Best outdoor veteran groups by region - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Best outdoor veteran groups by region

Once hardcore, always hardcore. The military crowd loves to mock civilian life for its snail pace and seemingly mundane existence. There’s nothing to blow up, no surge of adrenaline post jump, and no unit to show up to or for. Post military life can suck, but there’s definitely something to be done about it.


Quit reminiscing about the good ole days and start living again through these veteran groups made for rebels. Listed by region and spanning across several categories of sports, there are zero excuses to miss out.

Best outdoor veteran groups by region

winnebagolife.com

East – Warrior Expeditions

Become hiker trash – you’re in good company. World War II veteran Earl Schaffer was the first person to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in an effort to “walk off the war” according to his trail diary. The Appalachian Trail is just one of many long-term expeditions open to combat veterans by Warrior Expeditions, a nonprofit which provides 100 percent of gear, supplies and clothing to complete the mission.

Longer expeditions revisit the endurance and disconnection experienced while serving. Getting back to “the suck” is the forging you forgot you needed. Hike, bike or paddle knowing your focus can remain on the mission rather than the budget.

Other treks to consider are the Mississippi River paddle and Florida Trail. Nothing says grit like bunking next to gators and living to tell about it. Fill out the application and see where it’ll take you.

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West — Operation Surf

Losing control is gaining control over the only thing you can- yourself. That’s the gist behind this next adventure with Operation Surf. Boasting both a weeklong or six-month option, this is a culture to tap into.

Operation Surf is all about overcoming. Physical or mental barriers are washed away, leaving veterans feeling capable, confident, and badass again. Waiting on waves teaches patience, falling until you stand- endurance and the high of riding towards the support waiting in the water and the shore is an experience like no other.

Best outdoor veteran groups by region

media.defense.gov

Nation Wide – IRONMAN Gold Star initiative

“I will run for you” is the concept behind this subgroup within the elite IRONMAN community. During the run portion of the IRONMAN race, veteran or active duty service members can opt to carry an American flag to give to Gold Star Families waiting at the finish line.

In 2020, eight races are eligible for this program in cities spanning across the nation. What we love is the double layer of camaraderie this provides. It’s training for one of the hardest endurance races, becoming a part of a tight-knit and hyper-focused group, and then finding the few within your new niche who are more like you than you knew.

The discipline necessary to complete IRONMAN races will resemble the rigidness of military life, comfort in disguise. Achieving a status, a pace of life, or simply a feat that most of us can’t, reminds you to rise again to become what you forgot you could be.

Best outdoor veteran groups by region

North or South – Outward Bound for Veterans

Small group encounters high stakes scenarios. That’s the environment Outward Bound looks to replicate for veterans within their programs. Overcoming something within a small group aims to bond, reset and refuel themselves amongst other veterans.

From a six-day boundary waters excursion complete with dog sledding to kayaking through the mangroves in Florida, there’s plenty of notable treks to be had. Most excursions are six days in length and zero dollars in cost. Take a look at their interactive map to hike, sail, or snowshoe into a new hobby.

This list is a small percent of the many options, programs, or nonprofits all working to close the gap between service and solid new foundations. Nothing can replicate the experiences, good or bad while serving in the military. The best outdoor group for you is ultimately the one you join.

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6 top secret bases that changed history

Secrets are hard to keep, and secrets that require a lot of real estate are even harder to keep. Here are six examples of large-scale efforts that managed to maintain the utmost secrecy and wound up changing the course of history as a result:


1. The entire city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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Photo: US Army Ed Westcott

Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now a mostly normal city that houses about 30,000 people, but it was originally established to create the nuclear bomb.

Army engineers tasked with building the infrastructure for the Manhattan Project chose the site of modern Oak Ridge and secretly created a top-secret facility with a peak population of 75,000 people. Oak Ridge was where the bulk of the nuclear material for the bombs was created.

In 1949, the site was opened to the general public and it was incorporated as a city in 1959.

2. The Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific

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Photo: US Navy Greg Senff

Most people know Bikini Atoll, the site of many U.S. nuclear tests and the inspiration for the bikini. But Bikini Atoll was supported and largely ran by U.S. military forces at Kwajalein Atoll.

U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll still exists and sensitive operations are still conducted there, mostly missile testing and target practice.

3. Tonopah

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F-117 Stealth Fighter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

Tonopah was a secret even among military aviators in the 1970s. Those in the know were sent to practice dogfighting against captured Soviet jets near Tonopah, Nevada.

