U.S. Army Reserve and active duty Soldiers perform an airborne operations jump from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 17, 2020. Soldiers who are assigned to airborne units must complete a parachute jump every three months to retain jump certification. Soldiers who jumped on this day included members from the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) headquarters, 824th Quartermaster Company, the 478th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 647th Quartermaster Company among other local units at Fort Bragg. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret).
At the time I was taking my military parachute qualification and transferring it to a civilian skydive license at a drop zone in San Diego, California.
The skydiving community was outraged and I received hundreds of emails. “How could you say this!” “You’re ruining our industry!!!” were some of the nicer emails I received.
The truth is that a lot of drop zones — like gun ranges — are very poorly run, and the staff isn’t professional or nice. Worse yet, they sometimes overlook critical safety checks and often have lax protocols.
Most people probably didn’t watch the video all the way through. This is just more proof that people rarely read past the headline before they are ready to light the torches and start burning down the town square.
The video had millions of views and was titled something like, “A Navy SEAL tells us why he’ll never skydive again…” This, actually, isn’t true: I still enjoy skydiving and since I’m flying aerobatics in my plane I have to strap on a chute as well. Hopefully, I’ll never use it unless the wings fly off my RV8!
In the video below, I’m telling the story again but in greater detail. In addition, I give some practical advice on what to look for in a drop zone. I see so many people putting their lives in the hands of completely incompetent drop zone staff when there are some incredible professionals out there that will take care of you.
It’s so strange that something so dangerous never really gets scrutinized by the people that participate in it.
If you’re going for surgery you are probably going to do some research right? Isn’t it the same with skydiving? You’d hope so but no, most people don’t ask some basic questions.
Hump Day Horoscopes in your mouth, you nasty boots. Noadamus here, operator and internet prophet with crystal magic who can see the future. Okay, I made the crystal crap part up, but I was raised by hippies and weaned on goats’ milk, so open your ear holes and listen to PaPa Bear.
Go crazy. You’re not paying.
Some weeks suck, but not this one — not for you, at least. Your favorite kind of friends want to party, the ones who pay for everything. Money is basically falling into your pocket and your mental capacity is amped up to the max. You might even manage to keep your secret love affair hidden. Just watch your mouth through the weekend, because tempers run hot this week.
Can’t go home ’cause you have to work past COB and Household 6 won’t shut up about it? Just take a deep breath, everything starts to look better closer to the weekend. You might even find some time to nerd out on whatever Dungeons Dragons spells you’re casting. By next Wednesday, you’re a powerhouse, smoldering and passionate.
Seriously dude (or dudette), chill the F’ out, ‘fore you give yo-self a hernia. Your energy is almost unlimited, but everyone’s patience is not. You’re kicking ass and taking names, crushing every PT event, and you’re goddamn Jonny Ringo at the range, but you don’t know everything, and next week, a family member won’t hesitate to remind you, repeatedly.
You’re gonna get some attention. Doesn’t mean you want it.
The weekend brings a surge of energy, useful during CQB and for meeting your future ex-girl/boyfriend. Your tactical knowledge pays off and thrusts you into a leadership role, but causes you more disruption than your stubborn ass would care for. You are likely to be recognized as the subject-matter expert.
Wednesday has you on edge. Take a knee and drink water. You’ll live… probably. Not everyone is out to get you, and people still like you, and yes, everybody thinks you’re clever. Snuggle up with your woobie, and if you can suck it up until next week, your silver tongue will return and you’ll be a superstar at work again. Speaking of stars, if you got pipes, middle of next week is a great time to rock an open mic.
Whatever secrets you’re hiding are subject to rumor and gossip this Wednesday. Just remember your SERE training: say nothing, and by the weekend, people will move on to more interesting talk. Early next week, everyone from your significant other to the MPs to the crustiest Gunny in the division wants to butt heads with you. And they call you sensitive? By the middle of next week, things are starting to look up.
You’re really only sabotaging yourself.
Remember that one time you let your friends talk you into doing the stupid-ass sh*t that almost got you court-martialed? Oh wait, that’s this Wednesday. Pull your head out of your ass, Corporal, and try not to pick any more fights at work. Next week looks good for your wallet; guess all that day-trading is finally paying off.
