High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

This post was sponsored by Kensington Books. The author’s comments below on the novels are his own.

Most people are never more than an arm-length from civilization. They live in their apartments, suburban homes, or occasionally they live a short drive out of a town. But there are still places out there that are remote and removed enough to truly be considered the frontier. There is civilization of a sort there filled with rougher men and women for whom the questions of past – When will I eat next? Is that figure on the horizon friend or foe? Will I make it through the winter? – are real questions.

It turns out such a setting is also a great setup for a murder mystery.


High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Stone Cross is a new release and second in the Arliss Cutter series by Marc Cameron. Marc is a former United States Marshal and popular author of multiple series including three novels in the New York Times bestselling Jack Ryan series. Marc is also a resident of Alaska, something which adds verisimilitude to this new entry.

In this new atmospheric thriller, Cutter and his partner get assigned to protect a US Judge traveling to adjudicate a case in a remote Yupik village in western Alaska. Someone in the village has sent a letter threatening the life of the Judge and Cutter has to navigate the suspicions and resentment of the local indigenous people to protect the Judge from harm. Of course, complications ensue and it appears the safety of the Judge is only a secondary story.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

The primary conflict of the novel revolves around the murder of a local handyman and the disappearance of a young husband and wife from the lodge the three of them were caretaking. Cameron’s characters have their endurance tested in bringing the case to its resolution.

Stone Cross does an outstanding job of establishing a dark and foreboding place where human beings feel like visitors to something older and more primeval. Everything feels more dangerous in this novel and even the characters begin to take on the stark and sharp-edged characteristics of the setting. It is a case where the simplicity and bleakness reduces each character to primal archetypes where survival is earned rather than given.

Ultimately this book works as a stand-alone but there are strong hints of continued Alaskan adventures ahead for Arliss Cutter. Based on this strength of this novel, one would do well to go back and pick up the first novel Open Carry and be ready for inevitable future entries in this series.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to beat cabin fever this winter

This can be a hard time of year. The holidays are over, and we’re ready for spring — but it’s still winter. For many people that means not leaving the house, or the couch, until the middle of March. But let’s face it, there are only so many shows you can binge watch on Netflix and Hulu. You need to get outside, breathe in the cold air, let the sun shine on your pale face, put the snow or cold earth between your fingers, and get the blood pumping through those stiff muscles.


It may seem like a chore to get up and moving, but you won’t be sorry. From exploration to exercise, a lucrative side hustle to just kicking back and relaxing with friends in a shanty, there are plenty of things to do during these final months of winter.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

The author snowboarding at Monarch Mountain, Colorado.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Herne.)

1. Skiing or Snowboarding

As soon as the first snow of the year begins to fall, my mind immediately goes to the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding are two of America’s most popular winter sports, and for good reason. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie who wants to see how fast you can bomb a double black diamond or a beginner on the bunny slope, you’re going to get some great physical exercise. No slopes? No problem.

2. Cross-country Skiing

This type of skiing can be done on flat land — all you need is a set of skis and some motivation. Similar to hiking with skis on your feet, you use your own locomotion to traverse the snow-covered countryside. It requires a bit of skill and practice, but it’s a great introduction to its downhill counterpart and will get your blood pumping.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

A rainbow trout caught while doing some winter fishing in Colorado.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Herne.)

3. Snowmobiling

Riding a snowmobile — also known as a sled or snowmachine, if you’re from Alaska — is an absolute thrill and a great way to get an adrenaline boost. Many current stock machines boast speeds of 95 to 125 mph, raw power at the squeeze of the throttle. If speed isn’t your thing, they’re also a great way to get out and tour the countryside. Many towns in the northern states have groomed trails that allow you to ride from town to town and even to restaurants and bars. Don’t have a couple grand to drop on a seasonal vehicle? Many places offer snowmobile tours and rentals. Get out and shred!

4. Hiking and Shed Hunting

No, I’m not talking about raiding your neighbor’s shed; shed hunting refers to antlers. Every year from January until about March, members of the deer family shed their antlers. Why go out in search of cast antlers in the winter? A matching pair of freshly shed antlers from a big whitetail can be sold for over 0 if you find the right buyer. Their value decreases after they’ve laid in the woods for a while and become bleached from the sun. Shed hunting also gives you a reason to get outside and hike! A great place to start when searching for these elusive bones is along fence rows, as antlers will sometimes fall off from the force of a deer jumping the fence. Make sure you have permission from landowners and check your local and state regulations.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

The author’s view while searching for shed antlers in western Nebraska.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Herne.)

5. Ice Fishing

Most people think of warm, sunny days as ideal fishing weather, but ice fishing provides the perfect excuse for getting outside and relaxing with your buddies. For those who haven’t experienced it, you just need to find some safe ice — at least 4 inches — drill a hole, and drop a line with either bait or a jig on it. It can be as comfortable or as rugged as you make it. We usually take popup shelters, heaters, and a cooler full of our favorite beverages and snacks, then spend the day catching fish and bullshitting. By the time we’re done, we usually need to call someone to come get us — but that’s half the fun!

6. Snowshoeing

Like hiking, snowshoeing is a beginner-friendly sport. You already know how to walk, so there is no need to learn a new skill, just adjust your stride to accommodate the oversized snowshoes. Snowshoeing can allow you to access areas that are crowded by tourists in fair weather by allowing you to move on top of the snow. It’s also inexpensive compared to many other winter activities — all you need to be on your way down the trail are warm winter clothes, snowshoes, and poles. Though not hard to learn, snowshoeing will definitely elevate your heart rate!

