How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia - We Are The Mighty
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How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Russia continues to issue threats to countries on its borders — most notably those with significant populations of ethnic Russians like Georgia and Ukraine which have already felt Moscow’s wrath in recent years.


But many European countries have reduced their spending in the decades since World War II, so preparing for a potential war with their aggressive and highly militarized neighbor is not as simple as giving their soldiers MREs, bullets, and marching orders.

And while the U.S. helps guarantee the security of NATO members, a recent analysis by the RAND Corporation indicates that many countries on the eastern front could be swallowed up long before American reinforcements could arrive. Some countries, like Estonia, could be conquered in as little as 60 hours, analysts say.

Here’s what eight countries in Eastern Europe are doing to get ready for the war they hope never comes:

1. Ukrainians are hastily emplacing fixed defenses

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Ukrainian soldiers practice clearing trenches on Nov. 2 during an exercise in Ukraine with U.S. soldiers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Ukraine is the one state on the list who is currently engaged in a war with Russia. While their troops have fought limited groups of Russian “volunteers,” Ukraine’s top generals are worried about a full-scale air attack and ground invasion.

To prepare, they’re digging trenches and emplacing fixed defenses like tank traps and bunkers. They’ve also practiced maneuvering mobile air defenses and other units. Finally, Ukraine is planning a massive expansion of its navy to replace many some of the ships captured by Russia in the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

2. Estonia is training a guerrilla force to bleed Russian occupiers dry

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Estonian soldiers provide cover fire for U.S. paratroopers on Nov. 3, 2016, in Hellenurme, Estonia, during a joint training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Estonia fields an army of only 6,000 soldiers and fully expects to be overrun within days if attacked by Russia, an outcome that the RAND Corporation agrees with. But Estonia plans to make the Russians regret ever acre they took.

The nation is hosting “military sport” contests and encouraging citizens to keep weapons in their homes. The sports events include 25-mile ruck marches, evasion exercises, plant identification, and others which test skills useful for an insurgent force. Over 25,000 Estonians have joined the weekly drills.

3. Latvia is training up a “home guard” and investing in special operations

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Latvian soldiers drive their armored combat vehicles into position during a joint training exercise with U.S. troops on Oct. 31, 2016, in Adazi, Latvia. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Like Estonia, Latvia is bullish on training citizens to resist an invasion. They’re moving forward with plans to allow “home guard” member to keep their weapons and night vision devices in their homes. They’re also betting heavily on special operations forces, tripling the size of the National Armed Force Special Operations Forces.

Like most NATO members, they’re also trying to get more NATO troops on their soil to deter Russian aggression in the first place. Britain is already sending troops for exercises, and Denmark and France have promised forces as well.

4. Lithuania

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
(Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Lithuania has distributed a civil defense book to its citizens which details how to survive a Russian invasion that includes a phone number which residents can call to report suspected Russian spies. It is also planning to restart military conscription for men between the ages of 19 and 26.

5. Norway

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Norwegian soldiers prepare for a stalking event during the 2016 Best Sniper Squad Competition in Germany. The team went on to win the overall competition. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

Norway officially acknowledged that it believes Ukraine was illegally occupied by Russia during a state visit to Ukraine on Oct. 18. Russia later added Norway to its list of targets for “strategic” weapons. Russia uses the word “strategic” to differentiate between conventional and nuclear-capable forces.

Norway has invited more NATO troops, including U.S. Marines, to train there. It’s also stepped up its intercepts of Russian aircraft flying near its shores. Norway’s F-16s now maintain a 24-hour alert. The country is also re-opening Cold War-era bases in the far north.

6. Poland is buying massive amounts of equipment, including new subs

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Polish soldiers of 17th Wielkopolska Mechanized Brigade move a simulated wounded soldier during a react to contact scenario during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Gage Hull)

Poland, which is considered to be one of the more hawkish NATO members, has been warning of a threat from Moscow for some time. For the past few years, it has championed regional security agreements with its neighbors and worked hard to ingrain itself with NATO.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland has ramped up the purchase of military hardware such as new, stealthy submarines and Polish-manufactured S-70 helicopters for its special operations soldiers.

