Cyber Officer Rank Flexibility Timely in Response to Threats from Iran and Russian

Cyber Officer Rank Flexibility Timely in Response to Threats from Iran and Russian

Cyber Officer Rank Flexibility Timely in Response to Threats from Iran and Russian

By Debbie Gregory

The United States Navy announced the intention to bring cyber officers in at mid-grade officer levels to ensure that the branch recruits and retains the best cyber officers. The service secretaries can take advantage of new authorities recently granted by Congress that allow them to do so.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said that these officers need the flexibility to move between the Navy or Marine Corps and the private sector without hurting their chances of promotion to secure their interest in staying in the service.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has allowed for the easing of requirements, like moving officers out of the military if they did not receive a promotion within a certain timeframe, and allowing for officers to be promoted faster.

“You have to have an active offense to have a great defense,” Spencer said. “Cyber is not one or the other. It’s a continuum and it’s a process because, to stay current in defense, you have to know what’s going on in offense.”

He added that the changes could help recruit and retain officers in other important communities, such as medical personnel and pilots.

The need for improved cyberwar intel is critical at this juncture of the United States history. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that there is “no question” that Russia is the “most aggressive foreign actor,” in its ongoing efforts to undermine American democracy.

On another front, the U.S. could also face cyberattacks from Iran in retaliation for the re-imposition of sanctions by President Trump, which the administration says was done to prevent its aggression, denying it the funds it needs to finance terrorism, its missile program and forces in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

“Iran’s cyber activities against the world have been the most consequential, costly and aggressive in the history of the internet, more so than Russia,” said Norm Roule, former Iran manager for the office of the Director of National Intelligence. “The Iranians are destructive cyber operators.”

“While we have no specific threats, we have seen an increase in chatter related to Iranian threat activity over the past several weeks,” said Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, a cyber threat intelligence company, which has predicted that the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement would provoke a cyber response from the Iranian government.

Moriuchi anticipated that businesses most at risk include banks and financial services, government departments, critical infrastructure providers, and oil and energy.

Potentially Harmful Water Contaminants Found at Over 100 Military Bases

Potentially Harmful Water Contaminants Found at Over 100 Military Bases

Potentially Harmful Water Contaminants Found at Over 100 Military Bases

By Debbie Gregory

Potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which have been linked to cancers and developmental delays for fetuses and infants, have been found in the water of more than 100 military installations.

The Department of Defense (DoD) began investigating contamination at military training sites where aqueous film-forming foams containing perfluorooctane sulfonate and related fluorochemicals had been used for fire training exercises. After spending $200 million on the study, the DoD has made safety changes at affected bases which includes installing filters and providing bottled water to families living there. But the damage may have already be done.

PFC contamination in drinking water is thought to stem from two main sources: factories that formerly manufactured or used the chemicals, and locations, such as military bases, where the foam was used to extinguish jet fuel fires.

The Air Force started replacing the original firefighting foam with a “new, environmentally responsible firefighting foam” in August 2016.

Twenty-five Army bases, 50 Air Force bases, 49 Navy/Marine Corps bases have test results higher than acceptable levels for perfluorinated compounds in either their drinking water or groundwater sources. The cleanup will take years and cost billions of dollars.

Many Marines who ingested contaminated water at Camp Lejuene, the largest Marine base on the East Coast, have died or lost family members, especially children with extreme birth defects or leukemia–and many more still are sick and dying with rare cancers and other ailments believed to be linked to the water contamination.

According to Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health, each base should have its water information posted. An on-site restoration program manager point person who is tasked with addressing environmental cleanup issues is available to address questions and concerns.

U.S. Surgeon General Aids Passenger in Distress

US Surgeon General

U.S. Surgeon General Aids Passenger in Distress

By Debbie Gregory.

 

Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, was headed to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson to participate in a discussion regarding the opioid epidemic with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and a panel of experts. But he was called into action prior to arriving at his destination.

Answering the question, “Is there a doctor onboard?” on Delta flight 1827, Adams aided an ailing passenger who had a medical situation that required attention. No one expected the nation’s top doc to tend to the patient, but Adams said, “I was glad to be able to assist!”

In a statement, Delta said, ““Prior to takeoff, Delta flight 1827 from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta returned to the gate following a customer illness. Medical assistance was provided by the U.S. Surgeon General who worked with our flight crew to aid the customer,” the company said in a statement. “Delta thanks the Surgeon General for volunteering his services in assisting this customer.”

“On my @Delta flight to Jackson, Mississippi (by way of Atlanta), and they asked if there was a Doctor on board to help with a medical emergency- why yes- yes there was,” Adams posted on his Twitter page @Surgeon_General. “Patient doing well and like a good #USPHS officer, I was glad to be able to assist!”

Mississippi Gov. Bryant also offered up praise, tweeting, “Nice job, Dr. Adams!”

Adams said he was proud to represent his agency, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. An anesthesiologist, he was previously Indiana’s health commissioner.

On June 29, 2017, President Trump nominated Adams to become Surgeon General of the United States. Adams was confirmed by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017. He assumed office on September 5, 2017.