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

10 much better names for the Army bases honoring Confederate generals

It was only a matter of time before the current climate of unrest led back to the U.S. military — and its 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals, all spread throughout the former Confederacy.

Whether to rename them continues to be a contentious political issue, but the practical-minded among us have moved on. If they are renamed, what will they be called?

So, without once using the term “Forty McFortFace,” here are a few suggestions — some entirely serious, some very not — for changing those 10 antiquated base names.


1. Fort Benning (Georgia)

This Columbus, Georgia, base was named after Confederate Gen. Henry L. Benning, who fought against the Union armies at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg. It was named for him in 1918, while many Civil War veterans were still alive. That doesn’t mean it needs to keep the name.

For sheer coolness factor, the base could be renamed for former NFL Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson, whose hometown is just an hour away from Columbus. Enemies would think twice if they knew they would be facing soldiers from Fort Megatron.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

They both also have a lot of touchdowns. (U.S. Army photo by Ismael Ortega)

In all seriousness, though, renaming Fort Benning will likely be the easiest rechristening of this whole list, as the military’s basic paratrooper training is conducted here. The base could be named for Maj. General William C. Lee, the “Father of the U.S. Airborne,” and the first commander of the Army’s “jump school.”

Naming it “Fort William C. Lee” isn’t weird, either. Just ask the residents of Fort George G. Meade.

2. Fort Lee (Virginia)

So what to do with Fort Lee, Virginia, now that Fort William C. Lee is in Georgia? The current Fort Lee was named for Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Even though the federal government seized his estate and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery, it still somehow thought it appropriate to name a base after him.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Robert E. Lee, history’s most undeservingly beloved loser.

A decent thing to do would be to name the base, once a training center for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), after the WAC’s first director, Oveta Culp Hobby. As the WAC accepted women of all races, it would be a fitting rebranding effort. Gen. Douglas MacArthur did call the WACs “his best soldiers,” after all.

If that doesn’t garner enough support, renaming the installation for Lee’s famous adversary should. Situated in the greater Richmond region, renaming Fort Lee to Fort Grant would send a positive message to the people who look up to the U.S. Army. Grant owned one slave in his life, acquired from his father-in-law, and set the man free in less than a year.

3. Fort Bragg (North Carolina)

Besides being named for a Confederate general, Fort Bragg should be renamed because it’s the home of Army Special Forces, the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Air Force Combat Control School — and it’s named for American history’s worst general.

Bragg lost almost every battle he commanded, always took the opposite of good advice and once even misplaced a line of men.

Is this who we want the home of Army Special Forces to be named for?

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Lemme answer that for you: No. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

There are a bevy of candidates that would be better suited for the name of such a place. “The President of the Underground Railroad,” Levi Coffin, got his start helping fugitive slaves in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Fort Coffin,” however, sounds, well … So maybe that’s a no.

Then there’s Hiram Revels, born a free man in Fayetteville, he helped organize two regiments of the then-called United States Colored Troops and served as their chaplain. Later, he became the first African American U.S. senator, representing Mississippi.

Fort Revels sounds like a name appropriate for a base in Fayettenam.

4. Fort Hood (Texas)

This Killeen, Texas-based installation is named for John Bell Hood, a Confederate who wasn’t even from Texas. Known for his bravery, all that bravado didn’t help him even slow down Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on his way to burn down the South and everything they loved. Surely, Texans have a number of people they would prefer to honor over a Confederate. It’s Texas. TEXAS.

For starters, how about the most decorated soldier who ever lived, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient born in Kingston, Texas, who went from enlisted man to officer, then starred in the hit movie about his own life: Audie Murphy.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Bling.

Fort Murphy would have much better pedigree than Fort Hood, named for a general who peaked before the Civil War was even halfway over.

5. Fort Polk (Louisiana)

What does one rename the most reviled duty station in all of the U.S. Army? Surely, we can honor someone other than a guy with no previous military experience whose Civil War claim to fame is that he died in it.

Louisiana is one of the most unique states in the Union, with a history unlike any other. But again, for sheer coolness factor, we could rename this for Union Col. Algernon Sidney Badger. Badger was from Massachusetts but served at the Battle of Mobile Bay and ended up in Louisiana. He liked it so much, he stayed there when the war was over. Plus, the symbolism of a badger killing a snake is too good to pass up.

Who wouldn’t want to be stationed at Fort Badger?

But the top candidate for Fort Polk‘s new name has to be William C.C. Claiborne, the first American governor of Louisiana. He was conciliatory toward native tribes under his jurisdiction and tried to secure clemency for the captured organizers of the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. He also negotiated for the help of the pirate Jean Lafitte for the defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

Fort Polk is dead. Long live Fort Claiborne.

6. Fort Gordon (Georgia)

Only in the old Confederacy could you be hailed a hero upon your return from losing a war. Besides getting that particular participant trophy, John Brown Gordon’s career can’t be discussed without mentioning how many times he was wounded in action.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

This photo would be more accurate if you could see the four wounds on his head.

This installation also housed Camp Crockett, a training area for special operators and airborne troops preparing for action during the Vietnam War. It would be an easy historical nod to American legend Davy Crockett, who fought against the Indian Removal Act and later died fighting at the Alamo. If we want to stick to soldiers of the U.S. Army, Fort Gordon is notable because Alvin York, the famed conscientious objector-turned Medal of Honor recipient in World War I, was trained here.

Fort York has a nice ring to it. But Fort Flipper would be more appropriate.

