5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates - We Are The Mighty
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5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

Chances are, if you’re using your GI Bill benefits, you’ve probably been in the military for at least a couple of years. That means that you’re somewhere between a bit and a whole lot older than your college classmates. Either way, you’re likely to find that there can be an uncomfortable barrier that exists within the classroom.

Even if don’t plan on running for student government or spending your weekends popping keg stands, a few friendly interactions with classmates can help you avoid four years of silently trudging in and out of class. Here are five tips during your military-to-civilian transition that you might find helpful to bridge the gap if you are going to college after the military


1. Be nice

This one might seem obvious, but it sometimes can be important to remember that “nice” is relative. Military social etiquette can be a bit, let’s call it “unfiltered,” than civilians are used to. You may find that banter with your peers where boots are threatened to be lodged in certain places may not go over quite as well in an academic setting. If possible, avoid referring to them with pet names such as “Freshman Shmuckatelli.”

One area where veterans excel in the classroom is with their ability to interact with an instructor when there is an area of confusion. An 18-year-old freshman might be unwilling to speak up and ask about an error on a syllabus, but keen veterans like yourself know unsat when you see it, and aren’t afraid to point it out. A good way to get on your classmates’ good side is to mediate any sources of confusion with the instructor, and share it with the class.

2. They may seem scary, but they’re probably as afraid of you as you are of them

You’ve completed basic training. You’ve braved the rigors of deployments and workups and KP duty. You’ve battled service bureaucracy and come out more-or-less intact. You can deal with young adults!

Remember, for most college students, their experience with the military is confined to watching Full Metal Jacket or Rambo. For many of them, the military is a scary world, with nothing other than gritty combat and Gunnery Sgt. Hartman shouting hurtful-yet-humorous insults while conducting open ranks inspections. Approach your younger classmates like you would a deer (outside of hunting season). Use slow movements. Nothing too scary. If you want to feed them, avoid grains and grasses. Pizza or a burrito is the smart play here.

3. Get smart about new slang, and use it sparingly

The goal here is to understand what the heck they are saying, not to emulate it. Remember when you were young and an older person tried to be “hip” by saying something was “groovy,” “gnarly” or “totally tubular?” Chances are, you will sound the same way. Perhaps kids today are nowhere near as “x-treme” as you may have been in the past, but it’s probably better if you don’t let them know that.

4. Don’t expect your classmates to respect your old rank, or even have any idea what it means

Sorry to say, master chief, if you tell your classmates your military rank, they are guaranteed to reply “just like Halo!” They have no idea what that means. This really isn’t as bad as it might seem. Remember how, once you woke up from the post-bootcamp haze, you realized that the work a service member does is only occasionally tied to the rank they wear? I’ll bet you’ve encountered lower enlisted members who worked miracles and higher-ranking NCOs and officers who could barely tie their shoes. In the civilian world, that means that if you can describe the work you did in the military, it goes a lot farther than explaining rank anyway. If you treated soldiers in the field, or got to steer an aircraft carrier, that means way more to a civilian than saying you were a specialist or a seaman.

Also, never tell them you were a seaman. They are 100 percent guaranteed to laugh. Heck, you probably still laugh about it too.

5. You have different life experiences, and that’s OK

Even if you’ve separated from military service in your early 20s, you are likely going to find that your experience is different from the college seniors who are around your own age. This is normal. You’ve done something far different than they have with the last few years of your life. There is no reason that you can’t have a fulfilling social experience. Maybe you’ll even learn something.

Are you ready to go back to school?

Check out our new School Matchmaker – tell us what you’re looking for in post-military education and we’ll match you with a Military Friendly® School that exceeds your expectations.

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These were the US military’s Cold War black ops nuclear hit squads

You’ve probably heard of the term “backpack nuke” before — perhaps in the context of a video game like Call of Duty, or an action-packed television show like “24.”


But what you may or may not have realized is that backpack nukes are the farthest thing from fiction, and from the 1950s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1989, they sat ready to be deployed by America’s black-ops nuclear hit squads — dubbed “Green Light Teams” — should the unthinkable happen and the Cold War turn hot.

Only members of the US military’s elite were selected to join GLTs, where they would be stationed near Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe, inside South Korea, and even near Iran in the late 1970s.

