Whether you hit Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or just a random Tuesday night after a cocktail because #quarantine, tis the season to be jolly … and to make sure you meet the 2020 military mail holiday shipping deadlines. Deadlines are quickly approaching to get those care packages put together and in the mail for your loved one to open in time for the holidays.
Here are the USPS holiday shipping dates for military mail:
For a full list of USPS holiday shipping deadlines this season, visit USPS.com. And to see what items your service member actually wants in their care packages, click here.
VA will soon mark 100,000 veterans cured of hepatitis C. This is exciting news and puts VA on track to eliminate hepatitis C in all eligible veterans enrolled in VA care who are willing and able to be treated.
Building on this success, VA takes on another important issue during Hepatitis Awareness Month: making sure all veterans experiencing homelessness are vaccinated for hepatitis A.
Recently, there have been multiple large outbreaks of hepatitis A among people who are homeless and people who use injection drugs across the U.S. Currently, there is a large outbreak in Tennessee and Kentucky that has affected well over 5,000 people across the two states with 60 deaths reported thus far.
Given that individuals experiencing homelessness may also be at increased risk of exposure to hepatitis B, VA recommends vaccination for those with risk factors against both hepatitis A and B, as appropriate.
3D illustration of the Liver.
During Hepatitis Awareness Month, the HIV, Hepatitis, and Related Conditions Programs, the Homeless Programs, and the National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention are collaborating to raise awareness on this issue.
We are collaborating with leadership and frontline providers to ensure all identified veterans who are homeless, non-immune and unvaccinated for hepatitis A and those at risk of HBV exposure are offered vaccination, as appropriate, at their next VA appointment.
Veterans who are interested in either hepatitis A or B vaccination may ask their VA provider for more information.
Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19) is a great reminder to check in with your provider about hepatitis C testing and treatment as well.
Wondering what it takes to cut the mustard in Special Forces selection?
The time of my first (just) two-year enlistment in the Army was coming to an end. I originally enlisted for the shortest amount of time in the Army in the event that if I really hated it too much I only ever had two years to endure. There were two things that I was positively certain of:
I really DID want to stay in the Army
I really did NOT want to stay right where I was in the Army
It wasn’t a matter of being so fervent about wanting to excel into the ranks of Special Forces soldiers at that time; rather, it was the matter of getting away — far away — from the attitudes and caliber of persons I was serving with at the time in the peace- time Army as it was. I understood, so I thought, that the way to ensure I could distance myself from the regular army aura was to go into Special Forces, namely the Green Berets.
(Special Forces Regimental insignia)
That was a great path forward, but with a near insurmountable obstacle — you had to be a paratrooper! Jumping from an airplane in flight was fine by me, the problem associated with that was that most airplanes had to be really high up before you jumped out of them. I was then as I am still horrendously terrified of heights — woe is me! My fear of altitudes was keeping me from going to Airborne Jump School and stuck in my current morass of resolve.
Well, just two short years in the regular “go nowhere, do nothing” Army and I was ready to jump out of high-in-the-sky airplanes parachute or no parachute. I was ready to jump ship!
Jump School was indeed terrifying despite the small number of jumps, just five, that we were required to make. All of the jumps were in the daytime though mine were all night jumps. All that is required to qualify as a night jump is to simply close one’s eyes. I did. I figured there was nothing so pressing to see while falling and waiting for the intense tug of the opening of the parachute, so I just closed my eyes.
(Every jump can potentially be a night jump, so says I — Wikipedia commons)
There were 25 of us paratroops headed to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) upon graduation from Jump School. I was the highest ranking man even as an E-4 in the group, so I was designated the person in charge of the charter bus ride from Jump School to Ft. Bragg, NC for the course — of course! I imagined that duty would not entail much on a bus ride of just a few hours. I was shocked when approached by two men from my group who wished to terminate their status as Green Beret candidates.
Well, the course certainly MUST be hard if men are quitting already on the bus ride to the course.
“Sure fellows, but can you at least wait until we get to Bragg to quit?” I pleaded.
Once at Ft. Bragg, it was our understanding that we were on a two-week wait for our SFQC class to begin. Our first week we tooled about doing essentially nothing but dodging work details like cutting grass and picking up pine cones. The second week was an event that the instructors called “Pre-Phase,” a term that I didn’t like the sound of and braced for impact.