Georgia was home to Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of West Point. Can you imagine the level of harassment this man endured? Commissioned and sent to the frontier areas, he did his job well until he was improperly accused of embezzling quartermaster funds and court-martialed, an injustice to which the Army later admitted. President Bill Clinton would later pardon him.

7. Fort Pickett (Virginia)

Fort Pickett is a National Guard Base in Virginia named after a guy who led one of the most ill-advised infantry charges in history. Not just in American history, but all of world history. While Maj. Gen. George Pickett didn’t order the charge at Gettysburg (Robert E. Lee did, despite all advice against it), his name got slapped on it, whether he liked it or not.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Just like no one cares what they called meat on bread before the 4th Earl of Sandwich started passing them out on card night.

Pickett’s charge led to the defeat of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, a loss from which the South couldn’t recover and ultimately ended their war with loss. And we named a base after him.

A much better choice for the name of the fort would probably be Gibbon, named for Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, commander of the Union forces who stopped Pickett’s part of the infamous charge.

But since this is a base belonging to the Virginia National Guard, they might want to name it after a Virginian. Luckily, there’s no shortage of good Virginians, and two of them are giants of the U.S. Army’s history. Gen. Douglas MacArthur considered Norfolk his home, and Gen. George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff during World War II, attended the Virginia Military Institute.

Pick one, Virginia.

8. Fort A.P. Hill (Virginia)

Then, use the other one to rename Fort A.P. Hill.

Although one of the more capable commanders on the list, this Confederate general’s accomplishments include not being Stonewall Jackson, getting shot seven days before the war ended and having gonorrhea for 21 years.

9. Fort Rucker (Alabama)

Fort Rucker is named for Col. Edmund Rucker, a Confederate Army chef who designed a way for Confederate troops to live on eating grass. While that’s not even remotely true, no one outside of Fort Rucker knows that or cares to Google it. Rucker wasn’t even from Alabama, he just made a lot of money there.

The first suggestion for renaming the base goes to Gen. Oliver W. Dillard, the fifth African American flag officer in Army history, the first black intelligence general and a National Intelligence Hall of Famer. He joined during World War II and served through Korea, Vietnam and most of the Cold War.

But if time in service is what we’re looking for, look no further than Alabama’s own Sgt. Maj. Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson. Johnson first enlisted in the Army in 1923 and was discharged as a corporal six years later. After four years as a civilian, he again enlisted, this time in the Navy. “Hashmark” was aboard the USS Wyoming when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Later that year, he was one of the first black men to join the United States Marine Corps.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

If there’s a problem with an Army base named for a Marine, look at who it’s named for now, then look at this photo of Hashmark. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Johnson spent another 17 years in the Corps, with a total of 32 years in service. He earned the name “Hashmark” because he had more service stripes than stripes indicating his rank. Welcome to Fort Hashmark.

10. Camp Beauregard (Louisiana)

Louisiana’s National Guard runs this base, named for Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, one of the South’s most able commanders — and one who would end up arguing for racial cooperation after the Civil War’s end.

While that’s admirable, there’s a good chance he just wanted the votes of newly freed black men against Reconstruction-era radical Republicans, so let’s not go crazy about how reconstructed Beauregard was. If we’re going to choose a Louisianan with questionable motives, let’s name the camp after the aforementioned pirate Jean Lafitte.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Who wears the same facial expression as your First Sergeant.

Lafitte turned from sailor/pirate/merchant to soldier in nearly a heartbeat to help the Americans defend the port city of New Orleans from outside attack, and if that doesn’t sound like the National Guard, I don’t know what does.

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

Iconic civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis leaves legacy of hope

Congressman John Lewis lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 17, 2020. He was an icon for the civil rights movement but more than that, he was a continuous beacon of hope for peace and social justice.


On Lewis’ passing, President Donald Trump ordered flags to be flown half-staff. In a White House proclamation, the president stated, “As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of Representative John Lewis, of Georgia, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions through July 18, 2020. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half‑staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”

Born in 1940 to sharecroppers in rural Alabama, Lewis would go on to become a prominent and iconic figure in the fight for equality. He was one of the speakers at the March on Washington during Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis was one of the original Freedom Riders during this time. He was beaten and arrested multiple times during these nonviolent protests.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

upload.wikimedia.org

Lewis marched with King from Selma to Montgomery, on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis and others were assaulted with nightsticks by Alabama State Troopers while the protestors were kneeling and praying. Lewis’ skull was fractured from the beating. This incident is what pushed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to come to pass. Lewis was a witness when it was signed into law.

Lewis bore the scars from all of these events for the remainder of his life.

After the civil rights movement, Lewis became a congressman and served Georgia for over 30 years. He fought for the Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., which took 15 years. President Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 for his life’s work.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

upload.wikimedia.org

In December of 2019, he announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He released a statement, saying, “I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now…So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.”

Lewis’ passing comes just a year after the U.S. Navy celebrated his legacy by naming one of their newest fleet of ships after him. He was a humble man and in one interview, shared his disbelief that the honor was being bestowed upon him. While attending the ceremony to celebrate one of the new ships Lewis said, “We need great ships, like this one, to carry our men and women in our continued work for peace, because we are one world.”

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska
www.11alive.com

In those words, hope resonates. Following his passing, the spirit of his legacy will continue to live on and the world will remember this icon by continuing his work for justice – and peace.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Air Force begins investing billions in adversary air training

The U.S. Air Force has officially kicked off its adversary air contract initiative by awarding seven companies a total of $6.4 billion to outsource its assault and combat training.

