This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets - We Are The Mighty
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This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Devin Faulkner is an infantry veteran of the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team who is pedalling across America on a bike in an effort to raise money for veteran causes.


The 24-year-old began his journey Jun. 4 in San Francisco with the intent of riding to New York across 3,900 miles, mostly avoiding major highways and sticking to roads filled with people and other cyclists.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Devin Faulkner takes a short pit stop on Jun. 6, his second day of riding. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner via his blog.

Faulkner left a job at Monster Energy to attempt his trip. Faulkner began at Monster as a photography intern assigned to cover military and veteran activities. This quickly led to him getting involved with the Warrior Built Foundation, a veteran-ran group sponsored by Monster which provides vets with recreational therapy through racing events, camping trips, and vehicle fabrication.

While working for Monster with Warrior Built Foundation and other veteran groups, Faulkner found himself thinking back to an idea he had mentioned to his old medic, a ride across the entire continental U.S.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Devin Faulkner during training in the U.S. Army. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner

And now he’s doing it in what is tentatively planned as a 48-day ride. Faulkner planned the route by looking at weather concerns and finding roads frequented by other cyclists.

“So, my original plan,” Faulkner told WATM, “was to ride from San Bernadino, California, where I live, to New York … but then I thought about, ‘This is June. It’s hot out there. There’s no way I’m built to survive in Arizona on a bicycle without water.'”

So Faulkner looked North and used Strava heat maps to find roads commonly ridden by other cyclists. The final route leads through Nevada and Utah east through Chicago and across to New York. He is hoping to finish in about seven weeks but is leaving himself open to stopping in cities to speak with veteran groups along his route, potentially delaying his arrival in New York.

To keep costs low, he’s carrying a tent and sleeping wherever he can find a spot to pitch it.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Everything Devin Faulkner will have for the ride is packed on his bike. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner via his Go Fund Me page.

Unfortunately, he faced trouble even before he could leave for the trip. Faulkner is coming off of two injuries. The first came during a training ride when he moved to avoid a car and struck an obstacle on the road, hurting his wrist and delaying his training. Right after he was able to return to training, he was hurt again when he was riding a motorcycle to work and was sideswiped by a car.

Still, Faulkner was set on beginning his ride on time and climbed back onto the bike just in time to leave for his trip.

All money he raises on the ride is going to post-traumatic stress and groups, such as Warrior Built, that seek to help veterans suffering from PTSD.

Supporters can contribute to Devin’s ride through his Go Fund Me page and can follow his trip through his blog, Downshift With Devin.

Articles

The US military took these incredible photos this week

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE:

A weapons load team from the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to load a weapons system while being inspected by a standardization load crew from the 35th Maintenance Group during a quarterly weapons loading competition at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Dec. 30, 2015. The objective of the weapons load crew competition was to gauge how quickly and efficiently teams of Airmen are able to arm an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Peters, 41st Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, loads ammunition into an HH-60G Pave Hawk, Jan. 7, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Pave Hawk helicopter features two crew-served .50 caliber machineguns, one located on each side. Peters was loading the weapons as part of a training mission.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Johnson

ARMY:

An army jumpmaster, assigned to Special Operations Command South, issues commands during an airborne operation over Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Jan. 12, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite

Soldiers assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, prepare to hook a tracked amphibious vehicle to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, from 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, during sling load training at Fort Wainwright Alaska, Jan. 12, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Army Alaska photo by 1st Lt. James Gallagher

A soldier, assigned to 2d Cavalry Regiment, guides a Stryker armored vehicle during railhead operations at Konotop, Poland, Jan. 11, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paige Behringer

Soldiers assigned to the New York Army National Guard, conduct tactical training at a NYPD training facility and range at Rodmans Neck in the Bronx, N.Y., Jan. 9, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Mark Getman, The National Guard

UH-60 crew chief, assigned to the Colorado National Guard, conducts preflight checks on a MEDEVAC helicopter in preparation for a blizzard response exercise at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., Jan. 9, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashley Low, The National Guard

