Mattis' first message to the troops shows his leadership style - We Are The Mighty
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Mattis’ first message to the troops shows his leadership style

Defense Secretary James Mattis put out his first all-hands message to everyone in the Department of Defense on Friday, and it tells you everything you need to know about how he intends to lead.


Mattis, a retired Marine general revered by his troops, probably made a good first impression among the roughly three million men and women who make up the active duty, reserve, and civilian force. That’s due to the notable language he used in his first sentence (emphasis added):

“It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.”

As many who served under him can attest, Mattis has always been a humble warrior who led Marines from the front — not from an air conditioned bunker. And the language that he used — serve alongside you, as opposed to lead, or manage you — shows that Mattis will likely bring his beloved leadership style of the Marines with him into the civilian post.

“He’s a leader by example,” retired Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent told Business Insider in December. “He’s not the type that’s ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ He’s out there doing it.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrive at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. | DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Mattis kept his message short and sweet, praising the people who make up the DoD, calling America a “beacon of hope,” and pledging that he would do his best as Defense Secretary.

Here’s the full letter:

It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.

MATTIS SENDS

Articles

How playing the role of a SEAL Team 6 operator changed this actor’s life

When actor Kyle Schmid landed a role playing one of America’s most elite commandos in the new HISTORY drama “SIX,” he knew critics would be looking for every flaw in his portrayal — no matter how small.


Seriously? It was the elite operators from SEAL Team 6 that executed the daring raid that killed terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. And a Canadian-born actor who’d never played a role like this was supposed to pull off a convincing performance of one of the world’s best warriors?

(Photo courtesy of HISTORY)

It was a daunting task, but one Schmid took very seriously.

“The entire reason we did this show, and why we all wanted to do it so badly, is we wanted to do something that had integrity at the end of the day,” Schmid said in an exclusive interview with We Are The Mighty. “It’s incredibly important to get all those little things right.”

“We’ll be under the microscope of anyone that’s been in the military who served and is going to pick out the little things that we do wrong — that’s just going to happen,” he added. “But we tried our damnedest to do everything right as we possibly could; we spent a lot of time and energy doing that.”

“SIX” is a new drama series produced by the HISTORY cable channel that takes a deep look into what it’s like to be a member of one of the world’s most elite military units. The show goes well beyond a shoot-em-up (though there’s plenty of door kicking and explosive entries to satisfy any action junky) and explores the toll the high OPTEMPO job of a DevGru operator takes on personal relationships.

What’s more, “SIX” tackles some of the ethical issues these commandos face on each and every mission, and explores how the elite team members deal with lapses of judgement and tactics among themselves.

Schmid plays SEAL Team 6 operator Alex Caulder, a seemingly free-spirit sailor who’d rather be chasing skirts and riding tubes than jumping out of airplanes and shooting bad guys. But under the hedonistic exterior, the unit’s “point man” is warrior philosopher, acting as his team’s conscience when ops go bad.

“I’ve always been a morally driven and ethical person as a human being,” Schmid said, adding he used the help of military consultants and his own personality to “get in Caulder’s head.”

“It’s all about the choices you make in your life and whether you’re able to stand behind them with the integrity that you want to,” Schmid said.

“There’s a joke the guys were saying on set: ‘You’re too Caulder for Caulder,’ ” Schmid added.

Schmid rocks the MP7 like he was born with one in his hand. (Photo courtesy HISTORY)

But Caulder is more than a thinker — he’s one of the SEAL team’s best assaulters, flowing through rooms and popping up on tangos like he was born to it. And it’s no accident that the action looks so good on the screen.

Working with tactical trainer and former SEAL Mitch Hall of Trident Focus, the actors on “SIX” spent two weeks learning how to shoot and move like real-world operators.

Schmid recalled that in one of the fight scenes in the first episode, “as point man, I’m pieing these corners and I’ve got my feet wrong and I’m still trying to gauge the depth with my MP7 around the corner so I’m not sticking my head out and getting it blown off and I asked Mitch, ‘let’s do it again to get it right.’ ”

It was an intensive course that Schmid took seriously, even taking days off to work at the range and practice his tactics. And when the filming was done for HISTORY’s “SIX,” the actor emerged a changed man.

“This [role] really allowed me to look at life from a different perspective. I learned to turn down my dial — to realize what was important and what was worth worrying about,” Schmid says. “On the other side … I’m much more aware of my surroundings, constantly living in the ‘yellow’ — and I gotta tell you, it’s a pretty good way to be living.”

HISTORY’s “SIX” runs for eight episodes and airs on Thursdays at 10pm Eastern.

