Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans

After 21 years in an Army, mostly as a recruiter, Curtez Riggs promised himself one thing. Once he left the military, he would not accept a job that felt too much like work, left him uninspired or unfulfilled.

Riggs founded the Military Influencer Conference, which links veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses with entrepreneurs, industry leaders and other creative minds. Now Riggs’ company is taking the next step with Honor2Lead, an inaugural event that will originate in Atlanta and be livestreamed on leaderpass.com from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10.


“I want [the military] to learn how to lead, thrive and grow in these crazy times that we’re all experiencing,” Riggs said. “We understand how our country currently is politically. You see the impact that COVID is having on nonprofits and also businesses. This should be an event that people come to, and they’re rejuvenated. They’re understanding how to pivot what they’re doing in order to grow and thrive.”

Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans

WWE star Lacey Evans served in the Marine Corps. Courtesy photo.

The speakers lined up for Honor2Lead, which will occur one day before Veterans Day and on the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps in 1775, all have military ties. Daymond John of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and WWE wrestler Lacey Evans are scheduled to participate, as are actor Alexander Ludwig, Fox News host Harris Faulkner and VFW Commander-in-Chief Hal Roesch II. The list of 24 speakers also includes Phyllis Newhouse, the Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year; Elena Cardona, an investor and author; and Jake Wood, the CEO of Team Rubicon.

Riggs expects Honor2Lead to attract at least 10,000 registrants. Early-bird pricing is available for tickets now, at . To register, go to Honor2Lead’s website.

“What excites me most is the number of people that we have the potential to reach,” said Riggs, who retired as a first sergeant. “Our desire [is] to reach as many people as we possibly can to educate them and to help them change what they currently see in front of them.”

After the livestream, Riggs said Honor2Lead will be available through On Demand. This event continues his company’s vision of creating content to empower the military community. It began with the Military Influencer Conference, and debuting in 2021, Riggs’ company plans to announce a venture with the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to help military women access financial resources to start their own businesses.

Military Influencer Magazine, which was inspired by the Military Influencer Conference, made its debut in September.

“Create your own results,” Riggs said. “We have a ton of skill sets that we’ve been taught that we can rely on to do some great things. A lot of us, we just don’t have faith in ourselves. The people that come to the event, they’re seeing people just like themselves. They’re seeing retirees. They’re seeing young service members that have separated, and they’ve started something and put them on a new trajectory to success.”

The Military Influencer Conference was postponed this year and rescheduled for May of 2021. In the meantime, Riggs is eager to see how Honor2Lead impacts the military community.

“When you leave the military, you don’t necessarily have to leave the military and get a job doing something that you’re not happy with,” Riggs said.

For more information, go to https://leaderpass.com/pass/honor2lead/.

This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

5 video games that let you play actual military missions

Military games are awesome. They often have lots of explosions and gunplay, and the best ones take some care to honestly represent military life, imposing a moral cost for decisions or making you feel the loss of comrades in fighting. But it’s always a sweet bonus if you, as the player, are able to step in the shoes of warriors from history.

So these are five games that let you do just that, either commanding important missions from history or stepping into the boots of a participant. A quick admin note, though: These are games that let you play in a historical mission. They aren’t necessarily the most historically accurate, meaning the creators might have taken some liberties with details.


Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans

(YouTube/MKIceAndFire)

Medal of Honor

The 2010 game Medal of Honor is set during the invasion of Afghanistan with a prologue that includes clearing Bagram Airfield and a main campaign centered on special operators in the Shahikot Valley. Eagle-eyed historians will recognize the story as a (loose) interpretation of Operation Anaconda, the largest battle of the invasion of Afghanistan complete with dozens of special operators, thousands of friendly soldiers, and about 1,000 guerrilla fighters.

While the names of individuals and units have all been changed, a lot of the key moments and terrain features from the actual battle are represented like when a SEAL is lost on Takur Ghar or the many times that members of Delta Force called in airstrikes on enemy forces.

(As a bonus, some versions of this game come with the 2002 Medal of Honor: Frontline which has some stunning depictions of real battles like the D-Day landings and Operation Market Garden, though even the remastered version has quaint graphics by modern standards.)

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(YouTube/GamePlayShare)

Call of Duty 2

To be honest, there are really too many World War II shooters to list all of the ones with real missions, even if we dedicated an entire list to World War II. We went with Call of Duty 2 for this list. It features missions in North Africa, lets you play with the Rangers on Ponte du Hoc on D-Day, and a variety of other real missions besides.

The original Call of Duty has other World War II missions like the defense of “Pavlov’s House” in Stalingrad and the final assault on Berlin.

