3 myths about the new military retirement system - We Are The Mighty
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3 myths about the new military retirement system

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Veronica Ballek, wife of Col. Michael Ballek, pins a retirement pin on her husband during his retirement ceremony at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, June 2, 2015. | US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse


You’ve probably heard that currently serving military members and their families soon will have to choose whether to switch to the new military retirement system or stick with the old one.

But retirement options and savings choices can be confusing. How can troops know which to pick?

Also read: Pentagon considers lifetime access to Exchange system for vets

Military leaders want families who are thinking through the choice to be armed with as much information as possible, said Lt. Col. Steven Hanson, who heads the Army‘s compensation and entitlements office.

He discussed three military retirement myths at a recent Association of the United States Army conference.

Myth 1: You’ll be forced into the new military retirement system.

That’s false, Hanson said.

Everyone who joins the military after Jan. 1, 2018, will be a part of the new system whether they like it or not. But those who are currently serving at that time will have to make a choice: Keep the old system or opt into the new one.

“One of the big misconceptions about this is that people will be forced into the new system and that is simply not the case,” he said. “Nobody will be moved into the blended system unless they actively choose to do so.”‘

The current retirement program is based on a pension system. Under that plan, if a military member serves 20 years, is medically retired or is forced out and qualifies for early retirement, he’ll be able to walk away with a pension based off his rank at retirement.

But most troops don’t retire out of the military — they simply leave the service. And thanks to the way the current system is set up, that means they walk away empty-handed.

That’s a problem the new “blended” retirement system is designed to fix. Instead of retirement or nothing, it gives service members a savings that is closer to what’s used by employers in the civilian sector.

Under it, troops can contribute money to their Thrift Savings Plans (TSP), and the Defense Department will match it up to a certain percent, much like a 401(k) plan. Even if a service member opts to put nothing in his TSP, the DoD will still contribute an amount equal to one percent of his base pay to the account each month.

And service members who stay in long enough to become retirees will still get a version of the pension system in the new military retirement plan as well, although payments will be based on a lower amount than they are today.

Myth 2: It’s easy to tell which plan you should use.

False. While it would be nice to know if the new system is the right choice for you simply based on how many years you’ve been in, that’s not the case. Whether the new system is right for any given service member is going to be based on a whole slew of information specific to that person and his or her family, Hanson said.

“There’s no cookie-cutter answer. Every service member is going to have different circumstances,” he said. “Everyone should do what’s best for their personal circumstances.”

Myth 3: You’re going to have to figure out which plan is best for you on your own.

Mostly false. While the final choice ultimately will be up to each individual service member, the law that required the retirement plan change also requires the Defense Department to provide a lot of education about what the change means — and how service members can pick which plan is right for them.

“We need to make sure that they have the tools, the skills and the knowledge to make an informed decision,” Hanson said. “We are putting together a training and education plan to make sure service members understand the old system versus the new system so they can make an informed choice.”

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Trump promises to fix a VA in ‘very sad shape’

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the American Legion National Convention, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati. | American Legion photo


Donald Trump became the second presidential nominee in two days to quote Ronald Reagan, promising “peace through strength” if he were to win the presidency.

The Republican presidential nominee addressed a crowd of thousands of veterans at the American Legion National Convention here on Thursday, speaking a day after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Also read: Clinton invokes role advising Bin Laden raid in speech to veterans

He told the crowd he planned to negotiate a system for the Veterans Affairs Department that would allow veterans to receive health care in a VA facility or at a private doctor of their choice.

Trump also reiterated his plan to aggressively promote “Americanism,” saying he would make sure American students recited the pledge of allegiance.

Clinton invoked Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” in her Wednesday address, promising to defend American exceptionalism. Trump continued the theme, saying he would enlist the American Legion’s help in promoting American values.

“We will stop apologizing for America and we will start celebrating America,” he said. “We will be united by our common culture, values and principles, becoming one American nation. One country under one constitution, saluting one American flag.”

Trump’s speech, which at 15 minutes was about half as long as Clinton’s, limited discussion of veterans’ policy to his plan to reform the VA.

While VA Secretary Robert McDonald told the American Legion on Wednesday that the department hoped to turn a corner in organizational reform this year, Trump said it was in “very sad shape,” adding that he had spoken with a number of veterans who had received unsatisfactory care.

Trump said he plans to carry out his VA overhaul by appointing a new secretary and firing anyone who failed to meet standards.

“I’m going to use every lawful authority to remove anyone who fails our veterans and breaches the public trust,” he said.

Trump also said he would make sure female veterans got the best possible access to medical care.

“We’re going to get you fantastic service. It’s going to happen, believe me,” he said. “Never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care.”

The Republican candidate, who on the previous day delivered a speech in Mexico promising to crack down on illegal immigration, drew applause when he reiterated promises to defend American borders.

In what appeared to be a pivot from 2015 comments in which he made disparaging many Mexican immigrants as drug smugglers and criminals, Trump praised Mexican Americans for their service in the U.S. military.

“I just came back from a wonderful meeting with the president of Mexico where I expressed my deep respect for the people of his country and for the tremendous contribution of Mexican Americans in our country,” he said. “Many are in our armed services. You know how good they are. I want to thank him for his gracious hospitality and express my belief that we can work together and accomplish great things for both our countries.”

