Military Tech Advancements: The Path to the Future

Military Tech Advancements: The Path to the Future

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

Warfare and military strategy have certainly changed. While militaries have faced conflict since the beginning of time, the techniques, tactics and weaponry are completely different. Even throughout the United States of America’s 242-year history, the face of the American soldier has gone from the farmer carrying the musket to sophisticated and technologically advanced specialists in the field. Desire and perseverance were the keys to military success in revolutionary America. In 2018, technology is key.

Our military drives our less well-known technological advancements. For example, the need

for wireless communication is prevalent for soldiers. Hands free technology is critical in an environment where your hands are needed for constant defense and protection. Can you imagine a world where your hands free communication device does not need to be in your ear? Sonitus Technologies is working on that very advancement!

The California-based company has paired up with the Department of Defense to create the Molar Mic – a wireless communication device that goes in your teeth! The Molar Mic (pictured below) looks like a traditional headset but instead of being worn externally on the ear, it clips to the back teeth – or molars – of the user.

A custom-made mouthpiece fits the user’s back teeth. The mouthpiece has a small microphone to pick up and transmit spoken details. There is a speaker-transducer in the mouthpiece as well to convert sound waves into the corresponding sound. Soldiers who wear the device will be able to hear necessary and critical communications through their teeth and jawbone!

Additionally, it is expected that the Molar Mic will allow troops to make radio calls as well. This completely eliminates the need for the cumbersome headset with microphone that soldiers have utilized in the past. The Molar Mic will cut down on some of the equipment weight that or soldiers carry while making communication more reliable and less subject to interruption. Weather, regional circumstance and impact can all cause such interruptions. Molar Mic uses the wearer’s body to shield from many of these and cut down on external noises and interference.  

Molar Mic is still in the development phase, but Sonitus has been contracted to finish the project.

Odds are good that you have see a drone in the skyline – whether it has been part of a military exercise or operation or commercial civilian use, drones have taken us all by storm in recent years. Drones actually got their start over thirty years ago.In the 1980s, the US military had select operations that helped to clearly identify the need for unmanned reconnaissance devices. These operations in Grenada, Lebanon and Libya prompted the Secretary of the Navy to push for the technology.

The initial need was a tall order: inexpensive to make and maintain, available on-call whenever needed, unmanned, capacity to assess battle damages… but despite the long list of requirements, there was a prototype developed, the Pioneer, and two different systems began testing in 1986. By the end of 1986, the battleship USS Iowa proudly had the very first military-grade drone on board.

The Pioneer made its way into the Marine Corps by 1987. Since then, drones have gotten far more advanced than military tacticians could have imagined in the 1980s. It was deployed on both land and sea in theaters that include Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Somalia, the Persian Gulf and more. The USMC Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons were critical in 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom. It has been publicly documented that more than one Iraqi insurgent has surrendered to the overhead drones, operated by nearby US Military.

Perhaps they knew that the overhead Pioneer, carrying an infrared camera, was just the first sign of incoming troops. Or perhaps they were under the impression that there was more than just a camera strapped to the belly of that Pioneer. Regardless, the byproduct was a small collection of Iraqi soldiers who had peacefully surrendered without the need for advanced weaponry.

Drones have since become even more commonplace both in the military theater and civilian play. We see drones, once exclusive to military use, everywhere from sports arenas to backyard barbeques. Although it has become a hobby and toy for many, with lighter and less expensive versions on the market, it is still a life-saving device that provides real-time, useful and accurate  information that is used by our military on a regular basis.

While we are on the subject of flying, the planned advancements for the larger winged vehicles designed for passenger transportation are, quite literally, out of this world.

Have you heard of the DARPA XS-1? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency , or DARPA, Experimental Spaceplane program is the new name for the XS-1, a lower-maintenance spacecraft that would travel faster than sound. The Phantom Express is a joint collaboration between DARPA and Boeing, Co. The design specs for the Phantom Express includes an Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine. The AR-22 is powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

Before takeoff, the Phantom Express will be loaded with up to 3,000 pounds of payload. Upon completion of its space mission, the Phantom Express will land on a runway, similar to that of a commercial plane. So what makes Phantom Express different than the shuttles that have been in use before now? The key differences is maintenance and turnaround time. The Phantom Express will be able to take off again within hours and be launched repetitively for up to 10 consecutive days.

