The 6 best things about living in an open bay - We Are The Mighty
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The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Troops deployed around the world aren’t always saddled with the modern conveniences of a private room. Instead, they get to experience communal living in an open bay that houses anywhere from five or six service members to hundreds of them, each with an entire cot’s worth of space to call their own.


For those unfortunate people who have never lived within spitting distance of nearly everyone they work with, here are six major perks to living in a military bay:

1. Everyone knows your business, and you know theirs.

When everyone is sleeping practically on top of each other, it’s sort of hard to keep anything private. Reading choices, hygiene habits, frequency of urination, everyone knows everything about you. And, this flows both ways. Whether you like it or not, you will know how long and how often your friends poop.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
When you’re living in areas with bunk beds instead of cots, you get to practice teamwork by splitting the area under the bed with someone else. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Bailey)

2. You always know which of your buddies are sick

Every cough, sneeze, and snore cuts through the air of the bay like a serrated knife through your dreams, ensuring that you always know who is congested and who has undiagnosed sleep apnea. This allows buddies to update each other on general health matters.

3. You learn all sorts of medical tips, like “Sleep head-to-toe to avoid respiratory infections.”

You’ll learn a lot about human anatomy in a large bay. For instance, humans breathing only a few feet from each other all night will often exchange respiratory diseases. To avoid this, all troops should sleep with their heads and feet on alternating ends of the cots. That way, you get to smell your buddy’s sweaty feet all night instead of picking up his horrendous cough.

4. You have the entire underside of your cot to store stuff.

One of the best things about living in a bay is that you have tons of storage space. Almost the entire underside of your cot can be used for holding duffel bags, rucks, and — for the truly elite — even footlockers. Some units fill the bay with beds and lockable storage, but then you need a key to get into your stuff. Best to just rock the duffel bag with flimsy lock for quick access.

5. Other military specialties divulge their secrets while holding meetings 3 feet from you.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
A Navy Midshipman candidate practices waking up his buddies with bad light discipline during a fire guard shift in 2016. This will come in handy if he’s ever deployed into another open-bay environment. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Brian Tuthill)

Sleepers will learn a lot more about the Army when they’re frequently awakened by NCOs and junior officers discussing operations near their bunks. Want to learn more about electromagnetic warfare? Be sure to grab a bunk near the EWO. Want to never sleep again? The operations cell usually has bunks at the back.

6. The long treks to the latrines really wake you up in the morning (and at 0-dark-30).

Have trouble waking up without coffee? Many bays don’t have plumbing and the 300-yard walk to the latrines and sinks every morning just to brush your teeth can really get the blood pumping. In the bays with water, you’re sure to get frequent reminders to get out of bed as literally dozens of people start shuffling past your bed on their way to and from the urinal.

Lists

5 things you didn’t know about Air Force One

For decades, the president has flown in style on a variety of different planes and under various call signs. Air Force One is one of the most famous aircrafts to ever take to the skies as it’s the to-go plane for U.S. presidents.


The plane is so popular, it was featured in the 1997 action film, Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford as he battles terrorists trying to take over his flying fortress.

You better listen! (Image via GIPHY) 

Here’s what you might not know about this famous flyer.

Related: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

5. Air Force One isn’t an actual plane

The term was coined as a call sign for the President’s two nearly-identical planes. The planes are perfect twins except for their tail fin numbers. The two modern AF1 edition aircraft are labeled with different numbers: 28000 and 29000.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
(Screenshot from World War Wings YouTube)

4. The original Air Force One 

In the mid-1940s, planes were deemed reliable for transportation, seeing as they were successfully flying some intricate missions in World War II. The Army repurposed a C-54 Skymaster for the president’s use and dubbed the aircraft, The Sacred Cow.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
The Sacred Cow (Photo from U.S. Air Force)

3. Air Force One almost collided with a commercial flight

In 1953, President Eisenhower flew under the call sign Air Force 8610. A control tower got it confused with Eastern Airlines flight 8610 as they entered each other’s airspace. After that near accident, the call sign Air Force One was permanently used.

2. The government hired a real designer

Since Air Force One wasn’t considered a “looker,” designer Raymond Loewy came into the picture and took the plane’s aesthetic to a new level. Loewy designed the logos for IBM, Exxon, Shell, Lucky Strike, the Coast Guard, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
The very-talented Raymond Loewy.

Also Read: Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America

1. The cost to operate the plane per hour

According to the Freedom of Information Act, the cost of operating Air Force One for an hour is around $206,337 smackaroos, compared to the average airline flyer’s $25,000.

Check out World War Wings‘ video below to get the full scoop on this historic plane.