But don’t learn your history from Call of Duty games. The “Operation Pegasus” mission in the game has nothing to do with the actual World War II mission of the same name. And the commando assault on Eder Dam in the game is a far cry from the true “Dambusters” of history.

Battlefield Vietnam

Battlefield Vietnam is a well-received game about the Vietnam War (duh) originally released in 2004. The game is a little arcade-y with lots of run-and-gun action in settings like the Ho Chi Ming Trail, the Siege of Hue, and missions like Operation Flaming Dart.

Players can get behind the controls of lots of vehicles from the era including the iconic Patrol Boat-Riverine.

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(YouTube/Valefisk)

Company of Heroes

This is a real-time strategy game set in the American campaign to land at Normandy and then drive to Berlin. Company of Heroes sees the player commanding companies of soldiers in the 1st Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division at battles from Carentan to Hill 192 to St. Lo.

The game doesn’t actually limit the player to what a company commander could do in the war. It gives players the options to upgrade all of their units and allows them to control armor, infantry, engineering, and other soldiers. But the maps feel different based on what battle is playing out, and they’re all destructible so you can fight house to house in St. Fromond or create chokepoints to slaughter German troops as they come through the village.

Ultimate General: Civil War

This Civil War strategy game has *checks notes*, all of the Civil War battles. There’s a Union campaign and a Confederate one, and each features dozens of battles and missions. These include both battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga Creek, Cold Harbor, and much, much, more.

The size of the player’s force is decided by how well they do in each fight. So while you get to play all sorts of historical battles, realize that the actual forces at each fight are decided according to your performance, not according to historical accuracy. So be prepared for a Gettysburg where the Confederacy has three times the troops and wins.

Articles

US government places sanctions against Syrian chemists after attack

The U.S. government put 271 Syrian chemists and other officials on its financial blacklist April 24, punishing them for their presumed role in the deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in early April.


In one of its largest-ever sanctions announcements, the Treasury Department took aim at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which it said was responsible for developing the alleged sarin gas weapon used in the April 4 attack.

The attack left 87 dead, including many children, in the town of Khan Sheikhun, provoking outrage in the West, which accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible.

The sanctions will freeze all assets in the United States belonging to the 271 individuals on the blacklist, and block any American person or business from dealing with them.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based think tank, the SSRC is Syria’s leading scientific research center, with close links to the country’s military.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New Army recruits will get more range time and more ammo

U.S. Army training officials have finalized a plan to ensure new recruits in Basic Combat Training receive more trigger time on their individual weapons.

In the past, new soldiers would learn to shoot their 5.56mm M4 carbines and qualify with the Army’s red-dot close combat optic. Under the new marksmanship training effort, soldiers will qualify on both the backup iron sight and the CCO, as well as firing more rounds in realistic combat scenarios.


“We just want to make sure at the end of the day, they can still pull that weapon out and engage the enemy effectively,” Col. Fernando Guadalupe Jr., commander of Leader Training Brigade at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, told Military.com.

Guadalupe’s brigade, which falls under the Center for Initial Military Training, is responsible for the new training program of instruction for Basic Combat Training that the Army announced early 2018.

The new BCT is designed to instill more discipline and esprit de corps in young soldiers after leaders from around the Army noted trends among soldiers fresh out of training displaying a lack of obedience, poor work ethic and low discipline.

The restructured training program will place increased emphasis on marksmanship training and other combat skills.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley tasked Fort Jackson to lead the effort to toughen standards so soldiers will be more prepared for combat upon completion of BCT, Guadalupe said.

Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans
(U.S. Army photo)

“He wanted us to create the absolute best soldier that we can create coming out of Basic Combat Training prior to their advanced individual training,” he said.

Fort Jackson has been tasked to develop “best practices as we slowly implement the new program of instruction,” Guadalupe said.

The goal is to have initial operating capability by July 15, 2018, and to have the new BCT fully operational at Jackson and the other three BCT centers at Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, by Oct. 1, 2018, he said.

The redesigned BCT marksmanship program includes more instruction time and requires trainees to spend more time on the range.

In the past, new soldiers in BCT shot 500 rounds and received 83 hours of marksmanship instruction over a 16-day period. The redesigned standards have soldiers shooting 600 rounds and receiving 92 hours of training.

Much of that time will be devoted to shooting and qualifying with front and rear backup iron sights to ensure soldiers become more familiar and more disciplined with their weapons, Guadalupe said.

Trainees start out working in marksmanship simulators, “but the real difference is made when they feel the percussion of that weapon and the effect that it has once actually shooting bullets down range,” he said.

For nearly two decades, soldiers have relied upon sophisticated weapons optics such as the M68 CCO as the primary sight in combat.

But Army senior leaders, for many months now, have been stressing the importance of making sure soldiers can operate in technology-degraded environments since potential enemies such as Russia and China are investing in electronic warfare.

