How the Army's 'Robin Sage' puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Every few months, several North Carolina counties host a unique special-operations event.

Robin Sage is a four-week exercise that all Special Forces candidates must pass before they graduate and don the coveted Green Beret.

Named after Col. Jerry Michael Sage, an Office of Strategic Services (OSS) operative who was captured by the Nazis and attempted to escape more than 12 times before succeeding, Robin Sage is the culminating exercise of the Special Forces pipeline.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Special Forces candidates listen to a briefing during the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, July 9, 2019. 

It takes place in the fictional country of Pineland, which spans about 50,000 square miles in the woods of North Carolina.

The Army’s Special Forces, known as Green Berets, mainly specialize in training and supporting foreign forces, counterterrorism, and reconnaissance, as well as carrying out its own small-scale raids and ambushes.

Green Berets operate in 12-man detachments and work with and through partner forces. They receive extensive cultural and linguistic training that enables them to operate anywhere in the world.

But it is during Robin Sage that they get their first real taste of what Special Forces does.

The road to Robin Sage

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
A Special Forces candidate leads mules to a staging area to be loaded with rucksacks for a long-distance movement during the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, June 7, 2020. 

To make it to Robin Sage, prospective Green Berets must first pass the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS), a 21-day course that pushes candidates to their physical and mental limits.

Those who successfully complete SFAS move on to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC), or Q Course.

There have been almost 30 different versions of Q Course during its nearly 60-year history. Until recently, it was close to two years long. However, the course was revamped in 2019 and now lasts about six months. It is broken into four major phases: Small Unit Tactics, Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE), Military Occupational Specialty training, and Robin Sage.

After several months of training, students come together for Robin Sage and work as a team using the different skills they have learned.

Free Pineland!

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Special Forces candidates School meet with role players acting as village leaders during the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, July 9, 2019. 

In the fictional scenario of Robin Sage, Special Forces candidates must help a guerrilla force, which is usually led by retired Green Berets, overthrow the illegitimate government of Pineland.

“Today, we read a lot about proxy warfare, and that is what Robin Sage is in a nutshell,” Steve Balestrieri, a retired Special Forces warrant officer who also served as an instructor for the course, told Insider.

“The Special Forces candidates have to meet up with and make rapport with a third-world nation guerrilla force, train them up, and then work by, with, and through that guerrilla force to conduct combat operations against a numerically superior enemy occupying force,” Balestrieri said.

During Robin Sage, students are tested on what they have learned in Q Course. They teach their partner force small-unit tactics, provide medical care, build outposts, and establish communications with headquarters.

They also conduct reconnaissance, raids, ambushes, and numerous other missions and are tested on other challenges they might encounter on the battlefield.

For example, teams are often presented with war-crime scenarios, where their partner force wants to “execute” a prisoner or “destroy” a village. It falls on the team to successfully negotiate those delicate situations without losing the support of their allies or violating the laws of war.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Special Forces candidates move a simulated casualty during the evaluation and final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, July 11, 2019. 

It’s the ever-important human element that makes Robin Sage special. The social interactions between the team and the “guerrillas” might mean mission success or failure on the battlefield.

“Our Robin Sage [infiltration] was supposed to be brutal, our rucks weighing more than 100 pounds each,” John Black, a retired Green Beret, told Insider.

“We had packed everything in preparation for more than two weeks in the field with no resupply. Two Blackhawk choppers dropped us off behind enemy lines where we were to meet our partner force in the middle of the night,” Black said. “We walked and walked with this guy for hours in what seemed like a circle — he was lost. The captain asked to help him navigate with the map. Turned out we had been circling the camp for hours and the solution was simple — ask if he needed help.”

Perhaps the most important aspect of Robin Sage is the hands-on lesson it provides to future operators about the main mission of Special Forces, which is unconventional warfare — activities that help a resistance movement or insurgent force take on a bigger power.

“As a Green Beret, I feel Robin Sage is imperative and really gets you to think about the real mission of Special Forces, to work with and through a partner force,” Black added. “Very little of what a Green Beret does is kicking in doors and getting bad guys. Robin Sage definitely helped prepare me for life as an operator on a team.”

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
A Special Forces candidate crosses a water obstacle during the final phase of field training known as Robin Sage in central North Carolina, July 9, 2019. 

“What makes Robin Special is how well and smoothly it’s run from the time the student teams go into isolation until they [infiltrate] and are actively engaged with the G-Force,” Balestrieri said, referring to the guerrilla force.

“It rams home how important is, when operating in a guerrilla warfare/unconventional warfare environment, to at least have the nominal support of the population,” Balestrieri added.

Robin Sage is so realistic that a few years ago, a student was killed and another wounded by a police officer who wasn’t aware of the event and thought that they were robbers. Since then, before every Robin Sage begins, local communities are thoroughly notified.

The exercise and its lessons largely are what differentiate Green Berets from other US special-operations units.

“Robin Sage is tremendously important in the career of every Special Forces soldier, because it takes everything that you’ve been taught thus far in the SFQC and gears it toward SF’s true mission, which is unconventional warfare,” Balestrieri said.

As the US prepares for a renewed era of great-power competition with China and Russia, and as irregular warfare becomes increasingly important, Robin Sage is more relevant than ever.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Should elected officials be allowed to serve in the military?

Jessica D. Blankshain is an assistant professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. All views expressed are the author’s own and do not represent the views of the United States government, Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or U.S. Naval War College.

One of the things most people agree on regarding U.S. civil-military relations is that the military should stay out of politics. But how do we keep the military out of politics when politicians are in the military?


Adam Kinzinger, representative for Illinois’ 16th Congressional District and a lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, is facing scrutiny for tweets and media appearances in which he criticized Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, for deciding to withdraw Wisconsin National Guard troops from the southern border.

Ultimately the Wisconsin Guard determined Kinzinger’s remarks were not a problem, announcing March 7, 2019, that a review had found he was speaking in his capacity as a Congressman, not a military officer.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Adam Kinzinger, representative for Illinois’ 16th Congressional District.

