“The military community just gets me. It’s like no other. Military spouses have a special bond. You don’t get it unless you’re a part of it.” I’m sure we’ve all heard these statements before, and some of us may have even said them. Yes, the military community is special, but there are other communities out there who do understand us, who do get us, who do have a similar sister/brotherhood.
One of those communities is CrossFit. Yes, please keep reading, I promise this is not all about the workout of the day and how much we can lift. CrossFit has a community; it’s one of the things people like most about it. The CrossFit community and the military community have so much in common that you find a lot of the same people in both. Here are some of the ways they’re the same.
When you show up to a new duty station as a military spouse, you start making friends before the boxes are unpacked. Within the first week, you have a hairdresser, a babysitter, at least one invitation for Thanksgiving, and some emergency contacts. When you walk into a CrossFit gym, you receive a similar welcome. You’ll meet new people immediately, they’ll start asking you questions, figure out what else you have in common, what mutual friends you have and you’ll be part of the group before the workout starts.
2. They show up for each other.
In the military community, we show up for each other day in and day out. Your neighbor will snag your kids off the bus if you’re not home or show up with dinner that night you are going to lose it. CrossFit friends are the same. One CrossFit friend, who works as a labor and delivery nurse, showed up to deliver her fellow athlete’s baby because of the bond they created at the gym. Sounds a lot like that military spouse who drove you to the hospital and held the camera so your spouse could watch the delivery downrange, right?
3. They cheer you on, even when they’re suffering.
There is nothing as heartwarming as watching a military spouse who just sent their spouse off on deployment excitedly holding the hand of their friend who is welcoming their spouse home. Being happy for our friends is what makes friendships rock-solid. In CrossFit, we can do the same. We cheer on new personal bests while we beat ourselves up for not going harder. We celebrate wins as a team, always.
Everyone needs that friend who tells you when you have spinach dip in your teeth, and you’ll find that friend in a CrossFit gym and the military spouse community. The one who texts you at 4:45 a.m. and says they’re picking you up on the way to the gym. It may even be the same one who comes over and sits you down on the couch with your six-month-old while they fold your laundry, so you finally rest. They know what you need, and they make sure you do it.
5. They are truly a family.
From coffee groups to impromptu backyard barbeques, military spouses cling to each other when they live far from family. They put up with the good, the bad, and the screaming toddler while you’re trying to finish book club. CrossFit friends do the same thing. They hold your toddler so you can finish the workout, they tell you when to take a break and rest, they support you in every part of your life. Family comes first, and if you are a military spouse who CrossFits, you have two awesome families.
We see this in CrossFit affiliates and among the top athletes. Just like we see military spouses rally around the brand-new spouse while simultaneously showing up for the seasoned spouse. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen athletes cross goals off their list while competing against each other on an international level. We’ve seen tears of joy and frustration. We’ve seen pranks and fun head-to-head matchups, even one that took place at the US Army Warrior Fitness Center at Fort Knox.
BLUF: Community is everything. Find your people. Hold on tight.
Before he was wielding lightsabers in Star Wars or blowing up Twitter with Marriage Story, Adam Driver was a Marine with 1/1 Weapons Company, 81’s platoon, out in Camp Pendleton, California.
“I joined a few months after September 11, feeling like I think most people in the country did at the time, filled with a sense of patriotism and retribution and the desire to do something,” he stated in his opening remarks.
He joined the Marines and found that he loved it.
“Firing weapons was cool, driving and detonating expensive things was great. But I found I loved the Marine Corps the most for the thing I was looking for the least when I joined, which was the people: these weird dudes — a motley crew of characters from a cross section of the United States — that on the surface I had nothing in common with. And over time, all the political and personal bravado that led me to the military dissolved, and for me, the Marine Corps became synonymous with my friends,” he shared, voicing the brotherhood that many veterans feel while in service.
Then, months before deploying to Iraq, he dislocated his sternum in a mountain-biking accident and was medically separated.
“Those never in the military may find this hard to understand, but being told I wasn’t getting deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan was very devastating for me,” he confessed.
Those of us who wore the uniform but never deployed know exactly what he means.
It’s a different type of survivor’s guilt, a common response to surviving a life-threatening situation. In this case, it’s about not even going into that situation. In the eighteen years since the 9/11 attacks, our military has kept a high deployment tempo. Many of our friends never returned.
And for those of us left behind — whether because our mission was elsewhere in the world or, like Driver, we were medically ineligible for combat — well, it’s a shitty feeling.
“I have a very clear image of leaving the base hospital on a stretcher and my entire platoon is waiting outside to see if I was OK. And then, suddenly, I was a civilian again,” blinked Driver.
“It’s a powerful thing, getting in a room with complete strangers and reminding ourselves of our humanity, and that self-expression is just as valuable a tool as a rifle on your shoulder.” Or a lightsaber at your hip?
“I was surprised by how complex the transition was from military to civilian. And I was relatively healthy; I can’t imagine going through that process on top of a mental or physical injury. But regardless, it was difficult,” he shared, voicing what many veterans have felt after their service.
He struggled with finding a job. “I was an Infantry Marine, where you’re shooting machine guns and firing mortars. There’s not a lot of places you can put those skills in the civilian world,” he joked.
He also struggled with finding meaning in acting school while his friends were serving without him overseas.
“Emotionally, I struggled to find meaning. In the military, everything has meaning. Everything you do is either steeped in tradition or has a practical purpose. You can’t smoke in the field because you don’t want to give away your position. You don’t touch your face — you have to maintain a personal level of health and hygiene. You face this way when “Colors” plays, out of respect for people who went before you. Walk this way, talk this way because of this. Your uniform is maintained to the inch. How diligently you followed those rules spoke volumes about the kind of Marine you were. Your rank said something about your history and the respect you had earned.”
Find out more about how he went from Marine to actor in the video above — and how he has found peace in service after service — in the video above.