 

(World War Wings | YouTube)
Lists

17 photos that show why the F-14 Tomcat was so darned awesome

During more than 34 years of fleet service, the F-14 Tomcat transformed from analog fighter to digital precision attack platform. Originally designed to keep Russian bombers away from the battle group by employing Phoenix missiles at very long range, by the time the Tomcat was retired in 2006 it was capable of missions as far ranging as forward air controller (airborne), reconnaissance, close air support, and precision deep-strike, which made it CENTCOM’s platform of choice over Afghanistan and Iraq.


Here’s a gallery of 17 photos that celebrate the legendary F-14, the last of the Grumman cats:

 

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The Tomcat came in three different models: A, B, and D. Here an F-14D — with two General Electric F-110 engines and the fully digital APG-71 radar system — makes a supersonic pass.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The F-14A had the less powerful (and less reliable) Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engine that required the pilot select afterburner when launching from the carrier. The F-14A and B also had the AWG-9 weapons system, which used physical tape to transfer data.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Because the GE F-110 had the same thrust at military power as the TF-30 had in Zone 2 afterburner F-14B and D pilots could launch from the carrier without selecting afterburner, which didn’t look as cool but was much safer.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Unlike the F-4, which extended its nose strut for catapult launches, the F-14 “knelt,” or compressed, the nose strut, giving it the look of a dragster about to zorch down the quarter mile.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Airborne off Cat 3! Here Tom Twomey, a radar intercept officer with the VF-111 “Sundowners,” takes a selfie (before that was a thing) as his pilot starts a left-hand clearing turn away from the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The engineers who designed the Tomcat swore that asymmetric wing sweep was impossible, but test pilots proved them wrong during test. In spite of this over the history of the airplane the wing sweep system proved to be very reliable.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Because 25 percent of the Tomcat’s lift came from the large area between the wings — popularly referred to as the “tennis court” — the Tomcat didn’t have a very impressive roll rate relative to airplanes like the A-4 or F-16. But its large horizontal stabilizers gave Tomcat pilots significant pitch authority, which made the jet a lethal dogfighter in the right hands.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

People tend to forget that the United States sold Iran F-14s back when the Shah was in charge in the late ’70s and that they’re still flying them today (although none of them are believed to be fully mission capable). The Iranian Air Force used the Phoenix missile to shoot down Iraqi opponents during the Iran-Iraq War, something U.S. Navy crews never did.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Iranian ace Jalil Zandi shot down 11 Iraqi aircraft during the Iran–Iraq War, which makes him the most successful F-14 pilot by far.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The first Gulf of Sidra incident occurred in 1981 when a section of Tomcats from VF-41 flying off of the USS Nimitz shot down two Libyan Su-22s. Wing RIO Lt. Jim Anderson (far left) was later killed in a skiing accident. Lead pilot Cdr. Hank Kleeman (second from left, squadron CO at the time) was later killed when he flipped an F/A-18 while taxiing. Wing pilot Lt. Larry Muczynski (second from left) got out of the Navy to become an airline pilot. Lead RIO Lt. Dave Venlet (far right) became a pilot and ultimately rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and headed the Naval Air Systems Command.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The second Gulf of Sidra incident took place in 1989 when two Tomcats from the VF-32 “Swordsmen” shot down two Libyan MiG-23s. (Read the full amazing story here.)

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The Tomcat’s size — nearly 70 feet from wingtip to wingtip — demanded pilots be right on azimuth when they crossed the aircraft carrier’s ramp. Here a pilot makes a last-second lineup correction that almost leads to disaster.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The F-14 had a lot of moving parts in the landing pattern — flaps, slats, speed brake, spoilers, rudders, and horizontal stabilizers — which earned the airplane the nickname “Turkey” because of how it looked to be flapping when the pilot was actively moving the controls. (Also note the LANTIRN pod — the gear that made the Tomcat a smart bomber — mounted on the right weapons station.)

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

“The John Wayne loadout,” six Phoenix missiles. Although this is why the Tomcat was initially fielded, during the years the fighter flew the real-world threat never demanded this complement of missiles.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

A Tomcat tanking from an Air Force KC-135, an always-sporty evolution because of the adapter that was placed at the end of the boom to accommodate Navy aircraft that didn’t give much slack and had a tendency to rip off probes if pilots weren’t careful.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Arguably the coolest paint job in the history of military aviation. VX-4’s “Vandy One” was a big hit on cross-countries and at airshows in the days before the Playboy bunny came to represent pure evil (and JAGs figured out the U.S. Navy was in gross violation of copyright laws). (But you could be somebody climbing out of this one, tell you what . . .)

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Those who flew you miss you, Big Fighter. Tomcats forever, baby!

Lists

5 social media influencers that served in the military

Many believe that the true rise of social media began after Google bought out the video streaming service, YouTube, for $1.65 billion in 2006.


Since then, billions of people around the globe have documented their lives and ran successful businesses through various social media networks.

