Life in the military isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. It’s a place where, if you have a problem, you’re most likely to get told by a salty, senior NCO to “suck it up, buttercup” while whatever problem you had is kinda just brushed under the rug.
Now, don’t get this twisted: The military was one of the best things to happen in my life and the lives of many others. But there are plenty of things that seemed like minor inconveniences while in the service that would make heads roll in the civilian world. Everyone agrees that the following are objectively bad things, but they’re almost always met with a casual, “meh. It happens.”
This is mission-critical stuff going on here. Gotta make sure someone will answer the phone at all hours of the year.
Terrible work hours
This may come as a shock to many of the troops who’ve served since they were fresh out of high school but, apparently, people in the civilian world get paid something called “overtime” if they work beyond the regular 8 hours. You even get paid more for working on holidays. You get paid even more if you work for over 8 hours on a holiday.
The only reward you’re going to get in the military for working on a holiday is if your buddy is really desperate to get out of staff duty on Thanksgiving and he’s willing to slip you something under under the table to take it for him.
“Oh? A quarter doesn’t bounce off your linens? Pathetic…”
(U.S. Air Force)
Disgusting living accommodations
Any fault you find in your apartment in the civilian world can be brought to the attention of your landlord and they’ll send a guy to fix it. Basically everything else is your call. Sure, it’s not recommended that you toss our beer cans without emptying them because it’ll stink up the place, but hey, that’s your choice.
The military barracks system is a sort of paradox. You’ll get your ass chewed out for how “unhygienic” your room is when you forget to dust the lint off the door frame while simultaneously being told that the black mold seeping through the walls just adds character.
On the brightside, it does earn you more respect from your peers. So there’s that.
Grueling physical effort doesn’t mean extra pay
Realistically, most jobs you do in the civilian world pay out according to the effort you put in. Not to knock office drones, but there’s a reason people working on oil rigs get paid much better. It’s a hard, dirty, disgusting job that requires you to put your entire body at risk for the company.
The military, on the other hand, works on a pay grade system. For the most part, it properly pays troops of higher ranks, rewarding them for having more time in service and more responsibilities. But if you’re busting your ass off every single day to get something done for the unit, your bank account won’t reflect your effort. You’re still making just as much as the other guys in your same pay grade — even if they just sit in an office.
Technically speaking, you can get a bad conduct discharge that could follow you for the rest of your life for using “indecent language.” Yep…
(U.S. Marine Corps)
Multiple layers of rules
Civilians have just two concise rules of law that they must follow: state laws and federal laws. You mess up and it’s a singular court system that takes you in. Making simple mistakes at work, as long as you didn’t break any of those previously mentioned laws, are met with just a reprimand from a civilian employer (or you get fired).
The military justice system, conversely, is incredibly convoluted. Obviously, you’re not exempt from any state or federal laws, but now you tack on the Uniform Code of Military Justice — which covers most of the same thing but adds military-specific laws. Then, your chain of command also has their own interpretations for what constitutes “good order and discipline” and can sentence their own punishments accordingly.
Technically speaking, getting 181 on a PT (earning 60 points in two events and a 61 in the other) is exceeding the standard.
A promotion system that never really made much sense
The civilian world is kind of built on the “biggest dog” mentality. Everyone needs to eat each other to get to the top of whatever industry they’re working within. For the most part, if you earned it — you got it.
Did you know that civilians get promoted according to their own personal merit and not some arbitrary system that determines your merit in completely unrelated fields by looking at, in part, your PT test score and your ability to shoot well? Freaking mind blowing, man.
According to legend, Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain is a sleeping dragon that many years ago saved the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. In the Native American story, the Great Spirit punished the people by sending a massive flood, but after they repented, it sent a dragon to drink the water away. The dragon, engorged by the massive amount of water, fell asleep, was petrified and then became the mountain.
Unlike the dragon of legend, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex has never slept during 50 years of operations. Since being declared fully operational in April 1966, the installation has played a vital role in the Department of Defense during both peacetime and wartime.
Though the complex may have changed names during the past five decades, its mission has never strayed from defending the U.S. and its allies. Today, it is known as Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, with a primary role of collecting information from satellites and ground-based sensors throughout the world and disseminating the data to North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command — a process Steven Rose, Cheyenne Mountain AFS deputy director, compares to the work done by the stem of the human brain.
“Those sensors are your nerves out there sensing that information,” Rose said, “but the nerves all come back to one spot in the human body, together in the brain stem, entangled in a coherent piece. We are the brain stem that’s pulling it all together, correlating it, making sense of it, and passing it up to the brain — whether it’s the commander at NORAD, NORTHCOM or STRATCOM — for someone to make a decision on what that means. That is the most critical part of the nervous system and the most vulnerable. Cheyenne Mountain provides that shield around that single place where all of that correlation and data comes into.”
In the 1950s, the DOD decided to build the installation as a command and control center defense against long-range Soviet bombers. As the “brain stem,” it would be one of the first installations on the enemy’s target list, so it was built to withstand a direct nuclear attack.
Cheyenne Mountain’s 15 buildings rest on more than 1,300 springs, 18 inches from the mountain’s rock walls, so they could move independently in the event of a nuclear blast and the inherent seismic event. In addition, an EMP, being a natural component of a nuclear blast, was already considered in Cheyenne Mountain’s original design and construction features, Rose said.
“Back then, it was just part of the effect of a nuclear blast that we were designed for at Cheyenne Mountain,” he added. “If you fast forward 50 years from our construction, the EMP threat has become more important to today’s society because of the investment that has been made into electronics. Just by sheer coincidence, since we were designed in the 50s and 60s for a nuclear blast and its EMP component, we are sitting here today as the number one rated EMP protected facility. The uniqueness of the mountain is that the entire installation is surrounded by granite, which is a natural EMP shield.”
