The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Top advisers at the Pentagon are presenting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis with an idea that could radically change the way in which the US Marine Corps operates, and it’s aimed at increasing the lethality of grunts.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, chairman of the Pentagon’s Close Combat Lethality Task Force, has suggested that Marines should have to go through four years in a different career field and wait an enlistment before transitioning into the infantry.


The basic premise here is that it would make Marines more effective in combat because they’d have additional skill sets and bring more experience and maturity to bear. But this would break tradition with the youthful nature of the Marine Corps, in which people as young as 18 have long served in combat roles.

Mattis launched the task force Scales is leading earlier this year as part of a broader push to modernize the military’s ground combat units, Military Times reports .

As part of this effort, Scales — an Army field artillery officer who earned the Silver Star in Vietnam when his base was overrun — has been working to convince the Defense Department that soldiers in their mid to late 20s are more lethal. The retired general told Military Times this is, “the optimal age for a close-combat soldier.”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Lance Cpl. William Pearn, a machine gunner trainer for scout sniper school with 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, camouflages himself during exercise Forest Light 17-1 at Somagahara, Japan, March 10, 2017.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Isaac Ibarra)

But roughly 60 percent of the Marine Corps is under the age of 25, which means if Scales’ idea was implemented then there could be significant manpower issues, or the Corps would need to entice more Marines to stay in. Scales acknowledges this issue and said his recommendation could be “a bridge too far.”

Still, he is certain that troops around their mid- to late-20s are easily the most lethal, pointing to special forces as an example. The average age of an enlisted US special forces soldier is 29, according to CNN .

One potential solution is having the Marine Corps reserve a significant percentage of infantry spots for a second enlistment.

In other words, the Marine Corps could still have a high percentage of people under 25 in traditional rifle squads while also injecting older soldiers with broader skill sets into those roles. This could help the Marine Corps tackle many of the more complex challenges it faces on the modern battlefield, especially from a technical standpoint.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The 8 coolest things ever said in wartime

There’s nothing more satisfying than watching a movie where the good guy says some really dope stuff right before he takes out the bad guy – but that doesn’t happen in real life, does it? It DOES. Throughout the history of warfare, those who have chosen warfighting as their profession have kept cool enough under fire to reply, retort, and rebuff their enemies with a weapon as lethal as firearms and blades – a silver tongue.


The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Daniel K. Inouye

“Nobody called off the war!”

Inouye had just pulled off some epic, Medal of Honor-winning fighting, which included being gutshot, taking a frag grenade blast, and being shot in the leg and arm. He told his men to hold back while he went off and cleared the area. He was successful in breaking the confidence of the enemy. He said this as he was moving to get back to the aid station when reinforcements began to arrive in order to keep the men on target. He would lose that arm.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington,

“I have seen their backs before, Madam.”

This incredibly awesome line wasn’t technically made in wartime. It was made by a wartime Field Marshal, however, by the name of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. While at an event in Vienna, he was asked about how he felt about French Generals turning their backs on him at a conference in Vienna. This was his reply when asked about the event.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

“Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die.”

The founding father of modern-day Turkey was actually a wordsmith of the highest caliber. He rose to power and reformed the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War I, but he rose to prominence defending Turkish lands during the battle for Gallipoli. This was his order to the 57th Infantry Regiment defending Gallipoli.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

“No damn man kills me and lives to tell about it!”

What makes this quote so epically cool is that Forrest was shot and wounded by a fellow officer, a subordinate of his. Even though Forrest would survive the wound, he said this before taking his turn to shoot back. Forrest survived. The officer did not.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Todd Beamer

“Let’s roll.”

United Flight 93 passenger probably never predicted such an offhand remark might one day become synonymous with that day and the American resolve to defeat terrorism. This is what he told his fellow passengers right before they all fought to recapture their airplane and try to avoid crashing into something important. Instead, they opted to down it in a rural field.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

General George S. Patton.

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no one because I am the most evil man in the valley.”

Yeah, Patton had a lot of cool things to say in combat. But nothing tops this one-liner. Patton was a religious man, growing up in California, he was a regular at his local church, which helps the street cred for this sentence. What also helps is that Patton didn’t care if the enemy thought he was evil or not – he was coming, and he knew the enemy was afraid.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Genghis Khan

“If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

The Great Khan was ruthless in his efficiency, brave in his execution, and fearsome until the very end. Khan accumulated an empire that would be the largest on Earth until the British Empire reached its apogee. Until then Khan controlled 17 percent of the Earth surface, killing so many people, it led to global cooling.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Sgt. Maj. Daniel Daly

“Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!”

Of course, leave it to a United States Marine to top this list of dope sh*t said in the face of certain death. There are few Marines as storied as Sgt. Major Daniel Daly one of a very short list of people to earn the Medal of Honor. Twice. Daly said this at the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood, where Marines earned their nickname “Devil Dogs.”

Lists

If a nuclear bomb explodes, the government will probably use these scripts to calm you down

The US government prepares for all sorts of threats, ranging from biowarfare and chemical weapons to volcanoes and wildfires.

But none match the specter of a nuclear explosion.

A small nuclear weapon on the ground can create a stadium-size fireball, unleash a city-crippling blastwave, and sprinkle radioactive fallout hundreds of miles away.


The good news is that the Cold War is over and a limited nuclear strike or a terrorist attack can be survivable (a direct hit notwithstanding). The bad news: A new arms race is likely underway — and one that may add small, portable nuclear weapons to the global stockpile. Lawmakers and experts fear such “tactical” or battlefield-ready devices (and their parts) may be easier for terrorists to obtain via theft or sale.

“Terrorist use of an actual nuclear bomb is a low-probability event — but the immensity of the consequences means that even a small chance is enough to justify an intensive effort to reduce the risk,” the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a September 2017 article, which outlines what might happen after terrorists detonate a crude device that yields a 10-kiloton, near-Hiroshima-size explosion in a city.

A nuclear terrorist attack of this magnitude is one of 15 major disaster scenarios planned for by FEMA and other US agencies. (The same scenario also includes a dirty bomb explosion, though such an event would be dramatically less harmful.)

As part of the planning effort, the Environmental Protection Agency maintains a series of manuals about how state and local governments should respond. A companion document anticipates 99 likely questions during a radiation emergency — and scripted messages that officials can copy or adapt.

