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Archive for the ‘Profession of Arms’ Category

Expert Soldier Badge: Increasing Soldier Lethality

Monday, August 2nd, 2021

FORT EUSTIS, Va. – The Expert Soldier Badge tests a Soldier’s performance in physical fitness and warfighting tasks, similar to the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge. Since the announcement of the ESB, on the Army’s 244th Birthday, nearly 5,000 Soldiers have attempted to attain the badge.

The ESB measures a Soldier’s proficiency in physical fitness, marksmanship, land navigation, and other warrior tasks to demonstrate a high level of lethality on the battlefield.

Testing and training for the ESB should take place under realistic conditions, where Soldiers will have to demonstrate the tactics learned and successfully apply them under extreme stress.

Prior to testing, a Soldier must have passed an Army Physical Fitness Test or Army Combat Fitness Test within the last six months, qualify as expert on the M4/M16 rifle, and be recommended by their chain of command.

The test itself includes a physical fitness assessment, consisting of the Hand Release Push-Up, a Sprint-Drag-Carry, and a 2-mile run. Soldiers also complete a day and night land navigation course, individual testing stations such as providing care under fire and moving a casualty, 12-mile foot march, and disassembling and re-assembling the M4.

ESB test stations include events from the Weapons, Medical, and Patrol Lanes with an additional set of tasks selected by the brigade commander from the unit’s mission essential task list, such as reacting to an improvised explosive device attack or constructing individual fighting positions.

Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, Center for Initial Military Training, stated the goal of the badge is to make Soldiers an expert at everything that applies to an individual Soldier skills.

Beeson stated the most common reason for Soldiers failing is a lack of preparation.

“Put your hands on the weapons,” he said. “The most failed portion of the testing is the weapons lane. Prior to arriving, Soldiers should have weeks of training where they’ve prepared for success.”

Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commanding general, CIMT, echoed this conclusion.

“The reason Soldiers fail is a lack of preparation,” he said. “Many commands and Soldiers believe the week prior is enough to master the tasks. There has to be preparatory training.

“The importance of the ESB in the Army is building the war fighting skills of what a Soldier is expected to do,” Hibbard said. “The ESB tests on common war fighting tasks that all Soldiers should be proficient at.”

Of those 5,000 Soldiers that have tested for the badge, only 19% have been awarded. At a command level, the testing of the ESB is essential in measuring the efficiency of how Soldiers are actively trained.

The ESB aims to increase the lethality among the force, outside of infantry and medical. Appropriate training and preparation are critical to a Soldier successfully passing the test.

More information on the planning and executing for the ESB is available here. (CAC enabled)

By Hunter Rhoades, TRADOC Communication Directorate

Tac Job – USASOC Seeks Sr NCOs

Friday, July 30th, 2021


Training the Next Generation of ‘CyberCops’

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

New University of Houston Program Recruits ROTC Students
as Future Gatekeepers of Cyber Security

HOUSTON, July 22, 2021 — Not so long ago, a strong password felt mighty enough to keep you safe and your computer data private. But we now live amid heightened risks in malware, phishing, spearphishing and denial-of-service attacks. Even scarier, it is possible for computer terrorists to wreak global havoc by commandeering your personal computer – yes, your own computer – without you suspecting danger until it’s way too late.

Sound frightening? It can be. But in this game, the good guys have critical skills, too.

The fall 2021 CyberCops program – funded by $250,000 grant from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research and sponsored by the University of Houston with cooperation of the University of Houston-Downtown and Texas Southern University – will introduce the critical field of cybersecurity to students recruited from the three participating universities’ ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs.

In recent headlines, accusations of cyber aggression by unfriendly foreign powers reveal how high the stakes are.

Rakesh Verma, computer science professor at the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, leads the new CyberCops training program.

“The Department of Defense is interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how those fields intersect with the needs of defense. They want students who plan on taking up careers in defense to have that kind of training and background,” said Rakesh Verma, computer science professor at the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Because these are ROTC students, the expectation is they will enter into a D.O.D. agency. But there are a lot of opportunities in the private sector, too, for people coming out with cybersecurity backgrounds.”

In the CyberCops program, students will study how to protect data, networks and computers as they also learn another critical lesson: Always stay a step ahead.

“The students will gain expertise in the intersection of a number of fields, including data science, machine learning and cybersecurity. They will have a semester of classroom training then spend about 10 weeks in my lab on the University of Houston main campus. There, they will study models on statistics, machine learning, natural language processing and data mining,” Verma said.

