What you need to know about North Korean threats - We Are The Mighty
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What you need to know about North Korean threats


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For the past 40 years, the United States and South Korea participate in a joint military training exercise simulating a war against the Communist north.

The exercise mobilizes around 20,000 U.S. and South Korean troops in land, sea and air maneuvers. In return, North Korea typically responds with missile launches and nuclear tests — increasing tensions and the potential for conflict on the peninsula.

In this episode of the We Are The Mighty Podcast Mark Harper and Shannon Corbeil — two former Air Force officers — share their experience with these war games and what you need to know about the threat from the DPRK.

Related: When life gives you Tootsie Rolls, use them to escape North Korean forces

Hosted by:

Guests:

  • Mark Harper: Air Force veteran and SVP of Creative and Business Development at WATM
  • Shannon Corbeil: Former Air Force intelligence officer

Selected links and show notes from the episode:

Articles

This hard-drinking salty Coast Guard sea dog was banned from Greenland

One enlisted Coastie mutt – no disrespect, Sinbad was a “mixed breed” – earned a reputation that rivaled any sailor’s in any war before or since. He was one of only two non-humans to reach NCO status, even making Chief by the time of his retirement.


Sinbad was arguably the Coast Guard’s most famous mascot. He was enlisted into the USCG by Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother of the Campbell. Sinbad was supposed to be a gift for Blackie’s girlfriend, but her building didn’t allow pets, so Rother took the dog back to the Cutter George W. Campbell.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

A full-fledged member of the crew of the Campbell, Sinbad had to fill out his paperwork, wear his uniform, and was given pay commensurate with his rank. When World War II broke out in the Atlantic, Sinbad wasn’t about to play dead when it mattered most.

The dog wasn’t just for fun. He had a watch, a general quarters duty station, and his own bunk. Sinbad certainly didn’t roll over for anyone. When the Coast Guard wanted to use him as a PR tool in allied ports, the pup raised hell from Morocco to Greenland.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Especially Greenland.

The Campbell saw plenty of action. She once rammed an enemy U-boat and was also strafed by a Nazi aircraft in the Mediterranean. During a fight with U-606, the ship was severely damaged and the CO ordered that essential personnel only would remain on the Campbell. Sinbad stayed aboard ship.

Signing his enlistment papers with a pawprint, he served on Atlantic convoy duty with the rest of the Campbell crew. Just like a sailor, he had to be disciplined. One author wrote:

“Sinbad is a salty sailor but he’s not a good sailor. He’ll never rate gold hashmarks nor Good Conduct Medals. He’s been on report several times and he’s raised hell in a number of ports. On a few occasions, he has embarrassed the United States Government by creating disturbances in foreign zones. Perhaps that’s why Coast Guardsmen love Sinbad, he’s as bad as the worst and as good as the best of us.”

What you need to know about North Korean threats

The precocious pup did earn medals, however. His awards include the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Navy Occupation Service Medal.

The crew loved Sinbad, even if no one really took responsibility for the dog. They said he earned his enlistment by drinking coffee, whiskey with beer chasers, and having his own shore liberty. He was reportedly the first off the ship at every port.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Sinbad presumably waiting for the whiskey.

He would hit the bars hard, hopping up on empty bar stools, where his whiskey and beer habit was tended to by every bar in the area. He never paid for a drink but returned the ship “bombed” every night, with only an aspirin to tend to his hangover the next day. Sometimes his drinking led to a Captain’s Mast. He was demoted in rank for actions that generally made him a bad dog. These include:

• Missing a sailing in Italy; captured by the Shore Patrol.

• AWOL trying to rejoin the Campbell.

• Going overboard trying not to miss a sailing.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Sinbad recovering from shore leave.

His most notorious trial was being banned from the island of Greenland altogether. During one port call, Sinbad “made his name infamous among sheep farmers.”

