The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
(Photo: Air Force Times)


On the evening of Dec. 16, 2015, members of the Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson community received an odd email. As part of their outreach efforts, the Alaskan base’s Sexual Assault and Prevention office – commonly referred to by the acronym SAPR – had given away tubes of lip balm.

They had to be destroyed.

“It has come to our attention that approximately 400 ‘SAPR lip balm’ promotional items … contain trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” the public address read, referring to the active ingredient in the drug marijuana. “The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator office has ceased the distribution of the lip balm … and requests that you dispose this product, if you received one of these items.”

Both the Pentagon and the Air Force – the lead service at the base – ban personnel from ingesting any substances that contain hemp seed or oil from those seeds. The flying branch specifically worries the small amounts of THC could trigger a positive result during random drug screening.

On Dec. 14, personnel from the 673rd Air Base Wing had sent the vendor a “heads up” email explaining the situation for future reference, according to records We Are the Mighty obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Earlier, the Wing had reached out to the Office of Special Investigations for advice on how to proceed.

The next day, Global Promotional Sales responded by pointing out that the lip balm did not contain any THC, along with at least two follow-up messages asking to chat with base staff. They ultimately sent along a 2001 scientific study from Leson Environmental Consulting that concluded hemp oil would never have enough THC to register in a drug test. At the same time, Wing staff and the SAPR office were debating what to do with the tubes of fruit-flavored moisturizer.

Citing personal privacy exemptions, censors redacted the names of all Air Force personnel in the records. However, they did not remove the name of the Global Promotional Sales representative.

“I’ve been told that lip balm made from Hemp [sic] will not result in a positive for THC,” an unnamed colonel in the 673d’s commander’s office wrote in one Email. “How many have you handed out?”

While the colonel’s position is widely accepted, rules are rules. “Because of the regulations banning any use of hemp products we understand that the product must be disposed of,” the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator shot back.

After untold hours working on the issue, the base leadership decided to send out the public address and ask personnel to voluntarily trash the items. In total, the SAPR office had purchased 1,600 “Fruity Lip Moisturizers” at a cost of over $1,580, according to an invoice.

The Joint Base Elemendorf Richardson public affairs office told We Are the Mighty in an email that they were unsure what had happened to the more than 1,000 tubes of lip balm that the SAPR office had not handed out. They didn’t know whether the vendor reimbursed the cost or offered credit on a future order.

What we do know is that for at least three days, both the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and the 673d’s staff were actively involved dealing with a problem that took away from their core mission in more ways than one. Emblazoned with the SAPR logo and the text “Consent, Ask, Communicate,” the lip balm itself seems to have served an unclear purpose.

“I mean, just the weight of those emails … the weight of coordination spent on pursuing swag and trinkets,” Tony Carr, a retired Air Force officer and outspoken critic of many of the flying branch’s policies, told We Are the Mighty in an Email after reviewing the documents. “This is what SARCs are doing while the issue of sexual assault continues to hover somewhere between confused and irresolute.”

Legislators, celebrities, and others have repeatedly criticized the Pentagon failing to improve the situation. While the services have focused on education, accountability seems to be the real factor holding back progress on the issue.

The Pentagon was forced to admit that “sexual assaults continue to be under-reported” when they released their latest sexual assault prevention strategy on May 1, 2014. The new policy cited a need to pursue offenders regardless of rank and make sure that accusers did not suffer retaliation from their superiors, who were often the attackers.

Retired Air Force Col. Christensen, who worked in the military legal system for more than two decades, said the incident highlighted the Pentagon’s “very simplistic” responses to very difficult problems, like rape. Christensen is now President of Protect Our Defenders, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit advocacy group that focuses on sexual violence in the U.S. military.

“They think they can powerpoint their way out of it,” Christensen lamented, describing seemingly endless briefings and courses on the ills of sexual assault. He specifically singled out the bystander training as “pretty much ridiculous,” adding that he was not aware of anyone being punished for not speaking up on behalf of a victim.

Of course, both Carr and Christensen were quick to note that these sorts of responses were not necessarily limited to one particular crisis. “It reinforces the ‘leadership by harassment’ approach of inventing and then enforcing rules with no valid military necessity,” Carr said. “I’m amazed at the extent to which this continues happening.”

Christensen compared the idea of handing out lip balm, mints, and other novelties as a solution to sexual assault to the much maligned fluorescent yellow belts troops have wear in many situations. Instead of really delving into how to prevent people getting killed while running or doing other activities at night, the Pentagon simply decreed that everyone had to wear the reflective wraps nearly everywhere, nearly all the time, he said.