Navy SEALs, Force Reconnaissance Marines, Army Special Forces and more were all among the top recruits for the GLT program. If a candidate’s application to the GLT program was successful, they were sworn to secrecy, unable to tell even their own spouses of their mission. Had the Soviet Union heard of the existence of these teams, it would have likely created a similar program of its own as a counter, removing all value of possessing GLTs.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
A test detonation of a W54 warhead (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

These operatives were trained in local languages and dialects, and told to dress like ordinary citizens, allowing them to blend in without anybody the wiser. The vast majority of their training, however, came in the form of instruction on how to use backpack nukes at the Atomic Demolitions Munitions School at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.

There, GLT selectees were taught how to detonate nuclear weapons, and how to bury them or disguise them so that these weapons wouldn’t be discovered and defused before they could do their job.

The weapon of choice for each GLT was the B-54 Special Atomic Demolition Munition. The warhead used in each SADM was taken from a US Army program dubbed the “Davy Crockett Weapon System.” The Crockett was actually a recoilless rifle-fired projectile tipped with a W54 nuclear warhead with a yield of 10-20 tons of TNT.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Officials analyze a W54 warhead used in both the Davy Crockett system and the SADM backpack nuke (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

The W54 was modified to detonate with a yield of anywhere between 10 tons of TNT to 1 kiloton, though in testing, it was proven to be able to achieve over 6 kilotons. Weighing just 51 pounds when nestled inside the SADM, it could be hefted onto an operative’s back and carried for long distances almost inconspicuously.

Should the combat environment or the mission change, GLTs could also parachute or swim their SADMs into enemy territory without fears of the backpack nuke prematurely blowing up. And when the nukes were in their detonation zones, they could be disguised as anything.

Citizens of Eastern Europe or North Korea could potentially walk by beer kegs, trash cans, or even mailboxes without being any the wiser that a primed SADM sat in side, ready to unleash unholy hell upon them. Operatives were also trained to bury their backpack nukes as deep as 9 ft underground to make them undiscoverable.

SADMs could be placed near lakes or rivers to create artificial dams as obstacles for advancing Soviet forces, or in cities,

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
An SADM on display at the National Atomic Museum (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Though the SADM came with a timing mechanism to allow for a delayed detonation sequence so operatives could escape the region, GLT operatives knew that should they be called into action, they were essentially running a suicide mission. They would still have to protect the device from being detected by enemy forces, and that would necessarily involve the GLT staying nearby, armed with submachine guns, grenades and pistols.

The US military was able to keep the existence of its GLTs a closely-guarded secret until near the end of the Cold War, when their mission was somewhat accidentally disclosed to the public. Upon finding out that a number of GLTs were positioned in West Germany, local officials immediately asked the US government to remove all SADMs from German sovereign territory.

By 1989, the SADMs were retired altogether and permanently deactivated, never having been used in combat. All active GLT operatives were brought in from the cold and returned to the US, and just a few short years later, the fall of the Soviet Union signaled the end of the Cold War – thankfully, with nary a nuke being detonated in anger by either side.

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7 whacky life lessons we learned from ‘Team America’

In 2004, the creator’s of the animated “South Park” show Matt Stone and Trey Parker made audiences break out in laughter when they produced a satire film about an elite counter-terrorism team of marionettes that was tasked with saving the world from corrupt leader Kim Jong-il.


In the laugh-out-loud comedy “Team America: World Police” With the help of a newly recruited Broadway actor, Gary Johnston, the team will travel the world attempting to stop terrorists from destroying many innocent countries with their WMDs.

Although this film is fiction (believe it or not), it raises many solid points on how our world is run.

Related: 8 life lessons from ‘Major Payne’

Check out our whacky list of valuable lessons we learned from watching those life-like puppets on a string.

1. The best time and place to propose marriage is right after a firefight

There’s nothing more romantic than a couple in love that enjoys killing terrorists together.

The proposal.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
How many karats do you think that diamond weights? (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

The reaction and acceptance.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Love is precious, isn’t it? (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

2. Spying is really acting

This whole time we’ve been fighting the war on terror, the CIA should have just sent a member of SAG-AFTRA behind enemy lines to resolve the entire conflict.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
It’s not the worse idea ever… okay, maybe it is. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

3. Tell a woman what she needs to hear

And nothing more if you’re trying to hook up with her.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
(Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

And he seals the deal!

We can’t show what happens next, but use your dark military humor to figure it out.

4. Even North Korean dictators get ronery from time to time

Kim Jong-il has some vocal pipes on him.

5. We shouldn’t always rely on computers

After Team America is temporary defeated, the world’s greatest computer “I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.” had one job: decoding and analyzing what the terrorists were going to do next. It failed us when we needed it the most.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
G*ddammit! (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Also Read: 6 pearls of wisdom we learned from War Daddy in ‘Fury’

6. When you want someone to take you seriously

Give them this look.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
When people whip out their serious face, they mean business. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

7. If you need to become bigger, faster, and stronger in a short amount of time…

We’re going to need a montage.

