Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

In the military, we had such a strong bond with those with whom we served. From day one in uniform, we had a battle buddy by our side. The closeness we had with our brothers and sisters is not something for those that didn’t serve to easily understand. Would your current co-workers pull ticks out for you from near your anus? Yeah, that actually happened to me … Thanks Mac, that’s what we call close! Do you think the people you work with now would run into gunfire for you?

We leave that family and often, many feel alone. This feeling is natural because being out of uniform is different from still serving. However, it’s what every veteran goes through as they leave their service. We may not talk about it at parties, but it’s as real as anything else in the world. This feeling can’t be ignored, but must be addressed.


It’s no secret that we have a suicide problem in the U.S. and even more profound in our veteran community. It’s a sad reality that we’ve lost more to suicide — over 108,000 — than combat during the Global War on Terror. Most of us know a brother or sister who’s taken their life after losing their personal battle at home. We can never eliminate the crisis, but we can certainly limit the amount who are overcome by their demons.

According to Stop Soldier Suicide, a nonprofit focused on reducing the number of service members and veterans lost to suicide, veterans are at a 50 percent higher risk of suicide than those who didn’t serve. By 2030, the number of veteran suicides will be 23 times higher than post 9/11 combat deaths. There has been a 93 percent increase in the suicide rate of male veterans aged 18 to 34.

I applaud people bringing attention to the issue through different methods. It may be doing 22 pushups a day, talking about why they served for 21 days or, I’ve also seen other messages and posts on social media raising awareness about the problem. We know there’s a problem, but I’m more for doing what Non-Commissioned Officers always do: Identify the problem, develop solutions and implement change.

Let’s be more proactive.

While serving, we saw our teammates every day. We were able to witness signs that they may be struggling. Being around each other so much, we could see if their behaviors changed, if they were down, if they showed the signs of depression and if they needed help. These checks are more difficult when we’re out of the military.

One of my favorite quotes: “You don’t need to have a patch on your arm to have honor.” – LT Kaffee at the end of A Few Good Men.

I’m challenging you to do one thing: pick up the phone and call someone you served with. Check on them. Ask them how they’re doing and listen. This is not a time to bullshit around the topic – ask them if they’re doing ok. How are they handling being out of uniform? Bring up the fact that it’s different and you feel the difference, too. We know how to accomplish tough tasks — this should be easier because of the love we have for those we served with. Have a real talk, reconnect and you may help someone suffering silently.

It’s not easy for people to acknowledge they’re having problems; generally, it’s not our veteran way. It’s not a disorder and we’re not broken. If we look out for each other and remove the stigma, we can mitigate the risks. Let’s show our love for our brothers and sisters. If you need help, reach out. And, reach out to others and do a buddy check.

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 Ways to Show Your Gratitude During Military Appreciation Month

May is Military Appreciation Month. Each year the President makes a proclamation reminding the nation of the importance of the Armed Forces, and declaring May as Military Appreciation Month.

Here are 10 ways you can show your gratitude to military members during Military Appreciation Month:

Wear your pride

Pull out those patriotic and military themed shirts, or buy a new one and wear them with pride. This shows those members of the Armed Forces that you support them and appreciate all that they do.

Donate to a military charity

If you want to give of yourself or financially, consider donating to a military charity. It can be difficult to know which charities are worthy of your gifts, as there are so many out there. The key to this is to do your research before you decide. A few of the top rated charities are: The Gary Sinise Foundation, Homes for Our Troops and Fisher House Foundation.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Fly the flag

As Americans, this is always the number one way we show our patriotic pride. During the month of May fly those colors (properly, of course) and show your pride and appreciation for those who protect our country every day.

Buy a military member a drink, coffee or meal

If you are out, why not buy a military member a drink, a coffee or even a meal? Acts of kindness are always appreciated by the men and women of the Armed Forces.

Take to social media

This Military Appreciation Month, fill up social media with notes and posts of how much our military is appreciated. Paint your gratitude across Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.

Send a note or card

There are thousands of men and women deployed across the world from all branches of the military. Send them a note or a card telling them how much you appreciate their service and sacrifice. Better yet, get the kids involved and have them make cards to send to the troops.

Send a care package

If you want to take things a step farther, care packages are always appreciated by the troops, especially those deployed. Websites like Operation Gratitude give information on how to best get care packages to the members of the Armed Forces.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Pay respects at a military cemetery or memorial

Part of the month of May is Memorial Day. This is one of the reasons this month was chosen for Military Appreciation Month. Take the time to visit a cemetery or memorial and pay your respects to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Support military-owned businesses

There are many military members, military spouses and veterans who own their own business. Find some in your neighborhood and make a point to support them by stopping by, purchasing their goods, and recommending them to your friends and families.

