15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military - We Are The Mighty
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15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

The military is full of interesting lingo. The Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army all have their own unique phrases. Some of these are so good, the civilian world just can’t resist picking them up when it hears them. Here are 17 phrases that jumped from the military ranks to the civilian sphere.


1. “Balls to the walls” (also, “Going balls out”)

 

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Shenk

Meaning: To go as fast as one possibly can.

From military aviation where pilots would need to get their aircraft flying as fast as possible. Their control levers had balls on the end. Pushing the accelerator all the way out (“balls out”), would put the ball of the lever against the firewall in the cockpit (“balls to the wall”). When a pilot really needed to zoom away, they’d also push the control stick all the way forward, sending it into a dive. Obviously, this would put the ball of the control stick all the way out from the pilot and against the firewall.

2. “Bite the bullet”

Meaning: To endure pain or discomfort without crying out

Fighters on both sides of the American Civil War used the term “bite the bullet,” but it appears they may have stolen it from the British. British Army Capt. Francis Grose published the book, “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” in 1811 and used “chew the bullet” to explain how proud soldiers stayed silent while being whipped.

3. “Boots on the ground”

Meaning: Ground troops engaged in an operation

Credited to Army Gen. Volney Warner, “boots on the ground” is used to mean troops in a combat area or potential combat area. After the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the term saw wide use and has ceased to refer exclusively to military operations. It can now be used to refer to any persons sent out to walk the ground in an area. It’s been employed in reference to police officers as well as political canvassers.

4. “Bought the farm”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: U.S. Navy

Meaning: To die

Thought to date back to 1950s jet pilots, the phrase quickly spread to civilian circles. There is no clear agreement on exactly how the phrase came about. It could be from war widows being able to pay off the family farm with life insurance payments, or farmers paying off their farms with the damage payout they’d receive when a pilot crashed on their land, or the pilots who wanted to buy a farm after they retired being said to “buy the farm early” when they died.

5. “Caught a lot of flak”

Meaning: To be criticized, especially harshly

Flak is actually an acronym for German air defense cannons. The Germans called the guns Fliegerabwehrkanonen. Flieger means flyer, abwehr means defense, and kanonen means cannon. Airmen in World War II would have to fly through dangerous clouds of shrapnel created by flak. The phrase progressed in meaning until it became equated with abusive criticism.

6. “FUBAR”/”SNAFU”/”TARFU”

 

Meaning: Everything about the current situation sucks

All three words are acronyms. FUBAR stands for “F*cked up beyond all recognition,” SNAFU is “Situation normal, all f*cked up,” and TARFU is “Things are really f*cked up.” FUBAR and SNAFU have made it into the civilian lexicon, though the F-word in each is often changed to “fouled” to keep from offending listeners. The Army actually used SNAFU for the name of a cartoon character in World War II propaganda and instructional videos. Pvt. Snafu and his brothers Tarfu and Fubar were voiced by Mel Blanc of Bugs Bunny and Porky the Pig fame.

7. Geronimo

Usage: Yelled when jumping off of something

“Geronimo” is yelled by jumpers leaping from a great height, but it has military origins. Paratroopers with the original test platoon at Fort Benning, Georgia yelled the name of the famous Native American chief on their first mass jump. The exclamation became part of airborne culture and the battalion adopted it as their motto.

8. “Got your six”

Meaning: Watching your back

Military members commonly describe direction using the hours of a clock. Whichever direction the vehicle, unit, or individual is moving is the 12 o’clock position, so the six o’clock position is to the rear. “Got your six” and the related “watch your six” come from service members telling each other that their rear is covered or that they need to watch out for an enemy attacking from behind.

9. “In the trenches”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ernest Brooks

Meaning: Stuck in a drawn out, tough fight.

Troops defending a position will dig trenches to use as cover during an enemy attack, reducing the chance they’ll be injured by shrapnel or enemy rounds. In World War I, most of the war occurred along a series of trenches that would flip ownership as one army attacked another. So, someone engaged in fierce fighting, even metaphorical fighting, is “in the trenches.”

10. “No man’s land”

Meaning: Dangerous ground or a topic that it is dangerous to discuss

“No man’s land” was widely used by soldiers to describe the area between opposing armies in their trenches in World War I. It was then morphed to describe any area that it was dangerous to stray into or even topics of conversation that could anger another speaker. However, this is one case where civilians borrowed a military phrase that the military had stolen from civilians. “No man’s land” was popularized in the trenches of the Great War, but it dates back to the 14th century England when it was used on maps to denote a burial ground.

11. “Nuclear option”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Meaning: A choice to destroy everything rather than give in on a debate or contest

Used most publicly while discussing fillibusters in the Senate, the nuclear option has its roots in — what else — nuclear warfare. In the Cold War, military leaders would give the commander-in-chief options for the deployment and use of nuclear weapons from nuclear artillery to thermonuclear bombs. In the era of brinksmanship, use of nuclear weapons by the Soviets or the U.S. would likely have ended in widespread destruction across both nations.

12. “On the double”

Meaning: Quickly, as fast as possible

Anyone who has run in a military formation will recognize the background of “on the double.” “Quick time” is the standard marching pace for troops, and “double time” is twice that pace, meaning the service member is running. Doing something “on the double” is moving at twice the normal speed while completing the task.

