Greed, redemption, and ultimately doing the right thing are just some of the themes stated in David O. Russell’s 1999 classic hit “Three Kings.”
Set in the days after the end of Operation Desert Storm, four American soldiers head out on a quest to locate a sh*t ton of gold Saddam Hussein stole so they can steal it for themselves. But they end up on a crazy journey that causes them to help the local population and divert them far from their original selfish plan.
Peel back the layers of the film and check out a few nuggets of wisdom you may have missed in the story.
1. The reasoning of modern day warfare
It’s big business for the media covering a war — maybe a little too much business that pulls the decision makers away from the real issues.
They’ll always be media wars. (Images via Giphy)
2. Everyone’s perception varies
When sh*t goes down, and bullets go flying, some people see things that didn’t happen.
That would have been pretty cool to see. (Images via Giphy)What really happened.Why didn’t he have the daylight sight already up? (Images via Giphy)
3. America always changes the plan at the last second
When we head into a battle, we always seem to have a great insertion plan.
See what we mean. Most military plans go to sh*t quickly. (Images via Giphy)But our extraction strategies seems to always go to sh*t, and someone always gets shot.Then all hell breaks lose. (Images via Giphy)
4. News reporters need to stay away
Although this is a movie, sometimes news reporters will get themselves into trouble by going too deep into a story, which can potentially get good people killed.
You may want to think about taking cover, lady. (Images via Giphy)
Appearances, as the saying goes, can be very deceiving.
This happened to be the exact concept behind Q-ships, heavily armed decoy vessels used by Allied navies during the First World War to harass and destroy German submarines, also known as U-boats.
The Germany Navy’s U-boat fleet quickly proved to be a scourge in the Atlantic, hunting down and sinking Allied merchant and combat ships with impunity. Able to sneak up to convoys and warships virtually undetected, U-boats began racking up kills in incredible numbers, quickly becoming a threat that needed to be dealt with immediately.
Allied ships, often loaded with troops, supplies, and materiel to aid the war effort in Europe were being lost at astonishing rates. As sonar was still an emerging technology, submarine detection was often difficult if not downright impossible. However, a solution began to form in the minds of Allied naval commanders.
U-boats could only remain submerged for short periods of time, and they were often deployed to sea with a limited supply of torpedoes. As such, most U-boat commanders preferred to run their vessels on the surface, utilizing deck guns for the majority of their attacks on enemy vessels.
The British Navy came up with a solution in the form of a thoroughly disguised merchant vessel carrying a crew of sailors dressed like fishers or merchant mariners. With fake boxes of cargo on the decks of the ship, German U-boats would likely assume that what they see in their periscope’s crosshairs was really just a supply ship, transporting munitions and weaponry for Allied soldiers on the front lines.
A juicy and defenseless target, ripe for the taking.
However, these ships were anything but defenseless. Armed with a variety of deck guns in different calibers, and even depth charges in some cases, the crew could open fire after luring the German submarines close enough, sinking, or at least thoroughly disabling, their enemy’s watercraft.
One less U-boat in the fight.
The British Admiralty decided that these decoy ships would be homeported at Queenstown, Ireland, where they would have easy access to the North Atlantic, and a safe harbor to return to. They would soon be nicknamed Q-ships, thanks to their port of origin.
Deployed in growing numbers, Q-ships began hunting down and attacking German submarines using deception and surprise to their advantage. As soon as U-boats closed in, panels were dropped, the Royal Navy’s ensign was raised and deck guns boomed while sending German sailors scrambling for cover.
However, the plan turned out to be a major dud.
By the war’s end, it was found that throughout 150 reported engagements between Q-ships and U-boats, only 14 submarines were destroyed, while the rest were either damaged or had escaped. The Q-ship program had an even lower success rate than mines, which, given the associated numbers and statistics, was highly embarrassing.
The program, once a closely-kept secret, was shuttered and remained fairly dormant in the years between World Wars, though other navies began exploring similar vessels of their own.
Q-ships would make a reappearance during the Second World War, serving with the German, British, American, and Japanese navies. Oddly enough, German Q-ships wound up racking up higher kill numbers than their Allied counterparts.
In the years since, anti-submarine warfare (ASW for short) has advanced considerably, making sub-hunting something of an art form. Thankfully, the Q-ship concept has been relegated to the history books once and for all, having experienced its trial by fire during the two World Wars, and coming up short.