But this sort of response is especially galling when it comes to sexual violence. Gimmicks like the lip balm “trivializes the impact of sexual assault” and contribute to troops generally “tuning out” the messages, Christensen added.

To really start fixing the problem, Christensen says the Pentagon and its critics both need to recognize that it will be impossible eradicate sexual assault from the military entirely. Instead, the focus needs to be on treating servicemen and women like adults who know it’s a crime, empowering investigators and prosecutors to go after attackers and instill an overall sense of accountability up and down the ranks.

Until then, SAPR offices will easily find themselves spending precious time dealing with promotional missteps than actually advocating for a healthier climate within the services.

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DARPA’s new bionic arm is now available for vets at Walter Reed — Video

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is making available to military amputees the first production versions of a groundbreaking upper-limb prosthesis, according to a DARPA press release.


The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Dr. Justin Sanchez, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Biological Technologies Office, fist-bumps with one of the first two advanced “LUKE” arms to be delivered from a new production line during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 22, 2016 DoD photo

Dr. Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, delivered the first two advanced “LUKE” arms from a new production line Dec. 22 — evidence that the fast-track DARPA research effort has completed its transition into a commercial enterprise, DARPA officials said.

The ceremony took place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The commercial production and availability of these remarkable arms for patients marks a major milestone in the [DARPA] Revolutionizing Prosthetics program and most importantly an opportunity for our wounded warriors to enjoy a major enhancement in their quality of life,” Sanchez said, “and we are not stopping here.”

The RP program is supporting initial production of the bionic arms and is making progress restoring upper-arm control, he added.

“Ultimately we envision these limbs providing even greater dexterity and highly refined sensory experiences by connecting them directly to users’ peripheral and central nervous systems,” Sanchez said.

As part of the production transition process, DARPA is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss, DARPA says.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
The first production versions of “LUKE” arms, a groundbreaking upper-limb prostheses, were on display during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 22, 2016 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss. DoD photo

LUKE stands for “life under kinetic evolution” but is also a passing reference to the limb that Luke Skywalker wore in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back.

The limbs are being manufactured by Mobius Bionics LLC, of Manchester, New Hampshire, a company created to market the technology developed by DEKA Integrated Solutions Corp., also of Manchester, under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.

The prosthetic system allows very dexterous arm and hand movement with grip force feedback through a simple intuitive control system, DARPA says.

The modular battery-powered limb is near-natural size and weight. Its hand has six user-chosen grips and an arm that allows for simultaneous control of multiple joints using inputs that include wireless signals generated by innovative sensors worn on a user’s feet.

The technology that powers prosthetic legs has advanced steadily over the past two decades but prosthetic arms and hands are a tougher challenge, in part because of the need for greater degrees of dexterity, DARPA says.

When the LUKE arm first went into development, people who had lost upper limbs had to use a relatively primitive split-hook device that hadn’t changed much since it was introduced in 1912.

DARPA launched the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program with a goal of getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for an advanced electromechanical prosthetic upper limb with near-natural control that enhances independence and improves quality of life for amputees. LUKE received FDA approval less than eight years after the effort began, DARPA says.

Under a recently finalized agreement between DARPA and Walter Reed, DARPA will transfer LUKE arms from an initial production run to the medical center for prescription to patients. Mobius Bionics will train the Walter Reed staff to fit, service and support the arms.

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This is how Gen. Dunford is working on ‘difficult issues’ with China

The top US military officer told his Chinese counterpart August 15 that the US and China have “many difficult issues” to work through, during a visit that comes amid tensions over North Korea’s missile program, Taiwan, and China’s claims in the South China Sea.


Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the remarks at the opening of a meeting with Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s joint staff department.

US officials say Dunford’s visit aims to create a mechanism for improving communication between the sides, especially on sensitive issues such as North Korea. Dunford and Fang signed an agreement committing the sides to that goal, with the details to be discussed during talks in Washington in November.

Fang said Dunford’s visit was a key part of efforts to expand dialogue between the US and China as agreed by President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, when they met earlier this year.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
People’s Liberation Army Gen. Fang Fenghui. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen.

To that end, China has arranged a series of important meetings and visits to help Dunford “know more about our military, (boost) our cooperation, and build up our friendship,” Fang said.

