The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

Historically, all empires either fall or morph into some other empire… and then fall. While we don’t use the term “empire” to describe nation-states that much anymore, some countries are still able to project power outside their borders. they project power globally (like the United States) or regionally (like Iran). But when it comes to having to defend their home turf, some countries are just not going to roll over for any reason.

These are those countries.


1. The United States of America

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
This is America.

We all saw this one coming, so let’s get it out of the way early and start with what I know many are thinking: any invader of the United States isn’t facing just the U.S. military, they’re facing all 330 million Americans. Yes, there are more weapons than people in the U.S. (and that’s just considering the guns we know about). Americans are even allowed to design and build their own weapons in many states, without ever having to register. So who knows what they’re packing. This also means every American with an arsenal can recruit and train their own band of Wolverines.

Even if an invader managed to take control of the civilian population — and that’s a big if — they’d still have to get through the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world first, all recruited from the very violently pro-America people I was just telling you about.

Then they have to hold on to that territory without getting killed and without the locals organizing against them. Too bad many major American cities are already organized. And armed. And ready to go killing again once the war dies down a bit. We call them street gangs.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
This is just Los Angeles county.
(LAPD)

Albuquerque, Houston, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Baltimore, New York City — whether the invasion moves from east to west or west to east, there are a lot of pressure points invaders need to secure before moving on. Which brings up another point: America is huge.

Our four mainland time zones contain seven different climate regions, not to mention everything from high mountains to marshland, swamps to deserts, and in some places, a lot of flat nothing. Just going across the mighty Mississippi River without a bridge is enough to kill off a good chunk of an army while the residents of East St. Louis are using it as target practice.

When the invaders get out of the actual geographical features of the United States (where roving bands of armed American militias are waiting in ambush), the invader will enter some of the largest cities in the world, three of which are in the top 100 in terms of population, and many are full of the aforementioned gangs and violent extremist groups.

Ever look up at New York City buildings and just imagine what it would be like to have to invade, conquer, and keep a city so populous and so large in size and scale?

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Me either. But you feel free to fight the next Stalingrad if you want.

 

2. Russia

This one goes well beyond the myth of “General Winter” (although that would definitely be a factor for most invading countries). Russia projects power regionally but its armed forces (as I mentioned before in other articles) is not as great as Putin is hyping it up to be lately.

Related: 10 worst armies in the world 2018

If invaded, however, Russia doesn’t have to project anything and its legendary toughness can really bloom, even in the middle of the freezing Russian winter. Invading Russia, as any student of history knows, is a terribly difficult task. When Napoleon invaded in 1812, the Russian people took casualties, to be sure, but what really suffered was Russia’s towns, cities, farms, and other infrastructure — all of it destroyed by Russians.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

That’s right, Russians would rather destroy their own country than leave it for any invader. And if you’re thinking that was a long time ago and how modern Russians might have different sensibilities, remember they did that when the Nazis invaded in World War II. From there, the fighting only got more brutal. So any invader has to remember that they’re likely fighting every single Russian – across 11 times zones.

Did you catch that? There are 11 time zones in Russia, the largest country by land mass. If that wasn’t bad enough, Russia also contains every single climate type there is (yes, Russia has a rain forest. Look it up). If that wasn’t enough, they will likely have to fight every ex-Soviet client state around Russia’s borders, too. Many of them are still very loyal to Russia and would take up arms to fight for their Russian friends. This only extends the range and variety of people, climate, and geography to conquer. It means everything from the deserts of Kazakhstan, to the mountains and forests of the Caucasus region, and to the frozen shores of the Black and Caspian Seas.

The steppes and tundras of Central Asia are not a forgiving place and just like the Americans who would take up arms against an invader, the Russian and pro-Russian people living in these areas will too. These are hardy, gun-toting, skilled hunters who have no compulsion about killing an invader, having grown up with their parents’ and grandparents’ stories about fighting the Great Patriotic War against the Nazis.

Fighting which included the deadliest fighting in the history of human warfare (which the Russians won) at Stalingrad.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Which is called Volgograd now. And invaders will have to take this city, too. Good luck with that.

 

3. Afghanistan

Despite what every successive American general would have you believe for the past 17 years, victory in Afghanistan is not just around the corner.

Every invading empire who thought victory was just around the corner in Afghanistan really just helped contribute to Afghanistan’s legacy as “The Graveyard of Empires.” This includes the current sole superpower in the world, the United States, the only other superpower to ever exist, the Soviet Union, and the largest empire ever assembled by any state in the world, the British Empire at its height.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
“Come at me bro.”

What makes Afghanistan so difficult to capture and keep is first and foremost its terrain. It’s a giant bowl of desert surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the world. Any army an invader can’t destroy could just fade away into the mountains and lick their wounds until the next fighting season came. In modern times, the high peaks negate the advantage of armor and tanks, just as it negated the advantage of heavy cavalry in earlier times.

The United States is a viable fighting force in Afghanistan because of its logistical advantage. Where the U.S. can get supplies and troops in and out relatively easily, the attacking British in 1839 had a much less reliable system. That’s why only one man of 16,000 troops and camp followers returned.

That’s why it’s remembered as the “Disaster in Afghanistan.”

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
The original Brexit.

The most important reason no one can conquer Afghanistan is because any invader has to completely subdue the population. The whole population. And these people are as diverse as it gets. Pashtun, Turkmen, Baloch, Palaw, Tajik, and Uzbek are jut a few of the ethnic groups in the country. Even after 17 years in the country, many Americans wouldn’t pick up on the fact that one of those ethnic groups I just mentioned is actually a rice dish.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Just Palaw me.

Put aside Taliban or Mujaheddin loyalty for a moment and imagine the life of a regular Afghan man. Their clan, their tribe, their unit, their sheikh, their ethnicity, their religion, maybe their provincial or central government? And when you do take into account their loyalties to extremist groups, you have to factor in the group, that unit, and the shadow government. That’s 12 potential loyalties right there. Imagine trying to subdue 34 million of them, because you have to if you invade Afghanistan.

Defeating those people in pitched battles didn’t work, ask the British. Massacring them also didn’t work, ask the Soviets. The American nation building strategy isn’t coming along either.

4. China

Did your invading army plan on fighting one billion people? Because that is what is likely to happen when invading China. The most populous country in the world now boasts 1.3 billion-plus people. For the uninitiated or bad at math (or both), that means they have almost the entire population of the United States plus a billion. Having written these wargaming posts for a few years now, I know that many will tell me to consider that this doesn’t mean China has a skilled or fearsome force of ground troops and that all they’ve ever tactically perfected on a modern battlefield is human wave attacks.

Imagine a billion people running at your unit.

While these one billion Chinese people likely don’t have their own arms, it wouldn’t take long for the planned central bureaucracy to start handing out weapons to form a unified front against an invader. There’s an old U.S. military saying: if it’s stupid and it works, it isn’t stupid. So it may sound like a throwing a few million soldiers at an invader is stupid, but it’s quite the human wave and it will likely work. So even if the numbers of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir are repeated and it takes ten Chinese divisions to repel one Marine Division, the Marines will need to send 25 divisions just to establish a beachhead.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
And China didn’t even try to equip their soldiers back then. Today, they would have rifles and shoes — and maybe food.