Christian Kirk, WR, Cardinals- The Christian Kirk bubble has finally burst. The young receiver exploded this past Sunday, hauling in three touchdowns on the way to ending his TD-drought on the season. Murray is steadily gaining confidence, and Kirk is getting more red zone looks as Fitzgerald looks on nodding proudly and stroking his long white beard. All signs point to massive value for Kirk.
Derrick Henry, RB, Titans- Derrick Henry is currently 5th in the NFL in total rush yards. That’s thanks in major part to his 32 fantasy point performance in a win over the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense is questionable, but what’s not questionable is Henry’s workhorse load, especially with a quarterback like Tannehill, who is green to the offensive system.
Ronald Jones, RB, Bucs- Are the Buccaneers good? Is milk good for you? Who cares! The Bucs have produced two of the best fantasy scoring WRs this year, and now Ronald Jones looks to be a borderline RB1 tier player moving forward. The big upside to Jones as of late is his pass-catching ability—8 receptions for 77 yards.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs- That knee seems to be holding up just fine. Mahomes returned with his superman cape still intact, and although the Chiefs suffered a surprising loss to the Titans, Mahomes continues his dominance as a fantasy stalwart. He even added some razzle-dazzle on a jump pass across the middle of the field for a 63-yard score.
Seeing Cooper Kupp’s stat line from today:pic.twitter.com/qdpzx9MIwi
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings- Diggs just posted his second consecutive sub 5 point fantasy performance. Diggs has always been streaky; the truly concerning reason to be cautious moving forward is the fact that his last two duds came in games where Thielen was sidelined. Even with the lion’s share of targets, Diggs cannot seem to get anything going lately.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams- Congratulations reader! You had as many catches, touchdowns, and fantasy points as Cooper Kupp this week. The Pittsburgh defense (apparently amazing now???) shut Kupp down, and highlighted just how hobbled the Rams offense looks this year with a banged-up Gurley. Goff could not get anything going, and with a tough stretch of good secondaries to come, now may be the time to trade Kupp.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants- Daniel Jones posted a 30+ point fantasy performance Sunday. You’d think then, that Barkley had a major role to play. Somehow that was not the case, as a clearly still slightly injured Barkley toughed it out for a measly 8 fantasy points. Barkley saw a loss of snap counts to Wayne Gallman, further signaling the idea that he was not fully 100%. He has a bye week to rest up, but simply put, he has not come within a mile of his supposed #1 pick value this year.
Odell Beckham Jr, WR, Browns- Christian Kirk entered Sunday’s matchup with 0 touchdowns. When the game ended, he had three times as many touchdowns as OBJ has had on the year. This isn’t for lack of targets, however. Mayfield was practically forcing the ball to OBJ in the red zone, but the two could just not get any kind of offensive rhythm going. Odell may take his talents elsewhere this off-season.
Ryan Tannehill with MAGIC, should’ve been the starter all season long.pic.twitter.com/zGBYv2kpIV
Brian Hill, RB, Falcons- Devonta Freeman suffered a foot injury, and Ito Smith is out as well. That makes Hill the lone figurehead in the backfield of a fairly potent offensive attack. Hill is the #1 waiver wire pickup in a fairly dry point of the season. He’s worth an add.
Jacob Hollister, TE, Seahawks- Hollister filled in nicely for Dissly, as he compiled 14 fantasy points en route to a 49ers upset. Tight ends are slim pickings this year, and with Hollister available on over 50% of leagues, he’s worth a waiver add.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans- Tannehill has filled in for Marcus Mariota guns blazing. He’s stringing together Titan wins, and (mort importantly for fantasy owners) he’s putting up solid numbers. The AM receiver-turned-quarterback product can also get the job done with his legs—boosting his value.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings- Sure, Rudolph has been somewhat of a “bust” this season from a fantasy standpoint. However, a multiple TD game from a tight end simply can’t be overlooked when the outlook is so thin. He hauled in both red zone targets and, while only racking up 14 receiving yards, ended the night with 17 fantasy points. If you’re hurting for a tight end (nice) then give Rudolph a shot.
Marshon Lattimore was having none of it @shonrp2pic.twitter.com/7jXWf9UssZ
Marshon Lattimore is one of the best cover corners in the league. Apparently, he wanted to prove to Julio Jones (and the rest of the league) that he’s a headhunter too. This Sunday, he delivered a textbook hat-on-the-ball-wrap-up that would make your high school DB coach cream his Nike fleece joggers.
A while ago, the Department of Defense issued a statement saying that in order to ensure our military remains at its strongest, any troop that’s been listed as non-deployable for 12 months or more will be removed from service.
On one hand, it’s reasonable to assume that the primary mission of troops is to deploy and engage the enemies of the United States. If a troop isn’t physically up to the task, then it’s time to let them go. And the policy isn’t coming down like an iron fist; there are a number of exceptions in play, including some for those on temporary non-deployable status for reasons like pregnancy or injury.
Now that the policy is in place, however, we’re starting to see how it’s affecting the overall combat readiness of troops. On paper, everything seems fine, but many unintended consequences are now hampering the troops.
If not, many troops will try to fight their way into a Warrior Transition Unit.
Many wounded troops will be unceremoniously given the boot
The exception for wounded troops we mentioned above is only applicable to troops who received injuries in combat. The policy is geared specifically toward sidelining troops who have endured prolonged injuries that have gotten worse over time or were sustained during training. It remains to be seen whether the policy protects troops who were injured outside of combat while deployed.
Since this directive is coming from the Pentagon level and any appeals will be made at the military service-level, expect troops who’ve served their country for years face an extremely uphill battle just to try and stay in. The debatable “positive” side of this is troops who’ve served long enough may be eligible for an early medical retirement.
If the appeals process were to be set at a much lower level, say, the installation level, then troops could present medical documentation in person, giving them a better chance to appeal.