NAVY:

OKINAWA, Japan (Jan. 12, 2016) Ensign Frank S. Sysko assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 holds his breath while he exits a mud-filled trench during a jungle warfare training evolution hosted by Marines with the Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC). The JWTC endurance course tests the Seabees will, stamina and the ability to work together as a team. NMCB 3 is deployed to several countries in the Pacific area of Operations conducting construction operations and humanitarian assistance projects.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez

SOUDA BAY, Greece (Jan. 13, 2016) A diver assigned to Mid Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center Norfolk, performs repairs on USS Carney (DDG 64) Jan. 13, 2016. Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting a routine patrol in the U. S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold

ARABIAN GULF (Jan. 10, 2016) Aviation ordnancemen inspect ordnance on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Justin R. Pacheco

SOUDA BAY, Greece (Jan. 9, 2016) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) prepare to shift colors during sea and anchor detail before pulling into Souda Bay, Greece Jan. 9, 2016. Ross is conducting a routine patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg

MARINE CORPS:

Marines’ tents stand below Mt. Fuji during Exercise Fuji Samurai Jan. 7 aboard Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Gotemba, Japan. Exercise Fuji Samurai is held at CATC Fuji during the month of January and includes countless fire and maneuver drills and other combat-based training evolutions that take place over a period of approximately two weeks.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Janessa Pon

Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 don Mission Oriented Protective Posture suits and gas masks during Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear decontamination and reconnaissance training aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, Jan. 13, 2016.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Travis Gershaneck

COAST GUARD:

Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team members patrolled the waters of the Potomac River in support of last night’s State of the Union address.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
USCG photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lisa Ferdinando

The first group of women enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard began their 10-weeks of basic training at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May on January 15, 1974. Thirty-two women were in the initial group and formed Recruit Company Sierra- 89.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Photo: USCG

MIGHTY CULTURE

The first Muslim Green Beret was also in Iran’s Special Forces

The first time Changiz Lahidji joined a Special Forces unit, his loyalty was to Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. But he found himself guarding lavish parties in the middle of the desert, protecting the opulent ruler of Imperial Iran and his guests. It wasn’t exactly the life of adventure that John Wayne movies led him to believe he could have.

He didn’t stay in service to the Shah for very long. It seemed like a waste. So, he moved to California, working in family-owned gas stations until November, 1978. That’s when he joined the Army and became an instrument of destruction — for the United States.


This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Master Sergeant Changiz Lahidji in Afghanistan in the early 2000s. He was the first Muslim Green Beret and longest-serving Special Forces soldier in history with 24 years of active service.

(Changiz Lahidji)

The late 1970s were not a good time to be from the Middle East and living in the U.S., even if you’re in the Army. He had to constantly endure racism from his fellow soldiers, even though they couldn’t tell the difference between an Arab and a Persian. It didn’t matter, Lahidji pressed on and finished Special Forces training. Less than a year later, he was wearing the coveted Green Beret and by December 1979, he was on his first mission.

He was on his way back to Iran.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Changiz Lahidji standing guard during the Shah’s celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire.

(Changiz Lahidji)

In November, 1979, students in Tehran seized the U.S. embassy there, taking 52 federal employees and U.S. troops hostage. Lahidji wasn’t about to wait for the military to get around to assigning him to help. He wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter, offering his unique skills, knowledge of Tehran, and native Farsi to the task. He wanted to choose his A-Team and get to Iran as soon as possible.

The U.S. military was happy to oblige. He wasn’t going to lead an A-Team, but he had an Iranian passport and he went into Tehran ahead of Operation Eagle Claw in order to get advance knowledge of the situation on the ground and to rent a bus to drive hostages and operators out after they retook the embassy. After the disaster at Desert One, he was forced to smuggle himself out aboard a fishing boat.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Master Sgt. Changiz Lahidji, U.S. Army.

(Changiz Lahidji)

After Iran, he didn’t have to worry about being accepted by his fellow Green Berets. He was one of them by then.

