You couldn’t turn on your television in the mid-2000s without seeing one of the adrenaline-pumping recruitment ads created by the United States Navy. Keith David’s majestic yet empowering voice tells you that being a civilian is overrated and that life in the Navy is freakin’ badass — a message delivered atop a crushing guitar riff from Godsmack’s Awake.
Keith David signed on because, despite having never served, he’s an avid supporter of the military and veteran community. In fact, many of his most well-known roles are of him portraying troops across many different branches.
Godsmack, on the other hand, got on board because someone asked politely.
At the turn of the century, the Navy was having trouble connecting with younger generations. Previous recruiting campaigns were falling flat, so the Navy worked with Campbell-Ewald, the advertising firm that came up with Ford’s “Like a Rock,” to develop something inspiring to young adults who sought high-tech adventure.
They came up with, “Accelerate Your Life.”
The Navy recruitment office signed Keith David on to what would become a sixteen-year spokesman deal and things were almost set. The only remaining piece to the puzzle was music.
As the story goes, a young sailor at the recruitment office simply got in contact with Sully Erna of Godsmack. The conversation was as simple as the sailor asking, “do you mind if we use Awake?” The band was cool with it and that was that. The band was very supportive of the troops and the fact that one of their fans was a sailor resonated with them.
From the Navy’s perspective, it was an easy win. The band’s main demographic, males between 18 and 30, overlapped perfectly with the demographic targeted by the Navy. The band received plenty of praise from the military community in return. Godsmack would go on to perform on countless military installations (having an obvious fanbase within the Navy). They even headlined the Rockin’ The Corps concert held at Camp Pendleton and perform at countless USO shows.
But those outside the military community weren’t so happy. Godsmack front-man Sully Erna received plenty of flack for signing two separate contracts, each allowing one of their songs to be used in recruitment ads. Awake was authorized between 2001 to 2004 and the contract was again renewed to allow for use of their latest song, Sick of Life, between 2004 and 2007.
The band has officially remained politically neutral, but that didn’t stop them from being outspoken supporters of the troops. Erna was confronted about this in an interview with Arthur magazine. The interviewer, Jay Babcock, was very confrontational in suggesting the band played a role in the Global War on Terror by helping recruit young adults into a war.
Erna response was unapologetic:
It’s energetic music. It’s very athletic. People feel that they get an adrenaline rush out of it or whatever, so, it goes with whatever’s an extreme situation. But I doubt very seriously that a kid is going to join the Marines or the U.S. Navy because he heard Godsmack as the underlying bed music in the commercial. They’re gonna go and join the Navy because they want to jump out of helicopters and f*ckin’ shoot people! Or protect the country and look at the cool infra-red goggles.
Either way, the Navy’s recruitment ads were a hit.
She is the leader of the pack, so to speak, of the Class of 2021 at the US Military Academy at West Point, and the first black woman to hold the position.
That Cadet Askew shattered West Point’s glass ceiling is no small measure — no small measure in the armed forces, for sure, and no small measure of 21st century America.
The military, like the world of business, has long been considered a man’s world.
And the telltale signs of war, peace and tribalism reflect where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed. Cadet Askew and her teammates are leading America across a new threshold.
For one, West Point is the oldest of our military academies. It was founded after President Thomas Jefferson, who had not served in the military but became commander in chief when he was sworn into office, signed the Military Peace Establishment Act in 1802. The act specified that the academy be established along the Hudson River in New York.
One of the largest footprints Cadet Askew is stepping into belongs to Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, West Point’s first black cadet captain and now commander of US Forces Korea.
“We are role models to a lot of young people, not just African-Americans and soldiers,” the now 58-year-old Gen. Brooks once said.
Indeed, America’s current state of affairs proves that America’s future leaders will have much with which to contend. Geneneral Brooks, who, like Cadet Askew, attended high school in Fairfax County, Virginia, is staring down the barrel of the North Korea nuclear threat.
On the home front, civil unrest and tensions among various cultural factions make the rounds of daily news and undistilled social media every day.
Remember Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch, the two soldiers who were captured in Iraq in 2003 during the “global war on terror”? The Marines rescued both, and both wrote successful biographies.
They, too, became role models even though their capture spawned anew the debate over whether women should even serve in combat areas.
Cadet Askew, 20, had barely entered grade school at the time.
Cadet Askew not only is making history, she is studying it as well. In fact, her major is international history, an ever-changing subject in this ever-changing world of ours.
She also loves volleyball and is on the West Point crew team — understanding, as too many of America’s political leaders and wannabe political leaders do not, that team sports give you a different perspective on leadership.
The media gave anyone interested a glimpse of Cadet Simone Askew in her new role as first captain of cadets at West Point, leading the Long Grey Line of cadets on a 12-mile basic training trek — smiling all the way.
Cadet Askew already sounds like she’s preparing the Army Class of 2021 for the history books.