We’ve all heard the saying: “All is fair in love and war.” While it may hold true for love, the war part couldn’t be further from the truth for our troops.
According to the “Sanremo Handbook on Rules of Engagement” posted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the rules do not dictate how the troops achieve results. But they do say what’s unacceptable.
America is full of some amazing, patriotic people who have gone to great lengths to serve their country. That said, there’s a countless number of people who didn’t serve who enjoy dressing the part for their personal entertainment.
And, frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as they don’t claim to be a veteran.
1. They use military terminology because they think it’s cool
“Let’s go Oscar Mike back to the COP before 1300 to get some chow and hit the head.”
Translation: Let’s go home before 1 o’clock to get some food and use the restroom. Oscar Mike means, “leaving.” COP stands for “Combat Outpost.”
Why can’t these people just talk normally? We know, it’s a damn shame.
2. They wear military-print everything
It’s no secret that camo print is a go-to style for many civilians. Sure, we get that. But it’s another thing when people wear camo day-in and day-out. Even if they never served, they want to look like they have.
3. They wear overpriced Spec Ops gear
Airsoft and paintball are pretty fun. Sometimes, however, the players buy over-the-top, faux-spec ops gear to immerse themselves in the military mindset.
4. They wear their “serious faces” in group photos at the range
It’s hard to fully understand the struggle of grabbing a sushi lunch just an hour before charging the tree house guarded by the blue team. Make sure to take a photo to show how tough you are.
5. They bring up excuses as to why they didn’t serve — unprovoked
Not everyone was meant to join the military. Hell, even some people who join the military weren’t meant to be a part of the team. However, civilians frequently volunteer reasons as to why they didn’t join — often without prompt.
6. They think they’re an operator for conducting airsoft and paintball missions
Veterans across the globe reenact historic battles to preserve the memories of the men that served. However, if you civilians dressing up like a SEAL team and recreating the Osama bin Laden raid, that’s the ultimate red flag of the veteran wannabe.
Military families can wait up to 49 weeks for burials of loved ones at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) because of the high demand for graveside ceremonies and the increasing mortality rates of older veterans, according to a Pentagon Inspector General’s report.
The system in place for scheduling and conducting burials is suited to the task, the IG’s report states, but the sheer volume of family requests routinely exceeds “the resources available on a daily basis for the conduct of burials,” including honor guards and chapel availability.
In addition, the advanced age of veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam leads to more requests for burials than can be handled on a daily basis, states the IG’s report, released in May 2019.
Delays in families’ completion of required documents, and decisions regarding the type and timing of burial service, can also add time between the request and burial, according to the report.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Katie Maynard salutes as a casket is lowered during a funeral ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Oct. 24, 2013.
(DoD photo by Cpl. Mondo Lescaud, U.S. Marine Corps)
As a result, “burial services at the ANC can result in a 6- to 49-week wait from the initial contact to the conduct of the burial ceremony,” the IG’s report states.
As of September 2018, there were 3,471 burial requests in process at Arlington — 3,259 for cremation services and 212 for casketed services, according to the report.
Arlington has the capacity for 30 burials per day, but the military teams available for Full Military Funeral Honors services also have responsibilities for other ceremonies in the National Capital Region and can conduct only about eight per day at ANC, the report states.
The 59-page report examined the operations and management of ANC and the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery (SAHNC) in Washington, D.C. — the two national cemeteries in the nationwide system of military cemeteries. There are also 36 other cemeteries run by the service branches.
Arlington National Cemetery.
(DoD photo by SSG Sean K. Harp)
The report found that major reforms at Arlington had corrected the mismanagement that led to scandals over missing markers and missing remains in 2010.
As of late 2018, Arlington was the final resting place for more than 375,000 decedents and had space available for 67,000 more, the report states. The IG’s office took a random sample of 553 burials and 145 available spaces and “found no accountability errors in the records.”
At SAHNC, the burial site for more than 14,000 veterans, the report found five errors in a random sample of 290 burials and 62 available spaces.
In two cases, the names of the decedents were not on the grave marker at the corresponding location in the cemetery. In two other cases, what were coded as empty plots in the database actually contained decedents.
In the fifth case, the location of the decedent in the database did not match the location of the headstone, according to the report.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
The Pentagon on July 20, 2018, announced it’s giving $200 million to Ukraine to bolster its defenses as its conflict with pro-Russian separatists rages on.