At least the lines at sick call will be shorter…
(U.S. Air Force photo)
More troops will skip medical exams
Put yourself in the perspective of a lower enlisted. As it currently stands, you are seen as either weak or a discredit to your unit if you go to sick call. If your injury or sickness happens to fall anywhere near a unit run/ruck march, it’ll look like malingering. You’ve had bad experiences with the medics/corpsmen at sick call and you weren’t given the proper treatment. Now, to top it all off, if you go to sick call and get some bad news, there’s a chance your career is over.
The intention of the policy is to keep only the able-bodied troops who’re capable of withstand the hardships of a deployment — and that’s understandable — but the only way the Pentagon can keep tabs on who is and who isn’t eligible is through medical records. Troops who know something is wrong with their body will simply avoid sick call or medical if they want to stay in.
In order for this policy to be effective, there has to be better rehabilitation options available to troops. That 12-month deadline can remain in place, but only if the troop has proven that the previous fifty-one weeks weren’t getting them closer to the action.
The VA isn’t as much of a mess as it used to be and hopefully they don’t get complacent.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Sara Francis)
The VA will be even more backlogged
As with any change in policy, it’ll hit hardest at first and then taper off after a while. Currently, there are around 126,000 troops (six percent of all troops currently active, reserves, or guard duty) who face separation under this policy. It will hit the ranks pretty hard at first and then affect only a couple thousand or so per year after the initial impact.
All of these troops leaving the service simultaneously for medical reasons will immediately go to the already-overworked Department of Veteran’s Affairs, who currently serve 9 million veterans across their 1,243 health care facilities. If evenly dispersed, every VA center stands to receive 100 new applicants — but the system works by geographical location, so expect activity at metropolitan centers to surge. This is bad news for a department that currently has a backlog of 326,000 still-pending disability claims to deal with.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has gotten better recently, bringing that backlog down from 800,000 in just six years. The only thing they can do is prepare themselves for a massive surge of new appointments — good luck.
Someone’s gotta take care of things back stateside. That’s not a figure of speech or anything. We seriously need people back here to do the mission while others are deployed.
(Department of Defense photo by David Bedard)
Rear Detachment units will be inoperable
Not every single troop joins and then deploys when a unit heads overseas. Those responsible for staying behind and taking care of the home station are called the Rear Detachment, or Rear-D. These units are skeleton crews that take care of stateside logistics and handle any new and incoming troops that may arrive to the unit. While an entire battalion-sized unit is gone, maybe two platoon’s worth of troops will hold down the fort. Before this new policy, this is where you’d send the medically non-deployable troops, pregnant troops, and any new arrivals.
Under the new policy, a huge chunk of Rear-D troops are facing separation. Before the policy, it would have been easy to find a handful of troops and an E-7 with a bad back to take charge and keep the gears turning.
One of two things will now need to happen instead. Either a deploying unit will need to keep certain troops back home to handle Rear-D (and these troops would’ve otherwise deployed, thus taking able-bodied soldiers out of the fight and negating the intended effect of the policy) or stateside units will need to play a larger role for deployed counterparts, taking away from their current training mission.
But, as with all things, the policy will probably only be in effect for a few years before we realize the mistake and start letting anyone who wants in to join. I’m calling it now.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Philip Speck)
The total number of troops affected will be far greater if the military keeps its path
An estimated 126,000 troops are currently on the chopping block. While we may never cut that many in a given year, there will be many more that are removed in the coming years.
The Army is planning on implementing a new PT test, one that features three events capable of causing injury if done incorrectly. A massive overhaul of Basic Training and Boot Camp is expected, making the experience far more intense, which will result in more injuries. An increased military presence overseas will result in more intense pre-deployment training, which is already resulting in more injuries with each passing year. Combine all of these factors with a civilian population that’s becoming less and less eligible to enlist, and the military is going to be shrinking way too fast.
This isn’t a problem that can be easily fixed. This is the fundamental problem with the Deploy or Get Out policy. The military is going to shrink beyond its already record-low personnel numbers.
With the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon Project, the days of the M4 Carbine and M249 SAW may be numbered. The prototypes from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc., Textron Systems, and Sig Sauer are vying to replace both 5.56mm weapon systems in infantry and close-combat units. All three NGSW candidates utilize a 6.8mm round, though their designs and mechanics vary greatly. While the NGSW Project is a departure from the M4/M16 family, it is certainly not the first time that the Army or military in general has attempted to find a new rifle.
The prototypes for the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon (U.S. Army)
The SPIW on display at the Aberdeen Proving Ground Museum (Public Domain)
1. Special Purpose Individual Weapon
The Special Purpose Individual Weapon was an Army program that began in 1951 to develop a flechette-firing rifle. I know what you’re thinking: the M16 wasn’t even adopted until 1964. So how can the SPIW have been a potential replacement for the M16?
Well, Project SALVO was the Army’s first attempt to create the SPIW with the intent of arming soldiers with a weapon that fired small projectiles in large volumes at a high rate of fire, hence its name. Though flechette rounds were tested, the conclusion of Project SALVO was to adopt the Armalite AR-15 as the M16 rifle. However, research and development of the SPIW continued with Project NIBLICK. Now trying to replace the newly adopted M16, the Project NIBLICK also aimed to develop a grenade launcher to complement the flechette-firing rifle. AAI, Springfield Armory, Winchester Arms, and Harrington Richardson all submitted their own unique entries for the SPIW. T
hough none of the submissions were deemed to be effective combat weapons, the grenade launcher from the AAI design was further developed and was eventually as the M203 40mm grenade launcher.
Top to bottom: AAI, HK, Steyr, and Colt ACR prototypes (Public Domain)
2. Advanced Combat Rifle
Started in 1986, the Advanced Combat Rifle program aimed to replace the M16 with a more accurate rifle. AAI, Colt, HK, Steyr, Ares Inc., and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems all received development contracts, but only the first four companies advanced to the weapon testing phase. The AAI entry utilized a flechette round which, despite the addition of a sound suppressor, created a louder muzzle blast than the M16.
