When the first portion of the roughly 59,000 pages’ worth of Donald Rumsfeld’s memos were released after an almost seven-year-long legal battle under the Freedom of Information Act, people were eager to read them. The first 913 pages cover part of his time as the Secretary of Defense during 2001.
They were nicknamed “snowflakes” by his aides, as the pieces of paper would often have just a few sentences written them and would cover the Pentagon like a blizzard. It is completely understandable that former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was a busy man pre- and post-9/11, but his memos make him seem less like the Chief Executive Officer of the Armed Forces and more like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space.
While all 913 pages (well, 912 — page 262 is blank) of the snowflakes can be found here, we’ve taken the liberty to poke fun at what was sure to have given Pentagon staffers a headache.
1. He wanted a single piece of paper describing all the aircraft and ranking them by cost and “lethality”
2. He thinks “Homeland Defense” sounds too German.
3. He probably understood how sh*t of a campaign “Army of One” actually was
4. He wanted “food buttons” and was told they’re already in the works by the Sergeant Major of the Army
5. He asked if the military had a policy on gambling. The article he was referencing is here.
6. He mentioned bringing up a test for soldiers to wear the black beret that was Army-wide on June 14th, 2001.
7. He wondered why the DoD protected the endangered wildlife native to military installations
8. He hates initials, acronyms, and words he doesn’t understand.
9. He wondered why the Navy trains.
10. He wanted an eye open for oil.
11. He couldn’t get the conference call to work properly.
12. He doesn’t like standing for interviews. He wants to lean forward.
13. He got really ticked off when one of his Generals showed up late.
14. He wanted a list of good things and bad things. No context. Just lists.
15. He doesn’t have time to figure out time zones.
16. He really wanted that dental appointment.
17. He had high hopes that the war on terrorism would end soon.
Captain America is everything you want. He is everything you need. Cap is everything inside of you that you wish you could be. He says all the right things at exactly the right time. But he is annoying as f*ck and you will soon know why.
Having a charismatic officer with sound judgment and the physical prowess to match is the dream of most any enlisted person, but if that leader was Captain America, the fantasy wouldn’t match reality.
1. His enforcement of AR 670-1 — while wearing his tights.
Cap believes in rules and regulations and he expects you to do the same while enforcing the standards among your peers — except he’s not your peer and that haircut with those clown tights are not authorized under AR 670-1.
Also, what’s with his uniform’s design? Is he Captain America or Captain Puerto Rico?
2. The PT… Embarrassing.
Rogers can run a mile in 73 seconds, bench press 1200 pounds, and is invulnerable to fatigue… so, this would suck.
3. His aversion to cursing.
Every f*cking soldier, Marine, airman, and sailor is a big-f*cking-fan of some casual, godd*mn expletives.
So, this f*cking boy scout with his sh*tty sense of propriety would drive you up the f*cking wall.
4. Drinking with him would be expensive and dumb.
Say you get back from some nutso, Avengers-esque deployment and you want to celebrate the victory with your fearless leader.
No can do — this guy physically cannot get drunk. Buy as many shots as you want, it’ll be for nothing except your own alcohol poisoning.
5. Zero weapons training.
Cap doesn’t like guns for whatever reason. Your range time would be dramatically cut short in favor of throwing around trash can lids.
Life in military barracks is similar to that of college dorms, except there’s way more streaking while wearing glow belts — or nothing at all. But life in those studio-sized rooms isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, especially when you share an open floor plan with three or four other people.
Like life in college dorm rooms, barracks life comes with tons of rules set by the higher command that every troop, at one time or another, ends up violating.
So, check out five rules that troops break all the time while living in the barracks.
Most military bases have designated areas to puff a cigarette called, “smoke pits.” These areas are commonly found far away from the barracks and can be a pain in the ass to get to when you’re wasted at 0300 on a Saturday morning. Most troops decide to light up a smoke and conceal the red fiery tips, so the roving duty (who is probably also smoking) doesn’t spot them.
It can get annoying if you get caught, so consider quitting.
When a service member links up with someone they’re attracted to, it’s highly doubtful that they’re going to stymie the flow of hormones long enough to have their partner report to the duty and sign in. It’s just easier to sneak them in.