13. “On the frontlines”

Meaning: In the thick of a fight, argument, or movement

Like nuclear option, this one is pretty apparent. The front line of a military force is made up of the military units closest to a potential or current fight. Troops on the frontline spend most days defending against or attacking enemy forces. People who are “on the frontlines” of other struggles like political movements or court trials are fighting against the other side every day. This is similar in usage and origin to “in the trenches” above.

14. “Roger that”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Meaning: Yes

This one is pretty common knowledge, though not all civilians may know why the military says, “Roger that,” rather than “yes.” Under the old NATO phonetic alphabet, the letter R was pronounced, “Roger” on the radio. Radio operators would say, “Roger,” to mean that a message had been properly received. The meaning evolved until “roger” meant “yes.” Today, the NATO phonetic alphabet says, “Romeo,” in place of R, but “roger” is still used to mean a message was received.

15. “Screw the pooch”

Meaning: To bungle something badly

“Screw the pooch” was originally an even racier phrase, f*ck the dog. It meant to loaf around or procrastinate. However, by 1962 it was also being used to mean that a person had bungled something. Now, it is more commonly used with the latter definition.

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13 signs you’re an infantryman

Here’s when you know you’re probably an infantryman in the Army or Marine Corps, better known as a grunt.


#1: Whether it’s on the ground, in a bed, or in a helicopter, you can pass out ANYWHERE.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

#2: You survive on this stuff, because it’s an amazing grunt power source.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

#3: You have eaten way more of these than you’d care to remember.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

#4: You wear camouflage uniforms so much, you wonder why they even issued you those dress uniforms that just sit in a wall locker.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
What are those things on the right? (Photo Credit: usmarineis5150.tumblr.com)

#5: The aging of your body accelerates beyond what you imagined was possible.

#6: This is “the field,” and it’s your office.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo Credit: US Army

#7: The guys in your fire team/squad/platoon know more about you than your own family. They are also willing to do anything for you.

#8: You have probably heard some crusty old enlisted guy say “all this and a paycheck too!”

#9: Your day often starts with a “death run” or a “fun run.” It is never actually fun.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo Credit: 26th MEU

#10: You watch “moto” videos of grunts in combat and get pumped up.

#11: A port-a-john in Iraq or Afghanistan (or anywhere really) has three purposes, not just “going #1 or #2.”

#12: If you are pumped up to deploy, you remember Iraq or Afghanistan is usually way more boring than people think, and the last time you went, your entire platoon watched “The O.C.” or some other show during free time.

#13: You really regret not wearing earplugs more.

DON’T MISS: 21 photos showing the life of an elite US Army Ranger

Lists

7 Christmas gift ideas for SOCOM

We’ve been hard at work making Christmas wishlists for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. There is, of course, one not-quite service branch to cover that likely has some niche needs. We’re talking about United States Special Operations Command. Although this command pulls from other armed services, they have some unique leads. So, what would the snake-eaters want for Christmas?


7. A new SEAL Delivery Vehicle

The current Mk 8 Mod 1 SEAL Delivery Vehicle isn’t bad, but it is a “wet” SDV. This means the SEALs are exposed to the water. While this may be unavoidable in some cases, enabling SEALs to stay dry longer and not use up the air in their tanks when operationally possible would be a good thing. Reviving the Advanced SEAL Delivery System is a good start.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
The Advanced SEAL Delivery System on USS Greeneville (SSN 772). (US Navy photo)

6. A new Spectre gunship

The AC-130H has been a reliable means of support for SOCOM. Just one problem: The airframes are mostly based on the older C-130H airframe. The stretched C-130J-30 would make for a nice platform for a new generation of Spectres.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
An air-to-air view of an AC-130 Hercules aircraft during target practice. (U.S. Air Force photo)

5. A replacement for the Little Bird

The MH-6 and AH-6 “Little Bird” helicopters used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are getting a little old. We’re thinking the Army’s UH-72 Lakota would be an excellent replacement — especially since Airbus is already pitching an armed version of this nifty little chopper.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Airbus H145M, showing a gun pod on the left and a 12-round rocket pod on the right. (Photo from Airbus Helicopters)

4. Add the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team to JSOC

This Coast Guard unit could be a very useful asset for Joint Special Operations Command, which controls Delta Force and SEAL Team Six. It can carry out a number of missions similar to DEVGRU, but since Coast Guard personnel also have law enforcement powers, they can serve warrants. Think of it as an international, “no-knock” warrant service team, and a nice way to backstop these other elite units.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
A member of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team boards a vessel. (USCG photo)

3. Bring back the Army Reserve Special Forces groups

During the Cold War, the Army Reserve had two Special Forces groups: the 11th and 12th. During the draw-down after the Cold War, they were deactivated. Perhaps it’s time to bring them back, given the heavy workload of active Army and National Guard special forces groups.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Insignia of the 12th Special Forces Group. (US Army image)

2. Add the Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety Security Teams to SOCOM

These Coast Guard units specialize in counter-terrorism and have been trusted to protect major events, including the Olympics and the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
A boatcrew from Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91114 conducts high-speed maneuvers during a security patrol south of the Port of Miami. (USCG photo)

1. Create a Marine Corps “Advice and Assist Regiment” for MARSOC

The Marine Raiders have traditionally, as their name suggests, carried out raids. So, why not create an “Advise and Assist” Regiment, similar to the “Advise and Assist” brigades the Army is setting up? This would enable the Marines to let the Raiders to focus on direct action.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
A U.S. Special Operations Marine provides security as Afghan Local Police members collect their first payments in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The Afghan Local Police was tasked with serving rural areas with limited Afghan National Security Forces presence. (DOD photo)

What presents do you think SOCOM wants to find under their Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments.

