Iran just conducted a massive rapid deployment exercise that consisted of 12,000 coordinated troops – the Islamic Republic was saying to the world that any attackers would face a “crushing blow.” Over two days, Iran’s regular military forces used ground troops, fighter planes, armored vehicles, and drones to practice its methods of repelling invaders over 190 square miles.
The exercises are aimed at Israel and the United States, both of which Iran considers a regional menace. Back in the United States, regardless of Iranian training exercises, a growing portion of the military community is urging against a war with Iran, and the effort is being led by retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton.
Eaton is best known for his command of training Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Led by Eaton, a cadre of former General-grade officers wrote an open letter to Congress, urging against provoking a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian military exercises played no role in the letter, which had been in the works for some time. In the letter, Eaton, the other officers, and the non-profit Vet Voice Foundation remind Congress about the costs of the current wars the United States is still engaged in right now.
“A full-scale military conflict with Iran would be a huge and costly undertaking,” the letter reads. “It’s a lesson we’ve learned before as a nation, at great cost. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us a lot in blood and treasure. We know that war with Iran would require hundreds of thousands of American service members to deploy and could result in even larger numbers of American casualties and injuries―alongside an unknown number of civilian deaths.”
While the United States does not have any kind of motive to attack Iran as of this writing, the letter is urging Congress to pass legislation to keep the White House from using military force without direct Congressional approval. The current authorization for the use of military force used by the Trump Administration to conduct military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere is the same one used by his predecessors Obama and Bush, signed into law by President Bush after the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The new National Defense Authorization Act could bar the use of force in Iran.
Specifically, the letter endorsed a bi-partisan detail in the 2020 NDAA that would prevent “unauthorized” military force in or against Iran, sponsored by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna and ardent Trump supporter and Florida Republican Congressman, Rep. Matt Gaetz. There is no current language in the Senate version of the bill. Before going to the President’s desk, the NDAA would need to be reconciled and passed by both houses. The letter urged the inclusion of the Iran language in the final bill.
U.S. troops are deployed to hundreds of countries – Iran is not one of them.
The group of military officers believes the interests of the United States are better served by focusing on the confrontations with Russia and China, instead of expanding into another Middle East conflict.
“The idea that we would enter yet another war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest, defined mission, and withdrawal strategy is unacceptable to America’s veterans and our allies across the political spectrum,” the letter reads.
Trying to emerge from scandals that shook the agency to its core, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is attempting to overhaul what officials admit was sometimes pretty bad customer service.
Quietly, since 2015, the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has built a national Veterans Experience Office.
The office’s first steps have been rolling out over 100 community veterans committees nationwide and retraining employees to be less rigid and more customer-focused.
The VA even hired professional writers to redraft the language of 1,200 official letter templates to make them more reader friendly.
“(We) had somehow gotten away from the primary mission of organizing the enterprise through the eyes of the customer,” said Joy White, who leads the office’s Pacific district, which includes California and the West Coast.
“(We did) things that made sense to us, made it easy for us as the VA,” White said. “But, in all of that, we lost the voice of the customer.”
The task at hand: How to change the culture of a massive federal agency that provides everything from medical care to monthly disability checks to funerals.
Some might wonder if — with what’s a famously dense bureaucracy — it can be done. Even new VA Secretary David Shulkin has said it’s a struggle to fire bad apples, including employees who watch porn on the job.
The new Veterans Experience Office’s budget this fiscal year is $55.4 million, up from $49 million last year, “to lead the My VA transformation,” according to a budget document. About 150 jobs now fall under this office’s umbrella.
Two years in, the nation’s veterans organizations are still taking a wait-and-see position.
“We’re not sure how much the VEO has improved the VA to date, but we are encouraged by this initiative and hope to see it succeed,” said Joe Plenzler, American Legion spokesman. “Any effort to improve dialogue between veterans and VA employees and administrators is time and money well spent.”
One vocal critic of the VA said the office has potential but not if it tries to just “paper over” structural issues facing the veterans agency.
“Doing things that are more feel-good measures, but actually don’t address some of the core problems of the VA, could distract from what’s needed to be done,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America.
“That’s the danger I see, potentially, with this office. But I want to say there’s a lot of opportunity here. If this office is managed well and insists that they are here to improve the outcomes for veterans — and not just ‘the experience’ — they could be successful.”
The “veterans experience” campaign started under former VA Secretary Bob McDonald, the retired Proctor Gamble chief executive brought in by President Barack Obama in mid-2014 following a national scandal over wait times for VA medical care.
McDonald installed a “chief veterans experience officer” in early 2015.