Dunford responded that the US considered the meetings important to making progress on areas of disagreement, without citing any specific examples.

“I think here, we have to be honest — we have many, many difficult issues where we don’t necessarily share the same perspective,” Dunford said.

“I know we share one thing: We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues,” he added, saying that with the guidance of political leaders “we are going to make some progress over the next few days.”

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

This is the highest-level meeting between the two countries’ militaries since Trump and Xi met in Florida in April.

The US delegation will be flying to the northeastern city of Shenyang on August 16 to observe an exercise staged by the People’s Liberation Army’s Northern Theater Command. Fang cited the event as being among the measures aimed at building mutual trust and understanding.

While the sides agreed several years ago to establish a hotline between the Pentagon and China’s defense ministry, that mechanism has never gone into operation. US officials say they’ve attempted to use it, but that the Chinese side has never answered their requests.

The Chinese and US militaries have joined in naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii and other limited multinational drills mainly aimed at dealing with humanitarian disasters. They’ve also tried to improve mutual trust through agreements on dealing with unexpected encounters at sea.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
US Navy and Republic of Singapore ships in the South China Sea. US Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Angela Henderson

Despite those, China deeply resents the presence of the US Navy in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims virtually in its entirety.

Last week, China expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” with the US over the Navy’s latest freedom of navigation operation in which a warship sailed past one of China’s man-made islands.

Dunford is visiting South Korea, Japan, and China after a week in which Trump said he was ready to unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the US.

In a phone call with Trump on August 12, Chinese President Xi said all sides should avoid rhetoric or action that would worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

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This is what happens to the personal effects of fallen warriors

The months following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, would forever shape the way the military does business.


In an effort to provide some sense of comfort to the families of those who perished that September day, the US Army Human Resources Command established the Joint Personal Effects Depot at present day Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Virginia.

Its close proximity to the Pentagon made Arlington the perfect area to account for and process personal items of fallen warriors, return them to the families, and help provide closure.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Staff Sgt. Luis Quinones speaks to the media about inventory process April 14, 2011, at the new Joint Personal Effects Depot at Dover Air Force Base, Del. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

But as America’s resolve strengthened, the young men and women of this country took up arms to defend the freedoms of its citizens against an unconventional new enemy in a war against terror thousands of miles away.

With the possibility of a rising number of casualties stemming from this new war, America’s military was faced with a new challenge — how to care for its fallen?

The History

As the war on terror intensified, the need for an expanded personal effects facility soon became evident and the JPED was relocated from Arlington to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Working out of old and sometimes dilapidated World War II era warehouses, workers at the JPED ran an assembly line operation without heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer until 2005, when the decision was made to consolidate the Joint Personal Effects Depot, along with the services’ mortuary, to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Nelson Delgado, operations management specialist (right) and 1st Lt. Marcus Hull, summary court martial officer, both with the Joint Personal Effects Depot, review personal effects inventory paperwork in processing line number 3 June 29, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

“I was assigned to the depot in Aberdeen as a mortuary affairs specialist with the Army Reserve and I can say it was less than ideal conditions to work in,” said Nelson Delgado, JPED operations management specialist and retired Army Reserve master sergeant.

“Back then, everything was moved from station to station,” he said. “It was cramped and there was too much room for mistakes. One day, General Schoomaker (retired Gen. Peter Schoomaker, 35th Chief of Staff of the US Army) showed up and asked us what we needed.

“That’s how we got to Dover.”

In March 2011, construction of the current 58,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility was finally completed by the Philadelphia District Corps of Engineers at a cost of $17.5 million. A few months later in May, the first personal effects processed there.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
The JPED building on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Army photo by Tim Boyle.

Staffed by a mix of active and Reserve component Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines, as well as a handful of Department of the Army Civilians and contractors, the JPED, along with the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations facility provides dignity, honor, and respect for the families left behind.

The Process

When Soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice in theater, their personal effects are inventoried, packed, and rushed to the JPED, usually within five days.

“If it comes through the front door, it has to be accounted for by us and sent to the family,” said Delgado. “We don’t throw anything away.”

“Sometimes, what might seem insignificant to you and me may, in fact, be very important to the families. We’ve actually had instances where families have called back asking for something like a gum wrapper that was given to the service member by a child,” he said.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Nelson Delgado, Joint Personal Effects Depot operations management specialist, demonstrates operating one of two x-ray machines at the JPED located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 24, 2017. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

As items arrive at the depot, they are carefully x-rayed and screened for unexploded ordnance in a blast-proof corridor before they are ever brought into the main facility.

