Command of the seas sometimes means taking control of a non-complaint ship by forceful means, and, as they’ve demonstrated a number of times in recent years while dealing with pirates off the coast of Somalia, U.S. Navy SEALs possess a specific set of skills required to get the job done. This mission is known as “vessel boarding search and seizure” or “VBSS.”
Here’s how VBSS missions generally go down:
Mission planning begins between all the players in the intelligence center aboard the strike group’s aircraft carrier. Elements beyond the SEALs are members of the ship’s crew who need to know where to position their vessels and aviators from the air wing. HH-60 pilots will carry the SEALs to the target ship, and Super Hornet pilots will fly high cover in case things get sporty and more firepower is required.
Super Hornet launches off of Cat 4. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
The Super Hornets launch first, armed with precision guided bombs and a nose cannon. They’ll establish a combat air patrol station high overhead in order not to tip off the bad guys.
HH-60s — the special ops configured variant of the Seahawk — launch with the SEAL team aboard.
Generally a pair of HH-60s is enough for the average VBSS. The helos transit a very low altitude and approach the target ship from off of the stern.
At the last second, the HH-60s pop over the target ship’s fantail . . .
. . . and deliver the SEALs by fast rope.
On deck, the SEALs make best speed for the superstructure.
Out of the open area, the team consolidates for the assault on the control points, usually the bridge of the ship.
The trick is maintain the element of surprise and to get to the bridge undetected. If that happens, neutralizing the bad guys is an easier proposition. If it doesn’t happen then the SEALs are ready to deal, armed with M-4s, 9mm pistols, concussion grenades, and knives.
Once maintaining the element of surprise is no longer a factor, the H-60s can close in . . .
. . . and provide cover in the event the SEALs missed something that was hiding on the way to the bridge.
After any threat is neutralized, the SEALs can inspect the ship to see if there’s any contraband aboard.
With tasking complete, the SEAL team gathers on the bridge for a quick “hot wash up” of the mission and to call for pickup back to the carrier.
Team Mighty – Photos courtesy of CTT Solutions and Pillar Media Group
CZ USA has released its newest pistol, a polymer, striker-fired handgun called the CZ P-10Z. It has been described as weapon that combines all the best features of its competitors: a Steyr M-A1 bore axis, VP9 trigger, MP grip, and the safety and ergonomics of a customized Glock — all for a price comparable to the XDM.
If all that is true, this might be the best pistol of this breed yet. Time and round count will tell.
The CZ P-10 C (presumably so named in anticipation of a full-sized and sub-compact version yet to come) is a 9mm or .40 fiber-reinforced polymer framed, striker-fired pistol. It features a cold hammer-forged barrel, trigger safety and firing pin block safety with three-dot “stepped” metal sights suitable for use in racking the weapon off a bootheel or belt. MSRP is set at $499, which means barring political shenanigans you’ll be able to pick one up for even less.
When news of the new pistol first broke a couple months ago, Mike Pannone (a former Unit operator who now runs CTT Solutions) spoke highly of it.
“I’ve shot it and I’m gonna tell you all, this will be a big player in the striker market,” Pannone said. “Great ergos, legendary CZ reliability/durability/accuracy, incredible trigger right out of the box…and it fits in nearly every Glock 19 holster. Just wait until the full-size model hits…Duty gun and Production class USPSA here we go!”
Here he is more recently, going into more detail.
Now, why should you give a damn what this guy thinks?
Easy. Mike “Noner” Pannone of CTT Solutions is a former Force Marine turned CAG (1ST SFOD-D) operator. Pannone came back out of retirement after 9/11 to serve as the head marksmanship instructor for the (then-fledgling) Federal Air Marshals Service, the agency said to have the most stringent and rigorous firearms/marksmanship standards in US law enforcement.
He later worked as a security contractor for the Department of State overseas in highly non-permissive areas, later working with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group.
Pannone is a CZ-sponsored competitive shooter, yes, but by all accounts is reckoned a blunt, even brutally candid SME. Knowing what we know of him, if he wasn’t happy with the weapon, he’d say so (or just wouldn’t say anything at all).
Here’s how CZ lists out the P-10 C’s primary advantages.
