Sunday, June 25, 2017

Perspective of a former four-time Champion

Four-Time World Champion Martha Ellis
As a woman entering the fire service in the early 1990’s I felt it was critical to establish myself as a physically capable employee early in my career. Granted, everyone was expected to pass a physical ability test, but I was looking for something more definitive and irrefutable. Opportunities to “prove” one’s self on the actual fire ground are usually few and far between. The subjectivity of field evaluation by my peers also left me feeling vulnerable to misrepresentation and distortion of the facts.

Finding the Firefighter Combat Challenge (Challenge) was heaven sent because it was controlled, measurable and an undeniable representation of both the mental and physical rigors of the fire ground. Participating in the Challenge truly set the tone for my entire career.

First and foremost, it redefined what teamwork in physical and mental preparedness meant to me. I’d been an athlete all my life, including collegiate sports, and I can honestly say I’d never trained as hard for anything prior. Our team pushed each other every day to become stronger, faster and more consistent. Although each of us stepped onto that course alone, the sense of team and commitment to greater representation was embedded in every effort. Our team grew from commitment and sacrifice to each other’s success, values learned only from a strong sense of common purpose. That’s what the Challenge gave us as a team.

As an individual, I gained a deep sense great satisfaction from my involvement in the Challenge. I left no doubt with my peers that I could “carry my weight.” I could walk into the firehouse confident that I was an accepted and integral part of that combat team.

The collateral benefits have continued to pay dividends to this day, 16 years after my last effort on the course. Embracing the importance of physical preparedness in the fire service I became a champion for the cause. I began speaking at fire conferences on the subject of fitness, nutrition and the politics of establishing fitness standards for incumbent personnel. I was also invited to speak to women firefighting groups specifically about the challenges we face and how we can better prepare ourselves to not just survive a career in the fire service, but thrive.

In looking for opportunities to reach a larger audience I began submitting articles to various trade magazines. I developed a fantastic working relationship with Fire Rescue Magazine, becoming their fitness editor and monthly columnist for five years. I also served on their editorial board for several years following, continuing to spread the word on the value of fitness in the fire service.

The Challenge and what followed helped me develop in too many ways to even mention. Suffice it to say I’m a stronger, more engaged, politically savvy member of the fire service largely because I made the choice to step out on the course and compete. Personally speaking, the singularly greatest collateral benefit of my involvement in the Challenge has been my marriage of 20 years to my teammate, best friend, mentor, unwavering supporter and life love, Jeff Ellis. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t dared to participate in the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Humans Should Warm Up Before Exercise

From Today I Found Out by Davin Hiskey

There isn’t a respectable personal trainer in any sport that doesn't stress the importance of warming up before you begin a workout or athletic endeavor. Most people seem to know you can prevent injuries and allow for better performance should you follow their advice. So, what about warming up allows for these benefits? What exactly is going on in the body when you more slowly prepare it for strenuous activity, rather than just jumping right into it?

The simple answer is that warming up increases blood flow to muscles, allowing for an elevated amount of oxygen and nutrients to be delivered. This prepares the muscles for a rise in workload. Warming up will also begin raising body temperature, which helps you utilize oxygen better. That boost in blood flow also serves to prime the nerves supplying your muscles with impulses, increasing the quality of performance.

Along with the blood flow and temperature benefits, an appropriate warm up also prevents injuries by providing a greater range of motion, while simultaneously improving the lubrication of joints, allowing for better movement. Lastly, many trainers posit that a good warm-up before any event where performance is valued can help mentally prepare you for the task to come.

So that's the high-level view of it all. But what actually is going on internally here?

First, let’s look at what gives your body the ability to deliver more oxygen. It seems common sense that if the average heart rate is around 70 beats per minute, and each beat ejects approximately 70 ml of blood, then your heart will circulate about 4.9 liters every minute. The higher the heart rate, the more blood will be pumped. During extreme exercise, studies have shown your heart can pump up to 30 liters per minute! The question then becomes- why does slowly increasing heart rate, and by extension blood flow, vs. suddenly leaping into action and rapidly increasing blood flow allow for better performance, while reducing injury?

