6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross - We Are The Mighty
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6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

With his soothing voice and famous catchphrases, Robert Norman “Bob” Ross inspired many Americans to pick up a paintbrush and put it to canvas.  


The famed oil painter brought “Happy Little Trees” and “Mystic Mountains” to our television screens for many years with his show “The Joy of Painting”, which aired from 1983 until 1994 on PBS. What many people may not know about Ross is that prior to being an instructional painter, he was a military man.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Bob Ross before and after…

In fact, Mr. Ross served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, 1961-1981, where he would achieve the rank of Master Sergeant. Ross held main leadership positions, which included serving as a first sergeant.

Ross said in a 1990 interview with the Orlando Sentinel that he had jobs in the Air Force that required him to be “tough and mean;” however, it did not fit his personality and he vowed to change when he left the service.

“I was the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work,” he said. ”The job requires you to be a mean, tough person. And I was fed up with it. I promised myself that if I ever got away from it, it wasn’t going to be that way anymore.”

While some aspects of military life could be rough and not appealing to him, it did play a part in his success following his post-military career.

Unfortunately, the world lost Bob Ross way too soon in 1995 after a long battle with lymphoma. He was only 52 years old.

Along with his paintings, Bob Ross left us so many incredible life lessons that we can all learn from. Here are 6 of those lessons:  

1. Inspiration can come from anywhere

It was his time while stationed in Alaska that inspired much of his work. Many of his paintings feature mountains covered in snow as well as open landscapes. While he may have not always liked the military lifestyle, he found peace living in the “Last Frontier.”

Along with his time in Alaska, the rapid speed in which he painted was also inspired by his military background. Ross leveraged his work pace in his military career to translate it to his painting technique. Aspects in your everyday life can serve as moments of inspiration.

2. Do not set limitations

Bob Ross was never one to set rules when he was painting. He would typically tell his viewers “paint what you want,” or “do what you feel.” Many art teachers may follow the traditional rules of painting but Bob Ross likes to throw out the rule book.   

3. Staying calm

Bob Ross was one cool individual. He never seemed to get stressed out or frustrated when he was painting. His tone was always so relaxing, and he always seemed to put life into perspective when his was painting. Ross remained calm on a consistent basis, which had a direct link to his performance. This cool demeanor allowed him to complete thousands of paintings throughout his career making him not only a great painter but a successful TV personality and businessman.

4. Follow your passion

Following his military career, Bob Ross could have easily taken the conservative route working a regular job. Instead he took a risk by following his passion for painting, and he devoted his life to it. In the process of following his dreams, he helped others discover a love for the arts. It is an accomplished that only a few of us dare to do because many of us have a fear of failure.

5. Stay positive

Having a great attitude in life is not always easy. Let’s face it life is hectic. However, Bob Ross always seem to have an optimistic viewpoint. Even when he made a mistake, he would say “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents”

6. Believe in yourself

At the 2:29 mark of this clip Bob Ross gives us his best advice saying the following “The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.” If you ever start to doubt yourself just remember these words.

Bob Ross’ influence and legacy is enduring to this day. Luckily for us, Netflix announced this past June that it is now streaming his other show “Beauty is Everywhere” on its service giving a whole new generation of people the chance to discover his great work, positive vibes and of course his glorious afro.

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This Japanese Dish Exists Only Because Of The US Military

As an overseas hub for U.S. military bases, Okinawa, Japan is known among troops for its beautiful coastline, hot and humid weather, and a unique fusion food simply referred to as TRC.

“Tacos had already been introduced to Okinawa by the Americans, but it was more like a snack – not very filling for Americans. And it was something you couldn’t find at a restaurant,” Parlor Senri restaurant’s Sayuri Shimabukuro Shimabukuro told Stripes Okinawa. “Matsuzo decided to substitute the taco shell with rice, which is relatively faster to cook and also filling. Parlor Senri’s customers were 100 percent Americans, and in order for the wait staff to explain the dish, he named it taco rice.”

TRC, or “Taco, Rice, and Cheese,” — a Mexican-Japanese fusion dish that exists only because of the U.S. military presence on the island — is most simply put, a giant taco salad with rice instead of the taco shell. First introduced on the island in 1984, it’s now a staple among U.S. service-members stationed there.

The dish is so popular among troops that most shops that serve it are literally walking distance from the base gates. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.

There’s considerable debate among shop owners as to who came up with TRC first. According to Stripes Okinawa, multiple shops in Kin (the town outside Camp Hansen) claim it was their idea. But while we’re trying to figure out who cooked it first, you can always make it yourself at home.