7. and 8. Finland and Sweden are securing defense agreements with the U.K. and U.S.

Finland and Sweden are countries which famously prefer to avoid alliances, but Russian aggression has spurred an interest in limited defense agreements which will make it easier for NATO troops to deploy to those countries in the event of war.

The U.K. and U.S. signed two contracts each with Sweden and Norway, and all four agreements have different details. But, the broad strokes are that all four countries will increase their interoperability by holding joint training exercises as well as participating in research, development, and procurement projects.

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Why was Dakota Meyer uninvited from a Marine Corps Ball?

Why would one of the Marine Corps’ biggest heroes be uninvited from the Marine Corps Ball in Afghanistan? That question has been circulating online over the last few days – and the reason might make you go high and to the right.


How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer visits Marines at Camp Pendleton, California. (Photo by Marine Cpl. Angelica Annastas)

Sergeant Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Sept. 8, 2009, during the Battle of Ganjgal, in which five Americans and eight Afghan security personnel were killed in action. Meyer made five runs into enemy fire to evacuate wounded personnel and recover the bodies of American KIAs.

For this year’s Marine Corps Ball held to celebrate the 241st birthday of the Marine Corps, Meyer had been invited to attend in Afghanistan, where he had served with Embedded Training Team 2-8. According to a report by tribunist.com, the celebration was to be held at the American embassy in Kabul due to security concerns. Such concerns are valid, as last week a murder-suicide bombing at Bagram Air Base left four Americans dead and wounded 17 others.

According to tribunist.com, Meyer’s invite was reportedly rescinded at the direction of Amb. P. Michael McKinley over Meyer’s “political views.” On his Facebook page, Meyer has been vocally critical of the Obama Administration on a number of issues, including a push for additional gun control laws.

Meyer’s wife, Bristol Palin, is also the daughter of former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“It’s disheartening that he’s using the Marine Corps Ball as a chance to be petty and political. It’s disheartening that he’s using the Marine Corps Ball as a chance be petty and political. This should be beyond politics and a time for him to support the men and women who defend he and his staff at the embassy,” Meyer told the Tribunist.


,On his Facebook page, Meyer posted a link to the site’s article, adding the comment, “I want to make sure the Marines in Afghanistan know I really wanted to join them for our birthday, but politics got in the way. Let me know when you guys get back in country and we’ll rock out then!”
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13 memes showing how it feels to get your DD-214

For the uninitiated, the DD-214 is the Department of Defense form issued when a military service member retires, separates, or is otherwise discharged from active-duty service.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Sometimes the wait seems like forever.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

When it’s so close to your hands, some units try to convince you to reenlist.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

But you’ve done your job and it’s time to move on.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

You might “drop your pack” a little while waiting for that day.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

You’ll never forget the day you first lay eyes on it …

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

… Looking at that glorious golden ticket.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

And then you become a civilian, which comes with its own set of problems.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Not everyone handles it well.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

But you won’t be deterred:

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

But even so, this is true for all branches:

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

NOW CHECK OUT: Amazing WWII photographs you’ve never seen before 

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13 tips for dating on a US Navy ship

Aside from the doom and gloom, sometimes the hormones act up, your sailor goggles come on, and the natural thing happens when you’re cooped up for months at a time with members of the opposite sex. It just happens. Yes, it’s stupid, and yes, you should know better. But, if you know better, and you’re still doing it, the following tips will help you and your “boat boo” from visiting the goat locker:


1. Forget about dating on a small ship.

 

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photos: US Navy

It’s easier to conceal your well deck escapades on larger ships, such as carriers and amphibious vessels.

2. Keep your distance

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Josh Cassatt/US Navy

Keep it professional, don’t make it obvious. No flirting in your shop. Avoid eye contact altogether.

3. Never date in your division.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Schumaker/US Navy

Keep it secret from your division buddies. One thing is for sure, as soon the wrong person catches wind, prepare to be teased or worse.

