Longtime Southwest Virginia lawmaker Joe Johnson died Friday following a lifetime of service. He was 90.
The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is the most widely used multiple-aptitude test battery in the world. The ASVAB measures your strengths, weaknesses and potential for future success in four domains: verbal, math, science and technical, and spatial.
The ASVAB includes tests in 10 areas: general science (GS), arithmetic reasoning (AR), word knowledge (WK), paragraph comprehension (PC), mathematics knowledge (MK), electronics information (EI), auto information (AI), shop information (SI), mechanical comprehension (MC) and assembling objects (AO). It provides career information for various civilian and military occupations and is an indicator for success in future endeavors, such as college, vocational school or a military career.
ASVAB test scores are broken down by the individual subtests and their composites. One of the most critical of these scores is the armed forces qualification test, which is used to determine whether you are qualified to join the military service. Each service determines the qualifying AFQT score for enlisting in their service.
The AFQT is comprised of your results in arithmetic reasoning, math knowledge and verbal expression (VE) times two. Your VE score is a combination of your word knowledge and paragraph comprehension scores.
"It's important to know what the minimum scores required in each section are, so you can work on the areas you might need a little help on,'' said Kris Michaelson, director of content for Peterson's Test Prep, a leading test prep provider. "You may ace one section but fail another, and that may limit the career paths the recruiter will consider for you.''
Check out the following AFQT qualifying scores for each branch of service.
In addition, your scores on the other ASVAB composite tests will determine your career field or military occupation eligibility. Since enlistment bonuses usually are tied to your choice of occupations, the better the score, the more opportunities you have. It is impossible, though, to "ace" the ASVAB, so your goal should be simply to do your best.
TIP: Be sure you are ready before you take the ASVAB -- use the Military.com ASVAB practice tests to find the areas you may need help. In addition, you can read about ASVAB study techniques.
There are three distinctly different versions or formats of the ASVAB; the CAT-ASVAB (computer adaptive test), the Military Entrance Test (MET)-site ASVAB and the Student ASVAB. Each ASVAB has different benefits and limitations. Many potential military recruits take the CAT-ASVAB.
We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.
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Military.com | By Tiffini Theisen
The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) is the best opportunity for you to get invaluable experience while still in school. When enrolled in ROTC, you learn and develop leadership skills and prepare for a career in the U.S. military. You will learn firsthand what it takes to lead others, motivate groups and conduct missions.
Through ROTC, you can start a military career in health care, aviation, finance, engineering, chemistry, law enforcement or transportation, just to name a few fields.
Additionally, different branches of the armed forces have their own ROTC programs. That means you can choose the service and career path that appeals to you.
The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Space Force all have ROTC programs.
The military services' ROTC cadets participate in basic military education and officer training, which varies depending on their branch of service, while receiving higher education just like other students on campus.
The Navy's program includes a Navy Nurse Corps Option, as well as a Marine Corps program called the Marine Option NROTC. Those choosing the Marine option have a similar experience as the main NROTC program, with slight differences in course requirements.
Read More: Navy ROTC Marine Corps Option
Air Force ROTC units at colleges and universities are called "detachments."
Students interested in the Space Force would join an Air Force ROTC program and then take steps toward becoming an officer in the U.S. military's existing branch. In 2022, the first cadets to join the Space Force graduated and were commissioned.
Instead of an ROTC program, the Coast Guard offers a scholarship program called the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative. Graduates are guaranteed commission as an officer in exchange for full funding for up to two years of college.
Each branch's ROTC program has its own service obligations.
Students who quit the AFROTC program at the end of their freshman year, even though their first year of college was paid for, incur no military obligation.
"If a student is offered a scholarship while already in college, they are not committed to the Air Force until they accept their scholarship [usually in the fall of their sophomore year]," according to the U.S. Air Force ROTC program website.
Cadets who aren't receiving a scholarship are not committed to joining the Air Force until the beginning of their junior year.
For the Army ROTC, you are obligated to serve only if you receive a college scholarship. You may enroll in the ROTC Basic Course during your first two years of college without receiving a scholarship and without incurring a service obligation.
If you receive a four-year ROTC scholarship in the Army program, you have different options. First, you could serve eight years as an Army officer after you graduate. Second, you could spend four years as an officer and another four years with the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), "where you'll return to civilian life but need to be ready to help in a national emergency," according to the Army.
Or, if you commission into the National Guard/Reserve, you will be obligated to complete six years of "one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer" training.
Midshipmen who receive a Naval ROTC scholarship of any duration have service obligations depending on which program they are enrolled in:
Students enrolled in the Army ROTC program receive training as part of their coursework, and they do not have to attend Basic Combat Training. But they must attend the Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) after graduating. BOLC typically includes a combination of classroom and field training.
ROTC students are college students first. Some universities describe the time commitments of ROTC programs as somewhere between an extracurricular activity and a team sport.
In other words, you're able to live a mostly typical college life -- including taking part in campus activities and organizations -- but with a series of regularly scheduled ROTC activities and responsibilities layered on top.