Captain James Hirschfield told the media that as long as Sinbad was aboard, nothing bad could happen to the ship. In a nod to Capt. Hirschfield’s statement, a statue of Sinbad is on the deck of the current Famous-class Cutter Campbell. It is considered bad luck for anyone below the rank of Chief to touch Sinbad or his bone.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

In his retirement days, the aging pup was sent to Barnegat Lifeboat Station in northern New Jersey, After 11 years of service. He slept, watched the ocean, and waited for Kubel’s Bar to open in the mornings until he died in 1951.

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Someone is desecrating World War II graveyards off the Indonesian coast

Three war graves have vanished – looted in the name of the almighty dollar.


Or in this case, the currency in question is the Indonesia rupiah. And others — including two of the most famous losses of World War II — are at grave risk.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
The HNLMS Java. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a report by NavalToday.com, three Dutch vessels lost during the Battle of the Java Sea have now been completely looted. Nothing is left of the cruisers HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java, or the destroyer HNLMS Kortenear, which were the graves of almost 900 Dutch sailors who perished when they sank.

The Battle of the Java Sea was a serious defeat for the Allies in the early stages of World War II.

In a night-time surface battle, Japanese ships sank the De Ruyter, Java, Kortenear, and the British destroyers HMS Jupiter and HMS Electra. The British heavy cruiser HMS Exeter was badly damaged in the battle, which cost the lives of 2,300 Allied personnel.

The Dutch vessels are not the only ones at risk.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
The USS Houston in the 1930s. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30), sunk in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, also have been looted for scrap metal, although not to the extent of the Dutch vessels.

Also, two capital ships sunk in the early days of the war — the battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, both war graves, have been desecrated by looters.

Even wrecks off the United States have not been immune to looters paying a visit.

According to a 2003 U.S. Navy release, the Nazi submarine U-85, sunk in 1942 by the destroyer USS Roper (DD 147) about 15 miles off the coast of North Carolina, was visited by private divers who took the vessel’s Enigma machine.

The divers claimed to not realize they weren’t supposed to take items from the wreck. The United States Navy eventually allowed the code machine to be donated to the Altantic Graveyard Museum.

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Ukrainian soldiers are trolling Russian separatists by pretending to be SEAL Team 6

Reports emerged in late July that the Pentagon has devised a plan to arm Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-backed separatists with defensive weapons, such as Javelin missiles.


But many Ukrainian soldiers on the ground believe the plan would give them more of a psychological edge than anything, according to The Daily Signal.

“The weapons themselves will not have a decisive impact on the course of combat operations,” Andrei Mikheychenko, a lieutenant in the Ukrainian army, told The Daily Signal. “Deliveries of lethal weapons, in my opinion, will primarily have psychological significance for both the Ukrainian army and the terrorists it fights.”

The war in eastern Ukraine started shortly after Russia annexed Crimea  in 2014 when pro-Russian Ukrainians proclaimed parts of the Donbas as independent states known as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Pro-Russian rebels shoot in the air at funeral of a fellow fighter killed in a battle for Marinka near Donetsk. Eastern Ukraine, 6 June, 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

And since then, both sides have been engaged in a full-fledged psychological war.

In an effort to intimidate and vex their enemies, Ukrainian troops have at times pretended to be members of US Navy SEAL Team 6 and give orders over the radio in English, The Daily Signal said.  Other times, they’ve even raised American flags above their lines.

In 2015, Ukrainian troops changed the name of a street in the village of Krymske, which is on the front lines near the LPR, from some old Soviet hero to “John McCain Street,” The Daily Signal said.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
A US Marine assigned to USMC Forces Europe and Africa takes the beach after an amphibious landing in Nikolaev, Ukraine, during exercise Sea Breeze 2017. These are the last guys pro-Russian rebels want to find at their doorstep. USMC photo by Cpl. Sean J. Berry

Russian-backed separatists, on the other hand, have reportedly been known to send Ukrainian forces intimidating text messages.

