Sometimes the hardest drinking sailors and soldiers are the ones supposed to be keeping everyone else in check. Here are four times when officers led the barroom charge:
1. The guy in charge of 450 nukes got too drunk for the Russians in Moscow.
It takes a lot too be considered too drunk in Moscow, but Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Carey took a trip there in Jul. 2013 and managed it. Among other incidents during the trip, he allegedly went to a Mexican restaurant to meet two suspicious foreign women, got extremely drunk, and tried to convince the restaurant band to let him play with them. Carey was later fired from his position.
2. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (may have) drunkenly rode through Army camps.
The famously-alcoholic Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was in a steamship on the Yazoo River in 1863 when he ran into journalist Sylvanus Cadwallader. Cadwallader later described working with Grant’s security detail and aides to unsuccessfully stop his drinking by confining the general to his wardroom.
At Stone River, this resulted in Cheatham’s two brigades being late to the attack, allowing Union Forces on the run to regroup and re-establish their lines. The recovered Union forces later managed a stunning artillery barrage that caused 2,000-3,000 casualties in four hours.
4. A Navy admiral was fired for drunkenly wandering a Florida hotel naked.
Rear Adm. David Baucom was one of the Navy’s top logistics officers until he was fired for wandering around a Florida hotel naked and drunk on Apr. 7, 2015 during a conference.
The mortar round detonated on impact, sending thousands of pieces of shrapnel through the plane and crew. Levitow was hit with 40 pieces of shrapnel, and the other six members of the crew didn’t fare much better.
But the worst piece of news was still coming. Levitow started to drag another injured crew member away from the door before he spotted an armed Mk-24 flare that was smoking and rolling around near stored ammo.
The flares operate on a timer set to anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds. Once armed, a crewmember would throw the flare out the door and it would parachute down. Magnesium in the flare would ignite a 4,000 degree Fahrenheit flame that illuminated the battlefield.
Levitow, despite his serious wound from the shrapnel, crawled his way to the 27-pound flare and attempted to grab it three times, but it kept escaping his hands. So he threw himself on it, clutched it to his body, and dragged it towards the door.
“I had the aircraft in a 30-degree bank, and how Levitow ever managed to get to the flare and throw it out, I’ll never know,” said pilot Maj. Kenneth Carpenter.
Somehow, Levitow got the flare to the door and out of the plane just before it ignited, saving everyone aboard. The pilot was able to limp the plane back to an emergency landing.
For Levitow, that was his 181st mission. He recovered from his wounds and completed another 20 combat missions before heading home and receiving his discharge paperwork in August 1969.
Can you believe it is that time of year again? Tax season is here and it is usually the last thing you want to deal with, especially if your spouse is deployed. Deployment comes with stressors of its own; don’t let your taxes be one of them. As military families, we know that we often face special circumstances with our taxes. If you don’t know where to start, and are in need of some guidance, here are 4 things you should consider before filing your taxes.
1. Work with Your Legal Office
Did you forget to get a special power of attorney in order to file your taxes? Don’t worry! Your base legal office can help. They provide not only services to prepare a special power of attorney, but many other tax services as well. First thing you will need to do is find your legal office on a nearby military installation. Using the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website, enter your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel, you will find the locations of the nearest legal offices near you.
You will want to call ahead to ensure, however most of these services are available at legal assistance offices:
Wills, testamentary trusts, and estate planning
Domestic relations, including divorce, legal separation, annulment, custody, and paternity
Adoption and name changes
Taxes, including basic advice and assistance on Federal, State, and local taxes — see below for more details on this!
Landlord-tenant relations, including review of personal leases and communication and correspondence
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act advice and assistance
So once you find your office, give them a call and schedule an appointment. Also, don’t forget to ask them what documents to bring with you; you wouldn’t want to make a wasted trip!