3. Running a business out of your room
Let’s face it, members of the E-4 Mafia don’t make a whole lot of money. Because of this financial hardship, young troops develop side hustles, like cutting hair or becoming a tattoo artist. We do it even though we’re not supposed to — f*ck it.
Platoon sergeants have to be jacks-of-all-trades to handle their many roles. They must balance the welfare of their troops and supervise training evolutions all while keeping up with the platoon’s administrative tasks — it’s a lot of work.
When you first enter the unit as a newbie boot, it’s rare that you’ll ever get to know much about your platoon sergeant outside of their name, rank, and how many countries they’ve deployed to. However, there are others who pride themselves on getting to know a few things about each one of their troops. Every platoon sergeant has their own style of leading that works best for them.
But, if you’re in the infantry, you’ll come in contact with at least five different types of platoon sergeants in a grunt unit.
Some platoon sergeants take a back seat to their other NCOs when it comes training their troops. Others want to spearhead the training and break everything down themselves, “Barney style” — which isn’t a bad thing.
2. The organized pointer
This type of platoon sergeant has practically seen it all and done it all. He shows up prepared and ready to kick ass. They know what they need and how to get the job done.
3. The one who wants to get in the fight
This motivated leader helps plan out missions and even lends a hand when they aren’t in battalion-level meetings.
4. The one who loves themselves some training
These are one of our favorite types. They’re the ones who will strap on a heavy pack and go on a ruck march to prove they can lead, and that they’ve still “got it.”
After a 12-mile hike, this platoon sergeant is still smiling — no big deal. (NCO Journal photo by Clifford Kyle Jones)
This is the type that when he speaks, everyone in the platoon listens like the words are spoken from scripture. He’s earned the right to be heard by everyone. Other up-and-coming grunts hope they’ll be like him someday.
Hollywood war movies are usually comprised of strong and versatile trope elements like the wise seasoned soldier, the good decision makers, and the flawed protagonist who needs a solid character arch before the credits roll.
There’s also the cast of characters that are considered the weaker links, or they’re just so naïve audiences sigh with relief when they die off.
So here’s our list of newbie boots we wouldn’t want taking point on patrol with us.
1. Conrad Vig (“3 Kings”)
He’s the funny, goofy guy who also talks too much and no one takes him seriously until you get annoyed by his presence.
Great movie, but bad karate kick. (Image via Giphy)
2. Corporal Upham (“Saving Private Ryan”)
He stops himself from saving a fellow brother because his fear got the best of him, but to add insult to injury, he gave up an easy kill shot and let the German soldier off the hook. Unacceptable!
Unfreaking believable. You had him, Upham! (Image via Giphy)
3. Gardner (“Platoon”)
We knew this over-weight character was going to perish sooner rather than later — no way his stature meets physical regs. No squad wants the guy who can’t hold his own weight — literally — on their team.
Daenerys Targaryen FINALLY landed on Westeros in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” She’s even started using the dragons and Dothraki on Westerosi armies! Even though she hasn’t (yet) moved on King’s Landing, there’s a lot of reason to believe it’s just a matter of time before the “game” is over.
This gives us a chance to stop and reflect on all the battles and strategies in the game that led us here. Even better, it gives us a chance to laugh at the worst leaders in the place and question why the hell they thought they could hang in the first place. At least Tommen knew he just wasn’t cut out for it.
7. Theon Greyjoy
Theon’s big victory wasn’t even really a fight. He told the Stark Army there was an attack somewhere else, and when they left he forced Bran to concede Winterfell to him. Then, right before the Iron Born immediately turned on him, he killed some farmer’s family and torched their two kids. Cool.
You know who the real loser was in the sack of Winterfell?
Rickon Stark. Rickon is the real loser in all this. By the time the Starks retake Winterfell, Bran can see through time, Arya has face-melting assassin skills, Jon Snow is hanging with the Mother of Dragons, and Sansa runs the place. What did Rickon get?
Theon sucks. He knew it, his men knew it, the Boltons knew it. And he’s at number seven on this list because we knew it too.
6. Ramsay Bolton
Sure, he seized the North (after it was decimated by the Iron Born, but whatever). We’ll give that to him. But the thing about the way a ruler like Ramsay Bolton operates is that there has to be an element of fear to fighting for him. That also means that there has to be a good chance you’ll survive. If you know you’re going to die no matter what, it makes it difficult to fight for survival.
