There was a time when the only Westerners who sported tattoos were sailors.
Tattoos in Western culture can be traced back to Captain James Cook’s visit with the Maori people in the 1700s. His crew decided to get them as souvenirs, and the Western tattoo culture started from there, according to Steve Gilbert in his book Tattoo History.
Traditional sailor tattoos symbolized experiences such as travel, achievements, rank, status, significant life events, superstitions, and more. These are a few examples of the meaning behind traditional sailor tattoos:
Anchor: associated with the Boatswain’s Mate rate or Chief rank, but also symbolizes safety and stability
Dragon: associated with service in Asia
Nautical Star: symbolizes the North star and guide for a safe return home
Lighthouse: symbolizes safe passage to home port
Old sailor or captain: symbolizes life experiences
Rudder: symbolizes control of a destiny
Sailor tattoos fell out of style for several decades but made a comeback thanks to pop culture. Today, sailor tattoos are more popular than ever — and not just with sailors. Celebs, musicians, sorority girls, homemakers, techies — everybody’s getting inked.
Here are some of the coolest Navy-inspired designs recently sighted around the web:
1. That time French soldiers hid inside papier-mâché horse carcasses
Looking back, trench warfare has to be one of the most insane methods of warfare ever carried out. Between the torrential mud, staggering levels of trench foot, and other diseases that ran rampant, it’s a wonder that everyone didn’t just give up and get the hell out of the ground.
But World War I was still, in some respects, a gentleman’s war. And gentlemen don’t let mud get them down. Gentlemen also don’t complain about their lack of protective cover — at least not if you’re France. While other platoons were bemoaning the crumbling, barren landscape that made up infamous “No Man’s Land” — a stretch of charred earth, tangled barbed wire and broken bodies between opposing trenches — a few French soldiers set up camp right in the middle of it.
They weren’t alone, though. They were using a very special kind of shelter … the hooved kind. Don’t worry, no one was actually crawling inside of dead horse bodies to hide from enemy artillery fire. Though a dead horse is what started this whole thing.
Horses were a huge part of combat in WWI. They pulled ambulances, carried soldiers into cavalry charges, and were the primary means of transporting weapons, ammunition and food supplies for each nation involved. They were also large, bulky and loud, making them primary targets for enemy scopes.
This, as you can imagine, left a lot of dead horses everywhere. Eventually, someone searching for shelter in No Man’s Land probably cuddled up next to one in what he thought were his final moments, only to realize that this decaying Seabiscuit actually made for a pretty awesome barrier.
Enter France’s big idea: hollow, papier-mâché horses large enough for a man to crawl inside and aim his gun through.
Once night fell, the French drug away the dead horses that lay right in front of the German trenches and replaced them with the dummies. Then they ran a telephone wire from inside the horse back to the French trenches, so the sniper who would hide inside the horse would be able to report back on German movements.
This worked for a few days. Then a German soldier spotted a French sniper climbing out of one of the dead horses, and the jig was up. The method quickly became popular though, and “dummy horses” would appear on battlefields throughout Europe for the duration of the war.
2. The sailors who cross-dressed and pretended their warship was a cruise liner
World War II had its share of out-of-the-box camouflage as well. While a Dutch warship was busy disguising itself as an island to hide from Japanese bombers, the British fleet was brainstorming its own method of deception.
German U-boats were becoming more and more of a problem for the Allied merchant fleet. With little means of fighting back, the small ships were sitting ducks for the German watercraft, who could pluck them off easily with their superior weapons and speed. This gave England an idea: if the King’s warships disguised themselves as merchant boats, they could lure them into an ambush, destroying the German U-boats and the submarines that surfaced alongside them during their attacks.
But England wasn’t about to do this deception halfway. If they were going to pull this off, their disguise would have to be elaborate, reflective of the other (hijinks) they had pulled off earlier in the war. So the sailors got creative, and boy did they deliver.
Not only did the British officers don civilian costumes, some dressed in drag, pretending to be ladies sunning themselves on the deck of a cruise liner. When the Germans looked through their periscopes to take in the ship, they would see men and “women” flirting aboard a civilian ocean liner, walking around the deck and taking in the views over the rail.
They would also have to act the part. When a German U-boat was spotted, some ships went as far as pretending to panic, running around the deck and tripping over themselves for the benefit of the German’s view. There are even accounts of sailors haphazardly deploying their lifeboats and “accidentally” leaving one of their own behind, then scrambling to retrieve them as the unlucky “civilian” screamed for help.
The ship, of course, was actually outfitted with plenty of hidden weapons. When the U-boats would close in, the ruse would be over, and they would destroy the enemy ships and submarines as they began to close in.
