This is how ants wage war - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how ants wage war

The fog of war and its consumption of life is not unique to the hands of man. Various animal species engage in war or war like hunting patterns; Ants vs termites, bees vs hornets, some prime apes and more. Out of all of Earth’s creatures, no other can compare to humans like the ant. To ensure the continuation of the colony the end justifies the means. Ants stab each other, use chemical weapons, and even enslave other colonies. This is how ants wage war.

Army Ants build borders

The North American Army Ant (Eciton burchellii), will establish an area of operation. The scouts conduct a search, it often leads to colonies discovering each other. As a result, there is a border dispute, and each side will send out a lone ant to stand off in a competition of height that represents the strength of each other’s colonies. The shorter ant will back down and the colony will surrender some of its territory.  If the victorious colony believes it can win all the territory through war, they will launch an all-out invasion. They will use sheer numbers to overwhelm the enemy without the use of scouts. This is total war, no mercy. Men, women, children are all fair game in the name of expansion.

Societies with population explosions, that extend into the millions, are prone to large-scale, intense, tactical warfare. It’s a nature of battle only possible among communities with plenty of excess labor force.

Mark Mofeett, ecologist

Ants are an invasive species by nature. No matter how hard humans try to exterminate them they grown more powerful by the day. Based in every country, every clime and place, like a Marine Corps but with a Napoleonic complex.

Big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) are an invasive species from Southern Africa and they use chemical warfare and deception to destroy their North American counter parts. For instance, Big-headed ants engaged in battle they will spray the enemy with pheromones that overpowers the pheromones of the enemy ants. The survivors of the battle will return to their colony and will be misidentified as foreign troops. All survivors are killed by their own brothers in arms.

If you think about the worst invasive species, ants frequently show up on those lists, and big-headed ants are among the most problematic.

Andrew Suarez, University of Illinois entomology professor and animal biology department head

Andew Saurez discovered that the diet given to Big-Headed ant species during larval development will dictate what job they have in the colony. Different foods will cause the ant’s hormone levels to change and that is what decides if they will be equipped with huge incisors and a big head or become a worker, nurse, etc.

Slave-maker Ants (Chalepoxenus) are another notorious species of ant that infiltrate host colonies disguising itself in pheromones, kill the queen and all the adults, then force the newborn ants to care for and defend the slavers and their young.

Among the approximately 15,000 known ant species, slave-making has been recorded in only 50. – Susanne Foitzik of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Experts Czechowski and Godzinska enslaved ants also participate in rebellions.

  • Firstly, Acts of physical aggression directed by slaves to slave-makers
  • Secondly, Attempts of slaves to reproduce within a slave-maker colony
  • Thirdly, Sabotage activities of slaves leading to weakening of the slave-maker colony and population
  • Finally, Slave emancipation partial or complete self-liberation of slaves from slave-maker colonies

It is eerily similar in the way ants wage war and humans. We humans are an invasive species fighting for resources and the expansion of borders. Using deception and chemical warfare to confuse and kill the enemy and, in a way, create false flag operations that make each other kill their own. This is a testament to how humans do not have a monopoly on war.

It is a common sentiment that animals are innocent and incapable of battle. Yet, new discoveries in the animal kingdom contradict popular opinion with facts that warfare is a natural means to an end.

To revolt, to rebel against oppressors, to live free or die trying – liberty is as important to ants as it is as to humans. A cause worth going to war for.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 reasons why you should never trust the barracks lawyer

So, you messed up. That sucks. It’s time to absorb whatever punishment your command team is about to drop on you like an adult and carry on with your career. “But wait,” you hear from the corner of the smoke pit, “according to the regulations, you can’t get in trouble for that thing you did!”

We’ve all seen this happen. That one troop — the one who thinks they know how to help you — is what we call a “barracks lawyer.” They’re not actual legal representation and they don’t have any formal training. More often than not, this troop catches wind of some “loophole” via the Private News Network or Lance Corporal Underground and they take this newfound fact as gospel.

For whatever reason, people routinely make the mistake of believing these idiots and the nonsense that spews from their mouths. Here’s just a brief look at why you shouldn’t take their advice:


This is how ants wage war

Think about it for more than half a second. If everyone knew all the stupid loopholes, there wouldn’t be a court martial system.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen Polanco)

They think they found a loophole… They didn’t.

The actual rules and regulations have been finely tuned over the course of two hundred years. It’s very unlikely that some random troop just happened to be the only one to figure out some loophole. And, realistically, that’s not how the rules work. There’s a little thing known as “commander’s discretion” that supersedes all.

If the commander says it, it will be so. It doesn’t matter how a given rule is worded.

This is how ants wage war

What they’re suggesting isn’t real. Want to know what is? Troops breaking big rocks into smaller rocks in military prison.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)

What they’re suggesting is often insubordination.

Advice that these pseudo-lawyers offer often involves a line that often starts with, “you don’t have to follow that, because…” Here’s the thing: Unless a superior is asking you to do something that’s profoundly unsafe or illegal, you have to do it. That’s not just your immediate supervisor — that’s all superiors.

The advice that they’re offering is a textbook definition of insubordination. Disregarding an order comes with a whole slew of other legal problems down the time.

