Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer? - We Are The Mighty
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Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

I know a lot of veterans who based their military careers on whichever recruiting office they walked into first. That’s one way to go about signing your life away to Uncle Sam, but it’s not what I would recommend. The military is a major commitment and will probably affect the rest of your life, whether you serve for four years or forty.

The biggest factors that go into your military experience are which branch you join and whether you enlist or commission as an officer. In this article, we’ll be going over some of the differences between officers and enlisted personnel across the five branches of the military.

We’ll cover everything from pay and benefits, mission execution to culture.


Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

How to Join

Qualifications for enlisting in the military:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Meet the age and fitness requirements
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test

For each branch, enlisted personnel begin their military experience with a form of boot camp. It is a strenuous introduction to military life, from the medical in-processing to the physical training to the hazing discipline. After about eight weeks of boot camp, enlisted personnel will receive their first duty assignments (probably at a job-specific training location) and they’ll be ready to actively serve in the military.

Qualifications for commissioning in the military:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Meet the age and fitness requirements
  • Have an undergraduate degree
  • Complete an officer training program

In order to earn a commission into the United States military, officer candidates must complete an officer training program. Two options for cadets without college degrees are to attend a military academy, such as West Point or the Air Force Academy, or to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps while attending the qualified college of their choice.

Academy cadets and ROTC cadets will learn about the military while completing their undergraduate or graduate degrees. Half-way through their studies, they will attend a summer boot camp, much like the enlisted boot camps except that cadets will already be expected to meet physical fitness and academic requirements. For officer candidates, boot camp is the rite of passage that will elevate cadets to the leadership fundamentals portion of their training.

Once academy or ROTC cadets graduate and receive their degrees, they commission into active duty and receive orders for their first assignment, which, like enlisted personnel, will probably include a job-specific training.

A third route to becoming an officer is to complete an Officer Candidate School (or Officer Training School, depending on the branch). Cadets who already have college degrees will undergo a three-month training program that includes military academics and leadership training as well as boot camp. Once complete, OCS/OTS cadets will commission just like academy and ROTC cadets.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Missions

Enlisted personnel make up 82% of the military. They are primarily responsible for carrying out military operations. The remaining 18% are officers, who are responsible for overseeing operations and enlisted personnel.

Officers will have a head-start on managerial experience, commanding personnel at the mid- to senior-level corporate executive level. They hold a commission from the President of the United States, a position that comes with more authority and responsibility.

Enlisted personnel, however, are the subject matter experts. They will have the hands-on application of the mission and as they rise in rank they will also rise in leadership authority and experience. Enlisted personnel are also expected to continue their education while on active duty and many earn degrees and vocational training that can translate to a civilian career after their service.

Mission requirements and experience will vary depending on your military career and assignment location. A career in cyber operations might mean the mission is conducted over the internet, where the officer’s role is to aggregate information collected by enlisted personnel. A career in the infantry might mean that an officer is coordinating weapons and targets as enlisted personnel fight in combat.

That being said, there are certain career fields only available to officers or enlisted. A prime example: Air Force pilots are officers.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Pay Tables

Officers will start out at a higher pay grade than enlisted personnel, though enlisted service members are eligible for a variety of bonuses that can be quite substantial. Officers will also receive higher benefits such as monthly Basic Allowance for Housing. You can see from these charts, however, that year-for-year and promotion-to-promotion, officers tend to make about twice as much money as enlisted personnel from monthly basic pay alone.

Education

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

 

Let’s say you want to serve in the military to help pay for college.

Veterans (enlisted and officer) who meet qualifications are eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, a program that will help pay for college classes or an on-the-job training program after military service. The Post-9/11 GI Bill includes tuition and BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) assistance so it’s a major benefit when veterans transition back to civilian life.

But it’s not precisely equal for everyone.

According to the VA, “If you have at least 90 days of aggregate active duty service after Sept. 10, 2001, and are still on active duty, or if you are an honorably discharged Veteran or were discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days, you may be eligible for this VA-administered program.”

In other words, after a typical four-year service commitment, the average enlisted veteran will qualify for a paid college degree (and the Yellow Ribbon Program can supplement tuition that the GI Bill might not cover, at a private school for example).

The average officer, however, will not qualify for the GI Bill after a four-year service commitment. Here’s why:

Tuition and fees for the military academies is free for officer candidates. ROTC cadets also compete for varying degrees of scholarships to cover their college expenses in addition to receiving stipends during training.

In other words, most officers receive a college degree and then they serve in the military. If they want to earn Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, they will have to serve additional time beyond their initial service commitment. Over time, officers accrue a percentage of the GI Bill.

So, if you’re still in high school and you’re trying to decide what you want to do in the military and what career you might want after the military, it could make sense to enlist first and gain professional experience then go to college courtesy of the GI Bill in the field you want to pursue.

As an alternative, you can complete your officer training and earn your first degree, serve in the military and gain professional experience similar to that of mid-level professionals, then either separate after your service commitment and pursue a civilian career or continue to serve longer and accrue GI Bill benefits for your next degree.

There are no wrong options here – it all depends on whether you know what career you want, whether it aligns with your potential military career and what kind of degree or vocational training would support you.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Culture

Officers tend to be older when they join the military, having already obtained their undergraduate degree. They are also trained with an emphasis on leadership and responsibility. Furthermore, active duty officers generally have the option of living off-base as opposed to barracks. For many of these reasons, officers get into less trouble than enlisted personnel while on active duty. As for women in the force: 

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

According to the DoD’s 2018 Statistical Data on Sexual Assault, 88 percent of sexual assault reports were made by enlisted personnel.

Both officers and enlisted make critical contributions to the United States military. Their experiences will vary from location to location and job to job. They will also vary based on their branch. Be sure to read about the differences between each branch of the military to decide which one is best suited for you.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A single map shows how crazy successful the OSS was in France

The Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era agency that preceded the CIA and many special operations units, deployed teams into France for months starting just before D-Day. A map slide produced after the war showed just how insanely successful the 423 men assigned to the mission in France were.


Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

(National Archives and Record Administration)

We’ve previously written about the “Jedburgh” teams, commandos from the U.S., Britain, France, and other countries who deployed into France to counter the Nazis. This mission officially kicked off June 5 as the teams jumped in just hours before the larger D-Day invasion.

These teams contained only two to four personnel each, but they partnered with local resistance forces and protected key infrastructure needed by the invading forces while also harassing or destroying German forces attempting to reinforce the defenses.

