One of the most revered military leaders of our time, Admiral James Stavridis served for thirty-seven years in the United States Navy, including his last four as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Admiral Stavridis joins Adam to share the best lessons he has learned over the course of his illustrious career, from how to lead and inspire others to how to lead your own day and life. Admiral Stavridis and Adam discuss the Admiral’s core leadership principles, misconceptions about military leaders, and job interviews with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
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Standing in front of a projector that displays the remains of a deceased man, an Army Reserve instructor is not explaining to his 11 students the gruesomeness of what happened to the man, but the proper way to effectively serve in a unique and honorable job as a mortuary affairs specialist.
“Being in mortuary affairs isn’t easy because I know everybody can’t deal with remains,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Garcia, the lead instructor for the Mortuary Affairs Specialist Course held at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, May 12-28, 2018.
“The thing about our job is take those heroes and do all the preparation and help with the valuable effects,” said Garcia, who is assigned to the 5th Multifunctional Battalion, 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, 80th Training Command (Total Army School System).
The mortuary affairs course falls under the command and control of the 94th Training Division, and the 94th Training Division supports the 80th Training Command’s mission of more than 2,700 instructors providing essential training to Army Reserve, National Guard and Active Duty Soldiers.
“When you are dealing with the remains, you are thinking of the families and focused on treating the fallen hero with the utmost respect and dignity,” said Garcia. “It’s an honor to be here and to instruct because this job is like no other.”
Garcia’s students will graduate and move on to serve as combat-ready leaders in their units, but a few received first-hand experience shortly after switching to this military occupational specialty in 2017, and helped when Hurricane Maria hit land.
(U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton)
“One day I’m learning at the morgue. Then I graduate from the mortuary affairs reclass course, and one day later I’m at the morgue again. This time I’m helping them because of the hurricane,” said Sgt. Pedro Cruz, assigned to the 311th Quartermaster Company. “We were working over there every day. I’m doing things I won’t do on deployment because as I hear, ‘you don’t work with remains every day on deployments.'”
Sgt. Adrian Roman-Perez, also assigned 311th Quartermaster Company, was another student who stepped out of the classroom and put what he learned to use shortly after the class ended.
“I worked alongside our instructor because we had to provide support to the morgue,” Roman-Perez said. “It wasn’t that the hurricane happened; it was about the aftermath after it happened.”
“In the Army, we train as we fight but you can’t do that in this job,” said Roman. “Most of the time, you are dealing with a mannequin and never have the opportunity to experience remains or have your body have that kind of stress.”
“For me it was kind of useful and it will be useful on my deployment because it helped prepare me for what is coming up,” Roman-Perez said. “That type of stressful situation helped me and taught me how to cope with it.”
According to Staff Sgt. Izander Estrada, a soldier assigned to 5th Battalion and helping Garcia with the mortuary affairs course, said that Hurricane Maria left a lasting impression not only on the students, but the instructors and staff at the organization.
“There were no trees, and it was so quiet,” he said. “You didn’t hear cars or birds or anything. It was completely quiet. It was a surreal experience.”
“It was a lot of stuff that if you’re not here, living there it’s impossible to understand or to explain,” he added. “Seeing people not having water and electricity, you start think about how important things are and that you take them for granted. Like when the air conditioning is always on, that’s electricity that you’re using.”
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson)
Despite dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Estrada was one of several individuals tasked with ensuring the future courses at the schoolhouse could still happen.
“This area had buildings actually demolished because of Maria,” he said. “This was September and we had to demonstrate that we could conduct the next class in February.”
The staff at the 5th Battalion worked with the 94th Training Division, the 80th Training Command and Fort Buchanan to secure a building, equipment, power and so on to ensure the next course could take place.
Eight months later classes are still steadily scheduled through the rest of the year, and staff and students are working hard to show why mortuary affairs is a crucial piece of the Army Reserve.
“One of the things I’m grateful for in the class is that I’ve been able to know the instructors and know how they work aside from them instructing,” said Roman. “I can ensure you, they are people that know their job. They know what they are doing, and they know their material and are experienced instructors.”
Both Cruz and Roman-Perez agreed that this job specialty is one that many may not consider, but is worth doing and instructing, if given the opportunity.
