The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Imagine a priesthood where they wear uniforms like the Navy’s, are disciplined like Marines, do as much real work to advance a mission as any nonner in the Air Force, and are worked like Army privates with none of the pay and benefits. If that sounds appealing, you’re ready for Scientology’s Sea Org, a paramilitary “fraternal organization” comprised of the most devoted Scientology has to offer.


 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
The Few. The Vowed. The Sea Org.

 

With a reported 6,000 members, the Sea Org is Scientology’s version of a religious order. The symbol of two palm fronds around a star is supposedly the emblem of the Galactic Confederacy seventy-five million years ago. Led by the space lord Xenu, the Galactic Confederacy killed a bunch of people with hydrogen bombs in a volcano. Or something. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but so do a lot of religions if you think about it. We’re not here to make fun of religion, we’re here to talk about this particular one’s Xenu-damned Navy.

 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
And before the commenters start in on me for not believing the same things they do, lets get some perspective.

Origin Story

Where would any service be without its creation story? The wild blue yonder, the halls of Montezuma, Valley Forge, Custer’s Ranks, Last night on shore, drinking to the foam and all that. No service is complete without its mythology. Keep in mind, the Sea Org is only twenty years younger than the Air Force and probably richer, since Scientology isn’t developing a trillion dollar fighter that ignites on takeoff.

The Sea Org began in 1967 when founder L. Ron Hubbard (or LRH to his followers), science fiction writer and Navy veteran (like his father) who served during World War II, launched his own private naval force and declared himself commodore. The Church of Scientology was founded just 13 years prior, and Hubbard staffed his ships with volunteer Scientologists, reportedly looking for buried treasure from one of LRH’s previous lifetimes.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Physical fitness was clearly not a central tenet of his new Navy.

Scientology defector Janis Grady, a former Sea Org member, told the New Yorker, “I was on the bridge with him, sailing past Greek islands. There were crosses lining one island. He told me that under each cross is buried treasure.” Hubbard commanded four ships, the Diana, Athena, Apollo, and Excalibur for eight years, cruising the Mediterranean, either existing on a diet of a lot of drugs, evading UK taxes, or looking for a safe haven for his beliefs, depending on who you ask.

Recruiting

The Sea Org actively seeks young, able-bodied individuals to fill its ranks. In her book Troublemaker, actress Leah Remini, who was born into Scientology, notes she was recruited into the Sea Org at age thirteen. According to Remini, Scientologists consider minors to be spiritual beings responsible for their own condition in life and can make decisions for themselves. As a result, many don’t go to traditional schools and instead attend Scientology schools. This might not be so bad, if a Sea Org member could retire after doing their twenty, but they don’t. Ever. Retire at all.

 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
999,999,983 years and a wake up!

Sea Org members don’t do just twenty years. Remember how incensed some people in basic training were complaining how their recruiters lied to them? Sea Org recruiters at least have the decency to tell you the truth when you sign a billion-year enlistment contract. Since Sea Org members are expected to reincarnate, they owe all their next lives to the Sea Org for the next billion years. Way to Blue Falcon your future selves. I hope the reenlistment bonus is worth it.

Basic Training

Trainees are sent to the Estates Project Force, or EPF, at a dumpy motel in Clearwater, Florida (called “Flag”), doing 12 hours of manual labor a day and two and a half hours of Scientology study until they complete the courses. They eat rice and beans or liquid eggs every day.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
How’s that chow sound now, trainee?

Leah Remini recalled having to steal food because she wasn’t fed enough. Twenty years later, she would admit it in a “transgression session” (which is way less fun than it sounds), and was voluntold to repay three months of custard and hamburgers to the tune of $40,000 so she could level up. So just like Uncle Sam, when you owe Scientology, they take what you owe them without mercy. It’s called a “Freeloader’s Debt.” Nothing beats a Leave and Earnings Statement (or LES — a military pay stub) with fifty cents on it.

Imagine spending three months cleaning and managing a Days Inn you don’t own with people you hate while going to night school the rest of the time and being forced to do things like “scrubbing a dumpster with a toothbrush till late at night,” then “getting up at six to do laundry.”

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
Dumpsters? That sounds so hard.

 

With the exception of Sea Org pay being a far cry from E-1 pay (around $50 a week), Sea Org basic training may still sound a little familiar, except it sometimes never ends. One defector describes the order as “pseduo-military butlers.

But seriously, the only reason it isn’t slavery is because they volunteered. For a billion years. The good news is there are plenty of ranks to move up to. It’s unclear just how one moves up in rank, except for the obvious Scientology method of paying a ton of money for the privilege.

Culture

Remini, like many others, say they joined the Sea Org to help “clear the planet.” Or save the world. They’re young and idealistic. They believe LRH has secrets to save the world and the Sea Org is central to those secrets and they really want to help you. They come in to the Sea Org and start learning right away. Unlike the real Navy, no one ever gets to become a “salty” NCO.

 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

But if the Sea Org has “boot as f*ck” recruits, this is one of them.

Since members of the Sea Org get very little in the way of education and are entirely devoted to the Church and its functions, those who leave (or “blow”) find themselves unable to manage even the most basic of adult tasks, like keeping a job or paying their bills. Many have little to no formal education or skills with which to get a job in the first place.

In her book, Remini reminisced about playing pranks on other Sea Org members. I wonder if they ever sent a recruit out to get a box of grid squares, to get some prop wash, or to find Shelly Miscavige.

 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
They’re fighting for A SANE PLANET, PEOPLE

Sea Org Members are not allowed to have premarital sex. They can marry but if they want to have kids, they have to leave the Sea Org, because if LRH wanted you to have a family, he would have issued you one.

They have medals

In 2004, Tom Cruise was awarded the Freedom Medal of Valor, which sounds stupid the first time you hear it. And also the second.

They have their own slang and acronyms

Scientology doesn’t have POGs, but they have their own version of it. According to Remini, Tom Cruise was once served a chipped tea cup. His response: “‘You served me tea in a chipped mug? Do you know who gets served with a mug that’s chipped? F*cking DBs.” DB, in Scientology parlance, means Degraded Being, Someone so infested with Body Thetans, evil spirits, as to be unauditable or insane.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Cruise’s ex-wife Nicole Kidman, and now Remini, along with many others, and probably myself now too, are called SPs, or Suppressive Persons, which is funny because in the actual military, if being openly hostile to the service or to the people with whom you serve gets you declared a social outcast, then everyone in the military would have to ignore each other for the next billion years.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

This is how they see themselves. (In a weird way, you have to respect the only guy who decided to wear enlisted stripes in the back row, all the way to the right.)