But the Jedburghs weren’t the only Allied commandos on the ground. The OSS deployed 21 Operational Groups into France as well as two into Norway. These teams were supposed to contain four officers and 30 enlisted troops, though shortages of trained personnel led to many teams deploying at about half strength.

These original OGs operated as guerrilla bands, destroying German infrastructure and conducting ambushes and hit and run against Nazi formations. They deployed with their own medical support and were well trained in infantry tactics, guerrilla operations, demolition, airborne operations, and more.

These two forces, the OGs and the Jedburgh Teams, were the primary OSS muscle, providing 355 of the OSS’s 423 men in France. As the map above shows, they deployed across France and inflicted almost 1,000 casualties against German forces and destroyed dozens of vehicles and bridges.

And the OGs were tightly partnered with the French Maquis, a partisan group that resisted the Nazis. The Maquis and OGs captured over 10,000 prisoners.

Not bad for a force with less than 500 members.

It’s easy to see why the post-war government re-built the OSS capabilities. Even though the OSS was broken up, the modern military’s special operations units, the CIA, and other teams now carry on the missions and legacy of the OSS, including the OGs and Jedburgh teams.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy SEAL may have been outed in video of Nairobi attack

Video of a suspected terror attack at an office building complex in Nairobi, Kenya, may have captured a US Navy SEAL on a secretive mission to combat Islamic militants in Africa.

The attack, which left 14 dead, has been claimed by the al-Shabab terror group and may have come as retaliation for Kenyan troops, who along with other forces brought together by the African Union, have been fighting the terrorist insurgency in Somalia.


Meanwhile, the US has kept secretive forces strewn across Africa. In 2017, a US Navy SEAL was killed in a battle fighting alongside Somali forces against al-Shabab in Mogadishu.

In 2018, an ambush by militants in Niger claimed the lives of four service members.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

From left, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Wash.; Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; Sgt. La David Johnson of Miami Gardens, Fla.; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Ga. All four were killed in the Niger ambush in 2018.

(US Army)

The Pentagon has been reluctant to provide details on how exactly it supports different African nations in combating terrorist insurgencies, usually saying it’s “advising and assisting” unnamed countries.

But even in Kenya, one of Africa’s more stable countries, the US has a small presence at Camp Simba, where they reportedly train naval special forces. Kenya, like its neighbor, Somalia, has trouble with pirates and has seen some US Navy SEAL presence over the years.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Look for this patch, used by Navy SEAL Team 3, on the unidentified man’s pack.

(Amazon)

In the video of the Nairobi terror attack, a white man wearing a US military-style backpack with a patch that’s used by US Navy SEAL Team 3 can be seen at the 30-second mark rescuing civilians and then returning to the scene of the fighting in a state of alertness.

Gun attack underway after explosion at upscale hotel in Nairobi

www.youtube.com

Gun attack underway after explosion at upscale hotel in Nairobi

The attack sent hotel workers fleeing for their lives.… READ MORE : http://www.euronews.com/2019/01/15/gun-attack-underway-after-explosion-at-upscale-hotel-i…

UK special forces responded to the attack which left one British national dead, the BBC reported.

The man in question wears civilian clothes and covers his face, a style seen worn by US and UK special forces elsewhere.

Business Insider contacted three spokespeople for US Africa Command, and none of them denied the possibility that the man in question was a US Navy SEAL.

The attack is considered over, Kenyan authorities told Reuters.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US admits to killing hundreds of Russian mercs in Syria

Mike Pompeo, the head of President Donald Trump’s CIA, and his nominee for secretary of state, just confirmed that the US killed hundreds of Russians in an intense battle in Syria in February 2018.

Asked about what steps Pompeo would take as secretary of state to hold Russia accountable for its interference in the 2016 US election, he said that more work was to be done on sanctions to send Russian President Vladimir Putin a message. But, he said, Putin may have gotten another, clearer message already.


“In Syria now, a handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match,” said Pompeo. “A couple hundred Russians were killed.”

The US had previously only confirmed killing 100 or so pro-Syrian regime forces, but multiple outlets reported the number was as high as 300 and that the soldiers were Russian military contractors.

Russia has used military contractors, or unofficial forces, in military operations before as a possible means of concealing the true cost of fighting abroad in places like Ukraine and Syria.

The February 2018 battle was reportedly incredibly one-sided, as a massive column of mostly-Russian pro-Syrian regime forces approached an established US position in Syria and fired on the location.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?
A U.S. Army AH 64E Apache helicopter.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Craig Jensen)

The US responded with a massive wave of airstrikes that crippled the force before it could retreat, and then cleaned up the remaining combatants with strafing runs from Apache helicopters.

Phone calls intercepted by a US-funded news organization allegedly captured Russian military contractors detailing the humiliating defeat. “We got our f— asses beat rough, my men called me … They’re there drinking now … many have gone missing … it’s a total f— up,” one Russian paramilitary chief said, according to Polygraph.info, the US-funded fact-checking website.

France 24 published an interview in February 2018, with a man it described as a Russian paramilitary chief who said more Russians were volunteering to fight in Syria for revenge after the embarrassing loss.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The DoD has its own brownie recipe and it’s 26 pages long

Looking for a dessert that won’t just impress your houseguests but could impress them years from now? Look no further than the first name in cakes, pies, and other fine desserts: The Pentagon. The Department of Defense has a brownie recipe that is sure to end the clear and present danger to your sweet tooth.


Just imagine being able to whip up some sweet treats for your unborn children, whether you’re currently pregnant or not.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Kinda like this but without all that green sh*t.

The Pentagon’s brownie recipe is (perhaps unsurprisingly) the only recipe that tells you exactly how things are gonna be and does it in the vaguely threatening manner that only the United States military is capable of. The consequences of diverging from the recipe aren’t listed, but you definitely get the feeling there might be consequences:

Shortening shall be a refined, hydrogenated vegetable oil or combination of refined vegetable oils which are in common use by the baking industry. Coconut and palm kernel oils may be used only in the coating. The shortening shall have a stability of not less than 100 hours as determined by the Active Oxygen Method (AOM) in Method Cd 12-57 of the Commercial Fats and Oils chapter in the Official and Tentative Methods of the American Oil Chemists Society. The shortening may contain alpha monoglycerides and an antioxidant or combination of antioxidants, as permitted by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and regulations promulgated thereunder.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

“And parties found to have added walnuts to said brownies shall pay a 00 fine and serve no less than three years in a federal correctional facility because that sh*t is gross.” That’s not in the recipe, but it should be in every brownie recipe.

