On a recent trip to Indonesia, Secretary of Defense James Mattis was treated to a display of intensity by the Indonesian Special Forces. They broke flaming bricks with their heads, rolled in broken glass, and even went as far as drinking the blood of snakes — all to impress the Warrior Monk. While Indonesian Special Forces’ demonstration definitely shows a willingness to fight, it might be a bit too much.
It’s actually not that hard to decipher ways to really impress Secretary Mattis. He basically tells everyone how to be a warrior and everyone misinterprets his advice as yet another ‘Mattisism.’ It’s simple. Just don’t call him “Mad Dog” and be a competent fighter and you’ll be on his good side. Here are some other quick, simple ways to impress the Secretary of Defense.
4. Don’t use PowerPoint
One of the most simple (and true) Mattisisms is, “PowerPoint makes us stupid” — and damn near everyone in the military agrees. Sure, it may be an easy and useful way to bullet point out some notes, but the point of “easy and useful” is lost when PowerPoint Rangers spend their entire careers creating them instead of, you know, leading their troops.
I hate to break it to every staff officer out there stuck deciding on a font, but you’re wasting your time. Your troops are waiting for you.
3. Shoot the assholes who need to be shot
Every troop, from the knuckle-dragging grunt to the PowerPoint Ranger, joined the military for one reason: to help fight America’s wars. Many infantrymen kick in doors daily and many POGs may never come within a grid-square of danger. This shouldn’t matter: When the time comes, you should be willing to fight and end the enemy before they end you.
Whether they know it or not, the reason Secretary Mattis was impressed with Indonesian Special Forces was their willingness to prove they have what it takes to be a warfighter.
2. Be polite, be professional…
And, of course, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. This doesn’t mean that you should constantly live your life like you’re playing Grand Theft Auto V. It means that you should always stay vigilant.
Treat everyone as if they’re your friend, but have a backup plan in case they don’t feel the same way about you.
While everyone will eat up his Mattisisms about being the meanest, roughest, most savage son of a b*tch on the battlefield, he actually talks more about being smart. “Engage your brain before your weapon.”
How is it possible that two members of the same military service branch are so different? Like so many other behavioral traits, it all has to do with upbringing.
Enlisted troops go straight from the recruiter’s office and into active service while officers study to get a bachelor’s degree, go through officer leadership training, and learn a service-specific career field.
Neither is better than the other, but there are a few old tropes that make each easy to identify — even out of uniform. But sometimes, the lines start to blur…
1. Having gray hair in civilian attire
Every so often a Marine will have the blessing (and the curse) of naturally gray hair. Sometimes the cause is hereditary, other times it’s because they’re the only one with common sense. When I was in the Corps, one platoon would send a particular gray-haired Marine to the Postal Exchange because nobody would stop this distinguished-looking man from cutting to the front of the line. In the case of acquiring energy drinks and tobacco before a month-long field operation, the ends justify the means.
2. Saying things like ‘outstanding’ instead of ‘great work’
Officers are notorious for saying this unironically. It’s succinct and professional, but if used enough, it will spread faster than that “cold” everyone got before pre-deployment leave.
3. Never helping when you see others struggle
If you ever see an officer lend a hand in loading or unloading gear, report them to the nearest law enforcement agency because that person is a spy.
4. Walking around with a green log book and clipboard
If you want to be left alone, these two items will render you invisible. Troops will avoid you because it’s safer to assume you’re doing something important than to find out for certain. Even senior enlisted will about-face if the words ‘staff duty’ are overheard in conversation.
5. Getting lost during land navigation
Land navigation is an important skill to master because a GPS will not always work in-country. The sheer weight of a lieutenant’s butter bar will offset the azimuth of even the strongest compass.
6. Marrying for love, not BAH
Barracks life can become so unbearable that you’ll be willing to sign another contract. Some Marines will roll the dice with just about anyone to escape the bullsh*t on base. Officers have had time to nurture their relationships prior to their service, before the green weenie tries to break them up.