But this dustup also highlights broader issues raised by members of the National Guard (and service reserves) serving concurrently in political office.

Members of the National Guard and reserve serving in Congress has been relatively uncontroversial for nearly 200 years. In the early 1800s, the House took action against a member who joined the militia between congressional sessions, arguing that it violated the Incompatibility Clause (Article 1 Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution), which prohibits individuals from serving in the executive and legislative branches simultaneously.

The law defining “employees” has since been reworded to avoid this issue but, in recent years, the question of legislators serving in the Guard and reserve has begun to draw attention from those who study American civil-military relations. This interest may be driven in part by the effects of the “Abrams Doctrine,” which moved many critical capabilities into the Guard and reserve after Vietnam. [There are, of course, significant differences between the National Guard and service reserves, both in terms of force structure and relationship to state and federal government, but for present purposes I consider them together.]

Beginning roughly near the end of the Cold War and accelerating after 9/11, the United States has shifted from having a largely strategic reserve component — “weekend warriors” who did not expect to deploy unless there was a crisis — to having an operational reserve in which members of the Guard and reserve expect to deploy regularly in support of ongoing operations overseas, from the peacekeeping missions of the 1990s to combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s and beyond.

As a result, members of the Guard and reserve may now be perceived less as civilians who take up arms in time of need and more as part-time professional soldiers who have more in common with their active-duty counterparts than with average Americans.

Given the professional military’s strong apolitical ethic, whether and when we view members of the Guard and reserve as members of the military profession has important implications for how we evaluate their political activity (similar to discussions of political participation by retired officers).

There can, of course, be benefits to having members of the Guard and reserve serving in Congress or other political offices. Their military experience may inform their lawmaking and oversight. And as we were somberly reminded by the death of Brent Taylor, a Utah National Guard major and mayor of North Ogden, in Afghanistan in 2018, they may also serve as a link between civilian communities and the military fighting on their behalf.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Utah National Guard major Brent Taylor (left) and Lt. Kefayatullah.

(Facebook photo)

But there are challenges, too, as Rep. Kinzinger’s case makes clear. When an officer who is also a politician publicly criticizes orders from his commander in chief, who belongs to a different political party, it raises concerns about good order and discipline within the military and, perhaps most significantly, it makes it harder to keep clear separation in the public mind between the military and politics. As the reserve component’s role in the military has shifted, so too has the balance of these pros and cons.

Kinzinger’s personal criticism of the governor highlights that concerns about good order and discipline are linked with concerns about politicization. On Twitter, Kinzinger questioned whether Evers visited to the border himself to understand the deployment or instead made a “political” decision. In a Fox News interview, he said that he was breaking the news of the withdrawal because he believed the governor didn’t have the courage to do so. While these comments would not be particularly remarkable coming from a member of the opposing political party, they look very different coming from an officer in that state’s National Guard. Kinzinger, of course, is both. How will his fellow Wisconsin Guard members, whom he will continue to serve alongside, perceive these comments?

Kinzinger’s remarks also raise concerns about public perceptions of the politicization of the military. One of the main reasons Kinzinger’s comments held weight was that he had just returned from a deployment to the border and drew on his experience there to support his criticism of the withdrawal. In the Fox appearance in particular, the hosts and Kinzinger all position him as a neutral expert drawing on his two-week deployment to the border to make a policy judgment, in contrast to partisan politicians who oppose the president’s declaration of national emergency for political reasons.

Kinzinger is explicitly critical of Democrats, both in Congress and in state government. He might be perceived as trying to have it both ways — using his apolitical military credibility to go after political opponents — which could have implications for the public’s view of the military as an institution. This last point is perhaps of most concern, given the high level of confidence the American public has in the military compared to elected officials, as well as indications that this confidence is increasingly taking on partisan dimensions.

Kinzinger’s situation is by no means unique. There were at least 16 members concurrently serving in the Guard or reserve and the 115th Congress, and the intention of this piece is not to single him out for scrutiny. The shift from a strategic to an operational reserve component has changed the relationship between the reserve component and society, and we should be cognizant of those changes when thinking about how members of the Guard and reserve balance their military service with their political service.

Such a reassessment wouldn’t require a ban on concurrent service, but might mean developing either explicit regulations or implicit norms around which issues such members should recuse themselves on, what boundaries they draw on their partisan political speech, or to what degree they invoke their service while campaigning and governing.

The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why experts think Kim Jong Un never actually attended an elite military academy

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is not only the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), the fourth-largest military in the world.

North Korea’s military is part of its foundation; Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom,” used his own military service — as a guerilla fighting against the Japanese occupation of Korea — to burnish his cult of personality, according to Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield’s book, “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.”

Military service is baked into the North Korean constitution; “National defense is the supreme duty and honor of citizens,” it says, and military service is generally compulsory. Kim has never served in the North Korean military but reportedly graduated near the top of his class at a prestigious military academy, a claim that experts and a former North Korean military member found highly suspect.


North Korea spends approximately 25% of its GDP on its military, including its nuclear program, spending .5 billion each year on its forces between 2004 and 2014. It boasts 1.1 million troops, about 5% of its population, according to CFR.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
(KCNA)

According to North Korean propaganda, the 35-year-old Kim Jong Un prepared to lead this massive force by attending Kim Il Sung Military University in Pyongyang; experts said it was more likely that he had received some instruction from military trainers associated with this university.

Some propaganda accounts cited by Fifield say Kim, who reportedly started at the academy when he was 18, was such a natural at military strategy that he was soon training his instructors.

Kim’s ‘elite’ alma mater

Kim Il Sung Military University is a “military institution for educating elite military officers,” according to Bruce W. Bennett, senior defense analyst at The RAND Corporation. It was established in 1952, according to North Korea Leadership Watch, and is one of several military training schools.