Trump also received applause when he promised to stop Syrian refugees, many of whom he has characterized as terrorists and extremists, from entering the United States, citing plans to build a safe zone overseas to house them.

“Our country has enough problems,” he said.

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

President Barack Obama transits aboard Air Force One through the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., April 2, 2015. Obama was in town to discuss job training and economic growth during a visit to Indatus, a Louisville-based technology company that focuses on cloud-based applications.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Maj. Dale Greer/USAF

Crew chiefs prepare a B-1B Lancer on Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar, for combat operations against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, April 8, 2015. Al Udeid is a strategic coalition air base in Qatar that supports over 90 combat and support aircraft and houses more than 5,000 military personnel.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Senior Airman James Richardson/USAF

NAVY

The guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) moors between two buoys in Port Victoria, Seychelles. Oscar Austin is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Ensign Kirsten Krock/USN

CARIBBEAN SEA (April 15, 2015) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter attached to the Sea Knights of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 22 provides search and rescue support during a search and rescue exercise conducted by the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) during Continuing Promise 2015.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kameren Guy Hodnett/USN

ARMY

A Paratrooper from the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division provides security while mounted on a camouflaged Lightweight Tactical All Terrain Vehicle during Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, April 14, 2015.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Sgt. Flor Gonzalez/US Army

Engineers, from 2nd Cavalry Regiment, conduct a platoon breach at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, April 13, 2015, as part of Exercise Saber Junction 15. Saber Junction 15 is a multinational training exercise which builds and maintains partnership and interoperability within NATO.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Maj. Neil Penttila/US Army

MARINE CORPS

LISBON, Portugal – U.S. Marines with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa post security during an assault training exercise near Lisbon, Portugal, April 10, 2015. Marines stationed out of Moron Air Base, Spain, traveled to Portugal to utilize a variety of different ranges and training exercises alongside with the Portuguese Marines.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Lance Cpl. Christopher Mendoza/USMC

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY , N.C. – Naval aviators with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 shoot flares from an EA-6B Prowler during routine training above Eastern North Carolina, April 14, 2015. VMAQT-1 student pilots and electronics countermeasures officers train to perform dynamic maneuvers while focusing on communication and radar jamming.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: Cpl. Grace L. Waladkewics/USMC

COAST GUARD

A helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen stands at the ready on the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Resolute.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: USCG

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Senecastands watch over Lower Manhattan in New York City with One World Trade Center in the background.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Photo: USCG

NOW: 9 reasons candidates are disqualified from military service

OR: Watch Shepherds of Helmand:

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Ukraine’s special guests at its independence day parade probably gave Putin the vapors

Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day from the former Soviet Union on August 24 with a military parade through central Kiev.


Not only was Defense Secretary James Mattis in attendance, along with eight other foreign defense ministers, but about 230 troops from the US and seven other NATO countries also marched alongside Ukrainian soldiers.

It was the first time US soldiers ever participated in Ukraine’s Independence Day parade.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team march alongside Ukrainian troops and other NATO allies and partners during a parade in Kyiv, Ukraine on Aug. 24, 2017. Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones.

“We are honored to be here marching alongside other countries showing our support in Ukraine,” 1st Sgt. Clifton Fulkerson said.

As US troops marched down the street, a wave of cheers and applause reportedly went through the crowd of Ukrainians on hand.

But not everyone was thrilled with NATO’s involvement.

“That kind of parade is not a celebration of independence, but rather a show of dependence on the US and NATO,” a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician, Vladimir Oleinik, told Russian media outlet Sputnik, which the Russian Embassy in Canada tweeted.

“In the reverse, it would be difficult to imagine Poroshenko coming to celebrate the 4th of July in Washington while Ukrainian troops marched in Washington.”

Two other Russian state owned media outlets, Russia Times and TASS, also uploaded videos headlining NATO’s involvement in the parade.

The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, commander for the 7th Army Training Command, reviews engineering plans for the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, Near Yavoriv, Ukraine, with IPSC Commander Ukrainian army Col. Igor Slisarchuk, ISPC commander (left). Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones.

After the parade, Mattis met with Poroshenko to discuss the possibility of supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons, such as the Javelin.

“Have no doubt the United States also stands with Ukraine in all things,” Mattis told reporters while standing next to Poroshenko after they met. “We support you in the face of threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to international law and the international order writ large.”

“We do not, and we will not, accept Russia’s seizure of the Crimea. And despite Russia’s denials, we know they are seeking to redraw international borders by force, undermining the sovereign and free nations of Europe.”

3 myths about the new military retirement system
KyivPost photo by Mikhail Palinchak. Defense Secretary James Mattis (left) and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

While he acknowledged that the US just recently approved giving Kiev $175 million worth of military equipment, he stopped short of saying whether the US would supply Kiev with $50 million worth of anti-tank missile systems.

“I prefer not to answer that right now,” Mattis said, adding that the proposal is under review.