Articles

The 19 most important years in the history of military drones

We think of drone warfare as a post-9/11 phenomenon, but they’ve been around a lot longer than that. Here are a few high points in the history of pilotless aerial war machines:


1849 — Austrians launch nearly 200 pilotless balloons mounted with bombs against the city of Venice.

1862 – Both sides of the American Civil War use pilotless balloons for reconnaissance and bombing sorties.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

1898 – The U.S. military fits a camera to a kite during the Spanish-American War, producing the first ever aerial reconnaissance photos.

1916 — The Royal Flying Corps took over 19,000 aerial photographs and collected a staggering 430,000 prints during the five months of the Battle of the Somme. (This visual analysis upturned the horse as the dominant technology of military reconnaissance.)

1943 — The GB-1 Glide Bomb was developed to bypass German air defenses. It was a workable glider fitted with a standard 1,000 or 2,000-pound bomb. Made with plywood wings, rudders, and controlled by radio, the GB-1s were dropped from B-17s and then guided by bombardiers to their target below. One hundred and eight GB-1s were dropped on Cologne, causing heavy damage.

1945 — Operation Aphrodite was one of the most ambitious drone projects in the Second World War. The plan was to strike concealed German laboratories with American B-17 “Flying Fortresses” and B-24 bombers that were stripped down and crammed with explosives. A manned crew would pilot these planes before parachuting out once they crossed the English Channel. At that moment, a nearby “mothership” would take control, receiving live feed from an on-board television camera. Despite the inventiveness of the U.S. Air Force and Navy, Aphrodite was a military failure. It even claimed the life of Joseph Kennedy Jr, after his B-17 exploded over the English countryside.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

1946 — “Pilotless Aircraft Branch” of the U.S. Air Force was established to develop three types of drones for use as training targets. Of the three, the airborne-launched Q-2 was the most important, becoming the “father” of a class of target drones.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
(Official U.S. Navy photo)

1964 — The U.S. first began to consider sending drones to replace its U-2s in spying missions over Cuba. Lightning Bugs flown by U.S. Strategic Air Command were subsequently used for surveillance in so-called “denied areas” across an increasingly widening Cold War battlespace including Cuba, North Korea, and the People’s Republic of China.

1968 – Drones used extensively over North Vietnam for surveillance, marking a shift from being “targets” to remote “sensor” platforms that could check out the landscape below.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

1973 — The Philco-Ford Corporation developed a laser designator that could be attached to a Ryan BGM-34B Firebee drone, with the aim of creating a “strike drone.”

1989 – DARPA seed money funds development of the GNAT, which was equipped with GPS navigation that allowed for autonomous missions of up to 48 hours, and also housed infrared and low-light cameras in a moveable sensor turret under its nose.

1994 – CIA bypasses acquisition rules to rapidly field the GNAT-750 and begins flying top secret missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to the CIA director at the time, “I could sit in my office, call up a classified channel and in an early version of e-mail type messages to a guy in Albania asking him to zoom in on things.”

1995 — Predators – the follow-on version of the GNAT-750s — were shown in an aviation demonstration at Fort Bliss. Impressed by the drone’s capabilities, the U.S. Air Force soon established its very first UAV squadron, the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Indian Springs Auxiliary Airfield in Nevada, later named as Creech Air Force Base.

2000 — After the CIA’s Predator drone spotted who it believed was bin Laden at Tarnak Farm, Afghanistan, research went into shortening the kill-chain: getting Tomahawk missiles to fly from a submarine in the Arabian Sea to southern Afghanistan would take six hours to go through military protocols. The Predator’s Hellfire was the solution. At Indian Springs, Nevada, a program was born under the Air Force’s “Big Safari” office, a classified division in charge of developing secret intelligence programs for the military. In 2001 tests were made to turn the hunter into a killer.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

2001 — The armed Predator program was activated days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, with Predators reaching Afghanistan by September 16th 2001, and armed Predators reaching the country on October 7th. About the same time President Bush signed a directive that created a secret list of High Value Targets that the CIA was authorized to kill without further Presidential approval.

2002 — The agency’s Predator unleashed a Hellfire missile at a “tall man” and his lieutenants in February near the city of Khost, believing the man to be none other than bin Laden. But the analysts had acquired the wrong target. This time, it was innocent civilians gathering up scrap metal. All were killed.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

2003 — Drones’ cameras and sensors linked to the global telecommunications system. Now a drone can be piloted—and its live feed viewed and its missiles aimed—from anywhere in the world. The drone pilots are now insulated from the risks of combat.

2010 – The most prolific year of drone strikes on President Obama’s watch. CIA authorized to strike targets beyond approved kill list — individuals with a suspicious ‘pattern of life’ or daily behavior.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

2011 –RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drones used to monitor Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and that intel is used to plan and conduct the raid that results in his death.

Now: 7 ways drones are ruining everything

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The 5 best military ghost stories

The military fights wars, and that’s bound to have created a few vengeful spirits over the last few centuries.


Here are 5 stories of these sorts of mil-ghosts from around the webs. (And if you have any cool ones, share them in the comments.)