“It’s humbling,” she said, “but also exciting as I step into this new opportunity to lead the corps to greatness with my teammates with me.”
Troops and veterans often check their social media accounts to find their civilian friends from home posting photos of their latest foray into fun runs or obstacle courses.
This gives troops the idea of joining in on the fun — and why not? The troops may not always win, but you can be damn sure they’ll come out in the top ten percent. And it looks even more impressive when they do it while covered in enough mud to hide from the Predator.
Coincidentally, troops can put their awesome ass-kicking skills to the test when Spartan Race returns to military installations this summer.
And we do it while hungover.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson)
Morning PT is much harder than most normal workouts
Barring any physical restriction, troops always keep themselves at peak physical performance. They’re not out there bragging about that one time they went to the gym (in early January), they’re out there every morning doing what they must to remain fit.
And while it may seem like the combat arms units are working harder than support units, the fact is that even the guys in, say, the motor pool, are still getting a much more difficult workout on a daily basis than most dudes collecting selfies at the gym.
Then, after morning PT, we go hard AF in the gym — meaning that civilians are screwed.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C. Henninger)
Morning PT is well-rounded
One of the biggest mistakes of fitness newcomers is that they focus in on one aspect of training. They target one muscle and they go hard. Sure, it’s great that you can curl the bells on the bottom rack, but it’s laughable that you think you’ll look like Arnold by skipping leg day.
Obstacle courses don’t exclusively require lifting heavy things and putting them down. To find real success, you need to max out your entire body. It just so happens that much of what’s required to dominate an obstacle course is built into the morning PT schedule.
Despite what people with a fear of heights think, this tower is actually a rest opportunity.
(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. 1st Class Lisa M. Litchfield)
We’ve got the technique
Which brings us to the actual obstacle course itself. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a course that doesn’t include the classic “low crawl under barbed wire” and a sheer wall to climb. If you’ve never attempted either of these, prepare to be gassed.
The biggest secret about obstacle courses is that it requires brain more than it does brawn. Almost anyone can climb a rope if they know the proper technique (curl the rope onto one of your feet and step on it with the other, clinching it so you don’t fall). We know how to climb, crawl, and run with the best of them.
And when an obstacle calls for physical strength, well… see points one and two above.
Coordination without communication
Some obstacle courses require teamwork. Civilians, in general, will waste precious time figuring out how to approach a challenge while the troops just nod at each other and instinctively know.
This isn’t magic. This is because troops have worked for so long and so hard with their fellow troops that words aren’t needed. Years of training means that you know what your squadmates’ weaknesses are and who among you has the strength to negate them.
Take a look at the video below. You’ll see troops first lift the strong guys, followed by the weaker guys, followed finally by the two who can complete the obstacle themselves.
Failure is not an option
Typically, there isn’t some big cash prize at the end. Being the first to complete an obstacle course out in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to land you any product endorsements (probably). Most people are there test themselves and have a good time.
Troops, on the other hand, take everything as a challenge because, in our minds, second place really means, “first place loser.” Even if the grand prize is just some plastic trophy that’ll sit on the back of a shelf, you best believe that troops are going for it. To us, that piece of plastic spells victory.
More than 90 percent of those who attempt to become an Army diver fail in the first 14 days of training.
The hopefuls are often overcome, physically and mentally, by rigorous drills meant to winnow down recruits to the elite few.
The journey to become an Army diver begins (and often ends) at the Phase I course of the U.S. Army Engineer Dive School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In fiscal year 2018, only six enlisted soldiers attained the 12D (Engineer Diver) military occupational specialty. Although nine graduated Phase I of their Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, only the six went on to graduate from Phases II and III held at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Sgt. 1st Class Eric T. Bailey, noncommissioned officer in charge and master diver for the 12D Phase I course, said a lot of the recruits arrive for training ill-prepared for what awaits them. The recruits have to pass a Diver Physical Fitness Test that, besides curl-ups and pushups, includes a timed 500-yard swim using the breast or side stroke, six pull-ups and a 1.5 mile run in 12 minutes and 30 seconds or less. They also need to pass the Class I Advanced Survival Swimmer Test. The ASST has five events including an underwater breath hold in which the trainees, in their full uniform, descend to the bottom of a 14-foot pool and swim the entire width of the pool on a single breath, touching the first and last of seven lane lines, before ascending. And that’s just Day 1.
Soldiers going through Phase I of Army Engineer Dive School honed their performance skills with the assistance of Performance Experts, or PEs, from the Fort Leonard Wood R2 Performance Center.
(US Army photo)
Throughout Phase I, students have to do increasingly arduous breath-holding drills, including “ditch and dons” which involve ditching their gear at the bottom of the pool then donning it again, making sure to clear their mask and snorkel. Bailey said the hardest part of the drill is for students to remain calm enough to don their gear even as their body urges them to breathe.
“They give up on themselves mentally, before they physically can’t do any more,” said Bailey.
