How sailors keep their warships from breaking down - We Are The Mighty
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How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

American warships are capable, lethal, and imposing, so much so that it can be easy to forget that they are still just lumps of metal floating through highly damaging saltwater while running at high power as hundreds or thousands of sailors prowl their decks.

Here’s how sailors make sure that all the sailing, work, and seawater doesn’t doom the ship before it can shoot its way through enemy fleets:


How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Ryann Galbraith brazes piping aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Hogan)

One of the most important parts, besides avoiding enemy missiles and shells, obviously, is making sure that the saltwater stays in the ocean and doesn’t get inside the ship. That’s why the Navy has hull maintenance technicians like Ryann Galbraith, above. They work on all the plumbing, decks, structures, and hulls, patching, welding, riveting, etc. to keep fluids and steam in dedicated pipes.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
U.S. Navy divers, assigned to Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, drop a cofferdam into the water prior to performing underwater hull maintenance on the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Welsh)

Of course, the hull itself can be vulnerable, accumulating barnacles and other sea life and rusting from the exposure to water and salt. To deal with this, the Navy sends sailors around the ship, often in small boats, to touch up paint or clean off risky accumulations. Also, they send divers under the water to clean the hull and perform more maintenance.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Chief Fire Controlman Ryan Pavelich and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Robin Norris inspect the closed-in weapons system on the USS Wayne E. Meyer.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelsey L. Adams)

But the ship also needs to be able to hit back if it comes under attack, and weapons like the Phalanx close-in weapons system allow it to knock the enemy’s missiles and other airborne threats out of the sky. But, you guessed it, all those moving parts and sensitive electronics need a lot of maintenance as well.

Wires fray, parts wear out, electronics degrade. Fire control sailors make sure their weapons will protect the ship when called upon.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Chief Machinist Mate Benjamin Carnes and Gas Turbine Systems Technician 1st Class Johnathan Hovinga make final inspections in preparation to start the main engines on the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos)

The maintenance can get a lot more complicated when you go inside the ship. The engines on Navy ships, whether fueled by diesel, gasoline, or nuclear, are pretty complicated. They need to be regularly inspected, pumps and belts have to get replaced, oil and other fluids need to be changed.

And that’s all if everything goes according to plan. When engines experience a real breakdown, it can necessitate people crawling through the engine or the ship getting towed into port for drydock maintenance. So, doing the maintenance is worth the effort.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Gas Turbine System Technician Fireman Steven Garris, from Youngsville, Pennsylvania, changes a burner barrel to prevent soot build up in a boiler aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan)

But Navy engines actually have a lot of maintenance needs with few civilian equivalents. The sailor above is changing out the burner barrel on an amphibious assault ship. Do any of your vehicles have burner barrels? Mine don’t. And few people need specially trained staff to keep their nuclear reactors from poisoning the passengers.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Onboard USS Wasp, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jarrod Prouse conducts repairs on the handle of a Collective Protective System hatch.
(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Rebekah Adler)

Other routine maintenance on ships is much more sensitive and demanding as well. Navy ships have doors that need to be welded properly, or else lethal substances could leak through when the ship is in a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear environment.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Alexander Fleischer, from Crystal Lake, Ill., assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, welds a gusset while performing repairs to the cradle of a crane aboard the ship.
(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Heather C. Wamsley)

By the way, there are so, so many pictures online of sailors welding. That’s not surprising since ships are made of metal and that metal needs to be repaired. But still, so many pictures. This particular one shows a hull maintenance technician repairing a crane cradle on a submarine tender.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Scott Skeate, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Darryl Johnson, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Luke Hart, and Airman Apprentice Mccord Brickle perform maintenance on a waist catapult shuttle on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
 (U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Milner)

Most Navy ships have specialty systems not seen on civilian vessels or even on most other vessels of the fleet. For instance, carriers have catapults that, except for the USS Gerald R. Ford, are powered by steam. The catapults have to be repaired as parts wear out, and they have to be carefully calibrated even when everything is working properly.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

On the front lines of the battle with COVID-19, a nurse’s story

When one nurse chose emergency medicine for its fast paced environment and continual learning, she never dreamed she’d be working through a global pandemic.


Alyssa Piegari has been drawn to the emergency room (ER) ever since she graduated high school. She began her career in medicine as an emergency medical technician. Ten years later, she would go on to earn her Master’s in nursing and the ER would become her second home.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

That home is becoming increasingly chaotic.

Piegari is a nurse in a northern New Jersey hospital, just minutes from New York City. Her county has the most cases in the state. The Governor recently requested help from the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital and intensive care abilities. Piegari shared that the ER was already a hectic place, short on vital resources.

Now, things are even worse.

If a patient is suspected of having the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, there’s a full donning process before you can enter into their room. Gown, N95 mask, face shield, and gloves. But if you get into that room and its missing things like a blood pressure cuff, which she shared happens often, you have to take everything off and start over. Those vital personal protective equipment (PPE) items are running scarce.

Piegari treated her hospital’s first coronavirus patient.

Piegari shared that if you walk into an ER showing signs and symptoms of a virus you are immediately swabbed and tested for 20 different viruses. The COVID-19 swab takes three to five days for results. Patients who come up negative for the other viruses in the initial scan are then treated as though they are positive for COVID-19 and sent for a CAT scan of their chest.

“When you look at the CAT scan pictures of a healthy person compared to one with the beginning stages of the virus, it appears as ground glass looking nodules. It starts with one in the lungs and then spreads like wildfire,” said Piegari. After a few days, those with coronavirus tend to decline quickly, with those patches of ground glass nodules taking over the lungs. This is what leads to death for many patients.
How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

She went on to say that not only is her hospital seeing patients with COVID-19 that have underlying conditions, but people who have no comorbidities or issues. Her hospital recently admitted a patient who was just 23 years old.

Piegari shared that people – possibly even children – are walking around as carriers of this virus, showing absolutely no symptoms. They are living their lives as usual and passing it to people who are getting very ill; and some dying. This is the entire point of social distancing, says Piegari, to stay home and protect your community members. Whatever activity you have planned, it just isn’t worth the lives it impacts.

“We are now in a society where the flu is globally accepted. Due to this, people aren’t considerate of others. They’ll still go to the gym, grocery story, and cough and expel the virus; spreading it,” shared Piegari. The most recent study of COVID-19 has shown that it can survive in the air for several hours, posing significant risk to communities and especially medical professionals taking care of these patients.

“Quarantine is a good thing. It is going to take down the number of cases. The mass hysteria that is going around is inappropriate, however. It is causing lack of resources for those that are truly in need,” said Piegari.

This is the reasoning behind the majority of states closing down their businesses, schools, and limiting gatherings. To those that are still taking this virus lightly, they should become concerned. If not for themselves, then for the people around them.

Piegari also encouraged people to call ahead and not just come in. Her hospital in particular has seen a massive influx of people with flu-like symptoms. Even if they do not have the novel coronavirus, they’ve just now exposed themselves to a whole host of viral possibilities.

In the end, Piegari shared that she will continue to go to work, even at the risk of her own health and that of her family. She and many other medical professionals on the front lines deserve our utmost respect and our attention. Listen to them and help slow the spread of this pandemic.

No person is immune.

MIGHTY HISTORY

‘The Rock of Chickamauga’ is the only Union General who never lost a battle

There’s ongoing debate among historians and military history buffs about which general was better, Grant or Lee? Or maybe the question should be Sherman or Jackson? The name you never hear in these debates is George H. Thomas, who is arguably better than all of them, because he would not publicize himself or allow history to give him the credit he richly deserves.


Thomas cut his teeth in the Mexican War under General Zachary Taylor. There, he learned the harsh lessons that come with poor planning and poor logistics. He also learned to trust the fundamentals of fielding an Army and keeping it secure — a lesson that would later earn him the nickname “The Soldier’s Soldier” from enlisted Union Men.