But Tonopah had a different secret that would change military aviation. Stealth aviation was developed there and the F-117 flew many of it’s test flights from Tonopah.

READ MORE: The Secret Air Force Program That Hid An Even More Secret Program

4. Area 51

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Photo: CIA.gov

If you don’t know what the cultural significance of Area 51 is, then stop lying because you definitely know what Area 51 is. The rumors around the test site spurned its own sub genre of entertainment with big movies like “Independence Day” and video games like “Area 51.”

Area 51’s military significance is that it was a testing ground for the U-2 and the SR-71 predecessor, the A-12 Oxcart. Officially, the site is named the Nevada Test and Training Range at Groom Lake.

5. Wendover Army Air Base

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Photo: Wendover Air Force Base History Office

Wendover Army Air Base was a tiny establishment when it was activated in 1942, serving primarily as a school for aviators headed to Europe.

But by 1944 a shroud of secrecy descended over the remote base with FBI agents and military police monitoring conversations and limiting movements of base personnel and their families. That’s because the base was being used to train the men who were hand-selected to drop the atomic bombs on Japan.

6. Muroc Army Air Base/Edwards Air Force Base

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Photo: US Air Force

Muroc Army Air Base started as a bombing and gunnery range in the 1930s but became a proper base and school for pilots during World War II. A few years after the war, its name was changed to Edwards.

Top secret projects began at Muroc in 1942 when the Army Air Force’s first jet, the Bell P-59 Airacomet, was tested there. It also served as an early testing site for the B-29s modified to drop nuclear weapons on Japan, was the base Chuck Yeager flew from when he first broke the sound barrier, and assisted in the testing of the space shuttle.

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This is what it felt like to be the ‘FNG’ in Vietnam

Intense humidity, leeches, and snakes were just a few of the dangers our Vietnam Veterans faced while in the jungle — besides getting shot by bad guys. In all, 2.7 million Americans suited up for The Nam, and the average age of an infantryman was just 19-years-old.


And every single one of them at one time or another claimed the title of “f*cking new guy,” or “FNG.”

Patton, Schwarzkopf, and Mattis didn’t start out on day one of their military careers by making all the right decisions, they had to learn from their mistakes time and time again, adapting to them before ultimately succeeding.

Like every story, every man whose served has a beginning — a seed.

“I didn’t know squat, I wasn’t prepared for this,” Larry “Doc” Speed, a Combat Medic from 173rd Delta Company, explains in an interview about his first few days in the bush.

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Doc Speed takes a moment for a photo op during his time in Vietnam. (Source: Mark Joyner/YouTube/ Screenshot)

Entering the grunt world as an “FNG” is a stressful time in every new infantryman’s life.

Having to prove your worth from the moment you step onto the battlefield was just as difficult as shaking off those first dramatic moments of being pinned down by accurate enemy gunfire. Until you prove yourself, you’re just another blood bag with a name stenciled on a uniform.

“It’s a different world when you’re brand new, you’re just scared,” Jesse Salcedo, an M60 machine gunner admits. “It took three or four firefights before I could function before I could see the enemy.”

Also Read: That time American POWs refused a CIA rescue mission in Vietnam

Watch Mark Joyner‘s video below to hear the direct words from Vietnam Veterans about their first days in “The Nam.”

(Mark Joyner, YouTube)

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Forget what you’ve seen in war movies, this is what hazing is like in Delta Force

George Hand is a retired Master Sergeant from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, and the Seventh Special Forces Groups (Airborne). The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own.

Military units are strong on tradition, well, formal tradition anyway. Then… then there are those un-recorded traditions, born and raised and assimilated into every unit’s corporate culture. In my own squadron of Delta, there was the both cherished and despised tradition of birthday hazing.


Everyone suffered from it because, well… everyone has a birthday, and if you tried to keep your date secret, a new birthdate was promptly assigned to you, and you were to be hazed with additional spirit for your insolence. Above all, you were expected to fight, to fight hard against the birthday-boy onslaught.

I fancied myself as one who despised the ritual. Over the years, I looked on in abject horror as men were blindfolded, bound, hung upside down, and dunked repeatedly into the swimming pool hanging by a rope tied to their legs. As you can imagine, I suffered minor nightmares as my birthday approached.

And that day came.

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Pictured: definitely not me. The rest of my unit? Oh yes.

