The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit - We Are The Mighty
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The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

Not all staff non-commissioned officers are created equal.


Across branches and job descriptions, most senior enlisted leaders develop their own unique personalities and leadership styles. But that doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes fall into certain archetypes, from “drill instructor” to “guidance counselor.”

In just about every unit, you’ll find these personality types for SNCO’s.

1. The drill instructor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHNTufCZmH4

Paying close attention to details and quick to correct even the slightest mistake, “the drill instructor” maintains order through fear, respect, and constantly demanding maximum effort. They are so passionate about maintaining order and discipline that they may be willing to lose their bearing to achieve it, as demonstrated by the sergeant major in the video above who demanded a Marine veteran take off the drill instructor campaign cover during a protest.

2. The career cruiser

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

Also known as “retired on active duty,” these are the SNCO’s on the backend of their career who are just skating by. With only a year or two left until their retirement date, the “career cruiser” is working hard to not work hard. Basically, they do just enough to get by and punch the clock until they can get out.

3. The cool parent

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

They view each and every one of their troops not just as subordinates but as their extended family and are very protective of each and every one of them. They give their personal number to all of their junior ranking troops so that if they ever find themselves in a questionable situation or need a ride at 0300 on a Saturday morning, they should feel comfortable knowing “the cool parent” will be there to help them out.

4. The guidance counselor

Most troops are young and inexperienced in not only their military careers but in life in general. These SNCO’s are always finding ways to give personal and group mentorship every chance they get, whether they need it or not. “The guidance counselor” helps junior troops advance in life and in their careers while keeping them motivated and mission-ready.

5. The super motivator

Their tone, posture, speed, intensity, and character is always a cut above the rest. No matter what your mood or level of motivation, after every interaction you have with this SNCO, you leave feeling more dedicated and proud to be wearing the uniform and your role in the unit’s mission.

6. The warrior-leader

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

Not one for talking, they are found doing. They have impeccable fitness, the highest qualifications scores, the highest standard of military bearing, and always mission ready, even while off duty. They exude confidence and their track record demands respect. Not one to shy from making tough decisions, they will always be found leading their men by example, like Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal (pictured above), who earned a Navy Cross for his heroic actions in Fallujah.

7. The all-in-one

The SNCO that embodies all of the leadership traits. They are able to maximize the efforts and morale of everyone in their command, and are looked upon by their peers for guidance as masters in developing new leaders.  Everyone, from commanders to the most junior ranks, can count on them to make sound decisions and always have their best interests at heart.

NOW: This Green Beret’s heroism was so incredible that Ronald Reagan said it was hard to believe

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Former Navy Commander: What the US should have built instead of the F-35

Lockheed Martin announced the F-35 program in 2001. Since then, hundreds of billions of dollars and 15 years of testing have brought the program to where it is today — on the verge of becoming the world’s premier fighter/bomber and the future of the US Air Force, Marines, and Navy.


But while the idea of launching a single, advanced, stealthy plane for all three service branches seemed good on paper, and ultimately won approval from US military planners at the highest level, it was never the only option.

Also read: The Pentagon wants a half-billion more dollars for the F-35

Former US Navy Commander and aviator Chris Harmer, also a senior naval analyst for the Middle East Security Project at the Institute for the Study of War, told Business Insider that the F-35 only really holds a single advantage over the Cold War-era legacy aircraft it’s set to replace — stealth.

“The F-35 is very capable in a very specific way. The only thing it does that legacy can’t do is stealth,” said Harmer.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Lockheed Martin photo

Indeed the F-35’s low observability and integrated stealth design are central to the plane’s mission and tactics. Throughout its development, the F-35 notoriously lost to older legacy fighters in up-close dogfights. Combat-aviation expert Justin Bronk told Business Insider flat-out that the F-35 could “never in a million years” win a dogfight with an advanced Russian or British plane.

However, defense officials never planned for the F-35 to revolutionize dogfighting, but rather aerial combat as a whole. The F-35, nearly impossible for enemy aircraft to spot, can simply shoot down foes from long distance before they’re ever close enough to really dogfight.

But according to Harmer, who has spent much of his life around carrier-based aircraft, the F-35’s advantages begin and end with stealth. Harmer suggests that instead of building the F-35, the US simply should have updated existing aircraft, like the F-15, F-16, and F-18.