In the Battle of the Bastards, Ramsay so casually mows down his own troops with arrows to the point that they’re indistinguishable from the enemy in the pile of bodies. See if you can spot the point when a bunch more guys from the Bolton Army would have really come in useful during the Battle of the Bastards:
Where was the shirtless Ramsay Bolton who fought the Iron Born at the Dread Fort?
5. Joffrey Baratheon
If only Stannis Baratheon had attacked King’s Landing with a bunch of prostitutes, then Joffrey would know how to kill the enemy. Donning the King’s Armor in the one time he had a chance to be a real leader, he bravely left the battlefield to go see what his mom wanted.
And don’t forget, Arya was embarrassing Joffrey before it was cool…and before she even had face-wrecking assassin powers.
4. Balon Greyjoy
Remember Balon? No? Funny how the worst among us are completely forgotten as soon as someone with skills and ability comes along.
The thing about Balon that’s different from most of the people on this list is that the other people had a reputation for valor, daring, and strategic thinking before the events depicted on the show. Not Balon. Before the events of the show, Balon led a rebellion from the Iron Islands and was quickly owned by Ned Stark. His biggest win was having Theon taken hostage.
Everyone spends the first season making fun of Balon in front of Theon. Only Yara gave a damn when Euron threw the old man over a bridge. In fact, the whole Game of Thrones series got exponentially better as soon as someone killed Balon.
3. The Night King
The Night King has existed since the age of the Children of the Forest. He has practically unlimited manpower that only grows the more he fights. And it’s next to impossible to stop his army in close quarters combat…unless you can figure out the three things that can actually hurt them. And the Night King is giving the living SO MUCH TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Seriously, what is he doing beyond the wall? Every time we see him, he and his army of White Walkers look like they’re just walking around endlessly. Don’t they know they’re supposed to attack in the winter? I know it’s supposed to be the longest winter ever but that doesn’t mean he has to wait until the last minute to attack.
If he just started attacking now, he could swarm The Wall before Jon Snow can mine the Dragon Glass. Or before Dany can beat Cersei and focus the dragons on the North. But no, he’s going to walk around the land beyond The Wall because it’s apparently much more fun than winning. People who are older than history love to take walks.
2. Jaime Lannister
For all the stories you hear about Ser Jaime’s fighting ability, all he ever seems to do is get captured or almost die. When he does win, it’s not because he’s actually fighting. He makes the disappointment list because you feel like he should be better at fighting. And yet we have come to love him anyway.
Jaime didn’t kill Tyrion even though he believed Tyrion killed his son. Jaime failed to kill a small child by throwing him out a window. Even in combat, we’ve seen more success from Samwell Tarly. Tyrion managed to get a few kills in at the Blackwater — the most Jaime ever did was kill his cousin and lose a hand for his trouble.
It’s mind-boggling why Tyrion is the most disappointing Lannister (to the Lannisters, I mean). Jaime is the biggest liability in Westeros and all Tyrion has to do is tell an Army, “Let’s go kill those dudes attacking our city,” and he wins the day.
“But what about Riverrun?” you might ask. Early on, we hear about Jaime taking Riverrun from the Riverlords but by season six, he has to go retake it from the Blackfish. Taking a castle doesn’t do you any good if you can’t keep it. Ask Theon Greyjoy about that.
For the ultimate in Jaime Lannister’s bad decision-making skills, see the last five minutes of the seventh season episode “The Spoils of War” and remember Jaime’s quote: “We can hold them off.” Hey bud, everyone knows she’s got fire-breathing dragons and a barbaric horde of Dothraki horse archers.
Not only did Jaime do nothing for his troops, he didn’t even get the anti-dragon gun ready to fight. That thing stayed in the wagon waaaaaaaaaay too long.
1. Stannis Baratheon
For what all the bookreaders have to say about Stannis Baratheon, we sure expected some magic from this guy. The only magical thing about Stannis came out of Melisandre.
At the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis drove his Navy into the bay, which would seem like the best idea. But a little bit of intel work and he would have known the Lannisters poured a ton of electric green stuff into the bay in anticipation of the battle, which everyone knew was coming. Then, Stannis did exactly what everyone expected him to do – a frontal assault. No wonder the Lannisters knew exactly how to wipe the floor with his gate crashers.