The Sea Org developed its own acronyms over the years, you know, to keep things simple. There are thing like: KSW – Keeping Scientology Working, LRH – L. Ron Hubbard, PTS – Potential Trouble Source, COB – Chairman of the Board (David Miscavige), RPF – Rehabilitation Project Force, MAA – Master at Arms, etc.

For example, if an EPF member messes up bad enough, the MAA will send them to RPF, where they’ll do MEST (Matter, Energy, Space, and Time) work. Did you find that sentence confusing? That’s what you sound like to civilians.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

The RPF  is a punitive re-education camp for spiritual rehabilitation. Like cleaning grease traps. Hallelujah!

The Fleet

The only ship left in Scientology’s fleet is the Freewinds, an asbestos-ridden heap anchored at Curacao, causing irreparable environmental damage. Unfortunately for the locals there, the Freewinds is the only place a Scientologist can learn Operating Thetan Level VIII, the highest operating level. This is where you can reportedly drop thoughts into people’s heads and talk to plants and animals.

 

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

 

It turns out most of the modern Sea Org doesn’t even serve on the ocean. When researching their training regimen, “sailing” or “seamanship” or “ships” never really came up. The only time “water” appears is when the Sea Org is trying to discipline people, they throw them into the ocean. That’s esprit de corps right there.

So, potential Sea Org cadet, until we meet once more, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home… Now go clean my toilet and get me a new coffee mug, you f*cking DB, before I have you sent to Gold Base so fast you’ll wish the COB would just RPF you to death.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Special Forces combat divers explore reservoirs beneath NORAD’s mountain complex

Recently, a Combat Diver Special Forces team had the opportunity to make a special dive inside a mountain base used by the Space Force.

A 10th Special Forces Group dive team went into the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, in Colorado, and dived to access the Complex’s reservoirs.

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a Space Force base that houses several capabilities, ranging from electronic surveillance to missile defense to aerospace operations. In addition, the Complex serves as the alternate headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Air Force Space Command and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), which are headquartered nearby at Peterson Air Force Base.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
(USAF photo)

The Complex is designed to operate independently from outside help, so the condition of its reservoirs has to be perfect.

“They originally contracted with a civilian company to get this done,” said the 10th Special Forces Group’s Dive Life Support Maintenance Facility’s officer in charge in a press release. “My brother, an Air Force Logistical Officer tasked to the Space Force, recommended they get in contact with (us) to do it for free.”

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
Members of the 10th Special Forces Operational Detachment – Alpha prepare to submerge in one of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex’s reservoirs Nov 5, 2020. This opportunity provides hands on training for the 10th SFOD (A) while providing CMAFS the assessments of their reservoirs necessary to maintain operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Angela Walter)

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex has three reservoirs with water for different purposes, such as cooling generators and expelling exhaust.

The Special Forces dive team accessed the structural integrity of the reservoirs to ensure that they didn’t need maintenance.

“Dive operations don’t happen very often in special forces,” added the Special Forces officer. “This was a good chance for us to go out and showcase our capabilities as a legitimate maritime force within (Special Operations Command) to actually do a real world mission. It’s not infiltrating into enemy country or territory, but it was a chance for us to show everyone that we do have this capability and it’s important to keep the capability within the Special Forces community.”

Green Berets operate in Special Forces Operational Detachment Alphas (ODA), 12-man teams, and specialize in Unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense, among other tasks.

There are four types of ODAs in each Special Forces Group that specialize in different insertion methods. There are dive teams, who specialize in maritime and underwater operations; there are mobility teams, who operate several different vehicle platforms; there are military freefall teams, who master high altitude high opening (HAHO) and high altitude low opening (HALO) parachuting; and there are mountain teams, who specialize in alpine and arctic warfare.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy
Students from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School push an inflatable boat from an MH-47 over Patton Water Drop Zone during helocast training as part of the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course at Flemming Key, Trumbo Point Annex, NAS Key West. (U.S. Army photo illustration by K. Kassens)

The 10th SFG dive teams are cold-water dive teams, meaning that they specialize in cold-weather maritime special operations. Their focus on cold-weather operations stems from the 10th SFG’s area of responsibility, which is Europe.  

The last years have been hard on the Special Forces combat diver capability. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, where the opportunities for underwater operations are limited, meant that the combat diver capability was somewhat shunned. Dive teams had to fight tooth and nail for basic funding, and training opportunities were few and far between. Indeed, some dive teams were hard-pressed to maintain their dive status, which requires a few dives per year.

Despite the drawdown from the wars in the Middle East, dive teams across the Special Forces Regiment are still experiencing difficulties. To be sure, the situation varies from Group to Group, but a common thread regardless of unit is the lack of understanding, and thus of appreciating, the capability’s potential.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 best bottles of Scotch whisky to grab before new tariffs hit

Fall and winter are single malt whisky seasons. But, thanks to new Trump administration tariffs, the already pricey Scotch is about to become even more expensive: On Oct. 18, 2019, the cost of a bottle will increase by 25 percent.

Why is your favorite brown spirit taking the brunt of the tariffs? It’s all thanks to a decades-long spat with the European Union over the way member nations had subsidized the airplane manufacturer Airbus. Recently the World Trade Organization deemed European nations ran afoul of international rules, and gave the green light to the US to add $7.5 billion in additional tariffs on a variety of European goods, including Italian cheese, French wine, Spanish ham, and Scotch whisky.

The U.S. is the single largest market for Scotch whisky, importing north of $450 million a year worth of the spirit. That amounts to roughly a third of all the booze the small country produces. Of course, as we know, tariffs are paid by consumers, not by the countries or industries targeted. That means you, my whisky drinking friend. After the 18th, for every four bottles you buy, you could have had five.


