7 things you actually miss from deployment - We Are The Mighty
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7 things you actually miss from deployment

Vets know the feeling. You get back to civilian life or maybe just get a cushy posting stateside where all you have to do is show up from 9 to 5. At first, you love waking up late, working out when you want, and driving a vehicle with an AM/FM/XM radio instead of VHF/UHF.


Then, you get too many notes from the homeowners’ association about the exact distance of the mailbox from the curb. Or maybe a low-level supervisor at work won’t stop calling you into the office to talk about your use of “adult language.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Deployed life isn’t easy, but there are some things about life in the sandbox that really is better than life in the U.S. Here are 7 things you probably miss from deployment:

1. Your buddies are always around

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: New York Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

Want to see a movie with your friends? Just kick their cots to wake them up. Have to go on a long patrol? At least your buds are going to be in the wedge with you.

Of course, it sucks waking up to the one guy who farts in his sleep every two hours. And listening to the pitch-deaf dude who always sings is annoying. Especially when he does it on the radio. During guard shift.

2.  There’s a constant routine

7 things you actually miss from deployment
So, we’re patrolling this road again, huh? Alright. Photo: US Army Spc. Elisha Dawkins

While troops complain about the “Groundhog’s Day” effect, it’s sometimes nice to know where you need to be every morning without having to worry about schedules and commutes. You just wake up, slip on a fresh-ish uniform, and walk from the sleeping tent to the office of briefing tent.

Speaking of which …

3. There’s no traffic

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Army Sgt. Terrance Payton

Don’t act like you don’t sit in traffic and miss the days you could just walk to and from work. Well, except those of you who were drivers on deployment. There isn’t a city in America with traffic as uncomfortable as a slow convoy conducted through a dust storm while wearing body armor in the desert heat.

This is especially true when the mechanics are having trouble keeping the air conditioners working with all the dust.

4. Common services are free

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jonathan Wright

When deployed soldiers need to hit the gym, grab some energy drinks or food, or do laundry, that’s all free on the base. On larger bases, there may even be third-country nationals contracted to do the laundry for them.

Of course, the gym is equipped like a prison and the food sucks, but still. You get it for free.

5. You can carry your weapon everywhere and no one thinks it’s weird

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr

Troops, especially soldiers and Marines, are taught early and often that they are supposed to be carrying their weapon. Sure, it’s something else to clean and carry, but it’s also a comforting presence.

You only need it because of the dudes who want to kill you, but it’s nice to walk around strapped without getting odd looks.

6. You never have to worry about what to wear

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Marine Corps

If you’re headed to do cardio or hanging out after hitting the showers, wear PTs. Anything else calls for cammies. And that’s the entire wardrobe.

7. Everything is simpler

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo: US Army Spc. Olanrewaju Akinwunmi

Outside of work and making sure to call home on Skype every once in a while, there’s really not much to worry about on deployment. There are no electrical or water bills, no parking tickets, and no homeowners’ associations.

Granted, the work stress is horrible; constant and bone-crushingly horrible. Also, it’s dangerous. And there is the constant drone of the generator and yells of the sergeants major.

Meh, maybe being stateside isn’t so bad after all.

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This Project Is A Real And Raw Look At How Military Service Affected Veterans

7 things you actually miss from deployment


Devin Mitchell was trying to get into graduate school as a sociology major, and he needed what he called a “high impact device” to get the attention of the admissions board.  Since he was also a freelance photographer, he naturally thought of creating a photo essay as the medium for that sort of impact.

Also Read: 5 Times When Jon Stewart Made A Difference For America’s Veterans 

And with that the Veteran Vision Project was born.

The idea is at once simple and complex.  Miller takes a picture of a veteran wearing a uniform of his or her choosing while looking into a mirror.  The reflection in the mirror is the same vet dressed in civilian clothes that capture what his or her life is like out of the military.

“The use of a mirror seemed an appropriate device for this subject matter,” Mitchell said.  “It screams dichotomy, two different people in one body, and sometimes it screams embodiment and identification.”