A few months ago, one journalist with Ukrainian troops received a text message, as did all the soldiers with whom she was embedded, saying “Ukrainian soldiers, they’ll find your bodies when the snow melts,” according to the Associated Press.

“Leave and you will live,” other text messages will say, or “Nobody needs your kids to become orphans.”

Russian-backed separatists have also been known to use more brutal psychological tactics.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
A Ukrainian soldier is forced to eat his own army badge by Russian-backed separatists. Screenshot from YouTube user PavelDonbass

In early 2015, videos emerged of rebel commanders forcing captured Ukrainian troops to kneel on the ground and eat their own army badges.

While many Ukrainian soldiers believe that the US supplying them with defensive weapons would help them in the psychological war, they also believe it will give them a combat edge and help deter attacks, The Daily Signal said.

Russian-backed separatists currently have about 478 working tanks, The Daily Signal said, and most of these can be taken out by the Javelin.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Houtkooper

However other European nations, such as France and Germany, are worried that supplying Kiev with such lethal weapons would only increase the fighting.

While fighting slightly increased in July, the three-year old war, for the most part, has ground to a stalemate in which the two sides lob mortars and grenades from afar and trade sniper fire.

At least 10,090 people — including 2,777 civilians — have been killed, and nearly 24,000 have been wounded, through May 15, according to the UN. More than 1.6 million people have been internally displaced.

President Donald Trump has yet to approve the weapons deal, and is expected to make a decision in coming months.

Articles

‘Hunter Troop’ is Norway’s all-female special operations unit

Norway has established the Jegertroppen, or the “Hunter Troop,” the world’s first all-female special operations unit with the goal of improving the country’s effectiveness in international operations.


“In Afghanistan, one of our big challenges was that we would enter houses and not be able to speak to the women” Capt. Ole Vidar Krogsaeter, an officer with the Norwegian Special Operations Forces, told Foreign Affairs. “In urban warfare, you have to be able to interact with women as well. Adding female soldiers was an operational need.”

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

The training program is extremely challenging. The Norwegian Special Operations Forces Command reported that only 88 of the 317 candidates passed the initial admissions test and only 13 trainees made it to the end of Jegertroppen‘s yearlong course. The high dropout rate is similar to male Special Operations Forces units.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

Graduates of the course are expected to conduct special reconnaissance missions and are trained on parachute operations, weapons, survival, and patrol skills, according to the Norwegian military’s recruitment page for the unit.

Jegertroppen‘s soldiers displayed superior shooting and observational skills, Colonel Frode Kristoffersen, commander of the Norwegian Special Forces, told Foreign Affairs.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

Hunter Troop soldiers do carry less weight than their male counterparts, a minimum of 60-pound rucks instead of the 88 pounds for male operators. But otherwise they complete the same training with long trips through the snow, days of limited food supplies, and operations on little or no sleep.

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21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger

What you need to know about North Korean threats

The 75th Ranger Regiment is an elite airborne light infantry unit, falling under the U.S. Special Operations Command.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Though headquartered at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Ranger regiment has three active Ranger battalions and one Special Troops Battalion, stationed at different bases in the U.S.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Ranger Battalions have approximately 600 men in each of its ranks, according to American Special Ops.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

With an increasingly fast op-tempo in a post-9/11 world, Rangers have stood out amongst their special ops peers as the experts in pulling off raids. “On multiple occasions, my teammates pulled terrorists out of their beds and flex cuffed them before they even woke up. That’s how precise Rangers have become in this war,” one Ranger wrote on the website SOFREP.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

But before any soldier can make it within the regiment, they need to go through some of the toughest training the military has to offer.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

For most soldiers, that training pipeline begins with the Ranger Assessment and Selection Programs. Once complete, soldiers will be assigned to the regiment and be authorized to wear its distinctive tan beret.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

While they are then authorized to wear the unit scroll of the 75th, they still need to attend the 8.5 week Ranger School if they want to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

The Army calls the 61-day Ranger School “the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school” it has to offer.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

