7 holiday gift ideas for the Army - We Are The Mighty
Lists

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

Let’s continue our holiday shopping. We’ve already designed the U.S. Navy’s gift basket, so now let’s put one together for their rival, the Army. What do they want to find under the tree this year?


7. An extra brigade per division

The Army recently beefed up its brigades by adding a third infantry battalion, but decreased the number of brigade combat teams, or BCTs, per division from four to three. With Russia developing new tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, there’s a chance the United States Army may need more forces to hold the line. Going back to four BCTs per division wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe get some separate brigades, as well.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Capt. Lou Cascino, commander of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), pulls security while Staff Sgt. Eric Stephens and 1st Lt. James Kromhout verify their position during a partnered patrol in Madi Khel, Khowst Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2013. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Kamil Sztalkoper, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)

6. More divisions

In 1989, the United States Army had 18 active divisions, plus 10 more in the National Guard. Today, there are 10 active Army divisions and only eight divisions in the National Guard. Even as the U.S. entered the War on Terror, that total did not increase. Now, ISIS has been beaten down, but the Russian threat is resurging. Let’s go back to 1989’s division totals and get even more troops on the line.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Shoulder patch of the 3rd Armored Division, one of the divisions deactivated after the Cold War. (US Army graphic)

5. More combat aviation units

The AH-64 Apache is one heck of an equalizer on the battlefield. With 16 Longbow-equipped Hellfires, one Apache could wipe out half a battalion of Russian tanks. But the Army only has 11 combat aviation brigades, according to a Heritage Foundation assessment of American military power. We’re sure the U.S. Army would be happy to have one combat aviation brigade per division.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Apache helicopters have successfully taken out advanced air defenses before, but it would still be better to use F-22s when possible. (Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)

4. More M1128 “Stryker” Mobile Gun Systems

The M1128 is very mobile and carries a 105mm main gun. While it’s not able to stand up to an Armata, or arguably even a piece-of-junk T-72, it can still knock out armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, anti-aircraft guns, surface-to-air missile launchers, and buildings. Plus, it could give the 82nd Airborne the firepower it’s lacked since the M551 was retired decades ago.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Armor Soldiers assigned to 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fire the Stryker’s 105mm main gun during a live fire range 28 March 2011, at Yakima Training Center, Wash. (US Army photo)

3. New tanks and IFVs

While the Abrams and Bradley are great, they’re old designs. Everyone loves to get the newest, high-tech gadget for Christmas — we think the U.S. Army would appreciate it, too. A new tank and IFV makes for a great gift. Plus, Russia’s been making great strides on their tanks; America needs to modernize.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks move to engage targets during a joint combined arms live-fire exercise near Camp Buehring, Kuwait Dec. 6-7, 2016.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Aaron Ellerman)

2. A new scout helicopter

One consequence of the budget cuts enacted under the Obama Administration was that the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior was retired without an immediate replacement. Yes, UAVs can handle some reconnaissance, but not all. A new version of the Lakota could be had relatively cheap, in federal budget terms.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Airbus H145M, showing a gun pod on the left and a 12-round rocket pod on the right. (Photo from Airbus Helicopters)

1. Re-start A-10 production

Yes, the A-10 is technically an Air Force system, but the need for close-air support is always there. We’re told the F-35 or the OA-X program will replace the A-10, but somehow, that doesn’t seem to add up.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs fly in a wingtip formation after refueling from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Feb. 15, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

What do you think the U.S. Army should get for Christmas? Let us know in the comments.

Lists

11 regional American foods we’d like to see in MREs

MREs do what they can to bring a little taste of home to deployed troops. How successful they are or have been in the past — and how tasty those attempts were — is open for debate.


For decades, we’ve seen dozens of flavors come and go. Some we remember fondly. Many we are happy to toss into the literal and figurative dumpster of history.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The official Country Captain Chicken depository.

Also read: Army food will make you feel the feels

America is big place! Someone tell the people who make MREs to scour the best regions of the United States for our regional flavors! We could get some better food while learning a little bit about the different regional cuisines of our own country.

1. A better Buffalo Chicken.

What is more ‘Merica than adding butter to hot sauce and then pouring it over chicken wings? The answer is “not much.” But the MRE wizards decided to make it a “pulled” version of the dish, which ended up looking like an electric orange glop.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Glop: Flavor of America.

They gave us whole pieces of meat when it came to the Western Burger and the Frankfurters. Why they decided not to use actual wings (or even boneless wings) is beyond comprehension. And don’t get us started on the lack of Bleu Cheese.

2. Baltimore Crab Cakes.

I know asking for crab from the military is asking a lot. But I’d rather have it processed into MREs than eat what I tasted as it was steamed into a rubbery oblivion at the DFAC on Camp Victory.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Not seen: a crab cracker. Anywhere in country.