3. The German soldier who hid inside of a fake tree
Man-sized horse piñatas weren’t the only thing soldiers were hiding inside of during WWI. In 1917, a platoon of German soldiers in Belgium needed to find a way to gain visibility through a small patch of dead trees that blocked their view of the Allies on the other side.
The cluster of dry wood was optimistically named the Oosttaverne Wood, one of the last clumps of nature left in the battlegrounds near Messines. It actually looked like a bunch post-apacolyptic metal posts, which gave the Germans an idea. They couldn’t send a sniper in to hide amongst the trees because there weren’t enough branches to cover him, but they could send them inside their own tree.
A plan was set into motion. The Germans would build a 25-foot-tall tree out of steel pipe, painting it so it looked like it had bark. Then a solider would hide inside, using a small hidden window to spy on the British forces in what was probably one of the most cramped snipers’ nests ever.
Just like the French horse-creators did, the Germans waited until nightfall to get things moving. With artillery fire ringing out to disguise the sounds of sawing and chopping wood, they cut down the real tree and set up their new steel lookout, hoping it wouldn’t draw any unwanted attention.
It didn’t. For several months the Germans were able to spy from their wartime treehouse, with the tree-spy crawling out of his post under cover of darkness each evening to report on his findings. It wasn’t until the British tunneled under the German lines and destroyed their trenches from the ground up in the Battle of Messines that the tree was abandoned. Once they had captured the trenches, the British lived and worked alongside the fake tree for several months before discovering it was a fake. The steel tree can now be found in The Australian War Memorial.
4. Israeli special forces used fake boobs to trick the PLO
Thus far, all of our disguise contenders have been relatively believable. When you have shells exploding next to your trench and artillery fire screaming in your ears, you’re probably not going to spend much time debating the validity of a slightly iron-looking tree, or a particularly limp dead horse. No one has time for that kind of daydream. And even though the cross-dressing sailors were doubly ridiculous, they had the advantage of distance from enemy scopes.
This story, however, is just plain insane. In 1973, a group of Israeli special forces commandos entered Beirut on a mission to take out three key leaders of the [Palestine Liberation Organization] who were responsible for the Munich massacre of the 1972 Olympics. The mission, dubbed “The Spring of Youth,” was incredibly risky, and the operatives knew that some deception would be in order if they were to get in and out of the area safely.
So, the Israeli commandos did the logical thing — they dressed up as women. Besides being confident in their ability to infiltrate the PLO, they were also apparently confident that their enemies had never seen a woman before. Or that they could really rock a pair of heels, who knows.
With wigs, fake boobs and matching shoes all in place, the muscled members of the Israeli special forces strolled down the street on the arms of other members of their secret group, who were normally-dressed men.
The fake couples were able to pass right by bodyguards and police without inciting any suspicions, and the hidden team was able to walk up to the apartment building of the PLO leaders and wait right outside their doors. Once safely inside, the men and “women” burst through the doors and pulled out their hidden guns and explosives, shooting and killing the stunned PLO members and avenging the deaths of their murdered countrymen.
The story gets even crazier from here. One of the femme fatales who carried out the high stakes mission was Ehud Barak, who would eventually serve as Prime Minister of Israel and currently serves as Defense Minister. Just goes to show you that dressing in drag could help you make it to the top.
7 Days in Entebbe (now in theaters) tells the story of Operation Thunderbolt, the daring 1976 rescue of 94 Israeli passengers and 12 crew members from an Air France grounded in Uganda after a hijacking by German PLO sympathizers. Inspired by the movie, we’ve got a list of the ten greatest operation names in military history.
The Entebbe raid was an enormous story back in 1976, so big that it wasn’t totally overshadowed by the fact that the raid took place on the American Bicentennial on July 4, 1976. The popular fascination with the successful raid inspired two better-than-average, all-star TV movies that fall: Victory at Entebbe (starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Dreyfuss, Kirk Douglas, Helen Hayes, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Hopkins, and Linda Blair) and Raid on Entebbe (starring Charles Bronson, Peter Finch, Jack Warden, James Woods, Sylvia Sidney, and Martin Balsam. Plus Irvin Kershner of The Empire Strikes Back directed).
It’s forty years later, so it’s probably time to revisit one of the greatest military successes of the 20th century. Directed José Padhila (Narcos and the excellent Robocop reboot) and written by Gregory Burke (’71), the new movie tries to explore the motivations of the Palestinians and gives them more sympathy than the German terrorists but ultimately comes down firmly on the side of the Israelis and their rescue mission.
Thunderbolt was one of the greats, both in name and execution. Here are ten military operations with indelibly memorable names.
1. Operation Overlord
The Allied invasion of France on D-Day may have been the best-kept secret in military history right up until landing on June 6, 1944. The outcome of the war in Europe was essentially settled that day, even though fighting with Germany carried on into 1945.