The HK entry was the innovative caseless ammunition G11 which many people will remember from the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. Steyr submitted a flechette-firing bullpup design that bore a superficial resemblance to the AUG. Colt’s ACR prototype was the most conventional, as it was a highly modified version of the existing M16 design with the addition of a new sight, a hydraulic buffer, and a collapsing buttstock. The Colt ACR also utilized an experimental “duplex round”, a single cartridge with two small bullets in it, to increase the rifle’s volume of fire. However, the “duplex rounds” resulted in decreased accuracy at long range, defeating the purpose of the ACR. In the end, none of the ACR prototypes met or even approached the 100% improvement over the M16 that the program aimed for.
A soldier with the XM29 Block 3 prototype (U.S. Army)
3. Objective Individual Combat Weapon/XM29
In the aftermath of the ACR program, the Army started the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program. The central idea of the OICW program was to develop an infantry rifle that allowed the user to engage targets behind hard cover with the use of airburst munitions. This idea was refined to combine the airburst, low-velocity cannon with an assault rifle.
The kinetic rounds of the rifle could engage a target directly and, if the target retreated behind cover, the airburst munition could be employed instead. By the early 2000s, contract winner Heckler Koch had resigned the XM29, which featured a 20mm High Explosive Air Bursting launcher and a short-barrel 5.56x45mm NATO rifle. However, the 20mm HEAB was found to be inadequately lethal and the short barrel of the rifle did not generate enough muzzle velocity to be as effective as a standard infantry rifle. The XM29 was also too large and heavy to be carried by a rifleman on the frontlines. The XM29 was shelved in 2004.
Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Shoomaker, and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston fire the compact variant of the XM8 at Fort Benning, August 2004 (U.S. Army)
Designed by Heckler Koch, the XM8 was an offshoot of the shelved XM29. The grenade launcher part of the project went on to be developed into the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System. The XM8 was a configurable weapon system that allowed the user to set it up as an infantry rifle, a short-barreled personal defense weapon, and even a bipod-equipped support weapon.
The XM8 also featured an integrated sight and IR laser aiming module/illuminator. Over 200 developmental prototypes were delivered to the military. However, testing yielded numerous complaints including the short battery life of the integrated sight and IR module, ergonomic issues, heavy weight, and a hand guard that would melt after firing too many rounds. Following this first phase of testing, the military requested funding for a large field test, which Congress denied. The project was put on hold in April 2005 and formally canceled on October 31 later that year.
Soldiers fire the HK HK416 (U.S. Army)
5. Individual Carbine
The Individual Carbine competition began in 2010 and sought to replace the M4 carbine in the US Army. The Army solicited manufacturers to submit rifles that provided accurate and reliable firepower, could be fired semi or fully-automatic, possessed integrated Picatinny rails, and was fully ambidextrous. Though the competition did not specify a caliber, any submissions not chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO or 7.62x54mm NATO had to be supplied with ammunition by the manufacturer.
Submissions for the competition included Robinson Armament Co.’s XCR, LWRC’s M6A4, Remington’s ACR (not to be confused with the ACR program), FN Herstal’s FN SCAR, Colt’s CM901, Beretta’s ARX-160, Adcor Defense’s A-556, and HK’s HK416, among others. Over the course of testing, some companies backed out after the Army announced that the winner would have to turn over technical data rights to the Army; others dropped out for financial reasons. By Phase II testing, only FN, HK, Remington, Adcor Defense, Beretta, and Colt remained in the running.
Though Phase II was completed, Phase III was halted in 2013 by questions regarding the program’s cost and necessity. With M4A1 carbines set to be purchased through 2018, the Army began to rethink carbine acquisition. On June 13, 2013, the Individual Carbine competition was formally cancelled on the grounds that none of the submissions met the minimum scores to continue to the next phase of the evaluation.
A Marine armed with an M27 IAR covers his team in Afghanistan (U.S. Marine Corps)
6. M27 Infantry Assault Rifle
The Marines pride themselves on their ingenuity. Their ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome us part of what makes them such a lethal fighting force. The Corps demonstrated this ability with their acquisition and fielding of the M27 Infantry Assault Rifle. In 2006, the Marine Corps issued contracts to manufacturers to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon with a more mobile Infantry Assault Rifle. Submissions included IAR variants of the FN SCAR and HK416 as well as the Colt IAR6940. In 2009, the HK416 won the competition and began a five-month final testing period before it was formally designated as the M27 IAR in the summer of 2010.
In May 2011, General James Amos ordered the replacement of the M249 SAW by the M27 IAR and limited fielding began. Though the 30round magazine-fed M27 could not provide the sustained suppressive fire that the belt-fed M249 SAW could, the M27’s increased accuracy and reliability offset the rate of fire. In early 2017, Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller announced that he wanted to equip every 0311 Marine rifleman with the M27 IAR. To meet this demand, the Corps issued a request for 11,000 M27 IARs from HK. Chris Woodburn, deputy of the Maneuver Branch, Fires and Maneuver Integration at Marine Corps Combat Development Command, said, “The new order will replace all M4s in every infantry squad with an M27, except for the squad leader.”
The change would also include Marine infantry training battalions. The deal was finalized in 2018, with the Marines purchasing just over 14,000 M27 IARs. In 2019, the Marine Corps reported that the last of the M27s would be delivered and issued to every infantryman from platoon commander and below by mid-2021. While the M27 will replace the M4 as the standard-issue rifle for the Marine Corps infantry, non-infantry Marines will continue to field the M4 for the foreseeable future. Still, it could be argued that the Marine Corps succeeded in replacing the M4 in a short period of time where the Army failed over a period of decades of programs and competitions. If anything, the NGSW goal of replacing the M4 and M249 with a single weapon system appears to have been lifted from the Marine Corps acquisition and fielding of the M27 IAR.