“Pre-Phase,” in my (humble) opinion, was a pointless and disorganized suck-athon. It was a non-stop hazing with back-breaking, butt-kicking, physical events determined to crush the weak and eliminate the faint of heart. In the end we had a fraction of the number of candidates that we started with. I noted that of the 25 men I brought over from Jump School, only me and one other very reserved soldier survived. We nodded at each other and shook hands at the culmination of the mysterious Pre-Phase.
“Good job, brother-man!” I praised him.
“Thank you; my name is Gabrial, you can call me Gabe,” he introduced.
“Great job, Gabe — George is my name — please, call me Geo!” I invited.
The documented entry-level criteria included the ability to pass the standard Army Physical Readiness Fitness Test (APRFT) in a lofty percentile, though one I am loath to admit I do not remember. There was also a swim test that was required of us to perform wearing combat fatigues, combat boots, and carrying an M-16 assault rifle.
We did it in the post swimming pool. It was a bit of a challenge but by no means a threat to my status as a candidate. I was nonetheless dismayed at several men who were not able to pass it after having gone through all they had. It was sad.
(Special Forces have a charter for conducting surface and subsurface water operations — Wikipedia commons)
The first month of the SFQC was very impressive to me as a young man barely 20 years old. It was all conducted at a remote camp in the woods where we lived in structures made of wood frames and tar paper — barely a departure at all from the outdoor environment. We endured many (MANY) surprise forced marches of unknown distance, very heavy loads, and extreme speed that were hardly distinguishable from a full run.
Aside from the more didactic classroom environment learning skills of every sort, there were the constant largely physical strength and endurance events like hand-to-hand combat training, combat patrolling, rope bridge construction with river crossings, obstacle course negotiating, living and operating in heavily wooded environments. We learned to kill and prepare wild game for meals: rabbits, squirrels, goats, and snakes. Hence the age-old term for Special Forces soldiers — “Snake Eaters,” a moniker I bore with proud distinction.
(Survival skills are essential in Special Forces — Wikipedia Commons)
We all had to endure a survival exercise of several days alone. There were dozens of tasks associated with that exercise that we had to accomplish in those days: building shelter, starting and maintaining a fire for heat and cooking, building snares and traps to catch animals for food, and building an apparatus to determine time of day and cardinal directions.
Since the same land was used time after time by the survival training, it was understood by the cadre that the land was pretty much hunted out, leaving no animals to speak of for food. Therefore there was a set day and time that a truck was scheduled to drive by each candidate’s camp to throw an animal off of the back. When the animal hit the ground it became stunned and disoriented. We had just seconds to profit from the animal’s stupor to spring in and catch it before it ran away… or go hungry for the duration.
Hence the sundial I built and my track of the days, to have myself in position to capture my animal when the time came. The time and the truck came. I crouched along the side of the terrain road. The cadre slung a thing that was white from the truck. It hit the ground and was stunned. I pounced on what turned out to be a white bunny rabbit.
“Oh… my God!” I lamented earnestly in my weakened physical and mental capacity, “I’ve stumbled into Alice in Wonderland’s enchanted forest… I can’t eat the White Rabbit!”
(He’s late, he’s late, for a very important date — Wikipedia Commons)
Some men were unfortunately unable to capture their rabbits in time before they ran away. One man was overcome by grief at the prospect of killing his rabbit — his only source of companionship. He rather built a cage for it and graced it with a share of the paltry source of food that he had. Me, I was a loner and swung my Cheshire rabbit by the hind legs head-first into a tree. I ate that night in solace and in the company of just myself.
Men who could no longer continue sat on the roadside each morning and waited for a truck, one that I referred to in disdain as the hearse, to be picked up and removed from the course. One of them was carrying a cage lovingly constructed from sticks and vines in which sat therein a nibbling white rabbit. The man was washed out of the course for failing tasks, backed up by quitting. There was no potential for a man to return for a second time if he had quit on his first try — quitting was not an option.
The event that cut the greatest swath through the candidate numbers was the individual land navigation event. It lasted a week or so with some hands-on cadre-lead instruction, some time for individual practice, culminating in a period of several days and nights of individual tests. The movements were long, the terrain difficult, the stress level very high. Every leg of the navigation course was measured on time and accuracy — we had to be totally accurate on every move, and within the speed standard.