Say thank you

Any of these options are a wonderful way to show appreciation to members of the military. However, oftentimes a simple ‘Thank You’ is more than enough. If you see a member of the military out and about, take the time to give them a smile, a handshake, and a thank you. Those two words mean more than you can know.

May is Military Appreciation Month. However, these men and women serve and sacrifice every day of the year. Yes, this month in particular show your gratitude towards them. But, remember them the rest of the year as well. They make the choice to serve and to sacrifice for you, give them your thanks every day.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Versace is selling ‘Desert Boots’ for $1,125; enlist and get them free!

MIGHTY CULTURE

This club gives a new perspective on the life of cadets

She had been waiting for the shot all game.

After Jabari Moore raced 54 yards down the field for a fumble return touchdown and Army’s final score of the game against Tulane, it was time for the post-score ritual.

U.S. Military Academy leadership, spirit groups and cadets sprinted into the endzone to do pushups celebrating the touchdown. Camera in hand, Class of 2023 Cadet Hannah Lamb ran after them onto the field.

As Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Love started his pushups, Lamb laid on the ground, left hand propped under the camera, right hand on the shutter firing away.


Lamb’s job as a member of the Cadet Media Group is to capture the scenes of an Army home football game. Not so much the action on the field, but the cadets, the fans and the entire atmosphere of gameday from the pregame parade to Michie Stadium.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Class of 2023 Cadet Hannah Lamb (left) takes photos during the Army vs. Tulane game at Michie Stadium Oct. 5, 2019. Lamb’s job as a member of the Cadet Media Group is to capture the scenes of an Army home football game.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

“It’s a lot of responsibility that’s placed in my hands as someone who’s completely new to this place,” Lamb said. “I think the most rewarding thing is when you’re able to send pictures you’ve taken to cadets and they get super excited about it. It’s also just gotten me into really cool places that I may not ever see in my four years or I just may not see in the same way.”

The Cadet Media Group formed four years ago and officially became a Directorate of Cadet Activities club for this academic year. The club includes photographers and videographers who work to capture the life of cadets in ways no one else can.

“I think CMG helps bridge that civil/mil gap and portray the cadet story,” Class of 2020 Cadet Amanda Lin, the cadet in charge of Cadet Media Group, said. “I think cadets really appreciate seeing their side of things through a more polished eye. Nobody gets to see the cadet experience as well as we do.”

The members of the club help to cover events both at and away from West Point including football games, the Tunnel to Towers run in New York City and Ring Weekend.

As cadets, they have access no other photographers or videographers have and are able to show the cadet experience in ways only they can.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Class of 2020 Cadet An Vu takes photos during the Army vs. Tulane game at Michie Stadium Oct. 5, 2019.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

“I think it’s important for us to share West Point’s message and what cadets are doing and opportunities you have here,” Class of 2022 Cadet Kaden Carroll said. “I think coming from a cadet or hearing cadet experiences or things like that makes it a whole lot better. Being able to cover events and share things that are happening here at West Point and reaching out to the public as well as people who are here, it’s cool to share that.”

The photographers and videographers in Cadet Media Groups have the benefit of seeing the Corps of Cadets from a perspective provided to few of their classmates. As most members of the Corps sit in the stands during football games, select members of the club are on the field taking pictures. During reviews and parades, instead of marching with their companies they stand at the front with cameras capturing the event.

“It’s something that’s totally different than everyone else’s experience, because we have to be in the position to take the pictures from an outside point of view while every other cadet has to be on the inside,” Lamb said.

For Lamb and Carroll, the Cadet Media Group was on their radar before they even arrived along the banks of the Hudson River. Both had followed members of the group on social media and had seen cadets’ products used on official West Point pages.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Class of 2021 Cadet Cheyenne Quilter takes photos during the Army vs. Tulane game at Michie Stadium Oct. 5, 2019.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

They quickly got involved and started producing their own photos and videos covering the Corps. Carroll has become the club’s go-to videographer in his year plus at the academy while Lamb has jumped in with both feet covering multiple events in only a few months as a cadet.

“I think the coolest video I got to do was when the Army Dance team reached out to me,” Carroll said. “I just basically went around to different locations around West Point and filmed them dancing to one of their songs they had choreographed a dance to. It was super cool to meet new people as well as do what I love.”

