The military community is huge on rivalry and houses some of the most inventive d*ck-measuring contests ever imagined. Each branch is currently and forever waging a friendly war with one another that shows no signs of stopping — not that we’d want it to. And Navy homies, you’re up.
We hate on each other for various reasons, but at the end of the day — we’re still on the same side. Do not get it twisted. If we didn’t mock our brothers and sisters, how would they know that we love them? Think of it more like healthy competition than bad blood.
We Are The Mighty is made up of members from all branches of service. This time around, it’s a soldier ribbing his fellow sailor counterparts. Upset? Wait until your retort comes around. Argue in the comment section and maybe you’ll bring up good snap-backs.
With the upcoming Army-Navy football game, now’s the time to break out the salt on those squids.
1. You guys are heroes during fleet week. We just show up drunk at Hooters.
Everyone wants to roll out the red carpets when you guys get drunk, but when we do, there’s a company-wide recall because the FNG got a DUI off-post.
2. In-country deployments versus at-sea deployments.
I mean, we get it: 7th Fleet is supposedly terrible. Want to know what else sucks? Damn near everything about Iraq and Afghanistan. Just know that your ships have mess decks instead of CONEXes filled with expired MREs.
3. If you’re not a fake Marine Seabee or Corpsman, we don’t know who the hell you are.
We’re constantly working with airmen because they’re our taxis. We constantly work with Marines because they’re cool. I mean, technically there’s got to be at least a few soldiers who run into a sailor while on active duty, but that’s rare.
4. Seabees get better toys while on actual in-country deployments.
On the subject of Seabees, if you don’t know, Seabees are kind of like construction workers. They get actual supplies and use actual tools to build actual buildings. Want to know what we get? Sandbags. And we get to use them like floppy Lego blocks.
5. We see them only as glorified sea-taxi drivers for their cooler sibling (Marines).
We use the Air Force when we’re trying to Uber the hell out of Afghanistan — and they do the same for the Marines and the fake Marines. Shy of launching a few missiles (which every branch does — there’s nothing special about your Tomahawks), your entire purpose is to deliver Marines as if terrorists ordered them on Amazon Prime.
6. How the hell did we lose the “drinking and cussing like a sailor” sayings to a bunch of beach-volleyball players that dress like anime schoolgirls?
Have a conversation with an soldier and they’ll use a expletives like a f*cking comma. Catch them out of uniform and they’ll have a bottle of something in their hands. Those sayings should be ours! But no, they go to you guys even though…
Lightning round: …your crackerjacks are silly. Your blueberries are pointless. We won’t ever let you live down Top Gun. The “100 sailors” joke will never stop being funny. Nearly your entire branch is made up of POGs. You literally call you lower enlisted “seamen.” You ruined Godsmack. And d*mm*t are we still jealous that your SEALs popped OBL instead of our Green Berets.
*Bonus* We’re still upset about those 14 years of Army / Navy games.
Go Army. Beat Navy. Let’s kick their asses for 13 more years and see how they like it.
In light of current events in places like the Ukraine and Syria, the risk of America and Russia fighting a proxy war or even a real war is growing. Here are seven other times when U.S. troops lined up opposite Russian troops:
Both sides hid the fact that the Soviets were involved so that neither country was forced into a larger war. American forces didn’t report hearing Russian voices on signal intercepts between Soviet fighters while the Russians put Chinese markings and uniforms on all of their forces.
2. Russian anti-aircraft experts shot down U.S. planes in Vietnam
Like in North Korea, Russia wanted to affect the outcome of a war America was in but they didn’t want to accidentally create a new world war. So, they originally claimed that no Soviet troops were present, then said some military experts were sent, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 they finally admitted they had deployed 3,000 troops to stop American air raids. 13 Russian soldiers were killed by American bombers.
3. The Cuban missile crisis almost went hot multiple times
Rudolf’s death may have been what ended the conflict. With the situation clearly deteriorating, both Kennedy and Khrushchev voiced concern that war was becoming unavoidable. Robert Kennedy was sent to the Soviet embassy to speak with the ambassador and they brokered the deal that ended the conflict.
4. Tanks faced off in Berlin
After East German officials tried to block Western diplomats’ access to East Berlin multiple times, Gen. Lucius Clay dispatched 10 tanks and three armored vehicles to the main crossing point for U.S. diplomats, Checkpoint Charlie. The Soviets responded by sending their armored forces to the checkpoint and the tanks stared each other down for 16 hours. Neither side was willing to fight a full-scale war for Berlin, so Moscow and Washington opened backdoor channels to end the standoff.
5. Nuclear false alarms nearly caused real war four times
In four separate incidents in the Cold War, nuclear war almost began due to technical glitches and false alarms. First in 1979 and then in 1980, U.S. computers showed a Soviet missile attack due to technical glitches. The third incident was in Sep. 1983 when a Soviet satellite read sunlight reflected off clouds as American missile launches. The fourth incident took place in 1995 when a Norwegian scientific rocket launch appeared similar to a nuclear missile on Russian radar.