Wednesday is a trifecta of suck. The house (or family) is demanding money, friends and coworkers are overly argumentative, and your buddy told everyone about your browser history. It’s called cyber security. Seriously, sergeant. Next week sucks, too, but at least after the weekend, nobody is busting your balls at work. I’m prescribing some meditation classes — you must chillax.
Why you stirring up so much shit? Your neighbors are pissed, the morons in your unit are pissed, every damn instructor you have to deal with is pissed. You need to ask yourself — who’s actually the asshole here? Here’s a hint: It’s you, you pretentious snob. You cannot win all of these battles and some of these people are on your side. Don’t be such a blue falcon, buddy f*cker.
It’s probably for the best that you still live in the barracks.
If all of your idiot friends overdraft their credit cards at the gentlemen’s club, does that mean you will, too? Dumb question, we both know you will. Don’t wake up Thursday morning five bills in the hole. In fact, this Wednesday and every night through this weekend, just stay in the barracks and watch a documentary on Buddha or something. Oh yeah, don’t let your aggression get the better of you next week.
You’re bleeding money trying to keep up with your rent and your drinking escapades. Don’t get mad when people get pissed off by your scandalous behavior and your inability to commit to a relationship. The good news is that next week you will remember you have a job and, even though you will not have the most squared away uniform, your aggression will inspire others and make peers and supervisors alike forget how much of a flake you are.
Trust me, I really want to lie to you and say things are looking up, but… things continue to be terrible for you and you will continue to be a moody asshole. You can’t use this excuse to be a miserable human being; you’re better than that. If you have children, keep them occupied this week or they might burn down your house, and no one wants to listen to you b*tch anymore.
COVID-19 has left people facing new levels of stress and feelings of isolation. This may be especially true for members of the military, veterans, and their families. But as the need for support has grown so has a desire to pitch in, particularly among those finding themselves with more time available as get-togethers and social outings are curtailed.
Enter virtual volunteering: a way to give back to the military community while following social distancing and other healthy practices.
Amy Palmer is president and CEO of Soldiers’ Angels , a national nonprofit organization that has been providing aid, comfort and resources to service members, wounded heroes, veterans of all generations, and military families since 2003. In 2019 alone, some 50,000 volunteers, or “angels,” devoted more than 170,000 hours to the cause, offering support to almost half a million members of the military community.
“When the COVID-19 crisis began,” Palmer says, “we quickly pivoted, highlighting activities that volunteers could do in their pj’s at home.”
Write letters. Tired of communicating by email or tweet? Writing letters to service members deployed overseas is a low-commitment way to brighten mail call.
Send a care package of homemade goodies. Pandemic baking, as many of us have learned, may be creatively satisfying, but it’s not all that kind to our waistline. As part of an Angel Bakers Team, you can enjoy the pleasure of whipping up a batch of your celebrated cookies, brownies or scones and then ship the sugary treats to service members who are eager for a taste of home.
Put your sewing machine to use. There’s an ongoing need for masks at VA hospitals across the country. With just basic sewing skills you can help front-line healthcare workers protect themselves, their co-workers and their patients against the spread of COVID-19. This video shows how to sew the preferred type of mask that has a pocket for the insertion of a filter.
Make a no-sew blanket. You don’t need a sewing machine, a needle or even thread to make a cozy blanket for injured service members, a military mom who’s snuggling with a newborn, or deployed troops who will welcome warmth from home. The video on this website demonstrates how to make the blanket with only two large pieces of fleece fabric, scissors and tape, and, ideally, a helper.
Weave paracord bracelets. Tucked into a care package, a paracord bracelet may seem like a small token but it can be a valuable survival tool. Unraveled, the nylon line of cord can be put to use as a fishing line, boot laces, floss or even emergency sutures. Most likely, this won’t be necessary, and the homemade paracord bracelet will remain a treasured item that service members carry on them at all times. Crafting these bracelets can be a fun at-home activity for the whole family or a company-wide volunteer action.