Supplying Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other defensive weapons has been a controversial proposition. Former President Obama did not support such a move, arguing that it would provoke Russia. France, Germany, and some analysts have expressed the same concerns.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Army photo by Spc. Patrick Kirby, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

Many Russian politicians and officials have also spoken out against the plan.

But Mattis appeared to slightly give away his own take. “Defensive weapons are not provocative unless you’re an aggressor,” he said at the press conference, “and clearly, Ukraine is not an aggressor, since it’s their own territory where the fighting is happening.”

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5 other battles that kicked off the war in the Pacific

When the Japanese attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they did so in a coordinated effort that spanned across the Pacific.


Having been weakened by sanctions imposed by the United States, the Japanese sought to deliver a crushing blow to the U.S. and its allies, claiming much of the territory in the East and leaving little means for resistance.

These are the five battles that occurred simultaneously (though on December 8 because they were across the international date line) as the attack on Pearl Harbor, effectively beginning the war in the Pacific:

3 myths about the new military retirement system
The Americans would not recapture the island until 1944. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

1. Battle of Guam

Along with the air attacks at Pearl Harbor the Japanese also began air raids against the island of Guam on the morning of December 8, 1941. Two days later an oversized Japanese invasion force landed on the island. After quickly defeating the local Insular Guard force, the Japanese moved on to the under-strength Marine Corps detachment led by Lt. Col. William MacNulty. After a brief resistance, the Marines were ordered to surrender by the islands governor. However, six men from the U.S. Navy fled into the jungle in hopes of evading capture. Five were eventually captured and executed but one, George Ray Tweed, managed to hold out with the help of the local Chamorro tribe for over two and a half years until U.S. forces retook the island in 1944. To the locals he represented the hope of an American return to the island. When the Americans returned he was able to signal a nearby destroyer and pass on valuable targeting information.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Most of the F4F Wildcats defending Wake Island were lost in the initial attack. The remaining would also fall to the Japanese, but not before sinking the Kisaragi battleship. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

2. Battle of Wake Island

When the Japanese first launched their air attacks on Wake Island, they caught the U.S. off guard and managed to destroy precious aircraft on the ground. However, when the Japanese invasion came on Dec. 11, 1941, the Americans were ready and threw back the initial Japanese landing attempt. The Japanese proceeded to lay siege to the island. Aerial bombardment continued but Wake Island became a bright spot in the Pacific as American forces were pushed back elsewhere. The media dubbed it the “Alamo of the Pacific.” Eventually, on Dec. 23, 1941, the Japanese launched another assault on the island. Again the defenders put up a staunch resistance. With no more flyable planes, the Marine aviators — as well as civilians trapped on the island — joined in the fight. Capt. Henry Elrod would become the first Marine aviator to earn the Medal of Honor for his actions there. Despite the intrepid defense, the island was surrendered. The defenders joined the others across the Pacific in their brutal treatment by the Japanese.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Prisoners on the march from Bataan to the prison camp. None would survive the war. (U.S. National Archives)

3. Battle of the Philippines

When the first Japanese forces hit the islands north of Luzon, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, brought out of retirement for just such an occasion, had over 31,000 American and Philippine troops under his command. These forces put up a determined resistance throughout December, but on Christmas Eve MacArthur called for a fighting withdrawal to the Bataan Peninsula. Once his forces were consolidated on Bataan and the harbor islands of Manila Bay, they dug in to make a final stand against the Japanese onslaught. For several months they held out until shortages of all necessary war supplies dwindled.

The survivors were rounded up and subjected to the brutal Bataan Death March on their way to POW Camps. A lucky few were able to withdraw to Corregidor. A defensive force centered on the 4th Marine Regiment and, augmented by numerous artillery units numbering 11,000 men, prepared to defend Corregidor from the Japanese. That attack came on May 5, 1942. The next day Gen. Wainwright, in the face of overwhelming odds and no prospects of relief, decided to surrender the American forces in the Philippines.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Japanese fire artillery at the British colony of Hong Kong. (Photo: Veterans of Foreign Wars)

4. Battle of Hong Kong

The Americans were not the only targets of the Japanese and so at 8:00 a.m. local time, Japanese forces from mainland China attacked the British Commonwealth forces defending Hong Kong. British, Canadian, and Indian troops manned defensive positions but were woefully undermanned.

Initial attempts to stop the Japanese at the Gin Drinker’s Line, a defensive line to the north of Hong Kong island, were unsuccessful due to a lack of manpower. The defenders also lacked the experience of the Japanese troops that were attacking. Within three days, the defenders had withdrawn from the mainland portion of the colony and set up defenses on the island of Hong Kong.

The Japanese quickly followed and, after British refusal to surrender, attacked across Victoria Harbor on Dec. 19. Less than a week later, on Christmas day 1941, the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese. The survivors endured numerous atrocities at the hands of the Japanese.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
One of Singapore’s 15 inch coastal defence guns elevated for firing. The guns were supplied with armor-piercing shells instead of high explosive ones, and were therefore not very effective against the invading infantry. (Photo: United Kingdom)

5. Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore

Another British target of the Japanese was Singapore for its important strategic location and because it was a strong base for British resistance. In order to capture Singapore, the Japanese launched the Malayan Campaign on Dec. 8, 1941. On the first day of the campaign the Japanese also launched the first aerial bombardment against Singapore.

