5 meals that won wars (and how to make them) - We Are The Mighty
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5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

Before my first deployment, I heard all kinds of horror stories about lettuce sandwiches, green powdered eggs, and sludge-like coffee. When I wasn’t MREating, I found myself at the DFAC, Air Force parlance for the mess tent, chow hall, or cafeteria. Although I did find green eggs (no ham) in a few remote field kitchens, the modern overseas stations had some fairly impressive meal options and, except for the atrocity that was the pasta carbonara (featuring bologna and spaghetti sauce – looking at you Camp Victory), life at mealtime was pretty good. It still is if Okinawa’s TRC means anything to you. For better or for worse, the mess is the main source of food you if were/are lucky enough to not have to live on rations.


This has not always been the case. U.S. troops of days past didn’t always fare well at mealtime. Sometimes, the only benefit from having a mess tent seemed to be that the meal was hot, and in some cases, it wasn’t even that. Here are a few of the more famous meals produced by military-grade cooks. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough.

1. Firecake

Revolutionary War

As if anyone needed more examples of just how difficult life for a soldier in the Continental Army was, consider the main staple of troops who wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge: Firecake – a tasteless mixture of flour and water, cooked on a rock near a fire. On a good day, the makeshift bread was slightly flavored by ash from the fire or by vinegar, if one of the troops managed to secure some.

The texture and form of the bread depended on just how much of each substance the troop had. It would either be flattened on a rock or cooked in globs in the ashes, the result being a thick, dense mass of baked “goods.”

Ingredients:

Flour

Water

Salt or Vinegar (if available)

Prep Orders:

Mix flour and water together until the mixture is a smooth paste, but isn’t too sticky. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either drop onto a greased cookie sheet or spread out like a tortilla. Bake until brown. Found the world’s first modern democracy. Spread freedom.

2. Creamed Chipped Beef

World War I – World War II – Korea – Vietnam

Creamed Chipped Beef, aka Chipped Beef on Toast, aka S**t on a Shingle – No mess kitchen creation will ever top this notorious meal as the number one reason for the field mess’ infamous reputation. First appearing in the 1910 Manual for Army Cooks, it actually seemed as though some accounting for taste and appearance was considered. The veterans of all 20th century American wars I spoke to seem conflicted about the “SOS” being a good thing or a bad thing – but it was likely a relief from powdered eggs and C-rations cooked over C-4 explosives.

Ingredients:

15 pounds chipped beef

1 1/2 pound of fat, butter preferred

1¼ lbs flour

2 12-oz cans of evaporated milk

1 bunch parsley

¼ oz pepper

6 quarts beef stock

Prep Orders:

Brown the flour in the melted fat.

Dissolve the milk in the beef stock, and then add that to the pot.

Stir this together slowly to prevent lumping, and then add the beef.

Cook for a few minutes, add the parsley, and serve over toast.

By World War II, the need for appearances had disappeared entirely and the Navy was far worse off for it. The 1945 official US Navy recipe calls for:

Ingredients:

1 3/4 gallon of dried chipped beef

5 gallons of milk

1 quart of fat (animal unimportant)

2 1/2 quarts of flour

1 3/4 tablespoon of pepper

100 slices of toasted bread

If you’re not having fifty or so 90-year-old World War II veterans over for dinner later (though we all probably should be every night), you can break it down like this:

Prep Orders:

3 c dried, chipped beef

(this will be found in the lunchmeat section, next to bologna, where it belongs)

7 1/2 c milk

1/3 c fat

(animal still unimportant, but I recommend bacon. I always recommend bacon)

1 c flour

1/2 tsp pepper

(or just pepper to taste, rationing is over. We won the war, after all)

First, chop the beef. Then melt the fat and mix with flour until it forms a smooth paste, almost like a roux. Bring the milk to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Add the fat flour, and stir until it thickens, then add the chopped beef and pepper and stir well. Simmer for ten minutes and serve over your shingles (toast). Be sure to start eating once it’s on the toast. The only thing that gets mushy as fast as toasted white bread is your will to eat it.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Smells like… victory.

3. Chicory Coffee

Civil War

This is actually the outlier. Chicory coffee did not win a war, but coffee comes in all forms and anyone who’s ever served knows U.S. troops will drink any coffee-resembling substance. It’s as irreplaceable as JP-8 or 550 cord. Anyone would question how could any Army fight and win without Joes drinking joe. And they’d be right to.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Cafe Du Monde has become an American classic.

During the Civil War, the Confederate Army actually did without coffee due to the Union blockade of the Southern states. They attempted many substitutes for the beverage. I’m not saying it was the sole factor to their loss, but I’m not not saying that either. The legacy of the blockade lives on in the American South, most notably in New Orleans.

Ingredients:

Dark roast coffee

Roasted chicory root

Prep Orders:

Grind equal parts coffee and chicory and brew in your preferred coffee maker.

Add heated milk (almond tastes best, though is probably not as authentic).

