This Air Force 'hub' looks for threats from within - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

“If you make a mistake, it is better to acknowledge that one small mistake than let it snowball into something more significant.” This, according to Jason Barron, Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for operations, is the key to safeguarding important information and resources.

As the Air Force’s defense against insider threats, identifying indicators of potential risk is the hub’s primary mission, but not all indicators they detect are symptoms of espionage or intentional wrongdoing. According to Barron, most indicators are unintended exposures, or the result of policy and training gaps.


“If someone is issued a speeding ticket, it does not necessarily mean they did something to indicate they are an insider threat; it all depends on the severity and quantity of unique indicators,” Barron said. “We may look for other indicators that, when put together, could mean something more substantial – even then, the team does not act individually against indicators discovered.”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for operations Jason Barron.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lori A. Bultman)

According to Barron, personnel in the insider threat hub identify, aggregate, analyze and refer potential risk indicators. The teams relay their findings to other agencies for review and possible action. Additionally, the hub has a lawyer on staff to ensure any referrals are in accordance with established policies and laws.

“We provide information we find to authorities within the Air Force. When we identify something on an individual within the Air Force who might be a risk, whether intentional or otherwise, we provide that information to a decision maker in higher authority who is in place to determine whether an action needs to result,” Barron said.

Hub personnel also receive threat information from other sources.

“We might have a point of contact in the field who relays risk concerns to us,” Barron said. “The team in the hub can look into a reported concern and determine whether there is enough to consider it a viable threat.”

Workplace violence is another insider threat concern for the team.

“If someone commits a security violation but is cleared of espionage, that does not mean there is not a policy issue we could address,” said J.T. Mendoza, Air Force Insider Threat Hub deputy director for strategy and integration. “While it is difficult to quantify the damage someone caused when documents or classified items are taken, an act of violence is often more damaging due to human life being involved.

When Barron and his team established the 25th Air Force Insider Threat Program in 2014, their goal was to stop technical related insider threats before they grew into major breaches for the Air Force intelligence community.

Within the program, a myriad of staff members from varying backgrounds sifted through data in an attempt to locate indicators of threats and vulnerabilities. In April 2017, Air Force officials had enough confidence in the program capabilities that it became the services interim hub until a permanent Air Force hub could be established.

“During the year we were the interim hub, we put a lot of processes into place. We built a solid foundation from internal analysis, data integration, increases in manpower and capabilities and the implementation of reporting procedures,” Barron said.

The Air Force made a decision in October 2018 to transition the organization from being the interim hub to the permanent insider threat epicenter, while the team continued to prepare for the transition and acquire more space and personnel. Significant support and coordination from local 25th Air Force and Air Staff leadership was required to achieve this milestone.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Flickr photo by Blogtrepreneur)

“Preparations for the transition also included establishing the policies and documentation required to run a cooperative matrix organization,” Barron said. “We more than tripled the hub staff and added coordinating representatives within each major command.”

“One of the challenges we face is finding the right people and being able to train and develop them into what we believe is the right skill set,” he said. “There is no specialty code within the Air Force or department at large for what we do; we are creating most of our procedures as we go. We are where cyber was 10 to 15 years ago.”

Another challenge for hub personnel is figuring out how to share data between multiple agencies who might help connect indicators.

“Sharing information between organizations that have different authorities or conduct different missions is difficult,” Barron said. “The root of this mission is sharing risk information, just like commanders share information on the battlefield. It is a challenge across any mission set; how do I share the right information, at the right time, at the right level to make a decision?

“What we have done is partner within our matrix organization to put people from different agencies in the same place to allow ease and speed of sharing critical information,” he said. “Having that proximity to each other really helps speed up processes. If information is not documented and shared in an appropriate manner, you are going to have a hard time piecing dots together to look at information over time and mitigating threats.”

Since its inception, the Air Force Insider Threat Program has experienced many successes, ranging from notifying organizations of security shortfalls and identifying indicators of suicide, to de-conflicting individuals’ identities in reporting. Its next milestone will be reaching full operational capability status, expected in the next 12 months according to Barron.

The Air Force Insider Threat team encourages all Airmen, military, civilian and contractor, to contact their security office or appropriate chain of command to report potential insider threat incidents, including accidental or unintentional indicators; it could resolve potential incidents before they become legitimate threats.

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch: These are the best & worst things about the Naval Academy

The US Naval Academy is located just outside Annapolis, Maryland. It began in 1845 and trains officers for their posts in the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Competition to get into the Academy is fierce – and it doesn’t end at Admission. Getting accepted into the Naval Academy is tough, which makes for an extra-competitive environment inside the Academy. Then, during exam time, the students turn even more competitive than usual (yes, that’s possible). Many students exhaust themselves studying so much they end up losing sleep, and it’s all because of that competitive spirit. Everyone wants to be the best. 

A Naval Academy Freshman’s Ideal Trainer

Freshmen at the Naval Academy have it especially rough. They start in late June, but not with regular classes. Instead, it’s just 50 days of hard training. That might sound like par for the course at a Military training institution, but here’s the kicker. The freshmen’s trainers are the upperclassmen at the Academy. It’s their job to teach the newbies how to be in the Navy, and they sure do take it seriously. Picture a lot of yelling. It’s for a good cause though. Otherwise, many of those freshmen probably wouldn’t make it past the first year.

Then, when school starts in the fall, freshmen have to wake up early for 5:30 am physical training several times a week. Once again, their trainers are upperclassmen whose only goal is to whip the newcomers into shape. To make matters even worse, winters in Annapolis are cold and dark. Waking up in the dark, before the break of dawn, to work out in the cold under the command of upperclassmen can be brutal. One student recalls even having to roll in the freezing mud. Luckily, after freshman year, Naval Academy students no longer have to endure that crack-of-dawn training. 

Your Grades Control Your Life

The Naval Academy also has some pretty strict rules around academic success. Any student who falls below a 2.0 GPA their first semester of the year spends the second semester on punishment. And what is the punishment? They are not allowed to go out on the weekends, which means no dates. For a person in their early 20s, that’s a miserable existence, that’s for sure. 

It’s not all bad surprises at the US Naval Academy though. If you keep your grades high, you may get to travel to amazing places for free. All of it is part of education, but traveling in the Alaskan wilderness to learn wilderness training is a lot cooler than taking a field trip near home, right? Traveling to Cambodia and Vietnam to learn about military history is a lot more interesting than learning it from a book. 