4. If the person you’re seeing is in the same division, volunteer for TAD (Temporary Additional Duty).

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bradley J. Gee/US Navy

Yes, everyone hates it, but volunteering to crank in the galley might save you from getting caught. Once you’re called back to your division, it’s your partner’s turn to reciprocate.

5. Share no more than one meal per day.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Giovanni Squadrito/US Navy

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

6. Pass notes like you’re freakin’ teenagers.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels

You’ve been there before, so take a page from your high school days. Also, if you have a network of trusted friends to pass along your letters, seal your notes with candle wax for an extra layer of protection. It sounds medieval, but it’s effective.

NOTE: Don’t be stupid; don’t save your notes. The goats – Navy speak for chiefs – will use them as evidence if you get caught.

7. Visit common spaces together.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: YouTube

The library is a great common space to meet and pass notes.

8. Have a buddy in supply or any division with access to storage spaces.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Wikimedia

This one is extra risky, but if you feel the urge to take it to the “next level,” your best friend is your buddy in supply. Supply personnel have access to storage spaces, which could be used to lock you in for an hour or two. Beware, you risk not showing up for emergency musters, such as GQ or man overboard. You’re at the mercy of your supply buddy since storage spaces are locked from the outside.

9. Wait for “darken ship” to meet at the bottom of ladder wells and corners.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Capt. Lee Apsley/US Navy

10. Volunteer for roving watch and rendezvous on the fantail.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda S. Kitchner/US Navy

… or a dark catwalk.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dylan McCord/US Navy

 

11. Find another couple to provide you with a shore-buddy alibi.

 

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
USAF photo

12. Go out in groups.

13. Have an open relationship. (And good luck with keeping that from getting messy.)

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Acronym cheat sheet:

  • HM1: Hospital Corpsman, E6 pay grade
  • HM3: Hospital Corpsman, E4 pay grade
  • DRB: Disciplinary Review Board
  • CMC: Command Master Chief

WATM editor’s note: Let’s be clear, you should never date on a Navy ship. There’s too much to risk, such as being demoted, or even worse: getting the boot. For clarification, read the Navy’s Fraternization Policy.

Thanks to all the members of the Royal Order Of The Shellbacks and Shipmates Who Served Aboard The U.S.S. The Kitty Hawk CV 63 Facebook groups for helping us put together this post.

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These are the still-missing sailors who fell victim to the USS McCain collision

The U.S. Navy has suspended its search for nine missing sailors from the USS John S. McCain after looking in vain for more than 80 hours.


Despite help from other countries, the Navy was unable to find the nine sailors within a 2,100-square mile area. However, the Navy will continue to look for any sailors who may have been trapped inside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, which collided with a Liberian merchant vessel Aug. 21 east of the Malacca Strait.

In the aftermath of the collision, divers recovered the body of another one of the sailors, Electronics Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Aaron Smith, a 22-year-old from New Jersey.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Electronics Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Aaron Smith. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy)

Here are the nine missing sailors, according to a release from the 7th Fleet (All photos courtesy of the U.S. Navy):

Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, from Missouri

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, from Texas

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, from Maryland

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, from Ohio

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, from Maryland

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, from New York

(no official photo available)

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, from Connecticut

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, from Texas

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, from Illinois

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

The Navy is still investigating the collision, and following the crash, the commander of the 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was dismissed Wednesday, a rare event. Notably, Aucoin was set to retire in just a few weeks.

Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer has subsequently assumed command.

An investigation is still underway into the incident, but a Navy official told CNN that the USS John S. McCain was hit by a steering failure and the backup steering system was not activated.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson stated Monday that there’s no indication that a cyber attack knocked out the USS John S. McCain’s steering capabilities, but nevertheless the possibility of an attack will be investigated.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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The last Germans to give up in World War II surrendered to Norwegian seal hunters

In September 1944, one might think that the Germans would have had better priorities than setting up a weather monitoring station in some remote Norwegian island. They did have more important things to do, but they set up a meteorological station in the Svalbard area anyway.

As the Allies were fighting their way through the Hurtgen, German troops were setting up their weather stations in Norway. They would be the last Germans to surrender after the end of World War II. 