2. If You Need Help Filing Your Taxes Get It
If you need help getting your taxes filed, your legal office has a Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) that can help. Make sure to call and check with your legal center to see if this service is available at your installation. The VITA will help you file your taxes free of charge, but you will want to make sure to go as early in the day as possible in order to avoid long lines. If you have decided to go to a private tax preparer, make sure they are familiar filing returns for service members and their dependents. Or you can always file your taxes yourself for free using the Military One Source website. I personally have been using this service for years and it works great for me and my family’s needs.
3. Get The Other Things You Need
Whether you have decided to file with a professional, or do them yourself at home, there are still quite a few things you will need to ensure you have before you get started. A tax professional will let you know what to bring, but be sure to keep the following at hand and ready when filing:
• Military ID
• All W-2 and 1099 forms
• Social Security cards for all family members
• Deductions and credit information
• Bank account and routing numbers
• Receipts for child care expenses
• Last year’s tax return
• Special power of attorney authorizing you to do business on behalf of the deployed service member. If you don’t have this, call that legal office!
4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Lastly, but perhaps the most important thing to remember, ensure you give yourself enough time. Federal income taxes need to be filed no later than April 15, 2016, unless you qualify for an extension such as the Combat zone and hazardous duty extensions. If you or your spouse are serving in a combat zone or are receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay, the deadline for filing income taxes is 180 days after your last day in the combat zone or hazardous duty area. The IRS has a list available of the combat zones. So make sure you have everything you need and make those appointments in time.
Rick Herter is one of the most prolific artists in the world of aviation art. His work hangs in private collections, museums and both corporate and military headquarters. So how did Herter get so good at painting aircraft? Part of it is his firsthand experience with them.
Herter’s fascination with aircraft and history first came from illustrations of the Battle of Britain in Time Life Magazine. He loved the drawings of Spitfires and Messerschmitts dogfighting over the Tower of London.
Working on a southwest Michigan farm as a boy, Herter also regularly saw Cessnas and Piper Cubs flying the navigational route directly overhead. However, his love of flight was propelled furthest on his 13th birthday.
His mother, an amateur artist herself, took him to their local airport to fly in an airplane. With a former WWII B-24 pilot at the controls, Herter’s half-hour in the air solidified his love for all things aviation.
Through the rest of his childhood, Herter hung out at the airport in his spare time. A family friend occasionally took him flying in a Cessna 182. “I tried to fly as often as I could from the age of 13 until I went away to college,” Herter recalled.
In 1984, Herter graduated from Spring Arbor University with a BA in art. He initially went into the advertising industry as an illustrator with a diverse portfolio. However, after meeting with the art director of an ad agency, Herter decided he needed to specialize in just one subject. Naturally, that subject was aviation.
His foray into aviation art came in the form of an air show poster. Thirteen weeks before the show, Herter walked into the director’s office and said, “You guys need a souvenir poster and I’m the guy to do it for you.” With continued confidence, Herter donated the art and worked with a local print shop to donate the posters to the High on Kalamazoo Air Show. The poster went on to win a national award and Herter began receiving commissions the next year.
Herter worked commissions all across the country. Within two years, he was approached at an air show by an Army colonel who was a fan of his work. The colonel referred Herter to the Air Force Art Program at the Pentagon to which he submitted his portfolio and was accepted in 1987.
AFAP artists create and donate art free of charge to capture the service’s modern history. To best do this, artists like Herter generally travel Mil-air and stay on bases with service members during a mission. In fact, taxpayer dollars are only used to reimburse their travel per diem. The artists have furnished all the art supplies necessary to create the AFAP’s 10,000+ piece collection.
Using Herter’s work for recruiting purposes, the Air Force Recruiting Service nominated him for their highest form of recognition, the American Spirit Award, which he won. “It was quite an honor,” Herter humbly noted, “and it still is an honor.” Other notable recipients of the award include Bob Hope, Dolly Parton and Ted Turner.
Shortly after the attacks on 9/11, Herter received a call from Russell “Rusty” Kirk, the director of the art program. The Secretary of the Air Force tasked Kirk with finding an artist to paint the first F-15s as they arrived over the World Trade Center on that infamous day. Kirk offered the job to Herter who gladly took on the challenge.
