5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp - We Are The Mighty
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5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Marine Corps boot camp is a slice of hell that turns civilians into modern-day Marines.


With constant physical training, screaming drill instructors, and so much close-order drill recruits eventually have dreams about it, spending 12 weeks at boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California can be difficult for most young people.

Having stepped off a bus and onto the yellow footprints at Parris Island on Sep. 3, 2002, one of those young people was me. While in hindsight, boot camp really wasn’t that bad, I thought then that it was the worst thing ever. While writing this post, I thought I would speak in general terms, but since my mother kept all my correspondence home, I figured I would go straight to the source: my original — and now-hilarious-to-read — letters back home.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Drill instructors are the worst.

Having a crazy person with veins popping out of their neck scream in your face and run around a barracks throwing stuff can be quite a shock to someone who was a civilian a week prior. Although I later learned to greatly respect my DI’s, I didn’t really like them at the beginning, as my first letter home showed.

“Our DI’s are complete motherf—king a–holes. There’s no other way to describe them,” I wrote, before including a great example: “Today they sprayed shaving cream and toothpaste ALL OVER the head and we had to clean it up. Yesterday, threw out all of our gear, had to change the racks, and sh– was flying.”

Sounds about right.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

My recruiter totally lied to me.

It’s a running joke in the Marine Corps (and the greater military, really) that your recruiter probably lied to you. Maybe they didn’t lie to you per se, but they were selective with what they told you. One of my favorites was that “if I didn’t like my job as infantry, I could change it in two years.” That’s one of those not-totally-a-lie-but-far-fetched-truths.

In my initial letter, I took issue with my recruiters for telling me that drill instructors don’t ever get physical. Most of the time they won’t touch you, but that’s not exactly all the time.

“Oh, by the way, recruiters are lying bastards. They [the drill instructors] scream, swear a lot, and choke/push on a daily basis,” I wrote. (It was day three and I was of course exaggerating).

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Mail takes forever to get there.

Getting mail at boot camp is a wonderful respite from the daily grind at boot camp, but letters are notoriously slow to arrive. In my letters home, I complained about mail being slow often, since I’d ask questions in my letters then get a response of answers and more questions from home, well after I was through that specific event in the training cycle.

“Sometimes I write more letters than everyone back home and I have way less time to do it,” I wrote in one letter.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

The other recruits were terrible.

I’m sure they said the same thing about me. Put 60-80 people from completely different backgrounds and various regions of the United States and you’re probably going to have tension. Add drill instructors into the mix constantly stressing you out and it’s guaranteed.

Then of course, there’s the issue of the “recruit crud,” the nickname for the sickness that inevitably comes from being in such close proximity with all these different people.

Throughout my letters home, I complain of other recruits not yelling loud enough or running fast enough. “They don’t sound off and we are getting in trouble all the time,” I wrote. No doubt I was just echoing what the drill instructor has given us as a reason for why he was bringing us to the dreaded “pit.”

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Getting “pitted” is the worst five minutes of your life.

Marine boot camp has two unique features constantly looming in the back of a recruit’s mind: the “pit” and the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck for recruits is the place at the front of the squad bay where they are taken and given “incentive training,” or I.T. — a nice term for pushups, jumping jacks, running-in-place, etc — for a few minutes if they do something wrong.

But for those times when it’s not just an individual problem — and more of a full platoon one — drill instructors take them to sand pits usually located near the barracks for platoon IT. Think of them as the giant sandboxes you played in as a kid, except this one isn’t fun. For extra fun, DI’s may play a game of “around the world,” where the platoon is run from one pit to another.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the pilots who are trained with the infantry

U.S. Marine Corps pilots are trained to operate advanced aircraft in often dangerous situations. These pilots are the only aviators in the U.S. military who are taught the basics of infantry tactics prior to flight school. This ensures every Marine is a rifleman. Though the chances of an aviator leading a platoon of infantry Marines are slim to none, there are cases where pilots are embedded in infantry units.


Capt. David “Tuck” Miller, a CH-53 Super Stallion pilot, is one of those pilots. Miller, a native of Queenstown, Maryland, is a Forward Air Controller with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, “Lava Dogs.”

“As a CH-53 pilot, I always have the opportunity to transport grunts in the back of my aircraft so this is just one more way where I can work closely with them and support them,” said Miller.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
U.S. Marine Capt. David Miller prepares to conduct a simulated night raid with multiple rifle squads during an air assault training event at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 31, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

As the FAC, Miller is in charge of directing close air support and other offensive air operations. FACs are pilots who are tasked out from the aviation field to directly support ground combat units. The FACs are typically senior aviators who have spent at least two years in a fleet squadron, according to Miller. The prospects are sent to Tactical Air Control Party School to learn the fundamentals of close air support and how to call for fire. This allows the pilot to be a valuable asset when finally attached to an infantry unit.