“Ideally, these messages never will be needed,” the EPA says in its messaging document. “[N]evertheless, we have a responsibility to be prepared to empower the public by effectively communicating how people can protect themselves and their families in the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency.”

Here are a handful of the questions the EPA anticipates in the event of a nuclear emergency, parts of statements you might hear or see in response, and why officials would say them.

“What will happen to people in the affected neighborhoods?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Alexandr Trubetskoy)

What they’ll say: As appropriate: Lives have been lost, people have been injured, and homes and businesses have been destroyed. All levels of government are coordinating their efforts to do everything possible to help the people affected by this emergency. As lifesaving activities continue, follow the instructions from emergency responders… The instructions are based on the best information we have right now; the instructions will be updated as more information becomes available.”

Why: The worst thing to do in an emergency is panic, make rash decisions, and endanger your life and the lives of others. However, it’s also incumbent on officials to be truthful. The first messages will aim to keep people calm yet informed and as safe as possible.

“What is radioactive material?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

What they’ll say: “Radioactive material is a substance that gives off radiation in the form of energy waves or energized particles.

Why: Nuclear bombs split countless atoms in an instant to unleash a terrifying amount of energy. About 15% of the energy is nuclear radiation, and too much exposure can damage the body’s cells and healing ability, leading to a life-threatening condition called acute radiation sickness.

Without advanced warning, people can do little about the energy waves, also called gamma radiation, which are invisible and travel at light-speed. But the energized particles — including radioactive fission products or fallout — travel more slowly, giving people time to seek shelter. The particles can also be washed off.

“Where is the radioactive material located?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
The dangerous fallout zone (dark purple) shrinks quickly, while the much less dangerous hot zone (faint purple) grows for about 24 hours before shrinking back.
(Brooke Buddemeier / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

What they’ll say: “Radiation and environmental health experts are checking air, water and ground conditions in and around the release site to locate the areas with radioactive contamination. Stay tuned to radio or television, or visit [INSERT AGENCY WEBSITE HERE] for the latest information.”

Why: If a nuclear bomb goes off near the ground (which is likely in a terrorist attack), the explosion will suck up debris, irradiate it, and spread it around as fallout. Some of this material rapidly decays, emitting gamma and other forms of radiation in the process.

Fallout is most concentrated near a blast site. However, hot air from a nuclear fireball pushes finer-grade material high into the atmosphere, where strong winds can blow it more than 100 miles away. It may take days for radiation workers to track where all of it went, to what extent, and which food and water supplies it possibly contaminated.

“If I am in a car or truck, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Flickr photo by joiseyshowaa)

What they’ll say: “Cars and trucks provide little protection from radiation… Shut the windows and vents… Cover your nose and mouth… Go inside and stay inside… Tune in.”

Why: Movies portray cars as protective cocoons and rapid escape vessels in emergencies. But after a nuclear blast they’ll likely become death traps.

Vehicles don’t have nearly enough metal to meaningfully absorb radiation. You also won’t be able to outrun the danger, as fallout can travel at speeds of 100 mph in the upper atmosphere. Roads will also be choked with panicked drivers, accidents, blocked streets, and debris.

If you’re already in a car, find a safe place to pull it off the road, get out, and make a dash for the nearest building. Tuning in with a radio will help you listen for instructions on how, when, and where to evacuate a dangerous area to a shelter.

“If I am outside, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection.
(Brooke Buddemeier / Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

What they’ll say: “Cover your nose and mouth… Don’t touch objects or debris related to the release… Go inside and stay inside.”

Why: Being outside is a bad place to be, since fallout sprinkles everywhere and can stick to your skin and clothes. Less fallout gets indoors, and materials like concrete, metal, and soil (e.g. in a basement) can block a lot of radiation from the stuff that sprinkles outside.

“If I am inside a building, what steps should I take to protect myself and my loved ones?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Brad Greenlee)

What they’ll say: “Stay inside. If the walls and windows of the building are not broken, stay in the building and don’t leave… If the walls and windows of the building are broken, go to an inside room and don’t leave. If the building has been heavily damaged, quickly go into another building… Close doors and windows.”

Why: The blastwave from a nuclear explosion can shatter windows for miles — and fallout can blow around, hence the need to contain yourself away from exposed areas. Be prepared to hunker down for up to 48 hours, as that’s roughly how long it takes the most dangerous fallout radiation to dissipate.

“Is the air safe to breathe?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by CLAUDIA DEA)

What they’ll say: “Federal, state and local partners are monitoring [AREA] to determine the location and levels of radioactive material on the ground and in the air.”

Why: There could be radioactive smoke and fallout in the air, but not breathing isn’t really an option. To reduce your exposure risk, stay inside, shut the doors, and close the windows. Turn off fans and air conditioners, or set them on recirculate. If you’re outdoors, cover your nose and mouth and get inside a building as soon as possible.

“If people are told by health and emergency management officials to self-decontaminate, what does this mean?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Silke Remmery)

What they’ll say: “[T]ake several easy steps to remove any radioactive material that might have fallen onto clothes, skin or hair…. Remove your outer clothes… Wash off… If you cannot shower, use a wet wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe any skin that was not covered by clothing… Gently blow your nose and gently wipe your eyelids, eyelashes and ears with a clean wet cloth… Put on clean clothes… Tune in.”

Why: Fallout continues to expose you to harmful radiation if it’s stuck to you or inside your body. Anything that might be contaminated should be slipped into plastic bags, sealed off, and chucked outside (or as far away as possible from people). Showering with a lot of soap can remove most fallout, but avoid conditioner — it can cause fallout to stick to your hair.

“What should I do about my children and family? Should I leave to find my children?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Ann Wuyts)

What they’ll say: “If your children or family are with you, stay together. If your children or family are in another home or building, they should stay there until you are told it is safe to travel. You also should stay where you are… Schools have emergency plans and shelters.”

Why: Every parent’s instinct will scream to reconnect with his or her family, but patience is the best move. If you go outside, you’ll risk exposure to radioactive fallout and other dangers, as the route may be perilous or even impassable. Most importantly, it’s hard to help your family after the dust settles if you are injured — or worse.

“Is it safe for me to let someone who might have been affected by the radiological incident into my home?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Matteo Catanese)

What they’ll say: “If someone has radioactive dust on their clothes or body, a few simple steps can clean up or decontaminate the person.”