6. A NATO war game nearly turned into the real thing
Able Archer 83 was a NATO exercise in Nov. 1983 to train for a conventional war and nuclear with the Soviet Union. With 19,000 U.S. troops participating, the exercise was so large that the Soviet Union was worried that it was a cover for a real attack. They were especially sensitive since it came on the heels of the Sep. 1983 false alarm from above. The Soviet Union put its own troops on high alert, kept jets ready to take off, and readied their nuclear arsenal. Luckily, there were no incidents during the exercise and it ended peacefully Nov. 11.
7. The Soviet Navy rammed U.S. ships in the Black Sea
In 1988, two U.S. Navy ships tested the Soviet Union’s territorial waters by sailing into contested territory. The Soviet Union claimed 12 miles from their coast while the U.S. only recognized 3 miles. Two Soviet Navy vessels responded by ramming the U.S. ships. To prevent American helicopters from lifting off, two Soviet helicopters hovered over them during the incident. All four ships were damaged and the U.S. ships departed the area after an hour.
I was both excited and anxious the day I got my orders to Minot Air Force Base. I requested to be sent to a nuclear missile base because of the challenges and opportunities the mission presented. Every day, Airmen at Minot and its sister nuclear missile bases operate, maintain, and secure weapons that have an immediate and direct impact on US strategic policy. The thought of leading those Airmen was awesome but also daunting. In the weeks leading up to my first day in Minot, I was concerned with whether I had what it took to be the right leader in my unit. Unsure of what to do, I simply decided that I would approach everything with optimism and enthusiasm.
In time, I found (miraculously) my plan to simply throw my energy and passion into the job actually worked. I had a great relationship with my commander, my airmen appreciated my effort (or at least found their lieutenant’s attitudes novel/humorous), and I worked well with my peers to accomplish the mission. As a reward for my efforts, I was given an extremely unique opportunity that was the highlight of my time at Minot; the nuclear weapons convoy mission.
It was a major change of pace for me. I had my own unique vehicle fleet, command and control systems, specialized weapons, and an entire flight of hand-picked airmen. I also had to take responsibility for my own mission tasking and planning, work independently, and ensure the dozens of different agencies involved in every convoy were working in harmony with each other. But by far the biggest change for me was that I suddenly found myself with a significant degree of authority and responsibility to accomplish a mission that had very real consequences on US strategic policy.
What I humbly share here are the lessons I learned from long, cold days on the road, ensuring the safe and secure transport of the world’s most destructive weapons. They were hard-won lessons delivered to me in the form of long nights, strange situations, and a desire to do right by the most talented and motivated airmen in the Air Force. I hope these lessons help the next round of lieutenant’s taking up the watch in the great, wide north.
Perhaps my biggest lesson, which was taught to me time after time, was the most important thing I could do in any sort of situation was remain calm. Your troops will reflect your attitude. If you panic, they will panic and start making poor decisions. Their panic will be mirrored and then amplified down the chain. But if you remain cool and calm, your troops will try to emulate your attitude even if they are upset internally. When you talk over the radio, speak clearly and calmly. When you give orders, act naturally and with confidence.
Low emotional neuroticism is what you should seek within yourself. This trait does not mean that you have to be an unfeeling robot as that would be just as bad as being an emotionally reactive person. You should figure out what your “trigger moments” are and then seek to balance your emotions in front of your troops. Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff.
2-Learn to Let Go of Control
Many will find this ironic, but one of the keys to successfully moving a nuclear weapon is to actually let go of control. Not control of the weapon of course, but rather control of the programs and processes that surround the mission. I quickly discovered a nuclear weapons convoy had way too many moving pieces to effectively manage on my own. As a result, I had to rely heavily on my NCOs to manage these moving pieces on my behalf. I did this by providing a clear, guiding intent for their programs and squads, and then giving them as much freedom and power as I could to let them achieve that intent.
While it seems like common sense leadership advice to trust your NCOs, it is still very hard to let go of things that you know you will have to answer for if they go wrong. But trust me, it will work out. We have the most talented airmen in the world and they will find great solutions to the unit’s problems, even if it is not the solution you envisioned.
3-Don’t Let Yourself Get Tribal
As stated before, moving a nuclear weapon across North Dakota requires the coordination of dozens of different units and agencies. It is truly a whole-base effort and a fantastic example of the bigger Air Force in action. This kind of mission requires that the various participants act selflessly to become a “team of teams.”
While unit morale and espirit-de-corps are must haves in any military unit, it should never come at the expense of cooperation with other friendly forces or devolve into petty rivalries. Unfortunately, too often leaders tend to destroy the larger picture under the delusion that we they looking out for our tribe. I had an obligation to build relationships with partner units, learn their processes, and make the whole-base effort happen in order for the nuclear convoy mission to succeed. If you always think in terms of “them” versus “us”, you will find it’s only “us” in the fight and no “them” will be coming to save you.
4-Give Your Leadership the Information They Need
Because of the nature of the position, I frequently found myself in meetings and discussions that other lieutenants were not normally allowed to participate in. I was also the subject matter expert for a very high visibility mission, and thus officers and commanders who were much more senior to me looked to me for my honest opinions on issues that affected the convoy. When questions about the risks involved in a particular mission came up, the heads in the room would turn to me to help determine the outcome (a feeling that I never got used to).
