We can start right out this morning by seeing how the President's "Midas Touch" is going to help with a military murder case
President Donald Trump's open support for a former Green Beret facing murder charges in the death of an alleged Afghan bombmaker could jeopardize the Army's case on the grounds that the president was attempting to exert influence over the outcome.
"Could Trump kill the case? Sure, he could," said Yale University professor Eugene Fidell on Monday.
Fidell, who was a member of the defense team for former Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, told Military.com that Trump's support could be interpreted as exercising "unlawful command influence" in the early stages of a military justice matter.
Commander-in-Chief Trump sent out a tweet Sunday stating, "'At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a U.S. Military hero, Maj. Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder. He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas."
The potential influence issue in the Golsteyn case would be the reverse of the argument made by the defense team in Bergdahl's court-martial, Fidell said.
In Bergdahl's trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the defense played videos of Trump as a candidate calling Bergdahl a "no-good traitor" and a "dirty rotten traitor" who should get the maximum punishment.
The military judge called Trump's statements "disturbing," but Bergdahl eventually was convicted and sentenced in November 2017 to a dishonorable discharge, reduction of rank to private and to pay $1,000 per month for 10 months.
The sentence did not include prison time. At the time, Trump called the lack of jail time a "complete and total disgrace to our country and our military."
The case against Golsteyn dates to 2010, when he was a captain with 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan, taking part in operations against the Taliban around the flashpoint town of Marja in southwestern Helmand province.
Another fine example of him having no clue when to shut the hell up.
Moving on, we'll take a look at soldiers returning and transitioning back to civilian life. It's been a difficult road to travel over the decades, and with the lack of government support, many private companies have stepped in to fill the void.
Google has tried to build a job search engine that is specifically targeted at those transitioning veterans. They didn't quite hit the mark though
, according to one veteran that tried to use the algorithm.
On Aug. 27, 2018, Google announced it was launching a tool that would allow transitioning service members to type in "Jobs For Veterans" followed by their military job code. The service would then return a list of civilian occupations that require similar skills to their military jobs.
One of the program managers stated the aim was to address the fact that there "isn't a common language that helps recruiters match a veteran's experience with the need for their skills and leadership in civilian jobs."
An honorable task, but also a monumental one considering my career. I joined the Corps as an infantry rifleman (primary military occupational specialty 0311) in 2008, did multiple combat deployments with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, as the company-level intelligence chief, then was sent to the United States Army Special Operations Command's, Special Warfare Center and School, to be trained as what is now called a psychological operations noncommissioned officer (PSYOP NCO, free MOS 0521).
I've also been trained as an information operations specialist (MOS 0551) and was the first Marine to graduate the Army's 29E Electronic Warfare course. I have been on operational deployments where I used those skills. Currently, I am employed as a Defense Department civilian conducting information operations research for the Marine Corps. It's a challenge for me to sum up my career. So Google's algorithms, which are relying on a military job description with no context about the individual, were sure to have a devil of a time -- and they did.
The first glaring issue is the vast gulf between the "relevant jobs" for the same occupational specialty across two services. For example, for Marine Psyop, out of the top 10 relevant jobs in my area, five are as an intelligence analyst (OK, I can see that) and the other five are as an interpreter for the area's public schools (whiskey tango foxtrot??).
However, the top 10 jobs for Army Psyop (37F) are all marketing jobs, which, in my expert opinion, is a perfect fit for veterans who have experience analyzing foreign cultures and developing messages and actions to convince them to support U.S. objectives.
The problem is the quality of the military job descriptions and skills on which the tool's ontology is based. Without career context, the amazing variability of the individual is lost. But this is actually the least concerning issue with the job search tool.
There's more, but in the end the veteran in question rates the app as only "6.5 out of 10", which just goes to show you how radically different military and civilian work can be.
Finishing up today, we'll go a little lighthearted. When Javi was little, we would go online and check out the NORAD Santa Tracker, and he was usually working the other side of the world at the time we'd normally check. Once again, NORAD will be keeping a watchful eye on Santa and the reindeer...a tradition that dates back to a wrong number dialed in 1955.
(maybe.) In any case, NORAD will be hard at work on the night of December 24.
Santa Claus is a few days from making his trek -- the longest and most grueling trip by airborne sleigh in the history of the world -- and Rudolph (plus Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen) aren't the only ones who will have his back up there.
U.S. military satellites and sensors will watch Santa's every move as he travels the globe this Christmas, and officials at North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will monitor the flight and provide fighter jet escorts -- including F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-22 Raptors and even Canadian CF-18s -- if the need should arise over North America.
"NORAD is well-known for its ability to track Santa," said Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, NORAD's commander.
"And if we can track Santa, you can imagine what else we can track," he added in a recent video release.
Seeing that next Tuesday is Christmas Day - there probably will not be a full "Ask a Vet" posted, but I'll certainly be putting something out there.