The office reports directly to the VA secretary — now Shulkin, a doctor and health-care executive who is the first non-veteran to lead the agency.
Whether he will continue the “experience” campaign is an open question.
However, in April he named Lynda Davis, a former Army officer and Pentagon civilian executive with experience in personnel and suicide prevention, to head the office. She replaces a former McDonald’s executive, Tom Allin, who held the job for about two years.
Some of the hiring was for “human-centered design” teams. These teams, which include people from Stanford’s prestigious D School, are supposed to re-engineer VA routines that aren’t working.
They produced a “journey map” showing what VA patients experience.
It identifies “pain points” along the way, such as cancelled appointments. It also calls out “moments that matter,” such as the check-in process and whether it’s hard or easy to park.
Two early goals were to establish one consumer-oriented website and one toll-free telephone number for all VA divisions. The result was vets.gov and 1 (844) My-VA311.
The VA is now looking for inspiration from national brands famous for good service. Starbucks, Marriott, and Walgreens are on the list.
“We get the experience that we design. Historically, we haven’t put an emphasis as an organization on customer service. There was no program of record that said ‘this how we do customer service,'” White told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
One change the Veterans Experience Office has led: hiring for customer-service skills, instead of just looking for people qualified for a position.
“We weren’t hiring for attitude,” said White, who said her office identified questions to insert in the VA’s interview process to draw out whether an applicant had customer service aptitude.
In a changing health-care industry, this is a bandwagon that the VA is belatedly jumping on.
Other hospital organizations have rebooted their customer experience in the past decade in response to a shift in Medicare reimbursement policy that now rewards for patient satisfaction, experts said. The power of social media is also a factor.
The Cleveland Clinic was the first major academic medical center to appoint a chief experience officer in 2007. Across the country, hospitals have built grand entrances, opened restaurants intended to draw non-patients and put flowers by bedsides.
“My sense of it is that we live in the age of the empowered consumer,” said John Romley, an economist at the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer center for health policy.
“VA customers maybe have less choice in the matter, but at the same time, there’s a great deal of sensitivity in the broader population about how we treat these people in the VA system.”
The VA’s new customer service motto — Own the Moment — sounds a bit like a commercial TV jingle.
Training is rolling out across the country, including at the La Jolla VA hospital.
The premise: Each VA employee should “own” their time with a customer, the veteran, and do their best to ensure the person gets the help he or she needs.
That contrasts to the like-it-or-lump-it experience that veterans have sometimes complained about in the past.
“We’re moving away from a rules-based organization to a more of what we call a values, principle-based organization,” said Allan Castellanos, the VA employee teaching the La Jolla seminar.
“I call it more like integrated ethics, like doing the right thing for the right reason,” he said.
The employees were shown a video of VA workers going the extra mile to welcome an uncertain new veteran into a clinic.
In another, VA workers allowed the family of a dying veteran to bring his horse onto hospital grounds.
The VA is trying to emerge from bunker mentality after back-to-back national embarrassments.
First, in 2013, the backlog of disability claims rose to mountainous proportions, bringing down the wrath of Congress and the public.
Then, in 2014, news reports revealed that VA medical workers were keeping secret lists of patients waiting for appointments to make wait-time data appear satisfactory.
All of this occurred as the VA struggled to handle a flood of new veterans coming home from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
A few of the ideas being pursued by the Veterans Experience Office have origins in San Diego.
Officials acknowledge that what they are calling Community Veterans Experience Boards — the 152 community boards they eventually want to create nationally — came from San Diego’s longstanding example.
San Diego veterans leaders meet monthly with VA officials here in both closed-door and public sessions.
Additionally, the tragic suicide of 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jeremy Sears appears to have helped spur a campaign to redraft VA correspondence to make it more user friendly.
Sears shot himself at an Oceanside gun range in 2014 after being rejected for VA disability benefits despite the cumulative effects of several combat tours.
Veterans advocates suggested that the VA rejection letter could have offered advice on where to go for counseling and other assistance, instead of just a “no.”
“That was one of the ‘pain points’ that was identified,” White said, referring to the veteran’s “journey mapping” that her office did. “There was a lot of legalese, when in fact we just want it to be simple and clean.”
They started with the Veterans Benefit Administration’s correspondence and are working their way toward the Veterans Health Administration’s appointment cards.
Veterans Experience Office officials first told the Union-Tribune that they could provide examples of the rewritten letter formats, but later said they weren’t ready yet.
The Veterans Experience Office, headquartered in Washington, now has split the country into five districts and dispatched “relationship managers” to each.
The Veterans Experience Office is now trying to finesse those moments that matter to veterans. In 2017, officials expect to roll out a veterans real-time feedback tool in 10 locations. They also plan to release a patient experience “program of record.”
