Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Shortly after converting to Islam, then-Sgt. Khallid Shabazz struggled to find his way while his devout Lutheran family and fellow soldiers questioned his move.

And with a few Article 15s for insubordination on his record, Shabazz, a field artilleryman at the time, wanted out of the military.

Then, one day while training out in the field, an Army chaplain approached him and struck up a conversation.


“Honestly, it was like a revelation from God,” Shabazz said. “When it hit my ears, I knew that was what I was going to do in life. It was incredible.”

The Christian chaplain had told Shabazz, who was a teacher before he joined the Army, that he should consider being a Muslim chaplain. That way, the chaplain said, he could help other Muslim soldiers in need of guidance.

Shabazz later became a chaplain, and proudly wore his uniform with the Islamic crescent moon stitched onto it. The career change was a catalyst for him, as he went on to achieve several other goals.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service, which is held on Fridays, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Sept. 21, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Currently a lieutenant colonel, Shabazz holds two doctorate degrees on top of four master’s degrees. He has written three books and teaches online courses at four colleges. This fall, he plans to teach at a fifth one, the University of Hawaii.

He recently was chosen to study at the National War College, a rare feat for chaplains — only three of them are accepted each year.

And in 2017, Shabazz became the U.S. military’s first Muslim division-level chaplain, a position he held with the 7th Infantry Division.

Now the lead chaplain of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command here, he plans to surpass yet another milestone. That’s when he is slated to be promoted to colonel, which will be the highest rank ever attained by a Muslim chaplain.

“It’s phenomenal first, but it’s unbelievable second,” Shabazz said of his pending promotion.

Becoming Muslim

Born as Michael Barnes, Shabazz grew up in a large Lutheran family in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Once a faithful Lutheran himself, Shabazz often attended church and even graduated from a Christian college.

His religious views changed in the Army when he decided to debate a Muslim soldier on the merits of both religions. He admits he was ill-prepared for the debate and had misinformation about what Muslim people actually believed in.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Afterward, he became curious about Islam and began to study the Quran.

“I didn’t want to convert; I was happy where I was,” he said. “I’m a very inquisitive person. If I don’t know something, I’m going to get to know it.”

While Shabazz found more peace and solace by switching faiths, which included the Islamic custom of changing his name, many people in his life stopped talking to him.

His commander at the time, Shabazz said, even asked why he sided with the enemy.

“I was so hurt by those statements,” he said.

He eventually came to realize it was a lack of understanding some people had with Islam, which he was also guilty of until he studied it.

Islam is sometimes distorted by extremist groups, he said, similar to how other religions can be twisted to incite violent acts.

“Whether it’s the Bible, Quran, or the Torah, I want people to understand that religion really has nothing to do with violence,” he said. “99.9 percent of the people in religion are good people.”

Problem solver

As a whole, he said, the Army has improved its inclusiveness of Islamic culture. Religious accommodations allow Muslim soldiers to worship on Fridays and now give female soldiers the option to wear a hijab and males to have a beard.

He also educates leaders and soldiers about Muslim holidays and other traditions.

For those struggling as he once did, he encourages them to pursue knowledge, too. Often, he receives calls from Muslims across the Army asking for help on issues or how to deal with blowback from others in their unit.

“What I ask you to do is, keep doing your job and keep working hard,” he said he tells them. “Go to school at night and stay focused on everything else besides the treatment.

“That’s coming from a person like me who went through that type of turmoil. I was an E-5 and I received some pretty tough treatment back then. I can tell them those stories and I think it helps.”

As a chaplain, he strives to inspire soldiers to be successful, no matter their religious preference. To date, he has helped at least 70 soldiers become officers and many other NCOs gain promotion points by taking college courses.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz speaks during his Change of Stole ceremony inside the Lewis Main Chapel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 23, 2017.

“I’m like a chaplain life coach,” he said, laughing. “I’m telling them don’t quit.”

While proud of his faith, he does not want to be known only as the Muslim chaplain — he is one of five currently in the Army. Unless a soldier wants to talk about religion, he will leave those types of discussions at the door.

“I meet soldiers where they’re at. I attack problems,” he said. “My job is not to be your spiritual advisor, your religious guru. I want to help soldiers with school, with their family, their marital problems, and be almost like an arbitrator or a mediator.”

Life changer

Years before, he had to overcome many of his own issues.

In high school, he failed the 9th and 12th grades. He was not able to graduate with his class and had to go to summer school. His destructive behavior continued throughout his first stint of college, he said.

When he was later able to get a job as a teacher, he made just under ,000 per year.

So, he decided to join the Army as a 23-year-old private to take care of his wife and children.

He also sought discipline and stability, which the Army could provide. As he initially thought it was a good idea to sign up, he admits it was a difficult change.

“I found myself getting into a lot of trouble. Having a 19-year-old sergeant cussing at you and telling you what to do didn’t go over very well with me,” he said, laughing.

Then that chaplain decided to stop and take the time to chat with Shabazz, who had just turned Muslim but still wrestled with his identity.

“I was at my lowest level and the chaplain came by and gave me what I needed at that point,” he said. “I wanted to dedicate my life, and I have, to helping people who are in that position. Not by converting them, but by being a person who can put their arm around them and try to help them get to the other side.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Navy’s best sub-hunting aircraft has some persisting problems

The P-8A Poseidon, introduced in 2013 to replace the P-3 Orion, has quickly become one of the most highly regarded maritime-patrol aircraft in service, fielded by the Navy and sought after by partner countries all over the world.

But the P-8A is dealing with some lingering issues that could affect the force as a whole, according to the fiscal year 2018 annual report produced by the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation.


Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

US Navy crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo)

The Poseidon’s capabilities now include receiver air refueling, employment of the AGM-84D Harpoon Block I anti-ship missile, and several upgrades to its communications systems.

But, the report said, “despite significant efforts to improve P-8A intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors, overall P-8A ISR mission capabilities remain limited by sensor performance shortfalls.”

Moreover, the report found, data from the operational testing and evaluation of the P-8A’s latest software engineering upgrade as well as metrics from the Navy “show consistently negative trends in fleet-wide aircraft operational availability due to a shortage of spare parts and increased maintenance requirements.”

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

A Boeing and a Raytheon employee complete installation of an APY-10 radar antenna on P-8A Poseidon test aircraft T2.

(Boeing)

Forward-deployed P-8A units have reported “relatively high mission capable rates” when they have access to enough spare parts, sufficient logistic supply support, and priority maintenance.

