Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

After finishing his second Boston Marathon in 2013, Maj. Ken Parisi, a logistics specialist at Marine Corps Systems Command, wanted to tackle a new challenge — triathlons.

He has completed four full-distance 140.6-mile races and 10 half-distance 70.3-mile races. He said this passion for triathlons gave him confidence and made him a better Marine.


“I realized I got myself into something pretty big, so I did what all Marines would do — I made a plan, hired a coach, bought a bike, and then just actively and aggressively pursued my training plan until I crossed each finish line,” Parisi said.

In 2018, he participated in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, placing in the top 25 percent of 4,500 competitors. The race included a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Maj. Ken Parisi, a logistics specialist at Marine Corps Systems Command, talks about his passion for triathlons and how they gave him confidence and made him a better Marine.

It was Parisi’s first World Championship race, and he had to overcome a few obstacles: it rained the entire race and his bike never arrived in time after he shipped it from the U.S. Luckily, he was able to rent a bike and was only six minutes short of his fastest time. He also beat his personal record in running by six minutes and matched his fastest swim time.

“It was an incredible experience competing with the best athletes and Olympians across the globe,” said Parisi. “I enjoy triathlons because they push me past my uncomfortable limitations into becoming a better athlete and a better person. I’m more patient and confident in myself and what I can do because of this sport.”

Parisi said training for a full-distance Ironman consumes his off-duty time. He alternates between swimming and running one day, then biking and running the next day, training at least 14-18 hours a week. This does not include the time he spends on travel, preparation, cool down, stretching, and calorie consumption.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Maj. Ken Parisi, a logistics specialist at Marine Corps Systems Command, crosses the finish line at the Ironman World Championship at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

“On Saturdays I’ll wake up at 5:00 a.m. and go for a five or six-hour bike ride, follow it up with a run, try to get home early enough to have a late lunch or early dinner, go to bed, and then do another workout the following day,” he said. “I’m a very goal-driven Marine and individual. I think if you are going to be a successful and competitive athlete, having realistic, identifiable and attainable goals is critical.”

Parisi said he believes competing in distance triathlons has increased his endurance and strength, which makes him a better Marine, even after 23 years of service. He earned a perfect score of 300 on his physical and combat fitness tests, and is more driven and disciplined to conquer every goal he sets.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Maj. Ken Parisi, a logistics specialist at Marine Corps Systems Command, shows off his Ironman World Championship coin which signified his qualification into the race at Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

“As Marines, we are put in hard situations and expected to come out on top,” said Parisi. “It’s really up to us to focus, drill down, and get the job done, and I believe this sport challenges me enough to know that I can do anything.”

Parisi will continue working toward his goal to compete in the Ironman World Championship, a 140.6-mile journey, which is double the distance from the Ironman in South Africa.

“It is very challenging, but I’m focused on the common quote ‘failing doesn’t make you a failure,'” he said. “I know that every workout I do will make me a little bit stronger for the next workout, and getting across the finish line at the world championship one day is my ultimate goal.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘Military Crashpad’ was designed to beat base billeting in every way

An Air Force veteran has created a business that provides variety and comfort in military lodging. Ever heard of Airbnb? Well, Military Crashpad is similar, but specifically caters to military personnel, veterans, and their families.


Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Above is a general example of TDY billeting at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA.

(Photo from Fort Indiantown Gap)


Active duty personnel in every military branch travel a lot, whether it be for TDY or a permanent change of station (PCS). The only problem with travel is finding a place to stay for a government rate. Military Inns and on-base facilities are okay for short stays, but when a military member has to remain in a certain place for an extended period of time, government accommodations just don’t cut it.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Captain Johnny Buckingham, CEO and Founder of Military Crashpad.

Captain Jonathan Buckingham is the man behind the mission of Military Crashpad. Buckingham started off in the Air Force Academy and commissioned as a pilot, flying mainly KC-135 aircraft. With six deployments under his belt and over twenty TDY’s to count, he is well-seasoned in living in government quarters.

It was during his first 5-month TDY to Altus, OK, when Buckingham realized that military lodging could be ten times better. Base billeting, normally, is not equipped with kitchens or many of the everyday amenities that makes a place ‘homey’ or cozy.

Instead of staying on base, he went in search of a crashpad to fit his needs. A “crashpad” is a home, fully-furnished, that anyone can rent a room in to stay for a period of time. Unfortunately, there were no crashpad rooms available in the area. That’s when Buckingham got the idea to make crashpads exclusively for military personnel. As CEO and Founder of Military Crashpad, his motto is always, “because it was difficult for me, I want to make it better for the next guy.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Above, the first Military Crashpad location in Altus, OK.

(Photo courtesy of Captain Johnny Buckingham)

Buckingham bought his first house in Altus, OK, to utilize as a crashpad in 2013 with his friend and business partner, Chris Fei. He and his friends fully furnished the home, which is complete with beds, desks, couches, big-screen TVs, PS4s, grills, kitchen utensils, pool tables, and more. Military Crashpad has now expanded into multiple states with homes near military bases.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Founded in 2013, Military Crashpad has expanded into all of the above states, with multiple residences available in most areas.

(Photo by Military Crashpad)

Why stay at a Military Crashpad? Below is only a taste of the amenities that are offered at their locations:

  • More space than a hotel room
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Fully furnished with 60″ TV’s
  • Full Cable packages
  • Maid service
  • POOLS!

Not active duty? No problem. Military Crashpad caters to veterans, reserves, and active duty alike. You want to take your family with you? No problem. Customers can rent a room or a whole house for privacy — all at the government rate. The mission behind Military Crashpad s to help our nation’s military and it’s evident in the care that comes with customer service. Military Crashpad offers thoughtful consideration to those serving in our armed forces.

Johnny Buckingham says it best,

“If we can make veterans lives easier when they’re stateside, then they’ll be more energized and rested which will allows them to fight harder, better, and faster. That benefits everyone.”


You can book your stay at Military Crashpad by visiting https://www.militarycrashpad.com/.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s the bizarre story of the man who ‘sold the moon’

Back in the halcyon days of the 1980s, when all people of the world had to worry about was total annihilation via widespread nuclear war, an American called Dennis Hope made international news when he revealed that after exploiting a loophole in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, he had become the sole owner of our nearest celestial neighbour, the Moon. Since then, Hope has made a small fortune selling off pieces of the satellite’s surface. While the media has mostly painted Hope as a harmless eccentric, if you study his story a little more closely, as we’re wont to do, you’ll see that Hope is actually a masterful entrepreneur and almost every aspect of his story is a carefully crafted falsehood or half truth that nonetheless has seen the man himself seemingly earn millions selling nothing more than pieces of paper.