Overlord sounds like the Bringer of Doom from a medieval fantasy epic or sci-fi video game. Ultimate success must have seemed inevitable from the moment someone came up with the name.
2. Operation Rolling Thunder
Rolling Thunder was the 1967-68 bombing campaign of North Vietnam that American generals were sure would break the will of the enemy and lead to victory in the war. It did massive damage but, as history later revealed, the United States underestimated the commitment of the Vietnamese people to unified self-government and overestimated their commitment to Communism.
That doesn’t make Rolling Thunder any less of a fantastic name. It perfectly evokes the waves of destruction wrought by the bombing campaign. Plus, it later inspired the name of a powerful Vietnam vet B-movie starring William Devane and that movie, in turn, inspired the name of Quentin Tarantino’s movie production company.
Red Dawn was the mission to capture Saddam Hussein after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. American forces finally tracked him down in a spider hole in December and, unlike Osama bin Laden, he hadn’t spent his last days of freedom living in relative luxury.
What lands Red Dawn on this list is the fact that it’s named after the 1984 film that’s one of the greatest pro-America movies ever made. Faced with a Soviet invasion, a group of regular teenagers forms at guerrilla force that takes on the oppressors and fights to regain American freedom. Most of them already knew how to hunt and they even taught the girls how to shoot at the Soviets.
4. Operation Vittles
World War III might have started in 1948 after the Soviet Union blockaded access to the western sectors of Berlin. Faced with starving citizens, President Truman authorized the airlift of live-saving food supplies for nearly a year before the Soviets relented and allowed normal access.
Most military bureaucrats would’ve come up with a boring name like “Operation Food Basket” or “Operation Dinner Table.” A Brit might have come up with “Operation Victuals.” We all know it was a red-blooded American who had the sense to call it “Vittles.”
5. Operation Urgent Fury
Was it totally necessary in 1983 for U.S. forces to invade a tiny (population: 91,000) Caribbean nation that was flirting with Communism? Were they a falling domino that would set off a flood of pro-Soviet regimes in the American sphere of influence? It was over in a week with 19 U.S. killed and 116 wounded.
The name, on the other hand, was one of the best. “Operation Urgent Fury” sounds like the title of a movie that would pair Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme as grizzled special ops leaders who join forces to put down the Sandinistas once and for all.
6. Operation Desert Storm
Back in 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and President George H.W. Bush sent American troops to the Middle East in hopes that Saddam would back down. He didn’t and American forces launched a 6-week war to retake Kuwait and cripple Iraq. It was fast and won widespread homefront support, partially because of the excellent live 24-hour television coverage from the fledgling news network, CNN.
A Desert Storm is created by wind and sand. It’s sudden, ruthless, and incredibly disorienting. Not to take away from the men and women who have fought the War on Terror, but “Operation Iraqi Freedom” doesn’t have the same unforgettable fury as a Desert Storm.
Palestinian terrorists from Black September and the PLO attacked the athletes’ village at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games, taking the Israeli team hostage and eventually massacring 11 athletes and coaches. The horrific result of the standoff could have been at least partially behind the risky decision to attempt the risky Entebbe operation four years later.
Over the next 16 years, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency conducted a covert operation to retaliate against the terrorists responsible for the massacre and several of their most important supporters. Since it was covert, the exact number of retaliation killings is unclear. Steven Spielberg dramatized the operation in his underrated 2005 film, Munich.
Does the name really need any explanation? Israeli Jews worship an Old Testament God, one who’s known for his spells of anger and vengeance. The Mossad brought down the wrath on what Israelis justified as a mission from God. Black September didn’t have a chance.
8. Operation Barbarossa
In June 1941, German military leaders were looking forward to crushing Stalin as they invaded the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. They would take the western lands of the USSR and put the people and natural resources to work expanding the Nazi war machine. Short version: Hitler underestimated this foe and the invasion was a huge misstep that led directly to Germany’s defeat in World War II.
How did a German military operation get an Italian name? Barbarossa is Italian for “Red Beard.” Frederick I was a king of Germany who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. A great military leader and charismatic ruler, Frederick died in Asia Minor while leading the Third Crusade. Which, come to think of it, foreshadows the practical end of Germany’s attempt to rule Europe after their defeat at Stalingrad.
9. Operation Magic Carpet
A 1949-1950 secret airlift brought almost 50,000 Yeminite Jews from Aden to the new state of Israel. Like most things connected to the nation of Israel, the mission attracted controversy, most notably from Israeli officials who focused on the number of Jews left behind by British and American rescuers.
Still, Operation Magic Carpet is the best possible name for an operation aimed at flying refugees to safety across the Arabian deserts.
2017 was the year of Operation Dynamo at the movies, with both Dunkirk and Darkest Hour winning multiple Oscars. Dynamo was the hastily-conceived plan to evacuate British troops from French beaches after the German invasion of France in May 1940. Over 338,000 troops were rescued, a miracle that allowed Great Britain to regroup and eventually win the war in concert with its Allies.