Only time will tell if the Army will succeed in replacing the M4 through the NGSW Project, or if it be the latest in a long line of failed attempts.
Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, speaks to a crowd of small businesses, venture capitalists, and Airmen during the Inaugural Air Force Pitch Day in Manhattan, New York, March 7, 2019. Air Force Pitch Day is designed as a fast-track program to put companies on one-page contracts and same-day awards with the swipe of a government credit card. The Air Force is partnering with small businesses to help further national security in air, space and cyberspace. (U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO // TECH SGT. ANTHONY NELSON JR.)
Senior U.S. Air Force leaders are embracing and promoting the concept that if their Airmen are not failing, then they are, more than likely, not moving forward.
They believe pushing the envelope is necessary to keep the U.S. Air Force dominant and the occasional failure should be viewed by supervisors not as a negative, but as part of a greater positive.
In this series, we hear senior Air Force leaders give examples of how taking calculated risks and failing throughout their careers taught them valuable lessons, propelled them to future success and made them better leaders.
DR. WILL ROPER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE FOR ACQUISITION, TECHNOLOGY AND LOGISTICS
As the Air Force’s Service Acquisition Executive, Dr. Will Roper oversees Air Force research, development and acquisition activities with a combined annual budget in excess of billion for more than 465 acquisition programs.
He promotes the concept of “Fail Fast, Fail Forward” as a foundational culture shift necessary to keep the U.S. Air Force dominant.
This philosophy is manifested in his promotion of rapid prototyping and funding innovative ideas through Air Force Pitch Day and AFWERX’s Spark Tank.
Roper believes that by spending money to develop fledgling technologies and ideas quickly, and then prototyping them rapidly, flaws are found much earlier in the development process.
This method avoids committing to the huge cost of the much longer traditional system and weapons development and acquisition where flaws are only found years and hundreds of millions of dollars later. Then the Air Force is stuck with that flawed system for decades.
However, in order for “Fail Fast, Fail Forward” to work, Roper believes the Air Force must adjust its attitude towards risk.
He points out that his own success actually points to a persistent flaw in the Air Force’s tolerance for risk – people are only rewarded for taking a risk that pays off. Roper insists that to foster an innovative culture, people must be rewarded for taking a good risk in the first place.
“Why are the people who succeed the only people we cite when we talk about risk taking as a virtue?” Roper said. “I’m trying to be very mindful with Air Force program managers and people taking risk that they get their evaluation and validation for me at the point that they take the risk.”
The ketogenic diet is confusing. That confusion has sparked a growing craze in the diet by all kinds of zealots and gurus that preach the Holy Gospel according to Keto.
Here’s what it was originally intended for.
The classical keto diet is a diet that is 90% fat. This is actually not feasible and not recommended unless you are receiving help from a medical professional. It was used to treat children with epilepsy.
The keto diet that your roommate is doing is probably somewhere around 60-75% fat and has been shown to help fat loss and boost energy levels. Although an analysis of the research has shown no super special metabolic advantage of diets high in fat. It simply tricks you into eating fewer calories, that’s the common factor of all diets that work.
When you eat this much fat and less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body creates an alternative fuel source called ketones.
The whole point of the diet is to get yourself to the point in which your body is running off of ketones rather than glucose, which is its normal form of fuel. This is where the disease-fighting benefits come from and where some claim that the real benefit of the ketogenic diet comes from. But it isn’t easy to get to a state of ketosis. Here’s some guidance to help you actually get there so you can test the suggested benefits for yourself.
Ketosis is like an exclusive hipster nightclub. If you don’t pass the test, you aren’t getting in…
How do you know if you’re running off of ketones for fuel? There are some signs that will help you. These include:
Experiencing the Keto flu
Having bad breath
Being extremely thirsty
But none of those things are a guarantee that your body is in a state of ketosis. You may just be a sick person with bad breath that is constantly neglecting their hydration requirements.
In order to know if you are actually in ketosis, you need to test your blood, urine, or breath with a device that is calibrated to do just that.
Otherwise, you may just be on a low-carb diet and not running on ketones. This would mean that you have little glucose in your system, since you get it from carbs, and you have no ketones in your system. This is a recipe for low performance and low energy.
That’s pretty much it. Most keto diets consist of lots of fatty meat and plenty of butter. Avocados are a staple; if you don’t like them, keto is not for you.
In addition, most keto diets have you eating close to 50 g of carbs a day. These should come from fruits and vegetables, not rice or bread. You need the micronutrients from these foods, or you run the risk of getting weird diseases like scurvy, as if you’re some dirty pirate circa 1632.
Just to hammer home the types of things you shouldn’t be eating on a keto diet, here’s a short list. Be prepared to say goodbye to all the good junk foods…
Basically all snack chips
Large quantities of fruit
Ice cream (unless it is minimally sugared and just high in fat)
Energy drinks with real sugar
To sum everything up, keto may be perfect for you if you:
Want to test your blood or pee on a stick every day
Enjoy counting your macros to ensure you don’t overeat on the wrong things
Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve considered homeschooling your kids, but have never taken the time to give much effort and research to the idea. Well, many schools in the U.S. have closed their doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out!
According to a census done in 2012, approximately 3 percent of U.S. students were being homeschooled. That is roughly 1.5 million students. This number has increased significantly since homeschooling platforms and options have diversified. There are co-ops and multiple curriculums to fit a variety of lifestyles and beliefs.
A new survey found that 11 percent of military families have chosen to homeschool for different reasons. One of the reasons is to give their child stability because they don’t like having to uproot them from learning facilities with every PCS move. It also allows them to have more control over their kids educational process and learning environment.
If you are a newbie and have been pushed into the role of “teacher” because of this pandemic, don’t fret. Here are some PRO tips from actual homeschooling moms that have been in the game for a while.
Keep it simple – Don’t try and print out every curriculum you can find and then stress yourself and your kids out. Let them read to you or practice writing their letters with their finger in a plate of salt (age appropriate of course).