So how did he pull this off? The story goes that, in 1980, Mr Hope was a down on his luck unemployed shoe salesmen, reeling from a divorce and looking for a way to make ends meet. After learning that there was a great deal of money to be made buying and selling property, he states, “I looked out the window, saw the moon and thought, ‘Hey, there’s a load of property!'”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

The Moon as seen by an observer from Earth.

Hope ran to his local library (for those unfamiliar, a sort of place where they used to store the partial contents of the future internet on the bodies of deceased trees) to research who, if anyone, owned the Earth’s satellite. In that house of plant death, he discovered that, according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty signed by all space faring nations at the time as well as over 100 others, no country can claim sovereignty over any such celestial body.

Hope’s interpretation of this was that, while the Treaty forbade countries and governments from staking a claim to the Moon, it said nothing about an individual doing so. Towards this end, he filed a claim for ownership of the moon with, to quote him, “his local US Governmental Office for claim registries”. Supposedly after some pushing and prodding, a supervisor at the office signed off on his claim which made him the sole owner of the moon.

As a courtesy, Hope then wrote a letter to the UN and the Russian Government telling them about the claim he was granted by the U.S. government and asking if they wished to challenge it. When they never responded, he began selling off plots of lunar real estate for about an acre (he now charges .99), or slightly more if you also wished to purchase the mineral rights for your particular lunar plot.

Since then, Hope has claimed to have sold “611 million acres of land on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io (one of Jupiter’s moons) and Mercury” to approximately 6 million property owners including, according to him, celebrities like Tom Hanks, George Lucas and even former Presidents Carter, Bush Jr and Reagan. He also claims the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains have bought extensive properties from him, along with, to quote him, “1,800 major corporations”.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

George Lucas.

Beyond selling property on the various celestial bodies, he also claims to be the defacto ruler of the “Galactic Government”, which he also states currently has “diplomacy with 30 governments on this planet.” We can only assume by “diplomacy”, he at some point sent an email off that some clerk actually replied to.

Whatever the case, as for the United States, Hope states on his Lunar Embassy website that “We at the Lunar Embassy are pleased that our work since November of 1980, is finally starting to be recognized by the United States of America government as being valid. This is a huge step in the official recognition by the USA…”

As to what this “huge step in the official recognition” of his claim of ownership of the Moon and other such celestial objects was, beyond we’re sure the IRS happy to collect taxes from him, the preceding paragraph on the website indicates that this acknowledgement came in the form of Hope being, to quote, “named co-chairman of the Republican Congressional Business Advisory Council. He has also been given the National Republican Leadership Award and most recently he has been issued the highest honor the National Republican Congressional Committee has, the prestigious Republican Gold Medal.”

We’ll leave it to you to decide how this is “a huge step in the official recognition by the USA” of anything more than Hope’s business acumen.

Moving swiftly on, his Galactic Government is technically the richest in this solar system, as he states, “We have a currency for our government. We’re the only government that has any backing for its currency whatsoever, which are the helium-3 reserves on the surface of the moon. We have quadrillion worth of helium reserves in our treasury right now.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
Giphy

This all brings us around to how much, if any, of Hope’s story is actually true and whether or not he has any genuine legal claim to the Moon.

To begin with, it’s often reported as fact that Hope discovered a loophole in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that allowed him as an individual to claim ownership over the Moon. However, if you actually read the treaty (it’s kind of what we do here), you’ll find that it very clearly states in Article VI:

The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty

As Hope has never received authorization by any State Party to the Treaty for any activities on the Moon, including ownership, it’s generally agreed by space lawyers that Hope is full of “space-dung” and that the “deeds” he sells are nothing more than a novelty item.

(And if you think we’re making up the whole “space lawyers” bit, this is actually yet another thing your high school guidance councilor failed to mention to you, despite that the International Institute of Space Law was formed all the way back in 1960 and currently has members in nearly 50 countries.)

Going back to Hope, at this point you might be thinking, “But didn’t Hope get just such an authorization by a ‘State Party’ when the ‘US Governmental Office for claim registries’ approved his claim?” Well, a further point of contention on his origin story is that there is no such government office of the United States federal government he could have gone to that deals with registering individual claims to property like this; and further no local state office has the power to officially grant someone the rights to land outside of their jurisdiction either, which the Moon and various planets definitely are.

This hasn’t stopped Hope claiming that a representative of such an office accepted his claim for some reason. Unfortunately, the official documentation of the processing of his claim was supposedly misplaced and for whatever reason, he can’t seem to get an official copy of it from any government office. Instead, he can only provide a copy he made of it. This is a copy, mind you, that is filled with numerous spelling and grammatical errors and that apparently refers to Hope as “THE HEAD CHEESE”…

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
Giphy

In any event, it should also be noted that the Lunar Deeds Hope sells contain a disclaimer clearly and prominently identifying it as a “novelty” gift.

Nonetheless, Hope himself vehemently insists that the deeds are real. Explaining on his website that the term “novelty” is only used to discourage frivolous lawsuits. He also hilariously points out that “Well, if you look under the true definition of ‘novelty’ as being ‘something that is unique, having the quality of being novel, a small mass-produced item’, we fit exactly that.”

He doubles down on the authenticity here by noting the inclusion of “novelty”

Does not diminish the value of the property that you purchase in any way, as every deed is recorded and registered in the Lunar Embassy’s registration database and every owners information is listed with that registration. You own this property.

He further states that, “17 percent of people buy the product as a novelty item. But we also know that 42 percent of people register the property in the name of a trust they’ve set up, meaning they take it more seriously. And, of course, we also know that the major corporations who own land have a specific intent for it.”

We’ll spare you more such claims, but suffice it to say, if you look over his company’s website, they are pretty adamant that what they are selling is actually rights to property on the moon, and helpfully even have a whole section of one of their web pages dedicated to helping people spot fraud… because if one thing is clear above all others — Hope definitely has a great, dead-pan sense of humor.