“I’ve thought about being an instructor. It is not an easy task but it’s a rewarding one you’ve got the ability to mold soldiers and help them, tell them the proper way of doing stuff, prevent them from slacking and taking up bad habits,” said Roman Perez.
“Mortuary affairs is not for everyone. I will say if new soldiers decide to join mortuary affairs, they will not regret it, ever,” said Cruz. “Maybe they’ll stay there forever because I don’t know if it’s just me, but I really love this MOS. It makes me feel like I’m really doing something for my nation.”
This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.
John Nicely was a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps during the brutal Pacific island campaigns of WWII. He saw his first action in the battle for the island of Saipan on June 15th, 1944. From there he continued fighting from island to island and eventually prepared for the invasion of Japan. Nicely and his unit entered the devastated city of Nagasaki, just 25 days after the nuclear blast. We met up with him at a reunion of the 2nd Marine division in 1994 and he shared his vivid personal memories of front-line combat.
The remains have not yet been confirmed by U.S. specialists to be those of American servicemen
As the Islamic State group loses its remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is facing a growing chorus of questions from NATO allies and partners about what the next steps will be in the region to preserve peace and ensure the militants don’t rise again.
Heading into a week of meetings with Nordic countries and allies across Europe, Mattis must begin to articulate what has been a murky American policy on how the future of Syria unfolds.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Finland, Mattis said the main question from US allies is: what comes next? And he said the key is to get the peace process on track.
“We’re trying to get this into the diplomatic mode so we can get things sorted out,” said Mattis, who will meet with NATO defense ministers later this week. “and make certain (that) minorities — whoever they are — are not just subject to more of what we’ve seen” under Syrian President Bashar Assad until now.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in late October repeated Washington’s call for Assad to surrender control, looking past recent battlefield gains by his Russian-backed forces to insist that “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”
Tillerson made the comments after meeting with the UN’s envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who later announced plans to resume UN-mediated peace talks Nov. 28. It will be the eighth such round under his mediation in Geneva since early 2016.
Mattis said intelligence assessments two to three months ago made it clear that the Islamic State group was “going down.” He said information based on the number of IS individuals taken prisoner and the number of fighters who were getting wounded or were deserting the group made it clear that “the whole bottom was dropping out.”
But while he said the effort now is to get the diplomatic process shifted to Geneva and the United Nations, he offered few details that suggest the effort is moving forward.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo from US Embassy Consulate in Korea.
In addition to the diplomatic efforts, Mattis said the US is still working to resolve conflicts with Russia in the increasingly crowded skies over the Iraq and Syria border, where a lot of the fighting has shifted.
On Nov. 3, Assad’s military announced the capture of the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zour, while Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in retaking the town of Qaim on the border, the militants’ last significant urban area in Iraq.
Focus has now turned to Boukamal, the last urban center for the militants in both Iraq and Syria where Syrian troops —backed by Russia and Iranian-supported militias — and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are vying for control of the strategic border town.
The proximity of forces in the area has raised concerns about potential clashes between them as they approach Boukamal from opposite sides of the Euphrates River, and now from across the border with Iraq.
Mattis said that as forces close in, the fighting is getting “much more complex,” and there is a lot of effort on settling air space issues with the Russians.
He also declined to say whether the US will begin to take back weapons provided to Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG. The US has argued that the YPG has been the most effective fighting group in the battle to oust IS from Raqqa, but Turkey opposed the arming effort because it believes the YPG is linked to a militant group in Turkey.
The US has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons, to insure that they don’t make their way to the hands of insurgents in Turkey, known as the PKK. The US also considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and has vowed it would never provide weapons to that group.
Turkish officials have said that Mattis reassured them by letter that arms given to the Syrian Kurds would be taken back and that the US would provide Turkey with a regular list of arms given to the fighters.
While in Finland, Mattis will attend a meeting of a dozen northern European nations, which are primarily concerned about threats from Russia.
“They are focused on the north,” said Mattis, adding that he plans to listen to their thoughts on the region and determine how the US can help, including what types of training America could provide.
“It is an opportunity to reiterate where we stand by our friends,” said Mattis, “if any nation, including Russia, seeks to undermine the rules of international order.”