In addition to giving recruits more range time, this new reality is driving the return to learning to shoot with basic iron sights designed to work in any condition.

“While technology is critically important to us, we’ve got to make sure they understand the minimum basics of how you shoot that weapon without any of the technology that you could put on it,” Guadalupe said.

Tickets available for military event featuring Daymond John, WWE star Lacey Evans
(U.S. Army photo)

Basic trainees will have to qualify with both iron sights and the CCO as a graduation requirement. For the qualification course, soldiers are still given 40 rounds to engage 40 targets.

But on CCO qualification day, soldiers will run through the course twice to give them more time to become effective with the optic.

“We did that so they would have more range time, more bullets for that CCO,” said Wayne Marken, quality assurance officer at Jackson.

“They spend the predominance of training time on the backup iron sight, and because they complete backup iron sight and then transition to CCO, we have built in extra time for them to get more range time,” he said.

The best qualification score soldiers receive during the CCO record firing day will determine which marksmanship badge they wear — marksman, sharpshooter or expert.

“Let’s say you go out and shoot 37 rounds and you are an expert the first time you qualify,” Guadalupe said. “We are still going to let you go back to the range and shoot again.”

The new emphasis on marksmanship is also designed to expose young soldiers to more realistic shooting scenarios.

At the end of the final field training exercise known as The Forge, soldiers are required to do a battle march and shoot event.

Soldiers march four miles with 40-pound rucksacks and then go immediately into a close-combat firing range, do 25 pushups and engage 40 targets at ranges out to 100 meters with 40 rounds of ammunition.

“This is at the end of The Forge, so the soldiers over a four-day period … have marched over 40 miles already,” said Thriso Hamilton, training specialist for the Basic Combat Training POI.

“The soldiers are extremely tired, they are hungry, they’re under a stressful situation and we want to see at that point how much focus they can garner to be able to … engage targets,” he said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy veteran and ‘Stranger Things’ actress champions strong military community

Navy Veteran Jennifer Marshall joins us on the show. Since transitioning from active duty, she’s been hustling out in Hollywood.

She’s a veteran of some movies and shows you may have seen:

  • “Stranger Things”
  • “Hawaii Five-O”
  • “A Dog’s Way Home”
  • “Timeless”
  • “Game Shakers”

Most notably, she’s an actress, but she also hosts red carpets, hosts shows, models and volunteers for various causes in and around the area.


Jennifer Marshall Hosting Reel

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We spoke extensively about her role on “Hawaii Five-O” as a military mortuary affairs officer.

You can see it below:

Jennifer Marshall as LTCOL Bailey (Hawaii Five-0 Guest Star)

www.youtube.com

Additionally, you may have seen her in commercials as a spokeswoman for New Day USA.

NewDay USA Spokesperson Reel

www.youtube.com

Furthermore, Jennifer talks about why she joined the Navy and why she had to exit earlier than she anticipated. She also talks about her husband’s transition and trying to bridge the military-civilian divide. She also shared how the military community in Hollywood helped her gain her sea-legs as she started on this new journey.


Finally, we discussed how a military mindset can help you achieve your goals, the misadventures of motion capture for her first (and probably last) video game, and current volunteer projects that she is passionate about.

Squadron 42 Cinematic Teaser

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Enjoy.

Click here to see her IMDB

Additional Links For This Episode:

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Army to issue newest groin protection to paratroopers

Soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina will soon receive the Army‘s latest attempt at armor protection for the genitals and groin area.

Beginning in late March 2019, Program Executive Office Soldier officials will issue the Blast Pelvic Protector to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team as well as other items in the Army’s new Soldier Protection System such as the Modular Scalable Vest and the Integrated Head Protection System.


The Blast Pelvic Protector resembles a pair of loose-fitting shorts designed to wear over the Army Combat Uniform trousers. The device is intended to replace earlier attempts at groin protection such as the Protective Under Garment, or PUG, and the Protective Over Garment, or POG.

The PUG resembled a pair of snug-fitting boxers.

“They were underwear that had pockets for ballistics to go into,” Lt. Col. Ginger Whitehead, product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment said recently at a media event.

The POG looked like a tactical diaper.

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The Pelvic Protection System: Tier I Protective Under Garment (PUG) and Tier II Protective Outer Garment (POG).

(US Army photo)

“And then there was an outer garment — it felt like a perpetual wedgie; soldiers hated that,” Whitehead said.

“That’s why we moved to the Blast Pelvic Protector and the cool thing about this is … there is a ballistic insert that can stop certain types of rounds, and the rest of this provides fragmentation protection.”

The new protective device features open sides with two straps on either side that connect with quick-release buckles.