Also, underestimating the wealthiest family on the continent was a terrible call. They control Casterly Rock and King’s Landing. Why did Stannis never consider the possibility of a relief force from Casterly Rock? Tywin Lannister was known for his ability as a soldier and general and the Lannisters were allied with the Tyrells. Stannis, whose moves surprise no one, never considers outside forces. Like…did he forget he was in The War of Five Kings?
To top that, the real heir to Robert Baratheon led a depleted army against Winterfell. A real commander would work to prepare the army, maybe get some more allies at the last minute, work on a secret plan or weapon to even the odds of assaulting a fortified position. Not Stannis. His ace in the hole was to roast his daughter alive.
It’s the moment troops have been waiting for. They’ve counted down the days until this moment since they first arrived in-country. The second those wheels touch the ground, families rush towards their loved ones and fill them with all the love they’d missed while deployed. After that sweet moment, the week goes downhill fast.
NCOs with several deployments under their belt will offer warnings to troops regarding their first reintegration. They’ll impart every grain of wisdom they can, hoping their troops don’t make the same mistakes as so many have before them. But, chances are, NCOs will sit back and watch their troops go through a second round of boot mistakes — like these:
Who says we can’t get a year’s worth of sleep in seven days?
(Via Navy Memes)
Wanting to sleep the entire time
Everyone comes out to welcome you back to the States. They’ll probably have all these grandiose plans centered around how to “best” welcome you home. They’ll fail to take into account the fact that you’re jetlagged having come from half a world away.
Try to get some sleep. Even if you overdo it the first few nights, it’s well earned. Just don’t forget that you have to deal with people while you’re awake.
While on deployment (in-country deployments. Not a “deployment at sea” or Kuwait tour), troops need to have their weapon at all times. There is no Hell like the one that would be brought upon you if you lost it.
That’s why it takes a few weeks for us to process the fact that it was turned into the arms room for good. Just try not to scream, “where the f*ck is my weapon!?” in the middle of a crowded mall cafeteria.
You’ll never trust the cleanliness of a shower again.
(Photo by Sgt. Randall Clinton)
Showering with sandals
After a while, anything “communal” becomes disgusting. This is because everyone who uses it automatically assumes it’s the next person’s turn to clean it. Nowhere is this more evident than in the already-disgusting communal showers.
Upon returning home, many troops they instinctively wear them, even in their own homes, because, at this point, it’s just too weird not to.
If it seems like a dumb idea, but it works, it ain’t dumb…
(Meme via Dysfunctional Veterans)
Drinking like they did before the deployment
The funny thing about tolerances is that they’re perishable. Right before a deployment, a troop could down an entire bottle of whiskey to themselves and maybe get a buzz going. Afterwords, one sniff of beer might knock that same troop out.
Take things easy. Download a ride-sharing app or have a taxi on speed dial. Don’t expect your NCO to come play designated driver for you because they’re probably drunk after a single sniff of beer, too.
“I’m a go**amn war hero. I can binge-watch Netflix my entire leave and no one can stop me!”
Trying to catch up on TV shows and films (all at once)
If the troops didn’t get the chance to binge watch everything at the MWR or get lucky with advanced deployment screenings, they’re going to be laser-focused on trying to find out what happened while they were gone.
This is extra applicable for TV series that are vulnerable to spoilers on the internet.
…even you can afford the 39% interest rate.
Wasting so, so much money
The thing about deployments is that troops will still make money while they’re gone and have nothing to spend it on. All that tax-free combat pay just keeps piling up — even more so if they’re single.
It may seem like you’re rich enough to drop all that cash on the Corvette you wanted as a private, but you’re still making a boot mistake…
I’m not stopping you, by any means. Just advising you.
(via Pop Smoke)
Forgetting civilians aren’t fans of our humor
There really isn’t much to do overseas except hang out with the platoon. Everyone has told their jokes a hundred times over. The only way to keep things funny is to take it to the next level. Sooner or later, the jokes enter a realm that makes all of our grandmothers want to whoop our grizzled, war-fighting asses for even thinking it’s funny.
Just remember, there are now kids around as you tell stories about your scorpion death fights.
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
“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
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
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
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).