The service on Oct. 18, 2019, issued the collective, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to Air USA Inc.; Airborne Tactical Advantage Company LLC, known as ATAC, a subset of Textron Airborne Solutions; Blue Air Training; Coastal Defense; Draken International; Tactical Air Support, known as TacAir; and Top Aces Corp. for Air Combat Command’s aggressor training, according to a Defense Department announcement.

“Contractors will provide complete contracted air support services for realistic and challenging advanced adversary air threats and close-air support threats,” the Defense Department said.


The Air Force for years has looked for a helping hand to fill the enemy, “red air” gap, which would in turn allow for more of its active-duty combat forces to attain air-to-air training on the friendly, or “blue air,” side.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Draken International’s L-159E.

The training comes down to a battle of simulated attacks for the purpose of enhancing tactics and techniques should pilots find themselves in an aerial dogfight, or having to stave off the enemy. The simulated flights would also include close-air support to enhance Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training for ground operators.

During the onset of the fighter pilot shortage in 2016, Air Force officials signaled a renewed interest in contracting the work, a cheaper alternative than depleting the service’s budget for training and flight hours to act as the enemy.

“In a perfect world, we’d have the resources to maintain the aggressor squadrons that we used to have and kind of do it in house with modernized threats,” Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, told reporters during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in 2017. “In the world we’re living in now, we’re limited in personnel and end strength.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Two French F-1 Mirages prepare to taxi and take off from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Thompson)

“If we can bring on some contract red air, then not only do we get some dedicated people to train against, we also reduce the amount of time that our crews are spending at a zero-sum budget for flight hours pretending to be somebody else instead of training for their primary skills,” he added.

A number of the red air companies have been expanding their aggressor fleets. For example, Draken currently has A-4 Skyhawks and L-159 “Honey Badgers” and recently purchased Dassault Mirage F1s and Atlas Cheetah fighters to add to its inventory. In 2017, ATAC bought upgraded F1 fighters from France; the company flew its first Mirage in August.

The training will be performed at “multiple locations across the Combat Air Force (CAF),” the DoD said. The Air Force has estimated that roughly 40,000 to 50,000 hours of flight time is needed to support aggressor air at a dozen bases across the U.S.

The Air Force will use fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (OM) funds in the amount of .8 million toward the effort, set to run through October 2024, the announcement states.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Curious Kids: What’s it like to be a fighter pilot?

This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children of all ages. The Conversation is asking young people to send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. All questions are welcome: find details on how to enter at the bottom.

What’s it like to be a fighter pilot? – Torben, aged eight, Sussex, UK.


Thanks for your question, Torben. I’m a professor working at the University of Portsmouth’s Extreme Environments Laboratory, where we study how humans respond when going into space, mountains, deserts and the sea, as well as what it’s like to be in submarines, spacecraft and, of course, jet planes.

To be a fast jet pilot, you must be fit and smart, and able to do what’s needed, even when the going gets tough. You also get to wear some very special clothes, to protect your body while flying.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Capts. Andrew Glowa, left, and William Piepenbring launch flares from two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs Aug. 18, 2014, over southern Georgia.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

If you’re a fighter pilot, you’re not allowed to get air sick (which is a bit like getting car sick, in a plane). And you have to be the right height and weight to fit in the cockpit — and to jump out in emergencies.

Fighter jets can go 1,550 miles an hour: that’s more than twice the speed of sound, or 25 miles in a minute. So, if you live two miles from school, you could get home in less than five seconds in a fighter jet.

Only the best pilots in the world can fly a plane that goes so fast: you have to be able to think and act very quickly. To help you, modern jets listen to your voice, so you can tell them what to do — it’s called “voice command”.

Fast jets aren’t smooth to fly in, like the kind of planes you go on holiday in — they’re more like a fast fairground ride. You have to be strapped into your seat very tightly, so that you don’t get thrown around.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

First Lt. Kayla Bowers, a 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, looks out of the cockpit of her aircraft during the squadron’s deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, March 18, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden)

In fact, flying that fast and making lots of turns and dives can make you feel very sick. Can you imagine being sick, while wearing a mask and flying a plane at 1,000 miles an hour? That’s why fighter pilots have to be checked and trained to make sure they don’t get air sick.

Fast jet pilots also have to wear lots of special clothes to protect them in different situations. One thing they have to wear is a helmet to protect their head, and a mask with a microphone.

The mask is linked up to a system that can provide extra oxygen if anything goes wrong — after all, there’s less oxygen in the air when you’re flying very high, and humans need plenty of oxygen to breathe properly.

Standing on Earth, humans experience gravity at 1G (that’s one times the acceleration due to gravity). But when fighter jets make fast turns and rolls, the pilot can experience up to 9G (by comparison, roller coasters only produce 3-6G). That means they feel nine times heavier, which can be very unpleasant and would make most people black out.

To help with this, fighter pilots also wear special trousers that squeeze their legs tightly when they go round bends — this keeps the blood pumping up to their brain, to stop them from fainting: trust me, you don’t want to faint when flying a fast jet.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop completes preflight checks before his first sortie in an F-35A Lightning II, March 6, 2013.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Fast jet pilots may also have to wear a flying suit, a life jacket and an “immersion suit” — that’s a suit which keeps you warm and dry, if you end up in the sea. They may also wear another suit to protect them from chemicals and other dangerous things.

All this kit and clothing can make a fighter pilot pretty hot. Plus the jet has a plastic lid and lots of very clever electronics, which can also heat up the cockpit. And when the plane goes fast through the air, it warms up due to friction — like when you rub your hands together fast.