“Our goal is to build trust with veterans, their family members, and survivors,” White said. “How do we do that? By bringing their voices to everything we do.”
Paul Allen may have made a name for himself as the co-founder of Microsoft, but within the aviation community, the late entrepreneur was known for something different: owning some of the most incredible aircraft ever to hit the market. When Allen passed last October, he left behind a sizeable collection of vehicles that included two superyachts and a veritable air force worth of jets, helicopters, and specialized planes.
Now, it seems that portions of Allen’s estate are being liquidated, placing some of the rarest and most exotic platforms in the world on the market. Among these treasures is perhaps a one of a kind Cold War-era MiG-29 — a fourth-generation fighter built just before the fall of the Soviet Union that even saw operational use in Ukraine during the Soviet dissolution.
This MiG-29 is up for sale (in case you really want to impress your prom date).
Despite the number of headlines garnered by fifth-generation fighters like America’s F-35 and F-22, the vast majority of the combat operational fighters in the world remain squarely within the fourth generation. These jets, like the F-15, F-16, and Russia’s Su-35 are considered highly capable despite lacking the stealth and network capabilities that differentiate them from their successors, but in many ways outside of those qualifiers, fourth-generation platforms are more capable than even the high-cost F-35. And the MiG-29 in question is certainly no exception. In fact, it remains in use in the Russian (and a number of other) air forces to this day.
This particular MiG-29 was demilitarized by the Ukraine Air Force and put on the private market in 2005, where it began its long and treacherous journey to Allen’s collection here in the United States. By the time it arrived, the aircraft needed to be restored and reassembled, a task left to importer and military aviation aficionado John Sessions. Sessions not only restored this aircraft to its former glory, when he was finished, it was perhaps the single best example of a MiG-29 left in existence, along with a few uniquely American accents like changing the gauging and cockpit indicators to English.
With a top speed of 1,491 mph (around Mach 2.25) this MiG would leave even America’s premier F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the dust. In fact, this MiG would beat just about anything that isn’t an F-15 in a drag race, which is impressive for a combat aircraft, but even more so for a civilian jet with functioning ejection seats you could feasibly take to visit your mom in Orlando. In fact, at top speed, you could get there from New York in less than an hour.
The fighter is up for sale through the Mente Group, and according to the listing the entire airframe has only 570 operational hours on it, with only 60 of those hours taking place after the entire aircraft (including the engines) were completely overhauled. In other words, this jet may have been built in the late ’80s, but its cockpit still very much possesses that “new fighter” smell.
Because its been demilitarized, this MiG-29 lacks the machine gun and seven hardpoints used for mounting missiles or bombs, as well as the infrared search and track (IRST) ball it originally used for targeting, but as Tyler Rogoway at The War Zone points out, IRST systems from the MiG’s era never worked all that well anyway.
A fully loaded Bangladesh Air Force MiG-29 with six missiles and an external fuel tank.
(Bangladesh Air Force via WikiMedia Commons)
The MiG-29 likely won’t see use as an aggressor aircraft (used by the U.S. Air Force for mock combat training exercises) in large part because the U.S. military has already gotten their hands on a number of MiG-29s and most of its performance capabilities can be mirrored by other available platforms. That means this MiG likely won’t see use in military contractor circles, making it that much more promising as dad’s new grocery getter.
There’s no price on the listing, but seeing as Sessions has stated in the past that it cost him at least million to restore the aircraft to its current white-glove condition and the fact that Allen’s purchase price has never been divulged, it’s safe to say that this Cold War fighter will probably set you back quite a bit more than most commuters on the market.
While Americans are familiar with the M1126 Stryker infantry combat vehicle and the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, they may not know that the latter was designed to counter a type of Russian vehicle that had been around for decades.
In the 1980s, when the Bradley was coming online, its counterpart was entering service for the Soviets and Warsaw Pact nations. That counterpart was the BMP-2. BMP is short for Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty. It first became operational in 1982, and was much improved over the original vehicle in the series, the groundbreaking BMP-1.
While the BMP-1’s main weapon was a 73mm gun backed by an AT-3 Sagger anti-tank missile, the BMP-2 replaced that with a 30mm autocannon with an AT-5 Spandrel. Combat experience gained in Arab-Israeli wars had shown that the 73mm gun wasn’t very accurate. Worse, the AT-3’s guidance method required the operator to remain exposed. The change in armaments addressed both of those issues.