(SF troop candidate during Land Navigation Phase of SFQC moves quickly with heavy loads — DVIDS)
I recall a particular night when all of us lay in our pup tents waiting for our release time to begin our night movements. Just as the hour was on us a monumental torrent of rain began to gush down. The men scrambled and clambered back to their tents like wet alley cats. I performed a simple mathematical equation in my head:
time equals distance
hiding in a tent for an undetermined period equals zero time
zero time equals zero distance
choosing one’s personal comfort over time equals failure
I had a Grandma Whipple’s rum-soaked cigar clenched tightly in my teeth; it was lit before the rain but no more, and I assure you most fervently that it was never in any way Cuban! Plowing through the vegetation for many minutes I came to a modest clearing that I came to be very familiar with over the days. It told me that I was thankfully on course for the moment. The rain was tapering off generously and I felt a leg up on the navigation for the night.
I reached for my cigar but there was none there save the mere butt that remained clenched in my teach. To my disgust the waterlogged cigar had collapsed under its weight and lay in a mushy black track down my chin and neck edging glacially toward my chest. There would be no comfort of the smoke, nor deterrence of mosquitoes by the smoke of the Grandma Whipple’s rum-soaked positively non-cuban cigar that night.
More than five months later I sat on my rucksack (backpack) of some 50 lbs just having completed a timed 12-mile forced ruck march, nothing any longer between me and graduation from the SFQC course. There were plenty of things to think of that had happened or did not happen to me over the nearly half-year, though I somehow chose the bus ride from Jump School to Ft. Bragg to ponder. How rowdy and arrogant the crowd had been, all pompously sporting green berets that they hadn’t even earned yet. Me, I had chosen to wear my Army garrison cap — nothing fancy.
I filtered through the events that had taken each man who had not already quit from that arduous bus ride from Jump School. I remember how they had all failed or quit one by one except that one brother whose hand I shook at the end of pre-phase.
Buses pulled up to move us back to some nice barracks for the night, some barrack at least 12 miles away by my calculation. Usually everyone snatched up his own rucksack by his damned self, but on this occasion the brother next to me pulled up my rucksack to shoulder height for me in a congratulatory gesture of kindness.
I in turn grabbed his rucksack in the same manner though with a deep admiration and respect for the man who had come all the way with me from Jump School through the SFQC fueled by reserved professionalism. His name was Gabriel, but I just called him Gabe.
Submarines are a little world of their own. With little more than 100 people aboard and submerged, running silent for months at a time, the crews of these nuclear powered undersea monsters begin to develop an entirely new culture of their own. Even non-submarine sailors can get flummoxed at the vocabulary the silent service sailors are capable of slinging.
Freeloading oxygen breather
A person taking a ride on the sub or a submarine sailor who doesn’t pull his or her own weight.
Angles and dangles
When the sub takes a significant angle while submerging or surfacing, the boat is no longer moving horizontally. As a result, the ship’s crew will suddenly be walking uphill or downhill at a significant angle.
This is when the sub has to surface for an emergency. There are even special handles the crew can pull to initiate an emergency blow.
This is what it sounds like, but minimizing noise is the responsibility of every crew member. Most of the time spent aboard a U.S. Navy nuclear sub, the crew is likely trying to go undetected or are somewhere they aren’t supposed to be. Slamming the toilet seat down at such a time could be very detrimental to one’s health.
Ahead flank cavitate
The submariner’s version of pulling chocks or popping smoke – also known as let’s get out of here as fast as possible. Cavitation (creating bubbles in the ocean caused by the screws that propel the sub) is usually something to be mitigated, but when this order is given, no one cares about cavitation.
This is where an enemy sub can hide directly behind another while moving without being detected. In The Hunt For Red October, the USS Dallas hides behind Red October by hiding in the baffles.
The Submarine Warfare qualification pin worn on Navy uniforms. Sailors without their dolphins are nubs, useless.
This is a fool’s errand perpetrated by saltier members of the crew on the newer guys, usually nubs. Similar to a Machinists’ Punch. If you’re in the Army, this would be like sending a soldier for Grid Squares or in the Air Force, prop wash. Except on a submarine, the new guy has to get in his foul weather gear, harness, and life jackets to go through the main hatch.
Portable air sample
This is another way to get at the new guys or the uninitiated submariner. Subs have little devices for testing the radiation in the air, but the sailors will still get nubs to take a trash bag full of air to the ship’s command.