World War II didn’t go well for Norway. The Germans invaded in 1940 and with the assistance of one of history’s most infamous collaborators, fell quickly. During the war, Norway was one of the most fortified countries in Europe. 

Life in the Svalbard archipelago, though, remained largely unchanged at first. It was occupied and recaptured at times, just to be occupied again. But the Germans managed to create a number of weather stations and reporting stations on the islands. Most subsequently captured or chased away. 

Occupation of the archipelago started almost immediately. The Free Norwegian government in cooperation with the Soviet Union willingly destroyed their coal mines to deny their use to the Axis. After British forces destroyed German weather stations in Greenland, the German Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine set their sights on Svalbard to replace it. 

Almost as fast as they could set up the station, Allied forces sailed from Scotland to dismantle it. That convoy was bombed by the Luftwaffe, but the invaders managed to eject the weather system anyway. Germany sent another weather monitoring party but the British reinforced its position and destroyed that one too. 

More Norwegian troops soon landed, backed by an American cruiser. All Allied movements were monitored by the Luftwaffe, but there was little that could be done at times. The islands were occupied by both parties at times. 

The final attempt at a weather station came with Operation Broadsword in 1944. The crew was landed by the submarine U-307 on Sept. 10, 1944. This time, the station was there to stay, largely because the war ended just a few months after it was established. 

The German occupants of the islands knew they’d just lost the war. They were contacted by their leadership in Norway on May 8, 1945, the day Germany surrendered to the Allies. They had to stay on the island for nearly four months after the war ended. Getting a ship to the Arctic Circle to retrieve a handful of troops just wasn’t that high on the Allies end of war to-do list. 

In the end, the Germans manning the weather station had to surrender to a Norwegian seal hunting ship and its crew, which arrived on Sept. 6, 1945. They were the last Germans to surrender to Allied forces after the war ended. 

They weren’t the only Axis holdouts at the end of the war. Although Japan surrendered in August 1945, some Japanese troops fought on for months or even years after the war had officially ended, believing they should fight on in the absence of orders from the Imperial Japanese military. 

One Japanese soldier, Hiroo Onoda, fought on until 1974. He hid out in the jungles of the Philippines for some 29 years after the surrender was signed because he couldn’t believe Japan actually surrendered. It’s unlikely the Germans on Svalbard felt the same way, knowing how the war had progressed since 1944. 

Featured photo: A member of the weather station with a slain polar bear. Photo: From the archive of Wilhelm Dege.

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New financial resources for Army families facing natural disasters and other emergencies

Members of the U.S. military and their families experience many milestones and seasonal events: the start of PCS travel, back-to-school in the fall, end-of-year holidays, and many more. After a year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of these familiar rhythms were delayed or significantly disrupted, we are all looking forward to the sense of normalcy that a return to these activities will bring. However, there’s one critical period that isn’t ‘circled’ on calendars, yet still is no less significant: the beginning of Hurricane Season.

June 1 was the official start of Hurricane Season, which runs from now until the end of November. As in recent years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s official forecast predicts an above-average season, with potentially 20 named storms. This comes on the heels of 2020, when NOAA actually ran out of hurricane ‘names’ and had to start using Greek letters. Already this year, we’ve had five named storms by early July, including this week’s Hurricane Elsa.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Krystle McGrath, assigned to the 1st Armored Division (AD) CAB, loads food on a S-61 Sikorsky in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 11, 2017. The 1AD provided aviation assets to assist emergency services, the territory of Puerto Rico and federal agencies responding to the hurricane relief effort. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kyara Aguilar)

Preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters – whether fires, floods, or tornadoes – is critically important. But sometimes, all the preparation in the world isn’t enough to ward off serious damage when Mother Nature’s fury strikes. When that happens, Army Emergency Relief (AER), the official nonprofit organization of the U.S. Army, stands ready to help. Since 1942, we’ve assisted 4 million members of the Army team, providing more than $2 billion in assistance to soldiers and their families facing financial challenges of all kinds, including more than $1 billion since 9/11. This assistance typically takes the form of grants and zero-interest loans – far better than relying on the payday lenders that set-up shop near many Army installations, which can charge up to 36% interest (and sometimes higher) on short-term loans for soldiers in need. Plus, AER’s dollars can normally be accessed in as little as a day, which is critical when dealing with emergency situations. 

