The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

As the cyber realm evolves, effects from cyberattacks are moving from the digital world to the physical one.

Just three years ago, nearly 225,000 energy customers in Ukraine woke to a powerless city after regional electrical companies were hacked and shut down by malicious Russian cyber actors. In 2018, the city of Atlanta had to suspend many of its services while ransomware ran rampant through government computers.

To ready the Air Force’s Cyber Protection Teams, which defend priority Department of Defense networks and systems against such malicious cyber-physical acts, the 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron has developed an innovative new training tool.


“‘Bricks in the Loop’ helps cyber airmen conceptualize and understand the relationship between the network and physical domains in operational technology infrastructures,” said Christopher De La Rosa, 90th COS cyber modeling and simulation environments lead. “Significant differences exist between information technology and OT networks, necessitating different approaches to training our airmen in IT and OT cyber defense.”

In other words, BIL links cyber (IT) and physical (OT) resources to afford airmen the opportunity to see how a cyber action can effect a physical asset. Unfortunately, any cyber-physical training option using life-size training assets would be too costly to create, so current options are predominantly virtual-based, according to De La Rosa.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

The “Bricks in the Loop” cyber-physical training platform at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, helps 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron members ready the Air Force’s Cyber Protection Teams.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann)

To remedy this, his team created a scaled, physical training environment made of toy, plastic bricks purchased off-the-shelf. They combined this with an IT network built from open source or low-cost, and easy-to-use software options. The build cost less than ,000 and took only four months.

The “loop” serves as a simulated Air Force installation with assets such as a fire station, police station, airport, airport passenger terminal, jets, tanker trucks, and other vehicles. Many of these elements can purposefully be hacked and made to light up, move forward or backward, spin, alarm or stop working all together, all to alert the trainee a cyber action has taken place. The toy bricks are built on 15×15 inch tiles so they can be easily transported and re-built to support on-demand training or to model service-level exercises.

“The look and functionality of the environment allows the trainee to easily translate the model to critical missions on most bases, and the potential damage that could occur from a malicious cyber-physical attack on those missions,” De La Rosa said. “There are many more scenarios relevant to Air Force bases that, if disrupted, may have a critical impact on assigned missions.”

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

The “Bricks in the Loop” cyber-physical training platform at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, helps 90th Cyberspace Operations Squadron members ready the Air Force’s Cyber Protection Teams.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. R.J. Biermann)

In the future, the team hopes to include additional assets that will lend to more training scenarios, including fuel operations, security, water filtration, and fire alarm and suppression systems. The team is also seeking to incorporate a remote access and control feature providing trainees the opportunity to connect from anywhere.

Training cyber airmen isn’t new to the 90th COS. In the last two years alone, the squadron has developed 110 cyber capabilities comprising real-time operations and innovation efforts, CMF support efforts, and additional supporting capabilities and enabling efforts, including BIL.

As AFCYBER airmen continue to deliver full-spectrum global cyberspace capabilities and outcomes to the Air Force, joint force and nation, so will the 90th COS in its endeavor to keep them proficiently trained and ready.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 worst military defeats in modern history

It’s easy, when you’re one of the world’s great powers, to think that most battles will go your way. And the ones that won’t? Well, you can only lose so badly when you’ve got better technology, larger formations, and/or God on your side. Unfortunately, that’s not true, and even great powers can get themselves curb stomped in surprising ways.

Here are seven military defeats where someone thought they could be the big dog in a fight only to find out they were facing a bear:


The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Painting depicting the final minutes, and Russian losses, at the Battle of Tsushima Strait where a Russian fleet was annihilated by a larger, better prepared Japanese fleet in 1905.

Battle of Tsushima

It’s sometimes hard to remember that Russia once fielded a top-tier navy that made enemies around the world quiver in their boots. That actually changed during the Battle of Tsushima, when Russia sent a massive fleet to defend their claims in and around Korea from a growing Japanese Navy. The Japanese Navy used their better ships, tactics, and telegraphy (think ship-to-ship Morse code) to demolish the Russians.

The two fleets closed with each other on May 27, 1905, and the Japanese ships were in better condition, allowing them to sail slightly faster. Even better for the Japanese, there was a heavy fog that their telegraph traffic could penetrate, but the Russians couldn’t communicate as well with their lights and flags.

Japan’s five battleships and 84 other ships and boats were able to twice “cross the T” of Russia’s 38 ships, pounding the Russians with broadsides while the Russians could only reply with forward guns. The Russians were forced to flee, sinking only three Japanese torpedo boats while losing 28 ships.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Ottoman soldiers man machine guns in 1916, similar to the troops that maintained the Siege of Kut.

(Library of Congress)

Siege of Kut

The Siege of Kut took place in 1915 in what is now Iraq. British-Indian forces, retreating from a defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, decided to stop at Kut, a position easily defended, but difficult to resupply. Since we’re talking about a siege, you can probably guess how that went.

Approximately 11,000 British and Indian infantrymen reached the fortress on December 3, and the Ottomans arrived four days later with 11,000 troops of their own — and with more reinforcements on the way. The British sent away cavalry and other forces that could escape and then settled in for the siege. The Ottoman forces, under command of a German adviser, cut off river and land access to the city.

British forces outside the city attempted to relieve it three times, but all three attempts failed dismally. While the Ottomans suffered approximately 10,000 casualties, the British were eventually forced to surrender after suffering 30,000 casualties and the capture of an additional 10,000 troops, including six generals.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Australian troops man captured Italian tanks during the capture of the port city of Tobruk in 1941 after Italian forces spread themselves too thin.

(Australian War Memorial)

Italian Western Desert Campaign — World War II

The Italian invasion of Egypt in 1940 was a fine if uninspired victory for the Italian fascists. They moved forward about 12 miles per day for about a week in September, 1940. During the campaign, the Italians failed to keep their troops close enough together to properly support one another, and the British took advantage of that fact the following December in Operation Compass.

The British planned a five-day raid in response. The goal was simply to push the Italians back a little, but the British made a note before the first attacks stating that they should be prepared to keep pushing, just in case — and this came in handy. The British forces quickly made much more progress than expected.

The Italians were occupying a series of fortified camps and, one after another, they fell to a force of 36,000 British soldiers. The British attacked from December 9 to February 9, 1941, and lost less than 600 troops killed and missing while inflicting over 5,000 kills and capturing over 125,000 Italian soldiers, 420 tanks, 564 aircraft, and multiple cities, including the key port of Tobruk.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

​Colorized photo of French artillerymen during the defense of France in 1940 as the German blitzkrieg thunders towards Paris.

(Cassowary Colorizations)

Battle of France

As we head into this one, let’s take a quick break to say that WATM actually really respects the performance of the French military from conflicts like the 100 Years War to the American Revolution to World War I. But the Battle of France in World War II was, uh, not France’s finest moment.

The French military knew that an invasion by Germany was likely in 1940, and they tried to prepare through modernization efforts and training. But, they made two big assumptions that would turn out to be false: The Ardennes Forest’s challenging terrain would prevent an invasion through there, and Belgium would last for weeks or months, allowing France to re-deploy troops as necessary if the Germans invaded through there.