Ramen fish and feet
According to submariners, this is what a submarine comes to smell like after just a few weeks.
The list of female astronauts who could potentially is a short one. Only 12 would be able to go to the moon by 2024, in line with President Trump’s direction that the Space Agency should return to the moon, according to NASA. But only one of those women is Army strong.
Lt. Col. Anne McClain goes by the call sign “Annimal,” a reference to her old rugby nickname. She started her career as a Kiowa Warrior pilot flying combat missions in Iraq, graduated from test pilot school, and was eventually chosen to be part of astronaut group 21, the youngest astronaut on NASA’s roster. Her Army career took her to the International Space Station in 2018, and she completed her first spacewalk in March 2019. She has since returned to Earth.
In December 2017, President Trump directed NASA to prepare to send astronauts back to the lunar surface to make way for a long-term human presence on the moon. The project, dubbed Artemis, is not just a vanity project for the 45th President. It’s an effort for NASA to prepare for an even longer trip, sending human astronauts to Mars. When deciding to return humans to the moon, NASA determined they would send a woman.
McClain took a selfie during one of her spacewalks.
While it may seem odd to send an Army troop to the moon, one could argue there’s no better preparation for going to the moon – or even Mars – than a few years in the Army. Working in austere, desert environments with barely enough tools to complete the mission but still somehow succeeding is what the Army is all about.
For Ann McClain, she’s a decorated Army combat veteran with more than 2,000 flight hours, a West Point-educated engineer, and the perfect soldier to lead a project called Artemis, named after the twin sister of Apollo, who was the namesake of the effort to put a man on the moon.
It’s no surprise that many of NASA’s astronauts have military backgrounds. However, it may come as surprise that one of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis team on December 9, 2020 is a submariner and another is a Navy SEAL. The Artemis program aims to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024. Ten of the astronauts chosen for this historic program have military backgrounds.
Barron graduated from the Naval Academy in 2010 and immediately went to grad school at the University of Cambridge in England as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She graduated with a Master’s in nuclear engineering and joined one of the first groups of female naval officers to serve in the nuclear submarine fleet. After serving aboard the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, USS Maine (SSBN-741), she became the flag aide to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.
If you haven’t heard of the Navy SEAL, doctor, astronaut, you might be living under a rock. Kim enlisted in the Navy out of high school and went straight from his Hospital Corpsman “A” School to BUD/S. During his time with the teams, Kim completed over 100 combat operations and earned a Silver Star with Combat “V”. He commissioned as an officer through the Navy ROTC program at the University of San Diego with a degree in mathematics. Afterwards, he earned a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Chari has earned a bachelor’s in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew the F-15E in combat mission over Iraq. Chari has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in the F-15, F-16, F-18, and F-35 fighters. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Chari was an Air Force Colonel select serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
Dominick graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in electrical engineering and commissioned as a naval officer in 2005. He served as a naval aviator flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Dominick made two deployments with Strike Fighter Squadron 3 (VFA-143) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Afterwards, he earned a master’s in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G and has contributed to cutting-edge projects like the X-47B and F-35C. Dominick has accumulated over 1,600 flight hours, 400 carrier traps, and 61 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Glover is an experienced naval aviator with 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier traps, and 24 combat missions. He is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force’s Air University, and the Air Force Test Pilot School. In 2013, he was selected for astronaut training while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate. Glover currently serves as the pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched November 15, 2020. He will also serve as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64.
Mann graduated from the Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering and commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 1999. She earned a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2001. Following grad school, she completed TBS at MCB Quantico and flight school at NAS Pensacola. She flew the F/A-18C during combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot. Mann has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft, 200 carrier traps, and 47 combat missions. She is currently training for the crew flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the first crewed flight for the vehicle.
McClain graduated from West Point in 2002 and immediately attended grad school at the University of Bath. She trained on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and went on to earn ratings in the C-12 Huron, UH-60 Blackhawk, and UH-72 Lakota. Over her career, she has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in 20 different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. She was selected from astronaut training in 2013. Most recently, McClain served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 58 and 59.