4. Slumgullion

WWI

In the trenches of World War I-era France, hunger often gave way to good taste. There just wasn’t much around to live up to the French standards of cuisine. But as the old military adage says: “If its stupid and it works, then it’s not stupid.” Thus, Slumguillion, the most versatile of recipes, was born.

No one ever wrote the recipe down but the doughboys knew what they were in for when the “Slum” was on the fire. In the states, it would come to be called a Hobo Chili, an improvised stew made with what you had where you were. It was hot and filling, which would be good enough on a cold day in the trenches. #FirstWorldWarProblems

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Settle for dry socks.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. meat

4 sliced onions

2 large cans of tomatoes

1/3 c of flour

½ c water

salt and pepper (or any available seasoning) to taste

Prep Orders:

Cut meat into one-inch cubes in a large casserole of stew pot.

Add onions and salt. Add tomatoes and more salt. Add other seasonings.

Cover and bake low and long – 250-275 for a few hours.

Make a roux with flour and water.

When the meat is finished, add the roux to thicken the stew.

Stir well and serve over mashed potatoes.

5. Artillery Pie

Civil War

This recipe seems like a prank for the new cooks in a military unit. Suet is the fat from a piece of beef, and they’re adding it to sugar sweetened apples. Suet was, however, a delicacy at the time of the Civil War and could be found in many recipes, including desserts like Artillery Pie. If Civil War re-enactors are faithful to the field kitchen, Artillery Pie might explain why some re-enactors need some PT.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
I thought they marched all day…

Ingredients:

2 lbs of bread

¼ lb of suet

1 dozen apples

¼ lb sugar

Prep Orders:

Melt suet in a frying pan, cut bread into slices ¼ in thick.

Dip bread pieces into melted fat and place in oven to dry.

Peel and boil apples then mash them into the sugar.

Line a baking dish with fatty bread and cover with apple mixture.

Cover with alternating layers of bread and fruit until it’s all used up, then bake for 20 minutes. Any kind of fruit is actually okay, it’s not like you’re making this for your health.

Articles

7 Incredible Narco Tanks Built By Mexican Cartels

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.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: screenshot/YouTube

Dump trucks were also modified into massive steel-plated monsters.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
A narco-tank seized in Monterey, Mexico, in 2011. (Photo: screenshot/YouTube)

Even smaller narco tanks were armored almost completely with steel plates that could be upwards of 2 inches thick.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

As part of further defensive measures, the tanks were usually equipped with double wheels.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

Offensively, narco tanks had armored turrets and weapon bays on the side, out of which cartel members could point assault rifles.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

Some vehicles were equipped with battering rams to plow through traffic and any potential roadblocks.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

Olav the Penguin and 5 other adorable animals outrank you, boot

The Internet is currently losing its collective cool over the King penguin promoted to brigadier general. While this is cute, it can sting for enlisted troops to learn that an animal has been promoted above them.


Well, it gets worse, guys and girls, because Brigadier Sir Olav isn’t the only adorable animal who outranks you. Olav has five American counterparts from history who held a military rank of sergeant or above:

1. Brigadier Sir Nils Olav

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Nils Olav the Penguin inspects the Kings Guard of Norway after being bestowed with a knighthood at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence Mark Owens)

Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is one of the only animal members of a military officer corps or royal nobility.The penguin resides at the zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland and serves as the mascot of the Royal Norwegian Guard. The first penguin mascot of the guard was adopted in 1972. The name “Nils Olav” and mascot duties are passed on after the death of a mascot.

The Royal Norwegian Guard comes to the zoo every year for a military ceremony, and the penguin inspects them. Before each inspection, the penguin is promoted a single rank. The current penguin is the third to hold the name and has climbed from lance corporal to brigadier general. He is expected to live another 10 years and so could become the senior-most member of the Norway military.

2. Chief Petty Officer Sinbad

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Chief Petty Officer Sinbad hunts Nazi submarines with his crew in 1944. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sinbad served during World War II on a cutter that fought submarines and enemy aircraft in both the European and Pacific theaters of war.

Sinbad served 11 years of sea duty on the USCGC Campbell before retiring to Barnegat Light Station. During the war, he was known for causing a series of minor international incidents for which the Coast Guard was forced to write him up.

3. Staff Sgt. Reckless

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Reckless the horse served with distinction in the Korean War and was meritoriously promoted to sergeant for her actions in the Battle of Outpost Vega. (Photo: US Marine Corps)

Staff Sgt. Reckless the horse was known for her legitimate heroics in Korea at the Battle of Outpost Vegas where she carried over five tons of ammunition and other supplies to Marine Corps artillery positions despite fierce enemy fire that wounded her twice.

She was promoted to sergeant for her heroics there and was later promoted twice to staff sergeant, once by her colonel and once by the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Randolph Pate.

4. Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman meets his replacement after seven years of service on the USCGC Klamath. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman was a mascot aboard the USCGC Klamath who was officially assessed numerous times and always received a 3.4 out of 4.0 or better on his service reviews. He crossed the International Date Line twice and served in the Arctic Circle and Korea, according to a Coast Guard history.