With possibility of a huge troop surge to Afghanistan coming from the Trump administration, We Are The Mighty asked several OEF combat vets what they missed most from their time “in the suck.” Here’s what they had to say.
Getting a chance to put all your tough training to use and put rounds down range at the bad guys was freakin’ epic.
It was that fun. (images via Giphy)
7. Getting jacked
When you’re stuck out in the middle of nowhere and have 24 different of high-calorie MREs to choose from, there’s no better way to pass the time than hitting a gym made of sand bags, 2x4s, and engineer sticks.
1,2,… 12 (images via Giphy)
8. Movie night
Huddling around a small laptop watching a comedy or “Full Metal Jacket” was considered a night out on the town. And we loved it.
And felt like you’re in a real theater… not really. (images via Giphy)
One of the highlights of any military career is getting sent overseas to a new duty station. It’s a fantastic way for troops to engage a foreign culture, take in the sights, and work one-on-one with our great nation’s allies.
The thing is, no matter how many AFN commercials tell us to blend in with the host nation, Americans will always be Americans. There isn’t a damn thing wrong with that — but, sometimes, we overdo it.
1. Dressing casually
Troops will always dress like they did when they were back home. Even if a cloudy day on some tropical paradise is a bit too chilly for the locals, American troops from the northern states will still be out there drinking in jeans and a t-shirt.
American brand-name clothes are pricey overseas. So, if you see a local wearing blue jeans, they’re probably knock-offs. The nice pair of Levi’s troops picked up at Wal-Mart would cost an arm and a leg in Europe or Asia.
2. Speaking English overseas… loudly
Americans have a leg up on much of the world since, in many countries, it’s customary to learn English as a second language. This is especially true for the younger generations. Because of this, there’s much less of a drive to learn a local language fluently; troops usually just hope the locals speak English.
If someone takes the time to learn the local language outside of a handful of useful sayings, kudos. A large majority of troops don’t bother.
3. Driving instead of taking public transportation
American public transportation isn’t the best in the world. So, many of us rely on driving everywhere we need to go. When Americans are stationed overseas, they often take their car with them instead of relying on local railways or bus systems.
It’s a convenience most Americans grew accustomed to that they’re not willing to give up, even if most things are within walking distance. A troop will either bring their own vehicle or buy one off of a service member rotating back to the States.
4. Flirting with confidence
American troops often talk to locals in nightclubs like they’re expecting a response of, “oh, you’re an American? How exotic!”
Maybe the person they’re interested in likes the cocky American persona. Maybe they’re into shy bookworms they meet at coffee shops. Whatever the case, American troops will always confidently try to figure it out.
5. Only taking in American pop culture
Every country around the world has their own distinct, modern pop culture — their own music, their own cinema, their own arts, etc. They also have American pop culture, which might outshine their own.
You can usually count on locals having seen the latest Marvel movie, heard the Billboard Top 40, and binge-watched everything on Netflix. American troops will probably skip local pop culture. Mostly because it’s probably not in English and subtitles aren’t for everyone.
6. Drinking towns overseas dry
There has been only one time in recorded history that a major city has had all of their alcohol stores run completely dry because of everyone drinking (it was Moscow after WWII). But goddamn do troops come close every first and the fifteenth.
Every nation likes to pretend they hold the title of the “world’s heaviest drinkers.” They obviously haven’t seen what it’s like when an entire unit comes back from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Historically, the military has relied on clearly defined boundaries of acceptable interaction between the officer and enlisted ranks to maintain good order and discipline.
It is a long-standing custom that dates back hundreds of years and has proven itself effective time after time. But not everyone feels it’s a custom worth holding on to.
“I think there should not be a difference between officer and enlisted ranks,” said former Air Force officer Shannon Corbeil. “I believe we should all reach rank based on experience and accomplishment.”
On the other hand, Chase Millsap — another former officer — believes the military should maintain its course because officers bring leadership experience accomplished through higher learning and training.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Chase, Tim, and O.V. discuss what role we’d like to serve in during any war.
Many veterans today are so intrigued by military history, they’ve considered what war they feel like they missed out on. Although when (hypothetically) given the opportunity to change from their real life MOS to whatever occupation they wanted, the podcast crew surprisingly decided to stick to their original area of expertise.