To stay cool, fighter pilots can wear a special vest with long small tubes in it, which pump cold water around. Or, they can wear a suit next to their skin which has cold air blowing through it.

Pilots sit on a rocket-powered ejector seat, so if he or she gets into trouble, they can pull a handle and be blasted up into the air and away from the crashing plane.

Luckily, the seat has a parachute that opens up and lets them float down to the ground safely. But the force of the ejection actually makes them shorter for a little while afterwards.

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to us. You can:

  • Email your question to curiouskids@theconversation.com
  • Tell us on Twitter by tagging @ConversationUK with the hashtag #curiouskids, or
  • Message us on Facebook.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 wacky sights from the Sturgis motorcycle rally

Every year, thousands of motorcyclists descend on Sturgis, South Dakota for days of camaraderie, fanfare and riding. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s rally is still happening. Here are 5 wacky sights you have to see to believe.

Zac Brown Midget Bowling

www.youtube.com

1. Zac Brown bowling a midget

The human bowling ball named Short Sleeve Sampson is considered by some as a rite of passage at Buffalo Chip and the Sturgis Rally. With his assistants, Lady Victoria and Summer, the midget wrestling icon lines up to be hurled down the lane at a set of bowling pins. Seeing country-music star Zac Brown partake in the action is like an odd cherry on top of a wacky sundae. That said, Zac Brown is joined on the list of midget bowlers by other famous artists like Rob Zombie, John 5 and Eric Church.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

(Rapid City Journal)

2. The kangaroo at the wedding

When Lady Victoria married Marco Webber at the 2009 Sturgis Rally, she was escorted down the aisle by Jack the Kangaroo of Roo Ranch. Lady Victoria noted that her previous marriage ceremonies were very traditional and wanted to change things up. For his services, Jack received a BreathSavers mint, a favorite treat of his.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

(Rapid City Journal)

3. Rhett Rotten and the Wall of Death

Sure, you could argue that it’s simple physics: counteracting gravity with sufficient velocity and centrifugal force. But, there’s just something fantastic about a man riding his motorcycle around on a wall. Did we mention that the wall is 12 feet high, 30 feet wide and 81 years old? If only Humvees were as reliable as the Wall of Death.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

(Rapid City Journal)

4. Riding through a beer wall

If you’re riding, it means you’re not drinking. So what’s the next best thing? How about riding through the drink? Bursting through a wall of cold ones results in a fantastic display of foam that we can only imagine must be supremely refreshing and satisfying.

High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

(Rapid City Journal)

5. A man in a barrel

This one is pretty self-explanatory. We’ll just leave it here for you to enjoy.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Surfing superstar Hangs 10 and donates $20k to veterans

Kelly Slater is known around the world as arguably the greatest surfer of all time. An 11-time world champion, Slater is iconic in the surfing community.


Watching videos on YouTube, it’s easy to see why he has been so dominant on the board and has had such a huge influence and impact on the sport.

Outside the surfing community, there’s another group of people Slater continues to help: veterans.

Slater built a pretty rad surfing ranch out in the California countryside that attracts surf aficionados and celebrities alike.

The ranch is also a spot used by nonprofits to provide outlets for wounded warriors to surf as a part of therapy.

In addition to surfing, Slater is also known for many other things from being a businessman, model, actor, environmentalist, philanthropist and overall cool dude.

When it comes to philanthropy, Slater is known for giving to myriad causes. He has donated and raised awareness for protecting the ocean and worked on suicide prevention.

But this weekend, his focus was on an oft forgotten population – wounded warriors.

In addition to being the greatest surfer of all time, Slater is also an avid golfer. Every year he can, he participates in the ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am which was held this past weekend.

The Pro-Am is a celebrity-studded event which features the best golfers in the world playing alongside athletes from other sports and entertainment celebrities.

Crowds love the atmosphere which is more relaxed than usual golf events.

One of the events held was the Chevron Shootout. The shootout is where past champions of the tournament are paired with champions from the world of sports to compete in a team putting competition at the Pebble Beach Putting Green with winnings going to the player’s charity of choice.

Other athletes included Steve Young, Matt Ryan, Larry Fitzgerald, Jimmy Walker and Brandt Snedeker. Slater was paired with D.A. Point and won the Shootout, donating his winnings to his charity of choice: Wounded Warrior Project.

Of the ,000 prize his team won, he gets to donate half to that cause.

Slater later posted on Facebook posting pics of the event.

As you can see in the comments, veterans loved the love Slater gave to the veteran community. Mahola, Mr. Slater.

MIGHTY CULTURE

A sailor’s worst nightmare: Surviving a sinking ship

With millions of boats and ships plying the waves, it’s easy to forget that mankind isn’t made to survive in the ocean — and the dangers inherent to the sea are compounded when you’re trapped a few decks below the waterline in a huge iron bubble filled with ammunition and fuel that’s on fire as it sinks into icy waters.


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A ship goes down, circa 1943.

(John Atherton, CC BY-SA 2.5)

For sailors, attempting to save their vessel and then, if necessary, abandoning it while trying to survive is a real process that they must be prepared to complete. Based on testimony from those who have survived torpedo hits and other attacks that doom a ship, the experience is even more nightmarish than most would imagine.

First, there’s the attack or the crash. For many in war, they see the threat too late to do anything about it. German U-boat Capt. K.G.E. von Spiegel described an attack in his memoirs:

“The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and brown backs of horses. ‘Oh heavens, horses! What a pity, those lovely beasts!’ ….

“The death-bringing shot was a true one, and the torpedo ran towards the doomed ship at high speed. I could follow its course exactly by the light streak of bubbles which was left in its wake….