These platforms — proven, legacy aircraft — could easily be retrofit with the advanced avionics and helmet for targeting that set the F-35 apart.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
An air-to-air view of two F-15 Eagle aircraft armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles. | McDonnell Douglas photo

“For a fraction of the cost for F-35 development, we could have updated legacy aircraft and gotten a significant portion of the F-35 capabilities.” said Harmer. The F-18 for example, has already undergone extensive reworkings, and the F-18 Super Hornet, which is 25% larger than the original F-18, has a smaller radar cross section than its predecessor and is one of the US’s cheaper planes to buy and operate.

However, an F-15, the Air Force’s best air-dominance fighter, with fifth-generation avionics and targeting capability, still lacks the integrated stealth design of an F-35. Stealth must be worked into the geometry of the plane and simply won’t do as an afterthought. In today’s contested battle spaces, a legacy fighter, no matter how you update it, still lights up brightly and clearly on an enemy radar and is therefore less survivable to the pilots — something US military planners have refused to accept.

“The only advantage of the F-35 is to go into highly contested airspace,” said Harmer, adding that the US has “literally never done that.” Additionally, the US already has another fifth-generation aircraft with an even better stealth in its inventory — the F-22. In fact, when the US does discuss operations in the world’s most contested airspaces, it’s the F-22 they talk about sending.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
The US already has a super-stealthy fighter — the F-22. | US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

“There are other, less expensive ways to address highly contested airspace — cruise missiles, standoff weapons, radar jamming,” Harmer added.

But the F-35 ship has sailed. Despite a very troublesome development, the program is now at or very near readiness with all three branches.

“As a practical matter, the F-35 is a done deal; we’ve incurred the ‘sunk cost’ of the R D, and neither the USAF or USMC has any intentions of buying any more legacy airframes.”

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8 useless pieces of gear the military still issues out

Every time a soldier steps into the Central Issue Facility, they are given a lot of gear — some necessary, like more uniforms, and some beloved, like the woobie.


But there’s a lot of gear that just never gets touched until the next time they come back to clear CIF. It’s probably still in the same packaging it came in when it’s turned over.

This crap just sits in a duffle bag, shoved in the back of the closet.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
And yet it will get rejected for not being cleaned — even if it’s still sealed in the friggin’ bag! (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Moore)

8. Canteens

Ask any civilian to name a piece of military gear and they’ll say the canteen.

Back in the day, it was a life saver — no doubt about that. But today, it’s only ever seen in training environments or by that one “overly high speed” dude in every unit. The rest of us use water bottles or Camelbacks while we’re deployed.

Because rubber canteens are gross.

The canteen cup, however, is still very useful. It makes a great coffee cup/shaving water container/holder of smaller crap.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

7. Elbow Pads

Knee pads help protect a sensitive and fragile part of your body that really takes a beating (and will ultimately be destroyed anyway after years of ruck marching or one static jump). But until then, kneepads protect from bruising and lacerations, and, most importantly, help secure a more comfortable firing position.

Not the elbow pads. They just get in the way.

A common joke deployed is that you can always tell who the POGs are by either how they react to the Indirect Fire (IDF) siren or if they actually think other soldiers actually wear those useless pieces of crap that just slide down or restrict movement.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Makes even less sense is that they have the buckles and little sleeve thing. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

6. Most Rain Gear

Other units may authorize their Joes to wear most of the wet weather gear, others only allow it in the worst conditions that even the salty Sergeant Major has had enough of it. Shy of the Gortex top, no one touches their wet weather bottoms or boots.

Even the poncho only ever gets used as a makeshift shelter half on field exercises.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Or as a makeshift raft in Ranger competitions. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner)

5. MOPP Boots

Speaking of useless boots, the pair that gets used interchangeably during lay outs is just as useless.

In an actual chemical gas attack, we put our gas mask on first. Followed by everything else in order of what is the most vital to survival. The boots? Nope. They take way too freaking long to put on in an emergency when you have bigger things to worry about. Taking the time to lace your MOPP boots properly definitely falls off the to-do list.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
In that time, you’re probably already dead. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

4. Glove Inserts

It’s nice when troops are allowed to wear gloves in formation. The problem is that the standard issue leather shells also need liners.

The glove inserts are just a thin piece of wool that do nothing to stop the cold. Wind cuts right through them and god help you if they ever get wet.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
There’s a reason everyone buys other pairs that get as close to regulation as possible. (Image via Olive Drab)

3. Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

The purpose behind the LBV makes no sense. It holds all of the gear that one would need down range, or at the range, but offers none of the protection of an actual ballistic vest.

So why not wear the actual ballistic vest? LBVs don’t do anything except dig into your shoulder.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Seriously. The only non-photoshopped image of a soldier actually wearing one (and not a mannequin or a tacticool civilian) I could find is from the Army’s official video on how to set one up. (Screengrab via YouTube)

2. Surefire ACH Light

Everyone wants to be high speed and rock the high speed gear…until it’s time to rock the high speed gear.