This move comes as President Donald Trump continues to defend his controversial relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the two world leaders met in Helsinki in July 2018, highlighting the disconnect between the president’s rhetoric and his administration’s policies.
“The added funds will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including capabilities to enhance Ukraine’s command and control, situational awareness systems, secure communications, military mobility, night vision, and military medical treatment,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The statement also said the US has given more than id=”listicle-2589292724″ billion to Ukraine since conflict broke out there following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Meanwhile, Trump on July 19, 2018 tweeted his meeting with Putin had been a “great success” while once again stating the “Fake News Media” was the “real enemy of the American people.”
The Trump administration this week also said discussions are “underway” to host Putin in Washington in fall 2018, a visit that could occur close to the 2018 midterms.
Trump and the US intelligence community’s Russian rift
The US intelligence community, which concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election under Putin’s guidance, has warned the Kremlin is also planning attacks on future US elections — including the midterms.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appeared to be shocked when he learned Putin was being invited by the Trump administration to the nation’s capital after spending much of the week reiterating warnings about Russia’s dubious intentions regarding the US electoral process.
Trump sided with Putin over the US intelligence community on the subject of Russian election interference during a press conference in Helsinki, only to walk back on his statements upon returning to the US.
The president claimed he’d misspoke during his summit with Putin and agreed with the US intelligence community that Russia had interfered in the election, though he added it could be “other people also.”
The White House on July 20, 2018, also said it was rejecting a proposal from Putin to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine, calling the Russian leader’s suggestion “illegitimate.”
The conflict in Ukraine has resulted in the deaths of roughly 10,000 people, including 3,000 civilians, and displaced roughly 1.7 million.
Though Trump has long signified a desire to have a strong relationship with Putin and often complimented the Russian leader, his administration has maintained support for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian-leaning separatists in the Donbass region.
(Dept. of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
Mattis: ‘Russia should suffer consequences for its aggressive and destabilizing behavior’
Defense Secretary James Mattis has maintained a hawkish stance on Russia but on July 18, 2018, urged Congress to waive sanctions on allies who purchase Russian arms over an apparent concern it could push these countries into the Kremlin’s arms.
“Russia should suffer consequences for its aggressive and destabilizing behavior as well as its continuing illegal occupation of Ukraine,” Mattis said in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.
The letter added, “[But] as we impose necessary and well-justified costs on Russia for its malign behavior, at the same time there is a compelling need to avoid significant unintended damage to our long-term, national strategic interests.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
These 21 images (shared with WATM courtesy of Lou Reda Productions) vividly capture the nature of war from a variety of angles. Each of them was awarded the Pulitzer prize for photography in the year indicated in the caption:
1944 – Aftermath of a flamethrower attack on Tarawa
1944 – Lt. Col. Robert Moore, USA, returns to his family after fighting the Germans in North Africa
1945 – The flag raising at Iwo Jima
1951 – Refugees fleeing across the Taedong River during the Chinese invasion of North Korea
1965 – South Vietnamese casualties after a firefight with the Vietcong
1966 – Vietnamese refugees fleeing an attack
1969 – Lt. Col. Nguyen Loan summarily executes a VC prisoner on the streets of Saigon
1972 – Marine on top of a war-torn hill after battle with NVA
1973 – Vietnamese children fleeing after napalm attack on Vietcong-held village
1974 – Lt. Col Robert Stirm, USAF, returns to his family after 5 years as a POW in North Vietnam
1977 – Vietnam veteran and wounded warrior Eddie Robinson at Chattanooga Veterans Day parade
1978 – American mercenary, member of “Grey’s Scouts,” holds gun to the head of a Rhodesian prisoner
During World War II, the infamous German General Erwin Rommel once said, “Give me the Maori Battalion and I will conquer the world.” Maoris were descended from Eastern Polynesians who canoed all the way from Polynesia to New Zealand in the 13th century. That’s a distance of at least 900 miles. They canoed 900 miles.
So if that’s not enough to give you an indication of how terribly awesome they are, there’s the haka:
The haka is a foot-stomping, tongue lashing, rhythmic dance performed by warriors to intimidate their enemies and proclaim their strength before the gods. It has become more widely known around the world because New Zealand sports teams perform a haka before meeting their opposition on the field.
Modern militaries also perform the haka, and we’ve got some of the best right here, ranked by how intense they are:
Prince Harry performs haka during day with NZ military
The Duke of Sussex paid his respects to the people of New Zealand with a haka and you can just see the concentration on this face. I’m no mind-reader, but I have no doubt his inner monologue reads “don’t f*** up don’t f*** up don’t f*** up.”