SEE ALSO: 5 Signs You’ve Been In The Barracks Too Long

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The MLRS is a 12-rocket-per-minute terrorist killer

Serving as one of the fiercest weapons on the battlefield, the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or “MLRS,” is an absolute game changer in the fight against global terrorism.


With its unique ability to launch 12 rockets per-minute, this versatile weapon can accurately locate and destroy anything from bunkers, command and control sites, and even those hard to find high-valued terrorist leaders.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Diehl BGT Defence, the MLRS system sets itself apart from the rest of the competition with a specialized GPS guided missile that travels to a high altitude before making a vertical dive to its target from 200 miles away.

Related: Watch this F-16 blow the crap out of a drone with air-to-air missiles

Formerly known as the General Support Rocket System, it’s designed to fire airburst missiles, bunker busters, smart rockets, and its featured munition — the long-range guided missile.

MLRS’ long-range guided missile is like no other. (Image via Giphy)This work of martial art weighs in at 27.5 tons, has a max operational range of 400 miles and is packaged with two six-rocket pods.

The MLRS uses a special tactic to decrease its vulnerability from returning enemy fire called “shoot and scoot.” Once the highly trained crew fire off a round, the team can quickly drive away before the missiles hit their targets — long before the enemy ever knows what hit them.

During the Desert Storm, Iraqi forces refused to fight since they knew the MLRS would lock onto their position and bring the pain — which saved many enemy lives.

Also Read: This is actual footage of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri

Check out this American Heroes Channel video to see more of theMultiple Launch Rocket System’s explosive power.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNhLJZYwXqY
(American Heroes Channel, YouTube)
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‘We lost everything’: As Kabul falls and more US troops rush to aid the evacuation, time runs out for Afghan interpreters

As the Taliban entered Kabul and the Afghan government dissolved on Sunday, one of the thousands of Afghans who served the United States as an interpreter — and has since waited more than a decade for his visa to be approved — watched the scene in despair.

“I can’t even talk right now,” the interpreter, who asked to be identified only as Said, said in an interview Sunday. “I’m just about to cry, because we lost everything.”Advertisement

He watched over the years as the U.S. and NATO allies tried to support the Afghan government and spent vast sums of money to do so.

Read Next: Biden Sending an Extra 1,000 Troops to Afghanistan as Taliban Forces Close in on Capital

“But, unfortunately, the Taliban can destroy everything in just the blink of an eye,” he said, referring to the deposed government in Kabul.Advertisement

As Kabul fell without a shot and the nearly 20-year Afghanistan campaign unraveled, the United States scrambled to shore up its hasty evacuation of personnel from the capital. A Defense official confirmed Sunday that the Pentagon was sending another battalion of 1,000 troops into Afghanistan — on top of the 1,000 announced Saturday – from the infantry brigade combat team that was slated to be deployed to Kuwait to bolster security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. 

Those troops are from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Defense official said that the battalions announced Saturday and Sunday will go straight from Bragg to Afghanistan, and that a third battalion is still headed to Kuwait in reserve. 

This weekend’s deployments bring the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 6,000 including the roughly 1,000 service members already in Kabul, plus an added force of 3,000 soldiers and Marines who were announced Thursday.

Said, the interpreter who had worked with U.S. government groups, briefly left his home in downtown Kabul earlier Sunday and saw Taliban fighters patrolling the streets in their signature white robes and black turbans. The Taliban were driving Ford and Toyota pickup trucks they had captured from Afghan police and the National Directorate of Security, the deposed Afghan government’s intelligence and security service, he said.

He’s still trying to find a last-ditch way to get a visa and make it to the U.S. But even if that works and he were called to go to the airport, he’s not sure how he would manage it. He said he surely would have to bring documents proving he worked for the U.S.; if he were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint along the way and searched, those papers would seal his fate.

And even reaching the airport may not be a guarantee of safety. The U.S. embassy in Kabul on Sunday issued a security alert advising U.S. citizens at the airport to shelter in place, and said there were reports the airport, the last citadel of American power during the exodus, was taking fire.

Some Kabul citizens came out to high-five the Taliban, Said said, and they offered a friendly greeting of “Salaam” to one another. There were no Afghan military personnel to be seen.

For years, activists and others have sounded alarms about the need to evacuate Afghans who worked for the U.S. in interpreter, driver and other jobs, and about the dismal failings of the highly bureaucratic and understaffed Special Immigrant Visa, or SIV, process. Those advocates often called for relocating the Afghans — at one point estimated to be about 18,000, plus their family members — to locations outside of Afghanistan, such as Guam.