Listen to our veteran hosts discuss haunted bases and urban legends in the U.S. military.

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1. The combatants from Little Big Horn are still fighting.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Lithograph: Library of Congress by Charles Marion Russell

The U.S. Army’s “Soldier’s Creed” calls for troops to never quit, never accept defeat. Apparently Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his men got the message 127 years before the Soldier’s Creed was written, because they’re still fighting the lost Battle of Little Bighorn.

The story goes that visitors have seen spirits moving around the battlefield, and at least one has seen U.S. soldiers and Native American warriors fighting to the death.

2. A Revolutionary War general rides through Pennsylvania trying to find his missing bones.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons/Niagara

We’ve previously discussed Maj. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the fact that he’s buried in at least two places. Wayne died while touring military defenses in Pennsylvania and was buried near Lake Eerie. When his son came to recover the body twelve years later, he found that Lake Eerie had preserved the body.

Since the younger Wayne only had room for his dad’s skeleton, he had the flesh boiled off and then moved the bones across the state in a cart. The story goes that he lost a few pieces along the way. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s ghost still rides the trail, trying to recover the bones his son scattered like some kind of sick Johnny Appleseed.

3. An Air Force base’s security headquarters has a helpful ghost nurse.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Wikipedia

Look, few people particularly love military police and security forces, but they provide a needed service. It’s sort of rude to put their headquarters in a haunted building, but that’s what happened at Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

Building 34 used to be the base hospital, and supposedly a nurse still roams the halls and tries to do her job. No word on how many sleeping staff runners have been woken up with ectoplasm IVs, so we have to assume more than 20.

4. A group of fiery monks protect the Alamo.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

After Santa Anna’s forces finally captured the Alamo, Mexican forces had to decide what to do with it. They decided to raze it to the ground in an effort led by Gen. Juan Jose Andrade. Andrade sent a colonel who attempted to complete the mission, but came running back, babbling about ghost monks.

Andrade went to destroy the chapel and remaining fortifications himself with a cannon and torches. When the general and his men arrived, they took aim at the chapel doors. Six monks with flaming swords walked out of the walls of the chapel. As they and other spirits began hurling fireballs at the Mexican soldiers, the general ordered a tactical retreat.

5. USS Hornet is the most haunted ship in the Navy fleet.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: US Navy

The USS Hornet saw extensive service in World War II and the Vietnam War, and so it’s no surprise that a couple of ghosts may have decided to make it home.

It has a reputation as an extremely haunted place though. Visitors to the museum regularly report seeing officers in their blue uniforms or a sailor wearing his dress whites. (No one knows why an eternal spirit would decide to spend his time looking like the Cracker Jack mascot.)

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5 insane military projects that almost happened

1. Winston Churchill’s plan for a militarized iceberg

Everyone knows that Winston Churchill is a certifiable badass — his military strategy in WWII led to the Allied victory over the Nazi Regime, and has secured him a spot amongst history’s greatest leaders.


What few people know, however, is that Churchill’s most glorious military scheme never saw the light of day — and for good reason. It was insane. What exactly was the Bulldog’s grand plan, you ask? To create the largest aircraft carrier the world had ever seen, and to make it out of ice.

Yes, you read that right. Churchill’s dream was to create a 2,000 foot long iceberg that would literally blow the Axis powers out of the water. The watercraft, dubbed Project Habakkuk, was going to be massive in every way: the construction plans called for walls that were 40 feet thick, and a keel depth of 200 feet — displacing approximately 2,00,000 tons of water. Habukkuk was no ice cube.

Eventually the Brits realized that frozen water may not be the hardiest building material, and opted to replace it with pykrete, a blend of ice and wood pulp that could deflect bullets.

Despite the fact that this “plan” sounds like something out of a bad sci-fi movie, Habakkuk almost happened. It wasn’t until a 60 foot long, 1,000 ton model was constructed in Canada that people realized how freaking expensive this thing would be — the 1940s were a strange time. A full-sized Habakkuk would cost $70 million dollars, and could only get up to about six knots. And at the end of the day, Germany could still potentially melt the thing, though it would probably take the rest of the war to make a dent in this glacier.

2. Napalm-packing suicide bomber bats

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
A bat bomb in action Photo: schoolhistory.org.uk

Fire bombs were a huge threat during the height of WWII, and an excellent weapon to wield against unwitting enemies. The horrific damage done to London and Coventry during the London Blitz is a prime example of the power this weapon of war had when used on England and other Allied nations.

Determined to one-up the Axis forces, President Franklin Roosevelt approved plans for an even better bomb — one that was smaller, faster, and … furrier. That’s right. The plan was to strap tiny explosives to tiny, live bats.

Why people thought this would be a good idea is anyone’s guess. The guy who proposed the scheme wasn’t even military — he was a dentist, and a friend of FDR’s wife, Eleanor. But America didn’t care about that. It was time to blow the crap out of Japan, and they were going to do it with the one weapon Japan didn’t have — flying rodents.

FDR consulted with zoologist Donald Griffin for his professional opinion before giving an official green light, apparently worried this “so crazy it just might work” idea might just be plain-old insane.

Griffin was a little skeptical too, but ultimately thought the whole bat thing was too cool to pass on. “This proposal seems bizarre and visionary at first glance,” he wrote in April 1942, according to The Atlantic, “but extensive experience with experimental biology convinces the writer that if executed competently it would have every chance of success.” Aces, Griffin.