This means only one thing: it’s time to head to your local shop stock up on a few bottles before prices jump through the roof — especially if you enjoy drinking and handing out bottles during the holiday season. Here are the 10 bottles of single malt scotch we’d pickup before the tariffs take effect.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

1. Glenmorangie Signet

Glenmorangie Signet is one of our go-to special occasion whiskies. This deep amber whisky is beautifully complex thanks in part to the roasted chocolate barley used in the distilling process. After a lengthy time maturing in virgin American oak, the result is flawless and like all great whisky there is something new to discover in every bottle.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

2. Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask

After aging for 14 years in traditional oak casks, the Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask is finished with a short stint in ex-rum barrels. The result is a delicious Speyside single malt with subtle notes of tropical fruit and nuts — a great whisky for sipping or whipping up some stellar cocktails.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

3. Ardbeg Uigeadail

Easily one of our favorite Islay singe malts, Ardbeg Uigeadail is a smokey treat. Sweet and spicy, notes of honey, cookies and pepper punch through the peaty smoke. A supple dose of chocolate joins the smoke for a finish that can linger into the wee small hours.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

4. Aberlour A’bunadh

It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of Aberlour’s A’bunadh on the bar at all times, not just for your own sake, but for any Scotch drinkers that might show up. If they are ‘in the know’ it lets them know that you know and if they aren’t, you get to drop some knowledge and introduce them to something incredible. Thick and rich, it’s a Scotch with tons of dried fruit, chocolate and sugary notes that make it a delightful yet slightly dangerous single malt (each release clocks in at around 120 proof). In fact, one pour of this cask strength gem is the equivalent of a glass-and-a-half of a typical 80 proof dram.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

5. Lagavulin 16

Not only is it Nick Offerman’s go-to fireside whisky, but Lagavulin 16 is one of ours as well. Islay whisky can be a bit intense for the novice Scotch drinker. But once you develop an appreciation for the hallmark peaty smoke, you’ll savor every drop. Lagavulin 16 is an Islay classic with loads of subtle flavors to discover and a salty sweetness that balances out the intense smoke.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

6. GlenDronach 18

Once you’ve had a dram of GlenDronach 18, you may find yourself totally enamored with this highland whisky. Every glass evokes the warmth of a great, well-worn club chair. It’s soft and rich, with notes full of wood, leather, tobacco, and a finish that keeps you cozy well into the night.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

7. Oban 14

Oban 14 is a bottle we like to have on hand at all times. It’s a richly flavored Highland whisky with a touch of salt from the sea and hint of peaty smoke. It’s hard to thrill every Scotch drinker you might entertain, but Oban is a standard nearly everyone can appreciate.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

8. Glenfarclas 25

At under 0 (for now) a 25-year-old bottle this Glenfarclas is a value proposition. Family-owned since 1865, Glenfarclas ages the whisky in Oloroso sherry casks chosen from a single Spanish bodega. It is a delicious, a classic sherried whisky, with flavors of fruit cake, spice, and a hint touch of cocoa.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

9. Bruichladdich Black Arts

Since price of the bottle of Bruichladdich Black Arts at our local shop is about jump nearly . It might be time to pull the trigger. It’s a 26-year-old Islay single malt, but unlike the traditional varieties, it’s un-peated. Sure, the bottle looks like a prop from Rosemary’s Baby, but the contents are extraordinary. It’s a staggeringly complex dram, with notes of mission figs and chocolate that give way to coconut and tobacco.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

10. Talisker 25

The Isle of Skye is one of those places on the globe that feels not of this earth. Much like the island on which it was made, Talisker 25 has that same other-worldly quality. After 25 years in American and European oak barrels, the heavily peated whisky’s smoke has been tamed by wood. The result is mature, flavorful mouthful of near perfect whisky, with smoke playing off citrus and salt while a whiff of heather magically whisks you off to Skye with every sip.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Video shows food, books, and drinks left behind at base in Syria

Video footage from Russian news agency Anna News shows the inside of an abandoned US army base in Syria, where items such as half-eaten food, beds, and footballs appear to have been left behind.

According to the text below the video Fadel Nasrala, a correspondent at Anna News visited the abandoned US base in Manbij, Syria after the US military left and the Syrian Arab Army took control of the area.

The footage was posted on YouTube on Oct. 15, 2019,mi and features Nasrala touring the base and pointing out items which appear to have been left behind by the US army in their haste to leave the area.


The full video is available to watch below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5dyWr7NAhY
Сирия. Манбидж наш! Военные США оставили послание Syria. Manbij is ours! US military left a message

www.youtube.com

In what appears to be an office, the lights on the plug sockets on the wall are on, indicating the electricity was left on.

Electrical items are left on the work station and remain plugged into the wall.

An opened bag of animal crackers and a tube of Pringles were left on the table, along with a Sharpie, some energy bars, and a copy of Stieg Larsson’s book “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

A half-eaten packet of animal crackers and a copy of ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ lie on the table in what looks to be an office.

(Anna News/Youtube)

Elsewhere in the camp, a bottle of grape juice cocktail is left without the lid on, next to a GameBoy.

In the cafeteria, trays of half-eaten food can be seen on the tables along with unopened tubs of food and trash that has not been cleared away.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

In the cafeteria trays of half-eaten food appear to have been left.

(Anna News/Youtube)

The correspondent also leads the camera to a fridge full of soft drinks including Coca-cola and Pepsi. Judging by the sound of the fridge it is still switched on. In the corner of a different room Nasrala points out a football in a basket.

Scenes outside of the abandoned base show deserted vehicles.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

A scene from outside the abandoned US military base in Syria.

(Youtube/Anna News)

A video from the Russian international television network RT on Twitter showed more footage of an abandoned US military base.

It is unclear whether this is the same US base that Anna News had access to above, but according to RT the base is located 7 km south west of Manbij.

The base was built three years ago after the area was cleared of ISIS militants, according to RT.

Locals told RT it was abandoned on Oct. 14, 2019.

Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria led to a subsequent incursion from Turkish troops Oct. 9, 2019, displacing thousands of Kurdish people.

The Kurdish-led SDF allied with Russian mercenaries and the Damascus-backed Syrian Army in a deal announced on Oct. 13, 2019.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs drank from a fountain in France

Civilians and members of other military branches might have been surprised to see Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drinking from a fountain during World War I commemoration ceremonies in France. Well, it wasn’t just a case of Marines being Marines at any rank — that fountain is a part one of the Corps’ most time-honored traditions.


Veterans Day 2018 was the centennial anniversary of the end of World War I. The day before it was the Marine Corps’ 243rd birthday, that’s when Dunford and retired-Marine-turned-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly walked the grounds of the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, where nearly 3,000 U.S. troops are buried – many of those interred there are Marines killed at the WWI Battle of Belleau Wood.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

You might have heard of it — the Germans sure did.

Marine Corps lore says the brutal fighting against the Germans at Belleau Wood is where the Marines earned the nickname “Devil Dogs” from the German enemy, who sent wave after wave of infantry attacks into the dense wood in an attempt to take it from the U.S. Marines, to no avail, of course.