Mitchell’s process is simple.  “I don’t know any of these people,” he said.  “My encounter with any one of the subjects are usually no more than 15 minutes total.  They reach out to me online.  I vet their military status to make sure I’m not meeting with anyone who’s counterfeit.  And I show up at their house.  I don’t usually ask questions.”

The subjects decide on the composition of the essay.  “Every single time so far they have had something ready,” Mitchell said.  “I make the photo and I give it to them and I sit back as an audience member and wonder what the photo meant.

“I call it ‘artistic journalism,'” he said. “These are landmark observations of who these people are in this time period.”

The images provide an amazing range of emotions, especially considering they’re all shot in basically the same setting – a bathroom mirror.  In one essay a Marine couple is hugging in the mirror while they stand separate in the foreground, the man still in uniform and the woman in civilian clothes holding a sign that says “PTSD – divorcing but united.” In another a soldier is peeling off the blouse to his camouflage while he’s shirtless in the reflection with “Pride” scrawled across his chest in red lipstick.

“If the photos make people squirm in their chair a little bit, then obviously that’s something they needed to be exposed to,” Mitchell said.  “As an artist I couldn’t dream of anything better.  Enlightenment through art is the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Mitchell is firm in the desire not to artificially engineer a reality with the Veterans Vision Project.

“This is not a project to propagandize any sense of nationalism whatsoever,” he said.  “I’m very early in the project, and I will document the good, bad, and ugly. People should really expect to see everything the veterans have to say. As an artist I’m not scared of walking on anyone’s eggshells.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Marine veteran Mike Dowling is one of Mitchell’s subjects.

“I knew some friends who had done it and they vouched for him,” Dowling said.  “I liked the pictures he’d done, so when he reached out for me I was up for it.  He said, ‘I just need you to have a military uniform that fits you and whatever civilian clothes you want.  You pose how you want to pose.’ I had full creative control.”

And how did the result impact Dowling?  “I look at my photo I realize how significantly my military service has laid the foundation for who I am today,” he said.  “No matter what I wear the military is always going to be part of who I am.”

Mitchell is not a veteran, and he describes his military knowledge as “very distant, far-off media consumption.”  “But I’m a student,” he added.  “I like to learn.”

After 134 photo essays (and an ultimate goal of 10,000 for the project) Mitchell has learned a lot about the military community.

“There’s just as much fragmentation as there is unity among the military,” Mitchell said.  “Just like any community.  The military is no different.  That’s one myth that I’ve demystified for myself since I started this.  Everyone does not identify with everyone else in the military community.  They’re still people.”

For more about the Veteran Vision Project, including how to participate in the project, go here.

To contribute to the Veteran Vision Project’s Kickstarter campaign go here.

NOW: One Of America’s Most Elite Universities Is Helping Veterans In A Unique Way 

OR: The Navy Carrier Called The ‘Top Gun Of The Pacific’ Is Headed To The Scrapyard 

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Popeye the Sailor Man was originally Popeye the Coast Guardsman

This may seem like blasphemy to some, but Popeye started his professional career as a civilian mariner and then Coast Guardsman. The famous sailor did join the Navy, but as of 1937, Popeye was firmly in the Coast Guard. A two-reel feature titled Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves introduces Popeye serving at a Coast Guard station. The sailor man’s creator did not live to see the United States enter World War II, but it was in 1941 that his creation joined the Navy and the legend of Popeye the rough and tumble U.S. Navy sailor was born.


7 things you actually miss from deployment

Popeye the Sailor meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves wasn’t Popeye’s first feature. He started life as a character in the comic strip Thimble Theater in 1929, a comic actually centered around his off-and-on girlfriend, Olive Oyl. When it became obvious that Popeye was the real star, he made a jump to feature films. In the aforementioned 1937 film is when we see Popeye in the Coast Guard, on guard duty and deploying to intercept “Abu Hassan” (aka Bluto), who is terrorizing the Middle East.

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Spoiler alert: Popeye saves the day, but not before telling Bluto to “stop in the name of the Coast Guard.