5. Sgt. Stubby

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Sgt. Stubby rocks his great coat and rifle during World War I. (Photo: Public Domain)

Stubby was a dog who joined U.S. soldiers drilling on a field in Massachusetts in 1917. He learned the unit’s drill commands and bugle calls and was adopted by the men who later smuggled him to the frontlines in France. An officer spotted Stubby overseas and was berating his handler when the dog rendered his version of a salute, placing his right paw over his right eye.

The officer relented and Stubby served in the trenches, often warning the men of incoming gas attacks and searching for wounded personnel. He was promoted to sergeant for having spotted and attacked a German spy mapping the trench systems.

He was officially recognized with a medal after World War I for his actions, including participation in 17 battles, by the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Gen. John Pershing.

6. Chief Boatswain’s Mate Turk

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Turk keeps watch at U.S. Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

In an undated update from the Coast Guard, Turk held the rank of chief boatswain’s mate and was still on active service. But, he joined the Coast Guard in 1996 and so has likely retired and moved on by now. Hopefully, he was rewarded well for his service at Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he promoted life preserver use and stood watch with his fellow Coast Guardsmen.

Lists

5 ways for spouses to survive a duty station they hate

As your time is nearing an end at your current duty station and your rotation date is approaching, you are probably getting extremely anxious waiting to hear where your next assignment might be.

You want to prepare, maybe even start packing, but you don’t even know what to save for immediate use at your next duty station or what to let the movers pack.


Friends and family ask you every day if you know where you are going.

How do you answer their questions when you, yourself, have a million questions running through your mind?

“Will it be hot or cold where I’m going next?”

“What will the housing be like? Is there space on base or will I be looking for a home in town?”

“How am I supposed to enroll my kid in school if I don’t even know where I’m going?”

“We are supposed to have our PCS Move in a couple of months and have not heard anything. We are still PCSing, RIGHT?!”

Your neighbors and peers are getting assignments left and right. Every time you hear of a new assignment drop, you can’t help but judge their next base.Regardless if it’s a dream location or one that you would like to avoid, there is a sense of jealousy for the fact that they at least KNOW where they’re going.

That’s when it happens. You get the phone call, email, tap on the shoulder, whatever it is, that you have been (im)patiently waiting for.

“Congratulations! Your next assignment is ___________.” Is this a joke? There’s actually a military installation there?

I’ve only ever heard it referred to as the location that you spend your whole career trying to avoid. I’ve heard others even console themselves after receiving a less-than-ideal assignment by saying, “well at least it’s not ___________.”

What do you do in this situation?

I’ll tell you what you do.

You hold your head high and hope for the best. Chances are, you only have a split second to figure out your emotions before people start looking for your reaction.

And guess what? Your reaction to this news is what sets the stage for the rest of your move.

So how do you stay positive when you’ve only ever heard negative things about this duty station?

1. Forget Your Past Wants

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

Everyone puts together a “dream sheet” of assignments, whether actually written down on paper or just in your head. You imagine all of the amazing places the military could send you.

It’s time to let go of all of that.

Your past wishes and desires for assignments don’t matter anymore (at least not right now). Turn your new assignment into your first choice and make yourself believe that it’s what you have wanted all along.

Our very first assignment drop was a public event. My husband stood in front of a room full of people as he was told where he would be going next, while I sat in the audience.

We were waiting to hear whether we would be living on the East Coast or West Coast. When my husband was told that we would be moving across the globe to a remote island, my world was rocked.

Everyone around me immediately turned to see my reaction, mouths wide open. Someone asked, “Is that what you wanted?” I was numb and don’t even know how I managed to get any words out, but I responded, “It is now.”

I have tried my best to keep this mentality EVERY time we move. I try to get excited for any assignment and research everything I can about our new “home.” It’s not always easy, especially when you are leaving a fantastic place for the unknown, but it sure makes moving a lot easier when you’re looking forward to the place you’re going.

2. Go Straight to the Source

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

Most of what you have probably heard about this new location is hearsay. You’re likely hearing rumors from people that have NEVER been there before. Before you get all riled up, try speaking to people that have been there recently, or better yet, are currently there.

One of the best resources I have found for gathering intel on a new duty station has been social media. Simply type your new duty station into the search bar of Facebook and you will probably find a number of informational pages.

Join the local classifieds pages, spouse pages and activity pages. Here you will be able to ask any questions you might have and receive up-to-date answers.

3. Debunk the Rumors

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

Each duty station has a number of rumors associated with it, whether good or bad. Try to figure out why your new assignment has a bad rap and focus on the positives. Here is an example for our current assignment:

“There is nothing to do.”

“Think about all of the family time we will have. We can go camping, hiking, horseback riding, check out local farms and attend rodeos.”

There will always be something to do and places to explore, but you have to actively search for them.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere.”

“We can do road trips on the weekend and see parts of the country we’ve never seen before.”

