Putin's old ID card found in Soviet-era stash - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s old secret service ID card from the 1980s was found in an East German secret police archive on Dec. 11, 2018, and it shows the young man pouting and staring proudly into the distance.

Putin, who worked for the Soviet Union’s KGB security agency at the time, worked alongside the Stasi — East Germany’s Ministry for State Security — from 1985 to 1990. East Germany was under Soviet Union’s control at the time.

The ID was issued in 1986, when Putin was 33, The Stasi Documentation Archive said on Dec. 11, 2018.


He was a “subordinate officer to a KGB liaison officer” at the time, the archive said.

The front of the card showed Putin’s photo, the location of his service — Dresden — and the ID’s issue number — B 217590.

There are several stamps on the back of the card, which were stamped every three months and ended in late 1989. It’s not immediately clear what they represent.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Stamps on Vladimir Putin’s old Stasi ID card.

(BSTU)

A spokesman for the Stasi Documentation Archive said it was normal for KGB agents stationed in East Germany to be issued passes giving them entry to the German Stasi offices, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the news agency: “As is well known at the time when the Soviet Union existed, the KGB and the Stasi were partner intelligence agencies so you probably can’t rule out an exchange of such identity cards.”

After leaving the Stasi and the KGB, Putin went on to work for the KGB’s successor, the FSB.

He served as director there from 1998 to 1999, before becoming president in 2000.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Sub thriller ‘Hunter Killer’ might be banned in Russia, Ukraine

The Russian and Ukrainian release of a Hollywood action film in which U.S. soldiers rescue a Russian president during a coup attempt has been postponed, and some reports suggest it could be banned in both countries due to its content.

Released in the United States in October 2018, the movie Hunter Killer, starring Scottish actor Gerard Butler, tells the story of a team of U.S. Navy Seals that rescues a Russian president taken hostage by his rogue defense minister — thus averting World War III.


Russian distributor Megogo Distribution asked cinemas not to show the thriller ahead of the scheduled premiere on Oct. 31, 2018, saying it had still not received a screening license.

The Culture Ministry, which issues licenses, said the company had provided an incomplete package of documents.

There was no official explanation for the delay of Hunter Killer in neighboring Ukraine, where the movie failed to open as scheduled in October 2018.

Megogo Distribution said in a letter “we still do not have any response from the [Russian] Culture Ministry” about the screening license, according to a report by industry publication Film Distributor Bulletin.

Hunter Killer (2018 Movie) Official Trailer – Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common

www.youtube.com

This is despite the fact that all the materials and documents regarding Hunter Killer have been submitted in advance and the ministry previously had no objections to the film’s release, the distributor added.

The Culture Ministry told the AFP news agency that it had withheld a screening license for the film because Megogo Distribution did not show confirmation that it “transferred the film for permanent storage in the Russian state film fund [archive]” — a key prerequisite for obtaining a screening license.

The only copy the ministry received from the company was “of an insufficient quality,” it also said.

In a Facebook post, former Duma deputy and opposition figure Dmitry Gudkov wrote that the ministry could be blocking the movie for suggesting that President Vladimir Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, could be ousted.

In 2018, the Culture Ministry banned The Death of Stalin — a satirical British movie about the Soviet dictator — from cinemas, describing it as extremist, mendacious, and insulting to the Russian nation. The decision provoked international ridicule and heated debates in Russia over freedom of expression.

The Death of Stalin – Trailer

www.youtube.com

In Ukraine, an unidentified representative of film distributor Kinomania told AFP that Hunter Killer, which was initially due to open on Oct. 25, 2018, “fell under some law and was banned.”

‘Saving Private Putin’

A representative of the State Film Committee (Derzhkino) said the decision was “being reviewed and will be published soon.”

Reports cited a Ukrainian law that bans films that give a positive image of the Russian security forces and their representatives.

Social media commentators in Ukraine also saw parallels between the movie and real life.

“Saving Private Putin,” one of them wrote mockingly on Facebook, referring to Steven Spielberg’s 1998 epic war film Saving Private Ryan.