All that aside, despite Hope’s aforementioned claims that only 17% of buyers think it’s a novelty item, we feel pretty confident that most people buying these “deeds” know full well it’s all just a fun gag gift, which brings us to the big question — has Hope actually achieved the “American dream”, earning “a million dollars” off his little business venture?

Well, as noted, Hope claims he’s sold “611 million acres of land on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io (one of Jupiter’s moons) and Mercury.” Given the prices he’s selling such at ( and up per acre) and that the total here is over a billion acres sold, this means Hope is officially one of the richest people in the world, even if we assume he offers steep discounts for bulk buys, which for what it’s worth, on his website he currently does not seem to offer.

Speaking of his obscene wealth, Hope claims that in 2011 an organization approached him and offered to buy the entire north pole of the Moon for a whopping million, but he turned their offer down. His reason? “We want to make sure people have what is needed for living at an inexpensive price.”

We’re going to be honest here, we’re not entirely sure what he was trying to say there…

Whatever the case, Hope notes that his current net worth is well over 0 trillion dollars in land alone, owing to his ownership of over 7 trillion acres of extraterrestrial properties.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
Giphy

Beyond the land, Hope, of course claims to own exclusive mineral rights to, by his estimate, quadrillion dollars of Helium 3 on the Moon alone. This isn’t mentioning the countless deposits of minerals and resources on the other celestial bodies he claims to own, such as the rich methane deposits hidden deep inside Uranus…

(Full disclosure here, the co-author of this article chose this topic solely so he could make that Uranus joke he had thought up… more on the whole methane/Uranus thing in the Bonus Facts later…)

But going back to Hope, we’re just saying, the IRS might want to look into his taxes to make sure he’s properly paying on everything, as we’re pretty sure we’ve just figured out how to solve the United States’ national debt problem.

All joking aside, how much has Hope actually made from all this?

Well, really, only the IRS and Hope knows.

But given the fact that Hope seemingly has had no other job since 1995, we’re guessing he’s at least done reasonably well, and certainly given it would take only about ,000 a year average to crest the id=”listicle-2639263711″ million mark in the near four decades he’s been doing this, he has easily eclipsed the classic American Dream trope of making “a million dollars” off little more than an idea and a bit of elbow grease — or, in his case, some high quality paper, printer ink, and sufficient postage.

Bonus Facts:

  • Hope was not the first to claim to own the Moon, nor the last. There is one man, however, who has the strongest claim of all — computer game designer Richard Allen Garriott de Cayeux. Why? He is the only individual to legally own something that is currently on the Moon. In 1993, he purchased the Lunokhod 2 and the Luna 21 lander for ,500 at an auction. As he notes, “I purchased Lunakod… from the Russians. I am now the world’s only private owner of an object on a foreign celestial body. Though there are international treaties that say, no government shall lay claim to geography off planet earth, I am not a government. Summarily, I claim the moon in the name of Lord British!” Funny enough, beyond also being the son of an astronaut, he’s also the only person who claims to own the Moon to have actually been to space. He did so via paying million to visit the International Space Station in October of 2008, spending 12 days there. As another fun fact about Garriott, he is generally credited as being the one to coin the term “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game” (MMORPG).
  • Going back to the Methane in Uranus, it turns out that, contrary to popular belief, methane in any measurable amount in most people’s flatus is not terribly common, with only about 1/3 of humans having measurably significant amounts in their farts. Even then, in one small study (looking at only ten people’s farts and experimenting around a bit with their diets during the study), it was found that those that did have measurable amounts of methane only produced it when fed significant amounts of fiber. (The fiber free version of their farts was almost wholly made up of nitrogen for all ten subjects.) With the fiber version, the average fart only contained about 3.6% methane. The bulk of these individuals’ flatus was made up of hydrogen (51%) and nitrogen (30%).Why only some people produce methane in their flatus isn’t entirely clear, though at least in part has to do with what microbes call one’s intestines home. So far, only three microbes have been identified as methane producers (methanogens) in humans: Methaniobrevibacter smithii, Methanospaera stadmagnae and Methannobrevibacter oralis.Scientists have identified a few factors in predicting if a person is a methane producer, and one of the most important of these appears to be where you live (although it’s not clear if genetics plays a role as well in some way). For example, while 77% of Nigerians and 87% of South Africans produce methane, only 34% of Norwegians and 35% of those who live in and around Minneapolis do so. In addition, adult women are more likely to produce measurable amounts of methane in their farts, and young children are less so. Finally, if both your parents produce methane, then there is a greater likelihood that you will, too, with one study indicating as high as a 95% chance that the spawn of two methane producers will also produce methane in their farts.More than just inconvenient, recent studies have shown a correlation between methane production and several gastrointestinal diseases including diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowls syndrome, constipation and colon cancer. Although there’s no definitive answer why to date.

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

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MIGHTY CULTURE

The future is bright for our military families

The forecast for America is changing. The country has been dominated by a pandemic with no end in sight. However, the future for the military is looking bright. What does this mean for military families?


Why Members Serve

Surveys show most Americans believe military members serve for patriotic reasons. How do these views compare to the actual reasons why military members serve? Recent studies indicate many members are motivated to serve by the salary and benefits associated with the military. Recruits also express job stability and training opportunities as occupational motives for joining the service.

Recruitment

At the beginning of 2020, military recruiters were facing an uphill battle. The branches of the service were all competing for recruits as the economy and job market were excellent, and the pool of qualified candidates was small. The military was not only competing with itself, but with colleges, and the strong civilian job market.

Fast forward to the present day and consider the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. The pandemic is challenging all branches of the service in their ability to recruit and train personnel. Due to stay-at-home orders and quarantines, military recruitment and training has slowed in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The stall in recruitment is presenting a challenge no one could have predicted.

However, there is a silver lining. Current unemployment rates and the economic outlook are somewhat dismal. The occupational motives for serving are perhaps more important now than ever. The military provides job and financial security when few civilian jobs exist. Could the economic downfall of COVID-19 be the answer to the recruitment woes of the military? The future of military recruiting is looking bright.

Separation, Retirement, Retention

Some military members serve their initial commitment and separate from the service once the obligation is complete. Others make the military a career serving 20 years or more. The military experiences a high rate of turnover and retention is an on-going battle.

Military aviation serves as an excellent example. All branches of the service are familiar with the pilot shortages seen in recent years. Pilot retention found itself in a downward spiral due to the lucrative pay, flexible schedules, increased control over home life, and benefits affiliated with employment in the commercial sector. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the airline and travel industries are facing unforeseen turbulence. Could the effects of COVID-19 on these two industries be the answer to the military’s pilot retention woes?