“I saw that the bubble-track of the torpedo had been discovered on the bridge of the steamer, as frightened arms pointed towards the water and the captain put his hands in front of his eyes and waited resignedly. Then a frightful explosion followed, and we were all thrown against one another by the concussion, and then, like Vulcan, huge and majestic, a column of water two hundred metres high and fifty metres broad, terrible in its beauty and power, shot up to the heavens.”

For men not on the deck, the end of the ship can come as even more of a surprise.

Dr. Lewis Haynes, chief medical officer on the USS Indianapolis, described his experience when his ship was torpedoed:

“I awoke. I was in the air. I saw a bright light before I felt the concussion of the explosion that threw me up in the air almost to the overhead. A torpedo had detonated under my room. I hit the edge of the bunk, hit the deck, and stood up. Then the second explosion knocked me down again. As I landed on the deck I thought, ‘I’ve got to get the hell out of here!’ I grabbed my life jacket and started to go out the door. My room was already on fire.”
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The German battleship Admiral Graf Spee in flames after being scuttled in the River Plate Estuary off Montevideo, Uruguay.

(Imperial War Museums)

For men on sinking ships, fire is a real hazard despite the water rushing to fill the ship. The water is the greatest threat to the ship floating for the moment, but fire can quickly kill all life aboard and cause explosions or melt bulkheads, disabling pumps or allowing even more water in.

Damage control parties move through the ship, attempting to patch holes, pump out flooded compartments, and douse fires. But if they can’t get the damage under control, the ship’s captain has to make one of the hardest decisions: to abandon ship.

Sometimes, it’s the only way to save the crew, giving them the chance to fight another day or to return to their families, but it consigns thousands of tons of American steel and aluminum to the sea, along with the remains of any sailors already dead or too injured or trapped to escape.

The rest of the crew heads for the lifeboats, helping each other through listing decks and smoke-filled compartments that are often without power and light.

But there’s not always room enough for everyone in the lifeboat. This is extremely dangerous, even when the water is warm. The water is often filled with oil and diesel, and the sinking ship is drawing literal tons of water towards itself, creating a situation where even the strongest swimmer can get slowly pulled under and drown.

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The HMS Legion, at left, rescues survivors from the slowly sinking HMS Ark Royal near the coast of Gibraltar.

(Royal Navy photo by Lt. S.J. Beadell)

From Dr. Haynes’ account of the Indianapolis sinking:

“I slowly walked down the side of the ship. Another kid came and said he didn’t have a jacket. I had an extra jacket and he put it on. We both jumped into the water which was covered with fuel oil. I wasn’t alone in the water. The hull was covered with people climbing down.

“I didn’t want to get sucked down with the ship so I kicked my feet to get away. And then the ship rose up high. I thought it was going to come down and crush me. The ship kept leaning out away from me, the aft end rising up and leaning over as it stood up on its nose. The ship was still going forward at probably 3 or 4 knots. When it finally sank, it was over a hundred yards from me. Most of the survivors were strung out anywhere from half a mile to a mile behind the ship.

“Suddenly, the ship was gone and it was very quiet. It had only been 12 minutes since the torpedoes hit. We started to gather together. Being in the water wasn’t an unpleasant experience except that the black fuel oil got in your nose and eyes. We all looked the same, black oil all over — white eyes and red mouths. You couldn’t tell the doctor from the boot seamen. Soon everyone had swallowed fuel oil and gotten sick. Then everyone began vomiting.”
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USS Indianapolis survivors are moved to the hospital in August 1945.

(U.S. Navy)

Best case scenario, the sailors are now safely in the water, attempting to tend to wounds and keep people afloat while awaiting rescue. But, they may still be under attack or could be captured by enemy forces. In the case of the Indianapolis, the crew was returning from the top-secret mission to deliver the atomic bomb to Allied forces for use against Japan.

No one knew where the ship was, and the men were left at sea for four days in shark-infested waters. The crew had 1,195 members when it went down in 1945. 300 men are thought to have gone down with the ship, and nearly 600 more died in the water while waiting for rescue. Only 316 survived.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What life is like for 10 countries with mandatory draft

A recent report shows that the US is looking into its draft program, weighing options from mandating service for women to getting rid of the draft altogether.

While a reinvigorated draft may alarm US citizens, nearly 60 countries around the world still have some form of conscription.

Some, like Israel, need the draft to ensure it can maintain its armed forces. Others, like China, often have enough recruits that a draft is unnecessary.

Some countries, like Norway and Israel, have allowed transgender people to serve for decades.

This is a look at 10 countries that still require every man, or every woman and man, to serve.


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1. Russia

One year of military service is required for Russian men between the ages of 18 and 27.

The country allows for some exceptions — sons or brothers of men killed during their military service are released from conscription, for example.

Even with these exceptions, Russians have been evading the draft at alarming rates, and the government has considered forcing men to report even if they have not been selected.

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2. Switzerland

Military service is mandatory for Swiss men.

As recently as 2017, Switzerland was considering adding women to its draft roles.

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3. Israel

Israeli men must serve in the defense force for three years.

Women are conscripted for two years.

Transgender Israelis have been allowed to serve since 1993.

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4. Norway

Norway was the first NATO country to expand conscription to include women. It was also one of the first countries in the world to allow transgender people to serve, changing its policy in 1973.

The country’s conscription is selective; everyone has to register but won’t necessarily be called to serve.

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(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

5. China

Although China does mandate military service, it has routinely exceeded recruitment goals and has not needed to force conscription.