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s how veterans can get free flu shots

VA and Walgreens are national partners, providing no-cost quadrivalent flu shots to enrolled veterans of the VA health care system. Now through March 31, 2020, enrolled veteran patients nationwide have the option of getting their flu shot at any of Walgreens’ 9,600 locations, in addition to their local VA health care facilities.


How do I get my flu shot for free at Walgreens?

No appointment is required. Simply go to any Walgreens, tell the pharmacist you receive care at a VA facility, and show your Veterans Health Identification Card and another form of photo ID. (Patients will also be asked to complete a vaccine consent form at the time of service.)

Walgreens has the capability to electronically send vaccination information to the VA and your immunization record will be updated in your VA electronic health record.

The VA-Walgreens national partnership is part of VA’s eHealth Exchange project. This national program ensures that many veterans get their no-cost flu shot at their local Walgreens, satisfying their wellness reminder because they either found it more convenient or did not have a scheduled appointment at a local VA health care facility.

Can I get my flu shot at no cost at the VA?

Yes! If you are enrolled with VA you may receive a no-cost flu shot during any scheduled VA appointment or at one of the convenient walk-in flu stations. For more information on locations and hours contact your local VA health care facility.

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

Articles

Here’s a good way for troops to fight predatory lenders but still get money in a pinch


The American Forces Press Service reports that payday loans have become a $40 billion business and are especially prominent outside military bases. David VanBeekum, a market manager for a local bank near Hill Air Force Base helps to educate Airmen about how payday loans work. He said Utah has 350 payday lenders and almost 10 percent of them are located just outside the base’s gates.

But you don’t have to physically go to the stores. The Internet has 2.5 million links for payday loans, 4 million for cash advance sites; and 31 million for check advance sites. In addition, the Hill Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center, which offers financial counseling services for military members, found that in California the payday loan outlets outnumber McDonalds and Burger King restaurants combined.

Typically, payday loans are for relatively small amounts of money in increments of $100, up to $1,000. It’s easy to obtain one of these loans. All anyone needs is a bank account, proof of a steady income such as a pay statement, and a simple form of identification. It takes about 20 minutes to secure a loan.

Payday lenders target women, those who earn $25,000 or less per year, minorities, and military members. The borrower writes a personal check or grants electronic access for the amount of the loan and a finance charge. However, these loans are not long term and become due on the borrower’s next payday, either in one or two weeks. The interest compounds quickly and calculates to an average of 390 to 780 percent annual percentage rate. There’s no payback installment plan so the borrower must pay the entire amount due in order to avoid another finance charge associated with an extension of the entire loan principle.

This style of business traps the borrower into a repetitive cycle. On average, a person choosing a payday lender ends up with eight to 12 loans per year. A successful payback of the loan is not reported to the credit bureaus and there are documented cases of companies resorting to unlawful or questionable collection tactics.

Each state establishes its own regulations, finance fees and interest rate limits, not the federal government, Mr. VanBeekum said. There’s even a lender in Utah who charges as much 1,335 percent, and even though they’re required by law to advertise the interest rate, 75 percent of them do not.

The Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit advocacy group, has studied the payday loan industry for the past 10 years and said the industry meets the criteria for predatory lenders who have abusive collection practices, balloon payments with unrealistic repayment terms, equity stripping associated with repeated refinancing and excessive fees, and excessive interest rates that may involve steering a borrower to a higher-cost loan.

Besides the high interest rates, CFA surveyors found they misrepresent themselves as check cashers even though they are not registered with the state as a check cashing entity. They will not cash your personal check. Instead, they are only willing to hold your check until payday. The lenders will threaten or badger the client into paying the loan and many people end up rolling over the entire balance of the loan, and thus incur the finance fees again. A number of payday lenders have also ignored the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and found ways to access a consumer’s account when not authorized or when authorization was withdrawn.

The PenFed Foundation’s Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) provides a no-interest alternative to predatory lending for active duty, reserve, and National Guard military.

Fees for predatory payday loans can be an astronomical $19 for each $100 borrowed until payday. Through ARK, one can borrow up to $500 with a flat fee of $5 and no interest for one month.

ARK is a hassle-free, confidential, and smart way to deal with money problems.

  • Active duty, reserve, and National Guard military are eligible 
  • No credit report is pulled because those with emergency cash needs have already exhausted their options.
  • No interest is charged, just an application fee of $5. With ARK, you don’t fall further into debt.
  • Immediate cash loans up to $500 (or 80 percent of net pay) are available for one month.
  • There’s minimal paperwork just a simple one-page form.
  • It’s completely confidential, meaning we don’t tell anyone who has come to see us.
  • Up to three loans in six months are available, but after the first ARK loan, the recipient must sit down with a local Consumer Credit Counselor identified by the foundation.