•Slide and barrel with extremely durable surface finish
•Two pairs of cocking grip surfaces for comfortable handling
•New “degree” of resistance against corrosion and mechanical damage
•Exceptional iron sights accentuated by three luminescent dots
•Automatic striker block guaranteeing drop safety
•Mechanically and thermally stable polymer frame reinforced with glass fibre
•Three interchangeable backstraps in S, M, L sizes
•Excellent magazine capacity of 15 (17) rounds in 9×19 calibre
•Excellent shooting comfort thanks to the well-designed ergonomic grip with distinct checkering
•Flat ambidextrous slide stop and magazine catch; a magazine catch with a wider grip for right-handed as well as left-handed shooters is available as an accessory
The pistol should be hitting shelves sometime during the first half of 2017. Find more details online at CZ USA.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert outlined in a speech last week what the Navy would hope to see in a next-generation strike aircraft. Tellingly, Greenert’s ideal bears little resemblance to the trillion-dollar F-35, as David Larter reports for the Navy Times.
For instance, the most senior naval officer in the U.S. Navy said that “stealth may be overrated,” a statement that could interpreted as a swipe at the troubled F-35.
“What does that next strike fighter look like?” Greenert said during the speech in Washington. “I’m not sure it’s manned, don’t know that it is. You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated … Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable. You get my point.”
Greenert’s has a long-standing skepticism of stealth, which he believes will not be able to keep up with advances in radar technology. In 2012, Greenert wrote that “[i]t is time to consider shifting our focus from platforms that rely solely on stealth to also include concepts for operating farther from adversaries using standoff weapons and unmanned systems — or employing electronic-warfare payloads to confuse or jam threat sensors rather than trying to hide from them.”
Greenert’s position on the questionable utility of stealth meshes with what certain figures in the U.S. defense industry are saying, with Boeing taking the view that electro-magnetic warfare and the use of jamming technology is fundamentally more important than stealth. Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the company that produces the F-35, often compete for similar military contracts.
“Today is kind of a paradigm shift, not unlike the shift in the early part of the 20th century when they were unsure of the need to control the skies,” Mike Gibbons, the vice president for Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler programs, told Business Insider. “Today, the need to control the EM [electro-magnetic] spectrum is much the same.”
“Stealth technology was never by itself sufficient to protect any of our own forces,” Gibbons said.
Boeing’s EA-18G Growler specializes in disrupting enemy sensors, interrupting command and control systems, and jamming weapons’ homing systems.
Boeing believes that its Growlers compliment Lockheed’s F-35. Ultimately, the Navy remains lukewarm about the acquisition of the F-35. For 2015, the Navy ordered only two F-35s, which which lawmakers increased to four. The Marines requested six and the Air Force ordered 26 of the planes for the coming year.
The Army general who oversaw U.S. Special Ops in Central and South America was fired from his job last year for repeatedly getting drunk in public, according to new documents revealed by The Washington Post on Wednesday.
Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, 55, was said to have retired “for health and personal reasons” but the documents revealed multiple times when he got drunk at a golf club bar near his Special Operations Command-South headquarters in Florida, as well as an alcohol-related incident during a deployment to Peru.
In a brief telephone interview, Mulholland said he had been affected by “some medical issues,” including post-traumatic stress disorder and a moderate case of traumatic brain injury. He said his actions were triggered by a lack of sleep, but he declined to comment further about the incidents.
“I’m not in favor of your printing any of this, truly,” he said. “I don’t need this harassment. . . . I just want to be left alone.”
Mulholland took command of SocSouth on Oct., 2012, according to a news release. He resigned in Aug. 2014, The South-Dade Newsleader reported.
The challenge coin game is a military tradition with murky roots. The game is played where one service member at a bar challenges another to present their challenge coin. If the challenged doesn’t have their coin, they have to buy the challenger a drink. If the challenged service member has their coin, they get a round on the challenger.
Few people play the game anymore, but unit coin designs say a lot about a command. Here are some of the best challenge coin designs we’ve seen.
1. U.S. Army diver coin
It’s cut into a cool shape and has many of the Army’s diver badges on it. It both identifies the holder and calls them to go after even higher certifications as a diver.
2. The Mickey Mouse challenge coin
The military has a long history with co-opting copyrighted materials for its unit coins, murals, and posters. While most units go for something violent or that caters to an adult crowd, the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando made one that reminded everyone just how easy it is to get to Walt Disney World from the center. It’s a 40-minute drive.
3. Trample the weak
Most units, especially in the Army and Marine Corps, go aggressive. But this Airborne infantry coin went the extra mile to remind everyone that the infantry has one job and Chosen Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade plans on being good at it.
4. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
The most senior enlisted man in the Navy has to represent, and this coin from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West lets everyone know where the coin came from. The cut of the coin is very impressive as well, with a gold chain trailing down the anchor.
