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

Military Life

How Silly Putty got its start in the military

It’s the crazy compound that bounces, molds, stretches, snaps — the non-Newtonian fluid that seemingly takes on new properties with each shape. It’s a beloved toy that has been around since the 1940s, but didn’t make its way into the hearts and hands of families until years later. Why? The substance’s original use wasn’t to become a toy at all, in fact, it was created to have tactical uses in World War II. 

Years later when the viscoelastic liquid silicone was rediscovered, it was repurposed into a toy and remains a best seller for Crayola to this day. The business was a slow start, but after a mention in the New Yorker put Silly Putty on the map, more than 250,000 units were sold in three days. Originally intended for adults, manufacturers realized their biggest market was in kids aged 6-12. They went on to create its first commercial, airing during the Howdy Doody Show in 1957. 

The history of Silly Putty

In the midst of WWII, the U.S. was rationing its rubber sources to keep up with production of boots, tires, and other necessary war supplies. This was due to Japan’s invasion of countries that produced rubber in the Pacific Rim. During this time, Americans were encouraged to make their rubber items last as long as possible, and donate any extras they might have on hand.

At the same time, the government began researching rubber alternatives that could be used instead. Synthetic compounds that could be used in its placed were sought after in labs, including General Electric, which was located in New Haven, Connecticut. 

In 1943, researchers combined boric acid with silicone oil to create a “gooey, bouncy material with unique properties.” It’s disputed as to whether James Wright with General Electric, inventor Harvey Chin, or Rob Roy McGregor of Earl Warrick was the original scientist to do so. However, Wright is given credit in Crayola’s history, while Mcgregor received a patent. 

During this time, workers were impressed with Silly Putty for several reasons. It didn’t mold, it had a high melting temperature, it was extremely stretchy and versatile, and it was non-toxic. However, it would not work as a viable replacement for rubber. 

Silly Putty becomes a toy

Silly putty
If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can still buy the original Silly Putty on Amazon.

Years later, in 1949, Silly Putty was re-discovered by Ruth Fallgatter, who owned the Block Shop Toy Store. She got in touch with Peter C.L. Hodgson, a marketing consultant, and the pair began marketing it as a toy. It made its debut at the International Toy Fair in New York in 1950. 

Hodgson put himself deeper into debt to purchase extra product and packaging. He’s credited for coming up with the name Silly Putty and putting it into plastic eggs. They sold for $1 a pop. 

Sales were steadily growing, but with the Korean War, silicone was on short supply — one of the main ingredients to Silly Putty. A year later the shortage was gone and Silly Putty was back on the market.

In 1961 Silly Putty made its way outside the U.S., being sold in the Soviet Union and in Europe, becoming hits in both countries. It also made it into outer space when astronauts from Apollo 8 took it on a lunar orbit in 1968. The surge of popularity turned Hodgson into a multi-millionaire, due to ongoing publicity and sky-rocketing sales. 

After Hodgson’s death in 1976, Crayola obtained the rights and began selling it as part of their line of toys. It was introduced to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001, and to-date,  more than 300 million eggs — that’s 4,000 tons — had been sold.

Today, Silly Putty comes in many colors and scents, including offensive scents for the class clowns among us (vomit and puke), and aromatherapy options that target older users. Small eggs start at $1.99, topping out at $99.99 for a five-pound block. 

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It’s not a scandal; it’s sexual harassment — Marines investigated after sharing nude photos without consent

In the wake of the revelation that a large group of active-duty Marines is under investigation for sharing nude photos of female troops without their consent, a senior congressman is calling on the Marine Corps to take swift and decisive action.


Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement Sunday calling the alleged behavior by Marines and Marine Corps veterans “degrading, dangerous, and completely unacceptable.”

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
A 2014 study revealed the U.S. Marine Corps has the highest rate of sexual assault against women in the military (8% of female Marines were sexually assaulted in the year the study was conducted). (U.S. Marine Corps Photo: Cpl. Adam Korolev)

“I expect that the Marine Corps Commandant, General Neller, will use his resources to fully investigate these acts and bring to justice any individuals who have broken the law and violated the rights of other servicemembers,” the Washington Democrat said.

“He must also ensure that the victims are taken care of. The military men and women who proudly volunteer to serve their country should not have to deal with this kind of reprehensible conduct,” Smith added.