But the brownie regulations don’t stop at shortening. Each ingredient has more specific sourcing instructions than a vegan hipster with Celiac Disease. Even adding the eggs is enough to make any baker wonder what a legal chicken is.

“Whole eggs may be liquid or frozen and shall have been processed and labeled in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59).”

The strict regs came about in part because the military needs their baked goods to be edible for much longer than the average baker needs them. The U.S. military’s brownies are said to last up to three years, just in time to bake brownies for the kids currently in high school that will be deploying to Afghanistan by then.

Make the brownies yourself with this recipe.

MIGHTY CULTURE

If war messed you up, this Navy SEAL has the answer to healing

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Combat, violence and death cause pain and suffering in the human spirit. Many veterans struggle when they come home — they carry the burdens of war, they endure injuries seen and unseen, they are haunted by the fallen and feelings of guilt, they struggle to find community and purpose. The list of symptoms goes on. 

“People think that SEALs are automatons, impervious to the stressors of combat. Unfortunately, no human is impervious to the physiological effects of war.”

Mikal A. Vega on Combat Related Stress

The good news is that there is healing to be found.

More and more, veterans like Navy SEAL Mikal Vega are sharing their stories and showing a way forward for their brothers and sisters in arms. Most recently, Vega created a short film called Message in a Bottle “in an effort to encapsulate the ‘why’ we serve, the ‘what’ is possible and the ‘how’ to get there.”

WATCH THE FILM:

Written and directed by Vega, a 22-year Navy SEAL veteran who can be seen in TV/Film projects such as can be seen in Transformers 3, S.W.A.T., Mayans M.C., and much more, the film was inspired by his own life story. That story may seem familiar to many veterans and it was depicted in this film in order to help others dealing with PTSD find non-pharmaceutical modalities for long-term healing. 

In conjunction with Vital Warrior, Vega’s conscious action program designed to serve veterans and empower them with the ability to apply their military training to a healing lifestyle, Message in a Bottle shares Vega’s powerful message. Vital Warrior provides veterans with mental disciplines within the warrior ethos, teaching abilities specifically designed to tap into dormant creative aspects of self to offset and subsequently balance the cumulative destructive physiological effects culminated during a lifetime of service and/or war.

“We made this film with no budget other than what was absolutely required to bring this story to light. My story,” shared Vega on Instagram

His goal in making the film is to not only help veterans and active duty service members, but anyone dealing with any significant trauma or stress to find inspiration through this film. 

Vega teaches donation based Kundalini Yoga classes to the veteran community at the RA MA Yogic Institute of Applied Science in Venice California.

“Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan has been, and continues to be, the most difficult and rewarding thing I have done in my life. Naturally, it is the core of Vital Warrior and allows our clients to develop the awareness to learn the subconscious landscape, remove obstacles and choose a positive projection in their day to day thought patterns.”

Mikal Vega

I’ve taken Vega’s classes before and they were harder than anything I’ve done in a Crossfit or body-building program. The man’s mental discipline and fortitude are impressive and inspiring. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a mental and physical shift. 

Watch his film in the link above and pass it along. The message may reach someone who needs it most and by streaming it, you help support Vital Warrior and The CAMEO Theatre.

You can also donate to https://www.vitalwarrior.org/ to help provide much-needed services to military veterans tackling debilitating stress.

Finally, if you are a veteran and you are experiencing a crisis, you can call this hotline 24/7 and receive help and support: 1-800-273-8255

MIGHTY HISTORY

Lord Minimus: the knight who was two feet tall

The 17th century wasn’t exactly the most progressive time in history, as evidenced by the fact people with dwarfism were literally traded about by the upper echelons of society like Pokemon cards. Amongst the pantheon of known “court dwarfs” as they were called, one stood above them all thanks to the frankly astonishing life he led in his rise from the son of a commoner to ultimately seeing himself not just a Captain of the Horse, but a knight as well.


Jeffrey Hudson, or “Lord Minimus”, Sir Jeffrey, or Captain Hudson to give him his proper titles, was reportedly born sometime in June of 1619 in the town of Oakham located right in the heart of the quaint English county of Rutland. The son of a stout and broad shouldered man, called John Hudson, Jeffrey’s dwarfism was not initially apparent. This is largely because Jeffrey had what is known as “proportionate dwarfism” which, as the name suggests, is characterised by the individual having limbs of proportionate size to their body. As a result, Jeffrey’s family didn’t actually notice that anything was amiss until he just stayed abnormally small.

There were many hypotheses bandied about during Jeffrey’s lifetime about how exactly he came to be so small, with our personal favourite being a contemporary one espousing that the cause was his mother choking on a pickle while giving birth… However, experts have since concluded that he, like many proportionate dwarfs, most likely just had hypopituitarism, much to the chagrin of those of us who like the pickle story.

In any event, Jeffrey was born into, while not a well to do family, at least a well connected one. Jeffrey’s father, John, was described as a man of “lusty stature”, which was a bit of a requirement of his job- breeding and managing bulls meant for fighting with other animals for the Duke of Buckingham, George Villers.

Little is known of Jeffrey’s childhood, that is, until his dear old dad decided to present him to the Duches Katherine Villers at the age of 7. You see by the time Jeffrey was around 7 years old, he reportedly stood “scarce more than a foot and half in height”, while still being near perfectly proportioned.

Jeffrey’s father knew how uncommon this was as well as how prized dwarfs were at court. It turns out many royals kept at least one dwarf, among other such “pets”, around for their own and their guests’ amusement. His hope seemingly was that Jefferey would be made a member of the Duchess’ court as such an object of entertainment.

While this might seem somewhat cruel, it should be noted here that Jeffrey’s future prospects were not exactly good in this era. By seeing if the Duchess would take little Jeff as part of her court, John potentially was ensuring his son a life of luxury, if, of course, also one that would be extremely demeaning. But he would be demeaned by people either way. Thus, might as well choose the life that would see him have his own servants, plenty of food in his belly, and anything he could wish, rather than scraping a living as a commoner.

Whatever his father was thinking, the young Jeffrey was indeed accepted and quickly became a beloved plaything of the Duchess, who spent her time dressing him in miniature outfits and taking delight in the reaction he garnered from friends when she presented him at parties.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

Mere months later, Jeffrey’s life was once again upended when the Duke’s household was expecting a visit from King Charles I and his wife, Queen Henrietta.