Besides the delicious crab cake, a little packet of Old Bay seasoning could totally replace the hot sauce packet as the go-to flavor enhancer.

3. Southern-Style Biscuits and Gravy.

This one isn’t such a great idea for being on-the-go, but if you have time to sit and eat, this would be a great idea. We all know the Elf snack bread can also be used for hammering nails so why not have the MRE people create a buttermilk snack bread that is designed to be moistened up in the field. With gravy.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
More gravy than that. I thought we were winning the war.

The end product will look nothing like the photo above, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Civilian rations already made this – and relatively well. Besides, it will show that the MRE people put some thought into texture and mouthfeel.

4. South Dakota’s Chislic.

Chislic is simple. It’s grilled or fried chunks of meat – usually game or lamb, but can also be beef – topped with seasoned salt or garlic salt. It’s eaten via toothpick and served with saltines. It’s like shish kebab.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
If shish kebab came with saltines and was served at bars in Pierre, SD.

So it would be one MRE our Middle Eastern allies could eat with us. We all know MRE makers are fans of crackers and chunked meat. This one sells itself.

5. Hawaiian Spam Musubi.

Bear with me here. Spam gets a bad rap but this Hawaiian snack is pretty great. In Hawaii, Spam is even getting a gourmet makeover. Musubi is fried or grilled Spam on a bed of rice and held together with nori seaweed.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
It will definitely not look like this in an MRE.

The best part about Spam Musubi is that it tastes great hot or cold and is designed to be eaten on the run.

6. Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits.

The coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina, especially Charleston, are culinary heaven. Grits are a boiled ground hominy, a corn product. How it’s made isn’t important, but how it’s prepared definitely is. My first breakfast with locals in Charleston had them each prep their grits in a different way. Some add cheese, some add grape jelly, and the chefs add shrimp, tomatoes, sausage, peppers, bacon, spices…

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
No matter how you feel about grits, this is something we can agree on, I promise.

7. West Virginia’s Pepperoni Rolls.

Just like it sounds, the Pepperoni Roll is a bready roll baked with pepperoni in the middle. The idea is to heat the bread and let the pepperoni oils soak into it as the entire thing gets softer. It can also be eaten cold, which is a boon to troops on the move.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
If it works for coal miners, it will work for you.

For those of you asking if we should really be taking nutrition tips from Appalachia, my response to you is that if we really cared that much about it in the field, we wouldn’t be eating MREs.

8. New Mexico’s Green Chile Stew.

If you’ve eaten MREs for long enough, you’ve come to realize they all taste the same after a while. Why not make one that was prepared the way it was intended, with a sh*tton of green chiles in it?

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

It can also be a vegetarian option, but the best part about having Green Chile Stew in an MRE is that it can be poured over every other MRE, instantly making even the worst meal edible. Chicken chunks and veggie crumbles aren’t just for lining the reject box anymore!

9. Upstate NY’s Utica Greens.

There are always a lot of complaints that MREs don’t have a lot of vegetable matter in them. Here’s our chance to appease those people while teaching the rest of America that New York State is large and there’s a lot to see between NYC and Buffalo.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

Utica Greens are any kind of leafy green sautéed in chicken broth and mixed with bread crumbs, cheese, prosciutto, and hot peppers (and sometimes other things). Serve the bread crumbs in a separate packet, MRE wizards. Ideally, this is downed with a Utica Club Beer.

10. Alaskan Akutuq

Sometimes known as “Eskimo Ice Cream,” Akutuq is an Inuit dish of hard fat whipped with berries or meat. Originally meant to be a dessert, the dish has been modified dozens of times over and now includes savory variations.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
It’s still very much a homemade dish.

The use of hard fats and lean meats (usually game meat) means a high-protein, high fat MRE meal perfect for troops who want that kind of diet and don’t mind where they get it.

11. Cincinnati Chili

Cincy’s chili features finely-ground meat in a thin sauce that includes ingredients like cocoa powder and cinnamon. Three-way, four-way, and five-way variants add onions, kidney beans, or both. It’s served over spaghetti and then covered with so much cheese, it looks like a plate of cheese.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Pictured: Not enough cheese.

Cincinnati Chili has its detractors (aka everyone outside of the Ohio-Kentucky area) but people in Chicago pour tomato soup in a bread bowl and call it pizza and Californians think In-n-Out is the pinnacle of burgers. E pluribus unum. This sort of exists for backpackers, but it’s probably not the same.

I haven’t been to every place in America. What regional foods would make a good MRE? Email blake.stilwell@wearethemighty.com with your suggestion, a recipe, and maybe even the best restaurant to find it.