Why: You can offer safe shelter to people caught outside — just have them decontaminate themselves as quickly as possible. This will protect everyone by keeping radioactive fallout at bay. Have them remove and bag up their outer clothes, then take a shower with lots of soap and shampoo (or perform a thorough wipe-down).

“How do I decontaminate my pet?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by latteda)

What they’ll say: “If you are instructed to stay inside, your pets should be inside too. If your pet was outside at the time of the incident, the pet can be brought inside and decontaminated.”

Why: Pets, like people, can be contaminated by fallout and bring it indoors. This can endanger them and you. To decontaminate your pet, cover your nose and mouth, put on gloves, and then wash your pet in a shower or bath with a lot of shampoo or soap and water. Rinse your pet thoroughly and take a shower yourself afterward.

“When should I take potassium iodide?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Falk Lademann)

What they’ll say: “Never take potassium iodide (KI) or give it to others unless you have been specifically advised to do so by public health officials, emergency management officials, or your doctor.”

Why: KI pills are among the last things people need immediately after a nuclear blast and aren’t worth a mad dash to a pharmacy during the disaster, according to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Most people seem to think of the potassium iodide, or KI, pills as some type of anti-radiation drug. They are not,” Buddemeier previously told Business Insider. “They are for preventing the uptake of radioiodine, which is one radionuclide out of thousands of radionuclides that are out there.”

Radioiodine makes up about 0.2% of overall exposure. The pills are useful for longer-terms concerns about contaminated water and food supplies, and blocking radioiodinefrom concentrating in people’s metabolism-regulating thyroid glands.

“Is taking large amounts of iodized salt a good substitute for potassium iodide?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov)

What they’ll say: “No. Iodized salt will not protect your thyroid.”

Why: Table salt, or sodium chloride, has some iodine added in to prevent deficiencies that lead to conditions like goiter. But the amount of iodine in table salt is trivial, and eating even a tablespoon or so is a great way to throw up any useful iodine.

“Is the water safe to use?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Daniel Orth)

What they’ll say: “[U]ntil we have drinking water test results, only bottled water is certain to be free of contamination. Tap or well water can be used for cleaning yourself and your food… Boiling tap water does not get rid of radioactive material.”

Why: Radioactive fallout can dissolve into or remain suspended in water, just like salt or dust. That’s not good, since radioactive particles can do more harm inside of your body than outside of it. Bottled water gets around this problem — though you do need to wipe containers down in case they’ve been dusted with fallout.

“Is the food safe to eat?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

What they’ll say: “Food in sealed containers (cans, bottles, boxes, etc.) and any unspoiled food in your refrigerator or freezer is safe to eat… Don’t eat food that was outdoors from [TIME, DATE] in [AREA].”

Why: Food that isn’t contained might have radioactive fallout in it. You’ll need to wipe down cans, cookware, utensils, and anything else that might touch what goes into your mouth.

“Can people eat food from their gardens or locally-caught fish and game?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(photo by Jennifer C.)

What they’ll say: People in [AREA] are instructed not to eat [FOOD FROM THEIR GARDENS, LOCAL FISH, LOCAL WILDLIFE].”

Why: Anything that’s outside — fruit, vegetables, and animals included — may have radioactive fallout particles on or in them after a nearby nuclear blast. Until the scope of contamination is known, food from outdoor sources should be considered potentially hazardous. Avoid food that could be been exposed to fallout. If that’s not possible, wash it to try to rinse off as much contamination as possible.

“I am pregnant. Is my baby in danger?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Anna Maria Liljestrand)

What they’ll say: “[M]ost radiation releases will not expose the fetus to levels high enough to cause harmful health effects or birth defects… Once dose levels to the expectant mother and fetus have been determined, your physician can consult with other medical and radiation professionals to identify potential risks (if any) and provide appropriate counseling.”

Why: There are few things more terrifying for an expectant parent than thinking something could be wrong with the baby, but a fetus is somewhat protected from radiation by the uterus and placenta, according to the CDC.

A mother could still inhale or ingest radioactive fallout, though, so doctors will need to check the mother’s abdomen to figure out a fetus’s exposure. Once a dose is determined, it’s possible to see if it’s enough to cause any health effects, including birth defects.

“Is it safe to breastfeed?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s
(Photo by Maessive)

What they’ll say: “The nutritional and hydration benefits from breastfeeding far outweigh any risk from radiation.”

Why: Fallout is again the main concern here: What goes into a mother can end up in her breast milk. Officials may encourage families to temporarily switch to formula and pump-and-dump milk (to keep production going during the emergency). It’s also a good idea to wipe down formula bottles and pumping equipment to minimize fallout contamination. But if no formula is available, depriving a baby of sustenance is the worst option.

“I am seeing a lot of information and instructions on Internet blogs about what to do. Should I follow that advice?”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

What they’ll say: Check official sources first. You can find the latest information at [INSERT WEBSITE HERE].Blogs, social media and the Internet in general can provide useful information, but only if the source is known and trustworthy.”

Why: Misinformation spreads rapidly in the aftermath of disasters, and some people may intentionally distribute rumors or false information. It’s best to stick to official websites, hotlines, TV, and radio broadcasts, and use multiple sources to verify information you’re unsure about.

“How can the public help?’

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

What they’ll say: “Don’t abandon your car… Don’t go near the release site… Use text messaging… Don’t go to the hospital, police stations or fire stations unless you have a medical emergency… Stay tuned…”

Why: In the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, the most helpful thing most people can do is to stay out of the way. This helps first responders get to people that need help.

Cars in the middle of the road slow down emergency vehicles, and going to the release or blast site is extremely perilous, at best. Relying on text messages helps keep phone lines from overloading (and open to 911 calls), and limiting hospital visits to serious injuries or medical conditions helps free up resources for those who need the most aid.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

General says cooperation is key to hurricane response

The National Response Framework is operating as designed as the Carolinas face the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the commander of U.S. Northern Command said in Raleigh, North Carolina, Sept. 18, 2018.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters via video link, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessey said local, state, and federal cooperation has been outstanding.

The general spoke from outside North Carolina’s operations center and said the effort allowed state and local officials to identify the capabilities needed as the storm approached, which allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Northcom to integrate them into the broader federal response.