This is how ants wage war

If they’re on in the first sergeant’s office after every major three-day weekend, they’re probably full of sh*t.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

They’re usually not the best troops in the formation

If they do know what they’re talking about, it’s for good reason. They probably got in trouble once, talked their way out of that trouble, and got let off the hook because the command stopped caring to argue.

This is how ants wage war

It’s not like there’s an entire MOS field dedicated to solving such issues… oh… wait…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton)

They don’t know what the f*ck they’re talking about

There are 134 articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice out there and countless other rules and regulations that pop up from time to time. There’s no way in Hell that some private in the barracks has spent the time required to study each and every one of them and how they interact with each other.

If they have, by some miracle of time management, spent the effort required to learn all of this, then why the hell have they been squandering their profound talents in your unit rather than going over to JAG? Which leads us perfectly into…

This is how ants wage war

If you live with a lower enlisted troop who’s in JAG, they’re still a barracks lawyer if their head is firmly up their own ass about how they can help you. Catch them on the clock.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner)

There are actual military lawyers who will advocate for you.

They exist and aren’t that uncommon. They’re often found at the brigade-level or installation-level. It’s their job to take on your case and see how the military judicial system could work for you. Unlike your buddy in the barracks, these lawyers have spent years in military (and often civilian) legal training.

Don’t waste your time placating the barracks lawyer. Actual military lawyers in JAG will take care of you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 reasons why Marines and sailors get along so well

When it comes to branch rivalries in the military, you’ll find none greater than that between the Marine Corps and the Navy. It may be because we’re technically a part of the same branch but, either way, we constantly give each other sh*t for any reason we can find. Even still, Marines and sailors get along quite well — in fact, we probably get along better than any other two branches of the armed forces.

Yes, the Marine Corps is a part of the Department of the Navy, but we’re still considered separate branches. We have different goals, but they complement each other’s. So, we work closely together. All of those hours spent cooperating means that we’ve gotten to know each other pretty damn well over the years. Even Marines or sailors who have left the service find the most common ground with their cross-branch counterparts.

Here are a few reasons why Marines and sailors so often end up as the best of friends:


This is how ants wage war
Sailors know that Rip-its are the key to a Marine’s happiness on ship.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Reymundo A. Villegas III)
 

Our relationship is symbiotic

Even though Marines tend to do all the heavy lifting, the Navy is usually right there with us to share the burden of being the greatest war fighting faction ever to exist. In fact, because Marines are amphibious, we need the Navy to cart us around — like our own personal taxi service.

This is how ants wage war
Navy Corpsman are the best addition, honestly.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Wetzel)

 

Marines and sailors share manpower

As part of that symbiotic relationship, the manpower between the branches is often shared. The Marine Corps uses Navy Corpsman for medical needs and aviation units in either branch are often filled out with a mix of mechanics from both sides.

We can constantly joke about each other

One thing you’ll find is that Marines have plenty of jokes for Sailors and vice versa. Furthermore, you’ll find that we can both take the jokes quite well. Hell, we even share a notoriety for being a bunch of drunken bastards.

This is how ants wage war
Marines, of course, still have the best uniforms of all.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt. Ismael Pena)

 

Marines and sailors have the best military uniforms

Marines have the best uniforms ever conceived by any military branch — but the Navy comes in at a (distant,) solid second place. Both of our branches have the most recognizable and aesthetically pleasing uniforms out there. Sure, we may not wear berets, but we have sexy dress blues. The best part of it all? A Navy corpsman embedded in a Marine unit, referred to as “green side,” can choose to wear the Marine dress blues.

This is how ants wage war
And much like you do with siblings, we take care of each other.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales)

 

They’re our closest sibling

Marines don’t have as much of a working relationship with other branches as they do with the Navy. Ever since the planet was blessed with United States Marines, the Navy has been right there alongside us, fighting and winning every battle we possibly can.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘You’re saving lives with this’ – How a hunting trip for veterans could be a national model for better health

Steve Houghton’s rugged face shone orange in the firelight as he pulled in a deep breath of the frigid Montana backcountry air and shifted in his chair before taking his turn at a personal story. The stress lines of an often-furrowed brow and eyes tinged with sadness advertised the toll of an especially bruising year for the former motor transportation Marine. 

The snipers and special operations soldiers around the campfire were half-expecting a familiar tale of combat trauma and trouble transitioning to civilian life. If anyone in the group of 17 military veterans had a thousand-yard stare, it was Houghton.

Marine Steve Houghton veteran hunting, Coffee or Die
Former motor transportation Marine Steve Houghton listens to a campfire discussion during the first camp hosted by the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Armed Forces Initiative Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

A crackle from the fire disturbed the brief silence as the circle waited for him to speak. 

“You know, I didn’t know how much I needed this,” Houghton said with a somber Montana drawl as he opened up to the men and women who two days earlier were complete strangers. “It’s been a rough 2020 for me, and before I came out here, I was in pretty bad shape. I went through a divorce, and I’ve struggled with other issues. But the last two days have put a smile on my face even while I was sleeping.” 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Armed Forces Initiative, Coffee or Die
Base camp at BHA’s first Veteran Dual Skill Acquisition Camp Nov. 9. Composite photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Houghton and 16 other military veterans traveled to eastern Montana’s vast swath of public lands Nov. 6 through 10 for an inaugural event hosted by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), a nonprofit committed to preserving North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting through education and advocacy on behalf of wild public lands and waters. 

