SFTT Military News: Week Ending Mar 17, 2016

Found below are a few military news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT.

Kim - North Korean

Military Action in North Korea on the Table?
The US has said its policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over and suggested it might decide to take preemptive military action. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the option was “on the table” if the threat from the North’s weapons programme reached a level requiring it. During a visit to South Korea, he also said the US was exploring a range of new diplomatic and economic measures. And he defended the deployment of a US missile system in South Korea. The move has angered China, but South Korea and the US say the system is needed as a defence against North Korean aggression.  Read more  . . .

Energy Efficiency Now a Military Priority
The US military sees climate change as a national security threat. So, it’s finding ways to adapt to global warming, to make the armed forces stronger and more flexible.  The US military burns over 1.25 billion gallons of fuel a year, and the Department of Defense is the country’s single largest consumer of fossil fuels, according to Goudreau. “When you talk climate issues, you can talk mitigation or adaptation. Every single gallon of fuel that we burn is carbon going into the atmosphere,” he says.   Read more . . .

Big Increase Proposed in Military Spending
As US president Donald Trump was proposing a $54 billion defense spending hike on March 16, something rather different was happening in Russia. With its economy sputtering, there are reports that it could slash its military budget by 25%. The actual figure is actually more likely to be around 5%, explains Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. And it comes after several years of rapid growth in Russia’s defense spending. But that still reveals a stark discrepancy. Trump wants to bolster America’s military with an amount not far short of Russia’s entire 2016 defense budget of $65.8 billion (3.8 trillion rubles).  Read more . . .

1,000 Ground Troops to Syria?
The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter. The deployment, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump, would potentially double the number of U.S. forces in Syria and increase the potential for direct U.S. combat involvement in a conflict that has been characterized by confusion and competing priorities among disparate forces.   Read more . . .

Dr. David Shulkin, VA Secretary

VA Budget to Grow by 6%
The Department of Veterans Affairs, the second-largest federal agency with 313,000 civilian employees and a far-flung hospital system, is one of the few corners of the government that would see its budget grow in the next fiscal year — by 6 percent. During his campaign, President Trump promised dramatic reforms at an agency he said was filled with a culture of “fraud, coverups and wrongdoing” after a 2014 scandal over coverups of patient wait times for medical care. His first spending plan would boost VA’s budget by $4.4 billion, to $78.9 billion, with much of the new money dedicated “to improve patient access and timeliness of medical care” for the more than 9 million veterans who use the system.  Read more . . .

South Carolina Discussion on Veterans with PTSD Stereotypes
There are many stereotypes surrounding veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many of them are negative and paint those living with PTSD as violent. However, the Student Veteran Association at the University of South Carolina is aiming to change that perception. “PTSD, it is the normal reaction of human beings who experience extraordinary events,” says Dr. Nancy Brown with the College of Social Work at USC. On Wednesday night, six panelist, with different military backgrounds, all living with PTSD in their own way are hoping to educate and knock down perceptions.  Read more . . .

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops

Cyberwarfare, Spying and All That Jazz: Please Take a Few Precautions

While the press is currently having a field day reporting that “gentlemen” actually spy on each other, it would be useful for readers of SFTT to take a few precautions to protect themselves in this era of unscrupulous hackers and BIG BROTHER.

cyber warfare

Short of going completely “off the grid” – i.e. no email, no social media accounts, no credit cards, no personal data stored online by ANY third party – it is virtually impossible to guarantee that your anonymity will withstand the efforts of a determined hacker or even a casual network intrusion.

Furthermore, even if you taken every step possible to insulate yourself from hacking, a massive cyberattack on the country’s infrastructure system (i.e. power grid, telecommunications, air traffic controller, etc.) could cause great personal and collective harm.   See more below on “Distributed Denial of Service” or DdoS.