The term natural language processing refers to programming that “teaches” computers to understand not only the digital language of computers but also written and spoken words in various languages – English, Chinese, Russian and others.

Just how bad are the hackers, terrorists and just plain thieves who troll the internet? Don’t underestimate them, Verma warns.

As an individual, you may be at risk of:

Ransom demands – Your data is locked. “Your computer’s been hacked, and all the data encrypted. Then you might receive a demand to pay a certain number of bitcoins to get it back,” Verma said.

Thieves – Your identity is stolen. “These are criminals whose goal is to make a lot of money quickly,” Verma said. With special software, they enter the dark web where each set set of stolen credit card information sells for about $5, a Social Security number for around $10.

Zombies – And we’re totally serious here. In cybersecurity circles, a zombie is a computer that’s under the control of an attacker. If a cyber terrorist commandeers your computer, all you can do is watch your screen helplessly while someone – on the other side of the world or maybe next door – swiftly moves through the internet with your identity, perhaps with the aim of infiltrating a commercial or government network, or conducting a denial-of-service attack

Risks are greater for government agencies and businesses. In early July, Microsoft announced discovery of the PrintNightmare hack and urged all Windows users to immediately install an update. The U.S. government and its allies later said the hackers were hired by China’s government or its representatives.

Two months earlier, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack resulted in a five-day shutdown, fuel shortages in the Eastern U.S. and a ransom of $4.4 million. Eventually all but $2.1 million of the ransom was recovered.

Several companies have faced spearphishing, which targets one individual inside an organization. For example, by weaving in facts easily found on a company’s website, attackers can craft an “urgent” email convincing enough for a trusted employee to move money.

Knowing how to fight the threat is not always easy, especially with deceptions, fake news and social engineering specifically designed to avoid detection. “You have to put yourself in the shoes of the attacker. Think like an attacker and find the weaknesses.” Verma said.

For the six gifted students recruited for the new program, an exciting future may start with CyberCops training on the UH campus. And for your own data, security may someday depend on the critical lessons they learn there.

Rocky Account Manager Ralph Borja To Be Inducted Into US Army Ranger Hall Of Fame

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

NELSONVILLE, Ohio — Ralph Borja, a national military account manager for Rocky Boots, has been selected for induction into the National Ranger Association’s Ranger Hall of Fame. Borja is one of 15 members of the 2021 Hall of Fame class and will be honored in a ceremony July 21st at Fort Benning, Ga.

“Ralph embodies every quality you would expect of a former Army Ranger, and Rocky has been fortunate to have him as a part of our sales team,” said Mark Dean, Vice President of Rocky’s Commercial Military division. “We thank him for his service to our country and salute him for his induction into the Ranger Hall of Fame.”

Borja, a native of Agana, Guam, served a total of 31 years in the military in numerous special operations roles. He entered the Ranger Indoctrination Program immediately after basic training and then joined the 75th Ranger Regiment in January 1980. During his career, he served as a Ranger instructor, Sergeant Major at multiple battalions, Brigade Command Sergeant Major with the 10th Mountain Division, and Command Sergeant Major at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

He is also a Master Parachutist with two combat jumps, first into Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and again into Panama as a part of Operation Just Cause in 1989. For injuries sustained in Panama, he was awarded a Purple Heart. He later deployed to Afghanistan twice, earning a Bronze Star during one of those tours.

Borja holds several other awards and decorations including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit award.

After concluding his military service, Borja joined Rocky in July 2013 and has demonstrated incredible acumen and leadership as a sales manager. He is a highly valued conduit to the world’s largest tactical distributors and has played an integral role in establishing Rocky’s Commercial Military Brand domestically and abroad.

The Ranger Hall of Fame was formed in 1992 to honor and preserve the spirit and contributions of America’s most extraordinary Rangers. The Ranger Hall of Fame takes particular care to ensure that only the most extraordinary Rangers are inducted, a difficult mission given the high caliber of all nominees. Inductees are impartially selected from the Ranger community and represent all units and eras of Ranger history.

Air Force Releases Cardio and Strength Fitness Assessment Alternatives, New Online Capabilities

Saturday, July 3rd, 2021


The Air Force will provide Airmen five physical fitness assessment alternatives—three for the cardio portion and sit-up components and two for the push-up component of the physical fitness assessment beginning in early 2022.

Airmen will select from the traditional 1.5-mile run, 1-mile walk or the High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run (20M HAMR) to meet the cardio requirement. Then select from traditional push-ups or hand release push-ups for one strength component; and from sit-ups, the cross-leg reverse crunch or plank for the other strength component to complete the comprehensive fitness assessment.