Ties between Moscow and Kyiv have dramatically deteriorated since Russia’s seizure of Crimea in March 2014.

Russia is also backing separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between government forces and the separatists has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russia’s new hypersonic missiles already leaked to spies

Russia’s Federal Security Service reportedly suspects that plans for two of Russia’s new, game-changing hypersonic missiles have been leaked to Western spies.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense on July 19, 2018, released new footage of two of its most revolutionary weapons systems: a hypersonic Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” nuclear-capable, anti-surface missile and the Avangard, a maneuverable ballistic missile reentry vehicle specifically made to outfox the US missile defenses arrayed around Europe.

Related video:

The Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, now suspects these systems, each of which cope with the challenges of flight at about 10 times the speed of sound, have been leaked to the West.

“It was established that the leak came from TsNIIMash employees,” a source close to the FSB investigation told Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, as the BBC noted. TsNIIMash is a Russian state-owned defense and space company.

“A lot of heads will roll, and for sure this case won’t end just with a few dismissals,” the source said.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

A Boeing X-51 hypersonic cruise missile at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 2010.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The hypersonic arms race

The US, China, and Russia are all locked in a heated arms race to create weapons that can travel many times the speed of sound, defeating today’s missile-defense systems.

China and Russia frequently test their weapons and have even fielded a few systems ahead of the US, but their focus is nuclear, while the US seeks a more technically difficult goal.

With nuclear weapons, like the kind Russia and China want on their hypersonics, accuracy doesn’t matter. But the US wants hypersonics for precision-strike missiles, meaning it has the added challenge of trying to train a missile raging at mach 10 to hit within a few feet of a target.

Given that nuclear weapons represent the highest level of conflict imaginable, believed in most cases to be a world-ending scenario, the US’s vision for precision-guided hypersonic conventional weapons that no missile defenses can block would seem to have more applications. The US’s proposed hypersonics could target specific people and buildings, making them useful for strikes like the recent ones in Syria.

But if Russia’s hypersonic know-how has somehow slipped into Western hands, as the FSB has reportedly indicated, then its comparative advantage could be even weaker.

Featured image: A MiG-31 firing a hypersonic Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” nuclear-capable, anti-surface missile.

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

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MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Air Force may have a spy drone that’s secretly been flying for years

An in-depth report by Guy Norris in Aviation Week presents new evidence that a secretive, stealthy reconnaissance drone is now in operation with the US Air Force — and has been flying since 2010.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), thought to be called the RQ-180, is a large stealth craft used for reconnaissance missions, filling the role left open by the retirement of the SR-71 in 1999. There are no publicly available images of the UAV and an Air Force spokesperson said they were not aware of the drone. It is thought to be modeled after Northrop-Grumman’s X-47B, Foreign Policy reported in 2013, and to have a relatively large wingspan and a trailing edge, similar to the B-21 Raider.


The RQ-180 likely began flying at the Groom Lake testing facility at Area 51, where the government’s secretive U-2 testing was carried out in the 1950s. Aviation Week points to Aug. 3, 2010, as the first flight date for the aircraft.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

The B-21 Raider, from which the RQ-180 reconnaissance drone is thought to have borrowed its trailing edge design.

(US Air Force photo)

In 2014, testing appears to have been moved to Edwards Air Force Base in California, with a long-range test flight — possibly to the North Pole — reportedly taking place in early 2017. Insider reached out to Edwards Air Force Base regarding the test flight, but did not receive a response by press time.

At Beale Air Force Base, also in California, the 427th Reconnaissance Squadron was recently re-commissioned and is now overseeing the operation of the drones, Aviation Week reports. A spokesperson from Beale AFB told Insider that they were not aware of the squadron. However, a press release from April on Beale AFB’s web site celebrates the presence of the 427th Squadron at the ribbon cutting of Beale’s new Common Mission Control Center, which will help provide ISR data in “highly contested areas.”

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

An SR-71B trainer over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994.

