Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females - We Are The Mighty
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Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)


On April 26, Kristin Beck hopes to realize a dream of Quixotic proportions. The decorated former Navy SEAL and trans-woman aims to unseat entrenched Democratic incumbent Steny Hoyer in the primary for Maryland’s 5th Congressional District in a long-shot bid for a seat in the House.

But on April 21, five days before the vote, she was working to balance press interviews and campaign efforts with the more prosaic tasks of keeping up the farm she lives on with her wife in southern Maryland — including planning for the delivery of four tons of fertilizer the next day.

Beck, 50, began to live openly as a woman around 2013 after retiring from the Navy in 2011 as a senior chief petty officer. Then called Christopher, Beck earned a Bronze Star with valor device and a Purple Heart over the course of 13 deployments and spent time as a member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six.

Since the publication of a ghostwritten memoir in 2013 and a CNN mini-documentary that followed, Beck has achieved public acclaim as a transgender SEAL, even spending time living out of an RV as she traveled between speaking engagements. This run for Congress, however, is not a bid for more publicity, she said, but an effort to speak for others.

“I’m looking at the political machine and I see it leaving me behind,” she said. “If you’re a little bit different, not that Crackerjack box American, we get left out. I fought to defend every person. I fought for justice for all Americans.”

Rather than being daunted by the prospect of challenging Hoyer, the House minority whip who has held his seat since 1981, Beck said she felt compelled to run because of Hoyer’s very insider status.

On her campaign web site, which Beck runs with the aid of campaign manager Mike Phillips, a Marine veteran, she outlines her stance on no fewer than 71 issues ranging from ending the marriage tax penalty to reforming the Affordable Care Act, of which she is highly critical.

Beck said her campaign is most persuasive with those in her district under the age of 30 and her most effective outreach efforts are on social media, adding that her official Facebook page gets upward of 70,000 hits per week.

And while none of her platforms deals directly with the military, Beck has perspectives on many aspects of defense policy and has been closely watching efforts to open ground combat jobs to female troops. In her thinking on this issue, the tension between her former self as a no-nonsense Navy SEAL and her present efforts to promote openness and opportunity are most visible.

Beck said she absolutely stands by earlier statements that she would like to play a role in training the first female sailors to attempt the newly opened Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) courses. But she would do so, she said, only if Defense Department brass maintained their commitment to keeping the same tough physical standards, regardless of political pressure or how well women fare in the course.

“When I was in the SEAL teams, there were women I had working for me, doing UAV and intelligence work. They weren’t SEALS, but they were direct support to SEALs, doing hardcore work,” Beck said, adding that she believed there were women who were capable of completing SEAL training and thriving in the field.

But, she said, she fears that high attrition rates for women in BUD/S — which she sees as inevitable — will cause lawmakers to put pressure on the military to relax standards or gender-norm them and push more women through.

“We know that women can’t do pull-ups as well as men. If you’re going to have them gender-norm out pull-ups, what are you going to have them do?” Beck said. “The capability and the readiness of the military is so dependent on our physical abilities and how we apply our physical abilities. If you’re going up a ladder on a ship going 20 knots on eight-foot seas, pull-ups are an indication of how well you can do that.”

Of the roughly 1,000 men who attempt BUD/S each year, about 400 make it through, Beck said.

Assuming a much smaller number of female applicants who want to be SEALs and are physically qualified, Beck estimates between two and eight women will make it each year.

But for those who do make it through, Beck said the cultural challenge of entering an all-male career field might not be as daunting as some believe.

“The professionalism and the mission outweighs so many other things,” she said. “I don’t care if you can bench-press 500 pounds, I need you to bench-press 200 pounds, but do it 40 times … that’s professionalism.”

Beck, who served in the Pentagon before retiring, said she still receives invitations to speak with military brass, most recently briefing the chief of naval operations’ strategic studies group earlier this year.

On transgender troops, she advocates better education and a case-specific approach that considers the needs of the service member and the requirements of the military. She advocates, for example, that troops who opt to start living as a different gender be sent to a new duty station for a fresh start, limiting unnecessary confusion. Those who opt to undergo the lengthy process of medical transition, she suggested, might be temporarily assigned to work in a military hospital, where they could remain on duty and keep easy access to therapy and procedures.

“The biggest advice I gave them is, ‘This is going to happen and you can have a knee-jerk reaction or you can be ready for it,’ ” she said.

Beck’s battles with post-traumatic stress disorder have been documented, and she said the greatest need for other veterans with PTSD is a network of local centers that provide a safe community and companionship, outside of an impersonal institution. Veterans, she said, could meet, see movies together, share a drink, or even do physical labor on a farm like hers.

“It will be a mentoring program, a downtown store front, with a coffee pot, a place for vets to go,” she said. “A totally non-traditional program. By vets, for vets.”

For Beck herself, she sees stability, even if her congressional bid fails. She’s working on a feature film and another book now, she said, though she declined to further describe those projects.