Lists

7 Christmas gift ideas for the Coast Guard

So far, we’ve covered what the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines would probably like for Christmas, but we haven’t forgotten the United States Coast Guard! This service undertakes a ton of missions, but doesn’t always have the tools they need for the job. After all, the Coast Guard is responsible for securing coastline six times as long as the U.S.-Mexico border. So, let’s see about getting the Coast Guard some goodies this Christmas.


7. At least three more Legend-class cutters…

The Coast Guard had 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters. Right now, the plan is to replace them with nine Legend-class cutters, but as good as the Legend-class is, it can’t be in two places at once. So, we think the Coast Guard needs to get at least three more.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf steams off the coast of Oahu to perform training with an aircrew piloting an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point, June 27, 2011. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony L. Soto)

6. Bring back the Guardian

The HU-25 Guardian was a superb asset for the Coast Guard. Essentially, it’s a Dassault Falcon 20 business jet with the same APG-66 radar used by the F-16A Fighting Falcon and infrared sensors. It was very capable at hunting down drug smugglers and provided a sharp eye in the sky. It even saw “action,” mapping the oil wells Saddam Hussein ordered set ablaze during Desert Storm. So, bringing back this jet is a must.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
A HU-25 Guardian, which was equipped with the F-16A’s APG-66 radar. (USCG photo)

5. V-22 Ospreys

The V-22 has been a game-changer for the Marines. We think the V-22 could handle a lot of the missions that Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawks and MH-65 Dolphin helicopters do, while also handling cargo missions typical of the HC-27 and HC-144. Additionally, they could operate on Coast Guard cutters.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
An MV-22 Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 363 lands at Camp Wilson during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 3-17. (USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Becky L. Calhoun)

4. Freedom-class littoral combat ships

The Coast Guard plans to build 25 Heritage-class Offshore Patrol Cutters to replace 27 Reliance-class and Bear-class cutters. but what doesn’t get mentioned much is a 2010 deployment by the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) to the Southern Command area of operations. In just 47 days, that ship made four drug busts and made two port visits. So, it’s proven that this ship is useful to the Coast Guard — and all the RD work is done.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) is underway conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California. Freedom is the lead ship of the Freedom variant of LCS. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans)

3. A version of the HH-60W for SAR

Today, the Coast Guard has 44 MH-60T Jayhawks. With the HH-60W being purchased for the Air Force, now is a good time to boost numbers for the Coast Guard, too. Not only would this provide additional SAR assets, but it might help the Air Force knock down the price-per-unit a little.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Artist rendering of the Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter. (Image from Lockheed Martin)

2. New icebreakers

The Coast Guard’s icebreaker fleet is down to three active vessels for the polar regions. One, the Polar-class icebreaker USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 11), has been out of service since 2010 and is little more than a parts donor for her sister ship. New icebreakers are badly needed.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The Coast Guard icebreakers USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 10) and USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 11) during a resupply mission to McMurdo Research Station. (USCG photo)

1. More personnel all around

The active-duty Coast Guard has just under 41,000 personnel to cover 12,383 miles of coastline. The New York Police Department has 51,399 employees to cover just under 305 square miles of New York City. Do you see the disparity? The Coast Guard should be at least twice its size in terms of personnel.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Richey, a crewmember at Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor, mans an M240B machine gun on the bow of a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat during a security escort into Portsmouth Harbor the morning of Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

So, what do you think the Coast Guard needs to have a Merry Christmas?

Articles

6 things to know about the VA home loan

The Veterans Affairs home loan can be incredibly confusing, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information found on the VA website. So we have broken it down into six basic questions for you: who, what, when, where, why, and how?


*As always, when making decisions that impact your personal finances, make sure you’re sitting down with a financial advisor. Most banks have financial advisors on staff who are always willing to work with customers.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Veterans Affairs employs assessors and appraisers to ensure that each home purchased by service members is priced correctly.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Glassey, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)

1. Who:

Lendee eligibility is determined by service status:

Active duty personnel must have served a minimum of 90 continuous days to be eligible

Reserve or guard members must:

  • have six years of service in the selected reserve or National Guard, and
  • be discharged honorably, or
  • have been placed on the retired list, or
  • have been transferred to Standby Reserve or to an element of Ready Reserve (other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable), or
  • still be servicing in the Selected Reserve

Spouses can be eligible as well.

2. What:

The VA home loan program is a benefit for eligible service members and veterans to help them in the process of becoming homeowners by guaranteeing them the ability to acquire a loan through a private lender.

