In The News

WP-ORG System Status

Updated: Sep 6, 2019   As many of you are aware, West-Point.Org (WP-ORG), has been down since August 1st. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and the frustration that you may feel. We are currently bringing web sites back online and expect to have all available by this weekend.

  • Problem discovered during scheduled maintenance: During scheduled maintenance on July 28th, we discovered some network issues that we worked to resolve. What was to have been a 1-hour downtime turned into several days of having the systems go up/down in odd ways.
  • Ransomware attack: The networking issues that we discovered turned out to be the by-product of a ransomware attack on WP-ORG.
    • All of our main storage systems were compromised and the files were being encrypted to remove our access to them.
    • It is important to emphasize that data was not being pulled from the system, but instead being encrypted.
  • Current situation:
    • We are currently having each system assessed by experts and will bring all of our services back online.
    • 2019-08-08: Credit card sites are back online as of 4:30pm ET on August 8th.
      • All passwords have been changed for backend access. Megan Klein will contact all backend owners of live credit card sites for their new password. She has your contact information.
    • 2019-08-12: We have obtained all past and current files from our backup server and moved them to a secure hard drive.
    • 2019-08-12: We provisioned a new sterile file server with 20TB of storage that will allow us to bring up the remaining services.
    • 2019-08-13: Sterile database server provisioned and all databases restored to their last state. All systems that rely on the database (e.g., web, listserves, etc.) require that we restore this system as a priority.
    • 2019-08-14: Restoration of email files, web files, and listserve files started.
    • 2019-08-16: Restoration of all email files completed and validated.  
      • Email access settings will remain the same for your PC or mobile device, so once this is up then your systems should start pulling mail again. If your email is not working, then insure that your settings are to send and receive at users.adc.west-point.org. In the past, users.west-point.org worked, but now it must specifically be users.adc.west-point.org. 
    • 2019-08-19: Testing finally done for email. You may now send and receive email at your @west-point.org address. 
      • We ran into several issues getting the new system to work with new versions of POP and IMAP that are more secure than the older versions we were running.
      • Through a configuration error during the downtime, some email between 7/31 and 8/15 was returned to sender.
    • 2019-08-27: New firewall installed.
      • Credit card sites and email traffic were paused while the firewall was installed.
      • New firewall policies may have interrupted email for some users even after the services were turned back on. Those issues have been addressed.
    • 2019-08-29: Majordomo listserve functionality is restored and tested.
      • All list membership is restored to the status prior to the incident.
      • The ability to change list membership with our moderator tools will be restored at a future date.
    • 2019-08-31: All email should be working properly. If your email is not working, then insure that your settings are to send and receive at users.adc.west-point.org. In the past, users.west-point.org worked, but now it must specifically be users.adc.west-point.org. Contact feedback@west-point.org if you have issues.
    • In progress: Web site restoration.
      • 2019-09-03: Some virtual sites restored. 
      • 2019-09-06: Main web site restored with SSL capability. We are going through each hosted sub-site (e.g., /class/usma1989/) to determine if the site needs any updates to the underlying code.
      • 2019-08-31: Hosted virtual web sites are still in the process of restoration.
    • Future:
      • SFTP access
        • Access to your files via SFTP will come at a later date. We are still planning that infrastructure.

Some common questions that you may have

Q: Should I change my password?
A: We are assuming that any password used in WP-ORG is now compromised because the attackers had access to the system. We will be forcing every user to change their password. If your WP-ORG password was the same as one you have used outside of WP-ORG (though it shouldn’t be…that is a security risk), you should IMMEDIATELY change that password. 

Q: I use WP-ORG for email. Did I lose any email?
A: This is a multi-part answer. First, the email that was already delivered to your inbox at WP-ORG should be recoverable. Second, email that has been addressed to you during the outage will attempt to be delivered for 48-72 hours before it is sent back as undeliverable. Therefore, yes, some email addressed to you since August 1st will be lost (returned) but others will be waiting and will be delivered when our email is back online.

