughters Raegan and Kennedy, Kastle struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“When I returned home and began the reintegration process, it was difficult, but I didn’t understand why,” Kastle told Babble. To deal with his feelings and hopefully help his kids understand his PTSD, Kastle sat down at the kitchen table and started writing a story he’d been mulling over for a long time. Half an hour later, the first draft of Why Is Dad So Mad? was complete.


Kastle’s effort is a children’s book is about a family of lions, modeled after Kastle’s own, in which the father is struggling with PTSD. The disorder is represented in the book’s illustrations by a fire raging inside his chest.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

(Amazon)

Kastle hopes that his book, which met its initial Kickstarter goal in a matter of hours, helps other veterans and their families, not just his own.

The VA estimates that 11 to 20 percent of veterans of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have experienced PTSD, but it remains a difficult subject to discuss.

“Reading this book to my daughters was a pretty powerful experience,” Kastle said. “After I read it to my oldest daughter, she told me she was sorry I had a fire inside my chest.

“That is something that will stick with me.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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Catching up with triple amputee Bryan Anderson


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Bryan Anderson is an Iraq War veteran turned model, actor, motivational speaker, book author, and more. He achieved all of these noteworthy accomplishments while dealing with life as a triple amputee.

Bryan enlisted in the Army in early 2001 and shipped out to his duty station on September 11, 2001. He served two tours in Iraq as an MP (Military Police) Sergeant before being injured by an IED that resulted in the loss of both legs and his left hand. He was awarded a Purple Heart and spent over a year rehabilitating at Walter Reed Hospital.

Bryan’s story has received extensive media coverage including features in Esquire Magazine and articles in major publications, such as LA Times, New York Times, and Chicago Sun. He appeared in the HBO documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq with the late James Gandolfini, CSI: NY, The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, and American Sniper with Bradley Cooper.

As you’ll hear in this special edition of the WATM podcast, Bryan’s energy is contagious.

Hosted by:

Selected links and show notes from the episode

• [00:00] Bryan Anderson website

• [02:05] Quantum Rehab

• [05:17] iLevel Power Chairs

• [07:25] Bryan Style

• [07:40] Bryan Anderson YouTube channel

• [11:15] This former SEAL Team 6 members is climbing Everest for vets

• [12:20] This Marine could be the first combat-wounded veteran to climb Everest

• [20:50] Watch these 5 vets admit what branch they’d pick if they joined again

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Articles

This K-9 ‘battle buddy’ is helping a Marine veteran at home

Kenny Bass liked his job. As a 22-year-old Marine participating in the initial invasion of Iraq, life couldn’t have been more exciting.


“I was part of the combined anti-armor platoon,” he explained. “It was the ‘CAAT platoon.’ We were doing a lot of counter-ambush patrols, the insurgents were attacking Red Cross personnel, civilian contractors and other non-combatants. So we were tasked with going out and trying to solicit an attack. We were Infantry Marines, and young, so most of us were pretty excited about doing that kind of work. We had heavy-duty machine guns and anti-tank missiles.”

Nothing Major

About four months into his tour, the odds caught up with the young Infantry Marine. The unarmored Humvee he was riding in struck an IED.

“I was sitting in the passenger side rear, and the IED blew up by the right front bumper,” he said. “Nobody got killed, and I just took a couple pieces of shrapnel to my face, nothing major. I think the blast wave injury was the major thing.”

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
When Veteran Kenny Bass was at the Dayton VA, receiving medical attention for a kidney stone, Atlas was there by his side.

Nevertheless, by the time he returned home from Iraq in early 2004, Bass was a different man.

“My friends noticed a change in me,” he said. “I was depressed. And I was anxious. I remember going to a flea market one time and that’s when I had my first panic attack, because of all the people there. It was like I was still in Iraq, where just about everyone you see is a potential threat. I hated going out to eat or going to the mall or anything like that.”

104 in a 65 Zone

As if depression, anxiety and panic weren’t enough, another symptom began to surface.Anger.

“I was walking around with an anger level of about seven or eight,” Bass explained. “One time I got pulled over by the California Highway Patrol for doing 104 mph. I got mad at the cop for pulling me over. I was such a jerk. It didn’t take much to tip me off.”

At home, the 33-year-old Veteran’s garage became his haven.

“I’d sit out there all day smoking cigarettes,” he said. “I could see the street from there, which made me feel safe, and I could also hear what was going on in the house. So I had everything covered.”

From Bad to Worse

To dull the anxiety and the fear, the former Marine turned to alcohol.

I started drinking a lot,” he said. “Of course the alcohol just made things worse. I got to the point where I hated to wake up in the morning. I hated my life. I wanted to be healthy again. I wanted to work again and not be on disability.”

In an effort to get his life back, Bass headed over to the Dayton VA Medical Center in 2007. There he began therapy sessions with Bill Wall, a clinical social worker who had served in the military for 30 years.