Since joining as a plebe, Lin has seen the club grow from just a few members to an active group of photographers covering almost every event occurring at West Point. After branding themselves as the Cadet Media Group in the 2018-19 academic year, they officially became a club this year solidifying their place as a key part of the Corps of Cadets.

“It reminds me of how special this school is,” Lin said. “When you’re going through the day, it’s just kind of dull and boring and you kind of forget why you’re here. Then, I got to shoot the Sandhurst Competition last spring and seeing my photos from that and seeing them shared on social media, everyone was like, ‘What you do at school is so cool.’ That’s easy to forget when you’re doing homework, but when you get to see it, it’s cool.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Civil War re-enactors have their own POG-level slang

The life of a Civil War re-enactor is a very dedicated one. They’re dedicated to the history, the stories, and the lives of those who fought in The War Between the States. They take care in being as accurate as possible, representing the true history of the war down to the smallest details, from the things they carried to the food they ate all the way to their personal appearance. The America of some 150 years ago was a very different place.

Nylon-cotton blend uniforms give way to wool, the “woobie” gives way to old gum blankets, and MREs become a much more complicated process, handed over to a camp’s cook. These are just a few of the details in the mind of the re-enacting foot soldier. But not everyone who carries a .58-caliber Minié ball rifle onto historical battlefields has the same dedication to accuracy.

To the truly dedicated, those people are called farbs.’


Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Re-enactor memes are so dank.

Imagine spending all year practicing long-obsolete infantry drills with members of your unit just so you can execute them beautifully on oft-forgotten battlefields in the Spring and Summer months. Imagine the patience it takes to purchase (or, in some cases, build) infantry gear that hasn’t been necessary in over a century. Imagine the dedication required to sit in those wool uniforms in the dead of summer, swarmed by mosquitoes and plagued by the hot sun, only to have the FNG roll in, wearing sunscreen and insect repellent and playing with his iPhone.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Do not bring your camera, either.

The farb is someone who wants the glory of the job without putting in the work. It’s a judgmental term, one that, when used, ensures that the farb knows he’s not just factually wrong, but he’s also morally wrong. Their lame attempt (and acceptance of their subsequent failure) at authenticity is offensive. Like a civilian trying to pass themselves off as a Marine (aka “Stolen Valor”), farbs ruin the immersive experience of this kind of time travel — not just for the viewer, but for the re-enactors themselves.

It’s the worst thing you can call someone in these fields of dreams.

“That jacket is farby,” “his farbery is appalling,” and “can you believe the farbism he just dropped?” are all common lamentations of the truly dedicated.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Re-enacting battles of bygone eras isn’t strictly a Civil War pastime. History buffs in the north and south alike also re-enact the Revolutionary War (and, in some places, even World War I). Overseas, dedicated Europeans re-enact the Napoleonic Wars, especially the 1815 Battle of Waterloo in what is today Belgium. There is no limit to how far the dedicated will go to keep history alive — some battles date as far back as the Middle Ages, where fighting Mongols in Eastern Europe was the thing to do.

They’re keeping history alive and it’s a big job.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Wilson Freeman, an 18-year historical re-enactor, runs the blog “Historically Speaking: The Life and Times of a Historical Reenactor.” He says it’s not just an insult to the other re-enactors, it’s an insult to the people they’re working to portray.

There are several reasons that farbs are looked down upon in the reenacting hobby. One argument I’ve heard is that it’s an insult to the people we portray. Another is that it’s an insult to reenactors who actually take the time and effort to create a highly authentic impression. Yet another is that seeing something inauthentic on the field takes other reenactors “out of the moment” by reminding them that what they’re experiencing isn’t real.
MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why the BCGs aren’t really all that bad

The old saying, “women love a man in uniform” comes with a long list of exceptions. For example, the expression does not apply to service members wearing a pair of S9 GI glasses — more commonly known as “birth control glasses,” or BCGs. Even the updated 5A GI glasses are only just a slight improvement in style over their infamous predecessor.

The distaste held by many troops wearing them isn’t without merit. You’re asking big, badass troops to don a pair of prescription glasses that immediately makes them look like the biggest dorks on the face of the planet. But if you can get over the fact that you’re often going to be mistaken for the commo guy, you’ll see there’s a very valid reason why the military has issued them out for all these years.

And it’s related to one of their other nicknames: up-armored glasses.


Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

This soldier’s look has been appropriated by hipster douchebags who raise hell if their organic kale smoothie wasn’t free-range.

(Tennessee State Library and Archives)

The very first version of GI glasses were issued out back in WWII. The P3 lenses they used were originally meant to be inserts for gas masks — but your average, visually impaired troop needed to see clearly, so the military started issuing out their own version of prescription glasses.