The fun doesn’t stop just because the invader made it ashore. China is as massive as the United States with a diverse climate and diverse geographical features. It’s surrounded by extreme weather and oceans on all sides, so invaders will have to be prepared for the impassable Gobi Desert and the jungles of Southeast Asia, not to mention the mountainous, snowy Himalayan regions which will make air support difficult.

If invading troops aren’t massacred along the way by bands of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, then they still get to contend with a variety of tropical diseases along with the diseases that come from overpopulation and pollution.

This is just in fighting a conventional war. The Chinese are the masters of ripping off foreign technology, so an invading army would have to assume that the country they’re invading will also have all the technological prowess of the United States – and with its 750-million-plus person manpower (assuming they didn’t die in a human wave) and strong economy, they’re ready to grind on for a long time.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Enjoy that iPhone.

5. India

This is probably the only entry on the list many readers didn’t predict. But on its own, India is a formidable place to invade.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Ask Pakistan.

To the north and east lay harsh Himalayan mountain passes and arid deserts makes up roughly half of India’s northwest regions. In the southwest, India is wet and tropical, limiting the best places to land an ocean-born invasion force.

That is, if you ever get to land an invasion force on the subcontinent. Part of India’s major naval strategy is to flood her territorial waters with enough submarines to sink both enemy warships and enemy landing craft while strangling sea lanes of enemy shipping. This tactic has been in place for a long time, since before China’s foreign policy went from one of “peaceful rise” to “crouching tiger.”

Since the British left India in 1947, they’ve had to deal with Pakistan on a few occasions and even went to war with China once. Ever since, China and Pakistan have only grown closer so India’s entire defense strategy has to be predicated on the idea of fighting a war on two fronts — and they’re ready for it.

Fighting in India is not a small matter as any Indian general will probably tell you. The height of the Himalayan mountains makes air support very difficult, even impossible at times. India can’t rely exclusively on one benefactor, meaning it can’t just choose to be closer to the USA or Russia. India cares about Pakistan and China and will accept any tech or gear that helps them win that war. As such, their near-limitless manpower, religious fervor, and billion-plus population would make them a formidable opponent on any front.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
And Gurkhas. They have Gurkhas.

 

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Beware the unit Cartoonist lurking nearby; Red Light Randy Strikes

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

There is a saying among the airborne forces (words to the effect): “The sky, even more so than the land or the sea, is terribly unforgiving to even the slightest mistake.”


I have been in ground combat units, airborne units both low and high-altitude operational in nature, and have extensive experience in both maritime undersea and surface operations. I agree that airborne operations are likely more dangerous than those maritime, but I insist that the land is by far the safest of all; in fact, I’m conducting a fairly safe land operation right this very minute!

Combat diving puts one in many claustrophobic situations. I happen to be mildly claustrophobic; I think a great percentage of us are, but I also happen to be clinically horrified of heights to the point of near incapacitation. For me, therefore, parachute training was the most stressful. That notwithstanding, I have ~800 parachute jumps to boast of.

While I know of many deaths, near deaths, and injuries from parachute operations (mostly broken limbs from landing and spinal injuries from hard parachute openings), I also have personal experience with two fatalities just in the basic training course for Special Forces underwater operations. In both cases the deaths were attributed to heart attacks. I should mention that the Army’s diving school is one of the most stressful, mentally and physically, in the world.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

One of the concerns in airborne operations are early or late exits from the jump aircraft. As you may know, paratroopers try to land in a pre-designated area of land know as a Drop Zone (DZ) that is largely devoid of structures and obstacles like trees and communications lines. Therefore urban areas are avoided and deserts make for great DZs indeed. High altitude jumpers with highly maneuverable parachutes fancy the motto: “The whole world is a Drop Zone.”

In a jump aircraft, the pilot turns over control of the jump to the Jump Master in charge by way of a simple pair of lights located at the jump doors; one is red and the other green. Minutes from the DZ, the pilot will illuminate the red light indicating “no jump”. Once the pilot feels he is safely over the DZ, he will illuminate the green light indicating “safe for jump.”

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(Sweet shot of a paratrooper just out the jump door with the green “Go” light illuminated.)

Paratroopers exiting on a red light is considered a major safety violation and is not tolerated across the community. Each incident warrants some measure of investigation to determine fault and safety conditions at the time. Such was the case of Red Light Randy.

Delta does very few if any low-level static lines drops, favoring the greater potential of drops from altitudes of 12,500 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) and above. Red Light Randy had a mission for which a low-level drop was needed, so he set out for a couple of rehearsal jumps prior to the mission.

The practice jumps went well, but on the night of the actual mission, the pilot failed to put the red light to green once over the DZ. Randy had positive visual recognition of his DZ reception party below, but had no jump authority. Frustrated at the sight of his DZ wasting away below him, he stuffed his team out the door with a frustrated enthusiasm. At a point along the exit the green light finally came on.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(A low-level drop has a much greater penchant to keep men less dispersed ever ground
than a high-level drop.)

There was never a decent explanation given by the pilot for the late green light that caused Randy, the last to exit, to come down in some modest scrub past the far edge of the drop zone. There were no injuries or loss of equipment, and Randy and his men enjoyed a mission success for the night.

The Air Force reported the “incident” as an early exit on a red light, but the swift and efficient investigation that ensued determined that the pilot gave a late green, threatening a separation in Randy’s team. In combat it is not the prerogative to circle back and drop the rest of the team, so inevitably the loss of so many men of Randy’s team would have monumentally jeopardized mission success.

So the early red light incident was over… or was it? The “potential ball-breaking” alarm sounded. The details of the event were rocketed off to me, and I got to work straight away producing the feature cartoon:

The drop aircraft is depicted still on departure field runway with Randy announcing the command to jump, The first man exits only to splat face-down on the tarmac. Early exit on red for Red Light Randy!

MIGHTY CULTURE

Don’t bleed around your unit cartoonist; Bill’s trick back

Master Sergeant George Hand US Army (ret) was a member of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. He is a now a master photographer, cartoonist and storyteller.

Master Sergeant Bill — and that was his real last name — had a trick back, so he claimed. It seemed to flare up just as we were on the cusp of an unpleasant mission. My gosh, it didn’t seem to trouble him much at all during “good deal” trips, no Sir. Whether or not it was a valid ailment, that we shall never know, but the timing of the affliction sure seemed suspect over the years.

Well sure, I understood as well as the next man, that with all of the non-stop training we did to satisfy our charter to deploy in just a few hours, to deploy to the four corners of the planet and be ready to sustain combat for several days… a brother just needed a break now and then to harness and hold a semblance of sanity — “to each his own,” I often rationalized.


The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

“Woo, yeah brother… I can feel my back getting ready to go out again. Yes sirree I can feel it coming on.”

“$hit Bill, your back goes out more than a hooker on East Central… I don’t suppose your back is just feeling the freezing cold early on, is it?”

“What freezing cold?”

“Yeah, the freezing cold of our trip to Fairbanks Alaska for Arctic weather training.”