Attempt to find the silver lining to each of the negative statements. Maybe even make it a challenge to dispel each of the rumors during your time at your new location.

4. It’s Only Temporary

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

Do you remember how quickly your last assignment flew by?

Be prepared for that to happen again.

Three years (plus or minus) is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Make the most of your assignment and get to know a new part of the country (or world!) in the short time that you are there.Make a point to visit that local landmark, attend the parade downtown, see the state park and just go for a drive.

Immerse yourself in the local culture and get to know your new home. If you’re not careful, it might be time to move again before you even got to know this new town.

5. Remember that Attitude Is a Choice

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

You, and only you, can decide how you feel about something. You can make the choice to be excited about a new assignment, or you can choose to dread every minute of it.

Don’t be tempted by those around you trying to bring you down.

When you tell people where you are going next, you might hear, “I’m sorry” or, “Maybe you’ll get a good assignment next time.”

They might be trying to be sympathetic, but in a sense they are peer pressuring you into feeling lousy about your assignment.

You still have a choice. You can still choose to look forward to your move. You can still choose to stay positive.

Finally, appreciate the fact that you have been given the opportunity to experience a place that you most likely would not have lived had it not been for the military.

I am often told by civilians that I am “so lucky” to move every three years and travel the world. Even though PCSing most definitely has its ups and its downs, I do try to remind myself that we REALLY ARE lucky.

I have made friends all over the world.

Ihave artifacts from each of our assignments proudly displayed in our home.

I have lived in the Deep South, the West Coast, a foreign country and the Great Plains.

I have a greater understanding and appreciation for new people that I meet.

The military has provided me with wonderful opportunities to try new places and has really shaped me as a person. I am more resilient, more patient and more curious than before.I have to remember that each assignment, no matter where it is, is simply adding to my life experience.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Lists

5 leadership skills all service members should learn

From a troop’s first day in the military to their last, they’ll pick up various leadership traits that will (hopefully) propel them into a positive, productive future. Although most of us won’t ever know what it’s like to lead a whole platoon or battalion, we’re often thrown into temporary leadership roles as we take boots under our wings, showing them how sh*t gets done while fostering a level of respect.

Leadership can be taught during training, but it’s not truly understood until you’re in the field. The following skills are the cornerstones of leadership.


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Refrain from micro-managing

We’ve all experienced first-hand how infuriating it is when someone constantly feels the need to put in their two cents — just because they can. Many young leaders, eager to meaningfully contribute, will feel compelled to change something to their liking, even if it won’t help better complete the mission at hand.

It’s an important to know when you should back away.

Show one, do one, teach one

It’s up to the military’s leaders to impart their knowledge onto junior troops. As essential part of the military is training troops to win battles. When a troop doesn’t know how to pass a certain test, it’s up to their leader to teach them.

The winning strategy here is, “show one, do one, teach one.” The leader will first show a troop how to do something, that troop will then do it for themselves, and then, finally, that troop will go teach another how to complete the task.

They say that teaching is the best way to learn — this method benefits both a leader and his troops.

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Lead from the front

All too often, we see orders get passed down by people who wouldn’t dare complete the task themselves. These so-called leaders tell you, “good luck,” and then show up in the end to take all the credit.

Don’t do this. Instead, lead from the front. Help with the dangerous missions you helped plan.

Know your team’s strength and weakness

When you walk onto the battlefield, either literally or metaphorically, it’s important to know what each individual in the team is best at in the event something pops off. We’ve encountered leaders who don’t know elbows from as*holes when it comes to their squad.

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Individual success is a team accomplishment

We’d all like to be appreciated for our hard work, but victories are rarely due to a single act. Recognize that the military is a team environment. Each member plays an important role in achieving victory. Taking all the credit for a group’s hard work only makes you look dumb.

Lists

6 simple reasons the cook should always be your best friend

There are three people you should always be friends with: The cook. The medic (or Corpsman). And whatever the MOS of the person repeating the phrase.


Everyone in the military serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things, but this week we’ll break down why the cook always belongs on the top of that list.

This is first in a series that will cover the benefits, both obvious and subtle, of befriending service members of another MOS. Stay tuned for more! Who knows? Your MOS might be next!

Why they’re important

6. Everyone needs food

Just a fact of life. The average human needs 2,000 calories a day to stay functional — and that number is far higher for people with an active lifestyle, like troops.

There’s only a certain amount of MREs you (and your digestive tract) can take. That’s where the chef comes in — with fresh food.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Even on the other end of the spectrum, if you’re so POGgy that all you eat is fast food — well…you do you. You f*cking POG.

5. Despite the jokes, they’re actually really good chefs

“But they always serve those gross eggs that come in plastic bags!” the uninformed are typing furiously in the comment section.

This is true. Not denying that they do serve mass quantities of food that can only be eaten doused in sauce. But take a look at the stuff they can make when they have the time, like on holidays or “best chef” competitions. Even that awkward E-2 you only ever see in the smoke pit can probably pull off some really impressive work those days.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Just brings up the question, why don’t they do this every day? Or let the regular Joes in to eat the food?