“The bracelets take about 15 minutes to make,” Palmer said. “Companies like Lockheed Martin have sent us thousands.” (Paracord bracelets for military service members must be made from MIL-SPEC cording in the colors black, olive green, tan, or camo only.)
Help pamper a deployed female warrior as part of a Ladies of Liberty team. The all-female volunteers send a monthly care package to an “adopted lady” that includes personal care items, treats like body scrubs and facial masks, haircare products and leisure materials like books, magazines and adult coloring books and colored pencils.
For the holidays
Gather Treats for Troops. Want to put all those packets of candy corn and fun-sized chocolate-peanut bars to better use than keeping your kids up at night from a sugar rush? Donate excess Halloween candy, or if you’re a small-business owner, become a candy collection site, so our heroes can enjoy a sweet reprieve.
Join the Holiday Stockings for Heroes program. Stuff holiday stockings with small gifts like beef jerky, playing cards, puzzle bucks, holiday candy, caps, travel-sized games and a handwritten note and drawings from the kids.
Adopt a military family for the holidays. Military and veteran families often balance tight budgets, and those budgets might be stretched even more than usual with the pandemic leading to furloughs, job losses or reductions in hours. The Adopt-a-Family program is a way to spread some cheer during the winter holidays. For each family adopted, you’ll be expected to provide a minimum $50 – $100 grocery gift card for a holiday meal and gifts for each child in the family. Can’t adopt a military family on your own? Consider teaming up with another family, or with members of your church, workplace or community group.
To hike on a battlefield is to hike through history. The artillery pieces used for bombardments are silent now, either used as decoration or removed entirely. In many places, in fact, the signs of the bygone conflict are hard to see.
Hiking is a physical activity, but it can also be a relaxing and contemplative walk through beautiful scenery. A battlefield hike is that, too, but it’s also a somber reminder that people died on these fields, in these ditches and trenches.
If you’re looking for a way to experience history that’s a little off the beaten path (no pun intended), here are some of the most scenic battlefield hikes out there.
The bronze likeness of an Irish wolfhound, representing loyalty, lies atop the monument honoring the New York regiments of the “Irish Brigade” at Gettysburg.
(Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)
In July 1863, Union and Confederate armies clashed at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Over the course of three days, the Rebels tried to seize command of the high ground just outside of town. Robert E. Lee’s Southern army failed spectacularly and retreated to Virginia.
When you visit Gettysburg today, the hills remain, but instead of lines of infantry and artillery, there is simply a cemetery. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery was dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1863 — at which time he gave his famous address — to commemorate the battle and honor the dead.
Try to time your visit with some living history reenactments for maximum effect — it’s worth the effort.
Gettysburg National Battlefield is a somber place, especially with the cemetery at center stage. The hiking there is picturesque and calm in the quiet Pennsylvania countryside, a sharp contrast to those three brutal days in 1863.
2. Cochise Stronghold
Tucked away in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, the Cochise Stronghold is a foreboding outcrop once manned by Chiricahua Apache fighters in their long struggle against the United States.
Throughout the 1860s and into the 1870s, the Chiricahua Chief Cochise and his band of approximately 1,000 lived in these high redoubts, well out of reach of the U.S. Cavalry. Cochise was never defeated, though he was captured and escaped multiple times. He died of natural causes in 1874.
For modern hikers or horseback riders, the terrain here is as rough and forbidding as it was to the U.S. Cavalrymen who tried to pursue the Chiricahua Apache into the mountains. Thin trails offer routes up into the stronghold itself, where a visitor can gain an understanding of just how the Apache hid and survived
The main “Cochise Indian Trail” is a difficult 5-mile loop, but there are easier hiking trails as well. Just make sure to pack plenty of water and keep your eyes open for snakes. For rock climbers, the Cochise area is actually an impressive and challenging climbing destination, too.
Preserved battlefield of Fort of Douaumont.
3. Fort Douaumont
In late winter of 1916, Imperial German forces tried to seize the strategic French city of Verdun. Only four days into the massive assault, the Germans took Fort Douaumont, an obsolete but still important fort in the defense of the city.
For the next eight months, fighting raged in the vicinity of this fort. French forces finally recaptured Douaumont in October 1916. Modern visitors can tour what’s left of the fort. Heavy artillery pounded the place into oblivion, and now concrete bastions lie torn apart, as if smashed by angry giants.