The official strategy was to attach napalm explosives to each individual bat, store about 1,000 bats in large, bomb-safe crates, and release about 200 of those cases from a B-29 bomber as it flew over Japanese cities. That meant up to 200,000 bats could be unleashed at once — which would be terrifying even if they weren’t on a suicide mission.

After they were released into the air, these little angels of death would roost inside buildings on the ground. Then after a few hours their explosives would detonate, igniting the building and causing total chaos.

At least, that was the plan. In reality, the bats were a little too good at their job, and escaped to nest under an American Air Force base’s airplane hanger during an experiment. You can guess how that went. Surprisingly, the incineration of the building didn’t put a damper on the operation — people were just more convinced of the bats volatility, and excited to see them used in real combat.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, let’s be real), the U.S. never got to add “weaponized bats” to its military repertoire. It was decided that equipping small flying animals with napalm bombs could yield unpredictable results, and the investment wouldn’t be worth the possible military gains. Shocker.

3. The “Gay Bomb” that would cause enemies to “make love, not war”

Hindsight is always 20-20, but how anyone took this “military strategy” seriously is completely beyond us. In quite possibly the least politically-correct display of derring-do in American history, the U.S. prepared to take its enemies out in a way they would never expect — by turning them gay.

Let’s take a moment to let that sink in. The United States of America, one of the most powerful countries in the world, was convinced that getting the enemy to “switch teams” was the key to military prowess. Oh, and did we mention this happened in 1994?

The Wright Laboratory proposed a project that would require six years of research and a $7.5 million grant to create this bomb, along with other bizarre ideas — including as a bomb that would cause insects to swarm the enemy. So they really had the best and brightest American minds on this thing.

The goal was to drop extremely powerful chemical aphrodisiacs on enemy camps, rendering the men too “distracted” to um … leave their tents. Yes, this was a real idea that involved discharging female sex pheromones over enemy forces in order to make them sexually attracted to each other.

The project was still considered viable in 2002, when the proposal’s findings were sent to the National Academy of Sciences.

At the time the Pentagon and the Department of Defense held that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service,” consistent with Clinton’s infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The gay bomb never got off the ground because researchers at the Wright lab discovered no such “chemical pheromones” existed, leaving the crazy idea with zero means to execute it. The Wright Lab did, however, win the IG Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts, a tongue-and-cheek gesture from the Annals of Improbable Research.

4. B.F. Skinner’s pigeon-guided missile system

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: the brigade.com

WWII is a treasure trove of weird military experiments, and famed psychologist B.F. Skinner’s contribution to the American cause may be one of the most bizarre.

The plan? Place live pigeons inside missiles, and train them to direct it to the correct target, ensuring that no target was missed. The target would be displayed on a digital screen inside the missile, and the pigeon would be trained to peck the target until the bomb would correct its course and start heading in the right direction.

Despite pretty hefty financial investment in the idea, it was ultimately decided that the time it would take to train the pigeons, and the fact that missiles would have to be updated with tiny screens for them to peck at, wasn’t worth the trouble.

5. America tried to take out the Viet Cong with clouds

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Maybe Forrest Gump was experiencing Operation Popeye Photo: duels.net

This is one experiment that actually did happen, though that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous than our other contenders. When people think of the American military’s methods of chemical warfare in Vietnam, Agent Orange is what immediately comes to mind — but this chemical wasn’t the only weapon the U.S. employed in its battle against the Viet Cong. The CIA developed a strategy called cloud seeding in 1963, which would release chemicals into the air that would manipulate weather patterns, causing unusual amounts of rainfall for the surrounding area.

And we’re not talking your run-of-the-mill thunderstorm, either. Vietnam gets a ridiculous amount of rain already (remember that clip from Forrest Gump?), so the U.S. needed weather that would literally wash away the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Or at least try to.

The mission, called Operation Popeye, involved dumping iodine and silver flares from cargo planes over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Scientists predicted that these chemical agents would cause a surge in rainfall and even extend the monsoon period, screwing with the Viet Cong’s communication networks and basically making things more unpleasant for everyone involved.

The results weren’t fantastic, but the U.S. didn’t roll over. The operation continued for five years, undertaking over 2,000 missions and releasing nearly 50,000 cloud-seed chemicals throughout the trail. Lack of results aside, the dedication is still impressive.

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:


15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
F/A-18 Hornet with Santa in the cockpit aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Cammo tree (and cammo snowflakes) . . .

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
‘Tis the season for Tier One.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
How does Santa do it? F-15 Eagle. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
From the holiday wayback machine. (Christmas card from the USS Saratoga.)

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Rappelling Santa. (Design by John Cudal)

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Git some, Santa. (Photo by SORD)

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
All hands Santa. (Photo: DoD)

 

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Amen.

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

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5 crimes involving a lot of troops that were forgiven by the United States

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we all make mistakes together. And when we all make mistakes sometimes punishing us isn’t worth the time, effort and money. Depending on the severity of the crime, it might be more efficient to just give us all a mulligan and call the whole thing off.