“Our Department of Defense anticipated that we would need things like search and rescue, we would need … the high-water vehicles, [and] helicopters and vertical lift to transport things back and forth,” he said. “That was exactly what we needed to have, and we had them pre-positioned and pre-postured, and the plan is now actively part of the response.”

Strong cooperation

He said the cooperation and communication on the federal side has been incredibly strong, “as has the coordination and collaboration from the state ops centers and FEMA and us.”

About 13,000 service members are participating in the effort, with 8,000 being National Guardsmen. With Florence’s dissipation, the concern goes from the storm itself to the flooding. Streams and rivers throughout the region have broken their banks and flooded vast swaths of land. A drone video released early today shows what looks like a river, but actually is Interstate 40 – a major east-west highway.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Michael Ziolkowski, a field operations supervisor for the National Disaster Response K-9 Unit, and a woman rescued by local emergency personnel and U.S. soldiers assigned to the 127th Quartermaster Company, check the well-being of a rescued kitten in Spring Lake, N.C., Sept 18, 2018.

(Army photo by Spc. Austin T. Boucher)

“We are still concerned over the next 48 hours about the rising flood waters and how that can have a separate, but nonetheless equally important, impact to the local area,” O’Shaughnessey said.

Officials are watching flood gauges and assessing what will be needed if communities are isolated or people need to be rescued. “We are well-postured to augment the state force that has been actively engaged,” the general said. “I would say my overall assessment of the DoD response has been outstanding, and the key to that has been the coordination with the state – from the first responders to the state National Guard, and tying directly in with them.”

Both states activated their dual-status commanders, giving officials one point of contact for military help. “They both have forces under their command that allows them to synchronize their governors’ efforts with FEMA’s efforts and the Department of Defense,” he said.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A major ally’s decision to scrap an important military deal with the US raises the stakes in competition with China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent decision to withdraw from the Visiting Forces Agreement comes after repeated threats to pull out, but his decision to ditch the pact now could undermine the ability of the US and its partners to counter China’s ambitions in the region.


The VFA, signed in 1998, gives legal status to US troops in the Philippines. Duterte, a longtime critic of ties to the US, gave formal notice of withdrawal to the US this month, triggering a 180-day period before the exit is finalized.

Duterte believes the Philippines should be more militarily independent, a spokesman said, quoting the president as saying, “It’s about time we rely on ourselves.”

The decision is “chiefly the product of Duterte’s deep, decades-long anti-US sentiment,” Prashanth Parameswaran, a senior editor at The Diplomat and a Southeast Asian security analyst, said in an email to Business Insider.

Since taking office in 2016, Duterte has “found just about any excuse he can to make threats against the alliance, be it canceling exercises or separating from the United States,” Parameswaran added.

Duterte has spurned the US since he took office and bristled at US criticism of his human-rights record. Both the US and Duterte have high approval ratings among the Philippine public, however, while a large majority there have little or no confidence in China.

Duterte has expressed affinity for President Donald Trump, but he still seeks closer relations with Beijing. Duterte has also been criticized at home as Chinese investments have been slow to arrive and as China acts assertively in the region, pursuing its claims in the South China Sea and drawing allies away from Taiwan.

“It’s a competition. China’s competing,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, said Thursday at a US-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on Capitol Hill.

“There’s very clear recognition that China is putting pressure and using every tool within its disposal to try to draw those countries” away from cooperation with the US, Sbragia said. “That’s a condition we’re taking head on. That’s very serious for us.”

“I don’t doubt China will relish the deterioration in the US-Philippine alliance,” Parameswaran said. “Beijing has long considered US alliances a relic of the Cold War and a manifestation of US efforts to contain its regional ambitions.”

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A US Marine guides a Philippine marine in a combat life-saver drill in the Philippines, October 2, 2018.

US Marine Corps/Pfc. Christian Ayers

‘A US loss is China’s gain’

The US and the Philippines, which the US ruled as a colony during the first half of the 20th century, have a decades-long diplomatic and military relationship.

That relationship and the benefit it offers the Philippine security establishment, as well as US popularity in the Philippines, are among the reasons why Manila may not follow through on withdrawal.

Philippine officials have also hinted that the notice of withdrawal is a starting point for negotiations over the VFA, which some have said are needed “to address matters of sovereignty.” Philippine politicians have also questioned Duterte’s authority to exit the agreement.

But the US shouldn’t assume that Duterte is bluffing or looking for leverage, said Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“He has been anti-American his entire adult life and has been consistently saying he wants to sever the alliance and bring the Philippines into a strategic alignment with China,” Poling said in an email.

“That said, six months is a long time in politics. If Duterte walks this back, it won’t be because a plan to renegotiate with Washington plays out,” Poling added, “it’ll be because of internal pressure, possibly in response to whatever natural disaster, Chinese act of aggression, or terrorist act in Mindanao happens between now and then.”

The VFA allows US troops to operate on Philippine territory, including US Navy crews and Marine Corps units.

Ending the agreement would jeopardize the roughly 300 joint exercises the two countries conduct every year, complicating everything from port calls to the Mutual Defense Treaty, which commits the US to the Philippines’ defense in case of an attack. It would also be harder for the US to provide aid in response to natural disasters.

“It’s basically [changing] the protocols of how you would work together if it actually goes through,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said this month.

Many naval activities will be unaffected because they can be carried out without entering Philippine territory, Poling said.

“But large-scale land and air exercises will be impossible, as they were from 1990-1999,” Poling added, referring to a period when Manila’s failure to renew a mutual basing agreement led to the withdrawal of US forces — including the closure of Naval Base Subic Bay, the largest US base in the Pacific.

Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., Philippine armed forces chief of staff, has said about half of all joint military engagements would be affected by the end the VFA, Poling noted.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said joint exercises with the US would continue during the 180-day period, including the multinational Balikatan exercise that has taken place in the Philippines every spring for 35 years.

Once termination is final, however, the Philippines would “cease to have exercises” with the US, Lorenzana said.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5da72ccacc4a0a4b624047e5%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=578&h=578b179bebd99473bb6d4272b437c25bd70eb5df4cd00791160a83b5c703edc8&size=980x&c=3144695644 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5da72ccacc4a0a4b624047e5%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D578%26h%3D578b179bebd99473bb6d4272b437c25bd70eb5df4cd00791160a83b5c703edc8%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3144695644%22%7D” expand=1]

US Marines, Philippine marines, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members after an amphibious exercise in the Philippines, October 12, 2019.