Last year, AER helped nearly 6,000 soldiers and families facing financial difficulty due to natural disasters and other emergencies – including home repairs, evacuation, travel, clothing, hotels, home insurance deductibles, and other urgent expenses. However, we know that because of the financial strains of the pandemic, some military families are still getting back on their feet today. That’s why for 2021, we are announcing plans to allocate at least $1 million in no-payback grants for natural disaster and emergency expenses incurred by active duty and retired Army families.

With this effort, we are continuing to fulfill our mission of supporting the Army team when they need it most. AER isn’t a giveaway program; it’s a hand-up for soldiers and Army families experiencing temporary financial hardship. We help soldiers get ‘back on their feet and back in the fight’. 

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
A hand-up. Photo/AER

Active duty soldiers, retired soldiers, reserve and National Guard soldiers activated on Title 10 orders, and surviving spouses are all eligible.  In some specific circumstances, assistance may be in the form of a zero-interest loan, and we aim to convert disaster assistance loans to grants once we’ve assessed the total impact of the disaster. AER Officers located at Army installations around the world can assist soldiers with this process. AER approves 99% of eligible requests, so soldiers and their families shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to us if they need help.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes in the Gulf, wildfires fires in the Western States, tornadoes in the Midwest, and many other natural disasters, 2020 was unfortunately a very difficult year for the nation as a whole and certainly for military families. While we all sincerely hope that this year will prove to be less challenging, AER continues to stand ready to provide financial assistance when disasters and other difficult events strike. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason is director of Army Emergency Relief.

Featured image: Rafael Martinez looks down from his front porch at the trash and debris caused by Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 6. Sandy ravaged portions of the Northeastern United States in October 2012. Photo/USMC

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9 steps to getting a soldier into (and out of) a war zone

The Army has a few ways it breaks down deployments, chief among them is the “Army Force Generation Cycle.” But that looks at how Big Army assigns different units to different missions. Here’s how deployment cycles actually work for soldiers.


1. It starts by getting sweet new uniforms.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Sgt. Cooper T. Cash

For soldiers, pre-deployment is a special time when one can shed the Universal Camouflage Pattern and put on a camouflage that actually works. Also that switch and the IR flags lets everyone know that a soldier is about to go to combat, allowing them to feel really special at the PX and commissaries.

2. Packing, repacking, then packing other stuff

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
The Army is just one long series of packing lists.

Those new uniforms will get sweaty quickly as the unit packs, repacks, and stows gear for the deployment. Connexes and vehicles traveling by ship go first, then everything moving by plane, and then personal gear has to get packed away. All of it will have to be unpacked for inspection at least once during the process, and probably twenty times.

3. Being jammed like sardines into a flying can

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Capt. Henry Chan

Finally, the soldiers get to actually deploy. To do this, they get on a plane with limited access to hygiene facilities and then jam themselves in so tight that they can barely breath without inhaling each other’s sweat. Ladies, tell us again how you like a man in uniform, but go ahead and cover your nose while you do it.

4. “OMG, this place is so hot/cold/wet/dry!”

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Cpl. Trisha Betz

Coming off the plane is always punctuated with a lot of curses for the local weather. This is kind of dumb since complaining won’t help and the weather isn’t going to change. But in troops’ defense, it really is stupid hot, cold, wet, and/or dry, and sometimes all four at once somehow.

5. No sleep till fully mission capable

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Sgt. Jason Nolte

Arrival in country kicks off a long series of briefings, gear checks, travel, acclimation, orientation, set-up, and more. Sleep is hard to come by until all of this is done. Sometimes, troops get lucky and are replacing a unit that streamlined the process. More often, the sergeant major decides the previous unit built the base wrong and orders it redone from scratch.

6. “Groundhog’s Day”

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: Sgt Harold Flynn

Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a school in the morning instead of the district center, but that’s about it.