In January 2002, Herter travelled to Langley Air Force Base where he met with the Air National Guard Squadrons that responded over Manhattan on 9/11. In the back seat of an F-16, he flew with the 119th Fighter Wing and joined F-15s of the 102nd Fighter Wing in a Noble Eagle combat air patrol over New York.
“We flew down Manhattan and we started to make the turn at the south end, and you could look straight down past the Eagles and see Ground Zero,” Herter recalled. “As I came over the site, I could see the massive pile of debris…I was stunned.” From this mission came two of Herter’s most renowned paintings, “First Pass, Defenders Over Washington” and “Ground Zero, Eagles on Station.”
In addition to Noble Eagle, Herter flew with the first wave of Air Force transports that brought the 82nd Airborne Division into Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. He also flew on multiple combat missions in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Outside of his military work, Herter has been commissioned by top aviation companies like Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Delta Airlines. He also holds a Guinness World Record. Herter painted the mural “Century of Flight” at the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science museum in Kalamazoo. Measuring 32×900 feet, it is the largest indoor, hand-painted mural in the world. Still, Herter remains humble about his achievement in the record book.
“On the other side of the page is the guy who can stick the most marbles up his nose,” he joked. “I’m proud to just say it was a big piece of art.”
Herter has also flown with the other branches of the military to capture their aerial histories. Through his work, Herter hopes to be able to communicate the service and sacrifices of the armed forces to the rest of the country.
“I’ve met so many incredible troops…and for me, truly, as a civilian who has never had to deploy, it blows you away,” Herter said. “I wish more civilians had a chance to see those things.”
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has introduced a defense bill that would increase the U.S. Army by 45,000 soldiers.
Rep. Mac Thornberry’s version of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Bill would provide money to add 20,000 soldiers to the active Army’s end-strength, bringing it to 480,000.
The bill would also add 15,000 to the National Guard and 10,000 to the Reserves, resulting in a Guard strength of 350,000 and a Reserve strength of 205,000. The panel was expected to approve the measure on Wednesday.
Under the President Barack Obama’s current proposed defense budget, the Army projects its end-strength to be at a total of 980,000 soldiers by fiscal 2018, including 450,000 for the active force, 335,000 for the Army National Guard and 195,000 for the Army Reserve.
“The Chairman’s Mark halts and begins to reverse the drawdown of military end strength, preserving the active duty Army at 480,000,” according to summary of the proposed bill.
The size of the Army has been a major concern among lawmakers, many of whom have stated that the active force is too small to deal with the growing number of threats facing the U.S.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has testified that there is a “high-military risk” if the service continues to operate at its current size, but also told lawmakers that growing end-strength without additional funding would lead to a hollow force.
Thornberry’s revised budget earmarks just over $2 billion in additional funding for the troop increase, according to language in the bill. That’s about $2.5 billion short of what the Army would need, according to Army senior leaders that have testified it will cost about $1 billion for every 10,000 soldiers.
“Where possible, Chairman Thornberry’s proposal cuts excessive or wasteful expenditures and rededicates those resources to urgent needs,” according to the bill’s summary. “Even with a vigorous re-prioritization of programs, the Committee was unable to make up essential shortages in the President’s budget and simultaneously provide a full year of contingency funding.
“The proposal is designed to restore strength to the force through readiness investments and agility through much needed reforms, while providing a more solid foundation for the next President to address actual national security needs,” it states
The proposal also would increase the strength of the Marine Corps by 3,000 and the Air Force by 4,000.
“Perhaps it is also true every year, that when it comes to overall spending levels for defense, we are presented with only difficult, imperfect options,” Thornberry said in his opening remarks at Wednesday’s committee-wide markup session within the House Armed Services Committee.
“But, the bottom line for me this year is that it is fundamentally wrong to send service members out on missions for which they are not fully prepared or fully supported,” he added. “For that reason, I think that it is essential that we begin to correct the funding shortfalls that have led to a lack of readiness and to a heightened level of risk that we have heard about in testimony and that some of us have also seen for ourselves.”