Visit antique gun turrets meant for tremendous 155mm howitzers to lighter 75mm guns. Feel the claustrophobia of the soldiers who fought and died in the tight tunnels. Imagine the deafening roar of small arms and artillery when fired in such close quarters.
There are also places to pay your respects to the memorials of the dead, including the German Necropolis, or City of the Dead, where around 600 men lie interred.
Modern Americans often make unfair jokes about French military prowess, but at Verdun and Douaumont, French soldiers died in swathes to repel a major German offensive — and the French won. So if you’re in Alsace, visit Fort Douaumont and maybe even the less successful Maginot Line as well.
Courtesy of the Fort Ticonderoga Facebook page.
4. Fort Ticonderoga
Tucked away in upstate New York, Fort Ticonderoga sits amidst some of the best scenery in the American East. Seized in a surprise attack by Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys in 1775, the artillery taken from Ticonderoga served a pivotal role in George Washington’s 1776 Siege of Boston.
The well-preserved fort offers excellent views of Lake Champlain, and a trail network spans the area. There’s also plenty of living history if reenacting is your cup of tea. Fort Ticonderoga is even available for wedding receptions!
The scenery of Upstate New York is some of the most beautiful in the country, and hikers can enjoy everything from Colonial-style gardens to the rugged Adirondack Mountains.
A Peace Memorial sits atop Engineer Hill at Attu Island, Alaska. The memorial is in honor of all those who sacrificed their lives in the islands and seas of the North Pacific during World War II.
(Photo courtesy U.S. Army)
5. Attu Island
In June 1942, Japanese forces struck north at Alaska. Specifically, the Japanese tried to neutralize the Aleutian Islands, and to do so, they seized the westernmost island, Attu. The Second World War raged from Egyptian deserts to Soviet steppes, from the skies over Britain to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, but on Attu, the war reached a new extreme.
Today, Attu is still a remote island, and unexploded ordnance remains a threat. Such are the scars of war. There are no trees on the island, so expect desolate, windblown tundra. The Native Alaskan village of Attu was never resettled after the war, and the island today is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
If you think mere access to this area is difficult, try the hiking. There are no trails on the island, and there has been no permanent population since the Japanese deported them and the U.S. refused to bring the natives back. Hikers can travel wherever they please, though checking with the U.S. Coast Guard first about exactly where those unexploded shells are can literally save your limbs — or your life.
The story of Attu is a tragedy, both for the natives who were stripped of their homes and for the soldiers who fought and died for distant empires on a small island in the Bering Sea. When taken in proportion with the number of troops engaged, the 1943 Battle of Attu was the second deadliest of the Pacific War, surpassed only by Iwo Jima.
A bronze artilleryman stands watch over the guns of Hampton’s Battery F, Pennsylvania Light Artillery in the famous Peach Orchard at Gettysburg.
(Photo courtesy of National Park System)
Hiking a battlefield can bring history from the realm of dusty textbooks to real life. Seeing the location firsthand elevates the reality of an event in a way that pictures cannot.
From rural France to remote areas of Alaska, war has ravaged almost every corner of our world. Few people or nations have been spared. We preserve and visit old battlefields so that we remember why those people fought, and how we can try to avoid those fights in the future.
The combination of a beautiful backdrop and a brutal past only reinforces the horror of battle — and the historical memory that goes along with it.
Before D-Day, on June 5, 1944, some 90 teams of two to four men parachuted into Nazi-occupied France. They were members of the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessors of both the CIA and the modern-day Army Special Forces. These OSS teams were called “Jedburgh” teams and were highly skilled in European languages, parachuting, amphibious operations, skiing, mountain climbing, radio operations, Morse code, small arms, navigation, hand-to-hand combat, explosives, and espionage. They would need all of it.
The OSS teams’ job was to link up with resistance fighters in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to coordinate Allied airdrops, conduct sabotage operations, and roll out the red carpet for the Allied advance into Germany. D-Day was to be the “Jeds'” trial by fire.
The Jedburghs preparing to jump before D-Day.
