Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dailey visits ‘Space Soldiers’ at Army Astronaut Detachment

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey visits with the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Feb. 28. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

By Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) March 2, 2018

HOUSTON, Texas — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, who is the Army Chief of Staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force, visited the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center Feb. 28 on behalf of Army senior leadership.

There are currently three active duty Army astronauts who are assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s NASA detachment — Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan, Maj. Anne McClain and Maj. Frank Rubio (astronaut candidate).

These Soldiers help the Army define its requirements for the space program and enhance the Army’s use of space capabilities.

Morgan, the detachment commander who is assigned for his first mission to the International Space Station in 2019, said it was a real honor for the sergeant major of the Army, or SMA, to take the time to visit them in Houston.

“It’s rare for such a senior member of the Army leadership team to come down to Johnson Space Center to see what we do,” said Morgan. “The SMA told us he wanted to get to every place on the planet that Soldiers serve — off the planet is a little tougher; we can’t get him to the International Space Station. But we were able to give him a detailed tour of the facilities where astronauts train and see Army astronauts at work supporting human spaceflight and training for upcoming missions. The SMA is excited for our mission and anxious to share the story of Army astronauts and how space Soldiers serve our nation’s human spaceflight program.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey discusses human spaceflight with Army astronauts (from left) Maj. Frank Rubio, Lt. Col. Andrew Morgan and Maj. Anne McClain during his visit to the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Feb. 28. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

During his visit, the SMA was given a tour of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, which NASA uses not only for astronaut training and the refinement of spacewalk procedures, but also to develop flight procedures and verify hardware compatibility — all of which are necessary to achieve mission success.

He also went to Ellington Field, where the primary function is to train astronauts for spaceflight; the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, here the mission is to provide world class training for space flight crews and their support personnel; and the mission control center, where flight controllers keep a constant watch on the ISS crew’s activities and monitor spacecraft systems, crew health and safety as they check every system to ensure operations proceed as planned.

Dailey said there were a couple of reasons for his visit.

“First of all, these are Soldiers,” he said. “They belong to the United States Army. We have Soldiers everywhere. They’re out in the world. It’s our job to go out there and see the great things that our Soldiers are doing.

“The second reason is to highlight the importance of the fact that we have Soldier astronauts, and that is amazing even to me,” Dailey continued. “I’m the sergeant major of the Army. I’ve been in the Army a long time. And that’s amazing to me, and it just shows the great contributions that Soldiers are doing from the edge of the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan to outer space. Is that unbelievable or what?

Retired Army Col. Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut, describes some of the features of the T-38 jet which is used to train astronauts for spaceflight to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey during his visit to the Army Astronaut Detachment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Feb. 28. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Ms. Dottie K. White (USASMDCARSTRAT))

“And the third reason is to show our support from the senior leadership perspective,” he added. “There are only three Army astronauts down here right now. They’re just as important as the other 1.18 million Soldiers we have everywhere else in the world. And they deserve that level of attention from the senior leadership of the Army and they deserve that appreciation because every single one of them has worked extremely hard to get here.”

Morgan highlighted the fact that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers regardless of rank.

“The sergeant major of the Army represents the senior Army Soldier, and the officers and astronauts of the NASA detachment consider themselves Soldiers first,” said Morgan. “The message that we really want to get out there is that the Army Astronaut Program is about all Soldiers. We don’t have a selection very often, maybe once every four years or so, but I want to emphasize that, while there are requirements to apply, rank is not one of them. We take all types. One thing that we’ve proven over and over again is that good Soldiers make good astronauts.”

McClain, who is scheduled for her first mission to the ISS in November, said it was a real privilege to have the SMA visit.

“It’s not often that we can host guests from the Army,” McClain said. “We love showing the Army what we do. We’re very proud of our unit, so to have someone like the SMA who really has the ability to share with others what we’re doing and just seeing his genuine concern for the Soldiers down here is a real honor. It’s been really fun to show him around.”

Esper reconnects with Army


Photo by: U.S. Army

Association of the United States Army

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

In his first 90 days on the job, Army Secretary Mark T. Esper logged thousands of miles visiting soldiers in Europe, the Pacific, Afghanistan and at home, becoming reacquainted with the Army he served in for 21 years.

The 23rd secretary of the Army, who was sworn in Nov. 20, said his travels gave him a “good feel” for what soldiers are doing, how they’re training and what’s important in terms of modernization and the future battlefield. He said his travels were a good way of “updating myself with regard to where the Army is based on my experiences and how we’ve evolved.”

A 1986 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Esper was an infantry officer who served on active duty for 10 years, including during the First Gulf War. He served for 11 more years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, retiring in 2007.