The station, built 7,000 feet above sea level, opened as the NORAD Combat Operations Center. When NORAD and the newly stood up NORTHCOM moved their main command center to Peterson Air Force Base in 2008, many believed Cheyenne Mountain had closed. Today, Cheyenne Mountain hosts an alternate command center for NORAD and is landlord to more than a dozen DOD agencies, such as the Defense Intelligence Agency.
“When I bring official visitors up here, not only are they surprised that we’re still open,” said Colonel Gary Cornn, Cheyenne Mountain AFS Installation Commander. “Many are impressed by the original construction, the blasting of the tunnels, how the buildings are constructed inside, and some of the things we show them, such as the survivability and capability we have in the blast valves, the springs, the way we do our air in the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) filtering and the huge blast doors. It’s funny to see senior officers and civilians become sort of amazed like little kids again.”
The threats and sources have drastically changed from when the station opened at the height of the Cold War, but the station’s iconic 25-ton steel doors remain the same, ready to seal the mountain in 40 seconds to protect it from any threat. The underground city beneath 2,000 feet of granite still provides the protection to keep the station relevant as it begins its next half-century as “America’s Fortress.”
Longtime Cheyenne Mountain employees like Rose and Russell Mullins, the 721st Communications Squadron deputy director, call themselves “mountain men.” Mullins’ time in the mountain goes back to the Cold War era, about halfway through its history to 1984.
Although the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal was the main focus, today’s Airmen conduct essentially the same mission: detect and track incoming threats to the United States; however, the points of origin for those threats have multiplied and are not as clearly defined.
“The tension in here wasn’t high from what might happen,” Mullins said. “The tension was high to be sure you could always detect (a missile launch). We didn’t dwell on the fact that the Soviet Union was the big enemy. We dwelled on the fact that we could detect anything they could throw at us.
“There was a little bit of stress back then, but that hasn’t changed. I would say the stress now is just as great as during the Cold War, but the stress today is the great unknown.”
The 9/11 attacks added another mission to NORAD and the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate – the monitoring of the U.S. and Canadian interior air space. They stand ready to assist the Federal Aviation Administration and Navigation Canada to respond to threats from the air within the continental U.S. and Canada.
Airplane icons blot out most of the national map on the NORAD/NORTHCOM Battle Cab Traffic Situation Display in the alternate command center. To the right another screen shows the Washington, D.C., area, called the Special Flight Restrictions Area, which was also added after 9/11.
Whenever a crisis would affect NORAD’s vulnerability or ability to operate, the commander would move his command center and advisors to the Battle Cab, said Lt. Col. Tim Schwamb, the Cheyenne Mountain AFS branch chief for NORAD/NORTHCOM.
“I would say that on any given day, the operations center would be a center of controlled chaos; where many different things may be happening at once,” Schwamb said. “We’re all trying to ensure that we’re taking care of whatever threat may be presenting itself in as short an amount of time as possible.
“I would describe it as the nerve center of our homeland defense operations. This is where the best minds in NORAD and U.S. Northern Command are, so that we can see, predict, and counter any threats that would happen to the homeland and North American region. It’s really a room full of systems that we monitor throughout the day, 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, that give us the information to help us accomplish the mission.”
Protecting America’s Fortress is a responsibility that falls to a group of firefighters and security forces members, but fighting fires and guarding such a valuable asset in a mountain presents challenges quite different from any other Air Force base, said Matthew Backeberg, a 721st Civil Engineer Squadron supervisor firefighter. Firefighters train on high-angle rescues because of the mountain’s unique environment, but even the most common fire can be especially challenging.
“Cheyenne Mountain is unique in that we have super challenges as far as ventilation, smoke and occupancy,” Backeberg said. “In a normal building, you pull the fire alarm, and the people are able to leave. Inside the mountain, if you pull the fire alarm, the people are depending on me to tell them a safer route to get out.
“If a fire happens inside (the mountain), we pretty much have to take care of it,” Backeberg added. “We’re dependent on our counterparts in the CE world to help us ventilate the facility, keep the fire going in the direction we want it to go, and allow the occupants of the building to get to a safe location – outside the half mile long tunnel.”
Although Cheyenne Mountain, the site of movies and television series such as “WarGames,” “Interstellar,” “Stargate SG-1” and “Terminator,” attracts occasional trespassers and protesters, security forces members more often chase away photographers, said Senior Airman Ricardo Pierre Collie, a 721st Security Forces Squadron member.
“The biggest part of security forces’ day is spent responding to alarms and getting accustomed to not seeing the sun on a 12-hour shift when working inside the mountain,” Collie said.
Security forces must also be ready to respond at a moment’s notice because, when charged with protecting an installation like Cheyenne Mountain AFS, the reaction time is even more crucial. Airmen like Collie feel their responsibly to protect America’s Fortress remains as vital today as it was during the Cold War.
“The important day at Cheyenne Mountain wasn’t the day we opened in 1966,” Rose said. “The next important date isn’t in April 2016 (the installation’s 50-year anniversary), it’s about all those days in between. The Airmen who come here to Cheyenne Mountain every day will be watching your skies and shores in (the nation’s) defense.”
As Cheyenne Mountain AFS enters its next 50 years, the dragon remains awake and alert to all threats against the U.S.
US Army soldiers will soon be deploying with game-changing new night vision goggles as the service wraps up the final round of testing this week.
Troops will be putting the Enhanced Night Vision Goggles – Binocular (ENVG-B), recognized as one of the most advanced night vision optics available, to the test at Fort Drum in New York at the last of ten limited user events. Once the testing is complete, the ENVG-B will enter full-rate production with fielding scheduled for this fall, PEO Soldier announced April 22, 2019.