(zxxz996, YouTube)Can you think of any others? Comment below.
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Hilarious Russian soldier proves that their chow halls suck too

A Russian soldier has reached across the Atlantic and shown that federation troops aren’t that different from their American counterparts — or at least their chow halls aren’t.


Specifically, he has shown that they also get stuck with crappy food and that the best thing they can do in response is to get a few laughs out of it.

He’s been gifted some mashed potatoes from the cooks that leave something to be desired. You know, like it would be desirable if the potatoes resembled food instead of glue:

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Hey, Dairy Queen advertises that Blizzards can do this. (GIF: Facebook.com/smokesmoked)

The soldier has a pretty solid delivery and the video is a quick watch at 41 seconds, but you’ll need to be logged in to Facebook to see it below:


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Today in military history: Mexico ratifies Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

On May 19, 1848, Mexico ratified the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thus ending the Mexican-American War.

The war began over territory disputes in what was then the Republic of Texas, Nuevo Mexico, and Alta California. After two years of fighting, Mexico surrendered and peace talks began.

As part of the treaty, the United States paid Mexico $15 million in exchange for all or parts of present-day Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Texas. Per the terms of the agreement, the Mexican government ceded fifty-five percent of its territory and recognized the Rio Grande as the southern boundary with the United States. 

Adjusting for inflation, that’s almost a third of the continental United States for about what La La Land earned at the box office. Though it did indeed expand U.S. territories, it reignited the tension over free- and slave-holding states and contributed to the cause of the Civil War just twelve years later. 

Featured Image: Map of the United States, Including Land Acquired by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that Accompanied President Polk’s Annual Message to Congress in December 1848

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Thursday Threesome: A trio of new blasters

A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo at Breach-Bang-Clear.


We’ve got the scoop on some new blasters for you. Three of them, actually. Because today’s Thursday, and everyone knows that Thursday is good for threesomes.

You’re welcome.

Remember. At the risk of sounding orgulous, we must remind you – this is just an advisement, a public service if you will, letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. It’s no more a review, endorsement or denunciation than it is an episiotomy.

Grunts: Orgulous.

 

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
1. Inland Manufacturing T30 Carbine.

Inland Manufacturing (not Indigo Augustine) has released an M1 Carbine style blaster called the T30 Carbine, complete with “M82 Vintage Sniper Scope.” The T30 is intended to resurrect and revive interest in the WWII- and Korean War-era T3 originally fitted with the (state of the art, by contemporary standards) M3 infrared night vision optic. Inland says the new-old T3 will come fitted with a ‘period-correct’ Redfield-style scope welded to the receiver, as the optics on the original were.

The M82 Hilux scope looks correct for the period, but has been constructed to modern standards, including better guts for improved light transmission and clarity. Apparently it also has better windage and elevation capability. The T30 ships with a period-correct clamp on a conical flash hider, oiler, magazine, and sling.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

Unfortunately, although the MKS Supply press release indicated the T3 had been released, it doesn’t appear to be on their website (and they did not provide a direct link to the specific product). Nor are the T3 Carbines (as of this writing) on the Inland Manufacturing website, which is apparently different than Inland Depot.

All three sites are pretty anemic and a little confusing, which is both irritating and frustrating. You might be best served just contacting them here if you want to avoid the aggravation.

Sorry, we don’t have candid imagery or lifestyle shots either. They may make great guns (we haven’t shot any yet) but their comms plan blows.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

Here are the details they sent us.

Specifications:
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds without scope, 6.0 pounds with scope
  • Barrel length: 18 inches
  • Caliber: .30 Carbine
  • Capacity: 15 as sold (one magazine)
  • Stock: Walnut; low wood design
  • Scope: M82 sniper scope – 2 .5 power by Hilux with 7/8-inch tube
  • MSRP: $1,695 with Hi-Lux M82 scope and Redfield style rings
  • MSRP: $1,279 without scope-without rings
  • NOTE: The Inland T30 will also take 1-inch and 30mm Redfield rings.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

2. The Bushmaster Minimalist

Bushmaster (not Bonnie Rotten) has a new rifle out, as long as we’re on the subject of irritating websites and limited information. Take a look at the Bushmaster Minimalist SD. The company describes it as its “latest modern sporting rifle” — i.e. an AR with a more politically correct name — that provides “…exceptional accuracy, reliability, and performance in a rifle that is highly featured, lightweight and economical.”