Moghbeli commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2005 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from MIT. She has since earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and has graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. She flew the AH-1W Super Cobra in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom and has flown the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters in test and evaluation roles. Moghbeli has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in over 25 different aircraft and more than 150 combat missions. She was selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Rubio is a West Point graduate and Army Blackhawk pilot. He has accumulated over 1,100 flight hours during deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Rubio earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He served as a clinic supervisor, an executive medicine provider and a flight surgeon at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Rubio was serving as the battalion surgeon for the 3rd Battalio, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Tingle earned a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering and worked for three years at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California before commissioning as a naval officer in 1991. In 1998, he graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School and served as an Operational Test Pilot with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program. He flew with Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). The wing was one of the first responders after 9/11 and conducted strikes in Afghanistan in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Tingle has accumulated over 4,500 flight hours in 51 different aircraft, 750 carrier traps, and 54 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2009 and most recently served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 54/55.
“The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration,” said Vice President Mike Pence after announcing the names of the Artemis astronauts, “and that future is bright.” Artemis I is scheduled for 2021 and will be an uncrewed flight test. Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test and is scheduled for 2022.
NASA has selected two new missions to advance our understanding of the Sun and its dynamic effects on space. One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system and a second will study Earth’s response.
The Sun generates a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can create a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather. Near Earth, where such particles interact with our planet’s magnetic field, the space weather system can lead to profound impacts on human interests, such as astronauts’ safety, radio communications, GPS signals, and utility grids on the ground. The more we understand what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects — including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis program to the Moon.
“We carefully selected these two missions not only because of the high-class science they can do in their own right, but because they will work well together with the other heliophysics spacecraft advancing NASA’s mission to protect astronauts, space technology and life down here on Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These missions will do big science, but they’re also special because they come in small packages, which means that we can launch them together and get more research for the price of a single launch.”
The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH, mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind. Composed of four suitcase-sized satellites, PUNCH will image and track the solar wind as it leaves the Sun. The spacecraft also will track coronal mass ejections – large eruptions of solar material that can drive large space weather events near Earth – to better understand their evolution and develop new techniques for predicting such eruptions.
A constant outflow of solar material streams out from the Sun, depicted here in an artist’s rendering.
These observations will enhance national and international research by other NASA missions such as Parker Solar Probe, and the upcoming ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA Solar Orbiter, due to launch in 2020. PUNCH will be able to image, in real time, the structures in the solar atmosphere that these missions encounter by blocking out the bright light of the Sun and examining the much fainter atmosphere.
Together, these missions will investigate how the star we live with drives radiation in space. PUNCH is led by Craig DeForest at the Southwest Research institute in Boulder, Colorado. Including launch costs, PUNCH is being funded for no more than 5 million.
The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. The TRACERS investigation was partially selected as a NASA-launched rideshare mission, meaning it will be launched as a secondary payload with PUNCH. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is emphasizing secondary payload missions as a way to obtain greater science return. TRACERS will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region – the region encircling Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down toward Earth. Here, the field lines guide particles from the boundary between Earth’s magnetic field and interplanetary space down into the atmosphere.
In the cusp area, with its easy access to our boundary with interplanetary space, TRACERS will study how magnetic fields around Earth interact with those from the Sun. In a process known as magnetic reconnection, the field lines explosively reconfigure, sending particles out at speeds that can approach the speed of light. Some of these particles will be guided by the Earth’s field into the region where TRACERS can observe them.
Artist concept of MMS, a mission to study how magnetic fields release energy in a process known as magnetic reconnection.
Magnetic reconnection drives energetic events all over the universe, including coronal mass ejections and solar flares on the Sun. It also allows particles from the solar wind to push into near-Earth space, driving space weather there. TRACERS will be the first space mission to explore this process in the cusp with two spacecraft, providing observations of how processes change over both space and time. The cusp vantage point also permits simultaneous observations of reconnection throughout near-Earth space. Thus, it can provide important context for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, which gathers detailed, high-speed observations as it flies through single reconnection events at a time.
TRACERS’ unique measurements will help with NASA’s mission to safeguard our technology and astronauts in space. The mission is led by Craig Kletzing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Not including rideshare costs, TRACERS is funded for no more than 5 million.
Launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022. Both programs will be managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Explorers Program, the oldest continuous NASA program, is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the work of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in astrophysics and heliophysics. The program is managed by Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system and universe.
This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.