When your muscles are working harder than normal, they require more oxygen and nutrients. This provides all the electrolytes responsible for the electrical impulses providing for muscle contraction and glucose to start a cascade of chemical events leading to the production of a molecule called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is responsible for moving those electrolytes (and other molecules) into, out of, and around your cells. Oxygen is also essential in creating ATP.

When oxygen is used to create ATP, it’s called aerobic metabolism. When you increase the work of your muscles past the point oxygen can make the appropriate amount of ATP, your cells begin to use glucose and acids to make more, also known as anaerobic metabolism.

The byproduct of anaerobic metabolism is the increased production of an acid called pyruvate, which also creates lactic acid. Those acids will cause all kinds of damage to your cells. The resulting pain that follows leaves every marathon runner in agony the next day. The maximum heart rate at which your cells can use oxygen to make ATP is known as your Vo2max.

What does all this chemistry have to do with warming up?

Studies have consistently shown that your Vo2 max is increased when you warm up slowly. This is because the many small capillaries that supply your cells are closed when resting. Should you open them up, they’ll be more able to provide the extra oxygen and nutrients to the working cells. So, warming up will cause those resting capillaries to open up. Thus, when the event starts, and you really need them, they’ll already be able to handle a higher Vo2max, and you get a better performance.

For example, in one study, people were subjected to sprinting at maximum effort for 10-15 seconds without warming up. 70% of them had abnormal ECG findings (the electrical impulses providing your heart with its needed contraction). Those abnormalities were attributed to inadequate blood supply to the heart (anaerobic metabolism). Those affected 70% of participants were then allowed to warm up for just 2 minutes prior to sprinting, again for 10-15 seconds. That little of a warm up was enough to reduce the ECG abnormalities by 90%!

Another way your body gets the benefit of more oxygen is by raising its temperature and making your cells more acidic. An increase in your body's temperature will support faster muscle contraction and relaxation, as well as a boost to nerve impulses and raise the metabolism of cells. One of the mechanisms for these results revolves around how your body carries that oxygen.

The molecule within your blood responsible for circulating oxygen is called hemoglobin, which attaches and subsequently releases oxygen thanks to the affinity hemoglobin has for oxygen. (That affinity is measured by what is known as the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve.)

To spare you a lengthy technical discussion of how that all works, I'll just say that, in a nutshell, each hemoglobin molecule can carry four oxygen molecules. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will carry four, but it can. The amount of oxygen it does carry is called oxygen saturation. The more oxygen around the hemoglobin, like in the case of hemoglobin exposed to the air in your lungs, the more saturated it will become. In environments where there is less oxygen present, like in the case of cells that are experiencing anaerobic metabolism, hemoglobin will release the oxygen. That free oxygen is then readily available for your cells to use to create ATP.

At higher body temperatures and more acidic environments, hemoglobin will release more oxygen compared to lower temperatures, and less acidic environments. Should you warm up, your increased body temperature and the slightly higher acidic environment inside your cells will cause your hemoglobin to release more oxygen. The result increases your cells' ability to make more ATP using oxygen and giving you the competitive advantage of an increased Vo2max. These results are known as The Bohr effect.

Thus, increased blood flow, combined with the greater oxygen metabolism, accounts for several of the known benefits to warming up- namely, the performance enhancement provided by the increased Vo2max, and the priming of the nerves supplying your muscles with their necessary impulses.

Now on to injury prevention.

It's widely known that warming up will prevent muscle injury, specifically, preventing painful tears and strains. No study to date has definitively shown the exact mechanisms causing the damage. Get a group of people to subject themselves to a study administering muscle stress so great it will tear them while a team of researchers monitors everything going on internally and you might be able provide some detailed insight...

Until then, the leading theory is that "cold" muscles are less elastic and shorter than those that aren’t. Along with the muscles, your ligaments and tendons also shorten up when not particularly used. Should you subject your shortened and stiff muscles, tendons, and ligaments to the force required for strenuous activity, they may snap or tear, somewhat analogous to how a cold rubber band will snap quicker than a warm one when stretched. So, warm up, then stretch appropriately, and your rubber-band-muscles will be able to better elongate like Gumby in a yoga class, thus helping to prevent injury.