7. When you get in trouble, the command has your back
Rank has its privileges and officers are often given the benefit of the doubt or a slap on the wrist. If you receive the same courtesy, you’re in danger of promotion.
Allotments are a good way for troops to schedule a payment directly through Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the service directly responsible for paying servicemembers. An allotment sets aside a portion of future paychecks and automatically sends the money elsewhere. If used properly, it can schedule payments on necessities or move funds to savings accounts. An allotment can be cancelled when the debt is paid or the savings goal is reached and troops can enjoy their full pay check again.
But young boots don’t see it that way. They may see it as an easy “IOU” and let Uncle Sam worry about the rest. They waste their money on useless crap and end up paying much more in the end — especially if they forget to cancel the allotment. Without research, they fall victim to very unsexy interest rates.
That’s not to say that vendors of everything on this list are hunting down dumb E-1’s in predatory manner. Some things on this list are beneficial and are encouraged, if taken care of properly. But you know, boots will be dumb and waste their when given the chance — are here’s the proof:
Not only do boots get the dumbest tattoos ever, but they often forget that good tattoos cost money, so instead of doing some research, they walk into the sketchy tattoo parlor outside the main gate.
Instead of paying the $500 even if the quality of the tattoo should have only cost $250 for an EGA tattoo, boots will set up a five month allotment giving the tattoo parlor $150 each month (if you’re not into math in public, that’s $750).
2. Gaming computers
The boot finally got out of momma’s basement and finally ready to become the bad ass they always played in video games!
Living in the barracks rent-free and using a meal card for food means boots have discretionary income for the first time ever…which they put right into an overpriced gaming computer that will be obsolete by the time they finish paying it off.
Kind of similar to the gaming computers, but when someone sets up an allotment for a TV it’s usually more costly and takes up their entire barracks room.
If you need a giant ass TV so you can view every last pixel of whatever you’re watching, cool; but if you’re still straining your eyes while sitting at the other end of your barracks room, you kind of wasted your money.
Everyone should be able to own a weapon. It’s their right. The problem comes when someone pays for a beautiful hunting rifle and then they learn they can’t keep it in the barracks.
Nearly every military installation has a policy on firearms being stored in lower enlisted housing. So to comply with the policy, firearms are to be held in the unit’s arms room. Think of how much of a pain in the ass it is getting your designated firearm out of the arms room on training days when the armorer is actually there — it’s even worse when you want to go to the range on their day off.
5. “Pay Day” loans
If you need money fast, there are countless other ways of going about it. Each branch has variations on an emergency relief funds to aid their troops in need of quick cash. And yes, your commander does need to sign off on it. And yes, it is still a loan you need to eventually pay back.
The problem with “Pay Day” loans is with the afore-mentioned interest rates.
Let’s say you borrow $100. If you go through the headache of getting your commander’s signature and the approval for the money, it’s interest free. You just slowly pay the $100 back. If you go through a “Pay Day” loan office off-base, they’ll charge interest, so now you’ve got to pay that loan off as soon as you can or you end up paying nearly quadruple the original amount.
6. Star Cards
This falls into the “good if done properly” category. Military Star Cards are essentially credit cards that you can only use on military installations. They can be a great way for a young E-1 to help build credit to balance out the “credit inexperience” that shows up on everyone’s credit score early on. They can also be a great “Oh sh*t!” account if you need something that you can buy on-base. As a bonus, the rates are usually less aggressive than most credit card companies.
But if you’re a dumb boot who doesn’t understand that credit cards are not free money, well, the Star Card is a program of The Exchange and they’re far more knowledgeable in the military’s finance system than you.
7. Used cars
Two general rules of thumb when buying a used car outside a military installation: Bring a mechanic from your unit’s motor pool with you to help negotiate the price (for a case of beer and they’ll be a show-of-force to intimidate predatory car salesmen), and never ever EVER buy from a place that advertises “E-1 and above approved!” more than the actual cars.