The BMP-2 also made major adjustments to the internal arrangements. Turns out that some of the design elements of the BMP-1 made driving a Ford Pinto seem safe. Notably, infantrymen sat back-to-back with the fuel tank between them. Ammo for the main gun was stored about the BMP-1 and exposed. The grunts liked the firepower, and the 73mm gun could help keep enemies’ heads down, but these drawbacks were killers.
The BMP-2 saw action in the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet-Afghan War, Desert Storm, the Russo-Georgia War, the fighting in Chechnya, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom, among others. During Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, it came out second-best when rated against the Bradley. In response, the Russians began development of the BMP-3, which replaced the wire-guided missiles with a 100mm gun.
Learn more about this vehicle in the video below. Which BMP do you think is best?
The US has linked a mysterious illness contracted by a government employee in China to strange sounds heard by US diplomats in Cuba for the first time.
In an unusual move on June 8, 2018, the US Embassy in China sent out its second health advisory in two weeks warning US citizens to contact a doctor if they feel unwell and to not try to locate the source of “any unidentified auditory sensation.”
But the US seems to have confirmed the link between the two incidents.
“The State Department received medical confirmation that a US government employee in China suffered a medical incident consistent with what other US government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba,” the advisory read.
It also advised any US citizen, or their family members, who experience “any unusual, unexplained physical symptoms or events, auditory or sensory phenomena, or other health concerns” to contact their doctor. Symptoms citizens were urged to look out for include dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints, hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping.
(Photo by Nelson Runkle)
These are the same symptoms victims in Havana, of which there are more than 20, reported experiencing. Some of those individuals didn’t feel or hear anything strange, but others reported hearing strange noises that some have linked to “sonic attacks.”
Despite Trump blaming Cuba, Cuban officials have denied any involvement. The State Department distanced itself from Trump’s claim, but it did expel 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington in 2017.
AP recently reported the US State Department has determined the incidents in Cuba were “specific attacks” on diplomats is trying to cut staffing numbers by more than 50%.
“At this time, 24 U.S. government personnel and family members who served in Cuba have been medically-confirmed as having symptoms and clinical findings similar to those noted following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury. On May 16, 2018, a U.S. government employee serving in China was medically-confirmed with similar findings,” Pompeo said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Here is a great information piece from an Army Soldier who completed the US Army Basic Airborne Course (BAC) at age 42. He has always been a great runner but needed to focus on the PT for the arms and legs to prepare for the landings / regular PT.
Phil Lowry is a JAG officer with the Utah National Guard. Here is his story of how to survive BAC during your late 30’s and early 40’s:
Airborne School poses particular challenges for Soldiers over 35 (which under the reg is the normal age cutoff for Airborne students). Those challenges come in two forms: (1) the PT test, and (2) the accumulating burdens of falling down a lot.
The PT test is very handily addressed in Stew’s preparation book for the Airborne School. Pay particular attention to the timed drills, since as we age our ability to make explosive movement decreases. Timed drills allow you to retain the muscle memory required to efficiently do 42 pushups and 53 situps in under two minutes (hopefully in less than 90 seconds).
Remember that the PT test is done in washed river gravel, about the size of almonds. That means that the pushups will be done on a plank, a strange feeling. The plank may not be wide enough for those of you who prefer a wide stance. It wasn’t wide enough for me (I like about 27 inches of space between the inside of my hands). Be sure to be able to comfortably pass the pushups at about a 25-inch stance. I found the situps to be easier in the gravel. Wiggle yourself into a depression before you begin so you are comfortable.
As for the falling down – there is a reason that there are not many football players older than 40. You will fall in a variety of ways in Airborne school. First, during ground week, in the 34-foot tower you will be falling in a harness onto a zip line, at least 6 times-if you master your exit. One guy in my stick went out the 34-foot tower 22 times. That takes a toll on the pinch points around legs, crotch and chest. It also taxes your neck to fall while tucking your chin in an ACH.
You will fall a lot more when learning parachute landing falls. Young guys tend to “get” PLFs quickly. Older guys can master it quickly, also, especially natural athletes. But if you are not very coordinated, or have to “unlearn” a technique (a martial arts forward roll, or a combat roll learned in combatives), you will be falling off the lateral drift apparatus (LDA) a lot. It does not really hurt at any given time, but it slowly but surely gives you bruises all over. It can also be very hard on your neck as you have to keep your chin tucked in all of your landings. A lot of bells get rung. Also, while in the PLF pit the only way you can travel is by bunny hopping with your feet and knees together. Sounds easy – until you do it for four hours.
During tower week, in the swing line trainer, you will fall even more. The SLT tends to hurt more than the LDA, since it is more realistic and harder to master. Mass exits in the 34-foot tower are comparatively easy, but come on the last day when you are beat. The two different harness training exercises are also easier, but once again give you that wonderful “pinching” feeling.