COVID-19 is presenting complications for every armed service to maintain a mission-ready workforce. Most branches are currently implementing programs to keep members in the ranks. The Navy recently loosened some retirement restrictions for sailors and officers. The Coast Guard has introduced a new campaign to retain personnel. The Army has made recent promotion and retention policy changes as well. The bottom line is the military needs to keep people from separating. Could the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 in America be the answer to the military’s retention woes?

Impact on Military Families

Military families often express a desire to plant roots and have more control over their lives. Some long for a more “normal” life and discuss the right time to end their military service. Now more than ever, the discussion topic is: How long can we remain in the military? Luckily, military families are always prepared to expect the unexpected.

Perhaps military families need to put the retirement and separation plans on hold. It may seem ironic, but an extended active-duty military career is starting to look like a first-class ticket to stability. Given the current unemployment rates in the United States, the future for military families is looking extremely bright.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a reconnaissance unit is slashing bureaucracy to win

Weight was the issue. The B-25B, carrying a full combat load, was just too heavy to takeoff from the deck of the USS Hornet.

While the nation was still reeling in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Force, assigned Lt. Col. James “Jimmy” Doolittle to conduct a bombing mission on Tokyo to disrupt Japanese aggression and momentum and embolden the American public for the task ahead.

A seemingly impossible mission, as the United States had no aircraft with enough range to reach the Japanese home islands from any U.S. or allied nation’s runways.


The attack would have to be launched from the sea. However, carrier-based aircraft could only carry one or two small bombs each and had such short range that one of the U.S.’s precious few carriers would have to approach dangerously close to Japan, making it an easy target. The mission was seemingly over before it began.

Until the airmen examined the problem from a unique perspective – perhaps a longer range B-25B bomber, never designed to launch from an aircraft carrier, could be stripped of enough excess weight to launch at sea, bomb the target and then fly on to friendly airfields in China.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter


U.S. Army Air Force B-25 Mitchell bombers launch from the deck of the U.S.S. Hornet on April 18, 1942 to bomb the Japanese home islands in what came to be known as the Doolittle Raid.

On April 18, 1942 Doolittle’s Raiders did just that, launching off the deck of the Hornet, with wooden broomsticks in place of machine guns to save weight and extra fuel tanks to make the journey, and successfully completed their mission over Japan.

While bombers haven’t flown off a carrier since, the same spirit of innovation and trust in airmen that made the Doolittle raid possible is still alive and well in today’s Air Force.

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein has challenged leaders across the force to take risks, trust their people and embrace failure as a way to learn and grow.

One unit, the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, welcomed this idea with open arms.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

A mobile chase car driver pursues a U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft during its landing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Dec. 7, 2015. Mobile chase car drivers act as a second pair of eyes and ears for U-2 pilots during their launch and landings, radioing adjustments to the aircraft to make up for the pilot’s limited sight of the runway. Pilots of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron have procured GPS-style aviation watches that aid pilots in communicating with ground chase crews and collect inflight data to help with training, tracking physiological aspects of the pilots.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kentavist P. Brackin)

“The path that we’re making for our new initiatives is actually modeled off the Doolittle Raider patch, and we actually look to that for inspiration,” said Capt. Syed, 99th RS pilot. “They achieved something in a moment of national crisis, and really lifted morale and mood of the nation by doing something everybody thought was impossible, and what we’re trying to do in our little squadron with a few people, is to change the make up and the culture, so that when people come into work they’re happy, they feel empowered, and the leadership has enabled that.”

Syed saw a need in the aging U2 and T-38 airframes around him that could be met by using off-the-shelf products. One was a GPS-style aviation watch that would aid pilots and collect inflight data to help with training, tracking physiological aspects of the pilots and, in some instances, aid in safely returning an aircraft when mishaps occur.

“It wasn’t anything that I did, it was really what the culture and the environment of this organization allowed us to do,” Syed said. “We were able to go from thought to having it on our wrist in 100 days. And in other organizations of the Defense Department, I think that’s almost impossible.”

Discover the future: A simple but powerful charge put forth by Lt. Col. Matthew Nussbaum, 99th RS commander, has invigorated his squadron with the willingness and enthusiasm to seek out what is possible within the constraints of the DoD.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Lt. Col. Matthew Nussbaum, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, fosters a command climate that encourages his airmen to start projects without being afraid of failing. Products of his command range from resourcing their own aviation watches to creating software applications built by 99th RS members that can benefit flying squadrons.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

“There’s those that value initiative, mission command, execution, freedom of maneuver, but there’s a law of physics, so to speak, a law of humanity that bureaucracy grows. In the U.S. military, and the Air Force in particular, that bureaucracy has grown, and slowed us down,” said Nussbaum.

The culture of innovation being developed at the 99th is driving change, agility and initiative while disempowering the bureaucracy and putting the power of decision-making and freedom of maneuver back in its member’s hands, says Nussbaum.

In many ways, the 99th RS is similar to most Air Force squadrons, but what makes it stand out is its quest for information and learning.

“Knowledge is the key to everything,” said Maj. Ray, 99th RS pilot. “For us, in the case of being able to self resource and self heal, we’ve gotten into different areas to which we aren’t familiar like U.S. code, the defense, federal and Air Force acquisition regulation, and all these different entities, and what we’re discovering is that knowledge gives you the freedom to maneuver.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Members of the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron prepare Lt. Col. Jeff Klosky for a U-2 Dragon Lady mission, April 19, 2014, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Ray and Syed credit their leadership with giving them the leniency and the freedom to be able to try and experiment, discover, learn and learn about learning. This symbiotic leader-follower relationship has allowed the team to progress rapidly.

“It’s a dynamic instability, F-16s are agile airplanes because they’re inherently unstable,” Ray said. “We’re not trying to destabilize command and control of the organization, what we’re trying to do is effect that same command and control at the user level – at the level of those who are out fighting and defending their nation. To resource them, and allow them to resource themselves, in ways people previously did not think was possible.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Maj. Ray and Capt. Syed are 99th Reconnaissance Squadron who took initiative in learning the acquisitions process in order to make sure their squadron is equipped and ready to execute the mission.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

Freedom of maneuver isn’t without challenges, though. Some of the toughest challenges come from the individuals themselves and learning to work as a team.