The inaugural Airman Podcast for the At Altitude channel features a conversation with Dr. Will Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
As the Air Force’s Service Acquisition Executive, Dr. Roper is responsible for and oversees Air Force research, development and acquisition activities totaling an annual budget in excess of $40 billion for more than 465 acquisition programs.
In this position, Dr. Roper serves as the principal advisor to the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force for research and development, test, production and modernization efforts within the Air Force.
In the interview from early in 2019, Dr. Roper discusses how reforming the acquisition process is foundation to building the Air Force we need to maintain dominance in the battlespace today and tomorrow.
In defusing tensions between the United States and North Korea in 2018, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un returned the remains of 55 allied troops, kept by the North for the previous 65 years or more. Almost 7,700 members of the United States Military remain unidentified from the Korean War, which killed more than 36,000.
North Korea returned the remains in July 2018 after a historic summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore. It was a first for a sitting President to meet the reclusive leader of North Korea and a first for the North Korean dictator to meet with a non-Chinese foreign leader outside of the Hermit Kingdom.
Transfer cases, containing the remains of what are believed to be U.S. service members lost in the Korean War, line a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)
Unidentified remains were transferred from the United Nations Command in South Korea to the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the team that manages the repatriation of American war dead, identifies them, and ensures they are returned to their families for a proper burial. They were received in an “honorable carry” ceremony in Hawaii.
The only personal item returned by North Korea that could identify any of the remains was the dog tag of Army medic Master Sgt. Charles H. McDaniel. It was the first of such returns since President George W. Bush halted the cooperation with North Korea in 2005.
An honor guard detail of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command personnel conducts an honorable carry ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 1, 2018.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Apryl Hall)
DPAA’s mission is to search for, find, and account for missing Defense Department personnel from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and other recent conflicts. More than 82,000 Americans remain missing from those conflicts, with 34,000 believed to be recoverable.
The recently recovered remains have been mostly identified. The lab responsible is still finalizing the process and doing one last quality check before telling the families of the fallen. Master Sgt. McDaniel’s family has already received his dog tags, along with the hope that their long-lost father is among the honored dead on their way home. Only three others have been positively identified thus far.
Trump and Kim are expected to meet again in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019.
When it comes to advances in recruiting campaign marketing, the United Kingdom has retaken the crown. The innovative style that was once the backbone of the British Empire’s recruiting posters (which was subsequently adopted by the U.S. Army) experienced a resurgence in the past year, appealing to the finer qualities of the younger generation’s digital habits. It raised a lot of eyebrows, but it worked.
Applications to join the British Army have nearly doubled since the campaign began.
Every generation has its chosen medium. Some veterans may have been persuaded by the call to “Be All That You Can Be” via television ads. Others might have been swayed to join the Navy after watching a little movie called Top Gun.
At least one salty Marine out there was swayed with the promise of a muscle car. Enjoy that lease, Corporal.
On Jan. 3, 2019, the British Army launched a recruiting campaign that recalled the “Lord Kitchener Wants You” ads of the First World War. The 1914 poster featured the Empire’s Secretary of State for War, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, in a Field Marshal’s uniform, pointing to the viewer, calling on them to join the British Army to fight the Central Powers on the Continent.
Or wherever they were needed.
The ad was so successful and iconic it was later adopted in the United States, featuring J.M. Flagg’s Uncle Sam calling on Americans to do the same. Other countries also adopted the idea. And just over a century later, it’s back – and the passage of time hasn’t diluted its power one bit.
The original Kitchener poster along with its American and scary German imitations.
According to the Telegraph, the British Army has been struggling with retention and dwindling numbers. More people are leaving the service than joining. It stands to reason the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is (probably) happy to report that the ads still pack a wallop. In a “resounding success” the first month, applications to join nearly doubled. In January 2019, applications rose to a five-year high, double from the same timeframe the previous year and almost twice from the previous month. The day the ads debuted, more people applied to join in a single day than any other day in the previous year. Hits to the Army’s website also doubled in January.
With monikers dubbing millennials and Gen-Zers “selfie addicts,” “binge gamers,” and “phone zombies,” the MoD called on the new generation of Britons to service. Surprisingly, the advertisements didn’t go straight to Instagram or Facebook, they went to billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising.
“The premise of the campaign is that this is the generation with the skills, the attitude, the drive to succeed; an army that’s not in the army yet,” Command Corporal Major, Warrant Officer Class One Steve Parker told the Telegraph. “People are the army, not in the army.”