But when Civil War came, Gen. Thomas was not well-trusted by President Lincoln, seeing as Thomas was born a Virginian — and your home state really meant something at the time. Thomas remained a loyal Union man because his wife was born in the North and, considering his skill as a leader, we should be glad he was. Still, his family turned their backs on him, President Lincoln never accepted him, and other officers never trusted him, but that didn’t matter. He did whatever was asked of him with whatever tools his superiors gave him without complaint.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Because real bosses don’t need to talk shit.

The main tool they gave him was the battered, bloodied, and often undisciplined rabble from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, many of whom were basically thrown into the meat grinder at Shiloh by General Ulysses S. Grant (whose mismanagement of the battle nearly lost it for the Union). Conversely, Thomas, known by his fellow officers at the beginning of the war as “Slow Trot,” emphasized planning, preparation, and attention to detail — and how it made a difference when the bullets started to fly.

Thomas did not get an easy start in the Civil War, however. His first opponent was General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s cavalry shortly before the Battle of Bull Run. Though first Bull Run pitted even numbers of Northern troops against Southern, the North performed terribly. They broke and ran in a disastrous rout — all except Thomas’ cavalry. Thomas earned a promotion to brigadier for manhandling Jackson’s cavalry.

His next opponent was Albert Sidney Johnston, the Texan whom Confederate President Jefferson Davis considered the best officer before Robert E. Lee’s rise. The North needed a win — any win — to boost morale. Thomas gave it to them, plowing the Confederates at Mill Springs and pushing them into the Cumberland River. In doing so, he completely smashed Johnston’s hold on Kentucky.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Epic mustaches, all of them.

By 1863, Thomas was moving into Tennessee as second to Gen. William Rosecrans, pushing Confederate General Braxton Bragg out of Chattanooga. Believing Bragg was in full retreat, Rosecrans marched the Army of the Cumberland into a trap. Bragg hit Rosecrans at a place called Chickamauga Creek — “the River of Death” according to the the Cherokee.

As James Longstreet committed his men, veterans returning from the fighting at Gettysburg, to the battle, the Union right flank began to fold. Rosecrans began riding for Chattanooga, some of his officers in tow — but Thomas wasn’t going anywhere. As fleeing men came into his sphere, he reorganized them along a ridge and implored them to hold the line at any cost. With the support and guidance of General Thomas’, or “Old Reliable,” as he was called by his men, they held off the Confederates long enough to save the Army of the Cumberland, along with the Union hold on Tennessee.

Rosecrans lost his job, but Thomas, now called “The Rock of Chickamauga,” inherited the Army.

Grant wrote off Thomas’ army as used-up during the Battle for Chattanooga. Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland were to hold until all the attacking armies in position to advance on Chattanooga. But when Grant’s plan fell apart, Thomas had to move his army to support General Sherman’s troops, who were struggling. Not only did Thomas’ men relieve Sherman’s troops, they forced the Confederate Army from the field.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Because once you take one hill, you just can’t stop.

Despite his higher rank and superior ability, Grant instead chose William T. Sherman to lead the march on Atlanta. Still, Thomas commanded most of Sherman’s infantry and protected the column as it moved south into Georgia. After they took the city, Confederate General John B. Hood moved North, deftly avoiding the Union Army and moving into Nashville. Sherman reduced the Army of the Cumberland and ordered Thomas to take the remaining troops north in pursuit.

He destroyed Hood’s entire army, earning the nickname the “Hammer of Nashville.”

After the war, Thomas stayed in the military for the rest of his days. He was never celebrated like his contemporaries and he never bothered to publish memoirs of his time in combat. He even deliberately burned his notes to keep someone else from doing it in his stead. Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan would sometimes give him credit, but always with the caveat that he was slow.

“Time and history will do me justice,” Thomas said before his death in 1870.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The highly caffeinated life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the chain-smoking D-Day mastermind who became president

There are a lot of benefits one can get from drinking coffee. Studies show the right amount of coffee can lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes. It also has a protective effect on your liver, whatever that means.

But history shows that drinking the right amount of coffee could also help your ability to mastermind the largest amphibious military operation in history (sorry, Marines), defeat the Axis powers, and reassert federal authority over the states. In the mind of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the “right amount” was as much as 15 to 20 cups of coffee every day, depending on which of those feats was most important.


In just over two years, the brigadier general who’d never seen combat became the supreme Allied commander in Europe — an intense situation for anyone. Throughout the war (and into his presidency), Ike drank up to 20 cups of coffee and smoked four packs of Camels as he worked day and night to win the war in Europe.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

NPG.65.63. PO 3262. Oil on canvas, 1947.

For Eisenhower, the answer was simple; Type 2 diabetes wasn’t occupying Paris, and doing the work necessary to win World War II required a diet of coffee and cigarettes.

There’s a lot to be said about Eisenhower’s service record. For one, Ike never saw combat, and that was never his specialty, even if it grated on him at times. But there’s more to serving in the military than being a hardcore, door-kicking Nazi-killing machine.

Someone has to get the Nazi-killing machines to the Nazis, and that’s where Ike came in.

At the outset of World War II, Eisenhower was a relatively unknown junior officer who had never held command above a battalion level. But as the war continued, his boss, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, came to rely more and more on his logistics and leadership ability.

First up was planning the greater war in the Pacific. Eisenhower needed to send a division of men to reinforce Australia. He requisitioned the British luxury liner RMS Queen Mary to carry 15,000 soldiers from New York to Sydney around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. After the ship departed, the Army learned that Axis U-boats knew about it and would be hunting it every step of the way. Eisenhower paced the floor until the Queen Mary arrived in Sydney.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Ike was fueled entirely on coffee, cigarettes, and a burning desire to win.

That’s the kind of leader Eisenhower was. He didn’t show it, but he was wracked with anxiety over the potential loss of so many Allied soldiers. Chugging coffee, chain-smoking, and pacing was how he dealt with the pressure.

When he was awaiting word on that first troop transport’s arrival in Sydney Harbor, Eisenhower wore the same calm demeanor as he did reviewing the troops preparing to land at Normandy on June 6, 1944. He walked among them and asked questions, speaking with them at ease. He watched as they prepared to mount an invasion that even he wasn’t sure would be a success.

Ike famously wrote two speeches for the D-Day landings — one if they were successful and one in case they failed. He knew he was taking a gamble with all those men’s lives.

In his mind, 75% of them were going to die trying to free Europe on his orders. He had done all he could, drinking cup after cup of coffee, battling insomnia and headaches to give them their best shot at victory.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Trolling his own vice president? Public domain photo.

As June 6 came and went, he paced around a trailer, chain-smoking through the day and into the night. He downed cup after cup of coffee, waiting for reports of the invasion to come in.

Coffee was Eisenhower’s constant companion as he navigated the postwar world of the 1950s, managing the Soviet Union, the end of the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, the Interstate Highway System, and the use of the US Army to enforce federal laws in the states.

Ike struggled with health issues, especially heart disease, in his post-military career. He suffered at least seven heart attacks and a stroke before his death in 1969. But that wasn’t the coffee’s fault. The supreme Allied commander developed a brain tumor that made him vulnerable to heart attacks.

All that coffee just fueled the end of fascism in Europe and a reboot of the American century.

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


Articles

The Nazi’s (implausible) plan to invade the American mainland

In March 1942, the U.S. was fully engaged in the second World War, fighting against Japan and Germany. The Pearl Harbor attack had happened just months prior, and now there was a U-boat war happening right off the eastern seaboard of the United States.


Americans were understandably nervous. Then Life Magazine scared the heck out of its readers with an article about what would happen if the Nazis and the Japanese decided to invade.

In an article titled “Now the US must fight for its life,” Life shared maps of a potential invasion that must have been pretty terrifying to John Q. Public in the early days of the war.