During a press briefing later on Nov. 6, Denmark Defense Minister Claus Hjord Frederiksen told reporters that allies must continue to be present in the region because of the risk that IS would rise again.
“We’re not so naive that we think that terrorism is removed from this earth, but of course it is very important to have taken geographical areas from them so they can’t attack or rob or whatever — using the income from oil production to finance their activities,” said Frederiksen. “We foresee therefore years ahead we will have to secure that they cannot gain new ground there.”
Rear Admiral Alene Duerk, the Navy’s first female admiral, died July 21 at 98 years old
Writing a great headline is hard. Here’s how to do it.
In the digital age, writing a headline is extremely important. There are so many places out there on the web competing for people’s attention and WATM is not just competing with Military Times or Military.com, or other military-related websites. It is competing with the entire web — whatever is in the user’s Facebook news feed — for attention. A good headline grabs someone. Not only that, it should immediately get an emotional reaction. In hardly any instance is it wise to save the important part for the story, and do a straight, boring, newspaper headline. The headline is what makes a person click through to read. Put simply, if they are not interested in the headline, they aren’t going to even give you the opportunity to show them why it’s a cool story. You already lost them.
First, some formatting notes that are important:
- Headlines should be in sentence case.
- This is a properly-formatted headline
- This is Not a Properly-Formatted Headline
- Avoid swears in the headline unless absolutely necessary. There may be times when this would work, so they are not absolutely forbidden. But avoid them if you can.
Constructing a great headline
What is a great headline? This varies from person to person, but a headline should be informative and interesting, without lying to the reader. Headlines are much more important nowadays.
Your goal is to post good content and get people to view it without resorting to unfair tricks. This isn’t a magazine, where people will read whatever is on the page. It is a ruthlessly competitive environment, where people are choosing between dozens of stories on our page, hundreds of stories on twitter, and infinite stories on the Internet.
People will only click news if they understand its significance, so focus on significance when necessary to reach a wider audience. When news becomes old, which happens fast on the Internet, then further coverage of a story should focus on compelling analysis, exciting details, or other added value. Compelling analysis and exciting concepts can also be good without a news hook.
Rhetorical techniques can help increase clicks but should not be overused. Obfuscation can create intrigue and works well when a headline reads naturally and conveys some information already, but it can be annoying if too teasing. Dramatic language can heighten interest, but it backfires when overused or overstated.
Now instead of writing on and on about how to create a headline, let’s look at some examples that did well and work backwards. Here’s the headline:
11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training
This is a great headline because it tells the reader exactly what they are going to get without overselling it. It doesn’t need to be “Incredible Things” or “Awesome Things.” It’s enough as it is, and the subject is interesting while being a little teasing. What are these things? Let’s definitely click and see what they are.
Soldiers want to click this headline to see if their complaint is in it, and civilians want to click it to get a view into the world of a soldier. It’s a great headline (and a great post).
27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine
Another example of an interesting premise that both sides want to read about: sailors and civilian. This headline promises something you don’t normally get to see. Not only are you going to check out life on a Navy submarine, but it’ll include incredible photos.
7 Key Military Life Hacks That Matter In Civilian Life
This headline uses the term “life hacks” which everyone knows with a military spin on it. What can we learn from the military and really use? There is a promise give the reader something new they can learn.
CoSchedule, a website publishing app, made a tool that helps compose headlines. Although it’s not perfect, feel free to use it as a guide.
- Start with a solid premise that is accessible to a large audience
- Make the point in the headline. Don’t save it for the story.
- Use as few words as possible. Always shoot for brevity.
Here is a look at our best posts over the past few months. Check out the headlines for ideas:
The new rules would allow Defense Secretary James Mattis to retain troops who had been serving openly
By 1943, the war in the Pacific burned in its full fury. On November 20th, the Allies launched the first amphibious assault against heavily defended beaches in US history. The 2nd division of the US Marine Corps, used amphibious tractors and assault boats to reach the beaches of the Tarawa atoll, an enemy stronghold protected by 5,000 hardened Imperial Japanese marines. Ed Moore and Tommy Reed were decorated veterans of the 2nd Marine Division during the island campaigns in the Pacific War.