ARK was designed to be as easy as a payday loan, but without the negative consequences. The goal is to rebuild or repair credit, improve cash flow and increase money-management skills.

PenFed partners with credit unions across the country to bring the ARK program to military men and women. They welcome new credit union partners. Please contact them to learn more.

MIGHTY FIT

5 ways CrossFit benefits veterans

Have you ever wondered why there’s so much hype surrounding CrossFit? Well, it seems veterans are benefiting from the intense workouts in more ways than one.

Take Air Force Veteran Rachel Escolas for example. She tried out CrossFit for the first time while on deployment in Kandahar in October of 2012. After deployment, she had a burning passion for the sport and eventually became certified as a trainer in 2014 while founding her own CrossFit gym, CBUS Lifting Co.


CrossFit benefits the veteran community in several ways.

Air Force veteran Rachel Escolas powers through the workout of the day at her gym, CBUS Lifting Co.

(CBUS Lifting Co.)

Fitness

It’s no secret that as soon as military personnel are shipped off to boot camp or basic training, fitness becomes heavily incorporated into their lifestyle. Physical activity becomes second nature, and is essential to keeping in the best shape for performing day-to-day duties.

With its dynamic arrangements of barbell work, Olympic lifts, strength training, and more, CrossFit can kick anyone’s a** into shape. CrossFit requires discipline and dedication, qualities that already run deep among every branch of the military. The trainers are like drill sergeants that don’t cuss. They don’t let anyone slack and they keep an eye on proper form, correcting when necessary.

There’s nothing like sharing the pain of a workout with others.

(CrossFit323)

Camaraderie

Do you remember waking up at 3:00 or 4:00 am to run in formation, in the cold, heat, sleet, or snow? Who would have thought that veterans would grow to miss that nonsense? Behind any grueling physical fitness routine is camaraderie that stems from accomplishing goals collectively, as a team.

When veterans get out of the military, there’s often a gravitation toward working out in a team environment, like the one CrossFit provides. There’s a sense of community that’s built into a CrossFit gym that’s unlike any other. Regular gyms are fine places for lifting and letting off steam, but fostering more than surface-level acquaintances there is a rarity.

Navy veteran and CrossFit trainer Isabel Beutick states, “Crossfit, for me, has kept me in tight circles. I loved the camaraderie I had in the Navy, and that’s the same feeling I get when doing CrossFit. That tight-knit community.”

Certified CrossFit Trainer and Navy veteran Isabel Beutick, demonstrates how to achieve proper form in an overhead squat.

(CrossFit 323)

Workout modifications

Although there have been major medical advancements throughout the years, an increasing number of veterans come back with combat-related injuries, both physical and mental. It has become evident that, for many, pills are not the solution. Alternative means of healing are helping mend bodies and minds.

CrossFit is not just an outlet for mental stress, there are many attentive trainers out there invested in providing workable modifications to compensate for physical injuries. With the right trainer, there’s nothing stopping a veteran from completing a CrossFit workout, no matter the ailment.

Above, Army Veteran Juan Puentes says, “CrossFit is hard sh*t. It reminds me of all the challenging sh*t I did in the military.”

(CrossFit 323)

Competition

Although CrossFit promotes a team mentality, there’s also an element of competition. To put it lightly, veterans are extremely competitive. Daily workouts are timed and everyone knows who comes in first and last. Now, we’re not saying we should focus on this entirely, but it kindles the fire in veterans to keep pushing.

Throughout your CrossFit experience, trainers keep track of daily goals on a whiteboard or online. This data helps the competitive veteran see their progress and the progress of others and gets them ready to compete in national tournaments.

The ‘Murph,’ dedicated to Navy Seal Michael P. Murphy, is only one of many WOD’s created to honor fallen warriors.

Hero WODs

Hero WODs (workouts of the day) honor fallen service members and provide a way to bridge the civilian-military divide. Most veterans find it complicated to connect with civilian friends, family, and co-workers because they’ve experienced things that are, frankly, hard to explain.

What’s unique about CrossFit’s Hero WODs is that everyone is aware that the workout honors a fallen service member. People truly give it their all on these particular workout days. These workouts create a bond between civilians and veterans that’s truly fascinating to witness.

Articles

This is how Rome’s Praetorian Guard held so much power

Few military units have ever had the effect on world history as did the Praetorian Guard. From the foundation of the Roman Empire until the reign of Constantine in 306, the Praetorians protected – and sometimes controlled – the leader of the most powerful empire on Earth.


Like other elite guard units to come, the Praetorian were loyal to the Emperor personally, not necessarily to Rome. At least, that’s how it started under Caesar Augustus.