Why they’re actually important

4. They can get you more of the good food

They do have to hold on portion sizes during meal rushes to make sure everyone can get something to eat. It’s just the way things go if you’re told you have 400 pieces of bacon and 100 people to feed. You’d logically give four pieces to everyone. But the cooks know that there won’t be 100 people who want bacon.

Once they know that it’s cool, they will definitely toss those extra bacon strips your way.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
You know you want this to be the recommended serving size of bacon.

3. They have access to the real deployment gold: Rip-Its, muffins, beef jerky, etc.

The weirdest thing happens on deployment. Money becomes meaningless (because everyone has expendable cash and nothing to spend it on) and minor things like Rip-Its, despite being half the size of the same ones they sell at the dollar store, have more value and trading power than the 5o cents it’s probably worth.

Why barter for gold when you could go to the goldmine itself?

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
The cooks stockpile the stuff people are willing to trade Playstations for.

What happens when you’re their bro

2. They can get you food on the off-hours

If you’ve ever worked KP, you will probably notice the bullsh*t that is all of the leftover food being tossed. Just trays of bacon being thrown directly into the trashcan. Most cooks are just like every other troop: plenty of them would rather save that bacon for their bros than see it in a landfill.

On top of that, there’s this weird thing about cooks. Most actually enjoy cooking — on and off duty. They may also just whip you up something in the barracks kitchen if you ask them nicely.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
And all that bacon can be yours.

1. They will make you the food you actually want

Remember those disgusting bagged eggs from earlier in this article? Cooks can make you a real egg omelet if you ask them. Same goes for everything else in the “made to order” lines.

But the real kicker are those little comment suggestion cards they always have at the end of the dining hall. Not to blow their secret, but most cooks have a hard time coming up with countless menu options day in/day out, so they’ll stick to a schedule or a guide that has been passed down since god knows when.

If you say to your cook friend, “Hey man, I found this recipe for some Brazilian food. Looks easy enough,” they’ll likely give it a shot — and you’ll feast at “Brazilian Day” in the chow hall sooner or later.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Seriously. Brazilian food is so easy to make. Why hasn’t this become a thing?

Lists

6 Reasons Why The Korengal Valley Was One Of The Most Dangerous Places In Afghanistan

Nestled between high mountains on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan, the Korengal Valley has been one of the hardest fought over patches of ground in the War on Terror. 54 Americans have been killed and four Medals of Honor were earned in the valley — or it’s immediate vicinity — while the case for a fifth is under review. One was that of the first living recipient of the award since Vietnam: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.


Today, the American military rarely moves into the valley, but handpicked Afghan commandos, some trained by the CIA, fight constantly with militants there. The Afghan government maintains offices at the Pech River Valley, the entryway to Korengal. Their police execute raids and patrols in a continuing attempt to shut down or limit the shadow government operating there.

When the American military was there, they faced the same challenges the Afghan forces do today. Some of these dangers are common across Afghanistan, while some only existed in Korengal Valley and the other branches of the Pech River Valley.

The terrain is a nightmare.

 

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: US Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller

Steep mountains, loose shale, thick forests, and open patches of land made the area a nightmare for an occupying force. Combat outposts were built in relatively open areas so that defenders could see approaching militants. However, this meant patrols returning to the base had to cross the open ground, sometimes under heavy small arms fire from nearby wooded areas and houses. The thick trees in the area allowed fighters to attack U.S. forces from cover and concealment.

The attackers would then hide their weapons in the forests and return to the civilian population. The steep hillsides allowed snipers to climb above outposts and fire into the bases as soldiers slept. Loose rock on the steep land led to injuries from trips and falls.

Building new bases — and keeping them resupplied — presented constant challenges.

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Photo: US Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello

Tied to the problem of the terrain, engineering in the valley has historically been difficult. To build the infamous Restrepo outpost, soldiers slipped up the hilltop in the night and frantically dug ditches in the dark. Working until dawn, they were barely able to create shallow trenches to lay in before sunlight exposed them to enemy fire. They created the outpost over the following weeks and months, chipping away at the rock and throwing the fragments into bags or Hesco barriers to create walls and fighting positions. Everything in the valley had to be made this way as the hills were too steep to move heavy equipment and there was little dirt or sand to put in the bags and barriers.

Supply was similarly constricted as many vehicles couldn’t make it into the hills. Trucks would move through washed out roads to deliver supplies to positions near the bottom of the valley. Getting food, water, and gear to the tops of the hills required either helicopter lifts or infantry carrying it up on their backs.

Its proximity to Pakistan gives the Taliban a cross-border sanctuary.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: US Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller

The Korengal Valley is located on the border with Pakistan in steep mountains and thick forests where it has served as a major conduit for smugglers for decades, especially during Soviet occupation. The Pakistan side of the border is in the tribal region which has historically served as a recruiting and training ground for terrorists. The valley itself is so inaccessible that the Afghan government temporarily gave up on trying to control it, even before the people began a strong resistance.