After launching its Armed Forces Initiative in June, BHA developed its first-ever Veteran Dual Skill Acquisition Camp, where BHA mentors covered skills such as e-scouting, shot placement, field-dressing, meat considerations, carcass disposal, and education about public lands and related legislative issues. But as Houghton and the others quickly learned, the best parts of camp weren’t listed in the promotional materials that drew them to the event. 

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers veterans initiative, Coffee or Die
Veterans warm themselves and listen to campfire discussions during the cerebral portion of the camp Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“I’ve been on my own for quite a while now, and I was kind of getting into a real rough spot just before I came out here,” Houghton continued. “But getting out in the woods with a bunch of veterans has made a world of difference. I feel supported on multiple levels, and it just feels really good. I’ve learned so much, and I think this is about the most therapeutic stuff I’ve experienced since I got out of the Marines. It gives you back that sense of camaraderie and that mission that, once you’re out, you just lack in life.

“This gives me hope for the future with myself and other veterans that are struggling to find a sense of meaning again. Just being around everybody and seeing that you’re not alone, it’s been absolutely incredible — absolutely lifesaving. You’re saving lives with this.”

Morgan Mason, BHA, Coffee or Die
BHA Armed Forces Initiative coordinator Morgan Mason leads a campfire discussion Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Knowing nods and grunts of approval from Houghton’s newfound tribe validated his sentiments. There was the sergeant major from the 19th Special Forces Group, the recently retired special operations pilot, Marine snipers and grunts, Army snipers and other soldiers, sailors, National Guard members, and an Air Force member who cheerily absorbed all the standard trash talk that always gets heaped on extra thick for members of the “Chair Force.” 

Morgan Mason, BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative coordinator and a former Army intelligence analyst, coordinated the camp. Mason was 20 when he participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

veteran Morgan Mason, BHA Armed Forces Initiative, Coffee or Die
Army veteran Morgan Mason is the Armed Forces Initiative coordinator for BHA. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“When I left the Army, I just wanted to head West and break free of everything,” Mason said. “I spent a lot of time on public lands, and they were my source of decompression. I thought it was amazing that I could go do all these outdoor activities — whitewater rafting, mountain biking, climbing, hunting.” 

Mason said his experiences led him to the path he’s on now. His passion and mission are to make sure all military members and veterans can have the same experiences outdoors that were integral to his transition and that continue to enrich his life. For BHA’s Armed Forces Initiative, he focuses on three pillars: active-duty programming, veteran programming, and legislative efforts.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Armed Forces Initiative, Coffee or Die
From left, Washington National Guardsman Tyr Symank, BHA Armed Forces Initiative coordinator Morgan Mason, retired Army special operations pilot Ryan Burkert, and former Army infantryman Tyler Jensen take a break to scan the ridges for deer and crack some jokes in eastern Montana Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

BHA has forged a unique relationship with the US military to develop its active-duty programming initiative. It has partnered with several major military installations, including Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Camp Pendleton, California, to promote outdoor activities on public lands among military members at those locations and others. 

“Spending time outdoors is like a reset button for your brain,” Mason said. “For military members and veterans who are dealing with issues like post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, or opioid addiction, outdoor activities like hunting aren’t a cure-all, but having these experiences makes you a better person because they destress your mind by dumping some dopamine into your brain and making you feel good. We want people to feel the weight of the world drop off their shoulders and feel that stress melt away, and public land makes that possible for everyone.”

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Matthew Carlock, right, mentors Andrea Nofio while hunting mule deer and whitetail deer Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Mason put together the veteran camp as a pilot program for the veteran programming pillar, picking a diverse group of veterans — both mentors and mentees — from a pool of candidates who applied for the mule deer and whitetail hunt in Montana. 

“We tried to bring folks of various skill levels and experiences,” Mason said. “Some are first-time hunters — never shot a deer until this camp — and some have been hunting since they were kids.”

Mason organized the camp around two focus areas: tactile and cerebral. The tactile portion covered skills such as stalking, glassing, and other field tactics. The cerebral portion consisted of campfire talks and bonding over shared experiences and public lands education. 

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Andrea “Eagle-Eye” Nofio and “Two-Shot” Steve Houghton glass the terrain while hunting mule deer and whitetail deer Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

One of the topics around the campfire was the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act, which advanced through the US Senate Nov. 10. The bipartisan legislation would require the secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish an interagency task force on the use of public lands to provide health and wellness for veterans through outdoor recreation. That means if President Donald Trump signs the act into law, the federal government will study the health benefits of trips and activities like BHA’s veteran hunt.   

It didn’t take long for fast friendships to form in the teams and hunting parties Mason organized. Houghton hooked up with BHA mentor and former Idaho National Guardsman Matthew Carlock and husband-and-wife-duo Andrea and Patrick Nofio — both Navy veterans — to form “Team Send It.” 

veterans, field-dressing deer, Coffee or Die
Mentor Matthew Carlock, left, demonstrates for other military veterans how to properly field-dress a deer while Steve Houghton helps. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Carlock’s stocky frame and boundless energy in the backcountry terrain earned him the moniker “The Mountain Goat,” and after Houghton bagged his first of four deer, Carlock helped pack the whole animal back to camp so he could give a demonstration on how to field-dress a deer, a vital skill that several first-time hunters put to use in short order. 

