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Maria Daume : a Female Marine Trailblazer Graduates From Infantry School

Maria Daume is the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process; just like a superhero comic

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Maria Daume
Maria Daume watches her mother, Maureen Daume, become emotional after Maria's graduation from the Marine Corps School of Infantry, March 23, 2017, in Camp Lejeune, N.C. (VOA)

North Carolina, March 25: Marine Pfc. Maria Daume’s life story reads as if she came straight from the pages of a superhero comic.

Born in a Siberian prison. Orphaned at age 2. Adopted by Americans at age 4 and raised in New York.

And now, she’s just done what many naysayers believed a woman would never do: She’s the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process, a process made available to women just a half-year earlier.

“I like to prove people wrong,” Daume told VOA in her first interview since completing her training at the Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. “No matter what your belief is, you can’t argue that I didn’t do it, because I did.”

Marine Pfc. Maria Daume’s life story reads as if she came straight from the pages of a superhero comic.

Born in a Siberian prison. Orphaned at age 2. Adopted by Americans at age 4 and raised in New York.

And now, she’s just done what many naysayers believed a woman would never do: She’s the first female Marine to join the infantry through the traditional entry-level training process, a process made available to women just a half-year earlier.

“I like to prove people wrong,” Daume told VOA in her first interview since completing her training at the Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. “No matter what your belief is, you can’t argue that I didn’t do it, because I did.”

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Top of the pack

Not only did she graduate from the School of Infantry on Thursday, she completed what Infantry Marines argue is one of the most difficult military operational specialties the school has to offer, at a time when instructors say the standards have become “even harder.”

As a Mortar Marine, she and her peers represent the most rapid response to indirect fire for an infantry unit.

And to pass the training required to become one, she and her peers scaled a 142-cm-high (56 inches) wall in full gear within 30 seconds, lifted a 36-kg (about 80 pounds) MK19 heavy machine gun above their heads, evacuated a 97-kg (214 pounds) casualty within 54 seconds while wearing a fighting load, and passed various knowledge skill tests and gun drills.

She also had to hike 20 km (over 12 miles) while carrying a 60 mm mortar system with four simulated rounds.That cold night was the moment she knew that she had made the cut to be a Mortar Marine.

“I went to sleep that night and I’m lying in my rack, and I’m just like, ‘I did the 20k,’ ” she said, smiling. “It felt good.”

Daume didn’t just pass the training. She often crushed it, according to one of her trainers.

“She was right at the top of the pack,” Marine Sergeant Matthew Schneider, a mortar instructor at the school, told VOA.

Tears of joy welled up in Daume’s mother’s eyes as people gathered around to congratulate her on graduating from the School of Infantry. A retired Marine walked up to Daume Thursday and asked if he could just shake her hand.

“You know, you’re part of history, you know that, right? And that’s amazing,” he told her.

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History made, hardship ahead

However, not everyone is as positive about military females and their abilities. Daume’s major milestone for the Marine Corps comes amid a massive photo scandal inside the service branch. A private Facebook group called “Marines United,” which included tens of thousands of Marines and retired Marines, posted links to explicit images of military women, often with sexist, derogatory comments. Some even referenced rape and molestation.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation, which has reportedly spread to other military branches.

Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller told lawmakers last week that he was disgusted, shocked and angry when he heard about the scandal. He said some members appeared to “have forgotten that every member of our team is an equal and valued member of our Corps.”

“How much more do the females of the Corps have to do to be accepted?” Neller said. “We all have to get rid of this perversion to our culture. Enough is enough.”

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‘Just Daume’

Daume, who was in training when the scandal broke, said she trusts the Marine Corps to handle the scandal appropriately, and will continue to do her thing no matter how other people may put women down.

“It kind of just gives me more motivation to show them that we can do it,” she told VOA.

She hopes that her trailblazing will convince more women that they could be tough enough to join the Marine infantry, too, adding that her experience with her company at Camp Lejeune was one of unity and trust.

“Throughout training they realized that I was just one of them. It wasn’t Daume, the female. It was just Daume,” she said.

Katherine Kidder, a fellow in the Military, Veterans and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, said she sees Daume’s graduation as “the beginning of a wave of women” coming into the Corps, despite the cultural issues that she said have plagued the branch for some time.

“This [women entering the infantry] may be the way to bridge the gap,” Kidder said.