The investigation was made public Saturday evening by reporter Thomas James Brennan, who reported for Reveal News that members of the private Facebook group Marines United had shared dozens of nude photos of female service members, identifying them by name, rank and duty station. Group members also linked out to a Google Drive folder containing more compromising photos and information, Brennan reported.

A Marine Corps official confirmed an investigation was ongoing, but could not confirm that hundreds of Marines were caught up in it, as Brennan reported. The official referred queries about specifics to Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which did not immediately respond Sunday.

“The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in a closed website,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Ryan Alvis said in a statement provided to Military.com. “This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust, and degrades the individual.”

Of allegations are substantiated, active-duty Marines involved in the photo-sharing ring could be charged with violating UCMJ Article 134, general misconduct, for enlisted troops, and Article 133, conduct unbecoming, for officers, Alvis said. If Marines shared a photo taken without the subject’s consent and under circumstances for which there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, they may be charged with Article 120, broadcasting or distribution of indecent visual recording, she said.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
The Marine Corps takes measures to educate and train Marines on sexual assault prevention and response and its effect on our brothers and sisters in arms. The frontline representatives for this effort are known as uniformed victim advocates, or UVAs.Advocates not only provide support, education, and training to Marines, they also play a large part in preventing sexual assault. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“A Marine who directly participates in, encourages, or condones such actions could also be subjected to criminal proceedings or adverse administrative actions,” Alvis said.

To underscore the significance of the allegations to Marine Corps leadership, both Neller and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Ronald Green released statements condemning the alleged behavior.

“I am not going to comment specifically about an ongoing investigation, but I will say this: For anyone to target one of our Marines, online or otherwise, in an inappropriate manner, is distasteful and shows an absence of respect,” Neller said in a statement provided to Military.com. “The success of every Marine, every team, every unit and command throughout our Corps is based on mutual trust and respect.”

Green went further, releasing a 319-word statement in the form of an open letter calling the online photo-sharing “demeaning” and “degrading” and adding there was no place for it in the Corps.

“We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other. This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy,” he said. “As Marines, as human beings, you should be angry for the actions of a few. These negative behaviors are absolutely contrary to what we represent. It breaks the bond that hold us together; without trust, our family falters.”

Messages Brennan shared with Military.com show that some members of the group responded to his report by threatening him and his family and attempting to publish information about where he lived.

“‘Amber Alert: Thomas J. Brennan,'” wrote one user, referring to the child abduction emergency system. “500.00 $ for nudes of this guys girl,” wrote another.

Brennan is a former infantry Marine and combat veteran.

This is not the first time the bad behavior of Marines online has captured the attention of Congress.

In 2013, the harassment of civilian women and female troops on several so-called “humor” Facebook pages with Marine Corps members prompted Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, to call on then defense secretary Chuck Hagel and then-commandant Gen. Jim Amos to intervene.

But in that instance, Marine Corps leadership opted to address the behavior privately, and on a case-by-case basis. No criminal prosecutions of Marines connected to the Facebook pages were ever publicized.

A later 2014 report on similar behavior resulted in investigations into 12 Marines, according to internal public affairs guidance published by Marine Corps Times.

As the first female Marines join infantry units in the wake of a 2015 Pentagon mandate opening all ground combat jobs to women, it’s possible service leaders now feel an additional mandate to quell the online exploitation of female service members by their colleagues publicly and decisively.

“Standup, speak out, and be a voice of change for the better. Hold those who misstep accountable,” Green said. “We need to realize that silence is consent–do not be silent. It is your duty to protect one another, not just for the Marine Corps, but for humanity.”

— Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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This is how the suspended 2020 payroll taxes will affect troops in 2021

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(U.S. Air Force)

In August 2020, President Trump issued an executive order that suspended the collection of Social Security payroll taxes for most military members. The suspension applied to individuals that made less than $104,000 annually in taxable income and lasted from September through December 2020. Generally, this applied to service members at paygrades below W-5 or O-5. During these four months, troops saw a slight increase in their paychecks. However, the temporary pay raise was simply a deferment and the money will have to be paid back in 2021.

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed a bill passed by Congress that will ease the repayment of the four months of Social Security payroll taxes. Instead of troops paying back the 6.5 percent back out of their paycheck for four months, the collection will be spread over the course of 2021. Beginning with the mid-month January paycheck, troops who had their Social Security taxes deferred will notice the deduction of 2.7 percent of their base pay monthly. Those that opt to be paid monthly will see the deduction at the end of the month.