In an attempt to intercept the Japanese invasion force, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft. This left very little in the means of naval power for the British fleet in Singapore.

On land the Commonwealth forces fared no better. The Japanese stormed down the peninsula, forcing the defenders back towards Singapore. By the end of January 1942 the entire peninsula had fallen and the British set in to defend Singapore. The Japanese launched their assault on Singapore on Feb. 8, 1942. Some 85,000 troops stood ready to defend the city but could only hold out for a week before capitulating. This ended British resistance in the Pacific area.

The British lost nearly 140,000 men — the vast majority of whom were captured — in the campaign. As with the fighting elsewhere, the campaign was marked by Japanese cruelty.

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President Trump might want to look at these 5 examples before he bombs the sh– out of ISIS

With the surprising (to some) victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, one issue that will come into sharp focus is how he will handle the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorist group.


Also read: Here’s who Trump may pick to lead the Pentagon’s nearly 3 million military and civilian personnel

During the campaign, he promised to “bomb the sh– out of” ISIS. Realistically, with the militants hiding among civilians in densely populated cities in the Middle East, a “bomb the sh– out of” them campaign would be a tough sell. So maybe it’s a good idea to see what similar air wars are in the historical playbook to get an idea of the cost.

1. Dresden

This is the crowning masterpiece of the career of Sir Arthur Harris. In mid-February 1945, four massive raids with 722 Royal Air Force bombers and 527 more from the United States Army Air Force (which also contributed over 750 P-51 Mustang fighters) delivered almost 4,000 tons of bombs on target.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
Dresden was firebombed for several nights, killing an estimated 130,000 Germans. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

For the loss of eight planes, over 200 factories were damaged. Not a bad ratio, except of course the fact that over 100,000 civilians were estimated to have been killed in the days-long fire bombing.

Kinda why the Air Force developed precision bombing.

2. Tokyo

The B-29 bombing offensive against Japan had not been entirely effective using daylight attacks from high altitude. That was when Gen. Curtis LeMay decided to change the game. Instead of high-altitude bombing during the day, he sent 334 B-29s against Tokyo on the night of March 9, 1945. He wanted to fly along with the raid, but since he had first-hand knowledge of top-secret military code-breaking efforts, the risk of his capture was too high and he was grounded.

Of the planes sent, 27 were lost due to enemy action.

But once again, 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped, annihilating 16-square miles of the city costing an estimated 130,000 lives. Emperor Hirohito toured the city in the aftermath of the raid, he began to work to get Japan out of the war.

3. Hanoi

With the Paris Peace talks stalled over ending the Vietnam conflict, President Richard Nixon acted decisively. For nearly two weeks in late December 1972, 207 B-52 Stratofortresses, along with hundreds of other planes, launched a massive aerial assault on Hanoi. Dubbed the “Christmas Bombing,” over that 11-day period, over 15,000 tons of bombs were dropped by the BUFFs, with the tactical aircraft dropping more. In all, 16 B-52s and 12 other planes were lost.

3 myths about the new military retirement system
B-52 Stratofortress bombers dropped more than 15,000 tons of ordnance on Hanoi during the Christmas bombing campaign. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The North Vietnamese ultimately resumed negotiations, and the Paris Peace Accords were signed on Jan. 27, 1973. Some reports indicate nearly 1,000 Vietnamese were killed during the raids.

4. Iraq

During Operation Desert Storm, the B-52Gs sent to targets over Iraq and Kuwait delivered up to 40 percent of the wartime bombing tonnage. Most of their operations involved carpet-bombing the Republican Guard and other Iraqi ground forces. Joe Baugher noted that in 1,620 sorties, one B-52G was lost due to an electrical failure on Feb. 3, 1991, and three others suffered combat damage.

5. War on Terror

The current bomber force may have drawn down, but in the 1990s, the B-52, B-1B Lancer, and B-2 Spirit were all equipped to handle precision-guided munitions. Today, they have been delivering lots of bombs on various terror groups, including al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban.

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Airman steps up to help the families of San Bernardino shooting victims

3 myths about the new military retirement system
(Photo: U.S. Air Force)


On December 2, 2015 Air Force Captain Costas Dracopoulous was on leave in Kyoto, Japan when he got word of the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. The news got his attention, not just due to the scale of the tragedy, but because San Bernardino is his home town.

And it was even more personal than he originally thought.  When he logged on Facebook he saw messages that a friend of his was among the victims of the shooting.  The friend was also a father of six.

Dracopoulous, who’s currently serving as the flight safety officer for the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron, wanted to do something for his friend’s children along with all the other children left without parents as a result of the senseless tragedy.  After consulting with a chaplain and the Red Cross, he decided the best way to help from afar was to hold a toy drive back at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

While most servicemen overseas are usually the recipients of care packages from home, Dracopoulous was asking the 961st squadron to help pack one going the other way, and a pretty big one at that.

His fellow airmen answered the call. Within a matter of days, they rounded up over 50 toys for the victim’s children. Before shipping, he coordinated with the local police and mayor’s office of San Bernardino to ensure the items would be delivered to the right homes.