Instead, the Germans proved the many of their tanks could make it through the Ardennes Forest, and Belgium fell within days. France, despite having more modern equipment and slightly more troops, fell to Germany in only 46 days with 1.9 million troops taken prisoner, thousands of tanks and aircraft destroyed or captured, and most of their country under German control.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Oil tanks burn on Midway Atoll after a Japanese air attack at the outset of the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942.

(U.S. Navy)

Battle of Midway

The Battle of Midway was supposed to be Pear Harbor: The Sequel. It was an ambush set only six months after the attacks at Pearl. The Japanese goal was to draw the American fleet into a battle the Americans would think they could win, then slam them with additional forces and wipe out much America’s remaining carrier and capital ship strength.

Instead, America captured Japanese communications traffic and set an ambush of their own. Japan was working on the assumption that America would only have two carriers and a fleet full of demoralized sailors. Instead, America intercepted the plans and showed up with an extra carrier and prepped over 120 aircraft on Midway itself to join the battle.

On June 4, 1942, the fleets clashed, and Japanese aircraft were outnumbered by a vengeful U.S. presence in the air. Japan would lose three carriers and almost 250 aircraft in the fight while sinking one U.S. carrier and downing approximately 150 U.S. aircraft. The battle tipped the balance of power in the Pacific in World War II.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Soviets celebrate holding the city of Stalingrad in February 1943 after the German assault failed.

Battle of Stalingrad

The German invasion of Soviet Union relied on a number of horrible assumptions, including the idea that Soviets, especially the Slavs, were racially inferior and part of an uncoordinated system that would crumble at the first real assault from German armor. Unfortunately for them, racism and hope aren’t viable strategies.

Instead, the Soviets forced Germany to fight for nearly every foot of Soviet territory they took, and Stalingrad was arguably the worst of all. For nearly six months, German forces slogged their way through the city, street by street, and some of the streets were impossible to take. At “Pavlov’s House,” an infantry platoon turned an apartment building into a fortress and wiped out German armored formations for weeks.

The Germans threw well over 1 million men against the city and lost over 800,000 of them killed, captured, and wounded. The Soviets actually lost more (over 1.1 million), but they bled the German formations dry of food, ammo, and in some cases, men, allowing the Soviet Union to take the offensive and begin pushing the enemy back towards Berlin.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

The Bridge at Arnhem stands after British paratroopers were pushed back by a German counterattack in 1944.

(Imperial War Museum)

Operation Market Garden

In 1944, the allies hoped they could end the war in Europe before Christmas — push into the German heartland, take out industry, and push into Berlin by December and give all the Allied citizens the world’s best Christmas present. The plan called for a two-force approach, airborne assaults to take key bridges and a ground campaign to envelope portions of the Ruhr River.

The assault on Sep. 17, 1944, didn’t go as planned. German forces had learned lessons from previous Allied offensives, like a little thing called D-Day, and they made sure to reinforce bridges where possible and blow them up when they couldn’t hold them.

In a series of nine key bridges, the capture of most of them was either delayed or prevented. So, the airborne forces remained isolated as the armored forces couldn’t punch through the German defenders without bridges. Over 15,000 troops were killed, captured, or wounded while inflicting somewhere around 10,000 casualties and failing to take the key terrain, guaranteeing that the war would continue into 1945.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This year’s Wheelchair Games ‘makeover’ will really put participants to the test

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are getting a makeover in their 39th year, with a sport that will test brute strength, leadership, skill, and a little brain power.

The team relay, which includes a “grenade toss,” and “shooting,” may feel like a return to basic training, but Troy Colón, who put together the event, said it’s just to add some military flair for the veteran-athletes.

“This is a throwback to their military days and that military camaraderie, but it is a thinking game,” he said. “Think before you act, and you may want to choose finesse over strength.”


The 39th Annual Wheelchair Games — a partnership with VA and the Paralyzed Veterans of America — takes place July 11 to 16, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky. The Games feature a variety of competition for wheelchair veterans from VAs across the nation, as well as Puerto Rico and a team from Great Britain.

Some events include wheelchair rugby, power soccer, handcycling, and other track and field events.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

The new team relay will have a military theme at this year’s Wheelchair Games, like shot put grenades. If the shot put grenade makes it to a bunker, the team gets double points.

Colón, an assistive technology professional from the Louisville VA Medical Center in Kentucky, said the team relay takes a little bit from different parts of the Games.

25 teams — made up of five athletes each — will participate in this year’s relay. Each team must have at least one quadriplegic. Once one athlete completes a station, he or she will have to wheel over to the next station in the relay.

Here’s how the relay is set up:

  • Powerlifting: This is the first station and any of the five team members can participate. The higher the weight, the more points the team receives, but they only have two minutes.
  • Shot put grenades: After powerlifting, the team makes their way to the second station. Like in a traditional shot put, the further the distance, the more points. But if the athlete gets this shot put in one of the bunkers, they will get double points for that distance.
  • Laser tag shooting: Again, speed is a factor. “I’m going to make the shooters race over,” Colón says. “They’re going to be out of breath, they’re going to be shaky. It’s about trigger control and breath control. You might be racking up points by hitting the target, but taking longer and getting points deducted there. What are you willing to risk?”
  • Sled pool: “This could be the most grueling part if the best decisions aren’t made,” Colón said. Like an adaptive version of a crossfit exercise, one person must pull a certain amount of weights from Point A to Point B. “There’s a smart way to do this,” Colón said. “Team captains should think outside the box.”
  • Rock climbing: The final leg of the relay will add the “shock and awe,” Colón said. The last person on the team will be staged and ready to go, but can’t climb until the person on the sled pull makes it up the hill to the final station.

The team with the highest overall points — not necessarily the fastest time — will win the relay.

“People are intimidated by what they can and can’t do, but just like the military, if everybody could do everything, everybody would have a patch. For the relay, it’s easier if you read the rules, and intelligently think about it. Think about the best place for all your team members,” Colón said.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

“The team captain needs to read my rules very, very carefully because I purposely wrote the rules to trick people,” he added. “It’s one of those things like the military, where you’re only as good as your intel. You have to be adaptive when you are doing missions. You can’t always go by the textbook.”

However it’s played, Reese Levasseur, a Marine Corps veteran from the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, said he’s ready.

“The funny thing is, I’ve been practicing the sled pull for training at our local adaptive gym, so I’m ready for this,” he said. “It’s going to be a great experience, and being a Marine, we’re just super competitive in nature.”

But if super competitive doesn’t equal best score, he’s OK with that, too.

“Hopefully I’m not the one who screws it up too bad,” he laughed. “I’m laid back, but we’re all about enjoying ourselves out there. We hope to be top dogs, but it’s more about being together and doing things in a chair instead of sitting on a couch at home.”

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

Articles

20 private security contractors that hire vets with the skills

WATM recently posted an article (inspired by 13 Hours: The Secret Heroes of Benghazi) about transitioning out of the military into a career in private security contracting.  That feature generated a great deal of interest and discussion. Based on that, we did some intel and came up with this list of 20 private security firms for those interested in taking the next step:


1. GRS

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: YouTube

GRS is the private security contractor that employed the surviving operators who’s personal accounts are featured in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. GRS is designed to stay in the shadow, work undercover and provide an unobtrusive layer of security for CIA officers in high-risk outposts.