Respectable car lots will sell you a car based on it’s Kelley Blue Book price and an interest rate befitting of your credit score, regardless of your pay grade or whether you’re in the military or not. Since your military service is an excellent “proof of income,” you shouldn’t have a hard time getting approved at a respectable car lot. So yes, setting up an allotment to them for your vehicle is a good example of how to properly set up an allotment.
But watch out for the sharks at places that give all used car salesmen their bad reputation. They prey on an E-1’s doubts about getting a beautiful Ford Mustang from anywhere else. They’ll say something like “If you set up an allotment, it’ll be fine!” They know the system and they’ll use it against you.
So congratulations! You may have driven off with that Mustang, but you’re going to be paying for it at a 31% interest rate for the next six years for 800% more than what Kelley Blue Book says it’s worth.
Third rule: If they ever say something like “For you, my friend,” don’t listen — they’re about to f*ck you…and not in the good way. (Photo by Emilio Labrador)
Pfc. Harley Dennis, of Anderson, who serves with the Missouri National Guard’s 276th Engineer Company in Pierce City, assists Sgt. 1st Class Eric Corcoran to deliver more than 300 Valentine’s Day balloons to area school kids in the southwest Missouri town. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Chambers/Missouri National Guard)
In our house, Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing. As a general rule, the Marine isn’t home for the “holiday,” and since there are a lot of holiday’s he spends away, courtesy of the USMC, this is one day we just don’t really concern ourselves with.
But this year we ran into a snag. Their names are Bethany, Zachary, and Christopher — also known as the three youngest members of the Foley Fire Team.
On the edge of the dreaded teenage years, Bethany came home a few days ago armed with a love note from her “boyfriend” (that asshole), and sat down with her younger brothers to plot out “The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever;” it apparently consists of a lot of bacon (they DO take after their mother, after-all), and a seven-hour nap time while they’re at school. Because adulting is hard.
They presented their plan to the Marine, and then waited with bated breath for him to tell them his grand scheme for the Day Of Love.
“I just bought Mom curtains and a new curtain rod. I suppose I could hang them up before she wakes up?”
The two youngest of the fire team promptly ran off to tattle on Daddy. Not buy Mom a “love” gift? He’s practically an abomination to them right now.
While the boys were relaying the horrifying ordeal to me, I wondered how the Marine was going to get out of this one. It’s perfectly fine to explain to the 12-year-old that sometimes Dad just doesn’t really subscribe to romantic things. As a girl she’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that dudes like him really do exist.
But try explaining that to two 8-and 9-year-old boys who are currently at the dining room table gluing pink and red hearts all over their camouflage Valentine boxes because they know that, while they like camo and guns, girls sometimes like hearts. How Daddy doesn’t understand this is totally beyond their capacity.
“Maybe Daddy is planning a surprise and he doesn’t want to ruin it,” I whispered conspiratorially. The boys nodded and agreed that that’s exactly what was happening. It was the only thing that made sense to them.
“You’re going to want to brain storm some last minute ideas, dude,” I told the Marine later.
“Can you do that crowd-sourcing thing you do on your Facebook and I’ll pick something from that?” he asked.
So that’s exactly what I did, and let me say, I was surprised. Not one girl said she wanted flowers, chocolate, jewelry, or even anything expensive or time consuming, and a lot of their gift suggestions included food.
In fact, because I know the Marine isn’t the only one out there who is finding himself in a gift pickle at the last minute, here’s what actual military spouses said they really want for Valentine’s Day, word for word and complete with all their annoying little emoji things:
1. Bacon roses
Because Valentine’s Day just screams “pork,” right?
2. Not celebrating Valentine’s Day at all.
Jeesh, more “romance” in our marriage/dating? We already have enough of that already…
3. Homemade vouchers for cool stuff
How about a movie night, a kiss and makeup session no matter how upset I am, free kisses anytime all day, etc.
4. Stay at home “date”
My husband is hitting up the USO tomorrow during lunch for flowers and cheap chocolate. ?. Yes he told me he wants to do that. He’s ridiculous. Lol. But in seriousness, even a nice walk or living room picnic on the floor. Super cheap, corny, and fun
5. Waffle House
Hands down. If you sneak them like $10, they’ll let you smuggle in wine sometimes (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything).