However, the report said, focusing on supporting forward-deployed units “frequently reduces aircraft availability and increases part cannibalization rates at other fleet operating locations.”

Shortages in spare parts for the Poseidon are exacerbated by the nature of the contracting and delivery system for the P-8A, according to the report.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Naval aircrewman (Operator) 2nd Class Karl Shinn unloads a sonobuoy on a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm. Specialist Keith DeVinney)

The use of engineering model predictions rather than reliability data from the fleet itself, “ensures that some mission critical spare part contracts lag actual fleet needs,” lengthening the already long six- to nine-month contracting process.

These delays are exacerbated by consumable-item processes at the Defense Logistics Agency, which requires depleting stocks and back orders before starting to procure new items, according to the report.

“These delays are a major contributing factor to the observed increases in aircraft downtime awaiting parts and higher part cannibalization,” it added, saying that the P-8A program is working with Naval Supply Systems Command to procure parts on a more flexible and proactive basis and to start basing procurement on fleet-reliability data.

Keeping an eye on things

More than 60 P-8As are in service for the US Navy. The plane is based on Boeing’s 737 airliner but built to withstand more stress and outfitted with a suite of electronic gear to allow it to detect and track ships and subs — even just their periscopes — across wide swaths of ocean, as well as to conduct surveillance of ports and coastlines.

“I went up on a training flight, and basically … they could read the insignia on a sailor’s hat from thousands of feet above,” Michael Fabey, author of the 2017 book “Crashback,” about China-US tensions in the Pacific, told Business Insider in early 2018. “It’s not the aircraft itself of course,” he added, but “all the goodies they put in there.”

The Navy plans to improve the aircraft’s capability going forward by adding the Advanced Airborne Sensor radar and by integrating the AGM-84 Harpoon Block II+ missile and the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability MK 54 torpedo.

Interest in the P-8A continues to grow.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

US Navy aircrew members on a P-8A Poseidon.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney)

India has bought 12 of the P-8I variant, and the country’s navy chief has said it’s looking to buy more. Australia is buying eight and has an option for four more.

Other countries in the Asian-Pacific region are looking to buy, too, including South Korea, to which the US State Department approved the sale of six in 2018.

NATO countries are also looking to reinvigorate their airborne anti-submarine-warfare capabilities, including the UK and Norway, which are adjacent to the Greenland-Iceland-UK gap, a chokepoint for submarines traveling between the Atlantic and the Arctic, where Russia’s Northern Fleet and nuclear forces are based. The US recently sent P-8As back to the Keflavik airbase in Iceland, though it does not plan to reestablish a permanent presence.

At the end of January 2019, Boeing was awarded a .46 billion modification to an existing contract for the production and delivery of 19 P-8A Poseidons — 10 for the US Navy, four for the UK, and five for Norway.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 essentials for that ‘super-serious-ROTC-kid’


Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Energy drink

If you’re a true super-serious-ROTC-kid it is an absolute must that you have an energy drink on you at all times. You can’t get your hands on an actual Rip-It yet, but don’t let that stop you from letting people know that you’re in the military.

It doesn’t matter what kind you have: Monster, Red Bull, some random off-brand one you found at Big Lots called like “Pulse” or something—it doesn’t matter, just have one. You’re on a college campus swarming with seas of people zonked out on Adderall, and you simply don’t have that luxury.

You need an equally unhealthy way to spike your energy levels in the early morning. So chase down that convenience store donut with an energy drink during your 8 a.m. You were up at 6 a.m for PT, right? You need 24 ounces of gasoline and sugar.

And that’s exactly what you’ll tell every student within earshot who didn’t ask.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain
Giphy

Always using military time

If you truly want to be a super-serious-ROTC kid, then when someone asks you what time it is—answer in military time. No matter what. Class at 4 p.m.? Nope. Class at 1600. Throw in a “0” before the time for bonus points. Even if it’s wrong. Now I know what you’re thinking, “But what if someone asks me for the time, and it’s not after 1200?” Easy. Shoehorn it in, let them know you’re ROTC.

Example:

student: Hey, do you know what time the McDonalds on campus stops selling egg mcmuffins?

super serious ROTC kid: At 11 a.m… And, in case you’re wondering, they close every night at 2200.

student: Oh, uh. Okay. Thanks?

Well done. Another pleb slightly confused unnecessarily, super-serious-ROTC-kid.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Digital watch

Okay, so, oddly enough… This one doesn’t use military time.

But every single other super-serious-ROTC-kid has one on their wrist for some reason, so don’t be caught without one of these bad boys. Be sure to get one with a velcro strap so you sound like the shoe rack at a nursing home every time you try to take it off before a test.

Bonus points if you buy the model that is permanently loaded with the function of beeping every 4 (also known as 04) hours, with no way of turning it off. Your classmates will look at you, and they will know. And you will nod and give them a thumbs up.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Fort Sam Houston hosts annual Military Appreciation Weekend

Wrap around sunglasses

Thor has his hammer. Legolas had his bow and arrow. Super-serious-ROTC-kids have their wrap around sunglasses. An important note with these, however—due to new union regulations, if they are not bleach-white/midnight black Oakleys—they must have a neck lanyard attachment.

Indoors: they must be worn on your face over your eyes. Outside: it’s optional, but if you want bonus points prop them atop your head on your bent billed baseball hat.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Camo tactical backpack

“Woah buddy! Almost didn’t see all your schoolwork there. Your digital camo backpack blends in with all these massive red brick buildings like a chameleon.” That’s the kind of stealth and tactical advantage you will have over all your classmates dressed in loud throwback NBA jerseys and pastel-colored khaki shorts.

Do you need a tactical backpack to carry notebooks and old Lunchables you forgot to throw away? If you want to be a super-serious-ROTC-kid you do.

A super-serious-ROTC-kid must also fill the backpack to the brim. It doesn’t matter with what: bundled up sweatshirts, copies of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” or literal bricks—just make sure it bulges outward behind you no less than 2 (also known as 02) feet.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

A good mustache

Without this—nothing else matters.

Every super-serious-ROTC-kid since the dawn of time has had this. This tight bristled lip tickler is to you what flowing locks of hair were to Samson.

It is not to be confused with the super-serious-police-academy-kid mustache. Those are bulky, rounded, and accompanied by aviator sunglasses.

Note: your hair does not have to be in regs, but if you want it to match the mustache, maintain a nice tight fade.