However, there is more math to be done if you want to calculate your take home for 2021. Military members will also see a 3% base pay increase. BAS rates will also increase for 2021 with enlisted members receiving $386.50 per month and officers receiving $266.18 per month. Additionally, depending on their posting, service members could see an increase in their BAH. Of course, the 6.5% Social Security payroll tax will also return for 2021.

Because of all these new variables, and existing ones like years of service, troops may or may not receive smaller paychecks than they received in the last few months of 2020. If you find yourself taking in less cash and experience financial hardship due to an emergency, be sure to turn to your service’s emergency relief loan first before resorting to potentially predatory sources of capital. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for an interest-free loan or a grant. Troops have plenty of things to worry about in the service of the nation; money shouldn’t have to be one of them.

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Navy tests unmanned ‘swarmboats’ to patrol ports

Securing a port can be the type of job that hits the three Ds: dull, dirty, and dangerous.


Often, those charged with that security operate using rigid-hull inflatable boats or other small craft – often in proximity to huge vessels like Nimitz-class carriers or large amphibious assault ships.

One wrong move, and Sailors or Coast Guardsmen can end up injured – or worse.

However, the Navy may be able to reduce the risk to life and limb, thanks to a project by the Office of Naval Research called Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or “CARACaS.”

With CARACaS, a number of RHIBs or small craft can be monitored remotely, thus removing the need to put personnel at risk.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
An unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boat operates autonomously during an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. During the demonstration four boats, using an ONR-sponsored system called CARACaS (Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command Sensing), operated autonomously during various scenarios designed to identify, trail or track a target of interest. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

According to a U.S. Navy release, these “unmanned swarming boats” or USBs, recently carried out a demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where they were able to collaborate to determine which one would approach a vessel, classify it, and then track or trail the vessel.

The USBs also provided status updates to personnel who monitored their activity.

“This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary,” Cdr. Luis Molina of the Office of Naval Research said. “Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”

A 2014 demonstration primarily focused on escorting high-value ships in and out of a harbor, but this year, Molina noted that this year, the focus was on defending the approach to a harbor.

The biggest advantage of CARACaS? You don’t need to build new craft – it is a kit that can be installed on existing RHIBs and small boats.

Check out this video of CARACaS-equipped USBs:

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Army relaxes standards on beards, turbans and dreadlocks

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Spc. Harpal Singh, with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, watches as his fellow Soldiers go through the Slide to Victory obstacle at the Fort Jackson Confidence Course. (Photo Credit: Robert Timmons)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
A Marine makes sure his gas mask has a proper seal to keep contaminants away from his face. Beards can inhibit a proper seal. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Search continues for four missing soldiers at Fort Hood

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
In this image released June 3, 2016, law enforcement officials at Fort Hood discuss the search operations for four soldiers missing after their truck overturned in a rain-swollen creek. Five soldiers died in the incident. | U.S. Army photo


Emergency rescue workers on Friday continued their search for four soldiers who went missing after their truck overturned in a rain-swollen creek at Fort Hood, an official said.

Five soldiers died in the vehicle accident at the sprawling Texas base and three others were rescued and taken to an Army medical center, where they were listed in stable condition and expected to be released later in the day.

That’s according to Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commanding general III Corps and Fort Hood, who held a press conference Friday morning in front of a main gate to the base, one of the service’s largest installations and home to more than 41,000 active-duty soldiers.

“Our priority has been, since the first report of this incident and continues to be, the search for our four missing teammates,” Uberti said.

Due to the storm, commanders were in the process of closing roads on the post on Thursday when a 2.5-ton truck known as a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle overturned in a fast-flowing creek during a training exercise, according to The Associated Press. The flatbed truck is regularly used to carry troops.

The portion of road on the northern edge of the base near Owl Creek where the truck overturned hadn’t flooded in previous storms, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug told reporters, according to AP. A “swift-water rescue call” came in around 11:20 a.m. local time.

Three bodies were recovered during initial rescue operations and two more were located later in the night. The Army hasn’t yet identified the victims, pending notification of next of kin.

The four missing soldiers were from the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The search for them continues and involves ground, air and dog teams from base, local and state agencies.

“I’d also like to thank the many emergency services personnel, not only Fort Hood emergency services, but the state and local community emergency services personnel who have so willingly come forward and have professionally been searching for our soldiers,” Uberti said.