Nussbaum cautions people who think the frozen middle is a place that exists in a certain group of people but instead that it is in all of us. A whole team approach is key to mission accomplishment and having the tolerance to let others try problem solving in their own way is vital. Allowing everyone to have a chance to participate and come up with solutions adds a sense of ownership and fun to the process.

Like Doolittle, the 99th and the Air Force face many challenges that require new approaches and open-mindedness. Untethering unit members to give freedom to explore all avenues of problem solving is a progressive way ahead and one the Air Force is taking seriously.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Army drops rapping recruiters video and it’s pretty awesome

In case you missed it, U.S. Army Recruiting Command dropped its newest music video “Giving All I Got,” beckoning all potential recruits to step up and help strengthen the Army team.

Sgts. 1st Class Arlondo Sutton and Jason Brenner Locke, who are assigned to the Atlanta and Houston recruiting battalions, respectively, wrote and produced the new single.

“We’re trying to convey this positive message, [that] you can maintain your individuality and still be a soldier,” Locke said about producing music to support Army recruiting. “[Soldiers] have emotions, dreams, and aspirations, just like anybody else.


“We just decided to throw on a pair of boots, wear this uniform [to help] carry our nation and carry on our family name.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Sgts. 1st Class Arlondo Sutton and Jason Brenner Locke, who are assigned to the Atlanta and Houston recruiting battalions, respectively, wrote and produced the new single.

(Photo by Elliot Valdez)

‘Army changed my life. Gave me a new clock.’

Starting with the track’s hook — “Giving all I got. I’m never going to stop. Army changed my life. Gave me a new clock” — the song highlights the positive impact the Army had on both recruiters, Sutton said.

Sutton had a humbling start to his life while growing up in a single parent home in Norfolk, Virginia.

“Growing up in poverty is very difficult,” he said. “I didn’t know whose shoes I had on, I didn’t know whose clothes I had on. I grew up staying with my grandmother … in one room, and sleeping at the edge of the bed.”

On the cusp of going down the wrong path in life, his high school track coach, who was a retired soldier, reached out to mentor him.

“My father figure: My coach. He [mentored me] when I was going through a hard time,” Sutton said. “He was the one to actually notice my [athletic] talents. I joined the Army to better myself, [and] to follow in [his] footsteps.”

It was long after joining the Army when Sutton realized he had some musical talent.

While deployed to Iraq as a young sergeant, he produced hip-hop tracks to help ease his mind.

A friend later convinced him to compete in a rap music competition and Sutton took third place. This evolved into his new passion and profession, Sutton said.

Similar to his partner, Locke also said he had a rough childhood as he grew up in a “not so great area” of Houston. And while Locke did not share much about his past, he remains focused on the positive in life.

“I just wanted to kind of change the lifestyle I was in. I knew that one of the ways of changing my life was to step outside the confines of comfort,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I was at. What matters is what the Army did for me and where I’m going now.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

A behind the scenes photo of Sgts. 1st Class Arlondo Sutton and Jason Brenner Locke, shooting their new music video titled “Giving All I Got,” at Fort Benning, Ga. Dec. 11, 2018.

(Photo by Lara Poirrier)

Locke admitted hip-hop was not his first choice in music. During his early teenage years, Locke spent most of his time bouncing from band to band, or as he called it, “bandhopping.”

“I was trying to find people that were as invested in music as I was. I never found them,” Locke said.

Locke then turned to a friend for help, who explained to Locke how his talent was better suited for hip-hop. After some changes to his lyrics, Locke was hooked.

“It changed my perception of how to write [music]. It turned into a poetic ordeal and … an emotional outlet for me,” he said.

‘Join A-R-M-Y’

“Giving All I Got” was created as a way to bridge the gap and speak the language of today’s youth, according to both recruiters.

“I think it’s easier to bend someone’s ear when you throw it into a rhythmic pattern,” Locke said. “You’re going to be a little bit more inclined to listen.”

While some may criticize their work, the duo keeps their eyes on the bigger picture.

“The main target audiences are not people that are in the Army,” Locke said. “The main aim is the people that are not aware of the Army, and all the preconceived notions and … stereotypes [they have]. That’s what we, as recruiters, are consistently having to overcome. That is what we’re doing with this music.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

U.S. Army Recruiting Command dropped its newest music video “Giving All I Got,” beckoning all potential recruits to step up and help strengthen the Army team.

(U.S. Army Recruiting Command)

In their music video, both recruiters can be seen singing and dancing in locations throughout Fort Benning, Georgia, and the streets of Atlanta. The video features a variety of Army career fields, to include military working dogs, infantry, snipers, and the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band.

Behind the scenes, Army visual information specialists helped put the video together. Moreover, soldier stationed at Fort Benning assisted in bringing the video to life.

‘We just tryin’ to be better’

Recently, the Army identified 22 focus cities with growing populations, known to have minimal exposure to the Army. The new video aims to inspire highly-qualified 18- to 24-year-olds, as part of a larger USAREC led social media engagement effort.

In the end, reaching the Army’s recruitment goals will require all recruiters and soldiers to go that extra mile, Sutton said.

“There are going to be people out there that have a lot of good talent,” Sutton said, commenting on his career and music success. “My talent is just outworking my competitors. We all could get up at the same time, but I choose to get up earlier.”

Giving All I Got

www.youtube.com

Inspired by one of his role models, Sutton is determined to be the LeBron James of the Army, he said, smiling.

“If [James] went out there and said, ‘Hey, I need 50 people to come and join,’ people would join based on his character and his beliefs,” Sutton said. “That’s what I want to do for the Army.”

Likewise, Locke is motivated to leave his mark on the Army, all while solidifying the idea that you can be both an individual and a soldier.

“I want to be remembered as someone that made a difference,” he said.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Revamped training curriculum will develop ready and resilient airmen

After listening to feedback from the field, a few changes to the Air Force Basic Military Training curriculum will transform trainees into more combat-ready airmen.

The changes, which began Sept. 4, 2018, are entirely focused on readiness and lethality, airmanship, fitness, and warrior ethos.

“The future of BMT focuses on creating disciplined, warrior-airmen who are ready to support our joint partners in conflicts around the globe,” said Col. Jason Corrothers, former 737th Training Group and BMT commander who spearheaded the modifications. “These changes to refine the basic training experience are about increasing our readiness and lethality while simultaneously instilling airmanship and core values from the very beginning.”