It’s chambered in 5.56mm NATO or 300 AAC Blackout, and each weighs approximately 6 lbs. Interestingly, they all feature an ALG Defense trigger and Mission First Tactical furniture, which is nice.

Here are the details Bushmaster sent over. First, take a look a this video Bushmaster

Bushmaster Minimalist-SD Feature and Benefits:

  • 16-inch, lightweight, 4150 FNC treated barrel
  • Rifle Length AAC Square Drop Handguard – For attachment of KeyMod accessories at seven different angles
  • ALG Defense Advanced Combat Trigger (ACT) – Consistent, smooth 5.5-pound trigger pull
  • Mission First Tactical Minimalist Stock – Comfortable and versatile with QD cup and rounded rubber buttpad
  • Mission First Tactical Grip and Magazine – High-quality furniture and magazine with similar styling91056 – BFI Minimalist-SD 556 Specifications
    Mag Capacity Barrel Length Twist Rate Overall Length Upper Receiver Barrel Material Barrel Finish Barrel Contour Avg. Weight
    30 16″ 1:8″ 35″ A3 Flattop 4150  FNC Lightweight 6lbs

    90924 – BFI Minimalist-SD 300 BO Specifications

    Mag Capacity Barrel Length Twist Rate Overall Length Upper Receiver Barrel Material Barrel Finish Barrel Contour Avg. Weight
    30 16″ 1:7″ 35″ A3 Flattop 4150 FNC Heavy 6.3lbs

The Bushmaster Firearms website is still under construction, so you’ll need to go to page 2 of their online catalog to get a better look at the Minimalist-SD…which you can’t order from, so you’ll have to figure out a different way to buy one if you’re so inclined (or find a distributor who has them in stock).

There’s more on their “official fan page” if you’d like to take a look. Find that here. They have an IG account (@bushmaster_firearms) but they haven’t posted anything there yet.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

3. The Chiappa Little Badger rifle

The Chiappa (not Charity Bangs) Little Badger Rifle looks interesting. Now available in 17 WSM and .17HRM (both increasingly popular calibers as .22 becomes ever harder to find), the Little Badger is described as an “ultra-compact, lightweight, break-open rifle designed to go anywhere at any time.”

Seems reasonable enough.

The rifle is only 17-inches long with the action opened and weapon folded. This should make it easy to stow away in your road bag or the pouch doohickey it ships with.

Chiappa says,

“The wire frame stock keeps weight to a minimum and the integrated shell holder in the back holds twelve cartridges so ammo is always at the ready. The Little Badger comes equipped with an M1 Carbine style front and rear sight. Picatinny rails are mounted top, bottom and on both side just forward of the receiver for mounting optics and accessories. An optional handle/cleaning kit combination accessory screws into the bottom of the receiver. Compact length and weighing only 2.9lbs, the Little Badger can truly be taken almost anywhere when the situation calls for a lightweight, versatile rifle.”

The barrel of this single-shot little blaster is 16.5 inch carbon steel with six groove RH 1:16 twist, with muzzle threads at 1/2 in. -28TPI. Sights are fixed, weigh is less than three pounds and overall length is 31 inches.

Apparently there’s a cleaning kit that stows in the pistol grip too.

All the different versions of the Little Badger can be found right here…unfortunately, the new 17WSM isn’t on this website yet either, so you’ll have to just keep your eye out or check their dealers.

The 17HRM isn’t on their home page either, but it looks like it can be found on some other sites if you want to do a little digging.

About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

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This is why Navy medics get combat first aid training in US cities

They call parts of Chicago “Chiraq” for a reason.


The Chicago Tribune tracks the insane number of shooting victims in the area, broken down by year, month, and location.

And the numbers are staggering.

As gangs inflict casualties on other gang members and innocent bystanders in cities like Chicago, it’s tragically similar to a war zone — so similar, U.S. military medics have been training in the most dangerous parts of America’s cities since at least 2003.

Many of the armed forces’ medical personnel just do not get trauma training they need on the battlefields overseas, so they get it working the battlefields at home.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
U.S. Navy corpsmen from 1st Medical Battalion rush a casualty during a simulated combat-related trauma at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nadia J. Stark)

“It’s important to get them this kind of training here, so they can see how to stop that bleeding and save that life,” Lt. Cmdr. Stan Hovell, a Navy nurse who worked at Chicago’s Cook County hospital, told the Chicago Tribune. “They pick up those skills and carry it back to the Navy.”