“He speaks from the air side of the house and he knows what the pilots are saying and what they are looking for from us infantry guys, so he’s able to bridge that gap between the two communities,” said 1st Lt. Harry Walker, the fire support team leader.

Once the pilots touch base with the infantry units, they are indoctrinated into a completely different culture for almost two years.

“Coming from the air wing and going head first into an infantry battalion, it’s a little bit of a culture shock just because you do have all those hikes and spend a lot time in the field,” said Miller. “After I graduated from [The Basic School], I don’t think I spent one night in the field and then the first night I was out with the battalion I slept under the stars, but it’s still good to be here.”

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
U.S. Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are transported by a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466 during an exercise as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructors course (WTI) 2-17 near Yuma, Ariz., April 20, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Trever A. Statz)

The FAC billet is a not only beneficial for the infantry units but also great for the pilot executing the position, according to Miller.

“For them it’s all about the mission,” said Miller. “So as an aviator, it pushes me to be more studious and when I get back to the cockpit, I’ll be a better aviator.”

The Lava Dogs are currently forward-deployed for six months to Okinawa, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program. The battalion is tasked to provide a forward-deployed combat ready unit for in support of theater requirements.

This post originally appeared on WATM in November 2017. We just thought it was so good you might want to read it again.

Articles

This was the final combat flight for the P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair

You might think that legendary fighter planes like the F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang saw their last action in the Korean War.


It seems like a reasonable assumption – but it’d be dead wrong.

Believe it or not, the last combat those planes saw came around the time that F-4 Phantoms and MiG-21s were fighting for air superiority over North Vietnam, and Israeli Mirages and Neshers took on the air forces of Egypt, Syria, and other Arab countries.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Ranker.com

In 1969, El Salvador and Honduras went to war. It lasted about 100 hours, and started less than three weeks after the end of a contentious qualifying series for the 1970 World Cup.

Dubbed the “Soccer War,” the fighting left nearly 3,200 people dead, both military and civilian.

Notable was that it was the last combat action that some legendary planes would see. The war started when El Salvador began its attacks — a makeshift affair with passenger planes being modified to carry bombs for the first strikes. El Salvadoran troops followed the strikes and pushed into Honduras.

Honduras at the time had 19 F4U Corsairs in its inventory, along with 6 AT-6 Texan attack planes. El Salvador had 11 P-51D Mustangs in service, plus some that upgraded Cavalier Mustangs. They had 25 F4U/FG-1 Corsairs in service as well.

During the fighting, Honduran Corsairs downed a P-51 and two Corsairs, gained air superiority over the battlefield, and began pushing the invaders back. Anti-aircraft fire claimed two more Salvadoran Mustangs, while two P-51s were lost in a mid-air collision.

Two Salvadoran Corsairs were also shot down by ground fire.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: US Navy

When all was said and done, the Organization of American States intervened to arrange for a cease-fire. The war ended with a status quo ante bellum. Today, both Air Forces operate A-37B Dragonfly attack planes (15 for El Salvador, 10 for Honduras), but Honduras also has nine F-5E Tiger II fighters. Honduras and El Salvador took over a decade to sign a formal peace treaty, but the underlying tensions remain in that region.

While the disputes that lead to the Soccer War have not been resolved, the Soccer War did give some legends one last chance to serve.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the story of the Civil War’s only double-barrel cannon

It always struck me as odd when I read history books as a kid: cannons are pretty much giant shotguns — why didn’t they ever make double-barreled cannon pieces? Well, I wasn’t the only genius with the idea.


A Southerner from Athens, Ga. named Pvt. John Gilleland forged one in 1862. Gilleland’s idea was to connect the two three-inch barrels by firing chain shot connected by two six-pound balls. When fired, the designer’s idea was for the balls to be shot at different angles to allow the ten-foot chain to fully extend.

If you’re not sure what chain shot does to walking bags of meat (soldiers), the guys at MythBusters demonstrated this on a pig carcass – warning: it doesn’t end well for the pig carcass.

So imagine a ten-foot nunchuck weighing in at roughly 50 pounds flying into a massed formation of people at more than a thousand feet per second. That was Pvt. Gilleland’s great idea. Except it didn’t go quite as he would have liked.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
This ends well for no one.

His tests showed erratic and often dangerous results. Though the gun was designed for both barrels to be fired simultaneously, they often didn’t, meaning an intense veering in an unintended direction. When they did fire, the chain would sometimes break apart, with two end of chain led by a ball, each veering three degrees away from each other at more than a thousand feet per second.

Gilleland still declared it a success and sent it to be tested with the Confederate Army. The Confederates found the cannon “not usable due to unpredictable rates of powder burn and barrel friction which led to unpredictable performance.”

No kidding.

So the Confederate government sent the cannon back to Gilleland in Athens. The weapons was still used in combat in just one battle. As Union raiders approached Athens on July 27, 1863, the double-barrel cannon was used as a signal gun to rouse the population to arms.

Some 9,000 Union cavalry approached Athens as part of General William T. Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” Athens would be put to the torch, but not if the Georgia Home Guard Artillery could repel them.

At Barber’s Creek, just south of Athens, the cavalry hopped across the Confederate earthwork defenses. But before they could break the home guard completely, the city’s cannon and howitzers stole the initiative and fired a volley into the oncoming traffic. The yankees broke off the attack and Athens was spared.

Today the cannon is parked on Hancock and College Avenues in Athens.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Pointed North, of course.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military commanders warn troops against investing in marijuana

While the Defense Department has no official policy that explicitly states service members or U.S. federal employees may not buy stock in companies that manufacture or sell marijuana, commanders have the discretion to warn their troops against the move because it could jeopardize security clearances.

Commanders do have the authorities to develop local policies as long as they do not contradict with overall DoD guidelines, according to a defense official who spoke with Military.com on background. If an organization or command issues guidelines stating the organization’s legal position on the matter, it does not mean it is official DoD policy, the official said.


The clarification comes after multiple emails surfaced from local leaders telling service members to be careful about what they invest in — especially if they hold a clearance.

“While, currently, no official DoD guidance specific to financial involvement in marijuana exists, the Pentagon continues to research the topic,” Army Lt. Col. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said March 7, 2019. “Any changes will be addressed through normal policy update procedures.”

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

(Flickr photo by Miranda Nelson)

DoD uses 13 criteria to evaluate security clearance request, flagging service members who may be at risk for illicit or illegal activities. These evaluation criteria range from allegiance to the U.S. to sexual preferences and financial circumstances and debt.

“Recently, several news outlets have incorrectly cited a change in Department of Defense Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF) policy regarding investment in companies that sell or manufacture marijuana or related products,” Harris said in a statement. “The DoD CAF does not issue policy. Instead, the DoD CAF adheres to applicable policies when making adjudicative determinations.”

“These determinations apply the ‘whole person concept’ and take into account all available information, favorable and unfavorable, to render an appropriate determination on a person’s reliability and trustworthiness to hold a clearance,” Harris added.

While the clearance determination process is subjective, the evaluation categories illustrate how much risk people are willing to take, which could imperil their jobs, the official said.

The current guidance stems from a 2014 memo signed by then-Direction of National Intelligence James Clapper.

The memo states that any government employee who disregards federal law about “the use, sale, or manufacture of marijuana” remains under scrutiny, and could be denied for a security clearance.

While the use “or involvement with marijuana” calls into question “an individual’s judgment,” the memo, signed Oct. 25, 2014, does not explicitly mention investing in companies that legally distribute marijuana.

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

Lists

The 6 types of lieutenants you just can’t avoid in the military

Lieutenants never get much respect. What do you expect, though? You send a 22-year-old new college grad to officer candidates school for a few weeks and expect him to be in charge of a platoon of grizzled combat veterans… What could possibly go wrong? It’s the brain-damaged leading the blind. Every rank has some major archetypes, and lieutenants are no different. Here are six types you’re probably already familiar with.


1. Lt. Clueless

 

Quote: “If that’s not how we’re supposed to use a compass, then why did they teach it at The Basic School?”

The conventional view is that ALL lieutenants are clueless, but that can’t really be the case, or else the service would be even more screwed than it already is. All LTs take a while to get up to speed, but Lt. Clueless seems to be coming more undone every day, not less.

He’s smart enough to graduate college in basketweaving, phys ed, criminal justice, or some similar bullsh*t degree, but not smart enough to keep track of his own rifle. The upside is that stealing his firing pin will be easier.

Everyone under Clueless is counting the hours until the company commander finally figures out that one of his platoon commanders spends his free time chewing crayons. They just hope it comes before deployment, when some of them might have to patrol with him.

Also read: 8 things a boot lieutenant should never say

2. Lt. Tacticool

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5IWHxiwYMg

 

Quote: “I got this kickass rig online at Brigade Quartermaster. Yeah, it’s Kydex.”

One of the best things about the military is that it lets you play with cool toys. Don’t tell Lt. Tacticool that the gear he’s issued is really all he needs, because that’s not the point. The point is to be just a little better equipped than anyone else. He spends his entire paycheck shopping online for the same gear used by Delta Force. Lt. Tacticool works in admin or in logistics or as a pilot. That doesn’t stop him from needing dumbass items, like a drop holster that can’t be worn on a walk longer than 100 meters but looks absolutely badass.

If the gun doesn’t work, though, he’s got three concealed punch knives as backup. Don’t worry. He’ll make up for all the extra weight with $200 custom gel boot inserts.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t Tacticools in the infantry, but the laughter of their fellow lieutenants usually shames them into relative normalcy before too many enlisted grunts join in on the ribbing. These LTs live in closeted gear-queerness, wasting their paychecks in more subtle ways, like snatching up $1,000 GPS altimeter watches.

3. Lt. Beast

 

Quote: “I can’t believe they pay me to do this sh*t! Hells yeah!

The Beast, on the other hand, does reside disproportionately in the combat arms. It’s just as well because if he were in logistics, all his troops would be hiding under their desks by the end of the day. Everyone else groans when a unit hump is announced. The Beast adds extra weight to his pack. He says, “If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’!” unironically.

The Beast honestly can’t figure why others don’t enjoy it when things suck. He thinks “embrace the suck” is a religion, not a sarcastic comment. He’s into Crossfit because of course he is. He’s also signed up for Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and some obscure event involving dragging one’s testicles through broken glass for 26.2 miles in the Sierra Nevadas.

The Beast is absolutely the perfect individual to have around in the middle of a close-quarters battle. Unfortunately, he’s also the last individual you want anywhere that isn’t in the middle of an active firefight.

Related: 4 epic reasons why Lieutenant Dan needs his own movie

4. Lt. Nerd

 

Quote: “My paper on military organization based on fractal principles is getting published in Joint Forces Quarterly next month!”

Lt. Nerd is, on paper, the perfect military officer. He went to a good school and was near the top of his class in all of his training. He’s read the Professional Military Education reading list through colonel. He’s working on his master’s degree. He’s even starting a new podcast next week, called Tactics Talk, so he can share his hard-earned wisdom with upwards of half a dozen people.

He is doing great, at least in his own mind. Unfortunately, the military is basically high school. The jocks run the school. Even though he has bars on his collar, the Nerd gets no respect.

5. Lt. Mustang

 

Quote: “Gunny, really? What. The. F*ck.”

The prior-enlisted officer, or “Mustang,” is definitely a little different than the typical lieutenant, not least because he’s nearly a decade years older than most of his peers. He has a few more tattoos than them, too.

Knowing the ropes is his superpower. PT, usually not so much. He’s gained a few pounds and lost a few steps compared to his new, young friends in the officer corps.

Most of the enlisted think it’s great that their lieutenant was once one of them. The platoon sergeant isn’t necessarily so thrilled. He’s pleased to get a lieutenant that he doesn’t need to hide sharp objects from. On the other hand, he can’t get rid of his lieutenant for a whole day by asking him to pick up a box of grid squares.

More: The basic civilian’s guide to NCOs vs. Officers

6. Lt. Niedermeyer

 

Quote: “Is that a wrinkle… on your uniform!”

Military life naturally attracts those with attention to detail and a desire for order. Unfortunately, there can always be too much of a good thing.

You can generally find Lt. Niedermeyer in the parking lot, trolling for salutes — or, rather, for those missing salutes — so he can joyfully berate them. Of course, a true Niedermeyer counsels like a drill instructor — loudly, yet sans profanity, because profanity would be contrary to regulations. Doggone it, Devil Dog!

The good thing about Niedermeyer is that he always follows the rules. The bad thing about Niedermeyer is that he always follows the rules. The worst thing is that if you want to know who your commanding general will be in 20 years or so, look no further because Niedermeyer is going places.

Articles

These new muzzle devices make us hot and bothered

The last few weeks have seen several new muzzle devices make their way into the marketplace. Comps, brakes, flash hiders — we’ve seen quite an array of ’em. Here are three that caught our eye.


A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo of BreachBangClear.com.

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

Grunts: Orgulous.

1. Faxon MuzzLok

There are actually two of these: the GUNNER, a 3-port muzzle brake, and the FLAME, a triple prong flash hider. The two new devices follow in the footsteps of Faxon’s Loudmouth single-port brake.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Faxon Flame Muzzle Device.

The FLAME is described as being capable of “virtually eliminating” secondary ignition at the mouth of the muzzle, thus making muzzle flash nearly non-existent (their claim — we haven’t tested to verify).

The GUNNER, for its part, is designed to reduce recoil by 50%, making it ideal for competitive shooters. Both are designed to function with 5.56mm and .223 Rem. platforms. Both feature concentric 1/2 x 28 TPI threads, and both retail for $59.99.

Nathaniel Schueth, the Faxon Director of Sales and Product Development, had this to say:

“We are thrilled to be expanding the MuzzLok line of products with the GUNNER and FLAME devices. Both meet shooters’ objectives for versatility and recoil or flash reduction. The GUNNER and FLAME for 5.56 are just the first of many more devices to come using MuzzLok technology.”

GUNNER 3 Port Muzzle Brake:

Material: Gun Barrel Quality Steel

Finish: QPQ Salt Bath Nitride

Thread: 1/2″-28 TPI

Weight: 2.9 ounces w/ MuzzLok Nut

Length: 2.4 inches w/ MuzzLok Nut

Diameter: 0.9″

Caliber: .223/5.56

FLAME Tri Prong Flash Hider:

Material: Gun Barrel Quality Steel

Finish:  QPQ Salt Bath Nitride

Thread:  1/2″-28 TPI

Weight:  3.36 ounces w/ MuzzLok Nut

Length:  2.6 inches w/ MuzzLok Nut

Diameter:  0.9″

Caliber:  .223/5.56

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Faxon Gunner Muzzle Device.

2. LANTAC Dragon 

The Dragon muzzle brake (officially the “Dragon DGN556B-QM”) shouldn’t be confused with their Drakon or other Dragon models. This one is manufactured to be GemTech QM compatible, making it their first to be designed for use with silencers.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
LANTAC Dragon.

This muzzle device is threaded in 1/2 x 28 for 5.56mm, but we’re reliably informed they’ll be building 7.62 and other versions soon. Unfortunately, despite putting out word of the Dragon over a month ago, it has yet to show up on their website, so we can’t give you an MSRP or any additional details.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
LANTAC Down Range Photography.

All we can do is suggest you check ’em out online or follow their social media for updates (on Instagram @lantac_usa).

3. VLTOR Narwhal

The VLTOR Narwhal is described as a “mix of a brake and a flash suppressor [that] directs blast forward.” It uses an expansion chamber rather than a blast chamber, and as you can see is available from Rainier in a limited edition Stickman version.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
VLTOR Narwhal Muzzle Brake.

Says VLTOR,

“The VLTOR Weapon Systems VC-NRWL muzzle device gives a unique spin on utilizing gas and blast to help rifles function reliably as well as many other features. The muzzle device directs blast and sound forward and away from the shooter by pushing blast out in one direction. This makes the weapon more controllable and helps eliminate muzzle rise to keep the forend of the weapon on a level sight view.

While being an excellent muzzle device for any 5.56/.223 rifle, the VC-NRWL stands out in short barrel applications by allowing backpressure to be utilized for cycling as well as in situations of weak ammunition.”

Some other things to know – it comes with a crush washer, can be installed and clocked with a 1 in. open end wrench, is 3.04 in. long, weighs 5.4 oz. and is Made in the USA.

If you wanna know more than that, you gotta go look for yourself.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
VLTOR Narwhal Muzzle Brake.

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

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

MIGHTY CULTURE

New study sheds light on ‘PTSD genes’

A VA Million Veteran Program study identified locations in the human genome related to the risk of re-experiencing traumatic memories, the most distinctive symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Researchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Yale University School of Medicine, the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and the University of California San Diego collaborated with colleagues on the study of more than 165,000 veterans.

The results appeared in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

PTSD is usually considered to have three main clusters of symptoms: re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal. Avoidance and hyperarousal are common to other anxiety conditions as well, but re-experiencing is largely unique to PTSD. Re-experiencing refers to intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks.


The researchers compared the genomes of 146,660 white veterans and 19,983 black veterans who had volunteered for MVP.

The study revealed eight separate regions in the genome associated with re-experiencing symptoms among the white veterans. It did not show any significant regions for black veterans, considered separately as a group, because there were far fewer black study participants available, making it harder to draw conclusions.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

(Department of Veterans Affairs)

Results were replicated using a sample from the UK Biobank.

The results showed genetic overlap between PTSD and other conditions. For example, two genes previously linked to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were implicated. This could mean that the hallucinations experienced in schizophrenia may share common biochemical pathways with the nightmares and flashbacks of people with PTSD.

The study also revealed genetic links to hypertension. It is possible that hypertension drugs that affect these same genes could be effective for treating PTSD.

Taken together, the results “provide new insights into the biology of PTSD,” say the researchers. The findings have implications for understanding PTSD risk factors, as well as identifying new drug targets.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

Articles

A single Coast Guard ship captured 15 tons of cocaine this year

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, a $684 million Legend-class cutter, the second longest of its kind, nabbed an estimated $748 million worth of cocaine in the Eastern Pacific Ocean in 2015, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson released in a statement. Its single largest bust saw it catch 7.5 tons of the drug in a narco-sub off the coast of Central America.


5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf

To put the Bertholf’s haul in perspective, a Coast Guard task force seized a fast boast laden with cocaine in early November 2015, hauling 22 packages worth a paltry $17 million in comparison. Her crew probably has bragging rights for the next decade.

The Coast Guard estimates it seized more than 222 metric tons of cocaine worth an estimated $7.4 billion since October 2014.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf offloads more than 25 tons of cocaine in San Diego on Nov. 19, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Rob Simpson)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Taiwan’s new cruise missile can strike mainland China

Facing increased pressure from China, the Taiwanese military has added another weapon to its arsenal — a stand-off cruise missile designed to give the air force the ability to strike Chinese coastal military bases and amphibious ship groups, according to The Taipei Times, citing defense officials.

The Wan Chien cruise missile, a long-range cluster munition developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, was declared fully operational after a recent live-fire test against sea-based targets. All Indigenous Defense Fighters have been upgraded to carry the new missiles, which reportedly rely on GPS and inertial navigation system guidance.


5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

An AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon glide bomb, which the Wan Chien cruise missile reportedly resembles.

The new missile can hit targets as far 124 miles away, and the Taiwan Strait is only 80 miles across at its narrowest point. The air-to-ground cruise missile is said to resemble the US AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon or Europe’s Storm Shadow, accordingto the Asia Times. With its range, the Wan Chien cruise missile is reportedly the longest-ranged cluster munition carried the Taiwanese air force can carry.

During the most recent evaluation last week, an unspecified fighter from Chihhang Air Base fired on surface targets to the southwest of the island while another fighter and a drone monitored the exercise from a distance, sending real-time data back to Jioupeng Military Base.

The Taiwanese air force took all possible measures to maintain secrecy during testing. For instance, one evaluation was cancelled after a fishing boat entered the restricted area.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen with a demonstration of their capabilities during a visit to the unit in China on July 12, 2011.

(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

In recent years, tensions have been running high between Beijing and Taipei as the two sides continue to disagree over the fate of what the Chinese government considers a separatist territory. China has ramped up military drills near the democratic, self-ruled island.

“The mainland must also prepare itself for a direct military clash in the Taiwan Straits,” the widely-read, state-affiliated Global Times reported in March as China geared up for military drills in the strait. In the months prior to the drill this past spring, China’s military conducted air and naval drills near Taiwan to send a message.

Last year, Taiwan touted its ability to strike deep into Chinese territory. “We do have the capability and we are continuing to reinforce such capability,” Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said at the time. “Should the enemy insist on invading, we will weaken their capabilities by striking enemy troops at their home bases, fighting them at sea, crushing them as they approach the coastlines and wiping them out on the beaches,” a defense report added.

Several days later, Feng revealed that China had positioned DF-16 precision-strike missiles for strikes on Taiwan should such action prove necessary.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Aug 6, 2018, that she is determined to bolster the island’s defense budget as the situation with Beijing worsens, according to the South China Morning Post. Her aim is to increase Taiwan’s military spending by 5.6 percent, raising the annual figure to .3 billion.

“Our national security is faced with more obvious and complicated threats,” Tsai said.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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AI wins flawless victory against human fighter pilot in DARPA dogfight

DARPA’s AlphaDogfight trials have officially come to a close with Heron Systems’ incredible artificial intelligence pilot system defeating not only its industry competitors, but going on to secure 5 straight victories against a highly trained U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot, without the human pilot scoring a single hit.


Eight teams were selected to create artificial intelligence (AI) “agents” that would be capable of simulating a real dogfight between fighters, referred to as within-visual-range air combat maneuvering, more formally. The first two rounds of this competition saw these virtual pilots engage with one another in simulated combat environments in November and again in January. This third round of AI dogfighting included similar competitions, with the four finalist firms squaring off in a round robin. The event then culminated with the hands-down victor, Heron Systems, taking on a real human fighter pilot in another simulated fight.

And Heron really brought the heat, with its artificial intelligence system ultimately securing the AI championship by defeating Lockheed Martin’s AI system.

Heron consistently proved to have the most accurate targeting apparatus of any AI agent, as it engaged opponents with laser-accurate gun strikes often in the first merge of the fight.

“It’s got to keep that opponent in that one degree cone to win the game,” Ben Bell, Heron’s Senior Machine Learning Engineer, told Sandboxx News.

“You saw that a lot with Lockheed, we’re both nose on, we’re both creating damage, but when their nose is off by that one degree, that’s where we were able to win a lot of these engagements.”

That superior aiming capability was on particular display when squaring off against the U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot representing humanity in this battle for what some consider to be the future of aviation. While the pilot’s name was not released due to OPSEC concerns, DARPA did provide his callsign: Banger. They also explained that Banger was not just a working fighter pilot, he’s a graduate of the Air Force’s Weapons Instructor Course, which could loosely be described as the Air Force’s “Top Gun” school, for the movie buffs out there. The real Top Gun, of course, is a Navy school called the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

Heron’s AI system racked up the first four wins against Banger in quick succession, leveraging its incredibly precise aiming to whittle Banger’s aircraft “life” down in a series of looping merges. In the fifth and final bout, Banger changed approaches, sweeping his aircraft out away from Heron’s F-16 and creating separation with high-G turns.

However, the new tactics only seemed to delay the inevitable, with Heron managing to kill Banger’s F-16 once again, without the human pilot managing to get a single shot on target.

Heron’s AI pilot was widely described as “aggressive” by DARPA staff and the Air Force pilots on hand throughout the competition. Under control of Heron’s AI, the virtual F-16 would practically play chicken with its opposition — something the human pilots were quick to point out would be a violation of training regulations in a real simulated dogfight. Of course, in an actual dogfight, there are no such limitations… but Heron’s aggression may still have been turned up just a bit too high to serve as a reasonable wingman.

“It’s important to realize that a BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers) engagement can occur in any direction and any altitude. We’ll often begin with a basic starting parameter to develop a site picture to reference, but a real engagement doesn’t have those cuffs,” Major Justin “Hasard” Lee, an F-35 Pilot instructor and former F-16 pilot, tells Sandboxx News.
“The enemy always has a vote, meaning they always reserve the right to do something you’re not expecting. When that occurs you have to find a creative solution to counter the unexpected problem. “

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot campF-16 Fighting Falcon (DoD Image)

According to Bell, their AI agent placed an equal emphasis on damaging the opponent and minimizing its own risk.

“If the agent sees a 51% chance of scoring a kill as it heads into a neutral merge, it’s going to take it,” Bell explained.

Of course, aside from some really exciting video game playing, this entire exercise had official purposes too. DARPA is not only seeking to improve drone aircraft systems, they’re also looking to increase the level of trust between human pilots and AI systems. In the future, these same sorts of artificial pilots will likely be flying alongside humans, and other similar systems will fly along with them in the cockpit of their own aircraft.

By outsourcing some tasks to a highly capable AI, pilots can focus more of their bandwidth on situational awareness and the task at hand. We’ve already seen this approach lead to data fusion capabilities in advanced platforms like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which automates simple tasks and provides the data to the pilot by way of helmet mounted and heads up displays.

Bell explained that the current AI agent used to secure this victory could be adjusted to prioritize its own safety to a higher degree, which might make pilots a bit more comfortable with its approach to combat. He also pointed out, however, that just because something’s scary to human pilots, doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot campA U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat of Fighter Squadron 213 (VF-213) “Black Lions” flown by CDR Greg “Mullet” Gerard and LTJG Don “Coach” Husten engages a General Dynamics F-16N Viper aggressor aircraft flown by Lieutenant Commander George “Elwood” Dom during training at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar, California. (US Navy Photo)

“Trust comes from being able to execute a mission with a high degree of success. There’s some point where you have to say you know that it works and in all the ways we tested it, it was superior to its opponent.”

He went on to clarify, however, that there will certainly be “some give and take” between their engineers and real pilots moving forward.

When asked about Heron’s ace in the hole, its incredibly accurate targeting system, Bell made sure to point out that the way in which this competition was executed was to the human pilot’s disadvantage. Banger was flying in a simulated environment using a VR headset, which doesn’t equate that well to a real fight in the real sky, and gives their computer pilot instant awareness of its surroundings.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

However, that VR environment may have also worked in Banger’s favor, as his final bout against Heron’s AI saw him executing a number of 9G maneuvers that would have taken a significant toll on a human pilot. Heron’s system, on the other hand, would not be physically affected by executing these maneuvers in a real aircraft.

“Dogfighting, or Basic Fighter Maneuvers as we call it, is an incredibly complex and dynamic environment. The most difficult part is perceiving what the adversary is doing,” Lee explains.
“You’re looking for minute changes in their lift-vector which foreshadows their next move. That’s why it’s important to have good vision (which can be corrected with glasses or surgery).”

While going undefeated against a highly trained human pilot is a great feather for Heron System’s cap, this doesn’t mean the end of human fighter pilots is near. DARPA’s goal isn’t to replace humans in the skies, but rather to supplement them with capable drone assets and an auto-pilot system that could conceivably make human pilots far more capable, by freeing up their mental bandwidth in a fight.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

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7 epic memories you’d love to relive from your military service

Since the military is considered a way of life, young service members who left home just a few months ago will embark on a journey that will have many ups and downs.


They’ll encounter all sorts of different personalities and create epic memories along the way.

When we’re out, we tend to reminisce about the times of old, and for the most part, we’d give anything to relive those moments again.

Related: 5 things you learned about America while being deployed overseas

So check out these epic memories most vets would love to go through at least one more time.

1. Graduating boot camp

After going through weeks of intense training, you get to stand proudly in front of your family and friends at graduation as you officially earn your title of sailor, airman, soldier, Coast Guardsman or Marine.

 

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Navy boot camp graduation. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

2. That first epic barracks party

One of the best parts about living in the barracks are the parties! For the most part, they’re a sausage fest depending on your duty station. You can learn a lot about yourself from how awesome you are to how much beer you can drink before throwing up.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
A party at the Guantanamo enlisted barracks. (Wikipedia Commons)

3. The good times on deployment

When troops deploy overseas, all they have is the men next to them for support — and an occasion mail drop. Since we’re gone for the majority of the year, we have plenty of downtime to “smoke and joke” — which usually involves making good friends and epic memories.

You’ll never make better friends than the ones you make in combat.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
HM3 (FMF) Kirkpatrick and SSgt. Chanthavong from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, hang out before heading out.

4. Your first firefight

Nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of putting rounds down range at the bad guys. After the chaos ends, you typically critique the sh*t out of yourself and wish you handled things differently.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Marines taking contact from the enemy. They’ll get them soon enough.

5. Getting that much-deserved promotion

Getting promoted in front of your fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms for a job well done is an epic feeling. Hopefully, it’ won’t be your only time.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
A military promotion. (Source: Army.mil)

6. That moment you returned home from deployment

After being gone for the better part of the year, returning home to a positive atmosphere is the best. After this, it’s unlikely you’ll get that sort of patriotic greeting again — unless you re-deploy.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
These Seabees return home from a deployment. (Source: Seabee Magazine)

Also Read: 6 military cadences you will never forget

7. Walking out of the personnel office with your DD-214

If military service wasn’t for you, getting that “honorable” discharge is like being reborn. Since nobody remembers being born the first time — this moment is super special.

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
This is very close what it feels like, including the outfit.

What were your favorite memories? Comment below.

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How the US is losing the war in the Arctic before it even begins

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: US Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shawn P. Eklund


The Arctic is full of mineral and oil resources, and international sea lanes are opening up there as global warming melts more of the ice.

Though ownership of the resources has been largely settled for years, rising international tensions between Russia and most of the other countries with Arctic claims could lead to a confrontation in the ice. The U.S. and four of its NATO allies have rights to Arctic shipping and minerals. Russia has probed the defenses or otherwise threatened each of them in recent months. (Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Canada.)

While Russia has shown some cooperation in the Arctic, they’ve also staged massive war games there including “38,000 servicemen, more than 50 surface ships and submarines and 110 aircraft,” according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company. NATO allies have staged sub-Arctic exercises since, but they were conducted further south and later in the Spring, meaning two factors combined to make the rigors of fighting in the frozen North less pronounced.

Russia is simply better prepared to fight there. Here’s how.

Icebreakers

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: US Coast Guard chart 2013

Icebreakers are perhaps the biggest difference between the two nations. The Coast Guard has two heavy icebreakers, one of which has been sidelined for years due to a need for repairs and the other risking becoming stranded every time it pushes north. Meanwhile, Russia has over 40 icebreakers including the only nuclear icebreakers, and it is building the world’s largest icebreaker in St. Petersburg.

Russia has better maps and more experience

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wofratz

Russia’s maps of the Canadian Arctic are better than Canada’s, according to The Globe and Mail. While the U.S. Navy rarely sails surface ships there and maintains limited submarine patrols, Russia spent the Cold War under the Arctic ice. Their military still has many of the maps and other documents on how the Soviets learned to operate, and Russia still conducts large exercises like the one described above.

The U.S. has held few exercises and had to cut a February exercise short. America is working on this, predominantly through an air role. This is partially because most Navy surface ships can’t exercise in the cold waters.

Navy surface vessels need to be “ice-hardened”

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Karl Anderson

The cold waters of the Arctic can wreak havoc on ships. Part of the reason the Titanic sunk was that its hull become too brittle at cold temperatures. For the Navy to protect its ships from a similar problem in the much colder Arctic, the ships would need to be “ice hardened,” but that process costs as much as 33 percent of the price of buying a completely new temperate ship.

Russia has been expanding its fleet with an eye on the North Pole for years.

The U.S. has no deepwater ports in the Arctic

While the Coast Guard’s limited Arctic capabilities allow it to conduct limited rescue missions on the ice, neither it nor the Navy can park any ships that far north due to a complete absence of American deepwater ports. This increases reaction times for any emergency or military operation.

Russia, meanwhile, has 16.

The Navy isn’t even planning on being fully Arctic-capable until 2030

5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp
Photo: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones

While the Navy understands its problems in the Arctic, budget constraints and other missions keep it from being able to pivot north. The long-term plan for the Arctic doesn’t even call for full operational capability there until 2030, though they want more sailors trained and prepared by 2020.

There is good news, however. Russian military spending is coming under tight pressure as economic sanctions and oil prices continue to constrict the country’s revenue. The Iran nuclear deal may increase this pressure as Iranian gas hits the market.

Hopefully, the Navy can increase its capabilities before its called on to fight over the North Pole.

NOW: This extreme winter survival course teaches troops how to stay alive in Arctic conditions

OR: Here’s a hilarious look at what life is like for Marines on a Navy ship