“Kenny went through our therapy program here at Dayton,” Wall explained, “but it was clear that he was still having some issues with personality changes, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, depression, anger and other symptoms related to post traumatic stress. When he would go out in public, he just didn’t feel safe or in control. I thought maybe a psychiatric service dog might be a good next step for him, so I recommended he look into it.”

Safety Net

Wall, a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, had good reasons for thinking a service dog might be the game-changer Kenny Bass was desperately in need of.

“You can feel a lot more safe with a dog around you,” the social worker observed. “The dog has been trained to pick up on any fear or anxiety you might be feeling. They can actually smell it. The dog then does something to distract you or make you feel less anxious. When you become overloaded, the dog knows it and helps you refocus. Even before you realize you’re overloaded, the dog will pick up on it. For example, if you’re in a crowd of people and you begin showing subtle signs of distress, your dog will try to create a buffer zone around you. The dog is trying to give you a sense of safety.”

“A psychiatric service dog is…always focused on taking care of you.”

And when the world seems like a safer place, chances are you’re more likely to get out there and participate in it, Wall observed.

“The dog can help you have successful outings,” he said, “and the more successful outings you experience, the better you get at it. Your new experiences gradually begin to replace your old, traumatic experiences. You’re re-learning your behavioral script.”

Back From the Brink

In 2012, after doing a little research, Kenny Bass was able to get himself paired up with an 18-month-old German Shepard named Atlas, a highly-trained service dog provided by a non-profit called Instinctive Guardians.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons
Kenny Bass and his dog Atlas

“If you’re a Veteran, and suicidal, a little thing like that can be lifesaving,” Bass continued. “Atlas definitely brought me back from the brink. He’s such a character now. He gets me laughing.”“Atlas became my support system,” Bass said. “He could tell when I was having nightmares. He’d jump on the bed, lick my face and wake me up. A few weeks after I got him I was sitting alone in my garage, as usual. He came over and dropped his ball in my lap. Five minutes later I was out in the backyard with him, in the sunshine, throwing the ball for him.

The Watcher

Aside from being a natural comedian, Atlas also serves as a competent body guard.

“When we’re out, I can trust Atlas to be vigilant for me,” Bass said. “I’m experiencing more things now because of him. When we’re somewhere crowded, he’ll block for me. He’ll walk back and forth behind me to keep people from getting too close.

“And when I tell him to ‘post,’ he sits down on my right side, facing the other way. If somebody approaches me from behind, he’ll nudge me. He’s alerting me. It’s a good feeling knowing he’s watching and that I don’t have to.”

Having turned his life around two years ago with the help of Atlas, Bass decided it was time to start giving back. In 2013 he helped found The Battle Buddy Foundation, a non-profit that trains service dogs for Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress.

“When you’re in combat, you don’t go anywhere without a buddy, someone to watch your back,” Bass said. “That’s where the term ‘Battle Buddy’ comes from.”

He added: “It’s a good feeling to know someone always has your back.”

To learn more about how VA is helping Veterans with PTSD, visit the VA National Center for PTSD Website at www.ptsd.va.gov

Articles

Air Force loosens flight suit sleeve rules

The Air Force is allowing its pilots, navigators and airmen who wear flight suits to roll up their sleeves whenever they’re not on in-flight duty, according to a new memo.


The latest policy, first published on the popular Air Force blog John Q. Public, mimics what airmen who wear the Airman Battle Uniform are already allowed to do when they’re not performing official duties, said Air Force spokesman Maj. Bryan Lewis.

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“The flight suit sleeve policy was updated to align with the Airman Battle Uniform coat [shirt] wear policy,” Lewis said in an email Monday.

The change amends Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel,” which already states in the case of the ABU that “commanders may authorize sleeves to be rolled up on the ABU coat; however, the cuffs will remain visible and the sleeve will rest at, or within 1 inch of, the forearm when the arm is bent at a 90-degree angle.”

“Regardless as to whether the sleeves are rolled up or unrolled, the cuffs will remain visible at all times,” the AFI says.

The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

Similarly, airmen who wear a Flight Duty Uniform or Desert Flight Duty Uniform can roll or tuck their suit sleeves under, Lewis said, and “are now approved to pull the sleeves up to within 1 inch of the elbow using the Velcro, already incorporated in the suit, to hold them in place.”

Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, enacted the change — effective immediately — on Jan. 23, according to the memo.

Airmen “will still be required to have sleeves rolled down to the wrist when performing aircrew duties in-flight,” Lewis said — for example, while flying or on the flight line.

The previous policy for flight suits stated airmen could have their sleeves rolled under “if not performing in-flight duties.” However, the rolled-under sleeve “will not end above the natural bend of the wrist when the wearer’s arms are hanging naturally at their side.”

Lewis could not say if similar provisions for flight suits were made in the past.

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