The movie Darkest Hour suggests that the name was given to the operation in haste after Churchill demanded that the rescue begin and telling his commanding officer that it needed a name. The officer glances up and sees a physical dynamo with a metal badge that says “Dynamo” and the movie cuts to the next scene without further comment. Sometimes, the best names are the ones you don’t think too hard about.
Create a bunch of cards that your S.O. can open throughout their tour. Include jokes and encouragement, and make sure to label the envelopes with dates to open them.
2. Downtime Activities
By The Mighty
For every moment of combat your loved one faces, they’ll have downtime as well. Make sure they’re never short on entertainment by sending their favorite card and board games, books, and movies.
3. A Journal
By The Mighty
The pen is mightier than the sword. Give your service member a journal to reflect on their experiences. This can also be passed on as a family keepsake.
4. Junk Food
By The Mighty
Sometimes the best cure for homesickness is good old-fashioned junk food. Salty or sweet, load up the service member in your life with their favorite guilty pleasures.
5. 52 Things I Love About You
By The Mighty
Use a deck of cards to show your love for your military spouse. From silly quirks to sweet anecdotes, remind your S.O. of the little things that make you miss them like crazy.
6. Home Videos
By The Mighty
Take videos of everything while your trooper’s away: baby’s first steps, family get-togethers, etc. Put these on a USB drive so they can watch these moments, big or small, as if they were there.
7. Mess Hall Survival Package
By The Mighty
Military food can get old fast, but you can help! Spice up your serviceperson’s meals by sending some of their favorite condiments in restaurant sized packets.
8. Digital Picture Frame
By The Mighty
This gift can help your service member enjoy pieces of home without worrying about damaging photos! Digital picture frames hold multiple photos on a small hard drive, and shuffle them on a digital screen.
9. Latitude Necklace
By The Mighty
Give your loved one a piece of home wherever they go by engraving your house’s coordinates on a necklace. Get one for yourself with their location too, and keep each other close despite the distance.
10. Matching Bracelets
By The Mighty
A simpler spin on the necklace idea is a classic friendship bracelet to remind your trooper he or she is loved.
11. Snuggle Buddy
By The Mighty
Spray some of your perfume/cologne on your S.O.’s favorite sweatshirt, blanket or pillow. This way when your service member snuggles up for the night, he or she can ward off homesickness with a familiar smell.
12. Helping Hands
By The Mighty
It doesn’t get cuter than this! Kids can trace their hands on paper, cut them out, laminate them and then send them to Mom or Dad. Parents can carry the hands in their pockets while on tour.
13. Nostalgia To-Go
By The Mighty
Nothing beats the taste of home cooking. And while you can’t send your soldier a full meal, you CAN bake their favorite sweet treat in a jar for easy travel and eating!
14. Footprint Stamps
By The Mighty
Another great idea for military couples with kids – if you have a baby, put their hand/footprint on each envelope or box you mail your loved one. This way, they can watch their baby grow from afar.
15. Holiday in a Box
By The Mighty
Holidays away from home can be incredibly hard on our troops, but you can share the magic of the season by stuffing a package full of your service member’s favorite holiday music, snacks, mementos and more.
What the folks back home think troops do while deployed is just a fraction of what actually happens downrange. In many ways, the average Joe is doing the same busy work that they’d be doing back stateside — this time, with the added “benefit” of doing it in full battle rattle with a weapon slung across their back.
Sometimes, Private Snuffy deserves to be put on the detail, but most times, he probably doesn’t. The fact of the matter is that things just need to get done. Having to sweep the motor pool back in the States may suck, but sweeping the motor pool while you’re deployed in the middle of the desert is futile. Details suck, but these tasks particularly suck when you’re deployed.
1. Sandbag Building
Even with the concertina wire, Hecso barriers, and giant-ass concrete walls, the military still seems to think that the only thing separating troops from certain death is having the Joes fill sandbags and use them to haphazardly barricade everything.
This isn’t to discredit the 30lbs of sand stuffed into an acrylic or burlap bag — they probably work. The problem is that they’re a pain in the friggin’ ass to fill, carry, and painstakingly stack.
2. Guard Duty
At first, it sounds like fun. This is what you signed up for and you’re going to do your part to save freedom, one field of fire at a time. Then, the heart-crushing reality sets in. You’re stuck in the same guard tower for 12 hours with someone who smells like they haven’t showered in 12 days. There you are, just watching sand. Occasionally, you get lucky and there’s a farmer out in the distance or a camel herder to break the monotony.
On the bright side, the cultural barrier between you and the ANA (Afghan National Army) guy you’re stuck with can lead to some hilarious conversations.