1. 2/1 RNZIR Battalion bids farewell to fallen comrades
“This video shows the soldiers of 2/1 RNZIR Battalion performing their unit haka, powerfully acknowledging the lives and feats of their fallen comrades as they come onto the Unit’s parade ground. It is also an emotive farewell for they will leave via the waharoa (the carved entrance way) for the very last time,” wrote the NZ Defence Force.
This is a pretty powerful way to say goodbye.
Now just imagine if a whole battalion did that before a fight. It’d be unsettling at the very least. And it was. In the fall of 1942, the 28th Maori Battalion played a pivotal role in the Second Battle of El Alamein, which would mark the culmination of the North African Campaign. Rommel’s defeat forced him to withdraw to Tunisia, where the Germans would surrender the following spring. After encountering the Maori, Rommel had nothing but praise for the fierce warriors.
As an American, this ritual could seem….strange — but that’s kind of the point. The haka was meant to freak out the enemy. It challenged opponents and displayed a tribe’s pride, strength, and unity.
It is a full-body masterpiece of movement and shouts. The details are fascinating, including showing the whites of the eyes, sticking out the tongue, slapping thighs and stomping, and chanting — and as you can see, these guys take it very seriously.
It is my staunch belief that warriors are born and not created. In the case of either you can trace back through your past to your first ever action that made you realize — though not likely back then at the time — that you were destined to take the warrior’s or the leader’s path through life.
I came up through Army infantry at 19 years old gravely afraid of heights, a condition that kept me from becoming a paratrooper, the gateway training to the elite forces. After two years in the infantry, I was ready to jump even without a parachute if that was what it took to get me out of that horror show.
I made it into the Green Berets only to be met with great disappointment, as in those years between wars I felt we were more of an in-case-of-war-break-glass unit with peacetime ambition and an equally disappointing budget. The thought of going to war with my Green Beret A-Team scared me to the extent that I ran arms-flailing to the Delta Force, where I immediately faded into anonymity by a sea of raw talent and sheer badassery. I was home.
But even after arriving at the unit, which requires one of the toughest selections on the planet, I came to realize that the essence of my warrior spirit had been with me all along. I can finally go back to the very early days of my own basic army training and identify an event that has stayed with me for so many years. Finally, I think I understand what it meant and why the simple memory has remained close to my heart for so many decades.
Search as I have for hints of warrior potential during my coming of military status in basic training, I’m put finally in mind of a trivial incident that remains to impress me still today. I have thought of it often in attempts to make sense of it. Since it is mine, I shall own the interpretation.
It was during my own Infantry Basic Training in Sand Hill Georgia, where my platoon and I were waiting in the pine woods for a couple of hours between training events. At times like those, there was nothing to do but notice and complain about how hot it was, and it was plenty hot.
We boys huddled under the shade of an awning in our steel helmets. In that year I learned that shade was indeed only a state of mind, and had little physical impact on the Georgia swelter; where a boundary blocked the direct sun’s rays, the humidity served to usher the heat around obstacles, presenting it to who would cower. “We” huddle and bitched and complained and moaned, making it all the worse. I quickly grew annoyed with the negative attitude of the group to the extent that I, but for slight, sniped at them verbally.
The “group” — my group: the hayseed from under the Bible Belt who spoke maybe just a little too fondly of his female cousin, the guy who came in for college; he already had one semester and constantly wanted everyone to know that by saying things like: “Yeah, but that doesn’t detract from or minimize the context of what I’m saying,” the fellow who was given the choice by a judge of either the Army or jail, the black man whose dad and grandad were both in the Army before him, the white dude who felt a patriotic debt to the country but really had no clue what that meant, the Chicano who wanted something different out of life… anything other than what he was living at the time.
And then there was — OMG! — that Asian fellow who during a group debate on race and equality announced to the group: “If there is a man here who can sh*t with his pants on, let him stand now and show it!” As God as my witness, he did say that. I resigned to the notion that he was trying for something along the lines of “We all put on our trousers one leg at a time.”
I suffered too from the heat, but the urge to bellow seemed so futile, only adding to the misery. Knowing no better, I decided to remove myself from the crowd, so I stood and stepped some fifty feet away in direct view of the blazing sun. There I squatted in the muddy sand and hung my head and thought:
“The heat is bad, but it’s better than being in the shade with the pity patrol. Bad means there is a worse; there is even a worse than this… somewhere. This too is bearable. All things, no matter the intensity, are always bearable. Here, I’m setting an example for all my platoon — see me here, guys? It’s not so bad!”