Make a schedule but be flexible – Yes, schedules help with focusing and staying on course, but life happens.
Use what you have – Don’t make it complex. Go through household items to cover a lesson. For example, if you’re covering shapes, have your kids go through the house and find all the spheres that they can. This could include balls, fruit or even toys.
Make it practical – If you’re doing a science lesson, put the book down and go on a nature walk to find things outside that reflect what the lesson is about.
Start early – Everyone has a fresh mind in the morning. Afternoons are a hard time for kids to focus.
Don’t make lessons long – Learning should only be 1-3 hours max per day.
Take multiple breaks – You can stretch out your learning throughout the hours. Don’t try to do it all in one clump of time.
Be patient – Remember you are a parent first and you all need grace while you’re figuring it out
Make it engaging and FUN – This isn’t a classroom. You are in control of the fun meter. Turn it up!
Do what fits your family’s vibe – You have the freedom to tailor your lessons to the way you know your kid learns. Try different approaches until you find one that makes sense for all of you.
Paleo, Ketogenic, and the South Beach diet are a few of the famous plans that countless people from around the nation use to shed those unwanted pounds. Since most troops can’t be nearly as selective with their food choices as civilians can, finding a healthy way to lose body fat before the physical assessment can be rough.
After all, the MREs we scarf down during deployment aren’t exactly low-carb meals.
Today, intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular trends to hit the fitness world. The idea, in brief, is to eat all your meals within a structured time frame and then go several hours without eating a single calorie. IF has been proven to manage two vital chemicals in our body: growth hormones and insulin.
Growth hormones help the body produce lean muscle, burn fat, and reduce the effects of aging. Elevated insulin levels block the benefits of growth hormones and cause weight gain. Yet many people who are on this structured plan may want to see quicker results that will positively benefit the body – that’s the whole point of IF, after all.
So here’s out you can get the most from your structured fasting plan.
Extend the length of your fasting window
Many people will fast for 16 hours a day and only eat their meals within an eight-hour window. However, consider extending the window to 18 to 20 hours if your body will allow it. Many people have a hard time going that long without eating. To combat the hunger, people who intermittent fast regularly drink large amounts of water to fill their stomachs up. This is just a temporary fix. Keep in mind it can sometimes take the body time to adapt to this type of meal plan structure.
The longer our insulin levels remain low, the more our bodies feed off stored energy.
Intense workouts mean we’re burning some serious calories. While you’re already fasting, working out during that window adds to your body’s caloric deficit — which means you’re going to lose even more weight.
However, listen to your body — many people will feel too weak at the gym when they first start using this meal plan.
Lift heavy at the gym
Although fasting will use up the glycogen stored in our muscles on its own, by lifting heavy at the gym, the body turns to other sources of fat storage to restore that glycogen into your muscles.
Eating ice cream will elevate your insulin, but rubbing it on your face is fine.
Avoid foods that spike your insulin
Once your fasting window has closed, and you’ve finally eaten something after several hours of going without food, to keep your insulin levels as low as possible, its recommended you avoid intaking in meals that contain a high amount of carbohydrates and sugar.
Eating clean proteins and healthy fats will raise your insulin levels, but not at the high rate as carbohydrates and sugars do.
When I was a young, motivated recruit at Parris Island, my drill instructor stood behind a stack of foot lockers assembled into a podium. “This is the most important period of instruction of your life,” he said with a thousand-yard stare. What were we talking about?
For an unknown amount of time, we sat there, listening to passionate warnings from our most-feared mentor. He recited romantic tragedies that gave Greek myths a run for their money. Afterwards, he gave the obligatory lesson on the administrative process of enrolling your new family for benefits.
Today, I pass those words of traumatic wisdom onto you, the young, love-struck recruit.
1. Deployments don’t get easier, you get tougher
Marines are tough — and they need an equally tough spouse to weather the storm of deployments. We’re the tip of the spear, and you need to make sure that’s what your spouse bargained for.
Some deployments are shorter than others and they involve varying degrees of danger — but they don’t easier. You need someone that, when the going gets tough, they get tougher. But it’ll always suck.
2. You’re not getting out of work, you’re doing different work
Some troops use their marriage as a way to get out of work, and there’s nothing single troops can do but watch them put on those already-sharp skates and get out of dodge — but it’s not all free time and rainbows on the other side.
I had a master gunnery sergeant who referred to his wife as the ‘sergeant major’ of the house. When you’re single, can you just pack your stuff in your car and hit the road. Married Marines, however, have much more red tape to navigate.
3. You’ll miss being a degenerate
Gone are the days of actionable intel from the Lance Corporal Underground, last-minute trips to a bar crawl, and the spontaneous brawls between Alpha company and Charlie company.
Sure, you might not miss the part where the Big Green Weenie conducts acts of terror. You won’t miss random formations, the duty needing something or drunk people breaking your stuff, but you will miss time with the boys.
4. Everyone knows your secrets
Your spouse needs friends. Naturally, the spouses of your friends are the first round draft picks. They can keep each other informed on what your unit is doing, important dates and if you’re being delayed.
In a way, it’s convenient. Even if you haven’t had the opportunity to speak with your loved one, he or she knows why, and won’t worry. However, that’s not the only thing they’ll talk about. Assume nothing is sacred. Susie and Kelly know your secrets in and out of the bedroom. OPSEC or the whole unit will know your search history, too.
5. Contract marriages are, uh… flimsy
A contract marriage is when two people fall in love — for money. The Big Green Weenie and the law’s blue version will hold hands while they unceremoniously wreck your life. Not only is it illegal to marry someone for the increased pay and benefits, but your spouse will inevitably betray you.
Before your first deployment is over, your house will be sold, your truck will be gone, and they’ll upload a video wearing your favorite shirt that can’t be shown on YouTube.