An armored brigade combat team set to deploy to South Korea this fall is expected to be the first unit to deploy with the new system, according to Army Times.
Highlights of the new night vision goggles include dual-tubed binoculars for improved depth perception and increased situational awareness, white phosphorous tubes (a higher-resolution improvement over the traditional green glow), and improved thermal capabilities that allow soldiers to see through dust, fog, smoke, and just about anything else that might impair a soldier’s vision on the battlefield.
But, the really impressive capability is the ability to wirelessly connect the new goggles to the Family of Weapon Sights-Individual (FWS-I) for Rapid Target Acquisition. With the picture-in-picture setup, soldiers can fire accurately from the hip or point their weapon around a corner to observe or fire on targets effectively while remaining hidden.
This capability “enables soldiers to detect, recognize and engage targets accurately from any carry position and with significantly reduced exposure to enemy fire,” the Army explained.
“Now, if a soldier’s on a patrol, weapon’s down at his hip, all of a sudden a threat pops, instead of having to flip up a goggle, shoulder his weapon, reacquire, he has that aim point in his field of view, and he can actually shoot from the hip,” a BAE Systems spokesman previously told Business Insider. The FWS-I, along with the highly-capable monocular ENVG IIIs, were developed by BAE. The new ENVG-Bs were developed by L3.
Army officials have spoken highly of the new goggles and their improved capabilities.
“It is better than anything I’ve experienced in my Army career,” Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command, recently told Congress, according to Army Times. He said there had been been a marked improvement in marksmanship, explaining that Rangers had “gone from marksman to expert” with the help of the new optics.
Referring to the Rapid Target Acquisition capability, Brig. Gen. Dave Hodne, director of the Army’s Soldier Lethality cross-functional team, told reporters last fall that he “can’t imagine, right now, any future sighting system that will not have that kind of capability.”
The new goggles are also suitable for augmented reality, an option that allows the Army, and later the Marines, to turn the optics into a virtual reality platform for synthetic training.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Play calling in the NFL is a lot more difficult than it looks, but there are some moments in recent football history that were just so unbelievable, we can’t understand how they even happened.
If you’re a fan of one of these teams, you’ll never forget it. If you were a fan of the opposing team, you at least got a good chuckle out of it. The rest of us are still in disbelief. These are the plays that made us wonder just what the hell they were trying to accomplish.
6. Cincinnati falls apart
This is less of a single play and more of a series of unfortunate events. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990, but finished strong in the 2015-2016 season, earning a Wild Card spot and a shot at eliminating their AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bengals-Steelers games are always a toss-up, but can be particularly brutal. This one is a game neither will forget.
With just 1:45 left in the game and the ball under Bengal control, Cincinnati running back Jeremy Hill fumbled and it was recovered by the Steelers. In the time that was left, Cincinnati players racked up 30 yards in penalties, which moved the Steelers into field goal range. Cincinnati lost by two points.
5. Seahawks Super Bowl pass
The Seahawks made it all the way to Super Bowl XLIX on the back of their beastly running back, Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was arguably the best running back of the season, and perhaps one of the best of all time. So with 25 seconds left in the game and the Seahawks down by four points, it’s second and goal. The Seahawks handed off to the unstoppable Lynch and won the game.
Just kidding, they went for a pass that was picked off by New England who ran the clock out and went home with the Lombardi Trophy. What, exactly, they were thinking has been a mystery ever since.
4. The Jets score a touchdown on their own kickoff
It’s New Years Day 2017 and the Bills decide to start the new year in the most Buffalo way possible. With three minutes left in the game, the Jets are up 23-3 and kick off to Buffalo following their latest garbage-time score. Returner Mike Gillislee opted not to field the ball, instead letting it bounce into the end zone — where it came to a complete stop, untouched by any Bill.
Jets safety Doug Middleton jumped on the ball in the end zone, giving New York another six points.
3. “The Buttfumble”
This might be the only play on this list that deserves its own 30 for 30 and the clip above features Rex Ryan talking about it. It was a terrible call from the start, the national game for NBC’s Thanksgiving Day football coverage. Some 20 million people watched Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez run head-first into the rear end of Jets Guard Brandon Moore.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the “Butt Fumble” (as it came to be called) caused Sanchez to drop the ball, which was picked up by the New England Patriots’ Steve Gregory and returned for a defensive touchdown.
2. DeSean Jackson Literally Drops The Ball
Jackson, who has a history of dumb plays, picked up a 65-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb during his rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles. To celebrate his touchdown, he dropped the ball in the end zone with some swagger and flourish — except it wasn’t a touchdown.
And there was definitely nothing to celebrate. It turns out, Jackson dropped the ball on the one-yard line, where it was eventually called dead because no one on the cowboys went to pick it up, either. The Eagles were lucky to regain possession on the 1.
1. The Colts’ Worst Punt/Pass Protection
I’m still not sure what to call this. The Colts wanted to trick the Patriots on a fourth down punt-or-pass play by shifting all their players to the right side of the field — except for two. The Colts were down by six points but had plenty of time left in the game on their own 43 yard line, so a punt (a real one) made sense. That’s not what happened. The snap and everyone involved with it was overwhelmed and crushed.
Maybe it was a try to get New England to jump offsides on 4th and 3. Instead, the Colts received an illegal formation penalty and the ball was turned over to the Patriots with great field position. The Patriots scored on that possession and won the game 34-27.
The International Space Station is getting the most amazing home-food delivery since the early days of Uber Eats. The recent launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket bound for the ISS carried genetically identical mice, a spherical AI robot named Cimon, and Death Wish Coffee — the world’s strongest coffee — at the request of Serena Aunon-Chancellor, one of the astronauts floating above the Earth.