2. ACADEMI

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
ACADEMI operators training. (Image: ACADEMI)

ACADEMI, formerly known as “Blackwater,” was founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince in 1997. Prince is famous for explaining his firm’s purpose by stating: “We are trying to do for the national security apparatus what FedEx did for the Postal Service”.

3. SOC

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: SOC

SOC is ranked as one of the global Defense News Top 100 List of defense companies and has provided security services for over a century. It provides security, facility management and operation, engineering, explosive ordnance storage and disposal, international logistics and life support services. Customers include the U.S. Department of State, Energy, Defense and Fortune 500 companies.

4. Triple Canopy

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Triple Canopy

Triple Canopy was founded by former U.S. Army Special Forces operators and today, more than 80 percent of its employees have served in the U.S. military. Most of its security specialist positions require experience in military operations, military police, security police, emergency medicine and more.

5. Aegis

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Aegis

Aegis security and risk management company serves over 60 countries around the world with clients including governments, international agencies and corporations. Aegis runs a global network of offices, contracts, and associates and provide security from corporate operations to counter-terrorism.

6. Blue Hackle

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Blue Hackle

Blue Hackle is a security contractor to multiple sectors including oil and gas, mining, construction, and governments. They provide stability to commercial enterprises, as well as developing governments, according to its website.

7. GardaWorld Government Services

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Garda World

GWGS specializes in protecting U.S. government personnel and interests wherever they’re needed. They train in security, crisis response, risk management and close protection.

8. ICTS International N.V.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

ICTS International N.V. was founded in 1982 by security experts, former military commanding officers and veterans of government intelligence and security agencies. They set the standard for the aviation security industry.

9. AKE Group

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: AKE Group

AKE Group provides security and consultant services ranging from emergency evacuation and crisis response to kidnap avoidance. They provide close protection to war reporters, executives and VIPs.

10. G4S

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

G4S was founded in 1901 in Denmark and today has operations around the world in over 100 countries with more than 611,000 employees. G4S goes where governments can’t—or won’t— maintain order, from oil fields in Africa to airports in Britain and nuclear facilities in the U.S., G4S fills the void. It is the world’s third largest private-sector a employer and commands a force three times the size of the British Military, according to Vanity Fair.

11. Armed Maritime

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: armed maritime security

Armed Maritime Security offers services to commercial and private vessels operating off the east and west coast of Africa, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Its board of directors consist of former diplomats, Army and Naval Officers from Britain, Finland and Sweden. Its security teams are drafted from current, serving members and former members of the Swedish, British, Finnish Elite units.

12. Control Risks

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Control Risk

With operation in over 150 countries around the world, Control Risks provides security services to governments, fortune 500 companies and private citizens. It specializes in cyber, operational, maritime and travel security in hostile areas and actively hires people with experience in military, law enforcement, business consultancy, security services and intelligence.

13. Beni Tal – International Security (BTS)

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: BTS Security

BTS serves military and government organizations with its own private military. It has expertise in guerrilla warfare and non-conventional terrorism and provides solutions for land, air, naval and intelligence forces.

14. Blue Mountain

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain is a UK based private security contractor that specializes in private, government and commercial protection. Its close protection operators are designed to blend seamlessly into family and professional life for true incognito security.

15. Chilport (UK) Limited

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Chilport

16. Chilport specializes in Canine security and training. It supplies dogs for search and rescue (SAR), drug sniffing, bomb detection and more.

16. GK Sierra

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Wikimedia

Based in Washington DC and Portland, GK Sierra gathers intelligence for the CIA. It has operators around the world specializing in corporate investigation, intelligence, digital forensics and encryption.

17. Prosegur

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Prosegu

Prosegur is one of Spain’s leading security contractors with over 158,000 employees around the world. Its clients consist of entities in non-English speaking countries in Asia, Europe, Oceania and Latin America. It specializes in manned guarding, cash in transit and alarms.

18. Andrews International

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Andrews International

Andrews International is a Los Angeles, CA based company with services around the world. It provides armed and unarmed security to government services and the department of defense.

19. Erinys

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: Erinys

Erinys provides security services to gas, oil, shipping and mining companies in Africa and the Middle East. They provide regional and country expertise by hiring and training locals.

20. International Intelligence Limited

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Image: International Intelligence Limited

International Intelligence employs former law enforcement, military and intelligence personnel to operate in hostile environments. It offers private investigation, intelligence, surveillance and forensic services to corporations, government agencies, embassies and police forces.

The real vets turned private security operators from the 13 Hours film explain their experience during the attack on Benghazi. The part about being a private security operator starts at 01:15.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force vet reunites with daughter for the first time in 36 years

Pamela Foley was 17 and pregnant in 1982 when her parents said she wasn’t welcome in their house, and wasn’t keeping her baby.

She searched and wondered for decades what happened to the child she gave up for adoption before the two reconnected in January 2019. They met again for the first time in 36 years at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Foley, an Air Force veteran, who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, pushed up from her chair July 9, 2019, as the two embraced and held each other tight.

“Let me look at your face!” Foley sobbed as she held her daughter’s face in her hands. “My baby!”


The two have since been inseparable at 2019’s Games, with her daughter, Carrie Knutsen, cheering on her birth mom, laughing and finishing each other’s sentences. While the two have filled each other in on the last 36 years, they cemented the reunion with matching tattoos of two hearts and a double helix DNA that Carrie designed.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Pamela Foley competed in bowling, 9-ball and slalom at this year’s Wheelchair Games, but will most remember her reunion with the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption 36 years ago.

Foley never stopped hoping this day would come, always marking Carrie’s birthday on her calendar. Carrie, based on what little information she had, would sometimes see a face in the crowd and wonder if they were related.

When Pamela told her parents she was pregnant 36 years ago, she wasn’t surprised at their reaction.

“They said, ‘You’re going to live with your sister in Virginia.’ They’re the type they always have to impress people, and if anybody had found out their daughter was pregnant, they couldn’t have that.”

Pamela got to spend time with her baby after giving birth April 29, 1983, in Roanoke, which made it even harder.

“That was the emotional pain,” she said. “They let me have her while I was there, feeding and clothing her. I saw and held her and was a blithering idiot. I had 30 days after signing the paperwork to change my mind. So I called my mom, crying in the hospital.”

“What would happen if I kept her?” Pamela asked.

“Oh, don’t come home,” her mom replied.

“And I’m crying more as I’m thinking of changing my mind. Then I thought about it. I was 17. I didn’t have a job, I had no resources. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have any skills.”

Carrie interjects with a laugh: “I mean, you gave birth, that’s a pretty good skill. Just saying.”

“It just happens,” Pamela deadpans. “You just do it. It was going to happen regardless.”

Catholic Charities told Pamela the adoption records would be sealed for 18 years, then she could find information about her baby.

Although she was named Lisa Marie on the birth certificate, her adoptive parents — Casey and Marie — took parts of their name and changed her name to Carrie.

