Did U.S. Have Cyberattack Plan if Iran Nuclear Dispute Led to Conflict?


By Debbie Gregory.

Shortly after President Obama took office, his administration developed an elaborate plan to cyberattack Iran’s power grid, air defense system, communications, and command and control apparatus. This was to be carried out in the event diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict.

This information is about to be released in an upcoming documentary film.

Code-named Nitro Zeus, the plan would have been a retaliatory alternative to a full on conventional military response if Iran had lashed out against U.S. interests and allies in the region following failed nuclear negotiations.

Nitro Zeus, which involved thousands of intelligence personnel and operatives, costing tens of millions of dollars over multiple years, was shelved after the nuclear deal struck between Iran and six other nations last summer was fulfilled.

This was just one of the contingency plans the U.S. military develops for all kinds of possible conflicts.

At the same time, American intelligence agencies developed a separate cyberplan to disable the Fordo nuclear enrichment site, built by Iran near the city of Qum, deep inside a mountain. Fordo, one of the hardest targets in Iran. The operation would have inserted a computer “worm” into the facility with the aim of frying Fordo’s computer systems

The development of the two secret programs suggest how seriously the Obama administration was concerned that its negotiations with Iran could fail.

The existence of Nitro Zeus was uncovered in the course of reporting for “Zero Days,” a documentary that describes the escalating conflict between Iran and the West in the years leading up to the agreement.

A zero-day (also known as zero-hour or 0-day) vulnerability is a previously undisclosed computer-software vulnerability that hackers can exploit to adversely affect computer programs, data, additional computers or a network. It is known as a “zero-day” because once the flaw becomes known, the software’s author has zero days in which to plan and advise any mitigation against its exploitation.

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Army Steps Up Efforts to Recruit Women


By Debbie Gregory.

Because women are 23% better at recruiting other women, the Army will increase the number of female recruiters to better target women. The goal is to add 1 percent each year for the next three years in order to get at least one woman at each of the Army’s more than 780 larger recruiting centers across the country.

And soon, local Army recruiting offices will have a set of physical tests, including running, jumping, lifting a weight and throwing a heavy ball, in order to determine what military jobs a recruit is physically capable of performing.

The tests will help the Pentagon set physical standards for every job that both men and women will have to meet. In December, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered all military services allow women to compete for all combat jobs. But he and other military leaders have been adamant that the physical standards for the jobs will not be lowered in order to allow more women to qualify.

And as women move into combat roles, Army commanders want to have women in leadership positions, such as drill sergeants and platoon sergeants, in order to lead by example and serve as mentors

The new physical tests will judge core strength and endurance. Recruits still will have to take the routine aptitude tests and physical evaluations.

And while the tests coincide with the campaign to recruit more women, military officials say that setting specific physical standards for all jobs may prevent some men from getting into certain infantry or armor posts if they don’t qualify.

The tests stem from a three year study done by the Army and are made up of four tasks: a standing long jump; an interval, aerobic run; a dead lift of weights; and a seated power throw of a weighted ball. It is expected that the cost to get all the testing equipment to the Army’s 1,300 recruiting locations will run approximately about $3 million.


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MyBivy App Helps Veterans Combat Night Terrors


By Debbie Gregory.

Millions of United States military veterans have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnoses, many due to witnessing traumatic and life-threatening events during deployment.

One major symptom of PTSD is ‘night terrors,’ in which a person gets little or poor sleep due to recurring troublesome thoughts or emotional triggers. Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Skluzacek, who spent a year in Iraq, was one of the people experiencing night terrors.

In his fight against PTSD, Skluzacek tried counseling, psychiatric drugs and self-medicating alcohol. He lost his job, his marriage, and a lot of friends.

Skluzacek’s son Tyler, wanted to do something to help his dad. Inspired by his dad’s struggles, Tyler developed myBivy, (short for bivouac, temporary soldier’s quarters) an application for smartphone and smartwatch that tracks a veteran’s heartbeat and movements in order to track night terrors and actually prevent them over time. Post-sleep, the veteran can see how they slept the previous night, while also having the option to submit a statistical report to their VA doctor or clinician.

“After a couple weeks of tracking the soldier we can find … the exact symptoms of the onset of the panic attack and try to use the watch or use the Android phone to disrupt that or take them out of the deep sleep but keep them asleep,” Tyler said.

Tyler likens the app to a service dog. “Veterans with really bad PTSD go to bed with a service dog and if that person starts to get shaky, the dog will put a paw on the person exactly at the point they need it.”

He said the app will use sound or vibration to prevent night terrors. He has been working with the Department of Veterans Affairs and sleep experts.

For Tyler, making myBivy available to veterans can’t come soon enough. He and his father have been in conference calls with the VA, which is trying to fast-track testing of the app.

“My team and I kind of have a saying right now that my team and I won’t sleep until the veterans can,” he said.

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