And after decades of deployments and upheaval, she has found some permanence.

“I live here on the farm,” she said. “Win or lose, I’m here on the farm anyway.”

Articles

These tunnel detectors can ferret out enemy below ground

Enemy combatants lurking in tunnels have attacked US troops throughout history, including during both world wars, Vietnam, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Detecting these secretive tunnels has been a challenge that has been answered by the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s engineers at the Geotechnical and Structural Laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The lab developed the Rapid Reaction Tunnel Detection system, or R2TD, several years ago, according to Lee Perren, a research geophysicist at ERDC who spoke at the Pentagon’s lab day in May.

R2TD detects the underground void created by tunnels as well as the sounds of people or objects like electrical or communications cabling inside such tunnels, he said. The system is equipped with ground penetrating radar using an electromagnetic induction system.

Additionally, a variety of sensors detect acoustic and seismic energy, he added.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Emblem courtesy of r2td.org/

The detection equipment data can then be transmitted remotely to analysts who view the data in graphical form on computer monitors.

The system can be carried by a soldier or used inside a vehicle to scan suspected tunnel areas, he said.

R2TD has been deployed overseas since 2014, he said. Feedback from combat engineers who used the system indicated they like the ease of use and data displays. It takes just a day to train an operator, Perren said.

Jen Picucci, a research mathematician at ERDC’s Structural Engineering Branch, said that technology for detecting tunnels has been available for at least a few decades.

However, the enemy has managed to continually adapt, building tunnels at greater depths and with more sophistication, she said.

In response, ERDC has been trying to stay at least a step ahead of them, continually refining the software algorithms used to reject false positives and false negatives, she said. Also, the system upgraded to a higher power cable-loop transmitter to send signals deeper into the ground.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The improvements have resulted in the ability to detect deeper tunnels as well as underground heat and infrastructure signatures, which can discriminate from the normal underground environment, she said.

Picucci said ERDC has shared its R2TD with the Department of Homeland Security as well as with the other military services and allies. For security reasons, she declined to say in which areas R2TD is being actively used.

Besides the active tunneling detection system, a passive sensing system employs a linear array of sensors just below the surface of the ground to monitor and process acoustic and seismic energy. These can monitored remotely, according to an ERDC brochure.

While current operations remain classified, ERDC field engineers have in the past traveled in to Afghanistan according to members of the team.

In 2011, for example, ERDC personnel set up tunnel detection equipment to search the underground perimeter of Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan, said Owen Metheny, a field engineer at ERDC who participated in the trip.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
(DoD photo by Sgt. 1st Class Dexter D. Clouden)

His colleague, Steven Sloan, a research geophysicist at ERDC in Afghanistan at the time, said the goal was to ensure safety at the camp.

“We make sure nobody is coming into the camp using underground avenues that normally wouldn’t be seen and wouldn’t be monitored,” Sloan said. “We check smaller isolated areas — usually areas of interests and perimeters.”

The researchers did a lot of traveling around Afghanistan.

“We travel to different regional commands and help out in the battle spaces of different military branches,” Sloan said. “We use geophysical techniques to look for anomalies underground. We look for things that stick out as abnormal that might indicate that there is a void or something else of interest. As we work our way through an area we look for how things change from spot to spot.”

“I really enjoy my job,” Metheny said. “I’m doing something for my country and helping keep people safe. Plus, where else could a bunch of civilians get to come to Afghanistan and look for tunnels?”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines make record comm shot with HF radios

Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 13 effectively communicated with air station assets throughout southern California utilizing organic equipment from exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Counter Land Training Center, Camp Douglas, Wis., Aug. 16, 2018.

This communication, or “shot” communicating with MCAS Miramar successfully traveled over 1,600 miles crossing the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon and other large obstacles making this one of the longest shots in MAG-13 history.


“The entire background to completing the shot is the proof of concept that we can send an air trafficking order using high frequency capabilities,” said Stacy Vandiver a MAG-13 field radio operator. “Theoretically this asset would assist us on any type of island hopping campaign we would participate in.”

Communication or “comm” assets are key to any exercise or operation Marines participate in. Without comm, Marines would not be able to function as a full Marine Air Ground Task Force.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 13 communicate with Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar utilizing high frequency communication equipment during Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Counterland Training Center, Camp Douglas, Wis. Aug. 16, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. David Bickel)

“This is key in allowing effective communication with the rear,” said Vandiver. “We can instantly let them know what planes flew or didn’t fly, how many targets were destroyed and if there are any casualties.”

In addition to maintaining effective communication, high frequency shots, like the one from Volk Field, are extremely difficult for the enemy to track.

“HF is an extremely reliable source of communication,” said LCpl. Arnold Juarez, a MAG-13 radio operator. “Our other systems can be effected by rain and other elements which will not have an effect on HF.”