The Upstate New York-based company created a zero gravity-friendly brew of their powerful joe just for the members of Expedition 56 aboard the ISS. The coffee has a whopping 472 milligrams of caffeine — more than twice the caffeine of a Starbucks Pike Place Roast, 13 times as much as a can of Coca-Cola, and four times as much as a Red Bull energy drink.
Astronauts love having fresh hot coffee aboard the International Space Station so much that they’ve designed and patented an espresso maker (called the ISSpresso machine) and the Zero-G Coffee Cup to facilitate their morning ritual.
Not having to drink the coffee from a bag is a big deal to astronauts. Any coffee aficionado will tell you that being able to smell a fine coffee is an important factor in tasting the coffee. Astronaut Don Pettit was one of many who were sick of the bags of coffee. So he crafted a prototype cup using overhead transparency film into a teardrop-shaped container and poured the coffee in. The design worked.
Thousands of cryptocurrency enthusiasts are taking part in an international scavenger hunt to find clues that promise to lead the winners to a prize of $1 million in bitcoin.
It’s called Satoshi’s Treasure, and it’s a game that’s part logic puzzle and part scavenger hunt, with clues found in both the digital and physical worlds. Each clue will reveal a fragment of the digital key used to access the game’s bitcoin wallet, and the winner will be the first person or team to put together at least 400 of these fragments to be able to claim the $1 million worth of bitcoin, according to cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk.
Nearly 60,000 people have signed up on the Satoshi’s Treasure website to receive notifications about new clues and game updates, CoinDesk reported May 12, 2019.
The game is being run and funded by a group of crypto investors. One of the co-creators of Satoshi’s Treasure, crypto investor Eric Meltzer, told CoinDesk that no single person knows all the locations of the clues or all of the key fragments.
“There are so many unknowns in this game that we kind of just want to see what happens,” said Meltzer, founding partner of crypto investment firm Primitive Ventures. “Part of the meta game that I think people are going to like is trying to figure out who is behind this.”
Game organizers say that since the first clues were released on April 16, 2019, many teams have been formed to work together toward finding key fragments and solving the game. A team organizing tool called Ordo has already been created, which will help to properly credit those who solve clues, and fairly divide up the id=”listicle-2637018554″ million prize at the end for the winning team.
According to the Satoshi’s Treasure website, the hunt is intended to “test the mettle of anyone who wishes to add some excitement to their lives.” The game has a simple set of rules that revolve around the tenant of “do no harm” — keys will not be hidden on private properties, no clues will require any destruction, and participants need to “always show respect” for fellow hunters.
CoinDesk reports that teams comprise of not only veteran crypto users, but also those new to bitcoin and those who are in it for the thrill of the hunt. The game’s creators say Satoshi’s Treasure prioritizes accessibility to anyone who wants to participate. For example, the latest clue was found on physical business cards distributed at the Magical Crypto Conference this weekend in New York.
“I’d say Satoshi’s Treasure is so exciting because it’s the pure joy of a treasure hunt,” crypto investor Nic Carter told CoinDesk. “It’s global and anyone can participate.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The holidays can feel awfully lonely when you’re hundreds of miles from your hometown, and your spouse is deployed. Traveling solo with kids is overwhelming, sure, but a holiday season with no adult interaction is even more depressing. Here’s what you need to know to travel while solo parenting, whether on the road or in the skies.
Don’t forget the gifts
If you’re planning to visit relatives over Christmas, take advantage of online shopping, and have your children’s gifts and gifts for others shipped directly to your destination—no one wants to schlep a Barbie Dream House through DFW. But, speaking of that Dream House, don’t forget that you’re going to have to take all of this stuff back home with you! Don’t buy anything big for your kids and remind your relatives not to give big gifts, either.
Pro Tip: Cram a large duffle bag into one of your suitcases so you can use it to pack and check gifts for your flight home.
Traveling alone with kids means your days of throwing some clothes into a bag and heading out are long gone. This is going to require thought and planning. Start packing at least a week in advance. Chances are good that the stuff you all wear all the time, is also the stuff you’ll want to bring, so put your empty suitcases next to the washer and dryer and toss the clothes in as you fold them. Only bring enough diapers, wipes, and formula for two or three days. You can buy more at your destination.
Whether flying or driving, it’s a good idea to use your biggest suitcase and try to consolidate multiple bags into one. Unless you’ve got a teenager to help carry bags, you’re going to be handling them all yourself, and one big bag is easier to manage than three small ones.
Pro Tip: If you’re driving a long distance, it’s a good idea to pack an overnight bag with stuff for each of you. Put that small bag into the car last so it’s easily accessible. If you have to stop for the night along your route, you’re not going to want to drag all your big suitcases into the room.
Just pack PJs, comfy traveling clothes, toiletries, diapers and wipes, and whatever woobies or special stuffies you all can’t sleep without, and a few snacks for the room. A snack bag will absolutely save you when the late-night hunger hits, and your hotel doesn’t even have a vending machine. You might want to throw in some herbal tea bags (or a single serving wine box) for yourself.
No two kids are exactly the same, and you know yours better than anyone. Some can’t handle more than an hour of uninterrupted driving, others can go 15 hours so long as their bellies are full of chicken nuggets. Don’t fool yourself that a child who hates driving will miraculously be great for a 17-hour slog, or that you’ll be able to drive all that distance without getting tired. If you need to stop for the night, do so. A motel room is much cheaper than a wreck.
Be sure to plan your route ahead of time. GPS navigation is great and all, and by all means use it, but it’s no substitute for actually knowing where you’re going. The roads will likely be crowded, you may encounter closures, accidents, and detours, and we’ve all had navigation lead us astray. RoadTrippers.com is a great resource for planning.
iExit tells you how far the next Interstate exit is and what amenities you’ll find there, like the always-important bathrooms, gas, and food.