After the war, they switched the frames from a nickel alloy to cellulose acetate. Recipients could choose between gray and black frames. The glasses weren’t too out of the ordinary style-wise and they served a dual purpose of acting as thicker-than-average eye protection while improving a troop’s sight.

For the time, the glasses were aligned with fashion trends and, frankly, style wasn’t much of a concern — they were free, they worked, and they were definitely within military regulations. It was just a bonus that they didn’t look too bad, either.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

They can do anything but help you talk to the ladies.

(Photo by Sam Giltner)

Then, the late 70s rolled around and the military went all in on the S9 GI glasses. The frames were bulky and only available in “librarian brown” cellulose acetate. Around this time, soft corrective contact lenses became more prevalent, but military regulation forbid contacts, so if you had a visual impairment, you were forced to look like a dork.

The restriction on contacts isn’t without merit. As anyone who’s ever worn contacts can tell you, they’re a pain in the ass to maintain everyday and almost impossible to keep up with in a military environment. A single speck of dirt can potentially irritate your eye and take you out of the fight. The S9s on the other hand, were intended to withstand the austere environments troops deploy to and the lenses and frame are durable.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

All of the jokes we throw at each other for looking dorky as hell will soon be a thing of the past. Now we’ll need some other trait to poke fun at…

(Photo by Melissa K. Buckley, Ft. Leonard Wood)

The military has adapted to societal trends over the years to keep troops seeing properly and protecting their eyes. Wearing BCGs is a regulation that’s really only enforced during recruit training or Officer Candidate School. After the bespectacled troop gets to their first unit, they can swap them out for a pair of civilian, prescription glasses — so long as they don’t have any brand logos on the sides.

The modern version of the GI Glasses — the Model 5A — were released in 2012 to replace the awkward S9s. They offer the same protection, are still free, and they come in a variety of style options from which the troop can choose.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Union troops changed the words to ‘Dixie’ to make fun of the South

Making fun of the enemy is nothing new, especially for American troops. When U.S. troops like something, they’ll probably still come up with their own term for it. Even if they respect an enemy, they will still come up with a short, probably derogatory name for them. For American troops in the Civil War, many of which took the war very seriously (and rightly so), they would take any opportunity to denigrate the “Southern Way of Life.”

That started with the pop song “Dixie,” which became a de facto national anthem for the Confederates.


Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

But even Abe Lincoln loved the song. Why? It was written in New York for use in traveling shows.

“Dixie” was actually written by an Ohioan, destined for use among blackface performers in traveling minstrel shows throughout the United States. These shows were wildly popular before, during, and after the Civil War everywhere in the United States, and were usually based on the premise of showing African-Americans as slow, dumb, and sometimes prolifically horny. It’s supposed to be sung by black people who are depicted as preferring life in the South, rather than as free men in the North.

“Dixie” is one of the most enduring relics of these shows, still retaining popularity today, although without the connection to the minstrel shows of the time. It’s safe to say almost every Confederate troop knew the words to “Dixie,” as the song depicts an idyllic view of what life in the American South was like in the 1850s, around the time the song was written, with lyrics like:

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away!
Look away! Dixie Land!

Union troops who were dead-set on killing Confederates, eventually came up with some new lyrics for the song. Like a group of murderous Weird Al fans, the Northerners wanted to poke fun at their deadly enemy in the best way they knew how – a diss track. The Union lyrics are harsh and the tune to the song just as catchy.

“Away down South in the land of traitors
Rattlesnakes and alligators…
… Where cotton’s king and men are chattels,
Union boys will win the battles…
Each Dixie boy must understand
that he must mind his Uncle Sam…”

The Union version of “Dixie” rates somewhere between “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on the list of All-Time Greatest Civil War Songs That Make You Want to March on Richmond.

MIGHTY CULTURE

USPS unveils Military Working Dog stamps to celebrate our *true* heroes

I haven’t been this excited about Forever Stamps since an LT I worked with in Korea monologized about how investing in them would save money over time as the price of stamps continued to rise. Now seems as good a time as any to take his advice, especially considering these new Military Working Dog stamps are just so CUTE patriotic.

According to a press release, “Each block of four stamps features one stamp of each of the following breeds — German shepherd, Labrador retriever, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch shepherd — that commonly serve in America’s armed forces. The background of each stamp features a detail of a white star. A star appears in the center of each block. The stylized digital illustrations are in red, white, blue and gold to represent the American flag and patriotism.”


The 9 Biggest Myths About Military Working Dogs | Military Insider

youtu.be

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Andrew Kobialka)

From detecting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan to being on the front lines during World War I, military working dogs have been used to help service members win battles for generations.