It was during WWII that Popeye reached his incredible popularity. After enlisting in the Navy in 1941’s The Mighty Navy, Popeye’s clothing changed and reflected his status as a U.S. Navy sailor, wearing the distinctive white crackerjack uniform. Popeye would remain in uniform until 1978, when new cartoons put him back in his original outfit, with one exception: the white yachting cap he used to wear was replaced with a standard issue Navy “Dixie Cup” cap.

It should be noted that Popeye and Bluto once attempted to join the Army in a 1936 film short called I’m In the Army Now, but they really just ended up fighting in the recruiter’s office. Popeye left the office after beating Bluto to a surrender, but without actually joining. Popeye also regularly beats Bluto to the tune of “The Army Goes Rolling Along.”

Despite his dedication to service, Popeye never once tried to join the Air Force.

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Why tech execs want to ban robot weapons

Artificial intelligence experts shook up the tech world this month when they called for the United Nations to regulate and even consider banning autonomous weapons.


Attention quickly gravitated to the biggest celebrity in the group, Elon Musk, who set the Internet ablaze when he tweeted: “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.”

 

The group of 116 AI experts warned in an open letter to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that “lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare.” Speaking on behalf of companies that make artificial intelligence and robotic systems that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, they wrote, “We feel especially responsible in raising this alarm.”

The blunt talk by leaders of the AI world has raised eyebrows. Musk has put AI in the category of existential threat and is demanding decisive and immediate regulation. But even some of the signatories of the letter now say Musk took the fear mongering too far.

What this means for the Pentagon and its massive efforts to merge intelligent machines into weapon systems is still unclear. The military sees a future of high-tech weapon systems powered by artificial intelligence and ubiquitous autonomous weapons in the air, at sea, on the ground, as well as in cyberspace.

The United Nations has scheduled a November meeting to discuss the implications of autonomous weapons. It has created a group of governmental experts on “lethal autonomous weapon systems.” The letter asked the group to “work hard at finding means to prevent an arms race in these weapons, to protect civilians from their misuse, and to avoid the destabilizing effects of these technologies.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
United Nations General Assembly hall in New York, NY. Wikimedia Commons photo by user Avala.

Founder and CEO of the artificial intelligence company SparkCognition, Amir Husain, signed the letter but insists that he is against any ban or restrictions that would stifle progress and innovation. He pointed out that the campaign was organized by professor Toby Walsh of the University of New South Wales in Australia, and was meant to highlight the “potential dangers of autonomous weapons absent an international debate on these issues.”

The industry wants a healthy debate on the benefits and risks of AI and autonomy, Amir told RealClearDefense in a statement. But a blanket ban is “unworkable and unenforceable.” Scientific progress is inevitable, “and for me that is not frightening,” he added. “I believe the solution — as much as one exists at this stage — is to redouble our investment in the development of safe, explainable, and transparent AI technologies.”

Wendy Anderson, general manager of SparkCognition’s defense business, said that to suggest a ban or even tight restrictions on the development of any technology is a “slippery slope” and would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage, as other countries will continue to pursue the technology. “We cannot afford to fall behind,” said Anderson. “Banning or restricting its development is not the answer. Having honest, in-depth discussions about how we create, develop, and deploy the technology is.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

August Cole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and writer at the consulting firm Avascent, said the concerns raised by tech leaders on autonomous weapons are valid, but a ban is unrealistic. “Given the proliferation of civilian machine learning and autonomy advances in everything from cars to finance to social media, a prohibition won’t work,” he said.

Setting limits on technology ultimately would hurt the military, which depends on commercial innovations, said Cole. “What needs to develop is an international legal, moral, and ethical framework. … But given the unrelenting speed of commercial breakthroughs in AI, robotics, and machine learning, this may be a taller order than asking for an outright ban on autonomous weapons.”

But while advances in commercial technology have benefited the military, analysts fear that the Pentagon has not fully grasped the risks of unfettered AI and the possibility that machines could become uncontrollable.