Flush Toilet Finder uses your location to show you nearby toilets on a map, which is absolutely essential information when you’re traveling with preschoolers. Bonus: it works offline and can integrate with Google Maps to provide directions.
And if you’re not in a big rush and want to break up your drive with some Americana oddities, the Roadside America app will tell you about all sorts of weird stops along your way, like Foamhenge.
The Priceline app is also great for road trips because it lets you bid on rooms that are nearby, meaning you don’t have to know in advance where you’ll be when you want to pull off and sleep.
ProTip: Wait until after 3 p.m. to start bidding. By afternoon check-in time, many hotels are willing to accept a lower bid than they would have taken earlier in the day.
Parenting Pro Tip: Try to book a hotel with an indoor pool and free breakfast. A day strapped into a car seat will leave any kid antsy, with oodles of energy to burn. An evening splash in the pool will mean that your children actually fall asleep when you turn the lights out. Complimentary breakfast means you can get back on the road without stopping to eat, saving time and money.
And another one: If your children are too small to help with bags at the hotel, grab a luggage cart. You can easily set an infant carrier on the cart, and toddlers and preschoolers can climb on and catch a ride. They’ll love it! Most importantly, you’ll be able to manage all your bags and people in one trip.
It should go without saying, but arrive early, at least 30 minutes earlier than what you think being early means. Flying is stressful. Flying with children is even more stressful. Flying solo with children when you’re running late is agony.
Pro Tip: If at all possible, book a morning flight, especially if you have to make a connection. Why? Because if your flight gets cancelled or delayed, you’re more likely to get on another flight if you start early in the day. You do not want to be stuck overnight in an airport with children.
If your kids are too big for a stroller but too small to turn loose, look into buying a fun ride-on suitcase, like this one. All of a sudden, the tedium of the airport will look more like a playground, at least to your child. Speaking of playgrounds, here’s a list of some of the family-friendly amenities available in U.S. airports.
Don’t forget about the lounges and the USO. If you have the American Express Platinum Card (And you should, the annual fee is waived for active duty, plus you get all these perks) you and your children can access the Delta Sky Club Lounges and the Centurion Lounges … and all the free food, drinks, and WiFi in them. Some even have a family room.
But even if you don’t have the AMEX, your military family status allows you to use the USO lounges, which means you get access to free snacks, comfy chairs, and the nicest people in America. Many of the volunteers are grandparent-aged and love to play with kids. Stop in, grab a snack (the USO in Charlotte, NC’s airport often has free Cinnabon), kick back in a recliner and let other people soak up the adorableness that you stopped noticing somewhere over Des Moines, when your toddler kicked the seat in front of her for the 18th time.
Speaking of, while you’re on the plane, just accept that your normal nutrition and screen time rules are on hold. Bring your own junk food and whatever device your child likes to play— with headphones, please!— and then let them play and eat as much as they want. Bring old fashioned coloring and activity books, too. Kids love having your undivided attention, and a game of Hangman or Tic-Tac-Toe on a seatback tray will burn up some time. You will be exhausted by the end of the flight. It’s just going to happen. Accept it and expect it.
You don’t have to spend the holidays marinating in loneliness and exhaustion. With a little planning, a lot of patience, some managed expectations, and a few apps, you can travel with children to celebrate the season, without losing your sanity.
Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army spouse, a mother of three, a professional writer and an obsessive traveler. Once, during a deployment, she took all three kids on a 6-week-long roadtrip from Florida to Maine— and back!—stopping to see every long lost military friend and roadside attraction along the way.
If you know anyone who has served in the infantry, then you’ve probably noticed that they have a… unique sense of humor. They have this amazing ability to make everything they say sound super sarcastic. It’s a gift that gets passed down through many generations of infantrymen. It’s what gives them the incredible ability to be seemingly unaffected by the endless stream of bullsh*t that life in the infantry provides.
Other service members (read: POGs) have a hard time understanding just how tough it is to serve in the grunts. Considering the nature of their job — killing the bad guys — life in the infantry breeds some pretty crass humor. The hard-chargers use every curse word in the book and, when “the book” is exhausted, they’ll make up new ones. Although few topics are taboo among grunts, there are a few things you’ll never hear them say.
“No beer’s allowed in the barracks? I’m okay with that.”
Underage drinking is illegal — but is extremely common in the barracks. Getting caught with beer, really, isn’t a big deal. Despite that, we always find ways to hide it before field day inspection on Fridays: we drink it ahead of time.
“Barracks duty on a four-day weekend? That’s what I’m talking about!”
The military requires that there always be a set of open eyeballs lurking around the barracks. Getting ‘voluntold’ to stand duty while everyone else is off having fun is a real b*tch.
It happens at least twice a day. A pink phone in the U.S.- South Korean part of the Joint Security Area rings. On the other end is North Korea. The phone is an old-timey touchtone phone, and the calls come in at 0930 and 1530 every day. This is the first time since 2013 these calls have been made. Picking up the phone is Lt. Cmdr. Daniel McShane, U.S. Navy, and while he’s not talking to Kim Jong Un, these are the most important talks with the North since President Trump went to Hanoi.
It didn’t hurt, though.
In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, McShane told Timothy W. Martin that he actually has eight people on the other side of the demilitarized zone that he talks to now. While their exchanges are amenable but often brief, the important part is that someone is calling. For the years between 2013 and 2018, they weren’t – and that was a big problem.
“If they’re talking, they’re not shooting,” says McShane, who will speak to his counterparts in either English or Korean. In-between coordinating the return of Korean War dead, removing mines, and coordinating helicopters, the North Koreans have come to know McShane has a Korean girlfriend and that he loves baseball, especially the LA Dodgers. When there is no message, that’s okay too. They still call to tell McShane there is no message to send that day.