From there, items are brought into an individual cage where they are inventoried and packed for shipment to the service member’s primary next of kin.

“All the preparations are done, from start to finish, in one single room,” Delgado said.

Also Read: How Marines honor their fallen heroes — on the battlefield and at home

“We ensure there are two Soldiers present in the cage at all times in addition to a summary court martial officer. This gives us a system of checks and balances and also reduces the risk of cross contamination of items,” he added.

Each cage is equipped with photographic equipment, washers and dryers, and cleaning materials. As items are inventoried, they are carefully inspected and then individually photographed. Soldiers go through great pains to ensure each item is soil-free and presentable for the family members.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
At the two-year anniversary of the creation of the Joint Personal Effects Depot at Dover Air Force Base, Del., the command continues to process fallen service members’ personal belongings with unparalleled dignity and respect. Pictured here, personnel from the JPED process the personal effects of someone who was killed in support of overseas contingency operations. Army photo by Tim Boyle.

“We want to make sure everything that the individual service member had with them in theater is returned to the family,” Delgado said. “What we don’t want to do is make a difficult situation worse.”

“If an item is soiled or bloodstained, we will stay here as long as it takes to get it clean so it can be returned. Besides memories, this is all the families have of their loved ones,” he said.

The Presentation

After items are cleaned and inventoried, they are carefully packaged into individual plastic foot-lockers.

Each item is pressed and folded. They are placed neatly in the containers, and wrapped tightly with several layers of packaging paper and bubble wrap. Smaller items, such as rings, watches or identification tags, are placed into small decorative pouches, inscribed with the service member’s individual branch of service.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
The entire process, from start to finish is done in one location to help eliminate items from becoming misplaced or cross contaminated with other service member’s personal items. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

Items such as Bibles, flags, or family photos are placed at the top of the first box, so that they are the first things the families see upon opening it.

“We emphasize box one, because that is usually the box the families will open first. But that doesn’t mean we neglect box two, or box six, or even box 10,” Delgado said. “We treat each box the same way because we really want the families to know we care about their loved one.”

“That’s why we take our time and make sure items are neat and presentable, not just stuff thrown in a box.”

After the items are finally packaged and sent to the transit room, Soldiers scour the cage one last time and sweep the floor before exiting. Great attention to detail is given to make sure everything is accounted for and nothing is overlooked.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Items that move through the JPED are carefully cleaned, packaged, and sent to the families who have lost a loved one. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

The Connection

Soldiers at the JPED are meticulously screened for duty fitness by HRC’s Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division before they are ever assigned there.

Assignments at the JPED can be emotionally taxing on the Soldiers working there.

Soldiers regularly attend resiliency training to help them cope with the tasks they are asked to perform. The JPED chaplain is as much there for them as he or she is for the grieving families attending dignified transfers.

“This is a job that not a lot of people want, or can do, but at the same time, this can be the most rewarding job you will ever do,” Delgado said.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Nelson Delgado, Joint Personal Effects Depot operations management specialist, stands in cage one at the JPED located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 24, 2017. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

“Taking care of the personal effects is the last part of the process. This is what helps bring some sense of closure to the families. The families don’t see what goes on here, but we get to know the service members and their loved ones by working here. We develop a closeness and connection with them,” he added.

For Delgado and others working at the JPED, that connection sometimes hits close to home.

“Sometimes you see kids as young as 19 years of age coming through here,” he said. “I have a 19-year-old kid at home. Sometimes it hits a little too close to home. I don’t know anyone working here that hasn’t cried at one time or another.

“I spent 23 of my 25-year Army Reserve career as mortuary affairs and I was blessed to get assigned to the JPED. This is our way of giving back to the families of the fallen. It’s an honor to do this.”

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Here’s what America would be like if the Nazis and Japanese had won WWII

This past weekend marked the 71st anniversary of the Allies’ D-Day landing at Normandy, France, which ultimately led to the liberation of France from Nazi control.


But what if the Allies had never launched their seaborne invasion, leaving Europe in the hands of Hitler and Nazi Germany?

Amazon Studios provides the answer with “The Man In The High Castle,” a new original series that was recently greenlit by Amazon for a full season after becoming the most watched show since Amazon’s original-series development program began. The show is smart, fun, and polished, and it sports a five-star user rating.