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6. Iran

Conscription is mandatory for Iranian men, who must serve from 18 months to two years.

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7. North Korea

North Korea has the longest conscription period in the world.

Men are required to serve for 10 years, starting at age 17.

Women must serve for seven years.

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8. Egypt

Egyptian men must serve for a period of one to three years, depending on their level of education.

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9. Austria

In Austria, men can choose between six months of military service and nine months of civil service.

Austria has allowed transgender troops to serve since 2004.

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10. Meanwhile, other countries like Taiwan are getting rid of conscription altogether.

Taiwan pledged in 2011 to end conscription. The country is moving closer towards its goal of an all-volunteer force, but is facing hurdles as younger generations are choosing not to serve.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Congress fixes ‘unfair’ rule that stopped service members from suing for damages

Members of the military who have long been barred by law from collecting damages from the federal government for injuries off the battlefield will finally be able to do so after Congress stepped in to amend the law.


The legislation represents progress for injured service members – but still limits who among them may press for damages.

Up until the end of World War II, the U.S. government enjoyed “sovereign immunity,” a vestige of British rule when “the king could do no wrong” and the government could not be sued.

But in 1946, faced with the prospect of World War II veterans returning from the front only to be hit and killed in an accident on base, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress felt that it was only fair to allow people to recover damages for personal injury from the government when the government was negligent or irresponsible about caring for people’s safety.

There were exceptions. Certainly Congress could not allow a soldier – or his family – to sue the government if, due to the orders of a superior officer, he were wounded or killed in battle. So the Federal Tort Claims Act prohibited suits by soldiers or sailors injured due to wartime combatant activities.

But later rulings limited servicemembers’ rights even more, in ways not suggested by the language of the act.

The first of these was a case filed by the surviving family members of a soldier. Lt. Rudolph Feres was a decorated World War II veteran who had parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He survived that battle and others through the end of the war only to return to the U.S. and die in a barracks fire caused, according to his wife, by the explosion of a boiler known to be faulty.

Feres’ widow also claimed that no fire guard had been posted on the fateful night. Joined to the case were two soldiers who claimed malpractice by army surgeons.

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upload.wikimedia.org

The court decided that the existing benefits scheme for military deaths and injuries was ample and denied the claims. To the further chagrin of the Feres family, the controversial ruling took on the name the “Feres Doctrine.”

Cases sustaining Feres expressed the concern that allowing civilian courts to intervene in cases of this type would interfere with military discipline. Thus, the court declared that soldiers could not sue the government for damages for negligently caused injuries “incident to service,” even if they did not involve combat.

Later suits building on Feres limited soldiers’ rights even more – barring claims by a soldier allegedly raped by her drill sergeant and by members of the military harmed by their exposure to nuclear testing and the defoliant chemical Agent Orange.

Questionable doctrine survives

All of these rulings meant that anyone who had the misfortune of getting hurt while on active duty, even if it wasn’t in combat, could never sue for damages – while if the same person had gotten hurt on the job as a civilian, they would have had that right.

This disfavored treatment for servicemen was underscored in the aftermath of the space shuttle Challenger explosion, during which families of civilian crew members were able to file lawsuits against the government, but the family of the pilot who was a Navy captain on active duty could not.

The Feres Doctrine were therefore seen by many as unfair. Others, like the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, criticized Feres because of its departure from the plain language of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which limits the exclusion to wartime “combatant activities.” Still others believe that Feres fails to hold the military accountable for the kind of mistakes for which others are required to pay damages.

The Feres Doctrine nevertheless has continued to hold sway, with the Supreme Court refusing to reconsider the doctrine as recently as May 2019. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent from the court’s denial of certiorari in that case, Daniel v. United States, paraphrased Justice Scalia in stating that “Feres was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the widespread, almost universal criticism it has received.”

In 1950, speaking for the Supreme Court in the Feres case, Justice Robert Jackson admitted, “If we misinterpret the Act, at least Congress possesses a ready remedy.” That “ready remedy” finally came almost seventy years later, due to the persistence of a soldier suffering from terminal cancer.

Green Beret goes to Congress

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal is a former Green Beret and wounded Iraq veteran whose military health providers missed a 3-centimeter mass in one of his lungs on a CT scan.

After military physicians repeatedly attributed his health problems to asthma or pneumonia, Sgt. Stayskal learned from a civilian pulmonologist that he actually had stage 4 lung cancer. Sgt. Stayskal continues to receive treatment for his cancer, although he says it is deemed incurable.

But Sgt. Stayskal was barred by Feres from pursuing a malpractice case in court.

So Stayskal enlisted the support of California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat, who introduced a bill to allow current and former service personnel to bring medical malpractice claims against government health providers.

A compromise version of the bill was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020. Adding the bill into a “must-pass” piece of defense legislation assured its passage. It was passed by both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. President Trump signed the measure into law on Dec. 20, 2019.

Cup only half-full

The new law does not cover everyone. A lawsuit like the original Feres case, by the survivors of someone who perished in a barracks fire, would still not be allowed. That’s because the legislation only allows claims by those who allege to have been victims of medical malpractice by military health care providers.

And claims cannot be brought in federal court, as is normally the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Rather, they must be pursued through a Defense Department administrative procedure under regulations that the Department of Defense is required to draft.

While Rep. Speier still thinks that military claimants “deserve their day in federal court,” this would not be the first time a legislature provided a remedy for personal injury through an administrative process outside the courts. Workers’ compensation and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund are examples of the use of administrative processes to determine compensation for injury.