He writes about all of his worldly adventures in some 33 countries in his memoir, Full Battle Rattle: My Story as the Longest-Serving Special Forces A-Team Soldier in American History. In it, you can read about him helping to bust drug rings in Spain, capture the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, and what it was like on the ground during the “Black Hawk Down” debacle in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was there for all of it.

But it wasn’t the only time his Iranian background would come to the aid of U.S. forces. In 2003, some 24 years after the failure of Eagle Claw, Lahidji was in Tora Bora, dressed as a farmer and working for a U.S. private contractor. There, he would personally identify Osama bin Laden. When he went to the American embassy to report his finding, the U.S. seemed to take no action.

Lahidji does a lot of private contractor work these days. After spending so much time traveling and in service to the United States — he’s done more than 100 missions in Afghanistan alone — he looks back on his time in the service as a privilege. Army Special Forces gave Changiz Lahidji the brotherhood and adventure he always dreamed of as a secular, middle-class child growing up in Iran.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The FBI just issued a warning about your hacker-friendly smart TV

If you own a smart TV — or recently purchased one for the holidays — it’s time to acquaint yourself with the risks associated with the devices, according to a new warning issued by the FBI.

Smart TVs connect to the internet, allowing users to access online apps, much like streaming services. And because they’re internet-enabled, they can make users vulnerable to surveillance and attacks from bad actors, according to the FBI warning.


The #FBI will never call private citizens to request money. If you receive this type of call, it is a #scam. Report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://ic3.gov . #CyberMondaypic.twitter.com/NrPLZ1jHqo

twitter.com

“Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home,” Beth Anne Steele, an agent in FBI’s Portland bureau, wrote in the warning.

“A bad cyber actor may not be able to access your locked-down computer directly, but it is possible that your unsecured TV can give him or her an easy way in the backdoor through your router,” she added.

Hackers have also proven that it’s possible to take control of smart devices in people’s homes. An investigation by Consumer Reports last year found that Samsung and Roku smart TVs are vulnerable to hacking.

“In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you,” Steele wrote.

Here are the steps that the FBI recommends all smart TV owners take to protect their privacy:

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

6. The FBI has asked anyone who believes they’re a victim of cyber fraud to report it to their Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center can be found online here.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The NSA needs teenagers to protect democracy

Remember your first summer job? This author’s was as a door corp member, a host, at his local Waffle House. He was fine at that job and terrible as a waiter on Sunday mornings. But the NSA has a program for teens who want to make a bigger impact: Come to the NSA as an intern before college. And the benefits are better than what this author gets now.


Why The NSA Is Hiring Teenagers Like You

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The Gifted Talented STEM Program seeks high school students with credits for physics, calculus, and either computer science, programming, or engineering. Combine those credits with a 1200 or above on the SAT or 25 or above on the ACT, and those students can get a job at an actual spy agency.

The students work full-time over the summer for between 10 and 12 weeks. Benefits include paid time off, holiday and sick leave, housing assistance, free courses, and travel reimbursement.

If the students are really interested in the NSA for a career, they can then enroll in the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program as well. That has all the same benefits of the GT STEM Program, but they also get up to ,000 in tuition assistance, health and life insurance, and credit toward federal retirement.

In addition to the technical internships, the NSA has a language program for high school seniors with an aptitude for the Chinese, Russian, Korean, Farsi, or Arabic languages. There are also high school work-study programs where students work 20 to 32 hours a week during the school year, earning about -12 an hour.

Now, students with those great academic credentials can make real contributions to national security, but the NSA is pretty open about why they really want students to come to the agency for a few summers in a row.

It helps them poach talent away from Silicon Valley.

The NSA is part of the Department of Defense, and it’s the military’s primary arm for cyber security and defense as well as other espionage activities. It absolutely needs top-tier computer talent to do its job and to protect American service members and enable offensive activities across the globe.