Earlier attempts at protecting the groin and femoral arteries on the Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or IOTV, consisted of triangular flap of soft ballistic material that hung in front of the crotch.

In addition to the pelvic protector, soldiers from 3rd BCT will receive the new Integrated Head Protection System, or IHPS, which will replace the Enhanced Combat Helmet in close combat units.

The new helmet offers the same ballistic protection as the ECH, but doubles the amount of protection against blunt impact or trauma to soldier’s head. Each side of the helmet has rail sections, so soldiers can mount lights and other accessories for operating in low-light conditions.

Equipment officials will also field the Modular Scalable Vest, or MSV, to 3rd BCT soldiers. The MSV weighs about 25 pounds with body armor plates. That’s about a five-pound weight reduction compared to the current IOTV.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

What’s at stake for America in the ongoing Venezuelan crisis?

Venezuela’s government has been in a state of constant unrest as opposition leaders, especially Juan Guaidó, have accused Nicolás Maduro of rigging elections, mismanaging the government, and causing the starvation of the Venezuelan people. Now, Guaidó has emerged from hiding and is attempting to rally military and civilian support in an apparent uprising.


There’s a lot at stake, and the result of this uprising will determine the state of great power competition in America’s backyard. People on both sides are already dying from gunfire and vehicle charges from government forces.

As most journalists take this time to report on the minute-by-minute developments (the AFP news agency has a lot of quick facts and quotes as the situation develops, CNN International is posting amazing photos, and the overall Twitter stream has a mix of everything), we thought we would take a moment to remind everyone what the stakes are, here.

Venezuela is a socialist country, but, more accurately, it’s a dictatorship with a socialist system. That means that the government has direct control of significant parts of the economy, and that the government is controlled by one person. Right now, that’s Nicolás Maduro. Maduro has used short-term strategies to hop from one crisis to another since taking power.

Maduro and Guaidó have clashed for more than a year about whether or not Maduro rigged elections in his own favor. And the clashes between their supporters have become increasingly violent, but Maduro has always held the advantage because the military was largely on his side. But today, Guaidó appeared in a video saying that he has military support and is using it to trigger an uprising.

This is tragic for the Venezuelan people. Regardless of who wins, the violence will likely result in the deaths of at least dozens of people and the wounding of hundreds more. But it will also decide the balance of power in Venezuela, and Maduro and Guaidó have very different international backers.

Guaidó has the support of the U.S., U.K., and other Western powers. But Maduro is one of Vladimir Putin’s most important allies in the Western hemisphere.

That’s not because Russia and Venezuela are especially close. They’re not. But Venezuela, first under Hugo Chavez and now under Maduro, has historically been a socialist thorn in America’s side. And Putin knows that he needs friends in this hemisphere if he ever wants to directly pressure Washington like Stalin was able to during the Cold War.

He has few natural allies in this hemisphere, especially as Fidel Castro has died and Raúl Castro has grown old in Cuba. Raúl has stepped down as president and is 87.

Putin showed his support for Maduro last year by deploying two nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela and sending heavy investments of Russian money into the Venezuelan oil industry. That second action is larger than it sounds: Russia and Venezuela are both heavy oil exporters that need the money to fuel their economies. Russian money that supports Venezuelan oil sales necessarily cuts into Russian profits.

But the foreign policy stakes were too high in Venezuela for Putin to ignore. Russia wants influence in the west, and Venezuela is one of its few toeholds. As then-U.S. Southern Command Commanding General John Kelly said in 2015:

Periodically since 2008, Russia has pursued an increased presence in Latin America through propaganda, military arms and equipment sales, counterdrug agreements, and trade. Under President [Vladimir] Putin, however, we have seen a clear return to Cold War-tactics. As part of its global strategy, Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere.

Those actions in Venezuela have not always produced great fruit, but Venezuela is a resource-rich country that’s leadership leans towards Putin.

Meanwhile, America has historically supported true democracies, preferably capitalist ones, in South America for obvious reasons. A capitalist democracy would necessarily share more values with the U.S. than Venezuela did under Chavez or Maduro. And the Trump administration has signaled its support for the April 30 uprising. Not a big surprise since Vice President Michael Pence also recorded a video in January supporting Venezuelan opposition and Guaidó.

And, for what it’s worth, those Russian nuclear-capable bombers in Venezuela have the range to bomb any point in the U.S. without refueling including Alaska and Hawaii. (But, if they’re landing in Venezuela on the same tank of gas, they would be unable to hit much of Idaho, Nevada, or California.)

So this coup in Venezuela will decide the balance of power in America’s backyard. Russia has already said that Putin has met with his top generals to discuss the situation, though there is no sign yet of the large military deployments they sent to Syria to prop up his boy there.