Assigned to Camp Pendleton

The Marines now have four women in the infantry. Three female Marines joined 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune in January after making a lateral move request to join the infantry.

Daume left with four of her fellow graduates on Thursday for 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, California. (VOA)

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Maria Daume: Born in Russian Prison, First Female US Marine to Join School of Infantry

The Marine Corps established Infantry Training Regiments at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton in the year 1953

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  • Born in Siberian prison, Maria Daume becomes the first female Marine to join the infantry
  • Maria Daume redefines what a woman can never do
  • Graduated from boot camp, Maria is set to overcome all hurdles

US, July 10, 2017: Mocked and bullied at school for being an orphan and born in a Siberian prison, Maria Daume, is the first female Marine to join the infantry. From boot camp to graduation, Maria Daume redefines what a woman can never do.

“I like to prove people wrong,” Daume told in her first interview. She remained unyielding to the difficult military operational specialties with persistence. “You know, you’re part of history, you know that right?” a retired Marine, eager to shake her hands told her.

Maria Daume. VOA.

The training which was held in Parris Islands demands a strict Warrior training. They are taught marksmanship skills, they complete a combat fitness test before facing the crucible a final 54-hour field event that tests the recruits on strength, knowledge, and indomitability. “I like to prove people wrong,” Daume states, disregarding time worn parameters set on a woman as a result of deep-seated patriarchy.

“I like to prove people wrong,” says Maria Daume Click To Tweet

However, her success comes amidst sexist slurs and disgraceful remarks. According to VOA report, a private Facebook group called Marines United comprised of thousands of Marines and retired Marines posted links to explicit images of military women with derogatory remarks.

Following this, The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation, which has reportedly spread to other military branches. “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation, which has reportedly spread to other military branches.” Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller questioned with repugnance and disgust. He demanded purgation of “perversion” from the culture.

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The Marine Corps established Infantry Training Regiments at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton in the year 1953. The training is a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on practical application, and live-fire evolutions. Maria in an interview states “just because you are a female doesn’t mean you can’t do what a man can do”. 

On her graduating ceremony from the School of Infantry, tears of joy glistened in Daume’s mother’s eyes, who adopted Maria with her sibling Nikolai. Certainly, Daume has added a new line in the history of women and their achievements, their contributions which are celebrated during March in the US.

– by Puja Sinha. Twitter: pujas1994

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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Satellite sends First Quantum Signal to Earth

This is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them

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Micius
Micius satellite. wikimedia
  • An orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth
  • It is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications
  • They can not be cracked by ever-improving computer algorithms

June 18, 2017: It was reported by scientists today that an orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth. It is a big step towards sending quantum keys from satellites — an approach that has been heralded as a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them.

A laser on China’s Micius satellite, which was launched last year and is dedicated to researches related to quantum satellite communications, spit out pairs of entangled photons from its position, 500 km above Earth. Then two telescopes on Earth – about 1200 km apart — had 5 minutes each day to look for them as the satellite passed over both telescopes. It was found that paired photons survived the journey through Earth’s atmosphere. They detected 1 entangled pair per second out of the 6 million sent in that time.

So how exactly does all this work?

A quantum key needs to be generated first by two people who are looking to communicate. Then, one person receives one of the entangled photons in the pair, the other person receives the other. When the received photons have measured the photons, they obtain bits of information strung together to create a key that they both have. That key can be used to encrypt and decrypt a message. The users can also share a portion of the key publicly to check if it has been compromised. In case if someone tries to intercept the communication at any point, they would then notice a difference between their strings.

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There is a certain set of problems as well. Caltech’s John Preskill believes even though it is an important proof of concept, the feat doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with quantum communications. Currently, these messages can’t be sent long distances. Photons, using an optical fiber to carry a quantum signal, can only make it about 100 km before the dissipation of the light.

Quantum systems are similar to optical telecommunications here on earth and need repeaters that are able to amplify the message so it can be passed long distances. But amplifying a quantum message in the same way optical ones are done would effectively result in the destruction of the information. That is why satellite-based communication are being eyed by researchers. The reported 500 km from space is an improvement over optical. Quantum signals were measured in another study published today from a satellite 38,000 km away to a single point. But in deploying a global network which would likely be able to combine optical fiber and satellites, the repeater problem still stands.

Preskill has predicted that it is more likely we will first come up with another form of encryption for communication. “There will be other ways of doing classical public key cryptosystems that we won’t know how to break with quantum computers,” he added.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang