7 things that make you stick out in the US military - We Are The Mighty
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7 things that make you stick out in the US military

The military is one of those work environments where it’s generally best to blend in. Sure, you want to stand out during promotion boards or advancement exams, but the rest of the time it’s best for troops to keep their heads down.


Unfortunately, some people are cursed with traits that make that impossible. Here are 7 things that are guaranteed to draw extra attention.

1. Height

Photo: US Army

Too-tall or too-short, both will make someone stand out. In formation, everyone is right next to each other and outliers are super obvious. At ceremonies, many units are reorganized according to height so the unit has a more uniform appearance.

2. Being a know-it-all

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman K. Cecelia Engrums

This person wants to stand out, but they shouldn’t. Answering a direct question is no big deal, and offering an informed opinion every once in a while is great. But people who answer every question in a class don’t get the “team” idea behind the military. And the rest of the team hates them for it.

3. Coming from another country

Photo: US Navy Legalman 1st Class Jennifer L. Bailey

The U.S. military is predictably full of Americans, but some foreign people do join.

A few English or South African troops may be able to skate by under the radar, but most foreigners get found out immediately. As if it wasn’t hard enough to adjust to military culture, this recruit has to adjust to American culture at the same time. Every time they mess something up, some squad-jokester-wannabe will make a comment about how it’s because they didn’t grow up in America.

4. Being from Texas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyFSdj1J5Vw
It’s like being foreign. Everyone has their favorite Texas jokes, Texas nicknames, and Texas memes. Once someone is outed as being a Texan, they will get saddled with all the Lone Star military stereotypes.

5. Having an accent

Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

Yeah, soldiers who talk funny are going to get noticed. It’s funniest when they have to speak in front of the unit. They’re up there talking about how their squad helped them get promoted or earn an award and the formation just stands there smiling like they understand any of the words being said.

6. Possessing no rhythm

Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

In the civilian world, bad rhythm just makes it harder to meet people at clubs and square dances. But rhythm is key to military life. Units march in rhythm, troops exercise in rhythm, and new tasks are taught “by the numbers” where students practice things like landing in a parachute in a set rhythm.

A service member with no rhythm sticks out and gets ridiculed. In basic training, it’s even worse since it draws the eyes of the dreaded training cadre.

7. Carrying a funny or famous last name

Meme via OutOfRegs.com

As a civilian, someone’s last name isn’t all that visible. It’s in email signatures, and that’s about it. But in the military, a person’s last name is their primary name. It’s on their shirts, it’s beneath any pictures of them, and it’s on most of their hats. Some people don’t know their buddy’s first name until they friend each other on Facebook.

So, when someone’s last name is “Nye,” everyone knows. And that person can’t walk into a room without someone singing the Bill Nye theme song.

NOW: The 7 people you meet in basic training

OR: The best and worst Air Force recruiting slogans of all-time

 

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Incredible photos of US Marines learning how to survive in the jungle during one of Asia’s biggest military exercises

A US Marine biting into a freshly skinned king cobra as part of a survival exercise during Cobra Gold 2006. (Photo: slagheap/Flickr)


The US-led annual multinational military exercise Cobra Gold kicked off in Thailand on Monday, despite a faltering relationship between the two countries following Thailand’s military coup in May 2014.

Cobra Gold 2015 is scaled down due compared to past years because of the frosty relations between Thailand’s ruling military junta and the US. But it’s still a massive military exercise even in a reduced form. This year 13,000 personnel from 7 participating nations have joined in the exercises, the AP reports.

The participant countries are Thailand, the United States, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Malaysia, while India and China are taking part in humanitarian training missions. Even though the exercise is smaller than in the past, the scope of Cobra Gold has grown since the first one was held in 1982 and involved only the US and Thailand.

Exercises in Cobra Gold 2015 include jungle survival training and civic assistance programs in underdeveloped regions of Thailand.

Survival training is a big part of Cobra Gold. Thai Marines demonstrate how to capture a cobra in the wild.

Photo: Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/USMC

US Marines then help decapitate the cobra and take turns drinking its blood. Cobra blood is surprisingly hydrating and can be used as a temporary replacement for water if a Marine is lost without supplies.

Photo: Cpl. ISaac Ibarra/USMC

Thai Marines also teach their counterparts how to recognize edible jungle fruits.

Photo: Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/USMC

Like cobra blood, several of the fruits can serve as an improvised source of hydration.

Photo: Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/USMC

Marines are also instructed in the proper way to eat scorpions and spiders. Spiders are eaten after their fangs are ripped off, while scorpions are edible once the stinger is removed.

Photo: Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/USMC

Aside from survival lessons, participant countries also take part in construction projects to build greater regional cooperation in the event of disasters like typhoons or plane crashes. Here, Chinese and US soldiers work together to build a school as part of Cobra Gold 2015.

Photo: Cpl. James Marchetti/US Pacific Command

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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These are the top 5 military-related presidential pardons

The Constitution (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) gives American presidents the power to grant full pardons. Throughout history, presidents have used this power, some more than others. Presidents Harrison and Garfield issued zero pardons, mostly because both of them died shortly after taking office. (Harrison died of pneumonia and Garfield was assassinated.) President Franklin Roosevelt issued 3,687 pardons, but a factor in that total is the fact he held office for 12 years. President Andrew Johnson either pardoned over 7,000 or just 654 people, depending on how you score it. (See below for details.)


The average number of pardons per president to date is just over 665.

Pardons have taken many forms. Some have been high-visibility because of their impact on politics and pop culture like when President Ford pardoned former President Nixon or when President Clinton pardoned publishing heir Patty Hearst following her stint as a domestic terrorist. Some have been personal like when President Clinton pardoned his brother Roger following a conviction on cocaine possession charges.

But presidents also being commanders-in-chief, naturally, some pardons in American history have had something to do with the military. Here are 5 of the most important among them:

1. James Buchanan pardons Brigham Young

Brigham Young

In the mid-1800s the Buchanan administration grew concerned about the activities of the Latter Day Saints, led by Brigham Young. The president was afraid that Young was on the verge of creating a theocracy out west and so he sent the U.S. Army to intervene. The resulting “Utah War” was mostly without bloodshed, with the notable exception of the time some Mormons murdered 12o settlers from Arkansas. Young was accused of giving the order or, at least, not doing enough to prevent it. He was later able to prove that he’d actually sent a dispatch ordering his people to let the settlers pass in peace, but it got there two days after the massacre. As a result, Young was ultimately pardoned by President Buchanan.

2. Andrew Johnson pardons the Confederate military

Andrew Johnson

During the election seasons in the years immediately following the Civil War, it became politically expedient to get the conflict behind the country. In fact, the U.S. Senate was so disappointed in President Johnson’s Reconstruction progress that they impeached him. So on Christmas Day in 1868, Johnson offered amnesty to all Confederates. At about the same time he also pardoned Dr. Samuel Mudd, the Maryland doctor who patched up Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth. President Grant, who’d led the North to victory as a Union general, finished the process, later signing the Amnesty Act of 1872, which pardoned all but 500 of the top Confederate leaders.

3. Gerald Ford pardons ‘Tokyo Rose’

Iva Toguri D’Aquino was an LA native Japanese-American who had the misfortune of being in Tokyo when war broke out between the U.S. and Japan. She became the voice of Japanese propaganda aimed at American servicemembers across the Pacific Theater. She was frighteningly accurate with military details from time to time, which did cause GIs some concern, but she was also a source of entertainment for them because her broadcasts were equally campy as provocative.

When the war ended “Tokyo Rose,” as D’Aquino was popularly known, was charged with treason, convicted and imprisoned until 1956. In time the facts emerged that she had been pressed into service for the Japanese war machine under duress. She was pardoned by President Ford in 1976.

4. Richard Nixon pardons William Calley

Lt. William Calley during his trial at Fort Benning. (Photo: AP)

William Calley was a community college dropout who found himself in charge of a platoon fighting the Vietnam War. His weak leadership and lack of military skill led to the systematic murder of 500 Vietnamese civilians. Life magazine broke the story over a year and a half later with a graphic photo essay that shocked the nation and did much to shift public sentiment against the war once and for all.

Calley’s court-martial was a high-visibility event, and he was eventually found guilty of 22 counts (of the 109 he was charged with) of premeditated murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Leavenworth. President Nixon, reacting to another public sentiment that Calley had been made a scapegoat and that the punishments should have gone higher up the chain of command, ordered his sentence modified to house arrest. Eventually, his time was reduced from life to 20 years. He served three and a half years of that when Nixon pardoned him.

In 2009, while speaking a Kiwanis Club in Ohio, Calley issued the following apology for his role at My Lai:

There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai. I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry…. If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd Lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them—foolishly, I guess.

5. Jimmy Carter pardons the Vietnam draft dodgers

Although Gerald Ford had been the first to deal with letting draft dodgers off the hook, his version had been conditional and only affected one-third of the population. President Carter, elected on a progressive agenda, took it the rest of the way by issuing an unconditional pardon for all of those who’d evaded the draft, about 150,000 young American men — including a number of aspiring politicians who would go on to hold the highest offices in the land.

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Why I’m thrilled Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel

Look, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really lighting my fires when it comes to their female superheroes.

When Marvel Studios announced they would be bringing Captain Marvel to the big screen, I was thrilled. I was also immediately invested and my expectations shot through the roof.


Heyyyyy Valkyrie…
(Thor: Ragnarok by Marvel Studios)

The reasons why are threefold:

www.youtube.com

1. This movie is for *me*

I am the target demographic for this film, and I have been ever since my 8-year-old self cuddled up with nerdy/amazing hero novels, like The Rowan or The Song of the Lioness. I have been devouring epics featuring female heroes for as long as I can remember.

So have all the other women out there thirsting for heroes that look like them. Seeing representation on film and television empowers the people who are watching. This is why it’s so important and exciting to have women and people of color finally stepping into hero roles.

Full Metal Obsession.

(Warner Bros.)

2. I know the military world

I joined the military after 9/11 (probably as a result of the aforementioned hero literature). I wanted to literally fight evil. I was an Air Force captain, much like ol’ Captain Marvel herself. As a result, I’m very critical of how military women are portrayed in TV and film.

Edge of Tomorrow got it right. My list of who got it so, so wrong is too bitter to share here, but if your character wore a push-up bra, then you’re on it.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F13KRZLObX9B1tK.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=916&h=1db67260745ab301eec2b03450ecbef21ad9b78f3782b9426a093d35437277e1&size=980x&c=1121216279 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F13KRZLObX9B1tK.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D916%26h%3D1db67260745ab301eec2b03450ecbef21ad9b78f3782b9426a093d35437277e1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1121216279%22%7D” expand=1]

Yeah, she played Envy. Amazing, right?

3. I know the casting world

I’m an actor and filmmaker. I understand that Hollywood has to take some artistic liberties. I understand that a big name means selling-power for a film. I also understand the work it takes to bring a character to life.

I’d literally stab someone for love the chance to play a role like Captain Marvel — whoever they cast better make me so delighted to watch that I forget my debilitating FOMO about not playing the part myself.

Well guess what, Marvel? YOU NAILED IT.

Brie Larson has been on my radar since the effing fantastic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

www.instagram.com

She’s been on the world’s radar since her Oscar-winning performance in Room. Larson is the kind of actor who effortlessly morphs into a world. She is extremely natural on-camera.

Also, she’s just cool.

In the comics, Carol Danvers is an Air Force officer whose DNA fuses with a Kree, giving her superhuman powers. I don’t know how the MCU will bring her story to life, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that screenwriter Anna Boden will take a cue from comic writer Kelly Sue DeConnick who pitched “…Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.”

Obviously, the filmmakers are keeping pretty tight-lipped about the upcoming 2019 film, but Larson has been sharing little peeks at her training along the way, including work with the actual U.S. Air Force.

www.instagram.com

This is a good sign — whenever there is a military film, my first question is who are the service members involved? (FWIW: I always prefer for the answer to be veterans who have transitioned out of the military and into professional careers in the entertainment industry)

Larson has also shared a glimpse at her physical training for the role.

Pull-ups take me back to jump school. Good times….

I believe that she could be powerful. I believe that she could be a leader.

Larson is lovely, but her looks don’t define her. She doesn’t need to be glamorous (though she surely can be when she wants to). This is the same mindset that women in the military have. There’s a comfort level with sacrificing some femininity for the mission. That’s what Hollywood gets wrong so often when they hyper-sexualize their military roles.

But not this time. Marvel crushed it with Larson, and I cannot wait to see this film.

I’m also going to lose my mind if we catch a glimpse of her in Avengers: Infinity War.

Articles

Trump teases big order of F-18s in response to F-35 cost overruns

President Donald Trump again teased the prospect of placing a “big order” of F/A-18 Super Hornets to a cheering crowd at Boeing’s South Carolina factory on Friday.


“We are looking seriously at a big order” of F-18s said Trump to applause from the crowd at Boeing, the company that builds the F/A-18.

Trump’s Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced in January that the military would “review” the F-35 program and possibly opt for more “advanced Super Hornets” instead of the F-35C, the Navy’s carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter that continues to struggle.

Also read: World’s most-advanced aircraft carrier one step closer to completion

Trump continues to seriously explore the idea despite backers of the F-35 program have protested the notion that an updated F-18 can do the F-35’s job.

F-35C Lightning IIs, attached to the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, and an F/A-18E/F Super Hornets attached to the Naval Aviation Warfighter Development Center (NAWDC) fly over Naval Air Station Fallon’s (NASF) Range Training Complex. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell/Released

The advanced Super Hornet package offered by Boeing builds on the company’s reputation for delivering upgrades to the F-18, first built in the 1970s, on time and on cost.

This contrasts heavily with the Navy’s F-35C, made by Boeing rival Lockheed Martin, which has faced significant difficulties achieving readiness in the military.

Dan Gillian, Boeing’s vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 programs, told Business Insider that even with the coming F-35C naval variant, US carrier air wings would consist of a majority of F/A-18s into the 2040s. In fact, Boeing has contracts currently underway to update the F/A-18s.

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5 ways Morse code is better than text messaging

In 1999, the last official Morse code message was sent out from the Globe Wireless master station south of San Francisco. It was the end of an era for a form of communication that lasted well over 163 years. To put this into perspective, early forms of ARPANET email are about 47 years old and SMS text messaging has been around almost 26 years.


Today, only ten Airmen a year learn the craft of reading Morse code and it’s more of a history lesson than a practical one. You can still find the occasional radio enthusiast who picked it up as a party trick or a conversation starter. Once you learn the skill, however, you start realizing how many other Morse code nerds there are out there. Hell, even the original Nokia SMS notification chime was just “SMS” written in Morse code as (…/- -/…).

1. It’s an easy skill to learn that blows people away

You see it in the movies and on television all the time. In some tense action scene, someone blurts out, “oh my god! It’s Morse code!” Suddenly, everyone looks at the guy who figured it out like he’s a genius.

It’s really not rocket science. Once you realize that the letters are organized in a way that the most common letters in the alphabet, like ‘E’ and ‘T,’ have the least amount of dots and dashes (‘E’ is just one dot and ‘T’ is just one dash), it starts to make sense. Conversely, the rarer a letter, the more dots and dashes it requires. Numbers are five dots and dashes and punctuation marks are six. Standard guides are nice, but flowcharts like the one below make things so much easier.

(Chart by Learn Morse Code)

2. Doesn’t always need electricity

Using an actual telegraph requires electricity. It was called the “electric telegraph” after all. But you can just as easily knock on things or even blink to get your message across.

A famous use of Morse code in military history was in the Vietnam War when Commander Jeremiah Denton was taken as a prisoner of war. He was forced into an NVA propaganda film and made to explain how “well” his captors were treating him. So, he said exactly what his captors wanted him to say while also blinking “torture” (-/- – -/.-./-/..-/.-./.). He got his message across while leaving the NVA completely unaware.

Also read: This Vietnam War POW used a propaganda film to blink ‘TORTURE’ in Morse Code

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a5175-PXao

(Parker’s Video Portal | YouTube)

3. You can talk about people in front of them

On that note, because learning Morse code isn’t that common, you can also mock people in front of them if you take the time to learn it.

There’s no subtlety in pulling out your cell phone and telling someone that, “this is bullsh*t.”

[dailymotion //www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x2pduoh expand=1]

4. ‘K’ actually means something

One of the most infuriating text messages you can receive after writing out paragraphs is just, ‘k.’

If you send out the message (.-.), or ‘k,’ in Morse code, you’re also saying in short-hand that you’re ready to receive the message from the other person.

Spend five minutes writing to someone and they don’t even have the time to write more than just one letter? A*sholes… (Meme via Know Your Meme)

5. There are no emojis.

I mean, technically, you can still make old-school emoticons, like “:)” as (- – -…/-.- -.-), but no one will get what you’re saying.

But as emojis get more elaborate, conversations start getting dumber. There isn’t any of that crap in Morse-code conversations.

Articles

The 30,000-pound bomb that could be used against Iran ‘boggles the mind’

Negotiators are working toward a June 30 deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.


Should the negotiations ultimately fail and the talks fall apart, the Obama administration and any future US president will have what Michael Crowley of Politico describes as an awe-inspiring “plan B” — the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP).

Photo: US Air Force

According to Crowley, the US has practiced at least three attack runs over the New Mexico desert. These runs have been flown by B-2 bombers and are meant to test the US’ trump card against any attempt to procure a nuclear weapon, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator.

MOP, which is 20 feet long and weighs 15 tons, “boggles the mind,” according to a former Pentagon official who spoke to Politico after watching footage of the tests.

There’s no publicly available footage of the tests, but this footage of a BLU-109 in action gives an idea of how the MOP works. Bunker-buster munitions burst through a target’s defensive layering before the warhead detonates:

The BLU-109 has a 535-pound warhead and weighs about a ton. The MOP carries about 5,300 pounds of explosives, giving it an explosive yield about an order of magnitude greater than the weapon in the video.

The MOP is the world’s largest nonnuclear weapon. Designed to hit hardened targets, bunkers, and locations deep under ground, the MOP hits the ground at supersonic speed after being released from a B-2 bomber. After impact, the bomb can burrow through 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete before detonating.

Photo: Boeing

In the event that negotiations fail, the US is in a position to launch a series of MOP strikes against Fordow, a once secret nuclear facility contained within a hollowed-out mountain and specially hardened against aerial attack. The centrifuges at Fordow are capable of enriching uranium, which could be used for a nuclear weapon.

Destroying Fordow would be a difficult endeavor despite the size and sheer force of the MOP. Politico notes that the total destruction of the facility would likely require multiple B-2s dropping MOPs at the same GPS-designated location to ensure that the bombs would be able to drill through both the side of the mountain and the facility’s hardened shell before detonating.

Photo: US Air Force Gary Ell

But the MOP is supposed to be used in exactly these kinds of coordinated strikes. According to The Wall Street Journal, the bomb is designed to be dropped in pairs. The first is meant to clear a path for the second hit, heightening the bombs’ potent penetration capabilities.

Unnamed officials told The Journal that the MOP’s devastation potential is unlike any nonnuclear weapon ever built.

The weapons have been designed by the US to destroy hardened facilities within North Korea and Iran.

Should the US decide to carry out bombing runs against Iranian nuclear sites, the US could run into substantial difficulties.

Photo: Google Satellite of Iran’s Fordrow Facility

Google Sat. ImageIran’s Fordow facility.

Russia has announced that it would be willing to sell the S-300 air-defense system, which can hit aircraft at high altitude from a 150-mile range, to Iran.

If Iran were to acquire the S-300s, Tehran would be able to set up a formidable ring of defense around its nuclear sites.

This would make Iranian air defenses much more difficult to overcome, raising the scale and the stakes of any US bombing run against the country’s nuclear facilities.

The MOP is unique for its ability to penetrate enemy defenses, but it is not the largest bomb the US has ever built. That title goes to the T-12 Cloudmaker, a World War II-era bomb that clocked in at over 40,000 pounds.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

Dude, your enemy sucks. I don’t know who they are (is it ISIS? Are you fighting ISIS right now?), but they’re really dangerous and I’m pretty sure they just said something untoward about your mother. It’s time to take out most of the leadership in one fell swoop by hitting their headquarters.


But how do you blow up an entire castle/fortress/tent (again, I don’t know who your enemies are. Nazi Germans? They liked castles…)? Here are seven plans that will always work, but you may want to pack some ear plugs. Spoiler alert: there will be explosions:

1. Cruise missile to the face

This is a Tomahawk Cruise Missile. It will absolutely ruin the day of any recipients. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leah Stiles

You still have at least three days of killing the enemies’ goons before you can get inside the building to send them to their makers, but all the leadership may flee before you arrive. What should you do?

Time for a cruise missile. These bad boys fly at low levels below most radar coverage, turning and winding their way through mountain passes and other obstacles until they reach their target. Once they arrive, they’re going to “disrupt” the headquarters pretty hard.

2. Sustained artillery barrage

Naval artillery barrages are still artillery barrages. (Photo: U.S. Navy PH1 Jeff Hilton)

Of course, if you’ve already gotten your forces close to the enemy headquarters, it can be fun to put on the world’s most lethal fireworks show and all-percussion concert. Just give your artillerymen a few minutes warning, and they’ll be ready to orchestrate a masterpiece.

3. Bombing mission

Ooooh. Hope you didn’t recently redecorate or anything. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris)

If you already own the airspace (which, with the F-22, is likely), then you can get all the pyrotechnics of a cruise missile strike at a fraction of the cost per weapon. Just send a few fighters to keep your bombers and ground attack planes safe and let nature take its course.

Warheads on foreheads.

4. Close combat air/close air support

The Warthog in all her glory. Sorry, sorry–the Thunderbolt II. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

If you realize that the castle/fortress/tent is a headquarters only at the last minute, you may not have time to do the full integration and planning needed for a standard bombing mission. All of a sudden, that JTAC in your unit stops being the butt of all those Air Force jokes and starts being the answer to your prayers.

The JTAC will tell all those nearby air assets where the guys who need to die are, where the nearest friendlies are, and from what angle you will be filming them for the YouTube video. The pilots will take care of the rest.

5. Clear the HQ with infantry, then let the engineers go nuts

The engineers use controlled detonations to get rid of buildings. It looks kind of like this except, instead of just the door blowing up, everything blows up. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff)

No air assets at all? Feel like you didn’t coordinate this attack very well but now isn’t the time for armchair generals. Let the infantry run wild and take the building by force. You won’t get the immediate satisfaction of an air strike, but the combat engineers come with the grunts and are pretty good at destroying literally anything. Expect your C4 stock to fall low very suddenly.

Of course, if your infantry is carrying enough missiles and mortars, you may not need the engineers.

6. Tanks at close range

Army 1st Infantry Division Soldiers conduct a live-fire accuracy screen test to calibrate the tank’s fire control system on Nov. 13, 2014, in Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Photo: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Austin McGuin)

Hey, if you brought a bunch of armored beasts with 120mm cannons on the front, you know what to do. High explosive rounds are the obvious choice for the mission, but this writer humbly suggests trying canister shot. It takes longer and there’s no tactical advantage, but watching the building get chewed up by a constant barrage of steel balls would be pretty entertaining.

7. Screw it–hit it with nukes

(Photo: U.S. Archives)

Is the building too thick for canister shot? And high explosive rounds? And bunker busters and artillery and engineers? Oh well. Time for the ultimate trump card. Just be sure to accurately measure the effects of any lithium included in the mix. That stuff can quickly ruin your day at the beach.

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The destruction of these villages shows the complex calculus of the Afghan War

On the morning of Oct. 6, 2010, three villages in the Arghandab River Valley of Afghanistan were filled with insurgents and dozens of IEDs.


A few hours later the villages were gone as if they’d never existed at all, destroyed by over 25 tons of U.S. Air Force bombs.

Artillerymen with the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment had taken numerous casualties in the months they spent trying to clear the surrounding fields on foot. Special Forces soldiers turned back after they ran out of explosives attempting to blow the IEDs in place. Mine-clearing line charges were fired, opening up lanes into the town but leaving soldiers without “freedom of maneuver” in a heavily-contested area.

The ground commander, Lt. Col. David Flynn, took another look at the problem. He talked to the local elders and told them that his plan to clear the villages could cause extreme damage to the buildings. The elders said that was bad but acceptable as long as the nearby pomegranate trees survived.

Flynn then turned to the U.S. Air Force and requested that Lower Babur, Tarok Kolache, and Khosrow Sofla be destroyed. Surveillance was conducted to be sure that there were no civilians in the area, only insurgents. The mission was approved, and the bombing campaign began.

The Air Force dropped 49,000 pounds of bombs on Tarok Kolache alone, leveling it. The other two villages were completely destroyed as well.

Photo: Youtube.com

Photo: Youtube.com

No civilian casualties were reported, though the pomegranate fields were severely damaged and had to be replanted. (USAID planted 4,000 trees, but they take five years to bear fruit.)

Many of the bombs in the area were destroyed by the operation, and soldiers with the 1-320th were able to set up 17 small bases and outposts in the valley, gaining security around the 38 remaining villages. Mine clearance operations had to continue though as not all the explosives were destroyed in the bombing.

Two years later, the Army erected new buildings, but they were weak concrete structures that the villagers refused to live in. Even worse in a war designed to win hearts and minds, local Afghan police chiefs reported that the bombings switched the loyalties of the villages who went on to become supporters of the Taliban.

NOW: ‘The Fighting Season’ nails the gritty realities of the Afghan War

OR: Navy turns seawater into fuel and nobody cares

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This 85-year-old Special Forces legend has one of the most badass military resumes we’ve ever seen

While other senior citizens were enjoying a quiet life in retirement, 71-year-old Billy Waugh was hunting for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and blowing Taliban fighters to smithereens.


As a member of a CIA team sent in shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Waugh battled militants at Tora Bora and helped bring about the collapse of the Taliban. It seemed a pretty good ending to a career that featured combat in Korea and Vietnam, surveilling Libya’s military, tracking international terrorists, and God-only-knows-what-else for the CIA.

Waugh was born in 1929 in Texas and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948. After completing airborne school he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But he was eager to get into combat, and he reenlisted in 1951 so he could get to the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Korea. Then the Korean war ended, and his career veered off into “black ops” territory once he joined the Special Forces in 1954.

His life after that reads like the most badass resume we’ve ever seen: Five tours with Special Forces “A” teams in Vietnam and Laos where he was wounded multiple times, working for the CIA’s Special Activities Division in Libya, preventing the Russians from stealing classified missile secrets on the Kwajalein Atoll, and helping to hunt down the infamous terrorist Carlos “The Jackal,” which he later detailed in a book.

Just the beginning.

In that same book, “Hunting The Jackal,” Waugh also writes of the time he survived a major North Vietnamese Army attack in Vietnam, where he was shot in the head.

“I took another bullet, this time across the right side of my forehead. I don’t know for sure, but I believe the bullet ricocheted off the bamboo before striking me. It sliced in and out of a two-inch section of my forehead, and it immediately started to bleed like an open faucet,” Waugh wrote. “It sounds like the punch line to a bad joke, but you know it’s a bad day when the best thing about it is getting shot in the head.”

The bullet had knocked him unconscious, and the NVA soldiers who later inspected his body thought he was dead. Though the enemy soldiers had taken his gear, clothing, and Rolex watch, he was left alone where he was hit, and his comrades later landed on a helicopter and saved his life.

Waugh in Vietnam.

“If you were going up there, you were either going to die or get shot all to hell,” Waugh told The Miami New-Times of his team’s work in Vietnam. “Everyone in the outfit was wounded once, twice, three times.”

He officially retired from the Army at the rank of Sergeant Major in 1972, though he had been working for the CIA since 1961 and would continue to work for the agency over the years as an operative or contractor. His military awards include the Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, four Army Commendation medals, and eight Purple Hearts for wounds in combat.

Waugh has often lived in the shadows at the forefront of America’s wars. Long before Osama bin Laden would be known as U.S. public enemy number one, he was tracking the terror mastermind’s every move in Sudan and put forth several plans to take him out.

“I was within 30 meters of him,” Waugh told Air Force journalist Nick Stubbs in 2011. “I could have killed him with a rock.”

In between his time in uniform and paramilitary garb, Waugh earned a Bachelor’s and Masters Degree, and he still lectures young soldiers on the art of surveillance, according to Dangerous Magazine. But it’s apparently not all PowerPoint and boredom for the now-85-year-old.

Photo: Nick Stubbs/US Air Force

Waugh, who now lives in northwest Florida, still lists himself as a “contractor for my present outfit” on his website. So the next time something bad happens to America’s enemies, he may be part of the reason why.