German high command, flush with a full 50 fresh divisions from the east after the capitulation of the Soviet Union, planned to overwhelm the Entente powers on the Western Front. They wanted to end the war before the United States could bring the full power of its men and materiel to bear. By May, 1918, it was too late. The Germans were facing American units in combat already. By June, 1918, five German infantry divisions faced off against the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Brigade and the Marines’ 4th Marine Brigade.

The Marines stopped the German advance and forced them back into the Woods. To follow them meant facing thousands of entrenched and hidden veteran German troops. The battle lasted a full month and was defined by bloody slaughter, using everything from poison gas to hand-to-hand combat and featured some of the Corps most legendary names, like Capt. Lloyd Williams, Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daley, and future Commandant of the Marine Corps, John Lejeune.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Lance Cpl. Seth H. Capps, a member of the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, drinks out of Devil Dog Fountain following the 93rd anniversary of the Battle of Belleau Wood May 30, 2010.

(Photo By Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

As one might imagine, winning a battle that couldn’t be won against all odds is going to be remembered as one of the most heroic feats in Marine Corps history. France later renamed the forest Bois de la Brigade de Marine and, according to lore, the name the Germans gave the Marines – Teufel Hunden or “Devil Dogs” – is how bulldogs became the Corps mascot.

For Marines, a visit to the battlefield and the cemetery is a pilgrimage, a rite of passage. This trip includes a visit to the nearby village of Belleau and its bulldog fountain, continuously spitting water from its mouth. Marines like Dunford and Gen. Robert Neller all the way down to the lowest Lance Corporal will drink from the fountain to remember the Battle of Belleau Wood and the Marines who never left.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert B. Neller, gets water from the Devil Dog fountain after the American Memorial Day ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Memorial Cemetery, Belleau Wood, France, May 29, 2016. Each Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Marines, French service members, family members, and locals gather to honor the memory of the Marines killed during the battle of Belleau Wood.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Staff Sgt. Gabriela Garcia)

MIGHTY CULTURE

NASA selects new missions to study how our Sun effects space

NASA has selected two new missions to advance our understanding of the Sun and its dynamic effects on space. One of the selected missions will study how the Sun drives particles and energy into the solar system and a second will study Earth’s response.

The Sun generates a vast outpouring of solar particles known as the solar wind, which can create a dynamic system of radiation in space called space weather. Near Earth, where such particles interact with our planet’s magnetic field, the space weather system can lead to profound impacts on human interests, such as astronauts’ safety, radio communications, GPS signals, and utility grids on the ground. The more we understand what drives space weather and its interaction with the Earth and lunar systems, the more we can mitigate its effects — including safeguarding astronauts and technology crucial to NASA’s Artemis program to the Moon.


PUNCH

“We carefully selected these two missions not only because of the high-class science they can do in their own right, but because they will work well together with the other heliophysics spacecraft advancing NASA’s mission to protect astronauts, space technology and life down here on Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These missions will do big science, but they’re also special because they come in small packages, which means that we can launch them together and get more research for the price of a single launch.”

The Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH, mission will focus directly on the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and how it generates the solar wind. Composed of four suitcase-sized satellites, PUNCH will image and track the solar wind as it leaves the Sun. The spacecraft also will track coronal mass ejections – large eruptions of solar material that can drive large space weather events near Earth – to better understand their evolution and develop new techniques for predicting such eruptions.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

A constant outflow of solar material streams out from the Sun, depicted here in an artist’s rendering.

(NASA)

These observations will enhance national and international research by other NASA missions such as Parker Solar Probe, and the upcoming ESA (European Space Agency)/NASA Solar Orbiter, due to launch in 2020. PUNCH will be able to image, in real time, the structures in the solar atmosphere that these missions encounter by blocking out the bright light of the Sun and examining the much fainter atmosphere.

Together, these missions will investigate how the star we live with drives radiation in space. PUNCH is led by Craig DeForest at the Southwest Research institute in Boulder, Colorado. Including launch costs, PUNCH is being funded for no more than 5 million.

TRACERS

The second mission is Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites, or TRACERS. The TRACERS investigation was partially selected as a NASA-launched rideshare mission, meaning it will be launched as a secondary payload with PUNCH. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is emphasizing secondary payload missions as a way to obtain greater science return. TRACERS will observe particles and fields at the Earth’s northern magnetic cusp region – the region encircling Earth’s pole, where our planet’s magnetic field lines curve down toward Earth. Here, the field lines guide particles from the boundary between Earth’s magnetic field and interplanetary space down into the atmosphere.

In the cusp area, with its easy access to our boundary with interplanetary space, TRACERS will study how magnetic fields around Earth interact with those from the Sun. In a process known as magnetic reconnection, the field lines explosively reconfigure, sending particles out at speeds that can approach the speed of light. Some of these particles will be guided by the Earth’s field into the region where TRACERS can observe them.

The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

Artist concept of MMS, a mission to study how magnetic fields release energy in a process known as magnetic reconnection.

(NASA)

Magnetic reconnection drives energetic events all over the universe, including coronal mass ejections and solar flares on the Sun. It also allows particles from the solar wind to push into near-Earth space, driving space weather there. TRACERS will be the first space mission to explore this process in the cusp with two spacecraft, providing observations of how processes change over both space and time. The cusp vantage point also permits simultaneous observations of reconnection throughout near-Earth space. Thus, it can provide important context for NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, which gathers detailed, high-speed observations as it flies through single reconnection events at a time.

TRACERS’ unique measurements will help with NASA’s mission to safeguard our technology and astronauts in space. The mission is led by Craig Kletzing at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Not including rideshare costs, TRACERS is funded for no more than 5 million.

Launch date for the two missions is no later than August 2022. Both programs will be managed by the Explorers Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Explorers Program, the oldest continuous NASA program, is designed to provide frequent, low-cost access to space using principal investigator-led space science investigations relevant to the work of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in astrophysics and heliophysics. The program is managed by Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate, which conducts a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system and universe.

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 cars that cost the least to maintain

Automobile maintenance might not be the most exciting part of car ownership, but it’s one of the most important things to consider before buying a new car.

Any car owner knows the price you pay at the dealership is hardly the last money you’ll spend on your vehicle. Maintenance and repairs on the average new car costs $1,186 per year, or nearly $12,000 a decade, according the latest data from AAA.

Factor in additional costs like insurance, fuel, and taxes, and you’re looking at spending an average of $8,849 annually.

That’s why it’s smart to look for cars with minimal maintenance requirements — they can save you thousands of dollars over the years. And spending the money on routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations will usually save you cash over time by preventing the need for larger repairs.