6. Beach stroll
This year we are going to take a few hours during the day to run to the beach and just put our toes in the sand before kids get home from school.
7. Mom time
Netflix movie, homemade desert, and pjs. 🙂
8. Cheap sushi
We went to Hamazushi last night because it’s very inexpensive (most items are ¥100 a plate), all you can eat, good quality sushi. Plus it’s all served on conveyor belts and ya can’t beat the novelty of that. 😉 Also, [He] started college again and has a lab tonight, so he won’t be home for “actual” Valentine’s date stuff.
9. A cuddle
After being apart—just being together is enough. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s so the truth. Being preggo and sick, I’m hoping our date will include pj’s and our couch and the latest “this is us” episode.
10. Couch time
We spend all our budget on the kids. We will stay home with popcorn and a movie to celebrate it.
11. Old School necking
In the car…in the driveway!! ??
12. A load of beef … with love
I’ll make him his fave meal at home… meat loaf!
13. Learn something new
We are taking a couples cooking class tomorrow ❤️
14. A full-on pizza and bubbly extravaganza
[He] & I have done the same thing every year since we’ve been together: Heart-shaped homemade pizza (with mini heart pizzas for the puppies) + our favorite prosecco (the same brand from our wedding) and chocolate covered strawberries (sometimes homemade, sometimes from HEB)… and then turning on a cheesy movie or tv show on Netflix.
It started out the first year or two as our “thing” because we really couldn’t afford too much else. But now it’s a special, almost sacred ritual for us. I wouldn’t trade our little cozy tradition for a world-class meal. It’s just too important to me. I should clarify and say “every year he was actually HERE to celebrate.”
15. Some shootin’
Well, we got married Valentine’s day. We celebrate by hanging out and we go to dinner either the day before or the day after (since payday is always afterwards)because it’s always less crowded. This year is our 20th and we both took the day off. We’re having a range and lunch date. Since it’s a work day, lunch isn’t as crowded and definitely cheaper.
So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
And if the Marine is reading this, bacon roses are totally appropriate.
We’ve all heard the term “boot” blurted out at one point or another during our military career. It means that guy who graduated boot camp, completed all their courses in their speciality school, and is now headed off to their very first unit.
In the naïve mind of a boot, the majority think they know everything, what with all that intense training and all.
The truth is, you probably don’t know your elbow from your a-hole, and you’re going to make plenty of dumb mistakes between now and forever.
Contrary to what your higher-ups probably wanted you to believe, not every Marine is a rifleman. That’s just a bedtime story they tell POGs so they stop crying about the mean grunts on the other side of sh*t creek.
But, when it comes to rivalries, there’s none greater than the one between the different infantry jobs — namely between machine gunners and riflemen. Their jobs may seem similar to civilian or POG eyes but, realistically, they’re very different.
The Marine Corps infantry rifleman is the centerpiece for combat operations, and machine gunners, essentially, exist to directly support riflemen so they can move around the battlefield without being overwhelmed by enemies.
Here are just a few of the major differences that riflemen and machine gunners fight each other over.
While riflemen just have to carry their puny rifles and tiny bullets, machine gunners have to lug around a 24-pound (when unloaded) machine gun on top of their big bullets.
5. Machine gunners have bigger muscles
Riflemen are generally skinny guys because, as you probably guessed, they don’t have to carry such large weaponry most of the time. Machine gunners, on the other hand, carry the big guns, and they have the big guns from lugging them around.
Make no mistake, there are some skinny machine gunners out there who do the job just as well as their bodybuilding brothers, but they usually end up becoming just as bulky over time.
4. Riflemen have bigger brains
A rifleman’s job may not be extremely physically demanding all the time but it can certainly be mentally demanding, so they can’t eat their brains for protein like some machine gunners might.