Those calls had become increasingly desperate since April, when the Biden administration announced plans to completely withdraw the U.S. military later in the year. Last month, the administration said it would start moving the first group of Afghans — about 2,500 in all, including 700 who were SIV applicants whose cases were far along — to Fort Lee in Virginia.

The Defense official stressed Sunday that part of the mission of the new wave of troops being sent to Afghanistan is to help the State Department accelerate the processing of SIV applicants. 

SpyTalk reported Sunday that the State Department’s SIV application system had a glitch that limited how many emails it could receive, and had become overwhelmed by the volume of applications from desperate Afghans in the last few days. State told SpyTalk that it has fixed the glitch.

But though Said knows friends who have scheduled flights upcoming, flights that may well be disrupted by the rapid victory of the Taliban that has placed the airport within their sights, he still has heard nothing from the U.S. Embassy.

He fears for his and his family’s safety.

“I think this is the beginning,” he said. “When they settle up, they will start looking at people who helped [the United States].”

When asked whether he feels betrayed by the United States, he said, “Of course.” He points to a stack of ceremonial coins he received from officials, and recommendation letters from doctors and officers who knew him and vouched for him during his six-year stint as an interpreter at the hospital at Bagram Airfield — now in the hands of the Taliban — as evidence of his reliability and proof that his visa should be approved.

In an interview in July, Said said he has tried unsuccessfully to obtain a visa for more than 12 years. He believes at least part of the problem is due to a clerical error.

He’s perplexed that his life is in danger because of the paperwork issue, which he claims mistakenly lists his departure from American service as a firing for poor performance. He said he was laid off because there weren’t enough positions for him, and that he was a hard worker — a characterization backed up by his former supervisor who spoke to Military.com last month.

Had the U.S. outright rejected his second visa application earlier, he said, instead of letting it hang on for years, he might have taken his family to another country. But now, it’s too late, and he doesn’t have enough money to relocate.

He said family members came by to see him Saturday night and were concerned that he still had bundles of recommendation letters and certificates.

“They said either grave it, or burn it,” he said. “Because it’s useless now, and will threaten your life.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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These Marines go in right after chemical and biological attacks

Some of the most dangerous threats that could be employed against the U.S. military or homeland are the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.


While attempted dirty bombs or anthrax attacks have usually been stopped by the intelligence and police services before the attacks took place, there’s a group of Marines and sailors who train and constantly prepare to react to a successful attack.

Dubbed the Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, these Marines are ready to go into nightmare attacks after they happen.

“CBIRF is the only unit in the Marine Corps trained to respond to the worst scenarios imaginable here and abroad,” Erick Swartz, senior scientist with CBIRF and designer of the CBIRF battle drills, told a Marine Corps journalist. “At any moment CBIRF can and might be called on to save lives.”

Here’s a look at America’s 911 call for a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack:

1. The CBIRF is capable of deploying on short or no notice. Once they arrive, they have to confirm what the chemical and biological weapons in play are.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), show Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, commander of Joint Task Force Civil Support, how they collect samples of chemical agents during an official visit at Naval Annex Stump Neck, Md., Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Herrera)

2. While operating in a chemical, biological, or nuclear-contaminated area, the Marines wear special gear to protect themselves.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, examine a contaminated chamber using a Multi-Rae monitor while donning their Class A personal protective equipment which includes self-contained breathing apparatus during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

3. When they arrive in a disaster area, platoons deploy throughout the area to start rescuing trapped people.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Marines with search and extraction and technical rescue platoons, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIIRF utilize high-pressure lifting air bags to remove rubble to free a simulated victim of a notional nuclear explosion during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

4. In a city that has suffered an attack, the Marines would face many technical challenges, so they train on the most difficult possible rescues.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescues simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

5. The Marines’ mission requires a lot of specialized equipment, like these Paratech struts for lifting light structures and vehicles.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Marines with technical rescue platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, use Paratech struts to stabilize a truck and extricate a simulated victim during training with soldiers from 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

6. The unit has to be prepared to rescue people from factories, warehouses, and other challenging structures as well. Here, they practice a medevac from a simulated steam plant explosion.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescue simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

7. The CBIRF has to search from the top to bottom of each structure while shoring up damaged areas to make sure the building doesn’t collapse.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous simulated casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

8. The unit even trains to recover people from the wilds. Here, a Marine trains on rescuing a parachutist trapped in a tree.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Cpl. Mitchell Reck a rifleman with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, climbs a tree using proper harness and rope techniques to save a simulated parachutist that got caught on a tree during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 24, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