“It was a huge blessing for them, and they are amazing people,” Carrie said. “They changed my name because they wanted to give me a piece of them. I never wanted for anything. I went to college, I finished grad school. I don’t have any memory of not knowing I was adopted. They told me when I was young.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Mom and daughter got matching tattoos of two hearts and double helix DNA to commemorate the reunion. Carrie, who is a graphic artist, designed the artwork.

“I always wondered if she was a movie star and occasionally wondered why they gave me away. I knew I was born in Roanoke, so anytime we were there, I’d look at faces in the crowd and wondered if they resembled me or were family.”

Pamela moved back home after giving birth and graduated from high school. She joined the Air Force in 1985, married and had another daughter, Samantha, in 1986. She was diagnosed a year later with multiple sclerosis and separated from the military. She divorced her first husband, remarried and had a son, Sean, in 1991. Tragedy struck in 1993 when Samantha died after she fell through a glass table while playing.

“It was the worst thing in the world,” Pamela said. “It was worse than giving my baby away.”

Pamela and her husband, Michael, had another daughter, Megan, in 1994.

And in 2001 — 18 years after giving birth to Carrie — Pamela asked to see the adoption records.

“They were so rude. ‘Nooooo, these are sealed records. You have to get a lawyer and petition the court.’

“I let it drop,” she said. “We didn’t have that kind of money, and at that time, there was no internet like there is today. I did find an adoption registry and filled out all the information, what I knew. I never heard anything.”

Carrie filled out a similar registry around the same time.

“I thought, ‘What the hell? Maybe?’ I never heard and forgot all about it.”

She married in 2011, and tried to find more about her family’s health history, but hit the same road block with sealed records.

Another 17 years passed while Pamela watched a show about reuniting lost family members. There was a phone number for a private investigation company at the end of the program, and she gave them a call. For id=”listicle-2639220262″,000, she was told, they could probably find her daughter. Pamela reached out to the birth father and they split the cost.

In December 2018, the investigation firm sent Carrie a letter she almost didn’t open.

“I just stuck it in my purse, and when I opened it later, they said they had a client who was looking for me,” she said. “I thought it was probably my mother, but it might be a scam. I got in touch with them, and on January 2 told them they could use my e-mail. I’m sitting at work and 10 minutes later, I get an e-mail from Pam.”


Reunion at the Games . . .

www.facebook.com

This’ll get ya. Pamela Shears Foley was forced to give up her baby, Carrie Knutsen, at 17. They found each other in January and met for the first time in…

Pam wrote: “Hi my name is Pamela Foley … You might be the child I gave up 35 years ago. I would like get to know and possibly meet you sometime in the future … I know this a lot to take in, but I’m hopeful we can stay in contact.”

Carrie wrote back: “Hi, Pam! What a way to start a new year! You’re right, it is a lot to take in — but in an exciting way! For 30 years, since I first found out I was adopted at the ripe old age of 5, I have wondered everything about my birth family. I am thankful for my parents who have given me everything — the best life I could have ever imagined. But I’ve always had those thoughts in the back of my mind — who are they, where are they, what do they like, what do they look like, and so on. This is a fascinating new journey!”

The two e-mailed back and forth all day.

Does the rest of your family “know about me? If so, when did you tell them?” Carrie asked.

“Everybody in my life knows about you and has for many years,” Pam replied. “I don’t hide my past from my children, so they know about you and that we are in contact. They are also very excited!

Carrie said that made the difference in their new relationship.

“The biggest part for me was finding out I was nobody’s secret,” she said. “I was wanted.”

They are making plans to visit one another after the Games, and Carrie hopes to get to the 2020 event in Portland. She has since been in touch with her birth father and is finding other family members, too.

“We use social media a lot, and I’m getting all these friend requests from cousins, aunts, a grandma on my birth father’s side … my grandparents died in 2014 and now I get another grandma,” Carrie said as she dabbed a tear from her eye. “I’m finding out that I’ve had, like, 30,000 family members I never knew I had who had been praying for me my whole life. It’s wonderful.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Revamped training curriculum will develop ready and resilient airmen

After listening to feedback from the field, a few changes to the Air Force Basic Military Training curriculum will transform trainees into more combat-ready airmen.

The changes, which began Sept. 4, 2018, are entirely focused on readiness and lethality, airmanship, fitness, and warrior ethos.

“The future of BMT focuses on creating disciplined, warrior-airmen who are ready to support our joint partners in conflicts around the globe,” said Col. Jason Corrothers, former 737th Training Group and BMT commander who spearheaded the modifications. “These changes to refine the basic training experience are about increasing our readiness and lethality while simultaneously instilling airmanship and core values from the very beginning.”


Restoring readiness is one of the Air Force’s top priorities. The changes address readiness through a revamped expeditionary skills and weapons training curriculum, said Lt. Col. Jose Surita, 326th Training Squadron commander, who has overseen the development of the revamped curriculum.

Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training which previously took place in week five of training, is resequenced to the final training week as the culminating event of BMT. Air Force recruits will also experience a beefed up Self-Aid/Buddy Care regimen, called the Tactical Combat Casualty Course.

“We need highly trained and ready airmen,” Surita said. “Readiness is the central theme across the BMT curriculum as we deliver trained and committed airmen capable of delivering 21st century airpower.”

There is also an increased focus on weapons handling and familiarization, said Surita.

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Air Force Basic Military Training trainees prepare for a log climb and rope walk obstacle during the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

Airmen’s Week, which was focused on a values-based “Airmanship 100” curriculum, was taught the week after trainees completed basic training. Airmen’s Week lessons, which are not being changed, are now incorporated throughout 8.5 weeks of BMT.

This change gives end-to-end ownership of the training to the military training instructor corps, delivering a continuous immersion that accelerates “mind to heart” adoption of the Air Force core values and warrior ethos principles

“Our airmen need to be technically capable, but they also need to be motivated,” said Master Sgt. Robert Kaufman, military training instructor. “Airmanship 100 lessons focus on their resilience and challenge recruits to commit to holding each other accountable to our core values.”

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An Air Force Basic Military Training trainee attacks a dummy during an obstacle during the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

With an emphasis on improving human performance, BMT will also see a bump up in the overall number of fitness sessions, increasing from 31 to 44 periods throughout training. Workouts will be a balanced mix of cardio, strength, and interval training.

“Physical fitness is a critical component of readiness,” said Master Sgt. Andrea Jefferson, military training instructor. “By increasing the number of physical training sessions, we build fitness habits that will help recruits perform both in the military environment, and in their personal lives.”

BMT curriculum changes also includes a purpose built heritage program that introduces recruits to Air Force heroes, and weaves heritage and warrior ethos throughout training.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

An Air Force Basic Military Training Instructor watch an Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT) graduation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

“We will be introducing warrior identity, as well as Air Force history and heroes, every week throughout training,” said Master Sgt. Richard Bonsra, military training instructor. “Those topics will then be reinforced during all training events, such as naming physical training sessions after a fallen airman to cement the experience.”