As the theory on injury prevention goes, your joints will also begin to become more lubricated during warm up, allowing for greater range of motion (ROM). This is because the production of fluid that brings oxygen and nutrients into the joints, while also providing lubrication (synovial fluid), is increased during exercise. So, warm up, and your joints will also be better able to handle the stress and the increased ROM needed for athletic performance.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Branson Discovered

The crowd on the Blue side of the course at Branson on the Bass Pro lot
I don’t know what you’ve heard about Branson, Missouri, but if you’re like me, probably not much.

Last year was our first appearance there and regrettably, I had a schedule conflict, as I originally did in May of this year. But the flooding of the Lake and subsequently our parking lot venue in Spring postponed the event, so last weekend we headed back.

A sinkhole at Top of the Rock in Branson
First, there’s a good reason why 10M people visit Branson every year. The sheer number of attractions and amenities are too numerous to cover in this BlogSpot. For starters, did you know that in many states where there is a Bass Pro store, it’s the number one attraction in that state? Bass Pro got started in Springfield, just 50 miles up the Interstate. Bass Pro graciously provided their parking lot for our event.

I was afforded a two-hour tour by Terra Alphonso of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. We must have driven 30 miles and sill did not see everything. There are amusement parks, water parks, ballparks, miniature and professional golf courses galore. Roller coasters, Ferris wheels, hotels, motels, lodges, gated resorts, go-cart courses, concert halls and every imaginable restaurant. If you go bored in Branson, it’d be because you never left your room.

The driving range at Top of the Rock
What’s likely in our future is a World Challenge event in the out years. Normally, we say very little until we have a signed contract. But in this case, I’d like to get out in front of the schedule. I can’t say when, but I’m pretty sure yes is the answer that it’s going to happen. And my job is to raise the awareness of the attractions, features, and benefits for any of the venues where the Challenge will be.

This is the first of several overviews of Branson that will appear in my BlogSpot. I can guarantee that whether you wait for the Challenge to happen there, or you just decide to check it out for a family destination, you won’t be disappointed with any time spent in Branson.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Safety Is Our First Concern: Bringing Rescue Randy Home

A Proper Dummy Drag
We would like everyone who steps out on the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge course to have a positive experience. By this, we mean finishing under your own power with something left in the gas tank. 

The only shortcut in the Challenge is preparation. Our website is replete with a host of training programs. One of the most important considerations is a realistic finish time. Coming in with a preconceived time, without the parallel experience is not the best way to attack the course. 

Knowing your limitations and running your own race are very important considerations. Oftentimes, the competitive impulse kicks in and you’ve determined that the guy in the next chute will never beat you to the top of the tower. The problem here is that finish line is behind you, not the top of the stairs and you have no idea of the capabilities of your opponent. 

When guys start having problems, it’s the responsibility of the lane grader to protect you from yourself. Having watched several thousand races, these guys are pretty astute at knowing who’s outside of their comfort zone. The crowd loves to extend their sympathy and energy and this now creates an environment that can exacerbate the problem. I mean, some of our competitors would seemingly rather die that quit. And we don’t want that to happen. 

There is a Six Minute Rule, meaning, we’ll terminate your run if you’re not done in 6. But, that’s pretty generous and lacks precision as to the metabolic status of the racer. So, here’s some Guidelines for our officials as to when to pull the plug. 

1. Competitor has repeatedly dropped the dummy
2. It’s 5:00 elapsed time and the halfway point on the dummy drag has not been reached
3. There’s no forward progress being made

We want to intervene at the point where recovery can take place with the Competitor walking off the course under their own power. 

A few words about recovery:

No matter how inviting are those chairs in the rehab area, resist sitting down. 
Drink only water within 20 minutes of competing- unless you want to see that sports drink again.
The Pit Crew will assist in getting your bunkers off. 
Walk briskly after running. The faster you move, the faster you’ll recover.
If you can’t keep fluid down, you’ll need an I.V.
We don’t want anyone leaving until they can produce urine. 

For any first-timer that does not finish, we’ll extend a 50% discount on the next event in which they compete. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Exercise Makes You Younger at the Cellular Level

Time Magazine
Amanda MacMillan
May 15, 2017

The more exercise people get, the less their cells appear to age. In a new study in Preventive Medicine, people who exercised the most had biological aging markers that appeared nine years younger than those who were sedentary.