When you do find yourself in a situation where senior leaders want your viewpoint, be respectful and honest. It is your responsibility to provide your leadership with truthful answers and to do so in a way that is not antagonistic. At the same time, you must also be willing to accept your leadership’s decisions based on the information you provide. Trust goes both ways. My leadership trusted me to lead the convoy mission and I trusted them to make decisions on those missions that would keep me and my Airmen safe.
5-Embrace Failure and Avoid Fear
I once read in a history class that a popular saying in the old Strategic Air Command was “to err is human, to forgive is not SAC policy.” While that may sound clever and certainly carries the bravado of General Curtis LeMay with it (the founder of SAC and the modern nuclear Air Force), I can tell you that zero forgiveness makes for an abysmal unit culture.
If you refuse to accept failure while learning from it, you will create a unit culture where members are afraid to come forward, speak up, or sound the alarm to major problems. Your troops will hide things from you, and that type of behavior is what gets people hurt or killed. Show your airmen, through both action and words, honest mistakes are forgiven and embraced as a learning opportunity.
During my entire time at Minot, I made it a point to find the bright side of things and enjoy my job. Like any duty station or mission series, Minot had its fair share of challenges. There is no way to sugarcoat the experience of having to walk out into sub-freezing temperatures and still get the work done. Yet when these situations happened, I looked to others to keep a good attitude and make the best of the situation. I was always able to find a reason to laugh or smile(even if icicles started to gather on my face).
You too can find success with something as simple as finding a reason to smile more often or to laugh at stupid, silly things. Staying calm in front of your airmen can have a similar effect to having a happy attitude and can be contagious in a unit.
I am grateful to the proud Defenders of the 91st Missile Security Operations Squadron who were patient with me as I worked to develop the mission, the airmen, and myself. In the face of -20 degree temperatures and a demanding nuclear mission, they chose to follow me in giving their all towards building a lethal, combat-ready team.
Andrew is an Air Force Security Forces officer currently assigned to Buckley Garrison, US Space Force, Colorado. He oversees base security operations for the installation. He loves taking road trips with his wife and dog, snowboarding beautiful mountains, and enjoying great Colorado beer.
On July 25, 1969, the Nixon Doctrine was announced, and along with it, the expectation for America’s Asian allies to become responsible for their own military defense.
During his campaign, Nixon promised “peace with honor” in Vietnam but by the time he took office in 1969, the war continued to rage on without an end in sight. By then, the United States had already been at war for nearly four brutal years. Over 25,000 Americans had died in Vietnam, the anti-war sentiment among American protestors was a constant stream of resistance, and there was no end in sight.
Nixon’s announcement became known as a plan to “Vietnamize” Vietnam, whereby American troops would increasingly be replaced by South Vietnamese troops. And Nixon meant it — during his first term, he withdrew a significant amount of American troops from Vietnam and finally in 1973 he signed the peace treaty that formally ended the conflict for the U.S.
Two years later, North Vietnam defeated the South Vietnamese army and reunited the country under communist control. 58,220 American troops died during the Vietnam War. Tens of thousands more sustained injuries, seen and unseen.
According to that data, these are the eight most-loved federal agencies, as ranked by Americans in 2017. We added a bonus one just for sh*ts and giggles.
8. FEMA — 55%
In 1979, former President Jimmy Carter signed the executive order that created the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a way to help support citizens prepare for, prevent, and recover from disasters.
In 2014, FEMA was at a 47% approval rating and has since climbed the charts.
7. NASA — 56%
2017 was a good year for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as astronaut Peggy Whitson set a record for spaceflight and the Cassini spacecraft completed its groundbreaking mission to Saturn.
In 2014, NASA was at a paltry 50% approval rating. Clearly, they’re doing something right.
6. CIA — 57%
In 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency sported an approval rating of 49%, but it’s a complete secret as to why they climbed higher in 2017.
5. FBI — 58%
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had a busy year investigating famous political figures and cracking down on fraud and money laundering cases.
In the eyes of the public, the Bureau had a “so-so” year, as their approval rating seems to have plateaued at 58% since 2014.
4. DHS — 59%
The Department of Homeland Security’s mission is to provide a secure environment for our nation. They dabble in various areas, including border security and cybersecurity.
It was reportedly an intense year for them in the eyes of the public, as their numbers have climbed a strong 11% since 2014.
3. Secret Service — 63%
The brave men and women who consistently stand guard protecting our president increased their approval rating by 20% since three years ago.
2. CDC — 66%
The Centers for Disease Control work with some of the most dangerous bacteria and germs on earth to provide their clients (the world) with the most efficient ways to maintain public health.
Their 16% approval increase doesn’t come as a surprise as they continue to fight against the spread of illness.
The Mi-24 Hind had a reputation as a cinematic bad guy in Rambo III and the original 1980s Cold War flick Red Dawn.
Helping the Mujahidin kill it was the focus of 2007’s Charlie Wilson’s War. But how much do you really know about this so-called “flying tank?”