Over the centuries, the unit began to slowly corrupt. It soon became comprised of members of noble families who conspired against the Emperor, even assassinating a number of them.

They weren’t limited to the role of a mere guards.The Praetorian Guard fought in wars, in the Colosseum and other games, were a secret police force, and acted as volunteer firefighters for Rome. They would assist the regular firefighters in fighting larger fires.

After a number of assassinations, the Praetorian took their meddling in government a little too far. They were bound to butt heads with some Roman Emperor – without being able to kill him first. That emperor was Constantine I.

The Praetorian Guard backed a pretender to the Roman throne. You can tell the pretender to a throne as opposed to the real Emperor because the pretender is usually filled with knives, spears, or poison.

Constantine defeated armies belonging to the General Licinius and Senator Maxentius and – unfortunately for the Praetorian – they backed Maxentius. Constantine liquidated and disbanded the Praetorian Guard, burned their barracks, and sent survivors to the far reaches of the Empire.

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Articles

That time an Army Air Corps bomber crashed into the Empire State Building

Decades before the terror attacks of 2001 struck New York City, another, very different plane crashed into the Empire State Building, arguably one of New York City’s — America’s —most iconic buildings. It was July 1945, and it wasn’t terrorism or even an attack from the Japanese Empire (with which America was still at war).


It was a simple wrong turn from a U.S. military B-25 bomber.

 

The aircraft flight plan indicated the plane was coming from Massachusetts and would land at La Guardia. Instead the pilot decided to land in Newark but got lost in the heavy fog while flying over Manhattan. Believing he was on the West Side of the island, he flew to the right instead of the left when he went around the Chrysler Building. That was his fatal error.

According to a 1995 story in the New York Times, Lt. Col. William F. Smith Jr. heard from the tower at La Guardia airport that the top of the Empire State Building wasn’t visible in the fog. Minutes later, he hit the iconic skyscraper between its 78th and 79th floors at 200 miles per hour.

The crash blew an 18-by-20-foot hole 913 feet above 34th Street. It’s tail section was stuck in the hole in the building.

The aftermath of a B-25 Bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.

Luckily, the bomber was an unarmed trainer aircraft with no bombs on board. The explosions that rocked the area came from the B-25’s fuel tanks exploding.

“It was as if a bomb went off,” said harpsichordist Albert Fuller, who was shopping across from the Empire State Building that day. “The floor moved. I looked at the clerk and said, ‘Isn’t that strange?’ And I thought it couldn’t be an earthquake.”

Fourteen people died, all told; the three bomber crewmembers and 11 people working in the building that day.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Upgraded naval warfare plan allows Marines to take South China Sea Islands

The US Marine Corps is developing a new concept of naval warfare to allow Marines to take South China Sea islands from Beijing in the context of a massive missile fight in the Pacific.

Marine Corps leaders at the Surface Navy Association’s annual national symposium told USNI News that today’s naval protocol wasn’t what the force was looking for to take on China’s Pacific fortress.


China has spent years dredging up the sea floor to build artificial islands in the South China Sea, an international waterway.

Despite promising never to militarize the islands and losing an international arbitration case concluding they did not own the islands, China has enforced de facto control over the vital shipping lane that sees trillions in annual trade.

U.S. Marines assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion observe the approach of amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) during well deck operations aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25). Somerset is participating in Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 (DB-15).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Vladimir Ramos)

The US regularly contests China’s claims to these waters by sailing US Navy destroyers through the area, but China has increasingly responded with militaristic rhetoric and one Chinese admiral even calling for the sinking of US aircraft carriers.

But the US remains committed to checking China’s land grab in the Pacific, and accordingly, it’s crafting war plans to stand up to Beijing’s growing military and rocket forces.

(CSIS/Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)

Taking Beijing’s islands is central to those plans, US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Coffman said, according to USNI News.

Coffman said “integrated naval operations could be needed to take an island somewhere — natural or manmade,” in a likely reference to Beijing’s man-made South China Sea outposts.

“It certainly will be required when a great power competition pits a whale against an elephant, or maybe two elephants — a global maritime power, that’s us, against a regional land power hegemon with home-field advantage,” he continued, again referencing China as an “elephant,” or a land power that the US, a “whale” or maritime power would have to overcome.

“In that long war, maritime superiority is necessary but not sufficient for the whale to beat the elephant,” he said.

In other words, the US Navy and Marines can’t just win the fight with better sea power, they will also need to make landings.

But those landings will have to be made under a massive missile attack.

The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) conducts flight operations near the island of Hawaii, July 30, 2016.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Can the carriers survive?

China recently deployed DF-26 “carrier killer” missiles to its northwest where they could sink US ships from outside the range of the longest-legged Navy platform.