“The students of this university are middle level officers such as majors and lieutenant colonels,” Bennett said, equating the university to institutions like the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

“It is the university that is a gateway to becoming a senior officer in the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Most of North Korean military generals studied in this university when they were mid-career,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

An image of Pyongyang, with Kim Il Sung Military University outlined.

(North Korea Leadership Watch/Google Images)

Fifield’s book, and official North Korean propaganda, report that Kim studied here alongside his older brother, Kim Jong Chol.

“It was their mother’s idea to send them to the military academy, a way to bolster her sons’ claim to succession,” Fifield writes. Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Chol are the children of Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hui, to whom he was not officially married. Kim Jong Il installed Ko Yong Hui and her sons in a home in his compound, ensuring they were well cared for.

Kim Jong Un reportedly entered the university in 2002, after his early education in Switzerland, and began studying “juche-oriented military leadership,” Fifield writes, referring to the North Korean concept of juche, or self-reliance. Juche is essential to the North Korean identity, although the country was economically dependent on the Soviet Union until its collapse. China is now its most important economic relationship.

“I would expect that most of the training at Kim Il Sung Military University would be on military operations, military history, and political indoctrination,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.

“But a big part of the curriculum is likely also competition between the personnel to see how they deal with each other physically and mentally, which leads to forming bonds of friendship critical as officers are promoted.”

‘A natural at military strategy’

While Kim Jong Un never served in the KPA, North Korea Leadership Watch (NKLW) contends that it’s likely some students are able to enter Kim Il Sung Military University without any prior service, straight out of high school.

NKLW describes Kim Il Sung Military University as modeled on Soviet military academies; while there might be classes on North Korean military history, the structure and academics of Kim Il Sung Military University find their closest analogs in the Soviet system.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.

(KCNA)

According to North Korean official state media, Fifield writes, Kim Jong Un was “such a natural at military strategy that he was instructing the instructors rather than learning from them.”

He graduated on Dec. 24, 2006, Fifield writes, “with honors,” after writing a final dissertation on “A Simulation for the Improvement of Accuracy in the Operational Map by the Global Positioning System (GPS).”

But a former member of the North Korean military who now lives in the US and is familiar with the Kim family said it was unlikely that Kim Jong Un actually attended Kim Il Sung Military University, at least not in the traditional sense.

“According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong Un attended Kim Il Sung Military University, but I couldn’t find any of his classmates or Army mates. If he really attended that university, somebody should know that he attended,” the former military member said.

“If Kim Jong Un actually attended that college, he has pictures, he has a record, and he has friends. But [none] of the North Korean elite could find his picture and his friends. I think it’s a kind of propaganda,” the former military member said, noting that the North Korean propaganda department would have exploited any evidence of Kim Jong Un having attended the university to build up his cult of personality.

Rather than actually physically attending classes, there were “probably private instructors visiting his house to give him a lecture,” the former military member said.

“Kim Il Sung Military University is a more closed university, the students are military officers, not civilians, so they can keep the secret that Kim Jong Un didn’t actually attend.”

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

(KCNA)

Kim would have been unique in attending the military school named for his grandfather; “I don’t think most of the Kim family become military officers — they avoid becoming military officers,” the former military member said.

“They have a good life […] they don’t need to go [in] the military to risk their lives.”

In order to qualify for a school like Kim Il Sung Military University, potential recruits must have, “superior service records, excellent physical condition and trusted political reliability” and have “a flawless family background, be popular among fellow soldiers, and receive the approval of their commanding and political officers,” according to Joseph Bermudez’s book “Shield of the Great Leader: The Armed Forces of North Korea.”

NKLW contends that Kim probably had private tutoring for at least a few years, and that he was likely a very good student, exhausting teachers with his questions. The academics on military operations are thought to be rigorous, even if it’s unlikely Kim also participated in the physical and professional competitions that other students must face.

In whatever capacity he studied with the university’s instructors, it influenced his relationship with the North Korean military today, in particular the aggressive missile testing North Korea undertook under the third Kim leader.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what troops do when they’re wintered over in Antarctica

Winter sucks everywhere. Sure, the bugs have finally frozen over and you can finally break out that coat you like, but it’s cold, you’re always late because your car won’t defrost in time, and no one seems to remember to tap their brakes when stopping at intersections.

But, as any optimist might tell you, things can always get worse! While it sucks for us up here in the middle of December, it’s actually the nicest time to be in Antarctica — nice by Antarctic standards anyway.

It doesn’t last, though, as the winters there begin in mid-February and don’t let up until mid-November. And don’t forget, we have brothers and sisters in the U.S. Armed Forces down there embracing the suck of the coldest temperatures on Earth.


How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

McMurdo Station is by far the most populated location on the entire continent with a population of 250 in the winter.

(Photo by Sarah E. Marshall)

To ensure that no hostilities occur on the frozen continent, the Antarctica Treaty lists it as “the common heritage of mankind.” As such, only scientific expeditions are allowed down there. Since airmen, sailors, and coast guardsmen have the capabilities to assist in this respect, they routinely travel to scientific research facilities to help out. Their mission is, simply, keep the scientists alive and let them focus on doing their jobs.

During the winter, which, as we’d mentioned, lasts for ten months, most scientists head to more hospitable climates. Most. Not all. It’s up to the troops to help keep those who remain safe and well. Thankfully, there are only three spots on the entire barren continent that they need to keep tabs on: McMurdo Station, Palmer Station, and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

The ports and airstrips at Palmer Station remain active year round. In case of any emergencies, the Air Force and Navy can quickly send supplies into Palmer to have it distributed out further. At McMurdo Station, the winters are a little more intense, so the ports and airstrip are strictly for emergency use — but they manage.

Then there’re the troops with the scientists at the South Pole Station. They’re almost entirely frozen in. Thankfully, it doesn’t snow that much at the South Pole, but the wind combined with near-permanent darkness make it feel close to -100 Fahrenheit. The only real thing to do then is to bunker inside at the one bar located at the South Pole and wait for ten months inside.