With that in mind, we compiled a list of the cars that require the least maintenance and repairs over the first five years of ownership.

Here are the eight cars that cost the least to maintain.


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(Toyota)

1. Toyota Corolla — 0 annual maintenance cost

The trusty Toyota Corolla is the most affordable vehicle on the road in terms of annual maintenance costs, multiple experts said. A Corolla will cost its owner about 0 in annual maintenance costs, though the rate will rise over time. Edmunds’ True Cost to Own calculator predicts an expenditure of just on maintenance in the first year, but up to id=”listicle-2634477572″,354 by the fifth.

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(Toyota)

2. Toyota Prius — 3 annual maintenance cost

A Prius has relatively low maintenance needs — save for potential battery replacement if you have the car long enough — and thus low maintenance costs. Add to that this pioneering hybrid’s average of50-plus miles per gallon of gas, and its overall cost of ownership and operation goes down further still.

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(Honda)

3. Honda Accord — 2 annual maintenance cost

The Honda Accord is one of the most reliable cars on the road in general, infrequently experiencing issues requiring a trip to the shop. And when an Accord does need servicing, spare parts are readily available due to the popular car’s ubiquity that costs are kept down on repairs in that way, too.

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(Kia)

4. Kia Soul — 9 annual maintenance cost

The Kia Soul has superb reliability ratings, with most new models not needing any unscheduled maintenance for several years, according to Edmunds. And when the Soul does need repairs, only about 10% of the work was what a mechanic would call major, i.e. expensive.

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(Honda)

5. Honda CR-V — 5 annual maintenance cost

According to Edmunds, drivers should expect to pay an average of 5 a year in yearly maintenance costs over the first five years they own a CR-V. This comes in several hundred dollars lower than the predicted expenses associated with similar sized SUVs, like the Ford Escape.

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(Ford)

6. Ford Mustang — 9 annual maintenance cost

A late model Ford Mustang is about the most inexpensive sports car your can buy in terms of average annual maintenance costs. Unlike the gorgeous but notoriously fickle Mustangs of the 1960s, recent models are reliable and durable, requiring little unscheduled maintenance in their first few years on the road.

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(Toyota Tundra)

7. Toyota Tundra — id=”listicle-2634477572″,012 annual maintenance cost

Kelley Blue Book called the Toyota Tundra “best in class” in terms of reliability. And according to Edmunds, the truck beat out all other full-sized pickups in terms of five-year total maintenance costs. Its ,000 starting price is also competitive for a truck of its size and capabilities.

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(Infiniti)

8. Infiniti Q70 — id=”listicle-2634477572″,412 annual maintenance cost

The Infiniti Q70 is one of the most affordable luxury cars on the road in terms of annual repairs and service costs. This is largely true thanks to the vehicle’s reliability, but also because the car shares many parts with Nissan vehicles, as Nissan is the brand’s parent company. When repairs are needed, parts are usually relatively cheap.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

What is the phonetic alphabet and why is it used?

The military does a lot of things, from humanitarian aid missions to security operations for the world’s shipping lanes, but without a doubt, the thing the military excels at is war-fighting. Specializing in such a dramatic and chaotic enterprise requires a great deal of preparation, planning, and above all else, communicating.


In fact, communication plays an integral role in just about everything the military does — from fire teams that need to “shoot, move, and communicate” in combat operations to policy level decisions that need to be relayed and enforced across a massive body of service members across dozens of different commands. At the end of the day, the military may use weapons to enforce America’s foreign policy, but it’s the communication from the top down and back again that really makes it happen.

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This isn’t the time to be misunderstood.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

Of course, communicating isn’t always easy — especially over great distances and in hectic environments. That’s why the U.S. military relies on numerous forms of communication systems, teaches common hand gestures in combat training, and instills the use of the phonetic alphabet, sometimes referred to as the “military alphabet” when communicating over radios or telephone lines.

The phonetic alphabet wasn’t originally intended for military use — back when a group of French and English language teachers led by Paul Passy invented it, the point was to have an international system of transcription. It didn’t take long, however, for the military to recognize its value in relaying letters across communication lines that were susceptible to background noise or interference in the signal.

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It’s not always easy to talk over the BRRRRRT

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum/Released)

Today, many service members are expected to memorize the phonetic alphabet (often at basic training) and use it commonly when communicating over the radio or telephone. As a result, it’s not all that uncommon to hear veterans continue to use it while talking on the phone — not as a means of holding on to their military pasts, but because the method has proven extremely effective when it comes to relaying the spelling of a name (for instance) over a phone line. While a listener might mistake a “B” for “P,” as an example, it’s pretty tough to mistake “Bravo” for “Papa.”

There have been changes to the phonetic alphabet over the years, bringing us to the most modern iteration in common use today among members of the U.S. military.

The Phonetic Alphabet is as follows:

LetterWordMorse
Code
Phonic
(pronunciation)
AAlfa/Alpha● ▬AL FAH
BBravo▬ ● ● ●BRAH VOH
CCharlie▬ ● ▬ ●CHAR LEE
DDelta▬ ● ●DELL TAH
EEcho.●ECK OH
FFoxtrot● ● ▬ ●FOKS TROT
GGolf▬ ▬ ●GOLF
HHotel● ● ● ●HOH TELL
IIndia● ●IN DEE AH
JJuliett● ▬ ▬ ▬JEW LEE ETT
KKilo▬ ● ▬KEY LOH
LLima● ▬ ● ●LEE MAH
MMike▬ ▬MIKE
NNovember▬ ●NO VEMBER
OOscar▬ ▬ ▬OSS CAH
PPapa● ▬ ▬ ●PAH PAH
QQuebec▬ ▬ ● ▬KEH BECK
RRomeo● ▬ ●ROW ME OH
SSierra● ● ●SEE AIRRAH
TTangoTANG OH
UUniform● ● ▬YOU NEE FORM
VVictor● ● ● ▬VIK TAH
WWhiskey● ▬ ▬WISS KEY
XX-ray▬ ● ● ▬ECKS RAY
YYankee▬ ▬ ● ●YANG KEY
ZZulu▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ ▬ZOO LOO

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 useful Marine habits that will improve your life

The Marine Corps is seen by civilians as an organization made up of disciplined professionals — and this assumption is not wrong. It’s a reputation that we’ve been building ever since we decided to start a war-fighting force at a bar in Philadelphia. Now, in the modern day, we’re seen as these hard*sses who get things done. But none of this would be possible without first building good habits.