In a typical ROTC program, you'll take part in physical training one to three times a week, often in the early morning. Alongside the classes you take for your general graduation requirements and your major, you'll be enrolled in military and leadership classes. You'll also have labs and drills to put into practice what you're learning in your military classes. And each program has its own grooming and dress requirements.
Other obligations will be scheduled at different points throughout each semester. These can range from a few days of field training and tactical exercises, reconnaissance mission scenarios, helping with recruiting events and fundraising activities.
During the summers, students go to basic or advanced camp, embark on training cruises, attend field training or other specialized training, and/or take additional courses.
Hazing and disrespectful treatment are not tolerated in ROTC programs.
ROTC obligations tend to be lighter for freshmen and sophomores and increase as students advance through their college careers.
There will also be ROTC clubs you can join, covering a wide range of military Topics such as drill and ceremony, service customs, and tactics and weapons.
Your ROTC program also includes time for fun, relaxation and camaraderie. Program leaders typically plan pizza parties, outings such as sporting events and bowling, and formal events such as balls.
College and university ROTC programs are designed to teach basic military skills and the fundamentals of leadership. You'll also learn the customs and history of your branch.
Typical courses -- depending on branch -- include military operations and tactics, weapons, code of conduct, psychology and human behavior, national security, military justice, intelligence and electronic warfare, ship systems, and seapower and maritime affairs.
Outside of class, labs and drills cover skills such as patrolling missions, marksmanship, assembling and cleaning weapons, navigational tools and tactics, survival, first aid, public speaking, and physical abilities such as swimming, marching, ropes courses and paintball exercises.
An ROTC program teaches invaluable leadership skills. Students learn to manage and motivate people, make quick decisions and promote an environment of teamwork.
Employers find this level of management experience invaluable.
"Many companies actively seek out officers because of their military experience," according to Cornell University's Army ROTC program. "Officers are trained to work well under high-stress situations, making them perfect for the fast-paced workforce. They are used to a regular and demanding workday, meaning they can be relied on to work hard and accomplish their tasks."
Upon completion of your ROTC program, you have various career paths available to you, depending on your branch.
The Air Force ROTC prepares students to become officers in the U.S. Air Force or Space Force while earning a college degree.
Some career options include:
Army ROTC programs train students for a wide variety of positions, including in the areas of maneuver fires and effects, operations support, force sustainment and health services.
There are dozens of possible career options. Just a few examples include:
"ROTC gives you a broad scope of everything the Army is," says Capt. Larry Boggs, who runs the U.S. Army ROTC program at Arkansas Tech University. "The leadership and managerial skills you learn from the Army apply to pretty much any job."
The Navy ROTC program (NROTC) was established to educate and train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Navy Reserve or Marine Corps Reserve.
As the largest single source of Navy and Marine Corps officers, the NROTC Scholarship Program fills a vital need in preparing mature young men and women for leadership and management positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps.
Some career options include:
Read More: Navy ROTC Officer Career Options
Check out the NROTC's site for a full list of requirements for program entrance, SAT/ACT eligibility, specifics on academic/physical/medical, military commitment and more.
Each branch of service has similar requirements in its fitness testing. However, there are some differences between the test required for gaining entrance into the service academies or any branch of ROTC scholarship.
In some cases, the test you must take to get these four-year opportunities of college scholarships for military service is completely different from the fitness test you will take as a cadet or midshipman.
Regardless, one thing holds true. These college scholarships are highly competitive, and there are many variables upon which students will be judged.
Being physically prepared often is overlooked by many applicants. Being an athlete in high school may not prepare you adequately for the requirements of military fitness.
First, you must practice taking the test a few times before taking it officially. Being physically incapable of handling your first several weeks of training, whether at a service academy or an ROTC unit, could prevent you from completing the course or receiving a fully paid scholarship within your ROTC unit.
Read More: What's Included on a Service Academy or ROTC Fitness Test
In most instances, the process will start with an investigation. This investigation likely will be your first and best opportunity to influence whether you will be disenrolled.
Depending on your branch of service, you usually either will have the opportunity to present matters to an investigating officer (IO) or a board of officers. They will make findings and recommendations as to whether the reasons for disenrollment have been proven; whether you should be disenrolled; and, if you are disenrolled, whether you should be ordered to repay all the financial benefits you have received, or be subject to enlistment to repay the debt.
Your job in this process is to question the evidence presented in the disenrollment packet and/or present your own evidence. Depending on the basis for disenrollment, your avenues of defense may be different.
Read More: How to Fight an ROTC Disenrollment
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy, Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 require higher education institutions to provide an annual security report and annual fire safety report that contain crime statistics and fire statistics for the three most recently completed calendar years, institutional policies or procedures for reporting crimes and current policies concerning the security of, and access to, campus facilities and residencies, as well as security considerations in the maintenance of campus facilities.
A print copy of the most latest report is available upon request, email email@example.com.