9. The Marines could face a continuing threat, so they train to find and defuse or destroy dangerous devices.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBRIF) participate in a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responding to and deactivating a notional explosive threat found at a steam plant on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

10. The recovered survivors need lots of medical care, so the Marines evacuate them to field decontamination areas and hospitals as quickly as possible.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

11. As areas are secured and cleared, the teams write notes at the entrances to let other Marines know the status of the building and the local rescue efforts.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
A Marine with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, marks an X to indicate the area covered and casualties found during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

12. At decontamination areas, the Marines clean each victim before they’re taken to the medical platoon for treatment. This gets most contaminating agents off the of the victims and protects them, the Marines and sailors, and other patients.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

13. Thankfully, the Marines haven’t had many real-world incidents to respond to, but they do have real missions. For instance, they protected both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Marines from the search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, line up for accountability after a deployment drill during Democratic National Convention, DNC, in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. CBIRF’s Marines and sailors worked alongside federal and local agencies to provide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, CBRNE, response capability for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

14. The CBIRF Marines and sailors constantly work to make sure that the rest of us can be rescued if the nightmare scenario ever comes to pass.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
U.S. Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon (IDP) part of the primary assessment team, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) locate and assess casualties found at a steam plant during a training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

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When US bases need backup, this is who they call: FAST Marines

The Marine Corps is a small organization that does a good job of producing a united front. Marketing people call it consistent messaging, and the Corps has long made it a part of their communications strategy. It’s simple. Marines are Marines. There are no special Marines.

While this narrative approach gives the Corps a consistent message and appearance, it also fails to highlight many of the special missions the Corps accomplishes that involve small teams of elite, specifically trained, war fighters. Today we are going to highlight one of those small teams of elite service members, commonly called FAST Marines.

FAST stands for Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team. These FAST units fall under the branch’s Security Force Regiment, which provides a dedicated security force and anti-terrorism unit made up of Security Force Marines. These Marines usually guard a variety of installations like Naval bases and others too sensitive to leave without an armed presence.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

FAST Marines have a very specific and specialized job. FAST teams are highly trained Marines who deploy across the world to serve as security at United States government installations. Imagine an embassy is threatened, and they need an immediate shot of highly trained Marines with a whole lot of guns.

They call FAST, and those Marines live up to their acronym. FAST Marines do non-traditional deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Bahrain, Spain, and Japan, where they essentially stage as a just-in-case precaution. These ‘staging’ deployments allow them to deploy at a moment’s notice to nearly anywhere in the world. On these deployments, they train extensively and keep their skills sharp in case they are called upon. FAST Marines also deploy stateside to aid Marine Security Forces in guarding nuclear subs and ships during nuclear rod replacement.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

History of FAST

FAST saw its establishment in 1987. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of modern terrorism, and American interests overseas become targets of it. The President issued an order for the military and federal law enforcement to enhance their anti-terrorism capabilities. The Marines did as ordered and found a weakness in their Security Force infrastructure.

In the event of an attack that could overwhelm a Security Force detachment, they had no dedicated quick reaction force to enhance a Security Force’s numbers and capabilities. Thus, FAST Marines were born. Their mission was simple: they exist to reinforce an installation’s security force when the threat outguns the security forces on hand.

Since then, FAST has been called in to help secure Naval stations In Panama, where they engaged with what they believed to be Cuban special forces in an intense 30-minute firefight. From there, the Fast Marines would continue into Operation Just Cause, or the full invasion of Panama, in December of 1989.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. William Chockey)

FAST Marines deployed to Bahrain to protect the Naval Installations during Desert Storm, and in 1991, helped evacuate U.S. personnel from Liberia. When the U.S. established a liaison office in Mogadishu, they called FAST to provide security.

Without going through the entire history of FAST, it’s easy to say they’ve operated at a relatively high tempo since their inception, and have always been there when the Marine Corps and their nation called upon them.

How to become a FAST Marine

FAST Marines have a long pipeline of training before they become active-duty operators. It starts with speaking to a recruiter and obtaining a Security Forces contract. Like everyone in the Corps, it starts at a recruit training depot.

From there, Security Force Marines will attend Infantry Training At the School of Infantry West or East and obtain a MOS of 0311. Security Force Marines will maintain an infantry MOS as their primary MOS.

After SOI, they attend Security Force School. Here they can volunteer for FAST company. There is no guarantee for acceptance, and it’s all based on the needs of the Corps.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

After acceptance into FAST Company, they begin 5 Weeks of FAST training. From there, they go to an 8-week Close Quarter Battle School. The CQB school teaches FAST Marines how to fight in extremely close quarters. Here they become experts in clearing rooms, hallways, stairways, as well as dynamic entry and various other tasks associated with urban combat.