(US Air Force photo by Judson Brohmer)

According to Aviation Week, there are now at least seven of these UAVs currently in operation, performing a penetrating intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) role. “R” is the designation for a reconnaissance aircraft and “Q” means it is remotely piloted.

The US Air Force declined to comment to Aviation Week. Insider was told by the Air Force press officer on duty that the press desk was not aware of the program.

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

Articles

The US just tested an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from a U.S. Air Force Base in California on a flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean.


The missile lifted off at 12:03 a.m. April 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a program to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
Another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test Dec. 17, 2013 and again on Sep. 5, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

The 30th Space Wing commander, Col. John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the U.S. nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.

In a Minuteman test, a so-called re-entry vehicle travels more than 4,000 miles downrange to a target at Kwajalein Atoll near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” Moss said. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”

The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why grunts should keep a journal

Grunts may not pass literacy tests with flying colors, but it definitely isn’t any indication they’re not intelligent creatures. The infantry is full of different types of people with different ideologies and perspectives. Collectively, we can even develop philosophies based on our experience with the job. But what some of us don’t think about is recording the thoughts and ideas that bounce around inside our heads.

Keeping a journal is more than just a method of remembering events that go on in your life. Writing down your thoughts and ideas could actually help you develop your mental strength as a warrior. Additionally, there are other benefits that come with doing this, beyond just keeping track of the one thing your First Sergeant did today that really pissed you off.

Here’s why grunts should keep a journal:


Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

It might help to write about a day like this.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devon Burton)

A tool to fight stress

You may just want to chain smoke some cigarettes and trash talk your command with your friends, and that may work. But conversations can be cut short, and you may not even say 100% of what you’re thinking. Writing down your thoughts as they are, without a filter, can help relieve you of the stress you’re feeling on day 12 of a 10-day field op.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

You felt a certain way about this. Why not write it down?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Matthew Callahan

Recording your thoughts

You may not feel like sharing everything that goes on in your head with your friends. That’s okay. Write it down. This may be useful if you have a good idea regarding tactics or standard operating procedure that you feel you may not remember later. This is like taking notes but in a way that ties into the rest of your thoughts and feelings.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

If you miss some shots on the range, you should record it to look at later so you can figure out how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reba James)

Tracking your growth

At the end of the day, it helps to go over the events in your head and think about the positives and negatives. Additionally, writing these things down and writing your thoughts on how to improve yourself can help you track your personal growth. Even something like recording your physical fitness test results can help you see what you can improve on.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Even the worst memories are worth recording.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Amaia Unanue)

Memory improvement

Writing things down is always a good idea when you have to remember them later on. But doing something as simple as writing down the day’s events and your thoughts on them can help you keep your memory sharp which is a valuable skill no matter where you go.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Maybe the next time you’ll remember how you solved that problem.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Anderson)

Improve problem-solving skills

While writing your thoughts and feelings about the day’s events, you may find that there was a problem you couldn’t solve earlier, but while writing it down, you discovered the solution. It’s like thinking back on an argument and thinking of the perfect response that didn’t occur to you in the moment.

WATCH

WATCH: Why the Viet Cong tunnels were so deadly

During the Vietnam war, America and its South Vietnamese allies forces faced a deadly enemy that not only fought on the jungle’s surface but could raise up from concealed underground bunkers and tunnels to ambush troops as well; the Viet Cong tunnel. 


Travel an hour from Ho Chi Minh City, and you’ll arrive at the Cu Chi District where Communist guerrilla soldiers dug elaborate tunnels to store and transport supplies to combat American and South Vietnamese forces.

Related: Once upon a time, this ‘little kid’ was a lethal Vietnam War fighter

After completion, the Cu Chi tunnels stretched approximately 120 miles long, were buried 30-feet deep and helped provide the enemy cover from aerial attacks.

These tunnels were specifically designed to act as underground villages and could support months of living, making it simple for VC troops to ambush American forces and slip away nearly undetected.