December 2014, No. 3 Vol. LI, Conference Diplomacy
Established upon the ashes of the Second World War to represent “We the Peoples”, it is not surprising that both peace and security were fundamental objectives for the United Nations. While many also wanted disarmament, countervailing lessons were drawn by some political leaders, which made it difficult to get multilateral agreements on disarmament for several decades. Debates around nuclear weapons epitomized and sharpened the challenges. Academics in the United States of America led in developing theories of deterrence to provide legitimacy for these weapons of mass destruction, which soon became embedded in the military doctrines and political rhetoric of further Governments, from NATO allies to the Eastern bloc and beyond. Deterrence theory sought to invert the normative relationship between peace and disarmament by arguing that nuclear weapons were actually peacekeepers amassed to deter aggressors rather than to fight them. From there it became a short step for some countries—including permanent Members of the Security Council of the United Nations—to promote ideologies that equated security and peace with high “defence” budgets and military-industrial dependence on arms manufacture and trade. This is the backdrop for understanding how the United Nations System and disarmament approaches have intersected since 1945, and the way in which reframing disarmament as a universal humanitarian imperative has opened more productive opportunities for future multilateral disarmament treaties.
The very first resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, in January 1946, addressed the “problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy”. Despite civil society’s efforts, led by scientists and women’s peace organizations, leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union rejected measures to curb nuclear ambitions. As the cold war took hold, the leaders that had emerged “victorious” in 1945 raced each other to manufacture and deploy all kinds of new weapons and war technologies, especially nuclear, chemical and biological weapons (notwithstanding the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in war) and a variety of missiles to deliver them speedily anywhere in the world.
After early efforts to control nuclear developments floundered, it was the upsurge of health and environmental concerns provoked by nuclear testing that led the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Japanese Parliament to call for such explosions to be halted altogether. After an egregiously irresponsible 15 megaton thermonuclear bomb was tested in the Marshall Islands on 1 March 1954, Nehru submitted his proposal for a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to the United Nations Disarmament Commission on 29 July 1954. Since then CTBT has been the centrepiece of disarmament demands from many States, especially the developing countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Intended as a first step towards disarmament, the driving force behind CTBT was concern about the humanitarian impacts. Early attempts at multilateral negotiations through a newly created Ten-Nation Committee on Disarmament made little progress. Although the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom professed their desire for a CTBT, their talks kept stalling. Obstacles from the nuclear laboratories and security advisors were dressed up as verification problems, but they stemmed from these nuclear-armed Governments’ military ambitions and rivalries, and their shared determination to keep their own weapons options open, even as they sought to limit those of others.
From 1959 to 1961, various resolutions were adopted by the General Assembly aimed at preventing the testing, acquisition, use, deployment and proliferation of nuclear weapons. In 1961, for example, General Assembly resolution 1664 (XVI) recognized that “the countries not possessing nuclear weapons have a grave interest, and an important part to fulfil” in halting nuclear tests and achieving nuclear disarmament. General Assembly resolution 1653 (XVI) went further, noting that the targets of nuclear weapons would not just be “enemies” but “peoples of the world not involved in…war”, with devastation that would “exceed even the scope of war and cause indiscriminate suffering and destruction to mankind…contrary to the rules of international law and to the laws of humanity”. And finally, General Assembly resolution 1665 (XVI), unanimously adopted, called on nuclear and non-nuclear weapons possessors to “cooperate” to prevent further acquisition and spread of nuclear weapons. These early resolutions fed into “non-proliferation” talks between the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, viewed as first steps towards disarmament. However, it took the shock of the Cuban Missile Crisis to achieve concrete progress. Deciding not to ban weapons tests conducted underground, American, Soviet and British leaders finally concluded a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1963. This prohibited nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere, underwater and outer space, and paved the way for the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Notwithstanding humanitarian aspirations in the preambles, the limited nature of the prohibitions they contained demonstrated the military interests of the dominant cold war nuclear-armed Governments rather than the objectives of civilians and the majority of non-nuclear States.
The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) was heralded as multilateral, but was largely determined by United States and Soviet interests. Unlike NPT, which, unusually, had designated two classes of treaty parties determined by whether they already possessed nuclear weapons or not, BTWC at least enshrined the same basic prohibitions and obligations on all States parties, including undertakings not to “develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain” such weapons, to “take any necessary measures to prohibit and prevent the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of the agents, toxins, weapons, equipment and means of delivery” and to destroy existing stocks. Characterizing their military use as “repugnant to the conscience of mankind”, the objective of BTWC was to “exclude completely the possibility of bacteriological (biological) agents and toxins being used as weapons”. It was adopted without verification provisions. Having recognized that it was in their own interests to ban bioweapons because of their indiscriminate and uncontrollable global consequences, the super-Powers chose not to allow lengthy multilateral negotiations on verification to delay the adoption of the treaty, which they believed they could monitor through other means. Their security priority was to achieve international legal prohibitions and embed a bioweapons taboo in norms and practice, before it was too late.