Planes in space seem like the work of science fiction? It is far more of a fact. Testing on the Phantom Express is slated to begin in 2020.    

From out of this world to the skies above us – Northrop Grumman Corp is developing the B-21 Raider. The B-21 Raider is more advanced than its older counterpart, the B-2. The “21st Century’s First Bomber” should enter service by 2025 and is expected to replace the B-1, B-2 and B-52.

Northrup Grumman is keeping the details of this one under fairly tight wraps. The estimated cost of the project is unknown and rumors of its capabilities are unsubstantiated. What we do know is that the B-21 Raider will be able to deliver conventional long-range and thermonuclear weapons, intercept enemy plans and gather intelligence. The US Air Force Global Strike Command is planning on up to 200 of these bombers in service. It is rumored that the bomber will operate either with or without a pilot and that it will be able to strike any target in any location on the globe without refueling. These, of course, are just rumors and have not been confirmed by military officials.

From up in the air to under the sea, the stealth submarine of the future is the Columbia-class submarine. A nuclear fuel core keeps this baby moving – for up to 42 years without a single refueling. How do you make a submarine stealth?

The Columbia-class submarine literally stays under the sonar with the help of an electric motor. An electric drive is much quieter than its mechanical counterpart. The quieter propulsion allows the submarine to be more easily disguised from enemy sonar.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021 and she should enter service in 2031.

Stealthy destroyers with laser weaponry certainly sounds like a prop for a movie in the making. It’s not! The Future Surface Combatant (FSC) is in the works to replace the Zumwalt-class and Arleigh-Burke-class destroyers in about 12 years. The Zumwalt-class destroyer is already pretty incredible, so the features of the FSC will need to be incredibly advanced. Important improvement to note: the FSC is designed to be easier to upgrade. New weaponry can easily and affordably be swapped in and out. The vessel will also feature an electric drive system that can generate up to 58 megawatts of electrical power on-board.

Planes, bombers, submarines, destroyers…commands being given to your teeth – all of it is pretty incredible when you remember that less than 80 years ago, Navajo Code Talkers were this country’s “advanced” technology that assisted our Military in all of our WWII successes. The brilliance and perfection of the Navajo Code Talkers was unparallelled at the time. There have been many changes and advancements in the past 80 years, and just like communication has improved dramatically, so has our most basic of weaponry.

The weaponry of the future is hypersonic. Conventional and nuclear warheads that can travel at speeds greater than mach 8 – which is eight times the speed of sound. Development has begun on a hypersonic missile that can travel at speeds of mach 20. What is the advantage of traveling at 20 times the speed of sound?

If you are a nuclear warhead, that kind of speed makes it extremely difficult for your enemies to react, track, follow or destroy. Mach 20 makes detection nearly improbable and deflection impossible. Decreased reaction time means increased impact.

The US is playing catch up in this game as China and Russia have had hypersonic projectiles in development for some time.

We have made great technological leaps in very short periods of time. Our development is only contained by our imagination and the more the minds wander into the possibilities, the more varied our military advancements will be.

War isn’t pretty. Our weapons of the future being employed today may keep our soldiers out of the trenches, but the tools of the trade can intimidate our foreign neighbors and cause more unsettled feelings. These same neighbors have accelerated their own efforts to keep their militaries competitive.  


Freedom Isn’t Free

Freedom Isn’t Free

By guest contributor Bethany DeHart

As I began to shut the door, the chill from the refrigerated room blew against my skin and created goosebumps that I would be able to feel for the rest of my life. The room was small and the only contents were of which I had just pushed in: a black bag that contained a vessel that once was made up of dreams, laughter, memories, love, sadness, a life. What it contained now was the very essence of that which this country is made: a soldier that had given the ultimate sacrifice. His life.

In my mind, I kissed a forehead that would never again be kissed by a mother, a child or a lover and I said my goodbyes. I gave one last look into the small room full of a chill, a room that would the resting place until this Soldier took his final flight home to his family – so that they could say their final goodbyes. I tried to swallow, but the lump that had formed in my throat barely let a breath escape. I would never have to wonder what it mean to be lonely. As the door to the refrigerated room closed shut, I felt every essence of the word throughout my whole body. I turned and began my walk into the evening – unlike my fallen comrade, I was still able to experience this simple act.