At first glance, these look nifty as hell. It would be helpful to have a hands free light guiding your way.

But no. Try working these with gloves on or switching to the red light without cycling through every single other function first.

Or even try to make it through a forest field training without bumping into something and losing the $200 waste of garbage. Good luck finding the right batteries for these things too.

Too complicated. Not worth it.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
I believe the Army stopped issuing these, but slick sleeve cherries still buy them at the PX. (Image via Armslist)

1. BVD Army Issued Skivvies

Anyone who says they didn’t immediately trash all pairs of these after Basic so they “can stay within regulation” is either way too ‘Hooah’ for their current rank or a damned dirty liar.

The skivvies are like sand paper grinding against your ‘sensitive bits’ whenever you take a step. No one will ever check to see if their subordinate is wearing proper under garments or even care (and if they do…there’s a much bigger problem at hand). Why not just wear whatever you bought at American Eagle or Target?

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
No. Just No. (Image via eBay)

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Army secretary pick faces stiff resistance from key lawmakers

The Senate’s top Democrat declared on May 3 he’ll vote against President Donald Trump’s pick for Army secretary over what he said are disparaging comments the nominee has made about LGBT people, Latinos, and Muslims.


Chuck Schumer of New York said Mark Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, is opposed to gay marriage and has sponsored legislation that would make it easier for businesses to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

“A man who was the lead sponsor of legislation to make it easier for businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community; opposes gay marriage, which is the law of the land; believes being transgender is a ‘disease;’ supports constricting access to legal contraception; and makes deeply troubling comments about Muslims is the wrong choice to lead America’s Army,” Schumer said in a statement.

Trump last month selected Green for the Army’s top civilian post. Green, 52, is a West Point graduate and former Army physician who has featured his military background in his political campaigns.

Trump’s selection of Green is a jarring contrast to President Barack Obama’s choice of Eric Fanning for the post. Fanning was the first openly gay leader of one of the military branches.

While Schumer urged his colleagues to oppose Green’s nomination, Republican control of the Senate makes it unlikely his nomination will be defeated.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said May 3 he’s concerned by “a broad variety of statements” that have been attributed to Green. McCain said Green will have the opportunity during his confirmation hearing to respond to explain the comments he’s made.

“That’s why we have hearings,” McCain said. “We ask questions and we let them defend themselves.”

Green last year supported legislation that lets therapists decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles. Critics said the law allows for discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Green argued during the state Senate debate that counselors should be given the same latitude as he is as a doctor.

“I am allowed to refer that patient to another provider and not prescribe the morning-after pill based on my religious beliefs,” Green said.

Also read: POTUS announces Army secretary pick after first choice withdraws nomination

Schumer said Green also has made derogatory comments about Latinos and Muslims. Schumer’s office cited a YouTube video of a speech before a tea party group in which Green is asked what could account for a rise in the number of Latinos registered to vote in Tennessee.

He suggested they “were being bused here probably.”

Green also referred to the “Muslim horde” that invaded Constantinople hundreds of years ago and agreed that a stand must be taken against “the indoctrination of Islam in our public schools.”

Earlier on May 3, several House Republicans told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., that Green is a “dedicated public servant” who has the full support of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

“Any attempt to politicize personal statements or views that have been expressed by Mark at any point throughout his career must not be allowed to supersede his qualifications or be conflated to create needless uncertainty with his nomination,” according to a letter from Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and nine other GOP members.

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This video shows the insider attack that killed 3 US special operators in Jordan

The Jordanian government released a video on July 24 depicting an insider attack that killed three US Special Forces in Jordan.


The video shows the soldiers pulling up to the King Faisal Air Base to participate in a training exercise in November. Upon reaching the entrance, Jordanian guard Cpl. M’aarek Abu Tayeh opened fire on the trucks carrying the soldiers. Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe was killed instantly and Sgt. First Class Matthew Lewellen was wounded, later dying from his injuries.

Staff Sgt. James Moriarty was in the truck behind the first, and was able to exit the vehicle, along with another soldier from a different truck. The soldiers attempted to speak with Tayeh in Arabic, but were ignored. Tayeh kept firing, eventually killing Moriarty before the fourth soldier was finally able to shoot the assailant.

WATCH:

 

None of the Jordanian soldiers nearby appeared to aid the Americans. The video clearly shows one man who opened the gate running away as soon as shots were fired.