I entered my team room to the Cheshire grins of my brothers. Someone was singing “Happy Birthday” with a chuckle. I readied myself and, embracing the strategy I had devised, I spoke:

“I’ve decided, gentlemen, that I would not be participating in this ‘birthday bash’ tomfoolery. I’m protesting this with passive resistance; I won’t fight you.”

The Reverend Chill-D got his name when he suddenly, unexpectedly and inexplicably, found Jesus once… for about a week. The Reverend was the pinnacle instigator and executer of the most heinous of hazing events. He loved it; it was in his life’s blood; he could taste it; he was born again into a world where hazing held the only key.

“You’re gonna do what… you’re not gonna do what, Geo??” he questioned with our noses damned-near touching tips.

“I… I… I’m not going to fight you guys, Chill-D.” I stammered.

“Well, well, well…” the Reverend continued, “Boys, looks like we got ourselves a coward! And we all know what we do with cowards!”

Suddenly, a great pounce erupted in the room. There was much suffering and gnashing of teeth; sinew and tendon stretched dangerously close to its tinsel edge. Bone creaked and popped and nearly broke… but held fast.

When I came to, I couldn’t move. I was bound, somehow, on every inch of my body and lying supine on the floor. I was gagged with what I recognized by taste as duct tape, a thing all military folk know as “hundred-mile-an-hour tape, roll, green in color, one each.” I divined that my body, too, was bound in such fashion. From behind, I was lifted vertically at my head by an unseen force. I could understand now that I was duct-taped to a moving dolly.

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I don’t think this scene was ever meant to be relatable…

 

“Time to go to the pool, Great Houdini… we’re throwing you in the pool taped to this dolly. Better start thinking how you’re gonna free yourself!” and I truly did start to ponder that conundrum, as I knew my men not to be simple braggarts. How long could I hold my breath? What tools might I be carrying in my flight suit?

A man shot into the room with a canteen cup and sheet of paper. With the shriek of more stripping of tape, the canteen cup was taped fast to my right hand, and the paper was slapped to my chest.

“We’re taking him right now to the finance window and standing him next to it!” reported the villain.

I was rolled to the finance window and stood. There, in line at the window, was a group of eight women from the Unit waiting to collect travel funds. As the boys left me, there was much staring and blinking between me and the women. I rolled my eyes vigorously to the extent that I became nauseous.

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“Please help…” one of the women began to read the sign on my chest, “…I must raise .56 to buy each of my friends a soda. If I fail to raise this money by 1300hrs, they will kill me.”

And the kind ladies each chipped in their change from their travel funds until I had some $40.00 and even a roll of Starburst candies. Yet I stood. I stood until some valiant men from our Signal Squadron came and sliced me loose.

As I stepped back to my squad bay pushing the dolly, I realized there would be more scunion to bear from the boys. I paused… and as the pool door was just to my side, I stepped in and plunged myself into the watery goodness.

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Not the kind of cannonballs the military normally advertises.

I then sloshed my way through the squadron lounge where my brothers languished before the TV, being it still the lunch hour.

“What the hell happened to you?” queried the Reverend.

“Some pipe-hitters from C-Squadron cut me loose… but then they throttled me and threw me in the pool!” I sulked as I headed for my team room. En route, I passed a bubba from our A-Assault team standing in the open doorway smiling at me.

“How that that new passive resistance policy of yours working out for ya, Geo?”

“Go f*ck yourself; that’s how,” said I.

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Aerial footage of the Abraham Lincoln super carrier drifting

Considered one of the most technologically advanced ships in the Navy’s arsenal, the USS Abraham Lincoln is the fifth ship built in the Nimitz-class of aircraft carriers.


Originally costing nearly three billion dollars in the mid-’80s, the carrier was christened and launched by Newport News Shipbuilding under the command of Capt. J. J. Dantone.

Do you remember when former President George W. Bush gave a speech congratulating America for completing the mission in Iraq back in 2003? That took place aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (and is probably a moment the former POTUS would probably like to take back for obvious reasons but let’s stay on track here).

 

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The mission hasn’t been accomplished, at least not yet.

In May of 2017, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was redelivered back to the Navy after undergoing nearly a four-year mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

Approximately 2.5 million hours of labor were committed to the overhaul and restoration of this legendary aircraft carrier.

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The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) busting an epic U-turn in the Atlantic Ocean. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

 

The vessel’s upgrades include various repairs and replacements of ventilation, electrical, propellers, rudders, and combat and aviation support systems.