Produced by Ridley Scott, the show is based on a 1962 Philip K. Dick novel about a world in which the Nazis and the Japanese won World War II. Of all of Dick’s classics, it was the only one to win science fiction’s preeminent Hugo Award. Scott, who directed another Dick adaptation in “Blade Runner,” started developing in 2010 what would surprisingly be the book’s first screen adaptation.

It takes place in 1962 in a conquered America that has been divided into the Greater Nazi Reich, from the Atlantic to the Rockies, and the Japanese Pacific States, on the Pacific Coast.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

The opening scene shows a propaganda film about life in America, which chillingly demonstrates how Americans might come to accept Nazi overlords.

“It’s a new day,” the narrator says. “The sun rises in the east. Across our land men and women go to work in factories and farms providing for their families. Everyone has a job. Everyone knows the part they play keeping our country strong and safe. So today we give thanks to our brave leaders, knowing we are stronger and prouder and better.”

Only the end of the film explicitly references the Nazi takeover:

“Yes, it’s a new day in our proud land, but our greatest days may lie ahead. Sieg heil!”

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

Here’s a look at Nazi Times Square:

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

Here’s Japanese San Francisco:

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

As the propaganda film suggests, aspects of life in Nazi/Japanese America are not bad, even as the overlords brutally repress all resistance. The winners of the war — particularly the Germans, who in the show’s alternate history developed the first atomic bomb — are living in a technological and economic boom as great as anything America saw in the real postwar era.

Given this rosy portrayal, it’s all the more shocking when there’s a reminder of how inhuman the Axis powers could be. In one scene, a volunteer for the resistance is driving through the middle of the country for the first time. He is talking with a Nazi police officer, who helped him change a flat tire, when ashes began falling like snow.

“Oh, it’s the hospital,” the cop says. “Tuesdays, they burn cripples, the terminally ill — drag on the state.”

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

Amazon Studios is putting out some of the best new TV. There’s “Transparent,” starring Jeffrey Tambor as a father who comes out as transgender, which won the Golden Globe for best TV series, musical, or comedy. I haven’t watched that one yet, but I can personally recommend the underrated “Alpha House,” a political comedy by Garry Trudeau, and the fantastic new “Mozart In The Jungle,” a comedy based on a book about “sex, drugs, and classical music” in New York City.

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

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This is why the Navy wears bell bottoms, and it’s not for fashion

The Navy dress uniform — also known as “cracker jacks” — is one of the most iconic symbols in the military today. You can spot a Navy sailor from a mile away after they don the familiar dressing.


Every piece of the uniform from head-to-toe has some symbolic or practical use — and the famous bell bottoms are no different.

During the ’60s and ’70s, bell bottoms were all the rage in fashion culture as men and women of all ages walked the streets with the popular look.

Related: This is why sailors have 13 buttons on their trousers

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
A girl in the 1970s sporting some fashionable bell buttons near a beach. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

But the fad didn’t make its debut on a famous red carpet or in an elegant fashion show — it’s the brilliant invention of the U.S. Navy.

Although no one has been officially accredited with inventing the bell bottom trouser, the flared out look was introduced for sailors to wear in 1817. The new design was made to allow the young men who washed down the ship’s deck to roll their pant legs up above their knees to protect the material.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Young sailors aboard a ship play tug-of-war in their classic bell bottoms. (Source: Pinterest)

This modification also improved the time it took to take them off when the sailors needed to abandon ship in a moments notice. The trousers also doubled as a life preserver by knotting the pant legs.

Also Read: This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

Years later in 1901, the Navy authorized the first use of denim jumpers commonly known as “dungarees.” This new fabric was approved to be worn by both officers and enlisted personnel.

The dungarees also featured the unique bell bottom look and are considered iconic in their own right.

What’s your favorite Navy uniform? Comment below. And don’t forget to submit your photos in the comment section wearing your dress uniform.

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The Yanks are sending their tanks back to Europe

The United States Army is shipping M1 Abrams main battle tanks back to Europe, part of an effort to reassure NATO allies in the wake of Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.


According to reports by CBSNews.com and the BBC, the first vehicles arrived in Germany on Jan. 6, and they will be deployed to Poland and other Eastern European countries that formerly were Russian allies. These vehicles will be used by Armored Brigade Combat Teams that will rotate into Europe from the United States.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, participate in a live-fire tank shoot firing the first ever rounds fired by a U.S. M1A2 tanks in Bulgaria at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, June 24, 2015. (US Army photo)

The first rotation is slated to begin sometime in 2017.