Upon his confirmation, Adams noted that addressing the opioid epidemic along with untreated mental illness would be two of his major priorities.

 

Fat Leonard’ Scandal Influences Pentagon’s pick to lead Joint Chiefs

Fat Leonard

By Debbie Gregory.

When it came time for the Pentagon to chose a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of their top choices turned out to be tainted rattled by the “Fat Leonard” scandal.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” because of his size, has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes and more.  He wanted classified information to help his Singapore-based company retain lucrative contracts to resupply Navy vessels in the Pacific, as it had done for more than a quarter-century.

Francis confessed to swindling the Navy out of $35 million and bribing scores of officers.

Francis confided to federal agents in early 2015 that he had paid for opulent dinners and other favors for Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, then-commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Locklear was one of four contenders to head the Joint Chiefs.

While the Justice Department decided to not press charges, and despite being cleared of wrongdoing by the Navy, his association with the 350-pound contractor helped sink Locklear’s chances to lead the Joint Chiefs.

The Navy has declined to disclose how many people it has kicked out of the service for taking bribes or gifts from Francis.

Locklear last served as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from March 9, 2012, to May 27, 2015. Prior to that, he served as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa and NATO’s Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Prior to that, he served as Director, Navy Staff from July 2009 to October 2010. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 2015, after 39 years of service.

President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Joseph Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and took over from Army General Martin Dempsey on September 25, 2015, and officially took office on October 1, 2015.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Army to Redesign Basic Training Due to Low Recruit Discipline

basic123

By Debbie Gregory.

The US Army’s Basic Combat Training (BCT) will soon receive an overhaul intended to build more discipline fighting force.

By early summer, the Army’s BCT will be implemented in an attempt to instill strict discipline and pride. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t still be a heavy focus on physical fitness, battlefield first aid skills, marksmanship and communications.

The program addresses the trend of new soldiers who demonstrate a lack of obedience, a poor work ethic, and general carelessness with their uniforms and equipment.

“What leaders have observed in general is they believe that there is too much of a sense of entitlement, questioning of lawful orders, not listening to instruction, too much of a buddy mentality with NCOs and officers and a lot of tardiness being late to formation and duties,” said Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commanding General of the U.S. Army Center of Initial Military Training. “These are trends that they see as increasing that they think are part of the discipline aspect that is missing and that they would like to see in the trainees that become soldiers that come to them as their first unit of assignment.”

The problem with recruits who enter their military service thinking it’s just like any other job is that without the right attitudes, they can get killed – even in training. They can’t be lazy. They can’t ignore lawful orders.

The physical fitness requirements for the course have been increased. They’ll have to qualify with firearms that just have iron sights instead of optics. Their combative training hours are increased to 33 instead of the former 22.

The new BCT has three new exercises called “Hammer, Anvil, Forge.” The Forge (FTX) concludes the training. It will be an 81 hour field training exercise that includes night infiltration, medical evaluation training, ethical decision making, resupply missions, march and shoot, communication and more.

“If you succeed in making it through the 81-hour FTX … then what will happen is you will earn the right to become a soldier. You will earn your beret, you will earn a ‘soldier for life’ certificate, you will get your National Defense Service Medal and your uniform will look exactly like a United States Army soldier.” Maj Gen Frost

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Trump Wants to Use Military to Secure Border

border wall

By Debbie Gregory.

President Donald Trump wants to deploy members of the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built.

No time frame for the deployment has been announced.

Trump has promised to build a “big, beautiful wall” on the border since early in his campaign, claiming it will help secure the border. But Congress has yet to pass any meaningful funding for the wall’s construction, and federal law prohibits the use of active duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress.

Some 6,000 National Guard troops were deployed to the border in 2006, under president George W Bush. The troops did not participate in any law enforcement activity, but helped with surveillance and administrative tasks.

“We’re going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said, calling the move a “big step.”

In addition to mobilizing the National Guard, Trump and senior officials agreed on the need to pressure Congress to urgently pass legislation to close legal loopholes exploited by criminal trafficking, narco-terrorist and smuggling organizations

Among the new measures the administration is pursuing: ending special safeguards that prevent the immediate deportation of children arrested at the border and traveling alone. Currently, unaccompanied children from countries that don’t border the U.S. are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services and undergo often lengthy deportation proceedings before an immigration judge instead of being immediately deported.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

DoD Overpayment Error Puts Pendleton Civilian Police in a Tough Position

clawback

By Debbie Gregory.

Nearly 100 civilian police officers hired to augment military police on U.S. military bases in San Diego County are being asked by the federal government to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in wages after it was discovered the federal government had made an error in determining their pay scale.

Sixty civilian police officers at the Provost Marshal’s Office at Camp Pendleton and 33 civilian police officers at Naval Station Fallbrook were informed that to an accounting error, they will have to pay back the money.

The officers were paid on the wrong pay scale from 2008 to 2016.

On March 14, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Office began sending letters to officers notifying them of how much money they need to repay for the overpayment going back a decade.