Suggestions to Protect Yourself in the Information Age

As suggested above, there is little you can to do to fully protect yourself against determined “bad guys” or State intelligence operatives.   Nevertheless, you can take a few simple steps to help reduce your cyber-profile without compromising your lifestyle too much:

- Scrap your AOL and Yahoo email services for Google.  Regardless of who your service provider is, Google has far more FREE security surveillance features to protect your personal online accounts from hacking;

- Delete any unnecessary social media accounts (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.);

- Change your password every six months or so and definitely use at least one symbol (?,$,!) and Capital Letter in your password  (1234 is not a password);

- Use Two-Step Security verification to reduce the chance of unauthorized changes to your account(s).

- Do not share your password(s) with others, including your family.  It is not a matter of trust, but your security procedures may be far better than those of your friends or family;

- If you are into chat, photo-sharing, etc. avoid using multiple platforms to simplify your life (for instance, use Google Chat rather than Facebook messaging or What’s App);

- ALWAYS update your accounts with the latest UPDATE from your provider, most updates contain very important security enhancements;

- Cancel as many credit cards and online accounts as conveniently possible;

- Regardless of its convenience, consider ending electronic banking and insist on paper statements;

- Can you live without a cell phone?

Sure, many of these suggestions can be a huge inconvenience, but are you willing to compromise your personal security to make life easier for others?

Distributed Denial of Service or “DdoS”

Last year, cyberattacks temporarily shut down Twitter, Netflix, PayPal and others may be just the beginning of disruptive communications warfare.

While these cyberattacks appear to have orchestrated by a rogue band of hackers who call themselves the “New World Hackers,” it portends an ominous future for cybersecurity.

The “attack” called distributed denial-of-service or Ddos causes tens of thousands of mobile devices to simultaneously query server databases that cannot handle the volume of requests and simply shutdown.  Read more by clicking the link below:


This cyberattack came on the heels of “leaked” emails from high-ranking members in the Democratic National Party by Wikileaks that may have been provided by Russian government intelligence sources.

Actually, recent information suggests that shared passwords could have been the original source of the DNC leaks according to Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller:

Imran Awan — the lead suspect in a criminal probe into breaches of House of Representatives information security systems — possessed the password to an iPad used by then-Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz when DNC emails were given to WikiLeaks, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence officials have long feared these attacks and have presumably instituted safeguards and countermeasures to prevent such occurrences.  

DoD Network, Systems and Data or DDNSD

In 2013, the Department of Defense established detailed guidelines to protect the country’s cyber networks.  A hyperlink to the recently updated unclassified version is shown below:


While our network security has improved dramatically since 9/11, hackers (state-sponsored and independent) continue to breach our security system with increasing regularity.  It is impossible to know how the “defection” of Edward Snowden compromised our security, but most security experts claim that the damage was considerable.  See below . . .


Also the recent “leak” of current CIA electronic surveillance methods certainly doesn’t engender much confidence that we can insulate ourselves from determined cyberattacks.  Question:  If this is the “intelligence information” that is currently publically available, then what should we think about more clandestine intelligent programs that may have already been hacked by hostile State intelligence services?

In Summary

Many years ago (2003-2004),  I attended a lecture on internet security by a security specialist who was then consulting with Homeland Security.  He showed a frightening real time analysis of hacking attempts against Windows-based peripherals, particularly printers.    If fact, I watched this internet security consultant break into the Club Membership database where the event was hosted in less than 30 seconds.

It seems that the New World Hackers were able to orchestrate their assault on vulnerable servers using cellphones and other internet-enabled peripherals.  If this is the case, virtually all systems are vulnerable.   Recent disclosures by Wikileaks on CIA surveillance tools clearly suggest that this is already happening.  

As Hillary Clinton’s “private server” and the DNC hack have shown, we don’t take security-measures seriously.  Unless we wise up, more pain and suffering will be coming shortly.

While you may not be able to control the full spectrum of an electronic invasion of our privacy, do take a few of the steps recommended above to better safeguard your well being.  Lowering your cyber-profile is a good thing!