Restoring readiness is one of the Air Force’s top priorities. The changes address readiness through a revamped expeditionary skills and weapons training curriculum, said Lt. Col. Jose Surita, 326th Training Squadron commander, who has overseen the development of the revamped curriculum.

Basic Expeditionary Airmen Skills Training which previously took place in week five of training, is resequenced to the final training week as the culminating event of BMT. Air Force recruits will also experience a beefed up Self-Aid/Buddy Care regimen, called the Tactical Combat Casualty Course.

“We need highly trained and ready airmen,” Surita said. “Readiness is the central theme across the BMT curriculum as we deliver trained and committed airmen capable of delivering 21st century airpower.”

There is also an increased focus on weapons handling and familiarization, said Surita.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Air Force Basic Military Training trainees prepare for a log climb and rope walk obstacle during the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

Airmen’s Week, which was focused on a values-based “Airmanship 100” curriculum, was taught the week after trainees completed basic training. Airmen’s Week lessons, which are not being changed, are now incorporated throughout 8.5 weeks of BMT.

This change gives end-to-end ownership of the training to the military training instructor corps, delivering a continuous immersion that accelerates “mind to heart” adoption of the Air Force core values and warrior ethos principles

“Our airmen need to be technically capable, but they also need to be motivated,” said Master Sgt. Robert Kaufman, military training instructor. “Airmanship 100 lessons focus on their resilience and challenge recruits to commit to holding each other accountable to our core values.”

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

An Air Force Basic Military Training trainee attacks a dummy during an obstacle during the Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

With an emphasis on improving human performance, BMT will also see a bump up in the overall number of fitness sessions, increasing from 31 to 44 periods throughout training. Workouts will be a balanced mix of cardio, strength, and interval training.

“Physical fitness is a critical component of readiness,” said Master Sgt. Andrea Jefferson, military training instructor. “By increasing the number of physical training sessions, we build fitness habits that will help recruits perform both in the military environment, and in their personal lives.”

BMT curriculum changes also includes a purpose built heritage program that introduces recruits to Air Force heroes, and weaves heritage and warrior ethos throughout training.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

An Air Force Basic Military Training Instructor watch an Air Force Basic Military Training (AFBMT) graduation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

“We will be introducing warrior identity, as well as Air Force history and heroes, every week throughout training,” said Master Sgt. Richard Bonsra, military training instructor. “Those topics will then be reinforced during all training events, such as naming physical training sessions after a fallen airman to cement the experience.”

Future changes to how heritage and warrior ethos are ingrained into BMT will include naming obstacles on the “Creating Leaders, Airmen, Warriors” Course after Air Force heroes, said Bonsra.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

Air Force Basic Military Training Instructors train drill and ceremony movements at Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Bennie J. Davis III)

“Over the last 70 years, we have become the most dominant Air Force the world has ever known, but there is no doubt we must be, and can be better in the future,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lee Hoover, 737th TRG superintendent, “The next generation of airmen will take us there, so it’s critical we start them on the right foot. These changes ensure we move in that direction.”

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, the 737th TRG is the Air Force’s largest training group, comprised of nine squadrons and more than 900 permanent-party personnel. BMT, with an average daily load of 7,000 trainees, graduated more than 37,314 airmen in fiscal year 2017 and BMT instructors are postured to increase that number to more than 40,200 graduates in fiscal year 2019.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What it’s like at the US’s Arctic Air Base

The United States’ northernmost military base, The Thule Air Base, is located in Greenland. Established in 1941 to aid Denmark in its defense against Germany, the base is just 947 miles away from the North Pole

The US established the Thule Air Base in 1941 to help Denmark defend its colonies from increasing German aggression. Later during the Cold War, the US had planned to place hundreds of nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in tunnels under the ice, but the ice wasn’t stable enough to complete the project. 

Today, Thule Base is effectively a US space base. 

Operated jointly by the US Air Force Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the base has replaced underground missile plans with high-tech space surveillance sensors, delivering remarkably precise early missile warnings. It also has increasing strategic value as Russia continues its quest for military control of the Arctic.

So what’s it like to live there? 

Cold, mostly. Really freaking cold. Located about halfway between Moscow and NYC, the polar base is home to about 140 American military staff along with a few hundred Danes, 50 Greenlanders, and a handful of Canadians. The base is unlike any other, and the residents basically just learn to deal. 

The only enemy to fear at Thule Air Base is the weather.

thule air base

The Arctic temperatures are frigid, but the cold air isn’t the only risk. Destructive snow storms can come out of nowhere, trapping everyone on the base inside their dorms. Thule is virtually inaccessible most of the year, as the waters surrounding it are frozen solid. Each summer, an icebreaker ship from Canada clears the bay, allowing ships to deliver massive stocks of food and supplies. 

You’d think nature would lighten up in summer, but nope; the season usually brings massive swarms of mosquitos. Then, in October, the sun stops rising. For the rest of fall and winter, Thule is pitch black. Come February, there’s about a month of “normal” sunrises and sunsets, before the sun decides to never set instead. It’s like Vegas, minus the vacation. 

Everyone at Thule lives in dorms, both because of a lack of space and for their own protection. If anyone goes missing, finding them would be almost impossible. Polar bears also frequent the area, so going for a snowy stroll alone is ill-advised. 

When you’re surrounded by miles of inhospitable ice, you learn to have fun with what you’ve got. 

At most military bases, traveling off-base to visit local cities is pretty routine. Thule’s insanely remote location is 65 miles away from the closest town, so there’s really nowhere to go. Because of this, the Air Force takes special care to make life at Thule as comfortable and pleasant as possible. 

Personnel is supplied with UV lamps to prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder during the dark season, and everyone has free Wi-Fi. A community center provides tons of gaming consoles that you can enjoy around the clock- sometimes with complimentary pizza! There’s also a fitness center, activities center, a bowling alley, and a club that hosts seasonal parties and events.

 If you love to run, you can sign up for the annual Thule marathon, or visit the skeet shooting range if that’s more your thing. Supposedly, Thule’s tourism center also offers guided hikes, bike rides, kayak excursions, and visits to hot springs! Thule Air Base also celebrates Armed Forces Day each year, welcoming native Greenlanders to the base for dog sled racing and other festivities. Those who have experienced life at Thule don’t deny its challenges, but they also believe the location’s otherworldly beauty makes it worth the trouble. It may not be the easiest base to be stationed at, but it’s definitely the coolest! Pun intended. 