Out of those billions, only a handful of those people are considered “social influencers.” And out of that handful, an even smaller number are military veterans.

Related: Every way not to use social media in the military summed up in recent video

1. Dakota Meyer

This Medal of Honor recipient enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 after graduating high school. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Sgt. Meyer disregarded his own safety to find and save fellow members of his embedded training team while under a curtain of enemy fire.

For his efforts, Sgt. Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by former President Obama in September of 2011. Now, Dakota continues to spread the stories of the outstanding men with whom he once served.

Today, Dakota’s social media following is one truly fit for a motivated hero. His audience has grown to nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter, 600,000 on his Facebook page, and a respectable 20,000 viewers on his YouTube channel.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Dakota Meyer with his Marine brothers. (DakotaMeyer.com)

2. Don Shipley

If you ever have a second thought about a guy claiming to be a Navy SEAL, what better way to find out the truth than contacting a real one? After serving 24 years in the Navy as a SEAL Senior Chief, this well-respected badass retired in 2003. Now, this former-SEAL busts stolen-valor phonies and even shows up to their residence to meet them face-to-face.

You can watch his hilarious, phony-SEAL-busting videos on his YouTube channel, Buds 131, along with his loyal audience of nearly 180,000 people.

If you receive a call from this Navy badass, chances are, you’re about to get busted for stolen freakin’ valor.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Don Shipley and his wife, Diane. (Don Shipley Facebook)

3. Jacqueline Carrizosa

This motivated Navy sailor served as both a gunner’s mate and rescue swimmer during her honorable years of service. Since then, she’s worked on various films projects, including the series Oscar Mike and Peter Berg’s Battleship.

You can watch her get an awesome tattoo that pays tribute to her Navy days in an episode of USAA’s channel original series, Service and Ink. She also supports the Team 5 Foundation that travels far and wide to provide medical care to poverty-stricken countries.

Today, Jackie’s social audience is growing at a serious rate as her Instagram follows tally up to 132,000.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

4. Max Uriarte

Uriarte joined the Marine Corps in 2006 as a 0351 Marine Assaultman and was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Uriarte deployed to Iraq twice with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2007 and 2009.

During Uriarte’s four years of enlistment in the Corps, he served as a SMAW gunner, team leader, squad leader, .50Cal gunner, combat photographer, and a combat artist.

In 2010, Uriarte started the hit comic strip, Terminal Lance, which soon became the single most popular comic strip in the military.

Now, Max has over 15,000 followers on Instagram and his Terminal Lance Facebook page is followed by nearly 700,000 loyal fans.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Also Read: 7 reasons why social media is the devil while on a deployment

5. Dulce Candy

Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Dulce joined the U.S. Army in 2006, became a certified generator mechanic, and was stationed Fort Hood, Texas. Soon after, she deployed to Iraq for a 15 months and experienced the intensity of war.

After returning home, she continued to work as a mechanic, until she turned on her camera and began discussing makeup and fashion culture on YouTube.

Today, she has over 1.1 million followers on Instagram, 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube, and is close to reaching 1 million on Facebook.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
(Dulce Candy YouTube)

Lists

6 games that should definitely feature a battle royale mode

At this year’s E3, many long-awaited game have been announced. And because gaming companies love digging into the same gold mine over and over again, it seems like a good handful of established franchises are now getting a new “battle royale” mode to try and cash in on a booming trend.

For those who don’t know, a “battle royale” game is one in which 100 players are dropped into an open world and are expected to find gear to help them outlast the other 99 players. We have nothing but love for the game mode, seeing as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of our favorite games lately. When it’s done right, it’s spectacular, but shoehorning the mode into any old game might not work.

Shooter games, both first-person and third-, tend to work pretty well, but other games, like Realm Royale, are proving that even in the absence of rifles, the genre is surprisingly fun. Even a game that was focuses more on 1 vs 99 could do well, as proved by the Thanos update to Fortnite.

So, we’ve decided to take a look at games for which a battle royale mode would definitely be a welcome addition.


The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Quake is the original “git good” game.

(id Software)

Quake Champions

One of the biggest draws of PUBG is the incredibly high skill ceiling. But in our opinion, no game franchise in history has come close to matching the skill required to dominate in Quake.

Currently, nothing in the battle royale scene matches the hyper-fast tempo of Quake. The health, armor, and weapon-spawn systems wouldn’t need to change — Quake Champions is already perfect for the game mode if you simply gave it a massive map for players to traverse.

Pro-tip: If you download the game between now until June 18th, 2018, you get it for free.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Something to think about… Maybe as a multiplayer mode in the RE2 remake.

(Capcom)

Resident Evil

Shy of Minecraft: Hunger Games, there isn’t really any story or plot behind why 100 players are trying to kill each other. If it was set in a zombie-infested hellscape, it’d be a bit more logical.