US Marine Corps/Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani

Santos Jr. has downplayed the effects of withdrawal, saying it will make the Philippines “self-reliant” and that Manila would expand bilateral exercises it has with other in the region, including Australia and Japan.

But there are legal and logistical limits on the military activities those countries can undertake with the Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the Asia-Pacific.

The erosion of the US-Philippine military relationship raises the prospect of Beijing making moves like those it made in the South China Sea in the 1990s, when it occupied Mischief Reef — first with small wooden structures and then, a few months before the VFA went into force in 1999, with fort-like structures made of concrete.

In the years since, China has expanded and reinforced its presence in the South China Sea, building military structures on man-made islands there. Mischief Reef is now Beijing’s biggest outpost in the disputed waters.

“Beijing will work to make sure that a US loss is China’s gain” and build on inroads made with Duterte, Parameswaran said.

“These gains may include those that are not in the security realm, such as tightening economic ties or helping Duterte deliver on some of his domestic political goals,” Parameswaran added. “But they will nonetheless be consequential, because the broader objective is to move Duterte’s Philippines closer to China and away from the United States.”

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

MIGHTY GAMING

A soldier is up on real-life charges for killing comrades in a video game

For the first time, a soldier is being brought up on real-world charges for battlefield offenses committed during a video game. A UK troop stationed in Edinburgh, frustrated at the lack of real training took that frustration out in the combat simulator in which he and his squad were training.


He wasn’t charged with murder, according to the Telegraph, he was charged with disobeying a direct order and reprimanded. The infantry rifleman told members of his unit he just wanted to be training outside and was fed up with being on a laptop. He will spend the coming weekend on guard duty as part of his punishment.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

“Guys, take this seriously, okay??”

Members of his unit told the Telegraph they had been training on the laptop computers for at least three weeks and were anxious to go outside and do real-world training. They also challenged anyone else to do the same thing for that long without needing to vent some kind of frustration.

“All this was taking place in an office at our headquarters, when we’d rather be doing real-life soldiering outside in the fresh air. But there’s less of that sort of exercise these days because the Army has committed to Unit-based Virtual Training.”
The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Like training for, say, World War III.

The unit was training on what to do in an armored convoy in a hostile environment, filled with enemy forces. That’s when the soldier in question “lost his rag” and went on a Grand Theft Auto-level virtual spree, which started with killing the soldier next to him. He then stole one of the armored vehicles and drove it down the street to deliberately smash into local nationals’ cars.

His comrades thought the behavior was extremely funny, his superior officers did not.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Pictured: British Army convoy training.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence defended the reprimand, saying “We take the training of our service personnel very seriously and anyone who is disruptive to this training will receive disciplinary action..

MIGHTY HISTORY

An airman and his dog flew 30 combat missions in World War II

Czech Foreign Legionnaire and airman Vachlav Bozdech and his French wingman, Pierre Duval, were shot down over no man’s land between France and the invading German Army in 1940. After the crash, Bozdech dragged the wounded Duval into a nearby house. Its tenants were nowhere to be found, having evacuated the house of all they could carry — which did not include their German Shepherd puppy.


Despite having just walked away from a plane crash and running from oncoming enemy troops, the Czech and French airmen stopped to feed the puppy a bit of candy from their coats and melt some snow to give it a drink. As the night wore on, the two men decided they would make a break for the French lines, but without the dog.

Almost as soon as they left, the puppy began to howl. Duval and Bozdech decided they would have to kill the dog before he gave away their positions to the Nazis. Cue Sarah McLachlan.

No, Bozdech did not kill the pup. The other method of getting the dog to be quiet was as simple as the Czech putting the puppy in his coat and bringing him along — which he did.

As the downed airmen made their way to the French lines, German flares lit up the night sky, turning their darkness cover into the light of day. The three booked it to the nearest tree line, running into some fresh troops. Luckily they were French, a search party sent to look for the downed airmen. When they all arrived back at their home airbase, Duval went to the infirmary while Bozdech took the dog back to the barracks of the exiled Czech airmen. The Czech named him Antis after their favorite Czech aircraft.

Or just “Ant” for short.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Stiff upper lip, pup.

(Damian Lewis)

Antis slept in the barracks with Bozdech and the Czechs as World War II got into full swing. The Nazis rolled on France at max blitzkrieg, destroying most of the planes at Saint-Dizier, their home base. But Bozdech still went up to meet the Luftwaffe in air combat, only this time, Ant went with him. He was the perfect back-seater. He didn’t even flinch as the Czech fired dual .50-caliber machine guns at the oncoming Me-100.

Eventually, the airmen were forced to flee from France and make their way through neutral Spain to Gibraltar, where they could fight the Nazis from Britain. But their evacuation ship wouldn’t allow dogs. No problem – Ant remained on shore as the Czech boarded the ship. After it departed, the dog swam 100 yards or more to the ship. The Czechs hoisted him up and made a space for him to sleep below decks.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Antis’ Dickin Medal.

(Damian Lewis)

The pair made it to the UK after a few close calls. Bozdech flew with the RAF’s Czech Squadron near Liverpool for much of the war – with Antis flying some 30 missions with his best friend. The loyal pup even helped look for survivors of an air raid, despite his own injuries. After the war, Vachlav Bozdech returned to his home country, but he didn’t get to stay long. In 1948, the Czech government began cracking down on anyone who fought with the Western Allies during the war. Bozdech found himself escaping across another border with Ant, this time into West Germany.

Antis was later awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest award for gallantry bestowed upon an animal in service. Vaclav and Antis eventually became British subjects and Ant lived to the ripe old age of 14.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The best Cyber Monday discounts every veteran needs

Cyber Monday might not be as fun this year, since we’ve all been shopping online all year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some seriously steep discounts available on everything from new gear to new tech. Tackle your holiday shopping list or just treat yourself to something new with this list of discounts every veteran needs. 

Clothing and Apparel

Cozy up with new jeans, sweaters or socks to keep you warm through the long winter. Or, treat yourself to a new gym outfit so you don’t feel too guilty about that second slice of pie. Round out your shopping spree with a new pair of sneakers or dream big and buy a pair of heels for when the world reopens. 