According to American Special Ops, students train for about 20 hours per day on two (or fewer) meals while sometimes carrying upwards of 90 pounds of gear. By the end of the course, they will hike or patrol approximately 200 miles.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

All will learn to memorize the Ranger Creed, an oath which embodies the elite soldiers’ ethos of never leaving a comrade behind, to never surrender, uphold Ranger history, and always complete the mission.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

The Regiment traces its lineage back to World War II. They were held in special regard after the Normandy landings, when 225 Rangers scaled cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc on June 6, 1944 under intense enemy fire. “The Rangers pulled themselves over the top,” President Ronald Reagan said of the men, in 1984. “And in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe.”

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Rangers have distinguished themselves on many battlefields since then, to include places like Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Somalia, and most recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Rangers in Vietnam


Like other special operations units, Rangers yield a variety of skills, weapons, and can conduct operations in different environments. They can hit a target on land,

What you need to know about North Korean threats

from the air …

What you need to know about North Korean threats

… and out of the water.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Beyond formal schools like Ranger, Airborne, and Mountain Warfare, soldiers in the Regiment are often practicing their skills or taking part in real-world exercises when they are not deployed.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Among its most recent high-profile missions, the 75th Ranger Regiment played a larger part in overthrowing the Taliban in 2002, and the invasion of Iraq.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Rangers jumping into Afghanistan near Kandahar in 2002. (Photo: Youtube/screenshot)

They also helped rescue Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who was taken prisoner of war during the invasion.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Though the Ranger Regiment is composed entirely of men, a number of women currently going through Ranger School who are poised to graduate may someday change that composition.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

That possibility is likely a long way off. But one thing is absolutely clear: The 75th Ranger Regiment, in keeping with its creed, will continue to lead the way into battle.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

NOW DON’T MISS: The history of the U.S. Navy SEALs

Articles

4 crimes you learn to commit in the military

We’re not saying everyone in the military does these things, just that it’s almost impossible to complete an enlistment without someone either encouraging you, or even teaching you, to:


1. Commit petty theft

What you need to know about North Korean threats
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

“Gear adrift is a gift” and similar maxims are just cute ways of saying that it’s sometimes okay to steal. But it’s not. There’s no law that says it stops being government property or someone else’s personal property if they forgot to lock it up or post a guard.

This includes “acquiring” needed items for the squad by snatching up unsecured gear or trading for someone’s off-the-books printer. We know you have to get your CLP, but at least try to get some from the armorer before turning to theft.

2. Smuggle alcohol through the mail

What you need to know about North Korean threats
If their breath never smells minty fresh, maybe get suspicious of their constant mouthwash use.

It’s only legal to ship alcohol through the United States Postal System if you have a license or if it’s in a product like mouthwash. Of course, that mouthwash isn’t supposed to be 80 proof.

But every time a unit gets ready for deployment, the veterans start talking about the super illegal practice of asking family members to pour vodka into empty mouthwash bottles, mix in a few drops of blue and green food coloring, and send it to the base in the mail. Many of the old timers are just making jokes, but it still spreads the knowledge of the tactic. (Which this article also does. Crap.)

3. Lie on federal forms

What you need to know about North Korean threats
The Defense Travel System is reasons 1-3 that no one should ever re-enlist. (Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

Let’s be honest, perfectly filled out Defense Travel System vouchers and unit packing lists are the exception to the rule. Sometimes, this is because it’s hard to track every little change in a connex’s contents or a trip. But other times, it’s because units on their way out the door on an exercise or deployment are willing to put whatever they need to on the paperwork to get it approved.

It’s an expedient way to get the mission done, but it’s also a violation of Title 18 United States Code 1001, which prohibits false claims to the federal government. Of course, no one is going to prosecute when a connex shows up with three more cots than were on the list, but don’t listen to the barracks attorney telling you that the per diem is higher if you just change this one thing in DTS.