5. South Park
The South Park coin is a popular design. Everyone just changes the location and calls it a day. It gets laughs and lets the holder brag about their former duty stations.
6. Friday the 13th
For Navy chief petty officers, one of the major ceremonies is being accepted into the chief petty officer mess hall. The men given this coin were accepted on Friday the 13th and were rewarded with an awesome coin.
Do you remember when former President George W. Bush gave a speech congratulating America for completing the mission in Iraq back in 2003? That took place aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (and is probably a moment the former POTUS would probably like to take back for obvious reasons but let’s stay on track here).
In May of 2017, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was redelivered back to the Navy after undergoing nearly a four-year mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul.
Approximately 2.5 million hours of labor were committed to the overhaul and restoration of this legendary aircraft carrier.
The vessel’s upgrades include various repairs and replacements of ventilation, electrical, propellers, rudders, and combat and aviation support systems.
With the innovated modification to the rudders and propellers, the USS Abraham Lincoln can now tactfully turn around with minimal support.
That famous 216 CE battle is now regarded as one of the most impressive tactical victories of all time. After spending two years rampaging about the Italian peninsula, Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca cemented his status as a military legend by surrounding and defeating his enemies with a much smaller force.
Ramsay’s forces used a similar pincer movement during the Battle of the Bastards. Jon was ultimately able to subvert the historical model and break free of Ramsay’s circle of death, with the help of reinforcements from the Eyrie.
In Hannibal’s case, the Roman legions were butchered, leaving up to 70,000 dead, including Roman consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus.
Paullus’ son-in-law Scipio Africanus would ultimately defeat Hannibal once and for all at Zama.
The Boltons share their habit of skinning people alive with an ancient regime
Getting flayed alive is probably one of the worst ways to go out.
But this antagonist’s gruesome hobby didn’t simply come from the dark side of Martin’s imagination.
In fact, one ancient kingdom was famous for skinning its enemies.
According to the blog History Buff, the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II claimed to have “flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me and draped their skins over the pile of corpses; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land and draped their skins over the walls.”
Westeros’ colossal ice wall has a real-world counterpart
Martin first thought of the Wall on a trip to Scotland.
“I stood on Hadrian’s Wall and tried to imagine what it would be like to be a Roman soldier sent here from Italy or Antioch,” Martin told the SF Site. “To stand here, to gaze off into the distance, not knowing what might emerge from the forest.”
Hadrian’s Wall was hardly an imposing ice wall. And it didn’t protect England from scary, winter zombies. Construction on it began in 122 CE, ostensibly to separate the Romans from the native Britons.
The blog “The History Behind Game of Thrones” explains that the Westerosi Wall and the initial treatment of the Wildlings mirrors “the Roman perception of the native Britons as the ‘Other’ — a distancing strategy employed to dehumanize, alienate, exclude and justify ill treatment of groups outside of one’s own.”
There have been several Red Wedding-style attacks throughout the centuries
A strikingly similar attack took place in Ireland in 1574.
An Irish chieftain named Sir Brian mac Felim Ó Néill ruled over the kingdom of Clannabuidhe and had previously been knighted by the English Crown. When he lost the Queen’s favor, he began to fight against the English invaders. Eventually, however, he invited Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex, to his castle to discuss peace terms over a Christmas feast, according to Wayne E. Lee’s “Barbarians and Brothers.”
At the Earl’s signal, Sir Brian, his wife, and the rest of his family were seized, while 200 of their followers were indiscriminately slaughtered.
Sir Brian Ó Néill and his family were all subsequently executed.
A similar situation occurred in Scotland, during the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe.
Captain Robert Campbell and 120 of his men were given hospitality at Clan MacDonalds’ castle. After two weeks, a message arrived ordering Campbell to attack, according to Britannica.
One winter’s night, the soldiers played cards with their victims and bid them pleasant dreams, as usual. Then they massacred all the MacDonald men they could find, including the chief.
Another Red Wedding-esque incident — the similarly-named Black Dinner — went down in Scotland in 1440. Advisers of the 10-year-old King James II grew concerned that Clan Douglas was growing too bold and powerful, according to the Week.
These advisers invited the 16-year-old Earl of Douglas and his younger brother to come over to Edinburgh Castle. The king and the Douglases had an enjoyable time. Nothing seemed amiss.
Then, at the end of the dinner, the severed head of a bull — a symbol of Clan Douglas — was tossed on the table. Like the “Rains of Castamere” at the Red Wedding, this was the signal. Much to the young king’s horror, his two friends were dragged outside, put through a mock trial, and decapitated.