 

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
One of many Cu Chi tunnel entrances that exist today which is relatively the size of a large shoe box and incredibly hard to locate. (Source: Pixabay)

The VC were masters at camouflaging the tunnel entrances and used neighboring villages to blend in with regular foot traffic to and from the tunnels.

Typically, the entrances were hidden underneath heavy cooking pots, large supplies of rice and leaves found in the jungle which made them tough to discover.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
Two U.S. Marines search a discovered Viet Cong Tunnel. (Source: Flickr)

After discovering a tunnel, a detailed search began with the hopes of finding valuable intelligence, weapons, and enemy personnel who were detained for questioning.

Also Read: That time CBS captured an intense firefight in Vietnam

Although considered very efficient, the tunnels also brought extreme dangers to the VC units that called it home, like flooding, disease, poor ventilation, and snake bites just to name a few.

Check out HISTORY‘s video to explore the ingenuity behind the Viet Cong’s tunnel systems that still exist today.

(HISTORY, YouTube)

MIGHTY CULTURE

This could be the origin of the ‘lucky cigarette’

Smoking cigarettes has been a popular pastime among troops since the very first line formed at the armory. Everybody, both civilian and service member alike, has their reason for smoking, but one thing is consistent between the two crowds — flipping one cigarette upside down and saving it for last.

This last cigarette is referred to as the “lucky cigarette” and it’s considered bad luck to smoke it before the others in the pack. People all over the internet have speculated at the origin of this superstition, but it’s very likely that it all started with troops in WWII — and the Lucky Strike brand cigarettes they used to get in their rations.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why your veteran friend saves a single, specific cig for last, here are the best explanations we’ve found:


Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

(U.S. Marine Corps)

World War II

In WWII, troops would get Lucky Strike cigarettes in their rations and each cigarette was stamped with the brand’s logo. It’s believed that those fighting either in Europe or the Pacific would flip every cigarette in the pack except for one. That way, when a troop sparked one, they’d burn the stamp first (this was before the days of filtered cigarettes).

That way, if a troop had to drop the cigarette for any reason, the enemy couldn’t quickly determine the country of origin — any identifying mark was quickly turned to ash. The last cigarette was the only exception — and if you survived long enough to smoke it, you were considered lucky.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

U.S. Marine Corps LVTP-5 amphibious tractors transport 3rd Marine Division troops in Vietnam, 1966.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Vietnam

Some swear that this tradition comes from the Vietnam War.

By this point, filtered cigarettes were becoming the norm, so you could only smoke ’em one way. Still, the tradition remained largely intact. Instead of flipping every cigarette on end, troops would invert a single one and, just as before, if you lived long enough to smoke it, you were a lucky joe.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Hopefully you can quit when you get out.

(U.S. Army)

In either case, having a “lucky cigarette” in your pack has since become a universal superstition.

Whether you’re in the military or not, flipping that one cigarette is considered good luck, even when your life isn’t in immediate danger.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Game of Thrones’ Oreos are coming – take your PT test now

Oreo will release “Game of Thrones”-inspired cookies just in time for the series’ final season.

The limited-edition “Game of Thrones” Oreos, which taste like the original cookie, come emblazoned with one of four different decals inspired by the show. Three of the cookies feature the family sigils of the major houses vying for the Iron Throne, while the fourth cookie comes carved with a profile of the Night King.


The House Stark direwolf sigil is embossed on one version of the cookie.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

House Stark Oreo.

(OREO)

The Mother of Dragons is represented with a House Targaryen-inspired cookie featuring the iconic three-headed dragon sigil.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

House Targaryen Oreo.

(OREO)

Meanwhile, the famous “golden lion” of House Lannister makes an appearance on another version of the “Game of Thrones” Oreo cookies.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

House Lannister Oreo.

(OREO)

Finally, the Night King represents the White Walker army with a cookie of his own.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

The Night King Oreo.

(OREO)

Oreo is celebrating the collaboration by recreating the show’s title sequence with an animated landscape built entirely out of 2,750 Oreo cookies. Check out the video below:

Oreo x Game of Thrones Title Sequence

www.youtube.com

Fans of the show can visit Oreo’s website or post on Facebook and Twitter using #GameofCookies or #FortheThrone to pledge their loyalty to any of the houses or the White Walker opposition. Oreo will then surprise some lucky participants with a special treat; the company has not yet disclosed what the treat will be.