The magazine, fortunately, was way, way off. The Germans did investigate a potential invasion of the U.S., aided by the the long-range Amerika bomber, but they eventually found such an endeavor too costly, especially as the war continued to go poorly for them.

Though German U-boats were sinking some ships off the American coast, fielding a long-range bomber against the U.S. needed a nuclear bomb underneath it to be truly effective, which the Germans never figured out. And Berlin simply didn’t have the resources or manpower to stage a feasible land invasion — a point nailed home by the fact that Germany had previously scrapped an invasion plan for England in 1941.

Regardless, it was a scary time for Americans in March 1942, and it was the heyday of military propaganda. So here is how Life imagined such an operation:

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

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10 tips for succeeding at BUD/S, according to a Navy SEAL

When sailors hit the Navy SEAL training grinder, they’ll undergo what’s considered the hardest military training on earth in attempts to earn the Trident. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training uses the sandy beaches of Coronado, California, to push candidates beyond their mental and physical limits to see if they can endure and be welcomed into the Special Warfare community.

Roughly 75 percent of all BUD/S candidates drop out of training, leaving many to wonder what, exactly, it takes to survive the program and graduate. Well, former Navy SEAL Jeff Nichols is here to break it down and give you a few tips for finding success at BUD/S.


How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

SEAL candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Russell)

Diversify your training

According to Nichols, the ability to sustain yourself through various types of physical training will only help your odds of succeeding at BUD/S. Incorporate various exercise types, variable rest periods, and a wide array of resistances into your training regimen.

Get massages

When candidates aren’t in training, it’s crucial that they heal themselves up. Massages improve the body’s circulation and can cut down recovery time. That being said, avoid deep-tissue massages. That type of intense treatment can actually extend your healing time.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Vice President Joe Biden places a hand on the shoulder of one of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates while speaking to them on the beach at Naval Special Warfare Center during his visit to San Diego, Calif.

(Photo by MC2 Dominique M. Lasco)

Find sleep wherever possible

If you can avoid staying up late, you should. Nichols encourages candidates to take naps whenever possible. Even if its only a quick, 20-minute snooze, get that rest in as often as possible.

Stay away from smoking and drinking alcohol

Both substances can prevent a candidate from performing at their best during their time at BUD/S. Smoking limits personal endurance. Alcohol dehydrates — which is especially harmful in an environment where every drop of clean water counts.

Know that nobody gives a sh*t

Ultimately, the BUD/S instructors don’t care if you make it through the training. Don’t think anyone will hold your hand as the intensity ramps up.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Sailors enrolled in the BUD/S course approach the shore during an over-the-beach exercise at San Clemente Island, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

Surround yourself with good people

It’s easy to quit BUD/S and it’s challenging to push yourself onward. Surrounding yourself with good people who are in training for the right reasons will help you through the darkest moments.

Take advantage of your days off

Although you only have roughly 2 days of rest time, take advantage of them to the fullest and heal up as much as you can. Eat healthily and clear your mind by getting off-base as much as possible.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

A Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL instructor is about to show a member of BUD/S Class 244 just how hard it can be to rescue a drowning victim when the “victim” comes at you with a vengeance during lifesaving training at the Naval Special Warfare Center.

(Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey)

Trust the BUD/S process

According to Nichols, the BUD/S process doesn’t fail. Listen to the instructors as they tell you how to properly negotiate individual training obstacles as a team. They all have proven experience, you just need to listen.

Don’t take anything personal

The instructors will slowly chip away at your self-confidence with the aim of getting you to quit. Brush off those remarks. Remember, this is part of the test.

BUD/S is considered a fair environment

Nichols believes that the program is a fair method of getting only the strongest candidates through the training and onto SEAL teams. It’s up to the SEAL instructors to put out the best possible product.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsnXb4xAcWw

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the changes to height and weight testing are long overdue

The United States Military must keep its troops in the best possible shape to fight and win America’s wars. This is made evident by the rigorous physical training schedule that many troops adhere to every single morning. Not a day goes by where an entire formation of infantrymen isn’t collectively breaking a sweat before most civilians wake up.

But the military can’t have absolute control over the lives and overall physical health of every single troop in formation. Uncle Sam can’t spend time preparing and serving your each and every meal, and he certainly can’t make sure you’re not cheating on each and every push-up. For the most part, however, things tend to work out. Sure, troops will enjoy a bit of pizza, beer, and junk food, but since they’re constantly working their asses off, a little indulgence isn’t going to hurt overall combat readiness.


To make sure that nobody slips through the cracks, the Department of Defense established and enforces height and weight standards. They’ve used the standard “tape test” for measuring these standards, but they’re finally eyeing its replacement — and that change can’t come fast enough .

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Remedial PT is just like morning PT except the NCO leading it either broke weight themselves or is some salty NCO that’s been forced into leading it.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marnie Jacobowitz)

Generally speaking, the tape test is a fine gauge of someone’s maximum allowable weight in relation to the troop’s height. If they weigh more than their height allows, senior NCOs have to bring out a tape to measure their waist size relative to their neck size. The idea here is that if you’re heavier because of muscle (and not just fat), then your neck muscles will reflect that, and you’ll be on with your day.

If the troop does weigh more than their height allows and their belly is disproportionately large for their neck size, then the hammer comes down. This means instantly flagging them for positive actions, like schools, awards, or leave, and they’re sent to do remedial PT after the duty day has ended.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Even the height test can be screwy if the person grading it decides to “wing it” or the weight is “adjusted for clothes.”

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jourdain Yardan)

Now, it’s that not the tape test is inherently a bad way to gauge the health of the troops. In some cases, it’s a perfectly fine measurement. Unfortunately, this test is the end all, be all for determining if someone is fat. It’s a highly flawed system (and everyone knows it’s flawed) that is taken as gospel.

For instance, many troops can attest to seeing soldiers who have scored 300s on their PT test “bust” tape and then get sent for remedial PT — why? Because they’re under 5’10” and didn’t focus on their traps at the gym. On the other side of that token, troops could point fingers at troops built like Shrek, but they’re tall enough that their weight doesn’t even become a factor.

Additionally, when it comes to administering the tape test, there’s just too much room for error. The heights and weights recorded may be empirical measurements, but taking those measurements isn’t a hard science. For example, whoever’s recording those measurements might turn a blind eye as their buddy sucks in their gut. Now, the guy who pulled in their belly gets a passing grade while the bodybuilder who spent too little time working on their traps won’t be able to take leave and may possibly get chaptered out of the military.

Thankfully, there are better solutions out there. Body mass index scales are getting more and more accurate and less expensive. Water displacement tests can now be found on most installations.

But, honestly, one of the most useful tools here is common sense. If you can look at a troop and their PT scores and see that they’re well beyond most other troops, don’t ruin their career with an antiquated test.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Citadel steps in to support Marine Recruit Training

New Marine recruits destined for Parris Island will spend two weeks at the Citadel before moving into training.

The United States Marine Corps has begun placing incoming recruits into two weeks of isolation where they are regularly monitored by medical staff to identify any potential symptoms of COVID-19 infection, but the temporary tent housing these recruits stay in has been deemed insufficient as America’s southeast braces for this year’s hurricane season.

In order to ensure the safety of recruits awaiting training, the Marine Corps reached out to the Citadel, a public military college in South Carolina where aspiring military officers attend classes alongside civilians. The president of the Citadel, retired Marine General Gen. Glenn M. Walters, was happy to support.

“The Secretary of Defense charged each military service to develop strategies to maintain basic training, and The Citadel is proud to be part of the solution for the Marine Corps,” said Gen. Glenn M. Walters.

“Since The Citadel campus is currently closed due to the pandemic, the college is positioned to quickly assist as a mission-capable site in this effort that supports national security.”