Overall, this shot demonstrated that in rain or shine, Marines will still have communication with their home station.

“Internet and other advanced connections are great and very convenient,” said Vandiver. “However, when those fail, we will always have a means of communication to provide command and control points from the rear.”

Featured image: Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 13 work on communications equipment during Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Counterland Training Center, Camp Douglas, Wis. Aug. 16, 2018.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s new stealth planes will be nuclear strike aircraft

The Trump administration believes Russia’s Su-57 stealth fighter and Tupolev PAK-DA stealth bomber will be developmental nuclear strike aircrafts.


The administration listed the two aircrafts as developmental nuclear strike aircrafts in its Nuclear Posture Review, a 100-page report released the first week of February 2018 laying out the U.S.’s nuclear policies.

The report took a harsh stance against Russia, saying that it “will pose insurmountable difficulties to any Russian strategy of aggression against the United States, its allies, or partners and ensure the credible prospect of unacceptably dire costs to the Russian leadership if it were to choose aggression.”

The Su-57 first flew in 2010, but has yet to be mass produced.

Moscow announced on Feb. 7, 2018, that it would purchase about a dozen Su-57s this year, and receive two of those in 2019, according to TASS.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Nuclear strike delivery systems. (Nuclear Posture Review)

“We are taking the Su-57 for experimental and combat operation, and the state tests for the first stage are over,” Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov told reporters, according to RIA Novosti.

The first batch of 12 will only be equipped with Saturn AL-41F1 engines — the same engines on the Su-35 — and not the new Izdelie-30 engines, which have only recently begun testing.

Also read: The Air Force is ready for Russia’s new stealth fighters

Russia’s newly upgraded long-range bomber, the Tu-160M2, first flew January 2018, but the PAK-DA stealth bomber has yet to be built.

As such, Russia’s main nuclear strike aircraft is currently the Su-34 Fullback, according to The National Interest.

“[Russia] has nuclear bombs for tactical aircraft and air launched tactical nuclear missiles as well. And there are ALCMs [air-launched cruise missiles] under development that will be used by tactical aircraft,” Vasily Kashin, a fellow at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, told The National Interest.

“But I do not remember Su-57 being specifically mentioned,” Kashin said, adding that it’s possible that X-50 cruise missiles could fit into the Su-57’s weapons bays. Russia, he said, has not confirmed anything.

Related: Russia’s new Su-57 ‘stealth’ fighter hasn’t even been delivered yet — and it’s already a disappointment

The status of the PAK-DA is even more up in the air.

Assuming Moscow builds the PAK-DA, it won’t enter Russian service until the 2030s at the earliest, The National Interest reported.

The PAK-DA will probably be able to drop nuclear gravity bombs, according to The National Interest’s David Majumdar. The aircraft will likely be primarily used as a strategic missile carrier — much like the upgraded Tu-160M2.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Articles

The journalist behind ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ loved embedding with the troops

To be clear, Paramount’s new film, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is not a war movie; it’s a memoir about a journalist covering a war zone. Specifically, that journalist is Kim Barker, whose book, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the basis for Tina Fey’s new film.


“I was always more curious about what it was like to live through war than what it was like to die in it,” Barker says. “You’ve got aspects of real people in the movie and things that actually happened … but they make Tina Fey braver than I ever was.”

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Barker, who is now a Metro reporter at the New York Times, was a war correspondent covering Afghanistan for the Chicago Tribune starting in 2002. Her time in the field was her first real experience with U.S. troops. Sometimes, those deployed soldiers talked to her as if she was their therapist.

“I love to embed with the troops,” Barker recalls. “But I found that they just wanted to talk to me about living, their lives back home, and how grueling this was on relationships to have deployment after deployment after deployment.”

In her time embedded with deployed troops, Barker saw the stress of fighting two wars take its toll on the U.S. military and those who served.

“It made me so grateful to all the people who were willing to share their stories and were super honest with me,” she says. “Those were the stories I really loved to tell, not going out and getting shot at — because I’m a chicken, and I’m not that reporter.”

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Barker looked for stories that described the daily life of troops and everyday Afghans, the people who lived the war day in and day out for years.

“You wanted to be true to what they were telling you and not censor yourself, yet you really cared about the people that you were meeting there,” Barker adds. “Watching them adjust to going from Afghanistan to Iraq and back again… the stress that’s been put on our military fighting two fronts at the same time changed my view of my troops because I actually got to know them.”

Many of the Afghans in her circles want Western troops to stay in Afghanistan longer. While Barker admits she’s a reporter and not a Washington policy maker, she says the troops do provide stability for the coming generations of Afghan people.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Kim Barker with warlord Pacha Khan in 2003. Khan’s forces ousted the Taliban from Paktia Province during the 2001 invasion, with American backing. (Photo by Ghulam Farouq Samim)

“They [Afghans] are a bit more modern, they live in the cities,” she says. “I think their feeling is, ‘Hey, just give us enough security and enough civility here to let the next generation take over, and to let some sort of stability to come underneath democratic institutions.'”