“Oh, yeah… well I guess that is coming up, isn’t it…”

“Oh, well yeah… I guess it is, Bill.”

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(Arctic warfare training always promised deep snow and freezing temperatures)

There were a few brothers that had a perceived penchant for backing out of what we called “bad deal trips,” in favor of pursuing only the “good deal trips.” They were just slick like that. Again it was just a perception, but perception is the better part of reality in most cases.

Three of the guys earned the following monikers:

Samuel: Good deal Sam, bad deal — scram!

William: Good deal Will, bad deal — chill!

Martin: Good deal Marty, bad deal — departy!

Ah, but Sergeant Bill… now he just carried his maneuvers a smidge farther than the rest, and he didn’t deserve any finesse in his moniker:

Bill: Good deal Bill, bad deal — fake a back injury!

When I look back on some of our more gruesome training missions I am aware, ever so aware, that I do not recollect his presence there. There was the Arctic training in Alaska where we endured temperature plummets as low as -45 degree Fahrenheit while we made death marches on skis and snowshoes all night long.

No Sergeant Bill — threw his dang back out.

There was the trip to British Guyana 100 miles south of the infamous Jones Town where some 950 followers of Jim Jones’ “religion” committed suicide by poisonous Kool-aid in honor of their leader. Triple canopy jungles, All night movements again on foot and by tactical assault boats through snaking inland riverways in the sweltering heat.

No Sergeant Bill — threw his dad-blamed back out.

Hey but the desert mobility training trip where we planned extreme long range patrols… Bill was there! Oh, but his back got to acting up, and he stayed in the rear at the communications relay station — bless his lame heart. If that were not enough, then there was this thing that happened:

Long range tactical patrols meant movement all night long. Before the sun comes up, we stopped and set up camouflage nets. We then performed work priorities, set out guards, and tried to sleep in the frying pan desert as best we could.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(An Austrian Pinzgauer, the vehicle of choice for desert mobility movements)

We played the tactical game to the hilt because we knew there were Russian helicopters flying the desert looking for our Rally Over Day (ROD) locations at this particular state-side training venue. To be spotted was a compromise and we would have to pack up and run from them in daylight— a losing situation.

To the lonely sound of the buzzing of deer flies, punctuated by the omnipresent smacking noise of the swatting of deer flies, was the low rumble of men in fitful sleep. Very suddenly came the booming of the heavy rotor blades of a Russian Hind-D attack helicopter looming at some 75 feet of altitude… with spineless Bill leaning out of a cargo window pointing wildly to us on the ground.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(The very intimidating Russian attack helicopter Hind-D)

“I’m going to kill him pretty soon… I’m going to kill spineless Bill. I’m going to chop him up into pieces then burn each of the pieces to ashes. I’m going to collect up those ashes and tamp them down into the barrel of a 12-pound Napoleon cannon, and fire his ashes out of over a field full of cow sh!t; when the cows come to eat the grass I’m going to kill them too and then burn the grass… and I’m going to do it all on a piping-hot Summer’s day,” projected the oath a particularly agitated brother.

The moral of the story here could possibly be: whether your back injury is real or faked, and perception being the greater part of reality, your shenanigans will not write you a day pass from… THE UNIT CARTOONIST!

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(12-pound Napoleon cannon)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Experience in Vietnam serves as basis for novel

Ed Marohn was born into the Army, both literally in an Army field hospital in Germany and through his baptism by fire in Vietnam. His story is so vast that every chapter feels as if one could have led a full life with just one of his many accomplishments. But instead, Marohn presses on, assuming entirely new adventures — much like his character John Moore, the hero of his series “Legacy of War.”

“My story begins with my mother, who escaped slave labor camps, becoming a displaced person, and eventually ending up in Germany giving birth to me at an Army field hospital,” Marohn said, leading into the conversation as if that statement alone wasn’t enough of a story to write a novel about.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Ed Marohn while stationed in Vietnam.

“We eventually came over in 1950 to Idaho where my mother was sponsored by a local church. After that comes the part about Vietnam when I was a young captain eager to make a career out of the military by linking up with the 101st Airborne Airmobile Division picking up a battalion to command.”

Marohn took to leadership in all aspects, but especially the duty of ensuring that morale and camaraderie remained intact despite the piecemeal rotations soldiers faced in Vietnam.

“Instead of entire platoons or companies rotating in and out, you had individuals which made it near impossible to create a solid core of soldiers. You became the old man by surviving six months in country, and until the newbies proved themselves … they weren’t often accepted.”

He explains the rationale behind this change was to prevent shell shock from the WWII era of two- to three-year tours. An average tour in Vietnam was one year, which according to Marohn presented its own set of issues.

“The result that I witnessed was men suppressing what was happening, holding it in and counting down from the 365 days that remained. It was very much a self-preservation mindset that these young soldiers had. The subconscious would unravel eventually,” Marohn, who as an officer had much more to think about than simply his own survival, explained.

“I was too busy planning across multiple disciplines to focus on me. I had a more mature mindset in my twenties, along with a mission to complete.”

Decades later and with a master’s degree in counseling, Marohn walked into his retirement years a bit different than most. He was back in Idaho volunteering to lead a new program with the VA/VFW aiming to utilize a small group setting to walk veterans through PTSD.

“There’s an irony surrounding toughness in the military. We connect sharing with weakness when it is actually the act of conscious suppression that leads to your subconscious regressing and letting out the demons you are fighting to keep at bay.”

Marohn successfully ran the group until 2016 and had veterans from all wars including Vietnam and today’s more modern conflicts.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer
Marohn makes a radio call while stationed in Vietnam.

“The group functioned as a unit. Individuals were self-helping by the end of their time and generations realized they had more in common than they thought. It wasn’t about what he did versus [what] I did; the commonality was that we all experienced trauma.”

“A lack of resources leading to creative solutions” is what Marohn credits with making a small dent in the ongoing treatment of mental health in combat and non-combat service members.

“When we send our troops to war there are initial costs like materials, but that is simply one small line item in the larger cost of war. There is an ongoing need to running that machine which lies in the treatment of that service member for 30, 40 years — whatever is necessary. The cost is futuristic in nature,” Marohn said passionately.

A combat veteran, successful business career, and an impactful run leading veterans through PTSD is not the last stop in the tour of Marohn’s life. He is the accomplished author behind “Legacy of War,” a psychological thriller with a psychologist experiencing flashbacks after returning to Vietnam.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Russian company to launch Stalin inspired sausages

A meat-processing factory in the town of Shelanger in Russia’s Mari El Republic says it will soon start producing sausages named after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Local communist newspaper Golos Pravdy (Voice of the Truth) said on June 3, 2019, that the factory will launch three new sausage brands — Stalin’s Testaments, Stalingrad, and Soviet.

The announcement said that “the new sausages’ names suggest that they will be delicious.” It did not say when the new products will be launched.


The Zvenigovsky meat-processing facility is owned by the first secretary of the Communist Party’s committee in Mari El, Ivan Kazankov, who owns 99 percent of the factory’s shares.

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, 1937.

In 2015, a 3-meter high statue of Stalin was unveiled in front of the meat-processing facility in Shelanger.