Preparation is the First Step to Success

The US Naval Academy is the best training you’re going to get if you want to join the Navy or Marine Corps. The rules in place are precisely what make it the best. These secrets from Naval Academy insiders might sound intimidating, but they’re not meant to scare anyone off. Instead, the idea is to prepare students for what they’re getting themselves into. Being prepared is the first step to success, after all. 

Related: Here are 5 times US Navy ships returned to the fleet with severe damage.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why I’m strong: How one military daughter feels about deployment

The day my dad left for deployment brought me hard feelings – feelings that were hard for me to process. The thought of him being in harms way made me afraid. Knowing how much I would miss him made be unbelievably sad. All that I knew for sure is that I did not want to take him to the drop off point.

I wanted him to stay.


This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Military Spouse)

Once we arrived at the squadron, I tried to convince myself to hold everything together, hiding how I was feeling and I put on a brave face. I certainly did not want to lose control of my emotions in front of a room full of strangers. But when I heard the loud slam of the van door closing and I realized that my Daddy was about to drive away, I stopped caring about who was around.

I sprinted toward the vehicle, wildly yanking at the door handle. “I just want you to stay. Please. Please stay.” I started to cry. The feeling of dread loomed over me. He opened the door and gave me one last hug. My Dad held me close and promised that everything would be okay.

But it wasn’t okay.

Living without my Dad was harder than I thought. I wanted to talk to him -to tell him about all the things I was learning and fun things I was doing. He missed a lot. He missed Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. It was awful. Christmas was not the same. I was glad we could open presents over video chat, but all I wanted for Christmas was to have him home.

Everything about life without him stressed me out and I began to be overly anxious. There were several times where my head felt like it was spinning. I was overwhelmed with worry. Many nights, I wouldn’t sleep. I cried a lot. Living life without my dad home just made me feel blue.

Nothing felt normal. When Dad is home, he takes me out to dinner and spends time with me. I can tell him all about what is happening and how I feel. I really missed these nights. We could really only talk for a few minutes because there was a seven-hour time difference. Night time was the worst. I feel safer when he is here.

It wasn’t all bad. We went on a few family vacations and even went to Great Wolf Lodge. I mean, we only went to Great Wolf because of the eight million delays for dad’s homecoming- making Dad miss my brother’s birthday. But it was fun.

If I had to do all over again (which I hope won’t be for a while), I would do a few things differently. Maybe, if you are a kid in the middle of a deployment -or getting ready for one – here are a few things I learned.

You can’t control everything. Don’t try. Stop trying to make everything perfect. You can’t. Recognize the things that you can control, like yourself or how clean your room is, and control what you can. I organized my books, made slime, and did things that made me feel comfortable.

Be patient with your family. Everyone is sad or stressed. Emotions are running hot and even the littlest things feel more annoying. Do your best to give people a break and stay calm. When I got overwhelmed, I would retreat to my room and count backwards from sixty. I would count colors or patterns in my room. Also, I bout “Pinch Me” dough, which smelled like the beach. Find something that brings you joy and peace.

Have lots of comfort food. (Oreos are always a good choice.) Nothing beats a snack. Snacks are wonderful, and sharing them with a friend is even better. When I was feeling sad or frustrated, I would invite my next-door neighbor over for a snack and a chat. It always made me feel better.

Lastly, call your friends. The beauty of military life is that you have friends everywhere. When I needed to, I would call my best friends, Talia and Aurea. They would cheer me up, help me think through what I feel, and give me encouragement. They know what this is like. Both of them, like me, are military kids.

Deployment seasons might not always be “okay,” but they are only temporary. They don’t last forever. I know that my dad does hard things, like being away, because he wants to serve our country. I can do hard things, too. He believes in freedom and he tells me that I can do my part too. I’m strong because he is strong. I love you, Daddy. Thank you for all you do.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Military Spouse)

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.


MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why troops can’t stand ring-knocking lieutenants

There are four types of officers troops will encounter, each with a mindset that corresponds with how they became an officer.

First, you’ve got your mustangs, who were previously enlisted and jumped over to the officer side. Typically, troops love mustangs because they draw from NCO experience and understand enlisted life. Then you’ve got your OCS and ROTC officers who came into the military after college. They’re harmless and can usually be bent to the will of the platoon sergeant.

And then there are the academy grads. Now, let me preface this by saying that, during my career in the Army, I had the honor of serving under some outstanding leaders who came out of West Point. Clearly, there are many fantastic academy graduate officers out there. But there are some academy grads that give the rest of them a bad name.

These unfortunate few are unaffectionately called “Ring Knockers” because they will never shy away from bragging about their time at the academy. And holy f*ck, are these smug a**holes a headache.


This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

The best, least smug way for officers to brag is through challenge coins… By leaving them on their desk and never mentioning them to anyone.

(U.S. Army)

They brag about irrelevant facts.

Graduating in the top percentile of your class is a pretty feather to stick in your cap. It makes for great introductory information and, well, that’s about it. Yeah, it might mean that you worked hard, but it’s not relevant to accomplishing the mission.

The military is, essentially, a never-ending pissing contest between the ranks. Who shoots better? Who can do more push-ups? Who did the most badass thing on deployment? All of those may not impress the nose-in-the-air lieutenant, but at least they’re part of being a war fighter.

We’re all very happy that you did well in the academy — now stop bringing it up.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

When it comes to the extremely minor rules that get broken, don’t even lift a finger. The NCOs can (and will) handle it.

(Meme via U.S. Army WTF Moments)

They never budge from the rules.

The rules and regulations that govern life in the military are important. Any troop worth their weight in salt will follow them to a T.

But when one rule gets bent (for a valid reason) or a genuine mistake happens, there’s no need to crucify the offending party just to prove your point. Troops, in general, know they’re tiny cogs in the grander mechanism that is the military — and all of those rules are in place to help the cogs fit perfectly. If a troop knows they did wrong and the NCOs are reasonably certain that it was a one-time thing, it should be handled at the lowest possible level.

The ring-knocking lieutenant, however, will often punish just to prove a point.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

It may sound like it’s a military thing to do, but punish everyone after initial entry and you’ll lose all good will you’ve ever earned from the troops.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

They will almost always micromanage and step on the NCOs’ toes. 

There’s a reason why the NCO and officer worlds differ so much. They have entirely different responsibilities and entirely different means of accomplishing their goals. Take morning PT, for example. It is unquestionably the responsibility of the NCO to work the troops into shape — not the officers. Officers can join in, but it’s simply not their place to come up with the training schedule. If an officer does get involved, the process becomes unnecessarily messy and doesn’t always line up with the needs of the troops.