“He is an amazing warrior. ” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kyle Anderson, 961st AACS commander. “He has the idea and ideals to push forward and take care of the folks that the tragedy affected.”

“I’m ecstatic that our 961st family supported him, and it also bodes well for the squadron for one of our own to put on an event like that,” Anderson said. “We live in a small world and it shows how a tragedy stateside can affect service members over here.”

In a letter expressing gratitude to Dracopoulous and his squadron, Carey Davis – mayor of San Bernadino wrote the following:

I am proud of the united manner by which our nation has responded to the tragic events that forever impacted several lives. Your willing and generous response to the crisis and your selflessness are greatly appreciated. Thank you for going out of your way and facilitating the process between my staff and your squadron. San Bernardino is fortunate to have the support of individuals like you and your base. Once again, please accept my sincere and personal thanks. Your generosity and your willingness to give have significantly impacted the morale of our staff and community.
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The CIA just declassified these 11 Russian jokes about the Soviet Union

In January 2017, the CIA release a large number of newly-declassified documents about information collected on the Soviet Union. One of those documents included two pages of Russian jokes about the Soviet Union.


Headed “Soviet Jokes for the DDCI” (Deputy Director of Central Intelligence), the jokes make reference to Mikhail Gorbachev, so they date from at least as late as the 1980s. The jokes are surprisingly directed at all Soviet leaders, from Lenin to Brezhnev.

It’s good to know there were chances for levity behind the Iron Curtain. One thing’s for sure, people didn’t love Communism as much as the Russians led us to believe.

3 myths about the new military retirement system

A worker standing in a liquor line says, “I have had enough, save my place, I am going to shoot Gorbachev.” Two hours later he returns to claim his place in line. His friends ask, “Did you get him?” “No,” he replied. “The line there was even longer than the line here.”
Q: What’s the difference between Gorbachev and Dubcek*?

A: Nothing, but Gorbachev doesn’t know it yet.

*(Alexander Dubcek led the Czech resistance to the Warsaw Pact during the Prague Spring of 1968, but was forced to resign)
Sentence from a schoolboy’s weekly composition class essay: “My cat just had seven kittens. They are all communists.” Sentence from the same boy’s composition the following week: “My cat’s seven kittens are all capitalists.” Teacher reminds the boy that the previous week he had said the kittens were communists. “But now they’ve opened their eyes,” replies the child.

3 myths about the new military retirement system

A Chukchi (a tribe of Eskimo-like people on Russia’s northwest coast) is asked what he would do if the Soviet borders were opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he replies. Asked why, he responds: “So I wouldn’t get trampled in the stampede out!” Then he is asked what he would do if the U.S. border is opened. “I’d climb the highest tree,” he says, “so I can see the first person crazy enough to come here.”
A joke heard in Arkhangelsk has it that someone happened to call the KGB headquarters just after a major fire. “We cannot do anything. The KGB has just burned down!” he was told. Five minutes later, he called back and was told again the KGB had burned. When he called a third time, the telephone operator recognized his voice and asked “why do you keep calling back? I just told you the KGB has burned down.” “I know,” the man said. “I just like to hear it.”
A train bearing Stalin, Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev stops suddenly when the tracks run out. Each leader applies his own, unique solution. Lenin gathers workers and peasants from miles around and exhorts them to build more track. Stalin shoots the train crew when the train still doesn’t move. Khrushchev rehabilitates the dead crew and orders the tracks behind the train ripped up and relaid in front. Brezhnev pulls down the curtains and rocks back and forth, pretending the train is moving. And Gorbachev calls a rally in front of the locomotive, where he leads a chant: “No tracks! No tracks! No tracks!”

3 myths about the new military retirement system
You try finding photos of Russians laughing.

Ivanov: Give me an example of perestroika*.

Sidorov: (Thinks) How about menopause?

* The literal meaning of perestroika is “restructuring” – usually referring to economic liberalization by Gorbachev.
An old lady goes to the Gorispolkom* with a question, but by the time she gets to the official’s office she has forgotten the purpose of her visit. “Was it about your pension?” the official asks. “No, I get 20 Rubles a month, that’s fine,” she replies. “About your apartment?” “No, I live with three people in one room of a communal apartment, I’m fine,” she replies. She suddenly remembers: “Who invented Communism? –– the Communists or scientists?” The official responds proudly, “Why the Communists of course!” “That’s what I thought,” the babushka** says. “If the scientists had invented it, they would have tested it first on dogs!”
* Gorispolkom is the local political authority of a Soviet city.

** A babushka is another term for older woman or grandmother.

An American tells a Russian that the United States is so free he can stand in front of the White House and yell “To hell with Ronald Reagan.” The Russian replies: “That’s nothing. I can stand in front of the Kremlin and yell, ‘to hell with Ronald Reagan’ too.”
A man goes into a shop and asks “You don’t have any meat?” “No,” replies the sales lady. “We don’t have any fish. It’s the store across the street that doesn’t have any meat.”
A man is driving with his wife and small child. A militiaman pulls them over and makes the man take a breathalyzer test. “See,” the militiaman says, “you’re drunk.” The man protests that the breathalyzer must be broken and invites the cop to test his wife. She also registers as drunk. Exasperated, the man invites the cop to test his child. When the child registers drunk as well, the cop shrugs and says “Yes, perhaps it is broken,” and sends them on their way. Out of earshot the man tells his wife, “See, I told you is wouldn’t hurt to give the kid five grams of vodka.”
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The 10 best military movies to watch on Netflix this month

There’s aren’t many military-themed new releases for December, so take a dive deep into the Netflix catalog for some fascinating catalog titles.