To see what the winters actually look like in Antarctica, check out the video below.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these great camo patterns from around the world

Militaries around the world use camouflage to evade detection by the enemy in all kinds of environments, from jungle and desert to city streets.

Avoiding detection is often a matter of life and death, and the patterns and colors are dictated by the environment where troops expect to operate.

Some work better than others, but all patterns are designed to help troops blend in with their surroundings.


How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

British Soldiers use a compound as shelter during an operation in Afghanistan.

(Photo by Cpl. Daniel Wiepen)

1. Desert camouflage

Desert camouflage has gone through a host of updates since the war in Iraq began, in an effort to make troops harder to spot in sandy and dusty environments there.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller speaks to Marines during a town hall in Shorab, Afghanistan, June 28, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. Olivia G. Ortiz)

2. US Marines wear a digital pattern with small pixels.

MARPAT, as the camo pattern is known, is widely viewed as one of the best concealment patterns because of the small, digitized pixels.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

US and Romanian soldiers discuss an operation during a multinational exercise in Poland in June 2018.

(Photo by Spc. Hubert Delany)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

A Russian soldier participates in an exercise in February 2018 in Belarus.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Dutch troops pictured during NATO exercise Trident Juncture.

(Photo by Hille Hillinga)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Belgian and German soldiers conduct weapons proficiency training in Norway during Exercise Trident Juncture.

(Allied Joint Force Command Naples)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Sailors from the HMAS Warramunga pictured during an interception of a suspect vessel in the Arabian Sea, where they seized approximately 100kg, or 220 pounds, of heroin.

(LSIS Tom Gibson Royal Australian Navy)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Sailors attached to the USS Blue Ridge fire M16 rifles during qualification training at Camp Fuji.

(Photo by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Ethan Carter)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Army students in a cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Army students in cold weather operations course prepare for training in Wisconsin.

(Photo by Scott T. Sturkol)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

A camouflaged Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle sits under a tree in Poland.

(Photo by Spc. CaShaunta Williams)

11. Militaries have creative ways of concealing vehicles, like this infantry carrier.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This country music star is excited to be playing for the military

Country music superstar Chris Young has released two platinum albums, been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and has nine number 1 hits. He’s on his Raised On Country Tour right now, and he took some time to talk about what it’s like to visit with Navy working dogs, to see so many vets and service members on his tour after his sister’s time in the Marines, and to have a tour sponsor in USAA that can help him get in touch with more military audiences.


Young picked the cities for the tour for the standard reasons, but he’s gotten to enjoy some little perks and experiences at military stops. Like when, two weeks ago, he got to hang out with dog handlers at Naval Base San Diego.

“There are so many markets where we’re going to go that are pretty large military markets as far as bases,” he said, “and, you know, we’re able to do the things like we did in San Diego on the naval base the other day.”

“We knew there were going to be a bunch of partnership opportunities like that [with USAA] and I just have a big love and respect for the military,” he said. “So anytime you get a tour sponsor where you know, everything already lines up on its own, it’s a pretty incredible thing.”

He isn’t new to the military experience, though. Young’s sister was a West Coast Marine who worked on helicopters. And she married another Marine. Seeing his sibling’s sacrifices deepened his respect for the military.

“I remember that I would see, first-hand, about the amount of time that people are going out. She and I have always been really, really, really close and so when you go months at a time, sometimes, without being able to see somebody because their travel versus what you’re doing to travel and anything else I think you understand it in a different way I guess.”

It’s his sister’s and his brother-in-law’s military service that he thinks of when he’s performing “The Dashboard,” a song about two brothers when one is sent to war and leaves his truck behind. For anyone who hasn’t heard it, we won’t give away the ending, but it’s not the ending made typical by “Riding with Private Malone.”

Young didn’t write “The Dashboard,” but he connected with it when he heard it.

Chris Young – Raised on Country (Official Video)

www.youtube.com

“That song, buddy of mine Monty Criswell wrote it, and I just thought it was so different from the way I had heard other songs written even along the same line, topically, just the way he handled that song and made it something really, really special and anytime that I’ve played I always use the chance to reference my sister because obviously, she’s a Marine so I get a chance to nod to her and my brother-in-law when I sing that song and I always make sure to say something about them.”

For Young, who has gotten a kick out of playing for troops since he was at bases like Fort Bliss before his first record contract, it’s nice to get back in front of them. But as his fame has grown and technology has advanced, he’s found better ways of recognizing vets and service members in huge venues.

A partner company makes these “armbands where we’ve been able to ask people prior to the show, we go, ‘Hey have you or has anyone in your family served?’ And then we can actually light up their armbands for a song and kind of call them out say thank you that way … which is pretty cool.”

For Young, that made USAA agreeing to come as tour sponsor perfect. He already loved the military and liked to take time during shows to raise them up, so having a sponsor whose customer base is almost exclusively military families let everything sync up.

“I’m already totally all in on and any chance that I get to say thank you in multiple different ways to military, that’s something that’s been important to me my entire career. [Partnering with USAA] is just going to be awesome. It’s just going to work so I think it’s one of things that just happened.”

And that partnership has already helped Chris Young take part in multiple events. He played a small concert for military and family members at the NFL Draft back in April and then got to visit the working dogs at San Diego this August. (If you watch the NFL Draft video, you might recognize WATM’s own Augie Dannehl who helped host.)

If you’re interested in seeing when Chris is coming to your town, check out his tour calendar here.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest memes for the week of June 29

A lot of great things happened this week. The U.S. is in a full-on trade war with everyone. There’s a news draft of the latest tax form for this year, the Supreme Court’s wildcard justice announced plans to retire, and Trump is going to meet Putin face-to-face.

Is this good? Is this bad? We’re not here to tell you that. And honestly, you should decide for yourselves. We’re here right now to give you memes. Dank memes. And in the world of dank military memes, the fallout from the Space Force is ongoing.

And hilarious.