But recruiting that talent is tough, especially since software and computer companies have deeper pockets and are looking for the same people. So the NSA hopes that, by allowing the students to see the meaningful impact of their work early on, those same students will come back to the agency after graduation.

In fact, all students that complete their degree on the Stokes scholarship are required to work at the NSA for 1.5 times their length of study. So, six years for the average bachelor’s degree and nine years for the average master’s program.

Students can apply to the current batch of work-study jobs through October 31, while next summer’s GT and Stokes slots are open for applications through November 15. Remember that next year is 2020, and there’s another election coming up. The NSA is one of the agencies charged with safeguarding those elections, so this year’s interns could be in for an interesting summer.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Japan could buy F-35s for its carriers

In recent years, Japan hasn’t maintained a reputation for being an immense military power. A big reason for this is that, after World War II, the country put strong limits on military expenditures. Yet, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces is one of the most modern militaries out there, with the world’s second-largest carrier force, a secret UCAV program, and a high-tech aviation industry that has a fifth-generation fighter in the works. They even put the F-16 on steroids. That and other programs combine to create one of the best air forces in the world. Japan may now be making that air force even stronger.


The Japanese government has elected to buy 25 more F-35 Lightnings. This purchase adds to the 38 that Japan ordered to serve as frontline combat planes and an additional four as trainers. The four trainers were built in the United States, but the frontline combat planes are being assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi, who make the F-2 (the souped-up F-16) and the F-15J.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) conduct flight operations above Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Becky Calhoun)

TheDiplomat.com also reported that Japan was considering F-35Bs to operate from its Izumo-class helicopter destroyers (technically V/STOL carriers). The reports drew strong criticism from Communist China, which has carried out a series of aggressive actions (including deploying weapons at its island bases) in the South China Sea and near the Senkaku Islands.

While many outlets focus on the Izumo-class carriers as likely candidates to use the F-35B, the slightly smaller Hygua-class helicopter destroyers (Japan’s first carriers since World War II) are larger than some “Harrier carriers” that have successfully operated V/STOL aircraft in the past.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, descends to the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) during Exercise Dawn Blitz. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Roderick Jacquote)

Another option would be for Japan to operate the F-35B from forward bases on the Senkaku Islands. The V/STOL capabilities of the F-35B would make it possible for Japan to turn those disputed islands into an unsinkable aircraft carrier.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tuskegee Airman posthumously honored decades after declared MIA

As Black History Month draws to a close, so does the mystery of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, a Tuskegee Airman declared missing in action after his plane crashed in Europe in December 1944.

Dickson’s remains were identified in November 2018 using the latest DNA tests, making him the first to be identified out of more than two-dozen Tuskegee Airmen declared MIA during World War II.


Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command, recognized Dickson’s service Feb. 24, 2019, during a ceremony at the Fountain Baptist Church here.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Marla L. Andrews (center), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, receives her father’s medals from Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

“I stand before you deeply honored and humbled to represent the United States Army, as well as all African-American service members across all military services and those who have long served before me, to commemorate and acknowledge the honorable service rendered by Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson in service to a grateful nation,” Young said.

“Capt. Lawrence Dickson shaped my future, which affords me the distinct honor of being one of a few African-American female general officers serving in the United States Army,” she added.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Marla L. Andrews (left), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, delivers remarks during a Feb. 24, 2019 ceremony held at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, N.J., to recognize her father’s military service.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

During the ceremony, Young presented Dickson’s Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, Europe-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Honorable Service Lapel Button to Marla L. Andrews, Dickson’s daughter.

“I feel happy that we’re able to do this this morning here with you, because the things that are most important to us are better shared,” said Andrews, who as two years old when her father died.

“These medals represent a part of our history, along with the Tuskegee Airmen’s perseverance and determination, coupled with the courage and legacy of Capt. Lawrence Dickson,” Young said. “The country called, and Capt. Dickson answered.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command, delivers remarks during a Feb. 24, 2019 ceremony held at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, N.J., to recognize U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson’s military service.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

In December 1944, Dickson was a pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, 332nd Fighter Group, in the European Theater, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency news release. On Dec. 23, 1944, Dickson departed Ramitelli Air Base, Italy, on an aerial reconnaissance mission toward Praha, Czechoslovakia.