The new “Game of Thrones” Oreos will hit shelves nationwide starting April 8, 2019, giving fans of the series plenty of time to stock up on the limited-edition snack prior to the hit show’s season eight debut on HBO April 14, 2019.

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

Articles

Allahu Quackbar: The internet is trolling ISIS by photoshopping them as rubber ducks

4Chan is very loosely defined as an image-pasteboard website, full of content of every imaginable category. Depending on whom you ask, 4Chan is either “the heart and soul of the Internet” or “where integrity goes to die” — a place for celebrity nude photo leaks, gamergate, and endless trolling.


No matter what anyone’s personal feelings about what goes on the site’s many boards, there’s no doubt about its contributions to internet culture. 4Chan brought us lolcats, Chocolate Rain, and RickRolling.

Now the site’s humor has a purpose, making fun of the Islamic State (a.k.a.: “Daesh”). This could be bad for an organization whose international recruitment strategy depends so much on the tone of its social media strategy (ISIS, not 4Chan, that is).

See the original 4Chan thread here.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

MIGHTY FIT

March virtually with fellow vets and soldiers in Iraq this Saturday

Looking for a way to get in a great workout? Want to get in a great PT session with your fellow vets and service members? Need to get out of the house while still practicing social distancing?

Dawn your patriotic swag, grab your pack and head to your favorite hiking spot.


This Saturday, March 28, 2020, 23rd Veteran is hosting a Virtual Ruck March that you can participate in from anywhere in the world.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

The event was originally supposed to be held in Los Angeles and Minnesota as a fundraiser for 23rd Veteran. However, as we all know, the coronavirus outbreak forced mass gatherings to be canceled or postponed. Yes, even marching one arm’s distance from each other would not be a good thing.

So Mike Waldron, Marine veteran and founder and executive director of 23rd Veteran came up with a great way to still have the event and get people moving, while still keeping smart about social distancing.

“We have lost a lot as a country these past few weeks,” Waldon told We Are The Mighty. “We had to cancel all our fundraising events to help our troops, but we don’t want to give up on them. Join this free virtual event to walk side-by-side with those defending our freedom on the front line.”

The original event had participants in Iraq that included both US and Allied service members so this is also a way to march with them in solidarity. The forward deployed troops will still be participating and will be able to be seen via the event’s Facebook page.

This also brings attention to an amazing nonprofit that helps veterans overcome a lot of the mental and emotional obstacles that we face when we transition out of military service.

23rd Veteran is a program that encourages veterans to overcome their challenges by engaging in rigorous exercise, group outings and therapy in a structured, 14-week program. This program originated from Mike’s own experience as a Marine grunt. He served in the 1st Marine Division with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines from 2000 to 2004. He was in the initial push into Iraq and upon EASing out of the Marines went to college and majored in business. He found a career managing federal buildings when he went through what a lot of us go through years after getting out. He started having panic attacks, anxiety and nightmares which were impeding his life. He initially refused to attribute it to his service in Iraq because, well, it was five years after the fact. Wouldn’t he have had issues before that?

When he got help, he learned, as many of us do, that PTS might not surface until years later. As he got help, he decided to look deeper as to why that delay occurs.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash

What he found was that your brain changes when experiencing a traumatic event. It makes itself remember the event and files it away. Your brain recognizes that there was a threat and you survived the threat. But the problem that many service members face is that you go from a high threat atmosphere to one that isn’t. However, your brain remembers; it’s called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is a protein that affects long term memory.

When your brain sees a threat (even if it isn’t there), it remembers the traumatic event so you can remember it as a survival skill.

Why Post-Traumatic Stress is Supposed to Happen

www.youtube.com

Using this knowledge, Waldron created a 14-week program to help veterans who are dealing with mental health issues.