With the innovated modification to the rudders and propellers, the USS Abraham Lincoln can now tactfully turn around with minimal support.

Check out Ultimate Military Channel‘s video below to watch this impressive aircraft carrier drift for yourself.

MIGHTY MOVIES

10 photos show how the battle in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ looks without visual effects

“Avengers: Endgame” was one of the biggest films of 2019, earning more than $1 billion at the box office.

The film, which was a culmination of a decade of Marvel movies, featured time travel, heartbreaking moments, and a major battle sequence. Larger-than-life moments were made possible through the use of computer-generated imagery (also known as CGI) and other special effects. And oftentimes, the most exciting scenes in the movie were filmed in front of a green screen.

In a new video shared by Marvel Entertainment, “Endgame” visual effects supervisor Dan DeLeeuw broke down the film’s major battle sequence with Ryan Penagos.

Keep reading to see how different “Endgame” looks without special effects.


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The superheroes returned after stepping through portals.

(Marvel/Disney)

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The portals were created using special effects.

(Marvel Entertainment)

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The Avengers prepare for their final “Endgame” battle.

(Walt Disney Studios)

2. The Avengers ran straight toward Thanos and his army.

They assembled once everyone returned.

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Thanos’ army was much smaller.

(Marvel Entertainment)

When the stars filmed the scene, they were just running toward six men in motion capture suits.

DeLeeuw said that having the six people facing the actors helped them figure out where their eyes should move during the scene.

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Spider-Man giving Captain Marvel the gauntlet.

(Marvel)

3. In the movie, Spider-Man passes the infinity gauntlet to Captain Marvel, with Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, Okoye, Pepper Potts, Shuri, and Mantis nearby.

Captain Marvel meets all the Avengers for the first time in “Endgame.”

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Brie Larson stars as Captain Marvel.

(Marvel Entertainment)

The scene was actually filmed without Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and her winged horse.

Holland and his stunt double wore motion capture suits to film. Special effects were later added to create the iron suit that’s seen in the movie.

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Captain America wielded Thor’s hammer in “Endgame.”

(Marvel/Disney)

4. Captain America finally get his hands on Thor’s hammer.

He was always worthy.

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Chris Evans stars as Captain America.

(Marvel Entertainment)

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Korg and Drax attacked an alien.

(Marvel/Disney)

5. Drax and Korg teamed up to take down one of the aliens from Thanos’ army.

Drax is portrayed by Dave Bautista and Korg is played by Taika Waititi.

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Dave Bautista stars as Drax.

(Marvel Entertainment)

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Hulk is played by Mark Ruffalo.

(Marvel/Disney)

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Dave Bautista, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Evans filming.

(Marvel Entertainment)

Ruffalo wore a motion capture suit and headpiece while filming.

The Hulk that appeared on screen was made possible thanks to CGI technology.

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Captain America threw his shield at Thanos.

(Marvel/Disney)

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Chris Evans stars as Captain America.

(Marvel Entertainment)

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Elizabeth Olsen and Tessa Thompson.

(Marvel/Disney)

8. One scene in the film showed Scarlett Witch and Valkyrie jumping into the action.

Elizabeth Olsen plays Scarlet Witch and Tessa Thompson stars as Valkyrie.

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Valkryie was introduced in “Thor: Ragnarok.”

(Marvel Entertainment)

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Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

(Disney/Marvel)

9. Pepper Potts wore a suit designed by Tony Stark.

The suit also included wings.

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Gwyneth Paltrow has been part of the MCU since “Iron Man.”

(Marvel Entertainment)

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Benedict Wong stars as Wong in the MCU.

(Marvel/Disney)

10. Wong used his sorcery to open portals.

Peter Parker referred to the rings as “yellow sparkly things.”

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Benedict Wong and Evangeline Lilly.

(Marvel Entertainment)

Obviously, there were no fiery rings used in the making of the scene.

The character was first introduced in “Doctor Strange.”

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Also read:

hauntedbattlefields

Why Okinawa is the most haunted place in the military

The profession of arms deals in death, no matter how we like to think of our daily military lives. No matter what your military speciality is, you’re helping that end. If you’re a cook, you feed warfighters who are out there dealing death. If you work in finance, you’re reimbursing travel vouchers for troops who likely dealt some death. Combat cameramen, you’re documenting the history of dealing death and inspiring others to join in.