For anyone who might be anxious to get out and do some war reporting in this environment, Barker believes it’s a great opportunity, but cautions the uninitiated against going in completely unprepared.

“There are openings to be able to sell stories,  great stories,” she says. “When I went overseas the first time I had no clue, but I had these people around me who did, and I had a newspaper that would back me. I didn’t know what I was doing and I worry about folks going into these places without any kind of safety net at all.”

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” opens in theaters on Friday, March 4th.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here are a few ways the ‘storming of Area 51’ could end

If you’ve been on the internet at all for the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen news regarding the Facebook event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.” It started out mostly as a joke – if you couldn’t tell by the name of the group that’s hosting it being called “Sh*tposting cause im in shambles” and the only actual plan set forward is to “Naruto run faster than their bullets.” Even the date of September 20th is a reference to the anniversary of Leeroy Jenkins storming Upper Blackrock Spire by himself in World of Warcraft.

That was until, at the time of writing this article, 1.6 million people clicked “Going,” another 1.2 million are “Interested,” and a four-star general at the Pentagon had to be debriefed by some poor lower-enlisted soldier about the intricacies of a 1997 Japanese manga series about a teenage ninja with a fox demon inside him.

Which begs the question: “But what if it wasn’t a joke?” Well. It’s really circumstantial.


Something tells me that this place will probably undo most of the plans to storm Area 51.

(Screengrab via YouTube)

Absolutely nothing happens

Anyone who’s ever thrown a party using Facebook’s Event page can tell you that not all people are going to show up. Of the supposedly millions that said they’d be willing to attend, I can safely say that it will be nowhere near that number in reality.

In case there are those people that ordered a plane ticket to Nevada and are too stubborn to cancel, it doesn’t look likely either. It’s still going to be a logistical nightmare. The meet-up location at the Area 51 Tourist Attraction is still 72.4 miles from the actual “Area 51.” Unless you drove there or are renting a car, there’s no way in hell anyone is willing to walk that distance in the Nevada desert for a joke.

Everyone gets there, makes a few videos for YouTube, and goes their merry way and this all becomes a funny joke that we reference every now and then. For reference on where this meet up is supposed to happen, the video below is where “millions” of people are supposedly going to congregate. Good luck with that.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Imagine wanting to raid Area 51 to see all the futuristic alien tech just to come face-to-face with a row of these…

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Lauren Main)

They can, in fact, stop all of them

This possibility is also semi-broken down into ways that it would end in complete failure. The only difference is where the raid is stopped.

My personal guess for most likely scenario on this list is that local law enforcement would probably break up the unlawful gathering outside of a middle-of-nowhere gift shop/brothel long before anyone made a move to storm the actual installation. Given the potential crowd gathering with the sole intent on committing a federal crime, the police will probably be on scene with riot gear ready.

If, by some stretch of the imagination, the raid manages to not get stopped somewhere in the desert or single road onto the installation, they’ll be greeted by armed guards along the way. The defense contractors currently guarding the site would probably have their numbers bolstered from troops at nearby Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and more.

The same rules of engagement that govern military operations would still likely apply. Violently engaging with a crowd of American citizens would be the absolute final resort if this line in the sand had to be reached. The “cammo dudes” today normally shoo away would-be onlookers without the use of deadly force. Anyone who’s made it this far would more than likely be detained without trouble.

But, you know, the use of deadly force IS authorized for just such an occasion…

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Face it. The Fermi Paradox is real. If intergalactic aliens exist out there, they wouldn’t give a flying f*ck about stopping by Earth. Would you care about stopping by an anthill lifetimes out of your way?

(Image Credit: NASA)

Full and official disclosure (of how boring Groom Lake actually is)

Okay. Let’s finally get this out of the way because the mystery surrounding Area 51 is so enticing that it’s spawned countless conspiracy theories about what actually happens over there. Here goes…

There’s no way in hell that this could work as advertised. No amount of Kyles to punch the drywall out of the fence or Karens to speak to the managers will get you a Banshee from the Halo series. And I hate to break it to the other anime fans out there, but even by the show’s standards, if they’re still are able to casually have a conversation with each other while running at top speeds – they haven’t broken the sound barrier (at 1,125 ft/s.) Most calibers of ammunition probably used by any guard are still much faster.

That doesn’t mean this could all be a waste. Even by some strange miracle they actually do manage not to get turned into paste on first sight, they’d probably be in the exact same boat as if one of the many Freedom of Information Act requests got approved. They’d learn that it’s not that interesting.