Future changes to how heritage and warrior ethos are ingrained into BMT will include naming obstacles on the “Creating Leaders, Airmen, Warriors” Course after Air Force heroes, said Bonsra.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Air Force Basic Military Training Instructors train drill and ceremony movements at Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

“Over the last 70 years, we have become the most dominant Air Force the world has ever known, but there is no doubt we must be, and can be better in the future,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lee Hoover, 737th TRG superintendent, “The next generation of airmen will take us there, so it’s critical we start them on the right foot. These changes ensure we move in that direction.”

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, the 737th TRG is the Air Force’s largest training group, comprised of nine squadrons and more than 900 permanent-party personnel. BMT, with an average daily load of 7,000 trainees, graduated more than 37,314 airmen in fiscal year 2017 and BMT instructors are postured to increase that number to more than 40,200 graduates in fiscal year 2019.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s how Marine Corps mortar crews get explosive rounds to fall right on top of an enemy over 1,000 meters away

CAMP PENDLETON, California — US Marine Corps 60 mm mortar teams can drop explosive rounds on their enemies from over 1,000 meters away, and Insider recently had the opportunity to watch them do it.

During a visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Insider observed a mortar crew firing off multiple rounds using an M224 60 mm light mortar, which is a high-angle-of-fire weapon that can be drop- or trigger-fired.


The training was carried out as part of the latest iteration of Iron Fist, an exercise that involves various training evolutions leading up to a large amphibious assault.

Cpl. Kevin Rodriguez, an experienced mortarman who said he chose the mortar because he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, walked Insider through the ins and outs of firing a mortar and what it takes.

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60 mm mortars are typically handled by a crew of Marines.

Mortar crews have a gunner, an assisting gunner (squad leader), and an ammunition man. The crew is often supported by a forward observer and a fire direction center.

When they’re on the move, the three main crew members divide the weapon components, like the gun, the bipod, the sight, and the baseplate, among themselves with no one person carrying the entire weapon.

A crew can set up or tear down a mortar in two minutes.

In combat, the team works together to put fire down range. Standard operating procedure is that the fire direction center first passes range data to the gunner, who puts that into the sight and manipulates the weapon accordingly.

The ammo bearer then hands a prepared round to the assisting gunner, who drops the live round on command. Teams practice every day for months to develop a flawless rhythm.

The 60 mm mortar can be fired on the ground or in a handheld configuration.

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A lot of different considerations go into firing this weapon.

There is the gun. “You can breathe on it the wrong way, and it will be completely off,” Rodriguez told Insider.

There is the round. Mortar crews can set it to burst in the air, explode on impact, or detonate a few seconds after impact, giving it the ability to penetrate a bunker.

Then there is figuring out exactly how to get the round to the target, and that involves different range calculations, as well as considerations like temperature, wind speed, and drift, among other things.

Weather is also an important factor. Rain, even light rain, for example, can result in wet charges, making a misfire or the firing of a short round more likely and risking a friendly-fire situation. There are covers to help protect the weapon and the rounds from the elements.

There are two different methods Marine mortar teams use to effectively target an enemy.

Range calculations are estimations at best. An experienced mortarman can eyeball the distance to his target, but it tends to take a few shots to get rounds falling in the right spot.

The quickest and most effective targeting approach is called bracketing. Mortar crews fire behind or in front of a target and then split the distance in half until rounds are coming down on the target.

Or, as Insider watched a crew do at Camp Pendleton, Marine mortar crews can use creeping fire to target an enemy, inching closer to the target with each round. This is not as fast as bracketing and requires more rounds, about five or six.

But creeping fire can be a pretty good option when you’re dealing with a lot of dead space, terrain features that make range estimates harder.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e4c31f24b661b0dbf6b6682%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=45&h=81c3826819c3ba02f2b7bda0f3130d08761438bde2cc1dfa10a6d88e6f1dc6c8&size=980x&c=1715486451 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e4c31f24b661b0dbf6b6682%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D45%26h%3D81c3826819c3ba02f2b7bda0f3130d08761438bde2cc1dfa10a6d88e6f1dc6c8%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1715486451%22%7D” expand=1]

A close-up shot of the three main crew members as the round exits the tube.

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Robert Kuehn

A mortar section usually has three guns delivering damage to a large area.

Mortars set the conditions for other units by keeping bigger threats at bay.

The mortar crews are tasked with “taking out the bigger targets, or at least keeping their heads down long enough for the machine guns to start suppressing enemies,” Rodriguez said. “The [other infantry units] are more the cleanup. They can move from one place to another.”

During the training at Camp Pendleton, the mortars practiced pinning down light armor while crews with M240 machine guns put fire on targets from a nearby ridge.

The mortars and the machine guns cleared the way for several infantry squads to maneuver into position. Each mortar round has a casualty radius of about 25 meters.

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

popular

10 Celebrities who died in 2020 you probably didn’t know were veterans

With 2020 finally in the rearview, we can take a moment to reflect on some of the notable public figures we lost. The year saw a lot of famous people pass away, some to COVID-19, some to natural causes, and others to tragedy. While their fame came from careers in music, sports, arts, and entertainment, here are 10 celebrities you probably never knew were veterans. 

Regis Philbin

Known lovingly as “the hardest-working man in show business,” Regis Philbin gained international fame as the host of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? Known for his friendly demeanor and natural gift of banter, Philbin — Regis to his fans — led a long television career. Before his start in television, he earned a degree in sociology from Notre Dame. Upon graduating, he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and served as a supply officer on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado from 1953 to 1955. Philbin, who still holds the Guinness World Record for the most hours on US television, died of heart disease in July 2020. 

John Prine

Considered the Mark Twain of songwriting, John Prine is heralded as one of the greatest American singer-songwriters of all time. His lengthy career as a musician was preceded by a stint in the US Army. Prine was drafted during the Vietnam War but spent his service in Germany “drinking beer and pretending to fix trucks.” Following his service Prine began his musical career, earning the respect of musical giants such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Prine holds the unique honor of being the first singer to be invited to perform at the Library of Congress. He is the winner of two Grammys as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award, and is currently up for two more Grammys. Prine died from COVID-19 in April 2020. 

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Sean Connery

Sean Connery was the first actor to portray the fictional spy James Bond, and many would argue he has yet to be surpassed in that role. Before he starred as 007 and in notable movies like The Untouchables, The Rock, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and The Hunt for Red October, Connery was a sailor. Born in Scotland, he enlisted in the Royal Navy at the age of 16. He served aboard the HMS Formidable from 1946 to 1949. At the time of his death in October 2020, Connery was an Oscar winner, a Golden Globe winner, and a knight. 

Ian Holm

Science fiction and fantasy fans will recognize Ian Holm for his roles in Alien and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Holm was born in England in 1931 and began his acting career early. His career in the arts was briefly suspended following World War II when he was called upon for National Service. Holm served in Austria where he attained the rank of lance corporal. After several years in the British Army, Holm picked up his acting career, eventually starring in movies such as Chariots of Fire, Hamlet, The Fifth Element, and The Aviator. Holm died in June 2020 of Parkinson’s disease. 

Wilford Brimley

The man known the world over for pronouncing diabetes as “diabeetus” had a long acting career before the infamous health commercials. Brimley was a character actor remembered for roles in The China Syndrome, The Thing, Cocoon, and The Natural. Before his giant mustache ever graced the silver screen, Brimley served in the US Marine Corps. He dropped out of high school in order to enlist during the Korean War. Brimley spent his entire enlistment in the Aleutian Islands and attained the rank of sergeant before being honorably discharged.