How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Imagine the Space Force JROTC.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Just add salt. A lot of salt.

(Decelerate Your Life)

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

They already left for their dream job at American Airlines.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Ice 101 and shrimp are never going to happen.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

But welcome to the Navy.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

A 0.00 ring, but still.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

In nomini paratus.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

We hardly knew ye.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Moon dust. Moon dust everywhere.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

He just gained the knowledge of Enlisted Jesus.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Glad someone can talk to those animals below decks.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Forgot about Trey.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Meanwhile the Marines are on FOB Mercury.

/**/
MIGHTY CULTURE

You have to see this rare video of Civil War vets doing the Rebel Yell

The Rebel Yell haunted the dreams of many Union soldiers during the Civil War. It wasn’t scary or fearsome on its own, but it was rarely if ever heard on its own. Usually, the listener heard a mass of voices raising from the din of battle. Everyone knew what was coming next, which was more often than not, a bayonet charge from a bunch of gray uniforms worn by troops with nothing to lose.


The Library of Congress has released video of “ol’ Confeds” who “haven’t got much but will give you what we got left.”

At the end of the Civil War, there were hundreds of thousands of veterans on both sides of the war. Many enlisted while they were young, others when they were adults. For the decades that came after, veterans from all walks of life would meet up and share their experiences. With the advent of television and film, these meetups were filmed, and certain cultural notes that might have been lost to history were preserved forever, like the famed Rebel Yell.

The video above was taken in the 1930s, as the men in it are visibly aged but still seem to be in relatively good health. Their original uniforms in the backdrop of the post-World War I world stand in dramatic contrast, marking their emergence from a bygone era of American history. Civil War vets from North and South would meet up through the 1940s, as they began to die off in droves in the 1950s.

The Library has also released a trove of other amazing historical videos, including African-American Civil War veterans from the North and South, proudly wearing their uniforms to members of the Army and the Grand Army of the Republic (a Civil War Veterans’ political group) escorting the casket of Hiram Cronk, the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812, down the streets of New York City in 1905.

When Civil War veterans came together in later years, especially in the pre-war and interwar years, people were less inclined toward national divisions of decades past than they were coming together to confront the threats against the country coming from overseas.

There’s nothing that can bring Americans together like a common enemy.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Is this viral laundry hack the answer to smelly PT clothes?

Sarah McAllister of Calgary, Alberta had no intention of starting a cleaning revolution. 

“I think the massive traction we have received the last few months is hilarious,” the Canadian entrepreneur told We Are The Mighty. “We are seriously scrubbing toilets and people cannot get enough of it.”

McAllister isn’t kidding. The Go Clean Co Instagram page has amassed more than 1.5 millions followers amidst the coronavirus pandemic, mostly users impressed with the cleaning hacks she shares regularly to the page. The Canadian cleaning company, launched in 2018, specializes in professional house cleaning with a staff of 18.

“We have always shared our secrets with our followers,” she shared. “As long as people’s houses are clean, we are happy, even if you cannot hire us.” 

The most engaging of the company’s posts is laundry stripping, a cleaning method that ‘strips’ clean laundry of built-up detergent residue, fabric softener, body oils, odor, and hard water. 

“I have always done it,” McAllister said. “I used to be a hot yoga teacher, and my yoga clothes used to stink horribly from all the sweat. One day I was googling how to get rid of the stink before I tossed a beloved pair of Lululemons and came across stripping. [It] has saved so many of my clothes since then.”

The CEO of GoCleanCo dubs laundry stripping ‘life changing’ and routinely strips clothing, sheets, and towels in her home. Before starting, she advises sorting laundry based on colors.

“You cannot strip darks and lights together,” she shared. “And I would not strip anything that is sweater or wool based, for fear of it shrinking since the water is hot.”

To strip laundry at home, McAllister recommends putting like-colored laundry in a bathtub with hot water, followed by her tried-and-true recipe of:

1 generous scoop of powdered Tide laundry detergent

¼ cup 20 Mule Team Borax

¼ cup Arm and Hammer washing soda

¼ cup Calgon laundry soap (optional)

She shared on her Instagram page that Calgon can be hard to get, and she has had ‘awesome results’ without it. Let the laundry soak for four to six hours, checking in every hour to stir the laundry around with your hand. 

When the laundry is done soaking, drain the bathtub and wash in a regular washing machine cycle. 

“Start with towels, they are the most satisfying,” she said. “It gets rid of the hard water build up, detergent, fabric softener, and any locked in grime. They feel so soft afterwards.” 

In a recent post, fellow quaran-cleaners shared their enthusiasm for the laundry tip:

One follower saidI did my husband’s work clothes. He’s an airplane mechanic – it was nasty!” Another shared “My husband’s hockey gear that gets used three times a week. I honestly thought something died in my bathroom [and] the stink was so bad.”

Author’s Note: 

Intrigued by the viral process, I took on the challenge with workout clothes, including Army PT shirts that have had a stuck-in stench for years. After five hours, the water was so murky my hand was barely visible beneath the surface. One week later, I was wearing clothes I had stopped working out in due to smell without any lingering odor, even while actively sweating. It’s safe to say I’m a believer in Sarah’s methodology and have since stripped curtains, towels and sheets without issue.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How Scotty Bob went from Marine combat cameraman to pro base jumper

Veteran U.S. Marine Corps combat cameraman Scotty Bob loves to jump out of perfectly safe aircraft. He got his first taste of what would become his career at age 19 when his attachment to Marine Force Recon sent him to U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“That’s kind of where I bit the bug,” Bob told Coffee or Die. He now lives in Southern California as a professional base jumper working with Squirrel Wingsuits. He also works with Kavu, maker of the well-known Rope Bag.


BRCC Presents: Scotty Bob

www.youtube.com

Back in the Marines, Bob didn’t get to jump very often. He deployed to Iraq twice, in 2007 and 2009, and spent most of his time with line infantry units. “Once we get deployed, we’re kind of property of the MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force),” he said. “I think I was the only combat cameraman with jump wings.”