While all of us should care about the crisis because of the real human suffering under Maduro, who are now caught in the crossfire, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking this is strictly a foreign problem. The effects of the uprising attempt will be felt here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mattis recommends Marine Gunny for Medal of Honor for Battle of Hue

With backing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, paperwork to upgrade the Navy Cross awarded to then-Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Canley to the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Hue City in 1968 was forwarded to President Donald Trump on Jan. 18.


“After giving careful consideration to the nomination, I agree that then-Gunnery Sergeant Canley’s actions merit the award of the Medal of Honor,” Mattis said last month in a letter to Rep. Julia Brownley, D-California, Canley’s chief sponsor in Congress.

Mattis noted that Congress would first have to waive the five-year limit for recommending the Medal of Honor, but once that happened, “I will provide my endorsement to the president.”

In a statement Jan. 19, Brownley said the House waived the time limit on Dec. 21 and the Senate took similar action Jan. 18.

All that is needed now is Trump’s signature to give the nation’s highest award for valor to the 80-year-old Canley, of Oxnard, California, who retired as a sergeant major and is reportedly battling cancer, Brownley said.

In the brutal battle to retake Hue City in 1968, Canley’s “valorous actions and unwavering dedication to his fellow service members is the reason so many of the men who support his nomination are alive today to testify on his behalf. His incredible gallantry and selflessness is an inspiration to us all,” Brownley said.

In his account published last year — “Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam,” Mark Bowden, author of “Black Hawk Down” about the Battle of Mogadishu, cited Canley’s actions in the house-to-house fighting more than 30 times.

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Gunny Canley in Hue City. (Image Alpha Company)

In a statement to Brownley on the MoH recommendation, Canley said, “I want to profusely thank Congresswoman Brownley for her continued work helping me with this honor.”

“The credit for this award really should go to all the young Marines in Vietnam who inspired me every day. Most of them didn’t receive any recognition, but they were the foundation of every battle in the Vietnam War,” he said.

John Ligato, who served as a private first class under Canley in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, in Hue, said the Medal of Honor was long overdue.

Canley served several tours in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970. “The sheer cumulative effect of Gunny Canley’s actions and deeds over this continued period rank with the acts of America’s greatest heroes from the Revolutionary War to this present day,” Ligato said. “This man is the epitome of a Marine warrior.”

Others agreed. “I spent nine months in the St. Albans hospital, required numerous surgeries and am disabled, but I would have died if [Canley] had not risked his life for mine,” said Pat Fraleigh, another Marine who served under him.

The battle of Hue “was not the first time I saw Gunny Canley act heroically,” Fraleigh said.

Also Read: Vietnam War Huey pilot Charles Kettles awarded Medal of Honor for saving 40 soldiers

In previous fighting at the Con Thien Marine base near the demilitarized zone, Canley “not only carried Marines to safety, but also exposed himself to enemy fire. He was always leading and attacking the enemy and always standing up and encouraging us,” he said.

Canley’s Navy Cross cites his actions from Jan.31 to Feb. 6, 1968, during which he took command of Alpha Company when the company commander was wounded.

“On 31 January, when his company came under a heavy volume of enemy fire near the city of Hue, Gunnery Sergeant Canley rushed across the fire-swept terrain and carried several wounded Marines to safety,” the citation states.

Canley then “assumed command and immediately reorganized his scattered Marines, moving from one group to another to advise and encourage his men. Although sustaining shrapnel wounds during this period, he nonetheless established a base of fire which subsequently allowed the company to break through the enemy strongpoint.”

On Feb. 4, “despite fierce enemy resistance,” Canley managed to get into the top floor of a building held by the enemy. He then “dropped a large satchel charge into the position, personally accounting for numerous enemy killed, and forcing the others to vacate the building,” the citation states.

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A view from a Marine machine gun position on the outer Citadel wall of Hué City during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

The battle raged on. Canley went into action again on Feb. 6 as the company took more casualties in an assault on another enemy-held building.

“Gunnery Sergeant Canley lent words of encouragement to his men and exhorted them to greater efforts as they drove the enemy from its fortified emplacement,” the citation reads. “Although wounded once again during this action, on two occasions he leaped a wall in full view of the enemy, picked up casualties, and carried them to covered positions.

“By his dynamic leadership, courage, and selfless dedication, Gunnery Sergeant Canley contributed greatly to the accomplishment of his company’s mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service,” the citation states.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the United States can avoid the next ‘dumb war’

While on the campaign trail, President Trump labeled the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “dumb war,” and the “worst decision” in American History. These statements should have received praise from Americans on both sides of the political aisle. Now, however, I’m not so certain that Trump is following through on his promises to avoid the next “dumb” war.