Gangland violence is keeping up with the times when it comes to wounds of warfare. Gang members sometimes even use military-style rifles in their assaults, according to Dale Smith, the chair of the Medical Military History Department at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda. And they’ve inflicted bayonet-like stabbing wounds.

Hector Becerra of the LA Times wrote in 2003 about the “Juke” – a stabbing move “patented by gangs” that entered below the collarbone, then thrust down into the belly in a twisting motion.

“The first night I took calls here, it was unbelievable,” Navy Cmdr. Peter Rhee, director of the Trauma Training Center at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center emergency room told the LA Times. “We ended up opening five chests; we had 10 people shot in the chest. We were operating all night long. It was truly as bad as any kind of wartime experience you could have.”

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
U.S. Navy corpsmen from 1st Medical Battalion assess the extent of injuries on a victim of simulated combat-related trauma aboard Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nadia J. Stark)

The doctors, nurses, and administrators love having medics and corpsmen rotating through their staff because U.S. military personnel are fearless.

“Some of them are very experienced,” Faran Bokhari, the head of Chicago’s Stroger Hospital trauma department told the Chicago Tribune. “They’re not green medical students out of la-la land. They’ve seen the blood and guts.”

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This is why the Apache is a tank’s worst nightmare

With the fear that hordes of Russian tanks would storm through the Fulda Gap at the start of World War III, the United States Army looked for an advanced helicopter.


The first attempt, the AH-56 Cheyenne, didn’t quite make it. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Cheyenne was cancelled due to a combination of upgrades to the AH-1 Cobra, and “unresolved technical problems.”

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
An Apache attack helicopter assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade also known as ‘Task Force Apocalypse’, fires a Hellfire missile Sept. 11, 2014 at Fort Irwin, California. (US Army photo by: Sgt. Aaron R. Braddy/Released)

The Army still wanted an advanced gunship. Enter the Apache, which beat out Bell’s AH-63.

The Apache was built to kill tanks and other vehicles. An Army fact sheet notes that this chopper is able to carry up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, four 19-round pods for the 70mm Hydra rocket, or a combination of Hellfires and Hydras, the Apache can take out a lot of vehicles in one sortie.

That doesn’t include its 30mm M230 cannon with 1200 rounds of ammo. The latest Apaches are equipped with the Longbow millimeter-wave radar.

According to Victor Suvarov’s “Inside the Soviet Army,” a standard Soviet tank battalion had 31 tanks, so one Apache has enough Hellfires to take out over half a battalion. Even the most modern tanks, like the T-90, cannot withstand the Hellfire.

Then, keep this in mind: Apaches are not solo hunters. Like wolves, they hunt in packs. A typical attack helicopter company has eight Apaches.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Apache helicopters have successfully taken out advanced air defenses before, but it would still be better to use F-22s when possible. (Photo: US Army Capt. Brian Harris)

So, what would happen to a typical Russian tank battalion, equipped with T-80 main battle tanks (with a three-man crew, and a 125mm main gun) if they were to cross into Poland, or even the Baltics?

Things get ugly for the Russian tankers.

That Russian tank battalion is tasked with supporting three motorized rifle battalions, in either BMP infantry fighting vehicles or BTR armored personnel carriers, or it is part of a tank regiment with two other tank battalions and a battalion of BMPs. In this case, let’s assume it is part of the motorized rifle regiment.

This regiment is slated to hit a battalion from a heavy brigade combat team, which has two companies of Abrams tanks, and two of Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, plus a scout platoon of six Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles.

A company of Apaches is sent to support the American battalion. Six, armed with eight Hellfires and 38 70mm Hydra rockets, are sent to deal with the three battalions of BMPs. The other two, each armed with 16 Hellfires, get to deal with the tank battalion.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
An Apache Longbow attack helicopter assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 1st AD Combat Aviation Brigade also known as ‘Task Force Apocalypse’, fires a Hellfire missile Sept. 11, 2014 at Fort Irwin, Ca. (US Army photo by: Sgt. Aaron R. Braddy/Released)

According to Globalsecurity.org, the AN/APG-78 Longbow radars are capable of prioritizing targets. This allows the Apaches to unleash their Hellfires from near-maximum range.

The Hellfires have proven to be very accurate – Globalsecurity.org noted that at least 80% of as many as 4,000 Hellfires fired during Operation Desert Storm hit their targets.

Assuming 80% of the 32 Hellfires fired hit, that means 25 of the 31 T-80 main battle tanks in the tank battalion are now scrap metal.

Similar results from the 48 fired mean that what had been three battalions of 30 BMPs each are now down to two of 17 BMPs, and one of 18, a total of 52 BMPs and six T-80 tanks facing off against the American battalion.