Millions of people were executed, sent to gulag labor camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan, or starved to death in famines caused by forced collectivization during Stalin’s rule.

During World War II, entire ethnic groups in the Soviet Union were sent to Central Asia as collective punishment for what the Kremlin said was collaboration with Nazi Germany.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What spouses wish their husbands would do (but don’t)

Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener. So goes the old joke. Har Har. But there’s a lot of truth to this vaudevillian knee-slapper: marriage provides an opportunity for each partner to glimpse the other in a new light. This light shows polished surfaces we never knew were there, and also shows some rough or cracked edges that need assistance. And this results in complaints: things they wish they’d realize, things they wish they’d try to do more often, things they do that unknowingly make the other feel lesser or unloved.


And you know what? Listening to complaints is helpful. Really helpful. Because all of us have overlapping tendencies. That’s why we spoke to a variety of wives to find out what they really wished their husbands would stop doing. Most of their complaints boil down issues of emotional intimacy and self-awareness — and can help the rest of us understand what we can do to make life better for our partners. So, consider what these wives said, and look inward. Maybe you’ve been guilty of some of the same infractions. Maybe not. In any case, they’re good to hear regardless to keep yourself in check.

1. I wish he’d give himself more credit

“I wish my husband would give himself more credit. He’s an amazing dad, and an amazing husband – an amazing person, really. But, he’s got a confidence issue, and usually reverts to being extremely humble when he’s praised or when people compliment him. I think he’s afraid to let it sink in. I mean, I know he’s afraid to let it sink in. It’s something we’ve talked about. I admire his humility, I just wish he would pat himself on the back every once in a while for being so great. He deserves it.” – Jasmine, 36, Mobile, AL

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(Flicker / 401kcalculator.org)

2. I wish he’d include me in our financial discussions more

“My husband is very secretive about finances. We have joint finances, of course, but he also has a stock portfolio that he doesn’t share with anyone besides his broker, and maybe a friend or two. It’s not the money aspect, really. It’s more the secrecy – I wish he would tell me more about it, because it’s a part of his life. If I ask, he just says, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” And that’s great and reassuring. But it still makes me feel like he doesn’t trust me, or doesn’t think I’m smart enough to understand the whole thing.” – Christine, 63, Chautauqua, NY

3. I wish he’d realize that he doesn’t have to explain everything to me

“I trust my husband – I wish he knew that. He always feels like he has to explain things to me. Like why he was late getting home, or who he just got off the phone with in the other room. I’m thrilled that he’s so honest, but I do trust him. It makes me feel like his mom. I don’t need to know every little detail about his day in order to know that he’s a good man. If it’s something he’s excited to share, that’s awesome. But if he’s just, like, providing an alibi, it makes me feel more like he’s afraid of me than in love with me.” – Jen, 37, West Palm Beach, FL

4. I wish he knew that just saying “sorry” sometimes isn’t enough

“I wish my husband knew that just because he says, ‘I’m sorry’, it doesn’t make the hurtful things he said or did go away. I believe him when he says he’s sorry, but the words we exchanged during the fight, or the hurtful thing he did – or didn’t do – just keeps replaying over and over in my head.” – Kayla, 29, Boston, MA

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(Flickr / J Stimp)

5. I wish he would not make me feel as though I was talking at him

“Eye contact. When I’m talking to him about something important, I wish my husband would make eye contact with me. He does, but it’s usually only for a second, and then he goes back to looking at the floor, or off in the distance. I know he can hear me, but I don’t feel like he’s listening. And it makes me feel like he’s either disinterested or terrified – neither of which I want him to be. I just want us to be able to look at each other while we talk to each other, instead of me talking at him.” – Mary, 54, Cleveland, OH

6. I wish he’d realize he’s not as handy as he thinks


“My husband thinks he’s way more handy than he really is. His father is a total ‘Mr. Fix-It’. But my husband just didn’t inherit those genes. He’ll try to fix something around the house, and it’ll usually end up being a temporary solve until it breaks again. I wish he’d just shelve his pride and admit that we should call a pro to fix the problem correctly. I don’t care that he’s not ‘Mr. Fix-It’. Like, at all. And he doesn’t need to try and impress me – that part was cute at first, but now it’s just become annoying. And expensive.” – Zulma, 46, Phoenix, AZ

7. I wish he’d stop being so defensive

“When I come to my husband with a ‘complaint’, I wish he’d respond less defensively. When I say something’s bothering me, my goal isn’t to put him in the hot seat – it’s to try and figure out a solution that works for all of us. But, he immediately starts talking about how horrible he is for what he did, or forgot to do, or whatever. That’s not what I want. I just want to figure it out! Together!” – Erin, 37, Vancouver, Canada

The 5 countries that are most impossible to conquer

(Flickr / Buscando ando)

8. I wish he would try to woo me again


“My husband used to play his guitar all the time when we were dating. He was trying to woo me, and impress me. He doesn’t play a lot anymore, if ever. It makes me feel like he’s stopped trying – like now that we’re married, with kids, he’s ‘got’ me. I imagine this complaint is similar to a lot of other women’s, but it’s very specifically his guitar in my case. He’s really good! I enjoy listening to him play. It’s not even the “trying to impress me” thing, really. I just know he loves his guitar, and I miss that part of him. When I ask him to play, he just shies away. It makes me sad that I have to practically beg him to play, when it used to be something he’d surprise me with.” – Emily, 40, New York, NY

9. I wish he’d stop being a martyr and just quit his job

“I wish my husband would quit his job. He hates it. Every day he comes home, he’s miserable. But, he’s afraid to quit. It’s not worth it, though – the stress this job puts on him. I don’t care if we have to tighten our budget for a while, so he can find something else. His happiness is more important to me then a temporary lack of security. Part of me feels like he enjoys being a martyr, but that’s stupid. His mood affects everyone in our house. Me and the kids. When he’s unhappy, it makes us unhappy, too. And it’s all because of this awful job. I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to take care of us, but not at this cost. He just needs to grow a pair and quit. He’d be so much happier.” – Sarah, 29, Columbus, OH

10. I wish he’d argue with me more

“When my husband and I are mad at each other, we go silent. Well, he goes silent. I wish he would argue with me more. It sounds silly, but I really do. I think arguing shows that you care about the problem enough to have an opinion. Staying quiet just makes everything so ambiguous. Show me some passion. I’m a big girl – if you think I’m being an idiot, tell me. If you think I’m wrong, tell me. Yelling is talking, and I’d rather talk like that than not talk at all.” – Meg, 32, Woodside, NY

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how Marine infantrymen prepare for a hike

There are few words in the English language that stir up a tornado of hateful emotions in a Marine quite like “stay with the LT,” “the trucks aren’t coming,” and “hike.” There are plenty of mandatory hikes a Marine has to do annually — and command always throws in a few more, just for good measure.

We, the infantry community, can’t drag ass in physical fitness. And if you’re not a grunt, you should at least learn how to hike like one. Why? For bragging rights. It’s all we’ve got, Marines — everyone else has funding.


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No gear loss today!