7 for All Mankind: up to 40% off sitewide 

Amazon: Up to 30% off women’s seasonal trends, sunglasses and Sperry boots 

Gymshark: Take up to 50% off select collections

Happy Socks: 60% off select styles 

Zappos: up to 50% off sneakers, backpacks, and winter apparel

Fitness and Wellness

New Year, New You deserves new gear! Grab a subscription to Audible and get the latest books delivered right to your device. Crush your at home workout goals with a set of weighted bangles. Step up your steps with a new Fitbit. Then, when you’re ready to relax, snuggle in with a weighted blanket while your new air purifier makes the air crisp and clean. 

Audible Plus: 38% off first 6 months

Bala Weighted Bangle Set, $8 off

Fitbit sale: up to $50 off 

Dyson Pure Hot + Cold Air Purifier, up to 30% off at Bed Bath and Beyond 

Gravity Weighted Blanket, $30 off select styles 

Theragun Mini Therapy Massager, 10% off 

Tech 

Cyber Monday is all about the tech deals, and with good reason. This year, retailers are offering everything from steep discounts on gaming consoles to laptops. Work from Home just got a whole lot better with a brand new device. Speaking of devices, Verizon is offering crazy good deals on Monday on all of their phones and tables. Check out their website for full details. 

Alexa devices: all Alexa devices now from $9 at Amazon

Chromebooks: deals from $129

Dell: laptop deals from $349

Galaxy S20/Note 20 sale: up to $250 off 

HP sale: up to 65% off all laptops 

Lenovo: ThinkPad sale from $799

Microsoft: up to $900 off Surface, Xbox, more

Mixbook: 50% off all photo books via “REVHLDY20”

Newegg: up to 50% off gaming, mobos, storage, more

Samsung QLED TVs: up to $3,000 off all models

Walmart: big-screen TVs, laptops, more from $278

Just because you’ve been shopping from your couch since March doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Cyber Monday in style.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why the battle buddy system was secretly brilliant

Soldiers of the post-9/11 generation have been part of a social experiment aimed at preventing them from doing dumb things. The idea was to pair each troop with an assigned “best friend” — a battle buddy — and that each pair would keep an eye on one another. Troops have to make sure their comrade is doing the right thing and, if they aren’t, say something before both of them make the blotter- aka, the buddy system.

At its worst, soldiers end up in trouble because their Blue Falcon of a squadmate decides to throw caution to the wind and do whatever’s on their mind. But, as much as soldiers bemoan always having someone by their side — and the system’s goofy name — it’s actually brought about plenty more benefits than downsides.


The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Even if that means you’re now forced to take that guy into less-than-pleasant situations.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Robert Taylor)

It makes sure no one is left out

Let’s call the “battle buddy system” what it truly is — a forced-best-friend system. Everyone from the social butterfly specialist to the dorky private is forced to at least talk to each other after they join the unit.

Granted, you’ll eventually either become actual friends through the process — or you’ll swap to someone you’re cooler with — but it opens the social gates for some of the shier soldiers in the barracks.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

If your squad leader is happy, everyone’s happy — or you should be terrified. Depends on the squad leader…

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Keeler)

It eliminates much of the stress of being an NCO

Specialists and below often miss the bigger picture when they’re at the lowest rungs of the totem pole, but taking any kind of weight off their shoulders is a blessing. When you’ve got to watch over six soldiers, things get missed and mistakes happen.

When those six soldiers are keeping to themselves and keeping each other in check, there’s a better chance that they’re doing the right thing.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Worst case scenario: You’ve got another person to help you win a fist fight against some overzealous douchebag.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland)

It ensures someone will always watch your back

Soldiers stationed overseas in Korea or Germany know this all too well: You can’t even leave post without a battle buddy by your side. Drunk, American GIs being tossed into a foreign city without any means of figuring out how to get back in time for formation is actually pretty common.

Sure, now you run the risk of leaving two soldiers more lost than a butterbar on the BOLC land nav course, but the odds are better that they’ll at least be safe while they’re trying to find their way back.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Hopefully, at least one of you listened to the safety brief.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Johnston)

With the buddy system, it’s been proven that dumb stuff happens less frequently

As with everything in the Army, there have been studies upon studies that have analyzed the efficacy versus the cost of telling your squad to be friends with one another. Because, you know, even the Army can make something as simple as drinking a beer with your friend into a PowerPoint slideshow.

It’s simple, really. Soldiers who have a person that’ll say, “what are you doing, you friggin’ idiot?!” are less likely to end up in the commander’s office.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Everyone needs a good, steady shoulder every now and again. It’s the least you can do for someone who’ll do the same for you.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tyler Kingsbury)

The buddy system gives soldiers at least one person to talk to when it gets rough

Those studies also point to why the battle buddy system was implemented to begin with — to help decrease the alarming number of self-inflicted deaths and injuries within the ranks.

Everything else on this list is all fine and dandy, but if just a single soldier is saved because they had just one person to talk to, the program is a success. If hundreds of soldiers were talked out of that darkness because their squadmate became their best friend, I’ll forever argue its merit, no matter how goofy it sounds calling another grown-ass warfighter my “battle buddy.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

SEAL boss to depart after 2 years; officials say there’s no indication he was forced out

The Navy admiral who has led the service’s most elite special operators during a string of high-profile scandals will leave his post in September, Military.com has confirmed.


Rear Adm. Collin Green will wrap up his term as head of Naval Special Warfare Command after two years in the position. The move, first reported by The Intercept last weekend, follows several high-profile controversies involving the command that, in part, prompted a full review of U.S. Special Operations Command’s ethics and culture.

A Navy official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the flag officer’s move, said “there is no indication he has been asked to leave early.”

“He’s leaving at the two-year point, which is a normal command tour,” the official said. “It’s premature to say he’s retiring.”

It’s not immediately clear in what position Green would serve next or who would replace him. The Intercept reported that Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III, a Naval Academy grad serving as head of Special Operations Command Central, will be nominated to replace Green.

Howard previously served as a commander with SEAL Team 6, which carries out some of the military’s most covert missions. The Intercept reported in 2017 that Howard gave his operators hand-made hatchets and told them ahead of missions and deployments to “bloody the hatchet.”

Green has led the Navy SEALs since September 2017 after assuming command from Rear Adm. Tim Szymanski, who spent two years in the position. Of the last four flag officers who led the command, three left after two years.