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Bill Withers

The voice behind hits like “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” was plagued with a stutter early in life. Bill Withers, the three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, enlisted in the US Navy at age 17. It was during his nine years of service as a sailor that Withers was able to overcome his speech impediment and begin singing publicly. Following his death in March 2020, Withers was awarded the Lone Sailor Award for naval veterans who have used their time in service to lead successful post-military careers.

Tom Seaver

Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver holds a record shared with only one other pitcher for having 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts, and an earned run average under 3. One of the greatest players to ever play the game of baseball, Seaver also served eight years in the US Marine Corps Reserve. Seaver spent his active time aboard Marine Corps base Twentynine Palms as a basic supply man. Following his military service, Seaver played on four Major League Baseball teams. 

Fred Willard

Starring in films like Anchorman and Best in Show, Fred Willard was a comedic actor best known for his off-color jokes. Prior to a career in comedy, Willard attended the Kentucky Military Institute. Upon graduating, Willard served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. He went on to have a successful career in both film and television. 

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Fred Willard in April 2008. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jerry Stiller

Jerry Stiller is best known for his roles on sitcoms Seinfeld and The King of Queens as well as being half of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara with his wife of 60 years, Anne MearaHis successful acting career often depicted him in fatherly roles, but he is also known for being the actual father of comedy legend Ben Stiller. Before hitting it big in comedy, he served in the US Army during World War II, stationed primarily in Italy, where he claimed to have spent most of his time playing football. Stiller left the service and used the GI Bill to become one of the first people to earn a degree in speech and drama from Syracuse University. He died in May 2020 and will be remembered for a career that covered the stage, film, and television. 

Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford, aka “The Chairman of the Board,” spent 16 years playing for the New York Yankees. By the time he retired from baseball he was a 10-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. In 1951, after two years as a promising rookie for the Yankees, Ford left the Major League to serve in the US Army during the Korean War. Following his enlistment, Ford returned to the Yankees and went on to make baseball history. Ford pitched 45 shutouts and holds the record of fourth-best winning percentage in all of baseball. 

While 2020 saw a long list of celebrities pass away, these are a few who chose to serve their country before, or even after, they were famous. A more complete record includes Kirk Douglas, Carl Reiner, Brian Dennehy, Don Shula, Joe Louis Clark, and Billy Joe Shaver. The seemingly endless list just goes to show how many Americans still value service to the nation, and more importantly how time spent serving others can help prepare for a life pursuing other ventures. You never know how many people standing on stage, taking the pitcher’s mound, or wielding a paintbrush once donned a uniform. Each of the celebrities on this list made history in their own right but remained humble about their military careers, leaving many fans unaware they ever served.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Humor

8 of the worst duties that still need to get done

When the big green weenie comes for you, it sets out to prove why ‘Enlisted military personnel’ keeps making lists of worst jobs in America. Year, after year, after year, after year. You can keep checking CareerCast and Forbes’ yearly lists. Believe me, it goes beyond 2012.


Troops don’t become salty because of the “long hours and deployments” like the lists claim. They suck it up, buttercup. What really shatters morale are details. But hey! Somebody has to do them, right?

Keep in mind, these aren’t always punishments. They can be, but almost everyone can get slapped with these from time to time.

Related: 9 entertaining ways to discipline your troops

#1. Connex organizing

Imagine having a garage that can never stay clean. Just full of crap that never gets touched except when it gets reorganized months later by the ‘Good Idea Fairy.’

Organizing these before deployment is great. Don’t expect to open it back up in country and anything to be in any kind of order. You know what that means…

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Your only salvation is praying someone lost the key, the spare key, the master key, and the bolt cutters all in the same day.

#2. Police calls (and other cleaning tasks)

There’s a reason PFC also stands for ‘Perfect Floor Cleaners.’

No matter how many cigarette butts troops pick up through out their career, there will always be more flicked out the window of a car or smothered underfoot and abandoned.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Behind every cigarette flicked out the window is a non-smoker cringing as they pick it up.

#3. Lay-Outs and Inventories

Just like the connex, most of these things only ever get touched when there’s a new commander signing off on the inventory.

Painstakingly laying out every last piece of equipment takes forever and when you finally make it look like everyone else’s layout, the commander just ends up fudging the hand receipt.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Which is fine, because you probably lost something anyway.

#4. Kitchen Patrol

(Mostly) gone are the days of skinning potatoes.

Doesn’t make working in the kitchen beside the cooks any less mind-numbing. Afterwards, maybe you’ll show a little empathy next time you want to raise hell because they “wouldn’t give you double servings of bacon just as the dining facility opened up.”

Writer’s note: I am a firm believer that if anyone makes a scene in a dining hall, loses military bearing, and starts cussing out the cooks over a serving size, theys should be sent to the back to work KP, and we should bring back the time-honored tradition/punishment of skinning potatoes.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
War never changes, just as military life never changes.

#5. Urinalysis Observer

If you thought being promoted out of the E-4 mafia meant you’d be safe — think again.

No NCO enjoys standing by and watching troops pee. And if they do, they’re freaking creeps who are the reason we have safety briefs.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses

Related: 13 hilarious urinalysis memes every troop will understand

#6. Filling Sand Bags

With everything in the military, there’s a limit to the amount of times you can clean something, organize something, or fine tune something until it’s completed (or needs fixing again).

Not sandbags. Fighting in desert environments means that there is a never ending supply of sandbags to fill. You’d think it’d stop when the bags ran out…but no, it doesn’t work like that.

The supply NCO doesn’t even order the sandbags. The empty bags get pulled out of their ass like tissue paper. The supply NCO then laughs maniacally at the dread of all the lower enlisted.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Remember back in the day when you made pillow forts? This is something like that. Except not fun.

#7. Burn Pits

Burn pits were used to clear out garbage and human waste in a hurry. Even though more efficient, eco-friendly, and healthier options (for literally everyone in the vicinity) have been more readily available, reports of open air burn pits still exist.

At the expense of sounding like a cheap law firm swarming victims like vultures, if you believe you might have be affected by burn pits, register with the VA at this link here. It’s a very serious health concern and the more veterans that stand up, the more seriously the issue will be taken.

The results should not be inconclusive. If the CDC says five cigarettes a day is unhealthy enough to be a medical concern, spending 12 months with your face in front of plumes of burning human sh*t shouldn’t be seen as less risky than some f*cking dust.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
Sprain your ankle, carry a rucksack, or have a receding hairline because of the military? You can claim it for a percentage. Breathe in burning human sh*t? Drink water and take a knee.

#8. Casualty Notification

There is no contest to what the most painful detail or duty in the military actually is.

Nothing can come close to what kind of heart break and hell the Casualty Notification Officers go through each and every time they walk up the doorway. They must skip the euphemisms like “they passed away.” No. They have to be blunt and straight forward. “Your __ was killed less than four hours ago.”

It’s the most thankless job in the military. No one wants to tell a parent, a spouse, or a child that their hero isn’t coming home. They have to be the ones to break the news. Over and over again.