The deployment will include the use of the Remus 600 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs, performing undersea missions in strategic locations around the globe, Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, told Military.com at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space annual symposium at National Harbor, Md.
“Now you are talking about a submarine CO who can essentially be in two places at the same time – with a UUV out deployed which can do dull, dirty and dangerous type missions. This allows the submarine to be doing something else at the same time,” Tofalo said. “UUVs can help us better meet our combatant command demand signal. Right now, we only meet about two-thirds of our combatant commanders demand signals and having unmanned systems is a huge force multiplier.”
The Remus 600 is a 500-pound, 3.25-meter long UUV equipped with dual-frequency side-scanning sonar technology, synthetic aperture sonar, acoustic imaging, video cameras and GPS devices, according to information from its maker, Hyrdoid.
The Remus 600 is similar to the BLUEFIN Robotics UUVs, such as the BLUEFIN 21, that were used to scan the ocean floor in search of the wreckage of the downed Malaysian airliner last year.
The upcoming deployment of the Remus 600 is part of a larger Navy effort to use existing commercial off-the-shelf technology, Tofalo explained.
“We’re using commercial off-the-shelf technologies to do real world missions for the combatant commander. The oil and gas industry uses these things for all kinds of functions. The submarine force will be adapting this. The sensors are similar to the sensors that the oil and gas industry might use. They might be surveying where their oil pipes are, whereas we might want to be looking for a mine field,” Tofalo said.
The Remus 600s will launch from a 11-meter long module on the Virginia-class submarines called the dry deck shelter which can launch divers and UUVs while submerged.
Sonar technology uses acoustic or sound-wave technology to bounce signals off an object and analyze their return to learn the size, shape, distance and dimensions, Tofalo explained.
“It is similar to radar (electromagnetic) except from an acoustic standpoint. Sonar sensors use acoustics to create a picture that a trained operator can use to discern what they are looking at. It has gotten so good that it is almost like looking at a picture,” he added.
Alongside efforts to make preparations for the first deployment of commercially available UUVs from the Virginia-class attack submarines, the Navy is also planning at-sea tests this year of a UUV launching technology which uses the boat’s torpedo tubes. The at-sea test will examine the technological interface between a UUV and the missile tube as a launcher, Tofalo explained.
The Navy has been working on developing an 85-foot long section of the Virginia-class submarines called the Virginia Payload Modules. This would help submarines launch both missiles and UUVs from the submarine.
“For the large diameter UUV itself, what we want to have is an interface that allows it to come out of that Virginia Payload Module tube. To do that we need an arm that can extend itself with a little platform that can extend itself and go to the vertical,” Tofalo said.
At the same time, the Office of Naval Research is preparing to unveil a new autonomous 30-foot UUV prototype called the Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle, or LDUUV.
The LDUUV is a prototype which may take a variety of different forms in coming years as the technology evolves, said Bob Freeman, ONR spokesman. The LDUUV is being engineered for greater endurance and energy, he added. It will also be autonomous and able to navigate itself through the undersea domain.
Alongside UUVs, the Navy is also experimenting with launching aerial drones from submarines as well, Tofalo said.
The service is testing the Switchblade, which can launch from a small signal injector tube from the side of the submarine. The Switchblade, built by AeroVironment, is a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry three pounds worth of explosives, Tofalo added.
He added that the Navy is also testing a longer-endurance submarine-launched UAV called XFC, an acronym for experimental fuel cell. XFC, which can be launched from a torpedo tube, can stay in the air for nine to ten hours.
“These are ways that a submarine can extend its horizon. They have been tested and we’re continuing to work on making them more definitive programs of record,” Tofalo said.
Here’s the Remus 600 being deployed from a surface ship:
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If you believe some reports, or breathless commentators, China is becoming an unstoppable naval juggernaut in the Pacific region. That may be somewhat overstated. Yes, China’s navy has become far more modern in the last ten years, but ironically, a country that is the size of the entire Washington D.C. metropolitan area (District of Columbia, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Alexandria, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County) could bring it to its knees.
Singapore is so small, about 25 percent of its combat planes are based in the United States due to a lack of space for training. In absolute terms, Singapore’s navy is small, with six frigates, six second-hand Swedish submarines, and six guided-missile patrol boats (plus a host of smaller combatants) according to the 16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World.