On the second day of camp, Andrea earned her nickname, “Eagle-Eye Andrea,” when she spotted at about 300 yards a beautiful six-pointed mule deer buck at the 11th hour of a long day of following the Mountain Goat up and down endless ridges and valleys in frigid conditions. The Alaska native said she “saw every wild animal you could ever see” growing up in the Great North State, but her father, who raised four daughters, never took her hunting. 

Patrick and Andrea Nofio, women veterans, hunting, Coffee or Die
Andrea “Eagle-Eye” Nofio and her husband, Patrick, pause to glass the terrain while hunting mule deer and whitetail deer Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“I’d been thinking about it for a long time, but there’s so many barriers to entry,” Andrea said about finally learning to hunt with BHA’s support. “Hunting is expensive. You need a mentor, and you need to just be really intrepid.”

Andrea said she and Patrick jumped at the opportunity when they heard about the Montana hunt because it removed a lot of the intimidation factor they felt.

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Mentor Matthew Carlock instructs other military veterans during a demonstration on how to properly field-dress a deer. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

“The vast knowledge that is shared freely by everybody here has just been amazing,” Patrick said. “We’re checking off bucket list items with this trip, getting out here and finally putting the miles down, and being able to share in the pride and camaraderie of harvesting an animal with all these awesome veterans — it’s really meaningful and just an absolutely phenomenal experience.”

Around the campfire each night, a common theme kept permeating the conversation: Nobody gets veterans like other veterans. 

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A view from public lands in eastern Montana Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Healthy competition, trash talk, and crude humor were sources of bonding throughout the weekend. 

After former Army sniper Jim Vinson shared his personal story around the fire one night, he couldn’t help but end with a flex: “I smoked a doe last night at 511 yards, so somebody needs to top that.” 

veteran Matthew Carlock, BHA hunting, Coffee or Die
Matthew “The Mountain Goat” Carlock treks through the hills while hunting mule deer and whitetails Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

On a long hunt the day after Andrea bagged her buck, Carlock — The Mountain Goat — promised Team Send It they’d likely find deer if they’d follow him for yet another long push to a far-off ridge. 

“Yeah, we’ve heard it before, Matthew,” she said. “Just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels.” 

veteran Steve Houghton, Coffee or Die
“Two-Shot” Steve Houghton shares a laugh with his new veteran friends while hunting mule deer and whitetail deer Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Houghton, who needed eight rounds to bag his four deer and was dubbed by his Team Send It brethren “Two-Shot Steve,” howled at the joke. “I love veterans,” he said. 

Andrea, who is currently enrolled as a college student in Montana, said, “Yeah, I don’t usually get to make those kinds of jokes these days. I really miss being around veterans.”

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Armed Forces Initiative, Coffee or Die
From left, Morgan Mason, Patrick and Andrea Nofio, Steve Houghton, Zach and Jessi Condon, Tyr Symank, Matthew Carlock, and the author Nov. 10. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

After three days, on the Marine Corps birthday, the veterans broke down the camp. A handful of them held a small ceremony, taking down the American flag that had flown proudly at the entry path and folding it in accordance with military tradition. Together, they had killed 18 deer over three days and would feed their friends and families for months to come. 

They shared some hot coffee on a final cold morning together, traded hearty hugs, handshakes, and contact information, and left for home — batteries recharged by new friendships and experiences and with plenty of great stories and newfound respect for public lands to share with friends and family. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Top 4, veteran-approved, year-round gift ideas

Christmas time is synonymous with giving and receiving presents. Everyone loves to receive a gift, even it means you have to awkwardly open it front of a person who’s eagerly watching your face, waiting for a reaction. That love of receiving doesn’t begin and end on Christmas morning, though — not by a long shot.

Gift buying is an art. Picking the perfect gift can be difficult, and when you’re shopping for someone close to you, the pressure is on. Now, if one or more of those someones is a veteran, well, you’ve got some thinking to do. Veterans are a special breed. We’ve got an odd sense of humor, an irregular view of ‘normal,’ and can be plain ol’ weird. Finding the right gift for your vet will likely be a mission.


We know the Christmas season is over, but the following gifts can be enjoyed by a vet on any calendar date.

This is how ants wage war

Can’t go wrong with any of these choices

(Gadgets Magazine)

Liquor 

9 and a half out of 10 veterans love to drink and can likely throw down with the best of them. Consider buying your vet their favorite bottle of liquor. If it’s one of those gift boxes that comes with a few, nice glasses, that’s great! If not, that’s fine; glasses are optional.

This is how ants wage war

Near the top of every Marine’s gift list

(Opting Out)

Functional clothing

Vets love clothing that makes sense. Help out your vet by getting them some clothing that can be useful. Think something somewhere between Under Armor and a ghillie suit.

5.11 Tactical is a good place to start.

This is how ants wage war

Just what the doctor ordered… and the vet wanted.

(TheAdventurerr.com)

Trips

Two things veterans can always use more of: travel and relaxation. The type of travel will vary from vet to vet, but we all appreciate a good vacation. It could be as simple as some alone time, a day trip, or a spa day.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to please veterans — just a little attention to detail.

This is how ants wage war

Please, check on your friends this time of year

An ear and a shoulder

Transitioning back into civilian life can be a strange experience for many vets. We might move on, find a job, and start a family, but the feeling of camaraderie will never really be quite the same.