On the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, as World War II veterans gathered to attend a ceremony on their behalf at the National WWII Memorial in Washington DC, the veteran campaign Got Your 6 rallied 125 veterans, family members, and civilian supporter volunteers to work with the National Park Service beautifying the grounds — painting benches, clearing brush, and mulching flower beds.
“There’s not a better generation of veterans who have led a resurgence of community than World War II vets,” said Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6. “Seventy-two years ago today the United States lost more troops storming the beaches of Normandy than we have in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over 14 years. No generation has given more to their country, and we want to honor their legacy. That’s why we picked the World War II Memorial, but we had so many badass vets show up that we pushed them over to the Vietnam War Memorial as well.”
Marine Corps vet Matt Stiner, the White House’s associate director of Veterans and Military Affairs, kicked off the event by reading a proclamation from President Obama:
I send greetings to all those joining Got Your 6 in honoring our nation’s veterans. America endures because of the great patriots who bear the incredible burden of defending our freedom. Our veterans have been tested in ways that the rest of us may never fully understand. As you come together with a common purpose know that I am grateful for your efforts. God bless the members of our armed forces and their families, and God bless the United States of America.
The volunteers were given their beautification assignments by Park Ranger James Pierce, an Army veteran who was wounded by a suicide bomber while serving in Khost, Afghanistan. Pierce got his job through a program called Operation Guardian that places wounded vets into roles with the National Park Service.
“I just changed uniforms,” Pierce explained. “My mission is still important. A lot of people are depending on me. It gets me out of bed in the morning.”
The F-22 was slated to replace the F-15A/B/C/D Eagles as the premier air-superiority fighter. But the Raptor’s production was halted at 187 airframes. Let’s go through a tale of the tape on these planes, before we see what happens when five Eagles jump a Raptor.
According to Joe Baugher, the F-15 has a top speed of Mach 2.5, a cruising speed of 570 knots, can carry eight air-to-air missiles (usually four AIM-120/AIM-7 and four AIM-9), and has a 20mm M61 cannon with 940 rounds. It has a range of 3,450 miles.
Baugher notes that the F-22 has a top speed of Mach 2.2 slightly slower than the F-15. But the F-22 cruises at Mach 1.6. It carries four AIM-120 and four AIM-9 missiles. It also has a 20mm M61 cannon. It has a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles.
Here’s the video showing how the five Eagles fared against the Raptor. Warning: This was not a fair fight.
As cyber attacks on the US become commonplace, disorienting, and potentially damaging to the US’s fundamental infrastructure, the US Army’s Cyber Command reached out to civilian hackers in a language they could understand — hidden hacking puzzles online.
From there, the user can enter rudimentary commands and access a hacking puzzle. Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone told reporters at Defense One’s Tech Summit on July 13 that of the 9.8 million people who viewed the ad online, 800,000 went on to attempt the hacking test. Only 1% passed.
Business Insider attempted the test and failed swiftly.
“We have the world’s adversaries trying to come at our nation,” said Nakasone, who explained that in the next few months qualified hackers could undergo “direct commissioning” and find themselves as “mid-grade officers” in the Army’s Cyber Command. Hackers who can pass the test online will be invited to apply for a role within the Department of Defense.
With Russia’s attempts to hack into voting systems during the 2016 presidential election and its alleged infiltration of US nuclear power plants keeping the US’s cyber vulnerabilities constantly in the news, Nakasone said Cyber Command will put together 133 teams to do battle in the cyber realm.
In light of the recent attacks, Nakasone said he’s seen “more enthusiasm or desire to serve and join the government or military” and that he looks forward to bringing civilians into the battle against foreign cyber crime.
The final resting place of presidents, bandleaders, war heroes, astronauts, inventors, civil rights leaders, Pulitzer Prize winners, boxers, Supreme Court justices and sports stars, Arlington National Cemetery stands as a memorial to the melting pot of the United States. With connections to some of our nation’s most influential people and pivotal events, its history is as interesting as its denizens.
Arlington is situated on 624 acres overlooking the Potomac River directly across from Washington, D. C. Although today it is surrounded by the nation’s capital, at one time, Arlington was a bucolic estate with a neoclassical mansion, Arlington House. Still presiding over the grounds today, the mansion was built by George Washington’s (yes, that Washington) grandson and marks the beginning of the cemetery’s history.