6. “Groundhog’s Day”

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

Once taking over the area, Army units find themselves in a “Groundhog’s Day” situation where they just experience the same things over and over again for months. The places may change a little bit, like going to a battalion base in the morning instead of the shura, but that’s about it.

7. Short-timer

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Bunn

Oddly, getting down to the last 100 days of a deployment is generally considered a bad thing. This is because troops can get cocky or lazy as they dream of heading home. First sergeants have to walk around saying, “Complacency kills,” and “It’s just as easy to die on the last day as it was on the first.”

8. Social media offensive

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor

As the time dwindles down, troops will start spending more time on Facebook, Tinder, and anywhere else they can find people who might want to party once they land. They have to create a long list of potential “Welcome Home!” partygoers, since only about 10 percent will show up and at least half of those will leave once the first staff duty runner is tossed over a barracks railing.

9. Packing, flying, and partying

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Photo: US Army Capt. William Carraway

Getting to that “Welcome Home!” banner is basically repeating steps two and three. Pack, pack, pack, get onto a crammed plane, build up a thick layer of funk, and then march into a hangar to hug family members and friends. Then, party.

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Army relaxes standards on beards, turbans and dreadlocks

Female Soldiers may now wear dreadlocks and male Soldiers whose religious faith requires beards and turbans may now seek permanent accommodation.


Army directive 2017-03, signed earlier this month, spells out changes to Army Regulation 670-1, the uniform policy, for the turban, worn by male Soldiers, the under-turban; male hair worn under a turban; the hijab, which is a head scarf worn by females; and beards worn by male members.

Sgt. Maj. Anthony J. Moore, the uniform policy branch sergeant major inside the Army’s G-1, said the policy change was made largely as a way to increase diversity inside the service, and to provide opportunity for more Americans to serve in uniform.

“This is so we can expand the pool of people eligible to join the Army,” Moore said. “There was a section of the population who previously were unable to enlist in the Army. This makes the Army better because you’re opening the doors for more talent. You’re allowing people to come in who have skills the Army can use.”

Female Soldiers have been asking for a while for permission to wear “locks,” or dreadlocks, Moore said.

“We understood there was no need to differentiate between locks, corn rows, or twists, as long as they all met the same dimension,” Moore said. “It’s one more option for female hairstyles. Females have been asking for a while, especially females of African-American decent, to be able to wear dreadlocks, and locks, because it’s easier to maintain that hairstyle.”

The Army directive says that each lock or dreadlock “will be of uniform dimension; have a diameter no greater than 1/2 inch; and present a neat, professional, and well-groomed appearance.”

All female Soldiers can opt to wear the dreadlocks, Moore said.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
Spc. Harpal Singh, with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, watches as his fellow Soldiers go through the Slide to Victory obstacle at the Fort Jackson Confidence Course. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons)

The Army has granted waivers to Sikh Soldiers since 2009 to wear a turban in lieu of issued Army headgear, and allowed those same Soldiers to wear the turban indoors when Army headgear would normally be removed. Moore said for those Soldiers, the waivers were permanent, but that it was unclear Army-wide that this was the case. That is no longer true, he said.

The new policy is that religious accommodation for Soldiers wanting to wear the turban needs to be requested only once, and that the accommodation will apply to them for their entire Army career.

In an Army directive dated Jan. 3, then-Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning made official the policy regarding the wear of turbans, beards, hijabs, and under-turbans.

“Based on the successful examples of Soldiers currently serving with these accommodations, I have determined that brigade-level commanders may approve requests for these accommodations, and I direct that the wear and appearance standards established in … this directive be incorporated into AR 670-1,” Fanning wrote in the directive.

“With the new directive, which will be incorporated into the Army regulation, religious accommodations are officially permanent for Soldiers,” Moore said.

Also a change: whereas in the past requests for such accommodation rose to the Pentagon before they could be approved, permission can now be granted by brigade-level commanders. Bringing approval down to that level, Moore said, speeds up the approval process dramatically.

That was the intent, Moore said. “They are trying to speed up the process for the Army and for the Soldier.”