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Recruits will be housed in the campus’ empty barracks beginning on May 4, where they will remain for a two-week period of monitored isolation. During their time on the campus, they’ll be given access to the college mess hall, infirmary, laundry, and tailor shop. They will also utilize some classrooms for periods of instruction.

“While meeting our mission, the health and safety of our Marines, all civilians and our families are a primary concern,” said Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn, USMC commanding general, Marine Corps Recruit Depos Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region.

“With high school graduations happening now, this is one of our busiest times of the year. We are grateful to have this temporary arrangement so near to Parris Island.”

The benefits of this agreement aren’t one-sided either. While the Marine Corps gets a safe and well equipped place to house recruits in isolation, the contract established between the Corps and the Citadel will help offset the significant economic impact the college has suffered due to closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This partnership is reminiscent of the Second World War, when The Citadel campus supported over 10,000 military personnel training in various programs before shipping overseas,” Walters said.

“This is an historic partnership at a time of need, and it is a privilege to be a part of it.”

You can learn more about what each branch is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at basic training here.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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This company owns a private fleet of aerial refueling tankers

The fact that there are some private air forces out there flying fighters to train American (and other) pilots may be a surprise. But did you know that there’s also a company that built its own tanker fleet?


Omega Air Refueling has been around for nearly 20 years and claims to be the only company that does commercial aerial refueling. The company was formed in 1999 as a subsidiary of Flight International prior to becoming independent in 2004, and has flown over 5,000 refueling missions since its formation.

According to company reps at the 2017 AirSpaceCyber expo at National Harbor, Maryland, those 5,000 missions have included over 21,000 “plugs” involving over 12 million gallons of fuel.

 

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
The Omega 707 tanker. (Omega Air Refueling photo)

The first plane the company acquired was a Boeing 707-300 that used to fly for Pan Am. Since then, it acquired two other 707s (losing one in a 2012 crash), and a DC-10. The company has not only provided commercial aerial refueling services to the United States Navy, but it also has helped Australian and British forces make long-range deployments.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Omega’s KDC-10. (Omega Air Refueling photo)

 

All of Omega’s tankers use the probe-and-drogue system. The 707s and the DC-10 trail drogues at the end of hoses. Planes equipped with a refueling probe then fly in, and plug the probe into the drogue to refuel. This can lead to close calls, like some that WATM reported on.

 

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
An Omega 707 refuels the X-47B over the Atlantic Ocean. (US Navy photo)

The company’s planes were used to help certify the Navy’s X-47 unmanned combat air vehicle for mid-air refueling. In 2010, Omega helped to fill in when Airbus missed a deadline to deliver KC-30s to the Royal Australian Air Force (the company also turned to the United States Air Force).

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
A plane comes in to refuel from Omega’s KDC-10. Note the drogue at the end of the fuel hose. (Omega Air Refueling photo)

Ironically, while the company was founded to help support the Navy and Marine Corps, many of its tanker pilots come from the United States Air Force, which operates KC-135 and KC-10 tankers.

MIGHTY TRENDING

5 of the ways to lose the “once a Marine, always a Marine” status

You see and hear this term all the time: “former Marine.” And, wherever you see it, you’ll also see Marines telling you (and everyone else) why we hate it. Sure, there are a few folks out there who agree with it, but those of us who hold the title near and dear to our hearts will tell you a different story.

In my opinion, there’s a damned good reason for the expression, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” Others disagree.


To be fair, this is not a mentality exclusive to Marines. Just because you “get out” doesn’t mean you’re no longer a Marine, soldier, airman, coast guardsman, etc. You don’t just instantly forget everything you’ve learned and experienced over the past few years once you get your DD-214. Joining the military makes you a part of a fraternity and you’ll find that you resonate better with other veterans than you do with people from any other walk of life for one simple reason: You became a part of something much larger than yourself.

Your membership was paid for in blood, sweat, and tears, along with the countless hours you spent dedicated to the cause. To say a veteran is an “ex-” anything is highly inaccurate.

However, there are certain qualities (mostly conscious choices) that define a former Marine. These are just a few of those qualities:

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Maybe you just need some new Drill Instructors…

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Severe lack of discipline

It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting your discipline slide when you get out — in fact, a lot of us are guilty of this. But at some point, we pick it back up and we reintegrate it into our lives. To allow this discipline to drop off entirely is most definitely a conscious choice — one that can lead to the discontinuation of other hard-earned qualities.

Forgotten core values

No matter which branch you join, you’ll first learn the core values and then you’ll embody them. Those values shape your personal code and you live by them while you’re in the military. When you get out, if you aren’t still using them to find some direction in life, you’ve earn the “ex” in front of your title.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Just remember what you learned.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Lack of leadership

Almost everyone comes out of the military with some type of leadership capabilities. Something you hear often in the military is, “in the absence of leadership, be a leader.” This applies heavily to civilian life because there’s often severe absence of leadership. If you get out of the military without learning how to take control from time to time, you likely didn’t learn much else.

Lack of punctuality

We’re all guilty of being late to something at some point. It just happens, it’s the way of life. But, those who learned anything from time in service will remember the factors that played into that tardiness, both self-inflicted and external, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If you’re choosing to be late because you just don’t care — you’ve given up your title.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

If you define yourself as an “ex-Marine,” by all means.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

A conscious decision to no longer be a Marine

There’s a common belief among those who served that states you should always work to justify the fact that you’ve earned the right to be called a Marine (or solider, or airmen, etc). You should continuously employ the values learned in service in forming your civilian life.

There is, however, another side to this — and it’s simple. If you decide you’re no longer fitting of that title because you’ve grown a beard or whatever other, arbitrary reason, then you aren’t.

Many of us still believe in our titles and we’re willing to continue to honor it. It’s a lifetime effort and, if you’re not willing to make the commitment, nobody else will make it for you.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Cyber airmen engage in persistent contact with adversaries

In October 2018, Airman Magazine sat down for a conversation with Maj. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, Twenty-fourth Air Force commander; Air Forces Cyber commander and Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber commander, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. He is responsible for providing Air Force component and combatant commanders with trained and ready cyber forces to plan, direct and execute global cyberspace operations.


Airman Magazine: In July, the Twenty-fourth AF moved from Air Force Space Command to Air Combat Command. At the same time you moved from AFSPC to ACC. What are the reasons for that restructuring?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: This allows Gen. Raymond, as the Air Force Space Command commander, to truly focus on space operations. The other thing is this brings cyber within Air Combat Command, which has intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control and the air domain. Bringing all these forces together under one four-star MAJCOM (major command) commander, Gen. Holmes, allows him some more flexibility to be able to present forces across the spectrum of operations.

The networks for those operations need to be resilient and they need to be protected. When you bring together the ISR, cyber, information operations, electronic warfare and command and control, that’s a lot under one hat. But it allows us greater integration as we move forward. At the end of the day, this is about multi-domain operations and the more we can bring those together, the more successful we’ll be.

Airman Magazine: How are your responsibilities divided between your three commands? It seems that just the information technology portion alone would be a huge demand on your resources.

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Cyber operations have four or five different lines of effort. One is to actually build the networks, build the applications and build the systems.

Another is to operate and maintain the networks, but also secure and protect them from vulnerability to adversaries. We also defend networks for our maneuver forces and then we have full spectrum operations, which is on the offensive side.

We also have combat communications airmen and engineering installation airmen who extend the network out to a multitude of places, whether that’s tactical basing or at the forward battle edge.

With that said, information technology is still a key part of the cyberspace domain and we are moving forward in the Enterprise IT as a service. We are going to utilize things industry does very well as a commodity type of action activity.

We are going to leverage what industry does great, providing some services and network infrastructure, and re-mission our airmen to do core Air Force missions on the defensive and offensive side, while providing assurance for the many missions the Air Force presents to the combatant commanders on the joint side.