The South China Sea now hosts a vast network of radars that experts say could be used to track and kill US naval aviation, even the stealth kind.

Additionally, a recent study that looked at carrier survivability at the Heritage Foundation revealed that China could likely muster up 600 anti-ship missiles and that a carrier strike group could likely only down 450 of those fires.

As a result, Coffman said the normal three-ship Amphibious Ready Group and the accompanying a Marine Expeditionary Unit on small deck carriers would no longer cut it.

Up gunning the fleet

The solution? Up-gunning the small carriers and including destroyers and cruisers in the battle formation.

“Every ship has to be a warship that can defend itself, have an offensive striking capability and be able to deal with the threats that are coming in, be it a cyber threat – so it needs a good network – or whether it’s a kinetic threat in the form of a missile that’s coming at it,” Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault said, according to USNI.

Beaudreault suggested putting vertical lauch cells on new US Marine Corps helicopter and F-35B carriers to handle incoming threats, essentially turning these amphibious flattops into aircraft-carrying destroyers in their own right.

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

Articles

These 5 innovative Civil War weapons changed combat forever

The American Civil War was a bloody affair, where many battles were fought with infantry tactics that had been around for 100 years. But some weapons designers pushed the envelope of technology during the violent conflict and developed arms that would revolutionize the way militaries fight for centuries.


1. The Repeating Rifle

Although the primary weapon on both sides of the war was the rifled musket, the repeating rifle made its combat debut during the Civil War. The introduction of the percussion cap and the cartridge allowed for the creation of breech-loading rifles, far superior in reloading speed than muzzle-loaders. The weapon truly came into its own though in the form of the Spencer repeating rifle. The rifle fired seven .56 caliber bullets from a tube magazine in the buttstock. A lever-action discharged and loaded the rounds.

President Lincoln is said to have tested the Spencer Rifle himself on the White House grounds.

The real revolution from the weapon came from a change in infantry tactics. The cartridge and ability to fire multiple rounds in quick secession meant soldiers no longer had to stand massed against each other. Instead, they could maneuver more and even take advantage of cover and concealment by kneeling and lying down while still being able to fire. Unfortunately, the generals of the time were worried that troops would waste too much ammunition so the rifles only saw limited use.

2. The Gatling Gun

Before John Gatling’s invention, there was no way to provide sustained high rates of fire. Although not a true automatic weapon, the hand-cranked, multi-barreled weapon could deliver rounds down range at upwards of 450 per minute. With no links or feed belts, the weapon was gravity fed. The use of multiple barrels limited overheating and allowed for longer sustained rates of fire.

An 1865 Gatling in the British Imperial Artillery Museum.

The introduction of rapid fire weapons quickly changed the nature of warfare. No longer could mass infantry formations be used – they would be mowed down by the higher rates of fire. This was a lesson that would not be sufficiently learned until the brutal combat of World War I.

During the Civil War, Gatling guns saw limited action because, once again, the war department feared a waste of ammunition. Most guns used in combat were purchased personally by generals. The rotating barrels of the Gatling gun would later come to prominence in automatic weapons like the GAU-17 minigun and Vulcan 20mm cannon.

3. Ironclads

At the outbreak of the Civil War, warship design was just beginning to incorporate steam power. Most vessels were still wooden and powered by sail, but the British and French started to add armor-plating the sides of existing ship designs. From the beginning of the war, both the Union and the Confederacy sought to acquire ironclad warships. Their homegrown designs first met at the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862.

The Monitor fighting the CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads. (National Archives)

The Confederate CSS Virginia, a casemate ironclad, defeated three Union ships before encountering the Union’s USS Monitor. Though the battle ended in a draw with neither ship able to defeat the other, naval warfare was forever changed. In particular, the Monitor gave its name to a new type of warship.

These were low to the waterline and used rotating turrets to house their armament rather than the typical broadsides of a sailing ship. After news of the battle traveled abroad, many nations ceased production of wooden warships in favor of the new monitor-type. The turret has been a prominent design feature of warships ever since.

4. The Submarine

Though it was the Union that had superior industrial capabilities it was the Confederacy that launched the only submarine of the war. That submarine, the H.L. Hunley would be the first such ship to successfully attack and sink an enemy ship.

With a length of just 40 feet and a crew of eight using a hand-cranked shaft to propel her through the water, the Hunley was a far cry from the submarines that would appear in the early 20th century.

The Hunley after being pulled up from the bottom of Charleston Harbor. The sub now sits in the H.L. Hunley Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Hunley was armed with just a single spar torpedo – an explosive charge attached to the end of a wooden pole –  that was used to successfully sink the USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864.