The Resident Evil franchise would make for a fantastic battle royale because dying wouldn’t mean a game over. It would start out as a 100-player free-for-all. Whoever dies just gets moved to the zombie team and they get another life. In order to win, you’d have to kill all of the zombies as well as the other players — or be a part of the zombie horde that kills all living survivors.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

It’ll be like Los Angeles when it rains!

(EA Games)

Burnout

It’s been about ten years since a (good) Burnout game was released and they remastered the best installment of the series just a few months ago.

Burnout has always been about the stupid, awesome fun of destroying vehicles. What better way to make that happen than to have 100 player-driven cars crashing into each other?

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

If you think about it, Red Dead Redemption’s online mode was basically a free-for-all anyways.

(Rockstar Games)

Red Dead Redemption 2

Grand Theft Auto V tried a battle royale mode and it worked out well enough, but many players felt like winning was a little too reliant on luck rather than skill.

Now, if it were 100 cowboys fighting each other in an open world, it’d be far more fun. One player couldn’t just find a Rhino tank and roll their way to victory.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

No items, Foxes only, Final Destination — let’s do this.

(Nintendo)

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

To be fair, Super Smash Bros is the original sumo-wrestling equivalent of a battle royale game. Some game modes allow you to take on an endless onslaught of computer-controlled characters with your single fighter. It might be tough to fit 100 players around a TV, but the groundwork is all there. Just make the Hyrule Temple stage a little bigger and it’d probably fit 100 fighters.

The game is great with 4 players and chaotically awesome with just 16 players — why not go a step further?

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

“Where are we dropping, boys?”

(Blizzard Entertainment)

World of Warcraft

The makings of a battle royale mode are already established in the lore and game mechanics of World of Warcraft. The greatest thing about the Warlords of Draenor expansion was its inclusion of a 25-man, free-for-all arena called the Highmaul Coliseum. Maybe they could bring that back and up the ante.

There are even four battlegrounds already in the game that would be perfectly suited for a re-purposing to support 100 players: Alterac Valley, Wintergrasp, Tol Barad, and Ashran. Hell, the “drop-in” mechanic that typifies nearly every battle royale game already exists in their newest battleground, Seething Shore.

Lists

The 7 most effective American war rifles

“This is my rifle; this is my gun. One is for pleasure; the other for fun . . .” As anyone who’s been there knows, a warfighter develops a pretty intimate relationship with his (or her) weapon while in theater. From the Revolutionary War through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these 7 rifles were the ones American troops depended on when the bullets started flying:


1. The Long Rifle

 

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The American Long Rifle took longer to reload than a British musket, but it’s superior accuracy (due to a smaller and harder round) and longer range allowed the patriots to disburse themselves and take out the tightly-grouped Red Coats one-by-one while remaining beyond the enemy’s reach.

2. The Spencer Repeating Rifle

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The Spencer gave the Union Army a significant tactical advantage during the Civil War with a firing rate of 20 rounds per minute compared to 2 to 3 rounds per minute of the Confederate’s muzzle loaders. Ironically the Department of War balked at having troops use the Spencer initially because they thought they’d waste too much ammo, but Christopher Spencer himself demo’d the rifle to President Lincoln and he subsequently ordered its introduction.

3. The Winchester

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

“The gun that won the west.” “Winchester” is a general term for a series of rifles, the most successful of which was the 1873 model, which was not used by the U.S. military. The 1895 model was, however, championed by none other than Theodore Roosevelt who was first introduced to the weapon during a big game hunting expedition.

4. The Springfield

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The 1903 model of the Springfield rifle was derived from the version that contributed to the disaster at Little Big Horn because of it’s tendency to jam. The 1903 was a more reliable rifle and found its place with U.S. Army troops in the trenches of France during World War 1.

5. The M1

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Patton called it “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” the M1 Garand was the U.S. military’s first standard issue semi-automatic rifle. The M1’s semiautomatic operation gave American forces a significant advantage in firepower and shot-to-shot recovery time over individual enemy infantrymen during both World War 2 and the Korean War.

6. The M16

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

Despite growing pains, mostly associated with jamming, early in it’s service life, the M16 eventually became a trusted rifle across all of the branches of service from the Vietnam War through Desert Storm until the present day. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber.