Following CQB school, they take a tactical driving course. Here Marines learn Motorcade Operations, high-risk driving, evasive driving, PIT maneuvers, ramming, close proximity driving, and driver down drills.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

Marines then become bodyguards at a High-Risk Personnel course where they learn close quarters protection tactics.

From there, they begin training in individual nonlethal weapons. This course teaches them tactics and weaponry they can use to deal with threats in a nonlethal manner. Finally, they attend the Helicopter and Rope Suspension Techniques Master Course, where they learn how to fast rope, rappel down structures and out of helicopters, and use SPIE rigging.

Life as a FAST Marine

After all that training, they’ll still be expected to know basic Marine skills. This includes basic and advanced trauma medicine, how to use nearly every weapon in the Corps’ arsenal, how to use night vision and thermal optics, land navigation, HMMWV course, and more.

FAST Marines will be stationed in either Naval Station Norfolk or Naval Weapons Station Yorktown in beautiful Virginia in companies Alpha, Bravo, or Charlie. 400 Marines and Sailors make up a FAST company.

From there, they can look forward to a potential deployment at the Platoon level to one of several naval stations where they can further their training and be on call for a mission. FAST Marines can expect to be constantly training in one direction or another.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dawson Roth)

FAST Marines utilize a lot of the same gear as their infantry counterparts. This includes the M4 and likely the M27 in the near future, as well as the Beretta M9, the M249 SAW, and M240B medium machine gun. Shotguns from Mossberg and Benelli offer a powerful close-quarters fighting tool, as well as a nonlethal option with the right rounds. Some Senior FAST Marines may have even been to designated marksman school and be wielding specialized rifles for that role.

Per their contract, a Security Force Marine will only serve two years active duty with Security Forces. After these two years, most will be reassigned to conventional infantry forces. It’s an odd system that doesn’t make much sense to me. It seems like after an expansive series of schools that FAST Marines would stay FAST Marines, but the Force dictates differently.

In the Infantry

Security Force Marines often have difficulty adjusting to the infantry. They’ve spent years in Security Forces and often come to the infantry as Non commissioned officers. Their specialized training is just that, specialized. It doesn’t translate over to conventional infantry operations, and because they lack the experience of most infantry Marines, they can feel like a fish out of water in the new surroundings and operational environment.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

FAST Marines do come to the ‘fleet’ with a more advanced set of skills and can serve as excellent advisors in close quarter’s combat, however. Urban terrain has been a big factor in recent wars, and knowing how to properly fight in it is invaluable.

Loaded Up

FAST is simply one small cog in a large Marine Corps. These small teams of specialists always interest me, and I think the Marine Corps does a disservice to itself by failing to highlight their unique capabilities. Regardless, when American installations overseas dial 911, it’s FAST that answers the call.

This article by Travis Pike was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

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Merkava versus Abrams: Which tank wins?

The M1 Abrams was the best tank in the world for a long time – and its Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom combat record backed it up. But lately, Army officers are warning that other tanks are catching up, including Russia’s T-14 and T-90, the British Challenger 2, and the Israeli Merkava IV.


Yeah, the Israelis have designed their own tank. According to waronline.org, the Merkava came about after the Israelis were unable to buy the British Chieftain main battle tank due to concerns from diplomats. Lessons learned from the 1973 Yom Kippur War were also applied to the tank’s development. What emerged was something that protected its crew, had good firepower, and a lot of ammo storage. In fact, the crew protection aspect was heightened by a decision to put the engine at the front of the tank.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
A tank crew in an M1A2 Abrams belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division completes tank gunnery qualification at Presidential Range in Swietoszow, Poland, January 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke, 4th ID MCE Public Affairs/Released)

The latest version of the Merkava is the Merkava 4, with a 120m main gun and capacity for up to 48 rounds, according to Army-Technology.com. It also has a 60mm mortar – a unique weapon among tanks – as well as three 7.62mm machine guns. The tank, though, is slow, with a top speed of 29 miles per hour according to militaryfactory.com.

We’re familiar with the M1 Abrams. It has a 120mm main gun with 40 rounds, a .50-caliber machine gun, and two 7.62mm machine guns. It is very tough (recall that in Desert Storm, this tank deflected T-72 main guns rounds fired from 400 meters away), but it is also fast – with a top speed of 42 miles per hour.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

Crew training in both of these tanks is really a wash. The American Abrams crews are probably among the best in the world. So are the Israelis (in fact, during the Yom Kippur War, vastly outnumbered Israeli tanks held the line against a much larger Syrian force in the Battle of the Valley of Tears).