3. TOC/COC Duty
In a near tie with guard duty, being in the command center for 12 hours blows just a little bit worse. In the guard tower, you have some sort of autonomy. In the TOC, you’re stuck with higher-ups breathing down your neck.
To add insult to injury if you’re a grunt, you’re listening to all of your buddies do the real sh*t while you’re stuck on the bench. You’re just listening to them do all the things you enlisted for while you’re biting your lip. If you’re a POG, I guess watching the same AFN commercial 96 times over sucks, too.
4. Connex Cleaning
Replacing containers, prepping for redeployment back stateside, grabbing that one thing that your Lieutenant swore was in there — whatever the reason, anything to do with the pain-in-the-ass that is heavy lifting inside a Connex that’s been baking in 110 degree heat is just unbearable.
No matter what the lieutenant was looking for, it’s not there. It’s never going to stay clean. Everything inside is going to get shuffled around, regardless of how much effort you put into it.
5. Burn Pit
Whether you’re opting for the quick and easy solution to getting rid of classified intel, destroying old gear left behind, or burning human waste, nothing about burn pit duty is enjoyable.
Big military said that they’ve done away with burn pits and that everything is peachy keen now — too bad that’s not even close to true. Whether being exposed to the pits by KBR facilities or command directed, anything dealing with burn pits is a serious concern for your health. No matter how hard it gets denied in court, veterans are still dying from the “quick and easy way.”
If you believe you might have been affected by burn pits, register with the VA here. It’s a very serious health concern and the more veterans that stand up, the more seriously the issue will be taken.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade and Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron land after a parachute jump as a part of Emerald Warrior.
An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron taxis for departure from the Red Horse Landing Zone in support of Emerald Warrior.
An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).
Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) tip their caps to the crew of the MilitarySealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) following a weapons onload.
Philippine Marines train with U.S. Marines attached to the III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific during a fast-rope exercise.
A Marine scout sniper candidate with Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment looks through the scope of his rifle during a stalking exercise in the vicinity of SR-10 aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
When author Robert B. Baer asked his boss at the CIA for the definition of assassination his boss replied, “It’s a bullet with a man’s name on it.” Baer wasn’t sure what that meant so he started to research the topic beyond what he already had experienced around it in his role at the CIA. The end of that process became his insightful and provocative new book, The Perfect Kill, in which he outlines 21 laws for assassins. Here are 11 of them:
Law #1: THE BASTARD HAS TO DESERVE IT
“The victim must be a dire threat to your existence, in effect giving you license to murder him. The act can never be about revenge, personal grievance, ownership, or status.”
Law #2: MAKE IT COUNT
“Power is the usurpation of power, and assassination its ultimate usurpation. The act is designed to alter the calculus of power in your favor. If it won’t, don’t do it.”
Law #5: ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP FOR EVERYTHING
“Count on the most important pieces of a plan failing at exactly the wrong moment. Double up on everything — two set of eyes, two squeezes of the trigger, double-prime charges, two traitors in the enemy’s camp.”
Law # 7: RENT THE GUN, BUY THE BULLET
“Just as there are animals that let other animals do their killing for them — vultures and hyenas — employ a trusted proxy when one’s available.”
Law #8: VET YOUR PROXIES IN BLOOD
“Assassination is the most sophisticated and delicate form of warfare, only to be entrusted to the battle-hardened and those who’ve already made your enemy bleed.”
Law #9: DON’T SHOOT EVERYONE IN THE ROOM
“Exercise violence with vigilant precision and care. Grievances are incarnated in a man rather than in a tribe, nation, or civilization. Blindly and stupidly lashing out is the quickest way to forfeit power.”
Law #15: DON’T MISS
“It’s better not to try rather than to try and miss. A failed attempt gives the victim an aura of invincibility, augmenting his power while diminishing yours. Like any business, reputation is everything.”
Law #16: IF YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE KILL, CONTROL THE AFTERMATH
“A good, thorough cleanup is what really scares the shit out of people.”
Law #17: HE WHO LAUGHS LAST SHOOTS FIRST
“You’re the enemy within, which mean there’s never a moment they’re not trying to hunt you down to exterminate you. Hit before it’s too late.”
Law # 19: ALWAYS HAVE AN ENCORE IN YOUR POCKET
“Power is the ability to hurt something over and over again. One-offs get you nothing or less than nothing.”
Law #21: GET TO IT QUICKLY
“Don’t wait until the enemy is too deeply ensconced in power or too inured to violence before acting. He’ll easily shrug off the act and then come after you with a meat cleaver.”
For the rest of Robert B. Baer’s 21 laws for assassins, buy his amazing book here.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fires flares during a flight in support of Operation Inherent Resolve June 21, 2017. The F-15, a component of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, supports U.S. and coalition forces working to liberate territory and people under the control of ISIS.