1. The Longest Day

Producer Darryl F. Zanuck was determined that his movie was going to be the definitive movie about D-Day and it probably was before the release of “Saving Private Ryan.” While “Ryan” focused on the personal stories of men on the ground, “The Longest Day” aims to tell the WHOLE story. There’s a massive cast that includes Henry Fonda, Sean Connery, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Gert Fröbe, Eddie Albert and Curd Jürgens. If you’re under 40, you might wonder how anyone could watch a 3-hour movie with so much talking, but “The Longest Day” is the greatest generation’s most ambitious tribute to itself. (1962)

2. Kagemusha

“Kagemusha” (a/k/a “Shadow Lord”) was a worldwide success for Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in 1980. It won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for Best Foreign film, but it’s of interest here for its epic battle scenes. The plot revolves around a street criminal hired to imitate a medieval war lord and fool enemies in battle. If you can deal with subtitles, this movie features staggering swordplay. (1980)

3. Von Ryan’s Express

Frank Sinatra (and his hairpiece) were almost 50 years old when he played a World War II Army Air Corps pilot shot down over Italy. He ends in a POW camp with a bunch of Brits and takes over as their commanding officer, because he’s a colonel. And American, full of American leadership. After the Italians surrender, the newly-freed POWs are chased by the Germans. The good guys highjack a train and try to escape to Switzerland. There are heroics and some heroic deaths. Are there better WWII movies? Sure, but the Chairman is determined to prove he can carry a war movie by himself and he’s always fun to watch when he’s angry. (1965)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxCHiZ-UxOI

4. The Enemy Below

Film noir star Dick Powell tried to make a move into the director’s chair in the late ’50s, but it was bad luck that his first gig was “The Conqueror” starring John Wayne. Early scenes from that (terrible) movie were shot in Utan downwind from nuclear bomb test sites and almost half of the cast developed cancer over the next twenty years and Powell was gone by 1963. The only other movie he directed was this WWII “KILLER-SUB versus SUB KILLER” movie starring Robert Mitchum as a Naval reserve captain hunting a German U-boat commanded by a Curd Jürgens. We’re supposed to feel sympathy for the German because he’s not enamored of his Nazi leaders, so this one’s about the mutual respect that warriors feel in battle. It’s surprising to see Hollywood moving on from Evil Nazis so soon after the conflict ended. (1957)

5. Last Days in Vietnam

This PBS documentary details the American withdrawal from Saigon in April 1975. As the North Vietnamese army closed in, the U.S. military had to evacuate 5,000 Americans and made efforts to rescue a large number of Vietnamese who had supported the U.S. during the war. (2014)

6. Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino’s alternate history of World War II stars Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, who leads a squad of Nazi hunters who successfully carry out a plan to assassinate Hitler and his top brass in a movie theater. It’s profane and funny: Tarantino is more interested in paying tribute to the low-rent drive-in war movies he saw as a kid than exploring the history of WWII. (2009)

7. Black Hawk Down

Ridley Scott’s drama is based on a real-life 1993 raid in Somalia to capture faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The 75th Rangers and Delta Force go in and things quickly go south, the troops face down enemy forces in a brutal battle and 19 men (and over 1,000 Somali citizens) are killed before the mission is complete. Scott brings a compelling visual style to the material and the cast features a host of young actors who went on to great success, including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana. Sam Shepherd and Tom Sizemore also play key old-guy roles. (2001)

8. Hell is for Heroes

Steve McQueen gets to work the moody anti-hero magic in a World War II flick directed by Don Siegel of “Dirty Harry” fame. Pop singer Bobby Darin and Bob Newhart round out a cast that also features tough guys Fess Parker and James Coburn. Sticklers for accuracy will be quick to notice where the production cut corners and McQueen’s struggles with a balky M3 in the final reel. Still, it’s all about his performance and he’s fantastic. The whole think clocks in at 90 minutes, so you’re not committing your entire night to the experience. (1962)

9. Bravo Two Zero

Former SAS commander Andy McNab is sort of the UK version Chris Kyle. He’s had a successful career writing military thrillers. Sean Bean plays McNab in this 2-hour BBC TV film detailing an SAS mission McNab led to capture Iraqi SCUD missile launchers aimed at Israel during the first Gulf War. There aren’t many movies about that conflict and this one serves as a reminder that we’ve been fighting alongside the Brits in almost every war for the last 100 years.(1999)

10. The Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story

This PBS documentary begins with Navy frogmen in World War II and does a fascinating job of detailing the evolving mission and eventual official creation of the SEAL units. There are extensive interviews with the men who served and a lot of filmed footage you haven’t seen endlessly recycled on those History and Military (sorry, “American Heroes”) channel programs. (2014)

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The 5 coolest things in the Army’s massive treasure room

With 240 years of history, the U.S. Army has been around the block a few times. Artifacts from its history are put up in museums around the country, but a surprising number of awesome artifacts are kept in storage at a facility in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Here are five of the coolest things tucked away in the U.S. Army Museum Support Center.