As a result of the insanely high attrition rates, Bailey set out to find a way to “make soldiers better, faster.” And he thinks he has found it in the Fort Leonard Wood Ready and Resilient Performance Center or R2PC.
The R2PC is staffed with master resilience trainers-performance experts, or MRT-PEs, who are not only trained to increase soldier’s mental resilience but also have degrees in sports and performance psychology which they use to enhance soldier’s physical performance.
Dr. Kelly Dantin and Deanna Morrison, the performance experts on contract at the Fort Leonard Wood R2PC, observed the diver training and talked to the cadre and graduates of Phase I to get their input and develop a customized block of instruction for the 12D trainees. They found that if the students were physically prepared for the Phase I course, their next biggest challenge to graduating was their mindset. So they set about instilling in the students the mentality that quitting was “off the table” and simply not an option, Dantin said.
The performance experts started working with the 12D trainees in October 2018. The week prior to the students starting Phase I, Dantin and Morrison gave them training on techniques such as deliberate (or tactical) breathing, labeling (which includes the act of reframing a situation as a challenge instead of a threat) and Activating Events, Thoughts, and Consequences , or ATC.
ATC is a model that conveys that it’s thinking that determines what people do and how they feel, not the events that happen.”
Deanna Morrison (left) and Dr. Kelly Dantin make a list of what a person physically feels when they are calm during a block of instruction for students of the Army Engineer Diver Phase I course.
(US Army photo)
Students who fail from the Phase I course do so because they feel overwhelmed by the physical demands and don’t believe they can continue to perform over the entire course, Bailey said. To address this mental obstacle, the R2 performance experts teach the students a technique called segmenting. They teach them to break down the course into small chunks, and instead of thinking about the entirety of the course, just to think about making it until lunch. And then making it until dinner. And then making it until bedtime.
“Evolution by evolution, lap by lap, you can segment anything, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces,” that are manageable, Bailey said.
“We teach them how to perform better under pressure,” using both mental resilience and sports psychology, Morrison said.
In the four months since they started the R2 training, the course has achieved what previously took an entire year: graduating nine students out of Phase I. Bailey said that if the numbers bear out, he is looking at doubling the graduation rate in FY2019 from the previous year.
Bailey said he knows that the R2 training is working and has been a contributing factor with helping to reduce the attrition rates.
“Every time that we have done a debrief with a soldier that graduated, they said that training helped,” Bailey said. The students even start talking about the specific techniques, repeating what they learned from the R2 training. That success led to Bailey asking the MRT-PEs to continue to give the block of instruction in all future Phase I courses.
“Because of the R2 performance training we are sending to Florida soldiers that are better prepared, not only physically, tactically and technically, but also mentally,” Bailey said.
Think of all the parts of the U.S. government that can and should have a plan to keep working after a nuclear attack. The Department of Defense? Sure. Congress? Yup. FBI, NSA, and CIA? Yeah, they seem necessary in the aftermath. But there are two groups you may not have thought of who plan to dig in and get the job done: The IRS and the USPS.
Yeah, you’re almost certain to keep getting taxed after a nuclear attack, and you might even be getting notices through the mail (though, not if you were in the city that got hit).
But the IRS and USPS weren’t focused on that, and they were actually working with the Parks Service for a good reason: Those three agencies were key to a rebuilding plan.
If your city is hit by a hurricane or crippled by an earthquake, you’re evacuated to cities outside of the danger zone. But if multiple cities or dozens are hit with nuclear bombs, then there likely won’t be suitable infrastructure to support all the refugees in nearby cities. So, the plan was to move them to the national parks.
A role player pretends to be injured during Exercise Scarlet Response at Guardian Center, Georgia.
(U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Dylan Bowyer)
But what then? Hundreds of thousands of lives would be gone, and billions of dollars in buildings and infrastructure destroyed. Even in the midst of the grief, the government would have a job to do. There would be millions of people living in the parks, and it would fall to the USPS to process who had remained in the city, who had escaped, and who had died.
And that could include delivering notices of new tax plans. If only one or two cities were lost then, as crazy as it sounds, that would mean the IRS could get back to business as usual with few major changes. It would be horrible, but the American economy would shake itself off and get back up.
But a more extensive attack would’ve changed the way the U.S. worked for generations. There would be no guarantee that income and corporate taxes could cover the insane costs necessary to rebuild lost cities, decontaminate hundreds of square miles of terrain, and support the war being waged against the attacker.
So the Treasury Department had a plan to restart the economy and to help the IRS develop a new collection plan within 30 days of an attack. The new tax plan could be something as simple as a flat sales tax (congratulations, libertarians!) That would greatly simplify the IRS’s job, something that would be pretty necessary if their offices in Washington D.C. were hit.
And it would be necessary in a cash-based economy. Yes, cash-based. The plan was to slowly release stockpiled billion in cash until they could get back to printing money. In an odd twist of fate, that was mostly two-dollar bills. A 1970s printing run of the currency had failed to impress the public, so the government just used the unpopular bills to create their stockpile.