The base’s Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the American Red Cross are accepting donations to assist Fort Hood families affected by the tragedy. For more information, call the center at Fort Hood Family Assistance Center at (254) 288-7570 or (866) 836-2751 or contact the Red Cross at (254) 200-4400.

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The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

“Nothing’s off limits.”


That’s a quote from one of the actors in Range 15, but it’s also the way the creators of the film live their lives.

And before you start getting all teary-eyed over it, know that it’s also the attitude they bring to their dark, effed up, and glorious comedic projects.

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

For people who can relate to military humor, it doesn’t get much better than the veteran-produced zombie flick “Range 15”…until you find out they also made a behind-the-scenes documentary.

For those who haven’t seen “Range 15” (it’s for sale as a digital download at Amazon.com), it’s about some military buddies who have a wild party and find themselves tossed into the drunk tank. They wake up to the realization that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing.

Think of what follows as a threesome between “Team America,” “Zombieland,” and “The Hangover.”

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

According to a report by the Military Times, the documentary made its debut on June 30, 2017. The video, dubbed Not a War Story, details the making of the movie, which was filmed in 13 days — a balls crazy pace. The 80 vets who made the film, some of them amputees, had very little (if any) experience shooting feature films, but they didn’t let that stop them.

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

In the trailer, William Shatner, who plays an attorney in the film, strikes a very poignant tone as he recognizes the sacrifices many of these veterans have made. “You’re the fellows who altered your life to do the job,” he says.

Oh, and good news for Range 15 fans: Military Times mentioned that a sequel is reportedly in the works.

In the meantime, check out the trailer for Not a War Story and check out the film on iTunes Nov. 7, 2017.

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The 7 most bizarre foreign military uniforms

Sure, each nation has its own style. But some militaries have introduced dress uniforms so surprising, they’d stop you in your tracks if you saw them in person.


1. French Foreign Legion Pioneers

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Davric

This engineering unit works like America’s sappers, clearing the way through enemy obstacles so other forces can attack behind them. In their dress uniforms, the pioneers carry ceremonial axes and wear large, leather aprons.

2. Greek Evzones

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Robin

These light infantry soldiers are a primarily ceremonial unit whose members are pulled from the standard army’s infantry, artillery, and armored corps. The uniform they wear harkens back to the klephts, anti-Ottoman insurgents who fought for Greek independence from the 1400s to 1800s.

3. India Border Security Force

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Daniel Haupstein

Formed in response to a failure by the State Armed Police to prevent incursions by Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, this young force has grown from a few battalions to over 186 battalions in its 50 years. The headdress is surprising to many visitors to the country, but it’s a common uniform item in the Indian military. Like the U.S. military’s berets, different colors and patterns of headdress indicate different units.

4. India Border Security Force, Camel Contingent

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Jared Wiltshire

India’s BSF is tasked with guarding a desert border with Pakistan, and so they have camel units which operate in sensitive areas. The camel contingent wears a separate uniform from the rest of the BSF and bedecks its camels in colorful harnesses.

4. Fiji’s Presidential Guard

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Jared Wiltshire

The sulu is a skirt that is part of Fiji’s national dress, but it can still be surprising for tourists the first time they see ceremonial guards wearing it.

5. Mongolian Army

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Dr Victor von Doom

The uniforms are meant to harken back to the days of the Mongol Empire, as is the white staff with yak hair. The staffs are called tug banners and are white during times of peace, black during times of war. Large processions like this are typically done before Nadaam, the Mongolian independence celebration.

6. South Korean Royal Guard

In 1996, the guards at the main palace of South Korea, Gyeongbokgung, reenacted the changing of the guard conducted during ancient times. The display was popular, so the guard unit protecting the palace has conducted the ceremony for tourists ever since, continuing to wear traditional clothing and carrying traditional weapons throughout the ceremony and their guard shift.

7. The Vatican Swiss Guard

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Paul Ronga

The famed guards of the Vatican are partially known for their bright uniforms. Each uniform weighs 8 pounds and consists of 154 pieces before you count both the traditional and modern weaponry they carry. The uniform was redesigned in 1914, but it was created to match the uniforms the unit wore in the 1500s when they were formed.

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This is the fastest American bomber that ever took to the skies

While Russia has deployed a number of Mach 2 bombers — like the Tu-22 Blinder and Tu-22M Backfire — these were not the fastest bombers that ever flew.


That title goes to the the North American XB-70 Valkyrie.