And, of course, there is jump week, where you put it all together, along with five 1/2 to 1-mile hikes at double time across a very soft drop zone that is as hard to run in as a newly plowed field. The manner of carrying the parachute, especially when hucking a combat load, puts a lot of stress on your already sore neck.
How does an oldster get ready for this? Some practical exercises:
1. Increase your endurance sets for your upper body, and try to use methods that engage large and small muscle groups in both power and stabilizing moves. Dumbbells are better than barbells, calisthenics are really good.
2. Focus on pullups. You need them to pull on your risers. But make sure not only your lats are strong, but also your hands and your forearms. Rock climbers do drills on these extremities-you should, too. Old guys tend to pull muscles in these areas more easily (I did), and it takes us longer to heal if we do.
3. Focus on your neck. There are a variety of techniques and exercises in published material that can help with both neck strength and endurance. The PLF puts a lot of strain on your neck (better your neck than your head). Even the youngest students complain about their necks at the end of ground week. It’s worse when you’re older. Also, get used to your ACH before you go to Airborne. You will always have it on whenever you train. It is a good idea to run or ruck with your ACH on as an endurance exercise. This will help your neck.
4. Run in boots. You will be doing so at Airborne. Get used to it. High-tec boots (Exospeeds, etc.) are authorized at Airborne.
5. Do more running than you need for the APFT. You should probably do at least half as much running as recommended by the training guide.
6. Endurance is more important than mass or strength, in all areas. Muscles with high endurance are highly vascularized, and so they heal quickly, and are less likely to be injured in the first place. Airborne training does not really require explosive strength-it requires efficient repetitive taxing motion, with the ability to absorb repetitive mild trauma.
7. The PT at Airborne is easy. Don’t worry about it. Focus on the APFT and preparing for the actual training. That way, when you do PT, you won’t worry about aggravating a training injury (try doing pullups with a pulled forearm muscle. Better to avoid pulling the muscle in training in the first place than having to baby it in morning PT).
8. Be ready for having to perform even if hurt. Cope and compensate as you can-there is no periodicity to the training. All of us oldsters had to suck it up, most of us more than once. I jumped three times on a badly bruised knee; a 43-year-old master sergeant jumped three times on a mildly sprained, but very painful, ankle.
The upside to being older at Airborne is that you will likely deal better with the mental stress that your physical ailments and the training environment place upon you.
“Remember, there is a difference between being hurt and being injured. You are all hurt-you are about to jump out of a plane for the fifth time. None of you are injured. Injured means you are in the hospital.” stated the First Sergeant, Charlie Company, 1/507 PIR, BAC.
Lithuania is boosting its military by purchasing 88 “Boxer” infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) from Germany. The purchase comes amid increasing concern about Russian intentions towards Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
The Boxer is an eight-wheeled vehicle with a three-man crew that can hold eight infantrymen. The version procured by Lithuania will include Israeli gear, notably the Samson Mk II turret, which has a 30mm autocannon and Spike-LR anti-tank missiles. The Spike-LR is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile that has a range of roughly 2.5 miles, and can defeat most main battle tanks. The Boxers will join about 200 M113 armored personnel carriers currently serving in the Lithuanian Land Forces.
The Boxer is in service with the Dutch and German armies, with the Dutch using it to replace M577 command vehicles and YPR-765 infantry fighting vehicles in support roles. The Germans are using the Boxer to replace the M113 and the Fuchs armored car. The two countries have purchased or plan to purchase over 700 Boxers, and the total may well increase.
The purchase of 88 vehicles seems small, but the Lithuanian Land Forces consist of a single full-strength mechanized infantry brigade with a “motorized infantry” brigade currently forming. This force does not have any heavy armor, and is also very short on artillery, featuring a grand total of 54 M101 105mm howitzers and 42 M113 120mm mortar carriers. Lithuania has purchased 21 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and a few dozen 120mm mortars that can be carried by infantry. Lithuania has a couple hundred FGM-148 Javelin fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles with a range of just over 1.5 miles, joining older 90mm towed recoilless rifles and Carl Gustav shoulder-fired recoilless rifles.
Despite the modernization program, when facing a formation like the newly-reformed 1st Guards Tank Army, the Lithuanian Land Forces will be facing some very long odds, particularly when they are dependent on a four-plane detachment in Lithuania proper for air cover (the Baltic Air Policing program also has a four-plane detachment in Estonia). The Lithuanian Air Force has one L-39 trainer/light attack plane in service.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas wiped the sweat off his brow as he glared at the box on the floor in front of him. Listening to the loud music that echoed throughout the gym, Zayas took a deep breath as he anticipated his next set of exercises.