It’s officially known as Groom Lake, and it’s just a testing ground far enough away from any civilian interference for top-secret aircraft like the U-2 spy plane and the precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Logically speaking, the timelines match up with “suspected” UFO sightings. Through the use of Google Satellite, you can also see countless craters in the ground still leftover from missile testing. The only reason they’re out there is because it’s one of the most remote locations in the continental U.S.The U.S. military is still developing new top-secret aircraft and missiles, and the area is still marked off for that reason. CIA documents released in 2013 showed this.

However, the large crowd outside their gates (or the possibility of a large crowd) could be enough for the government to go on record to say that there’s nothing extraterrestrial going on.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Human spaceflight milestone reached with SpaceX Crew Dragon success

NASA passed a major milestone March 7, 2019, in its goal to restore America’s human spaceflight capability when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth after a five-day mission docked to the International Space Station.

About 6 hours after departing the space station, Crew Dragon splashed down at 8:45 a.m. EST approximately 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX retrieved the spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean and is transporting it back to port on the company’s recovery ship.


“Today’s successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I want to once again congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams on an incredible week. Our Commercial Crew Program is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I am proud of the great work that has been done to get us to this point.”

Splashdown of SpaceX Crew Dragon, Completing Demo-1 Flight Test

www.youtube.com

Demonstration Mission-1 (Demo-1) was an uncrewed flight test designed to demonstrate a new commercial capability developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission began March 2, 2019, when the Crew Dragon launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and racked up a number of “firsts” in less than a week.

  • First commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station.
  • First commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft to dock with the space station.
  • First autonomous docking of a U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station.
  • First use of a new, global design standard for the adapters that connect the space station and Crew Dragon, and also will be used for the Orion spacecraft for NASA’s future mission to the Moon.

NASA and SpaceX teams gathered in the early morning hours at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to follow the spacecraft’s return journey and ocean splashdown.

“We were all very excited to see re-entry, parachute and drogue deploy, main deploy, splashdown – everything happened just perfectly. It was right on time, the way that we expected it to be. It was beautiful,” said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.

A critical step in validating the performance of SpaceX’s systems, Demo-1 brings the nation a significant step closer to the return of human launches to the space station from U.S soil for the first time since 2011, when NASA flew its last space shuttle mission. However, NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast.

(NASA Television)

“If you just think about the enormity of this flight and all of the prep that went into it – getting the pad refurbished, getting the flight control room set up, getting the vehicle built, getting the Falcon 9 ready, all of the analysis and mission support that went into it – it’s just been a tremendous job. Our NASA and SpaceX teams worked seamlessly not only in the lead-up to the flight but in how we managed the flight,” said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Crew Dragon carried a passenger on this flight test – a lifelike test device named Ripley, which was outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in the spacecraft. After SpaceX processes data from this mission, teams will begin refurbishing Crew Dragon for its next mission, an in-flight abort test targeted to take place this summer. Demo-2, the first crewed test flight, will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the spacecraft’s final flight to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“For the first time, we’ve gotten to see an end-to-end test, and so now we’ve brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we’ve gotten to see how they all work together, and that’s very important as we move toward putting people onboard,” said NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who will crew SpaceX’s first operational mission to the space station following Demo-2. “I’m, personally, very anxious to hear how Ripley is feeling after they pull her out of the capsule and get her onto the recovery vehicle.”

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

MIGHTY HISTORY

The Coast Guard took the first Nazi prisoners of World War II

Built in the early 1930s, the 165-foot “B”-Class cutters were often referred to as the Thetis-Class. The Thetis-class cutters proved good sea boats becoming the backbone of the Coast Guard’s coastal patrol and convoy force during World War II.


Among these cutters was the Argo, which escorted Nazi Germany’s last surrendered U-boats into captivity and the Thetis, one of 11 Coast Guard cutters credited with sinking a U-boat. However, the most honored of these cutters was Icarus, which sank U-352 and captured its crew at the beginning of World War II.

Icarus and its sister cutters were designed for Prohibition enforcement, specifically tracking down rum running ships outside U.S. territorial waters. These cutters required excellent sea-keeping qualities, long-term accommodations for crew, and greater fuel capacity. Icarus was built by Bath Iron Works in Maine and commissioned on April 1, 1932.

The cutter reported for duty at Stapleton, New York, on Staten Island, and served as part of the New York Division’s Special Patrol Force, which conducted law enforcement patrols in support of Prohibition regulations. After passage of the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, Icarus continued sailing out of Stapleton on law enforcement and search and rescue patrols.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Official photograph of Lt. Cmdr. Maurice Jester and his family. (Coast Guard Collection)

After war erupted in Europe in 1939, the Coast Guard assigned Icarus to Neutrality Patrols protecting merchant vessels from attacks by European combatants. With the 1941 U.S. entry into World War II, Icarus joined its sister cutters in escorting coastal convoys and anti-submarine patrols in American waters.

On the morning of Friday, May 8, 1942, Icarus departed Staten Island for Key West, Florida. On Saturday at about 4:20 p.m., while off the coast of North Carolina, Icarus’s sonar operator picked up a “mushy” contact 2,000 yards off its port bow. The cutter’s crew went to general quarters and assumed battle stations.