U.S. Air Force Col. Peter Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander, looks back to his wingman during his final F-22 Raptor flight over Charlottesville, Va., June 21, 2017. The Raptor is a 5th-generation fighter jet that combines stealth, supercruise, maneuverability and integrated avionics.
Soldiers of the 100th Battalion donned Ghillie suits, June 18, 2017, in preparation for their mock ambush on opposing forces during their annual training at Kahuku Training Area.
An M1A1 Abrams from Task Force Dagger plays the role of Opposing Forces at Fort Hood, Texas, to provide the 278th Armored Brigade Combat Team with a near-peer opponent during the unit’s eXportable Combat Training Capability rotation May 30 – June 21. Task Force Dagger consisted of the 116th Brigade Engineer Battalion’s forces and was supplemented by units from five other states during the exercise.
The Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) is underway alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) during a replenishment-at-sea. Kidd is underway with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group on a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) prepare to participate in an M9 pistol shoot on the ship’s port aircraft elevator. The ship and its ready group are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
Marine Special Operations School Individual Training Course students fire an M249 squad automatic weapon during night-fire training April 13, 2017, at Camp Lejeune. For the first time, U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Airmen spent three months in Marine Special Operations Command’s initial Marine Raider training pipeline, representing efforts to build joint mindsets across special operations forces.
U.S. Marines of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, exit a CH-53E from Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron 772, 4th Marine Air Wing, MARFORRES, to perform a rehearsal for the Air Assault Course as a part of the battalion final exercise for Integrated Training Exercise 4-17 at Camp Wilson, Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, June 21, 2017. ITX is a Marine Air Ground Task Force integration training exercise featuring combined arms training events that incorporate live fire and maneuver.
A 25-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu (91107) conducts a coastal safety and security patrol while escorting Hōkūleʻa, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, back to Magic Island, Oahu, June 17, 2017. The Hōkūleʻa returned home after being gone for 36 months, sailing approximately 40,000 nautical miles around the world.
A member of the U.S Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard’s silent drill team waits prior to performing at a sunset salute program, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The team performed in front of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle as part of the festivities surrounding Sail Boston.
As violence in Mexico raged with intense competition between rival drug cartels and the Mexican government, the cartels came up with a radical solution for improving their capabilities in the street.
Through ingenious engineering, and by taking a page out of “Mad Max,” cartels created so-called narco tanks.
These home-made armored vehicles, also known in Spanish as “monstruo” for their hulking size, reached peak popularity in 2011 as the Mexican military seized a garage from the Los Zetas that was being used to construct the vehicles. Four narco tanks were seized in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in addition to an additional 23 trucks that were awaiting modification.
The Mexican military’s subsequent crack-down on the creation of monstrous forced the practice to go underground. Narco tanks are still produced, but today’s versions have their armored paneling on the inside so as to not draw unwanted attention from rival cartels and the military.
Below are some of the most impressive narco tanks from the vehicles heyday.
The behemoth versions of narco tanks were created from modified semi trucks.
Dump trucks were also modified into massive steel-plated monsters.
Even smaller narco tanks were armored almost completely with steel plates that could be upwards of 2 inches thick.
As part of further defensive measures, the tanks were usually equipped with double wheels.
Offensively, narco tanks had armored turrets and weapon bays on the side, out of which cartel members could point assault rifles.
Some vehicles were equipped with battering rams to plow through traffic and any potential roadblocks.
Marines speak a slightly-different language than the rest of the United States.
While everyone in the Corps speaks and uses English most of the time, there’s another layer of terminology added on top which is uniquely Marine. If you are around Marines long enough, you’ll hear someone being called a “boot” or dozens of them screaming out “yut.”
This is what it all means.
1. “Rah.” or “Rah!” or “Rah?”
Short for “Oohrah,” a Marine greeting or expression of enthusiasm similar to the Army’s “Hooah” or the Navy’s “Hooyah.” Rah, however, is a bit more versatile. You could be agreeing with someone, by saying “rah.” You could be excited about going on a mission by exclaiming, “Rah!” Or you could be asking the platoon if everyone understands, “rah?”
It’s like the Marine version of the mobster’s “fuggaddaboutit.”
This is an even more shortened-down version of “rah.” But it’s most often used as a lazy-man’s version of agreement. Your platoon sergeant may ask if everyone understands the plan of the day, to which everyone will respond with “Errrr.” Translation: Yeah Gunny, we got it.
Arguably used more often than “Oohrah” by junior Marines to express enthusiasm. Instead of “oohrah,” Marines will often just say “yut” when in the presence of motivational speeches and/or talk of blowing things up.