That attack would not go well for Russia, to put it mildly.

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The Russians aren’t even bothering to fly planes off the Kuznetsov

Is Russia really flying combat missions from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov? That is a question percolating as recent satellite photos caught some of the planes that are known to operate from the carrier at a land base, as opposed to operating directly from the carrier.


According to a report by IHS Jane’s, a satellite photo from Airbus Defence and Space shows eight Su-33 “Flanker D” fighters on the ramp of Humaymim Air Base.

That airbase, located near the coastal city of Latakia, has become Russia’s main center of operations during its intervention in Syria. Russia also has a naval facility in Tartus, roughly 45 miles to the south of Latakia, that has been used since 1971 under an agreement by the Soviet Union with the regime of Hafez al-Assad.

While it is not uncommon for carrier-based planes to operate from land bases (the n Cactus Air Force at Guadalcanal, which featured planes from the air groups of damaged carriers, is perhaps the most famous instance), this is a sign that Russia’s carrier is less than it seems. In essence, while the Russians are claiming that the Kuznetsov is carrying out a combat deployment and launching sorties, this ship really was more of a glorified aircraft ferry. This is the purported flagship of the Russian Navy.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. | Russian MoD Photo

The Kuznetsov displaces 61,000 tons, and usually carries 15 Su-33 Flankers, but is also capable of carrying up to 20 MiG-29s. One of the MiG-29s crashed earlier this month due to issues with the carrier’s arresting gear combined with an engine failure on the modern multi-role fighter.

The pilot ejected and was recovered, a very unexpected hiccup in Russia’s efforts to showcase the carrier, which has had a reputation for breaking down while on deployment. Since the crash, the MiG-29s have apparently been grounded.

Russia has used the conflict in Syria to test out new weapon systems like the Su-35 “Flanker E” and the SS-N-27 Sizzler. Russia also has deployed the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to defend its bases in Syria.

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Veteran couple opens a distillery with military ties

Near Fort Bragg, North Carolina sits BHAWK — that’s short for Brad Halling American Whisky Ko. It’s a whiskey distillery brought to life by its namesake, Brad, and his wife, Jessica, in their goal to honor veterans from Southern Pines, NC. Veterans themselves, the pair knows what it means to serve. 

They also know what it means to sacrifice — Brad lost his left leg from the knee down in the now-famous “Blackhawk Down” incident in Somalia. Though the injury left him ineligible to remain on active duty, he dodged Army medical boards, fought for his position, and ended up retiring as a sergeant major, prosthetic leg and all. 

Now he and his wife are taking their history of service and sacrifice to a new level: making whiskey.

“Our brands will honor [veterans] as well as private citizens with demonstrated selfless service,” Jessica said in an interview with “The Pilot.”

They also added that the decision to offer whiskey went back to its versatility, and its deep ties to Americanism. 

“It is a vehicle to express so many different things,” Brad said. “The joy of promotion, the heartache of loss, the celebration of a change of command.” 

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates

One feature to remind the public about the sacrifices of armed forces include the Gratitude Room, a living museum where guests will first enter. Their plan is to tell the story of various labels that are offered at the time, whether that be of a single soldier, unit or beyond, telling the intricate details behind the label’s name. Then, as they swap out for a new flavor, the Gratitude Room will also change to reflect the new piece of history. 

One thing that won’t change, they said, is the American Whiskey Company’s emblem, an eagle feather that represents fallen soldiers, as well as “quiet professionals” who have provided their dedication to the U.S. The hand-drawn image shows a simple, fallen feather, as a simple nod to patriotism and those who sacrificed along the way. 

As veterans themselves, the couple had long kicked around the idea of brewing as a business, but as laws began to change in North Carolina, they decided it was the right time to open up the distillery they had always dreamed of. 

Both joined the military while still in high school, taking on the responsibility at a young age. Jessica served in the U.S. Army until she retired from the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. She then began working as a local lawyer in North Carolina. As for Brad, he’s retired from special forces and still works on post as a civilian. He also works as a certified prosthetist. 

The distillery, which is still being built, is slated to host a medium-sized distillery plant, a cocktail bar, restaurant, retail space, a restaurant, and an outdoor stage. They will brew and sell their own concoctions of high-end whiskey variations, as well as spirits. Eventually, they plan to add bourbon, vodkas, gin and more. 

For more information on BHAWK or to follow their process, follow them on Instagram @hallingwhiskey 

Images courtesy of Halling Whiskey’s Instagram

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USS Mahan fires warning shots at Iranian vessels

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) fired warning shots at a group of Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf on Jan. 8. The incident comes less than two weeks before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.