You haven’t heard much about the Valkyrie – and part of that is because it never got past the prototype stage. According to various fact sheets from the National Museum of the Air Force, the plane was to be able to cruise at Mach 3, have a top speed of Mach 3.1, and it had a range of 4,288 miles. All that despite being almost 200 feet long with a wingspan of 105 feet, and having a maximum takeoff weight of over 534,000 pounds.

That performance was gained by six J93 engines from General Electric, providing 180,000 pounds of thrust.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
The XB-70’s immense size is apparent in this photo of the plane on display at the National Museum of the Air Force. (USAF photo)

The XB-70s had no provision for armament, but the production version of this bomber was slated to be able to haul 50,000 pounds of bombs – either conventional or nuclear. Imagine that plane being around today, delivering JDAMs or other smart weapons.

With the performance and a weapons load like that, buying this plane to supplement the B-52 should have been a no-brainer, right? Well, not quite.

The fact was that the Valkyrie was caught by the development of two new technologies — the surface-to-air missile and the intercontinental ballistic missile. The former made high-speed, high-altitude runs much more dangerous (although it should be noted that the SR-71 Blackbird operated very well in that profile). The latter offered a more rapid strike capability than the XB-70 and was cheaper.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
The cockpit of the XB-70. Despite the plane’s immense size, it was still pretty cramped inside. (USAF photo)

Aviation historian Joe Baugher notes that as a result of the new technologies, the XB-70 was reduced by the Eisenhower Administration to a research and development project in December 1959. The B-70 was reinstated for production during the 1960 presidential campaign in an attempt to deflect criticism from John F. Kennedy. But Kennedy eventually threw it back to the lab.

Despite a public-relations effort by top Air Force brass, the B-70 remained an RD program with only two airframes built. A 1966 collision during a flight intended to generate photos to promote General Electric’s engines destroyed one of them. The surviving airframe is displayed at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
This photo of the XB-70 gives another glimpse of its immense size when compared to the X-15, the fastest manned aircraft that ever took to the skies. (USAF photo)

Take a look at this video from Curious Droid on the XB-70.

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A cut-rate Gaston taught U.S. infantry how to kill tanks

The U.S. Army made a lot of training videos for World War II. Think of them as the PowerPoints of yesteryear. And when it was time to teach infantry to fight tanks, the Army hired an actor that looks suspiciously like the character Gaston and then filmed him drinking beer in a hunting lodge.


The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

Seriously, even the lights hanging from the ceiling are similar. He’s one dentally-challenged sidekick away from being this guy…

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(Screenshot: YouTube/Theano Sakalidou)

Considering the fact that the new Beauty and the Beast revealed that Gaston was a veteran, it’s starting to look like Disney based their character on an old War Department training film.

But while Gaston is known for being an idiot, the staff sergeant in the training film knows his stuff. He’s a tanker who takes a little time out to teach infantryman how best to destroy armor.

He starts with how small arms can be used to force tankers to “button up,” diving into their hatches. Once the tanks are buttoned, they can be completely blinded by rounds hitting the view slits and periscopes:

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

Then, it’s time for grenadiers to try and shoot the crew through the armor with anti-tank rifle grenades:

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

But if the tanks make it past the grenadiers, the rest of the riflemen can throw Molotov Cocktails at the fleeing armor:

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

All of these were real weapons and tactics in the fight against German armor, and Gaston helped make it happen.

You can see the whole clip — and learn how to destroy Axis tanks — below:

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Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyers are trying to get his case dismissed

The lawyers for alleged Army deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl argued before a military judge that the U.S. military mishandled Bergdahl’s prosecution, and that the case should be dismissed.


In pretrial hearings Aug. 22, the soldier’s defense team petitioned to remove Gen. Robert Abrams from the case for referring charges to a general court-martial “without considering defense objections to and comments on the report of the preliminary hearing officer” and for burning letters of support for the defense.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Gen. Robert B. Abrams, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

Bergdahl’s defense team also says Abrams “faced improper conflicts” as the senior military assistant to then-Sec. of Defense Chuck Hagel. The general was responsible for briefing Hagel on Bergdahl’s health and reintegration processes.

Presiding judge Col. Jeffery Nance rejected the petition to remove Abrams because of the letters, saying “I’m having a hard time seeing any relevance.”

While the prosecution maintained the letters weren’t evidence and that Abrams shouldn’t be forced to testify, the judge ruled against those claims.