Utilizing the VA home loan, lendees do not make a down payment and are not required to pay monthly mortgage insurance, though they are required to pay a funding fee. This fee varies by lender, depends on the loan amount, and can change depending on the type of loan, your service situation, whether you are a first time or return lendee, and whether you opt to make a down payment.

The fee may be financed through the loan or paid for out of pocket, but must be paid by the close of the sale.

The fee for returning lendees and for National Guard and members of the reserve pay a slightly higher fee.

The fee may also be waived if you are:

  • a veteran receiving compensation for a service related disability, or
  • a veteran who would be eligible to receive compensation for a service related disability but does not because you are receiving retirement or active duty pay, or
  • are the surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service related disability.

3. When:

Lendees may utilize the loan program during or after honorable active duty service, or after six years of select reserve or National Guard service.

4. Where:

Eligible lendees may use the VA home loan in any of the 50 states or United States territories

5. Why:

Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses to purchase a home. The VA home loan itself does not come from the VA, but rather through participating lenders, i.e. banks and mortgage companies. With VA guaranteeing the lendee a certain amount for the loan, lenders are able to provide more favorable terms.

6. How:

Eligible lendees should talk to their lending institution as each institution has its own requirements for how to acquire the loan.

Lists

The complete list of US military ranks (in order)

Before you get to basic training, most people don’t have a very thorough understanding of military ranks, let alone the ability to put them in order. Everybody recognizes the ones that commonly show up in movies like sergeant, captain, or admiral, but where they fall on the pecking order of different branches isn’t all that clear. And as those of us that have spent time in uniform can attest, having a good understanding of military ranks in the order of authority for our own branch doesn’t necessarily mean you know how the rank structure looks in the sister branches.

Confusion about the order of military ranks can be made even worse from branch to branch by the common use of some easily-recognizable rank names (like sergeant or captain) for entirely different pay grades. A captain in the Marine Corps’s pay grade is O-3, whereas a captain in the Navy is an O-6, as one shining example.

So whether you don’t know any of the military ranks, or you’re just confused about how to put them in order, here’s a breakdown of the rank structure in each branch, starting at the most junior enlisted pay grade, and ascending up to the senior most commissioned officer. This list includes the military ranks in order for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Currently, the Space Force is largely made up of Air Force personnel utilizing the Air Force rank structure.

Army Ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Private (Recruit)
E-2Private
E-3Private First Class
E-4Specialist
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Corporal
E-5Sergeant
E-6Staff Sergeant
E-7Sergeant First Class
E-8First Sergeant
Master Sergeant
E-9Command Sergeant Major
Sergeant Major
E-9Sergeant Major of the Army
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer 5
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Army Chief of Staff
General

Air Force Ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Airman Basic
E-2Airman
E-3Airman First Class
E-4Senior Airman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-5Staff Sergeant
E-6Technical Sergeant
E-7First Sergeant (Master Sergeant)
Master Sergeant
E-8First Sergeant (Senior Master Sergeant)
Senior Master Sergeant
E-9First Sergeant (Chief Master Sergeant)
Chief Master Sergeant
SpecialChief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Warrant Officers
W-1N/A
W-2N/A
W-3N/A
W-4N/A
W-5N/A
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Air Force Chief of Staff General
**General of the Air Force

Marine Corps ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Private
E-2Private First Class
E-3Lance Corporal
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Corporal
E-5Sergeant
E-6Staff Sergeant
E-7Gunnery Sergeant
E-8First Sergeant
Master Sergeant
E-9Sergeant Major
Master Gunnery Sergeant
SpecialSergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer
W-2Chief Warrant Officer 2
W-3Chief Warrant Officer 3
W-4Chief Warrant Officer 4
W-5Chief Warrant Officer 5
Commissioned Officers
O-12nd Lieutenant
O-21st Lieutenant
O-3Captain
O-4Major
O-5Lieutenant Colonel
O-6Colonel
O-7Brigadier General
O-8Major General
O-9Lieutenant General
O-10Commandant of the Marine Corps
General

Navy ranks in order

Pay GradeRank
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Seaman Recruit
E-2Seaman Apprentice
E-3Seaman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Petty Officer Third Class
E-5Petty Officer Second Class
E-6Petty Officer First Class
E-7Chief Petty Officer
E-8Senior Chief Petty Officer
E-9Master Chief Petty Officer
SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer
Commissioned Officers
O-1Ensign
O-2Lieutenant, Junior Grade
O-3Lieutenant
O-4Lieutenant Commander
O-5Commander
O-6Captain
O-7Rear Admiral (Commodore)
O-8Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
O-9Vice Admiral
O-10Chief of Naval Operations
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Admiral
**Fleet Admiral