The bill, currently in its draft form, will have to be passed by both the House and the Senate. Obama could also choose to veto the bill after passage.
The United States military has a long history of adopting so-called wildcat calibers from the civilian world. Hell, the 5.56mm round that fills every M249 belt and M16 magazine has its origins as an experimental varmint round for civilian hunters — the .222 Remington Magnum.
But this was back when the U.S. military’s budget was not only enormous, but had less congressional oversight.
In the middle of the Cold War and a heated arms race with the Soviet Union, America was willing to adopt new tech without concern for the pricy or problematic logistics of adopting a new round for all branches.
Today, only small special operations groups like hand-selected units from SOCOM can afford to rearm with bleeding edge tech or equipment
In particular, sniper elements of various units tend to be the first to adopt new cartridges for their highly specialized work.
For a long time, this meant choosing between 7.62×51, .50 BMG or .300 Winchester Magnum. Eventually, someone decided they wanted the incredible effective range of the .50BMG round without the awful ballistic coefficient that makes anti-personal use at extreme ranges difficult.
After all, .50 BMG began life as a heavy machine gun round suited for anti-vehicle use, then aircraft use before being adopted to anti-material use in big-bore sniper rifles.
Developed in the early 1980s, the resulting .338 Lapua Magnum was an immediate hit in the vast expanses of Middle East like the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan. Yet, it didn’t perform nearly as well in an anti-material role as the .50BMG, and some experts argued it didn’t retain sufficient energy for reliable soft target neutralization past 1,800 yards — though data on terminal ballistics data at this distance are not normally available to the public.
But this seems like a moot point, the best snipers in any military consider a shot at that distance both incredibly difficult and exceptionally rare. Which makes the recent adoption of a new round for the Advanced Sniper Rifle by U.S. Special Operations Command so interesting.
Dubbed, the .300 Norma Magnum, this new round boasts an improved ballistic coefficient over the .338 Lapua. However, the .300 Norma actually uses a .308-caliber round which is smaller than the one employed in the .338 cartridge.
If this seems strange given past complaints about limited effectiveness against semi-hardened targets, you’re on the right path. Indeed, instead of trying to shoehorn a cartridge designed for shooting soft targets into an anti-material role, the new .300 Norma Magnum fully embraces the .308-caliber bullet’s anti-personnel qualities and top-notch ballistic coefficient.
Some food for thought: At that range, the intended target wouldn’t hear the shot for a full three seconds after it left the barrel.
The new cartridge’s potential for accuracy brings distant soft targets in delicate locations – i.e. those saturated with non-combatants – within the grasp of the US military. While the caliber of the .300 Norma’s projectile may lead some to believe this round is a downgrade from the .338 Lapua, it’s more akin to a different tool for different situations.
This round may finally put a stop to insurgents using towers of religious buildings or hospitals to call in mortar strikes or coordinate ambushes.
But this is all speculation; with the round being as new as it is, and special operators just now adopting it, the public won’t likely hear anything about its performance for years.
Either way, one thing is certain: the long reach of America’s special forces, just got even longer.
The world knew Rob Guzzo as an elite SEAL; a wonderful father; a talented actor; an ambitious student; and a skilled athlete.
But to me, he was all these things and so much more.
Unfortunately the world lost Rob Nov. 12, 2012 — a man who succumbedto the wounds that many do not see but are often more painful than those that bleed and scar.
Even in the midst of his pain, Rob made others happy. It was hard to know Rob’s struggle because you likely wouldn’t see it unless you knew him well or caught him in a moment he was talking about it.
But this is how I remember Rob Guzzo, and the man I had the honor to get to know and have in my life.
Rob made everyone smile.
Rob was the guy who was always smiling. Whether he was dressing up as a Teletubby, Irishman, or making a singing lessons video, Rob did anything to get a smile out of those around him. You simply couldn’t be around Rob and not smile. He would do goofy things to make people laugh and have a little fun.
Rob was a go-getter and driven.