We’re known for being great planners and time managers because we devise plans so meticulous that we even know what color socks we’re going to wear a week in advance. We build routines, we formulate habits, and we execute with precision. And when we get out, many Marines hold on to some of these habits, and these habits continue to contribute to daily success for the rest of our lives.

Here are just a few of the Marine habits that will improve your daily performance and overall success.


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When you reach that final objective, you’ll feel much better.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

 

Reverse planning

This is the concept of first determining a deadline and then planning backwards from there on how you plan to meet said deadline. Using this concept, you’ll be able to determine exactly how much work is in front of you and accomplish tasks on time. You’ll also reduce stress and anxiety knowing, at a glance, that the big bad deadline isn’t sneaking up on you.

Double checking everything

Us Marines have do this thing where we pat ourselves down to make sure we have everything on our person that we need for the day, just how we’d inspect our gear numerous times to make sure we had everything we needed for a mission.

If you adopt this habit, you’ll rarely forget any of the essentials — you’ll just never leave home without them.

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Set aside time now to get help in the long run.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Clean your living space on a regular basis

You might not think this will help improve your entire life, but it does. Having a clean home promotes a healthy lifestyle and doing the mundane, repetitive tasks to keep it neat is what builds discipline. Plus, when you get done, you see the results. Nothing makes you feel better about accomplishing a task than seeing positive results.

Prepare for the next day before you go to bed

If you take half an hour or so each night before to prepare yourself for the next morning, you won’t have to scramble each day before work or school. Set up your clothes in the bathroom, set your gear keys next to the door, and all you need to do is grab and go.

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This one is drilled into our heads pretty hard.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

 

Pay attention to small details

Paying close attention to detail will help you find minor problems that lead to much larger ones. The sooner you can identify a problem, the sooner you can devise a solution and resolve it. This type of skill can become lifesaving when refined.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Traveling with kids while your spouse is deployed

The holidays can feel awfully lonely when you’re hundreds of miles from your hometown, and your spouse is deployed. Traveling solo with kids is overwhelming, sure, but a holiday season with no adult interaction is even more depressing. Here’s what you need to know to travel while solo parenting, whether on the road or in the skies.


Don’t forget the gifts

If you’re planning to visit relatives over Christmas, take advantage of online shopping, and have your children’s gifts and gifts for others shipped directly to your destination—no one wants to schlep a Barbie Dream House through DFW. But, speaking of that Dream House, don’t forget that you’re going to have to take all of this stuff back home with you! Don’t buy anything big for your kids and remind your relatives not to give big gifts, either.

Pro Tip: Cram a large duffle bag into one of your suitcases so you can use it to pack and check gifts for your flight home.

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Packing

Traveling alone with kids means your days of throwing some clothes into a bag and heading out are long gone. This is going to require thought and planning. Start packing at least a week in advance. Chances are good that the stuff you all wear all the time, is also the stuff you’ll want to bring, so put your empty suitcases next to the washer and dryer and toss the clothes in as you fold them. Only bring enough diapers, wipes, and formula for two or three days. You can buy more at your destination.

Whether flying or driving, it’s a good idea to use your biggest suitcase and try to consolidate multiple bags into one. Unless you’ve got a teenager to help carry bags, you’re going to be handling them all yourself, and one big bag is easier to manage than three small ones.

Pro Tip: If you’re driving a long distance, it’s a good idea to pack an overnight bag with stuff for each of you. Put that small bag into the car last so it’s easily accessible. If you have to stop for the night along your route, you’re not going to want to drag all your big suitcases into the room.

Just pack PJs, comfy traveling clothes, toiletries, diapers and wipes, and whatever woobies or special stuffies you all can’t sleep without, and a few snacks for the room. A snack bag will absolutely save you when the late-night hunger hits, and your hotel doesn’t even have a vending machine. You might want to throw in some herbal tea bags (or a single serving wine box) for yourself.

Driving

No two kids are exactly the same, and you know yours better than anyone. Some can’t handle more than an hour of uninterrupted driving, others can go 15 hours so long as their bellies are full of chicken nuggets. Don’t fool yourself that a child who hates driving will miraculously be great for a 17-hour slog, or that you’ll be able to drive all that distance without getting tired. If you need to stop for the night, do so. A motel room is much cheaper than a wreck.

Be sure to plan your route ahead of time. GPS navigation is great and all, and by all means use it, but it’s no substitute for actually knowing where you’re going. The roads will likely be crowded, you may encounter closures, accidents, and detours, and we’ve all had navigation lead us astray. RoadTrippers.com is a great resource for planning.

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(live.staticflickr.com)

Other Helpful Apps:

Waze is a navigation app that alerts you to upcoming traffic and offers alternate route suggestions.

Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest gas nearby.

iExit tells you how far the next Interstate exit is and what amenities you’ll find there, like the always-important bathrooms, gas, and food.

Flush Toilet Finder uses your location to show you nearby toilets on a map, which is absolutely essential information when you’re traveling with preschoolers. Bonus: it works offline and can integrate with Google Maps to provide directions.

And if you’re not in a big rush and want to break up your drive with some Americana oddities, the Roadside America app will tell you about all sorts of weird stops along your way, like Foamhenge.

The Priceline app is also great for road trips because it lets you bid on rooms that are nearby, meaning you don’t have to know in advance where you’ll be when you want to pull off and sleep.

ProTip: Wait until after 3 p.m. to start bidding. By afternoon check-in time, many hotels are willing to accept a lower bid than they would have taken earlier in the day.

Parenting Pro Tip: Try to book a hotel with an indoor pool and free breakfast. A day strapped into a car seat will leave any kid antsy, with oodles of energy to burn. An evening splash in the pool will mean that your children actually fall asleep when you turn the lights out. Complimentary breakfast means you can get back on the road without stopping to eat, saving time and money.

And another one: If your children are too small to help with bags at the hotel, grab a luggage cart. You can easily set an infant carrier on the cart, and toddlers and preschoolers can climb on and catch a ride. They’ll love it! Most importantly, you’ll be able to manage all your bags and people in one trip.

Flying

It should go without saying, but arrive early, at least 30 minutes earlier than what you think being early means. Flying is stressful. Flying with children is even more stressful. Flying solo with children when you’re running late is agony.

Pro Tip: If at all possible, book a morning flight, especially if you have to make a connection. Why? Because if your flight gets cancelled or delayed, you’re more likely to get on another flight if you start early in the day. You do not want to be stuck overnight in an airport with children.

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If your kids are too big for a stroller but too small to turn loose, look into buying a fun ride-on suitcase, like this one. All of a sudden, the tedium of the airport will look more like a playground, at least to your child. Speaking of playgrounds, here’s a list of some of the family-friendly amenities available in U.S. airports.