If you’ve got a vet in your life, it might not seem like a gift to you, but give them a call every now and then to check in, see how things are going. It’s a small gesture, but a worthwhile one.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Weblo’s final flight: A special operations military working dog receives hero’s goodbye

“Our working dogs are selfless in everything they do simply to please their handlers and those who work with them,” said Sergeant Major (retired) Jeremy Knabenshue, a veteran who worked as a K9 handler in the U.S. Army. “They give everything they have — to include their lives — without question to protect their pack.”

During a recent interview with Coffee or Die, Knabenshue spoke about his relationship with Weblo, his Military Working Dog (MWD). After a stint as an MP, Knabenshue became a K9 handler for a Special Missions Unit working alongside some of the most elite operators in the world. His work there, particularly his relationship with Weblo, had a profound impact on him. He served with that unit until retirement.


“When I was first assigned Weblo, he was a beatdown dog from Holland that flinched at every sudden move,” Knabenshue said. “I spent every single day for a year going to work to spend time with him and build our relationship until we deployed.”

This is how ants wage war

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Knabenshue.)

On Knabenshue’s first deployment, Weblo was shot. They were working with a squad from 3rd Ranger Battalion, and Knabenshue credits the dog’s actions for saving his life. He treated Weblo, and “that night of saving one another’s lives solidified our bond to one another.”

“Personality-wise he was one of the guys.” Knabenshue said. “He was more than just a dog or a tool. He lived with us and was part of the team.” That relationship extended onto the battlefield as well — they had reached such a strong point of mutual understanding that few words had to be spoken. They moved together, fought together, and hit objectives together — all as one.

One night in Afghanistan, Knabenshue, Weblo, and an assault force of American operators boarded a helicopter and flew toward an enemy position. They expected to make their way to the target building when they landed, but chaos erupted as soon as the wheels touched the ground. People were running erratically, weapons were being fired, and they had to fight just to get to the objective — which should have been a simple 10 minute walk.

This is how ants wage war

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Knabenshue.)

As they made it to the target compound, they began to move along one of the exterior walls. The next step would have been to hit the front door and assault the compound as usual; Knabenshue sent Weblo up front to check for booby traps before breaching.

When Weblo turned left instead of right, Knabenshue said that his first instinct was to become frustrated — now instead of breaching, he had to grab another assaulter and go get this dog who appeared to be distracted or disobedient. However, when they discovered Weblo, his jaws were clenched on a man clutching an AK47, who was lying in wait for an unsuspecting soldier to enter the breach.

This man had not been spotted by anyone on the assault force nor by the air assets circling in the sky — but he was spotted by Weblo.

This is how ants wage war

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Knabenshue.)

This was how it went for six deployments — two to Iraq and four to Afghanistan. When they weren’t in a combat zone, training took them deep into the jungle, over rigorous mountain terrain, and helocasting into the water.

When Weblo came to the end of his military service, he went to live with Knabenshue. No longer under threat of death or permanent injury, their friendship continued to grow. And then Weblo was diagnosed with cancer.

As the dog’s health steadily declined, Knabenshue knew it was time to have him put down comfortably. He contacted a trusted veterinarian to set the date. But one day he took special notice of the airfield near his house, and an idea came to him. Knabenshue knew a truck wouldn’t suffice for Weblo’s last ride — he deserved more.

This is how ants wage war

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Knabenshue.)

On March 8, 2016, everything fell into place. When Weblo and Knabenshue stepped onto the airfield and heard the thundering of the helicopter rotors, the dog’s chest swelled. Knabenshue swears that, for a moment, Weblo once again looked like a young working dog barreling across the Afghan countryside.

Also on the helicopter was the veterinarian. As they circled in the sky, Weblo felt the wind in his fur as he had so many times before among his fellow warriors. Following a painless injection, Weblo quietly, comfortably passed on.

After they landed, Knabenshue carried Weblo back to his truck to say goodbye.

“There will never be another Weblo for me,” Knabenshue later wrote on his blog. “I miss him daily and wish that somehow he could still be here. His death hit me far harder than any of the deaths of friends I’ve lost over the years. He was more than a pet or partner, he was an extension of myself as I was a part of him. His ashes are now placed on a shelf over my bar so that he can still look over and protect us.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Cyber awareness if it was designed for actual soldiers

Hey, remember in your last cyber awareness re-certification when you had to click through a whole scenario based on whether or not you would share industrial secrets on message boards with friends you had met at a science and engineering convention? Has anyone besides a senior officer or civilian engineer ran into that particular conundrum literally ever?


If the security pros were really going to prepare standard soldiers on the line for how to defend Army networks from unsavory actors, they can probably jettison entire sections of the cyber awareness training and add a short text document like the one below:

This is how ants wage war

Seriously, everyone, we let the USO build so many centers on our bases for a reason. Get some pizza, watch the game, and do your shady downloads there.

(U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

Download your movies (porn) on the USO or morale networks

Yeah, we know you guys find more and more ways to download things you shouldn’t on the Army networks. We try to limit the sites you can connect to, the types of files you can download, and even what ways you can get the files off of the computer afterwards. But still, you find ways to email each other .jpgs and .movs of disgusting stuff.

Disgusting stuff that has viruses hidden in it. No, not HPV — computer viruses. We let the USO set up wifi on base, we set up morale wifi on base. And we don’t monitor what you download directly to your personal devices. Please, please stop downloading your movies to the government computers.

