Capt. Lindsay Heisler receives 2019 Nininger Award for actions in Afghanistan

WEST POINT, N.Y. — In Capt. Lindsay Gordon Heisler’s mind she was just doing her job.

From the moment she began training as an Apache pilot following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 2012 it had been ingrained in her that her job was to keep the ground forces safe.

Flying 500 to 1,000 feet above the forces operating on the ground, she and her copilot were in constant contact with the friendly forces as they “watched their six” for enemy combatants.

After deploying to Afghanistan in April 2015 as a first lieutenant for nine months, the operation schedule had become routine. Most nights out of the week were spent on missions protecting helicopters infiltrating ground forces and then watching over the Soldiers as they executed their objective.

Eight months in, an enemy contact or two a night was not out of the ordinary so when their mission on Dec. 5, 2015 required her and her copilot to clear out an enemy fighting position it was just another mission on a long deployment.

When a few hours later, with the Chinook helicopters inbound to pick up the ground force, they were forced to engage with a second enemy fighting position it was still like countless other missions they had flown in the proceeding months.

Then, seconds before the Chinooks touched down to pickup the Soldiers on the ground, the world erupted with enemy fire coming from every direction. Surrounded by mountains on three sides and the desert across the border into Pakistan on the fourth, Heisler and the second Apache flying that night along with the Chinooks and the Rangers on the ground were suddenly under attack from what they would later learn were eight different enemy positions.

“None of the pilots who are there had seen anything like it before,” Heisler said. “I picture like Star Wars where you picture laser beams. It looks like that under your night vision goggles. It really accentuates any light you see so there are tracers of enemy fire everywhere.”

There was no time to think. While communicating with the forces on the ground and the other helicopters in the air Heisler and her copilot, Warrant Officer 2 David Woodward, sprang into action and began fighting back. They placed themselves between the ground force and the incoming fire and worked to keep the enemies’ heads down long enough for the Chinooks to land, pickup the Rangers and takeoff.

Anywhere they heard shots coming from they engaged. That was their job. To make sure the ground force got out safely and made it home alive.

“I don’t remember thinking a lot,” Heisler said. “We were just pulling the trigger because that’s what we knew we had to do to make sure that they got out of there.”


Al-Baghdadi kill: How the daring military operation went down

The suicide of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was preceded by a largescale U.S. Special Operations forces raid on a compound in northern Syria’s Idlib Province, where the terrorist leader was thought to be hiding.

In an address to the nation on Sunday, President Trump said that planning for the raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound began two weeks ago when the U.S. gained unspecified intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts.

Unlike the raid in Pakistan in 2011 that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, which was carried out by a small team of U.S. Navy Seals, the raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound was a relatively large assault by U.S. forces with a reported eight military helicopters landing in the Barisha area north of Idlib city — a few kilometers from the Turkish border.


7-hour gunfight, 100-foot cliff and now this second Medal of Honor: Green Beret talks about Battle of Shok Valley

The Green Berets woke up at 2 a.m. on April 6, 2008, to take an early look at the target area.

Cold, snow-capped and perched at more than 10,000 feet, the objective wasn’t ideal. But intelligence said a high-value target aligned with the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group was up there.

By the time they were hovering over Nuristan province’s Shok Valley in CH-47 Chinook helicopters, it was clear that Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 wasn’t going to be landing.

“It was just a little more treacherous than we thought,” said Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams, the ODA’s weapons sergeant who will receive the Medal of Honor on Wednesday for his actions during the 2008 mission.

The jagged terrain and sheer cliffs were too steep for the Chinooks, so ODA 3336 and their Afghan National Army Commandos jumped into a fast-moving, waist-deep river running through the target.

“The helicopters could not land,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Walton, the ODA commander. “We had to jump, sometimes into the river, sometimes into jagged rocks about 10-12 feet off the back end of the helicopter — and that was at the beginning of the mission.”