Don’t forget about the lounges and the USO. If you have the American Express Platinum Card (And you should, the annual fee is waived for active duty, plus you get all these perks) you and your children can access the Delta Sky Club Lounges and the Centurion Lounges … and all the free food, drinks, and WiFi in them. Some even have a family room.

But even if you don’t have the AMEX, your military family status allows you to use the USO lounges, which means you get access to free snacks, comfy chairs, and the nicest people in America. Many of the volunteers are grandparent-aged and love to play with kids. Stop in, grab a snack (the USO in Charlotte, NC’s airport often has free Cinnabon), kick back in a recliner and let other people soak up the adorableness that you stopped noticing somewhere over Des Moines, when your toddler kicked the seat in front of her for the 18th time.

Speaking of, while you’re on the plane, just accept that your normal nutrition and screen time rules are on hold. Bring your own junk food and whatever device your child likes to play— with headphones, please!— and then let them play and eat as much as they want. Bring old fashioned coloring and activity books, too. Kids love having your undivided attention, and a game of Hangman or Tic-Tac-Toe on a seatback tray will burn up some time. You will be exhausted by the end of the flight. It’s just going to happen. Accept it and expect it.

You don’t have to spend the holidays marinating in loneliness and exhaustion. With a little planning, a lot of patience, some managed expectations, and a few apps, you can travel with children to celebrate the season, without losing your sanity.

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army spouse, a mother of three, a professional writer and an obsessive traveler. Once, during a deployment, she took all three kids on a 6-week-long roadtrip from Florida to Maine— and back!—stopping to see every long lost military friend and roadside attraction along the way.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the military goes out of its way for certain animals

Troops lose their mind when they have to go to either Fort Irwin or Twentynine Palms. They’re both in insanely hot climates, offer very little to do outside of training, and the living conditions are far worse than what POGs are accustomed to. Despite all that, everything comes to a standstill when a single desert tortoise shows up.

The same thing happens when a red-cockaded woodpecker appears at Fort Benning, Indiana bats at Fort Knox, and piping plovers at RTC Great Lakes. These are all objectively unpleasant military installations that have endemic species of animals that put a stop to training just by showing up.

This causes a headache for many troops in leadership positions and is the butt of many jokes among the junior enlisted. It stops becoming funny, however, when leadership tells their troops that they can’t leave behind even a single breadcrumb that could attract the predators of said animals.

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The world’s premiere fighting force is brought to a stand-still because of one, adorable little turtle.
(Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

This is all because the animals listed above are endangered and their safest habitats are on military installations.


Back in 1973, the Endangered Species Act was passed, stating that the government will do its part to protect its endangered animals and prosecute anyone who bring them harm. While it’s easy to issue out fines to anyone who accidentally kills a desert tortoise, it’s even easier (and you know, better) to take preventive measures and keep them alive.

The military does its part in a large way — far larger than most organizations dedicated to saving these species. In 2011 alone, the U.S. military spent $7.6 million on keeping desert tortoises safe — a grand total of over $100.9 million since 1993. That money has gone a long way in keeping these at-risk animals alive for many generations.

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In the case of some tortoises, it’s many generations. You know, because they live longer than humans.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Williams)

“But these are just some dumb turtles!” someone in the back of the formation may yell. That class clown might be right — these tortoises could be dumb, indeed — but it doesn’t matter. If you allow one invasive fish, for example, to fade away because of the enormous amount of money required to protect it, then there’s a justification allowing any species to die out, putting the animal kingdom right back where it was in 1972.

Potential dumbness aside, every animal must be treated with the same delicate gloves or we risk losing them all.

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And if you’re stationed anywhere in Hawaii, that means hundreds of different species.
(U.S. Army)

The next “good idea fairy” solution is to just move them away from military installations. It should be fairly obvious why taking slow-moving prey away from a habitat where they’re cared for and are kept safe from predators and tossing them into a new, unfamiliar landscape devoid of such protections is a bad idea. If you’re having trouble seeing why that’s a problem, we’ve got an example for you:

They tried this once with the desert tortoises at Fort Irwin in 2008. The logic behind it was that the tortoises would be far safer somewhere where they wouldn’t be accidentally blown to bits by troops in training. The relocation effort cost $50 million and, within a year, about 30% of all the tortoises (who have an average life-span of over 100 years) died before the program was scrapped.

There were many factors that contributed to the dying off of thousands of tortoises. First, being put in an unknown environment meant that they had no idea where the food or water was. This was made worse when packs of predators discovered an enormous buffet of food that couldn’t run or hide.

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Turns out suffering theu00a0occasional mortar death is better than being gobbled up by a pack of coyotes.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

There are over 400 species of endangered animals on military grounds and, even with human intervention, these are the best habitats for them. Each of the species that are protected by the U.S. Armed Forces are all carefully monitored to make sure that no harm comes to them.

It’s not uncommon for troops to incorporate their nesting grounds into their training. While preparing for a mission, their nests are treated in the same way as schools or hospitals in the battlefield. Troops just avoid them at all costs.

The good news is that this ongoing effort to protect them has yielded some very visible results. While there are outliers in the desert tortoise populations (California droughts are partially to blame), animal populations at other installations have all boomed in recent years. Simply adjusting fire from one part of the range to another at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has helped the streaked horned lark population almost quadruple in less than a decade.

Protecting these species requires a little effort and a creates bit of inconvenience, but it’s been proven that the military installations these animals call home are truly the best places for these species to thrive.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Are you born a warrior? Is it learned? A Delta Force Perspective

It is my staunch belief that warriors are born and not created. In the case of either you can trace back through your past to your first ever action that made you realize — though not likely back then at the time — that you were destined to take the warrior’s or the leader’s path through life.


I came up through Army infantry at 19 years old gravely afraid of heights, a condition that kept me from becoming a paratrooper, the gateway training to the elite forces. After two years in the infantry, I was ready to jump even without a parachute if that was what it took to get me out of that horror show.

I made it into the Green Berets only to be met with great disappointment, as in those years between wars I felt we were more of an in-case-of-war-break-glass unit with peacetime ambition and an equally disappointing budget. The thought of going to war with my Green Beret A-Team scared me to the extent that I ran arms-flailing to the Delta Force, where I immediately faded into anonymity by a sea of raw talent and sheer badassery. I was home.