“AI is not just another technology,” said Andy Ilachinski, principal research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses. He authored a recent CNA study, “AI, Robots, and Swarms: Issues, Questions, and Recommended Studies.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
USMC photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

Defense has to be concerned about the implications of this debate, he said in an interview. AI is transforming the world “to the level of a Guttenberg press, to the level of the Internet,” he said. “This is a culture-shifting technology. And DoD is just a small part of that.”

Another troubling reality is that the Pentagon has yet to settle on the definition of autonomous weapons. In 2012, the Department of Defense published an instruction manual on the use of autonomous weapons. That 5-year-old document is the only existing policy on the books on how the US military uses these systems, Ilachinski said. According to that manual, a weapon is autonomous if “once activated, it can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human.”

Policies and directives are long overdue for an update, he said. “We need to know what AI is capable of, how to test it, evaluate it.”

He noted that the Defense Science Board, a Pentagon advisory panel, published two studies on the subject in 2012 and 2016 but provided “no good definition of autonomy or AI in either of them.” These are the Pentagon’s top experts and “they can’t even get it straight.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
USAF photo by Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.

Something about Musk’s warning strikes a chord with scientists that truly understand AI, Ilachinski observed. When Google’s Deepmind created a computer program in 2015 that beat the world’s Go champion, it was a landmark achievement for AI but also brought the realization that these algorithms truly have minds of their own. “This is an issue of great concern for DoD.”

There are areas within AI that scientists are still trying to wrap their heads around. In advanced systems like Deepmind’s AlphaGo, “you can’t reverse engineer why a certain behavior occurred,” Ilachinski said. “It is important for DoD to recognize that they may not able to understand completely why the system is doing what it’s doing.”

One reason to take Musk’s warning seriously is that much is still unknown about what happens within the brains of these AI systems once they are trained, said Ilachinski. “You may not be able to predict the overall behavior of the system,” he said. “So in that sense I share the angst that people like Elon Musk feel.”

On the other hand, it is too late to put the genie back in the bottle, Ilachinski added. The United States can’t let up because countries like China already are working to become the dominant power in AI. Further, the Pentagon has to worry that enemies will exploit AI in ways that can’t yet be imagined. Anyone can buy a couple of drones for less than a thousand dollars, go to the MIT or Harvard website, learn about AI, download snippets of code and implant them in the drones, he said. A swarm of smart drones is something “would have a hard time countering because we are not expecting it. It’s very cheap and easy to do.”

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How will the US Air Force replace the iconic UH-1 Huey helicopter?

It may be tough for civilians to feel the same nostalgia a veteran might feel to see the venerable UH-1 Huey helicopter go.


That is until they find out it’s been the helicopter on screens small and large for the better part of a century.

Non-vets watched the workhorse Huey pick up the dead and dying in news broadcasts and on the silver screen, dropping men and material into Vietnam (among other places).

7 things you actually miss from deployment

Retiring the UH-1 Huey

If you haven’t heard, the U.S. military is set to retire the iconic UH-1 Huey Helicopter in 2017.

The aircraft was first developed in 1956 and was the first helicopter powered by a jet engine. Its distinctive chomping sound is caused by its powerful rotor blades approaching the speed of sound. It’s been used for search and rescue, rearmament, overwatch for moving nuclear missiles and more.

You name it. The Huey probably supported it. They didn’t name it “Utility Helicopter” for nothing.

But it has been in service since the 1970s and times have changed, but the U.S. military still needs its all-purpose workhorse to replace the UH-1 Huey’s multifaceted role.

Filling the gap

Early in 2016, lawmakers wanted to replace the Hueys with UH-60M Black Hawks — especially those congressional leaders representing states that house intercontinental ballistic missile systems, like Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and retired Navy SEAL.

“If there are helicopters that are readily available and will save the taxpayer money, we need to get them in the field now,” Zinke said in a statement. “I know the Black Hawk well from my time in the SEALs. It is fully capable and stands ready to fill the need before us. This is not a mission that can fail. Our nuclear triad is at stake.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
A 459th Airlift Squadron UH-1N Huey prepares for flight at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 23, 2016. The 459th AS recently improved their search and rescue capabilities by outfitting two UH-1N Hueys with new rescue hoists. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Delano Scott)

Designing a UH-1 Huey replacement

In May 2016, the Air Force announced an open competition to replace the aging airframe. The budget for the 2017 fiscal year includes a request for $32.4 million to produce a Huey replacement and $25 million to manage the aging Huey fleet until a replacement can enter service.