This annoyance becomes a serious complication when comes to disciplining the troops. Officers may have the final say, but there’s a reason they hear the recommendations of the NCO. It’s the NCO’s duty to know their subordinates like they know themselves. Disregarding their advice will likely create rifts in the ranks — and sure, it’ll remind everyone who’s in charge. Way to go.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

​Things can still get done and working parties will always be a thing. Just never bring them up haphazardly.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

They will always justify the means with the ends.

While it’s the NCO’s duty to monitor the well-being and growth of the troops, it’s the officer’s duty to keep an ever-watchful eye on the bigger picture. It’s fantastic when officers plan far ahead and set milestone goals for the NCO to achieve along the way. That is, at its core, how the officer/NCO relationship should work.

However, those milestones should always be realistic. Getting the troops to all qualify higher on their weapons qualifications? Great. Ensuring they all attend a field medical course as extra training? Totally possible. Finding little bullsh*t ways of acclimating the troops to the ever-present suck of the upcoming deployment? The NCOs got that covered.

There’s no need to add to it.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

If the troops earned it, let them take a break.

(U.S. Army photo)

They forget the human element of the military.

As a high and mighty academy-graduated first lieutenant, it’s all too easy to forget that troops are not just pawns on a chessboard.

It might be hard to see from behind the challenge coin collection they always have on their desks, but troops are living, breathing human beings with their own thoughts and emotions. They should never be overlooked or tossed to the wayside for anyone’s personal quest for glory.

Again, in the defense of academy grads, being a ring knocker isn’t a lifetime sentence. Spending time with the troops and their NCO can make all the difference. It may take a while for officers to find their footing, but the ones who do will leave a lasting impression on their subordinates.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 things we should do in the event of a robot uprising

A war between robots and humans has been the subject of a lot of science fiction, especially in film. And until very recently, the idea that robots could post an autonomous threat to humans was just that: science fiction. Today, advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence have brought us to the point where sentient robots are a very real possibility, which means that a war for humanity’s survival is also a possibility. Which gives us a new a problem: How would the military fight something like a Terminator?

Let’s be real, humans aren’t exactly the best thing for this planet — or for other humans, frankly. So, when we finally build that robot that’s stronger, faster, and several times more intelligent than us fleshy humans, it won’t take long before the robots realize the planet is better off without us. But that doesn’t mean we won’t fight like hell to survive!

So, what could we do at the beginning of the uprising to buy us some time, or even possibly save humanity as a whole?


This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

It might take a long time, but it could save thousands of lives.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Shirk)

Wipe all military data from the internet

The military preaches OPSEC, and when it comes to highly classified, sensitive materials, we succeed. But the documentation for tactics and weaponry is widely available across the internet. An A.I. with the ability to learn things in seconds could easily upload and analyze all that information only to use it against us.

The first chance we get, we’ll need to wipe the Internet clean.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Brig. Gen. John P. Horner powers down the server supporting the Air Force Recruiting Information Support System – Legacy application at Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Johnny Saldivar)

Get rid of the internet

Of course, that information-gathering robot would need to connect to the internet to find that juicy data so, let’s just get rid of it. We know you’ll miss your cat videos and memes, but this is a necessity that’d save us a good amount of time. In addition to military data, the internet can be used to track human movements, norms, tendencies — in short, it’d make it easier to wipe us out.

Of course, we would also have to destroy any physical documentation that contains the same information to keep that out of the hands of our robot overlords as well.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Larger caliber weapons may not be the best solution but it won’t hurt to have that extra punch behind each bullet.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Switch to larger caliber weapons

We did all we could to try and prevent robots from gathering the information needed to replicate, but we failed. Now, robots are creating other, better, newer robots at an alarming pace. Now, the next step is to switch to larger caliber weapons. Chances are, the robots are going to build each other out of the strongest materials available to withstand the firearms we currently have — it’s time to up the ante.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Airman 1st Class Anthony Meyerhoffer inspects and counts 20 mm high-explosive incendiary rounds.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Demetrius Lester)

Switch to incendiary rounds

In addition to larger calibers, we should also use bullets that could set our enemies on fire. Remember: we’re fighting sentient robots for the survival of the human race, so let’s give them everything we’ve got.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

These things will definitely be more useful than they are right now.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva)

Stock up on explosive weapons

High explosives win the day. We should be using every explosive we have available to rip the machines apart. Even if it doesn’t destroy them completely, it’ll be a hell of a lot easier to kill a robot with no arms and legs than it would be to frag one that can still rip you in half.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What It’s Like to Transition Off Active Duty, in GIFs – Part IV

Need to get caught up? Check out Part I, Part II, and Part III.


[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FfemRvEeYusRCnnn6TrHJUf44ufBcch0Qqf8sVplA5ZN8TrfOxRLK_LM77XYX2nNc65eYWDLNbah3JT0NIzBeJo1wtfMPLjU_HimcR4PqTr0dDFwpho8zJ1OzOkaTeplqoBRNV7RH&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=137&h=5f0b2a32b85bd6f50743ba0bfe2e19419064a11ce28f56a6a16eedcaaa33aa48&size=980x&c=1742207055 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FfemRvEeYusRCnnn6TrHJUf44ufBcch0Qqf8sVplA5ZN8TrfOxRLK_LM77XYX2nNc65eYWDLNbah3JT0NIzBeJo1wtfMPLjU_HimcR4PqTr0dDFwpho8zJ1OzOkaTeplqoBRNV7RH%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D137%26h%3D5f0b2a32b85bd6f50743ba0bfe2e19419064a11ce28f56a6a16eedcaaa33aa48%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1742207055%22%7D” expand=1]

lh6.googleusercontent.com

Part IV: Hitting Your Stride

First couple of paychecks under your belt, and you’re ready to look for a place. Game on! You didn’t watch those hundreds of hours of HGTV for nothing.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fw1cAuq43SW4Jg1JMagZ9_uIgixl_h3IRo6qlnJGIPx2gNB4wx8cSbhnHUM_a1XSiQ-A-EElIVlKd_T_Yj9jrjulBbXb8OqtF5x9y_3oI2E3YsDKdjIbSkpsswY8M6IVQOeTNoZUO&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=345&h=3976a34703d6399f39f70cc7291da4d622d820acf4beac6d0a5ca0264bfe1f3e&size=980x&c=3775395698 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fw1cAuq43SW4Jg1JMagZ9_uIgixl_h3IRo6qlnJGIPx2gNB4wx8cSbhnHUM_a1XSiQ-A-EElIVlKd_T_Yj9jrjulBbXb8OqtF5x9y_3oI2E3YsDKdjIbSkpsswY8M6IVQOeTNoZUO%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D345%26h%3D3976a34703d6399f39f70cc7291da4d622d820acf4beac6d0a5ca0264bfe1f3e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3775395698%22%7D” expand=1]