4. Semper Gumby
A play on the Marine Corps motto of “Semper Fidelis (Latin for “Always Faithful”), Semper Gumby for Marines means “Always Flexible.” This phrase is often used when you are told to do one thing, then told a different thing, then told to just stand by, then told to go back to doing the original thing. “Semper Gumby, bro.”
A pejorative term for a new Marine fresh out of boot camp. The term’s origin apparently comes from Vietnam, as an acronym meaning “beginning of one’s tour.” New Marines joining a unit are usually referred to as “boots” until they go on a deployment or have at least a year or two in the Corps. Especially among post-9/11 era infantry Marines however, you are pretty much a “boot” until you’ve been to combat.
6. Fire watch
This is what Marines call guard duty. While sentries may well have been looking for fires in the past, Marines pulling fire watch nowadays can be walking around a barracks aimlessly or standing their shift behind the machine-gun in Afghanistan.
Since this is one of the most important duties of recruits at boot camp, senior Marines will often say boots only have the “fire watch ribbon,” a pejorative for the National Defense Service Medal that everyone gets.
Acronym often used in response to someone complaining. “Hey dude, SITFU.” That means suck it the f— up. You can also just ask if they have a straw. Most Marines will understand the reference.
8. “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”
An unofficial motto of Marines that means exactly what you think it means. As the smaller service — and with much less funding than the Army — Marines have an attitude of doing more with less. “Improvise, adapt, and overcome” sums it all up.
9. Grand Old Man of the Marine Corps
The nickname for the fifth Commandant of the Marine Corps, Archibald Henderson, who served in the Marine Corps for 54 years. But most of the time when this phrase is used, it’s in referring to the oldest guy in the unit. Common usage: “Hey grand old man, what was it like serving with Jesus?”
Sure, it can literally mean kill. But in Marine-speak, kill can mean “yes, I understand,” “hell yeah,” or “let’s do this.” Marines will even say “kill” as a half-joking version of hello. Using this one outside of the Corps can get plenty of strange looks, so don’t try this one on your local college campus.
Acronym for the Marine Corps’ six troop-leading steps. It stands for begin the planning, arrange reconnaissance, make reconnaissance, complete the planning, issue the order, and supervise. But most Marines just say “BAMCIS” when they successfully complete a task. It’s like when Chef Emeril says “Bam!” Just add a “cis.”
The term Marines use for slacking off. Soldiers call this behavior “shamming,” but Marines can “skate” out of boring tasks by avoiding them somehow, usually by getting a dental appointment. And of course, S-K-A-T-E is even an acronym: S: Stay out of trouble / K: Keep a low profile / A: Avoid higher-ups / T: Take your time / E: Enjoy yourself.
13. Direct reflection of leadership
This is often used sarcastically to rib a non-commissioned officer when one of his or her Marines gets in trouble. “So, two guys from your squad got caught drinking in Tijuana then got arrested at the border. Direct reflection of leadership, right corporal?”
What some Marines will call an extremely gung-ho coworker. It’s not a compliment.
15. Ninja Punch
Non-judicial punishment — also known as the Article 15 — is what Marines can face if they break the rules, but a commander doesn’t feel it’s bad enough to warrant a court martial. While the military justice system is the same across branches, the Marines refer to it as an NJP. If you walk out of your commanding officer’s door going down a rank or losing some pay, you probably got “ninja punched.”
16. Pvt. or Lance Cpl. Schmuckatelli
The John Doe of the Marine Corps. He’s the screw-up and the guy always getting in trouble. The Marine who is lost all the time. The anonymous service-member who stands as the example of what not to do. This term will usually be brought up by a senior leader, like: “Hey gents, you are all doing good things. Be safe out there this weekend, but don’t let me get a phone call about Pvt. Schmuckatelli getting all drunk out at the club and getting into trouble, good to go?”
17. Semper I
Another play on “Semper Fidelis,” which often gets shortened to “Semper Fi.” While the motto means “Always Faithful” and brings up teamwork and esprit de corps, “Semper I” is used when a Marine goes off and does their own thing without thinking of others. Sometimes used as “Semper I, f— the other guy.”
18. Terminal Lance
Lance Corporal, or E-3, is a Marine rank that comes with more responsibility than a private or private first class, but is not a non-commissioned officer. In order for Marines to pick up the next rank of corporal, they need to have a high-enough “cutting score” to be promoted. If they get out after their four-year enlistment at Lance Corporal, they are a “Terminal Lance,” which can be bad or a point of pride, depending on who you talk to. “Terminal Lance” is also a hugely-popular online comic strip started by Maximilian Uriarte.
19. Let’s break it down, Barney-style.
Some Marines need some help in understanding how to complete a task. When this happens, a leader may want to break it down into baby steps and explain it very slowly. You know, just like Barney.
These are what Marines call the glasses you get issued at boot camp, or “boot camp glasses.” Most know them by their nickname, which is “birth control glasses,” because well, you probably don’t want to hit the club wearing these things.