According to Reuters, the shots were fired after the Iranian vessels ignored requests by radio to slow down as they approached the American warship and came within 900 yards.

Similar harassment took place this past summer, with Iranian speedboats making close passes to USS Nitze (DDG 94) and USS Squall (PC 7), which also fired warning shots.

Iran also threatened U.S. Navy aircraft in September. In November, Iranian speedboats pointed weapons at a U.S. Navy helicopter.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
The Flight II Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72). (U.S. Navy photo)

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired on U.S. Navy vessels using Iranian-built Noor anti-ship missiles this past October. The destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) defeated three attacks in the space of a week, and USS Nitze carried out a retaliatory strike on radar sites. This past September, while campaigning for the White House, Trump vowed that Iranian vessels harassing U.S. Navy forces would be “shot out of the water.”

The Iranian vessels were described in the Reuters report as “fast attack vessels.” These vessels, sometimes called “Boghammers,” are speedboats with a variety of weapons, including rocket launchers and heavy machine guns.

According to “Combat Fleets of the World,” Iran has over 180 of these vessels. During the Iran-Iraq War, they were used to attack oil tankers.

A July, 1988 skirmish between those speedboats and the cruiser USS Vincennes and the frigates USS Sides and USS Elmer Montgomery lead to the downing of an Airbus passenger jet.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

The USS Mahan is the first of seven Flight II Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. These ships have a five-inch gun, a 29-cell Mk 41 VLS forward, a 61-cell Mk 41 VLS aft, Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems, and two quad Mk 141 launchers for the RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.

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That time George Washington’s dentures were stolen from a museum

The Smithsonian Institution is one place you’d think relics from America’s founding were safe. The security there must be pretty good, right? Well, tell that to a pair of George Washington’s dentures.


According to a 1982 New York Times article, the false teeth were discovered missing on June 19, 1981, by a curator who had gone to the basement of the American Museum of Natural History. The lower portion of the dentures turned up in a secure area of the Smithsonian in May, 1982. They were made of gold, lead, elephant ivory, and possibly human teeth — not wood, as many people believe.

“We never made any effort to have the value of the gold appraised,” Lawrence E. Taylor, a spokesman for the Smithsonian said. “It would be minuscule compared to the historic value of the teeth.”

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Wooden tooth jokes are as funny as actual wooden teeth.

According to Smithsonian magazine, Washington needed dentures because he’d lost most of his teeth from a combination of bad genes and worse dentistry practices at the time. This lead Washington to take measures to correct the tooth loss, including purchasing teeth from African-Americans, according to the official web site of Mount Vernon.

That site also notes that Washington was sensitive about the state of his teeth and tried to keep his dental condition a secret. Documents show he was particularly embarrassed to find out that the British had intercepted a letter in which he asked for a set of tooth scrapers to be sent to him in New York. That said, the intercepted letter helped mislead the British as to his intentions, ensuring the success of the Yorktown campaign.

 

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
George Washington

According to a timeline at the official site of Mount Vernon, Washington was down to one tooth when he was inaugurated as the first President of the United States in 1789. That tooth would be removed in 1796, before his term of office ended.

To hear Brad Meltzer describe the heist of the dentures, and to get a quick take on the theft, watch the video below.

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John McCain describes what it was like to be a war prisoner in Vietnam

Over the weekend, real-estate mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said he did not like “losers,” like US Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), in reference to McCain’s 2008 presidential election loss to President Barack Obama.


“I never liked him after that, because I don’t like losers,” Trump said.

He then dug into McCain’s military career. Trump said the US Navy veteran imprisoned for nearly six years in Vietnam was not a “war hero.” He quickly caveated that statement.

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Photo: US Navy

Amid the backlash, Trump has accused the media of taking his remarks about McCain’s military record out of context in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

McCain has talked and written extensively about his service and his experience as a prisoner of war.

On October 26, 1967, then-US Navy Lieutenant Commander John McCain’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam.

“I reacted automatically the moment I took the hit and saw my wing was gone. I radioed, ‘I’m hit,’ reached up, and pulled the ejection seat handle. I struck part of the airplane, breaking my left arm, my right arm in three places, and my right knee, and I was briefly knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection.”

Writing in 2000 memoir “Faith Of My Fathers,” this is how McCain describes the moment he became a prisoner of war for nearly six years. He continues:

“I landed in the middle of the lake (Truc Bach Lake), in the middle of the city, in the middle of the day. An escape attempt would have been challenging.”