Techniques to Help Veterans Minimize Chronic Pain

Dealing with chronic pain can be quite a . . . pain.  Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts longer than 6 months, chronic pain can be moderate or unbearable; episodic or continuous. Of course, whether due to past injuries, strain from overuse, or just general wear and tear, chronic pain is common amongst military Veterans.

Caregiver for Veteran with PTSD

On days when the pain is debilitating, you may not want to get out of bed. It may seem as though you are fighting a losing battle against the pain, but your quality of life can be restored. More importantly, it can be done without having to rely on opioids for relief. Here are a few tips on what you can do to minimize chronic pain.

Biofeedback Therapy for Chronic Pain

Biofeedback is a relaxation technique in which patients use their mind to control body functions that normally occur without fail. Participating in a biofeedback therapy session can give you the skills to lessen your pain at home. In a session, sensors will be attached to your body, then connected to a monitoring device. The device will measure your body functions such as breathing, perspiration, skin temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. As you relax during therapy, your breathing slows and your heart rate will dip. As the numbers on the monitor begin to reflect your relaxed state, you will start to learn how to consciously control your body functions. Through biofeedback therapy, you will learn how to use your mind to overcome bouts of pain.

How to Reduce Inflammation for Chronic Pain

It’s no secret that chronic pain and inflammation go hand-in-hand. Inflammation is a normal immune response in  your body that usually alerts you when something is wrong. Pain, swelling and redness are all forms of inflammation that is needed to help with the healing process. Inflammation becomes an issue when it becomes chronic, and the initial healing process fails, which causes pain. Fortunately you can reduce chronic pain and inflammation by consuming a healthy diet. Certain foods can cause flare ups, therefore they need to be reduced or eliminated. Those foods include dairy products, fried food, refined flour, sugar, high-fat red meat and all processed foods. The proper diet should be rich in leafy-green vegetables, low-sugar fruits and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Exercise Regularly to Reduce Chronic Pain

Exercise is actually one of the best ways to reduce chronic pain. The less you move, the more pain you are likely to feel. The endorphins that are released during exercise are natural painkillers that increase your tolerance by changing how your body responds to pain. Routine exercise can help you reduce your medicine intake, increase your happiness and return your zest for life. If you find it difficult to move fluidly during exercise, start by walking a few times a week, then gradually increase your efforts.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

Naturally, you’ll want to do everything you can to maintain your independence, but know that it is more than ok to need help. Overdoing it in areas where you shouldn’t will only worsen your pain, causing you more stress and unhappiness. Figure out areas of your life where you could use some help and then see who might be able to provide it.

For example, keeping your house clean may be especially difficult when your pain is at its worst. Consider asking a family member to help you with cleaning once a week or if you have the resources, hire a housekeeper. Yard work can be another troublesome area for people with chronic pain. Chances are you can find a tween or teen in your neighborhood who would be more than happy to pick up leaves in your yard or mow it once every couple of weeks for a few extra bucks. Just having this little bit of extra help can make a world of difference.

Find Support

Chronic pain can be very isolating and it may seem as though no one in your immediate circle understands your frustration. Participating in a support group, such as those provided by the ACPA and its sister organization Veterans in Pain, will provide a safe haven for you and allow you the opportunity to vent. Those that suffer with chronic pain tend to see themselves in a negative light. Thinking negatively of yourself can lead to depression and more painful flare-ups. If you find that the group setting is not helping you solve your issues, consider reaching out to a therapist. Never be ashamed or prideful to ask for help –it just may save your life.

When you are in pain, it can be hard to find the motivation to do anything. Feelings of anger and resentment toward your body are to be expected, but it is important that you push forward. Chronic pain is a condition that can be successfully managed as long as you treat it with self-love and patience. Use these tips as a blueprint to help you combat chronic pain and start living your best life!

Guest Contributor, Constance Ray
Recovery Well

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