The Marine Corps retired its UH-1N fleet in 2014. Initially, they intended to simply upgrade the fleet of UH-1N to UH-1Y. Instead, they opted to produce UH-1Ys as a whole new helicopter. The Marines have no plans to replace it.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
A UH-1Y Huey with Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 39 conducts close-air support during an MAGTF Integration Exercise in El Centro, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alissa P. Schuning)

The Army replaced its Huey fleet with the UH-72A Lakota. The Lakota is quieter, smaller and more maneuverable than the Huey, and costs roughly $4.5 million. The Army currently has 200 of the European-made, U.S.-assembled Lakotas worldwide.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
A UH-72 Lakota Helicopter of the National Training Center’s Aviation Company provides air superiority cover for the opposition forces engaged with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division’s ground forces during an encounter in the Siberian Flats at the National Training Center, June 15, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Austin Anyzeski)

The Air Force is the only branch whose quest to replace the UH-1 Huey started a fight. The service originally planned to replace it with the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform, but that was axed in 2013 due to budget caps.

Next, the Air Force tried to give Sikorsky, the company that makes UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, a sole-source contract to produce a replacement. That idea was met with criticism because the Black Hawk is bigger and costs more. The National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste sent letters to the House and Senate Armed Services committees in opposition to the sole-source move. That’s when the HASC set aside the funds for a replacement.

“This is an urgent need,” HASC Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry told the Washington Post. “These helicopters are around 40 years old, and I’m not very pleased it has [been] allowed to get to this situation.”

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China helps search for missing US Navy sailor

China’s Defense Ministry says a Chinese warship is assisting the US Navy in its search for a sailor who is missing and may have gone overboard during operations in the South China Sea.


The ministry said in a statement August 3 that the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s guided-missile frigate Liuzhou is coordinating with the US in the search for the sailor “in the spirit of humanitarianism.”

The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet says the destroyer USS Stethem reported a man overboard around 9 a.m. August 2. Multiple searches of the destroyer were conducted but the sailor hasn’t been found.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) is underway in the East China Sea. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Smith.

China, which claims virtually all of the South China Sea, accused the US in July of trespassing in its waters when the Stethem sailed within 12 nautical miles (32 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel Group.

The operation was aimed at affirming the right to passage and challenging what the US considers China’s excessive territorial claims in the area. China sent ships to intercept the destroyer.

China has strongly objected to repeated freedom of navigation missions by the US Navy in the South China Sea.

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

A sunset is seen through the nose of a B-25 Mitchell during a military tattoo held at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, Sept. 16, 2015. The “warbird flight” consisted of two B-25 Mitchells, two P-40 Warhawks and a P-51 Mustang.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan J. Sonnier/USAF

A P-51 Mustang flies over Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, during a military tattoo Sept. 16, 2015.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Airman 1st Class Philip Bryant/USAF

ARMY:

Soldiers in Basic Combat Training low crawl through the final obstacle during the Fit to Win endurance course at Fort Jackson, S.C., Oct. 1, 2015.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/US Army

A soldier, sets up a claymore mine during the JMRC’s Expert Infantryman Badge Competition at the Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, Sept. 29, 2015.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger/US Army

NAVY:

IWO TO, Japan (Sept. 29, 2015) Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 conduct a special patrol insertion/extraction exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas/USN

PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 28, 2015) An AV-8B Harrier II assigned to the Black Sheep of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214 lands on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) during flight operations. Boxer is underway off the coast of Southern California conducting routine training exercises and maintenance in preparation for its upcoming deployment.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael T. Eckelbecker/USN

MARINE CORPS:

11th Marine Regiment works through the debris and fog in order to fire rounds during Supporting Arms Coordination Center Exercise on San Clemente Island, California, Sept. 25, 2015. The exercise is the first time these Marines and sailors will work together at sea in preparation for deployment.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Lance Cpl. Alvin Pujols/USMC