During his return, Dickson’s P-51D aircraft suffered engine failure and was seen to crash along the borders of Italy and Austria. Dickson’s remains were not recovered and he was subsequently declared missing in action.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Marla L. Andrews (right), daughter of U.S. Army Air Forces Capt. Lawrence E. Dickson, receives her father’s medals from Brig. Gen. Twanda E. Young, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Human Resources Command.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris)

Seventy-three years later, an excavation of a crash site was conducted and recovered remains were sent to the DPAA laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. To identify Dickson’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis as well as anthropological analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.

“The men and women who have given their lives in service to this nation are indisputably heroes,” Young said.

Dickson is scheduled to be buried March 22, 2019, in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

MIGHTY TRENDING

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

Officials in four provinces of Afghanistan say a series of Taliban attacks on security checkpoints have killed at least 32 members of the Afghan security forces and pro-government militias.

The attacks took place in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar, and in the western province of Badghis on Jan. 10, 2019.

In Kunduz, Qala-e Zal district chief Ahmad Fahim Qarluq said attacks by a large number of Taliban fighters in the early morning hours killed 10 soldiers and police and wounded 11.


Qarluq said 25 Taliban fighters were killed in those clashes.

In neighboring Baghlan and Takhar provinces, local Afghan officials said the Taliban killed 16 members of pro-government militias.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

They said the militants also suffered heavy casualties.

Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the governor of Badghis Province, said six members of the security forces were killed and 10 wounded in clashes at checkpoints and other security outposts.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He said in a statement that Taliban fighters killed dozens of Afghan troops and had seized a large amount of ammunition and weapons.

The Taliban has ramped up attacks on security forces and government facilities in recent months, while Afghan and U.S. troops have increased operations against the militants’ field commanders.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Taliban attacks kill 26 in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have stormed security posts in western Afghanistan, killing 21 police officers and pro-government militia members, officials said on Jan. 7, 2019.

The attacks occurred late on Jan. 6, 2019, at checkpoints in two different parts of Badghis Province, which borders the Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan, provincial officials said.

Abdul Aziz Bek, head of the Badghis provincial council, said 14 police officers and seven members of pro-government militias were killed, while nine were wounded.


Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the Badghis provincial governor, said at least 15 Taliban militants were killed and 10 wounded in the fighting.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said in a statement that militants killed 34 members of the security forces and pro-government militias and seized many weapons and ammunition.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Afghan Border Police at Islam Qala in western Herat Province.

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing has killed five civilians and wounded seven in the country’s eastern Paktika Province, an Afghan official said on Jan. 7, 2019.

Nawroz Ishaq, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said the attack occurred in the Jani Khail district.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but provincial official Mohammad Rasoul Adel blamed the Taliban, saying the group had left the bomb in a village square.

Taliban representatives and U.S. officials are scheduled to meet this month to discuss the withdrawal of foreign forces and a possible cease-fire.

Officials from the warring sides have met at least three times in recent months to try to agree on a way to end the 17-year war.

The Taliban says it is fighting to oust the Western-backed government and restore strict Islamic law.

The United States and its allies say they want to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a haven for international Islamist militants plotting attacks in the West.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Army soldier leads the way after historic accomplishment

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster was 37 years old when she attended Ranger School. While the average age of attendees in the course ranges in the early 20s, that didn’t deter her, and in October of 2015 she graduated from the course.

She was the first woman in the U.S. Army Reserve to do so.

Four years later, her advice to others is simple.

“You have to be ‘all-in,'” said Jaster. “Be willing to give everything you have for the school and maintain your integrity. The first week is published therefore you know what to expect and how to succeed. Once you’ve passed the physical entrance exam (RAP week), you will need to have the mental toughness to push through conditions that could beat a lesser person down.”


