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Former Air Force officer is Iran spy currently at large
The U.S. Department of Justice has jus charged a former U.S. Air Force officer with spying on behalf of Iran.

Monica Elfriede Witt, a former counterintelligence officer who now lives in Iran, assisted Iran in spying on her fellow intelligence officers, according to a Department of Justice press release detailing the indictment on Wednesday.

“Monica Witt is charged with revealing to the Iranian regime a highly classified intelligence program and the identity of a U.S. Intelligence Officer, all in violation of the law, her solemn oath to protect and defend our country, and the bounds of human decency,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.
 
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the 2019 State of the Union Address

Buzz Aldrin [USMA 1951] saluted after being introduced by President Donald Trump at the 2019 State of the Union address, Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at the Capitol in Washington. During the speech, President Trump said: "In 2019, we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the Moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag: Buzz Aldrin."

READ MORE... 

 
New Army fitness test
Army soldiers struggle to haul heavy sleds backward as fast as they can down a grassy field at Fort Bragg, filling the brisk North Carolina morning air with grunts of exertion and the shouts of instruction from their coaches.

Watching from the sidelines, Sgt. Maj. Harold Sampson shakes his head. As a military intelligence specialist he spends a lot of time behind a desk. Over his two decades in the Army, he could easily pound out the situps, pushups and 2-mile run that for years have made up the service’s fitness test.
 
But change has come. The Army is developing a new, more grueling and complex fitness exam that adds dead lifts, power throws and other exercises designed to make soldiers more fit and ready for combat. “I am prepared to be utterly embarrassed,” Sampson said on a recent morning, two days before he was to take the test.

Commanders have complained in recent years that the soldiers they get out of basic training aren’t fit enough. Nearly half of the commanders surveyed last year said new troops coming into their units could not meet the physical demands of combat. Officials also say about 12 percent of soldiers at any one time cannot deploy because of injuries.
 
Ring Melt held at West Point for first time

Worn smooth, the crass mass of brass bears the scars of a long life. The crest that once adorned the side has long since disappeared as have the words etched around the stone.

Lying on a placard beside the name of its owner and his cadet photo, the class ring is a testament to the life its wearer lived. Now, it is time for the ring to begin a new journey, its worn edges melted away and the gold used to craft rings that will carry the Class of 2020 through their lives.

The West Point Association of Graduates hosted its annual Ring Melt Ceremony Jan. 25 where class rings from old grads living and deceased were donated and melted down into a gold brick that is used as part of the gold to craft the next classes rings.

Fifty-five rings were donated this year and the gold will be used to craft the rings for the Class of 2020, which they will receive Ring Weekend in August.

"This ceremony was surreal," Class of 2020 Cadet Emma Powless said. "I really wish the whole Class of 2020 could have seen what went into it and how it was executed. I think it is important to know what goes into our rings and how much it means to people to have their rings go into our classes'. I think, for the most part, people understand the meaning of a class ring, but I think today ties it all together and you get to see the physical representation of what is going into them."

The ring melt has occurred every year since 2001, but this year marked the first time it has been held at the U.S. Military Academy. The ceremony started at Eisenhower Hall where either a representative from the family donating the ring or someone on the family's behalf placed the ring into a crucible. A few ounces of legacy gold, which was extracted from last year's melt, was also included which ties together each of the 18 melts that have occurred. The rings were then taken to be melted.

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Death of militant involved in USS Cole bombing confirmed
A U.S. military spokesman confirms that an American airstrike killed an al-Qaida operative accused of involvement in the attack nearly two decades ago on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.

The man targeted, Jamal al-Badawi, was wanted for his role in the attack on Oct. 12, 2000.

The spokesman for U.S. Central Command, Navy Capt. William Urban, says the military has confirmed through "a deliberate assessment process" that al-Badawi was killed on Jan. 1 in the strike east of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

President Donald Trump tweets that "Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole."
 
War has eroded decision-making confidence of young leaders, GEN says
Young Army leaders are suffering from America’s long wars spent building partner forces, the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command said Monday.

Conflicts in the Middle East, where the Army has spent significant time in an advise-and-assist role for local forces, has sapped officers and enlisted alike of their confidence in making tough choices in battle, Gen. Stephen Townsend told reporters at an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army.

Townsend said he noticed the problem during briefings on the service’s mission command doctrine, which is designed to help troops on the ground adjust their original plan in combat without contacting senior leaders.

“I want you smart enough to realize the plan I gave you will not work," Townsend said of the concept. "Then I want you smart enough to come up with a plan that will work ... even if you can’t talk to me.”

“In today’s environment, with near-peer adversaries, they’re going to jam us, they’re going to spoof our C2 [command and control] systems," he said. "You might think your C2 system is working, but the icons are not showing the true grids. They’re showing what the enemy wants you to see. So, how do you work that problem? You do it with mission command.”
 
Army Football Season Recap:

One For the History Books

 
To say this was a good season for the Army football team would be quite the understatement:

  • 11 wins for the first time in school history
  • Back-to-back 10 win seasons for the first time in school history
  • The first 1000/1000 QB in school history
  • Back-to-back CiC trophies with wins over Air Force and Army
  • Undefeated at Michie Stadium
  • Ranked in the top 25 for the first time in over two decades with a nearly guaranteed top 20 finish on tap
  • An utter demolishing of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl to cap it all off
 
Mattis leaving in February
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down from his position early next year, President Donald Trump announced Thursday evening.

“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump tweeted.

Trump touted the “tremendous progress” that has been made during Mattis’ tenure at the helm of the Defense Department and thanked Mattis for his service.

Trump said a successor “will be named shortly.”

Trump announced Mattis’ exit a day after his plans to withdraw troops from Syria became public, a decision that Mattis and the President’s other top national security advisers opposed.

In a resignation letter from Mattis, Mattis said his views don’t “align” with the President’s.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his letter.
 
 
U.S. Army looks for a few good robots, sparks industry battle
The Army is looking for a few good robots. Not to fight — not yet, at least — but to help the men and women who do.

These robots aren't taking up arms, but the companies making them have waged a different kind of battle. At stake is a contract worth almost half a billion dollars for 3,000 backpack-sized robots that can defuse bombs and scout enemy positions. Competition for the work has spilled over into Congress and federal court.

The project and others like it could someday help troops "look around the corner, over the next hillside and let the robot be in harm's way and let the robot get shot," said Paul Scharre, a military technology expert at the Center for a New American Security.
 
Withdrawal A Serious Blow to Afghan forces’ morale
The Taliban welcomed the news of the U.S. plan to withdraw half its troops in Afghanistan by the summer, while Afghan generals warned Friday it would be a blow to the morale of the country’s beleaguered security forces, who come under daily attacks from the insurgent fighters.

The announcement seems certain to complicate efforts to reach a peace deal, mostly because it gives the Taliban leverage by allowing them to hold off until a total U.S. withdrawal, or step up their demands over a weakened Afghan government.

"I believe the Taliban will see this as a reason to stall, and therefore it disincentivizes the Taliban to actually talk to the Afghan government, which it has refused to do," said Bill Roggio an Afghanistan analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
 
 
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