The U.S. Marines are about to start receiving real robotic exoskeletons for testing, but these exo-suits aren’t headed into combat any time soon. Instead, they’ll be supporting logistical operations like loading and unloading pallets of gear and ammunition in the field.
While that might not sound like the sort of high-speed missions you imagined for the first widely-used military robotic exoskeletons, it’s really the most logical (and feasible) use for this burgeoning technology. America’s Special Operations Command spent years working to develop the TALOS robotic exoskeleton for specialized combat applications, but found the various systems they employed were too finicky for serious combat ops. While exoskeletons can significantly augment a person’s strength, they also consume a huge amount of power, often requiring that they stay tethered to a power cable.
Mock up of a TALOS suit. (U.S. Army photo by Anthony Taylor, 85th Support Command Public Affairs Office)
TALOS was ultimately canceled last year, but a number of different technologies developed for the forward-thinking system continue to live on in various weapon development programs that fall under SOCOM’s purview. Sarcos Defense’ new suit isn’t derived from the TALOS program, but offers some of the same significant advantages, including the ability to increase the strength and endurance of whoever’s strapped in. Despite the TALOS program’s progress in a number of areas, it was ultimately deemed infeasible for combat.
However, just because robotic exoskeleton technology isn’t quite advanced to the point where it can be used outside the wire quite yet, it could be an extremely useful solution to problems service members still have inside forward operating bases. Unloading literal tons of equipment, ammunition, and supplies that arrive on pallets is one such challenge.
By utilizing the Sarcos Defense Guardian XO Alpha robotic exoskeleton, a single Marine can do the offloading work that would normally require an entire dedicated fire team.
“As the U.S. Marine Corps focuses on logistics and sustainment modernization as one of their key priorities and looks to reduce the manpower required to conduct expeditionary operations, the Guardian XO is well-suited to fulfill a wide variety of logistics applications to address their needs and requirements.” –Sarcos Defense
As America’s premier expeditionary force, The Marines have placed a renewed emphasis on Expeditionary Advanced Basing Operations (EABO) in recent years. Put simply, EABO is all about increasing the operational capabilities of Marines working in austere environments that may not be near large military installations. The intent behind incorporating new technology like the Guardian XO Alpha is to bring big installation capabilities to forward operating areas. Whereas large military installations can utilize forklifts to rapidly load or unload supplies, smaller FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) have to rely on manpower to unload supplies when they arrive.
“Instead of a team of four Marines, maybe you only need a Marine with this capability to offload pallets or move or load munitions,” Jim Miller, Sarcos Robotics’ vice president of defense solutions, explained last year.
Sarcos Guardian® XO® Full-Body Powered Exoskeleton: Alpha Unit Preview
In the short term, Marines will be assessing this new robotic exoskeleton to see just how useful it might be in a variety of operations, including some the team at Sarcos might not have thought of yet. Of course, another important part of the testing process will be figuring out what this exo-suit can’t do, and that’s where the Marines may really shine. After all, if you want to find out just how hard you can run a piece of gear before it dies, there are few organizations more qualified for such a torture test than the United States Marine Corps.
The Guardian XO robot, an exoskeleton suit to help reduce the risk of injuries by improving human strength and endurance, is on display at the 2019 Modern Day Marine Expo on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Sept. 18, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yuritzy Gomez)
“The Sarcos Defense team is very pleased that the U.S. Marine Corps will be testing use cases for our Guardian XO Alpha version this year,” said Ben Wolff, CEO, Sarcos Defense.
“Our military branches need to regularly address changing personnel issues and reduce the risk of injury from performing heavy-lifting tasks. We believe that our full-body, powered exoskeletons will be a huge benefit to the Marines as well as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and USSOCOM, who we are also working with on our exoskeleton technology.”
Imagine waking up one day and feeling as if a hurricane hit — except everything is still standing.
The lights are out, there is no running water, you have no phone signal, no internet, no heating or air conditioning. Food starts rotting in your fridge, hospitals struggle to save their patients, trains and planes are stuck.
There are none of the collapsed buildings or torn-up trees that accompany a hurricane, and no floodwater. But, all the same, the world you take for granted has collapsed.
This is what it would look like if hackers decided to take your country offline.
Business Insider has researched the state of cyberwarfare, and spoken with experts in cyberdefense, to piece together what a large-scale attack on a country like the US could look like.
Nowadays nations have the ability to cause warlike damage to their enemy’s vital infrastructure without launching a military strike, helped along by both new offensive technology and the inexorable drive to connect more and more systems to the internet.
What makes infrastructure systems so vulnerable is that they exist at the crossroads between the digital world and the physical world, said Andrew Tsonchev, the director of technology for the cyberdefense firm Darktrace.