(Breach Bang Clear)

Packing

The very first thing you should do is figure out how to pack the gear list in a way that doesn’t resemble a gypsy wagon. Now, I don’t know what kind of gateway-to-Narnia bags they’re using in the S3 to fit all this garbage, but you’re going to have to find a way to make it work.

Pack the heaviest things in the bottom center and fill any empty space with smaller objects. Repeat this process, layer after layer, until you reach the top. Putting the heaviest things on the bottom allows you to maintain a more comfortable center of gravity — your pack should swing with you not against you.

Remember: Pack your socks last and nearest to the top.

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Werewolves aren’t the only ones scared of a silver bullet.

(Seymour Johnson Air Force Base)

Hydration

You’ll often hear people citing some study that claims the human body can re-hydrate within 45 minutes. Well, go tell those people to find you a box of grid squares because you don’t need that negativity in your life.

Before your hike, take a minimum of two days to drink two gallons of water and a Pedialyte. Yes, you read that right: Pedialyte. Baby Gatorade. While you’re at it, put two additional bottles of Pedialyte in your bag. You’ll thank me later.

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Sunflower seeds are also good!

Food and snacks

The day before a hike, you should carb load, just like a marathon runner. This will ensure you have enough energy for the journey and a strong finish. Runner’s World has an in-depth guide on how to carb load properly and I highly recommend reading it. Bear in mind that you will have to make some changes to fit the task, but the overall strategy is pretty solid.

Pack some snacks that can be eaten with one hand and are biodegradable. Fruits, such as apples and bananas, are perfect. They’re easy to eat and you can toss the core/peel into the woods. You’re nourishing the earth before we scorch it later!

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You’re going to end up with so many of these

(The Marine Shop)

Your feet

Preparation: The feet are the infantryman’s Cadillac. Take care of your feet. I’ll say it again: Take care of your feet. Clip your nails, wash them every time you take a shower, and change your socks at least once during the day. At night, do not sleep with socks on so they can breathe. Also, moisturize (yes, use that lotion for its intended purpose).

Score bonus points by getting yourself a foot massage or a pedicure once a month. Remember, it’s manly if it’s for the sake of survival.

These puppies are going to get you through this hike, through combat, and through the rest of your life, so take f*cking care of them.

The Hike: During every rest period, change your socks and immediately put your feet back into your boots. If you leave them out too long, the inflammation will set in and it will be more difficult to put your boots on. If you packed intelligently, your socks should be easily accessible.

Tip: Some people wear a pair of dress socks over their boot socks to ease rubbing.

Also, never wear brand new boots on a hike.

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Mental fortitude

This is your life now and there’s no way to go but forward. It’s going to hurt, it’s going suck, but you’re going to crush it. Believe in yourself and keep up the pace.

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Can I NJP myself?

Storytime

Some of the greatest stories I’ve ever heard were told on a hike — sexual conquests, actual conquests, accusations, and confessions. Marines love telling stories and they love hearing them. You’ll hear about that time the lieutenant got ripped off by that stripper or that Staff Sergeant has a weird fetish that involves putting on an animal costume.

A compelling story will help you forget that your feet are bleeding until, suddenly, it’s done.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Do you know about these 35 travel discounts for the military?

It can often be overwhelming to plan travel as a military family — from coordinating schedules to budgeting, let alone ironing out all the details of the actual trip. Thankfully, many travel-related businesses from airlines to hotels offer military discounts that are worth looking into for your next big adventure.


A couple of points worth noting regarding military travel discounts:

  1. Finding the military discount is not always straightforward. It often requires calling the company directly as the military fare or price is not published online. Take that into account when trying to figure out pricing; sometimes it is worth the extra step of calling to save!
  2. A valid military I.D. card will be required at check-in to validate all military pre-bookings or reservations.
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Airlines

Allegient Air – Allegiant Air offers two free checked bags for military members.

American Airlines – American Airlines honors military members flying with their dependents by honoring free checked baggage. Discounted flights (up to 5%) apply by calling the airline directly.

Delta – Delta recognizes service members and their families with discounted fares (must contact Delta Reservations directly by phone), as well as free checked baggage.

Frontier – Frontier offers two free checked bags for military members who show a valid I.D. card upon check-in.

Hawaiian Airlines – Hawaiian Airlines offers four free checked bags for military personnel on orders and two free checked bags for leisure travel.

Jet Blue – Veterans Advantage members can save 5% on Jet Blue flights, and a special military fare class rewards active duty personnel with a 5% discount off base fares when not traveling on orders. Baggage discounts are offered for both duty and leisure are also offered with valid I.D. at check-in.

Southwest Airlines – Southwest does not publish a military discount on their website (or information regarding their policy), but military fares are offered to personnel who call the airline directly.


United Airlines – United offers military members and their dependents free checked bags, as well as up to 5% off for Veteran Advantage members.
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upload.wikimedia.org

Cruise lines

Carnival – Carnival offers discounted sailing fares to active and retired U.S. Military through an online calendar that allows travelers to input sailing destination and dates.

Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Cruises offers military members a per person savings of for inside and ocean view rooms and 0 for veranda, Concierge Class, AquaClass or Suite Class rooms.

Disney Cruise Line – Disney Cruise Line publishes special military fares for select sail dates, which are limited to a maximum of one stateroom per military member, per sailing.

Princess Cruises – Princess Cruises offers military members (active, retired and disabled) up to 0 in onboard spending credit.


Royal Caribbean – Royal Caribbean International offers discounted rates for military members with valid identification who meet compliance classifications on select sailings.
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Hotels and resorts

Beaches – Beaches Resorts offer military members a 10% discount.

Best Western – Best Western offers a discounted room rate to veterans, military and government personnel by selecting the Government/Military category when booking online.

Disneyland Resort Hotels – Disneyland offers military members discounted rates at all three resort hotels.

Disneyworld Resort Hotels – Disneyworld offers U.S. military members discounted rates at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

Great Wolf Lodge – North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts offers military members up to 30% off using the offer code ‘Heroes.’

Hilton – Hilton Hotels offers military members a discounted hotel rate when service members select the Government/Military rate box during online booking.

Hyatt – Participating Hyatt properties offer military members a discount when using ‘MILVET’ at checkout.

IHG – IHG offers a Government/Military rate when booking online.

Marriott/Starwood – Marriott and Starwood properties offer military discounts at select properties with availability when travelers select the Government/Military rate box.

Red Roof – Red Roof offers military veterans, active duty and retirees a 15% discount on all published rates.

Sandals – Sandals Resorts offers military members 10% off any current promotions.

Wyndam – Wyndam properties offer military members a 20% discount with a Veterans Advantage membership.

Rental cars

Avis – Avis extends a 25% discount to military members who have enrolled in Veterans Advantage.

Alamo – Alamo offers discounted rates for military members who are able to show proper identification at pick-up.

Budget – Budget offers 25% off to military members who are enrolled in Veterans Advantage.

Hertz – Hertz offers military members discounted rates and space-available upgrades in addition to a complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards membership.

Other travel discounts

Amtrak – Amtrak offers military members a 10% discount when booking online and clicking the military fare box.

Disneyland – Military members are offered discounted rates throughout the year to this famed California amusement park.