Also read: A day in the life of a military working dog

According to CNN, an estimated 2,300 military working dogs serve on U.S. bases worldwide. Both male and female dogs are chosen, they are given specialized training, and they are treated with the respect and dignity of their fellow service members. Military working dogs have even received medals for their heroism.

The bond between the handler and the dog is so strong that many handlers will adopt their MWDs after their service. When a military working dog is finally laid to rest, they are given full military honors.

Now, the rest of us can help commemorate their sacrifice, devotion, and bravery with these stamps.

More: A brief history of dogs in warfare

The art for the stamps was created by DKNG Studios and designed by art director Greg Breeding. More details on dates and locations for the first-day-of-issue ceremonies “are coming.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Devil Dog chef shows you how to make fresh pasta by hand

There is a long, painful history of less-than-stellar food rations provided to those serving in the military — and it seems the more modern the chow, the more unappealing it is. For instance, why would anyone think an omelette that’s made shelf-stable for a full twelve months would be appetizing by the time some unfortunately soul unwraps it? It’s certainly useful, but not without making some significant compromise with regard to culinary excellence.

No more! Now, Chef Sergeant Dodds will provide all the instruction necessary to escape the once-inevitable consumption of these sanitized, homogenized, mass-manufactured science projects provided by Uncle Sam, and instead take it back to the old-world classic: fresh pasta.


Assuming you are human, there’s a fairly high chance that you’ve had pasta before. And assuming you’re a young American, you probably don’t have a ton of excess income to throw around on fine dining. Like any other historically peasant dish, pasta has humble roots that stretch way back — to ancient china, actually. This instruction, however, will focus on southern Italy’s version.

Let’s get to work:

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

What you’ll need

All of these ingredients can be found in most grocery stores — and by “all,” I mean three. Keeping it simple is a happy practice.

  1. 6 ounces (or 170 grams) of OO flour (Bread flour is fine, too. Durum flour is best, but can be hard to find)
  2. 6 ounces (or 170 grams) of Semolina flour
  3. 6.2 ounces (or 175 grams) of water

If you’ve got a cutting board, great. If you’ve got a rolling pin, excellent. If you have neither, don’t worry — we’ve still got you covered.

That’s it! Very simple.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Assemble

Be sure to weigh/measure out all ingredients and have them standing by before you begin, otherwise it turns into a real sh*t show. No need to pass your flour through a sieve or anything; we’re not baking a cake, this is full-on rustic.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Mix your dry ingredients

Mix the OO flour (or substitute) together with Semolina flour and put in a big pile. Then, with the bottom of a bowl or round dish, make a well. This will come into play for the next step.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Slowly incorporate your water

With a fork, mix together all ingredients while slowly pouring the pre-portioned water into the well. This is a very old technique that ensures the dough is brought together at the appropriate, gradual pace.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Some kneading needed

Get in there and start kneading — don’t worry, it’s actually really hard to overwork this dough. Your dough will be springy to the touch when finished.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Rest your dough

Wrap dough in plastic to keep moisture in and let it rest for 20 minutes. You’ll notice a significant color change once enough time has passed.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

All set!

Now comes the fun part: it’s time to choose your own adventure based the shapes you wish to make. The steps you take from here depend, really, on what tools you have on hand. Whether you happen to have a high-end pasta roller, stamps, wheels, ravioli molds, or are working with jacksh*t, you can make some delicious pasta shapes.

Some examples to follow:

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Don’t have anything? Try fagiolini

They are a Southern Italian classic, imitating pea pods! This one goes quite well with any meaty, tomato-based sauce.

Simply roll out your dough, chop it into roughly 1-inch segments, roll those segments out some, and press each into your cutting board with your three middle fingers.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

Happen to have a rolling pin and a ravioli stamp? Classic!

Feel free to use whatever filling you want, as long as it’s not too wet! Stuffed pasta never tasted so good.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

No stamp? Tagliatelle!

This one’s a favorite for any carbonara or a substitute for fettuccine. Either way, pop it in the freezer when finished for easier handling. It’ll keep in there for up to a week.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

(Sean Dodds)

The options are endless

Take your pasta and cook it in large pot of boiling salty water until tender and delicious (the time will vary depending on the shape — don’t be afraid to try it). Most importantly, enjoy!

If you want some recipes for delicious sauces, other pasta shapes, or whatever else, let us know in the comments!