Computers increasingly control operational technologies that were previously in the hands of humans — whether the systems that route electricity through power lines or the mechanism that opens and closes a dam.
“These systems have been connected up to the Wild West of the internet, and there are exponential opportunities to break in to them,” Tsonchev said. This creates a vulnerability experts say is especially acute in the US.
Most US critical infrastructure is owned by private businesses, and the state does not incentivize them to prioritize cyberdefense, according to Phil Neray, an industrial cybersecurity expert for the firm CyberX.
“For most of the utilities in the US that monitoring is not in place right now,” he said.
One of the most obvious vulnerabilities experts identify is the power grid, relied upon by virtually everyone living and working in a developed country.
Researchers for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are preparing for just that kind of scenario.
They told Business Insider just how painstaking — and slow — a restart would be if the US were to lose control of its power lines.
A DARPA program manager, Walter Weiss, has been simulating a blackout on a secretive island the government primarily uses to study infectious animal diseases.
On the highly restricted Plum Island, Weiss and his team ran a worst-case scenario requiring a “black start,” in which the grid has to be brought back from deactivation.
“What scares us is that once you lose power it’s tough to bring it back online,” Weiss said. “Doing that during a cyberattack is even harder because you can’t trust the devices you need to restore power for that grid.”
In November, DARPA staged what a cyberattack on the US power grid could look like.
(Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
The exercise requires experts to fight a barrage of cyberthreats while also grappling with the logistics of restarting the power system in what Weiss called a “degraded environment.”
That means coordinating teams across multiple substations without phone or internet access, all while depending on old-fashioned generators that need to be refueled constantly.
Trial runs of this work, Weiss said, showed just how fragile and prone to disruption a recovery effort might be. Substations are often far apart, and minor errors or miscommunications — like forgetting one type of screwdriver — can set an operation back by hours.
A worst-case scenario would require interdependent teams to coordinate these repairs across the entire country, but even an attack on a seemingly less important utility could have a catastrophic impact.
Maritime ports are another prime target — the coastal cities of San Diego and Barcelona, Spain, reported attacks in a single week in 2018.
Both said their core operations stayed intact, but it is easy to imagine how interrupting the complicated logistics and bureaucracy of a modern shipping hub could ravage global trade, 90% of which is ocean-borne.
Itai Sela, the CEO of the cybersecurity firm Naval Dome, told a recent conference that “the shipping industry should be on red alert” because of the cyberthreat.
The world has already seen glimpses of the destruction a multipronged cyberattack could cause.
Besides the attacks on the power grid, the devastating NotPetya malware in 2017 paralyzed Ukrainian utility companies, banks, and government agencies. The malware proved so virulent that it spread to other countries.
Hackers have also caused significant disruption with so-called ransomware, which freezes computer systems unless the users had over large sums of money, often in hard-to-trace cryptocurrency.
An attack on local government services in Baltimore has frozen about 10,000 computers since May 7, 2019, getting in the way of ordinary activities like selling homes and paying the water bill. Again, this is proof of concept for something far larger.
Though the capacity is there, as with most large-scale acts of war, state actors are fearful to pull the trigger.
James Andrew Lewis, a senior vice president and technology director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider the fear of retaliation kept many hackers in check.
“The caveat is how a country like the US would retaliate,” he said. “An attack on this scale would be a major geopolitical move.”
Despite the growing dangers, this uneasy and unspoken truce has kept the threat far from most people’s minds. For that to change, Lewis believes, it would require a real, large-scale attack with real collateral.
“I’m often asked: How many people have died in a cyberattack? Zero,” he said.
“Maybe that’s the threshold. People underappreciate the effects that aren’t immediately visible to them.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The Trump administration has decided not to send the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman into retirement two decades early, Vice President Mike Pence announced from the carrier’s decks April 30, 2019.
“We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight. We are not retiring the Truman,” Pence said, The Virginia-Pilot reported. “The USS Harry S. Truman is going to be giving ’em hell for many more years to come,” the vice president added.
President Trump asked Pence to deliver the message, he revealed.
The Navy announced in its FY 2020 budget proposal that it had decided to mothball the Truman rather than go through with its planned mid-life refueling. The move was intended to free up funds for the purchase of new systems to give the US Navy an edge against rivals China and Russia, technologies such as artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, and directed-energy weapons, among other things.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call in the hangar bay aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.
“Great power competition has reemerged as the central challenge to US security and prosperity, demanding prioritization and hard strategic choices,” the US Navy had explained.
US military leaders, including Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, have defended the move before skeptical lawmakers in recent weeks. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson spoke in favor of the Navy’s decision April 29, 2019.
“The most mortal sin we can have right now is to stay stable or stagnant,” he said at a security forum in Washington, DC. “We’re trying to move, and that is exactly the decision dynamic with respect to what’s more relevant for the future. Is it going to be the Harry S. Truman and its air wing where there’s a lot of innovation taking place, or is it something else?”