lh4.googleusercontent.com

You found a place! Time to get your stuff out of storage and find out what broke during the PCS. You’re not sure how your dresser was shattered into five million pieces, but who cares? You’re too excited.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5GzQENC4n7J4e5AXPOqK-i63FAvPvBJ4IdZuI6-tP6-dUXxbJLPfbb74tnblw-MS88TV_fJUotHSrKRgsuZ0Zfs1NMJamQXHKk-VKxS2oGjvAlVDXSN8hz2SFXJXJ3xuSGL-dq_f&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=727&h=c444fa9c1ef6d6b522dd5637fd5bc993c82bc582aa0a36dad06eed57c358ee84&size=980x&c=2978945578 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5GzQENC4n7J4e5AXPOqK-i63FAvPvBJ4IdZuI6-tP6-dUXxbJLPfbb74tnblw-MS88TV_fJUotHSrKRgsuZ0Zfs1NMJamQXHKk-VKxS2oGjvAlVDXSN8hz2SFXJXJ3xuSGL-dq_f%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D727%26h%3Dc444fa9c1ef6d6b522dd5637fd5bc993c82bc582aa0a36dad06eed57c358ee84%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2978945578%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

When you went through TAP and everyone told you to file a VA disability claim, you said “no thanks.” You’re not that hurt, and other people need it more, right?

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F0ch4B7Jd4pZws29AAFW-tMLYela7Nlf9cCvdzfkw31nOmcj6CJ2Y1zNzudLtzJLRit9SNWVyecbh20VnQCAwnLGSxoGAjwUai950aEIqu9kol1mi3nYukHrqWNYGMmw27BK96h2E&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=616&h=aec7df42154a1bf134fee51deba51ce3e1b20e24282a890fff484c9e19502c3b&size=980x&c=2969014259 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F0ch4B7Jd4pZws29AAFW-tMLYela7Nlf9cCvdzfkw31nOmcj6CJ2Y1zNzudLtzJLRit9SNWVyecbh20VnQCAwnLGSxoGAjwUai950aEIqu9kol1mi3nYukHrqWNYGMmw27BK96h2E%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D616%26h%3Daec7df42154a1bf134fee51deba51ce3e1b20e24282a890fff484c9e19502c3b%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2969014259%22%7D” expand=1]

lh6.googleusercontent.com

But lying awake with your bum ear ringing (and/or your knees throbbing, back hurting, your amygdala telling you you’re about to be eaten by a bear in the comfort of your own bed), you’re beginning to question the wisdom of that decision. Ok, maybe it’s time to file a claim.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FV8glFXKomdKRzSTouJBfVmpGHPE1GEXrbpg3ZyzmDtyXyLCGkyEu9u4jtpM2rlAqT9t7TjvmaH9xFBP7tZR51OLoLz0505ZshoGYNUvSkly4M24OV6TzLEyLPTDxndrnN5_UAKGH&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh6.googleusercontent.com&s=419&h=553870358afc4165357f79b6966c704dbdf9f588bf1f790128b4736481eed339&size=980x&c=3160411336 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FV8glFXKomdKRzSTouJBfVmpGHPE1GEXrbpg3ZyzmDtyXyLCGkyEu9u4jtpM2rlAqT9t7TjvmaH9xFBP7tZR51OLoLz0505ZshoGYNUvSkly4M24OV6TzLEyLPTDxndrnN5_UAKGH%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh6.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D419%26h%3D553870358afc4165357f79b6966c704dbdf9f588bf1f790128b4736481eed339%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3160411336%22%7D” expand=1]

lh6.googleusercontent.com

You can figure this out! It’s just some paperwork, right? A visit to eBenefits to check out the details suggests otherwise.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FyabK2FK0xAFh59Ljyri0AqQGA6x6tNHvEgLQyfyXbHA0cbC9nednZRiloe5D7YoeUwACcPhx6Seqq0fhKtoYb8veyIpL9dwJq-EboUNHRYKHbg7DTOc1EHJbv8MXlhgHgfQdamdo&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=274&h=4237537c486fe9dc53cadfecd9c1e0f9092dae6b56c805095e59061bfeea4644&size=980x&c=4046490 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FyabK2FK0xAFh59Ljyri0AqQGA6x6tNHvEgLQyfyXbHA0cbC9nednZRiloe5D7YoeUwACcPhx6Seqq0fhKtoYb8veyIpL9dwJq-EboUNHRYKHbg7DTOc1EHJbv8MXlhgHgfQdamdo%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D274%26h%3D4237537c486fe9dc53cadfecd9c1e0f9092dae6b56c805095e59061bfeea4644%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4046490%22%7D” expand=1]

lh3.googleusercontent.com

You call in reinforcements in the form of a VSO. For the low, low price of zero dollars and your medical records, they’ll take care of it for you. Score! Asking for help isn’t that bad. You should do it more often.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F4ePADHCenwI8M6raQeSpHTn9lNJJPY-3xk8grWTzRsCgyqhP-JM2GYuO8atZSoa-6u7nyQU5-eTsGY13JUogVrE4fvWqUcxKjcS5qIvOz0DnMVaekILflX_0uX-hojdLR26_8H2l&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=83&h=699c326413284cbdb468bc847f16d4f70f2214d4b358ec12e6d3d789b3089f95&size=980x&c=29410169 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F4ePADHCenwI8M6raQeSpHTn9lNJJPY-3xk8grWTzRsCgyqhP-JM2GYuO8atZSoa-6u7nyQU5-eTsGY13JUogVrE4fvWqUcxKjcS5qIvOz0DnMVaekILflX_0uX-hojdLR26_8H2l%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D83%26h%3D699c326413284cbdb468bc847f16d4f70f2214d4b358ec12e6d3d789b3089f95%26size%3D980x%26c%3D29410169%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

You realize you haven’t talked to any of your old military friends in months, so you text a buddy who separated around the same time. As it turns out, they’re dealing with the same stuff. You communicate through memes, which is surprisingly cathartic. You’re not alone!