The bottom line is we’re in the cyber operations business — information technology, networks, both operating and defending — and we provide full spectrum operations in this thing we call the cyberspace domain.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Tech. Sgt. Wyatt Bloom uses a spectrum analyzer to check television broadcast network routers at the Defense Media Activity, Fort Meade, Md., July 18, 2012. Bloom is a cyber-transport technician assigned to DMA.

Airman Magazine: Would you explain your duties as commander of the Air Force component at Cyber Command? How is that different from the hat you wear as commander of Twenty-fourth AF and Air Force Cyber?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: This could actually be a dissertation. To break it down a little bit, the Twenty-fourth AF is where we organize, train and equip our airmen. The perfect example is we have an organization down at Hurlburt Field — they train almost every cyber professional. Now we do a lot more than that, but that’s one example of the Twenty-fourth AF piece.

In the Air Force cyber piece, I am charged by the Air Force to present forces to Gen. Paul Nakasone, the U.S. Cyber Command commander, for his missions and functions as the combatant commander.

We provide offensive forces and defensive forces, DODIN (Department of Defense Information Networks) ops cyber professionals and ISR professionals to Gen. Nakasone, so he can perform his mission.

Then the third area is the Joint Force Headquarters side. That’s where Gen. Nakasone has asked us to align to three different combatant commanders to provide additional joint support for their missions.

We have planning elements that are aligned to these three combatant commanders, as well as some cyber teams supporting the commanders’ efforts in defense of the mission. Our teams are able to deploy and employ forces against a particular adversary at the time and place of the combatant command commanders’ choosing.

Our job within Twenty-fourth AF, AF Cyber JFHQC and Cyber Command, is to be ready at a moment’s notice to protect our systems and defend the networks and defend the core missions of our military and our joint war fighters. Then deter, disrupt and degrade an enemy’s ability to perform those functions against us. Part of that goes into making sure that we have persistent engagement, a persistent presence, and a persistent innovation as we continue to move forward.

Airman Magazine: Across the Air Force, joint force, partner agencies and nations, do cyber operations equate to kinetic operations or is that a completely different animal?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I would say it is not a completely different animal. To be successful in cyber operations and have cyberspace superiority at the time and place of our choosing, we need a team of teams that is internal to the Air Force.

Every single airman in our Air Force needs to be a cyber sentinel. We need every airman to be very conscious of cyber security, cyber hygiene and things that are going on within the cyberspace domain.

We have branched out and are part of several joint organizations that perform functions and missions within the cyber domain. The National Security Agency is a huge partner with us as we perform these missions, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency and Department of Homeland Security — a lot of different agencies across the board.

We are also great partners with commercial industry and academia because we’re all in the same field and in the same cyber domain.

Within Twenty-fourth AF, we have a United Kingdom representative and an Australian liaison officer, but most of our allies and partners are really up at the Cyber Command level. We leverage those partners through U.S. Cyber Command, NATO and other organizations.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Capt. Taiwan Veney, cyber warfare operations officer, watches members of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group, from left, Capt. Adelia McClain, Staff Sgt. Wendell Myler, Senior Airman Paul Pearson and Staff Sgt. Thacious Freeman, analyze log files and provide a cyber threat update utilizing a Kibana visualization on the large data wall in the Hunter’s Den at Warfield Air National Guard Base.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Airman Magazine: What is it that makes your cyber airmen “cyber warriors”?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Our airmen are absolutely warriors. We have teams in the fight operating constantly: 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Christmas and New Year’s.

If you’ve heard Gen. Nakasone speak recently you’ve heard him say we’re no longer solely responding to network intrusions, we have cyber forces persistently engaged against state and non-state adversaries, actively identifying and countering threats in the cyber domain.

This achieves several benefits at once: first and foremost, it gives us control over the cyber terrain that serves as the foundation for superiority in cyberspace. It also keeps our operators ready and their skills honed and imposes cost on the adversary so they can no longer operate freely without repercussion. There’s already a massive demand signal for our cyber operators that will only increase, so we have to ensure we’re fielding proficient, ready and lethal operators at scale.

Because of this, we are investing not only the readiness of our mission, but also in the readiness of our people. This means examining everything within our scope of control, including the effect the operational tempo of our 24/7/365 mission has on our operators.

Just like you see within the (remotely piloted aircraft) field, cyber can mean long periods away from the sunlight and abnormal sleep hours, and that can absolutely have an effect on people. Any leader will tell you—if you take care of the people, they will take care of the mission.

Airman Magazine: What part does the total force play in cyber operations and defense?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I will tell you, we could not do our job on a day-to-day basis without the total force. The majority of the forces within Twenty-fourth AF are guard and reserve components.

Our engineering installation mission is 85 to 90 percent within the guard. More than 50 percent of our combat communications capability, which extends and expands our capabilities to the tactical edge, is in the guard. We have guard organizations up in Washington. We have some in Rhode Island. We have some here in Texas. I will tell you they provide great day-to-day work.

What’s even more important is the expertise that they bring from their civilian jobs. We have vice presidents of some corporations who are part of our total force as well. Bringing that expertise, leadership, things that the public is good at and things that industry is focused on benefits the military and vice versa. They take lessons learned from the military and take it to their company. So it’s a great yin-yang relationship.

Whether it’s an offensive operation or a defensive operation or even DODIN ops, there has to be a tight tie between all of those as we move forward because the defense learns from the offense and the offense learns from the defense. DODIN ops learn from defense to figure it out where we need to be resilient, where some of our mission critical assets are and how to defend them.

All the computer networks, email, applications and systems in the cyberspace domain are what we call the Department of Defense Information Networks. There are pay applications that we have in the Air Force that are part of DODIN. If you get paid electronically within the Air Force that’s part of the DoD information network.

Airman Magazine: Is it an advantage that those reserve and National Guard personnel tend to have long histories with one unit?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I would say sometimes it’s an advantage and sometimes it’s not. In some places having continuity is good. I would say having too much continuity isn’t necessarily good in cyber because you want some fresh blood, some fresh ideas.

Airman Magazine: Would a technical track for active-duty cyber operators benefit the force?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Similar to other domains and weapon systems, we have to be proficient to be effective. Since cyber is a technical domain we do need technical expertise.

However as our people gain that expertise and increase in rank and responsibility, we need them to be leaders and lead teams to success while still maintaining credibility in their profession. We, ACC and Headquarters Air Force are working closely together to determine what the right “path to greatness” will look like, in order to build a force that generates maximum lethality.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Cyber warfare operators assigned to the 275th Cyber Operations Squadron of the 175th Cyberspace Operations Group of the Maryland Air National Guard configure a threat intelligence feed for daily watch in the Hunter’s Den at Warfield Air National Guard Base.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Airman Magazine: As cyber tools and methods seem to change constantly, ow can the acquisitions process be altered to make sure the Air Force has the best technologies and practices in the cyber domain?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: The Air Force and DoD leadership are laser-like focused on our ability to acquire things in a more agile, fast and relevant way. We have leveraging other authorities, like 804 authorities, to bring on the future faster and to bring innovation faster.

As an Air Force we are becoming more of a software force than a hardware force. The ability to bring the new wave of agile software development operations, DevOps, is going to be key in maintaining our superiority and operating within the enemy’s OODA loop (time it takes to observe, orient, decide, and act).

We’re bringing in individuals who understand the old waterfall model is not the right model because by the time that you set the requirements and start developing to those requirements, the environment, threats and priorities have changed.

If you’re spending weeks, months and years identifying and defining hundreds or thousands of requirements, you definitely can’t meet those requirements in a timely manner. So leverage industry, leverage developers who are innovative, define the left and right limits or requirements.

So you get a three to five-page requirements document, which is much better than a 100 to 200-page document. Let them innovate and come back with a solution and in a much more timely manner—days and weeks versus months and years. Then you iterate and you continue to iterate on that minimum viable product.