This is a given, since we all know being a SEAL is no easy feat. Not only was Rob a SEAL, but he was in school to get his masters in addition to pursuing an acting career. He took his craft of acting seriously, and it was obvious he had the talent to soar. Rob was an inspiration to those around him, setting the example to go after your dreams.
Rob was an animal lover.
He loved his dog Sammi. He treated this dog like a princess. The depth of his love could be seen in the way he cared for Sammi and how he treated her.
He was protective of those he loved.
Rob would make sure I was OK if anyone bothered me, even if it was something that wasn’t a big deal. He did the same for others around him. He would make sure those he cared about were ok, even when he wasn’t.
He was loving and sensitive more than he let on.
Rob had a wonderful, giving heart. Sometimes he put up emotional barriers, so the full extend of his loving and sensitive side wasn’t always seen. But it’s who he was. When he did open up, he was one of the most loving and emotionally aware people I knew. It was an honor to get to know the deeper side of Rob, and I will always cherish that I got to see how deep he truly was.
Rob loved his family.
Rob spoke about his mom often, and when his daughter, Jena Mae, was born, it was obvious he loved this beautiful little girl that was his twin. He also loved his military family, and you could tell in the way he talked about Marc Lee that he would have given anything for his family.
He made the world brighter.
Whether Rob was out partying, on set, with people he didn’t know or his best friends and family, he was a ray of light. No matter what Rob did, he was a ray of sunshine. His smile and personality lit up any room or environment.
The world might have lost Rob Guzzo, but it didn’t lose his memory.
These are just a few things I remember and cherish about Rob. He forever impacted my life, and he is impacting many others through his story. He is still giving back even after he has left this Earth.
Let Rob’s passing remind us that even when our brothers and sisters bring us so much sunshine, they may be fighting battles we do not see. Check on each other — even in the times that seem great.
You might not know when your buddy is drowning, and one small act of friendship and brotherhood can be the thing that saves them.
Rob’s story will be featured on “The Warfighters,” a marathon event airing Veterans Day on the History Channel. Tune in to honor this amazing man and learn more about who he was.
Rob was beyond a SEAL, and his impact will go well beyond the time we got to have him here with us.
SureFire has released a number of shiny shining products recently, and one of them is the Maximus Headlamp. The Maximus (not to be confused with any of the brutal killers from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator or a concert in São Paulo) pushes out one thousand (1,000) lumens of light from an organic lithium-ion battery. It also features a “long-running” SOS beacon for exigent circumstances. (“Long-Running” was SureFire’s phrase; we’re not sure how many hours that actually is).
It’s rechargeable and directional with a variable-outfit LED headlamp. This will allow you to go full potato like Gort, or to dial it back down to just enough lumens sufficient to navigate a campsite or shady bordello…or any level in between. This will also of course affect the runtime, though it’s important to note this thing comes with a gas gauge (which we reckon is a welcome feature). Its readout gives you the battery charge status.
The Maxiumus features a large, knurled dial to make those adjustments, which you can do with one hand. This should help you get it where you want it under stress, in inclement weather, or when wearing gloves. You can also aim it with one hand, as the light assembly rotates up and down 90 degrees.
The LED is backed by one of SureFire’s proprietary reflectors, which enables it to throw out a wide, diffused beam they describe as “optimized for your natural field of vision.”
As for what it does to your noggin, SureFire says this:
“Built from tough, lightweight magnesium, the SureFire Maximus thrives in harsh conditions. It’s also comfortable to wear, thanks to its no-chafe fine-weave headband and moisture-wicking Breathe-O-Prene forehead pad.”
Be forewarened, the MSRP is $275. SureFire lights ain’t cheap, and neither is their performance. If you want a task light you can afford to lose in a drunken stupor or something to just look around your tent with, this might not be for you. If you’re doing serious work where serious gear is important, the Maximums might be worth a look.
Here are the specs:
Virtually indestructible LED emitter regulated to maximize output and runtime
One-hand output adjustment from 1 to 1,000 lumens
Precision reflector produces a wide, smooth beam optimized for your field of vision
Light assembly rotates up and down 90 degrees
Built-in SOS beacon can run for days on end
Tough, lightweight magnesium body with durable black finish
Comfortable no-chafe headband with moisture-wicking Breath-O-Prene® forehead pad
Includes long-life lithium-ion rechargeable battery with wall (AC) and car (DC) chargers
About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman, and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.