Coast Guard ranks in order

Pay GradeCoast Guard
Enlisted Personnel
E-1Seaman Recruit
E-2Seaman Apprentice
E-3Seaman
Non-Commissioned Officers
E-4Petty Officer Third Class
E-5Petty Officer Second Class
E-6Petty Officer First Class
E-7Chief Petty Officer
E-8Senior Chief Petty Officer
E-9Master Chief Petty Officer
SpecialMaster Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Warrant Officers
W-1Warrant Officer 1
W-2Warrant Officer 2
W-3Warrant Officer 3
W-4Warrant Officer 4
W-5Master Warrant Officer
Commissioned Officers
O-1Ensign
O-2Lieutenant, Junior Grade
O-3Lieutenant
O-4Lieutenant Commander
O-5Commander
O-6Captain
O-7Rear Admiral (Commodore)
O-8Rear Admiral (Upper Half)
O-9Vice Admiral
O-10Chief of Naval Operations
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Admiral
**Fleet Admiral
Articles

6 pictures of how military working dogs train

Soldiers and military working dogs demonstrate their skills at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017.


1. Jerry and his human.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Army Pfc. Heaven Southard releases her military working dog, Jerry, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Southard is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

2. Jerry shows how he would take down a terrorist.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Army Pfc. Heaven Southard, rear, watches as her military working dog, Jerry, bites and takes down Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Sullivan during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Southard is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. Sullivan is a public affairs noncommissioned officer assigned to U.S. Army Central. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

3. Diana teaches her human obedience.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Army Spc. Michael Coffey practices obedience with Diana, his military working dog, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Coffey is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

4. Hide yo’ kids. Hide yo’ wives. Diana gonna find you.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Diana, a military working dog, searches for a training aid during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

5. Freddy is on the hunt.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Freddy, a military working dog, searches for a training aid during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

6. Freddy walks his human.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Army Pfc. Elizabeth Adrian walks with her military working dog, Freddy, during a demonstration at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, March 7, 2017. Adrian is a military working dog handler assigned to the Directorate of Emergency Services in Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith)

Intel

Video: The incredible story of the SR-71 Blackbird in 3 minutes

No military aircraft – past or present – can beat the altitude and airspeed performance of the SR-71 Blackbird.


It’s design and performance evolved out of necessity: “We had a need to know what was going on in other countries,” Jeff Duford, a historian at the National Museum of the US Air Force, said. “And the way that we were going to do that was having a photographic aircraft that could fly very high and very fast. And much faster than the U2, which proceeded it. The SR-71 was that answer for the US Air Force and for the United States.”

Here’s the remarkable story of the SR-71 in a 3 minute mini-doc:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9hSGGEOd9Y
Articles

9 Awesome Military Christmas Cards

Christmas away from home is tough, and it doesn’t get any easier with more deployments under your belt. But getting a good card from a loved one or dear friend can help brighten the mood. Here are nine of the best:


7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
F/A-18 Hornet with Santa in the cockpit aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Cammo tree (and cammo snowflakes) . . .

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
‘Tis the season for Tier One.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
How does Santa do it? F-15 Eagle. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
From the holiday wayback machine. (Christmas card from the USS Saratoga.)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Rappelling Santa. (Design by John Cudal)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Git some, Santa. (Photo by SORD)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
All hands Santa. (Photo: DoD)

 

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Amen.

Merry Christmas to all of our deployed forces from the entire team at We Are The Mighty.

Articles

9 firsts in military aviation history

In today’s hi-tech age of drones and stealth and computer wizardry we might have a tendency to take military capabilities for granted. So here are nine military aviation firsts to remind us of how far we’ve come over the last 107 years or so:


1. First military flight

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The Wright 1908 Model A Military Flyer arrives at Fort Myer, Virginia aboard a wagon. (Photo: Nat’l Archives)

The Wright Brothers were contracted by the U.S. Army to conduct first-ever flight trials at Fort Meyer just outside of Washington, DC in 1908.  Wilbur had a business commitment in Europe, so Orville had to do the Army flights by himself, the first time the brothers worked separately since their historic flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

2. First military aviation fatality

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The aftermath of the first military airplane crash to kill an aviator. (Photo: Nat’l Archives)

On September 17, about halfway into the Army flight program, with Army observer Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge on board, the airplane piloted by Orville Wright experienced a mechanical malfunction involving one of the propellers and crashed. Orville was severely injured and Selfridge died, making him the first military aviation fatality.

3. First aircraft carrier ops

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Ely’s first launch off the boat.