During a typical high-intensity workout, Zayas would be surrounded by other fitness enthusiasts, but not today. Alone at the Army Warrior Fitness Center, Zayas had one thing motivating him — the clock.
“Training by yourself is OK — you need it sometimes,” he said. “However, you always want somebody right next to you to try to beat you in a workout and give you that extra push.”
With a loud beep, the gym’s timer went off launching the former detentions noncommissioned officer into a fury of movements. For the next 20 to 25 minutes, Zayas would complete a series of box jumps, pushups, rows, wall-ball shots, and kipping pullups.
This was his first of three workouts that day.
High-intensity training started as a way to get back into shape and later evolved into a means to compete, he said. As a member of the Army Warrior Fitness Team, Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.
(Photo by Zachary Welch)
Finding his path
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Zayas was the first in his family to join the military. During the early years of his career, Zayas served as an 88H cargo specialist, but later re-classed to become a 31E internment/resettlement specialist.
Zayas married shortly after joining the military and his family grew, he said. At the same time, the family lifestyle took over. Zayas started to put on excess weight through poor eating habits and an ineffective fitness routine.
“I was back and forth between being in and out of shape,” he said. “I was on the border of getting kicked out of the Army.”
In 2011, Zayas deployed to Afghanistan and saw this as an opportunity to reset. He quickly locked down his diet, engaged in a rigorous fitness routine, and got back into shape.
Zayas returned home to Fort Bliss, Texas, with a healthier mindset and desire to help others. Upon his arrival, Zayas’ wife announced that she was pregnant with the couple’s second child. With a newborn on the way, he did what was necessary to balance his work, family, and fitness schedules.
Shortly after the birth of his second daughter, Zayas and his wife joined a CrossFit gym to help her get back into shape, he said. This was his first introduction to CrossFit.
“I was hooked,” he said. “But, the workout wasn’t much. I would go for one hour like everybody, and then I would work out again [later on].”
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas is determined to represent himself and the Army at high-level competitions, all while encouraging others to join the service he admires.
(Photo by Zachary Welch)
Zayas continued to dedicate much of his free time to his fitness routine, all while helping other soldiers with their PT performance, he said. The family eventually moved on to their next assignment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Zayas was quick to find a local CrossFit gym.
“I met two guys over there that were really competitive,” he said. “I started training with them. That’s what got me into the [competitive scene]. It gave me a purpose.”
Determined to break into the competitive-fitness circuit, Zayas allocated what little free time he had toward his diet and workouts. As a detentions NCO, Zayas was responsible for many of the inmates at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks on Leavenworth.
The USDB is a maximum-security facility for male service members convicted of crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“I would work eight- to 12-hour shifts, to include physical training, and NCO [tasks],” he said. “It was stressful. You have to deal with different personalities and expected the worst.”
Fitness quickly became an outlet for Zayas to relieve stress, he said. During the worst of days, he would return home, change his clothes, and immediately go into his garage gym to unwind.
“I don’t like lifting angry,” he said. “Once I started training, I forgot what I was mad about.”
All of the long days and nights paid off, making him a better soldier, NCO, and competitive athlete.
For instance, Zayas put on three ranks in five years, and continuously was recognized for his exemplary PT performance. He served as the post-partum PT coordinator for his unit and helped soldiers get back into shape after childbirth. Lastly, Zayas went on to compete in several individual and team competitions throughout Kansas and Missouri.
More importantly, Zayas was selected to join the Army Warrior Fitness Program and PCS to Fort Knox, he added.
Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Zayas and other members of the U.S. Army Warrior Fitness Team attended the 2019 CrossFit Games to support their teammates, Capt. Chandler Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, participating in the event. During their visit, the team engaged with the fitness community to share the Army’s story. In the photo, from left to right: Capt. Deanna Clegg, Capt. Kaci Clark, Capt. Allison Brager, 1st Sgt. Glenn Grabs, Capt. Ashley Shepard, Command Sgt. Major. Jan Vermeulen, Capt. Rachel Schreiber, Staff Sgt. Neil French, Spc. Jacob Pfaff, Staff Sgt. Gabriele Burgholzer.
(Photo by Devon L. Suits)
Army Warrior Fitness Program
The Army Warrior Fitness Program is an Army Recruiting Command engagement and outreach initiative. Through this initiative, the Army has an opportunity to connect the soldier community to the “fittest people in the American population,” said Master Sgt. Glenn Grabs, first sergeant of the Outreach and Recruiting Company.