So, which tank wins? Much will depend on which tank’s “game” is being played. If the Merkava is defending, it has the edge. This will be particularly true if the terrain forces a unit with Abrams tanks to come right at the Merkavas.

But if the fight is a mobile fight, then the Abrams’ speed will give it the edge.

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UK sinks ‘Boaty McBoatface’; USAF may have to shoot down similar names

In an effort to drum up interest in the council’s efforts and in science in general, Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council launched a public poll last month to determine the name of its new $300 million advanced research vessel.  The winner was “Boaty McBoatface,” four times more popular than the next best suggestion, the “Poppy-Mai,” which would have named the boat after a 16-month-old girl with cancer.  The UK’s Science Minister, Jo Johnson sunk the suggestion this week, telling NPR the boat needed a more appropriate moniker.


6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

In March 2016, the U.S. Air Force launched a similar initiative to name its latest Long Range Strike Bomber, the B-21. The Air Force, like America, does not trust its citizens with direct democracy and does not allow the general public to vote on the name. It also is not publishing names for consideration. A few of the names floating around the Air Force’s tweet on the B-21’s name floated TrumppelinDeathkill Eaglehawk Firebird Hoora! Testosterone, and (of course), Bomby McBombface.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross

Voting for the B-21’s name is limited to members of the U.S. Air Force active duty force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard components, their dependents, members of the U.S. Air Force Civil Service and U.S. Air Force retirees. There also exists a complete set of contest rules and regulations.

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Today in military history: Soviets invade Czechoslovakia

On Aug. 20, 1968, two hundred thousand Soviet troops and five thousand tanks invaded Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia was firmly democratic for decades before World War II, but German forces partially occupied it during World War II and, in 1948, it was conquered by the Soviets. The Communists had supporters in the working class and a stranglehold of government leadership, but students and academics kept fomenting the seeds of unrest.

Even when most of the Soviet-aligned countries went through soul searching in 1953 after the death of Stalin, Czechoslovakia basically just marched on. But in the 1960s, leadership changes and an economic slowdown led to a series of reforms that softened the worst repressions of the communist regime.

In 1964, Czechoslovakia began to trend towards liberalization, despite tight Soviet control over the government. Students, intellectuals and activists began vocalizing support for democracy, freedom of speech and religion and the abolition of censorship. 

The response was joyous and Czech culture began to flourish. By April of 1968, the population began to enjoy what became known as “Prague Spring.”

The Soviet Union wasn’t having any of it. Alarmed by a potential collapse of Communism in the country, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Eastern Bloc members of the Warsaw Pact. Widespread protests and demonstrations were quelled by an overwhelming show of military force while much of Czechoslovakia’s educated elite fled. 

Communist rule was reinstated by force and held until 1993, after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the country separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 

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THAAD missile system has China and North Korea spooked

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Lockheed Martin


The most advanced missile system on the planet can hunt and blast incoming missiles right out of the sky with a 100% success rate — and we got to spend a day with it.

Meet the US’s THAAD system.

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a unique missile-defense system with unmatched precision, capable of countering threats around the world with its mobility and strategic battery-unit placement.

“It is the most technically advanced missile-defense system in the world,” US Army Col. Alan Wiernicki, commander of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, told Business Insider in an interview.

“Combatant commanders and our allies know this, which puts our THAAD Batteries in very high global demand,” Wiernicki added.

And that demand seems poised to rise.

Deploying America’s THAAD

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
AiirSource Military | YouTube

On Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed his country had developed miniaturized nuclear warheads, which can be mounted to long-range ballistic missiles.

The rogue regime’s latest announcement is a follow-through pass to last month’s long-range-rocket launch and January’s purported hydrogen-bomb test.

Negotiations to equip South Korea with THAAD have been ongoing since South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s October 2015visit to the White House.

As of yet, there has not been a formal move to deploy the missile system.

“The complexity of global-security challenges is increasingly causing combatant commanders to request more Army forces,” US Army Capt. Gus Cunningham told Business Insider.

“With that said, THAAD is ready to respond to any request, at any time,” Cunningham added.

If a THAAD battery were deployed to South Korea, depending on its exact location, nearly all incoming missiles from the North could be eliminated, as displayed by the following graphic from The Heritage Foundation.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Heritage.org

Meanwhile, China is spooked over the potential THAAD assignment to South Korea.

Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong warned that basing the US-made THAAD missile system in South Korea would irreparably damage relations between the countries, The Chosunilbo reported.

THAAD deployment, Qiu said, “would break the strategic balance in the region and create a vicious cycle of Cold War-style confrontations and an arms race, which could escalate tensions.”

During his most recent visit to Beijing, Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the US was “not hungry or anxious or looking for an opportunity to deploy THAAD,” CNN reported.

“THAAD is a purely defensive weapon. It is purely capable of shooting down a ballistic missile it intercepts. And it is there for the protection of the United States,” Kerry said.

“If we can get to denuclearization, there’s no need to deploy THAAD,” he added.

How THAAD’s ‘hit to kill’ lethality works

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
USMDA | YouTube

Currently, there five THAAD batteries — each of approximately 100 soldiers — assigned to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

One of those THAAD batteries was deployed to Guam in April 2013 in order to deter North Korean provocations and further defend the Pacific region.

Impressively, the THAAD interceptor does not carry a warhead. Instead, the interceptor missile uses pure kinetic energy to deliver “hit to kill” strikes to incoming ballistic threats inside or outside the atmosphere.

Each launcher carries up to eight missiles and can send multiple kill vehicles at once, depending on the severity of the threat.

Lockheed Martin’s missile launcher is just one element of the four-part antimissile system. The graphic below shows the rest of the components needed for each enemy-target interception.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: Raytheon

THAAD’s first line of defense is its radar system.

“We have one of the most powerful radars in the world,” US Army Capt. Kyle Terza, a THAAD battery commander, told Business Insider.

Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar is used to detect, track, and discriminate ballistic missiles in the terminal (or descent) phase of flight.

The mobile radar is about the size of a bus and is so powerful that it can scan areas the size of entire countries, according to Raytheon.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 radar | Raytheon

Once an enemy threat has been identified, THAAD’s Fire Control and Communications (TFCC) support team kicks in. If there is a decision to engage the incoming missile, the launcher fires an interceptor to hunt for its target.

Here’s what the launch looks like from far away:

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
BMDA | YouTube

While in flight, the interceptor will track its target and obliterate it in the sky.

The following infrared imagery shows THAAD demolishing the target:

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
USMDA | YouTube

By the end of 2016, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is scheduled to deliver an additional 48 THAAD interceptors to the US military, bringing the total up to 155, according to a statement from the MDA’s director, Vice Admiral J.D. Syring, given before the House Armed Service Committee.

According to the MDA, there are more than 6,300 ballistic missiles outside of US, NATO, Russian, and Chinese control.

While other US partners around the globe are interested in purchasing THAAD, the United Arab Emirates is the sole foreign buyer after signing a deal with the Department of Defense for $3.4 billion.

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This is what happens when you give a Marine and a Ranger motorcycles

Sponsored by PenFed Credit Union


Wil Willis knows a thing or two about weapons. He was born into a military family, served as an Army Ranger for four years, then transferred to the Air Force to become a pararescueman for another ten years. Since his time in service, he’s found ways to utilize the skills he learned on active duty as both an entertainer and an instructor.

Now an actor and writer, Willis is perhaps best known for his work on Forged in Fire, a competition series where world-class bladesmiths compete to create iconic edged weapons from history. He also teaches veterans and members of the first responder community about tactical combat casualty care.

So, yeah, he’s kind of bad ass.

U.S. Marine Weston Scott met up with Willis to connect over a past-time they both love: hitting the road on two wheels.

In this episode of “Paving the Way,” Willis and Scott hang out in their favorite Los Angeles garage working on their bikes and chatting about what it means for them to ride.

“I don’t do anything illegal. It’s not out of control. But I definitely am more aggressive than a lot of other riders. I ride every day.”

His riding style might be “fast and loose” but Willis insists it helps him slow down.

“I think being left alone with your thoughts can be scary sometimes, especially when you’re talking about a transitional period. I’ve got through it a bunch of times. Everybody’s had rough times. For me, getting back on the back was a way of slowing everything down in my mind. I do believe there’s something spiritual I get out of riding.”

Check out the episode above to find out more about why Willis rides every day, but Scott sums it up nicely: “It’s just good for the soul.”

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The Army-Navy game has more riding on it than you think

The service academy college football teams play each other every year, despite playing in difference conferences. The series is one of very few triangular rivalries in college football. It features the U.S. Military Academy (Army Black Knights), the U.S. Naval Academy (Navy Midshipmen) and the U.S. Air Force Academy (Air Force Falcons).