Eugene Ely was the first pilot to launch from a stationary ship in November 1910. He took off from a structure fixed over the forecastle of the US armored cruiser USS Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Virginia and landed nearby on Willoughby Spit after some five minutes in the air. On 18 January 1911, he became the first pilot to land on a stationary ship. He took off from the Tanforan racetrack and landed on a similar temporary structure on the aft of the USS Pennsylvania anchored at the San Francisco waterfront—the improvised braking system of sandbags and ropes led directly to the arresting hook and wires. His aircraft was then turned around and he was able to take off again. (Source: Wikipedia)

4. First strike sortie

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The first real world bombing mission was flown on November 1, 1911 by Sottotenente Giulio Gavotti, against Turkish troops in Libya. Gavotti was flying an early model of Etrich Taube aircraft. It’s also interesting to note that the Turks were the first to shoot down an aircraft (using rifle fire) during that same conflict.

5. First air-to-air kill

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The first conventional air-to-air kill occured on October 5, 1914, during World War I, when a gunner on a French Voisin bagged a German Aviatik reconnaissance aircraft.

6. First ace

Adolphe_Pégoud “Vut eez theez volleyball you speak uf?”

Adolphe Pégoud shot down his fifth German aircraft in April of 1915, making him the first military ace ever. On August 31 of that same year, Pégoud was shot down by one of his pre-war flight students, Unteroffizier Walter Kandulski, while intercepting a German reconnaissance aircraft. He died in the crash. Kandulski later dropped a funeral wreath over the French lines in tribute.

7. First military pilot to go supersonic

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

After Bell Aircraft test pilot “Slick” Goodlin demanded $150,000 ($1.6 million in 2015 dollars) to break the sound barrier, the USAAF selected Chuck Yeager to fly the rocket-powered Bell XS-1 in a NACA program to research high-speed flight. Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the X-1 at Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000 ft. over the Rogers Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert.

8. First military pilot in space

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On April 12, 1961, Senior Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin launched in the the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome, which made him the first human to travel into space and the first to orbit the earth.

9. First military pilot to walk on the moon

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

Most people assume that Neil Armstrong was an active duty military officer at the time of the Apollo 11 mission, but he was actually a civilian, which makes Col. “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man out of the lunar module, the first military pilot to walk on the moon.

Now: 10 Things That Will Remind You About NASA’s Amazing Legacy

Lists

The best military photos for the week of April 13th

Across the military, great things happen every day. If you blink, you might miss something. Luckily for us, there are talented photographers in service who capture some of those amazing moments.

Here’s what happened this week:


7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

Air Force:

Senior Airman Adan Solis, 921st Contingency Response Squadron aircraft maintainer, marshals a C-130 Hercules aircraft during the Joint Readiness Training Center exercise, April 9, 2018, at the Alexandria International Airport, La. Contingency Response Airmen conducted joint training with Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, providing direct air-land support for safe and efficient airfield operations.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 307th Civil Engineer Squadron hone their skills on Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, April 11, 2018. The firefighters practice dousing a simulated aircraft fire in a realistic, but controlled environment.

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(U.S. Army photo by Staff. Sgt. David N. Beckstrom)

Army:

Soldiers from across 25th Infantry Division continued to strive for the title of Best Warrior by participating in an eight-mile ruck march, preparing a weapon for close combat, and draftingan essay about what it means to be a leader and how to prevent sexual harassment and assault with in the military. The Tropic Lightning Best Warrior Competition is a week-long event that will test Soldiers competing on the overall physical fitness, warrior tasks and battle drill, and professional knowledge.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Army Photo by Lt. Col. John Hall)

Bearing the weight of heavy combat loads, paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade move to the flight line to board US Air Force C130 Hercules turboprop aircraft for an joint forcible entry into northern Italy.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cory Asato)

Navy:

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Michael DeCesare, assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 4, Det. Guam, fires an M2 machine gun aboard a Mark VI patrol boat during a crew-served weapons qualification in the Philippine Sea, April 12, 2018. CRS-4, Det. Guam, assigned to Costal Riverine Group 1, Det. Guam, is capable of conducting maritime security operations across the full spectrum of naval, joint and combined operations. Further, it provides additional capabilities of port security, embarked security, and theater security cooperation around the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

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(U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito)

Capt. Gregory Newkirk, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, prepares to take off in an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently operating in the Pacific as part of a regularly scheduled deployment.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. David Bickel)

Marine Corps:

MV-22B Ospreys attached to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One conduct an aerial refuel during a Long Range Raid simulation in conjunction with Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-18 in Tuscon, Ariz., April 11. WTI is a seven-week training event hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force and provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Zachary Orr)

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Thomas Johnson, an assaultman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, bear crawls on Fort Hase beach during a scout sniper indoctrination course, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 11, 2018. The overall goal of the course is to familiarize students with the main aspects of sniper skills so that when they go to the Scout Sniper Basic School, they will continue to improve and successfully complete it.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class Christin Solomon)

Coast Guard:

Sunset falls on an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear during a three-month deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The Bear is scheduled to return to homeport April 12, 2018, in Portsmouth, Virginia. During the patrol, the Bear’s crew performed counter-narcotic operations, search and rescue, and maritime law enforcement.