Moore said the same religious accommodation rules apply for those Soldiers seeking to wear a beard for religious reasons, and to female Soldiers who want to wear a hijab as well.

If brigade-level commanders feel it inappropriate to approve the accommodation for some reason, he said, then they can recommend disapproval, but it must be channeled to the GCMCA for decision. Under the new policy, requests for religious accommodations that are not approved at the GCMCA-level will come to the secretary of the Army or designee for a final decision.

Still at issue for Soldiers is wear of a beard in conjunction with a gas mask.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
A Marine makes sure his gas mask has a proper seal to keep contaminants away from his face. Beards can inhibit a proper seal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“Study results show that beard growth consistently degrades the protection factor provided by the protective masks currently in the Army inventory to an unacceptable degree,” Fanning wrote in the Army directive. “Although the addition of a powered air-purifying respirator and/or a protective mask with a loose-fitting facepiece has demonstrated potential to provide adequate protection for bearded individuals operating in hazardous environments, further research, development, testing, and evaluation are necessary to identify masks that are capable of operational use and can be adequately maintained in field conditions.”

Moore said that until further testing is completed, and alternatives are found to protect bearded Soldiers in environments that are affected or are projected to be affected by chemical weapons, Soldiers with beards may be told to shave them in advance, with specific and concrete evidence of an expected chemical attack.

If a chemical warfare threat is immediate, Moore said, instructions to shave their beards would come from higher up, at the General Court-Martial Convening Authority-level — typically a division-level commander.

Likewise, Soldiers who seek religious accommodation to wear a beard will not be allowed to attend the Army schools required for entry into chemical warfare-related career fields, Moore said.

For wear of the beard, Moore said, the new directive allows for beards to be as long as the Soldier wants, so long as the beard can be rolled up and compressed to less than two inches from the bottom of the chin. Additionally, for those Soldiers wearing a beard under a religious accommodation, the rules for wearing a mustache are also new. Mustaches may extend past the corners of the mouth, but must be trimmed or groomed to not cover the upper lip.

Maj. Kamaljeet Kalsi, a civil affairs officer in the Army Reserve’s 404th Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Dix, New Jersey, is a Sikh Soldier who wears both a turban and a beard. He said he welcomes the new policy change as an indication that the Army is now looking to both accolade his faith, and to open its doors to talent in the United States that might have been previously untapped.

“It means a lot to us,” Kalsi said. “And not just to Sikh Americans, but I think Americans that value religious freedom and religious liberty, and value diversity. I think it means a lot to all of us. To me it says the nation is moving in a direction that the founders intended, a pluralistic democracy that represents all. I think we’re a stronger nation when we can draw from the broadest amount of talent, the broadest talent pool. And it makes us a stronger military when the military looks like the people it serves.”

Capt. Simratpal Singh, with the 249th Engineer Battalion prime power section, said the policy is for him about acceptance.

“On a personal level, it means that I can serve freely and without having to worry about any stipulations or constraint,” he said. “That’s all I want: is to serve in the U.S. Army just like any of my peers.”

Because the next edition of AR 670-1 is expected to be published next month, the Army will not be able to include the new rules. But Moore said Soldiers can expect to see these most recent changes in the AR 670-1 that comes out at this time next year.

 

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Step into the boots of British soldiers with 360-degree view

British Army recruiters have embraced 360-degree videos, where the viewer can decide what direction they want to look at any given moment, and are using them to let potential recruits see different army jobs.


“Army Urban Ops” follows a squad as the men clear a series of buildings. It is the most watched of the 360-degree videos despite the big yellow blank adapters.

The tanker video is also great. The default view is down the gun as a Challenger II Tank races through the countryside, but swipe your finger on your phone or click and drag with your mouse to look left and see another tank firing its cannon and machine guns.

How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia
GIF: Youtube/ARMYjobs

The airborne version puts the viewer into the middle of a paratrooper drop and a mountaineering one allows them to climb along a narrow ridge with soldiers.

Check them all out at the ARMYjobs Youtube page.