But the Trump administration took a different view after overruled its military leaders.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Hours, days, weeks, months and even years of training have prepared two airmen for one moment — four explosive seconds at the top of a winding icy track in a city that once hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Early days of sprinting, heavy lifting, box jumps and squats have faded into late nights of sanding runners, making countless adjustments and pushing through frustrations to shave off hundredths of a second pushing a 500-pound sled 60 meters.
The goal? A chance to make a team in four years. A chance for a medal. A chance to represent their nation and the Air Force. A chance.
Two airmen within Air Force Special Operations Command were selected to compete with the USA Bobsled team. Capt. Dakota Lynch, a 34th Special Operations Squadron U-28A pilot, and Capt. Chris Walsh, a 24th Special Operations Wing special tactics officer, are push athletes who are ultimately competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2022.
“If you want it bad enough, you’re going to do whatever it takes to be successful … that’s the grit of this sport,” said Walsh. “It takes four years of commitment to make yourself better with every opportunity and even then you’re never really quite there … you have to keep grinding.”
As push athletes, both airmen train vigorously on sprinting and strength to accelerate a bobsled up to 24 miles per hour in close to four seconds while the pilot focuses on navigating hairpin turns in a choreographed chaos down the ice.
Capt. Dakota Lynch, a U-28 pilot with the 34th Special Operations Squadron, performs sprints at The Fieldhouse on Nov. 16, 2018, in Park City, Utah.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)
“It’s a metal and carbon fiber bullet rifling down an ice track at speeds of 85-95 miles per hour,” Lynch said. “It’s like a fast-moving jet with a monkey at the controls while getting in a fight with Mike Tyson … it can be incredibly violent.”
Preceding the countless hours in the gym and on the track, the ride begins with a dream to succeed at the highest athletic level. For Walsh, it was an article in a magazine and for Lynch, it was a challenge from friends while deployed to Africa. For both, it would begin a journey of bruises, scrapes and exasperation that would lead them to Park City, Utah, for the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation North American Cup.
The first steps of their journey was a gauntlet of tryouts and selection beginning with an open combine. From there, standout athletes were invited to rookie camp and then push championships in Lake Placid, New York. Then, both Lynch and Walsh were invited to national team trials to continue to the next phase — competition.
“It relates pretty closely to the job because there’s days where you know it’s going to be tough,” said Walsh. “Every workout, every time I’m in the garage with the team, every step I take is either taking me closer or further away from my goal. If I’m lazy and I decide to slack one day … that workout may mean the difference between me making the Olympic team or not.”
Both airmen attribute their time in AFSOC to their success on their bobsled journey. Walsh is a member of Air Force special tactics, which is a special operations ground force comprised of highly trained airmen who solve air to ground problems across the spectrum of conflict and crisis.
Capt. Chris Walsh, a Special Tactics officer with the 24th Special Operations Wing, taps Hunter Church, bobsled pilot for Team USA, at the finish of their second four-man run at the Utah Olympic Park on Nov. 17, 2018, in Park City, Utah.
“The qualities that special tactics fosters in individuals translates very well to bobsledding,” said Walsh. “ST operators are mature, responsible and disciplined and need to be squared away as individuals. If they’re not, the team as a whole is weak … so having that grit and determination to see the mission through is a big piece of what makes me successful here.”
For Lynch, the team mentality of a four-man bobsled loosely correlates to responsibilities of piloting an aircraft. The U-28A aircraft Lynch flies provides an on-call capability for improved tactical airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of special operations forces.
“In AFSOC, I am responsible for the aircraft, the men and the women on that aircraft and ensuring the mission is executed properly, safely and precisely,” said Lynch. “Things aren’t going to get handed to you — conditions are going to suck, you’re going to get your crap punched in, but you’re going to have to have the strength and resiliency to drive through it and press forward.”
As active-duty airmen, both Lynch and Walsh have had to negotiate service commitments with leadership support. Both have been granted permissive temporary duty by their respective commanders to vie for a chance at being accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program.
WCAP provides active duty, National Guard and reserve service members the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic team while maintaining a professional military career.
“I wouldn’t be here without my squadron and group commanders taking a chance on me and giving me a shot,” said Walsh. “It makes me want to do really well to represent my country, the Air Force and AFSOC in a good light.”
If you’re a fan of the Marvel Universe, then this year has been one of the most mind-blowing and entertaining of your nerdtastic life. From Black Panther‘s record-smashing release weekend to the heart-breaking ending of Avengers: Infinity War, 2018 has done a lot for comic-book fans.
Starting with Iron Man in 2008, superheroes has taken on a prominent role in lighting up the big screen. Their wide array of high-powered abilities are fascinating to watch — even if they’re obviously not real. The true heroes are our service members, men and woman who risk life and limb each day — even without divine superpowers or extreme genetic mutation.