Disneyworld – Military members are offered discounted rates throughout the year to ‘the most magical place on Earth.’

Expedia – Expedia offers military members complimentary upgrades when they join the military rewards program, Expedia+gold.

Legoland Vacations – Legoland offers military members a 10% discount.

National Park Service – Military members with a valid I.D. can get a free annual pass to the National Parks.

Whether your next big trip is for work or leisure, be sure to reference this guide and utilize some of the amazing military discounts available.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 moments when you know the mess hall is about to serve the good stuff

Being a meal card holder has its benefits. It’s awesome to have the perfect excuse to get out at 1730. It’s food you get to enjoy without having to cook it. All you have do is overlook the fact that the meals are deducted from your pay when you’re assigned a barracks room and the fact that there’s barely any chow left by the time you get there —but outside of those details, it’s great!

That optimism starts to wane, however, after eight months of eating the same seven entrees ad nauseam. Then, one glorious day, the cooks throw you a curve-ball by turning what’s normally a grab-and-go dinner into an elaborate, fine-dining experience.


You’ll rarely hear the lower enlisted complain when they’re about to get something that’s not just decent but actually really good. (In reality, lower enlisted troops would probably complain about being given a brick of gold because it’s “too heavy,” but that’s beside the point).

It might seem like random chance, but there’s a method to the madness.

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Also, your chain of command will usually pop in to serve the food on the line. Savor that moment.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian Lautenslager)

Holidays

No one likes being stuck on-post during a holiday. If your leave form got denied or you just didn’t feel like putting in for a mileage pass, it often means your ass will be stuck on staff duty.

Thankfully, the cooks also get screwed out of block leave and work holidays with us. Even if it’s not a big holiday that revolves around a massive meal (we’re look at you, Thanksgiving), the cooks will still serve something festive.

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If you thought Air Force dinging facilities were leagues above the rest during the rest of the year…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

The lead-up to best-chef competitions

In the service, there’s a competition for cooks in which they’re expected to deliver a gourmet meal to a judge that has the emotionless vile of Gordon Ramsey with the knife-handing ability of a Drill Sergeant.

They don’t want to mess it up and will prepare the only way possible: by practicing. And that practice tastes delicious.

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“Can we get you anything else, Specialist? Steak sauce? Another drink? Another three months in this god-forsaken hellhole? How about some cake? We got cake!”

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson)

Right before the unit is about to get bad news

It’s basic psychology. If you outright tell the troops that their deployment got extended, they’re going to flip the tables over. If you break it to them gently over a steak-and-lobster dinner that somehow found its way to Afghanistan, they’ll take it slightly better.

This is so common in the military that any time the commander shows up and asks for a crate of ice cream bars for the troops, the Private News Network and Lance Corporal Underground buzz with rumors.

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You think they’ll serve the same scrambled eggs that they serve the average boot to the Commandant of the Marines? Hell no. Especially not if they get some kind of warning. That’s you cue to grab food and dash.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mallory S. VanderSchans)

When high-ranking officials make the rounds

Not even the cooks are exempt from the dog-and-pony show that comes with a general’s visit. In fact, while the other lower enlisted are scrubbing toilets in bathrooms the general will never realistically visit, the cooks know that the mess hall is the go-to spot to bring the generals to give them a “realistic” view of the unit.

If you’re willing to stomach the off-chance of being dragged into a conversation with a four-star general about “how the commander and first sergeant 100% absolutely always treat you like a real human being and that, oh boy, do you definitely love the unit,” then you’re in for one of the best meals the cooks can offer.

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Everyone loves the cooks on Taco Tuesday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Valentina Lopez)

Taco Tuesday (and any other themed meal days)

There’s no way in hell any troop would willingly miss Taco Tuesday at the DFAC. Even if you don’t post flyers about it, troops will magically crawl out of the woodwork if it means they’re getting free tacos.

As much as everyone in the unit uses their cooks as punching bags for jokes, they can deliver some mighty fine meals when they try.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘I met a hero:’ Air Force Doctor who treated Alwyn Cashe says he’s never forgotten him

Maj. Mark Rasnake was exhausted. The 32-year-old Air Force infectious disease specialist had worked through the night treating some of the worst trauma he’d seen in his life — seven soldiers who’d been brought in after sustaining catastrophic burns when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit an improvised explosive device near Daliaya, Iraq, and erupted in flames. But back at his bunk at Balad Air Force Base, north of Baghdad, he couldn’t sleep.

He opened his laptop and began to type a letter home. “I met a hero last night,” he wrote. “I did not realize it at the time … This is a place where the word “hero” is tossed around day in and day out, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of its true meaning. His story reminded me of it.”


As a medical professional, Rasnake never identified his patient, even in a letter only intended for family members. As it happened, though, his words would travel further than he imagined. His local newspaper in Eastern Tennessee took it as a submission and reprinted it; and eventually, Air Force officials reached out to the paper so the service could publish it too.

Rasnake’s letter survives on the Air Force’s official website as the first public account of the bravery of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who sacrificed his life running again and again into the fiery vehicle, ignoring his own burning uniform. It has been 15 years to the day since Cashe hauled his teammates out of the Bradley on Oct. 17, 2005; but Rasnake, now the residency program director for the University of Tennessee’s Division of Infectious Diseases, says he’s never stopped thinking about him.

“I kind of think about the guy all the time,” Rasnake told Military.com in an interview earlier this month. “I’ve got a helmet bag that I use to carry stuff to and from work, and I put a 3rd Infantry Division patch on that thing, just to always have the visual thing to remember what he did. That’s just always been important to me, to at least carry that memory.”

Cashe, the most severely burned of the soldiers, was ultimately evacuated to Germany for intensive treatment, and then to Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he would succumb to his injuries Nov. 8, at age 35. As the anniversary of his death approaches, those who loved him are newly hopeful: in August, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he’d support a push to award Cashe the Medal of Honor. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a bill waiving a five-year time limitation for awarding the medal; a similar measure is expected to pass soon in the Senate.

Rasnake said he didn’t learn Cashe’s story until a few hours after he and more than a dozen other military medical professionals had finished treating the soldiers and loaded them on an air evacuation flight bound for Germany. He can’t remember who shared the account of what happened in the aftermath of the Bradley explosion. But as word spread among his colleagues and across the base, it provoked a common feeling of awe.

“The discussions we had is, you know, if his actions don’t deserve the Medal of Honor, we had trouble imagining anything that did that would,” Rasnake said.

Cashe was initially nominated for a lesser award, the Silver Star, by his battalion commander, Gary Brito, now a major general. Brito, by his own account, pushed for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor as soon as he learned of the severity of Cashe’s injuries. But as the years passed, no medal upgrade came.

At issue, according to various reports, was difficulty ascertaining accurate witness statements of what took place. While initial accounts led the Army to determine Cashe’s heroism did not take place in active combat, current descriptions — championed by lawmakers — say he dodged enemy fire while hauling body after body out of the vehicle: six soldiers plus an interpreter, who died on the scene. Cashe refused medevac until the others were taken away, according to his Silver Star citation.