The Army alleges Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009 where the Taliban captured him and held him in captivity until his release in 2014. The Obama administration negotiated Bergdahl’s return in exchange for several high-ranking Taliban insurgents held in Guantanamo Bay.

Bergdahl faces two charges from the Army; Article 85 “desertion” and Article 99 “misbehavior before the enemy.”

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
A frame grab from a Taliban video showing Bowe Bergdahl in captivity.

Bergdahl’s lawyers have tried before to prove the military mishandled his case, included citing an October statement from Sen. John McCain who said if Bergdahl wasn’t punished, he’d launch a Senate probe. The defense argues McCain’s statements improperly impacted the public perception of the case and violated Bergdahl’s Constitutional due process rights.

The Army Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison reportedly asked McCain to “back off,” saying his statement could allow Sgt. Bergdahl’s defense to show unlawful command influence in his case.

The defense believes the events are part of a pattern of Army meddling in the case, and that the charges should be thrown out or that Bergdahl should receive no punishment if convicted.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in this still from a Taliban-released video.

In a separate, more recent affidavit, the Daily Caller reported prosecutors’ allegations that Bergdahl deserted his post to join the Russian mob and use his training to become a hitman.

This latest revelation, combined with Bergdahl’s attempts to join the French Foreign Legion and his time aboard an Alaskan fishing boat, shows what the prosecution alleges is a “psychological disposition toward adventure.”

Sgt. Bergdahl’s trial is scheduled to start in February 2017.

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Here’s the tactic that makes China’s espionage activities so effective

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Youtube.com/NTDTV


As the US still attempts to formulate a response to China’s massive hack of the US government’s Office of Personnel Management — a breach that affected some 22 million people, including federal employees with security clearances — the massive size and scope of Beijing’s intelligence gathering operations continues to come into focus.

Unlike other nations, China uses a broad array of both professional and citizen spies to gather data, Peter Mattis explains for War On The Rocks.

As Mattis describes it, the first level of Chinese intelligence-gathering resembles that of just about any other government. A Ministry of State Security carries out surveillance of targets within China and monitors potential threats, while the Ministry of Public Security has control over China’s national databases and surveillance networks.

China also has various levels of military intelligence organizations within the People’s Liberation Army. Most of the operatives for these organizations are also based in China, although Mattis notes that “defense attachés and clandestine collectors do operate abroad.”

This also isn’t all that different from how countries normally operate. The US has some 17 intelligence agencies, several of which are organized under branches of the military. They weren’t under the oversight of a single Director of National Intelligence until 2005.

Where China begins to differ from other nations is its use of operatives who aren’t intelligence professionals and who may technically be outside Beijing’s already sprawling security sector. According to Mattis, Chinese media agencies and their foreign-based journalists have likely collected non-classified data on such sensitive topics as foreign governments’ stances towards Tibet or the South China Sea. These journalists then file reports directly to the Central Committee in Beijing.

“Although most Chinese journalists are not intelligence officers and do not recruit clandestine sources, good journalists can provide information that is not publicly available, but also not classified,” Mattis writes.

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army
Photo: Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

Mattis also describes “market incentives for economic espionage:” The process by which Beijing facilitates the theft of intellectual property from other countries by providing state support for their cover activities.

In July of 2014, Canadian authorities arrested a Chinese entrepreneur at the request of the FBI. The entrepreneur, Su Bin, and two China-based accomplices hacked into the networks of Boeing and other US defense contractors from 2009 to 2013.

Bin allegedly stole data for 32 different US projects, including data related the F-22 and the F-35 fighter jets, as well as Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane. US authorities believe Bin and his colleagues tried to sell the stolen intelligence to state-owned companies within China.

China’s People’s Liberation Army also carries out cyber attacks and cyber espionage against US companies in order to help boost the Chinese economy. In particular, Chinese hackers have been proven to have stolen US trade secrets related to nuclear power, metal, solar production, and the defense industries.

In addition to using civilians to gather non-classified but sensitive material, Beijing has also facilitated a process for Chinese academics to gather potentially sensitive technological information, and built up institutions capable of rapidly building upon technological espionage gains.

For instance, the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China (ISTIC) catalogues foreign scientific publications, facilitates graduate programs for research around the world, and supports the professional development of academics throughout the country. This centralization of technological information has played an important role in China’s rapid modernization, and sources tell Mattis that ISTIC likely reduced the cost of scientific research by 40-50%, while cutting research time by upwards of 70%.

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

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