Indeed remarks wafted over:
“What the hell’s the idiot doing?”
“He can’t last out there like that.”
“Someone needs to go get him; he’s delirious, he is.”
“Yeah, holy crap, man!”
You see, now no longer were they absconded in their own misery; they were submersed in mine. I had taken their suffering away, even if for this brief bout of minutes. “I complained because I had no shoes, and then I saw a man who had no feet.” Bad begets worse, and even worse is tolerable.
I think by wanting to be alone I had only drawn attention to myself… but it was done, and now I would give them a show. This is how we deal with the pain. This is how we stand up and take it… how we shake it off and defy it! This is how a much grander force within us makes a thing like the Georgia swelter such an insignificant trifle — “pour it on, Blythe! Fire your weapon!”
From the nose of my drooped head, beads of sweat were queued up and falling in serial. I decided that I would count off 100 of them before I went back to the shade. When 100 beads had fallen, I decided that I would let yet another 100 fall before I relented… then another 100, followed by another then another concatenation of 100.
After 500 had fallen, I stood and removed my helmet. I shook my face wildly, like a dog shakes off pool water upon exit. I wiped my face with my sleeves as I trudged back to the shade and the group. I remarked as I squatted back down:
“Yep… it’s a real scorcher out there today, brothers.”
And there was nothing but silence and a man who reached out his canteen my way, which I graciously declined.
Sometimes we imagine the Earth was gifted with us, to just be us, our mystical, magical, wonderful selves. Other times we might wonder if the planet might get along just swimmingly without us. Ask ten people if they “march to the beat of a different drum,” and you will get ten affirmative answers every time. Now watch when the different drumsticks start their cadence how many stand, step out, and march… and keep marching until 500 beads of their sweat have rolled from their nose and hit the ground.
As I have searched and debated over the years to answer the question are warriors born or made, I often think back to the quote from Heraclitus nearly 2,000 years ago,
“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” (Heraclitus c. 535 – c. 475 BCE)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Air Force enlisted members’ gripes are very different from those in other branches of the military. The Air Force is well-known for the mountains of paperwork it continually throws on personnel. If there is a process, there’s always a checklist and multiple forms that need to be filled out before anyone makes a physical move.
Training, discipline, and upward mobility also tend to come with piles of paperwork.
1. Letters of Counseling (LOCs)
Passive aggression might as well be one of the Air Force’s trademarks. Instead of a good ol’ reprimanding and yelling, the Air Force presents a typed letter that resembles a court document that details your indiscretion. The letter of counseling is given to personnel by their supervisor, usually after they do something that is out of regulation or just pisses them off personally.
Since some supervisors feel like they have control over their subordinates’ military careers, there are many times where Airmen get LOCs for absolutely nothing. Sometimes, it comes down to how much of an as*hole their supervisor is. Other times, the LOC might be valid (like coming into duty hungover). Either way, a LOC is kept in the member’s personal information file and can affect promotions if they get too many.
2. EPR bullet writing
The time of year every enlisted member dreads in the Air Force is when their Enlisted Performance Report is due. The EPR consists of categories of performance that require 4-6 bullets centered on accomplishments in selected areas. You would figure, given the nature of performance reviews, that the brunt of the work would be done by the services member’s supervisor. The majority of the time, however, the member has to write their own bullets and send forward a draft, which their supervisor then corrects.
Sometimes, the bullets are a complete fabrication of what was actually accomplished. For example, taking out the trash in Air Force EPR bullet form could be written as, “member’s continued responsibility in daily detail work successfully improved overall mission accomplishment by 70%.”
Plain and simple, EPRs are a pain in the ass.
3. Death by PowerPoint
Please, please, please, Air Force; stop it already with the PowerPoint presentations.
Want to fall asleep? Go to an Air Force squadron on any day of the week. Chances are, there’s a PowerPoint presentation going on somewhere in the building. PowerPoints relay heaps of information over the course of an hour or two and presenters expect personnel to retain all the information like sponges.
It’s not hard to gauge the involvement level of PowerPoint presentations. Usually, half of the room is asleep by the end of it all. Watch it, though: Sleeping through presentations can get you an LOC.