Let’s take a good look at this deadly bird. According to GlobalSecurity.org, this helicopter can carry a lot of firepower, including 57mm and 80mm rockets, anti-tank missiles, and deadly machine guns or cannon. But it also can carry a standard Russian infantry section – eight fully-armed troops.
So, it’s really not a flying tank. It’s a flying infantry fighting vehicle.
There really isn’t a similar American – or Western – helicopter. The UH-1 and UH-60s were standard troop carries, but don’t really have the firepower of the Hind. The AH-64 Apache and AH-1 Cobra have a lot of firepower, but can’t really carry troops (yeah, we know the Brits did that one time – and it was [very] crazy!).
While the Mi-24 got its villainous cinematic reputation thanks to 1984’s “Red Dawn,” and the 1988 movie “Rambo III,” its first action was in the Ogaden War – an obscure conflict that took place from 1977-1978. After the Somali invasion of Ethiopia, the Air Combat Information Group noted that as many as 16 Mi-24s were delivered to the Ethiopians by the Soviets.
It has taken part in over 30 conflicts since then.
The Hind was to Afghanistan what the Huey was to Vietnam: an icon of the conflict. GlobalSecurity.org reported that as many as 300 Mi-24s were in Afghanistan.
In the Russian war movie “The Ninth Company,” the Mi-24 gets a more heroic turn than it did in Red Dawn or Rambo III.
At least 2,300 have already been built, and versions of the Mi-24 are still in production, according to the Russian Helicopters website. This cinematic aviation bad boy will surely be around for many years to come.
For the better part of the past decade it was one of the most consequential questions in international affairs, with an answer that could potentially spark a war between two Middle Eastern military powers.
Just how close was Israel to attacking Iran’s nuclear program? And if Israel ever launched a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, what would such an operation actually look like?
“Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would ‘blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance’ of Fordow, a senior US official said,” according to Entous. “The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.”
At some point in 2011 or 2012, Israel was apparently serious enough about this plan to violate Iranian airspace in the course of its preparations: “Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site,” Entous reported.
The “dry run” could have been doubly aimed at signaling the seriousness of Israeli intentions — and Israeli military capabilities — to a US administration that was then in the process of opening backchannel nuclear negotiations with Tehran. But the US took the possibility of an Israeli strike seriously enough to alter its defense posture in the Persian Gulf in response to a possible Israeli attack, sending a second aircraft carrier to region for some unspecified period of time, the Journal reported.
Until the Iran nuclear deal was signed this past July, an Israeli strike on Iran was one of the most intriguing — and perhaps terrifying — hypothetical scenarios in global politics. Israeli officials often argued the country was capable of launching an attack that would destroy or severely disable many of Iran’s facilities. At times, Israel pointedly demonstrated its long-range strike capabilities. In October of 2012, Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian-linked weapons facility in Khartoum, Sudan, a city almost exactly as far from Israel’s borders as Iran’s primary nuclear facilities.
A September 2010 Atlantic Magazine cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg laid out what were believed to be the requirements of a successful Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities. Israel has no strategic bombers; its fighters would have to use Saudi airspace in order to make it to Iran while maintaining enough of a fuel load to return to base. Some of its planes might have had to land in Saudi Arabia to refuel, or even use a temporary desert base as a staging area. (One of the intriguing unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal story is whether Israeli planes crossed into Saudi airspace during the alleged “dry run.”)
As Goldberg notes, it wouldn’t be enough for Israel just to destroy Iranian facilities. The Israeli mission would also have to have a ground component to collect proof of a successful strike.
The consequences of a direct hit on Iran’s facilities — something which might require the most sophisticated military operation in Israel’s history — are unknowable ahead of time. Perhaps an attack would touch off a devastating escalation cycle in which Iranian linked terrorists attacked Israeli and US assets abroad, Iran launched attacks on Saudi targets to retaliate for their perceived cooperation, and the Iranian proxy militia Hezbollah unleashed its arsenal of 200,000 rockets at Israel.
Or maybe a jittery Tehran would hold back, cutting its losses after a superior military’s direct hit on one of the regime’s most important strategic assets. After all, neither Bashar al Assad nor Saddam Hussein retaliated when Israel destroyed their nuclear reactors from the air in2007 and 1981, respectively.
But administration of president Barack Obama was worried enough about the possible outcome of a strike to make the prevention of an Israeli attack one of it major foreign policy priorities. As Entous stresses, the US withheld information from Israel on the progress of its talks with Iran out of fear that Israel might attempt to sabotage the talks or use an attack to preempt a diplomatic resolution to the Iran issue.
Whether this was a legitimate fear was perhaps less important than the fact that the tactic worked: Israel hasn’t attacked Iran yet, and the Iran Deal substantially raises the costs of a future strike for Israel. The deal signed this past July may or may not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But it effectively removes an Israeli strike against the country from the realm of possibility into the foreseeable future.
As Entous’s reporting indicates, it wasn’t that long ago that Israeli officials really were thinking seriously about an Iran strike — enough to risk sending their planes into enemy territory, and raising tensions with their top ally.
In May 1941, the United States was on the brink of war.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed an “unlimited national emergency” and ordered American forces to prepare “to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere.”