The Army once had all or parts of six divisions in Europe with NATO alongside two Armored Cavalry Regiments, grouped into the V and VII Corps in 1989, according to a NATO order of battle.

After budget cuts, that force had dropped to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, according to a 2015 Army Times report. That unit will be equipped with the M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker equipped with a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.

The Abrams tanks sent to Germany are the M1A2 version. According to GlobalSecurity.org, these tanks have a 120mm main gun and 40 rounds of ammunition for that, a M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, and two 7.62mm medium machine guns. The tanks have a crew of four and a top speed of 42 miles per hour.

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This is why ACUs have buttons on their pants and a zipper on the blouse

The U.S. military’s uniform history is one of tradition and tactical purpose. Many tiny details on our uniforms date back centuries. The different colors in the Army’s dress blues are a call back to the days when soldiers on horseback would take off their jacket to ride, causing their pants to wear out at a different pace. The stars on the patch of the U.S. flag are wore facing forward as if we’re carrying the flag into battle.


The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

Something that always stuck out was why the ACUs have the button and zipper locations opposite of civilian attire. All Army issued uniforms had buttons until the M1941 Field Jacket added a zipper with storm buttons on the front. Shortly after, many other parts of the uniform including pockets, trousers and even boots would start using zippers as a way to keep them fastened. The zippers, like many things in the military, were made by the lowest bidders until the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform or ACUs in ’04.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

The zipper on the ACU blouse is heavy duty and far more durable than zippers on a pair of blue jeans. The zipper is useful on the blouse for ease of access but it also has a tactical reason for its use. A zipper allows medical personnel to undo the top far easier than searching for a pair of scissors or undoing all of the buttons. The hook-and-loop fasteners (Velcro) is to help give it a smooth appearance.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
Even OCP still kept the buttons, but added the sh*tty velcro back to the cargo pocket (Photo via wikicommons)

Buttons on the trousers serve a completely different purpose. The buttons keep them sealed better than a zipper. Think of how many times you’ve seen people’s zipper down and you’ll get one of the reasons why they decided to avoid that. Buttons are also far easier to replace than an entire zipper and a lot quieter when you need to handle your business.

Dress uniforms take the traditional route to mirror a business suit. The Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is on it’s OFP.

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This Navy base is bigger than Rhode Island

During WWII, scientists at the California Institute of Technology needed adequate facilities to test and evaluate their rockets. Simultaneously, the U.S. Navy was seeking a new proving ground for aviation ordnance. Cal Tech’s Dr. Charles C. Lauritsen and Navy Cdr. Sherman E. Burroughs met and agreed to work together to find a site that would suit both of their organizations’ needs.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
The original NOTS logo (U.S. Navy)

Approximately 150 miles north of Los Angeles in the West Mojave Desert lies China Lake. The dry lake is named for the Chinese prospectors who harvested borax from the lake bed. With plenty of open land far from towns and cities, China Lake was the test site that Cal Tech and the Navy were looking for.

In November 1943, the Navy established the Naval Ordnance Test Station at China Lake. The Secretary of the Navy described NOTS as, “…a station having for its primary function the research, development and testing of weapons, and having additional function of furnishing primary training in the use of such weapons.” Testing at NOTS began within a month of its establishment. With its near perfect, year-round flying weather and practically unlimited visibility, China Lake quickly became the premiere location for weapons research, development, testing and evaluation. Moreover, the Navy’s partnership with Cal Tech established and fostered a relationship between military and civilian scientists and engineers that continues to this day.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
An F9F-8 Cougar with AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles flies over NOTS China Lake (U.S. Navy)

In 1950, NOTS developed the Air Intercept Missile 9. Better known as the AIM-9 Sidewinder, the missile has become the world’s most used and copied air-to-air missile. Other notable weapons that were developed and/or tested at China Lake include the Mighty Mouse, Zuni, Shrike and JDAM.

In July 1967, NOTS China Lake was combined with the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Corona, California, to become the Naval Weapons Center. By 1971, the Corona facilities were shut and relocated to China Lake. In July 1979, China Lake also assumed the mission of the National Parachute Test Range at El Centro.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
The modern NAWS logo (U.S. Navy)

In January 1992, NOTS China Lake was redesignated Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. In total, the installation covers over 1,100,000 acres of land. Representing 38% of the Navy’s global land holdings, the base is larger than the state of Rhode Island. As of 2010, at least 95% of the land remains undeveloped. Additionally, China Lake’s restricted and controlled airspace covers 19,600 square miles. This accounts for 12% of California’s total airspace.