For anyone unfamiliar with the role of a combat cameraman, Scotty said that “if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ it’s the exact same job. The guy who wrote the manuscript of that movie for Stanley Kubrick, he was my MOS (military occupational specialty).”

After his five-year stint in the Marines, Bob left in 2010 and soon realized that college was “not really my thing.” So he began his skydiving and base-jumping career in Virginia.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

(Photo courtesy of Scotty Bob/Facebook.)

As with many career paths, Bob said, one starts in the skydiving industry with “entry-level jobs, and you tend to work your way up the ranks. And for me it started as a parachute packer.” He worked long hours and did not get to jump very often, but his foot was in the door.

After spending a while working in Virginia, where he grew up, Bob decided to head west. He said that once “you spend a couple years skydiving on the East Coast, you realize you need to move West. In California, we can jump year round.”

By 2013, he had earned tandem instructor certification, and Bob was well on his way to living his dream.

He has jumped everywhere from Virginia to Alaska, where he jumped out of de Havilland Beavers. He described the Alaskan experience as “just flying down mountains.” He even jumped Pioneer Peak, one of the most iconic mountains of the western Chugach range, not far from Anchorage.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

(Photo courtesy of Scotty Bob/Facebook.)

In his day-to-day life, Bob tests new wingsuits for Squirrel Wingsuits and coaches people in wingsuiting.

“I do that basically seven days a week,” he said, adding that “the base-jumping community especially has a massive veteran community, it’s pretty scary. When we have events, at least in the States, you can throw a rock and hit three Marines.”

As for the future, Bob says that he is happy where he is. “I’ve reached the holy grail of jobs,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways to make clearing CIF less of a headache

It’s the dreaded last step in clearing out of a unit to either PCS to another duty station or ETS back into the civilian world — turning gear into the Central Issuing Facility.

We get it. Nobody wants to stand around for six hours to have a grouchy civilian give you hell for having a tiny bit of Afghanistan dust stuck to your rucksack, but it’s just one of those things that needs to be done. Uncle Sam gave you a bunch of high-priced gear and he expects it back — even if the gear is well past its issuing date.

You likely won’t ever have a fantastic, enjoyable time at CIF, but it doesn’t have to be terrible. Here’re a few tips that many troops and vets before you have used to breeze through.


How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

There’s nothing a little elbow grease and a bit of “f*ck you” can’t solve.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sean McCallon, 91st Training Division public affairs)

Clean. Everything. Spotlessly. 

This is a no-brainer. CIF wants their gear clean and they’ll kick it right back if they see dirt. If you know that you’ve used your gear at least once since getting it, give it a wash. Your more well-used stuff is going to require a lot more extra attention. Give yourself a week to get it all done. It might take all manners of cleaning products to get that one friggin’ stain out of the knee pads you know you barely used, but it’s got to be done.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

It helps to volunteer for working parties that involves the supply room. Stay on their good side.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dominick A. Cremeans)

Sweet talk your supply NCO.

Everyone takes for granted how much the supply NCO can really help with missing, broken, or un-returnable gear. They have connexes upon connexes of gear that isn’t really accounted for that could easily help you out.

Depending on what the supply room has to offer, you could save a lot of money by simply asking nicely. Sure, they probably can’t swing you an entire sleeping bag system without doing a bunch of paperwork — but they could probably take yours and swap it out with another… Maybe.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Some times those “tacticool” retirees know what’s up.

(Photo by Anna Frodesiak)

Buy what you’re missing off-post.

But the supply NCO can’t help you with everything — and you’re not going to want to take that hit from the Statement of Charges that says you owe the government 0 for a single missing ammo pouch. Thankfully, there’s an entire market dedicated to selling used military gear just outside the main gate.

First of, it’s best to simply not consider the legality of how the place received all that gear — there’s a non-zero chance it was pilfered from some poor sap’s wall locker at reception and sold by some grade-A blue falcon. Just pay the , get your replacement gear, and tell yourself that it was probably surplus — or it “fell off some truck somewhere.”

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

Plus, that moment when you correct them and say, “as you can clearly see” while pointing to the relevant document is priceless.

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Brianna Saville / 416th Theater Engineer Command)

Bring any and all paperwork from previous visits to CIF.

Don’t just show up with your clearing paperwork and the slip of what your supply NCO says you were issued. Bring any document that may even remotely have anything to do with your gear.

Best case scenario: Everything goes without a hitch and you can jam that paperwork back into the plastic box you keep in the closet. Worst case scenario: They say that you were issued something that you clearly never were and you have proof that there was some kind of mistake.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

This goes double if the CIF is using troops to help with the workload. Just don’t be an asshole.

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. Brianna Saville/ 416th Theater Engineer Command)

Don’t give the workers a hard time.

This one should be basic human knowledge — or at least ingrained in military customs and courtesies. Don’t be a dick to the civilians who work at CIF. The reason the lines are so long is because they’re constantly helping loads of troops, each and every day.

Rank and position don’t mean the same thing to them because you’re in their world, they’re not in yours. They will help each and every troop, from private to general, when their number is called. It doesn’t matter if they’re as pleasant to be around as that slug lady from Monster’s Inc., don’t give them any extra incentive to kick your stuff back — even if that means swallowing your pride.

MIGHTY CULTURE

32 terms only airmen will understand

As the youngest member of the U.S. armed forces, the Air Force gets a lot of flak from other branches, despite having the capacity to (arguably) destroy all life on Earth in 30 minutes. In its relative short history, its Airmen evolved a culture and language all their own.


“Airman Snuffy”

The original Dirtbag Airman, he’s an example Air Force instructors use to train Airmen how not to do the wrong things in hypothetical situations. The difference between the example and the real Airman Snuffy is the real Snuffy is a Medal of Honor recipient. He tried to put out a deadly aircraft fire by pissing on it while simultaneously shooting down Nazi fighter planes.