Articles

13 of the funniest memes for the week of July 21

A lot happened this week. It’s a good thing healthcare is still healthcare, because now the Juice is loose. So forget the news. It’s time to kick back and chill out with some clever, good-natured comedy.


Since we don’t have any of that, here are the top military memes of the week.

1. Fight senior leadership with words, not swords.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
If he were a pilot, this would be an escape pod scene.

2. Somewhere a trainee got recycled so far back through basic training, they’re wearing BDUs.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Try this at the snake pit.

3. If you break one soldier, there are literally thousands more.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Can we talk for a minute about how that uniform actually fits Dave Chappelle pretty well?

Also Read: Here’s how Civil War cannon tore infantry apart

4. In case you thought you were alone in how you view your command.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Also, the Emperor is looking for a few volunteers.

5. Marines get smoked a different way. (via Pop Smoke)

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
But it’s a dry heat.

6. If First Sergeant can get an ARCOM for Facebook, this guy can get 6 for Snapchat.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Not all heroes wear capes.

Now: This is why ‘Hue 1968’ is ‘Black Hawk Down’ for the Vietnam War

7. Except for the shoes, here’s a good way to run the rabbit.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Private Griffin up front!

8. Barney Gumble doesn’t drink like a sailor — sailors drink like Barney Gumble.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Homer looks like he’s going to piss hot.

9. Corpsmen are going to be busy if they don’t remove the labels.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

10. No one cares how big the moon is in kilometers.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Tell China we’ll be impressed with their technology when they bring us back our flag.

11. The hypothesis on this is comedy gold. Probably.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Until there’s a photo of their own head on this board, it will be incomplete. Grade: D.

Read: 15 Awful hand salutes that don’t even come close

12. It’s PT because you’re wearing a PT uniform.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Terrible kickball form, though.

13. That Navy photo looks staged.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
They probably struggled to find soldiers and sailors doing a pull up.

Lists

5 reasons why veterans deal with problems better than anybody

Every day, the ordinary person encounters issues that they find difficult to solve.


As veterans, we hail from a world of military service where conflict and struggle are constants.

But what separates most veterans from the average Joe is how we manage to resolve these frequent problems using our unique military backgrounds.

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Related: 8 of the top federal agencies ranked by Americans

Check out five reasons why veterans deal with problems better than anybody.

5. We improvise, adapt, and overcome

No mission ever goes as expected. Although we plan for what we think might happen, there’s always a hiccup or two. We pride ourselves on our ability to think on our toes, come up with plans, and solve problems in ways civilians couldn’t fathom.

That’s our thing!

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Bear gets it.

4. We negotiate well under pressure

Many people freeze up when conflict arises. The military trains us to think under pressure and continue to execute until the mission is completed. We tend to carry that impressive trait over to the civilian workforce.

3. We learned to delegate responsibility

In the military, we’re trained to look for our team members’ strengths and positively utilize those traits. Not everyone can be great at everything. Focusing on individual talents builds confidence, which yields the best results when they’re tasked with a crucial mission.

Most civilians stay away from certain responsibilities if they know it’ll lead to a rough journey down the road.

We can tell. (Image via GIPHY)

2. Our experience alone solves issues

Most military personnel travel the world and encounter the problematic events that life throws at us. These experiences give us a worldly knowledge and teach us how we can better work with others outside of our comfort zone.

Also Read: 9 military photos that will make you do a double take

1. We don’t stress about the little sh*t

Many of us have been a part of intense combat situations. So, when conflict does rear its ugly face, comparing those issues to a firefight quickly de-escalates the situation.

It’s a talent.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

Lists

10 life hacks to get you through deployment boredom

The one thing no one ever talks about with deployments is the mind numbing boredom that comes between missions. Times have changed from the “Wild West” days of early 2000’s where even having a power outlet was a luxury.


Things have gotten slightly less monotonous but they haven’t changed that much. Troops are still sitting at the same USO, playing on the same broken Foosball table, watching the same videos that have been shared by everyone.

Here are some pro-tips that help make the deployment a little less sucky.

1. Coffee pot ramen

There was nothing more valuable than a cheapo coffee pot that every PX larger than the back of a semi-truck sold. Even then they would probably still sell them.

Instead of using it for coffee like officers in S-3 do, place ramen noodles in the glass carafe and the powder on top where the hot water will eventually drip down. It will save you time on running to the dining hall or spare you another night of MREs (depending on your level of POG-ieness). 