Congratulations. You’re now a super-serious-ROTC-kid.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The candy man who revolutionized tank design

The most-produced tank in World War II was fast, powerful, and well protected by sloped armor, and it was made by a candy maker who got tired of confections and decided to make a revolutionary tank instead.

Willy Wonka, eat your heart out.


Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

The Christie tank designs were ultimately a failure in the U.S., but elements of the company’s designs would become part of dozens of tank designs across Western and Russian militaries.

(Harris Ewing)

Mikhail Koshkin was working in a candy factory until he decided that he wanted to study engineering. Thanks to a series of Josef Stalin’s purges, Koshkin quickly found himself at the top of a program to improve the BT tank. The BT tank series was based on the U.S. Christie design and patents that were sold overseas after the Army turned the Christie down.

Stalin, wanting to see whether his armored forces were worth the price tag, wanted to test the new tanks in combat and got his chance in the Spanish Civil War. The BT tanks proved themselves useful but far, far from perfect. Despite thick armor, anti-tank infantry still often held an advantage against them, and the vehicle engines would burst into flame from light hits or, sometimes, simply from the strain of propelling the tank.

The BT tanks were sent back to Russia by rail for analysis and Koshkin and his team quickly found the flaws in design. The improvements program quickly became a replacement program, and Koshkin started working on a new design in 1934 which he would name for that year, the T-34.

It incorporated a number of design changes being flirted with around the world. It wasn’t the first tank with sloped armor or the first with a diesel engine or the first with a large cannon in a rotating turret, but it was a solid design that incorporated all of these evolutions in design. At the same time that he was working on the T-34, Koshkin had to work on a new BT tank design: the A20.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Mikhail Koshkin worked in a candy factory but then decided to become an engineer before World War II. His inspired T-34 tank design would become the most-produced tank of World War II.

(Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau)

The A20 would later become the BT-20. It, too, sported a number of improvements, including sloped armor and an improved engine, but it still had relatively little armor for the crew or engine — as little as 20mm in some places.

Both designs, the T-34 and the BT-20, reached Soviet leaders in 1939. There, the officers sidelined the T-34 in favor of the BT-20, partially because the proposed T-34 design would’ve required much more steel for manufacture and much more fuel to run. A prototype BT-20 was created.

But instead of accepting the defeat of his design, Koshkin wrote a letter to Stalin and continued making tweaks before creating a full prototype. Stalin requested to see the tank, and Koshkin drove it 800 miles to Moscow to show it off. The tank proved itself fast, effective, and well-protected, and so Stalin sent it into production instead of the BT-20.

Koshkin died of pneumonia soon after, but his tank design would go on to become the most-produced tank of World War II. Russia took part in the invasion of Poland, but later found itself attacked by Nazi Germany in June, 1941.

As history shows, the Soviet Union soon found itself in a fight for its very survival during World War II. Tanks and other weapons would be imported from America, but the best homegrown option the Soviet Union had was still, easily, the T-34.

The final design pressed into production featured a 76mm gun capable of taking out anything Germany had to offer, its thick and sloped armor could survive hits from most German tanks at the time, and it was easy to maintain in the field, meaning the T-34s were nearly all available for the fight.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

A T-34 tank during battle re-enactments.

(Cezary Piwowarski CC BY-SA 4.0)

When a clash first came between German tanks and the T-34, the Soviet crew surprised the Germans by piercing the German tank in a single shot. German tank crews had convinced themselves that they were nearly invincible until they faced the T-34.

But the Germans had prepared well for the invasion, and they charged east, deep into Russia, overrunning the original T-34 factory and nearly breaching Moscow’s defenses before they were stopped at the final defensive line as the true Russian winter set in.

The relocated T-34 production lines were able to crank out hundreds of copies before the spring thaw, and those tanks were key parts of battles for the coming years. But German tank designs were evolving as well, and the arms race necessitated upgrades to the T-34.

Over 35,000 T-34s were built during the war, with later models featuring upgraded 85mm guns as space for an additional crew member, allowing the tank commander to give up their gunner duties to keep a better eye on what was happening around the vehicle.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

A German soldier inspects a Russian T-34 knocked out during combat. T-34s were super powerful upon their debut, but German bombers and artillery were always a threat to them, and later German tank designs like the Tiger could shred the T-34.

(Bundesarchiv Bild)

The Soviet Union was, eventually, successful in driving the Germans out of Russia and back into Berlin. This success was partially due to America sending so much equipment east as part of lend-lease, partially thanks to the U.S., Britain, and Canada opening a new front with the D-Day invasions, and partially thanks to a candy man who decided to make a world-class weapon of war instead of sweets.

Admit it: You’d watch a Willy Wonka sequel like that.

(Some of the information in this article came from the second episode of Age of Tanks on Netflix. If you have a subscription, you can watch the episode here.)

Intel

Why military dolphins are more hardcore than you’d think

Troops have long used animals in warfare. Horses to carry them into battle, pigeons to send messages, and dogs to do all sorts of things a good boy does. The Animal Kingdom’s second smartest species is no exception when it comes to fighting in our wars.


The military dolphin program began in 1960 when the U.S. Navy was looking for an easier method of detecting underwater mines. Their solution was to use the animals that play around the mines without problem: the bottlenose dolphin and the California sea lion.

Dolphins are naturally very brilliant animals with an advanced memory and strong deductive reasoning skills. Their ability to understand that performing certain tasks meant getting fishy treats allowed the U.S. Navy to make excellent use of their biosonar. Every mine they locate, they get a treat. Sea lions are just easy to train and have good underwater vision. According to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, there are roughly 75 dolphins and 50 sea lions in the Navy Marine Mammal Program.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain
The dolphins get much more love because, well, they’re more useful to the Navy.
(Photo by Alan Antczak)

Military dolphins have many unique abilities to offer the Navy if trained properly. Outside of mine detection, they make excellent underwater guards. Dolphins can be trained to distinguish friendly ships from foes and, when a threat is detected, will press an alert button on allied posts.

With further training, dolphins can actually place mines on the bottom of ships or physically attack enemy divers.

Since the program began, dolphins have been used in every conflict alongside the Navy. In Vietnam, they were used to guard an ammunition pier. In the Tanker War, the US protected Kuwaiti oil exports by deploying dolphins to guard Third Fleet ships.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain
It’s like being at SeaWorld. But instead of jumping through hoops, the dolphins will beat the hell out of you or attach a bomb to your boat.
(U.S. Navy Photo)

Unfortunately, this hasn’t come without harm to our porpoise partners. They’re naturally playful animals and changing a normally cheerful animal into a beast of war, even if just for training, ruins the dolphin’s chance at a normal life. They aren’t meant for domestication and the added stress greatly reduces their life expectancy.