During his early February visit to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Esper found the only thing unchanged was the weather. What he saw was a complex multinational exercise with Poland in the lead, digital communications, American-style tactical operations centers, drones, electronic warfare and opposing forces using Russian tactics learned from recent events in eastern Ukraine.

“When I went through [as a company commander], it was U.S. units training against U.S. opposing forces, and I think this is absolutely fabulous. We have allied units going through, facing OPFOR and training as a multinational force. I’m seeing soldiers and units get back to training on the high end, which is very familiar to me.”
In early December at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., where Esper last went through as a platoon leader, the level and complexity of training were at once familiar and new.

“If you rewind the clock 30 years when I went through NTC, we didn’t face drones and we didn’t have cyber. We didn’t deal with irregular warfare, crowds of people coming out in the city, so it’s the whole nature of warfare has changed,” he said. “I think that’s fantastic because if we get into a fight in Europe, that’s how we’re going to fight with our allies and against those types of complex threats.”

Esper also visited troops in Korea and Afghanistan, made stops in the U.S. at his alma mater and talked with troops in Hawaii, North Carolina, California and Alabama. While uniforms have changed, he noted, the equipment he saw—Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M1 Abrams tanks and Black Hawk, Apache and Chinook helicopters—underscored the Army’s need to modernize.

During his travels, Esper also did a lot of early morning physical training with soldiers, and he took every opportunity to talk with them at each stop. He was asked about issues with pay and the availability of school but overall, he said, “they’re all very positive about the deployment and the Army and what they’re experiencing.”

Mattis: Deploy-or-get-out rule is about fairness

Military Times

WASHINGTON ― New rules requiring members of the military to be able to deploy or get out were put in place to ensure fairness in deployment rates, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
“You’re either deployable, or you need to find something else to do. I’m not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military,” Mattis told reporters Feb. 17 in his first comments on the issue since the new policy was formally introduced.
“If you can’t go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and expertly across the force.”

Under new rules first reported on by Military Times, military members who have been non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be separated from the military.
Approximately 11 percent, or 235,000, of the 2.1 million personnel serving on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard are currently non-deployable, Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, told Military Times earlier this month.

Of that total non-deployable force, Troxell said, about 99,000 are on that list for administrative reasons, such as not having all their immunizations or their required dental exams. About 20,000 are not deployable due to pregnancy, and 116,000 are not deployable due to either short- or long-term injuries.

In discussing why he felt this policy was needed, Mattis said he felt it was no longer fair to ask healthy warfighters to carry the load for others, particularly due to the stress on military families from multiple deployments.

“They need time at home, they need time with their families. We may enlist soldiers, but we re-enlist families. That’s the way it is. If you can’t keep the family together, then you’re either going to lose the family or you’re going to lose the soldier, and that’s a net loss for our society and for our military,” he said.
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Mattis stressed that those who were injured in the field would be exempt from the new policy, saying “we’ll find a place to use them. That’s a special category. They’ve earned that special status.” But for everyone else, either you have to be able to meet the requirements, or it’s time for you to go.

However, the secretary did acknowledge that the failure to meet deployability requirements is not always on the individual. The classic example is a situation where someone was unable to get a dental appointment quickly enough and hence did not meet the requirements.

And so, Mattis’ message is not just to the troops, but to those in charge: make sure bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way, and make every option available for those who need to get certain checks done. As an example, he imagined a scenario of “a base where everyone is dentally fully qualified, and they have a fort 200 miles away that’s not, bring down the dentist and get them qualified.”
“This isn’t all ‘somebody screwed up,’” he said. “The services have got to make certain they are working on deployability.”


Warriors to the Workforce

About the Event
The American Freedom Foundation will host the 5th Annual Warriors To The Workforce Huntsville presented in association with Still Serving Veterans and in conjunction with the 2018 AUSA ILW Global Force Symposium & Exposition on Tuesday, March 27, 2018  from 0900 – 1600in the North Hall of the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL.  This one of a kind event is part of the American Freedom Foundation’s nationwide initiative to help Veterans find jobs.  The event will bring together major companies from throughout the country to profile their services and provide employment opportunities for our Veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses.  Attendees will have the chance to talk with employers and submit qualifications.

In addition to the hiring event, Warriors To The Workforce will include Workshops featuring some of the top speakers in the country.  Workshops will provide resources and information for Veterans, transitioning military service members and military spouses to help them better transition to civilian life.  Presentations will include subjects such as mental readiness, confidence building, networking and presentation skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, job searching, career planning through goal setting, translating military skills and training into civilian life and corporate experience, among others.

Also, there will be a separate area at the event devoted to Resume Review presented by Still Serving Veterans.  Please stop by this section to be sure you are on track with your resume!