Jordan, a US ally in the ongoing war on terrorism, initially denied responsibility for Tayeh’s attack, placing blame on the US for failing to follow proper protocols when entering the base. US Special Operations Command found “no evidence that US forces failed to fully comply with Jordanian base procedures.”

In fact, SOCOM reported that the troops “demonstrated valorous conduct and extraordinary heroism” in taking down Tayeh, who was armed with an M-16 rifle and body armor. The Special Forces soldiers had only sidearms.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
DoD photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow

The families of the dead soldiers vocally condemned the Jordanian government in March for its failure to properly look into the incident.

The government eventually charged Tayeh with murder in June. He was found guilty and received life in prison with hard labor, though some relatives of the deceased were hoping for a death sentence.

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North Korea vows to respond with force if attacked

North Korea issued a message of warning to the United States on April 25, vowing to respond to force with force if attacked.


But Pyongyang did not engage in a major provocation on the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army as some analysts have speculated, a possible sign Kim Jong Un could be taking a step back in the face of renewed pressure from China and the United States.

Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun stated in an editorial on April 25 that its army has the capacity to “respond to any war the United States wants,” and that the “era of the U.S. imperialist’s nuclear terror has ended forever,” because North Korea has developed its own nuclear capacity.

The editorial also suggested the absence of a nuclear or missile provocation on April 25 was no guarantee the Kim Jong Un regime would refrain from a test in the near future.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
This is the guy behind all the big talk. (Photo: KCNA)

“In the area of defense, as we produce more advanced weapons, we must work toward creating more events similar to the ‘March 18 Revolution,'” Pyongyang stated.

North Korea was referring to the date of North Korea’s test of a rocket engine that could be used in the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“The whole world will soon see the significance of our immense victory,” North Korea stated.

Pak Yong Sik, a senior military official, stated North Korea’s nuclear weapons are “on standby at all times” and that “all U.S. imperialist bases in the Asia-Pacific are within range.”

On April 25, North Korea conducted a large-scale conventional drill near Wonsan, on the eastern coast of the peninsula, according to Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff.

About 300-400 artillery guns were deployed in the largest drill of its kind, Yonhap reported.

Also read: Here’s an inside look at North Korea’s ballistic missile inventory

The North Korean leader did not issue a message on the day of the anniversary, most recently making an appearance at a pig farm, according to KCTV.

China and the United States condemned North Korea’s missile provocations in April, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the United States would respond if North Korea attacks U.S. troops in the region.

“If you see [Kim] attack a military base, if you see some sort of intercontinental ballistic missile, then obviously we’re going to [strike back],” Haley said on NBC’s “Today.” “But right now, we’re saying, ‘Don’t test, don’t use nuclear missiles, don’t try and do any more actions,’ and I think he’s understanding that.”

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A Medal of Honor recipient tore his way through Vietnam while being stalked by a tiger

Bennie Adkins was bleeding after his intense run-in with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. So were most of his comrades in arms. Somewhere in the dark of the night and dense jungle foliage, a tiger stalked him and his fellow soldiers.

The then-32-year-old NCO was stationed with South Vietnam’s irregular forces at Camp A Shau in March 1966. A Special Forces soldier, Adkins was training those forces to take the war to the North Vietnamese the way the Viet Cong took the war south of the demilitarized zone. 

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
U.S. Army

In March of 1966, their camp was attacked by an overwhelmingly large combined force of North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong troops. Some of his South Vietnamese troops even defected to the North in the middle of the fighting. 

Immediately, Adkins took up a mortar position, lobbing explosive after explosive at the oncoming communists. Even when hit by shrapnel from enemy mortars, he continued fighting. Seeing wounded friendly soldiers in open territory, he directed the mortar fire with another soldier and braved the melee to rescue his wounded comrades. 

He later took the wounded to an airfield outside the camp and drew fire away from the departing aircraft so it could escape safely. Just before the first day of fighting ended, Adkins braved enemy-held ground to retrieve a supply drop that had fallen too far from the friendly lines – and ended up in a minefield. 

The next morning, the NVA hit the camp once more. Bennie Adkins was waiting for them. He fired every mortar round the camp had left at the oncoming enemy. When that ran out, he used his rifle, machine guns, recoilless rifles, other small arms, and hand grenades to take them down one by one as they assaulted his positions.

Forced to withdraw to a more secure location, Adkins moved deeper into the camp, securing a bunker as he fought off waves of attackers and even sporadic mortar fire as he moved. Once inside, he destroyed the camp’s classified documents and helped other soldiers dig their way out of the bunker through the back of the camp. 