As we’ve talked about before, a common practice of the day was to impress guests via having obscenely large food items made and have random things burst out like living birds, frogs, and even in one case an an entire 28 member orchestra. In this particular case, the Duchess decided to surprise the King and Queen with a rather small pie that Jeffery was scrunched up in.

At the appropriate moment, Jeffrey burst out of the pie wearing a small suit of armor and brandishing a little sword that he swung about wildly to the amusement of all.

The Queen is said to have immediately become enamored with Jeffrey’s “remarkable smallness”, and asked the Duchess if she could take him home to add to her own little collection, which comprised of a couple other dwarfs, a giant called William Evans who was reportedly over 7 feet tall, and a little monkey named Pug. Happy to oblige, the Duchess handed Jeffrey over to the Queen in 1626.

After this, Jeffrey went to live with the Queen in London and became known as “Lord Minimus”, with his remarkably near perfect proportions and extremely small stature, even for a dwarf, being particularly valued. As noted by Sir Walter Scott when Jeffrey had reached adulthood and still not added much in height from his 7 year old self,

He although a dwarf of the least possible size, had nothing positively ugly in his countenance, or actually distorted in his limbs….His countenance in particular, had he been a little taller, would have been accounted, in youth, handsome, and now in age, striking an expressive; it was but the uncommon disproportion betwixt the head and the trunk which made the features seem whimsical and bizarre- and effect which was considerably increased by the dwarf’s moustaches, which it was his pleasure to wear so large that they almost twisted back amongst and mingled with his grizzled hair.

Going back to his childhood, due to the massive difference in height between Evans and Jeffrey (over 7 feet vs about 1.5 ft), apparently one of many popular party tricks Evans and Jeffrey used to perform was to have Evans presented to guests, at which point he’d pull a large loaf of bread out of one pocket, then pull Jeffrey out of another. The two would then proceed to prepare some food for the guests using the bread.

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It wasn’t all about entertaining guests, however. While Jeffery initially was treated as little more than a pet, for whatever reason the Queen, who was about a decade older than Jeff, and he hit it off, quickly becoming extremely close.

It’s speculated by some that their shared sense of being outsiders to the society in which they lived may have played a part- the Queen being a French Catholic living in England at a time when both were somewhat taboo. Things got even worse for her when she was further isolated by her husband, King Charles, when he had almost her entire retinue, including her close friend Madame St. George, forcibly removed by guards and kicked out of the country in June of 1626, around the same time Jeffery came into the Queen’s life.

With Jeffrey her trusted confidant, the Queen saw to it that he became educated, taught how to be a gentlemen, and even began giving him courtly tasks, rather than having him working solely as entertainment for guests and herself. For example, in 1630 the Queen sent a then 10 year old Jeffrey to France as part of a delegation to retrieve her midwife, Madam Peronne, ten Catholic friars, and various valuables from her mother Queen Marie de Medicis.

While there, along with famed court dance master and hunchback Jacques Cordier dit Bocan who was also part of this delegation, Jeffrey reportedly wowed the court in France with his dancing abilities, in the process collecting quite a lot of rather expensive gifts from impressed members the court.

Unfortunately for Jeff, this journey ended in disaster when the ship he was on while headed back home was captured by pirates. The midwife and Jeff, his own newfound valuables, along with those sent as gifts to the Queen, were taken, though the others aboard, like the friars and the dance master, were allowed to go free.

When the Queen found out what had happened, she reportedly was extremely concerned for Jeffery’s safety. As to how she got him back, this isn’t clear, but it can be presumed she paid some sort of ransom for his return. Whatever the case, return he did shortly thereafter and continued his life at court.

Unfortunately for the Queen, her baby died not long after being born, though reportedly Jeffrey was a great comfort to her during this period, staying by her side throughout her long recovery from what was described as an extremely difficult labor. From here, Jeffery was her constant companion and when he got older one of her most trusted advisors.

On that note, a curious and academically inclined child, Jeffrey was known to be a voracious reader. He also soon was known in the Queen’s court for his rapier wit and penchant for devilishly cutting put downs to any who would insult him- something that only served to make him even more popular with the Queen and later the King who are both said to have been endlessly amused by Jeffrey’s growing confidence and ability to reduce anyone insulting him to a sputtering idiot with a marvelously well-crafted insult of his own.

Beyond book learning and his weaponpized wit, Jeffery was also taught to use actual weapons and to ride horses, with a special saddle and custom-made pistols more suited for his stature made for him.

By all accounts, as with so many other areas of learning, Jeffrey excelled at horsemanship and became an exceptional marksman- two skills that would ironically result in the latter half of his life go horribly wrong.

Nevertheless, at the age of 23, Jeffery was keen to do his bit for his King and Queen when the English Civil war began in 1642. Though still only around 20-23 inches tall, he didn’t hesitate to lend his newfound talents to the war effort. Impressed by the dwarf’s candor, the King and Queen granted him the title of “Captain of the Horse”, although it’s not clear if Jeffery actually was allowed to lead troops in battle or if it was just a ceremonial position. It was also around this time the the King knighted Jeffrey, though that one was reportedly a joke during a party. Nevertheless, it was an official knighting from the King.

As for Jeffrey, he took his new positions incredibly serious, insisting upon being addressed as Captain Jeffrey Hudson after being given that rank.

When the Queen fled England at the height of the war, Jeffrey dutifully accompanied her to France. Upon arriving in the country, emboldened by his recent successes in life, he made it known to the Queen’s entourage that he would no longer accept jibes about his height and that he’d defend his honor with his life, if necessary. After all, whether originally as a joke or not, he was now a knight of the English court, a Captain of the guard, an excellent marksmen, and one of the most trusted confidants of the Queen.

This brings us to an event that would change his life forever, occurring in 1644 when he was about 25 years old.

A gentlemen of the court evidently decided to ignore Jeffrey’s insistence that he was no longer some court pet to be teased, and instead apparently insulted Jeffrey in some way, though what exactly was said has been lost to history. Enraged, Jeffrey challenged the man to a duel- a challenge that was accepted, with pistols on horseback being chosen for the fight.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

c1.peakpx.com

Showing how much he thought the whole thing was a joke, Jeffrey’s opponent chose to face him not wielding a pistol of his own, but rather a squirt-gun like device, as noted in a letter from Queen Henrietta of the event,

The giving cavalier took no firearms, but merely a huge squirt, with which he meant at once to extinguish his small adversary and the power of his weapon. The vengeful dwarf, however, managed his good steed with sufficient address to avoid the shower aimed at himself and his loaded pistols, and, withal, to shoot his laughing adversary dead.