Research suggests that most claimants don’t care whether their cases are decided through a court, an administrative procedure or even mediation. Rather, they care about having a respectful hearing in which a third party has carefully considered their views, concerns and evidence.

Those who worked to pass this legislation will likely scrutinize the Defense Department’s regulations and procedures to see whether such a forum has been provided.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the biggest ways you can still be a boot after service

Veterans are a diverse group filled with all sorts of different types of people. Much like any other group, there tends be a lot of disagreements among its members over all sorts of things, like if growing a beard means you’re no longer a Marine or whether Okinawa is a real deployment (it’s not). But, at the end of the day, some people get out of the military acting a lot like they did when they first showed up.

When you first get out of boot camp, you’re called a “boot.” You’re the new employee — the FNG, if you will. As a freshly minted service member, there are some traits you likely exhibit, like being covered head to toe in overly-moto gear or telling every single person you meet that you’re a part of the military.

Most of us outgrow these tendencies as we settle into the routine of life in service. But we’ve observed a strange phenomenon: After service, some veterans regress to their boot-like behaviors. Specifically, the following:


High stakes on the frozen tundra of remote Alaska

You can make fun of them, but remember that it’s just that — fun.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Rylan Albright)

Insulting other branches

It’s one thing to joke around with other veterans by calling the Air Force the “Chair Force” or the Coast Guard “useless,” but it’s another thing entirely to be a genuine a**hole because you actually think your branch is best.

As a boot, you might really feel this way — after all, you just endured weeks of pain to get where you are and pride fools even the best of us. But if you still feel this way after you get out… You’re still a boot.

Gatekeeping

Dismissing someone else’s status as a veteran or a patriot because they don’t share your views is just dumb. Boots think people aren’t real patriots if they don’t join the military, but there are plenty of other ways to be patriotic outside of joining the armed forces.

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Neither of these two are superheroes — but both might think so.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

Talking up your service

Being in the military doesn’t make you some kind of superhero. You’re not the supreme savior of mankind because you’re a veteran. You’re a human being who made a noble choice, but that doesn’t make you Batman.

…maybe Bootman.

Telling everybody you meet about your service

Boots, for some reason, will tell every man, woman, child, and hamster that they’re in the military.

Some veterans are guilty of this, too, but it usually comes in the form of replying to any statement with, “well, as a veteran…” It’s not any less annoying.

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You know this is where most of your time went.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. M. Bravo)

Exaggerating your role

Some veterans love seeing themselves as modern-day Spartans or Vikings. In reality, a lot of us ended up cleaning toilets and standing in lines. Boots have the same tendency to over-glorify what they do in the military, making their role in the grand scheme of things seem much more important than it actually is.

All in all: Don’t be that guy.

MIGHTY CULTURE

It’s Official: The Space Force is now the 6th Military Branch

President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a “space force” as a new, sixth military branch to oversee missions and operations in the space domain.

“We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said during a speech at the National Space Council meeting, held at the White House on June 18, 2018. “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense to immediately begin the process to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”


“We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the space force,” Trump said. “Separate, but equal. It is going to be something so important.”

Trump then directed Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to “carry that assignment out.”

“Let’s go get it, General,” he added to Dunford, who was at the council meeting.

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Gen. Joseph Dunford

The Air Force did not immediately have a statement in response to the announcement, and directed all questions to the office of the secretary of defense.

In March 2018, Trump first revealed he had an idea for a “space force,” or separate military service for space.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has been in a months-long debate over an additional branch.

Trump shared his vision for the force during a visit to troops at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California.

“Because we’re doing a tremendous amount of work in space, maybe we need a new force,” he said. “We’ll call it the space force.”

Trump’s comments came a few months after discussions had wound down in the Pentagon about a separate military force for space.

Lawmakers have pushed the Air Force to stand up a branch for space within the service in hopes of taking adversarial threats in space more seriously.

Both Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have been trying to discourage talk of a separate military branch, maintaining that the Air Force has the means and the personnel to meet current requirements for space.

“This [Air Force] budget accelerates our efforts to deter, defend and protect our ability to operate and win in space,” Wilson told a House Appropriations Committee panel days after Trump’s first announcement. “There are a number of different elements of this with respect to the space — the space portfolio.”

Goldfein agreed with the secretary during the March hearing, and added there is no question space is a warfighting domain in need of better protection. The Air Force has overseen the domain since the mid-1950s.

“As a joint chief, I see that same responsibility as the lead joint chief for space operations is making sure that we have those capabilities that the joint team requires. And so, as the president stated openly, this is a warfighting domain,” Goldfein said. “That is where we’ve been focused. And so I’m really looking forward to the conversation.”

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Gen. David Goldfein

In 2017, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, and Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry, R-Texas, first created language in the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act which would have required the service to stand up a “U.S. Space Corps.”

Soon after, Goldfein, Wilson and even Defense Secretary Jim Mattis publicly downplayed the idea, citing costliness and organizational challenges.

And while lawmakers ultimately removed language requiring such an overhaul of the Air Force’s mission, they still required a study of a space force and also backed changes to the management of the space cadre.

Rogers and other key lawmakers believe it is still possible to stand up a “space corps” within three to five years, and have still chastised the Air Force for not creating something like it “yesterday.”

“The situation we are in as a nation, the vulnerabilities we have to China and Russia, I’d like for the American public to know more, [but] I can’t because I don’t want to go to jail for leaking classified info. But we’re in a really bad situation,” Rogers said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in March 2018.

Rogers has looked to Trump for support on the new space mission.

“Looking forward to working with @realDonaldTrump on this initiative!” he tweeted March 14, 2018.

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

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