Where mutually convenient, the United States and the Soviet Union produced a few bilateral arms limitation agreements which cemented their own strategic relationship but contributed little to disarmament, as both continued to modernize and add to their nuclear arsenals. With the exception of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) treaty dealing with specific types of conventional weapons deemed to be “excessively injurious” and “indiscriminate”, little progress was possible on multilateral disarmament until the cold war ended. The United Nations First Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD I) in 1978 identified key objectives and established the Conference on Disarmament (CD), but had little impact on the military and diplomatic actions of major States. Though billed as multilateral, CD membership was awarded to fewer than 40 States (rising to 60 a few months before CTBT was concluded). Non-members could observe, but in a consensus-based institution, they lacked full participation and rights.
Multilateral disarmament pressure came to the fore in the 1980s. Although the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was negotiated between United States and Soviet diplomats, it was driven and underpinned by inspirational and internationally diverse civil society actions for peace and democracy, including direct pressure on nuclear bases. While it is necessary to oversimplify the causes and consequences in such a short article, the movements that made the INF Treaty possible also paved the way for the ending of the cold war. This in turn gave a new lease of life to CD, enabling it to finalize negotiations on two long-standing disarmament objectives: the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the CTBT. Environmental and humanitarian considerations, as well as security, were driving forces in getting both treaties ratified, and this was reflected in their preambles. Contending demands of eight nuclear-capable States, however, led to an untenably rigid entry into force provision for CTBT that has prevented it from coming into full legal force in the 18 years since its adoption, despite 183 signatures and 162 ratifications—far more than most treaties that are already in force. Hobbled by a rigid consensus rule, endgame conflicts resulted in CD being unable to adopt the finalized treaty. Some States then took the text of CTBT to the General Assembly, where it was overwhelmingly adopted in September 1996, with only three States voting against.
Although this “leapfrog” tactic was controversial at the time, it is now normal for States that have negotiated multilateral treaties to take them to the General Assembly to be adopted and endorsed by the United Nations. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has become the preferred depositary for modern treaties. By contrast, the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were designated depositary States for NPT, reflecting their interests and status as nuclear-armed States.
The last 20 years have seen mixed results for disarmament negotiations at the United Nations. Nationalist tactics and vetoes from a handful of States with high levels of dependency on weapons production and trade have stymied multilateral attempts to strengthen existing treaties such as NPT, BTWC and CCW, and paralyzed CD since 1998. Two highly effective treaties were achieved through humanitarian processes led by cross-regional groups of enlightened Governments in partnership with transnational civil society exerting pressure and providing information and strategies. By reframing prohibition treaty imperatives in humanitarian terms rather than in terms of control and non-proliferation, it became possible to ban anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions through treaties that entered into force in 1999 and 2010, respectively. Meanwhile negotiations under United Nations auspices developed the 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms and the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Drawing on these histories and evaluating the role of the United Nations and the comparative effectiveness of multilateral agreements on disarmament, the treaties with universal humanitarian as well as disarmament objectives have proved more successful in concrete and security terms than partial treaties limited by the military interests of dominant States. Regardless of a treaty’s origins and negotiating process, some Governments will always try to stay outside disarmament agreements. That does not invalidate multilateral disarmament, since hold-out States become increasingly drawn into compliance (whether or not they formally accede) as treaties become embedded and respected in international law.
Treaties that embed disarmament objectives in “universal humanitarian” rather than “partial control ” terms share a number of elements in common:
Looking forward, three humanitarian disarmament objectives are being put on the United Nations agenda: a nuclear ban treaty that would prohibit the use, deployment, production, stockpiling and transfer of nuclear weapons and require their total elimination; a ban on autonomous weapons intended to preventively ban “killer robots” before they are deployed and become unstoppable; and a treaty or protocol to prohibit the military use of highly toxic depleted uranium. Momentum is building to achieve all three treaties. Opposition is limited to a handful of weapons-dependent Governments—the same few in most cases. As some but not all are in the Security Council of the United Nations, they are recognized to be influential—but not decisive, as other successful treaties have demonstrated.
The United Nations was founded for “We the Peoples”. Modern disarmament diplomacy has shown that prohibiting weapons that a few dominating States want to deploy is feasible, as long as the humanitarian arguments are persuasive, the ground is prepared well, and an influential cross section of Governments, humanitarian agencies and civil society actors are willing to move forward, initiate negotiations and achieve effective treaties.
The UN Chronicle is not an official record. It is privileged to host senior United Nations officials as well as distinguished contributors from outside the United Nations system whose views are not necessarily those of the United Nations. Similarly, the boundaries and names shown, and the designations used, in maps or articles do not necessarily imply endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.
The commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is Todd Semonite, a stocky three-star general who recently turned sixty-three. Every workday for the past forty-one years, he has served in uniform. On his left wrist is a FitBit; on his right, the kind of Casio calculator watch that he has worn since he was a teen-ager. In high school, in Vermont, Semonite wasn’t the biggest guy on the football team, but he played varsity center; he told a newspaper that size is “not really a disadvantage if you work hard.” Semonite and his wife, Connie, live in Washington, D.C., at Fort McNair. On weekends, they renovate foreclosed houses and flip them. They have four children, all of them grown; Semonite, a civil engineer, made cradles for his grandchildren in his woodworking shop. “I mass-produced ’em,” he told me, explaining that he would cut the slats and the rockers ahead of time and assemble them once a baby was born.
George Washington created the position of chief engineer at the outset of the Revolutionary War, to oversee the design and construction of military batteries and fortifications. The Corps was formally established in 1802. Combat engineers solve problems through math and physics: they move troops (build the bridge) and protect them from attack (blow up the bridge). The military runs the Corps, but ninety-eight per cent of the agency’s thirty-six thousand employees are civilians: geographers, biologists, ecologists, architects. The magazine Undark recently noted that the Corps, which operates under the Department of Defense, “has its fingers in everything from snowmelt modeling and wetlands plant inventories to research on stealth aircraft.”
The Corps calls itself one of the world’s largest public engineering, design, and construction-management firms. The agency, whose symbol is a castle, built the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, and the Library of Congress. The Corps also manages a vast network of waterways. This time of year—natural-disaster season—there is always a dam to fortify and debris to clear; sandbags don’t stack themselves.
Like many government agencies, the Corps has had notable failures: the levees in New Orleans, which the engineers maintain, broke during Hurricane Katrina. And the Corps has been accused of mismanagement and bloat. In the early two-thousands, critics cited an investigation by the Army’s inspector general, which found that the Corps had manipulated economic data to justify costly projects on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. On “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah called the Corps “the place to go if you want something built—even if no one needs it.”
Semonite has spent most of his career in the Corps, leaving it briefly for a combat tour in Afghanistan: in 2014, he took over a leadership position after Major General Harold Greene, a friend, was killed when an Afghan soldier opened fire at a construction site in Kabul. Semonite supervised the training of the Afghan National Army and worked to prevent corruption by withholding financial aid from government ministries unless they met strict conditions. He once said that he wanted his legacy in Afghanistan to be not “guns and ammo” but “processes and systems.”
Semonite was named chief engineer in 2016, by President Barack Obama. He set out to “revolutionize” Corps operations, imposing, among other things, tighter deadlines on projects. Because Congress funded certain jobs incrementally, work that should be completed in three years could end up taking twelve. Semonite told me he decided that “we can’t afford to have so much different red tape.” He demanded work of “exceptional quality,” produced “on time and on budget.”
Still, in 2017, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the Corps was denounced for being too slow to restore the decimated power grid. Semonite told reporters that the agency was facing a “massive logistics challenge,” including the transport, the installation, and the wiring of sixty-two thousand utility poles, often on mountainous terrain; if moving faster were possible, he added, “we would be doing it.”
These criticisms left Semonite with what a colleague described as something close to “scar tissue.” He thought of the Corps as a “bunch of expeditionary people” singularly capable of solving the “toughest engineering problems.” Semonite’s vision is driven more by what he calls a spirit of “ruthless execution” than by design theory: he will never be caught asking a brick, Louis Kahn-like, “what it wanted to be.” The Corps’s motto is the French term Essayons—“Let us try.” Semonite’s mantra is “Deliver the program.” And so this past spring, when COVID-19 overran the United States, Semonite was determined to provide vital infrastructure quickly. He told me, “America needs a capability to step up when something gets really, really hard.”
On March 13th, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, unlocking billions of dollars in coronavirus aid. Two days later, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, published an open letter to Trump, saying that, without “immediate action, the imminent failure of hospital systems is all but certain.” Seven hundred and twenty-nine New Yorkers had tested positive for COVID-19, three had died, and hospitalizations and intubations were soaring. The state had fifty-three thousand hospital beds in its inventory but expected to need more than twice that number by mid-April. The problem was particularly acute in New York City. Cuomo envisaged “people on gurneys in hallways.”
During a national crisis, Semonite likes to say, the Corps works as “FEMA’s engineer”: FEMA authorizes certain missions and pays at least seventy-five per cent of the expenses. Cuomo, in his letter, asked Trump to send in the Corps to expand hospital-bed space. On Wednesday, March 18th, Semonite flew to Albany, in a small jet belonging to the Pentagon. He was joined by Anthony Travia, a division chief at Huntsville Center, a Corps research-and-engineering hub in Alabama that was initially established during the Cold War, to develop missile-defense technologies. The unit headed by Travia builds military medical facilities. He once worked as the chief engineer of a major Veterans Administration hospital in Chicago, where the staff drilled for scenarios involving Ebola, H1N1, SARS, MERS, natural disasters, and terror attacks. “We were the hospital that stayed open if something horrible happened,” he told me.
