Fitness Devices Cause Concern of Revealing Secret US Military Bases

There is a reason why Fitbits are not allowed in sensitive US military facilities and it appears they should not be used at secret US bases either:

A portion of the Strava Labs heat map from Beirut, made by tracking activities.

An interactive map posted on the internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the location and activities of troops at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the location and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Vitofit, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile phone application. The map is not live — rather it shows a pattern of accumulated activity between 2015 and September last year.

Most parts of the United States and Europe, where millions of people use some form of fitness tracker, show up on the map as a blaze of light, because there is so much activity.

In war zones and deserts such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for a few scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because U.S. troops and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but in most cases using a Fitbit to run around Yongsan Garrison is not going to provide valuable intelligence information.  However, if there is a bunch of Fitbit activity noticeable in an isolated area of Africa for example, it may be a tip off there is a secret US military base there.  That is what is driving the concern.

Tweet of the Day: USS Red Cloud Docked in Busan

Group is Looking for Former USFK Veterans to Donate Their DNA

After reading this article I was surprised to learn that these companies that use your DNA to trace your ancestry release this information to outside groups for their own initiatives:

This composite photo shows Matthew Suh, left holding his daughter, and his birth father, retired Army Capt. Walter Rettberg.

At 68, retired Army Capt. Walter Rettberg thought he was done having children. Then he decided to trace his family tree with a DNA-testing kit and found Matthew.

Matthew Suh was a baby in South Korea when he was adopted nearly 40 years ago by an American couple. He grew up longing to find his biological mother but never thought about searching for his father because it seemed an impossible task.

All he knew was that his father had been an American soldier serving in South Korea.

Enter 325 Kamra, a U.S. nonprofit that’s building a DNA database to help South Korean adoptees find their birth parents, including U.S. military veterans.

In many cases, troops rotating through the country didn’t know the women they had sex with became pregnant, so the group is offering free DNA kits to all vets and their descendants.

“So many of them have been stationed here for a long time,” said Maria Savage, director of the group’s South Korea operation that launched this year. “So if they remember any encounters that they had then that’s enough for us.”

The DNA will help even if the vets didn’t father children, because it might lead to another relative who did, she said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Convicted US Military Wannabe Pimp Was Allowed to Become a Foster Parent

I never thought I would see the face of Gregory McQueen gracing the pages of the Stars & Stripes ever again after his conviction for trying to be a pimp at Ft. Hood, but I was wrong:

Gregory McQueen

On paper, Gregory McQueen must have seemed like a great candidate to become a foster-care parent in Texas.

A married man and Army veteran, McQueen had served as battalion representative on a task force to prevent sexual harassment at Fort Hood in central Texas.

But some important information didn’t show up in a state background check before a foster-care agency hired McQueen and his wife last March to care for abused and neglected children

Two years ago, former Army 1st Sgt. McQueen pleaded guilty to more than a dozen military charges for attempting to run a prostitution ring in Fort Hood. As part of the plea deal he was demoted to private, sentenced to 24 months in prison, was stripped of his retirement pay and received a dishonorable discharge.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I would hope the Defense Department is aggressively pursuing the updating of national databases because clearly people like McQueen should not be a foster parent.  With that said what kind of background checks are being done when a simple Google search would have exposed McQueen’s background that was highly publicized?

Air Force Research Laboratory Working on Microwave Weapon to Counter North Korean Ballistic Missiles

Here is the latest silver bullet people are thinking may solve the North Korean ballistic missile problem:

Mary Lou Robinson of the Air Force Research Laboratory explains the CHAMP missile. NBC News

The U.S. has microwave weapons that proponents believe could stop North Korea from launching missiles by frying their electronics.

The weapons were discussed at an August White House meeting related to North Korea, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge.

The microwave weapons, known as CHAMPs, are fitted into an air-launched cruise missile and delivered from B-52 bombers. With a range of 700 miles, they can fly into enemy airspace at low altitude and emit sharp pulses of microwave energy to disable electronic systems.

“These high-powered microwave signals are very effective at disrupting and possibly disabling electronic circuits,” said Mary Lou Robinson, who heads development of the weapons at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, in an exclusive interview with NBC News.  [NBC News]

You can read more at the link, but I recommend everyone not get excited and think a magic solution to stopping North Korea’s ballistic missiles has been found.

Pentagon Says It Has No Plans to Move US Military Dependents Out of South Korea

In response to Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent comment that the Pentagon should consider moving military dependents out of Korea, the Defense Department says they have no plans to do so:

The United States currently has no plan to move military dependents out of South Korea despite rising tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Commenting on North Korea’s latest launch of a long-range missile last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued Sunday that the U.S. should stop sending military dependents to South Korea and transfer those that are already there.

“The Department of Defense currently has no intent to initiate departures for military dependents, whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and no intent to modify the policy authorizing military dependents to accompany military members being stationed in South Korea,” Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in emailed remarks to Yonhap.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link.

Executive Order Allows Defense Department to Recall Retirees to Active Duty

If you are retired military and especially a pilot and you thought you were through with taking mandatory transgender training, SHARP training, cyber security training, etc. think again:

The Air Force says it doesn’t plan on using new flexibility under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump to address a pilot shortage by recalling retired pilots.

Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations, said Sunday the added power provided by Trump is appreciated but the Air Force does not “currently intend to recall retired pilots.”

Trump last Friday signed the order to address what the Pentagon says is a serious pilot shortage.

A Pentagon spokesman says the Air Force is currently short about 1,500 pilots, and had indicated that the Secretary of Defense would allow the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.  [Stars & Stripes]

The executive order also allows the military to call up other officers from other military branches off of retirement as well.  Just like in past conflicts I only see this happening if a conflict with North Korea appear imminent.


US Strategic Assets To Participate In Joint Exercise with ROK Forces This Week

There is going to be a lot of firepower in the Korea area of operations this week so it will be interesting to see what North Korea’s reaction to this will be:

This photo, provided by the U.S. military Oct. 13, 2017, shows the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) arriving at the southern port of Busan in South Korea. (Yonhap)

The United States is poised to show off its military might this week through joint drills and a defense exhibition in South Korea, deploying an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarine, stealth fighters and other strategic assets.

The show of force comes amid growing tensions on the peninsula, with North Korea expected to engage in additional provocations in protest against the South Korea-U.S. military drills  (…..)

The allies’ militaries are set to hold a joint exercise in the East and West Seas from Monday to Friday, during which the U.S. will deploy its nuclear-powered carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

It is one of America’s key power projection means of countering military threats in a volatile region.

The 333-meter-long, 100,000-ton Nimitz-class flattop is stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, as part of the Seventh Fleet in charge of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Reagan has a deck the size of three football fields, with some 70 aircraft on board, ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

During the maritime drills, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the airborne battle management aircraft, is expected to be deployed. It is capable of monitoring North Korea’s ground force movements and coastal artillery.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) has already arrived at the southern port of Busan as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific, military officials said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.