The U.S. Navy isn’t the only nation to use military dolphins. Russia, Ukraine, and possibly Iran do as well and, sadly, their marine mammals aren’t treated anywhere near as well. A scathing statement from Kiev about the Ukrainian dolphins that were taken by Russia after the annexation of Crimea supposedly applauded the deaths of the starved dolphins. To them, the dolphins were “so patriotic” that they would sooner die than follow Russian commands.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US pilots’ close calls with Russian aircraft are likely to continue, experts say

The U.S. Navy last week watched a single-seat Russian Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E come within 25 feet of a P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft while at high speed and inverted, causing wake turbulence and putting the U.S. “pilots and crew at risk” over the Mediterranean Sea.

Days later, another Flanker mimicked the move over the same waters, zooming in front of a P-8 and exposing the sub hunter aircraft to its jet exhaust.


Top U.S. officials in Europe and the Defense Department said the incidents involved Russian pilots behaving in an unsafe, unprofessional manner. Experts argue that, while the intercepts expose a pattern of behavior from the Russian military, they also show that Russia is willing to capitalize on the publicity the aerial maneuvers bring, even during a global pandemic.

The Russian military “feels as if it’s necessary to let everybody know that they’re still on the world stage, that they’re still on the scene, and that they have pretty good military power,” said retired Gen. Frank Gorenc, the former commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Gorenc, an F-15 Eagle pilot, headed the command during Russia’s annexation of Crimea, when the U.S. sent sophisticated aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor to the theater in show-of-force missions to deter Russian aggression.

“It’s not only the pandemic, which obviously is keeping the western countries occupied, but also the oil [crash] too,” he said in an interview this week.

In recent weeks, Russia, one of the world’s leading oil exporters, was also hit by the unprecedented collapse in the market for crude oil.

“Declining powers have to do [something],” Gorenc said.

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Opportunity to Go Viral

Unlike the Cold War, when pilots would return to their squadron and file a debrief of an aerial intercept, then simply move along to their next mission, being buzzed or barrel-rolled is gaining more visibility with the help of social media, said Doug Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank.

“You know, it goes kind of viral,” Barrie said. “So you wonder if there’s an element of that, of how it plays on social media and in wider Western media, whether or not if it’s valuable.”

Notably, the recent incidents involved Russia’s multi-role Su-35 fighter jet, which has received improvements over the last few years — a significant upgrade from other aircraft used in past intercepts, such as the Su-27 Flanker or the Su-24 Fencer, Barrie said.

“It’s perhaps unsurprising that these aircraft have been bumped into [the rotation] more often than we’ve previously seen them; the imagery of the Flanker is great,” he said.

“The Su-35 is a highly capable airplane that they produce,” Gorenc added. “They’re obviously … trying to sell it. And this is a good way to show it off.”

Predictable Response

Gorenc stressed that, while these incidents tend to flare up once in a while, pilots need to stick to the rules of engagement and try to be as predictable as possible.

The 1972 bilateral Russia-U.S. agreement “Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas,” followed by Incidents at Sea Agreement (INCSEA), are accords that establish basic “rules of the road” for both countries to safely navigate near one another.

Holding Russia accountable for its behavior in international airspace can be tricky, Barrie explained. “To some extent, these things are difficult to kind of legislate around because it really comes down to the units, the pilots [and their behavior],” he said.

More often than not, intercepts are conducted in a safe manner, but errors happen because of a loss of communication or a human or technical mistake, officials have said.

For example, then-Gen. Petr Pavel, the former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told reporters in 2018 that most aerial scrambles are seen as “routine.”

“From time to time, we can see some measures as provocative, especially in the areas that we exercise … both to the ships and in the air,” he said. “But it’s up to the captain [or pilot] to judge if it’s dangerous or not.”

Last week, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, NATO supreme commander and head of U.S. European Command, described the first incident on April 15 as the result of “unprofessional” conduct by a Russian fighter pilot acting on his own, rather than a deliberate attempt by Moscow to provoke an incident.

“My conclusion at this point is that it was probably something more along the lines of unprofessional as opposed to deliberate,” Wolters said April 16.

“Given the unpredictability, you have to make sure that you maintain a safe distance and don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that they even see you, because they may not see you,” Gorenc said.

Not Backing Down

Like the U.S., it’s unlikely that Russia will back down from what it sees as military priorities despite the pandemic, Barrie said.

“We’re not completely dissimilar. … You can see the messaging coming out of these NATO nations, including the U.S., which says, ‘OK, we recognize a pandemic is an enormous problem … but [we’re still] taking care of the day-to-day national security needs,'” he said.

Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, told reporters Tuesday that the U.S. military should be mindful that rivals like Russia will look to test any weaknesses among the U.S. and its allies during the coronavirus crisis.

“We are postured and maintain that ability to respond at a moment’s notice,” he said.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper renewed the message. “Our adversaries are not standing down,” he said. “We will continue to make sure that the [Defense Department] is ready to protect the USA.”

Barrie added: “The Russian Su-35 incident, in part, is simply a reflection of that [response]. It is simply a reflection of Russia doing what it does.”

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Board Chairman Cheryl L. Mason: Paving career paths for military spouses

Cheryl L. Mason understands the life of a military spouse — for more than 20 years, she lived it. Now, as Chairman of the VA Board of Veterans Appeals who oversees a staff of 1,200, Mason works to ensure that military spouses at the Board have the support they need to be successful. One of her many missions is to make it easier now than it was when she was a military spouse to find and maintain fulfilling positions and careers.

Recognized as a “military spouse champion,” Mason works with Hiring Our Heroes and the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) to help military spouses land portable positions and careers across the federal government and private sector.


Military spouses are well-educated and highly qualified for a range of careers. But of the more than 600,000 military spouses worldwide who are actively seeking employment, 30% are unemployed and 56% are underemployed. One of the many challenges they face is the reluctance of employers to hire them due to their spouse’s service-related relocations, according to Mason.

In this interview, Mason shares her career path as a military spouse: how she rose to the top political position at the Board of Veterans Appeals where she oversees 850 lawyers, 102 Veterans Law Judges, and 200 operations and legal staff.