**Attendance is free for Veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses**
Companies who participated in WTTW Huntsville in 2017:


The Looming National Security Crisis: Young Americans Unable to Serve in the Military

The Looming National Security Crisis: Young Americans Unable to Serve in the Military

By The Heritage Foundation

Authors:Thomas Spoehr and Bridget Handy

The military depends on a constant flow of volunteers every year. According to 2017 Pentagon data, 71 percent of young Americans between 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the United States military. Put another way: Over 24 million of the 34 million people of that age group cannot join the armed forces—even if they wanted to. This is an alarming situation that threatens the country’s fundamental national security. If only 29 percent of the nation’s young adults are qualified to serve, and if this trend continues, it is inevitable that the U.S. military will suffer from a lack of manpower. A manpower shortage in the United States Armed Forces directly compromises national security.
To download the entire report, click here

Burn Pits Downrange Caused Lung Disease in Service Members, Court Rules

Burn pits downrange caused lung disease in service members, court rules

Service members and private military contractors who worked around “burn pits” downrange, and later suffered from lung and respiratory issues, may soon get a breath of fresh air.

A recent court decision by a judge under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office for Workers’ Compensation Programs ruled that open-air burn pits are connected to lung disease, Fox News first reported.

The burn pits — where chemicals were released into the air from trash, abandoned hardware, and other waste being incinerated — occurred throughout U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of the wars there.

The ruling could be a boon for the tens of thousands of service members who signed onto the Veterans Affairs Department’s Burn Pit Registry over the course of the conflicts in the Middle East.

The concession may pad the files of plaintiffs seeking medical services for the lung and respiratory ailments they suffered after returning from overseas, but currently are denied coverage by the VA.

The ruling comes after years of veterans advocacy groups pleading for assistance. In October 2016, for instance, a group of 700 veterans and family members with the group Burn Pits 360 wrote an open letter to then-President Barack Obama to record their grievances.

“We write because these veterans are seriously ill, dying or have passed away, and more must be done,” the letter read. “Many of us went to war able to run marathons, but now our health has deteriorated so much that we cannot hold down steady jobs. … We are misdiagnosed. We are not getting the medical care we urgently need. We need you to act in this, your final year in office.”

In January, former Vice President Joe Biden even voiced the belief that his son’s fatal brain cancer may have been caused by exposure to military burn pits while serving in Iraq and Kosovo.

“Science has recognized there are certain carcinogens that when people are exposed to them, depending on the quantities and the amount in the water and the air, can have a carcinogenic impact on the body,” he said in the interview.

Although Biden conceded that he does not have any direct evidence linking his son’s death in 2015 to the toxic fires, he said “there is a lot of work to be done” investigating the issue given the high rates of illnesses seen in troops who worked near the waste pits.

Amazon Smile Donation


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2018 Black History Theme – African Americans in Times of War

The 2018 Black History theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918, and explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath. The First World War was initially termed by many as “The Great War,” “The War to End All Wars,” and the war “to make the world safe for democracy.”

Please see below for links for more information on African American History Month.

African Americans in the U.S. Army

Library of Congress African American History Month

Library of Congress African American History Month References



Sgt Maj Willene Orr Retirement Ceremony

Congratulations to our very own Sgt Maj Willene Orr on her retirement from the United States Army.  Hailing from Homerville, Georgia, Willene enlisted in the Army in 1986 and completed her training as an Administrative Specialist.

Her assignments have carried her and her family around the globe in locations such as Korea, Germany, Fort Hood, Fort Meade, Fort Bliss, Military District of Washington, and Fort Campbell.

She is a graduate of the Class 58 Sergeants Major Course at the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy where she earned the Iron Woman Award for scoring 369 on her Army Physical Fitness Test.  She is an inductee of the Headquarters Department of the Army (HQDA) Retention Hall of Fame for her selection as the 1999 HQDA Secretary of the Army Career Counselor of the Year.

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and is pursuing advanced degrees in Human Resources Management and Strategic Leadership.

She is a proud and active member of the Association of the United States Army, 101st Airborne Division, and the Redstone Arsenal Sergeants Major Association.

She is married to U.S. Army Veteran, Jerry Orr – 5th Special Forces Group.  Their daughter, Jerrica Ashlon, a graduate of James Clemens High School is pursuing a Culinary Arts degree at the University of North Alabama.  Their son, Jacob Stephen, a graduate of Ft. Campbell High School is pursuing a degree in Communications- Media and Film at the University of Alabama.

We thank the Orrs for their years of dedication to our nation and wish them all the best in the next chapter of their lives.

To view photos of her ceremony, click here



Redstone Arsenal Sergeants Major Association promotes the heritage, history, esprit de corps, image and professionalism of Senior Enlisted Service Members (E9s) of the US Army (to include and enhance the efficacy of the United States Army.