7. The M4

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

The weapon of choice for most special operators since 9-11. The M4’s design was based on shortening the barrel length without compromising long-range accuracy, faster firing action, capability of setting a three-shot pattern, and basic versatility for additional equipment (flash suppressors, silencer, grenade launchers, etc.). All factors were geared for close combat and what the Pentagon describes as “fluid tactical situations.” (h/t diffen.com)

Now: SEAL Team 6’s plan to surrender and 7 other amazing JSOC tales

Lists

The most decorated animals in military history

Military service animals have a longstanding history of taking care of our service men and women overseas without complaint. Maybe that’s because they don’t speak English, or maybe it’s because they’re the best darn soldiers the military has ever seen. Either way, they’re not only adorable, they’re also brave animals who risked life and limb to take care of the people that they loved. Some of the animals on list gave their lives for their country, and some survived the most heinous terrorist attack on American soil. Many have been awarded for their valor.


Check out this list of military animals through history and vote for your favorite ones, whether they be dogs, cats, horses, pigeons, or whatever.

The Most Decorated Animals in the Military

Lists

5 of the best ways to skate in the Marine Corps Infantry

Skipping out on work is an age-old practice and, in the military, it requires a decent amount of both skill and luck. The art of ‘skating’ is not one that can easily be taught or learned. To become an expert, one must be trained by a master — probably the grand, old lance corporal of the platoon — and one must train hard.


Since skating is generally frowned upon by members of the command, it’s all the more surprising and sweet when they give you the opportunity to do so.

Related: 5 ways to skate in Marine Corps boot camp

1. Be a duty driver

At the insistence of your command, you get out of an entire day’s work to learn how to drive a van then drive said van. In some rare cases, you might be pulled away for a few days to learn how to drive the van, take a written test, and then take a road test. Not only do you get to enjoy a few easy days courtesy of your command, you’ll occasionally get pulled away to drive the battalion’s officer on duty, which means, essentially, you get those days off as well.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Remember: it’s still duty. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. David Staten)

2. Be a HMMWV driver

Taking this course means you get a week away from your unit to learn about the wonderful HMMWV (pronounced ‘humvee’) and how often you’ll have to fix it. On some days, classes end early, so be prepared to get out of work before the rest of your unit. Aside from that first week, this is a ticket to occasionally get out of hikes and fields ops to drive supplies or weak bodies from point A to B.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
You might get pulled to do inspections on occasion, though. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ricky Gomez)

3. Platoon radio operator

This skate takes place mostly in the field because it requires you to follow the platoon commander around. It’s your job to monitor radio traffic for the lieutenant to keep him up to speed on what’s going on, so while others are on patrol, you’ll be busy relaying info.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Make sure you can keep up with your LT, though. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty)

4. Mess duty

Sure, you might have to get up early and go to bed a bit late, but that’s what it takes to get hot meals ready for everyone in the field. You prepare breakfast and dinner usually and spend the afternoon cleaning the cooking equipment. You’re basically attached to the cook that’s been assigned to your company, so whenever they need help, you get to spend time away from your platoon.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
It’s rough if it’s cold outside. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Joshua Murray)

Also read: 9 tips for ‘skating’ in the Navy

5. Be a range safety operator

These Marines are driven to and from the ranges to make sure everyone who is shooting is doing so safely and effectively. Your job is simple: pay attention. All you have to do is make sure PFC Bootface isn’t going to shoot Lance Corporal So-and-so in the back on accident (or on purpose).

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
All you have to do is give a thumbs-up and pay attention. It’s easy. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. Heather Atherton)

Lists

The 8 most elite special forces in the world, according to BI Defense

Elite special forces are some of the best-trained and most formidable units a country can boast.


They go where other soldiers fear to tread, scoping out potential threats, taking out strategic targets, and conducting daring rescue missions.

These really are the best of the best.

Although it’s extremely difficult to rank these forces relative to one another, there are some units that rise above the rest in their track record and the fear they instill in their adversaries. These soldiers have been through rigorous training exercises designed to weed out those who can’t hit their exacting standards.

In a world where the importance of the sheer size of a country’s military forces is no longer a guide to their effectiveness, these soldiers are the ones states look to in order to get the job done.

8. The Special Services Group, SSG, in Pakistan is better known in the country as the “Black Storks” because of the commandos’ unique headgear. Training reportedly includes a 36-mile march in 12 hours and a five-mile run in 50 minutes in full gear.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube screen shot

In October 2009, SSG commandos stormed an office building and rescued 39 people taken hostage by suspected Taliban militants after an attack on the army’s headquarters.

7. Spain’s Unidad de Operaciones Especiales, or the Naval Special Warfare Force as it has become since 2009, has long been one of Europe’s best-respected special forces. Originally established as the volunteer Amphibious Climbing Company unit in 1952, it has since followed the SAS’s example to become an elite fighting force.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube

Earning the UOE green beret, however, is a big ask with the failure rate of candidates averaging between 70% and 80%. It’s not uncommon for 100% of would-be new recruits to be rejected.