“The Warrior Fitness Team started in the fall of 2018,” Grabs said. “The decision was made to organize a competitive team that could display the strength of the American soldier to the public.”
In February 2019, Zayas and 14 others were selected for the program. The team is a combination of strongman and woman competitors and functional fitness athletes who can participate in a wide range of competitions.
In general, functional fitness focuses on the body’s ability to do basic fundamental movements, such as squatting, bending, moving, jumping, and lifting, Grabs said.
“That’s the great thing about functional fitness,” he said. “These soldiers have the skills to compete at a high level. They can use some [fitness] components to pursue powerlifting, obstacle course races, and other competitions.”
Thus far, the feedback the team has received has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Grabs said.
During many of the competitions, former and current soldiers have asked how they can support the program. Several athletes have also commented on the team’s professional demeanor and overall humble attitude.
Moving forward, Zayas is determined to make the CrossFit Games, a national-level competition showcasing the most elite functional-fitness athletes from around the world, he said. Capt. Chandler Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Kurz, members of the Warrior Fitness Team, recently represented the Army at the 2019 CrossFit Games.
“I think every athlete would like to get there,” Zayas said. “We are looking to go to the CrossFit Games as a team. I think we have a pretty good shot.
“I am grateful for the opportunity,” Zayas said about joining the functional fitness team. “I never saw it coming. I am grateful to my leadership, which allowed me to participate. We are building something new in the Army [and] it’s going to be here for a long time.”
As part of the fiscal 2019 defense budget, the Senate Armed Services Committee wants the U.S. to launch offensive cyber attacks in retaliation against Russia or any other country that tries to “significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government.”
The language appeared in the committee’s newly released conference report of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019” a week after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle criticized President Donald Trump for not taking a hard stance on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
The NDAA “authorizes the National Command Authority to direct U.S. Cyber Command to take appropriate and proportional action through cyberspace to disrupt, defeat, and deter systematic and ongoing attacks by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran in cyberspace.”
“Defense committees have long expressed concern with the lack of an effective strategy and policy for the information domain, including cyberspace and electronic warfare,” the document states.
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Michael Vadon)
To assist the Defense Department in this challenge, the NDAA “establishes a policy that the United States should employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities, to deter if possible, and respond when necessary, to cyber attacks that target U.S. interests with the intent to cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure they rely upon, achieve an effect comparable to an armed attack, or imperil a U.S. vital interest,” the document states.
Lawmakers became increasingly vocal in their concerns about Russian meddling in U.S. elections after Trump appeared to question his own intelligence agencies’ findings on the issue and take Putin’s word at the Helsinki summit that Russia had no part in interfering with the 2016 election.
United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today,” Trump said, according to The Associated Press.
“He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: ‘I don’t see any reason why it would be,’ ” Trump said.
He later clarified his comments, saying he told Putin the U.S. won’t tolerate any election interference in the future.
“I let him know we can’t have this,” Trump said, according to an AP report. “We’re not going to have it, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
In addition to the new language, Senate lawmakers increased research and development spending on cyber, and other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics and directed energy, by more than 0 million, the document states.
If signed by Trump, “the FY19 NDAA will help provide our men and women in uniform the resources and tools they need to face today’s increasingly complex and dangerous world,” according to a recent Senate Armed Services Committee press release.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Weitz died at his retirement home in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Oct. 23, said Laura Cutchens of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. No cause of death was given.
A NASA biography says Weitz was among the class of 19 astronauts who were chosen in April 1966. He served as command module pilot on the first crew of the orbiting space laboratory known as Skylab during a 28-day mission in 1973.
Weitz also piloted the first launch of the ill-fated shuttle Challenger in April 1983. The five-day mission took off from the Kennedy space Center in Florida and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The Challenger was destroyed and seven crew members killed during its 10th launch on January 28, 1986.
In all, he logged 793 hours in space and retired as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in May 1994.
Weitz was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1932, and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1954, according to NASA. He then joined the Navy, serving on a destroyer before being chosen for flight training and earning his wings as a Naval Aviator in September 1956. He served in various naval squadrons, including service in Vietnam, before joining the Astronaut Corps.
According to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Weitz returned to the Navy after his mission on Skylab mission and retired as a captain in July 1976 after serving 22 years. He then came out of retirement to re-join NASA.
“Paul Weitz’s name will always be synonymous with the space shuttle Challenger. But he also will be remembered for defying the laws of gravity – and age,” said Curtis Brown, board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and an astronaut and veteran of six space flights. “Before it became commonplace to come out of retirement, Paul was a pioneer. He proved 51 was just a number.”
