Military News

Friday, January 19, 2018

Face of Defense: Bodybuilding Helps Airman to Maintain Focus

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Breanna Carter, 90th Missile Wing

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo., Jan. 19, 2018 — Air Force Senior Airman Niketa Wilson, 90th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist here, is a full-time airman, mother and student, and she even has a part-time job at Subway.

For Wilson, her son, Daniel, and bodybuilding are what keep her going.

“I always wanted to do fitness competitions, but I just didn’t make time, and I got pregnant with my son,” Wilson said. “Then my mom moved here from Mississippi to help with Daniel, which enabled me to pick up some weights and start on my journey.”

Wilson hired a personal trainer and seven months after giving birth, she stepped on stage for her first competition, in which she placed third.

Personal Challenges

This journey didn’t come without its challenges, though. Wilson’s mother passed away September 2017, and she made the tough decision to move her son.

“My mom was the primary caregiver for my son, and when she passed, I sent him to live with my family in Mississippi because of the cost of childcare,” Wilson said. “It really felt like I lost two people.”

Wilson explained that she saw this as an opportunity to reinvent herself.

“This experience helped me rediscover myself and my purpose,” Wilson said. “I decided to put all my focus and effort into my work when it was time to come back.”

Wilson said her leadership made the transition back to work a lot smoother.

“My first sergeant and squadron supported me a lot, as well as my commander when she came to check on me,” Wilson said. “When you have support like that, it makes the healing process more manageable.


Wilson’s determination and resiliency did not go unnoticed by those in the workplace.

“Nikki is a go-getter,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Cole, 90th FSS fitness specialist. “She has a lot of energy and the ability to tackle both professional and personal goals. She truly is Superwoman.”

Wilson is gradually accomplishing the goals she has set for herself. She completed her Community College of the Air Force degree and is working to get her bachelor’s degree in health science.
The Air Force is a large organization comprised of Airmen working to get the mission done and deter our nation’s adversaries 24/7, but what happens behind the scenes? What gets these Airmen up every day and keeps them strong and motivated in the face of everyday challenges?
Air Force Senior Airman Niketa Wilson, 90th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, pictured here Jan. 11, 2018, with her son, Daniel, is a full-time airman, mother and student. Air Force courtesy photo

“The key to sticking with your goals is to write them down, have a visual for what you want to do and say them out loud,” Wilson said. “If it’s constantly on your mind, you’re more inclined to pursue it, but you have to be consistent.”

Glenn Garcia, 90th Medical Group outreach program manager, said that resiliency is the ability to adapt to challenges in life and learn from the event to move forward. He offered some ways for airmen to stay resilient.

Tips on Resiliency

“You can't change the fact that stressful things happen, but you can change how you respond to them,” Garcia said. “Accepting help and support from those who care about you will help strengthen your resilience. Likewise, assisting other airmen in their time of need can have a positive impact on your outlook. Connect with others through sports or clubs, either in your squadron or the local community.”

Wilson said she hopes to keep competing and become a professional bodybuilder one day.
“There are things you don’t see coming, but it’s your responsibility to pull yourself out of the hole and reach your full potential,” Wilson said. “The moment you feel like quitting is usually the moment when you’re about to achieve something great, and that’s just the test that you have to push through.”

New York National Guard Soldiers to Compete at 2018 Winter Olympics

By Eric Durr New York National Guard

LATHAM, N.Y., Jan. 19, 2018 — Four New York National Guard soldiers will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.

The four soldiers are enrolled in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program:

-- Sgt. Emily Sweeney, who is assigned to New York Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and lives in Suffield, Connecticut, will be part of the U.S. Luge team;

-- Sgt. Matthew Mortensen, a member of the 1156th Engineer Company headquartered in Kingston, New York, who lives in Lake Placid, New York, will also be part of the U.S. Luge team;

-- Sgt. Justin Olsen, assigned to New York Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and a Lake Placid resident, will be part of the U.S. Bobsled Team; and

-- Sgt. Nick Cunningham, also assigned to the New York Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and a Lake Placid resident, will also be part of the U.S. Bobsled Team.

Sweeney, 24, joined the New York Army National Guard in December 2011 and is trained as a military police soldier. She has been competing in luge since 2008. In 2013, she was the luge junior world champion. She holds one World Cup gold medal and three World Cup silver medals.

Sweeney just missed representing the United States in the 2014 Olympic Games. The 2018 Winter Games will be her first Olympics.

Mortensen, 32, jointed the New York Army National Guard in February 2010 and is trained as an electrician. He has been competing in luge since 2009 and currently competes as part of a doubles team in which two rides share the sled.

His hometown is Huntington Station, New York, and the 2018 Games will be his second Olympics. In 2014, he finished in 14th place at the games in Sochi, Russia.

Olsen, 30, joined the New York Army National Guard in January 2011 and trained as a human resources specialist. The 2018 Games will be his third Olympics appearance. In 2010 he was part of the four-man bobsled team that took the gold medal at the Vancouver Games.

During the 2014 Games, he was on the same team as fellow Army National Guard soldier Nick Cunningham. The team finished in 12th place that year.

Olsen, whose hometown is Lubbock, Texas, has been competing since 2007 and has taken gold and silver medals in a number of competitions.

Cunningham, 32, joined the New York Army National Guard in March 2011 and trained as a carpentry and masonry specialist.