I had decided to volunteer my time at the mortuary while in Afghanistan because I wanted to give a little to those who had given all. Yes, the possibility of death goes hand-in-hand with being a Soldier, especially when at war. It becomes a possible job hazard as soon as you sign on the dotted line. You do not let it consume your mind during your day-to-day, mission-to-mission tasks. You just accept it and do what you have to do. It had been my first case, and while I went out on daily missions, into harm’s way – into the possibility that I, myself, might not come back – this was the first time I had seen firsthand what war can do to the human body and what war takes from the human soul.

During my walk back to my tent, I couldn’t stop thinking about this Soldier -tying his boots that morning and having no idea that he would not be untying them this night. I wondered what he laughed at today as he and his battle buddy walked to breakfast – or what conversations had gone on in his vehicle right before the ambush. I imagined it was much like the goofy nonsense that we talked about in our truck. Anything to make the time go a little faster and to add a touch of enjoyment to the situation at hand.

I thought about his mother and the grief that was about to fill her heart. The fear as she watched Soldiers in polished uniforms walk to her door. The moment she realizes the reason for the shiny black shoes beyond her door. I thought of his comrades, who will have to load up again and continue on their mission despite the events they survived today.

The image of him sitting on is cot, lacing his boots, just like I did every morning, kept coming to my mind. It was a task that was done everyday, something you never really had to think about doing. I knew at that moment that I would never take tying my shoes for granted again. I knew that I would focus on actually feel the of the material of the lace and the pull it created as I looped the laces to form bows that would hold my shoes on my feet. I knew that from this time forward, I would enjoy tying my shoes. I had a new appreciation for untying my shoes at the end of the day – and a new awareness that the opportunity to untie them at the end of the day was not guaranteed.

I had a new awareness of the world around me. I could feel every little pebble that crunched under my feet. I could hear the whisper of the warm evening breeze as though I had become fluent in its language. Even the smell of the human waste dump left a refreshing singe in my nose. I had a new love for being alive. For the first time, I could understand and appreciate how lucky I was to be taking this walk. The walk was a second chance to appreciate my legs; what they could do for me and the places they would take me. I appreciated the feeling of my arms swinging beside me, the feeling of my pants rubbing against my skin and the tightness of the laces of the boots that held my feet so firmly inside.

As I sat down on my cot, I looked at my boots and the laces I was about to feel in my hands. As I untied them to let my feet escape from the day’s journey. I thought of the Soldier to whom I had just said goodbye and I promised that I would not take for granted this life that I had been given. From this day forward, I would give my utmost best in everything I did – from lying my laces to loving my family.

I untied my laces of my boots, and I untied them for him. My head fell to my pillow with a new awareness of my skin against the cool material and my eyes closed with an awareness of my lashes on my cheek. Sleep surrounded me and brought with it some peace – and I let it take me. The morning would come soon and it would once again be time for me to lace up my boots.

Agent Orange: The Fallout

Agent Orange: The Fallout

Contributed by Kris Baydalla-Galasso

The chemical warfare efforts of Operation Ranch Hand were active for just 10 years of this country’s military history. Those 10 years of active efforts have had nearly 50 years of fallout, and the impact on future generations still remains unknown.

When the military began the chemical warfare airstrikes, the focus was on reducing ground cover utilized by the Viet Cong and Northern Vietnamese troops and destroying crops that would be used for sustenance. US Military, manufacturers and scientists were aware of the dangers that the dioxins posed to the humans and animals exposed, but there wasn’t a pressing concern as the toxins were being used on the enemy. Science overlooked the impact on US military personnel and long term impact on the environment. Air Force researcher Dr. James Clary has been quoted on the subject. “When we initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to the dioxin contamination in the herbicide. However, because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”

As Veterans returned home, they began to report a variety of health issues. Initial reports were primarily skin issues, but the list grew to include type 2 diabetes, miscarriages, birth defects and more.

The VA continually updates its list of afflictions, conditions and diseases associated with Agent Orange exposure. This is the most up-to-date list of recognized conditions:

AL Amyloidosis

Chronic B-cell Leukemias


Diabetes Mellitus Type 2

Hodgkin’s Disease

Ischemic Heart Disease

Multiple Myeloma

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Parkinson’s Disease

Peripheral Neuropathy, Early-onset

Porphyria Cutanea Tarda

Prostate Cancer

Respiratory Cancers

Soft Tissue Sarcomas

In addition to the number of illnesses reported by American Veterans and their families, the list of afflictions that have impacted the Vietnamese continues to grow. Most notable and heartbreaking are the images of children born with severe birth defects. While many assume the impacts ended after the war, in truth, children are still coming into this world with physical and mental handicaps as a result of their grandparents’ exposure to Agent Orange in the 60s.