Wearing approximately 50 pounds of gear and not being able to use either of his broken arms to deploy his life vest, McCain sank to the bottom of the shallow lake. He managed to inflate his life vest by pulling the plastic toggle with his teeth and shot to the surface. Floating in the lake, McCain fell in and out of consciousness until a group of Vietnamese villagers pulled him out of the water.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
McCain being pulled from Trúc Bạch Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Several hundred Vietnamese gathered around me, shouting wildly, stripping my clothes off, spitting on me, kicking and striking me repeatedly. When they had finished removing my gear and clothes, I felt a sharp pain in my right knee. I looked down and saw that my right foot was resting next to my left knee, at a 90-degree angle … Someone smashed a rifle butt into my shoulder, breaking it. Someone else stuck a bayonet in my ankle and groin.”

Before the angry mob could do more harm, Vietnamese soldiers arrived and transported McCain to Hoa Lo, a French-built prison.

“As the massive steel doors loudly clanked shut behind me, I felt a deeper dread than I have ever felt since … for the next few days I drifted in and out of consciousness. When awake, I was periodically taken to another room for interrogation. “

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

McCain was accused of being a war criminal and tortured until he shared classified military information in exchange for medical attention. As he refused to reveal more than his name, rank, and date of birth, his condition steadily worsened.

“For four days I was taken back and forth to different rooms. Unable to use my arms, I was fed twice a day by a guard. I vomited after the meals, unable to hold down anything but a little tea. I remember being desperately thirsty all the time, but I could drink only when the guard was present for my twice-daily feedings.”

McCain, who was forced to lay in a puddle of his own vomit and other bodily wastes, became feverish and lost consciousness frequently and for longer periods of time.

One day the camp officer, who the PO Ws called Bug and who McCain referred to as “a mean son of b—-,” entered his filthy cell to examine his injuries.

“Are you going to take me to the hospital? I asked.

“No,” he replied. “It’s too late.”

“Take me to the hospital and I’ll get well.”

“It’s too late,” he repeated.

Hopeless, McCain assumed we would die and began mentally prepping himself of his approaching death; but a few hours later, Bug rushed into his cell and shouted: “Your father is a big admiral. Now we take you to the hospital.”

“A couple of days later I found myself lying in a filthy room about twenty by twenty feet, lousy with mosquitoes and rats. Every time it rained, an inch of mud and water would pool on the floor … I received no treatment for my injuries. No one even bothered to wash the grime off me.”

Meanwhile, McCain’s interrogators continued to pressure him for more information and threatened to terminate his medical treatment if he did not cooperate.

“I gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed.”

Since McCain could not feed himself, a young boy was assigned to feeding him. The boy forced three spoonfuls of food down McCain’s throat twice a day. There were usually leftovers, which the boy helped himself to in front of McCain.

Two months into his captivity, McCain underwent an operation on his leg.

“The Vietnamese filmed the operation, I haven’t a clue why. Regrettably, the operation wasn’t much of a success. The doctors severed all the ligaments on one side of my knee, which has never fully recovered.”

Shortly after his surgery, McCain was moved into a cell with two other American Air Force POWs. They took care of each other and McCain notes that his condition improved.

The darkest moments of his capture occur when guards place him in solitary.

“It’s an awful thing, solitary. It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.”

A year later, several guards brought a resistant McCain to the camp commander in order to formally charge him of his war crimes.

“Knowing that I was in serious trouble and that nothing I did or said would make matters any worse, I replied: ‘F— you.'”

McCain was beat up, tied up for a night, and then dragged to an empty room for 4 days.

“At two-to-three intervals, the guards returned to administer beatings … still I felt they were being careful not to kill or permanently injure me.”

The worst beating came on the third night.

“I lay in my own blood and waste, so tired and hurt that I could not move…he slammed his fist into my face and knocked me across the room towards the waste bucket. I fell on the bucket, hitting it with my left arm, and breaking it again. They left me lying on the floor, moaning from the stabbing pain in my refractured arm.”

It was after this night, that McCain tried to commit suicide twice. He was stopped by the guards and received more beatings. Shortly after, he confessed to whatever war crimes he was accused of and was left alone in his cell for 2 weeks.

“They were the worst two weeks of my life … I was ashamed … I shook, as if my disgrace were a fever.”

This was 2 years into McCain’s almost 6 year imprisonment. He was released as a POW in March of 1973.

5 ways for vet students to relate to their civilian classmates
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

These book excerpts are from John McCain’s memoir “Faith Of My Fathers.” 

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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