I’m not passing moral judgement — I was in the military, too. That’s just the reality of what’s happening.

In that respect, not only does it make sense that some military installations, vehicles, and battlefields would be haunted (if you believe in that sort of thing) – it should actually make us wonder how military installations, vehicles, and battlefields aren’t more haunted.

No where else is that more apparent than Kadena Air Base, Japan.

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Do you like ghost anime? Have I got a story for you…

Building 2283

Rumor has it the house was demolished in 2009, but Building 2283 on Kadena’s base housing was notorious for being the single most haunted house in the entire U.S. military. No one lived there for a long time and the building was reportedly used for storage — because no one could stand to stay there.

It was said that an Air Force officer murdered his entire family there before killing himself some time in the 1970s. The next military family to move in to the house experienced feelings of unrest and paranoia — until the father of the family stabbed everyone. So, it became a storage shed. But that didn’t stop the house from haunting people. Passersby reported hearing sounds of children crying, strange laughter, and, in one instance, a report of a woman washing her hair in the abandoned house’s sink.

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“I don’t have time to wait for CE to come fix the shower, okay?”

You might ask what took the Air Force so long to tear the house down, which is a valid question. Kadena reportedly attempted to tear it down, but workers attempting to destroy the building reported headaches, hallucinations, and suffered from a high rate of on-the-job injuries.

Teachers at the daycare next door (yeah, there was a daycare next door this whole time) complained of children on the playground throwing toys over the fence because “the little kids on the other side ask them to.”

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Kids are creepy.

Other reports have cited ghostly phone rings (despite there being no phone line attached to the house), faucets turning on by themselves, curtains opening, and even a sighting of the house glowing.

If the hallucinations and urges to kill your family weren’t enough to dissuade anyone from living in the house, the worst selling point for moving in might have been the goddamn Samurai warrior that rides his horse through the living room every once in a while, for reasons unknown.

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“I’M HERE TO CATCH THE FINALE OF THE BACHELOR”

That’s not the only sighting of a Samurai warrior. A similar Samurai warrior is said to ride the road to Camp Foster up Stillwell Drive, reportedly headed to base housing.

Spectral gate guards

There’s nothing creepy about Security Forces. Not inherently, anyway. Those guys look sharp. But when you’re pulling up to a gate at 3am and encounter a World War II-era Marine covered in blood and asking for a match, things take a turn for the creepy.

That’s what happened at Camp Hansen’s old Gate 3 — more than once. In a weird way, it’s a good thing the ghostly Marine was hanging out at the gate, defending living American troops because ghosts of World War II Japanese soldiers were reportedly at the same gate all the time.

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Eternally defending Flavor Country from the Japanese.

The haunting happened so often (some say every weekend) that Marine guards began to refuse to stand guard at Gate 3 and the entry control point was eventually closed. Closing the gate seemed a little unnecessary since the soldier would disappear once his cigarette was lit.

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Even if I didn’t know this place was haunted, I would assume it was.

Kadena’s Banyan Tree Golf Course cave

During World War II, the Japanese maintained a field hospital on the site where Kadena’s golf course was built. After U.S. troops took the airfields on Okinawa in 1945, Japanese nurses, terrified of Americans due to Japanese propaganda, committed suicide in a nearby cave.

These days, Okinawans won’t go near the cave because the women are said to still haunt the cave and the nearby land – but it’s part of Kadena’s annual Halloween ghost tour.

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“Listen, bro, I’m telling you…”

Maeda Point’s prophet of doom.

If you’re around Maeda Point on Okinawa and you see an elderly man walking around a tomb near the water, just go ahead and row to shore, go right to Personnel, retire, and fly home. It’s not worth sticking around, because rumor has it that old man is a ghost and every time someone sees him, there’s a body washing ashore on a beach nearby in a just a few days.

The point is apparently the site of many, many suicide jumpers who ended their lives by throwing themselves off the cliff. Not only that, this was also the site of another field hospital used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. If an old man foretelling doom wasn’t enough, scuba divers even report seeing ghosts underwater. Some of these end up jumping off the haunted cliff for the rest of eternity, as ghost jumper reports are as ubiquitous as Taco Rice.


MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just named Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a foreign terror group

The White House has decided to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, as the Trump administration steps up its maximum-pressure campaign against Iran.

This is the first time the US has applied the designation to part of a foreign government, which the White House on April 8, 2019, said “underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments.”