6. Russia’s Alpha Group is one of the best-known special forces units in the world. This elite antiterrorism unit was created by the KGB in 1974 and remains under its modern-day counterpart, the FSB.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russian special forces, and the Alpha Group in particular, came under criticism during the 2002 Moscow hostage crisis in which 129 hostages died from the effects of the gas used to knock out militants who had seized a theatre.

5. Of all the counterterrorism forces in the world, few can compete with France’s National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN). The group is 200 strong and trained specifically to respond to hostage situations. They claim to have freed over 600 people since they were formed in 1973. It is against French law to publish pictures of their faces.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube

One of the most extraordinary episodes in the GIGN’s history was the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979. Because of the prohibition on non-Muslims entering the holy city, a team of three GIGN commandos briefly converted to Islam before helping the Saudi armed forces to plan the recapture of the mosque.

4. Israel’s Sayeret Matkal is another of the world’s most elite units. Its primary purpose is intelligence gathering, and it often operates deep behind enemy lines. During the selection camp (Gibbush), would-be recruits endure hardcore training exercises while being constantly monitored by doctors and psychologists. Only the strongest get in.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube

In 2003, Israeli taxi driver Eliyahu Gurel was kidnapped after transporting four Palestinians to Jerusalem in his cab. But the Sayeret Matkal unit located and rescued him from a 10-meter-deep pit in an abandoned factory in a suburb of Ramallah.

3. The British Special Air Service (or SAS as they are more commonly known) are the infantry counterparts to the SBS. Their insignia bears the famous phrase “Who dares wins.” Asked about the importance of the SAS’s role in the fighting that followed the Iraq war, US Gen. Stanley McChrystal responded: “Essential. Could not have done it without them.”

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube

2. The UK equivalent of the Navy SEALS is the Special Boat Service. The selection process involves a grueling endurance test, jungle training in the rainforests of Belize, and combat survival training, which involves intense interrogation of candidates. And you get only two attempts to pass.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: YouTube

1. Last up, the US Navy SEALs. To join their ranks, you have to be able to do a minimum of 42 push-ups in two minutes, 50 sit-ups in two minutes, and run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes. And that’s before training starts.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BONUS: The US Marines are hardcore in their own right. Below, a US Marine drinks the blood of a cobra during a jungle survival exercise with the Thai Navy as part of the “Cobra Gold 2014” joint military exercise.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo Credit: Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/USMC

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

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:


AIR FORCE

The Air Force and its mission partners successfully launched the AFSPC-5 mission aboard the Space and Missile Systems Center procured United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, May 20, 2015.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: United Launch Alliance

Tech. Sgt. Bruce Ramos, a 1st Special Operations Group Detachment 1 radio operator, raises an American flag from an MC-130P Combat Shadow while it taxis at Hurlburt Field, Fla., May 15, 2015.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson/USAF

NAVY

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform a flyover during a graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Naval Academy Class of 2015.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch/USN

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an independent deployment.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/USN

ARMY

BIG STEP – On Tuesday, May 19, students at the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School conducted helocast drills. Helocasting is an airborne insertion technique used by small special operations forces to enter denied areas of operations.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Janice Burton/US Army

An Army AH-64 Apache air crew, assigned to 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division conducts pre-flight checks prior to an air-assault operation, part of the Network Integration Evaluation 15.2 exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Sgt. Jose D. Ramirez/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Landing craft air cushion conduct an amphibious assault during the MARFORPAC-hosted U.S. Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS) at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/USMC

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank with 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires its 120 mm smoothbore cannon during a live-fire event as part of Exercise Eager Lion 2015 in Jordan.

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Photo: Sgt. Devin Nichols

COAST GUARD

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard 1st District don immersion suits to practice cold water survival in Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

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Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USN

A Coast Guard crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium patrols Boston Harbor near the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell/USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: 19 of the coolest military mottos

OR: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

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These Coasties were tougher than your first sergeant

The Coast Guard is typically more worried about life jackets than L-shaped ambushes, so they often get a reputation for being bad-ss free, but it’s actually not true.


A bunch of the oft-mocked “puddle pirates” are actually tough as nails. Here are six Coasties from history who weren’t afraid to put life and limb on the line so that others may live:

6. A rescue swimmer personally saved half a crew in the middle of a hurricane

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Tim Kuklewski)

When the HMS Bounty, a replica ship based on a 1780s design, sailed into the Atlantic ahead of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it was pretty much doomed. Few people on the crew of 15 had any real experience on tall ships and the captain failed to account for how much damage high winds could do to his wooden masts and hull.

So the Coast Guard had to attempt a rescue in severe conditions. Petty Officer Third Class Daniel J. Todd, a rescue swimmer, dove into the waters and braved 30-foot waves for an hour to rescue nine crew members, many of them one at a time.

Five other members of the Bounty crew were rescued by other helicopters. The captain and one crew member died.