Lists

5 fitness tips to prepare you to become a combat medic

Being a solid Corpsman or combat medic in the infantry takes discipline, determination, and, above all, passion. Some aid station medics are more brainiacs than their grunt-like counterparts who lug heavy packs out in the field.


However, many of these ‘docs’ quickly transition from being badasses who put rounds downrange to being the squad’s doctor when someone gets hurt.

When the bullets start flying and the adrenaline pumps through your veins, it’s incredible how fast you can become fatigued if you aren’t physically ready.

You don’t need a bodybuilder’s biceps to keep up with the physical demands of being a combat medic, you just need to strengthen these key areas.

Related: This is what it takes to become a Combat Controller

1. Build up those shoulders

Deployed medical professionals carry stretchers and Army litters for prolonged periods of time. This can tire out your shoulders in a matter of minutes if you’re not prepared.

Build up those shoulders by knocking out a few sets of “shoulder shrugs” during your workouts. It’ll help.

2. Keep that muscle memory tight

Jackie Chan isn’t one of the greatest stuntmen in Hollywood history because he sits in his barracks room playing Call of Duty all day. He continually practices his craft to get better and better every day.

Combat medics should do the same with applying tourniquets and battle dressings.

3. Use those legs for lifting

Docs are going to do a lot of lifting.

Most wounded patients are going to be laying on the ground when you arrive on the scene, and the medic will have to summon the strength to pick them up. If you use too much of your back, you’re looking at injury. Use those legs to lift.

4. Cardio is key

Medics do a lot of running. They run from patient to patient in the event of a mass casualty situation, then, they have to haul ass to the medevac to relay the proper medical information to the in-flight surgeon.

The job can be tiresome if you’re not in good shape. So, workout with a buddy if you need extra motivation, but be sure to get that cardio in.

Also Read: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

5. Work on that core strength

Docs spend a lot of time kneeling over their patients when rendering care. This position can be incredibly taxing on the torso. So, integrate core workouts into your daily PT sessions.

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War-hardened vet: How accepting death made me a better soldier

The 2006 battle for Ramadi was one of the fiercest fights during the Iraq War.


Fear and grief were never an option for the soldiers, Marines, and Navy SEALs putting their lives on the line for control of the Al Anbar provincial capital. The fighting was intense; every troop had to remain focused and alert to stay alive.

Related: Beware of the 19-year-old pissed off Marine

For Army rookie Perfecto Sanchez, that meant becoming a better soldier by coming to terms with his mortality.

“I fully, fully accepted that I was going to die,” said Sanchez in the video below. “Once I came to terms with that, everything else was easy.”

The only thing Sanchez could not accept was letting his platoon down.

Watch Sanchez recall the moment he became a better warrior when it counted most:

American Heroes Channel, YouTube

It’s tough to understand the physical, mental, and emotional stress combat places on our service members unless you’ve experienced it.

Sanchez’s story reveals a glimpse into the high costs of war: trauma, severe injury, and death.

He is the embodiment of the Seven Core Army Values, and a reminder that it’s not just mental and physical strength that troops need to survive war — it’s the men and women who have their backs.

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Today in military history: Congress passes Espionage Act

On June 15, 1917, the United States Congress passed the Espionage Act.

Two months after entering World War I, the United States feared saboteurs and infiltrators could severely damage the American war effort. Congress sought to prevent anyone from interfering with military operation, supply, or recruitment – in any way.

The Espionage Act outlawed the sharing of information that might disrupt American intervention in the Great War. This included promoting the success of any of America’s Central Power enemies – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. 

Violation of the Espionage Act was punishable by 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine (about $200,000 today). 

A controversial amendment known as the Sedition Act was added in 1918, which forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government. The Sedition Act was repealed in 1921, but the rest of the Espionage Act remains largely intact to this day. The constitutionality of the law and its relationship to free speech have been contested in court since its inception.

Notable persons charged with offenses under the Act include communists Julius and EthelRosenberg and National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who released documents that exposed the NSA’s PRISM Surveillance Program.

Featured Image: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, separated by heavy wire screen as they leave the U.S. Court House after being found guilty by jury. (Library of Congress image)

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