In May 2018, the president announced his intention to pull out of the Iran Deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal was, no doubt, flawed, but it did provide an inspections regime to limit and delay any Iranian attempts to go nuclear. Perhaps, being a creation of the Obama administration, the JCPOA was doomed from the start.


Iran is a mid-level menace. It aggressively pursues its interests through various proxy forces in the Mid-East — a sign of its weakness as much as power. The Islamic Republic has a burgeoning ballistic missile program (not covered by the JCPOA) and sometimes threatens Israel. This is all cause for concern and requires the U.S. military to balance and, perhaps, contain Iran. However, the Islamic Republic is decidedly not an existential threat to the United States. A more realist foreign policy must take this into account and avoid disastrous war.

Iran is nowhere near able to launch a (non-existent) nuclear weapon at Tel Aviv, let alone New York. Furthermore, as I have previously noted, Iran spends about as much on defense annually as the U.S. does on a single aircraft carrier. Iran’s GDP is about $427 billion, and it spent some $11.5 billion on defense in 2016. U.S. allies, like Saudi Arabia and Israel, spend $66.7 billion, and $19.6 billion, respectively. Standing behind them is the U.S., which plans to spend $716 billion on defense in 2019, or $300 billion more than Iran’s entire GDP.

Moreover, the U.S. military faces two significant problems: Iran presents a formidable obstacle to invasion, and American forces are already desperately overstretched.

Remember back when Americans were assured that the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk?” We all know how that turned out. Iran is larger, more populous, and more mountainous than Iraq. It also has a fiercely nationalistic population, which, not-so-long-ago used human wave attacks to clear Iraqi minefields. Any U.S. invasion of Iran will require more troops and more years of patience than Washington or the populace have on hand.

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The April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Firdos Square in in Baghdad shortly after the Iraq Waru00a0invasion.
(Department of Defense photo)

America’s formidable military is already spread thin, deployed in nearly 70 percent of the world’s countries. Our ground and air forces actively engage in combat in Niger, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The U.S. Army is also busy sending brigades to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and to shore up defenses in South Korea. Meanwhile, the Navy is patrolling the South China Sea, and ensuring access to the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Bottom line: America’s warriors are quite busy.

The last thing Washington should do is take its eye off the ball in some seven ongoing shooting wars to start a new conflict with Iran. ISIS is not yet defeated, Iraq is far from politically stable, and — despite optimistic pleas to the contrary — the war in Afghanistan is failing. The best bet is for the U.S. military to cut its losses, avoid more counterproductive interventions, and cautiously disengage from the region.

The last thing American servicemen and women need is to fight a new, exhaustive war in Iran, with existing enemies to their rear. That would defy just about every sound military maxim on the books. Worse still, if we think Iran’s proxy forces are a problem now, imagine what will happen in the case of war, when Tehran would undoubtedly unleash them against U.S. bases and supply lines across the region.

Personally, this combat veteran trusts President Trump’s instincts more than those of his advisers. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser Bolton are well-known Iranophobes with an ax to grind. Ditching the Iran Deal was definitely a win for these two. Still, scuttling the JCPOA does not have to mean war.

Trump eventually saw the invasion and occupation of Iraq for what it was: an unmitigated failure. Let’s hope he applies that instinct and avoids what promises to be an even more costly war with the Islamic Republic.

Mr. President, hundreds of thousands of us, overstretched veterans of 17 years of perpetual war in the Mid-East, are counting on a new deal.

One that doesn’t include a new war.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US threatens to sanction Turkey over an American pastor

U.S. President Donald Trump says Washington is ready to impose “large sanctions” on Turkey unless authorities there allow a U.S. pastor being detained on house arrest to go free.

“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man, and wonderful human being,” Trump wrote in a tweet.


“He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu issued a Twitter statement shortly afterward saying that “no one dictates [to] Turkey.”

“We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception,” he wrote.

Trump’s comments come an hour after Vice President Mike Pence issued a similar threat, warning of “significant sanctions” against Ankara.

“To President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the president of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences,” Pence said, speaking at a State Department event in Washington to advance religious freedom.

Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years, was jailed in 2016 and was indicted a year later on terrorism and espionage charges, accused of aiding groups Ankara alleges were behind a failed military coup in 2016.

Brunson was held in custody until July 25, 2018, when he was transferred to house arrest.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move to house arrest was “not enough” and that he should be allowed to leave Turkey.

Featured image: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

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

MIGHTY BRANDED

9 ways the VA says it’s joining the modern world

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A quote from Abraham Lincoln on a sign at the Department of Veterans Affairs Building in Washington, DC. | Photo via Flickr


The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent the last two years transforming how it interacts with veterans, taking the best ideas from all over (including the business world) to upgrade your customer experience. Here are nine improvements — big and small — you may not believe.