While the situation seemed grim, at least one commanding officer decided to lighten the mood. He allowed his men to grow their beards in what would be the most hirsute event in the U.S. military until Robin Olds headed to Vietnam.
Japan attacked the Philippines on December 8th, 1941. Six months later, the Philippines fell and the American troops who survived were submitted to the harshest treatment of any POWs in the Pacific War. The Allies did not retake the Philippines until October 1944.
Left: A video grab from an undated video show late ISKP leader Hafiz Saeed, centre, at an undisclosed location near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Saeed was killed on July 10, 2015, in Nangarhar, the Afghan government said [EPA/TTP handout]; Right: A Taliban fighter boards a helicopter. Wikimedia Commons.
Many Islamic extremist groups celebrated the Taliban’s reinstatement following the Taliban’s seizure of Afghanistan. However, although terrorist organizations may look the same on the surface, they all have different modus operandi. ISIS has made claims that the Taliban is a stooge of the US and they were handed Afghanistan on a silver platter. The comments were exchanged after brutal battles emerged between the Taliban and the local ISIS group in firefights and social media. Now that the United States has left Afghanistan, both groups can focus on what really matters to them – fighting each other.
Not sure who’s who? Here are 5 fundamental differences between the two terrorist groups:
1. The treatment of women
The biggest difference between the Taliban and ISIS is their methods and ideology of sharia law enforcement. ISIS and the Taliban have different ways of interpretations of how to treat women and clearly, ISIS is only interested in sexualizing them and servitude. Allegedly, the Taliban states that things will be different this time.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s longtime spokesman, gave his first-ever public appearance last week to address concerns about women at a news conference. He promised the Taliban would honor women’s rights within the norms of Islamic law. According to the AP, the Taliban have encouraged women to return to work and have allowed girls to return to school, handing out Islamic headscarves at the door.
Under ISIS, women do not have the right to even learn to read.
2. They disagree on who is a heretic
One other difference is how the two groups treat the Shia Muslim “heretics”, who are deemed “legitimate” targets by ISIS. However, the Taliban has a different view on how the Shia Muslim “heretics” should be treated or executed. Militarily, strategic differences have made the two groups bloody rivals. This difference is shown in the ISIS description of the Taliban as “apostates”.
Extremist groups who have shown reason and callous pragmatism in recent years have always collided with the ISIS movement. ISIS seems to be dedicated to devout “purity” and ominous forecast that often leads to violence. The Taliban outnumber and outgun the Islamic State but we’ve heard this story before in the valley of death that is Afghanistan.
3. Sentencing for criminals
The two groups are known for their extreme variation of Sunni Islam and strive to lead via a dictatorial regime under strict sharia law. ISIS and the Taliban are united in their violent law enforcement methods, but what differentiates the two groups is their major strategic differences of enforcing Sharia Law — even though most Islamic extremist groups have welcomed the return of the Taliban.
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has been answering questions across news channels. One example of the differences in how those laws are enforced is that the Taliban reserve hand-cutting for serious theft. It is not the go-to punishment for petty crimes. ISIS and its chapters adhere to the hand-cutting punishment to the letter. Naturally, to enforce the promises of the leadership the fighters on the ground must obey orders. I would not place faith in the moral compass of a Jihadist, though.
4. The Taliban are willing to ‘negotiate’
Founded on January 10, 2015, ISIS began recruiting Taliban defectors after they had established the Islamic State in Khorosan Province (ISKP or ISIS-K) in Afghanistan. A civil war between the terror groups arose due to this factor. The leader of the Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad, asked his rival Abu Bakr, leader of ISIS, to stop recruiting former Taliban members. Mullah had hoped that the two groups could unite under the Taliban’s leadership but their conflicting views could not allow it. Later in 2017, the two extremist groups went to war, and the violence continued until the ISKP was almost entirely done away with by the US and Afghan forces.
A peace treaty was signed by the Taliban group in Feb 2020, under Donald Trump’s Administration which stated that the US troops would withdraw from Afghanistan in 14 months. The Taliban still practiced violence, but at reduced levels. After signing the peace deal with the US government, ISIS claimed that the Taliban was a collaborator and unworthy of the leadership. Again, the irony of the same accusations of the former Afghanistan government.
5. Public relations
ISIS is determined to see its sharia law enforced and is willing to do so no matter the cost. An attack was already orchestrated at Kabul airport where more than 100+ people lost their lives, including 13 U.S. service members.
ISKP has already led dozens of attacks in Afghanistan in 2021 and more are expected to come. The President has repeatably taken responsibility for adhering to the deadline. However, that decision opened a Pandora’s Box of existential questions for OIF/OEF veterans. Extremist groups like Al Qaeda have been decapitated but not entirely eradicated. The return of the Taliban only makes it worse because other rival jihadi groups now have a footing in Afghanistan whether the Taliban like it or not.
It is ironic that the Taliban Government will have to deal with violent insurgencies while attempting to gain recognition of the international community. They inherited a much more violent Afghanistan than the foe they overthrew. The Taliban want to claim victory and quit while they’re ahead. However, when you dance with the devil you do not get to choose when the song ends.