Semonite had asked Huntsville Center engineers to draft a plan to “stand up” alternate care facilities as a relief valve for hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus. Colloquially, these were being called “field hospitals,” but this was inaccurate: a hospital offers such specialty services as surgery. Building a hospital takes years. Huntsville Center’s engineers had devised a quicker solution: convert existing structures. At Cuomo’s office, Semonite’s team presented a proposal that had been prepared almost overnight. The engineers asked the Governor to picture a budget hotel—say, a La Quinta Inn—with infrastructure that could be instantly marshalled: electricity, water, ice machines, showers, phones, Wi-Fi, laundry. A nurse-call system could be installed. The front desk could become patient reception. Each guest room could accommodate a patient and equipment, including a ventilator. The carpet would have to go—fabric collects bacteria. The sickest COVID-19 patients require abundant oxygen, which could be delivered via individual cylinders or through a manifold system in which gas is piped to various beds from an exterior tank of liquid oxygen. Rooms could be retrofitted with negative pressure—to control the spread of pathogens—by adjusting H.V.A.C. units and baffling doors. Negative pressure works much like a chimney flue: air is drawn out of a room in a single direction and passes through a heavy-duty filter. When Cuomo asked about staffing and supplies, Semonite explained that the Corps’s job was to produce “the box”—it was then the state or local government’s responsibility to decide how and when to use it.
On Thursday, Corps engineers and New York State officials visited about two dozen potential sites. On Friday, they assessed each venue in detail. The hotel idea was discarded, in part because negotiations over private property can be complicated. (One of the state officials said, “How many La Quintas you think we’ve got in Manhattan?”) The Jacob K. Javits Center, a convention hall overlooking the Hudson, rose to the top of the list: the facility has two million square feet of floor space, and the state owns it.
Cuomo thought of the pandemic as “one of those moments of true crisis and confusion,” like 9/11. Trump had delayed taking federal action, forcing states to compete for ventilators and for personal protective equipment, which wasted crucial time. Two days in a row in March, as the pandemic worsened, the President golfed. (In the U.S., approximately a hundred and forty thousand people have now died of COVID-19.) When Americans’ “whole concept of life and society” was shaken, Cuomo said, they needed “to see government perform at its best.”
The Corps stood up Javits in four days. This was possible, in part, because the military sent medical units—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and lab techs who could attend to hundreds of patients. Truckloads of supplies arrived hourly. Corps engineers were trying to figure out how best to partition Javits’s vast floor space when someone realized that they could erect the portable walls that were ordinarily used in the hall to create ten-by-ten-foot vender booths. Nearly a thousand cots appeared in nearly a thousand cubicles. Once built out, the floor resembled a trade-show arena, except for the privacy curtain across each cubicle’s entrance. Medical personnel arrived from Army bases as far away as Texas. New York National Guard members who days earlier were, say, practicing dentistry in Saratoga Springs coördinated P.P.E. fittings and the assembly of floor lamps.
Initially, the state conceived of an alternate care facility as a place to treat patients who didn’t have the coronavirus, allowing hospitals to focus on COVID-19. But to everyone’s surprise the number of non-COVID hospitalizations plummeted; fewer people were getting shot or being injured in accidents, and many elective surgeries were postponed. Javits ultimately had room for twenty-five hundred patients but sat largely empty, even as city hospitals experienced crushing surges and trailer morgues filled up with the bodies of the dead. In early April, as New York hurtled toward its spring peak, Cuomo switched Javits from “non-COVID” to “COVID” status, calling in the Corps for an immediate upgrade.
The Corps tends to respond to discrete regional disasters whose initial danger quickly passes; the coronavirus, however, could surface anywhere, and all at once. On the flight home from Albany, Semonite had concluded that states other than New York would soon need help, and that the pandemic could last for a year or more. The best way to address such a complicated nationwide problem was with a template simple enough that it could be quickly implemented in a variety of locations. A state needed to be able to pivot, based on how many patients it had and how sick they were. Huntsville Center engineers began thinking about transforming not only hotels and convention centers but also gymnasiums and dorms. During the pandemic of 1918, the Army had converted barracks into hospitals; photographs show sickbeds in packed rows, a dispiriting image that New York officials wanted to avoid. To maintain “battle rhythm” as the planning progressed, Semonite held twice-daily teleconferences, sometimes involving hundreds of people. He demanded “the good-enough solution,” warning engineers, “Don’t make a science project out of it.”
Semonite is known for his ability to succinctly convey complex material using picture-book phrasings like “a lotta, lotta rain” and “super-big sandbags.” In practice, engineers use precise parameters in their work. Amanda Pommerenck, a Corps civil engineer who is a division chief in Huntsville, said that, if someone asks her the size of a window, she takes out a tape measure. Quickly subdividing a wide-open space into individual units suitable for potentially complex patient care and infection control was the kind of challenge that made engineers “see double.” It is “not normal for an organization like ours to churn out” a project based on such an abstract directive, she told me. Yet engineers are also creative. Pommerenck and her husband, also an engineer, “MacGyver a lot of stuff,” she said, adding, “If we don’t have the right tool, we make the right tool.”