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Adkins receiving his Medal of Honor in 2014 from President Obama (U.S. Army)

Sgt. 1st Class Adkins and his group of wounded, tired soldiers escaped into the jungles surrounding A Shau. They had just fought a 38-hour battle royale with the communist Vietnamese.

The Americans missed their helicopter extraction because they were moving slower due to their wounds and because they were carrying wounded. Bleeding and exhausted, they would have to evade the North Vietnamese for a full 48 hours before finding a place where rescue helicopters could land and extract them. 

On one night, they took a position on top of a hill that was surrounded by communist troops. 
“The North Vietnamese soldiers had us surrounded on a little hilltop and everything started getting kind of quiet,” Adkins told the U.S. Army in his Medal of Honor report. “We could look around and all at once, all we could see were eyes going around us. It was a tiger that stalked us that night. We were all bloody and in this jungle, the tiger stalked us and the North Vietnamese soldiers were more afraid of the tiger than they were of us. So, they backed off some and we were gone. The tiger was on our side”

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
“Here kitty kit- just kidding, stay there, please.” (Wikimedia Commons)
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This is why the Allies’ secret DD tank failed on D-Day

If you’ve seen the blockbuster movies The Longest Day (currently on Netflix) or Saving Private Ryan, a big part of the story is how infantry fought through the obstacles on Omaha Beach (the wisdom of sending two divisions into that meat-grinder can be debated at another time).


But the lack of tank support wasn’t part of the plan. In fact, it was one hell of an instance where that notorious and unwelcome Murphy’s Law put in an appearance, costing the infantry some much-needed support. It would have been their secret weapon: the Dual-Drive, or DD, tank.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
M4 Sherman modified into a DD tank. (British government photo)

The DD tank was a modified M4 Sherman that had a large canvas screen and propellers to enable it to swim in to shore from a distance. Tanks-Encyclopedia.com notes that the M4 had some good firepower for busting up fortifications — a 75mm gun with 90 rounds. At close range, that gun would more than do against the Nazi fortifications.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
This is how the DD tank was supposed to work. Note the calm seas. On D-Day, they seas were rough. (YouTube screenshot)

There’s just one problem: the DD tanks weren’t tested in rough seas. Almost all of them ended up sinking when eight-foot-tall waves swamped them. And a tank on the bottom of the channel can’t provide support for the grunts. In short, the grunts had to do the hard by themselves.

So, take a look at this History Channel video, and a piece of D-Day history some folks would like to forget.

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Vietnam vets meet the soldier who saved them from a VC ambush

Fifty-one years after saving a squad of U.S. Marines from walking into an ambush by Viet Cong, Don Medley walked into a surprise gathering organized to honor him.


Members of the squadron Medley saved May 12, 1966, gathered Friday at Stone Hearth restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a surprise dinner. Medley, a former U.S. Army Warrant Officer, had believed he and his wife, Dianne, were meeting one of the Marine veterans, Earl Davis, and his wife, Claudia, for dinner.

In reality, three other men Medley saved, along with their wives, were waiting to meet him. Those honoring him traveled from South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee.

“I told my wife that one day I’d like to meet some of the guys on the ground that I helped,” Medley said. “This is the day.”

Medley, of Hodgenville, appeared stunned and overwhelmed by the handshakes, hugs and greetings he received as he stood near the doorway of the room reserved for the occasion.

“Thank you, for my wife and kids,” one man said.

The words “thank you” repeatedly resounded in the room that held a dining table adorned with a centerpiece of white flowers highlighted with small U.S. flags. Placemats also were emblazoned with U.S. flags.

“This is such an honor for me,” Medley said, his voice wavering as he received gifts of gratitude. “It’s unbelievable.”

Like other members of Bravo Company of 1st Marine Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Earl Davis had wondered over the years who the Cessna pilot who saved them was. After an article was published in Vietnam magazine last year, Medley’s identity became known.

Davis received contact information for Medley on Dec. 26. He decided to coordinate the surprise gathering.

During the gathering, Medley recounted the day he was flying his Cessna over a rice paddy and noticed Marines advancing toward a trench line holding enemy forces. He dropped a smoke grenade on which he had scrawled a brief message warning the Marines, but they continued to advance.

He soon noticed there were more enemies in a tree line, making the number much larger. He dropped a second smoke grenade warning them and included the words, “I’m calling Arty,” referring to notifying artillery. His message saved them, the men said.

“We’ve been looking for this guy for over 50 years,” Ray Maurer said. “I just broke up when I saw him.”

Maurer and his wife, Bernadette, made the trip from Georgia.

Carl Whipple of Tennessee attended the gathering with wife, Myrtle Ruth.

“We all wanted the opportunity to meet him,” he said.