Then also leverage some of those techniques to buy the right hardware in a timely fashion and focus on the approval top rate process, to reduce the amount of time to approve either software or hardware for connecting to the network. I know that Dr. Roper, Air Force Acquisition and the chief and secretary are very focused on bringing the future faster.

Airman Magazine: The Air Force is considering launching a cyber rapid capabilities office. How would that benefit the Twenty-fourth AF and the cyber community as a whole?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: The traditional slow-and-steady acquisition model is great for buying a fleet of fifth-generation aircraft, but it isn’t ideal for cyberspace where the landscape is changing constantly and where the state-of-the-art is available to anyone interested in buying. We need to get faster.

The DNA of the Air Force RCO brings agility and flexibility, which drives down timelines and increases capability. Right now we can’t say what form a cyber RCO would take, but will benefit us by getting the right capabilities and weapons at the right time to our operators. We need to respond to malicious cyber activity with greater speed and tempo employing a calculated, “spectrum of risk” framework which is properly delegated at echelon to enable responsible and responsive cyberspace operations in support of assigned missions.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

The concept of Fusion Warfare gathers all intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data across all Air Force platforms into the “combat cloud” through and autonomous process where it’s analyzed and combined to create a real time big picture for commanders.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron)

Airman Magazine: What effect will advances in big data research have on cyber operations?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Data is the game changer in our business. If I own the data battle space, then I will definitely be within the OODA loop of the adversary. Being able to leverage quantum computing, artificial intelligence and analysis of big data platforms is really the future of our mission.

There is so much data out there in today’s environment there is no way that you can get through all of it (manually). So you may miss a key data point that would help you make a decision. In a future conflict, being able to have the right data at the right time analyzed at the right tempo is key to success.

We’re putting a lot of effort into better understanding the data, not just from cyber standpoint, but also in logistics, in intelligence and even in personnel. The more we can analyze the data, the better that we can perform education and training, perform timely logistics, perform ISR operations. Every single Air Force core mission is reliant on data to be more effective, more efficient and more successful.

Airman Magazine: Can you talk about Hack the Air Force and its value to the force?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: The first Hack the Air Force iteration was in late 2017, after the successful Hack the Pentagon initiative by Defense Digital Services. When the first hackathon sprint kicked off it took less than a minute for a hacker to find a valid vulnerability. By the end, over 200 holes in our boundary had been patched—and that was just the first iteration.

Hack the Air Force gets after two important focus areas: first, it builds capacity for the Air Force by leveraging expertise from a multitude of places, and second, it leverages innovative thinking to find vulnerabilities we otherwise might not uncover.

Take, for example, the person who won the first hackathon sprint, a 17-year-old high school student from Chicago. Maybe his path won’t lead him to the Air Force, but we were still able to use his talents to make ourselves more resilient. To me that’s a win.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Quynh Tran, right, a Raytheon Corporation software engineer, talks with Capt. Nick Lundin, Product Management lead, about a software coding project May 30, 2018 at Kessel Run, a program within the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, a United States Department of Defense organization, in Boston.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Airman Magazine: What lessons can be learned from commercial companies about practices that enable those fresh ideas to come forward?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: There are a lot of great lessons learned from Silicon Valley and I would offer Silicon Valley has also learned from the Department of Defense.

As I’ve said many times over my 33-year career to date, if I came into the military today, compared with a talent level of the individuals that we have now, I would not be as successful as I have been.

The talent today is amazing and our job as senior leaders is how do we unleash that talent? How do we have the right policies and the right directives leveraging the right acquisition authorities and unleash this talent on the hard problems that our force and our nation face today.

The key is getting the right people in the room to determine how best to provide solutions, whether it’s software development, hardware acquisition or cyberspace operations. It’s getting the right people in the room and getting through the bureaucracy, pushing the bureaucracy to the side and being able to unleash the talent.

Airman Magazine: How can, especially when it comes to the cyber domain, the Air Force compete with civilian industry to attract more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) talent?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: There was always a competition between academia, research labs, commercial industry and the military. We as a military cannot compete from a dollar standpoint.

But where we can compete is with the great things you can do within the DoD, that you probably can’t do within the commercial world. We have great missions coming from the research we’re doing.

Some of the operations we’re doing on a day-to-day basis, you can’t do that on the commercial side. We have opportunities for individuals at a variety of levels to perform things they couldn’t do outside of the military. That’s our calling card.

Airman Magazine: Peer and near-peer competitors have been going to school on us since World War II; how do we offset that advantage?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I would say every threat is an opportunity. While we have been focused over the last 10 to 15 years on the violent extremist, the latest National Defense Strategy, National Security Strategy and National Cyber Strategy outline strategic competition, peer competitors, and has turned the focus there.

You’ll hear a lot about readiness. Readiness is very important to our chief, very important to our secretary and very important to the secretary of defense. We need to make sure that we have a lethal force. In order to do that, you need to have a ready force.

In order to be ready, you need to have a disciplined force. Especially when there is strategic competition out there and adversaries who on a day-to-day basis are performing actions and operations that are probably right below the level of conflict.

But, I would not want to go and do a mission against a threat with anyone else but the airmen we have in our service today. Our airmen, with our joint partners in the other services, still have the most critical, credible and lethal force in the world.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Airmen with the 68th Network Warfare Squadron monitor Air Force communications to analyze disclosures of critical information and perform data loss prevention at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 25, 2018.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Airman Magazine: You talked about having a disciplined force in order to be lethal. What constitutes discipline in the cyber world?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Discipline is key. I’m not talking about discipline from a uniform code of military justice aspect. This is discipline in processes, discipline in procedures and discipline in command and control. We spent a lot of time going back and trying to figure out what happened on something because there was an undisciplined tactic, technique, procedure or process. We’re trying to leverage discipline to make our force more effective and more capable and build capacity.

Then we come to a readiness standpoint. Readiness, as you know, is made up of personnel, equipment, procedures and training. We are continually leveraging our innovative airmen to improve the training they receive, how we purchase equipment, how we educate our airmen.

Part of all this is proficiency. Proficiency against a violent extremist organization is much different than proficiency against strategic competitors. Our focus continues to be how to maintain and improve the readiness and proficiency against strategic competitors.

We are also leveraging our airmen and technology to be more efficient and more effective.

Leveraging artificial intelligence can decrease the amount of time that our airmen spend doing manual work so they can focus on the higher end discussions of cognitive actions and activities.

For example, manually looking through thousands of pages of data takes a very long time. We have airmen who are leveraging technology, whether it’s using keywords or bringing a couple of technologies together, that can take those thousands of documents and run through them in minutes versus hours, days or weeks.

Then taking what the technology has given you and put the human eye on it — are there any other needles in the haystack?

That’s what our airmen are doing on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s from a data collection standpoint, whether it’s from a cyber operation standpoint, whether it’s looking through logs to see if we have an adversary presence on our networks. Looking through logs to make sure that our user experience is where it needs to be on a daily basis, but leveraging technology to reduce the amount of manual steps.

Airman Magazine: With a kinetic weapon, the effects are apparent and there is an inherent process to be able to determine origin, intent and purpose. The very nature of cyber is to hide the hand that dealt the cards. What kind of challenges does determining attribution pose for a commander?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: So attribution is a very significant challenge. There are not as well defined international norms in the cyberspace domain and therefore a multitude of nations and multitude of criminals and the multitude of other individuals are continuing to push the limits.

It is often very apparent in the other domains, from an effect or an outcome, who the actors are. In the cyber domain, you can have the same type of effects in as in other domains, but it is harder to determine the source, which is really important when you start talking about multi-domain operations.

Cyber is a critical enabler while also a critical operation because cyber can be both supporting and supported within multi-domain operations. As we continue to refine our operations, to refine our tactics, techniques and procedures, we will continue to get better at understanding attribution, understanding the outcomes, and making sure that we refine and define those outcomes and bound the outcomes to meet our mission objectives.