 

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
It also acts as the bowl from which to eat. (Image via The Mary Sue)

2. MRE hacks

You can talk about the blandness of MREs for months at a time, but there’s hope: you can combine your way through any MRE, it just takes a lot of ratf*cking a bunch of ingredients from several other MREs. It’s common knowledge to combine the Cocoa powder, coffee, sugar, and creamer to make Ranger Pudding, but with enough creativity, you can take it to the next level.

Taken to the extreme, even the old dreaded Egg and Cheese Omelet (which was thankfully removed years ago, a long enough time to make it inedible by Army standards) could be mixed with the Beef Stew and crackers to make it “decent”.

If all else fails, have family members send out cheap seasonings like Lowry’s or Tony Chachere’s.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Mix until decent (Image by Logan Nye of WATM)

3. Knock off all that inter-unit bullsh*t

There’s no reason to keep up the “screw (whatever MOS) platoon!” Don’t stop playful banter — but don’t be a jerk, either. One team, one fight.

Everyone has one or two things that can help everyone else while deployed. Commo always have batteries and new movies. Medics always have medical supplies and hygiene stuff. Chaplin Assistants always have the best care packages. Mechanics always have cigarettes. The list goes on.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
We all embrace the suck deployed.

4. Living Space

If you can manage to get a bunk bed all to yourself, you’ve got it made.

Instead of storing gear on the empty bunk, hollow the bottom bunk out and brace it with plywood. This way you can use that space for your own bedroom. Complete with tough box furniture and one of those cheap lawn chairs.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Just tactically acquire a second poncho for both sides. (Image via Defense.gov)

 

5. Cotton sock cooler

Troops always deploy to unpleasant areas of the world — usually in crazy hot climates. It gets so bad that drinking water becomes so blistering hot, you feel more thirsty after drinking it than you did before you took a swig.

Here’s the solution: Take a single cotton sock and get it damp. Put a cool bottle of water from the dining hall or S-shop mini-fridge and stick the bottle in the sock.

The eventual evaporation helps cool down the water bottle inside. Same concept behind sweating. Because science. It won’t relieve much boredom, but at least you’ll feel better.

 

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Just use clean socks. Because logic. (Image via Eabco)

6. The Postal Service is faster than the Connex

Deploying to the sandbox and coming back stateside, troops split their gear and personal belongings into two categories: Stuff they take on the plane with them and stuff they send with the connex (which arrives months later).

Why not split it into a third? Things too bulky for the plane, but things you’d want immediately. The moment you get the APO address, send out your Xbox, cheapo TV, gear that might be useful, and extra personal supplies (hygiene stuff, ramen noodles, etc.)

Same deal for your return trip, too.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
The postal service works both ways. (Image via Army.mil)

 

7. Scorpions glow under UV. Weird way to kill boredom, but we’ll take it.

If you are deployed to an outlying post in the middle of nowhere, you probably noticed a few scorpions.

Spotting them while you’re walking at night is tricky. Since scorpions glow, pick up a black light flashlight to help guide your way.

 

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Looks like we have another competitor for this week’s Hunger Games! (Image via Phoenix Pest Control)

8. MOLLE pouch for your Woobie

In the PX, there’s countless amounts of “sort of” military gear that no one is ever issued and no one really has a purpose for. The M249 SAW ammo pouch, however, can come in handy for plenty of things.

If you get sent on multi-day missions, that pouch fits your Woobie perfectly. No need to awkwardly dig through your assault pack when the ammo pouch is on the side.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
Who would actually argue against bringing the greatest piece of military gear with them? Heartless souls. That’s who.

 

9. .50 Cal Brass as a cigarette cover

We Are The Mighty does not encourage smoking. But if you must smoke…

Every smoker who goes without a cigarette for an extended period of time can tell you that you can spot a cigarette from blocks away.

In the day time, the smoke floats and gives your position away. Especially dangerous at night is the glow of the cigarette, which can give a sniper a bright red target to aim at.

Take an expended .50 cal brass from the Ma Deuce and place it over the cigarette if you just need to have one while on mission. Still does nothing for the smell though.

 

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army
And the brass slips perfectly under the MOLLE strap. (Image via Wikicommons)

10f. No one is as stealthy as they think

It should seem obvious, but with your entire platoon squished into a tiny tent on a tiny outpost, there is very little privacy. The sooner you realize it, the sooner your platoon stops mocking you.

If you think you can take a piss in a Gatorade bottle without everyone else in the tent hearing it because you’re too damn lazy to get out of your bunk, you’re wrong. Same goes with everything else that happens in the tent.

Everything.

7 holiday gift ideas for the Army

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