A AH-1Z Cobra with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force lands aboard the USS New Orleans during the PHIBRON-MEU Integration exercise off the coast of San Clemente, California, Sept. 27, 2015. This marks the first at-sea exercise for the PHIBRON-MEU Marines and Sailors as they work together in preparation for deployment to the Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility in early 2016.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Sgt. Tyler C. Gregory/USMC

COAST GUARD:

USCG Cutter Healy uses spotlights while navigating through ice Sept. 20, 2015. The lights allow the helmsman to see pressure ridges and other obstacles, aiding in the completion of a safe night passage through the Arctic Ocean.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall/USCG

Time for some ice training USCG Cutter Healy crewmembers conduct ice rescue training Sept. 4, 2015, while underway in the Arctic Ocean. Qualified crewmembers stand ice rescue watch any time scientists or others are working on the ice.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall

NOW: More incredible photos

OR: This sub sank because its commander couldn’t flush his toilet

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The new SECARMY is killing it with sea turtles, pushups, and Nicki Minaj

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning has a lot of work ahead of him. Keeping the Army strong enough to counter threats from Russia, China, and international terrorism while facing constant budget questions is tough.


Only time will tell if he can rise to the challenge. If nothing else, though, he will definitely leave his mark on the Twittersphere because he is already killing it there.

Fanning was confirmed on May 17, 2016. Since then, he’s Tweeted a Star Wars GIF to show love for baseball:

… and an “Across the Universe” GIF to talk about Fort Jackson drill sergeants turning citizens into Soldiers:

Of course, it’s not all movies with the new SECARMY. He was scheduled to visit soldiers training in Anakonda 16 during the 241st Army Birthday and tweeted a clip of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video to let them know he was coming to Torun, Poland to make sure they were working out:

That turned into a Twitter exchange where he challenged a German general to one-handed pushups (via a GIF of “Kung Fu Panda,” because of course he used “Kung Fu Panda”) and 16th Sustainment Brigade soldiers responded with a video of 0-handed pushups:

While he was in Poland, he visited those same troops and worked out with them, then tweeted a photo of it:

Finally, while Fanning was working out with the troops, the Secretary of the Navy tweeted a happy birthday message to America’s oldest military branch. The Fanning responded with an awesome sea turtle, giving a nod to the sea service and “The Little Mermaid” in the process:

Fanning is going to face a lot of leadership challenges during his tenure as secretary. He’s already had to offer leadership and condolences as Fort Hood lost nine soldiers killed when their truck overturned in floodwaters and the Army Reserve lost a captain in the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

But while he can’t be physically present every time a soldier is in danger or needs comfort, he can help keep morale up by ensuring troops know that someone smart and capable has their back in Washington D.C. If he can run the beltway half as well as he runs his Twitter feed, then the Army should be okay.

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This Army vet is crazy motivated

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  Former NFL player and Army Veteran Daniel Rodriguez seeks out battlefields.

Enlisting after the untimely death of his father, Rodriguez served grueling deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, survived heavy action and the loss of comrades, and returned stateside with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star — all by age 19.

Battling PTSD, Rodriguez reinvented himself as a college football player, joining the Clemson University team and eventually going on to play pro with the St. Louis Rams. Continuing to master the improbable, he wrote a bestselling autobiography about his experience entitled “Rise: A soldier, a dream and a promise kept.”

And now he’s reinventing himself again, having just signed to play pro soccer in Europe. You might think you’re motivated, but sorry, not like this dude.

“If I had any one of my friends that could be here today that were killed, what excuse would they make to not want to be with their loved one, to not want to be productive, to not want to do something one more day if they had the opportunity to.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Dust, and where to eat it. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Rodriguez invited Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis to spend a day with him on the off-season training pitch, a battlefield that would soon test the limits of Curtis’ athletic prowess. Not content to merely survive a session in the sh*t in Rodriguez Boot Camp, Curtis attempted to recapture some manhood by asserting his prerogative to throw down the now familiar Oscar Mike Challenge.