Globally, we need to be aware of the impact that Agent Orange had on our ecosystem. If genetic abnormalities in humans were caused by exposure and still continue to be prevalent, there is a high likelihood that the dioxin would be found in our food that originated in that area.

Over 500 Immigrant Recruits Expelled from the U.S. Army in One Year

Over 500 Immigrant Recruits Expelled from the U.S. Army in One Year

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

During a 12-month period the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrant enlistees who were promised a path to citizenship.

The enlistees were part of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) recruiting program, which allows legal noncitizens to join the military in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship.

The recruiting program was put on hold in 2016 amid concerns that recruits were not being screened sufficiently, and the Army began booting out those enlistees last year.

The Army submitted its list of discharged servicemembers to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last month, putting the number at 502 service members who enlisted under MAVNI discharged between July 2017 and July 2018.

Of the discharged immigrants, more than 100 were told their entry-level performance and conduct was subpar and 48 were dismissed because of an adverse security screening. Others were dismissed for reasons ranging from personal problems to encounters with police.

The names of the service members and other personal information were redacted from the list to protect their privacy.

All the enlistees had committed to active duty or reserves; many had been regularly drilling and training with their recruiters in preparation for boot camp while awaiting security clearances.

More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving.

Because of the long wait caused by new screenings, dozens of immigrant recruits already in the pipeline were discharged or had their contracts canceled. The ensuing complaints and lawsuits led the Army to halt the discharges and reinstate at least 36 recruits.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has gone on the record as to his support of the MAVNI program.

“We need and want every qualified patriot willing to serve and able to serve,” Mattis said.

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises

AI May Enhance Tradecraft, Prevent Geopolitical Surprises Says Military’s Top Spy

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., the Pentagon’s “top spy,” hopes advances in artificial intelligence (AI) can get a jump on global conflicts when they ignite overnight.

“My core mission is to make sure that the secretary of defense is never surprised,” said Ashley.

Ashley became the 21st Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency on October 3, 2017. He formerly served as the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2, where he was the senior advisor to the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff for all aspects of intelligence, counterintelligence and security.

“AI and machine learning will be a huge enhancement” to tradecraft and other skills defense analysts use to avoid blind spots,” he said.

Using algorithms to sort through massive amounts of information can take some of the burden off defense analysts, but it doesn’t come without challenges, Ashley said.

“We look very closely at the technology development. Obviously, there’s some breakout things — we watch the AI side of the house, the hypersonics, counter-space, [and] what they’re doing with regard to subs, if you’re following the maritime piece of that as well,” he said. “They’re in the trials for their first carrier. They got an old one from the Russians; now they’re building their own.”

“When an analyst sits in front of a senior leader, they always say, ‘Based on reporting, based on sources, based on what I have seen I have a moderate [degree of confidence]’ or if you see a national assessment that says ‘I have a high-degree of confidence,’ it goes back to sourcing and analytic tradecraft,” he said.

“You never want to be in a position where you say, ‘Well, the computer told me so,'” he continued. “Part of the challenge we have now, and I think really the opportunity is, as we look at algorithms, as we look at machine learning and AI, is developing a degree of confidence within the AI, a degree of confidence within the algorithm.”

DIA will have to test these algorithms “to be able to prove that it can in fact come back with a high-degree of confidence that the analysis that it’s doing is correct,” Ashley added.

Ashley wants to ensure that the Machine-assisted Analytic Rapid-repository System, or MARS, is at initial operating capability before he leaves office in two years. MARS will take advantage of modern technologies in storage, cloud computing and machine learning to allow analysts to interact with data and information in a more dynamic fashion, rather than static.


Army Misses Recruiting Goal

For the First Time Since 2005, Army Misses Recruiting Goal

For the First Time Since 2005, Army Misses Recruiting Goal

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

The Army fell short of its recruiting goal for 2018, missing its mark for the first time since 2005.

The Army has been looking to grow its force strength in the face of growing threats from competing world powers such as Russia and China. The service branch has fallen short by about 6,500 soldiers, despite an extra $200 million spent on bonuses and approving some additional waivers for bad conduct or health issues.