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Mark Rasnake (right) along with doctors Col. Ty Putnam and Maj. James Pollock, Oct 17, 2005. (Photo courtesy of Mark Rasnake)

What Rasnake saw is in none of those accounts, but speaks to the pain and trauma Cashe’s body endured because of his choice not to leave his brothers-in-arms behind.

“The surgeons worked for hours on his wounds and we worked for hours in the intensive care unit to stabilize him for transport. In the end, damage to his lungs made him too sick to be safely transported by plane to our hospital in Germany and then on to a burn center in San Antonio,” Rasnake wrote in his later-published letter home. ” … Our air evac team loaded him into the plane for the six-hour flight to Germany. They had to deliver every breath to him during that flight by squeezing a small bag by hand.”

Rasnake still has clear memories of that night, although the conditions and treatment of specific soldiers is a blur. Off-duty medical staff were called back up before the casualties arrived. A field intensive care unit was heated to treat those suffering from the hypothermia sometimes brought on by severe burns. Doctors had to intubate to keep the badly burned soldiers’ blood oxygenated, and some required surgical incisions to allow burn-traumatized limbs to swell.

Six of the men needed ICU treatment; ultimately, three would succumb to their injuries.

Rasnake had arrived in Iraq earlier that fall, and it wasn’t common for doctors at Balad to keep track of the wounded troops they’d treated once they moved on for additional care. But this case was different.

“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “For the next two weeks … Some of them didn’t make it, including Sgt. Cashe ultimately, and he was the last one to expire of the ones that ultimately died. And it was just heart-wrenching for us to hear what was happening back home … he had the entire [Air Force] 33nd Medical Group following daily what was happening.”

As Rasnake sat typing that first night in his sleeping quarters, not knowing the fate of Cashe or the other men he’d treated, he thought of a hero from his hometown of Greeneville, Tenn.: Marine Sgt. Elbert Kinser, who threw himself on a Japanese grenade in 1945, saving his men and earning the Medal of Honor. A bridge in the city of Tusculum, Tenn., bears his name.

“How many of his friends are still alive to remember the story? How many grew old and had grandchildren because of his sacrifice?” Rasnake wrote. “Did they thank him every day of their lives? The next time I cross that bridge I will stop for just a few minutes of my life to read about a man that gave all of his.”

Now 47, and 13 years out of the Air Force, Rasnake said he never lost hope that Cashe would receive the Medal of Honor that he never doubted the soldier deserved.

“The fact that he’s up for the MOH, reliving this and kind of seeing some closure for him and his family is just amazing,” Rasnake said. “I’m so glad; it’s probably the first piece of good news I’ve gotten in 2020.”

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

US Marines and sailors prepare for chemical emergencies

U.S. Marines, sailors, and civilians participated in the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response course at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan from Sept. 16 to Sept. 20, 2019.

The class is meant to teach students how to both fully understand and effectively respond to emergency situations where dangerous chemicals, substances, and materials are found on military installations.

The week-long class consisted mostly of classroom lectures in addition to an entire day devoted to practical application training exercises where the students worked together to solve applicable, but difficult scenarios.


“I think this class is a big learning curve for a lot of the students here,” says Ashley Hoshihara Cruz, the Camp Foster chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive specialist. “However, the students are really putting in the resources, time, and effort to make this a quality class.”

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U.S. Marines prepare to enter a mock-contamination site during the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response course at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, Sept. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Pulliam)

To encourage teamwork and strengthen leadership capabilities in the class, Wood said that the junior Marines in the class may be placed in leadership roles and find themselves guiding officers and staff noncommissioned officers through tasks the senior Marines may primarily fill.

“It’s really rewarding,” Wood said. “To see these students take the information we, as instructors, gave to them and extract that out to things that we have not talked about, but figured out, nonetheless.”

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U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Nathan Hale, a native of Washington D.C. and an explosive ordnance and disposal chief for U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, attaches an oxygen tank to a fellow student during the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response course at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, Sept. 19, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Pulliam)

The HAZWOPER class is conducted on behalf of the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps Officer School and has been taught in Okinawa for the past eight years.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 3 unspoken vows of the military spouse

At a family reunion several years ago, my uncle asked, “What unspoken vows do you have in your marriage?”

He was referring to the vows that respect each other’s pet peeves, and we all laughed as people shared their promises of keeping the cap on the toothpaste or using separate knives for the peanut butter and jelly.

At the time, I’d been married for only a couple of years, and I added that I’d promised not to meddle in my husband’s tools. But over the years, my uncle’s question echoed in my mind. As deployments came and went, I discovered that my unspoken vow was more complex, and in fact, I had more than one.


Deployment adds a unique dynamic to military marriages. As Army spouse and 2015 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year Corie Weathers writes in her memoir, Sacred Spaces, “Deployment, by its very nature, creates highly significant yet separate experiences for military couples.”

Deployment ushers us into a strange space, asking us to exist without each other and to accept that we can’t share each other’s experiences or even fully understand them.

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I’ve often thought of it as living parallel lives.

Others have thought of it this way, too. Air Force wife Alane Pearce writes of parallel lives in her piece “Committed,” which appears in Faith Deployed… Again, and Weathers addresses “gaps” that separate couples in Sacred Spaces. Surely, more wrestle with this notion in their hearts.

However we might term it, the awareness of separateness is a reality in deployment, presenting us with a veritable mountain to climb. Although we’ll encounter tough passes of doubt and aloneness, I believe we have the ability to make it through these obstacles with sure footing. In my own experience, the first step is simple but powerful: I give voice to my unspoken vows.

1. I promise I will let you go.

We all know that prior to deployment, our service members become laser-focused on pre-deployment trainings, preparations and briefings. Like kids on Christmas morning, they sit amidst their gear, organizing, packing, unpacking, and repacking.

Meanwhile, we file powers of attorney, wills and crisis notification forms. We make arrangements with friends to be the ones we can call in case of an emergency.

Suddenly, we realize that we are preparing to be alone. That awareness is grim. It can induce fear, crank our grip tighter and make us ask why. It’s a force manipulative enough to make us feel left behind.

But, the power is within us to pause, take stock and refocus our lens.

As I reflected, read and spoke to other spouses, it struck me that by focusing on the aloneness ahead of us, we can set ourselves up for a long, lonely climb. Some spouses recalled that simple expressions of compassion have eased the road toward deployment.

Air Force wife Katie Spain, who has been married for four years and faced two deployments, reflects on the difficulty service members must feel being so far removed from their families: “While the military may be their first responsibility, it is not the first priority in their hearts,” she says, “and I can’t imagine the internal conflict being easy to remedy.”

Weathers echoes such compassion in her book, when she recalls preparing for a unique experience to accompany former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his staff to visit American personnel deployed to the Middle East.

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(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sharla Lewis)

As she finds herself mirroring her husband’s pre-deployment motions, she realizes that she is also experiencing guilt in leaving her family.

Having been in her shoes, her husband empathizes with her position. Weathers describes this interesting role-reversal as an example of the value that spouses’ compassion can have in releasing service members to their mission.

“We play an awesome role to love them that way,” Weathers said in a recent interview. “We do have the ability to release the anxiety that they have not chosen deployment over their family.”