The U.S.Department of Defense is familiar with this sort of calculus. Between Selective Service (aka “The Draft”) with civilians and the crimes unique to military personnel, problems with the application of laws involving the military are bound to happen. Sometimes they happened en masse. In those instances, the government has decided it would be better not to prosecute or the law became unenforceable because so many people committed the crime. It’s rare, but it happened. Here are five times where we were forgiven our trespasses:

1. Adultery (by the masses)

The list of email addresses released by hacktivists The Impact Group included thousands of .mil addresses. This means military members actually used their military email accounts to sign up for Ashley Madison, a site designed to facilitate adultery, which is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), punishable by a year in confinement and a dishonorable discharge.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Among these were 250 addresses from various aircraft carriers, addresses from every destroyer and amphibious assault ship in the Navy, 1,665 navy.mil and 809 usmc.mil addresses, 54 af.mil addresses, and 46 uscg.mil addresses. The Army was the most impressive, with 6,788 army.mil addresses signed up. At first, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said DoD would investigate but the Pentagon has since decided not to, since there would be no proof of actual adultery and simply signing up for a website isn’t a crime.

2. Homosexuality

After 18 years, the policy governing homosexuality in the U.S. military known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed. In response to the repeal, the Army issued a statement saying simply “the law is repealed” and reminded soldiers to treat each other fairly.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
(Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The thing is being gay is not in itself a crime under the UCMJ, but the way homosexuals have sex is, under Article 125. Homosexuals were simply given an “Other than Honorable” discharge. With more than 66,000 gay and lesbian men and women in uniform, trying to control the way they have sex becomes problematic after a while. Now with the DADT repeal, former service members are allowed to reenlist, but their cases will not be given priority. Officials have so far failed to address how all of this affects Article 125 of the UCMJ.

3. Dodging the draft

On January 21, 1977, newly-elected President Jimmy Carter granted a full pardon to hundreds of thousands of American men who evaded the Vietnam War draft by fleeing the country or not registering. Carter campaigned on this promise in an effort to help heal the country from the cultural rift the war created.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

Most fled to Canada, where they were eventually welcomed as immigrants. Exempt from the pardon were deserters from the U.S. Army who met their obligation and then fled. 50,000 Americans became Canadian during the draft, facing prosecution if they returned home.

4. Seceding from the Union

In the most egregious example of getting away with flaunting the rules (to put it mildly), in 1872 Congress passed a bill signed by then-President Ulysses S. Grant which restored voting rights and the right to hold public office to all but 500 members of the Southern Confederacy during the Civil War.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

The original act restricting the rights of former Confederates was passed in 1866. The act covered more than 150,000 former Confederate troops. The 500 who were still restricted were among the top leadership of the Confederacy.

5. Illegal Immigration

This one hasn’t happened yet but the discussion is very serious. The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a controversial plan to allow illegal immigrants with deportation deferments to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. U.S. military veterans currently serving in the House of Representatives offer bipartisan public support for the provision.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
(Photo: TA4.org)

The NDAA as is faces significant challenges in the entire Congress. Last year, Representatives Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), a Desert Storm veteran and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran entered a similar bill, called the ENLIST Act, which would have had the same provisions but it was quickly sidelined.

 

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

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE:

A security forces Airman secures the outside of a hardened facility after neutralizing the opposing force during a combat training course on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane/USAF

Capt. Alexander Goldfein, Thunderbird 3, and Maj. Jason Curtis, Thunderbird 5, fly above the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds in Colorado Springs.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Senior Airman Jason Couillard/USAF

NAVY:

Sailors assist Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operating combat rubber raiding craft as they approach the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins/USN

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Devorris Harris mans the bridge helm while transiting out of Victoria Harbor aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Bradley J. Gee/USN

ARMY:

An Army chaplain candidate in the Basic Officer Leaders Course and his assistant negotiate the day infiltration course at Fort Jackson, S.C.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
James Williams/US Army

A Soldier, assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, fires a M136 AT4 during Decisive Action Rotation 15-08 at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Spc. Michelle U. Blesam/US Army

MARINE CORPS:

Knock, Knock. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, “The Lava Dogs,” stack up for door breaching with a water charge at Lava Viper aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Cpl. Ricky S. Gomez/USMC

Night Crew. U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform post-flight maintenance on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) in the Philippine Sea.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Sgt. Jamean Berry/USMC

COAST GUARD:

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Norfolk, Va., as part of Norfolk Harborfest 2015. The Eagle is a 295-foot barque sailing vessel and the only operational commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. military.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class David Weydert/USCG

A Coast Guard crewman stands at the ready on a 25-foot Response Boat – Small while watches the USS Chosin, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as it arrives for the Portland, Ore., annual Rose Festival.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: Chief Petty Officer David Mosley/USCG

NOW: More military photos

And: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

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Notable athletes who served in the military

Athletes who were military heroes represent some of the bravest men and women to ever play professional sports. These Americans gave up the fame and fortune that would have come with being a professional athlete to serve their country. Many sacrificed more than that, giving up their lives on the front lines of World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq.


The military hero athletes on this list undoubtably include many names you know as sports stars first and soldiers second or vice versa, but each has a story behind their service in the United States Armed Forces.

For some, that story includes leaving professional sports at the peak of their career to serve their country during wartime, such as legendary baseball player Bob Feller, boxer Joe Louis and baseball great Joe DiMaggio. These athletes can be considered military heroes.

Others, such as basketball star David Robinson and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Art Donovan, their military service came before their professional sports careers as they were fortunate enough to return from battle healthy enough to continue.