Before she married George, Martha was married to Daniel Parke Custis. After he died and she wed the “Father” of our Country, George adopted her two surviving children. The oldest, John Parke Custis (JPC), died in 1781 while serving with the Revolutionary Army. He left behind four children, the youngest of which, George Washington Parke Custis (GWPC), was born only shortly before his father’s death.
GWPC and one sister went to live with the Washington’s. When he became of age in 1802, GWPC inherited wealth and property from his deceased father (JPC), including the Arlington land. Hoping to build a home that could also serve as a memorial to his grandfather, George Washington, GWPC hired an architect and built a Greek revival mansion believed by some to be “modeled after the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens.”
The home was built in pieces, with the north wing being completed in 1802, and the south in 1804. These two stood as separate buildings until the central section connected them in 1818. During GWPC’s life, a portion of the mansion was reserved to store George Washington memorabilia, which included portraits, papers and even the tent Washington used while in command at Yorktown.
GWPC and his family lived and died on the property, where many of them were buried.
In 1831, GWPC’s only surviving child, Mary, married Robert E. Lee (yes, that Lee). The Lee’s lived on the property with the Custis’s where they raised their seven children. At her father’s death, Mary inherited Arlington. Robert E. Lee loved the property and once described it as the place “where my attachments are more strongly placed than at any other place in the world.”
Prior to the Civil War, Lee had attended West Point (graduating second in his class) and saw service for the U.S. in the Mexican War (1846-1848). A respected and well-liked officer, Lee struggled with his decision to resign his commission of 36 years in order to take command of Virginia’s confederate forces. When he did in April 1861, this choice was seen as a betrayal of the Union by many of his former friends including Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs.
As Arlington, on high ground overlooking the capital, was critical to either the defense or defeat of D.C., Union leaders were eager to control it. After Virginia seceded in May 1861, Union troops crossed en masse into Virginia and soon took command of the estate. The grounds were quickly converted into a Union camp.
By 1862, Congress had passed a law that imposed a tax on the real property of “insurrectionists.” Mary was unable to pay the tax bill in person, and her proxy’s attempt to satisfy the debt was rebuffed. As a result, Uncle Sam seized Arlington, and at its auction, the federal government purchased the estate for $26,800 (about $607,000 today, far below market value).
Not only a good bargain, Union leaders felt that by seizing the estates of prominent Rebels, they would, in the words of Gen. William T. Sherman: “Make them so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it.”
In 1863, after thousands of former slaves, freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, converged on D.C., a Freedman’s Village was established on the estate “complete with new frame houses, schools, churches and farmlands on which former slaves grew food for the Union war effort.”
One sees more than poetic justice in the fact that its rich lands, so long the domain of the great general of the rebellion, now afford labor and support to hundreds of enfranchised slaves.
As Union casualties began to mount in the spring of 1864, Gen. Meigs suggested burying some of the dead at Arlington. The first, on May 13, 1864, was Pvt. William Christman, a poor soldier whose family could not afford the cost of a burial. Soon, many other indigent soldiers were laid to rest on Arlington’s grounds, near the slave and freedman cemetery that had already been established. Realizing the efficacy of this system, Gen. Meigs urged Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton:
I recommend that . . . the land surrounding Arlington Mansion . . . be appropriated as a National Military Cemetery, to be properly enclosed, laid out and carefully preserved for that purpose.
Serving the dual goals of paying homage to the dead and making “Arlington uninhabitable for the Lees,” Meigs had prominent Union officers buried near Mrs. Lee’s garden. He also placed a mass grave of over 2000 unknown soldiers, topped with a raised sarcophagus, close to the house.
After the war, the Lee’s tried in vain to regain Arlington. Mary wrote to a friend that the graves: “are planted up to the very door without any regard to common decency.” After Robert E. Lee’s death in 1870, Mary petitioned Congress for the return of her family home, but this proposal was soundly defeated.
Shortly after, other monuments and structures honoring the dead were erected including numerous elaborate Gilded Age tombstones and the large, red McClellan Gate at the entrance to the grounds.
The family was not done, however, and in January 1879, following six days of trial a jury determined that the requirement that Mary Lee had to pay the 1862 tax in person was unconstitutional. On appeal, the Supreme Court concurred, so the property was once again in the hands of the Lee family.
Rather than disinter graves and move monuments, however, the federal government and Mary Lee’s son, George Washington Custis Lee, agreed on a sale. On March 31, 1883, Uncle Sam purchased Arlington from the Lee family for $150,000 (about $3,638,000 today).