The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine is seeking military and civilian volunteers for nutritional studies in 2021. Participants must be willing to travel to USARIEM’s laboratory at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The Army’s announcement of the studies noted that, “Some of these studies will involve eating a military ration-based diet, which includes Meals, Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, for certain periods of time.”
USARIEM hopes to use new knowledge of the digestive and immune systems can improve future MREs and nutritional guidance for soldiers. “The overarching goal of this work is to improve performance on the battlefield and help protect troops from illness,” the Army said. In order to conduct this research, volunteers are being sought for different studies with different requirements. If your colon is feeling up to the challenge, here they are.
1. Ketone supplement and exercise study
This study is looking for men and women, ages 18 to 39, to drink a ketone ester supplement before exercising. The goal is to determine if the supplement changes how the body uses carbs, fat, and protein, and if it improves lower body power and endurance. Participants must be physically active (two to four days of weekly aerobic or resistance exercise) and willing to stop all use of dietary supplements, alcohol, and tobacco during the three to four-week study. Testing will include body composition measurements, blood draws, non-radioactive stable isotope infusions, treadmill and stationary bike workouts, and a controlled diet including the ketone ester supplement. Compensation is “up to $540 for completing the study.”
2. Study on gut health and immune function at high altitude
This study focuses on how nutritional supplement affects gastrointestinal, brain, and immune function at high altitude. USARIEM is looking for men and women between the ages of 18 and 39 who exercise at least three days a week and have a BMI less than or equal to 30 to participate. Participants cannot have any gastrointestinal diseases or problems. The study will include one to five labs visits per week over the course of 10 weeks, three 40-hour stays in an altitude chamber, eating a nutritional supplement (14 consecutive days, three times during the study) and provided diet (nine consecutive days, three times during the study), exercise and cognitive testing, and blood, tear, saliva, urine and fecal sample collection. For your literal blood, sweat and tears, USARIEM will compensate civilians up to $1300 and military and federal civilians up to $600.
3. Protein, exercise and muscle health study
This study is seeking men and women ages 18 to 35 who do aerobic or body weight exercise at least twice a week for the past six months. Researchers are studying the the effects of drinking a protein beverage on the body’s ability to build muscle during calorie deprivation. Over the course of 37 days, participants will drink a protein beverage and eat a, “strictly controlled study diets comprised of military rations and commercially available foods.” The study will include blood and urine collection, muscle biopsies, and non-radioactive stable isotope infusions. Compensation for participants is up to $1147.50.
4. Body composition and immune function study
This one’s a doozy. Participants be men or women between the ages of 18 (17 if military) and 39, have a BMI between 18.5 and 25 or greater than or equal to 30, and have not lost more than five pounds in the last two months and maintain weight throughout the study. Female participants must have a normal menstrual cycle between 26 and 32 days in duration, five menstrual cycles within the past six months, or be able to provide documentation of oral or hormonal contraceptive use that contains low-dose estrogen or progesterone to maintain continuous levels throughout the 28-day cycle. The study will include pre-study sleep monitoring, 120 to 300 minutes of aerobic exercise three days per week, diet questionnaires and monitoring, blood draws and eight topical blisters on the forearms. Civilians are eligible for up to $560 in compensation while military and federal civilians are eligible for up to $100. At least this one doesn’t have you eating MREs.
If any of that actually interests you, the point of contact for the studies is the USARIEM Public Affairs Office at email@example.com.
It’s pouring rain as the photographer and I run through the cobbled streets of Philadelphia. You can see it in the locals’ faces and the Colonial buildings still standing strong just blocks from the Liberty Bell that this city is tough. For over 300 years, Philly has been the home of patriots, presidents and even movie characters such as Rocky Balboa. Yet, there is one theme that continues to define Philadelphians. No matter how much they struggle, get kicked around or scarred, there will be a moment when they rise, gritty and determined, and GO on with their mission.
We arrive at the Union League, a brick and brownstone club, which has supported the military and veterans since 1862. As we pass two statues of soldiers marching off to war, I receive a text, “Finishing a board meeting. Use the side entrance. You won’t be allowed in unless you are in a jacket. Which I assume you are not.” The subject of our next interview is 100% correct and I instantly know we are in the place where Ryan Manion and her team hold court each December.
Ryan is the President of the Travis Manion Foundation, co-author of the Knock at the Door, mother, Gold Star sister and marathon runner. She’s busy. Always on the go, and the second week of December is her Super Bowl.
The night before our interview, she led the annual If Not Me, Then Who gala, which honors fallen heroes, veterans, active-duty troops and military families. Today, she’s leading the TMF board meeting, which includes current CEOs and former generals. Tomorrow, she’ll go on Fox Sports to represent TMF at the Army-Navy game where Navy will take home the win (but we don’t know that yet). Ryan has thankfully given us thirty minutes of her downtime for a one-on-one interview which she tells me is “no big deal” after I thank her again.
The Travis Manion Foundation is a big deal. The non-profit, which started as a small family effort, is now an organization that coordinates thousands of community volunteers across the nation. Ryan, who lost her brother, 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion, and her team are driven by the mission to “empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.”