1. A new call number that’s easy to remember.

Can’t remember which of our more than 1000 phone numbers to call? Me neither. Now, we only have to call one phone number: 1-844-MyVA311. The number will route you to the right place. If you do know the right number to call, you can still call that number.

2. Someone to actually answer your call.

The only number I can ever remember is number for disability claims and other benefits. Believe it or not, people are actually answering the phone now, on average in under five minutes. Employees in some of our contact centers report veterans temporarily forgetting why they called because they are stunned by how quickly someone answered the phone.

3. One call does it all.

Veterans in crisis are no longer asked to hang up and dial the Veterans Crisis Line. This month our medical centers, benefits line and MyVA311 will automatically connect callers to the Veterans Crisis Line if they “press 7.”

4. Total online resource.

Working toward one website and logon – Vets.gov – that now lets you discover, apply for, track, and manage the benefits you have earned, all in one place. One site, one username, one password. Track the status of your disability claim, apply for your GI Bill, and enroll in health care, on a site that’s mobile-first, accessible (508 compliant) and designed based on Veteran feedback.  All Veteran-facing features will be migrated to vets.gov by April 2017!

5. Now you can actually find your service center.

Have you ever tried to use the VA.gov facility locator? If you have, you know it was essentially an address that you had to copy and paste into Google maps and hope for the best.

Now, we have one on Vets.gov that uses Google maps — and provides an initial set of VA services at those facilities. Try it here.

Additionally, maps are notoriously bad at being accessible to screen readers, but the Vets.gov facility locator is accessible and has been tested with blind and low vision veterans.

6. There’s an app for that.

Veterans can call or text the VCL with just one click from a mobile device using vets.gov.

 7. No more waiting.

When you’re sick or in pain, you really want to see a doctor that day and now you can. Same-day appointments in our clinics are available when a provider determines a veteran has an urgent or emergent need that must be addressed immediately.

8. Claims are processed faster.

In 2012, some received disability claim decisions after more than two years. Now, after a series of people, process and technology changes, claims take an average of 123 days to complete. But VA is taking it a step further, looking at how it can improve veterans experiences around the compensation exam.

9. Taking out the middleman.

Need hearing aids or glasses? No need to see your primary care physician just to get a referral. Go ahead and make an appointment directly with both optometry and audiology.

These are just nine ways the VA is joining the modern world to better serve you. Watch for more.

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Twins Study’ reveals what happens to human genes in space

Results from NASA’s landmark Twins Study, which took place from 2015-2016, were published April 11, 2019, in Science. The integrated paper — encompassing work from 10 research teams — reveals some interesting, surprising and reassuring data about how one human body adapted to — and recovered from — the extreme environment of space.

The Twins Study provides the first integrated biomolecular view into how the human body responds to the spaceflight environment, and serves as a genomic stepping stone to better understand how to maintain crew health during human expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

Retired NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark, participated in the investigation, conducted by NASA’s Human Research Program. Mark provided a baseline for observation on Earth, and Scott provided a comparable test case during the 340 days he spent in space aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 43, 44, 45 and 46. Scott Kelly became the first American astronaut to spend nearly a year in space.


“The Twins Study has been an important step toward understanding epigenetics and gene expression in human spaceflight,” said J.D. Polk, chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA Headquarters. “Thanks to the twin brothers and a cadre of investigators who worked tirelessly together, the valuable data gathered from the Twins Study has helped inform the need for personalized medicine and its role in keeping astronauts healthy during deep space exploration, as NASA goes forward to the Moon and journeys onward to Mars.”

Living and Working in Space: Twins Study

www.youtube.com

Key results from the NASA Twins Study include findings related to gene expression changes, immune system response, and telomere dynamics. Other changes noted in the integrated paper include broken chromosomes rearranging themselves in chromosomal inversions, and a change in cognitive function. Many of the findings are consistent with data collected in previous studies, and other research in progress.

The telomeres in Scott’s white blood cells, which are biomarkers of aging at the end of chromosomes, were unexpectedly longer in space then shorter after his return to Earth with average telomere length returning to normal six months later. In contrast, his brother’s telomeres remained stable throughout the entire period. Because telomeres are important for cellular genomic stability, additional studies on telomere dynamics are planned for future one-year missions to see whether results are repeatable for long-duration missions.

A second key finding is that Scott’s immune system responded appropriately in space. For example, the flu vaccine administered in space worked exactly as it does on Earth. A fully functioning immune system during long-duration space missions is critical to protecting astronaut health from opportunistic microbes in the spacecraft environment.