The campaign uses these perceived weaknesses to highlight their useful, untapped potential in a series of video ads aired on television and on the internet that followed the release of the billboards.
Now is not the time to be nervous. What if I don’t qualify? I’ll never see corporal. Okay, okay, okay… remember what you were taught. 300-yard line equals the tip of the post, or is it tip of the chevron? What if none of my shots hit the…
“Shooters you may commence firing when your TAAARRGETS appear.”
These thoughts can be all too familiar for some Marines during their annual rifle requalification. Marines can experience a lot of pressure when qualifying on the range, because every Marine’s primary job is to be a rifleman, regardless of their occupational field. As such, it is important that every Marine has the confidence to fire under the most adverse of conditions. If a Marine is not confident in their shooting abilities, then qualifying can be difficult without proper instruction from a subject matter expert.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Austin Meise, small arms repairer/technician, Headquarters and Support Battalion (HS Bn), Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, mentioned that his first time shooting was when he was in recruit training. He asked a lot of questions and used a rifle data book that was given to all of the recruits by their primary marksmanship instructors.
MCB Camp Pendleton’s Marksmanship Training Unit is dedicated to furthering the building blocks learned in recruit training, and further the training continuum approach to maintain proficient combat marksmen. During grass week, Marines practice without live firing, the four marksmanship shooting positions: sitting, kneeling, standing, and prone.
“If you properly apply the fundamentals, you will shoot black all the time,” said Meise, in regard to targets commonly fired upon at ranges. “Before the Marine Corps, I never shot a weapon, but with the guidance I received from the instructors, I now consistently fire expert on the range.”
Lance Cpl. Eric Janasiak, a rifleman with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
(US Marine Corps photo)
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Garald John, combat marksmanship trainer, HS Bn, MCB Camp Pendleton, explains that the worst thing for CMTs, PMIs and combat marksmanship coaches is having one of their Marine’s fail on the range for annual training.
“One of the most commonly asked questions is, ‘how do I get a more stability in the standing position?'” said John. “The guidance I give them is: to rest their forward tricep on their chest as much as possible to get more stability, but mainly I express to just take their time to apply the fundamentals.”
With the CMT by their sides, Marines also practice the maneuvers needed to accomplish a proper ammunition speed reload as well as opportunities to use the computer based, indoor simulated marksmanship trainers to run-through drills they will perform during their firing week.
“For the Marines that come to our MTU, I would say one-on-one coaching time is what helps most,” explained John. “The first time we run everyone through the ISMT, and we assess that they are struggling, we’ll ask if they’d like to stay back for extra practice giving that Marine the chance for further one-on-one training. We give them recommendations on how to be more stable or improve breathing techniques. Whatever we see they need help in the most, we try to assist as much as possible.”
Cpl. Berkeley Lewis, a rifleman with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, fires his M4 carbine during training at the SR-7 range at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jeff Drew)
Once the live firing commences, Marines are accompanied by their CMCs. While a Marine’s effort is individual, CMCs are there to provide guidance, and answer questions.
“During firing week, people tend to let their ego get in the way,” said Meise. “When Marines see a bad shot, expecting more or better results, they begin to worry. Worrying causes them to forget the fundamentals! They’re focusing on the shot, but not the form.”
John said that during grass week, the coaches and the CMTs always get Marines to a point where the instructors and coaches are confident enough to say every Marine has the potential to qualify for annual rifle training.
“When I see Marines achieve more than what they thought they could, it really makes me look forward to what I may see in the future of my Marine Corps,” said John. “I know it is because coaches try to uplift the shooters and the shooters try to uplift each other increasing everyone’s confidence and overall mindset.”
Deep breath. Fundamentals: stable shooting position, slow steady squeeze, natural respiratory pause, expect the recoil…
“Shooters you may commence firing when your TAAARRGETS appear”
The eighth chapter is finally here and this time it’s directed by Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi – and it’s everything you thought a Star War directed by Taika Waititi would be. Everything we hoped it might be.
Even the scout troopers got a touch of personality in this episode. Consider this your spoiler warning.
With an appearance by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally.