Ten minutes after the first sonar contact, an explosion believed to be a torpedo rocked the cutter about 200 yards off the port side. Reversing course, Icarus sped toward the contact, which was heading toward the spot where the explosion had occurred. The underwater contact sharpened and, for the first time, propeller sounds were heard by the sonarman. The contact was lost at 180 yards but, after a calculated interval, Icarus dropped five depth charges in a diamond shape with one charge in the center.

The sonar operator next determined that the contact was slowly moving west, so the cutter altered course to intercept it. Two more charges were dropped in a “V” pattern at a point leading the contact’s underwater track and, as roiling water from the explosions subsided, large bubbles were observed on the surface. Icarus reversed course again and dropped a single charge on the spot where the air bubbles had surfaced. Six minutes later, the cutter dropped a second charge in the same location.

Now Read: This is how the Coast Guard got its stripes

At 10 minutes past 5:00 p.m., shortly after the last charge had been dropped, a U-boat broke the surface 1,000 yards from Icarus. The heavily armed sub emerged bow first and down by the stern. The cutter’s crew was ready, opening fire with all machine guns that could bear on the sub. Meanwhile, the U-boat’s crew began abandoning ship. Icarus’s commanding officer, Lt. Maurice Jester, altered course to ram and the cutter’s 3-inch main battery was brought to bear on the submarine. The first 3-inch round fell short ricocheting off the water and through the conning tower. The second round overshot the sub, but the next 12 rounds hit the U-boat or came close, with seven of them hitting home. Minutes later, the damaged U-boat began to subside into the sea.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Coast Guard Cutter Icarus disembarking U-352 crew members at the Charleston Navy Yard in Charleston, S.C. (Coast Guard Collection)

As the submarine sank, Icarus ceased firing, but the cutter circled the spot where the U-boat had disappeared. Icarus re-established sonar contact with the submerged sub and the cutter’s sonarman heard propeller noises again. Taking no chances, Jester ordered one last depth charge dropped over the U-boat, which brought a large air bubble to the surface. No further noises were heard from sub; the vessel had finally been vanquished. Meanwhile, 35 Germans were struggling on the surface to avoid the cutter’s path and its deadly depth charges. Expecting to be machine-gunned in the water, many yelled, “Don’t shoot us!”

At 5:50 p.m., the Icarus crew began rescue operations and retrieved Germans from the water. Except for the wounded survivors, the prisoners were placed under guard in the cutter’s forward crew compartment. The U-boat’s commanding officer, Kapitänleutnant Helmut Rathke, was among the survivors. At this point, it was learned that the submarine was U-352, carrying a complement of 48 men. Seven of the crew went down with the U-boat while others died in the water after abandoning ship. By 6:05, 33 survivors had been rescued and the cutter proceeded to Charleston Navy Yard as ordered.

Also Read: How Hitler terrorized the seas with U-boats during World War II

The German prisoners exhibited good discipline and were surprised by the fine treatment they received on board Icarus. Several of the U-boat’s crew spoke English and talked freely on personal matters, but disclosed no military information. Three of Icarus’s crew also spoke German and conversed with the prisoners. The prisoners wished to know how much money the Coast Guard crew would receive for sinking a submarine and if crewmembers received promotions for doing so. The Germans related that they received medals and bonuses for sinking ships, the amount depending on the size and tonnage of their victims. Four of the prisoners also mentioned they had relatives living in the U.S.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Hellmut Rathke (bearded, standing left) and a junior officer after disembarking in Charleston, S.C. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

On Sunday morning, Icarus arrived at the Navy Yard. There, the cutter delivered 32 prisoners and one prisoner who died of his wounds en route to Charleston. To keep the enemy in doubt about the U-boat’s fate, naval authorities did not disclose the sinking of U-352 until almost a year later, on May 1, 1943. For the remainder of the war, Icarus continued its convoy escort work, search and rescue duties and anti-submarine patrols. In the fall of 1946, the ship was placed in reserve status and stored at Staten Island. The Coast Guard decommissioned Icarus in 1948 and sold it to the Southeastern Terminal and Steamship Company.

Icarus was the second American warship to sink a U-boat and the first to capture German combatants. For his command of Icarus in the attack and sinking of U-352, Jester received one of only six Navy Cross Medals awarded to Coast Guardsmen during the war. Icarus was one of numerous combat cutters that served the heroic Coast Guardsmen of the long blue line during World War II.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the real reason John McCain’s Liberty Medal speech was so epic

When all was said and done, all the American media saw was a presumed dig at President Donald Trump. But in the speech he gave while receiving the 2017 Liberty Medal, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said much more than that. He looked back on his life, his political career, the events that shaped America – and the events America shaped.