But even after arriving at the unit, which requires one of the toughest selections on the planet, I came to realize that the essence of my warrior spirit had been with me all along. I can finally go back to the very early days of my own basic army training and identify an event that has stayed with me for so many years. Finally, I think I understand what it meant and why the simple memory has remained close to my heart for so many decades.

Search as I have for hints of warrior potential during my coming of military status in basic training, I’m put finally in mind of a trivial incident that remains to impress me still today. I have thought of it often in attempts to make sense of it. Since it is mine, I shall own the interpretation.

It was during my own Infantry Basic Training in Sand Hill Georgia, where my platoon and I were waiting in the pine woods for a couple of hours between training events. At times like those, there was nothing to do but notice and complain about how hot it was, and it was plenty hot.

We boys huddled under the shade of an awning in our steel helmets. In that year I learned that shade was indeed only a state of mind, and had little physical impact on the Georgia swelter; where a boundary blocked the direct sun’s rays, the humidity served to usher the heat around obstacles, presenting it to who would cower. “We” huddle and bitched and complained and moaned, making it all the worse. I quickly grew annoyed with the negative attitude of the group to the extent that I, but for slight, sniped at them verbally.

The “group” — my group: the hayseed from under the Bible Belt who spoke maybe just a little too fondly of his female cousin, the guy who came in for college; he already had one semester and constantly wanted everyone to know that by saying things like: “Yeah, but that doesn’t detract from or minimize the context of what I’m saying,” the fellow who was given the choice by a judge of either the Army or jail, the black man whose dad and grandad were both in the Army before him, the white dude who felt a patriotic debt to the country but really had no clue what that meant, the Chicano who wanted something different out of life… anything other than what he was living at the time.

And then there was — OMG! — that Asian fellow who during a group debate on race and equality announced to the group: “If there is a man here who can sh*t with his pants on, let him stand now and show it!” As God as my witness, he did say that. I resigned to the notion that he was trying for something along the lines of “We all put on our trousers one leg at a time.”

I suffered too from the heat, but the urge to bellow seemed so futile, only adding to the misery. Knowing no better, I decided to remove myself from the crowd, so I stood and stepped some fifty feet away in direct view of the blazing sun. There I squatted in the muddy sand and hung my head and thought:

“The heat is bad, but it’s better than being in the shade with the pity patrol. Bad means there is a worse; there is even a worse than this… somewhere. This too is bearable. All things, no matter the intensity, are always bearable. Here, I’m setting an example for all my platoon — see me here, guys? It’s not so bad!”

Indeed remarks wafted over:

“What the hell’s the idiot doing?”

“He can’t last out there like that.”

“Someone needs to go get him; he’s delirious, he is.”

“Yeah, holy crap, man!”

You see, now no longer were they absconded in their own misery; they were submersed in mine. I had taken their suffering away, even if for this brief bout of minutes. “I complained because I had no shoes, and then I saw a man who had no feet.” Bad begets worse, and even worse is tolerable.

I think by wanting to be alone I had only drawn attention to myself… but it was done, and now I would give them a show. This is how we deal with the pain. This is how we stand up and take it… how we shake it off and defy it! This is how a much grander force within us makes a thing like the Georgia swelter such an insignificant trifle — “pour it on, Blythe! Fire your weapon!”

From the nose of my drooped head, beads of sweat were queued up and falling in serial. I decided that I would count off 100 of them before I went back to the shade. When 100 beads had fallen, I decided that I would let yet another 100 fall before I relented… then another 100, followed by another then another concatenation of 100.

After 500 had fallen, I stood and removed my helmet. I shook my face wildly, like a dog shakes off pool water upon exit. I wiped my face with my sleeves as I trudged back to the shade and the group. I remarked as I squatted back down:

“Yep… it’s a real scorcher out there today, brothers.”

And there was nothing but silence and a man who reached out his canteen my way, which I graciously declined.

Sometimes we imagine the Earth was gifted with us, to just be us, our mystical, magical, wonderful selves. Other times we might wonder if the planet might get along just swimmingly without us. Ask ten people if they “march to the beat of a different drum,” and you will get ten affirmative answers every time. Now watch when the different drumsticks start their cadence how many stand, step out, and march… and keep marching until 500 beads of their sweat have rolled from their nose and hit the ground.

As I have searched and debated over the years to answer the question are warriors born or made, I often think back to the quote from Heraclitus nearly 2,000 years ago,

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” (Heraclitus c. 535 – c. 475 BCE)

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to explore a civilian career working with veterans

No matter where you served in the military, one thing is certain: Veterans have a special bond. These shared experiences draw former service members to careers working with fellow veterans. As you might’ve guessed, VA is a great place to do exactly that.

You still may have a lot of questions about what it’s like to work here. Will it be the right cultural fit? How do the benefits stack up? What support is available day to day?

There are plenty of resources to help you answer these and other questions. Here are six ways you can explore what it’s like to work at VA before you make the choice to apply:


1. Visit the VA Careers website.

The VA Careers site is chock full of information about what it’s like to work at VA, including employee video stories about VA’s workplace culture, an informational deep dive into some of the positions we’re hiring for (think: physicians, nurses and mental health counselors), a summary of benefits we offer employees, and details on how we work with veterans to build rewarding careers.

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Smiling Group

2. Check out the Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO).

VESO is a wealth of information for veterans seeking employment opportunities. Get details on upcoming veteran hiring events, access free virtual training on how to navigate USAJOBS or write an effective resume, and learn more about the federal hiring process.

3. Attend a VA recruitment event.

Visit the VA Careers event webpage for days and times of recruiting events we’ll be attending all around the country. You’re invited to register for an event and ask recruiters questions about a future career with VA.

4. Participate in a virtual career fair. 

If you can’t make it to one of our events, go digital! Through virtual career fairs, VA brings recruiters and job seekers together online so they can exchange information without having to worry about distance or travel. Find out about the next virtual career fair by following the VA Careers blog or visiting the events site.

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5. Reach out to a recruiter directly.

Do you have specific questions? Reach out to VA recruiters via email for guidance on finding the opportunity that best matches your skillset, preparing your resume and planning for interviews.

6. Get more information about the transitioning military program.

The Transitioning Military Personnel program aims to raise awareness about civilian careers for former service members at VA. If you’ve served in military healthcare — as a physician, nurse, mental health provider, medic, hospital corpsmen, health service technician, para rescue specialist or another occupation — find an array of VA opportunities across the country where you can put your professional training and skills to work.

After you’ve done your research and fully explored VA careers, think about applying for an opening. Be sure to look into special programs such as Veterans Preference that can help you get hired more quickly.

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

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