In this chapter of The Mandalorian, we learn a lot about Our Mandalorian. After we learn the scout troopers have murdered Kuiil and taken the Yoda Baby. We see one of the troopers actually punch the Yoda Baby before getting murdered themselves by the avenging nurse droid, IG-11. Back in the city, we find the heroes still trapped by a legion of Stormtroopers, led by everyone’s favorite villain Giancarlo Esposito, Moff Gideon, who gives them until nightfall to decide if they’re going to cooperate with the Imperial leader’s demands.
IG-11 rides into town like a one-droid army on a speeder bike, dropping stormtrooper bodies all over the streets until he reaches the square where our heroes are pinned down. IG, with the Yoda Baby on his back, continues his rampage as our pinned-down heroes break out of the building. Our Mandalorian even picks up an E-Web Heavy Repeating Blaster that looks like something Carl Weathers might have used in Predator.
But before this amazing gunfight takes place, we learn a lot about our heroes – from Moff Gideon. It turns out the Moff was more than just an Imperial leader, but was part of an intelligence network. He knew the names of Cara Dune, and that she was from Alderaan, which explains why she hated the Empire so much. We also learn Our Mandalorian has a name, Din Djarin and he wasn’t born on Mandalore. In fact, Mandalorian isn’t even a race, it’s a creed. More importantly, we learn how Our Mandalorian became Mandalorian and why the Yoda Baby means so much to him.
In a flashback, we learn Djarin’s village and his parents were massacred by B2 Super Battle Droids when he was a boy. Just before meeting his own death at the hands of these droids, the young Djarin is rescued by a band of Mandalorian warriors who destroy the droids and carry the young boy off, presumably to Mandalore. Back on Nevarro, however, things look grim for our heroes.
Until the Yoda Baby comes into play.
“I’ma stop you right there.”
Moff Gideon critically wounds Our Mandalorian by shooting the power cell of the E-Web blaster. He is rescued by his compatriots but they are once again trapped in the building with certain death outside. As Our Mandalorian lays dying, he refuses Dune’s help as it would require removing his helmet. IG-11 opens the sewer grate right as an Incinerator Stormtrooper walks in to blast the room. Instead of burning the room, however, the flames blast him right out the door, thanks to the Yoda Baby, who stepped up to defend his injured father. Once all the humanoids are in the sewer, IG-11 convinces Djarin that since the droid is not alive, he can take his helmet off to receive medical treatment and for the first time, we see our antihero’s face.
Once healed and looking for the Mandalorians in the sewer, they instead find the remnants of their armor. The remaining Mandalorians had been hunted or killed after the Imperials arrived, though some may have escaped. The Armorer survived, however, and after hearing about the Yoda Baby’s strange powers, tells Djarin about the Jedi. Unable to determine the baby’s race, Karga reminds Djarin that his mission will now be to raise the baby or find his home world – reminding him that “this is the way.”
She also give him his earned signet. Oh, and a jetpack called “Rising Phoenix.” She tells them the way out and covers their exit with the dopest slaughter of stormtroopers seen in the Star Wars universe since IG-11 and the Yoda Baby in the town square fifteen minutes before.
Can we talk about this most brutal stormtrooper kill?
Our heroes make their way down a river of lava, thanks to a boat propelled by a droid. IG-11 sacrifices himself so that the group isn’t killed by a platoon of stormtroopers waiting to ambush them, and then Mando takes on Moff Gideon flying a TIE Fighter, thanks to his handy new jetpack. Every thing is reset for season 2, as Cara Dune decides to stay on Nevarro and become a member of the Guild and Karga forgives Mando, offering him the choice picks of the bounty hunter jobs.
But our Mandalorian is now a full warrior, with a mission. He returns to his ship and flies into the sunset, presumably determined to find the Yoda Baby’s home.
All across the nation everyone is dealing with the Polar Vortex. It’s colder than balls outside for everyone in the military. That is unless you’re one of the lucky bastards stationed in Hawaii.
No. I get it. “The grass is always greener” or whatever nonsense the retention NCO tried to peddle off to you before they sent you to Fort Bumpf*cknowhere. I don’t care if the cost of living is slightly higher in Hawaii.
At least the troops there aren’t dealing with hearing their salty platoon sergeant try to “well back in my day” every complaint about it being below negative twenty degrees. I’ll pay that extra dollar for a Big Mac if it gets me out of that.
Anyways, stay warm out there guys. Thankfully the Coast Guard has money to pay their heating bills.