This is how ants wage war

Please. STAHP.

(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Neysa Canfield)

Stop clicking on email links. Just stop. Google the sites and stories you want.

We’ve given so many warnings about phishing and spear phishing attacks, but soldiers keep getting caught in these kinds of attacks. So, from now on, when you see an email you want to click on, please just Google the keywords for the site you wanted to visit.

Google will typically screen out malicious sites, making it much better at this than you are. So stop even trying to decide which links are safe and which aren’t. Just stop clicking on things.

Stop clicking past all the security warnings

The Army has a problem with security certificates, meaning that you’re going to have to tell a few of your browser tools to make security exemptions for the army.mil sites. Obviously not best practice, sorry about that, but please stop adding security exemptions for other sites all over the web.

Army.mil sites flag security checks because it takes an act of Congress to update all of our certificates. The other sites you visit flag security checks because they’re trying to turn on your camera while you’re watching the vids so they can blackmail you with the resulting imagery. Oh, speaking of blackmail bait:

This is how ants wage war

Civilian teaches a soldier how to use a tactical smartphone without sending pictures of his junk to social media contacts who aren’t actually hot girls.

(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Avery)

The 19-year-olds messaging with you aren’t real and don’t want your dad bod

Hate to tell you this, but most of you’ve gotten up in pounds as you’ve gotten up in rank, and even those of you who have not have gotten up in age. And, I know it’s a big surprise, but 19-year-old girls are typically into college boys with six packs. So, please, start feeling more suspicious than horny when you get texts, Tinder matches, or private messages from people way too attractive to be interested in you.

Otherwise, these people engage in lengthy conversations where you incriminate yourself in conspiracies to meet them in hotels, and then they blackmail you for money or government secrets. Just watch adult sites instead. (But, again, use the morale or USO internet, not the NIPR. Not. NIPR.)

This is how ants wage war

Sgt. Hercules can lift any load, but can he set a secure password?

(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cline)

Change your passwords and stop using nicknames for your genitals

Whether you’re accessing your premium subscription on that adult website, getting into your email, or opening a new Grindr account, please stop using the same passwords for everything. And please, please stop using your children’s names, birthdates and anniversaries, and favorite car manufacturer for passwords.

No, your genital nicknames aren’t any better, especially since you all keep bragging about the names on Reddit and Facebook.

This is how ants wage war

We’re tired of putting up pictures of soldiers in front of computers or holding smartphones, so here’s an Army colonel addressing a conference as a video game avatar.

(U.S. Army)

Why do you update your Steam games every day but virus scans only when you buy new computers?

You know how your Steam library is automatically updated, all you gamers out there? For everyone else, it’s sort of like when Flash player needs another update. It happens frequently, you won’t notice the difference unless you read the patch notes, and it’s actually essential that you do the updates.

So, new rule, please set your virus protections to automatically update. If you won’t or can’t do that, then update your virus definitions every time Flash or Steam initiates an update.

Also, please figure out how computers work

This, by the way, gets to a larger issue that isn’t necessarily a direct cyber threat, but it’s honestly just sort of grating, and even the game-playing nerds aren’t immune to this: figure out how your computers work. Not only would this help you avoid cyber threats better, but it would also cut down on the number of times we hurt ourselves biting our tongues.

It’s just so exhausting hearing people talk about buying a new hard drive to improve their frame rates or graphics, or people getting 4K monitors when their video cards can’t support it. Just, please, learn how computers actually work before you get a new MILITARY STAR card to fill with ill-considered purchases.

Seriously, PC Building Simulator is a thing now.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 of the worst things about getting promoted

Making rank has its privileges. Getting promoted means you get a new ID, you get to wear your upgraded rank insignia, your title officially changes, and, most importantly, you get paid more.


With all of the perks that come with picking up a rank, there are a few common aspects that service members would love to avoid — but won’t be able to.

Getting a promotion is considered an event epic, but these are the top 4 downsides to your career advancement.

1. Getting “tacked” or “pinned”

We do it as a celebration, and it’s a tradition to encourage us to never lose that rank — but advance onward. But for as steeping in tradition as it is, the whole ‘getting tacked’ can be super uncomfortable, too. Getting promoted also means you’re going to get tacked. That means your fellow service members, who are either the same rank or higher, can walk up to you and respectably strike your newly pinned rank.

It’s practically considered a birthright and it’s a way for your unit to show that they see the effort you’re putting into your career.

But with all that respect comes a downside. The jab could poke the pins into your skin through your shirt. Get smart and have your new rank sewn on your OCPs. This way, your unit colleagues will be forced to acknowledge your rank change with a love-tap on your arm.

2. Taking sh*t for your troops

Getting promoted means that now you’re in charge of a few troops, you’re also responsible for the mistakes they make.

If they get in trouble at the front gate for doing something wrong, your phone will be ringing to pick them up. You might be cursing your new rank change and you’re probably going to have to answer up for anything your subordinates have done.

military woman getting promoted

3. Your promotion means you won’t be able to date that E-2 anymore

Fraternization is a real offense and can kill a military career.

Depending on the branch, you can’t date a rank that’s three pay grades above or below you. Picking up an NCO rank just might ruin your social life, especially if you live in the barracks.

Also Read: Dress uniforms from every military branch, ranked

4. You’re not a part of the E-4 mafia anymore

Remember when you first showed up to boot camp all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?