Unfortunately, the Hunley was lost with all hands shortly after her attack but she opened the way for the future of underwater warfare.

5. The Hand grenade

While grenades were not a new invention to the American Civil War, improvements to their design and function radically changed the way they could be used. Prior to this time, grenades had fuses that had to be lit before being thrown and so were only used by special troops known as grenadiers. Other times grenades were closer to Molotov Cocktails than what would commonly be called a grenade.

William Ketchum designed a new grenade that would detonate on impact.

His design consisted of a metal cylinder with a plunger on the nose that would cause the explosives inside to detonate when it landed. To ensure that it landed nose down, he attached a wooden tailpiece with four fins to stabilize the grenade. With this type of fuse, individual soldiers of any type could carry the grenades.

This meant infantry assaulting trenches and other enemy positions could carry grenades while still carrying their rifles. By the 20th century, all major militaries adopted the hand grenade for standard infantry use.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Top US Marine says young troops should not be blamed for using TikTok

Gen. David Berger, the US Marine Corps commandant, suggested the concerns surrounding a service members’ use of questionable Chinese-owned apps like TikTok should be directed against the military’s leadership, rather than the individual troops.

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, on Saturday morning, Berger said the younger generation of troops had a “clearer view” of the technology “than most people give them credit for.”

“That said, I’d give us a ‘C-minus’ or a ‘D’ in educating the force on the threat of even technology,” Berger said. “Because they view it as two pieces of gear, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is.'”


“That’s not their fault. That’s on us,” Berger added. “Once they begin to understand the risks, what the impact to them is tactically … then it becomes clear. I don’t blame them for that. This is a training and education that we have to do.”

Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David Berger speaks with Marines during a town hall gathering at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, July 31, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Micha Pierce)

Foreign-owned apps like TikTok have prompted concern from lawmakers and the military in recent months. TikTok, the viral video-sharing app from China, was investigated by intelligence agencies and the military for concerns on the “operational security risks posed … and other China-owned social media platforms that can access massive amounts of US users’ personal data,” according to a letter by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in November.

“National security experts have raised concerns about TikTok’s collection and handling of user data, including user content and communications, IP addresses, location-related data, metadata, and other sensitive personal information,” Schumer added in the letter.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

To “err on the side of caution,” US Army cadets throughout high school and university were banned from using TikTok while in uniform to represent the military, a spokeswoman said in November. The act does not ban them from using it for personal use.

The app, which was formerly Musical.ly, exploded in popularity and boasted 1 billion monthly active users earlier this year. TikTok and its owner, Beijing ByteDance Technology, claims that American user data is not stored in China, nor is it politically influenced by the country.

“Let us be very clear: TikTok does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China,” the company said in a statement in October. “We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked. Period.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Special tactics airmen get Tyndall running for hurricane operations

Air Force special tactics airmen with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron assessed, opened, and controlled air traffic at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 11, 2018.

The special tactics airmen cleared and established a runway at Oct. 11, 2018, at 7 p.m., and received the first aircraft at 7:06 p.m.


Special tactics airmen have the ability to assess, open and control major airfields to clandestine dirt strips in any environment, including those that have been impacted by a natural disaster.

Special tactics airmen with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron unload an all-terrain vehicle from a CV-22 Osprey assigned to the 8th Special Operations Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Special tactics airmen with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron access an airfield on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 11, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Special tactics airmen are in control of the airfield and are prepared to support airfield operations until further notice, which will allow support to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Tyndall AFB.

Tyndall AFB received extensive damage in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

For any questions regarding special tactics airmen, contact Jackie Pienkowski at 850-884-3902 or 413-237-4466, or jaclyn.pienkowski@us.af.mil.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

COVID-19 and the geopolitics of petroleum

Joseph V. Micallef is a best-selling military history and world affairs author, and keynote speaker. Follow him on Twitter @JosephVMicallef.

Of all the world’s commodities, petroleum best epitomizes the geopolitical consequences of natural resources. Countries that were fortunate to possess large reserves of hydrocarbons found themselves with incredible wealth and in control of a powerful driver of economic development. Countries that were unable to produce enough oil and gas for their needs found themselves vulnerable to supply disruptions and at a major geopolitical disadvantage.


The oil and gas industry had a significant Achilles heel, however. Oil and gas development had significant up-front development costs but, in many cases, relatively low operating costs. Once a well was brought into production, the cost of keeping it operating was relatively low, even if the revenue was insufficient to amortize the development cost. The result was that, historically, the oil and gas industry has been subject to volatile swings in pricing.

In 1919, the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC) was charged with setting production levels among Texas oil producers in order to control the supply and stabilize prices. From 1930 through 1960, the TRC was largely responsible for setting the price of oil worldwide.