Whipple described the experience as heartfelt and said it was “a God thing” that sent Medley to fly over the squad 51 years ago.

“We’re indebted,” he said.

Dan Ferrell of Missouri said the gathering was a much-needed opportunity to express his thanks to Medley.

“I’ve never been able to put this behind me,” said Ferrell, who has post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medley was presented with a watch that was set at 10:30, the approximate time he dropped the first smoke grenade. He also was given mementos including a framed collection of items, among which was a signed letter of thanks.

Choking up in the process, Davis read the letter during the presentation. Later, he said the emotion he felt at that time summed up what he was feeling and how special the occasion was.

“It means a whole hell of a lot,” he said.

Similarly, Medley visibly was moved during the gathering and said the items he received will be displayed with honor in his den.

“It’s overwhelming,” Medley said. “This vindicates my whole year in Vietnam.”

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How close is North Korea to being a nuclear threat really?

While a leaked US intelligence report suggests North Korea now can build warheads small and light enough to fit inside its intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons experts doubt that Pyongyang can develop an operational ICBM with a reliable warhead capable of hitting the US mainland.


Reports about the intelligence community’s consensus on North Korea’s weapons capability came this week as Pyongyang and Washington exchanged war threats.

The July 28 analysis from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, disclosed August 8 by The Washington Post, concludes that Pyongyang has “produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.” On August 10, NBC News quoted unnamed US officials as saying the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as other intelligence agencies, agreed with the assessment.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyla Gifford

Key questions unanswered

Miniaturization technology was one of the major hurdles in Kim Jong Un’s nuclear and missile programs. If the DIA assessment holds true, the regime is now closer to achieving its ambition: striking the continental US with a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

Determined as North Korea is to become a full-fledged nuclear power, experts say several important questions about its capabilities remain.

David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector, told VOA’s Korean service the DIA assessment appeared to have ignored “uncertainties and caveats” about the reliability of the miniaturized warhead, once it is loaded atop an ICBM, and little is known about the chances that the payload will reach its target.

Pyongyang already can miniaturize nuclear warheads and mount them on its medium-range Rodong missiles, which have been test-launched repeatedly since the early 1990s. Albright said it might be possible, but less likely, that they could do the same with an ICBM.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Difficulties only begin at launch

Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, explained that a nuclear warhead must survive the entire ICBM mission – the rigors of blastoff, possibly from a mobile launch vehicle, the flight into space and then a blazing re-entry into the atmosphere – before it can detonate above its target.

Failures can occur, Albright noted, because of the much more exacting requirements of the Hwasong-14 ICBM missile system, which has been tested only twice, and just within the past month – not enough to establish its reliability.

“Countries spend a lot of time working this problem to try to build up what they call the reliability of the warhead in a delivery system, and it just takes time,” Albright said. “I think I would be skeptical that North Korea can do it right now.”

Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had similar views. But in terms of volume, he said, if a warhead can fit inside the payload bay of Pyongyang’s Scud-type short-range missile, which has a relatively narrow diameter, any of the regime’s other missiles, including the Hwasong-14, certainly could accommodate it.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Hwasong missile (North Korean variant). (Photo: KCNA)

Lighter warheads travel farther

It is not yet clear by how much the North Koreans can lighten their missiles’ payloads, which would extend their range.

“It is still a question mark as to whether they can threaten deep into the United States,” Elleman said.

However, he told VOA, it appears the North Koreans’ rockets could deliver a 500-kilogram warhead as far the western portions of the continental US

Further undercutting confidence in the North’s technical capabilities is a lack of clarity about the Kim regime’s mastery of atmospheric re-entry technology for the warhead, a crucial requirement for operational ICBMs.

For long-range flights, Elleman said, “the re-entry velocity, when it comes back into the Earth’s atmosphere, is much higher, and so the protection mechanisms for the re-entry vehicle [must be] more rigorous, to survive the much greater amount of heat and the vibrations as it slows down, passing through … thicker and thicker [air] as you get closer to the surface.”

Tests show ‘substantial progress’

Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is now a professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and he has visited North Korea seven times and toured its nuclear facilities.

Hecker said in an interview with The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that making miniaturized warheads robust enough to survive the extreme conditions of ICBM flight “is very demanding and takes time, particularly because warheads contain materials such as plutonium, highly enriched uranium, high explosives and the like.”

“These are not,” he added, “your ordinary industrial materials.”

However, Hecker added in a separate interview this week, Pyongyang’s latest two missile tests, of their ICBMs, “demonstrate substantial progress, and most likely mean they will be able to master the technology in the next year or two.”