What the Piss

This is the trademark, go-to phrase said (yelled) by Air Force Military Training Instructors (MTI). From Zero Week until graduation, anytime you forget where you are, you’ll hear this phrase right before you get a reminder. Only MTIs know why they chose this. It could be a tribute to Airman Snuffy.

The Snake Pit

Where Air Force MTIs eat, usually right at the end of the chow line, so every Airman trainee has to walk by to get to their table.

House Mouse

Never to be referred to as such – it is technically the Flight Office Technician, aka the MTI’s assistant. See also: Snitch.

 

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Staff Sgt. Robert George, a military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, marches his unit following the issuance of uniforms and gear. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo)

Stress Cards

The most persistent myth about the Air Force. Other branches think we get these during basic training in case we need “to take a moment.” These have never existed and never will, but because of the Air Force’s old six-week basic training length, it sure sounds plausible. If the USAF ever did try this, the ghost of Curtis LeMay would burn the Air Force Secretary’s house down.

Rainbow Flights

Before basic trainees get their first uniform issue (aka “slicksleeves”) at Lackland, they’re usually walking around in the civvies in which they first arrived. In formation, they look like a dirtbag rainbow and probably smell bad because they have been wearing these clothes for 2-4 days.

Reporting Statement

“Sir/Ma’am, Trainee ________ reports as ordered,” the phrase you give an MTI anytime you need to respond to an inquiry.

AF Form 341

Excellence Discrepancy Report – Every Airman in Basic Training and Technical School must carry at least three of these small forms on their person at all times. When you screw up, one will be demanded of you and turned into your training unit. The 341 is an excellent way to introduce Airmen to the primary Air Force disciplinary system – Paperwork. Rumors of this form being used to report excellence are unsubstantiated.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Here, Staff Sgt. Michael Sheehan fires a man-portable aircraft survivability trainer, or MAST, at Saylor Creek Range at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Nutri-Grain Bar Prank

More advanced basic trainees will sometimes tell newer trainees they can’t eat the Nutri-Grain Bars at breakfast unless they take the bar, slam it on the Snake Pit’s table and shout out what flavor it is, then stand at parade rest until given permission to digest.

Dirtbag Airman (DBA)

The chaff that fell through the cracks — The Dirtbag Airman has no regard for regulations, dress and appearance, customs and courtesies, or even personal hygiene. It shows up late with Starbucks cups and takes the most breaks while doing the least work.

Pull Chocks

Refers to pulling the wedges used to prevent a stationary aircraft from moving while parked on the flightline. Also known as “Let’s go” or “Let’s get out of here,” in Air Force parlance, because you have to pull the chocks before the plane can leave the base.

DFAC

The Air Force does not have Chow Halls or Mess Tents. It has Dining Facilities (or DFACs). Referring to the building in which Airmen who do not have the time to go to the BX Food Court or Burger King as a “Chow Hall” actually offends senior enlisted Food Service Craftsmen.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Airman 1st Class Mohamed Berete, 22nd Force Support Squadron services apprentice, hands a salad to Airman 1st Class Joshua Houseworth, 22nd Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, at the Chisholm Trail Inn dining facility. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Maria A. Ruiz)

Load Toad

A USAF Weapons Loader. He or she sometimes drives a “Jammer.”

Squawks

Notes made by USAF pilots and left for maintenance crews to fix. Because aircraft maintainers are, for the most part, funny, sometimes the crews’ responses are worth compiling.

Prime Beef

Not an actual hunk of meat. A Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force is a rapidly deployable, specialized civil engineer unit. If you’re deployed in an austere location, you want them to be your best friends.

BRRRRRT

The sound an A-10 Thunderbolt II aka “Warthog” makes when projecting freedom.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
(U.S. Air Force photo)

BTZ

Means “Below the Zone” promotion from E-3 to E-4, or getting that extra stripe before your regular time in service promotion. Squadrons sometimes groom Airmen for this.

AFI 36-2903

This is the regulation for Air Force Dress and Appearance Standards, and is usually the only Air Force Instruction most Airmen actually know, can remember when asked, or have ever read. 

The Gauntlet – aka “Tacking On”

Enlisted Air Force personnel wear their rank on the sleeves of their ABUs. When they are promoted, their new rank is “tacked on.” The Airman’s peers stand in two lines, the new rank patches are pinned to the Airman’s uniform, and the promotee walks down the line as his coworkers punch them as hard as possible in the rank.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
The U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team performs June 26, 2014, at Mount Rushmore. The Drill Team recently completed a nine-day, seven-city, 10-performance tour across the Midwest with the U.S. Air Force Band’s rock ensemble Max Impact. During the tour, the two groups performed in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Nathan Wallin)

Whole-Airman Concept

An enlisted performance review system designed to keep you from earning a perfect rating (and ultimately a BTZ promotion) despite being the best performer in your unit at your actual job function, because you didn’t volunteer to pick up trash at the squadron commander’s mandatory fun burger burn.

FOD Walks

FOD is Foreign Object Debris, anything on the flightline that doesn’t belong there and could damage the aircraft. Entire units sometimes walk shoulder to shoulder picking up whatever FOD they find. Airmen in non-flightline roles will sometimes be assigned to augment FOD walks.

First Shirt or “Shirt”

The unit First Sergeant. There are a lot of theories as to why, but there’s no real consensus.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Capt. Patrick Applegate, an Airman with the 23rd Bomb Squadron currently deployed with the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, removes ground safety pins on a MAU-12 Jan. 29, prior to a B-52H Stratofortress live drop mission for exercise Tropic Fury. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)

Operation Golden Flow

Being “randomly selected” to have someone watch you pee for drug use testing.

Why Not Minot?

Universally regarded as the most unpleasant duty station due to its extreme remoteness, Minot Air Force Base’s staff use this phrase to laugh at their situation because otherwise the terrorists win. The entire Air Force recognizes this phrase and it’s reply: Freezin’s the reason! In the SAC days, they would say “there’s a woman behind every tree!” There were no trees.