As cyber continues to get more profound and more pronounced in the day-to-day operations, attribution is going to become that much harder.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Skinner, then Deputy Commander of Air Force Space Command, speaks at the 2018 Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, March 6, 2018.

(Photo by Dave Grim)

Airman Magazine: How do you convince people that cyber and space have become foundational to everything that the Air Force, and our society as a whole, does on a daily basis?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I’ll give you a perfect example, the Global Positioning System is operated by Air Force Space Command: not only for the nation, but the whole world. The U.S. Air Force supplies and supports the system and satellites that enable the GPS navigation we use in our cars and on our phones every day, millions of times around the world.

It also provides timing. Every financial transaction is supported by the GPS system. So when you purchase something and put your credit card into that reader, there’s a timing aspect that is being supported by GPS. So the Air Force is supporting billions of activities and actions all the time.

Airman Magazine: The chief of staff and secretary have made it a priority to push command level decisions down to the lowest level possible. How is that manifested in your command?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Its not only because the chief and the secretary say they want it done. We have the greatest airmen in the world and we have the greatest commanders in the world—pushing authorities and responsibility down to the lowest level really enables them to unleash the talent around them and enables us to unleash their talent.

You don’t need higher headquarters micromanaging and directing things on a daily basis. Our commanders are boarded. We have a tradition of great commanders in our Air Force and we need to let them run. We need to let them determine how best to run their organizations and how best to be effective. The more that we can push decision authority down, the more bureaucracy we can eliminate and the more agile, lethal and effective we can be as an Air Force.

From a higher headquarters level and higher commander level, our responsibility is to give the left and right limits to those organizations and then let them run.

If we are in a conflict, especially against a peer competitor, the amount of time it would take to micromanage our tactical-level units would not allow us to be inside the OODA loop of our adversary.

We need to allow our commanders, in peacetime, to train like they are going to fight. To have that authority to perform the mission as they see fit. With more guidance, directives and limitations to that commander, there’s going to be some negative learning, first and foremost, but secondly, the safety of our airmen will be put in jeopardy.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Participants in the joint, multinational exercise Cyber Guard 2016 work through a training scenario during the nine-day event in Suffolk, Va., on June 16, 2016.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse A. Hyatt)

Airman Magazine: As commander of Joint Force Headquarters Cyber, you’re responsible for cyber affects in campaign plans from U.S. Central Command to U.S. Transportation Command. How does that integration take place?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: Aligned to each of those combatant commanders we have an element called the Cyber Operations Integrated Planning Element. We are just now standing those up and they are at the combatant commanders’ headquarters.

They’re kind of our picture window into that combatant commander to enable cyber operations planning to be part of their overall plan. Each combatant commander has either a function or a region they’re responsible for and they have what we call a scheme of maneuver, which is either day-to-day or in conflict. It is the commander’s plan of how to ensure sure we are successful in that campaign.

These planning elements are aligned there so we can be part of that plan and make sure that cyber isn’t just bolted on, but integrated into that plan. Cyber will be one of the first options that are available to that combatant commander below the level of conflict to make sure that we are meeting our objectives.

Airman Magazine: How do you get everyone with a piece of the huge cyber puzzle speaking the same language? How do you communicate capabilities and vulnerabilities to leadership, agency partners and airmen who are not cyber experts?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I would say today we have the best understanding and the best alignment from the cyber domain standpoint that we’ve ever had with all the strategy documents – the National Defense Strategy, which is underneath the National Security Strategy, the National Cyber Policy and Strategy, the DoD Cyber Strategy and the Cyber Posture Review.

All of these documents are perfectly aligned and it’s a great understanding of the capabilities that we provide, but also the importance of cyber to the multi-domain operations. The education is continual, but I offer that our Air Force leadership understands the cyber domain. They understand how important the cyber domain is to multi-domain operations.

We continue to educate the entire forest. We’re continuing the education process of all of our airmen, from the highest level to the most junior airman and the joint community, but from a joint standpoint and a national standpoint cyber is more understood than it ever has been.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Proposed content viewing page on the Cyber Education Hub, which is being developed at the Center for Cyberspace Research in the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

(AFIT CCR photo)

Airman Magazine: Do you see the Continuum of Learning concept and applications like the Cyber Learning Hub being developed by the Center for Cyberspace Research, Air Force Cyber College and U.S Air Force Academy’s CyberWorx, as aiding in that effort?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: There are a lot of great opportunities with that as cyber continues to be more and more integrated into the day-to-day operations.

We currently have the Air Force Warfare Center where we bring a lot of different mission systems together, integrate them, exercise and train and cyber is a significant part of that.

From an education standpoint we send people to the Air Force Institute of Technology. They not only have general education classes, but we they have Cyber 100, Cyber 200, Cyber 300 and Cyber 400 courses.

We have the 39th Information Operations Squadron, which does our cyber training. Keesler Air Force Base has a lot of our cyber courses. Just as Gen. Raymond over the last year has been working with Air University to make sure we have more space in our professional military education, we’re doing the same thing from a cyber standpoint.

We’re working with Gen. Cotton at Air University and Gen. Kwast at Air Education and Training Command to make sure that we continue to improve the amount of cyber and relevant topics in cyber education in basic military training through professional military education and to highlight cyber, both from a professional and a personal standpoint, because it impacts every part of your life.

Airman Magazine: In that vein, what would you like every airman to be aware of in their daily connectivity?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: One of the biggest vectors that our adversaries use to get into our networks is email. It’s called spear phishing. You can get those at your home and at the office. We continue to educate that you should know who the sender of an email is, that you do not click on links that you’re not certain are good links. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If you get an email offering a free vacation, there’s probably not a free vacation. That’s probably someone trying to gain access to your personal information or gain access into our Air Force systems to cause havoc and disrupt our ability to do our missions.

Additionally, be aware that our adversaries can put different pieces of unclassified information together, which in the aggregate actually become classified. So you always have to be careful when you’re outside of work, or even inside work, of what you talk about in the open.

You have to monitor your computer systems. Make sure your systems are patched, especially at home, because that is the quickest way for an adversary to exploit your system. Some vulnerabilities have been out there for years. We find that both on the commercial side and the government side — there are systems out there that have not been patched in a long time, even though a patch has been out there.

We’re continuing to leverage technology to make that a little easier, to make sure that we’re updating and protecting all those systems.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Maj. Gen. Robert J. Skinner, Commander, 24th Air Force; Commander, Air Forces Cyber and Commander, Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber is photographed at his headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 26, 2018.

(Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Airman Magazine: The Air Force places a premium on building leaders. What twists and turns has your career taken that culminated in command of the Twenty-fourth AF?

Maj. Gen. Skinner: I’ve had multiple mentors who have taken a special interest in my career. They have said you need to go to this position. I questioned it. I didn’t understand it. But it turns out that developed a place in my leadership that was not refined well enough. We spend a lot of time and energy on managing our talent. What differentiates us from other nations and other militaries is our airmen, whether officer, enlisted or civilian.

Our Airmen are our most precious asset. It is our solemn duty to professionally develop our airmen to the best extent possible. We take special interest in placing them where they professionally develop, while making sure our missions continue to be successful.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia releases details of upcoming war games

On Sept. 7, 2018, two US F-22 Raptor fighter jets intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-95MC strategic bombers flying over the Arctic Ocean, escorting them for part of their journey over the waters of the Arctic and the Bering and Okhotsk seas.

The US planes tracked the Russian bombers until they left the area, flying west over the Aleutian Islands.

A defense official told The Washington Free Beacon that the bombers may have been practicing for a cruise-missile strike on US missile-defense sites and radars in Alaska — which may be a feature of the Russia’s upcoming massive Vostok-18 exercise that Russian officials have said will be the largest such drill since the Cold War.