5. A pilot twice braved volatile ice to pull out stranded allies

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
First Lt. John A. Pritchard gets ready to take off on what will be his final rescue flight. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard Lt. John A . Pritchard was assigned to duties on the USCGC Northland in 1942 when the ship was operating near the Greenland Ice Cap.

On Nov. 23, he led a motorboat crew through the ice, under a shelf liable to collapse at any moment, onto the shore, and across a dangerous glacier in the middle of the night to rescue three Canadian airmen. He would posthumously receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions.

Later that same month, he flew onto the ice cap to rescue downed American airmen. On Nov. 28, he landed on the ice and then took off with two Army fliers, saving them both.

He returned the next day and picked up a third flier but never made it back to his ship. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously for his November 28-29 actions.

4. The crew of the USCGC Campbell, which rammed a German submarine

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
The USCGC Campbell while in Navy service in World War II. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

On Feb. 22, 1943, the USCGC Campbell was escorting other ships when a German submarine suddenly appeared in the ocean nearby. The Campbell immediately turned towards the enemy craft and rammed it, damaging both vessels but failing to sink the enemy sub.

Despite a large hole in the Campbell’s side, it stayed in the fight and engaged the sub with direct fire and depth charges, eventually destroying the enemy. The Campbell took a few prisoners on board, but its commander, Commander James Hirshfield, had been wounded by shell shrapnel.

Hirshfield remained in command and had the Campbell brought into port for repairs.

3. The coxswain who navigated an exploding ship to rescue survivors

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

When the USNS Potomac caught fire in 1961 while discharging aviation fuel, the sea quickly became a hellscape. Explosions on the ship repeatedly sent shrapnel across the surface of the water and burning fuel heated the surrounding air and filled it with noxious gasses.

Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate First Class Howard R. Jones piloted a lifeboat under the stern of the Potomac and rescued five crew members. He delivered those to a nearby hospital and then returned to the still-burning vessel where he searched for other survivors, finding another missing crew member.

The reserves of fuel on the ship kept it burning for five days before it sank.

2. Three Coasties volunteer to rescue over 30 survivors in a horrendous storm

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
(Photos: U.S. Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard often refers to the events of Feb. 18, 1952, as their “Finest Hours,” and a movie based on the events came out in 2016. Two 520-foot ships, the Fort Mercer and the Pendleton, broke apart in a massive nor’easter. The Pendleton broke first, but a short circuit stopped it from reporting the damage.

The Fort Mercer crew was rescued and the crews finally spotted the beleaguered Pendleton. A crew of four volunteers motored past the sandbars off Massachusetts and made it to the bow section of the Pendleton.

Despite massive waves, freezing temperatures, and a broken compass, the four men were able to rescue 32 of the 33 men still alive on the Pendleton and get them back to shore.

1. Two signalmen save Marines under fire at Guadalcanal

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
(Painting: U.S. Coast Guard)

Chief Signalman Raymond Evans and Signalman First Class Douglas Munro were attached to the 1st Marine Division in 1942 when they were sent to Guadalcanal as part of the invasion. The two men were there on different missions, but both were asked to pilot boats to land Marines on another part of the island.

The initial landings were uneventful, but soon after the Coasties returned, they heard that the Marines were under heavy fire and were signaling for help. They both volunteered to return in Higgins boats, a few panels of slapped together plywood filled with gasoline and ammunition, and rescue the Marines.

They even volunteered for service in the boat designated to draw Japanese fire.

Miraculously, the Coasties were able to suppress many of the Japanese guns as the Marine withdrew to the boats, but Munro was tragically hit in the head by a Japanese machine gun burst while helping a beached craft en route back to the beach.

He survived just long enough to famously ask, “Did the Marines get off?” before succumbing to his wounds.

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8 genius military uses for civilian products

The Pentagon is using more equipment and technology from the civilian sector, but service members have been finding ingenious uses for civilian items for a long time.


1. Detecting tripwires: Silly String

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ellen Keller

Tripwires have been a problem for centuries, but a modern toy has provided a solution. Silly String can be sprayed through open doors, windows, and other choke points to check for booby traps before soldiers and Marines move through.

2. Stopping bleeding: tampons

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tampons are known for stopping a certain kind of bleeding, but deployed service members realized that small tampons can plug a bullet hole, quickly controlling bleeding while the injured awaits a medical evacuation.

3. Marking bombs: flour and ear plugs

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Once a mine or IED is found, its location has to be communicated to others. Some units will draw on the ground with flour from a squeeze bottle, making symbols that say the type of danger and its location.

Flour doesn’t work well in wet environments or anywhere the ground is a light beige or dirty white. There, disposable ear plugs can work better. Mine clearance will find a mine and drop a brightly colored ear plug on it. Soldiers following behind them know to watch out for these markers.