“Do not let ‘quit’ in,” she continued. “That means once you allow quitting into your mind as an option, it will move in, live there, steal your motivation, and eventually defeat you from within.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Maj. Lisa Jaster in late 2015, after her graduation from Ranger School that previous October.

(Courtesy of Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster)

The all-in attitude that Jaster says is the key to success for Ranger school has also been tantamount to accomplishments in other aspects of her life. As a citizen soldier, she demonstrates that one can serve their country while continuing to have a civilian career.

In the past three years, Jaster has been a senior project engineer with Shell Oil Co. before becoming the director of civil engineering for MS Engineering. She also has become a professional speaker with Leading Authorities, holding engagements across the country.

In the Army Reserve, she has been a battalion executive officer, an engineering team lead supporting the Iraqi Security Forces during Operation Inherent Resolve, and is now the brigade executive officer for the 420th Engineer Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command.

Throughout all of her experiences, her definition of leadership and what is expected of leaders has one constant: be consistent in your words and actions, and set the example for others to follow. This definition has served her well in both her military and civilian life.

“Everyone needs to be led as an individual, and each individual brings something to the fight as long as they are vested in the end state,” said Jaster. “A leader is someone who inspires those around them to be better versions of themselves.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster, executive officer, 420th Engineer Brigade, poses with her family after promotion from Maj. to Lt. Col. Jaster graduated from Ranger School in 2015, the first female officer in the Reserve to do so.

(Photo by Capt. Daniel Johnson)

“Traditionally,” she continued. “I have said that consistency is the most important aspect of leadership to ensure subordinates can perform in the absence of guidance,” After Ranger School, I have created the three Cs – Consistency, Communication and Competence. There are a lot of other aspects to being an effective leader, but these are necessary starting blocks.”

Jaster approaches her personal life with the same care as her professional one. A dual military couple, she and her husband, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Allan Jaster, have two children. Their support of each other and their children has been a critical factor in their accomplishments.

“Balancing the Citizen (employee, mom, wife, sister, daughter, and individual) with the soldier is very complicated,” said Jaster. “I used to try to silo both aspects of who I am but found that so much bleeds over from one job to the other that I need to be fluid with those lines.

“What that means,” continued Jaster. “Is that Army conference calls can happen during cheer practice, and I might need to review proposals for work while I am in the field with the Army. It means being open and honest with my spouse, my military boss, and my civilian supervisor about what I can handle and what might be coming up. Having a strong support team with regards to extended family, friends and hired help is critical to ensure nothing at home drops.”

Jaster does not want her Ranger School experience to define her. Since her completion of the course, she has advised to not identify soldiers and civilians by their race, sex or creed, but their skills, attributes and performance.

She created the hashtag #deletetheadjective for social media to emphasize her message, and throughout all of her speaking engagements, she has consistently stated the best teams are those with the highest level of competencies, not just a group identity. Being in the Army Reserve has allowed her to serve her country while creating awareness, and discussion, of the topic.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Lisa Jaster, executive officer, 420th Engineer Brigade, receives a new patrol cap from her family signifying her promotion from Maj. to Lt. Col.

(Photo by Capt. Daniel Johnson)

“Ranger school was just part of my path,” said Jaster. “It was not an end state. I have a larger public voice because of graduating from Ranger School. My true failure or success is what I decide to do with that voice. If I can live by the Ranger Creed and set an example which brings our community together for a smooth gender integration, then that is the goal I am striving for.”

Looking forward to the future, Jaster continues to strive for excellence. Whether in uniform or out, she has used her previous accomplishments to continue to fuel her drive to succeed and set the example for others to follow. Her discipline and dedication to her family, civilian profession, and military career is a standard she refuses to let falter.

“Ranger School does not make me a good or a bad officer,” said Jaster. “It does mean there are certain external expectations of me that were previously only self-imposed. This gives me an additional drive to continue to train martial arts, strength, endurance and tactics, even when time constraints make it difficult and my current job doesn’t require it.