On top if its research, testing and evaluation roles, China Lake is also home to a National Historic Landmark. The Native American Cosco People who once inhabited the land carved thousands of petroglyphs into what are known today as Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons and sit within China Lake. They are part of the larger Cosco Rock Art District which contains more than 50,000 documented petroglyphs in an area of roughly 99 square miles, the highest concentration of petroglyphs in the northern hemisphere.

Today, the Navy reports that China Lake hosts 620 service members, 4,100 full-time civilians and 1,734 on-board and off-site contractors. The base continues to support the Navy’s research, testing and evaluation of cutting-edge weapons to equip the nation’s warfighters.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm
An F/A-18F Super Hornet flies over NAWS China Lake (U.S. Navy)
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Watch the Coast Guard rescue this downed Navy pilot

This is when inter-service rivalry goes right out the window. A downed naval aviator who had to eject from a F-5N Tiger II tactical fighter aircraft during a training exercise is rescued by the puddle pirates off the coast of Key West. The cause of the crash is still unknown.


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An F-5N Tiger II assigned to the Sun Downers of Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 launches from Boca Chica Field. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Morales)

“The watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane crew to conduct a search,” read a statement from the Coast Guard. “The helicopter crew arrived on scene at 1:15 p.m. The rescue crew hoisted the pilot from the water and brought him back to Lower Keys Medical Center in good condition.”

An MH-65 Dolphin based at Coast Guard Air Station Miami was diverted from a patrol on Aug. 9 after the Coast Guard picked up the pilot’s emergency smoke signal.

The pilot is attached to Fighter Squadron Composite 111 (VFC-111) Sundowners based at Naval Air Station Key West. The unit is a reserve squadron that simulates the enemy in combat training exercises.

When naval aviators eject over water, a few things happen. First, the parachute is separated from the pilot, because the sea currents can grab the chute and pull the pilot under. Then, there is an automatic flotation device that inflates to keep the aviator above water. Then the mask on the ejection seat, which provides oxygen and protects the pilot’s face during ejection, is separated. The pilot then deploys either signal mirrors, smoke, flares, or all three.

One more Squid safely pulled from the deep by our amazing Puddle Pirates.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer. It must be Fall.


Mourn Summer’s passing with the 13 funniest military memes of this week.

1. Some of you are going back to school… don’t be that guy wearing half his old uniforms to class.

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2. You Might get some funny looks. But you’re probably used to that. (h/t: Air Force Nation)

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

3. Football is back! And the rivalry shots are already fired.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

4. September is a special month, not just the end of summer. (h/t: Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project)

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

5. Longer days may mess with your sleep cycle, no matter which shift you work.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

6. You know you have to perform, no matter what you did the night before. (h/t: Air Force Memes Humor)

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

7. Medical won’t have much sympathy for you.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

8. Neither will leadership. (h/t U.S Army W.T.F! moments)

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9. It could always be worse.

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10. Just show up and do the job.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

11. If you make it past lunch, you can stomach the whole day (h/t: The Salty Soldier)

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

12. Just remember these rough days when it’s time to reenlist. (h/t: U.S Army W.T.F! moments )

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

13. And silently remember how face-wreckingly awesome you are.

The Air Force spends a lot of time and effort destroying rape-preventing lip balm

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The Afghan air force is trading its Hips for Blackhawks

The Pentagon has announced plans to replace the Afghan air force’s inventory of Russian-built Mi-17 “Hip” utility helicopters with American ones, stating that the purchase has turned out to be a bad deal.


According to a report by the Washington Times, the Hips will be replaced by UH-60 Blackhawks. The Russian-built helicopters reportedly were maintenance nightmares, with the Afghan Air Force unable to keep up with the logistical supported needed to address constant breakdowns.

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A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Hips were initially chosen because defense planners thought Afghan pilots would be more familiar with the Russian-built helicopters. The Obama Administration had praised the Mi-17 in its last report on operations in Afghanistan, calling it the “workhorse” of the Afghan air force. The report noted that 56 Hips were authorized, and 47 were available.

According to Militaryfactory.com, the Mi-17 “Hip” has a crew of three and can carry a wide variety of offensive loads, including rocket pods, 23mm gun pods, and even anti-tank missiles. Army-Technology.com notes that the Russian-built helicopter can carry up to 30 troops.