“This unprecedented step,” President Donald Trump said in a statement April 8, 2019, “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”


“This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences,” the president added.

Designating the Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization clears the way for US prosecutors to target those who provide material support to it. Conducting business with the group will now be considered a criminal offense punishable by law.

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President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Michael Vadon)

“This designation is a direct response to an outlaw regime and should surprise no one,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said April 8, 2019, further commenting that the Quds Force, which is also being identified as a foreign terrorist organization, was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US troops in Iraq.

“The Middle East cannot be more stable and peaceful without weakening the IRGC,” a senior administration official said on background before April 8, 2019’s announcement. “We have to diminish their power. The IRGC has been threatening American troops and our operations almost since the time it was formed.”

The Pentagon said that Iran-backed militants killed 603 US troops from 2003 to 2011, meaning that Iran is held responsible for 17% of all US deaths in Iraq during that window. “This death toll is in addition to the many thousands of Iraqis killed by the IRGC’s proxies,” the State Department added, according to Military Times.

Iran, responding to rumors before the White House announcement, has already threatened to retaliate.

“We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action,” Iranian lawmakers said in a statement April 7, 2019, Fox News reported. “So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the [Middle East] region, will regret this inappropriate and idiotic action.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Boots will test new lightweight combat boot in boot camp

The Marine Corps is getting ready to launch a test to determine if lighter footwear will improve the performance of Marines at boot camp.

According to a release from Marine Corps Systems Command, the test, to be run during a future recruit training cycle, will involve two lightweight boots designed for warmer climates: the Danner Reckoning Hot Weather Boot, currently available to Marines for optional wear; and the Rocky Tropical boot, which has participated and performed well in recent wear tests assessing jungle footwear for Marines.


The Marine Corps plans to order 700 pairs of each to issue to an equal number of male and female recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. They will be compared to the standard Marine Corps combat boot during the test, according to the release.

During the three-month test, users will be monitored to determine if there is a decrease in lower extremity injuries for those wearing the lighter boots, according to the release.

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Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment 2 splash their way through one of the many mud puddles during an endurance course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 22, 2016.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Brianna Gaudi)

“The feedback we’ve received from Marines on the Reckoning boots, is positive,” Todd Towles, project officer for the Clothing and Equipment Team at Marine Corps Systems Command, said in a statement. “The boots are lightweight, durable, and there’s virtually no break-in period.”

While officials did not say when the test is set to take place, they have already begun to procure the boots it requires.

On March 22, 2018, the Marine Corps published an intent to sole source 700 pairs of the Reckoning boot. It published a request for a quote on the Rocky boot.

This most recent effort follows a series of wear tests in 2016 and 2017 involving tropical boot prototypes. The tests, which took place in Hawaii and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, involved boots made by four different companies: Rocky Boots, Bates Footwear, Altama, and Danner.

While the Marine Corps has not publicized full results of those tests, they said the Rocky brand performed well during testing.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy awards contract for long-awaited ‘Stingray’

The Navy awarded a contract to The Boeing Co. Aug. 30, 2018, for the MQ-25A Stingray, the first operational carrier-based unmanned refueling aircraft.

This fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract with a ceiling price of $805.3 million provides for the design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024.


“MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. “This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our sailors and Marines in the fleet.”

When operational, MQ-25 will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.

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MQ-25A Stingray.

(Boeing photo)

“This is a historic day,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing — all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging.”

The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.

MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 photos of Russia’s best attack helicopters

America has one dedicated attack helicopter, the AH-64 Apache. But our rivals in Russia have a much more diverse set of offerings with Hinds, Alligators, Black Sharks, and more all flying in concert with one another. Here are eight photos of them from some recent events in Russia:


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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter sports a 30mm cannon in the nose and four hardpoints for carrying a mix of gun pods, rockets, anti-armor, and anti-air missiles. The pilot sits in a back seat while the weapons officer sits in the front, similar to the pilot and gunner in the American-made AH-64 Apache.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The pilots sit in an armored cockpit and, at first, could only fight during the day due to sensor limitations. Those limitations were fixed with the Mi-28N, allowing these bad boys to tackle Russia’s enemies in low light and night conditions thanks to a radome installed above the rotor.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Interestingly, the Mi-28 was pitted against the Ka-50 in trials, and the Mil-28 lost. But it performed well enough to keep flying anyway and eventually entered the main arsenal. Then, defense priority changes led to the Mi-28 becoming a rival to the Ka-50. Now, the Mi-28 regularly flies alongside the Ka-50s and Ka-52s in combat and training.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Ka-52 Alligator is a successor to, and two-seater version of, the Ka-50 Black Shark. The attack helicopter has six weapons hardpoints that can carry everything from anti-tank missiles to rockets to a massive anti-ship missile capable of taking down tanker ships.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Alligator uses a coaxial rotor where the two sets of blades spin in opposite directions, making it more stable than traditional helicopters and eliminating the need for an anti-torque tail rotor.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Mi-35 Hinds are a very special kind of beast. They’re often classified as an attack helicopter, but the alternate description is “heavy assault gunship,” which might be a better description. The Hind can not only tear apart enemy troops on the ground, it can also drop off an infantry squad to take control of the ground after.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Mi-35s have an ungainly look on the ground but are vicious in the air, sort of like a fat duck on PCP.

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(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

When they fly in large formations, they can drop entire infantry platoons or companies into the fight and provide close combat attack support to keep those infantrymen alive and lethal. They’re expensive and ungainly, but there’s a lot of value in its capability.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia appears to be lying about size of military exercises

In September 2018, Russia kicked off its Vostok-18 military exercises, drills that defense officials claim involve some 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, 1,000 aircraft, and scores of warships and have touted as “unprecedented in scale.”

That’s roughly a third of the entire Russia military, much of which would have to be moved to the far east to participate in these large-scale maneuvers.

2018’s version of the Vostok, or East, exercise is billed as the largest ever, topping the 1981 Zapad, or West, military exercise, which took place in the Baltic Sea area and Eastern Europe amid heightened tension with the US after President Ronald Reagan took office.


Vostok is a no doubt a major undertaking for Russia’s armed forces — and a major geopolitical development, given the inclusion of Chinese forces for the first time — but there are a number of reasons to believe Moscow is overstating the forces it has mustered.

The logistical challenges of moving that many personnel and their equipment cast doubt on the stated numbers.

The 300,000 troops Russian officials have said would participate would be roughly one-third of the country’s military. Gathering such a force would be a considerable financial challenge in light of Russia’s decreasing defense spending and its standing military commitments elsewhere, according to The Diplomat. By comparison, that force would represent roughly two-thirds of the much better funded and equipped active-duty US Army.

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Tanks rolling during the Vostok 2018 military exercises in Russia.

A conservative estimate of the vehicles in the Central and Eastern military districts is around 7,000 to 10,000. Bringing in roughly 25,000 more vehicles would clog railways and highways, and shuttling in that many troops would likely overwhelm Russia’s military logistics structure.

The size of the force involved is likely around 50,000 to 100,000, according to The Diplomat. Other estimates put it around 150,000 — about the size of the Vostok-81 exercise — which is still very massive force.

Inflating the number of military personnel involved in such exercises is nothing new for Russia. And there appear to be a number of types of legerdemain through which Russian officials carry it out.

The stated total — 297,000, to be precise — likely includes all units stationed in the Central and Eastern military districts, as well as those in the Northern and Eastern Fleets and in the airborne units that are taking part.

“For every battalion fielded they will likely count the entire brigade, and for a few regiments an entire division, etc.,” writes Michael Kofman, a Russian military expert at CNA and the Wilson Center.

Many of those are involved may not ever venture into the field, instead remaining at command posts. (The US has also counted geographically dispersed units as taking part in certain exercises, but typically at much smaller scales.)

Participation may go beyond uniformed troops and include civilian reserves, Jeffrey Edmonds, a former Russia director for the National Security Council, told Voice of America

Edmonds noted that other units, like those operating in western Russia, may be included in some tallies.

Moscow has also likely counted under-strength units at full strength and included units that have been alerted or are indirectly involved — like those that are taking over assignments from units that are redeploying to actually take part, according to The Diplomat.

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Russian troops participating in Zapad-2017.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The figures presented by Moscow for these kinds of exercises could be called “true lies,” Kofman told Voice of America, “in that they’re statistical lies whereby the Russian army’s General Staff tallies every single unit-formation that either sends somebody to the exercise or has some tangential command component in it.”

“So these numbers are not entirely fictional, but you have to divide them by a substantial amount to get any sense of how big the exercise actually is,” Kofman added.

Such sleight of hand is not new — similar tactics were used during the Cold War — and using them now may also be meant to avoid adding to anger over reduced social spending and proposed hikes to pension-eligibility ages.