“I am looking forward to being a battalion commander,” she continued. “After battalion command, I am not sure what the Army holds, but I plan to stay in uniform as long as I can.”

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

Articles

These photos show how eerily-similar Russian and US special ops look and operate

The best-of-the-best in the US and Russian militaries look eerily similar to each other both in appearance and in tactics.


The US Army Special Forces has some of the smartest and most lethal fighters in the world, which could explain why Russia has increasingly modeled its own Special Forces — or Spetsnaz — off its American counterparts.

Also read: Special mission faceoff: Delta Force versus Spetsnaz

Those Russian Special Forces most recently infiltrated and took over Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and they are now operating on the ground in Syria. And according to a US military official who spoke with The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, they are practically indistinguishable on the battlefield.

That’s not an accident. According to the Journal, Russia’s military chief used a meeting with US Special Operations Command to learn more about how the US operates, in order to more closely mirror his force in Russia. Moscow has also benefited from a framework of understanding signed between the two nations that offered military-to-military exchanges and operational events, orientation at the West Point military academy for Russian cadets, and sharing of ideas among both countries’ combined arms academies.

We decided to look at photos of Spetsnaz in action, along with US Special Forces. It’s sometimes hard to spot the difference.

After US Army soldiers finish their roughly year-long training to become Special Forces-qualified, they don the distinctive green beret for the first time.

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US Army Photo

Their counterparts in Russia do much the same, though their head gear is crimson. Russia’s Spetsnaz unit modeled their competition for the crimson beret from the US, after a former commander read a book by a former US special forces soldier.

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RT/screenshot

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines

The resemblance between the two nations’ special forces don’t stop there. This US Special Forces soldier looks pretty similar…

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US Army

… To his Russian counterpart, right down to the helmet, tactical gear, and camouflage uniform pattern. The two nations do, however, use different weapons systems, with the US favoring the M4 rifle, and Russia going with its AK-style.

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The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

“From the helmets to the kit, they look almost identical,” a US military official told the Wall Street Journal recently, of Russia’s special forces.

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Special Operations Command

Source: WSJ

It’s kind of eerie.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

Here are US Special Forces soldiers doing a room-clearing exercise.

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US Army

And here are Russian special forces soldiers doing the same thing.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

Here’s US Special Forces securing the area after a helicopter insertion …

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US Army via BlackFive

… Which Russian special forces know how to do as well.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

Both train for what’s called “high-altitude, high-opening” parachute jumps …

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US Air Force

… Where soldiers jump from a plane from miles above the Earth so they can basically fly into and parachute to their objective without an enemy knowing.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

The US gives some of its special forces soldiers advanced training as snipers.

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US Army

Russia does the same, teaching its soldiers the art of stalking and shooting.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

They also learn how to rappel down a wall …

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Pfc. Steven Young/US Army

… And jump through a window to surprise an adversary.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

It’s worth pointing out that US Special Forces trains with allied nations’ own special ops, who wear similar uniforms and learn similar tactics.

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US Army

But it seems that Russia has, in some ways, made its special forces indistinguishable from its American counterparts.

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Russian Ministry of Defense

Articles

5 reasons Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie

Christmas movies can be broken down into their own sub-genres. You have classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, rom-coms like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually, and modern family favorites like Elf and Home Alone. But, don’t forget the all-important action Christmas movie sub-genre. Undoubtedly, the king of this category is the legendary 1988 film Die Hard. Here are 5 reasons why and why it is, in fact, a true Christmas movie.

1. Christmas music

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Believe me, it’s a Christmas movie (20th Century Fox)

You can’t have a Christmas movie without Christmas music, and Die Hard checks this block. The film features the Christmas classics of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Vaughn Moore and “Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard & Dick Smith. Additionally, while Argyle the limo driver is waiting, he’s listening to “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. If that’s not enough breadth of musical accompaniment, I don’t know what is.