After multiple years or of excellent service, you’ll realize you’re no longer seen as a person anymore. With your new rank comes a whole new identity  — now you’re a senior staff NCO.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Female sailors will get a lot of new hairstyle options

Female sailors can soon sport several new hairstyles including locks, ponytails and options that fall below the collar in certain uniforms, according to new approved regulations announced July 10, 2018.

Lock, or loc, hairstyles and buns that span the width of the back of a female sailor’s head will now be authorized for women in all uniforms. Ponytails will be OK in service, working or physical-training uniforms — provided there’s no operational safety concern. And hairstyles that hit beneath shirt, dress or jacket collars will be approved in dinner-dress uniforms.


The changes were approved by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bob Burke, and announced by six members of a working group during a Navy Facebook Live event.

Richardson credited the working group, which took feedback from the fleet, with coming up with and presenting the new grooming recommendations.

“We just demonstrated that a recommendation can make things happen, so I want to hear from you,” he said.

This is how ants wage war

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zane Ecklund)

If a female sailor’s hair falls beneath the collar now, she’s limited to buns, braids or cornrows. Ponytails were only previously authorized in PT uniforms.

In 2017, Richardson approved a move to allow female sailors wearing ball caps to wear their bun through the hat’s opening rather than underneath it.

The Marine Corps was the first service to approve locks for women in 2015. The Army also authorized dreadlocks for women in early 2018

Some black female service members have complained that they’ve been forced to wear wigs in uniform in order for their hairstyles to meet military standards. Hairstyles like locks give those women more options for styling their natural hair.

Richardson said policies and regulations shouldn’t just make the Navy more lethal toward its adversaries, but should also make the service more inclusive.

Full details, including a timeline on the changes and implementation guideline, will be announced in an upcoming service-wide administrative message.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 reasons military brats are superior human beings

It can be hard to be anyone that is military-connected. Long hours, uncertain travel plans, deployment, bootcamp, cancelling everything…MREs; but military kids somehow manage to navigate the life much better than most adults. What I noticed after spending time with my own military kids and their friends is that when the rubber meets the road they will always shock you with their resilience and their maturity, and really their sheer coolness under pressure. They also have a little bit of humor about their lives, which we all know is an essential part of getting through this life. I’d like to introduce five military kids, ages 6 to 13. If you really want to know what being a military kid is like maybe we should actually ask the kids?


Here are 4 reasons military brats are superior human beings:

This is how ants wage war

Military kids have a sense of humor.

At age 6, Mattis (yes, you read that right, his namesake is the unwavering General Mattis) has a rather humorous outlook on life as a military kid. Both of Mattis’ parents are Marines, his dad is currently serving. He’s dead serious about the fact that having a million dollars would make his life as a military kid much easier. Me too, kid. Upon further reflection he settled on a hug being the best way to get him through the tough times; and is swaying from the idea that it’s impossible that his military parents have made him stronger. Ami, age 11, firmly believes the best part about being a military kid is the military ID you get when you’re 10.

This is how ants wage war

Military kids Dannika Mattis.

Military kids find ways to thrive in hard times.

Dannika, age 10, finds the good and bad with military life. “I just don’t want to feel left out,” she said. “My friends from my old school talk about things going on in their lives, and I don’t feel a part of the group anymore. It makes me sad.” On the flip side she says, “Every time I move I get to make new friends, so I have way more friends than regular kids.” Ami, age 11, shared, “I’m used to things getting cancelled. It usually just means we’ll just get to do something different. It might even be cooler.”

This is how ants wage war

Military kids might know more about the world than you do.

Brian, age 13, is always shocked about how much his friends don’t know. “You get to learn a lot about the stuff that’s happening in the world and our history in a way that’s different.” Dannika shared what that understanding really means. “Regular kids have normal lives where they don’t have to worry about their mom or dad going to war. We appreciate our parents more when they are home.”

This is how ants wage war

Military kids Brian, Ami, and Phillip.

Military kids know what they need.

And it’s really simple. Phillip, age 8, says, “I just want people to pray for my dad and me.” On Brian’s wishlist? “People just to be able to be sympathetic to military kids, especially when they have parents who are gone. Just tell us it’s going to be okay and that we aren’t alone, and that you’ll be there for us.”

So, this Month of Military Child we can read about education supports, therapy, why a parent loves their military kid…but it’s worth your time to sit down with your military kid and just ask them. You might be surprised at their responses.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This radio show is one trigger for a British nuclear attack

Deep underwater, on submarines equipped with nuclear missiles, British crews are constantly prepared to fire their weapons, and potentially play a part in bringing about the end of the world.

Sailors on the four Vanguard-class submarines which patrol the waters and hold the UK’s nuclear deterrent operate under strict protocol for working out when to act and what to do — part of which is said to include listening to BBC radio.

According to a prominent British historian, the broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme is one of the official measures the Royal Navy uses to prove that the United Kingdom still exists. “Today” has been broadcast at around breakfast time since 1958 and is the highest-profile news programme in British media.


Lord Peter Hennessy, a history professor who joined the UK’s House of Lords in 2010, said that if it can’t be heard for three days in a row, then it could signify Britain’s demise, and trigger their doomsday protocol.

According to Politico, Hennessy says: “The failure to pick up the BBC Today program for a few days is regarded as the ultimate test.”