As anyone who has ever gone through boot camp can tell you, it’s not all bronze that gets you through basic. You need a certain mental fortitude if you’re going to make the cut. With that in mind, let’s break down Marvel’s Avengers and see who wouldn’t cut it in the military.
“Take away his suit and what do you have left?” Tony Stark would proudly answer back, “a genius, billionaire playboy philanthropist.” Good answer, but these are all characteristics that would make Iron Man an outstanding civilian. How would he fair up in boot?
Let’s see how far daddy’s money will take him when he’s stripped of his suit, money, and nice hair cut. Iron Man is tough — of that there’s no doubt — but we also know how Tony gets when he doesn’t have his way. He’s a problem-solver, but he’s not one for regulations. In short, Tony Stark is not the battle buddy I’d want watching my 6.
Scarlet Witch has the power to levitate items at will and hurl them at the enemy. This is a perfect ability to have in any branch. You can deflect bullets from incoming assailants or save a ship from a missile strike. This superpower that could, potentially, save thousands of lives makes Scarlet Witch a powerful asset to any team.
Power, however, has proven itself to be useless without grit. Yes, Scarlet is powerful and has abilities that can quickly upset the balance, but hesitation during battle often makes the biggest difference.
In the real world, battle doesn’t stop for speeches. If Scarlet Witch needs a motivational essay before using her powers, she might as well be carrying an M16 without any 5.56mm rounds.
We all know the story: He got bit by a radioactive spider and now he’s fast, strong, and has amazing reflexes. Spider-Man would make the perfect recruit on paper. He’s be an excellent infiltrator and reconnaissance expert.
The problem is that this kid just doesn’t know when it’s time to shut his mouth. Yes, he has the skills, but let’s remember that loose lips sink ships, Mr. Parker.
He’s the God of Thunder, Son of Odin, and one of, if not, the strongest Avenger. This blonde-haired, Fabio-looking strongman is not only impenetrable to harm, but also wields a Hammer that grants him the ability to fly.
Thor would make the cut for almost any special operations team the military has to offer. However, good luck getting him to follow orders.
Being an immortal God has a way of turning one into a lone wolf. Thor would find himself in and out the military faster than you can say Mjölnir!
Last and most certainly not least, we have the man of the hour: The Incredible Hulk. As Bruce Banner, this Avenger would make the perfect troop. He’s smart, he’s cunning, he follows orders, and he’s always ready to help.
Sounds like the perfect recruit, right? Wrong. Bruce Banner is the perfect definition of someone who goes postal. Let’s see how long Bruce can be barked at by drill instructors before the mean green surfaces. He’d be great for a raid, but try finding a redhead in the Middle East to calm this beast down when he’s chocked full of rage.
Let’s just say court=martial is most definitely a part of his near future.
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke about leadership to educators responsible for training the next generations of military leaders at the Association of Military Colleges on Feb. 25, 2019.
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva used the experience of the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945 as an example of leadership in action and a time when normal men rose to sublime levels of leadership.
Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. The United States sent 70,000 Marines and sailors to assail the bastion in the Central Pacific. An unprecedented bombardment of the small island — some 74 days — had very little effect, because Japanese soldiers literally had dug into the island.
“Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do — to do things they don’t believe they can do,” Selva said to the educators. “I imagine not many Marines wanted to charge ahead, directly into the barrage of fire that was being delivered upon them on Iwo Jima. Leaders have to figure out what skills we have to help others, and to inspire others to do things they certainly do not want to do — to accept those challenges that they believe are insurmountable.”
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, completes an arrested landing training simulation at Training Air Wing 6 during a visit at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Feb. 1, 2019. Selva visited the training squadrons before speaking at a Joint Winging Ceremony for Air Force combat systems officers and naval flight officers.
(DOD photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann)
All the firepower from battleships, cruisers and destroyers off the island, from aircraft strafing positions and from artillery reached a limit, and it was Marine riflemen who had to shoulder the burden of taking on the entrenched Japanese.
American leaders believed the battle would be over in days. But the island wasn’t secure for a month, at a cost of 21,000 Japanese dead. Some 6,800 Marines and sailors died in the battle, and more than 20,000 were wounded.
A total of 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for gallantry during the battle for Iwo Jima — the largest single-number of awards for a single battle in U.S. history.
“We are not genetically predisposed for leadership,” Selva said. “We’re actually predisposed, my theory is, to be good followers. And it is exceptional followers who become leaders of character. And it’s a learned trait, not an innate skill.”
These leadership traits can be taught, the general said. “If there’s a chance to build good leaders, it’s because they have role models,” he said. “They have people who are willing to share their skills and teach their skills. Because teaching leadership is a little bit about baring your soul. It’s a little bit about admitting your weaknesses. It’s a little bit about helping other people discover theirs. And it’s certainly about motivating them to overcome them.”