2. It’s literally Christmas

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That’ll get ya into the holiday spirit (20th Century Fox)

Let’s break this one down. Holly’s company is having its annual Christmas party on Christmas Eve when Hans Gruber and his cronies take them hostage. Gruber even says, “It’s Christmas, Theo. The time for miracles.” When McClane gets his hands on an HK94 (they were converted to look like MP5s; note the button magazine release when Marco reloads on the table above McClane), he writes “I have a machine gun now, Ho Ho Ho” on the body of the terrorist that he took it from. The book that the film is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, also takes place on Christmas Eve. Oh, and Steven de Souza, the film’s writer, has confirmed that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Can’t argue with writer’s intent.

3. Reconciliation and making friends

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They’re still friends in the sequel too (20th Century Fox)

It’s often said that Christmastime is a time for forgiveness and strengthening bonds. It’s also a time to make new friends, and John McClane does both of these things in his battle through Nakatomi Tower. The whole point of the NYPD cop being in Los Angeles was to reconcile with his wife, Holly (another Christmas reference). The man shows up with a giant teddy bear and everything. McClane then builds trust and understanding with LAPD Sergeant Al Powell. Once they establish this relationship, Powell spends the rest of the movie trying to help his new friend and eventually takes down the last terrorist before he can kill McClane. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Good will to all men, unless they’re threatening your buddy in a gunfight.

4. More Christmas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and in Nakatomi tower, John McClane and Hans Gruber were struggling for power (Insight Editions)

If the movie itself doesn’t convince you that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and the best action Christmas movie, how about the fact that it spawned more Christmas-themed media. The film’s 1990 sequel, Die Hard 2, also takes place on Christmas Eve. Die Hard 2 also adds snow into the mix for those who complained about the lack of it in the first one (despite the Southern California setting). But, there’s more. Looking for a Christmas bedtime story to read your kids and teach them about American hero John McClane? Why not read them A Die Hard Christmas: The Illustrated Holiday Classic by Doogie Horner. The illustrated kid’s book is sure to be a re-read request as much as the film is rewatched.

5. Rewatchability

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Die Hard, still great (Warner Bros.)

Speaking of rewatching, is a movie really a Christmas movie if you can’t rewatch it every year? Well, Die Hard is the gift that just keeps on giving. We’ve all quoted lines along with McClane like, “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs,” and, “Welcome to the party, pal.” Of course, you don’t even need to have seen the film (but if you haven’t, what are you even doing?) to know, “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf**cker.” It doesn’t even have to be Christmas for you to watch it and quote along. Remember what movie Ross, Joey, and Chandler from Friends always end up renting from the video store (when those were a thing)? That’s right. It’s Die Hard. It’s never a bad time to watch it, but Christmastime is what the movie was made for.

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(20th Century Fox)
MIGHTY TRENDING

Vote for MISSION: MUSIC Finalist Theresa Bowman

UPDATE: THE VOTING IS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON MONDAY, SEPT. 25, 2017 AT WE ARE THE MIGHTY!

Welcome to the finals for Mission: Music, where veterans from all five branches compete for a chance to perform onstage at Base*FEST powered by USAA. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW TO VOTE every day to determine the winner!

Theresa Bowman was born in the Philippines and grew up as a Navy brat. Theresa began her music career very early. At age four she began to play piano, and by junior high, she demonstrated great vocal talent. Eventually, Theresa branched out musically and developed an interest in stringed instruments.


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Theresa Bowman (US Air Force)

In high school she picked up both cello and ukulele. Fortunately, her ukulele is small enough to accompany her on deployment, so she has had the opportunity to practice and write music from anywhere. In 2008, she joined the Air Force, serving as an Air Battle Manager on the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System. She continued to perform on active duty, and has since separated from the Air Force. Theresa recorded “Your Lullaby” on Operation Encore’s first album, the first song she ever wrote and completed.

Return to the voting page and check out the other finalists!

For every vote, USAA will donate $1 (up to $10k) to Guitars for Vets, a non-profit organization that enhances lives of ailing and injured military veterans by providing them with guitars and a forum to learn how to play. Your votes help those who served rediscover their joy through the power of music!

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