While you clean the floors, laying out your vehicles kit, or skinning potatoes, just know it could always get worse.

The low-tech, fun way the Air Force is improving cyber defenses
I’d rather walk 12 miles up any hill than 12 feet up a widow’s driveway.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghanistan nabs dozens of suspected militants in sweep

Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency says its officers have arrested at least 26 suspected members of the extremist group Islamic State (IS), accusing them of plotting attacks on members of the Shi’ite minority.

The militants, including an alleged IS leader, were detained in separate operations in Kabul, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Sept. 18, 2018.

A statement said they planned to target Shi’a during this week’s commemoration of Ashura, the holiest celebration in the Shi’ite religious calendar.


The IS affiliate in Afghanistan has stepped up attacks on minority Shi’a across Afghanistan.

The group claimed responsibility for a Sept. 9, 2018 twin bomb attack at a wrestling club in a predominately Shi’ite neighborhood of Kabul that killed more than 20 people.

IS militants assert that Shi’a are apostates who deserve death.

Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban and IS since the United States and NATO formally ended their combat mission in the country in 2014.

In the northern province of Balkh, a local official said on Sept. 18, 2018, that nine members of the Afghan police force were killed when another officer shot them at a checkpoint.

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An Afghan National Police officer stops a vehicle for a random inspection at one of the inner city checkpoints on June 5, 2010, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Mohammadudin Khanjer, a police official in the district of Char Boldak, said one officer was wounded and three others were missing after the shooting late on Sept. 17, 2018.

The attacker was a policeman from another checkpoint in the same district who fled the scene after seizing all weapons from the checkpoint, apparently to join the Taliban, Khanjer said.

The Taliban did not immediately comment on the attack but the militants are active in the area.

Insider attacks, in which members of Afghan security forces or assailants dressed in Afghan uniforms fire on coalition troops, have become less common in recent years but remain a persistent worry.

The U.S. military said one of its servicemen was killed and another was wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Sept. 3, 2018, in an attack carried out by a member of the Afghan National Police.

It came nearly two months after a member of a U.S. Army training unit was shot dead by an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Oruzgan.

Featured image: The militants, including an alleged Islamic State leader, were detained in separate operations in Kabul.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How US Marine Wayne Terwilliger charged a Japanese tank head-on

The nose of their amphibious tank entered the ocean and bobbed through the waves en route toward the reef of Saipan, the largest archipelago among the Northern Mariana Islands. Wayne “Twig” Terwilliger, a radioman assigned to the 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division, watched helplessly as they crept over the reef toward the beach into the range of Japanese defensive positions.

“I started seeing these puffs of water all around us, and it took a second to realize what was causing them,” Terwilliger wrote in his autobiography. “Then we heard small arms fire hitting our tank, and the reality sank in: there were people on that island who wanted us dead.”


Prior to the invasion of Saipan, U.S. Navy frogmen conducted a daring reconnaissance mission in advance of the assault force. Valuable intelligence collected had provided the amphibious tanks with adjustments to successfully land on the beach — but they didn’t anticipate how their tracked vehicles would navigate earth displaced by battlefield weaponry in combat.

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Wayne Terwilliger, third from the left, on the beach at Saipan during a shelling attack, June 1944. The photo ran in newspapers across the country; in 2000, it appeared as background on a sheet of commemorative stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. Photo courtesy of wayneterwilliger.com

While the amphibious tanks attempted to land on the beach, some were destroyed and others became trapped in craters left from mortar shells in the sand. “Japanese mortars kept whistling over our heads,” Terwilliger said, describing his first hours in combat stuck inside a large, green, immobilized target. “Most of them were headed toward the beach area, but we never knew when one would come our way. We also had no idea how long we’d be stuck there. We were there at least a couple of hours, though it seemed like forever.”

Terwilliger’s crew left the disabled tank and scattered, diving into foxholes situated out of the open. Gunfire snapped overhead, and explosions from mortars and grenades flung a wall of shrapnel through the air. Before they could catch their breath the rumbling sound of an unfamiliar tank grew nearer. Their horror realized Japanese armor with the big red “Rising Sun” emblem on the tank’s side was blasting its 37mm turret gun and had stopped directly beside their foxhole.

With nothing more than a few hand grenades, his crew couldn’t defend themselves. They pulled the pins and hurled them at the tank before fleeing for cover, but there wasn’t any within crawling distance. Terwilliger ran under heavy fire across open ground until he reached an old Japanese artillery piece. His stomach dropped when he realized he had run the wrong way. He found a little path, as if all of the enemy’s attention was upon him, and sprinted toward the beach as bullets zipped passed. He looked over his shoulder to find the Japanese tank trailing his every move.

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Wayne “Twig” Terwilliger, front left, with Company D, 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion, which was created to lead the assault on key islands in the South Pacific. They fought at Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima, and were preparing for new battles when the war ended. Photo courtesy of wayneterwilliger.com

He zigzagged through the soft sand to give the tank a harder target to hit. Marines waved and yelled to get his attention, and he dashed over a small sand dune for cover. “I looked back just in time to see one of our tanks made a direct hit, which knocked the Japanese tank on its side,” Terwilliger reflected. “That was my first six or seven hours of combat.”

Terwilliger served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps, participating in the invasion of Tinian, as well as being among the first amphibious tanks to lead the invasion of Iwo Jima. During World War II, many amateur and professional baseball players joined service teams when not actively participating in combat operations.

“We didn’t have any spikes so we played in the boots the Marines issued us,” Terwilliger told ESPN. “You would have an air-raid sound during the game, you would scatter and then come back later to finish.” Terwilliger helped lead his battalion team to a 28-0 record, even winning the 2nd Division Championship — not bad for a high school second baseman.

When news of Japan’s surrender in 1945 came in, Terwilliger was in Hawaii, preparing to invade mainland Japan. He left the military that same year and went on to have a successful career as a player, coach, and manager in Major League Baseball. For 60 years, taking Terwilliger well into his 80s, he remained active in America’s national pastime. He was a teammate of Jackie Robinson — the first Black player to break the color barrier — and a personal friend of Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters in all of baseball. However, Terwilliger’s most prized experience was his service as a U.S. Marine.

BRCC Presents: WWII Army Ranger Roy Huereque & The Best Defense Foundation

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

You can soon sail on the Titanic II, here’s how that could end in disaster

Long ago, ancient Greeks told the tale of the titan, Atlas, who once tried to defy Zeus. He failed spectacularly and, for his hubris, was doomed to carry the sky for eternity as punishment. Later, Atlas tried to defy the gods once more by attempting to trick Hercules into taking on his punishment. He was fooled by the intrepid demigod and wound up shouldering the heavens all over. In short, he gambled with the gods and he lost.

It was only fitting that the largest ship of its time, the Olympic-class liner, RMS Titanic, whose name was rich with Classical symbolism, would suffer such a grim ending after spitting in the face of fate. A shipwright once famously said, “God himself couldn’t sink this ship!” Unfortunately for the shipwright (and all those aboard), the powers that be (perhaps those atop Mt. Olympus) were ready to call his bluff.