Sadly, many were not so lucky. In one of the more recent cases, up and coming Arizona Cardinals football player Pat Tillman left the NFL shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to become a U.S. Army Ranger. Tillman made the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed in action in April 2004.

These notable athletes who served in the military may not have all been the best of their respective sports and may not have all been decorated soldiers but each of these fine men and women should be thanked for their service nonetheless.

Athletes Who Are Military Heroes

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9 troops who became heroes after they disobeyed orders

Entering the military requires an oath to obey the lawful orders of those in the higher chain of command. Commanding officers can order troops into a suicide mission if it serves the greater purpose. When obeying orders, it’s necessary for those troops to believe a commander wouldn’t order them into harm’s way unless it was necessary, that the order serves a greater good, and it’s not an illegal order.


Most of the nine men listed here (in no order) did not disobey orders because they were illegal. They disobeyed them because lives were at stake and felt saving those lives was worth the risk. Others pushed the envelope to keep the enemy on its heels. People make mistakes, even when the stakes are life and death. It can mean the difference in the course of the entire war (as seen with Gen. Sickles) or to a few men who are alive because someone took a chance on them (in the case of Benaya Rein).

1. Dakota Meyer, U.S. Marine Corps, Afghanistan

In 2009, Meyer was at the Battle of Ganjgal, where his commander ordered him to disregard a distress call from ambushed Afghan and American troops, four of them friends, pinned down by possibly hundreds of enemy fighters. He repeatedly asked permission to drive his truck to help relieve his outnumbered and surrounded friends and allies. He and another Marine hopped in a Humvee. Meyer manned the gun while the other drove the vehicle.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

They drove right into the firestorm, loading the beleaguered Afghans, mostly wounded, onto their humvee. As weapons jammed, Meyer would grab another, and another. They drove into the melee five times, until they came across Meyer’s friends, now fallen, and pulled them out too. Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

2. Daniel Hellings, British Army, Afghanistan

Hellings was on a joint patrol in Helmand Province with Afghan allies when his patrol was hit by an explosion. An improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated in an alleyway, injuring two of the patrollers. Then another went off, injuring a third man. Hellings’ commander ordered an immediate withdrawal. Instead, Hellings got down on the ground and started a fingertip search for more bombs — and found four more. He was on the ground, poking around in the dirt until he found all of the IEDs. For his bravery and quick thinking, he was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

3. Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Army, Cold War

Petrov was in command of the Oko Nuclear Early Warning System on the morning of September 26, 1983 when it detected a probable launch of American nuclear missiles. Suspecting it was a false alarm, he disobeyed the standing order of reporting it to his commanding officers, who likely would have “retaliated” with their nuclear arsenal.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

In this case, doing nothing was doing something big, as in completely averting World War III, and mutually assured destruction. It also showed a flaw in the USSR’s early warning system and helped to avert further misunderstandings.

4. Benaya Rein, Israel Defence Forces, Second Lebanon War

Several Israeli soldiers, lacking accurate maps, became lost in 2006 while downrange in Southern Lebanon. As they attempted to get their bearings, about 20 men appeared in the distance, and the commander — thinking they were Hezbollah fighters — ordered Benaya Rein to open fire.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Benaya Rein, IDF

Rein wasn’t so sure. Instead, he took a tank out to the location to investigate. When he arrived, he found 20 of his fellow IDF soldiers. “Because he refused to follow his commander’s order, the lives of these soldiers were saved,” his mother told an Israeli paper.

Rein would later be killed after the tank he was commanding was hit by a Hezbollah missile. He was one of the last Israelis killed during the war.

5. Lt. David Teich, U.S. Army, Korean War

Teich was in a tank company near the 38th parallel in 1951 when a radio distress call came in from the Eighth Ranger Company. Wounded, outnumbered, and under heavy fire, the Rangers were near Teich’s tanks, and facing 300,000 Communist troops, moving steadily toward their position. Teich wanted to help, but was ordered to withdraw instead, his captain saying “We’ve got orders to move out. Screw them. Let them fight their own battles.”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Teich during the Korean War

Teich went anyway. He led four tanks over to the Rangers’ position and took out so many Rangers on each tank, they covered up the tank’s turrets. He still gets letters from the troops he saved that day, thanking him for disobeying his order to move out.

6. Cpl. Desmond Doss, U.S. Army, World War II

Doss wanted to serve, he just wasn’t willing to kill to do it and refused every order to carry a weapon or fire one. However, Doss would do anything to save his men, repeatedly braving Japanese fire to pull the injured to the rear. As his unit climbed a vertical cliffside at Okinawa, the Japanese opened up with artillery, mortars, and machine guns, turning his unit back and killing or wounding 75 men. Doss retrieved them one by one, loading them onto a litter and down the cliff.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
President Truman awards the Medal of Honor to Desmond Doss

A few days later, in the mouth of a cave, he braved a shower of grenades thrown from eight yards away, dressed wounds, and made four trips to pull his soldiers out. He treated his own wounds and waited five hours for a litter to carry him off. On the way back, the three men carrying him had to take cover from a tank attack. While waiting, Doss crawled off his litter, treated a more injured man, and told the litter bearers to take the other man. While waiting for them to come back, he was hit in the arm by a sniper and crawled 300 yards to an aid station. He was the first conscientious objector to earn the Medal of Honor.