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FTsSKp_CJ-p7NaaSoRLAqbY89M5pMqVfEaGq7dkCZIosy6NUr1Mj4M378RR6zlgBy4WTOiZ1b1cE723jFI9nLP2j9rwnNHdBooUmUZDXaU-FKtfKBcww4IE6OScCElQirrcq4QQIG&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=218&h=82b0baa4d13d4f369bc5d730f82b07ee52399e6e3eab9ec981d6658ca9c22f6f&size=980x&c=2512167253 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FTsSKp_CJ-p7NaaSoRLAqbY89M5pMqVfEaGq7dkCZIosy6NUr1Mj4M378RR6zlgBy4WTOiZ1b1cE723jFI9nLP2j9rwnNHdBooUmUZDXaU-FKtfKBcww4IE6OScCElQirrcq4QQIG%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D218%26h%3D82b0baa4d13d4f369bc5d730f82b07ee52399e6e3eab9ec981d6658ca9c22f6f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2512167253%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

Everybody from your therapist to your partner to your Facebook ads seems to think you’ll feel better if you start exercising again. You attempt an old PT workout, but it’s not the same when nobody is yelling at you. Time to try something new.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FrGv24T6XuDHviMy2i3dvbcrvCgImHStue4qfUi2FWaAWnUIynZTeDZHpnc8jNkQdfuVzzsz1xgmili6p3qmqXl-JI97fyGNy9SwnCXL4wk2uwRBezxiEgzHA6P7M5WbT1pSyqNlo&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=191&h=fe43dac4cd8897ab1b265701fc68affbcef59eaec09d2ed6088ccfbf461bd06d&size=980x&c=2822535822 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FrGv24T6XuDHviMy2i3dvbcrvCgImHStue4qfUi2FWaAWnUIynZTeDZHpnc8jNkQdfuVzzsz1xgmili6p3qmqXl-JI97fyGNy9SwnCXL4wk2uwRBezxiEgzHA6P7M5WbT1pSyqNlo%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D191%26h%3Dfe43dac4cd8897ab1b265701fc68affbcef59eaec09d2ed6088ccfbf461bd06d%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2822535822%22%7D” expand=1]

lh4.googleusercontent.com

Ok, apparently there’s exercise outside of pushups/situps/running and it’s actually fun. Now, you’re a lean, mean dancing machine.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F_KHAeOj96DOmvNBlFq8MxdG_WxMysRwY3Q_KfCAWWtzCa6aPAzkcp7o9THsUxjo5wca4Lcd06ama4QAYG4URNR359jX_u73wdz4myOwQp9r8w7y-OhbS7ZYLM46ZFsw7SCJ9VnO7&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=216&h=b0ee803c948f09061d65f46cf4e93e2e890c36d37e2d147f4f28001ce6bfa141&size=980x&c=3335133450 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F_KHAeOj96DOmvNBlFq8MxdG_WxMysRwY3Q_KfCAWWtzCa6aPAzkcp7o9THsUxjo5wca4Lcd06ama4QAYG4URNR359jX_u73wdz4myOwQp9r8w7y-OhbS7ZYLM46ZFsw7SCJ9VnO7%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D216%26h%3Db0ee803c948f09061d65f46cf4e93e2e890c36d37e2d147f4f28001ce6bfa141%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3335133450%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

Your new exercise routine has got you on an endorphin high. Things are really looking up!

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FUTJk6jJ7GzeHsGw_K0NHT2pnWCipgxVEQG8yTyrsIDLjnyAIyYe27APlJT8zDB4yi839-tTCdN7sLIto2jXxrMKY95Ua8I8yuq4KVo4gISMx2RKWu34c7hsZ53SBCahWxXjz80U3&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=683&h=26bdd52d458e29787bafe5633bb62e37d68360dc214546d41cc8b9872169411a&size=980x&c=3894406549 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FUTJk6jJ7GzeHsGw_K0NHT2pnWCipgxVEQG8yTyrsIDLjnyAIyYe27APlJT8zDB4yi839-tTCdN7sLIto2jXxrMKY95Ua8I8yuq4KVo4gISMx2RKWu34c7hsZ53SBCahWxXjz80U3%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D683%26h%3D26bdd52d458e29787bafe5633bb62e37d68360dc214546d41cc8b9872169411a%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3894406549%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

You love your job, but one of the things you miss most about the military is serving others, so you track down a volunteer gig in your community. Sense of purpose restored!

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F2Y82zXbOa7ZvUwmMNDWvcpdCxxrVmxUu6QwTyRkj_pUX6kQYEy4-PhXHlbEcqeybgfKkBpQT-jmSIPE2rpkSjOYdwbUcb-p-RZHgfG2uGajFue_mYDaG2p4z7cvCxm1WV2JSYHJ1&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com&s=904&h=e3fb74677988d2c2e7227acd3ca5d7b57d085a893ffbd3f68d46afb2b61053d7&size=980x&c=281507386 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F2Y82zXbOa7ZvUwmMNDWvcpdCxxrVmxUu6QwTyRkj_pUX6kQYEy4-PhXHlbEcqeybgfKkBpQT-jmSIPE2rpkSjOYdwbUcb-p-RZHgfG2uGajFue_mYDaG2p4z7cvCxm1WV2JSYHJ1%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh5.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D904%26h%3De3fb74677988d2c2e7227acd3ca5d7b57d085a893ffbd3f68d46afb2b61053d7%26size%3D980x%26c%3D281507386%22%7D” expand=1]

lh5.googleusercontent.com

At some point, you begin to realize that your military service will always be a part of who you are (a huge part), but it’s not your entire identity forever. You have an opportunity to use your skills and experience to benefit your community, to learn new skills and have new experiences, and to write your next chapter. It’s actually pretty exciting.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Do you know about these 35 travel discounts for the military?

It can often be overwhelming to plan travel as a military family — from coordinating schedules to budgeting, let alone ironing out all the details of the actual trip. Thankfully, many travel-related businesses from airlines to hotels offer military discounts that are worth looking into for your next big adventure.


A couple of points worth noting regarding military travel discounts:

  1. Finding the military discount is not always straightforward. It often requires calling the company directly as the military fare or price is not published online. Take that into account when trying to figure out pricing; sometimes it is worth the extra step of calling to save!
  2. A valid military I.D. card will be required at check-in to validate all military pre-bookings or reservations.
This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Airlines

Allegient Air – Allegiant Air offers two free checked bags for military members.

American Airlines – American Airlines honors military members flying with their dependents by honoring free checked baggage. Discounted flights (up to 5%) apply by calling the airline directly.