Individual debts range from $12,000 to $80,000. The average overpayment was $3,500 annually, according to Robert Richey, president of the police officer’s union, the National Federation of Federal Employees.

Those involved have three options: Pay the money back, request a payment plan, or submit a waiver for the entire amount – but there is no guarantee the waiver will be granted.

Base officials at Camp Pendleton held town halls to help police officers understand what happened and how to move forward.

“We understand this is challenging for our police officers and poses a substantial burden on those who provide a critical service to meet the Navy’s security requirements,” a Navy spokesperson said. “Navy Region Southwest is committed to helping the officers through this process and continues to help mitigate the situation to the greatest degree possible.”

Carl Redding, a spokesman for the Marine base, said “We stand in full support of our police officers and understand how indebtedness can impact their welfare and morale.” He added, “Our civilian police officers provide such an added benefit for base security and we are grateful for all their hard work and dedication.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Deportation Fears for More Military Families

dhs

By Debbie Gregory.

With a number of military spouses facing deportation, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he would need to look into whether there may be additional protections for them.

While Mattis said he had reached an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that active duty forces, Reserve, Guard and honorably discharged veterans who are under the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be protected from deportation (as long as they didn’t have any standing court orders or serious felony convictions) it is not known whether those protections would be extended to their spouses.

“I’ll have to check on that and get back to you,” Mattis said.

Numerous military families, both active duty and veteran, are concerned about their undocumented spouses or dependents facing possible deportation.

The last thing deployed service members need to be thinking about is the deportation of their spouses while they are away. To that end, spouses of active-duty troops or veterans have been eligible for “Parole in Place,” or PIP, a relief that allows spouses, children and parents of active duty, National Guard and Reserve troops and veterans who entered the U.S. illegally to remain in the country and pursue a green card.

The law was put in place in 2007 to come to the aid of Yaderlin Hiraldo, the wife of Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez. Hiraldo entered the U.S. illegally, and Jimenez was killed in Iraq before they could complete her green card request.

In 2006, the couple was granted a deferment of immigration proceedings until Spc. Jimenez returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. However in June of that year, the government announced its intent to deport Hiraldo, despite the fact that her husband was declared missing along with two other soldiers. The case quickly received national attention and the involvement of influential U.S. Senators John Kerry and the late Ted Kennedy.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

New Supersonic Bullet is Almost Ready for Prime Time

onr

By Debbie Gregory.

Long-range, gun-launched, high-velocity and hypervelocity projectile (HVP) technologies are highly desired as potential cost-effective solutions for force protection and ballistic missile defense applications.   Now, the Department of Defense is preparing to test-fire its next-generation HVP within the next year, a development that could significantly augment that Pentagon’s existing missile defense systems.

HVP has been in development for more than a decade.

The high-velocity, compact design relieves the need for a rocket motor to extend gun range. Firing smaller, more accurate rounds improves danger close/collateral damage requirements and provides potential for deeper magazines and improved shipboard safety.

HVP program manager Vincent Sabio said that the shell is engineered to defeat several different threats, and could offer a lost-cost alternative to the standard Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors.

The Navy’s Integrated Warfare Systems office put the cost of an HVP around $85,000. Although the price tag is higher than previous 2016 estimates of between $35,000 and $50,000, it still is a significant savings over the cost of a single PAC-3.

The new HVP will also offer a major tactical boost for forces downrange.

“We need to be able to address (all) types of threats: subsonic, supersonic; sea-skimming, land-hugging; coming in from above and dropping down on top of us,” said Sabio. “There are many different trajectories that we need to be able to deal with that we… cannot deal with effectively today.”

Another advantage is that the next-generation HVP projectiles could end up firing from the Army’s 155 mm howitzers or the 5-inch deck guns aboard Navy destroyers and cruisers.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Investigation into the Sexual Assaults of Military Children

child assault

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. military has been derelict in its duty to protect and provide justice to the children of servicemembers when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base.

Tens of thousands of children and teenagers live and attend school on U.S. military bases while their parents serve the country. Yet if they are sexually violated by a classmate, a neighborhood kid or a sibling, they often get lost in a legal and bureaucratic netherworld. That’s because military law doesn’t apply to civilians, and the federal legal system that typically handles civilian crimes on base isn’t equipped or inclined to prosecute juveniles.

Reports of sexual violence among minors on U.S. military bases at home and abroad often only get as far as the desks of prosecutors. Many cases get lost in the system, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.

The Pentagon has rules and support systems to combat sexual violence among service members, but when it comes to student-on-student assaults, officials can only point to three paragraphs of guidelines that generally prohibit sexual harassment or “physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

As a result, reports of student sex assault languish.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have requested that the Pentagon’s inspector general begin a “comprehensive assessment” of department policies related to sexual assault among military children in schools and elsewhere on base.

“It disturbs us to learn that the department’s policies and procedures may prevent efforts to help child victims of misconduct … and to rehabilitate and hold child offenders accountable,” they wrote.

Pentagon school officials said they were developing new rules and guidance for reporting and responding to such violence. Officials also said the school system had appointed additional staff to advise families on their rights and available resources, among other reforms.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.