Russia faces economic and demographic challenges, and, as noted by Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert and fellow at the European University Institute, the government spends an outsize portion of its federal budget on security.

Overstating the number of forces involved also likely serves broader geopolitical purposes.

Over the past decade and a half, President Vladimir Putin has turned a weakened military into a capable force, but the Russian leader is aware that his country lags in objective measures of strength, Galeotti notes at The Atlantic.

“Instead, [Putin] relies on bluff and bluster, theater and shadow play,” Galeotti writes. “He wants to project an image of a dangerous yet confident country, one that should be placated, not challenged.”

China’s inclusion may also indicate a shift in Moscow’s thinking.

Previous iterations of the Vostok exercise were meant to send a message to Beijing, which Moscow long viewed as a rival. The relatively small Chinese contingent taking part this year has been interpreted as a message to the West that Russia is not isolated and could further embrace China.

Many doubt a formal military alliance between China and Russia is in the offing, instead seeing their cooperation on Vostok — they have carried out joint military exercises elsewhere — as an effort by both sides to balance against US and by Russia to allay Chinese concerns about the target of the exercises.

“Maybe the announcements of how big it’s going to be is a reaction to hostilities with the West, but the actual exercise itself is a pretty standard Russian military activity,” Edmonds, now a research scientist at CNA, told Voice of America.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

MLB prospect starts military commitment

Noah Song did not enroll at the Naval Academy to become a professional baseball player.

First and foremost, he was focused on his education and becoming an officer. Improving his pitching repertoire was nice but not the primary goal. Like all Midshipmen, a military commitment awaited him upon graduation. Being drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2019 altered that timeline only slightly.


From ballplayer to Marine

“It was supposed to be four years and done with baseball,” Song said. “Everything after graduation has really just been a plus.”

Song, 23, reported to flight school in Pensacola in June, leaving behind an abbreviated stint last season for the Red Sox’s Class A short-season, minor-league affiliate in Lowell, Massachusetts. Song put away his glove without complaint, not surprising considering his family’s priorities.

His younger brother, Elijah, recently completed the Marines’ Officer Candidates School in Virginia and is one year from graduating from Cal Maritime. Song’s father, Bill, and older brother, Daniel, work for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and his sister, Faith, is a nurse.

“It seems like all the kids are gravitating to public service and servicing the country,” Bill Song said. “They’ve really fulfilled everything that I would want from a child.”

Elijah, 20, decided to become a Marine as a college freshman. He was interested in the military before Noah chose Navy but was impressed by watching how his brother matured there.

“To see him go through his transformation, just from a normal kid in high school to this refined military officer, … it made me tell myself, ‘Man, I want to be that squared away, that professional,”’ Elijah said.

Baseball wasn’t always on this Navy grad’s mind

Noah was not always that squared away, especially on the baseball field.

Navy was his only offer to play baseball after he graduated from high school in Claremont, California, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles. Scouts started paying attention during his junior year at Navy, and then Song blossomed as a senior, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

He was among four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top amateur baseball player in the United States.

“I never really thought about [getting drafted] so much, because the mindset was just on becoming an officer,” Noah said. “I completely agree with that. That’s the complete reason we’re there, so [the attention was] kind of weird.”

While awaiting his flight-school orders, Noah was allowed to begin his professional career last summer. In seven games for Lowell, he allowed two earned runs in 17 innings for a 1.06 ERA.

“When he first got here, I don’t think he was overly confident in who he was,” Navy baseball coach Paul Kostacopoulos said. “He went from this kind of nervous, internal person to being a confident man, so to speak. It’s always great to see.”

Elijah was different.

He played golf in high school but was not that interested in sports. He enjoyed tinkering, once learning to load ammunition by researching it online and watching videos.

But mainly he loved flying. Aboard a Cessna 150, Elijah sat in the pilot’s seat for the first time as a high school junior.

“Feeling the pedals and feeling the yoke and feeling the plane actually move from my control, that was just a life-changing experience,” Elijah said.

Noah, whose future in baseball is uncertain, cherishes that view from the air as well.

He said his relationship with Elijah was tight-knit as children, but they were typical brothers. They argued. They fought. They made up.

“Looking back, it’s all just fond memories,” Noah said. “This military experience has definitely brought us a little bit closer than we used to be, just because we share a bond. We get to have that commonality between us, which is pretty cool.”

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

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