Bon appetito!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Mighty Talks: MOH Recipients MSG Matt Williams and SSG Ronald Shurer

We recently sat down with Master Sgt. Matt Williams and Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer of ODA 3336, the first Green Berets to receive the Medal of Honor from the same team. The men recount their harrowing experience, and talk about the brotherhood within the Special Forces community, and what the Medal of Honor means to them.


On April 6, 2008, Operational Detachment-Alpha 3336 entered the Shok Valley in Afghanistan with their Afghan Commando partners to capture a high-value target. Almost immediately upon insertion, the team came under heavy RPG and machine gun fire. Within minutes of landing, the team was dealing with their first casualty and began coordinating an evacuation down the side of a mountain in a foreign language, all the while calling in danger close ordnance to repel the enemy onslaught.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

MSG Williams while on a mission in Afghanistan

(Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army MSG Matthew Williams)

Green Beret teams were some of the first Americans into Afghanistan after 9/11, and the unique nature of their mission inspired Williams and Shurer. Both men feel strongly about the brotherhood that is established within the Special Forces community and speak to those feelings throughout the interview. “I’ve read books, and seen movies, but until you’re in the Q Course, you see that the focus isn’t this tough, lone soldier. It’s much more of a team aspect,” said Shurer. “They’ve got to find those guys with the strong personalities but can play as part of a team, that’s why it kind of fit well with me.” Shurer added.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

​MSG Williams receives the Medal of Honor from POTUS

(Photo Credit: Sgt. Keisha Brown)

As with many other Medal of Honor recipients, the award has changed their lives as they are now part of the Medal of Honor Society, and have appeared on national media to share their heroic actions and remember the efforts of others.”You’re not wearing it for yourself, you’re wearing it for all those guys who didn’t come home, and everyone out there who is still doing the job and still doing the mission,” said Shurer. “If nothing else it puts me in a position to highlight great things that are done constantly by SF teams, special forces teams are always, are constantly out there doing these things” added Williams, “I hope you see a representation of the great things that all the men and women that serve the country are capable of doing and do” he added.

Check out the full video above. Click to read the official citation for MSG Williams and SSG Shurer

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

SSG Shurer receives the Medal of Honor from POTUS

(White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

MIGHTY CULTURE

When should cyber attacks be considered acts of war?

In the past 15 years, state-sponsored cyber attacks have increased significantly, from hacking government and military computers to obtain information to shutting down or defacing websites to interfering with power stations.

And that’s just what we know from the news, and in my experience (cyber threat analysis at the NSA), if something is public knowledge, then the classified story behind it is way more vast and comprehensive.

Make no mistake: countries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran are attacking the United States and other global players every day — just ask Mattis…or Sony. I mean, we traced North Korean hacking during our last summit with North Korea.


So why aren’t these cyber attacks considered acts of war? Let’s get into it.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

The United States, for example, knows that we’re being targeted by cyber attacks. And we’re really good at tracking down who is behind the intrusions. So, when a country like Russia targets the United States for a cyber attack, why isn’t it considered an act of war?

Well, it can be. But it depends on the attack and how the law of war applies to it, even though those rules predate the invention of the internet. The United States government has identified cyberspace as an operational domain in which the armed forces must be able to defend and operate, just like land, sea, air, and space.

But just like the Chinese navy can aggressively fly past a ship without it being an attack, state-sponsored hackers can intrude on a network without it necessarily being an attack.

Chinese jet intercepts U.S. surveillance plane

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Per the Department of Defense Law of War Manual, codified cyber operations include all sorts of activity, from disrupting our websites to stealing our nudes to bringing down infrastructure. Other cyber operations include reconnaissance, securing access to key network systems, implanting malicious codes or access tools, acquiring foreign intelligence, or gaining information about an adversary’s military capabilities and intent.

But the DOD also makes it clear that not all “attacks” are created equal. So most “cyber attacks” fall short of the legal and common-sense definitions of “attacks” during the conduct of hostilities. It’s not an act of war to steal a copy of The Interview, even if you leak the ending online before the movie even comes out.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Rude, Kim Jong Un. We wanted to see those Rogen-Franco antics while they were still fresh.

But, cyber operations can cause a variety of effects, and some of these could be defined as an act of war. If the effects of cyber operations cause the same damage as dropping a bomb, then that cyber attack becomes subject to the same laws as physical attacks.

And this is possible. In fact, it’s already happened.

The New York Times reported a cyber assault that hit a petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia. The attack was designed to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion. That’s a pretty clear-cut case, but it still might not be in a country’s best interest to launch physical military attacks over the issue. After all, Syria didn’t attack Israel even though Israeli jets are sometimes hitting targets in the Syrian Civil War because Syria can’t afford a new state-level enemy right now.