Delta – Delta recognizes service members and their families with discounted fares (must contact Delta Reservations directly by phone), as well as free checked baggage.

Frontier – Frontier offers two free checked bags for military members who show a valid I.D. card upon check-in.

Hawaiian Airlines – Hawaiian Airlines offers four free checked bags for military personnel on orders and two free checked bags for leisure travel.

Jet Blue – Veterans Advantage members can save 5% on Jet Blue flights, and a special military fare class rewards active duty personnel with a 5% discount off base fares when not traveling on orders. Baggage discounts are offered for both duty and leisure are also offered with valid I.D. at check-in.

Southwest Airlines – Southwest does not publish a military discount on their website (or information regarding their policy), but military fares are offered to personnel who call the airline directly.


United Airlines – United offers military members and their dependents free checked bags, as well as up to 5% off for Veteran Advantage members.
This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

upload.wikimedia.org

Cruise lines

Carnival – Carnival offers discounted sailing fares to active and retired U.S. Military through an online calendar that allows travelers to input sailing destination and dates.

Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Cruises offers military members a per person savings of for inside and ocean view rooms and 0 for veranda, Concierge Class, AquaClass or Suite Class rooms.

Disney Cruise Line – Disney Cruise Line publishes special military fares for select sail dates, which are limited to a maximum of one stateroom per military member, per sailing.

Princess Cruises – Princess Cruises offers military members (active, retired and disabled) up to 0 in onboard spending credit.


Royal Caribbean – Royal Caribbean International offers discounted rates for military members with valid identification who meet compliance classifications on select sailings.
This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Hotels and resorts

Beaches – Beaches Resorts offer military members a 10% discount.

Best Western – Best Western offers a discounted room rate to veterans, military and government personnel by selecting the Government/Military category when booking online.

Disneyland Resort Hotels – Disneyland offers military members discounted rates at all three resort hotels.

Disneyworld Resort Hotels – Disneyworld offers U.S. military members discounted rates at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Great Wolf Lodge – North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts offers military members up to 30% off using the offer code ‘Heroes.’

Hilton – Hilton Hotels offers military members a discounted hotel rate when service members select the Government/Military rate box during online booking.

Hyatt – Participating Hyatt properties offer military members a discount when using ‘MILVET’ at checkout.

IHG – IHG offers a Government/Military rate when booking online.

Marriott/Starwood – Marriott and Starwood properties offer military discounts at select properties with availability when travelers select the Government/Military rate box.

Red Roof – Red Roof offers military veterans, active duty and retirees a 15% discount on all published rates.

Sandals – Sandals Resorts offers military members 10% off any current promotions.

Wyndam – Wyndam properties offer military members a 20% discount with a Veterans Advantage membership.

Rental cars

Avis – Avis extends a 25% discount to military members who have enrolled in Veterans Advantage.

Alamo – Alamo offers discounted rates for military members who are able to show proper identification at pick-up.

Budget – Budget offers 25% off to military members who are enrolled in Veterans Advantage.

Hertz – Hertz offers military members discounted rates and space-available upgrades in addition to a complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership.

Other travel discounts

Amtrak – Amtrak offers military members a 10% discount when booking online and clicking the military fare box.

Disneyland – Military members are offered discounted rates throughout the year to this famed California amusement park.

Disneyworld – Military members are offered discounted rates throughout the year to ‘the most magical place on Earth.’

Expedia – Expedia offers military members complimentary upgrades when they join the military rewards program, Expedia+gold.

Legoland Vacations – Legoland offers military members a 10% discount.

National Park Service – Military members with a valid I.D. can get a free annual pass to the National Parks.

Whether your next big trip is for work or leisure, be sure to reference this guide and utilize some of the amazing military discounts available.

MIGHTY CULTURE

April Fools’ in the Military: The Best Pranks Among the Ranks

Come April 1st, it’s time to keep your ears opened and your eyes peeled, ready for whatever mischief might come your way. It’s a day where folks of all cultures plan and perform their best tricks, service members from all branches included. From physical pranks, to things that are somehow out of place, to flat-out destructive jokes, April Fools’ Day is known for mischief. There are even historical events, including elaborate and heart-stopping examples of how soldiers took advantage of this day of lighthearted fun.

Take a look at these fun pranks among the military community for a good laugh and possibly some ideas for weeks to come.


This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

German Camp, 1915

On this day in 1915, the Geneva Tribune reported a French plane dropped a large object over a German camp. From a distance, the object appeared to be a huge bomb. Upon seeing it, soldiers ran for cover, though no explosion took place. Eventually, they approached the object, which was actually a giant football. On it was a tag that read, “April fool!”

Europe, 1943, the 30-Day Furlough

In a newspaper article in Stars and Stripes, a European publication for overseas soldiers, readers learned of a 30-day furlough available for overseas service members. They were said to be brought home by the newly refurbished ship, Normanie, which would be manned by Women’s Army Corps. What’s more is it stated on-ship entertainment provided by Gypsy Rose Lee and Betty Grable, two big names at the time.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Britain, 1980

Did you know that Irish bearskin helmets grow hair, so much so that it became a problem wherein they needed trimming? Specially requested by the staff of Buckingham Palace. That was the subject of an April Fools’ article in Soldier, a British magazine published in 1980. They even included scientific evidence on how the hair was able to grow once removed from the animal.

Mediterranean, 1986

While members on the USS Kennedy suspected nothing more than a delivery of mail during a six month deployment in the Mediterranean, jokesters had other intentions. Navy members planned a surprise drop off on April Fools’ Day in 1986. The helicopter landed and released three greased piglets — each painted red, white and blue — who ran across the deck. The event was even filmed for future generations to see!

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Old Guard Virginia, 2013

There are working dogs in the military, so why not working cats? Back in 2013 an announcement was made via the U.S. Army that they were launching a trained cat program, wherein felines would help the military moving forward. Specifically, their duties were to help Military Police track narcotics and catch criminals in their tracks.

Okinawa, Japan 2019

In perhaps one of the most widespread pranks in history, on April Fools’ Day, 2019, the Marine Corps base in Okinawa announced via social media that service members could grow facial hair openly … and have pets in their barracks rooms. Putting safety first, the post even mentioned that pets would need to wear reflective belts to ensure their visibility, likely during early morning hours of PT. Funny enough, right? The problem is people believed it! Some went as far as to throw out razors or take on pets, not realizing the whole announcement was a joke.