This post is part of a blog series VA Careers has developed along with other initiatives and activities to recruit and hire military spouses for careers at VA. At VA, we value the experience of military spouses and offer remote work options that accommodate the transient nature of military service.


What does a typical day look like for you at the VA Board of Veterans Appeals?

It depends on the day. I’m the CEO of the Board, so I set the vision and direction and provide overall leadership. The Board’s mission is to resolve appeals by holding hearings and issuing decisions on Veterans’ VA benefits and services. Each day, I have a series of internal meetings to discuss strategy, structure and procedures. I work closely and collaboratively with colleagues at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration, Office of Information and Technology, and Veterans Experience Office. Externally, I also work and collaborate with Veteran Service Organizations and other stakeholders. In addition, I serve as an ambassador to the PREVENTS [President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide] task force on suicide prevention.

How does your experience as a military spouse help you in your day-to-day duties at VA?

When you’re surrounded by military people as I was, you understand what active duty military and Veterans are going through or have gone through; you understand the culture. I’m able to navigate the military health care system, which is very important. Every time my son went to the doctor, I had to recite his medical history. Sometimes military members won’t go to the doctor because they don’t want to go through a five-minute recitation of their medical history every time or because they’re concerned that going to the doctor means they won’t be able to perform their duties. So when I see Veterans’ files, I’m able to identify gaps and read between the lines. I understand the situation because I lived it.

When we relocated to Germany, I had to leave my job in Washington, D.C., but was excited to be able to support my husband and the mission. I applied for 200 jobs and got none of them. While I was obviously a little discouraged, I had to get creative and, like a true military spouse, make the situation work. I initially went to work for Central Texas College running their paralegal program, which reached across several countries, and I taught paralegal studies to service members and family members. I eventually got a position as an executive assistant to an Air Force colonel who oversaw military contracts, information technology, budget and Air Force personnel for all of Europe.

I learned a lot of great lessons in Germany, such as how to lead, multitask and be agile. I’m grateful for my time there, and I don’t think I could have been as successful as I’ve been in my career, or in this position, had I not had that experience in Germany.

What appealed to you about a career at VA?

I’m the daughter of a World War II Veteran who died by suicide, so serving Veterans and VA’s mission are very important to me. My family and I received benefits from VA after my father died, which allowed me to go to college and law school. I know firsthand the difference VA benefits and services make in a person’s life.

I graduated college with a degree in psychology and political science and decided to go to law school. When I came to the Board and started writing decisions, I realized the work I was doing allowed me to use both my law and psychology degrees, because many of the appeals I was working on were related to mental health. I could really sink my teeth into the work. I went to law school to make a difference, and I found I could do that at VA. I could be the one making a difference for thousands of Veterans and their families every day and, hopefully, help them the way VA helped me.

Why is VA a good career move for military spouses?

Military spouses are incredibly unique. Many have put aside their own careers to support their service member and eventually transition with them to Veteran status. People forget that when a service member serves, their family serves with them. The choice to come to VA is a perfect transition for military spouses because we understand the mission and live with it every day.

Now, more than in the past, VA allows you to both have your career and move with your military member wherever duty calls. You can also support your military member as they transition into Veteran status. Military spouses have a spot in all career areas at VA because we bring a different perspective. For example, I’ve facilitated many nursing careers for military spouses because they bring such experience and talent to the job. Military spouses can make a difference in how VA operates, which is why VA needs them.

What advice would you give military spouses who are considering a career at VA?

Military spouses aren’t always valued the right way, either in government or the private sector. I usually tell military spouses not to sell themselves short or [not to] take no for an answer. I certainly didn’t, and I wouldn’t be sitting where I am today if I did. Military spouses are extremely resilient and talented — and can think on their feet because they have to. I tell them to use their [military and VA] networks because we have strong ones — and to look for the opportunities.

Work at VA today

Cheryl Mason’s experience as a military and Veteran spouse enriches her career serving Veterans and other military spouses. If you’re a military spouse, see if a VA career is right for you, too.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here are 7 foot exercises for a stronger foundation

Twenty-six bones, 33 joints, and over 100 ligaments. That’s not your body we’re talking about — that’s just your feet. It’s an awful lot of moving parts to pack into a foot-long space. Throw on 180 or so pounds on top of that, and then consider that if you exercise, every running step you take multiplies the impact of your weight threefold, and you can see the kind of pressure your delicate foot structure is under day in and day out.

The perks of strengthening your feet are multifaceted. First, strong feet give your legs a durable base to push off from when you’re running, cycling, squatting, or doing whatever it is you like to do to stay fit. Second, strong feet are more resistant to foot pain, one of the most common sources of bodily aches right up there with back pain. Tight arches, sore heels, plantar fasciitis — all of these complaints are met with a physical therapist’s advice to build foot strength. By pre-emptively exercising your digits, you might avoid the pain altogether.

Make sense? Great. Here are 7 exercises to get you started. The whole series takes about 20 minutes and you should do it several times a week.


1. Towel scrunch

Sit in a chair with bare feet. Place a towel on the floor, about two feet in front on the chair. Using the toes on your right foot, extend your digits across the towel, then contract them, scrunching your toes together and pulling the fabric close to your chair. Release the towel and extend your toes against, grabbing more fabric and you scrunch them together. Continue reaching and scrunching until you have created a balled-up towel in front of your chair. Do three times.

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(Photo by Nino Liverani)

2. Arch raises

Sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor in front of you. Place one hand on either knee. Press down with your arms while simultaneously lifting your heels off the floor, resisting the pressure and rising onto your toes. Release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Pick-up game

Take the pieces to your favorite board game like Monopoly (chess and checkers work, too), and scatter them on the floor. Sit in a chair in the middle of the mess. Using only your toes, grab, lift, and carry each piece to a nearby bucket where they will be stored. Continue until floor is clean. Bring the kids in on this one — it’s a family favorite.

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(Photo by Alexander Mils)

4. Foot flex

Tie an exercise band around the leg of a couch or bed. Sit on the floor, about two feet from the bed, and tie the other end of the band around your midfoot so that there is pressure on the band. Begin to flex and point your foot, keeping resistance on the band the whole time. Do 20 reps on one foot, then switch sides and repeat. Do three full sets.

5. Calf raises

The same exercise that tones your calves also builds strength and stability in your ankles. You can do these exercises with both feet at once, or one at a time. Stand facing a wall, about a foot away. Placing hands on the wall for balance as needed, rise up onto your toes and back down, making sure you roll up to the very top each time. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

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(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo)

6. Blind balance

Stand in the middle of a room, feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to the right side and lift your left foot off the floor 6 inches. Close your eyes. Attempt to count to 30 (30 seconds) while balancing with eyes closed. Repeat on opposite side.