This device could help soldiers see through walls in the urban fight

Since the dawn of urban warfare, one of the most terrifying aspects of the fight has been not knowing what’s on the other side of the wall a soldier is facing.

The Army recently awarded a prize to a company that has developed a “wall-penetrating radar” that is designed to help soldiers and first responders see through those walls to identify people and potential threats.

Lumineye, Inc. has fielded their equipment to first responders from firefighters to police and search and rescue teams.

While it’s mostly been used in civilian applications, the Army and Marine Corps are preparing for urban combat scenarios that could see soldiers and Marines facing cluttered battlefields and maze-like obstacles of buildings to search.

Earlier this year, the Army was about halfway finished with training all of its infantry brigade combat teams in the basics of subterranean warfare.

Earlier this year, the Army was about halfway finished with training all of its infantry brigade combat teams in the basics of subterranean warfare.

The Marine Corps launched a years-long experimentation effort known as Project Metropolis 2.0, with a recent squad-focused training event that put new urban-capable tech into the unit for testing.


Here’s how the Army is planning to roll out the ACFT this year

The Army Combat Fitness Test has reached initial operating capacity, with the entire service gearing up to take diagnostic tests this year before the ACFT officially becomes the fitness test of record in October 2020.

However, all new officers and enlisted soldiers coming into the Army after Oct. 1 of this year will be training for and required to pass the ACFT before they graduate and report to the operational force, according to Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commander of the Center for Initial Military Training.

“I don’t think it will impact graduation rates; It’s really going to impact how we train,” Hibbard said in a late-September interview with Army Times. “We’re taking a high school student and transitioning him into a soldier, we just have to make sure he is competent in the ten components of physical fitness to be successful on the ACFT.”

For those soldiers already in the force, the active-duty Army will take two ACFT diagnostic tests over the next year, while soldiers in the Guard and Reserve components will take one diagnostic test.

Many Guard and Reserve soldiers have voiced concerns about getting the necessary equipment to prepare for the new ACFT in time.


After Almost 5 Years, Army’s 101st Airborne Will Return to Full Air Assault Power

U.S. Army aviation officials have launched an effort to restore full air assault capability to the 101st Airborne Division — a capability the Screaming Eagles have been without since 2015.

As the Army’s only air-assault division, the 101st has traditionally had two combat aviation brigades — instead of one CAB like other divisions — to allow the unit to lift a full brigade combat team into combat at one time.

But mandatory budget cuts under sequestration prompted the Army to take one of the 101st’s CABs away.

The effort to re-equip the 101st with dozens of helicopters is one of the top aviation priorities the Army has identified as it races to be ready to conduct major combat operations across all warfare domains by 2028, Maj. Gen. David Francis, commander of the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, said.


Army M1 Tanks Are Getting the Ability to Locate and Destroy Enemy Missiles

U.S. Army M1 tanks will soon be equipped with anti-missile protection systems, now that the service has taken delivery of the Israeli-made active protection systems.

Leonardo DRS, Inc. and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. of Israel announced today that the team had delivered the first Trophy Active Protection Systems to the Army, roughly two years after the service began searching for ways to protect its tanks and armored vehicles from anti-armor missile threats from potential adversaries such as Russia and China.

“This delivery marks the first of several that will ultimately outfit four brigades of tanks,” a release states.

In May of 2018, then Army Chief of Staff told Congress that the service planned to begin equipping the four heavy brigades with APS with in two years.

The Army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems awarded the two firms an initial contract worth up to $193 million for Trophy in June of 2018.


Hackers target job-hunting service members, veterans with sham employment website

Veterans hunting for jobs may have thought “Hire Military Heroes” was just another jobs website that would help them find employment.

But in reality, the site prompted users to download an app containing malicious malware that would allow the attacker to access a plethora of information, according to cybersecurity researchers at Cisco Talos.