The civilian population is largely confrontational toward outsiders.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: US Army Spc. David Jackson

The Americans in the valley found that the Korengalis were even less hospitable to U.S. and NATO forces than those in most of the war torn country. Most of them follow a sect of Islam known for its particularly conservative and hardline attitudes. They also all speak a dialect that not even their neighbors in the Pech River Valley — which Korengal Valley intersects — can understand. In addition, the Korengalis have a history of lumber smuggling and bad blood with other tribes. Meetings between U.S. and Afghan military leaders and tribal elders were generally tense if not confrontational.

The U.S. faced multiple insurgent groups, along with criminal elements.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: US Army

Most NATO units faced opposition from multiple factions in their regions, but the Korengal Valley was a high priority for both the Jamaat al Dawa al Quran, or JDQ, and Al Qaeda. JDQ is suspected of having connections to Pakistani intelligence and both groups are certainly well-funded. In addition, local insurgencies cropped up under former timber barons who lost family members and money when the Americans moved in.

The Taliban often used human shields in battle.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: US Marine Corps Robert M. Storm

Though civilians were used as shields in much of Afghanistan, it was constant in Korengal Valley. Women and children were nearly guaranteed to show up on the roof of any house that came under attack from US forces. Vehicles filled with civilians tested checkpoints, forcing soldiers to choose between firing at potentially unarmed civilians or leaving themselves open to a potential suicide vehicle attack. This drastically limited the ability of U.S. forces to engage the enemy.

NOW: This Video Shows What The Military’s Awesome ‘Iron Man’ Suit May Look Like 

AND: 21 Photos That Show What It’s Like When Soldiers Assault A Taliban Stronghold 

Humor

5 things you should know before diving into a ‘contract marriage’

Scenario #1: A young service member walks into their newly assigned barracks room and notices how nasty it is. And on top of that, they have to share the small space with two or three other people that may or may not be very clean. The struggle is real.


Scenario #2: A service member may just have received orders to go on a 13-month deployment wants to make some cash while they’re gone.

Both of these very real circumstances of military life can be strong motivators for troops to tie the knot — and not for love.

Make money, money, money! (images via Giphy

Often called a “contract marriage,” these pairings are purely for monetary gain or medical benefits. No one is suggesting you do this versus saving your money or getting a second job if your command allows, but if you do it, keep these very important things in mind.

Related: 7 ways to surprise your spouses when they return from deployment

1. He/she can turn you in

Your contract husband or wife can blow the whistle on your verbal agreement without repercussions. So you’d better keep them happy.

Oh, sh*t! Busted. (images via Giphy)

2. Adultery is illegal

In the eyes of the military, you’re legally married (imagine that). So if you get caught engaging adult activites with anyone other than your spouse, you’re on the hook sailor.

Preach! (images via Giphy)

3. If she gets pregnant by you or someone else…

You better lawyer up, get divorced or decide to take care of the little rascal to keep the added benefits. That is all.

 You don’t want your name on that birth certificate. (images via Giphy)  

4. Separation pay

In some cases, if you play your cards right, you might be eligible for separation pay.

Separation pay is when your spouse “lives” in another area for one legitimate reason or another. Think about it. (images via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 ways to prove your spouse is really a spy

5. Repayment

If you do get a divorce, the military typically won’t stop the extra pay right away. So don’t go spending all that extra cash too fast. The government will take back every cent from your paycheck until they recoup what’s theirs.

The answer is, yes. (images via Giphy)You’re welcome America!

Lists

The 10 Most Incredible Weapon Systems Used By The Russian Military

At a cost of $70 billion a year, Russia has the world’s third-largest defense budget. For that, the state boasts 845,000 troops, 22,550 tanks and 1,399 combat aircraft.


Though perhaps not considered the superpower that it once was, since President Vladimir Putin’s re-election in 2012 Russia’s armed forces have gone through a significant transformation. The army is being split into smaller, more dynamic brigades. The focus is on new technologies rather than brute manpower. (For instance, this Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft system is basically a tank with a load of extra cannons sticking out of it.)

Here’s a review of some of Russia’s more menacing military machines:

Bora-class guided missile hovercraft: This ship is actually a catamaran with a skirt that turns it into a hovercraft. Armed with 8 Mosquito missiles and 20 anti-aircraft missiles, the ships have a crew of up to 68 sailors each. It has a cruising speed of 100km an hour.

 

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Image: Reddit

 

The Pantsir-S1: A combined short-to-medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft missile system. The system consists of 12 surface-to-air guided missiles and two 30-mm automatic guns effective against planes, helicopters, ballistic and cruise missiles.