Researchers looked at the telomeres from nearly 6,000 adults enrolled in a multi-year survey run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People were asked what physical activities they had done in the past month and how vigorously they did them. They also provided DNA samples, from which the researchers measured telomere length. Telomeres, the protein caps on the ends of human chromosomes, are markers of aging and overall health. Every time a cell replicates, a tiny bit of telomere is lost, so they get shorter with age. But they shrink faster in some people than in others, explains study author Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University.

“We know that, in general, people with shorter telomeres die sooner and are more likely to develop many of our chronic diseases,” says Tucker. “It's not perfect, but it's a very good index of biological aging.”

MORE: Here's Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

After adjusting for smoking, obesity, alcohol use, gender, race and other factors, Tucker found in his study that people who exercised the most had significantly longer telomeres than those who were sedentary. The most sedentary people had 140 fewer base pairs of DNA at the ends of their telomeres, compared to the most active: a difference of about nine years of cellular aging, he says

To qualify as top-tier exercisers, people had to do the equivalent of at least 30-40 minutes of jogging a day five days a week. Doing less was also linked to aging benefits, but they were not as powerful. People who did vigorous exercise had telomeres that signaled about seven fewer years of biological aging, compared to people who did moderate levels of activity.

Tucker says he was surprised to see so big of a difference between moderate and high levels of exercise. “Moderate exercise was still valuable and it had some benefit, but it was really those high levels of physical activity that made the real difference,” says Tucker. The top exercisers were vigorously working out 150 to 200 minutes a week, or engaging in light- to moderate-intensity activity for longer periods. Research continues to suggest that more exercise means deeper reductions in risk for chronic disease, to a certain point.

MORE: How Exercise Keeps Your DNA Young

The current study relied on self-reports about physical activity and was only able to show an association—not a cause-and-effect relationship—between exercise amount and telomere length. It wasn’t able to account for factors like depression, stress, sleep disturbances and dietary practices that could affect exercise habits, genetic changes, or both.

But a link between physical activity and cellular aging makes sense, says Tucker. Experts believe that telomere length may be linked to inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which exercise has been shown to ease over time.

While there’s no guarantee that people with longer telomeres will live longer, healthier lives, the odds may be in their favor, says Tucker. “We all know people who seem younger than their actual age,” he says. “We know exercise can help with that, and now we know that part of that may be because of its effect on our telomeres.”

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Etiology of the High Rise Bundle

From time to time, I field questions about the legacy of the various events or tasks that comprise the Firefighter Combat Challenge®. 

For about 20 years now, I’ve been seeking a solution for the high rise bundle that would make it impervious to inclement weather. There are fabric treatments, especially the one produced by Rust-Oleum. Untreated, the 42 pound bundle can soak up four pounds of water. Rather than attempt to make changes during the season, we determined that the Winter of ’16-17 would be the best time to effect the upgrade. 

For those of you at FDIC last week, you saw the 4” rubber-jacketed high-rise bundle. We started with four steel bands, but have determined that we can probably reduce the number by moving them more to the center. Because rubber jacketed hose is more dense, the actual volume is less. 

I’ve weighed packs all over the country. Whether you call them hotel or hospital bundles, or whatever, they’re intended use is for interior fire suppression by hooking up to the riser system. Typically, the bundle includes spanner wrenches, reducer or gated wye and a nozzle. Forty-two pounds is pretty much on the light side. But, I’m interested in what the weight and configuration is at your station. 

Send me photos and descriptions to: Dr.Paul

We’ll continue to tweak the bundle to get the most optimal ergonomics- flexible and conforming to your shoulder, falling naturally such that it stays put when you're climbing.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

An open letter from US Defense Watch (for you Vets out there)

Dear General Mattis,

I know you’ve been busy sir. Across the globe, our enemies are stacking up against us. The Pentagon is the virtual three-alarm fire brigade, attempting to put out every conflagration caused by the Obama administration’s disastrous national security policies.

Eight years of worthless, feckless US leadership and budget cuts have severely weakened the US armed forces.