Not just shooting him dead, from horseback, Jeffery demonstrated his prodigious skill as a marksmen, by putting a rather sizable hole in his opponents forehead, almost hitting him right between the eyes.

This all might have amused the royals, except that the man Jeffrey had just killed happened to be the brother of the Queen’s Master of the Horse, Baron William Croft.

This still might have been OK, except on top of having a well connected brother, it turned out that dueling was illegal in France at the time. Meaning that Jeffrey had just committed murder in the eyes of the court.

Sir Jeffrey was promptly arrested, with calls to have him executed, but the Queen was having none of it. Although apparently extremely displeased at Jeffrey for embarrassing her in this way among the aristocracy and while a guest in the country, she nevertheless wrote to Cardinal Mazarin pleading that Jeffery’s life be spared. Her request was granted, and instead of being executed, Jeffrey was exiled from France.

Exactly what happened to Jeffrey after this isn’t clear, other than apparently shortly thereafter he found himself on a ship that was captured by Ottoman pirates. Being something of a novelty, he was sold into slavery and spent around two and a half decades in this state.

Ultimately freed sometime in the late 1660s as a part of efforts by England to get its captured citizens released from slavery, the first mention of him back in England after this period occurred in 1669.

As to what he got up to as a slave, little is known of this, other than an account gleaned from interview he gave to author James Wright who was writing a history of Rutland book. From this, we know only a couple things. First, Jeffrey somehow grew 22 inches, approximately doubling his height from age of around 25 to 50 when he returned.

This is where we have some small reference of what his life was like as a slave when he credited his growth to the stresses of hard labor as well as “buggery”. For those not familiar, this is another word for sodomy, seemingly implying at least part of Jeffrey’s role as a slave for someone was as a sex toy, or perhaps other slaves used him for such.

Whatever the case, now free, the much taller Jeffrey now was simply a short man, instead of a miniature one, meaning he wasn’t able to resume his former post at court. Compounding the issue was that Queen Henriette had died in 1669, the year he appears to have returned to England, so benefiting from her patronage also was not an option.

Ultimately he was given money by the Duke of Buckingham George Villiers II, who was the son of Jeffery’s first patron, as well as from Charles II, son of Queen Henriette, to help set himself up on his new life.

Unfortunately for him, when he traveled to London in 1676 to request a pension from the court, this was a peak time of anti-Catholic sentiment in the country. This saw Jefferey promptly arrested upon arriving in London for the sole crime of daring to be a Catholic- a faith he’d taken up as a youth because the Queen.

Jeffrey subsequently spent the next four years or so in prison, being released in 1680. As to what he got up to after, this isn’t known, other than he died 2 years later at the age of 63 in 1682, buried in a pauper’s grave without so much as a headstone, despite officially being a knight and a Captain of the Horse.

While it isn’t known where he was buried, a marker was created at some point near his place of birth which states simply, “Sir Jeffery Hudson-1619-1682- A dwarf presented in a pie to King Charles 1st.”

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Don’t miss the Geminids meteor shower this weekend

The Geminids meteor shower peaks on Friday night, and for the first time ever, a spacecraft has spotted the asteroid dust that makes those shooting stars.

Since NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched in August 2018, it has rocketed around the sun three times, getting closer than any spacecraft before it and traveling faster than any other human-made object in history. Scientists released findings from the probe’s first batch of data this month, which revealed never-before-seen activity in the plasma and energy at the edges of the sun’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft also stumbled upon the never-before-seen trail of asteroid dust that we know as the Geminids.


“The truly remarkable thing about the Parker Solar Probe mission is that it’s also giving us answers to questions that we weren’t even asking,” Karl Battams, an astrophysicist working with the spacecraft’s imaging tools, said in a press conference on Wednesday. “We’ve seen something in the data that we have never seen before with any of our instruments, and in fact no one has ever seen before.”

In the image below, the probe captured a portion of the mysterious Geminids dust.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

The Parker Solar Probe captured the first-ever view of this dust trail, pictured between the red arrows, that creates the Geminids meteor shower.

(Brendan Gallagher/Karl Battams/NRL)

The dust trail is about 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) wide. The portion in the photo is about 20 million kilometers (12 million miles) long.

“We’re very confident that we are, indeed, seeing the Geminids meteor shower,” Battams said.

The mysterious dust trail came from an asteroid rocketing around the sun 

The asteroid Phaethon left behind this enormous trail of dust long ago.

“A couple of thousand years ago, it went by the sun and something happened to it,” Battams said. “We don’t know what, but something happened to it, and it released a huge debris trail that we now call the Geminid meteor shower.”

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Radar images of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, taken as it came within 6.4 million miles of Earth by astronomers at the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory, December 17, 2017.

(Arecibo Observatory/NASA/NSF)

Phaethon’s current orbit around the sun leads the sun’s heat to fracture the asteroid’s surface each time it gets close. That causes it to release more dust. But those regular releases are “nowhere near sufficient” to make the trail that Parker spotted, Battams said.

Battams’s research team found that the trail Parker saw contains about 1 billion kilograms (1 million tons) of material. That sheer amount told scientists that the trail that Parker captured is, indeed, the Geminids.

“People have been looking for this trail for a long time. We know it exists because our planet goes plunging through it every year, but we don’t really know the structure of the trail,” Battams said.

Just a few years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope searched for the Geminids trail and couldn’t find it.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

An illustration of the Parker Solar Probe shows it flying through the sun’s searing-hot corona and withstanding blasts of solar wind.

(NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

Parker will spot the Geminids again as it flies past the sun 21 more times

Over the next six years, Parker is set to approach the sun 21 more times, getting closer and closer. In its final pass, it should fly within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface.

During each flyby, the probe will gather more data on the sun — and the Geminids.

“Every time we go by we’re going to see this same trail. We’re going to get these same observations,” Battams said. “And every time we’re going to learn a little bit more about this trail and really start to address some of the questions that we have about this meteor shower that we pass through every year.”

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

popular

This is what makes a ‘FiSTer’ so deadly

Nestled inside infantry units moving against the enemy is often a single artilleryman who is arguably one of the most lethal fighters on the battlefield — the forward observer.