In 1960, a group of oil-producing countries, led by Saudi Arabia, adopted the TRC model and formed the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to regulate oil production and stabilize prices. OPEC did not eliminate oil price volatility, but its willingness to regulate its production levels helped moderate some of the pricing instability. Between 2000 and 2020, average yearly oil prices varied from a low of .99 per barrel in 2001, to a high of 2.58 per barrel in 2011. The average price in 2019 was .92 per barrel. Currently, average oil prices are approximately per barrel.

Canada, Russia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all significant oil producers, were among the oil-producing countries that did not join OPEC. The U.S., a major producer, began to import oil in 1959. Although the U.S. still imports oil, it has been a net exporter of both refined petroleum products and crude oil since November 2019.

OPEC’s share of the global oil market peaked at slightly more than 50% in 1973. In 2019, it was approximately 30%. Energy conservation; new discoveries; improvements in drilling and production technology; and, most significantly, the development of horizontal drilling to open “tight” oil- and gas-bearing formations and the development of the Canadian tar sands, have all cut into OPEC’s market share. In addition, Asia, principally China, India and Japan, have now become the main market for OPEC’s exports.

In 2017, Russia, along with 10 other non-OPEC oil-producing countries, agreed to coordinate production cuts with the group in order to stabilize prices. The countries were referred to as the “Vienna Group” and the arrangement as OPEC+. The agreement represented a strategic alignment of Saudi Arabia and Russia to rationalize prices. It lasted through March 2020.

One of the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was a sharp drop of approximately one to two million barrels per day (BOPD) in world demand for petroleum. In early March, OPEC agreed to extend its current cutbacks of 2.1 million BOPD and to reduce production by an additional 1.5 BOPD to a total of 3.6 million BOPD.

OPEC requested that Russia and the other 10 oil-producing countries in the OPEC+ group decrease their production by an additional 500,000 BOPD. Russia refused to accept the additional production cuts, arguing that any production cutbacks would simply be made up by American shale oil producers.

In retaliation, Saudi Arabia declared that it would flood world oil markets in a quest to regain lost market share and indirectly punish Russia for its unwillingness to cooperate.

Within a matter of days, world oil prices cratered by approximately 60%. The collapse of oil prices, coupled with rising anxiety over the economic consequences of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, triggered widespread economic turmoil and a marked decline in financial markets.

U.S. Strategic Interests and OPEC

The governments of both Russia and Saudi Arabia are heavily dependent on petroleum exports to fund the bulk of their expenditures. In Riyadh’s case, oil exports supply 70% of its revenues; in Moscow’s case, the number is approximately 46%. Both countries have sovereign funds designed to cover shortfalls in government revenues from falling oil prices. Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Wealth Fund had 0 billion in assets, while Russia’s National Wealth Fund had approximately 4 billion at the end of 2019.

The Trump administration was quick to characterize the Saudi and Russian decisions to increase oil production as a thinly veiled attack on American shale oil producers. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that 7.7 million BOPD, or about 2.81 billion barrels, of crude oil were produced from tight oil formations in the United States in 2019. This was equal to about 63% of total U.S. crude oil production last year.

This was not the first time that Saudi Arabia had tried to use low prices to force the producers of the more expensive shale oil out of the market. In response, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would buy up to 77 million barrels of oil from American producers for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Funding for these purchases was not, however, included in the recently passed 2020 Cares Act. In the meantime, the TRC announced that it would consider limiting Texas oil production to stabilize prices. Texas represents 40% of U.S. oil production.

Pundits were quick to take positions on which country, Saudi Arabia or Russia, would be able to hold out the longest in the ensuing price war. Meanwhile, television commentators pointed out that lower gasoline prices represented a boon for American consumers.

The more germane questions, however, are where does the U.S. interest lie? Is the U.S. better off from lower or higher petroleum prices? What are the consequences of lower oil prices on America’s strategic interests around the world?

From the 1960s through 2013, the U.S. was the largest net importer of petroleum in the world. Lower petroleum prices were in America’s interest as they decreased the balance of payments deficit created by oil imports and represented savings to American households. Today, gasoline costs represent around 2% of average household income. So even significant reductions in gasoline prices are not going to represent a major change in a family’s income — certainly not in respect to the current economic turmoil.

Moreover, given that the U.S. is now a net exporter of oil and natural gas, lower prices reduce its export earnings. Additionally, over the last two decades, the U.S. shale oil industry has emerged as an important driver of economic development and a source of high-paying blue-collar jobs. On balance, the U.S. economy would be better off if prices returned to their -to- pre-crash levels than if they continue at their current depressed levels.