7. Alphabet game

Stand next to a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Shift weight to the right side and lift your left foot in front of you, knee bent. Trying to maintain your balance (use the wall for support if necessary), begin to trace the letters of the alphabet in the air with your left foot. Work from A to Z, then switch sides and repeat.

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

Articles

19 of the coolest military unit mottos

Just about every military unit has a motto of sorts, but some are way cooler than others.


From “get some” to “fire from the clouds,” we looked around the world for some of the military’s best mottos. Here’s what we found:

1. “Whatever It Takes”

1st Battalion, 4th Marines: Stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, 1/4 is an infantry battalion that has been fighting battles since its first combat operation in the Dominican Republic in 1916. That’s also where 1st Lt. Ernest Williams earned the Medal of Honor — the first for the battalion.

2. “Get Some”

3rd Battalion, 5th Marines: Based at the northern edge of Camp Pendleton, California, the “Dark Horse” battalion is one of the most-decorated battalions in the Marine Corps.

3. “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”

US Navy SEALs: SEAL training isn’t easy, and neither is the day-to-day job. While individual SEAL Teams, stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Coronado, Calif., and Little Creek, Va., have their own mottos and phrases, the community’s feeling about hard work is summed up in this motto.

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Photo: US Navy

4. “Balls of the Corps”

3rd Battalion, 1st Marines: “The Thundering Third” is stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, and has a notable former member in Gen. Joseph Dunford, the current commandant of the Marine Corps.

5. “Peace Through Strength”

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76): Commissioned in 2003, the Ronald Reagan is a nuclear-powered supercarrier homeported in Coronado, Calif. Named after the 40th president, the “Gipper” takes its motto from a mantra Reagan adopted while countering the Soviet Union.

6. “We Quell the Storm, and Ride the Thunder”

3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines: “The Betio Bastards” of 3/2 are based at Camp Lejeune, and have been heavily involved in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The battalion is perhaps best known for its fight on Tarawa in 1943.

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U.S. Marines with India Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit run on the beach during an amphibious assault demonstration conducted as part of Exercise Bright Star 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt, on Oct. 12, 2009. The multinational exercise is designed to improve readiness and interoperability and strengthen the military and professional relationships among U.S., Egyptian and other participating forces. Bright Star is conducted by U.S. Central Command and held every two years. DoD photo by Cpl. Theodore W. Ritchie, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

7. “Retreat Hell”

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines: It was in the trenches of World War I where 2/5 got its motto. When told by a French officer that his unit should retreat from the defensive line, Capt. Lloyd Williams replied, “Retreat? Hell, we just got here!” With combat service going back to 1914, 2/5 is the most decorated battalion in Marine history.

8. “Molon Labe” (Greek for “Come and take them”)

I Army Corps (Greece): This former Greek Army unit (disbanded in 2013) had the Spartans’ King Leonidas to thank for its awesome motto. When the Persians told them to lay down their weapons at the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonidas defiantly responded in the most badass way possible.

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9. “Better to die than to be a coward”

The Royal Gurkha Rifles (United Kingdom): The Gurkha Rifles are a very unique regiment of the British Army, since its members are recruited from Nepal. Known as the “bravest of the brave,” the battlefield heroics of the Gurkhas made international headlines in 2010, with the actions of Cpl. Dipprasad Pun.

While alone at a Helmand checkpoint that became surrounded by 12 to 30 Taliban fighters, Pun shot more than 400 rounds, chucked 17 grenades, set off a Claymore mine, and even threw his tripod from his machine gun at a bad guy. He received the second highest military award for his heroics, The Daily Mail reported.

10. “Facta Non Verba” (Latin for “Deeds, Not Words”)

Joint Task Force 2 (Canada): Based out of Ottawa, Canada, JTF 2 is an elite special operations force. It’s basically Canada’s version of Navy SEAL Team 6. The unit has deployed all over the world, although most of its actions remain secret.

11. “Mors Ab Alto” (Latin for “Death from Above”)

7th Bomb Wing: Stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, it’s one of only two B-1B Lancer bomber wings in the Air Force.

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A B-1B Lancer drops cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

12. “Ready for All, Yielding to None”

2nd Battalion, 7th Marines: Stationed at Twentynine Palms, California, the battalion’s current motto is a slight variation on its Vietnam-era one: “Ready for Anything, Counting on Nothing.”

13. “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (Latin for “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”)

Royal Navy (United Kingdom): The Royal Navy’s motto is a lot like the USS Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength,” except a bit more badass. The latin phrase comes from Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, a Roman author who penned the Iron Age version of a military technical manual.

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HMS Vanguard (Photo: Defence Imagery)

14. “Lerne leiden ohne zu klagen!” (German for “learn to suffer without complaining!”)

Kampfschwimmer (Germany): This elite unit from Germany wants its members to know they should just suck it up. Which makes sense, since the Kampfschwimmers of the German Navy are that country’s version of US Navy SEALs. Like most other special operations forces, its size and operations are classified.

15. “De Oppresso Liber” (Latin for “To liberate the oppressed”)

U.S. Army Special Forces: Created in 1952, Special Forces is known for producing elite warriors, with a primary focus on unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense. With those tasks, many soldiers have lived up to the motto, by going to both friendly and un-friendly nations to train and support militaries, rebel groups, and engaged in combat around the world.

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ODA 525 team picture taken shortly before infiltration in Iraq, February 1991 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

16. “Semper Malus” (Latin for “Always Ugly”)

Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMH-362): This helicopter unit nicknamed “Ugly Angels,” is stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and holds the proud distinction of being the first aircraft unit ashore in Vietnam.

17. “Fire From The Clouds”

33rd Fighter Wing: Stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, the wing’s mission is to train F-35 pilots and maintainers.

18. “Swift, Silent, Deadly”

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Recon Battalions: Reconnaissance Marines are trained for special missions, raids, and you guessed it: reconnaissance. For these three battalions, stationed at Camps Lejeune, Pendleton, and Schwab, the motto pretty much sums up what they can do.

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Photo: Lance Cpl Asia J. Sorenson/USMC

19. “Make Peace or Die”

1st Battalion, 5th Marines: Nicknamed “Geronimo,” the Camp Pendleton based 1/5 has been involved in every major U.S. engagement since World War I. Most recently, the battalion has been deployed to Darwin, Australia as the Corps tries to “pivot to the Pacific.”