JP-8

Jet fuel. Smells like freedom.

Prop Wash and Flight Line

A fool’s errand given to new enlisted airmen, similar to a snipe hunt or the Army’s “box of grid squares.”

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
Staff Sgt. Nathan A. Hruska fires his Beretta M9 pistol during a weapons qualification Aug. 15, 2014, at Operation Northern Strike in Alpena, Mich. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

Wing King

The Wing-level Commander — usually the base commander — who is always 0-6 or above. Sometimes the highest ranking person on the base, though some bases have multiple wings, missions, etc.

Breaking Red

Walking outside the designated personnel areas (marked in red) on the flightline or not using designated entry and exit control areas. Breaking Red will result in youtr face pressed to the ground with a boot on your back and an M-16 pointed at your neck (aka Eating Ramp). Security Forces love it when people do this.

LOX

Liquid oxygen used in aircraft oxygen systems, run by environmental management techs. Sometimes used to cool beer. (Update: Some readers did not realize this is a joke. Using LOX to cool beer is a bad idea.)

IYAAYAS

Every career field and unit has its own slang, motto, and/or culture. IYAAYAS is the most widely-known and is the official rally cry of the USAF Munitions Specialists and means “If You Ain’t Ammo, You Ain’t Shit.” Others include “Who the hell, POL” (fuels) and “No Comm, No Bomb” (Communications).

 

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina
US Army Staff Sgt. Scott Graham, a medic with the 214th Aviation Regiment (Air Ambulance), carries a litter and a backboard from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to extract a simulated patient during a medical evacuation mission. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ashley Reed)

Port Dawg

Aerial Porters who rig cargo, parachutes, prepare airdrops and load/unload aircraft are technically “Air Transportation Specialists” but are referred to as Port Dawgs.

Army Proof

Derivative of “Fool Proof,” this is how Airmen lord our higher ASVAB score requirements over the Army. Every time a grunt says “Chair Force,” an Air Force PJ gains one of their IQ points.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the US military needs to seriously rethink ‘recruiter goals’

Each year, the United States Armed Forces projects the amount of troops that will exit the service and how many new bodies it needs to fill the gaps in formation. This number is distributed accordingly between the branches and then broken down further for each recruiting station, depending on the location, size of the local population, and typical enlistment rates of each area.

This is, at a very basic level, how recruiter quotas work. If the country is at war, the need for more able-bodied recruits rises to meet the demand. When a war is winding down, as we’re seeing today, you would reasonably expect there to be less pressure on recruiters to send Uncle Sam troops — but there’s not. Not by a long shot.


How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

“Come show off at the pull-up bars for the low, low price of taking a business card!”

(Dept. of the Army photo by Ronald A. Reeves)

The most obvious fault with “recruiter goals,” or the quota policy, is that it makes fulfilling the quota the single most important responsibility of the recruiter. So, recruiters will go out and put their best foot forward in the name of their branch in hopes that it’ll inspire someone to enlist — despite all of the other things they need to be doing.

Recruiters generally love going to county fairs or air shows and having loads of civilians flock to their booth — otherwise, they wouldn’t be recruiters. These events give civilians, some of whom may have never interacted with a service member, a friendly one-on-one that could — maybe, just maybe — inspire them to one day serve their country.

At the end of the day, that’s all recruiters can ultimately do to bring in recruits, sow the seeds of military service. Recruiters can’t put a gun to anyone’s head to make them sign on the dotted line and they have to respect a person’s decision to turn down Uncle Sam’s offer.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

By all means, we should commend and praise the recruiters who go above and beyond — but the hammer that’s dropped is unjustly cruel.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Butterfield)

Still, recruiters are expected to enlist a certain amount of recruits into military service — despite the fact that it’s outside the scope of their responsibilities to direct herds of civilians to their offices. They still have to handle all the day-to-day operations of the recruiting station, the plethora of paperwork required by each new recruit, limiting the stress of and mentoring potential recruits, teaching delayed-entry recruits, and acting like a chauffeur between the recruiting depot and MEPS. You could be the most attentive recruiter the military has ever seen, constantly doing everything in your power to best prepare the recruit for military life, but the only metric that matters in the eyes of Big Recruiting is that one, big number.

To make matters worse, the pool of eligible recruits is dwindling as the criteria for service keeps getting stricter.

How the Army’s ‘Robin Sage’ puts Special Forces hopefuls to a final, make-or-break test in the forests of North Carolina

My honest opinion? Scrap the negative consequences for not meeting quota but institute minor, but enjoyable benefits that would encourage recruiters to try harder — like a half a day of leave added to their LES for each recruit they bring in or whatever seems more applicable.

(Photo by Dan Desmet, New York District Public Affairs)

All this being said, the quota isn’t entirely without merit. It lets the higher-ups know, at a glance, that a recruiter is keeping their word to the Pentagon. Some might even say that it motivates recruiters to get out there and keep hustling bodies into their office. But the quota has caused much more undue stress than it should.

To put it as bluntly as possible, recruiters are killing themselves for not reaching an arbitrary number, set outside of their control. Recruiters are forced to work longer hours and weekends (up to 15 hours per day, seven days per week in some cases) when crunch time comes. Recently, recruiters were almost denied holiday time — not as in block leave, but spending Christmas morning with their families — because they didn’t meet numbers.

This is nothing new and the stress military recruiters face has been front and center of national discussion for ages now.

The fact is, there’s no simple solution because the numbers still need to be met — but just because it’s not a simple problem doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix it. Perhaps we should shift the focus on strengthening the recruits that willingly walk in the door, or we should bring more troops into recruiting stations to lighten the load of the already-overworked recruiters. Something, anything, needs to be done.

It is completely understandable that the military needs new recruits. Check roger. But we cannot sit idly by without addressing the major stressor that causes recruiters to commit suicide at three times the rate of the rest of the Army — which already has a suicide rating twice of the general population.