The next day, the headlines raved about McCain’s “half-baked spurious nationalism” dig at the sitting president.

The “half-baked, spurious nationalism” isn’t just a dig a President Trump. The world at large is consumed by the same kind of nationalism the senator from Arizona describes in his speech. A wave of far-right populism has especially swept Europe in the past few years.

French President Emanuel Macron just defeated Marine Le Pen, who wanted to ban any display of religious beliefs – including yarmulkes and turbans – which she considered “not French.” In the UK, far-right broadcaster and analyst Nigel Farage led a campaign that resulted in a vote forcing Britain to leave the European Union, for better or for worse. And across Europe – from Spain to Greece – a wave of far-right nationalist populism and isolationism has captured the interest of the population, each looking for a “scapegoat” of its own.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

The Senator didn’t mention Europe specifically. He did say that America, “the most wondrous land on earth,” still has a special role to play in the world and should rise above the urge to isolate itself from the rest of the world, that American leadership is going to be as necessary in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

He also implied that Americans should leave the past behind, a not-so-subtle reference to the resurgence of Nazism and Confederate pride in the U.S.’ recent days.

“This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world,” McCain said. “And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on Dec. 7, 1941.”

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
John McCain after his release from a Vietnamese prison camp, with his father, Retired Admiral John S. McCain.

The 81-year-old Vietnam veteran and former POW went on to speak like a man who is looking back on his life and leaving us with the parting thoughts of a lifelong public servant. McCain was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, and his prognosis was not good.

“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t,” he said. “We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Presenting McCain with his medal was former Vice-President, erstwhile Senate opposition, and longtime friend, Joe Biden. The two most notably ran on opposite tickets in the 2008 Presidential Election where McCain lost to the Obama-Biden ticket.

Before Sen. McCain began his remarks, he commented on the multi-decade friendship between the two.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Then Vice-President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain share a laugh behind the scenes.

“We served in the Senate together for over 20 years,” McCain said, “during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.”

McCain was presented with the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center, a medal meant to honor “men and women of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over.” Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

As he closed, McCain recounted the innumerable people he worked with in his 60 years of service in the Navy and in the U.S. government.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Senator McCain can’t fully raise his arms due to injuries he suffered as a POW.

“I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me,” McCain said. “I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

A ranking senator’s driver was a Chinese spy for 20 years

In July, 2017, Politico writer Zach Dorfman wrote an in-depth piece on Chinese intelligence gathering in the Silicon Valley area of California. The piece was focused on China’s acquisition of modern tech, but a small blurb in the middle of the piece noted that one of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staffers reported to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, China’s foreign intelligence agency.

The staffer was a spy, working for a Senator on the Select Committee on Intelligence (she was the Chair at the time) and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Whoops.


Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

California State Senator Dianne Feinstein, take a group photo with Sailors and Marines from California at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Blankenship)

Politico’s sources were only referred to as “noted former intelligence officials.” The San Francisco Chronicle took the opportunity to investigate further. The newspaper’s source was an unnamed local who confirmed the FBI showed up at the Senator’s office in Washington in 2013 to address the incident. The FBI alleged the Senator’s driver was recruited by Chinese MSS and reported back to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.

The Chronicle noted that the driver was only her driver in San Francisco, but he did attend functions for her at the Chinese consulate. The FBI apparently concluded that the driver didn’t have access to anything of substance and couldn’t have revealed anything to the Chinese. The newspaper says Feinstein forced the driver to retire and that was the end of it.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

President Trump, joined by, from left to right, U.S. Senators John Cornyn, Dianne Feinstein, and Marco Rubio, February 28, 2018, in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, D.C.

(White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

This all happened five years ago.

Feinstein’s communist spy story is reemerging this week due to a Twitter exchange between the Senator and President Trump, who mocked Senator Feinstein for a two-year investigation about the spy.

San Francisco’s local CBS affiliate KPIX talked to former FBI agent and security analyst Jeff Harp about the incident. Harp was running counter-espionage activities in the city, saying Chinese spies would be interested in everything from business, research, and politics to diplomatic secrets. He says politicians are trained what to say and what not to say around people who don’t have security clearances, but noted that 20 years is a long time to be around someone day in, and day out — and slip-ups are possible.

“Think about Dianne Feinstein and what she had access to,” said Harp. “One, she had access to the Chinese community here in San Francisco; great amount of political influence. Two, correct me if I’m wrong, Dianne Feinstein still has very close ties to the intelligence committees there in Washington, D.C.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Army general credits Martin Luther King, Jr. for leadership style

Growing up in the segregated south, Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee recalled his first experience with racism many African-American children faced at the time. So he looked to the iconic Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiration.

While he would go on to encounter other acts of discrimination, this one hurt the most, he said.


Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

The parents of Aundre Piggee pin second lieutenant rank onto their son in 1981 after his graduation from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Humble beginnings

He grew up in Stamps, a small town in southern Arkansas with a population of about 1,200.