It seems to me that this compassion releases the military spouse, too, as it eases tension and draws us closer to our service members in a shared experience. It helps us understand that we are not alone in our feelings, it reaffirms our love with our service members and it allows us to approach deployment with clearer sight and firmer footing.

2. I promise I will be my best for you.

As military spouses, we know that once our service members leave, our role suddenly changes. We go from being part of a pair to being a “Class-B bachelorette” or a “pseudo-single parent.” Whether we dub it “flying solo” or “geo-baching,” no cute new title fills the emptiness left by our service members. The impact of their sudden absence can knock us off balance, making us struggle to find our grip without them.

All home front responsibilities immediately fall to us, and it seems that the same mystical force visits every household immediately following a service member’s departure, breaking every appliance and infecting every child with the stomach flu. Suddenly, we are swamped trying to work a two-person job, to nurture, discipline, organize, clean, counsel, and perform damage control. The sheer magnitude of this responsibility can be overwhelming.

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(U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Leanna Litsch)

This is the time when the feeling of living parallel lives is perhaps the most acute. The sense of separateness is seemingly insurmountable. Personally, I find myself angry with it. Angry with the feeling of separateness. It’s a strange, unwanted feeling to have in a marriage.

But it doesn’t have to be so bleak. I believe we have the power to overcome the feeling of separateness, to find an intersection, even when that seems impossible.

Reflecting on her experience as a licensed counselor working with military couples, Weathers describes many military spouses as “resilient, positive and resourceful” when going through a deployment.

“They push through and make things happen, and grow in their independence,” she says. “And the service members can trust that. It makes for a trusting relationship. They can focus on their mission.”

Although deployment changes my role temporarily, I am still married to my husband. Whenever I am overwhelmed, I owe it to him to push forward, because the obstacle he is facing doesn’t let him stop to dwell on his aloneness.

A friend once told me that her priest described marriage not as 50-50, but as 100-100. Each spouse must give 100 percent. Never is there a time when this is truer than during deployment. By actively choosing to give 100 percent, I am enabling my husband to do the same.

3. I promise I will seek you out.

When our service members return, many of us might feel out of sync as we try to walk in the rhythm of each other’s footsteps again. While we might expect this after so much time apart, we don’t have to accept our separate rhythms as the new normal; it can be our chance to recommit.

In these times, Weathers says, “Pursue your spouse.”

Army spouse of 16 years and 2015 Fort Huachuca Spouse of the Year Cynthia Giesecke agrees, saying that when couples seek out an “intentional period of reconnection,” they are better able to move forward honestly and lovingly.

Just as showing compassion and pushing forward through struggles can draw us closer despite our separateness, purposeful engagement with each other during reintegration can soon align our footsteps.

Looking back, I don’t know why I never thought of deployment this way before. This mindset allows me to reach past the anxiety of separateness. It empowers me to pick up the parallel lines and lay them back down across each other. It enables me to stand at the intersection with my husband, give voice to my vows and know that we’re a team that no battle – ever – can separate.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Oklahoma resident opens heart and home to guardsmen

Two weeks ago, a man named Bob and the soldiers of Headquarters Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment had never met. They would have never met. They would have continued being perfect strangers and never knowing of the other’s existence. But due to torrential rainfall and catastrophic natural disasters occurring across Oklahoma and the surrounding states, Bob and these guardsmen were soon to meet.

On Friday, May 24, 2019, members of the 279th were sent to a site along a levee in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. There was severe flooding and the looming threat of homes being affected. The mission of these soldiers was to monitor and maintain the pumps that were placed on the property to move the water and put it into the creek on the other side of the levee.


When events like flooding, tornados, or other disaster hit the state, the Oklahoma National Guard activates for state active duty upon the request of the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management and with approval from the governor of Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma National Guardsmen are working alongside first responders and emergency personnel to provide disaster relief following record-breaking flooding of the Arkansas River in the Tulsa, Okla. area.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“I got here last Friday,” said Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse, a Stillwater resident and an infantryman with HHC 1-279 Infantry Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “We didn’t know what we were getting into.”

For the first day or two, the soldiers remained in or around their vehicle during their shift monitoring the pumps. A kind man named Bob who owned the property would come out every now and then and check on them.

“He was always asking if we needed anything,” said Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist from Miami, Oklahoma with HHC 1-279. “He would bring us food and drinks, make sure we had enough water.”

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Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

He even offered them a more comfortable place to get out of the sun and maintain the pumps, under the shade of his hand-welded gazebo, adorned with classic decorations and lawn furniture. At first, the soldiers respectfully declined. At the persistence of Bob’s selfless and giving nature, the guardsmen graciously accepted his invitation.

Over the next several days, Bob and the soldiers developed a rapport and a working relationship. The soldiers would fulfill their mission while Bob kept them company and took them under his wing. He cooked food, let them use his gator, a side-by-side off-road vehicle, and simply offered them the care and support of a grateful and appreciative community member.

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Spc. Allison Smith, a combat medic specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“Bob has been a really great blessing to us and thanking him just doesn’t cover it,” said Spc. Allison Smith, a combat medic specialist from Salina, Oklahoma with HHC 1-279. “This mission would have been a lot harder if we didn’t have the support from neighbors like Bob and other people in the community.”

The acts of kindness from Sand Springs residents fueled the Oklahoma guardsmen in a way that you rarely get to witness first-hand.

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Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse and Spc. Allison Smith of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, move sandbags to the base of a tree in Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold’s yard, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“The unlimited energy these soldiers have, how do they keep going?” asked Bob Casebold, a Sand Springs resident and owner of the land that the soldiers were monitoring. “Carrying sandbags, wading through water, filling sand boils and things like that.”

It didn’t take long for Bob to gain notoriety through the ranks of the guardsmen responding to the floods across the Tulsa metro area. Miles away, at the main hub for flood operations, the name Bob was buzzing around the building. The stories of his selflessness and support were being told by people who hadn’t even met Bob. Everyone wanted to shake the hand of the man that had given back so much to the soldiers who were protecting his community.

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(Left to right) Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse, Spc. Allison Smith and Spc. Kailey Bellville works together to unload sandbags to protect the trees in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“We did not ask for these guys to come down here,” Bob said. “They volunteered and came down here to help us; to protect us. It was totally amazing and I appreciate it so much.”

Bob would be the last person to pat himself on the back for his support of these soldiers, but that certainly wasn’t lost on the soldiers that he helped.

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Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“He’s one of the cornerstones to the support of this mission out here in the area,” Smith said. “It’s awesome knowing that they rely on us and we can depend on them if we have to.”

Now that conditions are improving, for the time being, soldiers and residents can take a deep breath and work on returning back to normal life. But the bonds that were made during this trying time are going to remain long after the guardsmen return to their homes and families.

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Sand Springs resident Bob Casebold gives Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, an appreciative hand after she helped lay sandbags around trees at his Sand Springs home, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“I definitely believe that God put me out here to help these people,” Humerickhouse said. “And I believe coming out here and meeting Bob was meant to be.”

“It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” Bob said. “It comes from a bad deal, but I’ve made some great friends. I would consider them lifelong friends.”

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

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