Army leaders said they signed up about 70,000 new active duty recruits in the fiscal year that ended September 30.  The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all met their recruiting goals for 2018.

Despite the shortfall, Maj. Gen. Joe Calloway, the Army’s military personnel management director, said the 70,000 recruits who did enlist this year is the most the service has attracted since 2010. He said the Army chose to focus on taking in high-quality recruits instead of ensuring it met its goal with borderline applicants.

Calloway believes the Army’s shortfall was due to the strong American economy and increased competition from private sector employers who can pay more.

Only about 30 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds can meet the mandatory requirements for consideration for military service, which consists of a combination of physical, mental and background attributes. Additionally, only about 13 percent of that population is interested in military service, according to the Pentagon.

“We made a decision to raise the quality of our recruits despite the tough recruiting environment,” the Army said in a statement. “As we look to 2019 and beyond, we have laid the foundation to improve recruiting for the Army while maintaining an emphasis on quality over quantity.”

To keep up with changing times, the Army is adjusting its  recruiting efforts, including a new focus on reaching potential recruits through social media and interactive gaming, and in locations where recruiting has typically been weak, such as major metropolitan areas.

GPS Devices Banned for Troops on Deployment

GPS Devices Banned for Troops on Deployment

GPS Devices Banned for Troops on Deployment

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Deployed service members will no longer be allowed to use fitness tracking apps or other wearable technology such as Fitbits and iWatches that rely on geolocation, according to a new Pentagon policy.

“The rapidly evolving market of devices, applications, and services with geolocation capabilities presents a significant risk to the Department of Defense (DoD) personnel on and off duty, and to our military operations globally,” according to an August 3rd  memo written by the  Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The discovery that geolocation capabilities can expose locations of bases and important facilities based on where the geo-tracking stops prompted the policy change. Data firm Strava’s January release of a heat map revealed the locations and pathways of military installations around the globe due to user data on fitness apps such as Polar Flow. The global map reflected more than 1 billion paths that the Strava app tracked, but patterns and locations of U.S. service members could be garnered from zooming in on sensitive or secured areas.

The new policy does not require a total ban and only affects service members at operational bases or locations. Personnel working at the Pentagon will still be allowed to use the devices. Additionally, it doesn’t prohibit service members from having the devices with them when they deploy, as long as the geolocation services are disabled. With that said, each on-site commander will have final say as to what gadgets they will allow.

“These geolocation capabilities can expose personal information, locations, routines, and numbers of DoD personnel,” Shanahan wrote, “and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission.”

In some cases, the geolocation services will be allowed to be turned on after a security review, according to the new policy.

Highlights of the $717 Billion Defense Bill, Including 2.6% Troop Pay Raise

Highlights of the $717 Billion Defense Bill

Highlights of the $717 Billion Defense Bill, Including 2.6% Troop Pay Raise

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

During the signing at Fort Drum, the president invited members of the 10th Mountain’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team to gather round him for a photo opportunity.

Like most prior NDAAs, this year’s authorization is the product of a relatively bipartisan legislative process and received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

The 2.6 percent pay increase would be the biggest for the military in nine years. Estimates are that the pay raise will translate into about $670 more annually for junior enlisted troops and about $1,300 more for senior enlisted and junior officers.

It also funds new purchases of aircraft, ships and weapons. And it increases the size of our service branches: the Army’s end strength will grow by about 4,000, the Navy’s by 7,500, the Air Force by 4,000, and the Marine Corps by about 100. It also increases funding for training and readiness.

The NDAA also requires the DoD to carry out an annual education campaign to inform those who may be eligible to enroll in the VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. And it requires a study on the feasibility of phasing out the use of open burn pits.

Other allowances include:

  • $7.6B for 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
  • $85M for UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters.
  • Funds the U.S. Air Force’s new long-range stealth B-21 bomber.
  • Funds 13 new Navy ships to include $1.56B for three littoral combat ships, the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier, six icebreakers, and a Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.
  • $225.3M for Stryker A1 combat vehicles and supports efforts to modernize the Army’s armored combat vehicles.
  • Additional assistance to military spouses seeking employment by enhancing the My Career Advancement program.
  • Improvements to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to provide training tailored to servicemembers’ post-separation plans.
  • Resources for victims of military sexual trauma as part of pre-separation counseling.
  • Providing active duty and reserve personnel an “authoritative assessment of their earned GI Bill benefits” prior to separation, retirement, or release from active duty or demobilization.