Which makes sense. Would we really want to start a war with North Korea, China, or Russia, even if they managed to damage some infrastructure in the U.S.? (The answer is, hopefully, no.)

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

So in general, we use the same guidelines for assessing cyber attacks as we do any other kind of attack or intrusion. If it’s peacetime intelligence and counterintelligence activities, we take it on a case-by-case basis. International law exists to determine the legality of intel operations — and we apply the same or similar rules for how we operate within cyberspace.

But we still recognize our right to self-defense, in cyberspace and any other battlefield. Publicly the U.S. has made a commitment to respond to a cyber attack just as we would any other attack — and by any means: diplomatic, economic, or military. But we try to exhaust all options, even our own cyber arsenal, before the use of military force.

And, we have to be certain that we’re retaliating against the source of the original attack, which can be tough when countries like Russia hide behind shadowy hacker groups and any sophisticated hackers can take steps to mask their digital footprints.

Therefore, I can almost guarantee that a cyber “war” is raging…but it doesn’t make the news. The United States and Russia do not want to actually launch missiles at each other. No one wants that kind of damage. We also have an economic relationship with them that benefits both parties. The same is true with China. But ideologically, we are not very compatible.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

I’ve been out of the game for awhile, but I suspect that when we catch Russia sneaking into our systems, we just sneak right back. It’s an information war, and I’m actually not sure about who’s winning. While the US has made mistakes, for the most part, we play by the rules, and our adversaries…don’t.

Right now, it’s kind of like the Cold War, with mutually-assured destruction keeping everyone on their best behavior. But the truth is, a cyber attack has the potential to cause devastating effects. Imagine if an adversary manipulated the stock exchange or an air traffic control center at an international hub.

Such attacks would be violations of the law of war, but terrorists don’t play by the rules. So far we’re lucky that they don’t have the same sophisticated technology as major global players, but the threat is real, which is why we must continue to develop our own capabilities and remain superior in the cyber battlespace.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet Callie, the military’s only search-and-rescue dog

This is Callie, the only search and rescue dog in the entire U.S. military.

Callie and her handler, Master Sergeant Rudy Parsons, are assigned to the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, Kentucky Air National Guard.

Callie was “born” out of experience.

In 2010, a catastrophic earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The impoverished country’s infrastructure doubled under the strain of the magnitude 7 earthquake, which caused apocalyptic devastation.

The US military responded in force to the aid of the tried Haitians. In that humanitarian effort, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) played a big part because of their unique capabilities. More specifically, it was AFSOC’s Combat Controllers (CCT), who specialize in airfield surveys and air traffic control, among other tasks, and Pararescuemen (PJ), who are the Department of Defense’s sole specially trained and equipped search-and-rescue (SAR) unit, that contributed the most.

Master Sgt. Parsons was one of the Pararescuemen that deployed to the Caribbean nation.

“Local sources were telling people that there was a schoolhouse that had collapsed with about 40 children inside,” Parsons had said in a 2019 interview. “A team of special tactics Airmen went over and started looking through the rubble, just carrying these rocks off, looking for these missing kids. A few days into the search, (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was finally able to land. They brought a dog to the pile and were able to clear it in about 20 minutes. There was nobody in that pile.

Callie and Master Sergeant Rudy Parsons
Callie and Master Sergeant Rudy Parsons (SOCOM).

“It had been a couple [of] days of wasted labor that could’ve been used to help save other lives. It was at that time that we kind of realized the importance and the capability that dogs can bring to search and rescue. Every environment presents different difficulties, but it’s all restricted by our human limitations. Our current practice is: Hoping that we see or hear somebody.”

When he returned to the US, Parsons advocated and pushed for a search-and-rescue K-9 capability. In 2018, almost a decade after Haiti, his determination bore fruits and the Search and Rescue K-9 Program was created. The program aims to increase the effectiveness of Pararescue teams during natural disasters by pairing PJs with specially trained dogs.

Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons, pararescueman for the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, and Callie, his search and rescue K-9, land at Fort McCoy, Wis. July 17, 2019, as part of an domestic operations exercise. Callie is currently the only search and rescue dog in the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton).

The first, and only, canine to have been accepted in the program is Callie, a Dutch shepherd. What differentiates her from other military working dogs (MWD) and special operations military working dogs (SOMWD) is her ability to located people, injured or not, in adverse conditions. Whether it’s in a forest, collapsed building, or the wilderness, Callie can use her nose, senses, and body to go where humans cannot go easily. And in emergencies, time is of the essence.