The program starts with a one week excursion out of their town (the program is currently in four cities and growing) and puts them in nature, with just themselves as company. The point is to team build and put them in activities that will engage their bodies and brains.

After that one-week indoc, they go back home and three times a week, work out together in high intensity training. This gets the blood flowing and body moving but also engages the BDNF in your brain. Immediately afterward, the group will go and have some type of outing that will put them in a public spot and force them to face their triggers.

Starting out small and with just the group, the outing eventually moves to more public spots with civilians joining. This process of having vets engage after a high intensity workout allows them to retrain their brain to be accepting of situations instead of triggering a fight or flight reaction that comes with PTS. Vets are then given assignments for each week which help them overcome their triggers and face their PTS head on.

There are only four rules:

  • No drinking
  • No bitching
  • No news (local news but not to take in negative)
  • No war stories

Using advice from personal trainers, positive psychologists and military personnel, Waldron created the 23V Recon playbook which is the backbone for the program. The result has been a resounding success and has led Waldron and his team to seek to expand their program to other cities. Based out of Minnesota, 23V is looking to expand into Los Angeles, which one of the canceled ruck marches was supposed to raise money for.

This is where you come in.

If you want to get out of the house, raise awareness for a great cause and help 23V grow, sign up and march on Saturday. Get outside, put on your pack and take to a trail and show your support. Let others know too, but make sure if you do it together you stay a safe distance apart. Get to stepping!

Articles

What’s the Commandant talking about when he says Marines need to be ‘spiritually’ fit?

Physically fit? Check. Mentally fit? Check. Spiritually fit? Hmm.


That could be the response from more Marines and even other military service members of this Millennial generation, as fewer troops are claiming a religion than those of previous decades.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
Time to get your ‘spirit’ on Marine! (USMC photo)

Earlier this month, Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, issued an all-hands message to encourage his men and women and Navy sailors assigned to their units to take note of their own “spiritual fitness.”

“During this time, I ask each of you to reflect on what you and the Marines and sailors you lead are doing to achieve and maintain an optimal level of strength and resilience. Your leaders and chaplains at all levels stand ready to engage with you in this task,” Neller, a veteran infantry officer entering his second year as the service’s top general officer, wrote in the Oct. 3 message. “By attending to spiritual fitness with the same rigor given to physical, social and mental fitness, Marines and sailors can become and remain the honorable warriors and model citizens our nation expects.”

The general’s mention of honorable warriors and model citizens – most Marines serve four to eight years and then return to civilian life – harkens to a generation ago. In the 1990s — with a military facing force cuts, ethical scandals and retention concerns — then-commandant Gen. Charles Krulak often spoke with Marines about the importance of integrity, having a “moral compass” and courage to do the right thing.

It wasn’t specifically directed at religion or spirituality but took a broad, holistic approach at building better “citizen-soldiers.”

In this generation, will that challenge to look inward at their spirituality, however they define it to be, resonate with Millennial Marines? And, if so, how?

If religious affiliation is any measure of that, military leaders might well be worried.

Last year, the Pew Research Center found that fewer Americans were identifying as religious. In its 2014 Religious Landscape Survey, the Pew Research Center found that 70.6 percent of Americans identified with a Christian-based religion, with “Evangelical Protestant,” “Catholic” and “Mainline Protestant” the top groups. Almost 6 percent claimed non-Christian faiths – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu, for example.

But almost 23 percent in the survey of 35,000 Americans said they were unaffiliated – known as “nones” – or nonbelievers, and 15.8 percent of them claimed no ties even to agnostics or atheists. That was a significant change from 2007, when 16 percent identified as “nones.”

The biggest group, 35 percent, among “nones” are Millennials, considered those born between 1981 and 1996, and “nones” as a whole “are getting even younger,” Pew found. It’s also an age group — 20 to 35 — that’s well represented within the military services.

So how will today’s Marines receive this latest message?