Finalized fitness assessment scoring charts, with alternative components broken out by gender and age, will be provided at a later date.

“We are moving away from a one-size-fits-all model,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. in the initial change announced May 2021. “More testing options will put flexibility in the hands of our Airmen – where it belongs. We know not all Airmen maintain their fitness the same way and may excel in different areas. Alternate components provide choices while still providing a mechanism to determine overall fitness.”

This initiative is the result of Airmen providing feedback to Air Force leaders through the physical fitness working group in conjunction with looking at the way other services complete their physical fitness programs. From the data collected, the Air Force fitness working group conducted research and testing on the health benefits of the current fitness components and various other components to come up with the alternative options.

Each new component has been developed to be an equivalent measure of fitness regardless of methodology. For example, the 1-mile walk alternative is a scientifically-valid estimation of the member’s aerobic capacity (also referred to as VO2 max), which measures fitness and aerobic power. Test scores incorporate time to complete the 1-mile test along with the member’s age, weight, and heart rate at the time of walk completion. Based on the rigorous scoring to pass this test based on age, weight, speed, and heart rate, there is no significant difference of scores between the walk and run tests.

“What we care about is measuring and testing aerobic fitness. The ‘walk’ is not a stroll in the park and both the pace required and method for computing aerobic fitness make it 100% equivalent to the run,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services. “In fact, I think we’ll find fewer people will prefer that option over the more traditional mile-and-half run.”

Air Force members and fitness monitors will have approximately six months for a break-in period to familiarize themselves with the use and execution of the alternative testing options prior to having them officially available in early 2022. The six-month timeline will help ensure fitness assessment cells are prepared to train physical training leaders to administer tests using the new options. During the six-month break-in period, units and Airmen will also be able to provide feedback on the new components that will allow any adjustments as necessary prior to live use.

Other exercise options such as swim, row, and bike tests were reviewed but are not being implemented at this time. “It’s important for our testing options to be available and executable for all Airmen at all locations,” Kelly said. “If you are at a remote location or a location that does not have a pool or other needed equipment, those options become less equitable.  We want our Airmen to have the same options no matter where they are testing.”

These changes align under the Air Force’s Action Order Airmen, people-first approach.

“If we are truly going to get after building a culture that embraces fitness as a lifestyle, then we have to grow beyond the mentality of a one-size-fits-all PT test,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “Providing our Airmen with these options is a step in the right direction toward developing an Air Force that is fit to fight, anytime, anywhere.”

The waist measurement is no longer a scored part of the physical fitness test. A separate assessment of body composition, as required by DoD Instruction 1308.3, will continue starting in October 2021. Further details on the body composition program will be released at a later date.

In addition to the fitness component changes, the Department of the Air Force also released the myFitness capability on July 1. The new feature will replace the Air Force Fitness Management Site II and serve as a single location for all total force Airmen and Guardians’ fitness needs.

The capabilities that exist today allow Unit Fitness Program Managers and Fitness Assessment Cells to manage fitness assessments, documentation and scheduling, to include walk-in, same-day fitness testing in myFitness. Additionally, users are able to view past scores, individual fitness reports, dashboards showing completed or updated fitness assessments scores and allow for the download of Fitness Screening Questionnaire as well as medical forms. Users can also access a calculator for estimating fitness results and composite scores.

myFitness will eventually allow users to schedule fitness assessments, receive automated notifications for scheduled testing or cancelations, access and submit fitness assessments, upload medical documents for review.

myFitness is hosted on the myFSS platform and a part of the department’s initiative to improve Airmen and Guardian’s experience with technology by making applications user-friendly and more easily accessible. Active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel will be able to access and use myFitness worldwide.

To access myFitness, go to myfss.us.af.mil.

For additional information on Physical Fitness, Airmen can visit myPers or the Air Force’s Personnel Center’s fitness program page. Draft fitness score charts are available on MyPers to use until final score charts are provided. 

The Space Force will follow these fitness standards until service-specific guidance is developed and published.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Royal Danish Air Force Brings Deployment Tradition to Shaw AFB

Friday, June 25th, 2021


With 49 years of tradition in the making, the Royal Danish Air Force hosted their first Danish Contingent, or DANCON, march on U.S. soil at Shaw Air Force Base, June 5.

More than 60 participants from the RDAF, Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central), 20th Fighter Wing, U.S. Army Central and other coalition forces had six hours to carry a 22-pound ruck for 15.5 miles.