Longtime Southwest Virginia lawmaker Joe Johnson died Friday following a lifetime of service. He was 90.
A native of Washington County, Johnson served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1966 to 1970 and then again from 1990 to 2014. Upon his return to politics, Johnson’s lone contested race was for the former 6th District seat in November 1989. After redistricting, he was then unopposed in 11 consecutive elections to represent the 4th District, which includes the town of Abingdon and Washington County. He was an attorney whose practice was based in Abingdon.
“No one in Southwest Virginia shook more hands than former Del. Joe Johnson. Whether you were sitting in a restaurant, walking down the street, or leaving the grocery store–if Joe saw you, you could bet on a firm handshake and friendly smile,” state Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Abingdon, said Friday.
“Along with Del. Will Wampler, R-4th, and the late Sen. Ben Chafin, I had the privilege of following in Joe’s footsteps serving the 4th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Joe served the people of Southwest Virginia honorably and was beloved by the community. He leaves behind a legacy and model of public service marked by kindness, sincerity, and dedication – one which will continue to inspire and challenge our community,” Pillion said.
Virginia Majority Leader Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, said, “I am so sorry for the passing of my friend Del. Joe Johnson. Joe was always there for Southwest Virginia and was the biggest proponent of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. I thank Joe’s family for sharing him with us all these years and for the impact of his life. Prayers.”
House Deputy Majority Leader Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol, served alongside Johnson when he first joined the General Assembly.
“Del. Joe Johnson was one of the kindest people to ever serve in public office. He was an advocate for Southwest Virginia and someone who was universally liked,” O’Quinn said. “We were both proud to be from Hayter’s Gap and always shared stories from the community. It was also one of the highlights of my professional career to serve my first term in the House of Delegates alongside Joe.”
Del. Will Morefield, R-Tazewell, when first elected, also served alongside Johnson.
“I am saddened to hear Del. Johnson has passed away. I had the honor of serving two terms with him,” Morefield said. “His institutional knowledge of the legislature was invaluable. His smile, patience and friendly demeanor is something that we need more of in the politically divided world we live in today. His many years of service to Southwest Virginia will have a lasting impact for decades to come. Southwest Virginia has lost a giant.”
Between stints in the General Assembly, Johnson also served as a substitute judge for the 28th General District Court from 1971 to 1989.
In a 2014 interview with the Herald Courier, Johnson said he was most proud of helping to get the Virginia community college system off the ground – voting for a dedicated one-cent tax increase that funded the project—and helping establish the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.
On Friday, Washington County Administrator Jason Berry directed flags at the county administration building lowered to half-staff.
“He was a true Washington County native who never forgot his roots,” Berry said. “He never forgot the people of Southwest Virginia. He always remembered where he was from and tried to take care of the people of our region. He was a true statesman and one who could work with anybody, no matter your politics. He always tried to do what was in the best interest of this region and the commonwealth.”
A Democrat, Johnson had the reputation of being able to work across the aisle on issues that mattered to his constituents. To that end, 57% of bills he co-patroned were introduced by Republicans and, of all of the co-patrons of his bills, 57% of them were Republicans, according to RichmondSunlight.com.
“I was nominated by the Democrats and ran as a Democrat but when I got to Richmond, I forgot about Democrats and Republicans,” Johnson said in a 2014 interview. “I did my level best to do what I thought my mother would be proud of me doing. I guess I was the least partisan legislator.”
In 2009-10 Johnson and Kilgore were co-patrons on House Bill 27 which allowed for the creation of the BVU Authority.
Johnson was also a longtime member of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission which, among other things, provided college scholarships for students of Southwest Virginia farm families.
Last November, Johnson was among six Washington County military veterans honored during the annual Veteran’s Day ceremony at Abingdon’s Veterans Memorial Park. He served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955, during the Korean War and was stationed for a time in the Marshall Islands for Operation Castle, a series of high-yield nuclear test detonations on remote islands in the central Pacific.
Following his discharge, Johnson returned home and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory & Henry College in 1957 and his law degree from the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law.
He remained involved in his alma mater for decades thereafter.
Johnson served on the college’s Board of Trustees for 14 years, eight of which he was board chair. He was recognized by Emory & Henry with a Charter Day service citation in 2001 and with an honorary degree in 2013. In appreciation for his leadership as chair of the board for the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and for his support of higher education, its Grand Hall is named in his honor.
“The Emory & Henry family mourns the loss of former Del. Joe Johnson, whose lifetime of service to this region, the commonwealth, and to his alma mater has inspired many,” Dr. John W. Wells, Emory & Henry’s president said. “Delegate Johnson worked tirelessly, logging thousands of miles representing us in Richmond for years, and in his trademark way, shaking hands all along the way. Our hearts are heavy at this time, but our thoughts of the many ways in which Joe contributed to the betterment of Southwest Virginia and Emory & Henry shall be long remembered.”