4. Cleaning weapons: baby wipes, cotton swabs, and dental scrapers

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Shahram Sharif

Weapons maintenance is important, but good materials can be hard to find. Still, some of the best cleaning can be done with baby wipes, cotton swabs, and dental scrapers. They’re used to wipe down surfaces, get to hard to reach areas, and remove burnt on carbon, respectively.

5. Sewing: dental floss

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Stilfehler

When uniforms rip, soldiers away from a base have to personally fix them. Dental floss is strong, easy to work with, and available to troops at the front. To make a sewing kit, troops throw floss in a cleaned out mint or dip can along with a couple of sewing needles.

6. Waterproofing: Soap dish or condoms

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, josef325

A service member’s poncho should keep their gear dry, but even recruits in boot camp know better. Wallets, maps, and notebooks are better protected in a soap travel dish. When a dish isn’t available or an awkward items needs protected, condoms can be unrolled over them. This technique works well for waterproofing boots before crossing a stream.

7. Cleaning radio contacts: pencil eraser

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Evan-Amos

This one is so effective, it’s become official Army doctrine. The contact points where microphones or antennas meet with a radio can become tarnished and dirty. Erasers can get these spotless quickly, something which has been incorporated into Army manuals such as Field Manual 44-48, “Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Sensor Platoon.”

8. Making terrain models: marking chalk

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
Photo: US Army Cheryl Rodewig

Marking chalk is that chalk contractors use with string to mark exactly where a wire should run or a cut should be made. The chalk doesn’t come attached to the string though, it comes in 5-gallon jugs. The military, which has to build sand tables that represent the terrain in their area of operations, realized they could use different colors of this chalk to make different colored sand. Water can be represented with blue, vegetation with green, and hazardous areas with red or yellow.

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6 treats for the US Army on its 242nd birthday

The United States Army celebrates 242 years of defending the America against all enemies.


So, what can you get an Army that already has a $240 billion annual budget? Obviously, it will need to be one heck of an awesome gift basket.

Here’s what we’d put in:

1. A new 7.62mm battle rifle

The Army is deciding it may go back to the 7.62x51mm NATO standard round.

Whether the new battle rifle is based on the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the new M110A1 Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the M14EBR, or some other contender, the Army will want the reach and hitting power of this cartridge in the hands of more grunts.

Every rifleman a designated marksman?

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Colvin

2. A new scout helicopter

The Army has retired the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, but there has been no replacement. The hot-rod that was the RAH-66 Comanche got chopped in 2004. The ARH-70 Arapahoe was killed in 2008. Then, the planned OH-58F Block II got the axe in 2014 thanks to sequestration.

Look, the Apache is not a bad helicopter, but the Kiowa worked well as a scout bird. UAVs are nice, but sometimes, you need a manned scout to do the job.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter from the 1st Infantry Division takes off on a mission from Forward Operation Base MacKenzie, Iraq. It is armed with an AGM-114 Hellfire and 7 Hydra 70 rockets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shane Cuomo)

3. More Dragoons

The Stryker got a firepower upgrade last year in the form of a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun. These Strykers got a new designation (M1296) and a new name (Dragoon). However, there are a lot of places the grunts could use that extra firepower.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: courtesy of Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems)

4. Speed up the lighter Carl Gustav

Yes, the Army invoked Army Regulation 600.9 on the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System.

After Carl (Gustav) lost the weight, it came back with some new features that will make it far more user-friendly. The system is now a permanent part of infantry platoons, and gives them a weapon capable of firing anti-armor, illumination, smoke, anti-building, and anti-personnel rounds.

But let’s get those systems there faster, please.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
U.S. Army Soldiers Spc. Joshua Rutledge (right) and Pfc. Austin Piette (left) perform a practice drill on how to hold, aim, and fire a Carl Gustav anti-tank recoilless rifle. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin/Released)

5. Bring back the W48 and merge it with the Excalibur GPS tech

ISIS has used chemical weapons a lot during its reign of terror. The United States once had the W48 round — a shell that delivers the equivalent of 72 tons of TNT (.072 kilotons).

Merging it with the Excalibur GPS guidance system would certainly have given our guys a nice option for a…decisive response to such an attack.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay

That’ll do some damage. (Image via Wikipedia)

6. Air-defense systems besides the M1097 Avenger

The fact that Russia is a threat again means that it is well past time to get some more air defense besides the Avenger and man-portable Stingers.

There are some off-the-shelf options that could bolster those defenses. The Bradley Linebacker might be a system to bring back, more for a 25mm gun than the missiles (it is stuck with Stingers).

So, let’s get some other missile options.

The 6 best things about living in an open bay
AMRAAMs mounted on a Humvee. Versions of this have been called HUMRAAM, CLAWS, or SLAMRAAM. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

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