Humping is a reality for many of us, and I’m not talking about the kind that has a happy ending. In my Marine Corps career, I estimate that I easily hiked 1,000 miles with a full pack — between 50 and 150 lbs. At a minimum speed of 3 miles an hour, that’s over 300 hours of time for the mind to go to dark or funny places.
On a long hump, the mind so often goes dark. I remember envisioning the sweet relief of rolling an ankle so I could ride in the safety vehicle, even picking out the exact rock I was planning to eat shit on.
“That one….seriously, that one. Okay, fine, the next one… Ah, fine, I don’t wanna cause any serious damage. I’ll just take a header into that ditch and cause a concussion instead.”
On my 23rd birthday, I was on an 8-mile movement to a range for a live fire event. It was the second day in a row we were humping, and the entire epidermis of my right foot was already falling off, from the ball of my foot to the start of my heel, from the previous day’s movements. I had spent the previous weekend in Virginia beach drinking homemade Sangria, and the effects were still very much present.
I spent that entire hump in my own head questioning all of my life decisions.
You know he’s thinking about the next ‘Avengers’ movie.
Eventually, I got to the point in my career where I just accepted that I would be walking for the next 8 hours and decided to make it fun. Games I played:
Reliving every fight I’ve ever been in and how I would Jason Bourne my way to victory if it happened again.
During daylight hikes I would make up fake hand and arm signals and try to confuse people who took things too seriously.
I would secretly listen to music on my iPod (I’m old) through a strategically placed earbud. #combathunter
My roommate would use hikes as an opportunity to eat as much as he could; it was one of the few times you had enough “free time” to eat a full meal. The trick would be to figure out a way to use the heater packet while hiking. You need to jam it between your pack and back and focus on walking level, so it doesn’t fall out. Beware of the high potential for second-degree burns.
“Hey! What was the name of the fat guy in The Office?”…
At one point, I wrote a new phonetic alphabet with just profanities. You can imagine what replaced Foxtrot. It was enlightening.
“A cougar is following you.” That’s just a game where you pretend a cougar is going to rip out your jugular as soon as you stop. The trick to this one is to think one step ahead of the mountain cat.
I would replace famous movie characters with my mom and see how the story would play out. It was never as entertaining, but always much more satisfying. If my mom took the place of Frodo in Lord of The Rings the opening scene would have also been the closing scene.
Gandalf shows up at night after dinner. Mom says, “What are you doing here? I’m busy, get out.” He counters “Lisa, you need to take the ring to Mordor to destr–” And, in classic Lisa fashion, she cuts him off mid-sentence with “That’s not my problem, now is it? Take it yourself.”
Humping is a profession nearly as old as prostitution…
Once I matured, I realized the right answer is to become externally motivated. I believe the jobs of the Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant are easier than the rifleman, because you are concerned with your Marines, rather than yourself. When your focus is pointed outward, time flies.
This lesson applies to every kind of difficult situation. Caring for others is one of the most selfish and least selfish things you can do. When it comes to hiking, if you focus externally, you get to push your own ailments aside until you are alone in your room, crying like a big dumb baby.
In the gym, you are forced to confront your demons directly; there are no troops for you to look out for.
But in actuality, everything you do to make yourself better is also making the lives of those around you better. So, in a way, finishing a workout for your spouse or kids is no different than completing a movement for your unit.
Where are you in your hump day progression? Are you living in a world of regret and grief? Are you writing the next great American novel in your head? Or have you reached the point of hiking enlightenment and started checking on your guys and planning for their success when you reach your objective?
There are tons of fitness brands in the health-and-wellness section of the PX that’ll promise to help you build lean muscle — in exchange for a little cash. These nutrition companies plaster pictures of famous athletes that have next-to-zero body fat in order to promote their products and make wild claims just to capture your attention.
We know from scientific research that drinking protein after a workout spikes insulin production within the body. By drinking protein, we help our bodies make a full recovery and, of course, build muscle. The jugs of protein that are sold in the stores can cost anywhere from ten bucks all the way up to 70 smackaroos.
That’s a lot of cash for a bi-product of milk.
To all you service members living in the barracks, doing your best while “ballin’ on a budget,” don’t worry: There’s one inexpensive post-workout supplement that anyone can afford.
That’s right, chocolate milk. No, we’re not playing a cruel joke on you.
Drinking chocolate milk has been proven by scientists to be the best post-workout drink out there. Broken down, what the body needs to make a full recovery is a combination of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and electrolytes.
The majority of all sports drinks contain electrolytes, which helps restore energy. Unfortunately, they’re lacking the protein that human tissue needs.
But, guess what?
Low-fat chocolate milk provides everything your body needs to repair itself after a tough, resistance-based workout, including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins A, B12, and D.
Good luck finding all those ingredients from any of those overpriced jugs of protein you’ll find at your local base exchange.
Military spouses are sharing the impact Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on their professional ambitions and personal lives.
Ginsburg’s husband, Martin, served in the Army Reserve, leading the couple to be stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the 1950s. Her military affiliation and courtroom dissents made her a natural icon to military spouses who say they can relate to the justice’s history of facing — and fighting — barriers.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Martin at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Source: Supreme Court.
Libby Jamison, a Navy spouse of 17 years, currently works in an attorney role for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She enrolled in law school in 2004, shortly after getting married and encountering roadblocks to employment in California.
“I think like a lot of us [military spouses], I had no professional network in San Diego. I didn’t know a single person, so I was just throwing out my resume and hoping someone would bite. … Law school had always been in the back of my mind but I wasn’t sure I could ever pull it off. Since I wasn’t having success getting a job, I decided to take the LSAT and apply to law school,” she said.
Jamison says in law school everyone “knew who the justices were,” but she didn’t make the connection between Ginsburg and the military until a special event that included members, like Jamison, from Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) — an organization that advocates for licensing accommodations for military spouses, including bar membership without additional examination, according to its website.