They need those brains to read those maps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde)
3. Machine gunners get to sit on a hill somewhere
Since the job of a machine gunner is to directly support the rifleman, they don’t always have to be embedded within a rifle squad. They can just sit on a hill with a vantage point and shoot from afar while the rifleman runs around and clears trenches.
This gives a machine gunner the opportunity to catch their breath momentarily, whereas riflemen get to catch theirs as they wait to move from one objective to the next.
2. Machine gunners have the most pride in their job
Most riflemen only choose to be such because, when the time came, they decided they wanted the easiest possible life in the infantry. The job isn’t as physically demanding and you don’t have to memorize all the separate parts of the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun in order to graduate from the School of Infantry.
But, on the other hand, within the standard infantry, machine gunners take the most pride in their jobs. You gotta love what you do.
Because handling a fully automatic machine gun takes a lot of marksmanship and the job requires extensive physical and mental conditioning, machine gunners can make great riflemen. They’re used to taking a much harsher physical beating, so the job of the puny riflemen is not challenging to them in the least. In fact — they find it extremely fun.
So check out these military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true:
1. Michael Bay explosions
Michael Bay is widely known for his amazing camera moves and is hands down one of the best action directors out there. He has mastered the ability to move audiences through the battle space while providing them with an intense adrenaline rush…
…but he needs to work explosions because they look like fireworks.
Here’s a real man’s explosion:
Okay, so this one is a nuke explosion — but you get the point. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)
2. Cleaning bathrooms with toothbrushes
After speaking to a few Annapolis graduates and other military veterans, no one can recall seeing a Midshipman cleaning the bathroom using a toothbrush. It could have happened a long time ago, but not in the last few decades.
3. Taking off on your own
War is very dangerous. Leaving your squad to go run down the enemy by yourself through a sea of maze-like structures for a little extra payback is highly improbable.
US forces tend to believe because a nation is poor, they don’t have any fight in them. Remember that the enemies we typically fight have home field advantage.
2. Don’t f*ck with Delta Force
Enough said — and probably the coolest line in the movie.
3. Understanding what you can’t control
It’s a common misconception that the ground troops know why they’re sent to a fight.
The truth is — there’s always a mission behind the mission. But that doesn’t matter, because it boils down in the end to surviving and taking care of your men. That’s real leadership.
4. Life doesn’t always make sense
After watching one of the hardest scenes in the film, a Ranger’s death, Sgt. Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) questions himself and over-analyzes his own leadership. Honestly, no matter how much you train, you can’t predict sh*t.
Being clean shaven every day in the military is an absolute must — unless you’re a special forces operator and are allowed to grow out a manly beard. Every morning, men (and some women) wake up during with a 5 o’clock shadow that is required to disappear before morning muster.
But the day you signed your DD-214 and no longer fall under the rules and regulations of shaving, it’s time to grow out that impressive separation beard — just because you can.
Not every beard is right for the individual. With several types of styles to choose from, it’s necessary to grow one that fits your specific personality. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you pick one out that fits your unique look.
Not to be mistaken for the “Homeless Man,” this style says “I work my ass for a living, but it’s usually somewhere outside in the cold.” It’s popular for keeping your face warm and catching food crumbs.
2. The Chuck Norris
One of our favorites, this traditional style relays to the world that not only can you be rugged, but you take enough time to trim up. This typically looks good enough to step into the boardroom for a presentation, then head right out to the gun range.
Chuck Norris doesn’t shave — he orders his beard to stop growing.
3. The “I’m not too worried about it”
This unique look informs the world you’re just chilling, you’re in no hurry, and whatever happens, happens.
Named after the talent actor-comedian Zack Galifianakis, this ensures your fellow man that you’re a hard worker, but you know how to crack a good joke and don’t take life too seriously.
5. The Fuzz
Not everyone can grow a full separation beard — some of us grow them in thin-to-thick patches.
This doesn’t inform the world you have low testosterone (the male’s dominant hormone) because it isn’t a facial hair growth factor — dihydrotestosterone is the chemical that promotes thick beard growth and unfortunately is linked to hair loss. Bummer!