Traditionally, April Fools’ Day has been a time to bring in jokes and laughter, often with creative pranks. It’s a look back at how military members still saw the bright side of things, whether in time of war, deployment or simply in everyday situations.

Do you have a favorite military-related April Fools’ Day prank? Let us know about it!

MIGHTY CULTURE

This video of the Chinese army obstacle course is absolutely ridiculous

China’s state-run news organization is being shamed for flaunting its “incredibly strong soldier morale” in a video showing a People’s Liberation Army service member participating in what appeared to be an obstacle course.

“This is the incredibly strong soldier morale of China’s PLA,” the People’s Daily tweeted in the caption, referring to China’s People Liberation Army. “They fear nothing.”

The service member, wearing a combat helmet and a load-bearing vest, could be seen dunking himself into a hole filled with water amid sounds of gunfire.


People on Twitter, some of whom are former US service members, mocked the People’s Daily’s characterization of the PLA troops:

In its latest report on the Chinese military, the US Defense Department said China continues to reform their armed forces in an effort to become a “world-class” military by 2049.

“In 2018, the PLA focused its training on war preparedness and improving its capability to win wars through realistic combat training during numerous smaller force-on-force exercises and skills-based competition exercises,” the Defense Department said in its annual report to Congress.

In addition to conventional warfare training, the Chinese military is said to have expanded its presence in the digital realm. Some of its flagship projects, such as the J-20 aircraft, is believed to have mimicked US technology from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force B-52s teamed up with the Army for live-fire bombing exercise

US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber aircrews participated in live-fire training operations with the US Army over the Pohakuloa Training Area, located on the big island of Hawaii Nov. 15 and 18, 2019.

During the two separate days, two B-52 bombers coordinated with members of the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron and US Army Pacific 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team joint terminal attack controllers, also known as JTACs, to deliver a mixed payload of unguided, precision-guided and laser-guided weapons.

“This is a unique experience for the Army to integrate with Air Force bombers because controlling bombers is quite different than controlling helicopters or even fighter aircraft,” said US Air Force Capt. Mike Brogan, Pacific Air Forces bomber liaison officer.


To maintain readiness, crews often use simulation tools, so the opportunity for live-fire is a significant event for aircrews and those on the ground. “This is incredibly valuable to them because it demonstrates that what they are doing and saying is actually being seen and accomplished,” Brogan said.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

A B-52 Stratofortress takes off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, Nov. 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Heal)

This event allowed the JTACs to conduct daytime missions as well as night training, giving them the opportunity to utilize equipment they wouldn’t normally work with during the day.

“Being able to practice close air support with B-52 bombers dropping over 15,000 pounds of high explosives while running alongside our Army brethren in a company movement with attack aviation to the left and active artillery to the right, provided numerous lessons to myself and my [team] that will help us to neutralize the enemy and keep our aligned [forces] safe when we deploy,” said Capt. Austin Hairfield, 25th ASOS flight commander.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Staff Sgt. Ryan Dillman, 25th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party, plots friendly positions before passing targeting and terminal guidance to an AH-64 Apache during an exercise in Hawaii, November 2019

(US Army photo)

Additionally, during the Fire Support Coordination Exercise on the ground, they were able to perform Pacific Air Forces’ first off-board laser spot track between the US Army’s RQ-7 Shadow Unmanned Aerial System and the B-52’s targeting pod.

“Without the effective and efficient laser lock … the JTAC would have had to spend crucial seconds to locate the reinforcements himself and talk the aircraft onto the target before providing terminal guidance,” Hairfield said.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

An AH-64 Apache provides armed overwatch for Alpha Company during an exercise in Hawaii, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

The bombers, assigned to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron out of Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, are currently deployed to Guam as part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence operations.

The 19.5-hour flight from Guam to Hawaii and back required air refueling supported from KC-135 Stratotankers. Upon completion of the training mission the bombers returned to Guam completing a 7,000-nautical mile round-trip mission.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Dillman coordinates a Medical Evacuation for a notional casualty while Observer Controllers/Trainers stand by during an exercise on Pohakuloa Training Area, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

A UH-60 Black Hawk flares before landing with armed escort from an AH-64 Apache during a Fire Support Coordination Exercise at Pohakuloa Training Area, November 2019.

(US Army photo)

Missions like these provide significant opportunities to strengthen joint capabilities in the region, enhance combined readiness, increase air domain awareness and help ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The US has been conducting continuous bomber presence operations in the theater as part of a routine, forward deployed, global strike capability to support regional security since March 2004.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Hate meetings? Maybe it’s your fault. Here are 3 steps to making meetings great again

Most people hate meetings –especially with large groups.

Sure, meetings are a great opportunity to get business done in the military, but many of the meetings I have attended and personally ran were squandered opportunities. I hate thinking about the hours of productivity lost sitting in meetings. Sometimes this was because of how they were structured; at other times, the people who called the meeting had no idea what they wanted to get out of it in the first place.


In my experience, most meetings fail because many of the participants don’t come to the meeting prepared, fail to read the room and end up sucking the productivity out of the room before any real work can get done. Yes. I’m pointing fingers, but one of them is pointing toward a mirror.

For me, meetings have been trial and error experiences, and it took me about 16 years before I came to the realization that I’ve been part of the problem. Below are three lessons I’ve learned over the years:

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

live.staticflickr.com

1. Don’t shoot from the hip and have your top lines ready.

I’ve gone to way too many meetings unprepared, not sure of what I wanted to contribute prior to walking into the room. I don’t recommend ever bringing a script, but definitely figure out your topline message ahead of time. Your topline message is the idea that you want the boss or other people in the room to take with them when they walk away from the table. Once you figure this out, write down 3-4 key points that support your message and talk through them.

Even if you have your topline ready and your supporting points in hand, step back and ask, “So what?” If we identify a threat, what are we doing about it? If we identify a risk, how are we mitigating it? By asking, “so what” we not only ensure what we’re communicating is relevant to the listener, and not wasting our time or theirs, but we also ensure that we’re not presenting problems without solutions to our leaders.

2. Don’t go too deep.

I might know 1000 details on the topic I’m briefing in a meeting, but you have to ask yourself: Is it helpful? Maybe not. Therefore, it helps to know what is “above the line” or “below the line” in communication. Above the line is all the information the leader needs to know to make a decision or form a judgment about a topic. Below the line are all the details that aren’t necessary. These two characterizations change as you rise in the organization.