(The Army is attempting to build a museum to display many of the artifacts in their collection. To see how to support its construction, check out the museum website. You can also find information on their Facebook.)

1. Badass weapons from history

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Photos: Youtube

The firearm collection in the Museum Support Center features weapons used since the start of the American Army. In addition to weapons carried by the average soldier, they have weapons that belonged to historic figures such as the sidearm carried by Maj. Walter Reed, the Army doctor credited with defeating yellow fever.

2. Original artwork by Norman Rockwell

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Photo: Youtube

The center is filled with awesome artwork commissioned by the Army, but the crown jewel of the 16,000 works of art is this painting by Norman Rockwell depicting a machine gunner firing into the night. Two other Norman Rockwell paintings are also in the collection.

3. Paintings from active duty soldiers

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Photos: US Army

Famous civilians aren’t the only artists represented in the collections. Since World War I, the Army has maintained an art program in every major conflict. Now, artists in residency usually work in studios at the Museum Support Center in tours of duty two-three year long. They create original artwork that captures the emotion of the Army at war.

4. Uniform items from the Revolution to today

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Photo: US Army Museum Support Center

Carefully preserved in a series of shelves, gear and uniform items from the last 150 years are stored in the collection. This drum and hat were worn by Buffalo Soldiers in the Civil War. Gen. William Westmoreland’s uniform is in the collection as well. They even have a powder horn from 1775 that belonged to a Minute Man.

5. Captured enemy artwork and propaganda

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Photo: Youtube

Some of the most stunning displays in the collection were captured during war. This depiction of Hitler was bayoneted by the soldier who found it. America has 436 artifacts taken from Nazi Germany under the peace treaty as part of an effort to ensure the Nazi Party never rose again.

To learn more about the collection, check out the video below.

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You’re gonna want to ride this Hellhound

When the Army asked industry about three years ago if they could come up with a new, lightweight scout vehicle that could move in and out of enemy territory quickly but carry a deadly bite if backed into a corner, several companies answered the call.


But one of the most badass options offered up to Army commanders was the Northrop Grumman Hellhound.

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It’s like a dune buggy and a Humvee met and had a baby. (Photo from Northtrop Grumman)

Just looking at the thing makes you say “hooah,” and it was the star of the show at this year’s Association of the U.S. Army convention in Washington.

With a top speed of 70 mph and a crew compartment that fits six fully-equipped soldiers, the Hellhound is still small enough to fit in the belly of a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter. The vehicle is designed with enough power and room inside the crew compartment to accommodate a remote control weapon system and a host of high-tech defense and protective equipment, the company says.

It’s like a dune buggy and a Humvee met and had a baby.

“The high performance, highly mobile Hellhound is designed to allow users to easily gain access to highly restrictive terrain and capable of operating worldwide on primary and secondary roads, as well as trails and cross country in weather extremes,” the company says. “The Hellhound also introduces the capability of providing expeditionary power generation as well as an unparalleled capacity for powering on-board equipment.”

The Hellhound features a roof-mounted M230LF 30mm cannon, and designers also showed off a high-energy laser equipped one on the AUSA show floor. The cannon stows inside the vehicle for transport and the suspension can be lowered and raised based on terrain.

It is unclear whether the Army will ever buy the Hellhound, but clearly the company has pushed the envelope for all-terrain capabilities with a heck of a ballistic punch.

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This is how the USS Arizona memorial made Elvis the King

In the early hours of Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, killing 2,403 service members and launching President Roosevelt’s decision to enter World War II.


Although the event was catastrophic, only two ships were beyond repair — USS Oklahoma and Arizona. The Oklahoma was eventually refloated to the surface, but the battle damage was too overwhelming to repair and return to service.

However, the USS Arizona took four devastating direct hits from 800kg bombs dropped from high altitude Japanese planes. One of the bombs ripped into the Arizona’s starboard deck and detonated. The explosion collapsed the ship’s forecastle decks, causing the conning tower to fall thirty feet into the hull.

Related: This American admiral planned the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1932

Talks of constructing a permanent memorial started as early as 1943, but it wasn’t until several years later that the effort would take shape. After the creation of Pacific War Memorial Commission, plans of how to commemorate the ship’s memory began rolling in.

Admiral Arthur Radford ordered a flag to be installed on the wreck site and have a colors ceremony conducted every day.

In 1950, requests for additional funds were denied by the government, as their top priority was to focus on the war efforts in Korea.

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USS Arizona after being struck by Japanese in Pearl Harbor.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower inked Public Law 85-344 allowing the PWMC to raise $500,000 for the memorial construction. But after two years of fundraising, only $155,000 in total proceeds had been collected — they needed a lot of help.

Little did they know, they were about to get it.