A third significant finding is the variability in gene expression, which reflects how a body reacts to its environment and will help inform how gene expression is related to health risks associated with spaceflight. While in space, researchers observed changes in the expression of Scott’s genes, with the majority returning to normal after six months on Earth. However, a small percentage of genes related to the immune system and DNA repair did not return to baseline after his return to Earth. Further, the results identified key genes to target for use in monitoring the health of future astronauts and potentially developing personalized countermeasures.

“A number of physiological and cellular changes take place during spaceflight,” said Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We have only scratched the surface of knowledge about the body in space. The Twins Study gave us the first integrated molecular view into genetic changes, and demonstrated how a human body adapts and remains robust and resilient even after spending nearly a year aboard the International Space Station. The data captured from integrated investigations like the NASA Twins Study will be explored for years to come.”

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International Space Station.

(NASA)

Part of the record-setting one-year mission, the NASA Twins Study incorporated 10 investigations to advance NASA’s mission and benefit all of humanity. Scott participated in a number of biomedical studies, including research into how the human body adjusts to known hazards, such as weightlessness and space radiation. Meanwhile, Mark participated in parallel studies on Earth to help scientists compare the effects of space on a body down to the cellular level. The findings represent 27 months of data collection.

The Twins Study helped establish a framework of collaborative research that serves as a model for future biomedical research. Principal investigators at NASA and at research universities across the nation initiated an unprecedented sharing of data and discovery. Supported by 84 researchers at 12 locations across eight states, the data from this complex study was channeled into one inclusive study, providing the most comprehensive and integrated molecular view to date of how a human responds to the spaceflight environment. While significant, it is difficult to draw conclusions for all humans or future astronauts from a single test subject in the spaceflight environment.

“To our knowledge, this team of teams has conducted a study unprecedented in its scope across levels of human biology: from molecular analyses of human cells and the microbiome to human physiology to cognition,” said Craig Kundrot, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Application Division at NASA Headquarters. “This paper is the first report of this highly integrated study that began five years ago when the investigators first gathered. We look forward to the publication of additional analyses and follow-up studies with future crew members as we continue to improve our ability to live and work in space and venture forward to the Moon and on to Mars.”

The unique aspects of the Twins Study created the opportunity for innovative genomics research, propelling NASA into an area of space travel research involving a field of study known as “omics,” which integrates multiple biological disciplines. Long-term effects of research, such as the ongoing telomeres investigation, will continue to be studied.

NASA has a rigorous training process to prepare astronauts for their missions, including a thoroughly planned lifestyle and work regime while in space, and an excellent rehabilitation and reconditioning program when they return to Earth. Thanks to these measures and the astronauts who tenaciously accomplish them, the human body remains robust and resilient even after spending a year in space.

For more information about the NASA Twins Study, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/twins-study

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan president admits ‘horrific’ losses, but says Taliban is losing

The latest reports on the war in Afghanistan seem to contradict the government assurances that victory is within reach, painting a picture of a bloody conflict with no end in sight.

In November 2018, 242 Afghan security force members were killed in brutal engagements with Taliban insurgents, The New York Times reported Nov. 15, 2018. Militants almost wiped out an elite company of Afghan special forces in an area considered the country’s “safest district,” and officials told Voice of America Nov. 15, 2018, that more than 40 government troops were recently killed in Taliban attacks near the border.


Over the past three years, more than 28,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed in a rare admission.

“Since 2015, still much regrettable, but the entire loss of American forces in Afghanistan is 58 Americans. In the same period, 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives,” the president said, according to the Times. For Afghanistan, this figure works out to roughly 25 police officers and soldiers dying each day.

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“Are the losses horrific? Yes,” he added, saying that this does not mean the Taliban are winning.

But there are real questions about whether the scale of these losses is sustainable.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis highlighted just how devastating the war has been for the Afghan security forces in an October 2018 speech. “The Afghan lads are doing the fighting, just look at the casualties,” he explained. “Over 1,000 dead and wounded in August and September.”

The Afghan government controls or influences only 55.5 percent of the country, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) introduced in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, noting that this is the lowest level of control in three years. In November 2015, the government controlled or influenced 72 percent of the country.

Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president, told the Associated Press that the blame for these losses rests on the shoulders of the US.

“The United States either changed course or simply neglected the views of the Afghan people,” Karzai told the AP. His views reflect what has been reported as a growing aversion for the NATO mission.

Signs that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating come as the US and its coalition partners ramp up their air campaign against Taliban forces. Coalition bombing in Afghanistan is at a 5-year high, according to the latest airpower report from US Air Forces Central Command, and the year isn’t out.

US Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan who narrowly escaped an assassination that left two senior Afghan officials dead and a US general wounded, recently told NBC that the war in Afghanistan “is not going to be won militarily. He added that the “the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily,” a view that may not be shared by Taliban commanders.

Caitlin Foster contributed to this report.

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

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