“The attacker retrieves information such as the date, time and drivers. The attacker can then see information on the system, the patch level, the number of processors, the network configuration, the hardware, firmware versions, the domain controller, the name of the admin, the list of the account, etc.,” Cisco Talos said in a blog post in September about the malware.

“This is a significant amount of information relating to a machine and makes the attacker well-prepared to carry out additional attacks,” Cisco Talos added.

The phony site shared a similar URL to the site “Hiring Our Heroes,” an employment site the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched.

According to the security intelligence and research group, an actor called Tortoiseshell was responsible for the attack — the same actor Symantec identified being behind attempts targeting Saudi Arabian IT providers.


US forces unharmed after coming under fire in Syria

U.S. special operations forces located in Syria came under fire Friday but did not sustain any casualties, the Pentagon has confirmed.

Artillery fire from Turkish positions landed “a few hundred meters” near U.S. troops in Kobani, Syria, according to a statement late Friday night from Navy Capt. Brook DeWalt, Director of Defense Press Operations at the Pentagon.

The area was “known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present,” DeWalt said. “All U.S. troops are accounted for with no injuries. U.S. Forces have not withdrawn from Kobani.

Turkey this week began an offensive into Syria to strike against Kurdish groups Ankara sees as terrorist organizations, but which the U.S. has trained and equipped to lead the fight against the Islamic State organization.

“The United States remains opposed to the Turkish military move into Syria and especially objects to Turkish operations outside the Security Mechanism zone and in areas where the Turks know U.S. forces are present,” DeWalt added. “The U.S. demands that Turkey avoid actions that could result in immediate defensive action.”


Commandant Promoted to rank of Brigadier General

By West Point Public Affairs – October 7, 2019

WEST POINT, N.Y. –– Col. Curtis A. Buzzard, 78th Commandant of the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy and a Class of 1992 graduate, was promoted to Brigadier General during a ceremony in the Haig Room, Jefferson Hall, Friday, Oct. 4.

“In every assignment and in just the short time he’s been part of the West Point team, Curtis has shown a keen force of intellect, tremendous energy and steadiness of purpose as he has led Soldiers, enhanced Army readiness, trained multinational partners and now, developing the next generation of leaders for our Army,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy.

Col. Curtis A. Buzzard assumed command as the 78th Commandant of Cadets on June 28, 2019. The summer and fall semester have been about observing training and building relationships with more than 4,400 future leaders of this nation.

“The methodology behind producing leaders of character has been refined since my time here, but the enduring ideals of this institution and what it provides to the Army and the American people are the same,” Buzzard said. “All of us have important roles in developing cadets and achieving the mission. This is a team effort.”
Buzzard was commissioned an infantry officer in 1992 from the academy and began his career in the 82nd Airborne Division as a rifle platoon leader, support platoon leader and battalion air staff officer responsible for operational and training plans in 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He later served as the Brigade air staff officer responsible for operational and training plans. Buzzard then served on staff and as a company commander in both the 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and later in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).

After attending the U. S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, he returned to the 82nd Airborne Division as a battalion operations officer, battalion executive officer and later as battalion commander for 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Buzzard then served as the U.S. Army War College Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and returned to the 82nd Airborne Division as the division senior staff officer for operations and plans and later commanded the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Next, Buzzard commanded the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany and he most recently served as the deputy commander for operations for the 7th Infantry Division. Buzzard has also served as a strategist at Department of the Army Headquarters and as the Army military aide to the president, serving for Presidents George W. Bush and Obama.
He has earned master’s degrees from Harvard University and the Marine Corps University. He has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and his awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three awards), Bronze Star Medal (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (six awards), Army Commendation Medal (three awards), Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Presidential Service Badge, Army Staff Badge and numerous foreign jump wings.

Buzzard is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

About West Point:
The U. S. Military Academy at West Point is a four-year, co-educational, federal, liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City. It was founded in 1802 as America’s first college of engineering and continues today as the world’s premier leader-development institution, consistently ranked among top colleges in the country. Its mission remains constant—to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the U. S. Army. For more information, go to