Tom Parker read about the PWMC’s struggling endeavor and came up with a genius plan. Parker just happened to be Elvis Presley’s manager and was looking for ways to get his client back on top after being drafted by the Army in 1957 — Elvis was discharged from service in 1960.

Reportedly, Parker approached Elvis to perform at a benefit to help boost the memorial campaign — and his music and acting careers.

Elvis, who was not only patriotic but loved the idea of performing for a cause, agreed to help with the campaign. The PWMC agreed to Parker’s plan, and a performance date was set — March 25, 1961.

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The flyer for Elvis’ fundraising performance.

Also Read: 5 times the US was attacked at home during WWII (besides Pearl Harbor)

Although the performance brought in $60,000 in revenue, the campaign was still well short of its goal. But from the publicity of Elvis’ show, donations from outside sources rolled in, and the PWMC finally raise the $500,000 they needed.

On May 30, 1962, the USS Arizona Memorial officially opened thanks to Elvis and the PWMC.

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10 awesome military movies on Netflix you might be blocked from viewing while deployed

Netflix subscribers on a trip outside the U.S. are sometimes surprised to find their accounts are blocked while overseas, primarily due to licensing issues. Some content is only licensed to the streaming service for viewers inside the United States (or is restricted in certain countries). And, by the way, Netflix is known to add users who circumvent the site’s security to blacklists.


In 2015, Netflix announced it would block Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which allow viewers from overseas to view the site and its contents as if they were in the United States. This week, the site announced it would start a heavy crackdown on those users.  Here are a few of the military/war movies those subscribers won’t be able to watch:

Restrepo

This is Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s war documentary masterpiece featuring the U.S. Army’s Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. The film (and the outpost defended in the film) is named after Pvt. 1st. Class Juan Sebastián Restrepo, a medic killed earlier in the deployment. Four years later, Junger would make another film, Korengal, which would pick up where Restrepo left off. Korengal is also on Netflix.

Top Gun

Here’s a military movie that requires no introduction and no explanation outside of a volleyball scene. This is a flick that probably guaranteed the Navy wouldn’t have to put any money into recruiting pilots for the rest of eternity. If the United States ever falls as a civilization, archeologists in future millennia are going to wonder where they can sign up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAfbp3YX9F0

The Civil War

The documentary series and style that allowed Ken Burns to turn a blowup and motion effect into a career is on Netflix in its’ entirety. Also on the streaming service is Burns’ epic-scaled but fairly “meh” World War II documentary in the same vein, called The War.

Comedy Warriors

Five wounded post-9/11 veterans have the opportunity to explore their experiences through humor. The film follows them and their work with professional comedians Zach Galifianakis, Lewis Black, Bob Saget, and B.J. Novak, who help them write and perform their own personal stand-up routines. One vet refers to the Iraq War as “a pretty aggressive study abroad program.”

Cartel Land

This is a film about vigilante groups fighting drug cartels in the Mexican Drug Wars. The most shocking part of Cartel Land is that its a documentary, and you can see the characters and events unfold as they did in the real world. It garnered a 94% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently nominated for an Academy Award. It will also probably inspire Bundy clan copycats to take to the Arizona desert to “help” the U.S. Border Patrol keep ‘Murica free of invaders.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkYBbBK0qoM

Forrest Gump

No one really needs an introduction to Forrest Gump. People still quote this movie to death in lame jokes and it’s now more than a decade old. It makes this list because of Gump’s Army service in Vietnam and Gary Sinise’s epic portrayal of Lieutenant Dan Taylor.

The Unknown Known

How do you feel about former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld? Master documentarian Errol Morris’s 2014 film will either infuriate you or soften your feelings toward the lifelong government official with the most punchable face.

Beasts of No Nation

Netflix made a foray into conflict films this year with its critical hit Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba as a warlord recruiting child soldiers to fight in a civil war in Liberia. The government of a West African country falls as the warlords forces attack a village under international protection. A young boy named Agu flees after his father is shot and is captured by the NDF rebel guerillas. Do not watch this film with kids, teenagers, anyone with emotions, or anyone who expects to not be traumatized.

Team America: World Police

Few movies are as epic as Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America. If you’re a post-9/11 military veteran and haven’t seen this film, you must have been in such a secret squirrel MOS that the military kept you under a rock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWZAXhcLWXc

Ravenous

Less of a military movie and more of a horror movie in a military setting, Ravenous feature Guy Pearce visiting a remote U.S. Army outpost in post-Civil War California, a base full of the worst Blue Falcons of all time. Also featuring the worst trailer ever made for a decent film. Seriously, it looks like a fan trailer.

Bonus: TV Shows

Army Wives

Perfect viewing for anyone who ever wanted to pretend Catherine Bell was like the typical military spouse. I think the Army missed an opportunity here. There was never a better recruiting tool.

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M*A*S*H

This is what we who grew up watching this show always hoped a real deployment would be like. If U.S. troops were allowed to build liquor distilleries in their barracks, we’d all become amateur engineers. Sadly, deployments are nothing like this

3 myths about the new military retirement system

Archer

Five seasons of everyone who matters’ favorite secret agent for hire lives on Netflix, with the sixth season coming (phrasing!).

3 myths about the new military retirement system

Related: 5 real-world covert operations in FX’s “Archer”