China’s just in the South China Sea fleet is much larger, and the Luyang-class destroyers outclass Singapore’s Formidable-class frigates. Yet, Singapore has one very big advantage in any conflict – and it’s best summed up in that real-estate maxim: Location, location, location.
Singapore controls the Strait of Malacca, the most critical maritime chokepoint on the Pacific Rim. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) had a notable collision with a merchant ship near this choke point, which contributed to the Pacific fleet’s commander being passed over for a promotion.
While a lot of merchant traffic goes through this chokepoint – so called because those who control it can choke the trade of other countries – the most important are supertankers. With its diesel-electric submarines and frigates, combined with modern F-15 and F-16 fighters, Singapore can shut down traffic in the Strait of Malacca.
China may be a high-tech power, but one resource it doesn’t have a lot of is oil. Cut off the oil supply, and the People’s Liberation Army Navy isn’t going anywhere. Nor will the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or the People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force. That is how tiny Singapore could put a stranglehold on China. It’s all about location – and Singapore has prime geo-political real estate.
Messing around with your fellow Joes is always good fun. It’s a lighthearted way of letting them know that they’re “one of the guys.” After all, if you didn’t care about someone, you wouldn’t mess with them — right?
Every unit has a communications (commo/comms) person. Oftentimes, the guy spending his time in the commo shop (S-6) gets a little lonely, toiling away at fixing the internet or the Commander’s computer. What better way is there to let them know that they’re a part of the team than by messing with them from time to time?
Doing any of the things on this list should come from a place of mutual friendship. Don’t do anything that would get you UCMJed, impede the mission, or cost you your military bearing. Basically, don’t be a dick about it.
7. Call them ‘nerds’
Enlisting in the Army as a computer guy is one of the least ‘grunt’ things you can do. Chances are, they’re well aware of how ‘POG-y’ they really are and will brush it off.
If you really want to push their buttons, just slyly refer to them as ‘nerds’ in conversation. They’ll try to deny it, but we know. We all know.
6. Say, “but I tried turning it off and back on again!”
A good computer guy will know the ins and outs of how to fix the problem. But as everyone in the military knows, being in a position doesn’t always mean they’re qualified for the task.
An easy solution that many of the younger, more inexperienced computer guys will default to is called a “power cycle,” which is literally just turning it off and back on again.
5. Give them a dumb but effective password
Say something like, “one two, three fours, five sixes, and seven.” When typed out, it should look something like, ‘244466666seVEN!’
Technically, it meets all DoD guidelines — with the added benefit of the commo guy looking at you funny.
4. Ask if that red cable you snipped was important
The red cable is “SIPR Net,” or “Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.” It’s used for much of the highly-classified communication that needs to remain secure and separate from everything else you’d normally do on the internet.
The commo shop is supposed to be the custodian of the secret internet. Sometimes, they need a little reminder that its security is important.
3. Tell them to fix their loose cables
Ever see someone spend way too long to get whatever they’re setting up juuuuust right? That’s how the S-6 is when it comes to arranging the internet stacks.
After they spend hours working on making it beautiful, tell them it’s slightly off. If their cables actually look jacked up, tell them they fail as a commo guy.
2. Ask if they can get it done faster
It may not seem like it, but there’s a method to the madness. If the problem can be solved at the lowest level, they’ll do it. If the problem is too big to handle, they’ll try anyway.
But a third of the time, the issue is locked behind higher level administrator rights than their shop can access. Now, everyone is working on the civilian contractor’s time. When the commo shop can’t do anything about it, make sure to remind them to go faster.
The work order is put in — no need to remind us every few months about getting it back… (Image by Headquarters, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
1. Fake-spoil some nerdy TV show or movie
Remember a few points ago when I said they hate being called nerds? Drive that knife in deeper by fake-ruining something they like.
Don’t be that asshole who actually ruins the movie (or do. I don’t care and you’re an adult), but if the film just came out and you know they haven’t seen it yet, make up some random crap just to mess with them. If they’ve already seen it, they’ll get that you’re messing with them, but if they haven’t, it’ll throw off their entire day until they realize you’re full of sh*t.