4. Abuse prescription medication

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Perfectly legal in training and combat, actually a crime when using it to avoid a hangover with a prescription. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Farina)

Most troops aren’t out there injecting illegally acquired morphine, but most people would probably be surprised to learn that intravenous saline is a prescription medical device (yeah, saltwater in a bag). So are those 800mg Motrins.

And teaching a bunch of troops to give saline injections to each other does help them save lives in combat, but it also prepares them to tack an extra criminal charge onto their alcohol-fueled bender when they get home and stick themselves with a needle to try to avoid getting hungover (which, seriously guys, stop giving yourselves IVs while drunk).

Articles

Military strike on North Korea ‘may be the only option left’

President Donald Trump’s first choice for secretary of defense says the US may only have one option for dealing with North Korea — a large-scale military strike.


“A pre-emptive strike against launch facilities, underground nuclear sites, artillery and rocket response forces and regime leadership targets may be the only option left on the table,” Keane told The Times of London. “We are rapidly and dangerously moving towards a military option.”

Keane, who is said to be close to Trump, declined the role of secretary of defense offered to him by the president, citing the recent death of his wife.

Keane’s statement, that a military strike, which several experts have told Business Insider would involve an unthinkable number of civilian casualties, echoes sentiments from Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times.

Related: Here’s how Japan could attack North Korea’s missile facilities

Ahead of his meeting with Xi Jinping, the President of North Korea’s biggest backer, China, Trump took a hard line on North Korea, saying “China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” adding that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

As North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs reach the stage where they need frequent and detectable testing, Trump and his top officials have repeatedly stressed military strikes as an option.

In particular, the type of strike proposed by Keane would require a massive air campaign to strike literally hundreds of targets across the mountainous, densely-wooded country while defending Seoul against artillery fire and nuclear missile salvos.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
North Korean military ground troops. (Photo: KCN)

While experts conclude that the US has the means to unilaterally decapitate the Kim regime, the operation if carried out today would most likely provoke a counterattack with conventional artillery and, as Thae suggested, nuclear strikes. South Korea and Japan would be at the greatest risk from a North Korean nuclear attack, and such an operation could easily cost millions of lives, including citizens of those countries and US troops stationed in Asia.

Thae’s testimony fits with what experts have told Business Insider: The focus of North Korea‘s nuclear program has shifted from a bargaining chip — something it could trade away for concessions from the international community — to an insurance policy.

Thae stressed that “Kim Jong Un is a person who did not even hesitate to kill his uncle and a few weeks ago, even his half-brother … So, he is a man who can do anything to remove [anyone in] his way.”

Trump is due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week, and he has made clear his intentions to talk about North Korea.

Articles

That time a fighter pilot ejected into a thunderstorm and rode the lightning

Marine Corps Lt. Col. William H. Rankin had flown combat flight operations in both World War II and the Korean War, but it wasn’t enemy fire that came closest to killing him during his military flying career. It was a summer thunderstorm over the east coast of the United States.


On July 26, 1959 Rankin and his wingman, 1st Lt. Herbert Nolan, were flying a pair of F-8 Crusaders from South Weymouth, Mass back to their home base at Beaufort, S.C. when they encountered a line of severe thunderstorms over North Carolina. Shortly after the fighters climbed up to 47,000 feet to go over the growing cumulonimbus clouds, Rankin heard a loud grinding noise followed by a loss of power from the jet’s only engine. About that time the jet’s fire warning light illuminated.

Rankin tried pulling the auxiliary power handle but it came off in his hand. He tried to restart the engine several times but had no luck. At that point, with the fighter in an uncontrollable dive and going nearly supersonic, he knew he only had one option left. He keyed the radio and matter-of-factly told his wingman he “had to eject” and then pulled the handle.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
An F-8 Crusader on the deck of the USS Midway.