‘Walking blood banks’ fill gap for medical care in field environment

Sgt. Charles Moncayo, 82nd Airborne Division Band, get his blood drawn as part of the low titer O testing at a blood drive hosted by the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY), June 7, 2019. The XVIII Airborne Corps is identifying Soldiers with blood type O who have low levels of antibodies in their blood. These individuals have the ability to provide an immediate blood donation to an injured person of any blood type that needs a transfusion at or near the point of injury.

The XVIII Airborne Corps and the Armed Services Blood Program are partnering to identify Soldiers with blood type O who have low levels of antibodies in their blood. These individuals have the ability to provide an immediate blood donation to an injured person of any blood type that needs a transfusion at or near the point of injury.

“We are taking individuals with type O blood, who are already considered universal donors for packed red blood cells, and testing the levels of antibodies in their blood,” said Lt. Col. Melanie Sloan, director, Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center. “Everyone has antibodies. They are naturally occurring and can attach themselves to transfused blood cells. The titer testing helps identify individuals with lower levels of these antibodies.”

The Army is currently using the standard of 1 to 256 for the level of antibodies in the individuals identified as low titer O. When a person with blood type A or B needs blood and is receiving blood from a type O donor, the lower level of antibodies will make it easier for the body to accept the different blood type. Low titer O blood can be given to anyone in need, regardless of their blood type.

1st Lt. Robert Blough, the physician assistant for the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery (DIVARTY) and a former Special Forces medical sergeant, arranged for Soldiers in his unit to get tested for low titer O and also helps with mobile training teams to teach others how to perform field blood transfusions. He said he is passionate about implementing this program across the force because he has seen first-hand how it can save a life.

“In 2007, I had an Iraqi get shot in lower abdominal area,” said Blough. “He was bleeding out internally, not overly fast, but there was nothing I could do to stop the bleeding inside him. The MEDEVAC got delayed. We were sitting on a mountaintop with this guy and I did not have the ability to transfuse blood to save his life.”

Blough said that experience led him to volunteer for the working group spearheading the efforts to identify and screen fresh whole blood donors within the XVIII Abn. Corps.

The ability to transfuse blood while on the battlefield or at a remote location is hardly new and its effectiveness has been proven throughout history.

READ MORE…

Esper creates task force to deal with cancer-causing chemicals on military installations

On his first full day as secretary of defense, Mark Esper has signed a memo establishing a task force to deal with cancer-causing chemicals found on military bases.

The purpose, he told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday, is to “address all the key areas” of the military’s response to the presence of harmful chemicals used in firefighting foam.

The chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid and/or perfluorooctane sulfonate have been found to have caused contamination at more than 230 military installations, according to an environmental advocacy group. The Environmental Working Group says that harmful levels have been detected in groundwater or drinking water sources of the fluorinated compounds, known collectively as PFAS.

An additional 44 civilian airports are included that are also used by Air National Guard units, according to the group.

Esper said the new task force will address a wide range of issues resulting from the contamination, “whether it’s cleanup, whether it’s finding an alternative for the current firefighting, you name it,” said Esper. “It will include the military department and our health affairs folks.”

READ MORE…

US military aims to ensure safe passage of American commercial ships in Persian Gulf

The U.S. military intends to protect American commercial ships against Iranian threats in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz but will not provide naval escorts in every case, the newly installed defense secretary said Wednesday.

The aim of the U.S. naval and air presence in the Gulf area is to deter Iran from threatening to stop or seize any American commercial ship, Mark Esper told reporters on his first full day as Pentagon chief.

Esper, who previously served as the Army’s top civilian official, was confirmed by the Senate and sworn at the White House on Tuesday, ending a seven-month absence of a confirmed defense secretary.

He indicated that addressing the Iran issue is one of his first priorities. Threats to navigation in the Gulf have become an international issue in recent months as Iran has responded to increased U.S. economic sanctions that have strangled its oil exports.

Last week Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Afterward, U.S. Central Command said it began extra U.S. aerial patrols. Also last week, the U.S. Navy said it destroyed one, and possibly two, Iranian drones that had made what the Navy called threatening moves against the amphibious assault ship Boxer in the Strait.