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded in 1945 by scientists who worked on the US Manhattan Project and built the first atomic bomb, has for 70 years published the “Doomsday Clock,” intended as a measure of how close the world is to a thermonuclear war – or to midnight, on the clock, because that could lead to a worldwide cataclysm.

The Doomsday Clock stood at three minutes to midnight in 2016. The scientists involved advanced it in late January this year, and it is now just two minutes and 30 seconds short of midnight.

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6 countries who are friends with North Korea

Under the rule of Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been a real jerk on the international scene — like, even more than usual. In fact, not too many countries are willing to be friends with North Korea. But there are some countries who are willing to stand by them. Surprisingly, that total reaches six.


Here’s who they are:

1. Russia

This really comes as no surprise. After all, in 1948, the Soviet Union helped put Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, into power. During the Korean War, Soviet pilots flew missions in support of North Korea and helped with the country’s flight training. Russia also exported a lot of gear to Pyongyang, including MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Russian fighter. (Photo via Public Domain)

2. China

Again, no surprise, given that during the Korean War, Chinese troops intervened on the side of North Korea. China remains North Korea’s biggest trading partner, and the two countries share a 900-mile long border.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Photo: Xinhuanet

3. Iran

This relationship could be surprising, except for the fact that Iran wants to buy a lot of weapons. In fact, Iran has purchased mini-submarines and ballistic missiles from the Hermit Kingdom, and a “scientific” alliance (read: nuclear weapons development) is also going on.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Iranian soldiers on parade. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

4. Syria

If there is a dictator who would challenge Kim Jong Un for most hated, it is Syria’s Bashir Assad. Like Iran, Syria sees North Korea as a source of weapons.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Hmeymim airfield in Syria. (Photo via Russian Ministry of Defense)

5. Cuba

Cuba remains one of the few communist regimes in the world. North Korea, also a holdout communist regime, is reaching out to its fellow client of the Soviet Union.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Fidel Castro became a close friend of the Soviet Union, something JFK tried to stop with the Bay of Pigs invasion. (Photo: Keizers)

6. Equatorial Guinea

According to many measures, Equatorial Guinea has one of the worst human rights record. North Korea has reportedly been reaching out to its fellow pariah.

Check out this video rundown on the the countries that are North Korea’s only friends:

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The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army

Everyone knows there are risks to joining the Army, but there are the dangers that everyone knows about thanks to movies, and then there are the dangers that soldiers learn about during their time in service.


Most movies make it look like the only way to die is in combat. But movies like “Jarhead” and “Starship Troopers” remind everyone that there are a lot of under appreciated ways to die in the military, like being killed by your own artillery or friendly fire from a machine gunner.

Here are five relatively unknown ways to get your ticket punched in the Army

1. It’s not “Danger close” until it has a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating you

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

“Danger close” is one of those military terms that pops up in movies from time to time. It’s usually used correctly with artillery observers yelling it on the radio when they need bombs or artillery.

What the movie doesn’t tell you is that the term “danger close” refers to fire missions where the rounds have a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating or killing friendly troops. That may not sound like much, but the risk estimate distance, or RED, for calculating  danger close is on a per round basis. Which means you’re rolling those 1 in 1,000 dice every time a round is fired.

Danger close fires are still often a good idea since they’re only used when a U.S. position is about to be overwhelmed, but they’re super dangerous. If the artillery line is asked to fire a total of 150 rounds in a danger close situation, then they have an 8.6 percent chance of hitting an American even if they do everything perfectly.

Any mistake increases the risk.

2. Human chemical detectors

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Brian Kimball)

In the unlikely event of a chemical or biological attack, all members of the military don protective masks and suits and chemical soldiers track how the enemy agents break down until it’s safe. But someone has to be the first to take off their mask.

This moment sucks especially hard for the junior-most member of the unit since they’re usually the one who has to take their mask off first. So, good luck with that, new enlistees.

3. Every weapon malfunctions and malfunctions can kill you

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. John Portela)

The Army works hard to purchase and deploy effective and dependable weapons, but every weapon has a chance to fail even when it’s properly maintained. While soldiers usually act in training like helicopters only fall when shot at and weapons always fire until they overheat, that simply isn’t the case.

Take this artillery crew in Afghanistan that got a horrible surprise when their howitzer’s recoil mechanism gave out during a fire mission, leaving them to manually lower and raise the gun between shots. And that’s not even getting into the malfunctions that can kill soldiers outright, like when the breach or tube on a weapon gives out and it suddenly explodes when fired.