The Marine Corps hasn’t detailed just what the push for spiritual fitness will entail, but it’s described as part of leadership development and a holistic approach to overall fitness along with physical, mental and social wellness. The service’s deputy chaplain, Navy Capt. William Kennedy, said it wasn’t a program but “an engagement strategy to enable leaders at every level to communicate the importance of faith, values and moral living inside the Marine Corps culture of fitness.”

“Spiritual fitness is for everyone,” Kennedy said in an email response to WATM. “Every Marine has a position on matters of spirituality, belief in a higher being and religion. The individual Marine chooses if and how they will grow in spiritual fitness, enabling them to fulfill their duties successfully while deployed and in garrison.”

Scott said the Navy’s top chaplain Rear Adm. Brent Scott sent a letter to all Marine Corps’ chaplains, challenging them to “engage their commanders and the Marine Corps in conversations on spiritual fitness.”

A non-profit group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has criticized the Corps’ plan as an attempt to push religious, if not Christian, values on all Marines.

Mikey Weinstein, the group’s founder and president and a former Air Force lawyer, has threatened to sue the Marine Corps to stop it from mandating spiritual fitness training for every Marine rather than having it be voluntary. Weinstein told Military.com last week that the service’s plan to include spiritual fitness with some training and education courses is “nothing more than a Trojan Horse for fundamentalist Christians to proselytize to a captive audience.”

“If they call this ‘mental fitness,’ that’s great,” Weinstein told WATM. But while Marines are regularly tested in physical fitness and military proficiency, he said, “who gets to decide what Marines are spiritually fit?”

While troops can be required to sit through legal discussions with a judge advocate or medical training with medics, they can’t be required to attend teachings or preaching by unit chaplains, he said, citing separation of church and state. If the Marine Corps sets mandatory lectures, testing or measuring tools or classes that discuss things like faith or “a higher power,” for example, that will push it into religious beliefs and violate the constitutional prohibition against religious tests, Weinstein said.

“If they do it, they’ll be in court,” he said.

In 2010, MRFF threatened to sue the Army when it pushed out a similar assessment program on spiritual fitness for soldiers, and Weinstein said the service eventually revised it.

But “spiritual fitness” remains a popular concept around the military — a phrase that might seem to avoid any specific religion to many but still retains an element of a belief. The Air Force considers it one of its comprehensive fitness pillars, along with mental, physical and social. And spiritual fitness is often mentioned in programs to help build resiliency among troops, including those grappling with combat or post-traumatic stress and even in programs to strengthen relationships among military couples and families.

Navy chaplain Kennedy described spirituality generally as something “that gives meaning and purpose in life.” It also might “refer to the practice of a philosophy, religion or way of living,” he said. “For some this is expressed in commitment to family, institution or esprit de corps. For others, it may apply to application of faith.”

Military chaplains have the duty to advise commanders and service members on “spiritual matters.” They “are required to perform faith-specific ministries that do not conflict with the tenets or faith requirements of their religious organizations. Additionally, chaplains are required to provide or facilitate religious support, pastoral care and spiritual wellness to all service members, regardless of religious affiliation,” according to a July 2015 Defense Department Inspector General report on “rights of conscience protections” for troops and chaplains.

Weinstein, who said he’s Jewish but “not that religious,” said his group isn’t anti-religion and counts 48,000 active-duty troops among its members, with 98 percent who affiliate with a religion. Many supporters don’t want the military services telling them what or whether to believe, he said, adding that “thousands of military people [say] that’s my personal business.”

But is spiritual fitness inherently a part of something religious, or is it separate from a religious belief?

It may depend on who is defining it. A spiritual fitness guide briefing slide by the U.S. Navy Chaplains Corps, whose members advise Navy and Marine Corps units, describes spiritual fitness this way: “A term used to capture a person’s overall spiritual health and reflects how spirituality may help one cope with and enjoy life. Spirituality may be used generally to refer to that which gives meaning and purpose in life. The term may be used more specifically to refer to the practice of a philosophy, religion or way of living.”

Would having no religious affiliation or belief render one without spirituality? For some Leathernecks, the Marine Corps itself is like a religion, with its own spirituality that “non-believers” – like POGs or people-other-than-grunts – can’t understand.