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Despite opposition, USC board hires retired general Caslen, USMA 1975, as school’s next president

A divided University of South Carolina board of trustees voted Friday to hire retired Army Gen. Robert Caslen as the school’s next president.

After a rare contentious meeting, the board rejected protests from faculty, some students and several politicians in choosing Caslen, the former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The vote was 11-8. One board member abstained.

A crowd of roughly 128 students, alumni and faculty who had gathered in the Pastides Alumni Center, where the board met, began chanting “shame” minutes after the board voted.

Caslen was aware of the opposition to his candidacy and has pledged to meet with his critics and listen to them.

“I want to engage with my critics in the faculty and the students and take their advice,” Caslen told The State. “They’re valued members of the university and it’s important they realize that I see them that way.”

Asked how he felt to be named USC’s next president, he said, “I’m honored. I’m very grateful for those who put their trust in me.”

READ MORE…

DOD releases 2020 budget proposal

March 12, 2019 —
“Today, the Department of Defense rolls out our FY 2020 budget proposal. With the largest research and development request in 70 years, this strategy-driven budget makes necessary investments in next-generation technology, space, missiles, and cyber capabilities. The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the US military for great power competition for decades to come.”

~Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan

On March 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget request of $750 billion for national security, $718.3 billion of which is for the Department of Defense (DoD). The FY 2020 Budget maintains momentum from the sustained funding increases enacted in FY 2017, FY 2018, and FY 2019 to repair damaged readiness, and the Budget marks a key next step in how we operationalize the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

READ MORE…

Mold and vermin: Military housing problems in the spotlight — again

The Pentagon is scrambling to assess conditions at military housing nationwide, but complaints about mold, vermin and other troubles aren’t new to military families in Hampton Roads.

Concerns in the region have been documented for years. The Navy enacted reforms after mold incidents across the region several years ago. Separately, mold problems in Navy housing have triggered lawsuits.

Now the Defense Department has mounted a full-court press at bases around the country. An investigative series by Reuters documented squalid conditions and a non-partisan survey caught the attention of Congress. Last month, a marathon Senate hearing featured military spouses who described black mold, termites falling from light fixtures and housing providers that failed to respond.

Crystal Cornwall, a Marine spouse, broke down in tears as she told of problems at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. “I wouldn’t recommend my own children join the service and my husband’s been a Marine for 12 years,” she said.

Housing companies and military leaders told senators they would do a better job.

READ MORE….

Pentagon scientists are making talking plasma laser balls for use as non-lethal weapons

Talking lasers and endless flashbangs: Pentagon develops plasma tech

Instead of beaming a flashing light or shouting over a loudspeaker to keep people away from sensitive areas, new technology being developed could allow troops to fire a laser that can form a “plasma ball” that talks to the potential intruders.

The Laser Induced Plasma Effect program is part of the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate program to find ways to deter, stun, basically stop adversaries short of killing them.

Use of directed energy, or lasers, includes heating up a target’s skin to extremely uncomfortable levels without burning them, blasting confusing noises or giving voice commands such as, “Stop or we’ll be forced to fire upon you.”

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American Legion secured a 24-hour guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 82 years ago today

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery has been constantly guarded for more than 80 years.

On July 2, 1937, approval was granted for 24-hour guarding of the tomb — even in situations of hazardous weather conditions. The change came following efforts from the American Legion for nonstop oversight.

The American Legion has played a significant role in the tomb’s history. When American Legion founder Hamilton Fish was elected in 1920 after World War I, he introduced legislation to remember an unknown soldier who was buried in France. Then-President Warren G. Harding dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921 in the presence of Allied generals and American Legion members, according to the veterans group.

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Sea Breeze exercise underway in the Black Sea with Ukraine, NATO allies

About 3,000 troops from 19 countries are taking part in military drills in the Black Sea, an exercise that has raised concerns in Russia.

The 12-day Sea Breeze 2019 exercise, involving Ukraine, the U.S., a dozen other NATO allies and a few other nations, began Monday in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. It will involve 32 warships and 24 aircraft.

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