Even North and South Korea have begun to coordinate in recent years.
He’s not the only one who answers the phone, according to the Wall Street Journal, but he’s the most widely known. A few others around the office help him manage phone calls. The younger, enlisted people who have picked up the phone at times have marveled at how well the North Koreans speak English
“I worried about a communication barrier, but there are times when I think, ‘Wow, your English is better than mine!’ ” says Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keith Jordan. He and a handful of others help enforce the UN-brokered cease-fire. The two groups have even met face-to-face, the few groups who do so unarmed. For the time being, it seems that casual conversations about choco-pies and the Dodgers will be the limit of U.S.-North Korean interaction. But as long as that interaction is happening, neither side will be mobilizing for war.
But military activity has been increasing on the other side of the Baltic Sea and in Kaliningrad — areas that have long been flash points for Russia and NATO.
Moscow assumed control of Kaliningrad after World War II and retained it after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Now an 86-square-mile exclave, Kaliningrad is home to about a million people who are separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus. But that location makes it strategically valuable.
It has Russia’s only Baltic Sea port that is ice-free year-round. In addition to several air bases, it is also home to Russia’s 11th Army Corps. It also looks over one side of the Suwalki Gap, which NATO worries could be blocked during a conflict, cutting the Baltics off from the rest of Europe.
Russia appears to be upgrading its military facilities there.
Moscow has in the past deployed Iskander short-range, nuclear-capable missiles there temporarily, but in February 2018, a Russian lawmaker confirmed that the Iskander, which has a maximum range of about 310 miles, had been moved there permanently in response to NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe.
Satellite imagery taken between March and June 2018 showed activity around bunkers in Baltiysk, the main base of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, including the fortification of buildings “characteristic of explosive storage bunkers,” Matt Hall, a senior geospatial analyst at 3Gimbals, told Defense One in July 2018.
Imagery taken between mid-July and the beginning of October 2018 showed upgrades at least four sites in Kaliningrad, according to CNN.
That included construction of 40 new bunkers and the expansion of a military storage area near Primorsk, which is Russia’s second-largest Baltic port. Images also showed improvements at the Chkalovsk air base and upgrades at a base in Chernyakhovsk, which houses Iskander missiles.
Kaliningrad received much of the Soviet weaponry in Eastern Europe after the USSR’s collapse, and for a long time the area “was a bit of a dumping ground,” said Jim Townsend, a transatlantic security expert at the Center for a New American Security.
Moscow’s focus on Kaliningrad increased in the early 2000s, around the time the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — joined NATO. Their inclusion was especially galling for Russia, which sees them as its “near abroad.”
“Kaliningrad has been on a trajectory of improvements since the Baltic tensions and certainly since” the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Townsend said.
The Iskander deployment is of a piece with Russian efforts to influence other European capitals, Townsend added. “They would say, ‘Look, if NATO puts troops into the Baltics, we’re going to put Iskanders onto Kaliningrad.”
Northeast Europe is a particularly sensitive area for Russia, Townsend said.
St. Petersburg, from which the Baltic can only be reached by passing Finland and Estonia, is Russia’s second-biggest city. To the north is the Kola Peninsula, home to Russia’s Northern Fleet and its submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
“The Baltic is kind of a backdoor to that. Kaliningrad helps to defend that backdoor,” Townsend said. “So that’s very sensitive.”
Russia’s military is not the only one active in the Baltics.
The NATO buildup cited by Moscow as reason for permanently deploying Iskander missiles was the multinational battle groups the alliance has stationed in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia since 2016.
More recently, the US Air Force and the Estonian air force heralded the completion of a joint-use facility at Amari air base near the latter’s capital, Tallinn, which was the first completed military construction projected fully funded by the European Deterrence Initiative.
Soviet jets were stationed at Ameri during the Cold War, but since 2004 it has hosted NATO aircraft during their rotations in the alliance’s Baltic air-policing mission. (The Baltic countries don’t have their own combat aircraft.)
US airmen from the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron marshal in an F-15C Eagle at Siauliai air base, Lithuania, Aug. 29, 2017.
(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)
Improvements at Amari “provide strategic access into that very contentious part of Europe,” said Brig. Gen. Roy Agustin, director of logistics, engineering, and force protection for US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, according to Stars and Stripes. “You look right across the border and there’s a big regional adversary right there.”
The EDI, previously called the European Reassurance Initiative, has funded military projects in Europe since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in 2014. Since then, the US has spent millions upgrading facilities across Eastern Europe to allow its military and partner forces to respond quickly to crises.
EDI funding also covers Operation Atlantic Resolve, which includes US armored rotations in Europe, a continuous presence in the Black Sea area, and prepositioning equipment and weapons around the continent.
The Pentagon’s 2019 budget request for the EDI was nearly doublewhat it got for the program in 2017 and six times what was allotted for it in 2015.
North of the Baltics, Sweden and Finland — close NATO partners that remain outside the alliance — have also turned increasing attention to military readiness.
Sweden’s armed forces said in 2018 that they needed to boost staffing from 50,000 to 120,000 by 2035 — in addition to adding new surface vessels, subs, and combat aircraft — to meet future challenges.
The report also said Sweden’s military budget would need to more than double over that period. Every mainstream party in the country’s September 2018 parliamentary election backed a military budget increase, but that growth will take time.
Stockholm’s defense outlay has tumbled since hitting 3.68% of GDP in 1963. The 1.03% of GDP currently spent on the military is a historic low, according to Defense News.
Sweden has also reintroduced military conscription and put troops back on Gotland Island in the middle of the Baltic Sea.