The results were all too typical.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
For a brief moment, things looked promising for Curtis. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Watch as Rodriguez shows Curtis how to put some twinkle in his toes and where he can shove his “spinning cartwheel block” in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

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Navy and Marine Corps considering mandatory separation for troops who share nude photos

The personnel chiefs for the Navyand Marine Corps revealed Tuesday that both services are considering updating their policies to require mandatory processing for administrative separation for troops found to have engaged in abusive social media activity, a move that would make online violations akin to drug use and sexual assault.


Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, Marine Corps deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, told Military.com that a task force organized to address the aftermath of a social media scandal implicating Marines is considering the option.

Related: Why we need chivalry in the Marine Corps

The scandal centers on a private Facebook page called Marines United, where hundreds of active-duty troops and reservists apparently viewed and exchanged nude and compromising photos of female service members without their consent. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe into the illicit activity has since expanded beyond the page to other groups and users, NCIS officials said last week.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

“There is mandatory processing for administrative separation in a number of different cases. Use of drugs requires mandatory administrative processing, sexual harassment requires mandatory administrative processing, sexual assault requires mandatory administrative processing,” Brilakis said, following a congressional hearing on military social media policies on Capitol Hill.

“We are considering whether events wrapped up in Marines United, those things, would rise to the level where the commandant would recommend or direct me to begin mandatory administrative processing for separation,” he said.

Processing does not guarantee that an individual will be separated from the service, but it does direct that the relevant commander begin a review, and an administrative board review the case of the service member in question. Such a move would require a change to the Marine Corps separations manual, Brilakis said.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima sails past the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor, November 10, 2016, before Veterans Week NYC 2016, which honors the service of all US veterans. About 1,000 sailors and more than 100 Marines from the ship planned to participate in events throughout the city, including the Veterans Day parade. | US Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Carla Giglio

The Navy, which organized a senior leader working group in the wake of the scandal, is considering a similar step, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel Tuesday.

“We are reviewing the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and Navy policy governing mandatory administrative separation to ensure they are adequate,” he said.

The fact that both services are considering such a move, reserved for violations for which the military has a zero-tolerance policy, underscores how seriously the military is now addressing the problem of social media harassment and the pressure from lawmakers to produce results fast.

Also read: Mattis makes a statement about Marine ‘misconduct’

Similar policies implemented in the 1980s to combat drug use in the services resulted in a huge reduction. According to Defense Department statistics, 47 percent of troops were found to have used drugs in 1973, compared to just 3 percent by 1995. More recently, the military has worked to apply the same approach to sexual harassment and assault, though the results to date have been more muted.

The policy reviews come as multiple lawmakers express outrage at service members’ alleged behavior and call for decisive action.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a freshman Democrat from New Hampshire, called on the military to boot offenders, reading aloud from an enlistment document that states troops will be subject to separation if their behavior falls short of military standards.

“I don’t know why we have to debate and you tell them at the very beginning and you sign off saying their behaviors are unacceptable,” she said. “I don’t understand why we have to then pursue many various avenues. Do you still have the power to throw them out if it’s very clear they can’t do this?”

Brilakis, however, emphasized that everyone in uniform deserves due process and will continue to receive it.

“Whether it be through an administrative procedure or a military justice procedure, there are processes,” he said.

Articles

From shoot to BOOM! This is the deadly science behind the RPG

What started as a way for Soviet ground troops to take out German tanks in World War II has since turned into a global weapons phenomenon: The rocket-propelled grenade.


7 things you actually miss from deployment

Related: This is how the Sabot round turns enemies into a fine mist

While the original anti-tank technology was meant to have a one-off use, the modern RPG is a reloadable weapon, with a shaped-charge explosive used by militias and official military forces alike.

“The Russians were extremely impressed by the panzerfaust,” said Will Fowler, an explosives expert, in the video below. “It was the basis for their RPG-2 program which went on to the now-famous RPG-7.”

7 things you actually miss from deployment
With varying degrees of celebration.

When an RPG is fired, it leaves the barrel at 383 feet per second. An additional rocket fires and deploys stabilizing fins as the shell spins toward a target.