The foundation is supported by astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Space Station programs and annually provides scholarships for 45 students.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma hosted the 2019 Okinawa Futenma Bike Race for the local and military community July 14, 2019, on MCAS Futenma, Okinawa, Japan.
The starting line was crowded with cyclists on edge and eager to hear the crack of a starting pistol. The blank round was fired, the timer started, and the cyclists took off. Friends and families cheered on their loved ones as they departed from the start line to negotiate their way through Futenma’s runways.
175 participants; a mix of Status of Forces Agreement personnel and Okinawan community members participated in the 2019 Futenma bike race.
Participants competing on road bikes took a 44 kilometer route, whereas participants on mountain bikes took on a 22 kilometer route.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Madero)
The airfield was closed for a 24-hour period to allow competitors to test the runways surface. Marine Corps aviation technologies were displayed for all participants to enjoy as they continued throughout the race’s route.
Every rider that made their way past the finish line was greeted with applause and cheers from the audience that awaited their finish.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Madero)
I think this a great opportunity to host people aboard the air station to get people out and exercise. — Col. David Steele, dedicated tri-athlete, commanding officer of MCAS Futenma, and competitor in the race
“Friendship through sport is a big part of what Marine Corps Community Services and Futenma wants to do”
The event was hosted by Marine Corps Community Services, a comprehensive set of programs that support and enhance the operational readiness, war fighting capabilities, and life quality of Marines, their families, retirees and civilians.
This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.
During Bethesda’s E3 Showcase, game director Todd Howard offhandedly mentioned that West Virginia is the perfect setting for a
Fallout game because it’s where actual nuclear secrets are kept. If you do a little digging into the history behind the featured locations they’ve unveiled so far, you’ll quickly see that he’s telling the truth.
Just like in the game, one of America’s most secure nuclear fallout shelters is located outside of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It’s called The Greenbrier Resort.
First built in 1858 as a resort for Northerners and Southerners alike, it was re-purposed in WWII as a relocation center for Axis diplomats before being retooled again during the Cold War to become a nuclear fallout shelter for diplomats nearby in Washington D.C.
As part of a project code named ”
Greek Island,” Greenbrier was modified to be able to support every member of congress and their families beneath two feet of reinforced concrete. The bunker was kept secret throughout the Cold War before being finally revealed in a 1992 Washington Post article.
The most interesting tidbit of West-Virginian nuclear history is that Morgantown, the third most populous city in West Virginia, was also home to part of the
P-9 Project, an essential piece of the larger Manhattan Project. Although the construction of the nuclear bomb took place all over the United States in secret, it was in Morgantown that progress was made in developing “heavy water.”
Heavy water, or water that contains higher amounts of the stable hydrogen isotope deuterium, is needed to modulate nuclear reactors. It’s no coincidence that Morgantown became home to the Morgantown Ordnance Works, an ammunition manufacturing facility responsible for (among other things) producing much of the TNT used during World War II.
A second ordnance works located nearby in Point Pleasant called the West Virginia Ordnance Works also seems like it’ll be interesting to see in-game. The presence of it’s explosive secrets with the volatility of massive-scale arms production combined to form the basis of local myths that state a mutated Mothman lives nearby — which you can be damned sure will make an appearance in Fallout 76.
(Bethesda Game Studios)
But these tidbits of nuclear history just scratch the surface. Parts of
Operation Plowshare, in which the U.S. government was testing the use of nuclear weapons in mining operations, was also conducted in the West Virginian counties of Logan and Boone.This, and all of the other nuclear blasts that would have occurred in-game, may also help reshape the map (since the obviously Point Pleasant is closer to the smaller but real-world Mason, WV.) Even the above map hints at where rivers may have once been.
The mountains in West Virginia are also home to the
seventh largest uranium deposit, which you’ll likely be able to explore on your post-apocalyptic romp. Pretty much everything you need to create a nuclear bomb is right there in West Virginia — and it’ll be up to you to explore it all.
“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” Lee Guk-jong, the physician who treated him, told the Review.
“We have also discovered a parasite never seen in Koreans before,” Lee said. “It is making the situation worse and causing tremendous complications.”
It’s unclear whether the parasite has been seen in other parts of the world.
A professor at a medical school told the Review that North Korean defectors would often come to South Korea riddled with parasites, with one patient having more than 30 types of roundworms in her body. The problem is common among defectors, the professor said, but may not be reflective of the North Korean population.
But the case of this defector stands above the others — his small intestine is ruptured, contaminated with fecal matter, and infected with parasites, Lee told the Review.
“He has everything that he could have,” Lee said. “It is very likely that the prognosis will be worse than other general trauma patients as he has been in a state of shock induced by heavy bleeding and we expect to deal with many complications.”