More recently, Finland, which shares a 838-mile border and a history of conflict with Russia, has begun pumping money into military modernization — notably id=”listicle-2614964544″.5 billion for the Squadron 2020 program, which includes buying four multirole, ice-breaking, submarine-hunting corvettes armed with surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, and sea mines.
The program will also fund upgraded fast-attack missile vessels and upgrades to Finnish mine-layers and mine-countermeasure vessels, according to Defense News.
“The Baltic Sea has become a possible focal point for tension between East and West,” said Finland’s defense minister, Jussi Niinistö. “We are dealing with a more unpredictable Russia.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
In 1846, American firearms legend Samuel Colt teamed with Capt. Samuel Hamilton Walker to produce the most powerful sidearm ever issued to the U.S. military – the Colt Walker 1847.
Walker, a Texas Ranger (no joke) and officer in the militaries of both the Republic of Texas and the United States when Texas entered the Union, served in the American West’s many armed conflicts. He fought the Indian Wars and the Texian War of Independence as well as the Mexican-American War.
With a 9-inch barrel and .44 caliber round, this weapon had an effective range of 100 yards and the muzzle energy of a .357 Magnum. At only 4.5 pounds, the Colt Walker 1847 was the most powerful U.S. military sidearm ever issued and the most powerful pistol until the introduction of the Magnum .357 in 1935. Walker himself carried two of his own pistols into Mexico during the war with the U.S. mounted rifles.
When one of his troops killed a Mexican soldier with the pistol at Veracruz, a medical officer reportedly remarked that the hand cannon shot hit with equal force and range as a .54-caliber Mississippi Rifle.
There were some drawbacks to the design, including that sometimes the cylinders blew up in the shooter’s hand due to the amount of powder used — which was twice the amount used in similar weapons of the time. Colt recommended using 50 grains of powder, instead of the prescribed 60. Lard was sometimes used to keep all the cylinders from exploding at once.
The Colt Walker’s legacy lives on in the hearts of firearms enthusiasts and American historians. In 2008, an original model, with original powder flask, fetched $920,000 at auction. That model was sold by Montana’s John McBride, whose great-great uncle was a Mexican War veteran.
Watch below as two European enthusiasts load and shoot a reproduction of the Colt Walker 1847.
The Marine Corps was founded on Nov. 10, 1775, and on Nov. 11, the rivalry between Army soldiers and Marines began. Over the next couple of centuries, the inter-branch, verbal slap-boxing evolved into the passionate, “all in good fun” fight we know today.
The munitions for these verbal attacks are often exaggerated, sometimes malicious, but always spawn from some truth. Whether it’s your living standards or your vernacular, one thing is for certain, Marines will let you know what they think of you — and in the case of the U.S. Army, we will be heard.
8. Soldiers insist on saying we are the same.
Every Marine has the experience of going home on leave and finding themselves in a bar (probably with some friends from high school) when suddenly, it happens: The sound of a young soldier detailing the trials and tribulations of his day-to-day in the Army, culminating in the statement, “Army, Marines; it’s all the same shit.”
The violation of 242 years of exponentially growing ego and pride saturates his thoughts like the cranberry juice in that soldier’s vodka. The same? We may seem similar (and we are), but we are not the same. The Army is the same as Marines in the way dogs are the same as wolves. The way turkeys are the same as Eagles. The way dolphins are the same as killer whales.
7. Only a small portion of the Army is combat-oriented.
Ever heard of a Marine veterinarian? No? Would you like to know why? Because that isn’t a thing — but it is in the Army. The Army has such a huge budget that they have room for completely non-combat and support specialties that seem to have no place in the military.
Every Marine Corps MOS is either infantry or in direct support of infantry. Shout-out to the cooks, supply, administration, and all those responsible for the bullets, beans, and Band-Aids needed to win America’s wars! The Marines don’t even have medical or religious personnel; they borrow from the Navy. Meanwhile, the Army is busy training entomologists, dietitians, and shower/laundry and clothing repair specialists.
6. The Army gets high-speed, low-drag gear while Marines are rocking hand-me-downs from Desert Storm.
I started my career with an M16 A2, carried an M16 A4 for many years, and I remember the pride I experienced the day I was finally issued an M4. I was a sergeant with five years logged. It was so light and compact, I felt like a kid on Christmas. Meanwhile, big Army is issuing one of those elite Veterinary Specialist Privates an M4 on day one.
My NVGs were either non-existent on night patrols or so old that all I could see was green. The Army is rolling deep with brand-new, up-armored vehicles, each outfitted with a handy-dandy Blue Force Tracker. Meanwhile, Marines are riding dirty in a soft-top, high-back HMMWV that’s been spray-painted green.
The rank is ‘sergeant.’ It has never been, nor will it ever be, ‘sarge.’ Also, staff sergeant, sergeant first class, 1st sergeant, and sergeant major are all different ranks from sergeant. When you call everyone sergeant, nothing makes sense.
Also, why in the yut do you call a 1st Sergeant ‘Top?’ There are over ten ranks that outrank him. It’s not even the top enlisted rank. Why are you doing this?
4. Lower standards.
This one isn’t even up for debate. Fact: Male Army Physical Fitness Tests (APFT) require a 2-mile run at a 6:30 pace, 82 sit-ups, and 50 push-ups. This is the most demanding standard the Army has and they reserve it for the 27 to 31-year-old men (since I guess those are the only four years you are expected to be this fit).
In the Corps, Marines are expected to run 3 miles in 18 minutes (6-minute pace), do 100 sit-ups in two minutes, and 20 dead-hang pull-ups for a maximum score of 300, regardless of age.
Doesn’t sound the same does it?