If no sign comes through, the commander and deputy will open letters that contain instructions from the prime minister and execute their final wishes.

These letters, each known as a “Letter of Last Resort’ are secret instructions, written when a prime minister enters the office and sealed until an apocalypse. They tell the UK’s submarine commanders what to do with the country’s nuclear weapons if the country has been destroyed.

This is how ants wage war

HMS Victorious photographed in the Clyde estuary

(LA(phot) Mez Merrill/MOD photo)

Writing these letters is one of the first tasks undertaken by any new prime minister. They are locked inside a safe inside another safe, and placed in the control rooms of the nation’s four nuclear submarines, Politico reports. The safes will only be accessible to the sub’s commander and deputy.

Matthew Seligman, Professor of Naval History at Brunel University,told BBC Newsbeat that there are “only so many options available.”

“Do nothing, launch a retaliatory strike, offer yourself to an ally like the USA, or use your own judgment.

“Essentially, are you going to use the missiles or not?”

The UK has four submarines that are capable of carrying the country’s Trident nuclear missiles. At least one of these has been on patrol at all times since 1969, the government says.

There are 40 nuclear warheads and a maximum of eight missiles on each submarine.

Only the prime minister can authorize the launch of the country’s nuclear weapons.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

US government warns against Chinese-acquired gay dating app Grindr

A Chinese company that acquired gay-dating app Grindr is reportedly selling it off after the US government labeled it a national security risk.

Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd acquired a 60% stake in Grindr in 2016, before buying the rest in 2018.

But sources told Reuters that the company did not clear its purchase with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a US government agency which assesses the national security risk of foreign investments.


The sale prompted a review, after which CFIUS told Kunlun that its ownership of the California-based app constitutes a security risk, sources told Reuters.

The company is now looking to sell Grindr, according to the report, despite announcing preparations for an IPO in August 2018.

CFIUS last year blocked the acquisition of money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc by a Chinese financial group owned by billionaire Jack Ma, reportedly citing security concerns.

This is how ants wage war

Jack Ma.

The US has increased scrutiny of app developers and the data they handle, which it argues could compromise the security of military or intelligence personnel.

Elliott Zaagman, a tech writer partly based in Beijing, said that apps like Grindr hold sensitive information about its users which could be exploited.

Grindr, which had 27 million users as of 2017, allows users to say whether they are HIV positive, and also allows users to send photos, which are often sexually explicit.

Zaagman says that, while China has an interest in hacking into such a database filled with personal information, they can probably breach the system “whether or not it’s owned by a Chinese company.”

“If a sophisticated state actor is determined to get into an app’s database, they will probably be able to find a way.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The word ‘deadline’ has a horrible origin in Civil War prisons

Have you got a project due that you should be working on? A paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a briefing to the commander? If so, you are probably on a deadline. But missing a deadline in our modern world is typically just a problem of professional conduct, or maybe they’ll be some sort of financial penalty. But for Civil War prisoners, it was a matter of life and death.


This is how ants wage war

Anderson prisoner of war tents run right up to the deadline demarked by the low fencing. Prisoners who crossed this line could be shot by prison guards.

(Library of Congress)

That’s because the original deadlines existed in Civil War prisons, most famously at Camp Sumter, the prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Most Civil War prisons weren’t like Alcatraz Island, where prison cells and buildings were used to keep prisoners confined. Instead, officers would build rough wooden fences 10-20 feet high to contain the prisoners.

But, of course, a healthy man can typically climb a 10-foot fence. And, working as teams, troops could fairly easily clamber over 20-foot fences as well. So prison commanders built positions for sentries to watch the prisoner population, and the sentries typically had orders to kill any man attempting to escape.

Well, to ensure that the sentry would have time to shoot a man or raise the alarm before the prisoner got away, the camps put in something called a “deadline.” This was a line, usually literally made on the ground with fencing or some type of marking, that prisoners would be killed for crossing.

In the case of Andersonville, the line was marked with low fencing and sat up to 19 feet from the tall wooden walls of the prison. If a prisoner even reached over this wall, guards were allowed to shoot him. And the guards were well positioned to do so. The prison incorporated “pigeon roosts” every 90 feet along the wall. These were guard posts that sat above the wall and gave the guards great lines of sight to fire onto the deadline.

If the prisoners ever attempted to rush the line en masse, the guards could drop back to a series of small artillery positions around the fort and blow the Union prisoners apart. These artillery positions also served to protect the prison from outside attack.

The bulk of the nation found out about this deadline in the trial of Confederate officer Henry Wirz, the commander of Fort Sumter. Because of overcrowding and a massive shortage of supplies at Andersonville and Fort Sumter, Union prisoner deaths there numbered approximately 13,000, and an angry Union public wanted justice.

This is how ants wage war

A reconstruction of the wall at Fort Sumter at Andersonville, Georgia. The low fencing near the wall was the dead line.

(Bubba73 CC BY-SA 3.0)

During the prosecution of Wirz, the deadline around the camp was described and reported across the nation, and it helped to seal Wirz fate even though the practice occurred in other places. Wirz was sentenced to death and executed on October 31, 1865.

It was in the 1920s that the word morphed into its current usage, becoming “deadline” and describing a looming time or date by which something must be completed.

So, yeah, deadlines in the Civil War meant a lot more than they do today. The term has been watered down to mean something completely different.

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