The senior Marine pilot wasn’t wearing a pressure suit, so as soon as he hit the surrounding atmosphere at that altitude his body was put through the ringer. The sudden decompression caused his stomach to swell, his ears, nose and mouth to bleed. The ejection tore his left glove from his hand, leaving it exposed to the brutally cold air. His skin immediately froze, which resulted in numbness and severe frostbite.

But things were about to get worse. In his memoir, The Man Who Rode the Thunder, Rankin describes his free fall like this:

I became conscious of my body tumbling, spinning, and cartwheeling through space. I spun like a pinwheel, my limbs trying to go in every possible direction at once. I spun on the vertical, diagonal and horizontal axis. I felt the enormous pulling, stretching effects of g forces. I was a huge stiff blob of helplessness! I recognized that my body was literally spreadeagled and the force was so great I could not move my hands or legs. Several times I tried to bring my arms in to my body but it was like pulling on a stone wall. The effect of the g forces on my arms and legs must have been to multiply their weight many times.

During his fall Rankin managed to strap his oxygen mask to his face, which was a crucial element if he was going to survive his ordeal. From his training he knew that it would take about three and a half minutes to fall from just under 50,000 feet to 10,000 feet where his parachute was designed to automatically deploy. He looked at his watch and saw that more than four minutes had gone by. He figured his ejection seat automatic chute mechanism had malfunctioned, so he manually deployed it.

But Rankin’s seat hadn’t malfunctioned. His descent had simply been slowed by massive updrafts created by the thunderstorm next to him, and as soon as his chute opened another powerful updraft filled it and rocketed him several thousand feet vertically a velocity of nearly 100 mph. Lightning flashed all around in what he later described as “blue blades several feet thick” and the thunder boomed so loudly he feared it would burst his eardrums. Rain pelted him from all directions. He felt like he was going to drown.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

When he reached the top of the thunderstorm the updraft turned into a downdraft. It was totally dark as he was pulled into the center of the thunder cloud, and he plummeted downward at a rate he was sure would prevent his chute from opening. But his chute did open once he was under the storm, and as it did he caught another updraft that catapulted him back to the top of the cloud. Once at the top he was dragged back into the center of the storm and thrown as if by Thor himself toward the ground again.

Rankin was repeatedly buffeted through this cycle . . . a living hell he feared might never end. In The Man Who Rode the Thunder he describes what was going through his mind at that time:

There were times when I felt I might die of sheer exhaustion because it seemed as if either the storm might never end, or I was going to be swept along with it on its insane journey up the coast for as long as that journey might take—hours, days. This feeling was most intense when I decided to look at my watch and glimpsed the time during a flash of lightning. At first I thought what a wonderful thing it was not to have lost my watch all through ejection, decompression, blasts of air, and now this; and, then, what a silly thing, looking at the time! But when I saw that it was twenty minutes past six, I thought: My God, you should have been on the ground at least ten minutes ago! You are really trapped. You are really in the pattern of the storm and a part of it, a speck of human dust, up-over-and-down, up-over-and-down and that’s the way it’s going to be. But how long? For how long?

Finally the storm dissipated enough that he wasn’t dragged back up after shooting through it, and he was unceremoniously blown into a thicket of brush in the middle of a field near Ahoskie, N.C. He was wet and beat to hell and had to draw on his survival skills to make it through the dark to a dirt road where — after being passed by a number of vehicles that refused to stop — someone was finally kind enough to take him to the nearest hospital.

Colonel Rankin spent about 3 weeks in the hospital recovering from severe decompression shock, welts, bruising, and other superficial wounds. He eventually returned to flight status.

In 2009 he died of natural causes at the age of 89.

Here’s a video about his harrowing ordeal:

Articles

Now the White House has to respond to a petition calling for Navy ratings reversal

A petition lobbying the White House to reinstate the official Navy rating titles removed in late September gained more than 100,000 signatures on We the People, a website created by the Obama administration to allow large groups of Americans to directly request changes to public policy.