These soldiers, usually assigned to a Forward Support Team (the FiST), are known as “FiSTers” and are the eyes and ears for naval artillery and artillery gun lines across the world.

The FiSTers carry inside their helmets knowledge of every gun capable of reaching their areas of operation, including how fast the weapon can fire, what kinds of rounds it has at its disposal, and what effects those rounds have on targets.

They use this knowledge to support the infantry and other maneuver units. When the friendly element finds and engages the enemy, the FiSTer gets to work figuring out how to best bring artillery to bear.

 

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?
That’s the smile of an artilleryman about to jump into combat with world-class infantry and then blow up everything stupid enough to get within range. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman Kevin Sommer Giron)

Often, this involves getting the machine gunners and riflemen to corral the enemy into a tight box that can easily be hit with airburst artillery, causing shrapnel to rain down on the enemy dismounts.

If enemy armored vehicles are rolling towards the line, the forward observers can call down specific rounds for penetrating a tank’s top turret armor or for creating a smoke screen to block friendly vehicles from view.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?
This thing shoots what the FiSTers tell it to. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Gregory Gieske)

Many observers go through training to learn how to best use weapons deployed from helicopters, jets, and other aerial platforms. This allows them to start targeting enemies with hellfire missiles and the 30mm cannons of A-10s and AH-64s.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?
The Apache can engage targets on its own, but it listens to calls from FiSTers on the ground, too. (Photo: Ministry of Defence)

 

Marine observers and Army observers trained in joint fires can call for help from naval ships. While the Navy has decommissioned its massive battleships, there are still plenty of cruisers and destroyers packing missiles and 5-inch guns that are pretty useful for troops ashore.

It’s the forward observers that get those missiles and shells on target.

Forward observers direct the fires of all the big guns that can’t see their targets. And that’s what makes them so lethal.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s why China and the NBA are coming to blows over a tweet

The NBA and China are locked in an escalating feud sparked by a tweet that voiced support for protests in Hong Kong.

For over 18 weeks, millions of people in Hong Kong have taken to the streets for increasingly violent protests. Initially, protests centered around a proposed bill that would have allowed for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China to face trial. Now, demonstrations have ballooned into a fight against police brutality and Chinese encroachment on the semi-autonomous city.

Though the bill has since been withdrawn, protests continue and have recently seen a spike in violent clashes between police and protesters as China marked its 70th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2019. The topic of Hong Kong protests remains a sensitive issue for China, and China has been known to take harsh action against companies that so much as reference its domestic affairs or appear to threaten its authority.


As described by The New York Times, basketball is China’s most popular sport, with a market representing hundreds of millions of fans. According to CNBC, more than 640 million people in China watched the 2017-2018 NBA season.

On Oct. 11, 2019, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted out an image which voiced support for protests in Hong Kong. In the days following, Chinese leagues, streaming services, sponsors, and partners, have cut ties with the Rockets and the NBA.

Here’s everything you need to know about the feud, from the initial tweet to the escalating backlash.

On Oct. 4, 2019, Morey tweeted out an image that voiced support for a protest group in Hong Kong.

In the since-deleted tweet, Morey posted the symbol of Stand With Hong Kong, an activist group that has been behind calls for foreign government intervention in Hong Kong.

The tweet immediately prompted backlash from Chinese social-media users, who targeted his account with angry messages and calls for his firing.

In response to the backlash, Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Rockets, addressed the controversy on Oct. 5, 2019.

Seeking to do damage control, Fertitta distanced the team and its shareholders from Morey’s statement.

“Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets,” he wrote.

He later defended Morey on ESPN, saying that he had “best general manager in the league” but that Rockets had “no political position.”

On Oct. 6, 2019, the Chinese Basketball Association, which represents China in the International Basketball Federation, announced it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet.

The CBA’s president is Yao Ming, the former NBA All-Star who played for the Rockets from 2002 to 2011.

“The Chinese Basketball Association strongly disagrees with the improper remarks by Daryl Morey, and has decided to suspend exchanges and cooperation with the team,” the CBA said in a statement on its official account on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

Several of the Rocket’s sponsors and partners announced that they would no longer broadcast games.

State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports, announced on Sunday that they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.

Tencent Holdings represents the NBA’s largest digital partner outside the US. It struck a deal in July to stream games and other league programming in China reported to be worth id=”listicle-2640934493″.5 billion.

The Chinese consulate in Houston said in a statement that it was “deeply shocked” by what it described as Morey’s “erroneous comments on Hong Kong.”

“We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact,” the statement said.

On Sunday evening, the NBA responded and called the tweet “regrettable.”

Morey on Sunday responded to the firestorm on Twitter, saying his views did not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or the Rockets.

The NBA also issued a statement:

“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league supports individuals educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,” the statement read.

On Oct. 7, 2019, Democrat and Republican lawmakers hit back over the NBA’s ‘shameful’ response to Chinese backlash.

Some lawmakers came out in support of Morey and criticized the NBA for distancing themselves from the league manager.

“As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protesters in Hong Kong,” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said on Twitter on Monday.

“Now, in pursuit of $, the @NBA is shamefully retreating.”

Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey slammed the NBA for “apologizing” to China.

“And the #NBA, which (correctly) has no problem with players/employees criticizing our govt, is now apologizing for criticizing the Chinese gov’t,” Malinowski tweeted. “This is shameful and cannot stand.”

The NBA issued another statement on Oct. 8, 2019. This time, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would not “censor” players or team owners.

“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say,” Silver said in a statement. “We simply could not operate that way.”

“I do know there are consequences from freedom of speech; we will have to live with those consequences,” he added. “For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business.”

Following Morey’s statement, Chinese broadcasters said they would stop broadcasting NBA games.

“Any speech challenging a country’s national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its announcement that it would be halting all broadcasts of NBA preseason games.

Silver responded by calling the move “unfortunate.”

Tencent Sports followed the measure and issued a statement saying that it would temporarily stop showing all NBA preseason games.

Fans have since weighed in on the controversy. On Tuesday, fans began showing up to games with T-shirts and signs voicing support for Hong Kong.

At the Philadelphia 76ers exhibition game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, two fans were escorted out of the arena after holding up signs and cheering in support of the protests.

The 76ers responded in a statement, saying the protesters caused a “disruption” and were at the center of “multiple complaints from guests.” Wells Fargo Center said the two were given “three separate warnings” for “disrupting the live event experience.”