Making a Difference- Profiles of Some Immigrant Service Members

Making a Difference- Profiles of Some Immigrant Service Members

Contributed by Debbie Gregory

As a nation founded by immigrants, the U.S. has long drawn its strength through the diversity of its citizens. Many of these immigrants have served this country as part of the one percent in the military. Here are just a few:

After fleeing war-torn Nicaragua, 1st Lt. Lizamara Bedolla now serves as an Army nurse at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s Surgical Ward at Fort Bliss. “The Army has taught me a lot about tolerance, self-awareness, patience and has opened my eyes to the different people that are all over this country and abroad.”

Although Staff Sgt. Tamba Benjamin wanted to join the Army or Marines, he joined the Air Force to appease his mother. He came to the U.S. from Monrovia, Liberia, via Freetown, Sierra Leone, when he was nine, escaping civil war. Currently assigned to the 407th Expeditionary Comptroller Squadron, Benjamin said, “Living in another country is like sleeping in someone else’s home — you take care of the home.”

It took Pfc. Fortytwo Chotper seven years to make it to the United States from Sudan via a Kenyan refugee camp. He joined the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1168th Transportation Company, not to get his citizenship. “I was just doing it to give thanks to the United States for bringing me here from the refugee camp.” Chotper’s 1168 TC team and Iowa Air National Guard Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Randy Greenwood joined Chotper at the U.S. District Courthouse in Des Moines in their dress uniforms to watch their brother take the oath of citizenship.

Already a citizen, Staff Sgt. Fadi Chreim, a 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations dispatch chief, joined the Air Force reserve to give back to his adoptive homeland.  “ Part of me wanted to put on that uniform just to say ‘thank you.’”

In March 2017, Pvt. Maria Daume, originally from  Siberia, Russia became the first female Marine to join the infantry through its traditional training pipeline at the age of 18, joining the Fleet Marine Force as a mortarman.

Senior Airman Mina Fawzi of the 407th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron was born in Cairo, Egypt, and joined the Air Force to support his family.

Mohammad Nadir worked as an interpreter for U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan, and is now a Marine. “I told my family I was going to come to America and become a Marine, so I did,” Nadir said.

Staff Sgt. Eric Piime, a boom operator in 121 Air Refueling Wing, Ohio Air National Guard. Piime, a native of Ghana, enlisted in the Air Force as “the ultimate way of giving back” to his adopted country.


Active-Duty End Strength Above 500,000 Top Priority for Army

Active-Duty End Strength Above 500,000 Top Priority for Army

Active-Duty End Strength Above 500,000 Top Priority for Army


Contributed by Debbie Gregory

Major modernization reforms are underway in the Army to create leaner and faster processes. In fact, modernization and adding more active-duty, Guard and Reserve soldiers are among the Army’s top priorities for 2020, according to Army Secretary Mark Esper.

Although Secretary Esper is the civilian head of the Army, he has considerable experience on the ground. A graduate of West Point, he deployed to Operation Desert Storm, and was part of the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

“For me, the big picture is continued support from Congress in regard to our modernizations initiatives, particularly the stand-up of Army Futures Command,” Esper said. “The second is improving the capacity and capability of the Army, and that means continuing to grow end strength.”

Secretary Esper’s objectives, in his own words:

“We must grow the regular Army above 500,000 soldiers with associated growth in the Guard and Reserve. And we must recruit and retain the very best.”

“We must ensure adequate quantities of Infantry, Armor, Engineers, Air Defense, Field Artillery…Our units from Brigade through Corps must also be able to conduct sustained ground and air intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and cyber operations. And we must have aviation combat support and robust logistics available to all formations.”

“We must be focused on high-intensity conflict, again, in urban terrain, under persistent surveillance, and in electronically degraded environments. It must incorporate battlefield innovation and continuous movement to frustrate enemy observation and intelligence collection. And it must include combined arms maneuver with the joint force, as well as our allies and partners.”

“We have identified six modernization priorities; I am sure you’ve heard of them. They are in order: First, long-range precision fires, next generation combat vehicles, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air and missile defense, and the one closest to my heart, soldier lethality.”

“We must reform our outdated personnel system to one that develops smart, thoughtful, innovative leaders of character who are comfortable with complexity and are capable of operating from the tactical up to the strategic level.”