4. Everyone with a radio is a target

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Provost)

American soldiers are trained to target enemy combatants with radios in an attempt to shutdown the adversary’s command and control networks. Unfortunately, the enemy has figured this out too and uses the same tactics.

What that means for every platoon leader and sergeant, every radio telephone operator, and every artillery observer is that their antenna is a huge target painted on their backs.

5. Even in training, the weakest link can get you killed

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Steven L. Phillips)

But the scariest thing about being in the Army is when you realize that you’re life depends on everyone around you, and some of those guys are pretty stupid. In combat, these guys can get you killed by not being good at their jobs, but there are risks in training as well.

Artillery crews can miscalculate and hit friendly troops, helicopter pilots can crash, troops who have negligent discharges can send rounds anywhere. Obviously, sexier training is more dangerous. Shoot houses with live ammo and artillery ranges are more dangerous than practicing to escape a rolled over vehicle.

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How today’s veterans are the new ‘hipsters’

There’s always a certain tension when two servicemen meet for the first time. The nature of the tension often varies based on branch, job, and life experience. One might reasonably expect a grunt, for instance, to size up another grunt, the tension of two warriors vying for dominance. When fellow Havok Journal denizen and POG Paul and I met up to discuss life, the universe, and the peculiarities of Fort Bragg, the tension was less caveman and more tired old men trying not to pick up hepatitis at any of Fayetteville’s fine dining establishments.


As tends to happen when two writers meet, the conversation meandered around, covering everything from sports (if you think men are less emotional than women, wait til football season) to observations on military culture. Paul had one observation in particular that, try as I might, I was utterly unable to refute.

When you get down to it, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the apocryphal hipster and the GWOT vet.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Creative commons photo

Think about it for a moment. Beards- check. Tattoos- check. Insular culture that seems strange and unwelcoming to the outsider- check. Highly specific and objectively strange tastes in fashion (clothing, haircuts, etc)- check.

The only real differences are the typical veteran’s penchant for guns and hyper masculine attitude. Both communities eat some weird-ass food. Which is more strange, Mongolian Tex-Mex fusion, or dumping a bunch of MRE entrees in a pot and drowning it in Texas Pete? Both communities tend to enjoy things ironically. You can’t tell me you haven’t seen a bunch of dudes blasting Katy Perry in the motor pool, dancing, and lip-syncing their little hearts out.

I had the dubious privilege of being dragged through the Williamsburg community in Brooklyn a few months back, and I have to say, I was reminded of nothing so much as a trip to the PX on Bragg. Swap out T-shirts proclaiming one’s status as a sheepdog for highwater jeans and up the average muscle mass by about 30% and you’d hardly be able to tell the difference.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
Beanie? Check. Beard? Check. Ironic print T? Check. Veteran? Check.

And as much as the veteran community likes to rag on hipsters for being whiny and entitled, we’re just as bad, when you get right down to it. Attack any one of our sacred cows and we come out in force, screaming and hollering and slinging mud at anyone who dares disrespect us.

And yet, despite our vast collection of similarities, the veteran community and hipster community more or less hate each other. To the hipster, the average veteran is an uncultured killer who is just a swastika away from being a Nazi. To the veteran, the average hipster is an emasculated crybaby who’s just a stubbed toe away from dissolving into tears and blaming Trump for hard surfaces.

Where does all this hate come from?

There’s a phenomenon known as the narcissism of small differences. The term was first coined by Sigmund Freud in 1917 to describe the reason why similar communities so often find themselves at each other’s throats. We’ll gloss over the psychobabble and get down to the meat of the matter: In order to preserve a sense of uniqueness, communities often become hypersensitive to the little things that separate them from other groups. By exaggerating the differences and attacking them, individuals and groups can maintain their sense of identity in the face of overwhelming similarities.

The 7 types of SNCOs in every military unit
These hipster-chic glasses are the standard military issue. USMC photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga.

This phenomenon has been witnessed time and time again over the centuries. Ever wonder why two tribes who live a short distance away from each other and have broadly similar cultures and beliefs have so often tried to kill each other? That’s why. They get all hung up on the little things, and the next thing you know, Catholics and Protestants spend a couple centuries tearing Europe apart in war after war.

In this case, hipsters and veterans have been locked in a culture war for the last decade. Only, the veterans have won. Hipsters don’t really exist anymore, outside of a few enclaves like Williamsburg, or in the fevered ranting of veteran Internet personalities. Veteran culture has swelled and expanded, united by a common experience provided by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and empowered by the World Wide Web.

We have all but supplanted hipsters in modern society, and in the process, we’ve become the new hipsters. We have stared into the abyss, and the abyss gave us a sense of entitlement and way, way too much beard.

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