While in our history, the US military has been gutted by Congress, then rebuilt, to fight another day, the military has never been a vast social experiment as it is now.

This is something that apparently you have not focused on yet. Perhaps, you have been too occupied, or most distressingly, you have decided that you will step away from this vicious third rail in the US military; the social engineering and political correctness that is eating the military alive like a mutating tropical virus.

Americans who have never served have no conception of what the social experiment has done and is doing to our military. Sadly, the young people in the military right now; mainly believe everything is A-Okay, because like children in a dysfunctional family they don’t know any difference.

But, vets who served before the cultural Marxists and the militant feminists took control understand. We know perfectly well that diversity and gender neutrality are not combat multipliers. We understand what the military is capable of doing when it focuses on its mission; to defend the country if called upon and to destroy our enemies on sea, land and in the air as violently and as swiftly as possible.

That is the sole purpose of the military. It is not a day care center, a lactation station, a LGBT rights forum, a check your white privilege foundation, a transgender club; nor is it an organization whose sole purpose is to shame male soldiers into wearing red high heels and pregnancy simulators, while fudging standards to graduate a trio of well-fed women from Ranger School, including one 37-year-old mommy.

Perhaps you should investigate sir, how these women looked like they added their ‘Freshman 15’ at Ranger School, and were in dire need of an emergency phone call to order Marie Osmond’s Nutrisystem. Perhaps you should compare them to six decades of male grads who crawled out of Benning looking like Holocaust survivors.

Talk about a Bridge too Far…

Sometime in the last eight years, the wheels completely came off the military.

ROTC male cadets were ordered to parade around our nation’s campuses in red high heels to show empathy for rape victims; male soldiers were instructed to conduct PT in pregnancy simulators; the Marines were forced to endure some kind of Soviet-style gender unconscious bias training, to brainwash young men into believing women were as strong as they were; there was a new lexicon of gender-neutral military terms, soldiers took online classes that informed them the Bible and the Constitution were now sexist documents; there was the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell and the celebration of open homosexuality in the ranks, the embracing of the transgender mentally ill and gender reassignment surgery paid for by the tax payers; lactation memos and instructions for the proper storage of breast milk in the field; sensitivity training in combat zones, babies born on US ships of war and the firing of a two-star general and a decorated combat pilot all because he told a junior officer he was ‘drunker than 10,000 Indians.’

And, there’s the biggest piece of lunacy ever signed by a cabinet member and the death knell to our national security, Ash Carter’s authorization last year to allow America’s women to serve in the combat arms and special operations units.

Sir, in 2014 you stated unequivocally that “The problem is that in the atavistic primate world” of close-quarters combat, “the idea of putting women in there is not setting them up for success.”

And you said whether women soldiers could meet physical requirements is “not the point.”
You also said, “commanders must consider what makes us most combat effective when you jump into that room and you’re doing what we call intimate killing. It would only be someone who never crossed the line of departure into close encounters fighting that would ever even promote such an idea as putting women into close combat.”

Strangely, you reversed course on this topic during your confirmation hearings in January. You told Senator Claire McCaskill and Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand, two women who have never served and who wouldn’t know an AK-47 from a Tiger tank, that you would not reverse Ash Carter’s authorization.

The left rejoiced! So did our enemies sir.

If Mad Dog Mattis won’t stop the social engineering and the PC music, who will?

The late Colonel David Hackworth, a polarizing figure, loved by the troops and hated by the Pentagon, a man whose combat experience and rows of fruit salad made anyone take notice, warned about all of this twenty years ago. Hack was ridiculed, and above all, Hack was right. He had seen war in Korea and Vietnam and his endless travels to military bases up to his death in 2005 convinced him that the PC monster was marauding through the military at top speed.

Elaine Donnelly, Director of the Center for Military Readiness has been warning about the problems of women serving in combat for years.

As you know sir, the Marines conducted a $34 million study in 2015 that concluded in very precise detail how and why individual male Marines performed more swiftly and efficiently than individual female Marines in simulated combat tasks. The study also indicated quite clearly that all male units performed better than coed and all female units in simulated combat tasks. While the male Marines chosen were only in average physical condition, the females were some of the best athletes in the Marine Corps.