DON’T MISS: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

Articles

At military town hall President says Colin Kaepernick should appreciate troops’ sacrifice

Service members and their families at Fort Lee, Virginia, asked the Commander in Chief tough questions during a town hall meeting broadcast by CNN Sept 28.


President Barack Obama covered varied topics, including the Syrian civil war, sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, issues affecting veterans and protests during the playing of the national anthem.

When a soldier asked the president for his opinion about football players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem, Obama said that honoring the flag and the anthem “is part of what binds us together as a nation,” but that he also respects the right to have a different opinion.

“We fight sometimes so that people can do things that we disagree with,” he said. “But that’s what freedom means in this country.”

He said American democracy can be frustrating at times, “but it’s the best system we’ve got. And, the only way that we make it work is to see each other, listen to each other, try to be respectful of each other, not just go into separate corners.”

The president added, “I do hope that anybody who is trying to express any political view of any sort understands that they do so under the blanket of protection of our men and women in uniform and that that appreciation of that sacrifice is never lost.”

Hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper, the town hall-style event included questions about sending 600 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to help in the coming offensive against the Islamic State. Obama said the decision to send troops into harm’s way is the most important one he makes.

“I’ve always been very mindful that when I send any of our outstanding men and women in uniform into a war theater, they’re taking a risk that they may not come back,” the commander in chief said. “And so, there has not been a change from the time I came into office to the time that I leave office in which that is not a somber decision.”

The president said the nature of the missions has changed during his tenure. In Afghanistan, U.S. troops have transitioned from a combat role to an advise-and-assist role, with about 9,000 U.S. service members there.

“In Iraq, our goal is to provide air support, and we’ve flown 100,000 sorties, 15,000 strikes, to decimate ISIL,” he said. “But our job is not to provide the ground forces that are rolling back territory. That’s the job of the Iraqis, where we provide training and assistance [and] logistical support.”

U.S. special operators are in Iraq and Syria to go after high-value targets and to gather intelligence, the president said. He noted that about 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, and about 300 are in Syria.

“But, it’s the nature of the role that has changed, rather than how I assess it,” the president said. “I am always mindful that any time our men and women in uniform are in a war theater, there is risk.”

U.S. personnel are engaging in a fight that is dangerous, the president said. “Each and every time we make a decision, I want to make sure that the Pentagon is describing how it is that those folks are going to add to our ability to dismantle ISIL in a smart and sustainable way,” he said.

The president told the service members that he constantly reviews options as he looks at the Syrian civil war. “There hasn’t been probably a week that’s gone by in which I haven’t re-examined some of the underlying premises around how we’re dealing with the situation in Syria, and explored whether there are additional options that we haven’t thought of,” he said.

Those include military options, the president said. “We have, by a mile, the greatest military on Earth, he said. “And we are going to always be in a position to defend the United States, defend our personnel, defend our people, our property and our allies.”

Obama said the question he always asks himself as commander in chief is whether inserting large numbers of U.S. troops will provide a better outcome.

“There have been critics of mine that have suggested that, well, if early enough you had provided sufficient support to a moderate opposition, they might have been able to overthrow the murderous Assad regime,” he said. “The problem with that is, as we’ve seen, that the Assad regime is supported by Russia. It’s supported by Iran.”

Because the Assad regime did not directly threaten the United States, Obama said, any deployment of troops would have violated international law.

“And unless we were willing to sustain a large presence there and escalate, if and when Russia or Iran got involved, then we were going to be in a situation where at some point the situation would collapse, except we would have a bunch of folks on the ground, and be very much overextended,” he said.

The key in Syria at this point, the president said, is to get the parties involved to talk together on diplomatic and political tracks.

“We will try to mitigate the pain and suffering that those folks are undergoing,” he said. “This is part of the reason why our approach to refugees, for example, has to be open-hearted, although also hard-headed, to protect our homeland.”

The Veterans Affairs Department received some criticism from the audience, and the president acknowledged the validity of the complaints. VA medical care must improve, he said, adding that there has been progress. The department had been underfunded for years, Obama said, noting the administration has increased its funding by 85 percent. But this is not a problem that will be solved by throwing money at it, he said. The department, he added, has to change procedures and its culture.

The president noted that VA makes 58 million medical appointments per year. Like a large ship that has turned and is on the right course now, he said, it will take time to reach its destination.

“We now have a situation where about 80 percent of individuals who interact with the VA are satisfied that they’re getting timely treatment,” Obama said. I want that to be 100 percent, and that requires more work.”

 

Articles

13 best military memes for the week of Feb. 10

It’s Firday, the day of libo briefs and the best military memes from around the Internet.


1. Hey, if you can pass while only running during the actual test, then you do you (via Decelerate Your Life).

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Of course, if you can’t ….

2. Come on, it’s just a few years (via Sh-t My Recruiter Said)

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And you get to lurk in all those high schools and stuff.

ALSO SEE: That time a bad radio call won the WWII Battle of Cape Esperance

3. Ooooh, should’ve double checked what they’re testing for (via Coast Guard Memes).

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Hey, there’s always future servicewide exams. After all your buddies pin before you.

4. A-10 puns are brrrrrtiful (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

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But I don’t recommend catching anything from A-10s. Not super safe.

5. The Air Force has an amazing headless chicken budget (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

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6. Not gonna lie, would promote the guy who painted this (via Coast Guard Memes).

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Of course, I issue all my order in the voice of Gru.

7. Gave you one job, Timmy (via Sh-t my LPO says).

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Timmy is going to have an uncomfortable next few days.

8. Bubba knows what’s up.

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And yes, Forrest is misspelled. Let it go.

9. American airports are not keeping pace with our needs (via The Salty Soldier).

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10. “Take all commands from the tower. Rotate your selector switch from safe to semi ….”

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The 15-6 investigation is going to be epic.

11. This would have gotten me to join the Navy (via Military Memes).

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12. Secrets of the E-4 mafia:

(via Air Force Memes Humor)

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Another secret: They can’t get you to re-enlist if you’re barred from doing so.

13. Not usually into Carl jokes but this one is great (via Pop smoke).

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Carl: The most Marine Marine who ever Marined.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The body of the first female veteran of the Revolutionary War is now missing

Remains believed to be of a Revolutionary War hero buried at West Point don’t belong to a woman known as “Captain Molly” after all, but to an unknown man.