A recent increase in UFO sightings has caused the Navy to revamp guidelines with which to report a UFO sighting officially. This comes on the heels of a 2018 sighting that was reported by the Washington Post and then seemingly disappeared back into the national never-before-truly-confirmed zeitgeist alongside bigfoot and infants that don’t cry on airplanes.
“advanced aircraft” is a farcry from the traditional UFO explanation of weather balloons (pictured)
A Navy spokesperson told Politico, ” There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years […] For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report.”
The current process has led to some gridlock and complications with reporting ‘unidentified flying objects’ so the format is being streamlined by the Navy to make sure that “such suspected incursions can be made to cognizant authorities.”
Obviously, one possible knee-jerk public reaction is going to use this as military confirmation about the possibility of extraterrestrial life or “aliens” on earth. However, the Navy has made no such comment on the matter, as it is far more likely that these “UFOs” are either allied/enemy covert aircraft.
This is not to say that the possibility hasn’t been explored in a military context. In fact, the Department of Defense established a program entirely dedicated to further investigation of UFO sightings: The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
However, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) only ran from 2007-2012. Its eventual folding in 2012 was because it was “determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.”
Former military intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who apparently led the AATIP, is in favor of ramping up UFO sighting efforts.
He describes the paradox with military sightings in relation to civilian UFO sightings, “If you are in a busy airport and see something you are supposed to say something” he said.
“With our own military members it is kind of the opposite: ‘If you do see something, don’t say something. … What happens in five years if it turns out these are extremely advanced Russian aircraft?”
Chris Mellon, an associate of Elizondo’s and a co-contributor to the upcoming docuseries “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation” piggybacked on Elizondo’s comments.
“Right now, we have a situation in which UFOs and UAPs are treated as anomalies to be ignored rather than anomalies to be explored,” he told Politico. He continued on saying that it is a common occurrence that military personnel “don’t know what to do with that information — like satellite data or a radar that sees something going Mach 3.”
It is unclear what military officials believe these anomalies could be, but one thing is for certain now—they’re on the radar.
President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun, he told the CIA officers tasked with briefing him each day.
As vice president and president, Bush took special interest in the intelligence he was provided and in the personnel who provided it, according to a remembrance in the most recent edition of the CIA’s Studies in Intelligence journal, written by its managing editor, Andres Vaart, a 30-year CIA veteran.
In a 1995 article in the journal, one of Bush’s briefers, Charles A. Peters, recounts how, on Jan. 21, 1989, the day after his inauguration, Bush injected levity into one of the more severe daily tasks the president takes on.
“When the President had finished reading, he turned to me and said with deadly seriousness, ‘I’m quite satisfied with the intelligence support, but there is one area in which you’ll just have to do better.’ The [director of Central Intelligence, William Webster] visibly stiffened,” Peters wrote, according to Vaart.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist administering the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush during Inaugural ceremonies at the United States Capitol. Jan. 20, 1989.
(Library of Congress)
“‘The Office of Comic Relief,’ the new President went on, ‘will have to step up its output.’ With an equally straight face I promised the President we would give it our best shot,” Peters wrote. “As we were leaving the Oval Office, I wasted no time in reassuring the Director that this was a lighthearted exchange typical of President Bush, and that the DCI did not have to search out an Office of Comic Relief and authorize a major shakeup.”
The CIA staffers compiling the PDB included a “Sign of the Times” section, which included amusing or unusual anecdotes meant to lighten otherwise heavy reading.
“Libyan intelligence chief recently passed message via Belgians laying out case for better relations with US and expressing desire to cooperate against terrorism… even suggested he would like to contribute to your re-election campaign,” one January 1992 entry read, according to Peters.
“French company says it has won contract to export vodka to Russia… deal apparently stems from shortage of bottles and bottling equipment… no word on whether Paris taking Russian wine in return,” a July 1992 entry read.
US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
(George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)
Bush’s single term stretched over the final days of the Soviet Union, possibly giving CIA staffers the opportunity to draw on their cache of Soviet jokes to liven up the daily briefing.
Bush’s briefs also included updates about his counterparts. From time to time, Vaart writes, Bush would call one of those leaders to chat about something interesting they were doing.
For staffers working on the President’s Daily Brief between 1981 and 1993, during Bush’s time in office, “no labor was too intense to produce the needed story and no hours were too many or too late to make certain we … made it good and got it right,” Vaart writes.
“This may have been true with later presidents,” Vaart adds, “but what stood out with President Bush was that we … knew well that the effort was truly appreciated.”
“We also saw through those interactions, as though at first hand, the humor and personality of a man who deeply cared about the people who served him,” he writes.
Bush’s mirth was widely recounted in the days after his death on Nov. 30, 2018. Friends and colleagues remembered his enthusiasm for jokes — at his expense, like when he invited Dana Carvey to the White House to impersonate him after his 1992 electoral defeat, and at the expense of others, like the “award” he gave aides who fell asleep during meetings, named after national-security adviser and frequent dozer Brent Scowcroft.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.