7. Lt. Thomas Currie ‘Diver’ Derrick, Australian Imperial Force, WWII

The Battle of Sattelberg in the Pacific nation of New Guinea was as hard-fought as any in the Pacific Theater. It took the Australians a grudgingly slow eight days to push the Japanese out of the town and they paid dearly for it. On November 24, 1943, Lt. Derrick was ordered to withdraw his platoon because the CO didn’t think he could capture the heights around Sattelberg.

Derrick’s response: “Bugger the CO. Just give me twenty more minutes and we’ll have this place.”

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

Derrick climbed a vertical cliff by himself, holding on with one hand and throwing grenades with the other, stopping only to fire his rifle. He cleared out 10 machine gun nests that night and forced the Japanese to withdraw. The Aussies captured Sattelberg and Derrick was awarded the Victoria Cross.

8. 1st. Lt. Frank Luke, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps, WWI

In September 1918, Luke was grounded by his commanding officer and told that if he disobeyed, he would be charged with being AWOL. Luke, an ace with 15 aerial victories, flew anyway, going out to find military reconnaissance balloons. Balloons sound like an easy target, but they were heavily defended by anti-aircraft weapons.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

He knocked out three balloons that day before he was forced down by machine gun fire. Once out of his plane (which he landed, he wasn’t shot down) he kept fighting the Germans with his sidearm until a bullet wound killed him. Luke is the first pilot to receive the Medal of Honor.

9. Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, Union Army, Civil War

Sickles’ slight disobedience to orders during the Battle of Gettysburg changed the momentum of the war and may have changed the entire history of the United States. In a move historians haven’t stopped talking about for 150 years, Sickles moved his men to Peach Orchard instead of Little Round Top, as Gen. George G. Meade ordered him. This move prompted Confederate Gen. James Longstreet to attack the Union troops in the orchard and the wheat field, nearly destroying the Union forces there. Which, admittedly, sounds terrible.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

The Confederate move allowed Union troops to flank them in a counteroffensive and completely rout the Confederate forces, winning Gettysburg for the Union and ending Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North. Sickles himself lost a leg in the fighting, but received the Medal of Honor and helped preserve Gettysburg as a national historic site after the war.

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3 reasons why the A-10’s replacement won’t bring the same BRRRRRT! to the battle

So, the Air Force is going to test fly a replacement for the A-10 Thunderbolt II “BRRRRRT!” plane this summer — all on account of a Senate committee that just voted to provide $1.2 billion in funding for this program.


A number of planes are competing to see which will replace the legendary Warthog. Among the competitors are the OV-10X from Boeing, the Textron Scorpion, the A-29 Super Tucano, and the AT-6 Texan.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
OV-10G+ operated by SEAL Team 6. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

And while these new planes have their advantages for close air support, they lack some key attributes that makes the A-10 the beloved “Hog” that it is.

3. No armor for the pilot – or other stuff

Let’s be honest, one of the reasons we love the A-10 is that it can take a beating and bring the pilot home. The tale of Kim “Killer Chick” Campbell doesn’t happen with a Tucano or Texan. It just doesn’t. So don’t give us some small prop job and tell us you gave us an A-10 replacement, okay? Just. Freakin’. Don’t.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military

2. Lack of payload

The A-10 can carry up to 16,000 pounds of bombs, missiles, and other ordnance — that’s eight tons. The Textron Scorpion carries up to 9,000 pounds. The OV-10X is a modernized version of the OV-10 Bronco, but that plane has a limited payload as well, with the heaviest weapon it carries being 500-pound bombs.

Not bad for a COIN mission, but weak at supporting boots on the ground in a heavy firefight.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
A-10 Thunderbolt IIs break over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex and one aircraft drops a flare during live-fire training April 24. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert Wieland)

1. No GAU-8

The A-10 was built around the GAU-8, a 30mm Gatling cannon. It could hold 1,174 rounds’ worth of BRRRRRT!

Now, the old OV-10 that served in Vietnam and Desert Storm had guns – four M60 machine guns. That’s right four 7.62mm machine guns. The OV-10X swaps them out for M3 .50-caliber machine guns. Not bad when you wanna take out Taliban, but a problem when facing tanks.

Now, there was a gun pod that had a version of the GAU-8 with four barrels as opposed to seven, and with 353 rounds. Not bad, but it’s not a GAU-8 mount.

15 common phrases civilians stole from the US military
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder

Don’t get us wrong, the OV-10 makes for a nice COIN bird, and the Textron Scorpion could be a nice, cheap supplementary multi-role fighter.

But let’s get down to the ground truth: If you want to replace the A-10, do it right. And if you can’t replace the A-10 with a new plane, then just admit that the best A-10 replacement is another A-10 and just get them back in production. Is that too much to ask?

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Fortune 500 CEOs who served in the military

Business leaders who served in the military have a tremendous knowledge in leadership and motivation. Many CEOs of major companies spent time in the armed forces, with a number seeing combat in the Vietnam War, and some even being wounded. Along the way, they learned a great deal about how to motivate people under you, logistics, efficiency, and managing expectations.


These lessons would come in handy when they transitioned to the business world. These leaders turned major companies around, oversaw mergers and new products, weathered uncertain economic times, and made profits for shareholders – all while managing employees with the skills they learned in the military.

As the current generation of Vietnam veteran CEOs retires, the corporate world is left with a vacuum that won’t be filled for decades, until Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans take high-ranking business leadership positions. Here are some of the most prominent current and recently retired CEOs who also served in the military.

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