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Photo: Wiki Commons

 

The Mig-35 multirole jet fighter: Effective both in air-to-air combat and precision ground strikes. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 2,400 km per hour despite being 30% larger than its predecessor, the Mig-35 is able both to dogfight and destroy sea and surface targets from long range, as well as conducting air reconnaissance missions.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

 

The BUK-2 missile system: This is the battery that allegedly brought down that Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Its 9M317 missiles can reach 46,000 feet at Mach 3, carrying 154-pound warheads.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

The RS-24 Yars: A thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missile system that can carry multiple independently targetable nuclear warheads with a range of 10,000 miles. Designed to replace Topol-M ballistic missiles it has been operationally deployed since 2010. Each missile has the power of 100 “Little Boys” — the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

 

“The Russian Concorde”: The Tupolev Tu-160 is the world’s largest supersonic combat aircraft. It was designed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It boasts the most powerful engines ever on a combat aircraft and has can hold 40,000kg of weaponry. There are currently 16 in service.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

 

The T-90: The most advanced battle tank currently in use in the Russian armed forces. Its main weapon is a 125 mm smoothbore gun with anti-tank capabilities but it also boasts a remote-controlled anti-aircraft heavy machine gun.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

 

At 14,700 tonnes, Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines are slightly smaller than their predecessors, the massive Typhoon-class. But with a capacity of 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each carrying 6-10 warheads with a range of 8,300km, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

 

The Russian Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter: This is the go-to attack helicopter for the Russian Air Force and Army. Its basic armament is a 30mm Shipunov underslung auto-cannon and wingstubs that can carry up to four anti-tank missiles, rocket pods or gun pods.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Photo: Wiki Commons

popular

4 reasons why the quiet drill sergeant is the scariest one

Many civilians have a twisted understanding of how the military operates. Honestly, it might be best not to correct them. Their minds would be collectively blown if they knew the magnitude of downtime and dumb things that happen to our nation’s fighting men and women. But one commonly portrayed character: the drill sergeant. 


Another misconception is that NCOs are constantly barking orders in our faces. In reality, this is pretty uncommon outside of training, but not impossible to find. The truth is, the threat of a knifehand gets old if it’s constantly shoved in your face. When the quiet drill sergeant unsheathes theirs, however, things get actually terrifying. This applies in Basic Training and continues through the rest of your military career.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

“Everywhere I go. There’s a Drill Sergeant there. Everywhere I goooo. There’s a Drill Sergeant there.”

(Photo by Spc. Madelyn Hancock)

You’ll never see it coming…

Loud NCOs can be heard from a mile away. You’ll hear them chew out a private for having their hands in their pockets immediately before you face the same wrath.

The quiet ones? Oh no. They’ll hide in the shadows and catch you in the middle of doing something stupid before they make their presence known.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

That, or flutter-kicks. From personal experience, flutter-kicks will drain your emotions after roughly twenty minutes.

(Photo by Sgt. Debralee P. Crankshaw)

They will crush your body and spirit

You can only do so many push ups before it’s just a bit of light exercise. Iron Mikes to the woodline and back won’t hurt after you build up your thigh strength. Even ass-chewings get dull once you learn to daydream through it. These are all go-to responses for the loud drill sergeants. The quiet ones, on the other hand, get a bit more creative.

Want to know how to break someone’s spirit while also helping them on their upcoming PT test? Have them do planks while reading off the regulation, verbatim, that they just broke — complete with page turns. If they stumble, make them start from the top.

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You only get to threaten to “suck out someone’s soul” before you have to put up or shut up. Use it wisely.

(Photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)

Their threats are more sincere

The loud drill sergeant also tends to stick to the same basic threats. Sure, they may say they’re going to smoke you so hard that you’re going to bleed out your ass, but they can only say that exact threat maybe twice before it becomes silly.

The quiet NCO? Oh, hell no. That guy might be serious when he says he’s going to suck out your soul…

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

 

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

They choose their words very carefully

Speaking of things becoming silly, have you ever sat back and contemplated the exact nature of most of the threats loud drill sergeants employ? It’s impossible to not burst out laughing sometimes while on the receiving end of an ass-chewing in which every other word is a lazily-placed expletive.

The NCO that understands that expletives are punctuation marks will be much more successful in instilling fear among the ranks.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 ways armies have sent ‘FU’ messages to their enemies

As far back as documented history goes, war has crushed civilizations and built new empires. Regardless of era, military leaders and warlords have long sent visual (or “FU”) messages to their enemies in hopes that emotions, not tactics, take over the battlefield.


Related: 7 badass nicknames enemies have given the American military

With both sides desperate for a victory, the art of mind manipulation can trigger a response that just might reduce the enemy’s will to fight.

1. Tossed in a gutter

ISIS controls many areas in Iraq, but that doesn’t stop members of the Iraqi forces from showing their own progress. 

According to Fox News, Iraqis toss the dead bodies of ISIS members in the street gutters as a form of intimidation to ISIS sleeper cells and their supporters.

2. Drawn and Quartered

Most of us are familiar with William Wallace’s legacy, especially if you’ve seen Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. What the award-winning filmmaker didn’t show was what King Edward did after the end credits rolled.

According to duhaime.org, the King of England ordered his soldiers to cut Wallace’s body into four pieces and post them at the four corners of Britain. Wallace’s head was stabbed with a spike and set on London Bridge for an epic “screw you” message.