While his father was principal of the local school, which had previously been an all-black school, his mother worked at the Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant in nearby Texarkana — and a young Piggee became the first African-American child to integrate into his little league baseball team.

“Things went well the whole season,” Piggee said Jan. 17, 2019, after he spoke at a ceremony here in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We integrated well and we had no issues.”

When the baseball season ended, the team held a celebration at a local Boy Scout hut. Piggee begged his parents to go since he wanted to party with his friends.

But when they walked up to the front door, he was denied entry. Some parents of the other players even worked as teachers under his father, but they still would not allow him in.

“They didn’t let me come to the party because I was black,” he remembered.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are seen on display during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 17, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

While racism had likely been around him before, he said it was the first time he personally noticed it. The incident also made him think deeply about his own character.

“It was a humbling experience,” he said. “But what it taught me was that I didn’t ever want to treat anybody else the way I had been treated.”

A young Piggee was held to a higher standard by his parents. The general’s biography says whenever he got into trouble during school, he would get lectured and punished by his father twice — in the principal’s office and at home.

“It was a lesson that served him well in life,” his bio reads.

On April 3, 1968, King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to deliver a speech in support of black workers being paid significantly lower wages than white workers.

His flight to Memphis was initially delayed due to a bomb threat, but he made it to the city in time for his speech. The next day, while outside his motel, King was assassinated.

On Jan. 15, 2019, the civil rights leader would have turned 90 years old.

King’s leadership values were passed down to Piggee by his parents who strove to live by the message he left behind.

“My parents gave us examples of King’s life and what right looked like,” he said. “And I still remember those to this day.”

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Members of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” perform during a ceremony honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 17, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

A life of service

In almost 40 years of service, Piggee has held the title of commander five times. He now oversees policies and procedures used by all Army logisticians and manages an billion portfolio.

October 2018, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame for his dedication.

Fellow Stamps native Maya Angelou, a poet laureate, was among the first inductees in 1993.

Piggee’s childhood home was a block from a general store, which was owned by Angelou’s grandmother. “I used to walk there almost every day,” he recalled. “For a nickel, I could get two cookies and some candy.”

Angelou worked for Martin Luther King as a civil rights activist and later wrote a poem for the dedication of his monument on the National Mall.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Lt. Gen. Aundre Piggee, the Army deputy chief of staff for logistics, speaks during a ceremony in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 17, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

Leading by Martin Luther King’s example

Also inspired by King, the general often shares with soldiers his three leadership traits — competence, commitment and high character.

In his speech, the general noted that King had a strong vision to change the country.

“Competence is what we need of our soldiers,” he said. “If I can challenge soldiers to improve every day, to be more competent, to be readier to do the mission our nation asks of us, I have had a good day.”

King, he added, was also committed to his cause.

“That should be a model for our professional soldiers,” Piggee said. “Putting on this uniform is a noble cause, but doing the missions the Army asks of you is not always easy.”

The most important trait, he said, is high character — a tough lesson he once learned as a child.

“Dr. King’s dream was to judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin,” he said.

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

Articles

A firefighter’s secret identity reveals a Marine veteran – and gourmet chef

Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.

But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.


In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
The two sides of Lt. Bill Joerger… (Go90 Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
…and both are delicious. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.

But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.

“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”

Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

These military chefs will make you want to re-enlist

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Articles

Mattis is keeping all options on the table for Afghanistan

US defense secretary Jim Mattis said August 14 “all options — from withdrawal, to using private contractors, to adding thousands of US forces to the fight — remain on the table for Afghanistan.”


Mattis repeated the White House and Pentagon were ‘very close’ to finalizing a new strategy to present to President Trump.

Mattis, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster have worked for months to craft strategy options for President Donald Trump.

Mattis said both withdrawal and a private contracted force were still under consideration. “The strategic decisions have not been made,” Mattis said. “It’s part of the options being considered.”

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Military Times previously reported on Trump supporter and former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince’s efforts to outsource the now 16-year Afghan war to private contractors, including offering a privatized air force for Afghanistan.

Military Times also reported that Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, has refused to meet with Prince. It is not clear whether that refusal has frustrated Trump.

According to NBC News, Trump has asked both Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Nicholson as the top US general in Afghanistan. due to the president’s frustration with how that campaign is going.

On August 14, Mattis defended Nicholson, saying he “of course” supports him. But Mattis could not say whether the White House similarly supported him.

Transgender SEAL vet fears DoD will lower standards for females
Gen. John Nicholson. (Dept. of Defense photo)

“Ask the president,” Mattis said. “[Nicholson] has the confidence of NATO. He has the confidence of the United States.”

The new strategy for Afghanistan was expected about a month ago. Mattis said he was still confident a decision was close.

“We are sharpening each of the options so you can see the pluses and minuses of each one so that there’s no longer any new data you are going to get, now just make the decision.”

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