“If the mind is good and the body is able, you keep on going if you enjoy it,” Waugh told Stubbs. “Once you get used to that [life of adventure], you’re not about to quit. How could you want to do anything else?”

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The Tuskegee Airmen’s trial by fire in ‘Operation Corkscrew’

Pantelleria and Lampedusa, two islands located about 50 miles off the Tunisian coast, were strategically located in the middle of the intended path of the Allied fleet for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Pantelleria was garrisoned by an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Axis troops, mostly Italian, and was home to radar stations that tracked Allied ship and air traffic. Its defenses included 15 battalions of coastal guns, pillboxes, and other defensive works.


Allied Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had long been an advocate of seizing the two islands, stating that if “left in the enemy hands, they would be a serious menace; secure in our hands they would be a most valuable asset.” The “asset” was Pantelleria’s airfield, the only one close enough and large enough to accommodate the five squadrons of short-range Allied fighters needed for close air support for the invasion.

Eisenhower initially encountered resistance from his British senior subordinate commanders, who felt that defenses on Pantelleria were so strong that assaulting forces ran a serious risk of failure. But Eisenhower insisted, assigning Lt. Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, commander of Northwest African Air Forces, “with the mission to reduce the island’s defenses to such a point that a landing would be uncontested,” making Pantelleria “a sort of laboratory to determine the effect of concentrated heavy bombing on a defended coastline.”

Codenamed “Operation Corkscrew,” the air offensive kicked off on May 18, 1943. From then until the invasion date of June 11, the island came under constant air attack from heavy and medium bombers and fighter-bombers.

One of the squadrons flying missions to Pantelleria was the 99th Fighter Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the son of the nation’s first African-American general, the first squadron of African-American pilots of the “Tuskegee Experiment” program to see action in the war. The squadron arrived in Morocco on May 1, 1943.

As this was a time of Jim Crow in the United States, the pilots and ground crew encountered the indignities and slights of segregation and racism they had experienced back home. But one pleasant surprise was Col. Philip “Flip” Cochran, the inspiration for cartoonist Milton Caniff’s hero Flip Corkin in the syndicated newspaper strip Terry and the Pirates and later co-commander of the 1st Air Commando Group, who enthusiastically went out of his way to give the pilots combat training.

Lt. Spann Watson remembered Cochran as “a great guy” and said, “Cochran helped the 99th learn how to fight.” Davis added his praise, noting, “We all caught [Cochran’s] remarkable fighting spirit and learned a great deal from him about the fine points of aerial combat.”

Pantelleria would be the 99th’s baptism of fire. The squadron averaged two missions a day. In addition to escorting bombers, the pilots also conducted dive-bombing and strafing missions. Though the pilots did not shoot down any enemy planes, they did damage several and were successful in driving away air attacks on the bombers – which suffered minimal or no losses, a foretaste of defensive tactics that would define the Tuskegee Airmen’s reputation in the war.

In the three-week air campaign, 6,400 tons of bombs were dropped on targets on Pantelleria. On June 11, assault craft carrying troops from the British 1st Division headed toward Pantelleria’s beaches. But, contrary to British predictions of beaches bathed in blood, before the troops could land, the Italian governor capitulated. The garrison on Lampedusa surrendered the next day. The only casualty was a soldier bitten by a mule.

Eight Tuskegee Airmen in front of a P-40 fighter aircraft | U.S. Air Force photo

The swift fall of the islands went straight to the heads of some senior strategic air commanders, who now believed airpower alone could change the course of the war. Spaatz went so far as to claim “the application of air [power] available to us can reduce to the point of surrender any first-class nation now in existence, within six months from the time that pressure is applied.”

For the 99th, Corkin’s training assistance had a payoff beyond the battlefield. Following the surrender of Pantelleria, Davis received a message from area commander Col. J. R. Watkins: “I wish to extend to you and the members of the squadron my heartiest congratulations for the splendid part you played in the Pantelleria show. You have met the challenge of the enemy and have come out of your initial christening into battle stronger qualified than ever. Your people have borne up well under battle conditions and there is every reason to believe that with more experience you will take your place in the battle line along with the best of them.”

Davis would have a long and distinguished career in the Air Force, retiring in 1970 with the rank of lieutenant general. In 1998, he was advanced to the rank of general (retired list). He died in 2002.

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School owner admits stealing $2.8M from veterans program

The owner of a New Jersey computer training center has admitted stealing $2.8 million from a program designed to help veterans find employment.


Elizabeth Honig pleaded guilty June 21 to theft of government funds. The 52-year-old Morganville, New Jersey, resident faces up to 10 years in prison when she’s sentenced Sept. 25.

Honig owns the Eatontown-based Computer Insight Learning Center.

Photo courtesy of DoD.

Federal prosecutors say she helped 182 veterans enroll to receive federal funding under a program designed to help older, unemployed veterans receive training and find employment in high demand occupations.