 

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
William Wallace statue stands tall in Scotland.

 

3. Capture the flag of your enemies

Those who have had the opportunity to fight in a Taliban-infected area probably noticed the white flags flapping in the wind over extremist strongholds.

Marines love flags, too — especially their own, which wave high above American positions. They also enjoy taking the Taliban flags and putting them on display for the bad guys to see.

 

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Infantrymen from 3rd Battalion 5th Marines Lima Company 2nd Platoon enjoy a moment after capturing a Taliban flag. #wegotyoursh*t

4. A good slicing

Around 500 B.C., a war between the State of Yue and the State of Wu in China broke out.

Gou Jian, the King of Yue, was unsure of his victory over the Wu. To try to gain an element of surprise, Jian ordered 300 of his men to stand in front of the enemy, remove their swords and cut their own throats before the battle began.

The Wu were so completely stunned, Jian was able to send in his attack on the unsuspecting army and defeat them.

(We actually don’t recommend this tactic…)

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Holiday weekend. Here’s hoping you got a good safety briefing, made responsible decisions, and have woken up fresh and ready to celebrate America. And here’s an 800mg ibuprofen and a bag of saline because we know you got hammered and tattooed “Murica” on your lower back last night.


1. Most military bases are wastelands with a few palm trees and ant mounds.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Air Force bases are magical chocolate factories.

2. Surprise, this meme was posted by a sailor.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
You know the Marines are OK with this, right?

SEE ALSO: Me as ‘vibe coordinator’ and other stories from military transition hell

3. Coast Guard officers are some intrepid individuals.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Staring down danger and slowly sliding a knife into it.

4. When you’re stuck on hold at the worst time.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Yeah, we need those guns now. Any chance we can jump the line?

5. If you wanted a cot, you should’ve joined the Army (via Marine Corps Memes).

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Marines make do.

6. Oh, did you want to go on leave? I forgot because you haven’t asked me in the last 4 seconds (via Sh*t my LPO says).

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
If it gets approved, it gets approved. Until then, maybe don’t keep asking.

7. Well, technically it does give him control over you.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Which sucks since he’s essentially a boot. A boot who can quote Shakespeare, but a boot.

8. No matter the backstory, this will turn out badly for the trainees.

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Just don’t get caught watching him, recruits.

9. Most pushers can get you as high as a kite (via Marine Corps Memes).

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
This guy can get you 60,000 feet above that.

10. The weapon just had so many parts and that big spring (Coast Guard Memes).

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
He’s really just used to haze grey and a paint brush.

11. Least sexy part of the Coast Guard mission: navigational aides (via Navy Memes).

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Sexiest? Being promoted to the Navy.

 12. M4s say, “You’re not welcome,” while .50-cals say, “Stay the f*ck out.”

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)

13. Are you on duty this weekend? (via Marine Corps Memes)

5 meals that won wars (and how to make them)
Just minimize the window. We’ll be here when you get back.

NOW: Here’s what training is like for the Air Force’s most elite operators

WATCH: 7 Movies to Watch on the 4th

Articles

9 superpowers every medic would want in the field

Corpsmen and medics carry a mobile emergency room strapped to their backs along with their weapon systems — and it gets heavy. After going through months of intense medical training they can probably apply a wet tourniquet in the pitch black with one hand while under enemy fire.


Truth is, they can’t be everywhere at every moment. Make no mistake, if the medical staff could take care of everybody and send them home in one piece, they would.

Related: 6 superheroes who were also Air Force officers

If humans had special powers, these are the one’s Corpsmen and medics would want to make their jobs easier.

1. X-ray or heat vision

There’s no better tool for quickly checking for fractures or cauterizing bleeds.

She’s fine. (giphy)

2. Mind reading or telepathy

Corpsmen and medics not only have to care for the good guys but the bad ones as well. It would be badass if they knew who not to waste their time on if they knew who wasn’t really injured.

(giphy)

3. Teleportation or super speed

During a mass casualty, “Doc” is outnumbered by the number of people he or she needs to care for. Being able to render care swiftly and take them to medical in a blink of an eye would save time and resources.

“I hope I didn’t miss anyone.” (giphy)

4. Invincibility

Being pinned down in a firefight is crazy dangerous, but if bullets and mortars just bounce off of you running out in the open to save your comrade ain’t sh*t.

(giphy)

5. Super Strength

Because picking up heavy crap is important.

Lift with the legs, not your back.  (giphy)

6. Elasticity

During the chaos of battle, you can find yourself far from some supplies you need. So what better than to stretch out an arm to grab a bandage that happens to be several meters away?

(giphy)

7. Telekinesis

Why run out into a hail of gunfire if you can just drag the casualty to you?

(giphy)

8. Endurance

Hauling sick and injured people from A to B can get pretty exhausting if you’re out of shape.

(giphy)

Also Read: 5 ways your platoon would be different with Rambo in charge

9. Super intelligence

Because being smart rocks!

(giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below

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