To a society functioning normally, the government wouldn’t have to spend $34 million to explain what the human race has known since our ancestors rose up on two feet in Africa. Women do not have the upper body strength of men, the physical endurance and aerobic lung capacity to serve in the combat arms and especially in the combat arms on prolonged combat operations.

This study, like all common sense was thrown out the window and into the Pentagon dumpster by Ash Carter and Ray Mabus.

Apparently, the study is still in the dumpster.

Some say allow women in the combat arms, but maintain the standards. As you know sir, the standards are never maintained. They can’t be because women aren’t physically the same as men.

Sadly, as we bask in our bountiful, beautiful sensitivity in the new military, our enemies fight and prepare to fight wars the old way, with the roughest, toughest sons of bitches they can find and suit up for battle.

Reality says quite clearly that Jane at five feet two and 100 pounds is going to die very quickly in a slugfest with Ivan standing at six three and weighing in at 220.

Reality says that Jane is not capable of carrying a 140 pounds of ruck, ammo, water and weapons into battle as efficiently as Mohammed can, if Jane is capable of carrying it at all.

Reality says Jane can’t lift and carry a 98 pound, 155mm artillery round.

Reality says that the Hollywood fantasy of the emaciated super model on an all-night commando raid, is just that, a gigantic Pinocchio that has been shoved down the throats of the American people all for the sake of diversity and the craziness known as third wave feminism.

Nine out of ten women in the military have no desire to be within 1000 miles of the combat arms, so why are we hurting women and endangering the nation to placate the fantasies of feminists?

There are hundreds of different military jobs open for women to serve honorably and to climb the career ladder without weakening our force.

A coed combat arms unit is tantamount to bringing a knife to a gunfight.

This year a baby was born on a US ship of war. The crew seemed more concerned about flying in baby food and diapers than about performing their mission on the high seas. This is the height of insanity and the harbinger of future disaster that only fools would believe is workable and normal.

Why are women serving on US ships of war with men? The US Navy has become nothing more than a floating high school.

Sir, people are looking for you to stick the dagger in the heart of the social engineering that has turned the greatest military force on God’s green earth into a Bob Fosse musical with weapons.

When does the Fubar Express stop? Will it be when the bodies of young Americans start showing up in body bags on the 6 O’ Clock news; American kids who died because the combat arms unit they were in was deliberately weakened?

How far does equal opportunity go before it turns into national suicide?

There is no equal opportunity or gender neutrality on a battlefield. In war, the strong survive and the weak and poorly trained are ground to ashes and scattered to the winds.

Sir, what are you planning on telling the parents of American men and women who come home in flag-draped coffins; that, no one in the Pentagon would stop this insanity?

Sooner or later someone is going to have to put national security above political correctness. You, sir, have the power right now to repeal the authorization to allow women in the combat arms and special operations forces.

If nothing is done, the US military is heading for a disaster that is going to be biblical. Next time we’re going to be going up against the Russians, the Chinese or the North Koreans. As brutal as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been, the US military has not fought a foe that has ground, air and sea capabilities since 1953.

All the technology in the world can’t erase the need for combat arms units to seize and hold ground. In war, speed and lethality win the day. Coed combat units lack swiftness, cohesion and the efficiency to put cold steel down range faster and more accurately than the bad guys.

Currently, the forces needed to accomplish that mission are weak, and in the case of the Army’s armor community, practically non-existent.  We have a US Army of Lawrence of Arabia wannabes, obsessed with fighting Middle Eastern insurgencies, who are going to be facing the Third Shock Army with M-16’s and a homophobia power point presentation.

Why are we deliberately handicapping ourselves? It’s the height of folly, the pinnacle of lunacy;  the peak of delusion that allows us to commit national suicide to placate cliques of feminists and LGBT flag bearers in the Pentagon, idiots in Congress and a nation of whining snowflakes.

You were the military’s last hope. I guess now, we have to standby. But, if you do nothing, no doubt, the day of reckoning will arrive, soaked in the blood of American service personnel.

Meanwhile, Task Force Smith II is headed to the sound of the guns.

To quote that immortal sage of wisdom, Harry Callahan, “It’s a hell of price to pay for being stylish.”


Ray Starmann

Editor in Chief, US Defense Watch