CBTs are computer-based trainings. Yes, this a requirement in the Air Force, too. It may sound ridiculous — at times, it is — but enlisted members have a number of CBTs they are required to remain current in annually, biannually, and before deployments.
You read that right: Before deployments, you have to complete computer-based training.
Since there are so many requirements and no one is getting deployed or qualified until training is complete, the obvious habit is to just click through slides. CBTs certainly are a small sample of an Airman’s personal hell.
Anastasia Lin may never see her family in China again.
Shortly after winning the Miss World Canada title in 2015, Beijing deemed China-born Lin “persona non grata” — a powerful diplomatic term that effectively banned her from the country — because she was speaking out on the country’s human-rights issues.
But more problematic than Lin’s ability to enter China, is the difficulty her family have had trying to leave, which is being used as leverage to pressure the Chinese-Canadian actress and activist.
While in Australia in early 2018, Lin told Business Insider how her uncles and even elderly grandparents had their visas to Hong Kong revoked in 2016 in an attempt by authorities to silence Lin and punish her Hunan-based family.
“The day before I left, my mother told me that the police went into my grandparents home and took away their visa, their Hong Kong visa. These are 70 year-olds, and they took it away. They intercepted my uncle in the airport on his way to Macau, to Hong Kong,” Lin said.
Anastasia Lin speaks at the National Press Club on Dec. 18, 2015, in Washington, D.C.
“My grandmother told me … they took away the Hong Kong visa and they said very explicitly that it was because of my activities overseas and influence,” she said. “Since then, my grandparents have been getting routine police visits.”
Lin’s great-grandfather was executed in public during the Cultural Revolution “to warn the rest,” according to Lin, and the fear from that time has returned for her grandparents who are now subject to regular house calls by authorities.
“Later on my grandmother told me that the visits sometimes are with fruit and flowers but it was for the purpose of persuading them to persuade me to do less, to not do anything, and to convince me to be on the opposite side,” she said.
These weren’t the first threats and police visits Lin’s family received. Within weeks of winning her crown, security agents started threatening her father telling him that his daughter “cannot talk” about Chinese human-rights issues.
“My father sent me text message saying that they have contacted him telling him that if I continue to speak up, my family would be persecuted like in the Cultural Revolution. My father’s generation grew up in the middle of Cultural Revolution, so for him it’s the biggest threat you can make. It means you die, you get publicly persecuted,” Lin said, adding that her father “begged” her for a way for the family to survive in China.
Lin said it’s been a long time since she spoke to her father because their calls are monitored, but she learned recently his passport was rejected for renewal.
Lin is just one of many Chinese expats and exiles whose mainland relatives are used as leverage to try and control China’s reputation abroad.
Chinese President Xi Jingping.
Business Insider has previously reported on how relatives are contacted to try and control what their adult children are posting on social media while they study at foreign universities. And ethnic minority Uighurs, Tibetans, and other human-rights activists who have faced persecution have frequently said their family members are used as leverage to try and control their actions and speech overseas, with some even being blackmailed into spying for the state.
Family members of five Radio Free Asia journalists, including two US citizens , were recently detained in an attempt to stop their reporting on human-rights abuses against Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. One of those journalists is Gulchehra Hoja, who had more than 20 relatives disappear all in one day, in early 2018.
“When I heard my brother was detained, I [initially] chose not to speak up because my mother asked me, ‘Please I already lost you, I don’t want to lose my son too,” Hoja told a congressional hearing in July 2018. “We don’t want to put them in further danger because of our acts or any word against China.”
“My family haven’t been able to be reunited in 17 years,” she added.
The fear of this happening is also an effective enough tool to self-censor criticism, even if family members aren’t being directly threatened.
Square engineer Jackie Luo explained on Twitter what happened when the Chinese government closed down one of her mother’s WeChat groups here people in China and abroad would send hundreds of messages a day talking about social issues.
“They asked the person who started the WeChat group to restart it. He lives in the US now. But he won’t; he’s afraid. He has relatives in China, and if the government is monitoring him, then it may well be unsafe. They understand. This social group of 136 people — it’s dead now,” Luo wrote.
But when people choose to speak out, it can be harder for those still in China to understand.
“My grandpa [is] like, ‘Well why don’t you just give up, then you can come back?'” Lin said. “They think it’s that easy because the Chinese Communist Party promised them that if I don’t speak up, I will get to go back, but I know that’s not the case. I know usually if you don’t speak up you don’t have any leverage. They will just kill your voice completely.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.