On Wednesday, some NBA fans at the Washington Wizards vs. Guangzhou Loong-Lions game in Washington wore “Free Hong Kong” T-shirts and holding protest signs said their signs were confiscated.

On Oct. 9, 2019, all of the NBA’s official Chinese partners cut ties.

All of the companies on the NBA’s list of wholly-owned Chinese sponsors had suspended ties with the league as of Wednesday, according to CNN Business. Those businesses included CTrip, China’s biggest online travel website, and the Chinese fast-food chain Dicos.

On Wednesday, promotional material for a preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers was removed from buildings across Shanghai.

Meet-and-greets and media events were also postponed, an NBA spokeswoman said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The game went on as scheduled on Thursday.

On Oct. 10, 2019, a reporter for CNN was cut off from asking a question to NBA athletes about the conflict.

Christina Macfarlane, a sports correspondent for CNN, was shut down during a media event with Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

She asked the players if they would “feel differently” about voicing their thoughts on political and social affairs in light of the controversy.

“Excuse me, we’re taking basketball questions only,” a team representative responded.

The NBA later issued an apology, saying that the representative “inappropriately interjected” and that the response was “inconsistent to how the NBA conducts media events.”

And Nike, a major partner of the NBA that provides the league with team apparel, pulled Houston Rockets gear from several stores in China.

Managers at five Nike stores in Shanghai and Beijing told Reuters on Thursday that they had been told in a company memo from management to pull all Rockets merchandise from shelves.

Three stores in Shenzhen, a Chinese city which borders Hong Kong, took down all Rockets merchandise along with NBA merchandise. Three stores in Chengdu, the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, also removed Rockets gear.

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

Articles

Watch the Air Force launch an ICBM in mid-air from the back of a C-5

During the Cold War, the American nuclear deterrent strategy required coming up with ways to guarantee the survival of nuclear weapons if the Soviets managed a surprise first strike. The surviving devices would then be used to destroy Soviet civilization.


Keeping U.S. nukes out of Soviet crosshairs required a lot of imagination. The Americans had to keep the nukes deeply buried or constantly on the move. Then they had to make sure the surviving devices could be used effectively.

One such scheme was outfitting a full-size Minuteman III Inter-continental Ballistic Missile to fit in the back of a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft, dumping the nuke out the back and triggering the ICBM’s full ignition sequence.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?
They’re really serious about nothing stopping the U.S. Air Force.

Minuteman III ICBMs carry multiple warheads bound for separate targets. This makes the Minuteman III the ideal missile for the mobile nuclear weapon strategy. At 60 feet long and 78,000 pounds, the missile is easily carried by the gargantuan aircraft.

The C-5 Galaxy’s maximum payload is an amazing 285,000 pounds and the aircraft itself is just under 248 feet long. With an operational range of 5,250 nautical miles, the C-5 can fly from Dover Air Force Base to the Middle East without having to refuel.

Launching a fully functional ICBM out the back of an aircraft inflight might sound crazy, but the Air Force first tested this concept successfully in 1974.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out video of US camp in Syria taken over by Russian mercenaries

A video shows the inside of a US military camp overtaken by Russian mercenaries working with Syrian forces, shortly after American troops abandoned it.

US forces left the Manbij camp in northern Syria early Oct. 15, 2019, following an Oct. 6, 2019, directive from President Donald Trump to leave a coalition with the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the terrorist group ISIS. A spokesman for the US operation confirmed the departure on Oct. 15, 2019.


The US’s decision to pull out gave Turkish forces the green light to invade Syria on Oct. 9, 2019, and drive out the SDF, which contains Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and has long vowed to destroy them. Over the weekend, the SDF allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to fight the Turkish offensive.

Here’s a video of the abandoned camp:

The man in the video was identified by the Times of London reporter Tom Parfitt as Oleg Blokhin, a Russian war correspondent known to be following the Wagner Group, a Russian private military organization that supports Syrian military operations, in northeastern Syria.

US troops formerly based at the camp willingly left it to Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, an SDF official near Manbij told Business Insider’s Mitch Prothero.

The broader Manbij area is under the control of Assad’s troops, who await an assault from Turkish troops from the north.

The video was first posted on Twitter by a defense blogger known as MrRevinsky. The SDF official confirmed its accuracy to Business Insider.

A second video posted by MrRevinsky appeared to show Blokhin raising and lowering a mechanical checkpoint barrier at the camp.

Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, and Turkey’s subsequent incursion, has unleashed chaos in the region and displaced thousands of Kurds. Dozens of “high value” ISIS prisoners have escaped from detention, something that experts say could help the terrorist organization regroup.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is Iran’s ace-in-the-hole in war with U.S. Navy

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal signed with Iran and five other countries in 2015, Tehran has responded with one of its most frequent threats: closing the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 30% of world’s oil flows.

“If Iran’s oil exports are to be prevented, we will not give permission for oil to be exported to the world through the Strait of Hormuz,” a Revolutionary Guards commander said in July 2018.


Coastal defenses and naval vessels would have a big role in that effort, but it would most likely revolve around one of Iran’s favorite military assets: sea mines, a vicious weapon that presents an acute challenge for a US Navy that is shifting between old and new mine-countermeasure systems.

Iran has laid mines at sea in past conflicts, and even these much less sophisticated weapons have disabled and nearly sunk US Navy warships.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits the Strait of Hormuz in May 2012.

(Photo by Alex R. Forster)

An asymmetric threat

“As far back as the early 1980s, Iran was mining waters in the Gulf to prevent oil tankers from coming in or out of ports in the Arab part of the Gulf — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. — and it has extensive experience in trying to also menace warships,” said Scott Savitz, a senior engineer at the Rand Corporation.

Sea mines remain “a big part of the Iranian approach,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

The sea mines Iran used at that time were relatively unsophisticated — the mine that almost sank the frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts in 1988 was a World War I-era device — but mines it can deploy now are more advanced and more dangerous, with some warheads weighing nearly 2,500 pounds.

As of 2012, Iran was believed to have grown its supply of sea mines from about 1,500 during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s to more than 6,000, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That stockpile is not as vast as those of North Korea, China, or Russia, which also rely on anti-access or area-denial approaches to limit movement in contested areas, but it includes an array of mines, such as cheap, conventional ones and more advanced “smart mines,” which may be able to track multiple targets, discern different types of ships, and avoid detection by lurking on or near the seafloor.