Petitions that cross the threshold are guaranteed an official response from the administration, but activists are not guaranteed that it will be a “yes” response.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

Ratings were essentially job titles in the Navy and they were incorporated into the method of address for most enlisted leaders. Some of the ratings, like those for gunner’s or boatswain’s mates, have remained the same since the Continental Navy instituted them over 240 years ago. Other rates, such as special warfare boat operator, are newer.

Navy officials say that they removed the rating structure to allow sailors to more easily cross-train between jobs or switch career tracks entirely. This increased flexibility in job choices would also, according to comments given to the Navy Times, make it easier for sailors to get specific duty stations.

But the move was deeply unpopular with sailors. The petition to bring that dissatisfaction to the attention of the White House gained 102,614 signatures. The petition description highlights the tradition and history of the rating system.

For 241 Years Navy personnel have been identified by their Job specialty, known as a “Rating.” The oldest rates such as Boatswain Mates, and Gunners Mate predate the founding of this country. Being known by your job title was a sense of pride. A sign of accomplishment. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations just senselessly erased this tradition.

While the White House promises an official response to successful petitions, it does so by putting the petition in front of the proper policy makers. According to the program’s “about” section:

With We the People, you can easily create a petition online, share it, and collect signatures. If you gather 100,000 signature in 30 days, we’ll review your petition, make sure it gets in front of the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

In this case, that could mean that the petition would land on the desk of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus or someone on his staff. But Mabus and his staff were the ones who made the decision to get rid of Navy ratings in the first place.

The petition could encourage senior Navy leadership to take sailor feedback more seriously moving forward and possibly even find a plan that accomplishes the leadership’s goals while preserving Navy tradition.

Articles

This is why it was perfectly legal for a Russian plane to buzz DC

By now, you’ve heard a Russian plane recently flew around DC and the Trump golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.


And while you might think it was cause to spool up the THAAD and drop that plane in its tracks, believe it or not, they were allowed to by a 25-year-old treaty based on an idea that was nearly four decades old at the time.

The Treaty on Open Skies was first proposed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1955. Cold War paranoia meant it went nowhere for 37 years. After the coup that proved the end of the Soviet Union, the treaty was eventually signed by President George H. W. Bush and ratified in 1992. But it didn’t enter into force until 2002.

The treaty allows the U.S. and Russia — as well as a number of other NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries — to make surveillance flights over each other’s territory.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
An OC-135B Open Skies aircraft goes through pre-flight checks Jan. 16, 2010, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The OC-135 is with the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and is used to conduct observation flights in support of the Open Skies Treaty. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Perry Aston)

According to a letter to the Senate included with the treaty, this is to “promote openness and transparency of military forces and activities.” Certain planes are equipped with four types of sensors, optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, infra-red line-scanning devices, and sideways-looking synthetic aperture radar. These suites are used to monitor military forces, and are certified by observers.

Which aircraft is used can vary. The United States uses the OC-135B Open Skies aircraft for this mission. Canada uses a modified C-130. Russia has a version of the Tu-154 airliner. The United Kingdom has used a mix of planes.

The exact number of flights a country may have varies, but the United States and Russia each get 42 such flights a year.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
The Tu-214 will be Russia’s new Open Skis aircraft. (Wikimedia Commons)

They can fly any sort of flight plan – as long as they give 72 hours notice prior to the arrival. The flight must be completed in 96 hours from the time that the plane arrives. The plane on the Open Skies mission also must embark observers from the host nation on board.

So that’s why a lot of people in the Virginia, Maryland, and DC area got a good look at a Russian Tu-154 — and may still see more if Putin wants another closer look.

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Navy ratings are back — ‘effective immediately’

The Navy has reversed its decision to remove the 241-year-old tradition of referring to its sailors by their job and rank after months of fierce backlash and petitions.


Previously, the Navy claimed the change was made to allow sailors to more easily cross-train into different positions and to make assignments more fluid. But ratings are a core part of a sailor’s experience and both service members and veterans began asking for their titles back.