But the vast majority of these veterans were either not eligible or not actually attending the training.

Honig admitted logging on to the applications system more than 100 times and certifying that she was the actual veteran who was applying for benefits.

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These American military bases are right out of ‘Game of Thrones’

The HBO series “Game of Thrones” (or GoT for short) is based in the mythical world of Westeros and Essos, continents of the Known World. Westeros is where most of the storylines in the show take place. The continent of Westeros is broken down into Seven Kingdoms made up of nine regions: The North, The Iron Islands, The Riverlands, The Vale of Arryn, The Westerlands, The Reach, The Stormlands, The Crownlands (King’s Landing), and Dorne.


The Known World… in Game of Thrones, anyway.

Essos is located east of Westeros and separated by the Narrow Sea. Each location has its own unique geography and culture.

Many U.S. military bases, located both domestically and overseas, have similarities to the fantasy world of GoT. Here is a list of military bases that could parallel them: 

Fort Drum, NY (Castle Black and The North)

 

A 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Soldier uses snowshoes to charge up a hill during a portion of the Mountain Winter Challenge competition, held Jan. 28-30, 2014, at Fort Drum, N.Y. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Pena)

Just like The North in GoT, the winters at Fort Drum are cold and harsh. Along with the large amounts of snow each year, Fort Drum, home of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, is located near the Canadian border.

For those familiar with the show, Castle Black, located on the Wall, is the headquarters of the Night’s Watch, a military order charged to guard the Wall that separates Westeros from creatures who are Beyond the Wall such as the White Walkers. Although we hope our Canadian neighbors don’t turn into mythological undead ice creatures anytime soon, one thing is for sure with the North and Fort Drum: “Winter is coming.”

Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (The Vale of Arryn)   

A C-17 Globemaster III takes off into the mountains Oct. 23, 2014, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Since 2006, the annual airfield traffic count has increased from 143,705 to 333,610 as the support for Operation Enduring Freedom nears its end. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez)

The Vale of Arryn is home to the Mountains of the Moon, a large mountain range with some of the tallest peaks in all of Westeros. Bagram Air Base is located surrounded by impressive snow-capped mountains ranging as high as 25,000 feet.

In GoT, the Mountains of the Moon are also home to mountain clans who reject and resist the House Arryn (the governing body in Vale). Sounds familiar. 

Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (The Riverlands)  

(U.S. Air Force Photo by Josh Plueger)

The Riverlands is a fertile region known as the Kingdom of the rivers and the hills. It’s located in the center of the continent.

Offutt Air Force Base, home to the 55th Wing, is sandwiched between the Missouri and Platte Rivers in the rolling hills of southeastern Nebraska. The base is smack dab in the middle of the Continental U.S. Both regions may be prone to flooding.

The Pentagon (King’s Landing)

King’s Landing is the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, and the site of the Iron Throne, where the King sits. The Pentagon is the headquarters of the Department of Defense, and it probably has some very impressive office chairs. Both places wield great power and can at times be ruthless. Just seems logical.

Fort Knox, KY (The Westerlands)  

Westerlands is rich in gold with mountain ranges and home to the port of Lannisport. Although Fort Knox does not have the exact geographic characteristics of The Westerlands, Knox does have plenty of gold being the home of the Knox US Bullion Depository used to store the U.S. gold reserves.

West Point (Old Town)

Old Town located in a region called the Reach is the oldest city in the Seven Kingdoms. West Point is the oldest active military installation founded in 1802, and home to the U.S. Military Academy, the nation’s oldest military service academy.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (The Iron Islands)

The Iron Islands is a group of seven rocky islands off the Western coast of Westeros. Despite being the smallest region in the Seven Kingdoms, the people of the islands enjoy great mobility due to their ships and superb naval skills.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is located in Hawaii and is the only U.S. state comprised of islands just like The Iron Islands. The base is a strategic location for operations in the Pacific theater and serves as shore side support to surface ships and submarines for the U.S. Navy Fleet. 

National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA (Dorne)  

New York Army National Guard Soldiers prepare to enter a mock village Oct. 9, 2011, during training at the National Training Center. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Richard Goldenberg)

Dorne is a vast desert land isolated from the rest of Westeros. The NTC, located in the Mojave Desert, is much like Dorne because it is very far from large populated areas.

Military personnel who rotate through NTC feel they are in the middle of nowhere, much like the people of Dorne they feel isolated from the Seven Kingdoms.

Camp Pendleton, California (Vaes Dothrak)

U.S. Marines dangle from a UH-1Y Huey helicopter at Camp Margarita on Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 11, 2009. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Grant T. Walker

Located in the Essos continent, Vaes Dothrak is a warm land ruled by a fierce tribe of warriors called the Dothraki. Camp Pendleton, located near San Diego, is home to the famed I Marine Expeditionary Force. Both forces need to rely on a great fleet to cross large bodies of water.

Join the discussion at WATM’s Facebook page to add any ones we left off this list.

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82