The most amazing thing about Ryan Manion is not only all that she and her team have accomplished since 2007 but the fact that she is still going, and going strong. Ryan, who grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, is a former smoker who now runs marathons and does ruck marches. She talks fast and moves faster. “Come on, let’s GO,” she tells us when we see her. I follow, knowing without a doubt that Ryan is the next generation of tough as nails leader that Philly is known for.
WATM: How’s your Army-Navy week going?
Ryan’s phone rings. It’s a family call. She answers while we start taking photos. Then she’s back.
Ryan Manion: It’s been a little heavy this week. We started off Tuesday with a meeting for all our senior TMF leadership, which we did for the first time. They flew in from all over the country. Then Tuesday night, we had a huge book event here in Philly, and my son has pneumonia.
WATM: OMG, that is a lot.
Ryan: He’s fine. Home with the family. He had a cold for three days. It didn’t even seem like a big cold. You know, it’s been kind of crazy.
WATM: How do you manage everything on your plate?
Ryan: I love what I do, and I get to work on wonderful things. We’ve been working on a project for tomorrow’s Army-Navy Game. We’re bringing 30 wounded warriors and their families to meet the President during the third quarter.
WATM: Wow, that is amazing. Did you ever see yourself doing this kind of work? Especially leading an organization such as the Travis Manion Foundation?
Ryan: Today, one of our board members said it best, “It all just gets back to Travis, saying, if not me, then who?” And that kind of simplified the journey for me. I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God. I’m sitting here with all these people because of my brother.’
WATM: You and your family established the organization as a way to carry on Travis’s legacy. Does it still feel that way a decade later?
Ryan and her brother Travis at the Army-Navy Game.
Ryan: Last night, somebody at the gala who was a Marine that served with Travis came up to me and said, “You know, I’ve been at this gala for eight years now, and every year gets better and better. It’s unbelievable. But I got to tell you, I was sitting there thinking, these people don’t know who Travis Manion was.”
WATM: How did that make you feel?
Ryan: Travis is my personal driver, but this organization is bigger than one person. I am excited for so many to see the fruits of what he stood for through this organization.
WATM: If Not Me, Then Who?
Ryan: Exactly. My brother wrote those words before he deployed to Iraq, and they represent the character, leadership and selfless service that is the backbone of all our programs. Whether it is our strength-building seminars, expeditions, fitness events or service projects, we unite our volunteers, both civilian and veteran, in the common cause to better their communities by living the mantra of “If Not Me, Then Who…”
WATM: What do you think draws people to the foundation and your work?
Ryan: It’s funny because our board was just asking me the same thing.
Ryan: I have to tell you, the thing about our organization is that it’s like the feeling you get when you’re around your family. It started out as a family affair. It was a small family that was grieving the loss of their loved one. But even as we’ve grown, it doesn’t matter what event you’re at or how many show up. You know, tomorrow there will be a thousand people at our tailgate, everyone’s going to feel like they’re part of a team, a family.
WATM: Was that the plan from the beginning?
Ryan laughs. I’ve been to a few TMF tailgates, and we both know the answer.
Ryan: I can’t articulate in words why that is. But you’ve been around it, you see it, and I don’t know what drives that. We come from a very different place from a lot of other traditional veterans service organizations, especially those in the post 9/11 world. I think they’re all doing great work. They came with an idea, “Ok, this is the problem, and this is how we’re going to solve it.”
We came with, “I just lost my brother, my mom and dad just lost their son. And we want to make sure that we continue his legacy.” So when you come at it from that place, there’s no chance that it’s gonna be anything but super authentic in what you’re doing. Since then, it’s been, “Ok, we’re going to do this. Oh, people are into it. Ok? Let’s keep doing it. Oh, wow. We’re really doing something here now.” That’s the plan.
Ryan Manion with a copy of her book, The Knock at the Door.
WATM: So let’s talk about the book. First of all, congratulations.
Ryan: Thank you. Yes, it’s pretty awesome.
WATM: What’s the feedback you’re getting so far?
Ryan: The feedback has been tremendous. We’ve found that this book, to some degree, breaks down the wedge between the civilian and military worlds because everyone receives some type of knock at the door. We all have challenges that we weren’t expecting to appear in our lives.
The Knock At the Door shows what a military family goes through when they lose someone. But this story doesn’t end there. Our story just begins there. So it’s set in a much different context. The Knock At the Door empowered me and my co-authors into another chapter of our lives. We all had different journeys from shock to finding purpose.
WATM: In the book, you describe how physical fitness helped you find focus. Specifically moving from smoking to running the Marine Corps Marathon?
Ryan: I totally recognize the extreme of it all. Physical fitness is huge both in general and in times of grief. It was truly eye-opening when I discovered the effect it had on my daily psyche. I mean, people say, exercise is a little bit of a drug and they’re right. That’s why I had to write about my physical journey alongside my emotional one. I went through some dark times after I lost my brother. I struggled with anxiety and depression and was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD. It was realization that I was not ok that helped me to pick up the pieces.
WATM: Is there anything that people are really responding to or the people are coming to you afterwards and saying, I love this. That you’re finding people are really resonating with?