“MSJDN does a Supreme Court swearing in — a lot of groups do that — where you can take 12 folks and be admitted to the Supreme Court as an attorney. It’s more symbolic because most of us aren’t ever going to argue in front of the Supreme Court,” she explained. “I did that in 2013, and so as part of that I started reading more about the court and the justices, and that’s when I stumbled across the military spouse connection [with Ginsburg].”
That network of “lady lawyers” immediately leaned on each other in the hours after learning the 87-year-old justice had passed away on Sept. 18.
“I think I just yelled out ‘no’ in my apartment and was immediately really sad. And then text messages started pouring in from all my fellow lady lawyers and everyone was just collectively mourning, especially because we have claimed RBG as a military spouse attorney,” Jamison said.
Jamison joins friends at the Supreme Court to pay respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Courtesy photo.
In 1956, Ginsburg was one of only nine women at Harvard Law School. She then tied for top of her class at Columbia Law School three years later. Despite those accomplishments, she was rejected for a clerkship at the Supreme Court because of her gender, according to the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.
Jamison says Ginsburg’s ultimate success with an unconventional path is something spouses can relate to and should embrace.
“I have been thinking about her legacy a lot the last couple of days. At the time, the process was you graduate law school, you become an associate, you work your way up to partner. That was a normal legal career and that’s not what she had. And she talked about that being a strength and how she probably would not have made it to the Supreme Court if she had gone that traditional route. … I think there’s a really big lesson there, especially for military spouses because we all have that non-conventional career path, no matter how hard we try. Maybe you end up on a different path than your peers, but maybe it ends up being a better path,” Jamison said.
The Brooklyn-born justice served more than 27 years on the Supreme Court, leaving a legacy as “a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. stated in a press release.
Josie Beets, Army spouse and former president of MSJDN, says she will remember Ginsburg for positioning herself “not just for equality but for a structural change in the way we take on roles in society.”
“She always said … it’s not about women’s liberation, but it’s about men and women’s liberation and this idea that in some ways men are just as locked into their roles that we as a society frame for them, as women are,” Beets said. “Can we be a society that allows men to be more compassionate and to have more of a role in their family, in their day-to-day lives and also be a society that allows women to excel at work without being the de facto caregiver?”
Beets and her daughter visit a makeshift memorial to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Courtesy photo.
Beets was inspired by her mom to pursue law school and remembers watching Supreme Court hearings as a child.
“My mom went to law school when I was seven and my sister was three. And I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going into the dining room of my grandmother’s house and my mom typing away. … the other piece is I remember watching as a little girl the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and just feeling like they were being so mean to her and that that was unfair. I learned early on the Supreme Court is important, in ways that I can’t fully understand as a 10- or 11-year-old, and that women didn’t always get a fair shake — and I carried that with me,” she said.
Beets describes feeling grief stricken when she learned of Ginsburg’s passing.
“She [Ginsburg] has opened so many doors that were just painted shut. It’s always been our job to walk through them, but we just have to do it with real vigor and intentionality now. And if we don’t take advantage of the lifetime of opportunities that her work gave to us, we’ve missed our chance,” Beets said.
She adds the best way for military spouses to honor Ginsburg’s life is to “bring someone with you.”
“Particularly in the spouse world, whether your primary role is as the at-home caregiver for family or you’re in the working world, bring someone with you. We are in new situations all the time and we are so challenged all the time, make someone’s challenge a little less burdensome and bring them with you — whether that’s to a networking event or just to lunch with a neighbor to introduce a new spouse to a community. Justice Ginsburg never closed the door behind her. She always brought others up with her and we all have the power to do that every day,” Beets said.
Ginsburg’s journey to the highest court isn’t the only thing she is being remembered for. Her decisions from the bench had a profound impact on the lives of spouses like Brian Alvarado, husband of a now-retired sailor.
Alvarado says he began paying attention to Ginsburg as the fight for marriage equality was taking shape.
“Really 2011, 2012 those years when Prop 8 was really affecting our lives — whether or not our marriage was going to be recognized — that’s when I really started to study who’s who,” he said.
Proposition 8, known as Prop 8, was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the 2008 California state election that opposed same-sex marriage, according to Georgetown Law Library. The Alvarados lived in the state at the time.
“When you are in a relationship and you’re not allowed to go about the normal process of growing the relationship, getting engaged, getting married and that whole process — when you have a law in place that dictates that for you, it is a constant thought. It is a constant part of your daily thought process. Imagine that a million times more intense being in a relationship with somebody in the military where there’s already this huge discrimination and generations-long policy and environment where that just wasn’t allowed or wanted in the community,” he said.
Matthew and Brian Alvarado visit the Supreme Court in the days after Ginsburg’s passing. Courtesy photo.
Alvarado described it as feeling like he had no control over his life. Military spouses from same-sex relationships were prevented from moving with their partners, attending command functions or participating in normal volunteer roles.
“Then all of a sudden there is a beacon of hope in a lawsuit or a potential bill or whatever it is that is being presented, you know it’s going to be a long fight but that beacon of hope makes all of that constant anxiety and fear turn right into aggressive positivity,” he said.
The beacon of hope was called Obergefell v. Hodges and it came on June 26, 2015.
“I remember it like it was yesterday. Our phone started going off and the first thing I did was look up the actual written verbiage [of the decision]. I felt like it wasn’t real and I remember in that moment reading and crying and it was like all of those years of weight of being scared of upsetting my husband’s career, afraid of even going onto a military installation … it felt like that light at the end of the tunnel was sitting in my living room,” Alvarado said.
“Nine people sitting in a room hearing opposition and hearing from Jim Obergefell — and then those nine people make a decision, a 5-4 decision, those five people in that moment gave me the right and privilege to live the life that I get to live now. That’s a powerful thing. She [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] changed my life forever.”
Alvarado added that the most effective way that he and others can “continue to bless this country with the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is for everybody to fight and believe in equality for all human beings.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be buried during a private interment service at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a Supreme Court press release.