“The history of the DANCON dates back to 1972, where it was held for the first time at a U.N. mission in Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea,” said Royal Danish Air Force Lt. Col. John Roland Pedersen, the Danish detachment commander. “Ever since, it has become tradition that Danish contingents on a mission around the world have arranged a march similar to this one, which we are doing today.”

The march not only gives participants the opportunity to demonstrate their physical abilities, but it also allows them to build camaraderie within their own units and with members from other military branches and countries.

“At some point my legs were cramped up pretty bad,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Layelquinn Ferguson, a forward observer assigned to the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, USARCENT. “I was actually unable to stand until a coalition member stopped and helped me stretch and that was a huge help. To be honest, I would not have been able to get up by myself if he did not stop and help me up. And that’s what this is all about, coalition forces helping each other out.”

The DANCON march is not just about showing how fast you can finish and who finishes first. This traditional ruck reinforces teamwork and shows how military members take care of each other. They have great pride in upholding traditions and honoring legacies.

“The purpose of the DANCON is to challenge your physical, mental endurance and determination, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to meet new friends, have a few laughs and a pleasant break in the daily routines,” Pedersen said.

Members from the RDAF recently deployed to Shaw AFB as part of the recent transition of the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, known as “Kingpin,” from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to Shaw AFB. DANCONs, previously held at deployed locations overseas, are a legacy that will continue by the RDAF at Shaw AFB and other places around the globe.

By TSgt Elysia Wray, Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central) Public Affairs

TacJobs – US Navy SERE Instructor

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

US Navy SERE Instructors are volunteers from various rates across the Navy.

To apply, contact Shore Special Programs at (901) 874-3872 or DSN 882-3872.

Air Force Coins Official Maintenance Duty Uniform, Adds Immediate Wear of Tactical OCP Caps

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Air Force commanders of units with aircraft maintenance, industrial and other labor intensive Air Force Specialty Codes will have the option to authorize wear of a standardized, maintenance duty uniform, also referred to as coveralls, which may be worn on a day-to-day basis upon publication of the updated AFI 36-2903 anticipated for August 2021.

The career fields authorized to wear the MDU are: 2A, 2F, 2G, 2M, 2P, 2S, 2T, 2W, 3E, 3D, 1P.

“The MDU idea was presented to the 101st uniform board in November 2020 as a way to help increase readiness and timeliness from the work center to the flight line,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “We are hoping this change will instill a sense of culture and inclusivity for our maintainers who work to keep the mission going 24/7.”

When authorized by commanders, the sage MDU will be unit funded and members will wear the basic configuration consisting of a nametape, service tapes and rank along with the higher headquarters patch on the left sleeve and a subdued U.S. flag and organizational patch on the right sleeve. The coyote brown t-shirt, OCP patrol or tactical cap, coyote brown or green socks, and coyote brown boots, are worn with the uniform. The MDU will not be utilized for office work environments, non-industrial or non-labor tasking, but is authorized for wear when transiting from home to duty location and all locations on installations. It must be worn in serviceable condition. Local coverall variants are still authorized but only in work centers and on the flight line.

Tactical OCP Cap

Additionally, immediate wear of some tactical OCP caps is authorized while the Air Force continues the acquisition process to complete this new uniform item. These are not yet available through AAFES.

Current tactical OCP caps may be worn if they are made entirely of OCP material or OCP material with a coyote brown mesh back. No other colors or combinations are authorized. The Velcro or sew-on spice brown name tape will be worn centered on the back of the caps. The only item authorized for wear on the front of the cap is rank for officers.

Officers will wear either pinned, sewn or Velcro spice brown rank insignia centered ½ inch on the front of the cap on an OCP background. Air Force first lieutenants and lieutenant colonels will wear black rank. Velcro on the hat should not exceed the size of the insignia. Chaplains may wear the chaplain occupational badge sewn-on and centered ½ inch above the visor.

Enlisted members will not wear rank insignia or a subdued flag on the cap, only a name tape on the back of the cap is authorized. The front of the cap must not have any Velcro or other items.

In addition, females are authorized to pull their bun or ponytail through the back of the tactical OCP cap.

Once the acquisition process is complete for the new uniform item, which is expected to take approximately a year, all other caps will be unauthorized.

At this time, Guardians will adhere to the uniform standards of the U.S. Air Force until the U.S. Space Force develops its own policy.

Note: Theater commanders prescribe the dress and personal appearance standards in the theater of operations.