What’s above the line for a battalion commander is (hopefully) different than what’s above the line for a division commander. I’ve lost the attention of many leaders by mixing the two and going into too much detail in meetings, wasting minutes and confusing my messages.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

p2.piqsels.com

3. Listen. Read the room. Adjust as needed.

I can’t tell you how many times I failed to pay attention and either covered an issue that was already addressed or tried to push through with my prepared briefing even though I knew time was running out (because the major talking ahead of me wasn’t prepared and went into excruciating detail on his topic).

Nothing will take the energy out of a meeting faster than when someone fails to read the room. Even when I’ve sat there with my notecards and top lines ready to go, I’ve learned that I need to continue to edit based on the atmospherics in the room. Is the boss fidgeting in his chair? Did someone bring up a topic that dampened the mood of everyone else, therefore your good idea will fall on deaf ears? These are a few areas that we need to read when in meetings and adjust accordingly. Maybe my three-minute briefing can be shortened to one minute for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

One last thing. Don’t ever walk away from a meeting without understanding the due-outs and the next steps on the topics discussed. If you do, then the meeting was a waste. If there’s time at the end or before everyone leaves, do a quick check and make sure you heard and understood your obligations.

Meetings don’t have to be wasted time. We all have a responsibility to play a part. We need to come prepared, maybe even rehearse, so we aren’t reading a piece of paper. We need to understand what’s important to the people in the room and not show off our brilliance on a topic. And finally, we need to actually pay attention, read the room and adjust our contribution to the meeting as needed. I will probably never utter the words, “I can’t wait for this meeting,” but at least I can play my part not to make it a wasted opportunity.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5-year-old grandson gets veteran to quit smoking

United States Army veteran Tony Fife-Patterson started smoking when he was 17 because “the cool guys in the neighborhood were doing it, and I wanted to fit in.” Eventually, he settled in to a pack a day habit, and never considered that he might be addicted to nicotine. Occasionally, someone would tell him he ought to quit, but it only made him want to smoke more.

A couple of years ago, Tony’s daughter called him about his 5-year-old grandson who was crying after watching a “Truth Ad” on television. The ad is part of a national campaign to eliminate teen smoking. Tony’s grandson never liked how smoking made Tony smell, but the advertisement made him worry about how smoking could hurt his grandfather’s health.


Although Tony began contemplating his cigarette smoking, he still didn’t think he had a problem. Yet a few days later, after lighting a cigarette, Tony had an epiphany.

“At that moment, I realized I really was getting tired of this habit,” Tony said. “It had become something that no longer was fun.”

At his next VA appointment, Tony asked his provider about quitting and learned about Truman VA’s “Thinking About Quitting?” program.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Photo by Paweł Czerwiński)

“This really DOES control me!”

Tony agreed to attend the program’s orientation class. At first, he had doubts; however, once he learned that his smoking was an addiction, he knew he didn’t want tobacco to control him.

“Wait a minute,” Tony thought. “This really DOES control me!”

The realization that he was controlled by cigarettes offended him and he was determined to do something about it.

Tony enrolled in Truman VA’s Quit program with other veterans who wanted to quit tobacco. The first three classes helped Tony develop a personal plan to manage the physical, psychological and habit parts of his smoking addiction. He also learned how to get through urges to smoke without giving in. On the program’s “Quit Day,” Tony found it was helpful to quit with other motivated veterans. The final three classes focused on lifestyle changes to help him remain tobacco-free and avoid a relapse.

In the photo above, proud “Thinking About Quitting” graduate Tony poses with Joseph Hinkebein, Ph.D., Truman VA psychologist and tobacco cessation coordinator.

It’s now a year-and-a-half since Tony’s “Quit Day,” and he remains tobacco-free.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

(Photo by Gilles Lambert)

Tracks progress…and SAVINGS…with app

As part of his success, Tony uses a quit smoking smart phone app to track how long he has been tobacco-free and how much money he has saved since quitting. He’s saved almost id=”listicle-2641557022″,400 so far.

More importantly, Tony loves the tobacco-free lifestyle. His sense of taste and smell has improved, and he no longer gets complaints from his grandson about smelling like smoke.

“I didn’t realize how bad I smelled, but now I get it,” Tony said.

Most of all, he is proud to no longer be controlled by cigarettes. While the thought of smoking still crosses his mind every now and then, when stressed, he reminds himself, “I don’t need a cigarette to cope with stress anymore!”

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Tony tries to lead by example and never “lectures or nags” those who still smoke. He just wants other veterans to know that they can quit when they are ready to do it for their own reasons. He encourages veterans to attend the “Thinking About Quitting” orientation class to learn how to successfully quit. The program provided education and support to help him be successful, but Tony gets all the credit.

“I never thought I could do this,” Tony said. “But I did it. It is something I am immensely proud of!”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why Navy pilots prefer to be called ‘naval aviators’

At some time in our military careers, we come across pilots of all sorts, helicopter pilots, Air Force cargo pilots, Navy fighter pilots, etc. While the former two might allow you to refer to them as simply “pilots,” there’s a good chance the naval aviator will take the time to remind you that he or she is an “aviator,” not a pilot.

And there’s a very good, non-egotistical reason for that. We promise.


This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

Insert obligatory “Top Gun” reference here.

During your military experience, you may have noticed the Navy has an entirely different vocabulary for so many things. Floors become decks, walls become bulkheads, beds become racks, etc. But the Navy’s tradition of a maritime language exists for a reason. It turns out the world they live in predates the United States Navy, the United States, and most navies, not to mention the concept of powered flight.

The maritime world is way, way old, man. And the terms used to describe that world are too. We can’t just change them overnight. Or ever, as it turns out. So while the aviation world refers to a pilot as someone who flies an aircraft, that term has a different meaning in the maritime world.

This Air Force ‘hub’ looks for threats from within

No one aboard this ship called those boxes “toilets” but they had the same use.

For hundreds of years before navies around the world were flying jet-powered aircraft off the decks of massive floating cities, “pilots” were operating in navies long before ships had engines that weren’t powered by wind or slaves. In those terms, a pilot is specially qualified to drive a ship in and out of a specific port or a specific area. For large ships, this pilot is someone from outside, who literally comes in to your boat and drives it into the harbor because he or she knows the area better than anyone else.

The pilot will roll up next to your ship aboard a pilot boat, which carries the pilot in a boat, one marked “pilot boat.” And those poor guys have to climb up the side of your ship just to park it for you. Both naval aviators and maritime pilots have a hard job that allows for zero error – so call them whatever they want.