The U.S. Military Academy said Dec. 5 the discovery stems from a study of skeletal remains conducted after Margaret Corbin’s grave was accidentally disturbed last year by excavators building a retaining wall by her monument in the West Point Cemetery. Tests by a forensic anthropologist revealed the remains were likely those of a middle-aged man who lived between the Colonial period and 19th century.

Corbin was known for bravely stepping in to fire a cannon in 1776 during a battle in New York City after her husband was killed. She was severely wounded during the Battle of Fort Washington, but lived another 24 years. She became the nation’s first woman to receive a pension for military service.

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The location of Corbin’s remains is a mystery. Ground-penetrating radar around the gravesite failed to turn up any signs.

The Daughters of the American Revolution received approval in 1926 to move Corbin’s remains from nearby Highland Falls to the hallowed ground of West Point’s cemetery. The leafy lot near the Hudson River is the resting place for thousands, including Gulf War commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. commander in Vietnam Gen. William Westmoreland, and Lt. Col. George Custer.

The DAR used records and local accounts from the community to locate the remains believed to be Corbin, according to the Army.

“The remains were verified back in 1926. And you have to consider the gap between 1926 and today. Technology has changed tremendously,” said Col.Madalyn Gainey, spokeswoman for Army National Military Cemeteries.

Read More: Meet the badass Revolutionary War heroine who mowed down Redcoats with a cannon

The remains of the unknown man were reinterred at West Point’s cemetery. A re-dedication ceremony for the Corbin monument at the cemetery is scheduled for May.

“Nearly 250 years after the Battle of Fort Washington, her bravery and legacy to American history as one of the first women to serve in combat in the defense of our nation continues to transcend and inspire women in military service today,” said ANMC Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera.

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This is another example of how the Air Force has better treatment

Over the past four months, a small team of air advisors, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve to Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, combined its efforts to enhance and improve the US Air Force’s compound, changing the working conditions for the airmen assigned there.


When the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group replaced the 123rd Contingency Response Group at Qayyarah West Airfield in early March 2017, they inherited bare bone facilities. The prior contingency response groups had built the US Air Force’s part of Qayyarah West up from scratch to start operations, but their mission was not long term.

Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Air Force

There was a small, open tent used for a passenger terminal that exposed waiting service members to the heat, a canopy spread across two conex boxes used as a vehicle maintenance area, which provided limited protection from the sun, and some of the enclosed tents had mold and rotting wood floors.

The air advisors immediately identified that the air terminal operations center tent had a mold issue that needed to be addressed, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Tenebruso, the 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, Detachment 1 expeditionary maintenance flight chief.

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A USAF Airman assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, spreads concrete at Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2016. Photo by Pfc. Christopher Brecht

After Qayyarah West Airfield, commonly referred to as “Q-West,” was recaptured from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in October 2016, the US Air Force promptly established a presence, repaired the destroyed airfield, and made it ready to be used as a strategic launching pad for the offensive in Mosul.

From mid-October until early March, the 821st and 123rd CRGs deployed personnel to quickly open the airfield and establish, expand, sustain, and coordinate air mobility operations in the austere environment.

The current team from the 370th AEAG was the first air expeditionary force rotation or permanent party to call Q-West home outside of the short-term deployed CRG units assigned to rapidly establish operations.

“Everyone wanted to make this place better than what we came into,” said Staff Sgt. Peter Johnson, the NCO in charge of vehicle maintenance assigned to the 370th AEAG, Det. 1. “We identified the needs to better the compound trying to make things more efficient and safer. Everything we’ve done has a purpose and we worked together as a team to make the improvements happen.”

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Q-West restoration. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Battles

The small team of air advisors worked together to procure and establish tents to be used as a new passenger terminal, morale facility, vehicle maintenance tent and tactical operations center. With the assistance of their joint-service partners, the tents were placed on flooring designed to reduce future mold issues.

The new passenger terminal helped improve the 370th AEAG’s daily facilitation of large passenger movements for both rotary and fixed wing aircraft in support of CJTF-OIR.

The new vehicle maintenance facility improved efficiency for the maintainers as they can now not only get out of the sun to work on their vehicles, but also complete tasks during all hours of the day.

In order for the compound’s expansion to take place, the power grid needed to be upgraded.

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Senior Airman Zevon Davis, 821st Contingency Response Group aircraft maintainer, marshals out an Iraqi C-130 Hercules at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2016. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo

“Staff Sgt. Benton took the lead on expanding the power grid,” said Tenebruso. “He is an AGE guy used to working on flightline equipment, but here he is working on power production and distribution. Thanks to his capabilities we are now almost as close to uninterrupted power as possible, which make our operations much more sustainable.”

Staff Sgt. Shawn Benton, an aerospace ground equipment craftsman, as well as the other maintenance personnel, often work outside of their scope to assist with facility upgrades and sustainment at Q-West.

“We want to make this the best place that we can for future rotations,” said Tenebruso. “Everyone here is under the mentality that we leave this place better than we found it and make it so the next rotation does not have the issues we did. Things are very different than when we first got here.”

Initially, there was not a cargo grid yard for the 442nd Air Expeditionary Squadron’s aerial port function, but the aerial porters worked with the Army to procure Hesco barriers and enclose a 32,000 square-foot grid yard to secure its assets.

 

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Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve presents a coin to a Sailor of the combat support hospital in Qayyarah West, Iraq March 19, 2017. Photo by Spc. Ethan Hutchinson.

With limited resources, the aerial porters scrounged up supplies from around the base to create a gate for the cargo yard and a flag pole out of reconstituted metal. The flag pole, which the whole aerial port team helped place in the ground, is the tallest flag pole on the base, Master Sgt. Cliff Robertson, the 442nd AES’s aerial port superintendent, proudly stated.

Another proud achievement of the Q-West Airmen is their “Iron Paradise” makeshift gym. According to Tenebruso, prior to their arrival there was just a wooden bench and a bar with chains duct taped to it that weighed in at a standard 135 pounds. The air advisors have since built a makeshift squat rack and preacher curl bench and acquired more weights, creating an area often filled with Air Force and Army personnel trying to maintain physical fitness in their austere location.

“I am amazed at how well this team has come together to improve the FOB’s conditions since they got here,” said Maj. Dave Friedel, the 370th AEAG, Det. 1 commander. “They made the camp much more livable while still performing their primary advise and assist mission. It’s all about teamwork here and there are a lot of people working well outside their expertise level to make things happen.”
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