7 things you actually miss from deployment

The RPG’s cone shape forms a jet of explosive energy outward when the shell strikes its target. That’s where the weapons gets its armor-penetrating power.

7 things you actually miss from deployment

The RPG is a simple, cheap, and efficient system that can completely destroy a soft-skinned vehicle and can cause grievous harm to some up-armored ones.

Troops who encounter an RPG round in combat are lucky to survive to tell the tale.

“When I was in Iraq, the RPG was a deadly weapon,” Staff Sgt. Matthew Bertles, a U.S. Army M240 gunner, told the show Weaponology. “An RPG struck my 240, blew me back, destroyed our vehicle, and injured me.”

Watch the history of the RPG in the video below:

Articles

These are the former KGB bodyguards protecting Kim Jong-un from harm

Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who lives in constant fear of assassination, has reportedly hired Russian ex-KGB bodyguards to protect him in case of an attempt on his life.


Japan’s Asahi Shinbum reported that Kim hired about 10 former KGB counter-terrorism agents to train his bodyguards on how to detect and respond to terrorist attacks.

The KGB, the former Soviet Union’s main security and spy agency, had decades of practice in defending high-value targets against attempts at regime change.

The source told Asahi Shinbum that Kim was particularly scared of US advanced-weapons systems, like the Gray Eagle drone the US is set to operate in South Korea in 2018.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
An MQ-1C Gray Eagle armed with Hellfire missiles revs up before taking flight. DoD Photo by 1st Lt. Jason Sweeney.

However, it’s unclear how counter-terrorism bodyguards could protect Kim against a drone high in the sky raining down bombs.

South Korean media has reported that the US and South Korea have been working together on a “decapitation force” to kill the North Korean leader in the event that Pyongyang becomes intolerably aggressive.

Kim has a history of going to extreme measures to shore up his reign over North Korea, with some reports saying he killed his half-brother Kim Jong Nam to thwart a Chinese-backed coup attempt.

Articles

Navy upgrades 8 valor awards for SEALs

On Jan. 13, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presented eight Navy Crosses and eight Silver Stars to active-duty and former members of East and West Coast Naval Special Warfare Commands at a ceremony in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


One Navy Cross and one Silver Star were presented posthumously, including an upgrade from a Silver Star to a Navy Cross for SEAL Charles Keating, IV, who was killed during an ambush in northern Iraq while assisting anti-ISIS Peshmerga forces.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
U.S. Navy file photo of Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV, 31, of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

The upgrade for Keating was first reported by Stars and Stripes.

“Today we honor some of our nation’s finest heroes, not just for their individual acts of courage and bravery in the face of danger, but for the everyday selflessness that they and their peers demonstrate,” Mabus said. “This generation of Sailors, and particularly those serving as part of our Naval Special Warfare team, is an extraordinary group of men and women who have given so much to our country.”

These awards were upgrades to previously awarded medals for valor in combat and upgraded as a result of the Department of the Navy’s Post 9/11 Valor Awards Review Panel. This panel reviewed award nominations from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure members were appropriately recognized for acts of valor.

The Navy did not disclose the names of the SEALs whose awards were upgraded.

According to Keating’s Silver Star citation, he lead Peshmerga fighters in repelling an assault by 100 ISIS fighters, including intercepting a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device with sniper fire and rockets. Keating’s actions occurred in March 2016, two months before he was killed.

7 things you actually miss from deployment
A group of U.S. Navy SEALs clear a room during a no-light live-fire drill near San Diego. Naval Special Warfare reservists from a Combat Service Support unit attached to a West Coast-based Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team conducted a field training exercise based on principles from the expeditionary warfare community. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson/Released)

“Although today we recognize these individuals for their heroism and valor in combat, we are also honoring the Sailors and Marines who fought beside them and those who are still in the fight,” Mabus said.

The Department of the Navy reviewed more than 300 valor awards and the review was completed Nov. 15.

The Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy’s second highest decoration, is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. The act must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk.

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations with a friendly force. It is the fourth highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and the third highest award for valor.

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