Just like Atlas, Sisyphus, Midas, Arachne, and Icarus all learned, it’s really not a good idea to keep trying to tempt fate. Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd, an Australian passenger and cargo shipping company, disagrees. They’re currently in the process of building the Titanic II, a near-identical replica of the famous, doomed Olympic-class liner, as their new flagship.


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Logically speaking, you’d think that if they model it after a ship that sank due to striking an iceberg, they’d have a few safety precautions in place for when they sail directly through an area full of them.

(“Sinking of the Titanic,” Willy Stower, 1912)

To be entirely fair, the latest iteration will feature some serious 21st-century upgrades: The hull will be welded instead of riveted, a diesel-electric engine will replace the steam engine, and wooden panels will be replaced with a veneer to keep up with modern fire regulations while maintaining an authentic appearance. Oh, and, of course, it’ll have the proper amount of lifeboats.

As one of its first voyages, the Titanic II will travel the same waterways as did the RMS Titanic, cruising along a route from Southampton to New York City. The path will still go through an area thick with icebergs, but given that it isn’t 1912, they’ll have better technology to spot and avoid them. Icebergs will, at most, probably just inspire tourists to take drunken selfies.

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You can only do the “I’m flying, Jack!” once before realizing the bow of the ship is friggin’ cold.

(National Park Services)

With the threat of icebergs (hopefully) neutralized, there are three main areas in which things could go wrong for the ship.

The first (and most obvious) threat is financial. The project has been the longtime dream of South African businessman, Sarel Gous. He first announced his venture back in 1998, around the time the Academy Award-winning film, Titanic, hit theaters.

Since then, the project has been on and off. There have been reports that the Titanic II would finally set sail in 2001, then again in 2008, 2012, 2016, 2018, and now, finally, in 2022. It’s been a repeating cycle: They’ll find an investment company willing to foot the bill, that company realizes it’s a pipe dream, and then they abandon the project.

Why are investors backing out? Well, since the new Titanic II will sport the same number of passengers as the original vessel, tickets for the maiden voyage will need to be insanely expensive — from around K to id=”listicle-2614623238″.2 million each — just to dream of making a profit. And, after the initial “cool factor” of being on the Titanic II fades, you’re left with the average, cruise-going crowd who won’t be able to afford tickets.

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The headlines would just write themselves if the Titanic II were to sink immediately upon hitting the water.

(NOAA)

The next threat to second unsinkable will come the moment the ship is first released into the water. The shipyard constructing the Titanic II, the state-owned CSC Jinling, has no drydock. They intend to side launch the 269m-long, 56,000 gross tonnage vessel directly into the Yangtze River.

This will make it the largest side-launched ship in history by an astronomical margin. When side-launching a vessel, extra care is taken to prevent it from capsizing the very moment it touches water. Weights are added to the ship to make its entry as gentle as possible. It’s fine for more balanced ships, but the Titanic II is extremely top-heavy.

They’re likely addressing this issue behind closed doors, but for the moment, it feels a lot like we’re looking at imminent disaster.

Finally, the Titanic could end in disaster (again) during its maiden voyage — but not due to icebergs. The trip recreating the original route from England to the US is actually the second voyage planned for the Titanic II. The maiden voyage will go from Dubai, UAE, to Southampton, UK, sailing directly through the Horn of Africa.

This is a Somali pirate’s wildest dream. Thousands of millionaires and billionaires are going to sail right through their backyard. You can bring security alongside the vessel while sailing through the region, but that won’t stop pirates from trying to take what’s not theirs.

Obviously, it’d be fantastic if the Titanic II actually manages to set sail and prove naysayers wrong. But unless they’re keeping a lot of solutions secret, it doesn’t seem likely. At the same time, people are genuinely excited for the chance to sail on the Titanic II.

I think most people want to go to enjoy a sense of danger — they may be disappointed when things go well.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How attacking Israel on a holiday backfired and turned into a rout

Arab armies have never had good luck fighting Israel. Israeli independence should have been a long shot in the first place, but they were just too good for the neighboring Arab countries. In 1967, when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, a move Israel flat-out told Egypt would cause a war, Egypt was ready for Israel – on paper, anyway. That war lasted six days. Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq together could not bring the IDF down.

But in 1973, they were going to try again and this time, it was going to be a surprise.


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Even though the Egyptians experienced initial successes, the real surprise would be getting their asses handed to them.

Israel was largely unprepared for two-pronged invasion through the Sinai from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria for many reasons. Israeli intelligence knew about troop build-ups but wrote them off as training maneuvers. It was the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, after all. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir ignored a warning from King Hussein of Jordan, the IDF ignored the fact that Soviet advisors left Egypt and Syria with their families, so when Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jewish religion, came around, the Israelis let their guard down.

That’s when the Arabs attacked.

Some 100,000 Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal with 1,300 tanks and 2,000 artillery guns, all protected by an umbrella of surface-to-air missile batteries to keep the Israeli Air Force – the reason the Arabs lost the Six-Day War – at bay. Facing the Egyptians were only 290 Israeli tanks housed in a scattering of fortresses along the canal, inadequate defenses to hold the Peninsula. Luckily for Israel, the Egyptians seemed to slow down when they approached the end of the SAM batteries’ range. This lull would prove critical to the Arab defeat.

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The Israelis at first concentrated on the Syrian invasion, considering it posed a much more vital threat to Israeli heartland, while the fighting with Egypt remained largely in the Sinai Peninsula. Once the Syrians were forced back and were on the defensive, the IDF was able to turn its attention to the Egyptian invaders. The Egyptians had just attempted to advance beyond their SAM shield by throwing a thousand tanks at reinforced Israeli defenses. Its losses were mounting and the time was right for a counterattack. It turns out the surprise that had allowed for Egypt’s initial successes was also the reason for its eventual defeat.

With so many Israelis at home for the holiday, the roads were remarkably clear, making it so much easier for Israeli reserves to activate and get to where they needed to be. After detecting a gap in the Egyptian lines, the Israelis planned their counterattack. Once the Israeli reserve forces were in place, they waited for a way to reduce Egypt’s armor strength before pouring through the gap and invading Egypt across the Suez. When Egypt threw its armor at Israeli defenses, that gave the IDF the chance it needed.

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Israeli tanks crossing the Suez in a surprise move of their own.

Commandos and tanks started striking surface radar and SAM sites, allowing the Israeli Air Force to operate with greater impunity. Instead of standing their ground, the Egyptians withdrew their SAM batteries, leaving their forces defenseless from the air. Israeli troops began to flow across the Suez Canal, hitting artillery positions, defensive fortifications, and even driving on major cities. The IDF advanced within 100 kilometers of Cairo before a UN-imposed cease-fire took effect, occupying 1,600 square kilometers of Egypt’s territory, and no defenses standing between the IDF and the Egyptian capital.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Third Army was completely cut off from resupply and surrounded, surely to be annihilated if the fighting continued. The Arab armies were humiliated by Israel once again, in just two short weeks. This time, however, would be the last time. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter successfully negotiated an end to hostilities between Egypt and Israel, an accord that has never been broken and may not ever have happened without the surprise defeat of Egypt in 1973.

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