Szymanski’s predecessor, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, led the command for more than three years.

The Intercept reported that Green’s tour had been set to last three years, but “the stress from his reform efforts, as well as personal issues, have taken a toll.”

Green sent a letter to his commanders in July telling them “we have a problem,” and ordering leaders to help restore discipline in the ranks. The two-star followed it up the next month with a memo to the force announcing a return to routine inspections, discipline trackers, and strict enforcement of all Navy grooming and uniform standards.

The four-page memo said the problems in the command would be met with “urgent, effective and active leadership.”

“This drift ends now,” Green wrote.

The Navy SEALs have made headlines over murder charges, allegations of rape and drinking in the war zone, and lengthy legal battles.

Some of those incidents caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who at one point ordered Green’s command to “Get back to business!” after the admiral considered stripping a former SEAL of his coveted trident pin.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 little reasons why being in the Space Force would suck

The announcement of the Space Force has plenty of us waiting for the day that the first recruitment office opens up. After all, who wouldn’t want to go into space?

Sure, the Space Force isn’t going to be doing a bunch of sci-fi bad*ssery for a long while yet. In fact, the Space Force is likely going to spend more time monitoring satellites than training space shuttle door gunners, but let’s pretend that the day will eventually come where we need to send grunts into the great, dark beyond…

I hate to say it, but it’s still going to suck — and for some unexpected reasons, most of which stem from being outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.


The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

I’m highly confident that it’d be a terrible idea.

(20th Century Fox)

5. You’re going to have to ration everything

When it comes to the essentials, resupplies are going to be limited. When it comes to the extras, you know, the little things that make life comfortable? Ha! Good luck getting mom to ship those out to you. If you want something, you’re going to have to bring it yourself and make it last.

Right off the bat, you’re going to have to go without most of the junk that everyone takes for granted. Chances are extremely slim that you’ll be able to convince the next wave of spacemen (in lieu of an official demonym, let’s assume they’ll be called ‘spacemen,’ like ‘airmen’) to take up valuable cargo space just to bring you a bag of chips.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

The Earth is pretty and all, but you can only stare down at the Big Blue Marble so many times…

(NASA)

4. You won’t have many pastime options

Astronauts have a very strict schedule they need to follow or else they’ll be too weak to survive their eventual return. The average astronaut needs to exercise at least two hours a day to just to prevent bone and muscle loss. Since most troops tend to need more exercise to stay at peak performance, this figure will more than likely double.

Combine all that self-maintenance with an actual mission and troops are going to find themselves with barely any time to take a break.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Just imagine, you could pay off your Ford Mustang by the time you get out of atmosphere.

(NASA)

3. You probably won’t get any extra incentives for being in space

Colonel Buzz Aldrin was one of the finest airmen to ever grace the Air Force. He made history alongside Neil Armstrong by being the first men to ever step foot on the moon. Since he was on active duty, he submitted a travel voucher. For his 483,636-mile journey, he got a whole .31.

Once upon a time, you’d get a load of cash at the end of a TDY trip, but that per-mile rate is probably going to be non-existent when you’re travelling 4.76 miles per second.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

It’s like being in a slightly less comfortable Humvee for weeks. Only slightly, though.

(NASA photo by Bill Bowers)

2. You shouldn’t expect any kind of personal space in space

Once you’re on a space ship, that’s it. You obviously can’t leave the ship, so get comfortable, because you’re going to be packed in with your unit. If you’re claustrophobic, you’re probably going to go nuts.

This isn’t unlike what some submariners deal with, but subs surface every once in a while — and there’s a difference of magnitude here. The Apollo 11 capsule was roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Granted, the crew was in there for only eleven days and modern astronauts have a bit more leg room, but if you’re up there for months at a time…

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

“Well, guys. I’m out. Have fun in space!”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Volkmar Wentzel)

1. After a while, your body won’t function like you’re used to

There’s no real order to the fairly terrible things listed here, but this one definitely takes the top spot. To put this in the most delicate way possible to stay in line with the family-friendly vibe we strive for here at We Are The Mighty, it has to be noted that astronauts run into health concerns after spending extended periods of space time. First, you’ll find your red blood cell count has dipped. Zero-gravity also makes the circulation of blood more evenly spread throughout the body, as opposed to it being able to concentrate in the lower extremities, like it does in regular gravity.

There are countless health concerns that come with spending extended time in space, but all of the above is to say that it’s actually extremely difficult for male astronauts to get an erection in space.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Washington DC VA hospital is in a disgusting critical situation

The persistence of serious problems endangering America’s veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC has employees begging Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie for assistance.

“We ask you, our respected leaders, to stop this coverup and incompetence, to really care and live up to America’s promise to its Heroes,” the employees wrote to Wilkie and other senior Department of Veterans Affairs officials in correspondence obtained by USA Today.


“Enough is enough,” they added in the letter, which called attention to soaring infection rates and plummeting patient and employee satisfaction.

The response from the employees comes after reports of horrific conditions at the facility, which serves tens of thousands of veterans in Washington. Deemed high risk in January 2018 and designated “critical” in a leaked memo written in July 2018 and obtained by Stars and Stripes on Aug. 1, 2018, the hospital is presently under investigation. VA staffers, however, are not optimistic, even with the prospect of leadership changes following administrative review.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Robert Wilkie, acting United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

A scathing report from April 2017 revealed that not only did the hospital lack essential equipment and fail to meet necessary cleanliness standards, but senior leaders were aware of the problems and had not properly addressed them. The VA removed the hospital director, and sent teams of experts to the medical facility to improve the situation. It didn’t help.

Internal reports in November 2017 highlighted the findings of VA sterilization specialists, who discovered rusty medical instruments and bacteria in the water intended to sterilize the equipment. With limited sterilization supplies on hand, the hospital was reportedly borrowing them from a neighboring private hospital. The facility in DC is one of 15 VA hospitals with a one-star rating, despite it being a flagship medical care center for the VA.

Other alarming reports noted consistent cleanliness failings and incidents in which the hospital was forced to borrow bone marrow for surgeries.

In March 2018, a report from the VA Office of Inspector General revealed that a “culture of complacency” had allowed problems to persist for years, putting the lives of US veterans in danger and wasting taxpayer dollars. The report concluded that officials at every level of the Department of Veterans Affairs — local, regional, and national — were aware of the serious shortfalls at the hospital in DC, but those officials were either unwilling or incapable of fixing the problems.