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are the 25 best US cities for veterans to live

For the more than 19 million veterans currently living in the United States, where you live can be essential to your access to healthcare, good employment, and a strong quality of life.

WalletHub recently conducted a report of the best US cities for veterans, analyzing 20 key indicators of livability, affordability, and veteran-friendliness. The study then provided rankings — out of 100 — for each category.


Employment rankings took into account the number of veteran-owned businesses per veteran population and opportunities for job growth, as well as the availability of jobs that utilize military-learned skills. Economy rankings considered factors such as the median veteran income and veteran homelessness rates, while quality of life was determined by analyzing veteran population, restaurants with military discounts, and more.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Carlos Delgado)

The study found that Tampa, Florida, triumphed as the best major US city for veterans, earning a total score of 72.44 out of a possible 100. Boston, Massachusetts, despite ranking at No. 68 overall, earned the highest ranking for veteran employment.

Keep reading to find out the top 25 best US cities for veterans.

25. Lincoln, Nebraska

Total score: 60.69

Employment (ranked out of 100): 49th

Economy (ranked out of 100): 8th

Quality of life (ranked out of 100): 29th

Health (ranked out of 100): 94th

24. Durham, North Carolina

Total score: 60.72

Employment: 15

Economy: 55

Quality of life: 28

Health: 42

23. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Total score: 60.85

Employment: 14

Economy: 10

Quality of life: 18

Health: 84

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Gerson Repreza)

22. Chesapeake, Virginia

Total score: 61.25

Employment: 57

Economy: 13

Quality of life: 26

Health: 61

21. San Antonio, Texas

Total score: 61.34

Employment: 29

Economy: 27

Quality of life: 19

Health: 47

20. Denver, Colorado

Total score: 61.79

Employment: 6

Economy: 50

Quality of life: 12

Health: 79

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Owen CL)

19. Laredo, Texas

Total score: 61.80

Employment: 33

Economy: 1

Quality of life: 78

Health: 20

18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Total score: 61.96

Employment: 20

Economy: 72

Quality of life: 25

Health: 30

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen)

17. Columbus, Ohio

Total score: 62.16

Employment: 24

Economy: 14

Quality of life: 37

Health: 54

16. Boise, Idaho


Total score: 62.71

Employment: 21

Economy: 36

Quality of life: 4

Health: 89

15. San Diego, California

Total score: 62.75

Employment: 47

Economy: 78

Quality of life: 2

Health: 35

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Lucas Davies)

14. Plano, Texas

Total score: 63.23

Employment: 82

Economy: 44

Quality of life: 10

Health: 20

13. Fort Worth, Texas

Total score: 63.35

Employment: 70

Economy: 5

Quality of life: 32

Health: 20

12. Irvine, California

Total score: 63.66

Employment: 50

Economy: 40

Quality of life: 41

Health: 1

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Catatonique)

11. Madison, Wisconsin

Total score: 64.50

Employment: 27

Economy: 6

Quality of life: 21

Health: 40

10. Jacksonville, Florida

Total score: 65.50

Employment: 23

Economy: 20

Quality of life: 36

Health: 13

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Lance Asper)

9. St. Petersburg, Florida

Total score: 65.67

Employment: 51

Economy: 18

Quality of life: 23

Health: 13

8. Gilbert, Arizona

Total score: 67.73

Employment: 40

Economy: 3

Quality of life: 15

Health: 64

7. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Total score: 68.13

Employment: 62

Economy: 2

Quality of life: 11

Health: 61

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Jason Pratt)

6. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Total score: 70.06

Employment: 17

Economy: 24

Quality of life: 5

Health: 49

5. Scottsdale, Arizona

Total score: 71.45

Employment: 12

Economy: 9

Quality of life: 3

Health: 64

4. Raleigh, North Carolina

Total score: 71.78

Employment: 5

Economy: 4

Quality of life: 14

Health: 70

3. Orlando, Florida

Total score: 71.94

Employment: 3

Economy: 16

Quality of life: 9

Health: 32

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

(Photo by Drew Coffman)

2. Austin, Texas

Total score: 72.22

Employment: 11

Economy: 17

Quality of life: 7

Health: 20

1. Tampa, Florida

Total score: 72.44

Employment: 8

Economy: 12

Quality of life: 6

Health: 16

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

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5 little reasons why getting married on active duty sucks

When I was a young, motivated recruit at Parris Island, my drill instructor stood behind a stack of foot lockers assembled into a podium. “This is the most important period of instruction of your life,” he said with a thousand-yard stare. What were we talking about?

“Marriage.”

For an unknown amount of time, we sat there, listening to passionate warnings from our most-feared mentor. He recited romantic tragedies that gave Greek myths a run for their money. Afterwards, he gave the obligatory lesson on the administrative process of enrolling your new family for benefits.

Today, I pass those words of traumatic wisdom onto you, the young, love-struck recruit.


Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
Happens in every branch. (Mark Baker)

1. Deployments don’t get easier, you get tougher

Marines are tough — and they need an equally tough spouse to weather the storm of deployments. We’re the tip of the spear, and you need to make sure that’s what your spouse bargained for.

Some deployments are shorter than others and they involve varying degrees of danger — but they don’t easier. You need someone that, when the going gets tough, they get tougher. But it’ll always suck.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
“But you said you wanted to travel, babe!” (Julie L. Negron)

 

2. You’re not getting out of work, you’re doing different work

Some troops use their marriage as a way to get out of work, and there’s nothing single troops can do but watch them put on those already-sharp skates and get out of dodge — but it’s not all free time and rainbows on the other side.

I had a master gunnery sergeant who referred to his wife as the ‘sergeant major’ of the house. When you’re single, can you just pack your stuff in your car and hit the road. Married Marines, however, have much more red tape to navigate.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter
At least you don’t have to police call at 0530 now.
(Terminal Lance)

3. You’ll miss being a degenerate

Gone are the days of actionable intel from the Lance Corporal Underground, last-minute trips to a bar crawl, and the spontaneous brawls between Alpha company and Charlie company.

Sure, you might not miss the part where the Big Green Weenie conducts acts of terror. You won’t miss random formations, the duty needing something or drunk people breaking your stuff, but you will miss time with the boys.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

4. Everyone knows your secrets

Your spouse needs friends. Naturally, the spouses of your friends are the first round draft picks. They can keep each other informed on what your unit is doing, important dates and if you’re being delayed.