A ceasefire between U.S.-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian forces went into effect in Syria on Feb. 27 — the first major respite in five years of warfare that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The volunteer rescuers from the Syrian White Helmets group reported the ceasefire “holding in the main.”
“Today very quiet,” the group tweeted. “Long may it last.”
But the ceasefire doesn’t apply to Islamic State, of course — nor to Syrian, Russian, American and rebel attacks on the militant group. The Pentagon reported that its allies in the “New Syrian Forces” repulsed Islamic State attacks along the Mar’a Line in northern Syria while U.S.-vetted rebels in the Syrian Democratic Forces group gained control of the Tishreen Dam east of Aleppo as well as Shaddadi, a strategic logistical hub for militants in the northeastern part of the country.
Islamic State also attacked Kurdish SDF forces holding Tel Abyad, a Syrian town on the Turkish frontier that was a key border crossing for the militant group before the Kurds liberated it in July 2015. U.S. Air Force A-10 attack jets flying from Incirlik air base in Turkey strafed the militants, apparently drawing heavy ground fire. The distinctive sound of the A-10s’ powerful 30-millimeter cannons — and the chatter of small-caliber guns presumably firing back — is audible in the video below.
The Air Force today takes a ribbing from the other services for being soft, so it’s easy to forget that historically their mission has been one of the most dangerous. This was on display in World War II when Allied aircrews were tasked with bombing Nazi-occupied Germany and Imperial Japan.
In this clip, a World War II Royal Air Force veteran discusses what it was like flying bombers to Berlin through a wall of flak so thick that, as he describes it, it sounded like driving a car through a hailstorm. He also tells of the mission where their bomber was chased down by German fighters and forced to crash land.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Page Johnson, 386th Civil Engineering Squadron force protection escort, radios dispatch at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Sept. 4, 2019. The force protection flight provides a security buffer between other country nationals such as contractors, their employees and the general base population. Airmen assist and escort OCNs during their duty day, help minimize potential data collection, and ensure departure of vehicles and personnel once their services are completed for the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mozer O. Da Cunha).
Military technology is often adapted for the civilian market. From the internet and GPS, to Hummers and parachutes, there are a surprising amount of everyday tech and products with military origins. Companies also like to market products to civilians as “military grade” to highlight their toughness. Sometimes, though, products go in the other direction. Here are five products that started on the civilian market before they were adopted by the military.
1. Hunting Rifles
The most famous American sniper of the 21st century is the late Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle. From the previous century though, it’s Marine legend Carlos Hathcock. During the Vietnam War, Hathcock amassed an incredible 93 confirmed kills. Although the aforementioned Kyle holds a greater kill record of over 160, it must be noted that Hathcock’s first rifle wasn’t nearly as advanced as the SEAL’s. In fact, it was bought off the rack. In October 1966, Major (then-Captain) Edward Land was tasked with creating a Marine sniper program in Vietnam. However, he had no sniper rifles with which to arm his Marines. The best that the Corps’ armories had to offer were WWII-era M1 Garand and M1903 Springfield rifles. Like a good Marine, Land improvised, adapted and overcame this issue.
He scrounged 12 Winchester Model 70 sporting rifles that were procured by Special Services for deer hunting at Camp Pendleton, California. The mounts, rings and scopes for the rifles were purchased through the PX in Okinawa. A second batch of Model 70s was acquired from the Marine competition team after the National Match rules were changed to require service members to compete with service rifles. Although Land eventually replaced the Model 70s with the Remington M40, which was designed with input from Marines like Hathcock, it too was based on a civilian rifle: the Remington Model 700. Today, the Model 700-derived M40 and M24 sniper rifles are still in service with the Marine Corps and Army respectively.
2. Hydration Carriers
If you went through basic training within the past 10-15 years, you’ll be familiar with the Bladder, Hydration System. Of course, Drill Sergeants and DIs yelling at you to drink water just call them CamelBaks. Like Kleenex or Band-Aid, the brand name has become synonymous with the product that it’s known for. CamelBak Products, LLC was started by an EMT named Michael Eidson who came up with the CamelBak concept before competing in the “Hotter ‘n Hell” bike race in Wichita Falls, Texas. Seeking a more convenient hydration solution than plastic water bottles, Eidson filled an IV bag with water and stuck it in a tube sock. He pinned the sock to the back of his jersey, ran a drinking tube from the IV over his shoulder, and secured it with a clothes pin. With the addition of its iconic slogan, “Hydrate or Die,” CamelBak products found a foothold in the civilian market.
During the first Gulf War, troops brought personal CamelBaks with them to stay hydrated on the desert battlefield. The hydration carriers soon became a popular item amongst troops and military exchanges began stocking them. By the second Gulf War and the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, CamelBaks became the standard for portable hydration in the military. In 2012, 40% of CamelBak’s business came from U.S. and foreign government contracts. These days, troops are issued unbranded hydration systems. However, they’re still called by the brand name that started it all.
3. Low Power Variable Optics
Prior to the Global War on Terror, advanced weapon optics like red dot sights were restricted to special forces. Today though, you’d be hard-pressed to see a service rifle without some sort of red dot or magnified scope on it. So, when a new kind of optic swept the civilian competition shooting world, the military took notice. Magnified scopes have been used to improve the accuracy of rifles since the 1800s. The technology was limited to high, and generally fixed, magnification to aid in long-distance shots. However, in 1922, the world was introduced to the Low Power Variable Optic. The LPVO allowed a shooter to adjust its magnification from 1x up to 4x in the case of the first model. Civilian competition shooters later took to the LPVO as it allowed them to engage targets at close and long range in matches with varying target distanches. For much of the GWoT, the Army and Marine Corps utilized Aimpoint red dots and the Trijicon ACOG with a fixed 4x magnification. Now though, line Marines will be issued the Trijicon VCOG 1-8x LPVO as the Squad Common Optic. Similarly, the Army is replacing the ACOG (known in the Army as the RCO) with a Sig Sauer 1-6x LPVO designated as the Direct View Optic.
4. Two-Piece Competition Belts
The infantry needs to be able to carry everything they need in a fight. This means that troops squeeze supplies and equipment onto every possible location on their body. Belts have been used by troops to hold pistols, knives, canteens, medical kits and more. During much of the GWoT, troops that used so-called “battle belts” relied on large, padded belts. However, these belts could be bulky and are more prone to shifting from the waist to the hips as the user moves. An alternative belt was found, again, in the world of competition shooting. Needing a secure and consistent belt to draw, reholster, and reload from, competition shooters employ a two-piece system. An inner belt is secured on the waist through belt loops while a stiff outer belt velcroes over it. The result is a less comfortable, but very stable and secure platform. Today, many special units like the 75th Ranger Regiment and Army Special Forces are issued these types of belts. Other troops choose to buy them on their own for military use.
When the military needs a new vehicle, it can spend billions of dollars in development alone. Sometimes, though, a vehicle already exists on the civilian market that suits the military’s needs. Such is the case with many of the military’s small off-roaders. Polaris Inc. is well-known for its ATVs and four-wheelers. They’re used by civilians for recreation, land management, and even medical rescue. The rugged, mobile, and compact vehicles also made sense for military use. Polaris manufactures the MRZR, derived from its popular RZR four-wheeler line, and the Sportsman MV850 ATV for the military. Small off-roaders like these helped move scouts and special forces across the tough mountain passes during the War in Afghanistan. Now, the Army is bringing this type of mobility to the squad level with the Infantry Squad Vehicle. The light unarmored truck is based on the commercially-available Chevrolet ZR2 Bison. In fact, GM Defense says that the ISV features 70% off-the-shelf components including the frame, suspension, driveline, engine, transmission, axles and brakes.