The Marines’ own institutional bible, so-to-speak, the warfighting publication “Leading Marines,” stated in its 1995 edition: “This manual is based on the firm belief that, as others have said in countless ways, our Corps embodies the spirit and essence of those who have gone before. It is about the belief, shared by all Marines, that there is no higher calling than that of a United States Marine.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been changed to correct attribution from the Marine Corps Deputy Chaplain.

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Former NSA contractor allegedly stole docs seemingly far more sensitive than Snowden’s

Former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin allegedly stole documents that seem far more sensitive than what has come from the Snowden leaks.


For more than two decades, Martin allegedly made off with highly-classified documents that were found in his home and car that included discussions of the US military’s capabilities and gaps in cyberspace, specific targets, and “extremely sensitive” operations against terror groups, according to an indictment released Wednesday.

Martin was arrested by the FBI at his home on August 27, 2016. Agents found thousands of pages and “many terabytes of information” there, according to court documents reviewed by The New York Times.

With the release of the indictment, it has become more clear of what was apparently in those files.

The indictment charges Martin with 20 counts of having unauthorized possession of documents from not only the NSA, but also from US Cyber Command, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the Central Intelligence Agency. While many of the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were top-secret, they mostly consisted of PowerPoint presentations and training materials.

Putin’s old ID card found in Soviet-era stash
The National Security Operations Center (NSOC). | NSA photo

Top-secret documents allegedly stolen by Martin, however, offer much more specific and damaging details to potential adversaries. Here’s a sampling (via the indictment):

  • A 2014 NSA report outlining intelligence information regarding foreign cyber issues, containing foreign cyber intrusion techniques
  • A 2009 draft of a United States Signals Intelligence Directive, which outlined specific methods, capabilities, techniques, processes, and procedures associated with [computer network operations] used to defend the United States.
  • An NSA anti-terrorism operational document concerning extremely sensitive US planning and operations regarding global terrorists.

With just those three documents, an adversary would have details on how the NSA stops hackers from penetrating its networks and what kind of gaps still exist, along with how the agency plans operations against terror groups. Though it’s not apparent from the indictment that Martin passed the documents along to anyone, if he did so it would be a huge setback to the intelligence community.

Soon after Martin’s arrest, his lawyers told The New York Times that he “loves his family and his country. There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country.” A US official described him as a “hoarder.”

The indictment continues (emphasis added):

  • An outline of a classified exercise involving real-world NSA and US military resources to demonstrate existing cyber intelligence and operational capabilities.
  • A description of the technical architecture of an NSA communications system.
  • A USCYBERCOM document, dated August 17, 2016, discussing capabilities and gapsin capabilities of the US military and details of specific operations.
  • A USCYBERCOM document, dated May 23, 2016, containing information about the capabilities and targets of the US military.
  • A 2008 CIA document containing information relating to foreign intelligence collection sources and methods, and relating to a foreign intelligence collection target.

For at least a portion of Martin’s career, he served in the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit, an elite group of government hackers tasked with breaking into foreign networks. Some US officials told The Washington Post that Martin allegedly took more than 75% of TAO’s library of hacking tools, a potentially massive breach of an outfit that has been shrouded in secrecy.

According to The New York Times, some investigators suspect Martin may possibly be the source of the trove of TAO hacking tools that were posted online last year by a group calling itself “The Shadow Brokers.” Those disclosures likely spurred “a lot of panic” inside the agency, according to a former TAO operator who spoke with Business Insider last year.

“The FBI investigation and this indictment reveal a broken trust from a security clearance holder,” Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Division said in a statement.

“Willfully retaining highly classified national defense information in a vulnerable setting is a violation of the security policy and the law, which weakens our national security and cannot be tolerated. The FBI is vigilant against such abuses of trust, and will vigorously investigate cases whenever classified information is not maintained in accordance with the law.”

Martin faces a maximum sentence of 200 years in prison. His initial court appearance is scheduled for February 14.

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