How about marksmanship? In official Army qualification courses, one must shoot targets (single and pop-up) from three firing positions: supported prone, unsupported prone, and foxhole (replaced the kneeling position). In order to qualify, one must hit at least 23 out of 40 pop-up targets at ranges varying from 50 meters to 300 meters (approximately 80 to 327 yards).
In order to qualify as an “Expert” shooter on the rifle range for the Marine Corps, you must score a combined score of 305 or greater. “Marksmen” is the lowest score obtained, a scoring range of 250-279, with “Sharpshooter” placing second, a combined score falling between 280-304. The target distances are 200, 300, and 500 meters and the targets are engaged in a variety of firing positions, from the prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. None of which are supported by anything other than the Marine’s strength and skill – and that’s not an opinion, it’s science.
3. Marines are a little jealous of very particular things.
Not knowing what it is to field day and not having to have a fresh haircut every seven days must be nice, but no one in the Marine Corps will know because these are just parts of life in the Corps.
2. They can wear their utility uniform anywhere.
This one most likely belongs with the jealousy paragraph, but with a slight difference: Marines don’t want to wear the dirt suit anywhere outside of base anyway.
Seeing a bunch of soldiers getting bumped up to first class because they are peddling their uniform to the public can be a little irksome. It’s not that the Marines are any less noticeable — the farmer’s tan and ridiculous haircuts help them stand out just fine. Jarheads just don’t get the upgrades and comps that a uniformed soldier does and, in turn, there is a deep rage that grows with every priority-boarded soldier that saunters by a devil dog.
1. The Army has literally tried to eliminate the USMC on several occasions.
Following almost every American war, there was a proposal to either disband or absorb the Marine Corps into the other services. Then-Army Chief of Staff Dwight D. Eisenhower championed the strongest attempt after WWII to President Truman.
In the end, the rivalry between the Army and Marines akin to a sibling rivalry and any outside threat that decides to take their chances with any branch will find out real quick how strong the bond between branches really is.
A single weak link in your body can have dramatic effects on everything else you do. Even a poorly placed papercut can mess with your trigger, or gaming, finger. Imagine what could happen if your largest muscle group is weak and underdeveloped.
I’ll give you an idea. With weak glutes, you’ll struggle to walk, run, sit, lift, bend, and kick properly. Weak glutes, aka flabby or nonexistent asscheeks, could be the culprit for your poor performance and nonspecific pain. Why do we let our butts lag behind the rest of our body?
Simple: we can’t see them.
If a bear sh*ts in the woods and no one is there to smell it–did it really sh*t?
Some glute work on ship.
(Photo by: Petty Officer 3rd Class John McGovern)
If you go to the one club that is on the restricted liberty list, but no one is there to catch you–did you break any rules?
If you never train legs, and only take ab and bicep selfies–are there even muscles on the backs of your legs?
Despite the lack of evidence in your Instagram history, here are a few indications that your glutes are weak and underdeveloped.
You have knee, hip, or low back pain
Your body functions as a singular unit. When you walk, your glutes are supposed to stabilize your hips so that they remain level even when one leg is off the ground. If your glutes don’t stabilize, you could experience pain. You can see a good example of how a weak butt causes knees to collapse in over time in anyone with knock-knees.
Issues can become increasingly exaggerated if you are more front (quad) dominant as well as having weak glutes. Think of your body like a scale: if your anterior (front side) muscles “outweigh” your posterior (back side) muscles, the imbalance will result in some type of pain, often in the lower back, hips, or knees.
Any imbalances will have the spotlight put on them when deadlifting 2x your body weight
Further down the chain from your knees are your feet and ankles. A quick sign to see if you might have weak glutes is if you have a low arch or flat feet. Though you could have flat feet with no issues, if you weren’t born with them, they may be a sign of weak glutes.
If you have unexplained lower back pain and can’t seem to fix it, the glutes could be your cure. Think about it like this: if you build a city on a fault line, issues are going to develop from the lack of stability. Same thing goes for your back trying to function properly on weak and unstable glutes.
Besides the obvious negative implications of being a slower runner or weaker hiker, these issues will make all aspects of life more difficult, including reading this article from your comfortable chair and air-conditioned office…POG.
Quick ways to fix weak glutes
If you don’t notice your ass firing when you walk, try some of these exercises until they do. Often it’s not only that the glutes are weak, but also that they just don’t turn on at all. If you can’t get them to turn on, then you can’t make them stronger.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BVGF8-Hhi1c/?hl=en expand=1]Dr. Jacob Harden on Instagram: “KNOCK KNEES ROUTINE For tonight, @quaddoc put together a little something to help you out with knock knees. Knock knees has the femur…”
It’s called the valgus knee collapse and is probably the most common squatting error I see. If you allow your knees to cave in when you squat, you are taking your largest muscle group of the movement out of the exercise. Think about twisting your knees apart when you squat so that they are tracking over your toes. When practicing this, you should feel your glute medius turn on and stay active throughout the movement. You’ll feel this in the upper outer edges of your ass cheeks.
There is an ever-expanding amount of research showing that the hip thrust is superior in activating the glutes and building a strong posterior chain. If that doesn’t sell you….The Rock does them. You are not more BA than The Scorpion King, so start hip thrusting. Here’s a great intro to the exercise.
STOP deadlifting until you learn how to do THIS/How To:Romanian DL
One of the top mistakes in deadlifting is squatting the deadlift. This is wrong. The deadlift is THE exercise when it comes to posterior chain development…if you do it right. If you are squatting this movement, you are using your quads, further exacerbating an anterior-posterior chain imbalance. Learn to hinge at your hips and stop bending your knees so much, so your soon to be ripe Georgia peach of a backside will thank you later.
The litmus test for well-developed glutes is simple:
If you don’t get compliments from your significant other about your butt, it is small and weak.
Make them hate to see you leave, but love watching you walk away.