21. The Lance Corporal Underground
The source of most rumors that go around the Corps. Since lance corporals make up a large part of the Corps, the underground is often responsible for passing word of what’s going on, or completely made-up falsehoods.
22. “Good initiative, bad judgment.”
This phrase comes out when a Marine does something for a good reason, but things turn out awful. A great example would be when your platoon commander says he knows a shortcut through the woods, then he gets the platoon completely lost. “Good initiative, bad judgment, sir.” Next time, let’s stick to the planned route.
23. Field Day
Traditionally run on Thursday, the one night of the week Marines usually dread. No, it’s not the field day of play and sports like back in school. It’s the term used to describe the weekly ritual of cleaning rooms in the barracks. Field day cleaning involves moving furniture (often completely outside of the room), dusting top-to-bottom, vacuuming, scrubbing, and waxing floors.
“Basically Field day is just another tool used by Marine Corps leadership to piss off and demoralize Marines on a weekly basis,” reads the top definition in Urban Dictionary. If your first sergeant finds a speck of dust anywhere, you’re screwed.
What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
When the time comes to get out of the house and hit the road for a few days to reach a safe place, what do you take with you? What if you lived in Washington D.C. and need to get to your cousin’s house in Charleston, West Virginia, among the throngs of frightened masses choking the roadways and buying up all the supplies during a natural disaster? A simple answer is a bug out bag.
Bug out bags are just what the name implies — bags you and your family can grab at a moment’s notice and bug out of the area. A bug out bag can get you through a few days by itself, but it’s a temporary means to an end. The water and food will eventually run out so you have to pack one in a methodical manner that meets your expectations and criteria. When prepping bags, it’s important to keep in mind a few things:
What is the threat? What are you running from? Where are you running to?
What is the environment? A bug out bag for a family living in the Everglades is not going to look much like a bug out bag for a family living in Anchorage. Determine what it is you need the most of — water, heat, food, etc?
How much can you and your family carry? If you’re a big guy and can carry a lot, then by all means find a large rucksack and maximize it. But if you have kids (who should all be carrying their own bags), take their capabilities into account and pack accordingly.
Be redundant. That old cliché “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is very true of bug out bags. Let’s say you and your family are crossing a stream and one bag gets lost down river. If that bag had the only Epi Pen for your allergic son, you’ve just made your situation worse.
I have three kids and packed each of them a bag according to how much they can carry and what they would need to survive in the Northern Virginia area for 5 days with no assistance. Our area has a lot of natural water sources, so I’m not overly concerned with finding water. All three bags have the following basics:
2. Five days of meals
For food preparation, I have included a small folding stove, a canteen cup, and 2 cans of camp fuel or heat tabs is great for boiling water for freeze dried meals.
One set of steel utensils or a multi-use eating tool is a must.
3. Fire making materials
4. Items to keep you warm and dry
6. First aid kit
Make sure you include basic meds and specific meds for each particular person. Each bag has a travel container of Neosporin, Advil, Tylenol, Benadryl, Orajel, Blistex, Dayquil, Nyquil, Gold Bond, insect wipes, sun block, and a protective mask. One of my sons requires an inhaler and an Epi Pen, as well.
Hygiene is more important than you think. Besides fighting off bacteria and infections, a basic cleaning can raise your morale. Each bag should have a small travel pack of toothpaste, toothbrush, body wash, baby wipes, tissues, a cloth, and hand sanitizer. Add other items as needed.
7. Tools and Weapons
A few more miscellaneous things:
Toss in a whistle with a compass, a deck of cards, a notepad, a signal mirror, a signal flag, a NIOSH approved face mask, and a watch that doesn’t need a battery. A small survival manual is a good idea if you can find one.
Include three pairs of underwear and socks per person. If you can fit a change of clothes, do so.
As for basic communications, everyone has a cell phone nowadays, which is good and bad. They provide immediate communications, but the networks they rely on can be knocked out easily. Backup comms are a must. A simple battery operated radio with a limited range in each bag provides short range comms and most importantly, can help avoid family members getting separated.
I keep an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) on the outside of my ruck so it can be accessed easily. If I’m injured, I want my kids to be able to get to it and treat me without having to dig through the ruck. I also keep my ammo on the outside for easy access.
I carry a small tent and, just to be safe, I put an extra set of my son’s prescription meds in my ruck. I keep my ruck in the car because I’d rather have it with me at work and on vacations than sitting in my basement where it doesn’t do anyone any good. Also, if I find myself in a survival situation (snowstorm, car failure, zombie apocalypse, etc) I’m ready.
There are a lot of companies that sell pre-packed bug out bags that are a great start, but I encourage you to customize them to your situation and environment. I highly recommend my friend Tim Kennedy’s Sheepdog Response website.