Advanced mines can be triggered by sound, pressure, or magnetic influence. But even conventional ones that require contact to detonate are a threat to US warships and other commercial vessels. Iran also has an array of ships to lay them — some can even be deployed through submarine torpedo tubes.

Iran’s naval forces are no match for the US Navy, but sea mines are asymmetric weapons that a weaker side can use to foil a stronger opponent — even one with the world’s strongest navy. They can be deployed to deny access or freedom of movement and can be used to escalate tensions more incrementally than would a cruise-missile attack on an enemy warship.

“The Iranians see [mines] as a good tool for them to be able to threaten to close the strait and do it in a way that they can threaten it and you don’t know that the mines are really there,” Clark said, “and then if they do have some mines out there, the damage they’re going to inflict is going to be more in terms of preventing people from freely going back and forth rather than having to kill a lot of people to make a point.”

“You can threaten the use of mines and actually not have any out there,” Clark added. “However, a very small number of mines … in a place where someone’s likely to run into one, and then that damages a ship, and then you can say that you’ve got a much larger field, even though you may not.”

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The USS Avenger off the coast of Hawaii during the Rim of the Pacific exercise in 2004.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Speed and scope

The US has previously said attempts to deploy mines would draw a military response, but the Navy also has means to counter mines.

The service keeps several of its 14 Avenger-class ships stationed in Bahrain all year.

The ships are designed for anti-mine warfare, using sonar and video systems, cable cutters, and a mine-detonating device to neutralize mines. Their hulls are made of wood covered with fiberglass for lower magnetic resonance. The engines are also designed to lower the ships’ magnetic and acoustic signatures. This is exceedingly dangerous work for these ships and their explosive ordnance disposal teams, which involves getting close to lurking mines to find and neutralize them.

The Avenger-class ships based in Bahrain are “immensely capable” and have multiple capabilities for and approaches to mine warfare, Rand’s Savitz said. They are lightly armed, however, and would require escorts.

But the Avenger class is aging, and the problem for the US Navy is that the mine threat looms as it struggles to move from those ships and the MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters that often accompany them to a newer platform that uses unmanned systems deployed aboard littoral combat ships.”

The US is in this transition from a more traditional minesweeping approach, where a minesweeper goes out and either drags minesweeping equipment behind it that physically entangles the mines or sets them off by magnetic influence,” Clark said.

“Now they’re transitioning to the use of unmanned vehicles to do a lot of this,” he added. “So they’ll have an unmanned ship drive out … sweep gear behind it to pick up mines, and they’ll have unmanned vehicles go around and hunt for mines that might be on the seafloor” or otherwise submerged.

Littoral combat ships are already in service, and there’s been recent progress with LCS-based mine countermeasures, such as the Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle and the helicopter-mounted Airborne Laser Mine Detection System. That progress, amid struggles with littoral combat ships, may mean these systems end up being deployed aboard other ships, Clark noted.

But other cost overruns, delays, and malfunctions — like the cancellation of the Remote Minehunting System after nearly a billion dollars and almost two decades of work — have hindered the mine-countermeasure program.

Mine-countermeasure systems in general “don’t get as much attention as they need,” Clark said. “It’s not a sexy part of the Navy.” Older systems, he said, “could’ve been replaced a long time ago, or at least improved before this became an issue.”

The shift between older platforms and newer systems with limited capabilities is “a huge liability” for the Navy, Clark said.

“They’re in the middle of this transition, so they don’t have these unmanned systems really completely tested out and fully fielded, and so there’s still a lot of the traditional sweep gear and traditional approaches,” he said.

The Sea Dragon, which is the Navy’s oldest helicopter in service, was supposed to retire in 2005. But the service has yet to find a replacement for the heavy-lift helicopter, which can haul a variety of minesweeping gear and deploy anywhere in the world within 72 hours. The Avengers, introduced in the early 1990s, have also had their service lives extended, requiring upgrades.

Those ships and helicopters remain capable, but they aren’t “scalable,” meaning they “can’t ramp it up when there’s a minefield,” Clark said. Those systems aren’t necessarily a problem because they’re old, he added, they’re “just limited in speed and scope.”

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The Remote Minehunting System and an AN/AQS-20 mine-hunting sonar being brought aboard the littoral combat ship USS Independence during testing of the mine-warfare mission module package in 2012.

Timelines and risks

The issues facing US mine-countermeasure systems do not mean Iran has a clear advantage, however.

“While the Persian Gulf is not wide, it’s big enough that Iran would have to cover a swath in order to prevent ships from going through it without encountering mines,” Savitz said. “So it would be challenging for them.”

Moreover, because it lacks refining capacity, Iran needs to be able to ship oil and refined products in and out.

“It would be cutting its own throat if it tried to shut down all traffic in the Gulf,” Savitz said. “If it leaves open a significant pathway, then others can potentially use it too.”

If Iranian ships start behaving in ways that indicate they’re laying mines, “that can be interdicted,” Savitz added. And the US would watch closely for any effort to reseed minefields that had been cleared.

“That’s the best mine-countermeasure solution of all, is to catch the adversary laying the mines or to detect roughly where the mines are laid,” to focus mine-countermeasure efforts, Savitz said.

Should you enlist in the military or commission as an officer?

A naval aircrewman preparing a Q-24 sonar side-looking vehicle to be lowered into the Persian Gulf from an MH-53E Sea Dragon during mine-countermeasure training on May 18, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bryce Bruns)

But the scalability issue would loom over any effort to track down and clear mines from the area.

“Mine countermeasures is also typically a slow area of warfare that requires intense attention to detail, so it also entails thinking about trade-offs between timelines and risk,” Savitz said. “How quickly a water space can be opened up after … mine countermeasures have begun depends on what level of risk is acceptable.”

Former Adm. James Stavridis, who was the supreme allied commander in Europe before retiring in 2013, told CNBC in July 2018 that, should Iran try to use its military to close the Strait of Hormuz, the US and its partners “would be able to open it in a matter of days.”

That time frame is not so certain. It depends on how large the Navy and its partners believe the affected minefield to be.

“If it’s the whole Strait of Hormuz, the Navy says that could take weeks,” Clark said. While many modern tankers have features like double hulls that could mitigate some mine risks, closing or restricting access to the Gulf would upend the global economy.

Stavridis may have meant the US and its partners could clear a “very narrow channel” through a minefield during that period, Clark added, but that would slow down traffic, and each ship would need an escort. There would be “much less access than was previously available,” he said.

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

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