Russian troops have already undergone “snap inspections” in preparation for the exercise, the active portion of which will take place between Sept. 11 to Sept. 17, 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, according to Russian state-media outlet Tass.

Exercises will take place at five ground testing areas and four aerial testing areas over the Sea of Japan and the Bering and Okhotsk seas.

“Aircraft have been flying maximum range sorties with refueling in flight and practicing landings at tactical airfields. Naval ships have been performing combat maneuvering and firing practices,” Shoigu said, according to Tass.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Russian armored vehicles participating in Zapad-2017 exercises.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Shoigu said in late August 2018 that about 300,000 Russian personnel and 1,000 aircraft, including drones, would take part, adding that “up to 80 combat and logistics ships and up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles” will be involved.

Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russia’s general staff, said Sept. 6, 2018, that 21 formations had been mobilized in 10 regions for the exercise, the main purpose of which, he said, “is to check the level of training that can be assessed only in an exercise of proper scale.”

“This exercise, to be held on the bilateral basis, will be the strictest test of combat skills and the military districts’ readiness for ground, air and naval operations,” he added.

“Involved in the exercise will be forces from the Eastern and Central federal districts, the Northern Fleet, and Airborne Forces, as well as long-range, military transport and tactical aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Force,” Gerasimov said, according to Tass.

Gerasimov also said that Chinese and Mongolian personnel will take part “side by side” with Russian forces.

Shoigu said in September 2018 that up to 3,500 Chinese army personnel would be involved “in the main scenario at the Tsugol proving ground” in Russia’s Eastern Military District.

China’s involvement has elicited surprise, given that Vostok, or East, has long been seen as Moscow’s preparation for a potential conflict with Beijing. China and Russia have done joint drills before, but this appears to be the first time Beijing has taken part in the Vostok exercise.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China “is now being invited to join as a friend and even a quasi-ally,” Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told The New York Times in August 2018.

The exercise is also expected to include simulated nuclear-weapons attacks, US officials told The Free Beacon. A Pentagon official said the US would watch the war games closely, calling them “strategic messaging” by both China and Russia.

Mongolia is also participating for the first time, and contingents from there and China are “completing coordination and adjustment at the Tsugol proving ground,” Gerasimov said, referring to an area near the eastern intersection of the three countries’ borders — where Gabuev suggested they might be restricted so Russian troops elsewhere could train for a potential clash with China.

NATO has also criticized the exercise, with a spokesman for the alliance saying it “fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”

Russia’s deputy defense minister, Col-Gen. Alexander Fomin said in September 2018 that the upcoming drills “lacked the slightest traces” of “anti-NATO bias or aggressiveness.”

Fomin also said Russian military personnel had been briefed on security and safety measures in accordance with Moscow’s agreements with neighboring countries, including the US.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Israel is the only country that believes its Iranian nuke intel

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it has “no credible” evidence Iran was working on developing a nuclear “explosive device” after 2009 and that the UN’s nuclear watchdog considered the issue “closed” after it was presented in a report in December 2015.

The 2015 report “stated that the agency had no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009. Based on the director-general’s report, the board of governors declared that its consideration of this issue was closed,” the IAEA said in a statement on May 1, 2018.


“In line with standard IAEA practice, the IAEA evaluates all safeguards-relevant information available to it. However, it is not the practice of the IAEA to publicly discuss issues related to any such information,” it added.

The IAEA statement comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on April 30, 2018, that Israel had documents that showed new “proof” of an Iranian nuclear-weapons plan that could be activated at any time.

Under an agreement in 2015 with world leaders, Iran curbed its enrichment of uranium for nuclear fuel to ease concerns it could be put to use in developing bomb material. In return, Tehran won relief from most international sanctions.

Since then, UN nuclear inspectors have repeatedly reported that Iran is heeding the terms of the deal.

European states have dismissed the significance of documents, while the United States welcomed them as evidence of Iranian “lies.”

Iran has accused Netanyahu of being an “infamous liar” over the allegations, which come as the United States is considering whether to pull out of an atomic accord with Tehran, which has always rejected allegations that it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was solely for civilian purposes.

“The documents show that Iran had a secret nuclear-weapons program for years” while it was denying it was pursuing such weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late on April 30, 2018, as he returned to Washington from a trip to Europe and the Middle East.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Mike Pompeo
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“What this means is [Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers] was not constructed on a foundation of good faith or transparency. It was built on Iran’s lies,” Pompeo said, adding that the trove of documents Israel said it obtained on Iran’s so-called Project Amad to develop nuclear weapons before 2004 contain “new information.”

“The Iranians have consistently taken the position that they’ve never had a program like this. This will belie any notion that there wasn’t a program,” Pompeo said.

Netanyahu made his dramatic announcement less than two weeks before the May 12, 2018 deadline for U.S. President Donald Trump to decide whether he will withdraw from the deal, which requires Iran to curb some of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Reuters reported on May 1, 2018, that according to a senior Israeli official, Netanyahu informed Trump about the evidence during a meeting in Washington on March 5, 2018, and that the U.S. president agreed Israel would publish the information before the May 12, 2018 deadline.

The White House on May 1, 2018, said the United States “certainly supported” efforts by Netanyahu to release intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program.

In a May 1, 2018 interview with CNN, Netanyahu said he did not seek war with Iran, but it was Tehran “that’s changing the rules in the region.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said in a statement on May 1, 2018, that accusations Tehran lied about its nuclear ambitions were “worn-out, useless, and shameful” and came from a “broke and infamous liar who has had nothing to offer except lies and deceits.”

“How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter, adding that the Israeli claims were “ridiculous” and “a rehash of old allegations.”

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
(Photo by Carlos Rodríguez)

‘This shows why deal needed’

European powers also said they were not impressed by the nearly 55,000 documents that Netanyahu claimed would prove that Iran once planned to develop the equivalent of “five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles.”

“We have never been naive about Iran and its nuclear intentions,” a British government spokesman said, adding that that was why the nuclear agreement contained a regime to inspect suspected Iranian nuclear sites that is “one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords.”

“It remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful,” the British spokesman said.

Britain, France, and Germany are the three European powers that signed the deal, along with Russia, China, and the United States.

European officials said the documents provided by Israel contained no evidence that Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons after the 2015 deal was signed, so they indirectly confirm that Iran is complying with the deal.

France’s Foreign Ministry said on May 1, 2018, that the Israeli information could be a basis for long-term monitoring of Tehran’s nuclear activities, as the information proved the need to ensure the nuclear deal and UN inspections remained.

A German government spokesman said Berlin will analyze the materials provided by Israel, but added that the documents demonstrate why the nuclear deal with its mandatory inspections must be maintained.

“It is clear that the international community had doubts that Iran was carrying out an exclusively peaceful nuclear program,” the spokesman said. “It was for this reason the nuclear accord was signed in 2015.”

Netanyahu also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 30, 2018, who afterward said in a statement issued by the Kremlin that the nuclear deal remains of “paramount importance to international stability and security, and must be strictly observed by all its signatories,” the Russian state-run news agency TASS reported.

How sailors keep their warships from breaking down
Russian President Vladimir Putin

The White House welcomed the Israeli announcement, saying that Tel Aviv had uncovered “new and compelling details” about Tehran’s efforts to develop “missile-deliverable nuclear weapons.”

“The United States has long known Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear-weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” the White House said.

The jousting over the Israeli announcement came as Trump repeated his strong opposition to the deal, which he called a “horrible agreement.”

“In seven years, that deal will have expired and Iran is free to go ahead and create nuclear weapons,” Trump said at the White House. “That is not acceptable.”

Many observers have concluded that Trump will move to withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal on May 12, 2018.

Trump did not say on April 30, 2018, what he will do, but he rejected a suggestion that walking away from the Iran deal would send a bad signal to North Korea as it negotiates with Washington over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“I think it sends the right message” to Pyongyang, Trump said.

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

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