One of the National Cemetery’s most well known gravesites is that of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy with its eternal flame. Two of his children and Jackie Kennedy are also interred there.
William Howard Taft is the only other U.S. President buried on the grounds, and he along with three other Chief Justices and eight associate justices represent the Supreme Court at Arlington.
Of course, war heroes abound and famous generals buried at Arlington include George C. Marshall (father of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after WWII) and Omar N. Bradley.
Famous explorers interred at Arlington include Adm. Richard Byrd (the first man to fly over both poles) and Rear Adm. Robert Peary (another arctic explorer). John Wesley Powell (of Lake Powell fame) is also laid to rest at Arlington, as are several astronauts including Lt. Col. Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Capt. Charles “Pete” Conrad, Jr. (the third man to walk on the moon).
It’s no surprise that America’s Marines have some of the coolest gear in the world.
And that gear makes for some of the most amazing night photography imaginable. Below, we have selected some of our favorite photos of the Corps at night that look like they could have been plucked straight from a video game.
LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicles from Charlie Company fire on fixed targets as part of a combined arms engagement range during sustainment training in D’Arta Plage, Djibouti.
An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 311 lands on the USS Essex.
A Marine from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, provides cover fire during a platoon assault exercise at Arta Range, Djibouti.
Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to collect simulated enemy casualties and weapons during a mechanized raid at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia.
An MV-22 Osprey prepares for take off for night low-altitude training at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.
US Marines assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One break down a rapid ground refueling during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) near 29 Palms, California.
A Marine Special Operations Team member fires an AK-47 during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
An MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron prepares to takeoff during flight operations aboard the USS Kearsarge.
Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.
A Marine Special Operations Team member fires a M240B machine gun during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
US Marines perform maintenance checks on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage.
The Pentagon. That big, awkwardly shaped building that is the epicenter of all military goings-on in our country. Contrary to Hollywood’s portrayal, the Pentagon is not some cool, dimly-lit operations center filled with military folks perpetually in the middle of a life or death operation. Well, I’m sure they have those rooms; I’m just not allowed in them.
No, for the average Pentagon person it’s a really big office building with lots of cipher locks and meeting rooms where policy is laid out and then dissected in excruciating detail, a place where the art of the blind copy on email has no equal. It’s a must tour/assignment for many hoping to advance in their field and, though technically a military installation, it’s miles away from the experience you’ll have when assigned to Ft. Bragg or any other military base.
26,000 people, 17.5 miles of corridors and a rich (and sometimes tragic) history are all a part of what it means to work in “The Building.”
1. When you come off the metro escalator but are not yet in the building.
Some are covered, some are not—it’s a saluting no man’s land where anything goes…until a gung-ho Lieutenant Colonel decides to call you out right before the guard podium because you didn’t salute. Busted.
2. Those hallways, those polished floors.
The burning desire when in the Pentagon early on a Saturday or Sunday morning to run through the halls à la Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club” singing “I wanna be an Airborne Ranger!” at the top of your lungs.
3. The mirage of the uniform shop on the fifth deck.
Sometimes you can find it, sometimes you can’t…usually when you are in desperate need of a frog or a new ribbon rack.
4. The old food service versus the new food service.
Remember when one Burger King had to feed like 5000 people?
5. The Escher-like hallways.
Walk the same way every day and at some point you will find your corridor blocked with a temporary wall because of construction.
6. Flight suits in the Pentagon.
I will never get used to this sight; unless they start parking jets and helos in the parking lot.
7. The sweet, sweet freedom of the “no cover, no salute” center courtyard.
It’s like we’re all equal!
Essential first-day-in-the-Pentagon guidance.
9. The eeriness of accidentally running into an official tour guide practicing in civilian clothes.
Because it’s just weird to see a guy walking backwards talking to himself about military history.
10. The planes.
For anyone who was there on September 11th, the inability to ever get over how low the planes fly when taking off from Reagan.
The look of defeated resignation on the faces of all those folks who would rather be out to sea/in the field/operational.
12. Your first day, when you saw a four star!
And your last day when you barely register that the SECDEF just chatted you up in the line at Starbucks.
Getting a knee injury from having to lean in on the constant curve when running around the teeny-tiny-itty-bitty track at the Pentagon Athletic Center. How many laps around for the PT test? 45 you say? Okay awesome.
14. Forgetting your ID when going to the Pentagon Athletic Center.
(Cue ominous music). Now walk the 20 miles back to your office space to get it out of your computer; unless those ninja-like CAC police have found it first…