President Donald Trump previously described the VA, which has an annual budget of 0 billion and runs the nation’s largest integrated health care system, as “probably the most incompetently run agency in the United States government.” The department, as well as a number of medical care facilities, have repeatedly been plagued by problems and scandal.

The DC hospital has made headlines numerous times, and after multiple inspections and leadership changes, the situation continues to deteriorate, which is why employees are now begging the new VA secretary for help. Wilkie was sworn in as the VA secretary just two days ago.

“VA appreciates the employees’ concerns and will look into them right away,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour reportedly said in response to the pleas of the DC hospital’s employees. “Veterans deserve only the best when it comes to their health care, and that’s why VA is focusing on improving its facilities in Washington and nationwide.”

He told the media that the VA is “taking additional measures to support the facility.”

The VA hospital in Washington was not available for comment at the time of publication.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

Fitness test is only one part of Army’s new health push

While the Army Combat Fitness Test will be the largest overhaul in assessing a soldier’s physical fitness in nearly 40 years, it is just one part of the Army’s new health push, says the service’s top holistic health officer.

This month, the entire Army will begin taking the diagnostic ACFT — with all active-duty soldiers taking two tests, six months apart, and Reserve and National Guard soldiers taking it once. Then, a year later, the six-event, gender- and age-neutral test is slated to become the Army’s official physical fitness test of record.

To best prepare for the test, Army leaders encourage soldiers to take an integrated health approach to their training regimen.


The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Sgt. Steven J. Clough, battalion medical liaison with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, performs a deadlift during an Army Combat Fitness Test in San Francisco, Calif., July 21, 2019. Clough, who serves as a master fitness trainer for the battalion and is a level three certified grader for the ACFT, has been helping prepare the battalion for the new test.

(Photo by Spc. Amy Carle)

Holistic health and fitness

The integrated approach, Holistic Health and Fitness — known as H2F — is a multifaceted strategy to not only ace the ACFT, but improve soldier individual wellness, said Col. Kevin Bigelman, director of Holistic Health and Fitness at the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training.

The well-rounded components of H2F include: physical training, proper sleep and nutrition, and mental and spiritual readiness.

These pillars are “similar to a house,” Bigelman said. Meaning that, each element of a house — the roof, walls, floor, etc. — are equally essential for its prosperity, like how each aspect of H2F is critical to combat readiness, and having success on the ACFT.

However, the gravity of H2F transcends the ACFT, which falls into the physical aspect, and has become “a culture change within the Army,” Bigelman said.

“H2F is changing the way soldiers view themselves,” he added. “It is made up of both physical and nonphysical domains, wrapping them into a single governance structure.”

The initiative, originally announced in 2017, was designed to enhance soldier lethality by rolling up various domains of health to complement each other and prepare soldiers for future warfare, he said.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle)

Properly trained

The Army’s most important weapon system is its soldiers, he said. So, to overmatch the enemy in multi-domain operations, Soldiers must demonstrate the superior physical fitness required for combat by training properly in all aspects of holistic fitness, including the ACFT.

The ACFT will provide “a snapshot of the strength, power, agility, coordination, balance, anaerobic capacity, and aerobic capacity of a soldier,” Bigelman said. Limited in scope, “the current APFT doesn’t fully measure the total lethality of a soldier how the ACFT does.”

Due to this, soldiers should train the way they’ll be tested, Bigelman said.

“The ACFT measures all the domains of physical fitness,” said Dr. Whitfield East, a research physiologist at CIMT. “Soldiers should train based on those standards.”

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

California National Guard Soldiers with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion complete the Sprint Drag Carry event during an Army Combat Physical Fitness test

Be well rested

The best training plan is ineffective without adequate sleep, Bigelman said, adding, “You’re not going to perform as best you can, physically, on the ACFT if your sleep is incorrect.”

Neglecting sleep can take a negative toll on the body. Sleeplessness can affect performance during high-intensity workouts, like the ACFT, he said. In addition, it can affect a soldier’s mood, their hormone and stress levels, and it doesn’t let the body fully recover or repair its muscles.

Adequate sleep can improve productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, the immune system, and vitality, according to the National Institutes of Health.

For maximum optimization, officials encourage soldiers to get at least eight hours of sleep.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Spc. Melisa G. Flores, a paralegal specialist with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, performs a leg-tuck during an Army Combat Physical Fitness test hosted at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California, July 21, 2019. Flores, who has competed in the Best Warrior competition and won recognition for fitness, said the ACFT has challenged her in new ways.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle)

Eat right

Nutrition is a vital component of training, said Maj. Brenda Bustillos, a dietician at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “How we get up and feel in the morning, how we recover from exercise, how we utilize energy throughout the day” is all optimized through understanding, and implementing, proper nutrition.

Proper nutritional habits will “enhance a soldier’s ability to perform at their fullest potential,” she added.

Regarding the ACFT, soldiers “should always train to fight,” Bustillos said, and they should do more than “Eat properly the night before an ACFT.” Proper nutrition should not be viewed as a diet, but as a lifestyle choice.

That said, nourishment immediately before an ACFT is also important. “Soldiers should never start the day on an empty tank,” she said.

The Corps finds its most lethal Marines are in their 20s

Spc. Melisa G. Flores, a paralegal specialist with the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, receives coaching from a grader about the proper form for hand-release push-ups during an Army Combat Physical Fitness test hosted at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California, July 21, 2019.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Amy Carle)

Clear your mind

When you toe the line on test day, it’s natural to feel anxiety, East said. Before the stopwatch starts, soldiers should clear their minds, take a deep breath, and try thinking positively.

As common as anxiety is, he said, confidence is built by properly preparing for the ACFT. For example, soldiers should not start training a week before their test or else their mental fitness can be as affected as any other component of holistic health.

In addition, during the months leading up to a test date, soldiers should do mock tests to know where they stand. These small steps can be giant leaps for an individual’s mental fitness, he said.

Soldiers cannot perform “as best as they can physically” on the ACFT without implementing a holistic approach, Bigelman said.

With soldiers expected to train harder to meet readiness goals, experts are available to them, he said, noting that physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other professionals can now be found at most brigade and battalion levels to take their training to the next level.

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

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