From Washington’s standpoint, the strategic implications of low oil prices around the world are mixed. On the one hand, low oil prices are a significant constraint on the Russian government and on the Kremlin’s ability to fund the expansion and modernization of Russian military forces. Russia needs oil prices at around a barrel or higher to balance its budget, and closer to to finance the more ambitious social and military programs that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to implement.

On the other hand, low oil prices threaten to destabilize countries that are American allies and to create new areas of regional instability or aggravate existing ones. This is particularly true of the Gulf region, but also of countries such as Nigeria and Mexico. Roughly one-third of Mexico’s federal budget comes from oil exports.

The average cost of producing a barrel of oil in the world is around . It’s a difficult number to pin down because operating costs are typically in local currency and are affected by exchange rates, as well as each country’s relative market share. Costs per country, however, can vary dramatically.

The U.K., whose North Sea oil fields are mature and declining, has a production cost of per barrel. Norway, whose oil fields are in a similar position, has an operating cost of .10 per barrel. On average, the amortization of capital costs typically represents about 50% of operating costs. Direct production, overhead, taxes and transportation costs represent the other half.

The U.S., where oil shale production represents two-thirds of output, has an equally high cost at .20. Brazil and Canada, whose new oil production is particularly capital intensive, have costs of .80 per barrel and per barrel, respectively. Russia’s average production cost is around .20, although the cost of new production, especially in its Arctic oil fields, is much higher.

At the other extreme, Saudi Arabia has a production cost of .90 per barrel, while Kuwait has the lowest production cost at .50. Across OPEC, the average production cost is probably between and per barrel. That means, at current prices, most OPEC producers’ costs exceed revenues after they factor in capital costs.

Only Iraq, Iran and the UAE have costs comparable to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. In short, current oil prices are unsustainable long term. Even those countries that can produce oil profitably at these levels cannot produce enough to make up in volume the revenues they need to fund government expenditures. In the short term, prices may drop even lower but, in the long term, low prices are both unsustainable and extremely destabilizing politically.

The trends that produced the current instability in petroleum markets are not new. They have been in process for some time. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated those trends and brought them to a culmination faster and more dramatically than would otherwise have been the case. Ironically, instead of dealing with the consequence of “peak oil” and skyrocketing prices, today we are dealing with too much production capacity and insufficient demand.

For much of its existence, OPEC has been an American nemesis, a position underscored in 1973 when the Arab members of OPEC (OAPEC) embargoed oil shipments to the U.S. in response to American aid to Israel. Historically, as a net consumer of oil, the U.S. wanted lower prices, while producers wanted higher prices. Today, however, it’s a different world, one in which the interests of OPEC and the U.S. are more closely aligned.

Prices in the to range are sufficient to keep the U.S. shale oil industry economic and afford OPEC members a basis of financial stability. It’s also in Russia’s interest, as it stabilizes the Kremlin’s finances, even if it falls short of Moscow’s more ambitious goals. In the meantime, the U.S. petroleum industry will continue to innovate and to bring down its shale oil production costs, while continuing to expand its liquefied natural gas export capability. Moreover, the U.S. would likely get Canada, Brazil, the U.K. and Norway to participate, even if unofficially, in such an arrangement. The Alberta provincial government is already limiting oil production.

In light of the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. and the global economy, stabilizing the oil market and a key American industrial sector would be a first step in repairing the economic damage. It’s time for Washington to make a deal with OPEC and Russia to stabilize the oil market, even if that means the U.S. must agree to some production cuts or export curtailment to ensure price stability.

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

Articles

Army drops Smith & Wesson from pistol competition

The Army recently notified Smith Wesson that it is out of the competition to replace the Beretta M9 9mm pistol. | US Army photo


The U.S. Army has dropped Smith Wesson from its Modular Handgun System competition, according to a Sept. 23 report Smith Wesson Holding Corporation made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Smith Wesson, which was partnered with General Dynamics, was one of five gun makers competing to replace the Army’s M9 9mm pistol.

“We and our partner in the pursuit of the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System, or MHS, solicitation to replace the M9 standard Army sidearm have been notified by the Department of the Army that our proposal was not selected to advance to the next phase of the competition,” according to the SEC report.

TheFirearmBlog.com was the first to report the news about Smith Wesson.

As far as we know, the Army is still evaluating striker-fired pistols from Glock, Sig Sauer, Beretta and FN Herstal, according to a source familiar with the competition.

It will be interesting to find out why Smith Wesson didn’t make it to the next round of MHS.

“We are assessing our options in response to the notification and remain focused on achieving our long-term strategy of organically and inorganically expanding our product offerings in the consumer market for shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiasts,” Smith Wesson officials said in the SEC report.