Virginia Highlands Community College President Adam Hutchinson took to Twitter on Friday to pay his respects to Johnson, who he said was “always an advocate for our region and our future.”
“A champion of community college, he generously paid for students to attend VHCC every year. His legacy lives on in the lives of our community,” Hutchinson said.
His wife of 64 years, Mary Allison “Ann” Johnson, died July 19.
“A few years ago, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution in honor of former Del. Johnson. It was a privilege to welcome him back to the Capitol to present this honor where he received a standing ovation on the House floor. He was loved and respected in Richmond as much as he was here at home,” Pillion said. “I have no doubt that Joe is smiling and shaking hands with the angels now.”
Republican senators are dismissing the scathing criticism leveled against President Trump by his former defense secretary, James Mattis, the latest sign that Republicans by and large are showing unwavering support for the leader of their party during this high-stakes election year.
Mattis, who has widespread support among Senate Republicans for his long military service to the country, contended that Trump “does not even pretend to try” to unite the country and is instead engaged in a “deliberate effort” to divide the country, while lacking “mature leadership.”
Mattis excoriated the decision by Trump to hold a photo-op Monday at a church near the White House, saying troops were ordered to “violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens” who were protesting but were cleared out by police with force to make way for the President’s visit.
The criticism, however, was met with a shrug of the shoulders by several senior Republicans on Thursday.
“It’s General Mattis’ opinion, he’s free to express it,” Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told CNN. Asked again if he agreed with any of the criticism, Johnson said: “All I’m going to say about General Mattis is I do respect him. He’s a great American. It’s his opinion to express it.”
Johnson also would not weigh in on how the Monday event took place, contending “I still haven’t seen any footage of how the crowd was cleared out.”
Leaving the floor on Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was silent when asked twice about Mattis’ criticism, returning to his office and ignoring a reporter’s questions.
The reaction reflects how many top Republicans on Capitol Hill have calculated that their fortunes in the 2020 elections rest in large part on Trump’s performance at the polls – and a messy, internecine war with a President with an itchy Twitter finger would amount to a fruitless and damaging endeavor.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said that while Mattis is “an American hero” and has “every right to criticize President Trump,” he said: “I think he’s missing a lot here.”
“It’s just politically fashionable to blame Trump for everything — and I’m not buying it,” Graham told CNN about Mattis’ criticism. “And he jumped into politics — General Mattis did. And I think he’s missing a lot about what’s going on in America politically.”
Graham, though, still questioned the need for Trump to hold the Monday photo-op in front of the church while holding up the Bible. The White House argued Trump was showing strength after a fire was set on the property the night before.
“I never understood,” Graham said about the Monday event. “Going over to visit church is fine. But waving the Bible — I don’t know what that was all about.”
Sen. James Lankford, who was critical of the Monday event after it occurred and then was singled out by Trump on Twitter, seemed to temper his criticism on Thursday, saying “the longer we go on, the more questions there are on how it started out.”
Lankford said that it could have been “reasonable” to use force if the protesters were being violent, citing statements made by the US Park Police, especially since violence occurred the night before.
“We don’t know yet,” Lankford said when asked if force could be justified. “So let’s get the facts out on it.”
Asked about the criticism from Mattis that Trump is purposefully dividing the country, Lankford said: “What’s interesting is when I go back 10 years, that was the same criticism I was hearing about President Obama at this time — that they were saying he was dividing the country.”
Sen. John Kennedy also urged the President to “ignore the criticism in politics” when asked about the Mattis comments.
“I don’t know that him saying this is especially helpful to the various crises that we’re going through right now,” Kennedy told reporters Thursday when asked about the former defense secretary. “But if he feels the need to express himself he can.”
BTS poses at the carpet during arrivals ahead of iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert at The Forum, in Inglewood, California, US on Dec. 3, 2021. (Reuters-Yonhap)
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said during a parliamentary session on Monday that he is considering a series of options for alternative military service for BTS, such as providing them time to prepare for performances and allowing them to hold overseas concerts.
“(The BTS members) should come to the military, and I believe there will be a way for us to provide them the opportunity to practice as well as allow them to leave the country and perform anytime if they have overseas concerts scheduled,” South Korean Defense Minister Lee said in response to a lawmaker’s question about whether BTS should be given the chance to continue to perform for the national interest, during a general meeting of the National Defense Committee at the National Assembly.
“Many people do think highly of military service itself, and I think (BTS members enlisting) can actually help them with their popularity,” Lee said.
Military Manpower Administration Commissioner Lee Ki-sik also said the administration is reviewing “various aspects” of the idea of granting military service exemption.
“We are reviewing (the matter) within the overall framework of alternative service,” Lee said.
In South Korea, nearly all able-bodied men in their 20s are obliged to serve in the military for about 18 months. There is an exemption and alternative service system for athletes and artists recognized to have promoted national prestige, such as winning designated international awards or national contests.
All of the band members must fulfill their mandatory two-year military service, with the oldest, Jin, obliged to enlist by the end of this year.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)