What you need to know about North Korean threats

As of Dec. 21, they have them.

Sailors began celebrating early as a draft of the Navy administrative message began making the rounds on social media. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson took to Facebook to confirm that while the version being shared was an early draft, the message was right.


According to the U.S. Naval Institute, Richardson acknowledged the role of sailor feedback in the message saying, “We have learned from you, and so effective immediately, all rating names are restored. The feedback from current and former sailors has been consistent that there is wide support for the flexibility that the plan offers, but the removal of rating titles detracted from accomplishing our major goals.”

“This course correction doesn’t mean our work is done – rating modernization will continue for all the right reasons. Modernizing our industrial-age personnel system in order to provide sailors choice and flexibility still remains a priority for us,” Richardson wrote.

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano holds an all-hands call to discuss the Navy’s rating modernization efforts at 3rd Fleet headquarters in San Diego on Nov. 7. The decision to scrap Navy ratings has since been reversed. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Curtis Spencer)

So, “choose your rate, choose your fate,” will still become more flexible than it currently is, but ratings are back.

When the official NAVADMIN is released, it will appear here.

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7 things that make you stick out in the US military

The military is one of those work environments where it’s generally best to blend in. Sure, you want to stand out during promotion boards or advancement exams, but the rest of the time it’s best for troops to keep their heads down.


Unfortunately, some people are cursed with traits that make that impossible. Here are 7 things that are guaranteed to draw extra attention.

1. Height

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: US Army

Too-tall or too-short, both will make someone stand out. In formation, everyone is right next to each other and outliers are super obvious. At ceremonies, many units are reorganized according to height so the unit has a more uniform appearance.

2. Being a know-it-all

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman K. Cecelia Engrums

This person wants to stand out, but they shouldn’t. Answering a direct question is no big deal, and offering an informed opinion every once in a while is great. But people who answer every question in a class don’t get the “team” idea behind the military. And the rest of the team hates them for it.

3. Coming from another country

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: US Navy Legalman 1st Class Jennifer L. Bailey

The U.S. military is predictably full of Americans, but some foreign people do join.

A few English or South African troops may be able to skate by under the radar, but most foreigners get found out immediately. As if it wasn’t hard enough to adjust to military culture, this recruit has to adjust to American culture at the same time. Every time they mess something up, some squad-jokester-wannabe will make a comment about how it’s because they didn’t grow up in America.

4. Being from Texas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyFSdj1J5Vw
It’s like being foreign. Everyone has their favorite Texas jokes, Texas nicknames, and Texas memes. Once someone is outed as being a Texan, they will get saddled with all the Lone Star military stereotypes.

5. Having an accent

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

Yeah, soldiers who talk funny are going to get noticed. It’s funniest when they have to speak in front of the unit. They’re up there talking about how their squad helped them get promoted or earn an award and the formation just stands there smiling like they understand any of the words being said.

6. Possessing no rhythm

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

In the civilian world, bad rhythm just makes it harder to meet people at clubs and square dances. But rhythm is key to military life. Units march in rhythm, troops exercise in rhythm, and new tasks are taught “by the numbers” where students practice things like landing in a parachute in a set rhythm.

A service member with no rhythm sticks out and gets ridiculed. In basic training, it’s even worse since it draws the eyes of the dreaded training cadre.

7. Carrying a funny or famous last name

What you need to know about North Korean threats
Meme via OutOfRegs.com

As a civilian, someone’s last name isn’t all that visible. It’s in email signatures, and that’s about it. But in the military, a person’s last name is their primary name. It’s on their shirts, it’s beneath any pictures of them, and it’s on most of their hats. Some people don’t know their buddy’s first name until they friend each other on Facebook.

So, when someone’s last name is “Nye,” everyone knows. And that person can’t walk into a room without someone singing the Bill Nye theme song.

NOW: The 7 people you meet in basic training

OR: The best and worst Air Force recruiting slogans of all-time

 

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