6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
President Barack Obama looks at the helmet given to him by the United States Naval Academy football team during the ceremony to present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the team in the East Room of the White House, April 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The Navy–Air Force game is traditionally played on the first Saturday in October, with the Army–Air Force game on the first Saturday in November. The Army-Navy game is the biggest of the three, because it’s the oldest of the three, first played in 1890 and annually since 1930. It’s also the last in the series, played on the second Saturday in December and it often decides which academy gets the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.

The trophy itself is almost three feet high and weighs 170 lbs. It is awarded to the service academy with the best inter-service football record.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, on the Air Force side.

While there are many trophies in college football rivalry, there are only two teams invited to the White House and congratulated by the President every year: the national championship team and the service academy who wins the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
President Reagan presenting Army with the 1984 trophy.

Since Nixon began the annual contest between the three academies in 1972, it’s been a slugfest on the field when these teams play throughout the season, even if the teams themselves haven’t performed so well. Besides, it’s not just about trophies, it’s about service pride.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
President George W. Bush congratulates the Navy football team during the Commander In Chief’s trophy ceremony at the White House Rose Garden. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Alan J. Baribeau)

Air Force is the all-time leader in wins, with 19. Navy is a close second with 14, and a likely win in 2015. The longest streak also belongs to Navy, who held it for seven years from 2003 until 2010. Army only won 6 times since 1972 and the last President to present Army with a trophy was President Bill Clinton in 1996.

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9 steps to getting a soldier into (and out of) a war zone

The Army has a few ways it breaks down deployments, chief among them is the “Army Force Generation Cycle.” But that looks at how Big Army assigns different units to different missions. Here’s how deployment cycles actually work for soldiers.


1. It starts by getting sweet new uniforms.

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Sgt. Cooper T. Cash

For soldiers, pre-deployment is a special time when one can shed the Universal Camouflage Pattern and put on a camouflage that actually works. Also that switch and the IR flags lets everyone know that a soldier is about to go to combat, allowing them to feel really special at the PX and commissaries.

2. Packing, repacking, then packing other stuff

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
The Army is just one long series of packing lists.

Those new uniforms will get sweaty quickly as the unit packs, repacks, and stows gear for the deployment. Connexes and vehicles traveling by ship go first, then everything moving by plane, and then personal gear has to get packed away. All of it will have to be unpacked for inspection at least once during the process, and probably twenty times.

3. Being jammed like sardines into a flying can

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Capt. Henry Chan

Finally, the soldiers get to actually deploy. To do this, they get on a plane with limited access to hygiene facilities and then jam themselves in so tight that they can barely breath without inhaling each other’s sweat. Ladies, tell us again how you like a man in uniform, but go ahead and cover your nose while you do it.

4. “OMG, this place is so hot/cold/wet/dry!”

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Cpl. Trisha Betz

Coming off the plane is always punctuated with a lot of curses for the local weather. This is kind of dumb since complaining won’t help and the weather isn’t going to change. But in troops’ defense, it really is stupid hot, cold, wet, and/or dry, and sometimes all four at once somehow.

5. No sleep till fully mission capable

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Sgt. Jason Nolte

Arrival in country kicks off a long series of briefings, gear checks, travel, acclimation, orientation, set-up, and more. Sleep is hard to come by until all of this is done. Sometimes, troops get lucky and are replacing a unit that streamlined the process. More often, the sergeant major decides the previous unit built the base wrong and orders it redone from scratch.

6. “Groundhog’s Day”

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: Sgt Harold Flynn

Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a school in the morning instead of the district center, but that’s about it.

6. “Groundhog’s Day”

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a battalion base in the morning instead of the shura, but that’s about it.

7. Short-timer

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn

Oddly, getting down to the last 100 days of a deployment is generally considered a bad thing. This is because troops can get cocky or lazy as they dream of heading home. First sergeants have to walk around saying, “Complacency kills,” and “It’s just as easy to die on the last day as it was on the first.”

8. Social media offensive

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor

As the time dwindles down, troops will start spending more time on Facebook, Tinder, and anywhere else they can find people who might want to party once they land. They have to create a long list of potential “Welcome Home!” partygoers, since only about 10 percent will show up and at least half of those will leave once the first staff duty runner is tossed over a barracks railing.

9. Packing, flying, and partying

6 tips to live the best life ever from USAF vet Bob Ross
Photo: US Army Capt. William Carraway

Getting to that “Welcome Home!” banner is basically repeating steps two and three. Pack, pack, pack, get onto a crammed plane, build up a thick layer of funk, and then march into a hangar to hug family members and friends. Then, party.

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