In a way, it’s convenient. Even if you haven’t had the opportunity to speak with your loved one, he or she knows why, and won’t worry. However, that’s not the only thing they’ll talk about. Assume nothing is sacred. Susie and Kelly know your secrets in and out of the bedroom. OPSEC or the whole unit will know your search history, too.

5. Contract marriages are, uh… flimsy

A contract marriage is when two people fall in love — for money. The Big Green Weenie and the law’s blue version will hold hands while they unceremoniously wreck your life. Not only is it illegal to marry someone for the increased pay and benefits, but your spouse will inevitably betray you.

Before your first deployment is over, your house will be sold, your truck will be gone, and they’ll upload a video wearing your favorite shirt that can’t be shown on YouTube.

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.


Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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!

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

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

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of April 6

Well. The world still isn’t doing too great right now and the ghost of Nero is somewhere out there presumably fiddling. Another week of social distancing, binge-watching shows you never thought you’d care about and there’s still a shortage of sh*t tickets as we haven’t even gotten to the apex of this pandemic.

The news seems bleak at the moment but there are cases of folks coming out the other side of this sickness. In particular, two WWII veterans – Bill Kelly, 95, and Bill Lapschies, 104. Now, I’m not the type of guy to bring up “feel good” fluff pieces for the sake of feel-good-ness. I bring them up because their interviews are both perfect responses of what you’d expect from the Greatest Generation’s vets.


Kelly responded with a, “I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this coronavirus bullsh*t!” and Lapschies, who celebrated his 104th birthday with a full recovery, says he’s “pretty good. I made it. Good for a few more!” After some internet sleuthing, Lapschies does appear to be the oldest survivor of the coronavirus from what I could find.

Just goes to show you that even in the worst moments, veterans of all eras have an instinctual habit of keeping a stiff upper lip and a sense of humor. Speaking of which, here’s some memes…

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(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

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(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

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(Meme via Call for Fire)

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(Meme via Not CID)

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(Meme via Army as F*ck)

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(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

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(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

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(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

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(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

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(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

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(Meme via ASMDSS)

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(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

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(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Weekend safety briefs are on the chopping block and it’s about time

Soldiers of the Army, rejoice! It has officially come down from the Secretary of the Army Mark Esper that weekend safety briefs are freakin’ stupid and should be nixed. I’m paraphrasing, obviously — but they have been put on the chopping block.

For everyone not in the know, a safety brief is held after every Friday afternoon formation (or the final formation before an extended weekend), during which the chain of command will lecture the troops on what to do and not to do over the weekend. In short, it’s just one of those boxes to check so the commander can get a warm and fuzzy before they go relax.

The problem is that simply standing in front of adults who’ve dedicated their lives to being warfighters and treating them like kids any time they’re left alone for longer than 24 hours isn’t going to decrease the frequency of legal incidents. There are countless other, more effective ways relaying lessons like, say, buzzed driving is still drunk driving, to troops without simply, bluntly, and repeatedly telling them not to do something.


Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

If you’re the type of person who can’t be dissuaded from driving drunk by being told it’s against the law and it puts the lives of countless others around you at risk, you have no honor and do not deserve to wear the uniform of America’s finest.

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

The standard safety brief always covers three things that are very serious topics:

  1. Don’t drive and drive.
  2. Don’t assault your spouse.
  3. Don’t assault your children.

These are three objectively terrible things that are unbecoming of a United States soldier. Anyone who commits any of these crimes rightfully deserves to have the hammer dropped on their pathetic ass. The problem is that three issues are addressed weekly to satisfy a requirement and they’re rarely given the gravity that they deserve.

To be completely fair to the Army, there are still safety stand-down days that do far more than a PowerPoint slide. There’s been no word as to whether those will still stay around, but those days actually give the situations proper attention and troops come away learning why it’s a bad idea to be inebriated and operate a 2-ton piece of steel at top speeds through an area with filled with innocent people.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

​As long as it’s not a theater-sized PowerPoint, it’s fine.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore)

There is one positive aspect of a safety brief, however, and that’s when obscure laws are brought to the forefront of peoples’ minds. For example, one of the only individual safety briefs I personally remember (one that stood out from the repeated, standard, “don’t do dumb sh*t” message delivered by a disgruntled infantry first sergeant) was when someone made the blotter (a list of all the troops in legal troubles for an installation) for having an expired fishing license. I was going fishing with some of the guys that weekend and I didn’t even know fishing licenses were a thing (I’m a city boy. Quit judging me). The odd reminders are good things, and there’s a time and place for those even still.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

The ultimate irony is when the senior NCO, who literally screamed at everyone to get a freakin’ taxi, gets arrested for DUI.

(U.S. Army)

In the face of the Army canning safety briefs, some might expect the barracks to turn into some lawless Hellscape running rampant with drunken bastards committing all sorts of felonies. It won’t. Soldiers already know that breaking the law is a bad thing. Any good soldier will continue to stay in line and any sh*tbag soldier would’ve done it anyways — regardless of whether they’ve slept through several weeks of being told not to.

In fact, for many, safety briefs are a lower-echelon commander’s excuse to a higher-echelon commander should anything go wrong. They can turn to their superior and say, “but I told the troops not to do that! My hands are clean!” In reality, I think we all know it never played a role in keeping troops off the blotter.

Marine credits triathlons with making him a better warfighter

A smaller scale safety brief will probably happen, because old habits die hard. Honestly, these might be more effective.

(U.S. Army photo by SFC Lloyd Shellenberger)

The younger troops will be present at each and every safety brief — no exception. Troops of higher ranks will often find some reason to justify an early weekend and skip ’em. Put plainly, not everyone in the unit ever goes to all of them. When was the last time you saw a CW5 endure a safety brief?

And yet, if you take a look at the legal f*ck ups, the ranks of offenders span the gamut. Yes, there are lower enlisted who get locked up by the MPs — Get their asses. They knew it was wrong and did it anyways. Then there’s the senior enlisted who’ve been in for ages and have been present at literally hundreds of safety briefs. I think it’s safe to say that there’s little to no connection between committing a heinous act and the number of times a troop is told not to do such a thing. Simply being told that an obviously terrible something is against the law is not a way to prevent it.

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