Ryan: I think for me, people were surprised about how vulnerable I was in the book. You know, I’ve been given the opportunity to run a veteran serving organization that requires a lot of professional appearances and public speaking. People get to meet me as the President of the Travis Manion Foundation, but this book showed a whole different side of me.
WATM: Was it scary to be that vulnerable and open?
Ryan: Yes. You know, the other thing that’s been really great about the book is the response from the Gold Star community. If you would have asked me before I wrote, what’s your biggest fear? It would be that like the Gold Star community doesn’t connect with this. And they have.
Ryan with her TMF GORUCK.
WATM: What do you think Travis would say about all of this?
Ryan: I don’t know what Travis would be doing now. I don’t know if he’d still be in the Marine Corps, if he’d be out and working in corporate America or doing something less traditional. I have no idea. But I know that he would be involved in this world. He would not be the veteran that takes off the uniform, goes away and is unconnected to what’s happening in their community. But would I be connected to this world? Probably not, because my brother would have been. I think he would be proud that I am involved and active with the Travis Manion Foundation, but he would have hated that it’s named after him.
WATM: I think I can understand that.
Ryan: We were years into this thing, and my dad’s like, “I just feel like I don’t think Travis would like that his name is everywhere. It’s nameless, maybe we should change the name?” And my response was something like, “Dad, you’re kidding. We’re in too deep. Travis’s name represents this generation.” And so, that’s my rebuttal. I think Travis would be super proud of what’s happening in his name.
WATM: Is there anything that you’re looking forward to in 2020? Maybe something you’re scared about or something we should keep on our radar?
Ryan: The next big thing I’m doing is going to Puerto Rico at the end of January for one of our service expeditions. We have eight or nine of these service expeditions a year, but this one is special. I will be traveling with a Marine who was with Travis when he was killed. We will be doing rehab projects for veterans’ homes effected by the hurricane a couple of years ago. I am looking forward to that.
WATM: Will you keep us updated on the trip?
Ryan: Of course.
WATM: Last question. Who do you think will win the Army-Navy Game tomorrow?
After the US downed a Syrian jet making a bombing run on US-backed forces fighting ISIS, Russia threatened to target US and US-led coalition planes West of the Euphrates river in Syria.
But while Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn’t fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US.
The US keeps an aircraft carrier with dozens of F/A-18E fighters aboard in the Mediterranean about all the time and hundreds of F-15s and F-16s scattered around Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan.
According to Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, Russia has “about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks.”
“Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means,” Lamrani told Business Insider, “But the US has very heavy air superiority.” Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers.
So if Russia did follow through with its threat, and target a US aircraft that did not back down West of the Euphrates in Syria, and somehow managed to shoot it down, then what?
“The US coalition is very cautious,” said Lamrani. “The whole US coalition is on edge for any moves from Russia at this point.”
Lamrani also said that while F/A-18Es are more visible and doing most of the work, the US keeps a buffer of F-22 stealth jets between its forces and Russia’s. If Russia did somehow manage to shoot down a US or US-led coalition plane, a US stealth jet would probably return fire before it ever reached the base.
At that point the Russians would have a moment to think very critically if they wanted to engage with the full might of the US Air Force after the eye-for-an-eye shoot downs.
If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn’t just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back.
Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia’s missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft.
Then, after neutering Russia’s defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.
Russia would likely manage to score a couple intercepts and even shoot down some US assets, but overall the Russian contingent in Syria cannot stand up to the US, let alone the entire coalition of nations fighting ISIS.
Russia also has a strong Navy that could target US air bases in the region, but that would require Russia to fire on Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar, which would be politically and technically difficult for them.
This scenario of a hypothetical air war is exceedingly unlikely. Russia knows the numbers are against them and it would “not [be] so easy for the Russians to decide to shoot down a US aircraft,” according to Lamrani.
And Russia wouldn’t risk so much over Syria, which is not an existential defense interest for them, but a foreign adventure to distract from Russia’s stalled economy and social problems, according to Anna Borshchevskaya, an expert on Russia’s foreign policy in the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“Russia is not a great power by most measures, like GDP, population, living standard,” Borshchevskaya told Business Insider. “Russia has steadily declined. It’s still a nuclear power, but not world power.”
In Syria, “a lot of what Putin is doing is about domestic policies,” said Borshchevskaya, and to have many Russian servicemen killed in a battle with a US-led coalition fighting ISIS wouldn’t serve his purposes domestically or abroad.
During the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear holocaust hung over every American’s head. One burning question consumed the populace: was it possible to prepare a home to survive an atomic blast? Hoping to collect hard data to begin to answer that question, the Federal Civil Defense Administration arranged an experiment known as Operation Doorstep, part of the 1953 Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear tests in the Nevada desert.
To prepare for Operation Doorstep, federal workers constructed two suburban-style houses, which were furnished and populated with cheery department store mannequins.
Some were set up around the houses as if they were going about their everyday lives…
…some were posed in basement shelters…
…and some were set up in cars around the test site.
When everything was ready, the bomb was detonated.
Reportedly, the destruction done to the two test homes by the blast was “as expected.”