He competed on two-man and four-man bobsled teams in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games and has been competing in bobsled since 2008. Cunningham, from Monterey, California, has a number of gold and silver medals to his credit.

He and Sgt. Justin Olsen competed on the same team in 2014 and will compete together again in this year’s games.

A fifth soldier, Sgt. Jacob Hyrns, who is a member of the 1427th Transportation Company based in Queensbury, New York, and who lives in Lake Placid, missed making the Olympic luge team by 6 hundredths of a second during team qualifying competitions in December.

Army World Class Athlete Program

The Army World Class Athlete Program is a military detachment run by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. It was established by the Army to support Public Law 84-11, which allows the Army to provide soldiers -- including those in the National Guard and the Army Reserve -- an opportunity to train for and participate in the Pan American Games, World Championships and Olympic and Paralympic competitions.

The World Class Athlete Program detachment was established in 1997 at Fort Carson, Colorado, near the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Most soldiers in the program are assigned to the detachment and train on Fort Carson or at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Others train with the U.S. national team for their specific sport. On average, 40 to 60 soldiers are in the detachment.
Soldiers must be nationally ranked in their chosen sport to be considered for the program. Soldiers in the program balance athletic training with their military careers, and are soldiers first. They represent the United States and the Army, maintain their military occupational skills, and often return to traditional military units when they are not competing or training.

DoD Official: National Defense Strategy Will Rebuild Dominance, Enhance Deterrence

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2018 — The new National Defense Strategy announced today is aimed at restoring America’s competitive military advantage to deter Russia and China from challenging the United States, its allies or seeking to overturn the international order that has served so well since the end of World War II.

It is the first new National Defense Strategy in a decade. The defense strategy builds on the administration’s National Security Strategy that President Donald J. Trump announced Dec. 18.

Elbridge A. Colby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development, briefed Pentagon reporters about the unclassified summary of the strategy in advance of Defense Secretary James N. Mattis unveiling the policy, saying “this is not a strategy of confrontation, but it is strategy that recognizes the reality of competition.”

The National Defense Strategy seeks to implement the pillars of the National Security Strategy: peace through strength, the affirmation of America’s international role, the U.S. alliance and partnership structure and the necessity to build military advantage to maintain key regional balances of power, he said.

Confronting Challenges

The strategy states that the primary challenge facing the Defense Department and the joint force is “the erosion of U.S. military advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia, which, if unaddressed, could ultimately undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion and imperil the free and open order that we seek to underwrite with our alliance constellation,” Colby said.

The strategy aims at thwarting Chinese and Russian aggression and use of coercion and intimidation to advance their goals and harm U.S. interests, and specifically focuses on three key theaters: Europe, the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East, Colby said.

While Russia and China are the main U.S. adversaries in this strategy, DoD must address North Korea, Iran and the threat posed by terrorism, Colby noted, and he said this strategy does that. “The strategy will have significant implications for how the department shapes the force, develops the force, postures the force, uses the force,” he said.

More Lethal, Agile Force

The strategy looks to build a more lethal and agile force, Colby said. It shifts away from the post-Desert Storm model, and DoD seeks to modernize key capabilities and innovate using new technologies and operational concepts to maintain dominance across all domains, he explained.

The strategy will build on America’s unequalled alliance and partnership constellation and seek new partners for the future, he added.

Finally, the strategy seeks to reform DoD to create a culture that “delivers cost-effective performance at the speed of relevance,” Colby said.

The new strategy is needed because China and Russia have “gone to school” studying the American way of war, he said, and the U.S. dominance in the Middle East during Desert Strom was not lost on Russia or China. The two nations have spent the last 25 years studying ways to deny America its greatest military advantage, he said: the ability to deploy forces anywhere in the world and then sustain them.

The anti-access, area-denial methods that both Russia and China have developed need to be countered, and this new strategy sets in place the framework around which to build those capabilities, Colby said.

Joint Force Should Be Ready

“The joint force should be ready to compete, to deter and -- if necessary -- to win against any adversary,” Colby concluded.

Modernization has been the sacrificial lamb in the recent budget wars, and this strategy reemphasizes the importance of modernization, Pentagon officials said. The strategy specifically states the United States must modernize the nuclear triad. It also emphasizes the importance of space and cyberspace as domains of warfare and calls for resilience in both space and cyberspace capabilities and technology and concepts to operate across the full domains.

The strategy also calls for modernized command-and-control assets and for new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, officials said, adding that missile defense plays a large role in the strategy, as well as the development of advanced autonomous systems.

Officials said the strategy also calls for resilient and agile logistics systems that will continue to operate under multidomain attack.

The Pentagon Library is full of documents that were announced with great fanfare, but ultimately were ignored or discarded. Officials say the National Defense Strategy will not be one of those.

“I think if anybody knows Secretary Mattis or looks at his history, he’s not inclined to publish documents or give guidance that he doesn’t actually intend to execute,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a recent interview in Brussels. “I can assure you that one of the things that gives me confidence the National Defense Strategy will affect our behavior is Secretary Mattis’ ownership of the National Defense Strategy, and his commitment to actually lead the U.S. military in a direction that is supportive of that National Defense Strategy.”

Leadership will be key to implementing the strategy, Dunford said. “I have a high degree of confidence that the secretary’s going to drive implementation of the NDS,” he said. “And I’m equally committed, as are all the combatant commanders and the service chiefs, to supporting the secretary in execution of the NDS.”