Over 17,000 Mi-17s and the earlier version, the Mi-8, have been built since the Mi-8 first flew in 1961. The Hip has also been widely exported across the globe, being used by over 20 countries, including China, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Iraq.

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Egyptian Mi-17. (Wikimedia Commons)

By comparison, the UH-60 Blackhawk, which also has a crew of three, can only carry 11 troops, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin. However, the 13th Edition of the Combat Leader’s Field Guide notes that with the seats removed, a Blackhawk can carry up to 22 troops.

The Blackhawk is limited to door guns as its armament. Militaryfactory.com notes that the Blackhawk is used by 26 countries, including Poland, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Argentina, Thailand, and Israel.

Some countries have both the UH-60 and Mi-17 in their inventories, notably Iraq, Argentina, China, Thailand, and Mexico.

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This is what the Pentagon wants the ‘smart’ handgun to do

We’ve all seen the cool James Bond clip where Q hands over a Walther PPK/S that can only be activated by 007’s palm print .


If a bad guy tries to pick it up and shoot the superspy, no joy.

For years the idea of a so-called “smart” gun like Bond’s has been largely out of reach for anyone but the covert operators of fiction, but that hasn’t stopped the government from trying to make one for real life. And the feds just took the first step in what could eventually be a handgun fielded to law enforcement and the military that only shoots for an authorized user.

As part of a series of executive actions on gun control released in January, President Barack Obama ordered the Department of Justice to look into what a smart gun should look like for military troops and federal agents. His intention was to deploy government resources to push the technology beyond what the civilian market has yielded in hopes of making smart gun technology available for most handguns.

“As the single largest purchaser of firearms in the country, the Federal Government has a unique opportunity to advance this research and ensure that smart gun technology becomes a reality,” the White House said. “In connection with these efforts, the departments will consult with other agencies that acquire firearms and take appropriate steps to consider whether including such technology in specifications for acquisition of firearms would be consistent with operational needs.”

The Armatix iP1 is the first so-called “smart gun” available for consumers. It’s chambered in 22 LR and requires a special watch for the shooter to active the gun.

In July, researchers with the National Institute of Justice released its long-awaited specifications for what a smart handgun should be able to do and how its safety features should work. The requirements represent a high technological bar for military and law enforcement smart gun use, including overrides if the system is jammed, near instant activation and a 10,000 rounds before failure limit.

The Justice Department described “the potential benefits of advanced gun safety technology, but noted that additional work was required before this technology is ready for widespread adoption by law enforcement agencies,” the NIJ report said. “In particular, the report stressed the importance of integrating this technology into a firearm’s design without compromising the reliability durability, and accuracy that officers expect from their service weapons.”

The NIJ specs essentially call for a polymer-framed, striker fired 9mm or .40 SW handgun without any external safety. Basically, the specs point to a Glock 19 or similar modern handgun when it comes to ergonomics, size, and function.

Researchers said the smart gun should able to be programmed to work only for authorized users, could be activated with a wearable device such as a ring or bracelet, and should be able to shoot even if the smart safety fails.

But the researchers went on to call for functions that go well beyond what current technology allows, including that “the security device shall not increase the time required by the operator to grasp, draw from a holster and fire the pistol as a pistol of the same design that is not equipped with the security device.”

That means zero lag time for the pistol to draw, authorize and fire in a split second.

The smart gun will also have to detect and alert the shooter if there is an attempt to jam the system and be able override the safety and fire despite the countermeasures. And the gun must be able to fire with both a bare or gloved hand, making it tough for technology using biometric sensors to read fingerprints.

Most importantly, the smart gun will have to endure 10,000 rounds with 2,000 draws between any failure. Engineers who build systems like small lights and lasers that attach to handguns have said one of the biggest technological challenges to building miniature electronics is making them tough enough to withstand the repeated recoil of a pistol.

Skeptics have long argued smart guns insert an unreliable technology into a system that’s build to work every time at a moment’s notice and that forcing anyone to use an electronic safety on a handgun could mean the difference between life and death.

“Generally speaking, additional complexity brings increased risk of malfunction and error,” the Justice Department has said. “The types of firearms most commonly used by law enforcement and the broader American public … are relatively straightforward mechanical devices, and manufacturers have faced significant engineering challenges as they seek to seamlessly integrate electronics into firearms’ operations.

But the White House has signaled its intention to push the technology to the field as soon as possible, and the latest NIJ report shows just how solid that technology has to be for troops and law enforcement to trust it with their lives.

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