We still respect your commitment.
6. The Shaggy
A fashionable look for those who received their separation paperwork and ran straight to the bar, leaving their razor or clipper behind in the barracks.
The curtains have closed on the 90th Academy Awards. Lucky for us, the public, we are now completely inundated with the subsequent news, reporting, and photos. It’s quite a lot to take in but we aren’t really given much of a choice, are we?
Earning an Oscar represents reaching the pinnacle of one’s profession — we cannot deny the gravity of this accomplishment — but judging by the way the award is championed, you’d think there was nothing else as prestigious as an Academy Award. Nothing so sought after, so respected, so revered…
If you’re not part of the military community, it might make sense to think that. We understand that winning an Oscar is a huge deal — but it’s not like they received a Medal of Honor or something, right?
These two recognitions are different beasts with two very different sets of criteria, but it’s easy to argue that the military’s highest honor is a bit harder to come by than that of the motion picture world. Don’t believe me? Here are 5 ways that winning an Oscar is easier than receiving a Medal of Honor.
Yes, there actually is a rare breed of men who have been awarded multiple Medals of Honor, but nobody’s done it for 100 years. Additionally, many of them were given multiple medals for the same action but by two different services.
Sure, it doesn’t seem like it took quite as momentous an achievement prior to 1918 to earn a Medal of Honor, but they weren’t just giving them out for a job decently done. Conversely, do a quick scrub of the list of Best Actor or Best Director winners and you’ll find more than a few questionable selections.
4. Lifetime-achievement MoH?
As stated above, there are some Oscar winners who, arguably, didn’t quite dazzle in the year they won an award. To put it plainly, sometimes, the Academy gets it wrong. This can result in filmmakers not getting their just due for years or decades.
To rectify this, the Academy gives out an honorary Oscar — a lifetime-achievement Oscar. The Academy has given out at least one every year since 1948.
The Medal of Honor doesn’t quite work in that fashion, but a couple of American soldiers did get awarded the Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement, so there is a precedent.
3. It takes years — and often death — to be recognized
Outside of the occasional snub and the lifetime-achievement Oscars, most winners are recognized within a year or so of their work being released.
There are deceased service members from as far back as World War I still being awarded their proper citation.
2. There were more new Oscar winners this year than there are total Air Force Medal of Honor recipients
The Air Force has only awarded 16 Medals of Honor in its 70-year history.
You’ll need all your fingers, toes, and plenty of hash marks to number all the first-time Oscar winners from 2018 alone.
As previously stated, receiving a Medal of Honor can take a little while. Add that to the fact that it may take paying the ultimate price to even be considered and you can quickly see how the campaigns for Medal of Honor consideration differ from campaigns to get the latest buzz movie an Oscar nod.
People fighting for Medal of Honor recognition are typically historians, family members, fellow service members, and the like. Their campaigning is done through Congress and takes decades of quietly applying pressure.
Not so much for the Oscars.
It really can take a while, guys (Photo from Devgru5022 YouTube)
Performing the National Anthem is always a privilege. When famous performers take center-stage at the biggest venues, they pull out all the stops and dig deep into the depths their talent to make their country proud. Oftentimes, what follows is something truly amazing. If you look up some past performances from major sports leagues’ all-star and championship games, you’ll some absolutely fantastic displays of vocal acumen and musical mastery.
Unfortunately, the gravity of such a task can sometimes push performances to the opposite end of the spectrum. Whether it’s a good performer taking too many liberties or simply a plain ol’ bad singer doing the best they can, these are four of the worst National Anthem performances, ever!
Fergie has spent the past few days apologizing for putting on one of the worst National Anthem performances in recent years. Today’s microwave culture make 2011 feels like ages ago, but that’s exactly how far back you’d have to go to find an anthem of this magnitude delivered this poorly.
Fergie is a decent singer, in most cases, but this was an absolute debacle. No excuses, Fergie. You’ve got to do better… much, much better.