To be operational, Callie, and any future SAR dogs, has had to qualify in a number of insertion methods that Pararescuemen use, such as fast-roping, mountain climbing and rappelling, and parachuting (both static-line and military freefall).

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 ways Navy SEALs overcome sleep deprivation

Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep habits harm our health, our relationships, and even our jobs. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, then it’s time to get back to the basics — military style.

Special operators, who are sent on the US military’s most dangerous assignments, must sleep when they can and often face extreme sleep deprivation to complete their missions. Whether you’re a new parent, have a stressful job, or are dealing with a difficult situation, there’s a lot you can learn from these elite operators.


To get a sense of how to sleep like a champ in the worst situations, we pored over sleep techniques for special operators and interviewed a former Navy SEAL who trains pro athletes, firefighters, and police tactical teams on how they maximize their performance.

“There’s not a harder job out there than being a mom or dad, working or stay at home,” said Adam La Reau, who spent 12 years as a Navy SEAL and is a cofounder of O2X Human Performance, a company that trains and advises groups from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Boston Fire Department. “There’s definitely a sleep debt that could occur over time.”

Small tweaks to your routine — what La Reau called “1% changes” in a March 19, 2019 phone interview — will make a huge difference to your sleep.

These are the basics of sleep boot camp. Know these before you nod off.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

An airman catches some zzz’s on a C-17 Globemaster flight.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Castelan)

Have a presleep game plan.

“It’s like a warm-up routine you do for a work out,” La Reau said. He then ticked off a list of do-nots: eat within two hours before bed, stare at bright lights, or start playing “Fortnite.”

During this time, La Reau suggests activities that will calm your nerves, maybe reading, meditation, listening to music, or dimming the lights.

Definitely: turn off your electronics.

TV watchers, e-tablet readers, “Fortnight” gamers — “They’re getting crushed with light,” La Reau, whose O2X team includes a half-dozen sleep scientists. “And that’s just going to disrupt their circadian rhythm, it’s going to trick your body into thinking it’s day and your body should be up.”

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

La Reau recommends writing a daily list to help you mentally prepare for the next day.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)

Put together a list or a reminder of what you need to do the next day.

We all have a lot going on, especially new parents. La Reau says you need to tackle that head-on.

In the hours before bed, put together a list or reminder of what you need to do the next day.

“Every time I go home, I have a list of what I need to do the next day … I feel like I’m prepared when I wake up in the morning,” La Reau said. “I know exactly what I’m going to do, and I sleep better at night for it.”

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Aerobic exercise boosts the amount of rejuvenating deep sleep you receive, according to researchers at the John Hopkins Center for Sleep.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)

Exercise is important, but do it well before bedtime.

Obviously. These are Navy SEALs.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

The Navy SEALs’ Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training is notoriously exhausting.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)

Sleep when you can.

One military sleep manual advises special operators to use the lulls in combat to nap. “Uninterrupted sleep for as little as 10 minutes may partially recover alertness,” the Naval Health Research Center report said.

A nap can boost your energy but don’t zonk out too close to your bedtime, La Reau said.

“Naps are really helpful, and any sleep is better than no sleep at all,” La Reau said. “When the baby takes a nap, that could be a good time for you to take a nap.”

Just think of it as a lull in combat.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Set yourself up for nighttime right.

(US Army photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

Get a high-quality mattress, black-out shades, and a white-noise machine.

“The bedroom should be a sanctuary for sleeping and relaxation and recovery, it’s not to be used as an accessory or a work station,” La Reau said.

He suggests black-out shades, a white-noise machine, and a quality mattress.

“Sleeping on a high-quality mattress is the best investment you’ll ever make,” he said.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Light from devices such as your phone can delay the release of the hormone melatonin, which regulates when you’re tired.

(Photo illustration by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

Put away that phone. Seriously.

It’s not just because of that blue light, either. It’s about stress. You want to use the two hours before bed to relax and unwind — not get yourself worried.

“If you’re going to check your email and you realize you have 10 emails — that doesn’t help you be very settled at night,” La Reau said.

Why you need to stop what you’re doing and do a buddy check

Recognize when you’re exhausted and ask others to help you.

(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt)

Sleep can be a team sport.

An exhausted parent needs to recognize it and call in reinforcements: friends, family, or their partner.

“I think there’s opportunities to have those open and honest conversations,” La Reau said. “Be like, ‘You know, I’ve got a huge meeting tomorrow, I’m on a long period of travel, I’ve got a lot going on,’ or someone’s just completely exhausted.”

“‘Let me take care of all issues that come up with the kids tonight.'”

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