Fast forward to 75 years later: Europe is no longer a fortress and the OSS has since evolved into both the CIA and the US Army’s Special Forces. To honor that tradition, a team of Army Special Forces veterans, including SOF legend and 2017 Bull Simons Award Winner CSM Rick Lamb, are planning to recreate the Jedburghs’ famous nighttime jumps into Europe in June 2019 and those veterans just happen to be members of the ODA that rode into Afghanistan on horseback in the days following the 9/11 attacks — they are Team American Freedom.
If the name “American Freedom” sounds familiar, it’s because they’re also the founders of American Freedom Distillery, a Florida-based premium spirits brand, makers of Horse Soldier Bourbon and Rekker Rum. And it’s not only the Special Forces veterans jumping from the lead aircraft on June 5th, they’re in good company. Joining them in the jump will be retired Army Ranger Bill Dunham, who lost a leg in Panama in 1989, the Gold Star mother of another Army Ranger and some of her late son’s fellow Rangers, and a 97-year-old World War II veteran.
The American Freedom Distillery Team
“This group will represent every major known and unknown conflict for the past 30 years – every group who inserted early and fought with little recognition,” says American Freedom co-founder and Special Forces vet Scott Neill. “This is the last big World War II anniversary (other than VJ Day) that World War II vets and these generation will share. The very special part is that we will also share this with our families. Our wives who took care of the home front and our kids who watched daddy go away again and again. It’s a way to show our family why we did it.”
For the entire summer of 2019, France and England will be celebrating the D-Day landings and the start of the liberation of Europe. The D-Day airdrop is just the beginning, other events will include parades, military encampments, and showcases featuring World War II uniforms.
Good work if you can get it.
The team is set to stage out of Cherbourg, France and tour some of the areas where the most intense fighting occurred. On June 5th, they will jump out of a C-47 Skytrain, just like their forebears did 75 years ago, and hit the dropzone at around 11a.m. They won’t be coming empty-handed. They will also be dropping a barrel of their Horse Soldier Bourbon to support the festivities on the ground as 200 more jumpers hit the drop zone throughout the day.
(Image courtesy of Scott Neil, American Freedom Distillery)
If you want to support Team American Freedom as they remember the brave men who landed behind enemy lines a full day before the Allied invasion of Europe, you can help by contributing to their GoFundMe page. You will be enabling generations of special operators, CIA veterans, and Gold Star Families, many of who have lead insertions into modern day areas of operations attend this historic event.
The messiness of divorce has been well documented. The attorneys, the custody battles, dividing everything up. But how does one initiate the process? When you are sure you want to go through with one, how do you tell your spouse you want a divorce? In movies, it’s often blurted out in the midst of a heated argument, with one partner or the other dramatically shouting, “I want a divorce!” But in life, things tend to go a bit differently. And, if you want the ensuing legal battle to be civil, it’s in one’s best interest to take pause and really determine how to tell the person they vowed to spend the rest of their life with that it’s over. So how does one deliver this particularly life-altering bit of news? There’s no one way to do it. But there are some guidelines to keep in mind. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Timing is everything
To say that telling your partner you want a divorce is delicate is an understatement. It is an enormous decision, one that, when broached, will alter both of your lives forever. As such, you want to make sure that you choose to have the conversation at a time when your partner is emotionally capable of receiving the news. In other words, don’t tell your partner you want a divorce when when they’re stressed or emotional. “You know your partner better than anyone, so don’t make the disastrous mistake of bringing up divorce in the middle of an important life event,” advises relationship coach Alice Wood. “Be patient and remember that the announcement can wait until a moment when its impact will be the least damaging.” Is this obvious? Yes. But it’s essential.
2. Find the right location
Ideally, you want to break this news in a private, quiet space. Don’t have the conversation in a crowded restaurant or even at home when the kids are in the next room. Benjamin Valencia II, a partner and certified family law specialist at Meyer, Olson, Lowy and Meyers suggests that, if the couple is in therapy, the therapist’s office might be a good location. “In this way, both parties can feel safe and free to ask questions and/or gain an understanding of what the other party is thinking without erupting into an argument,” he says. “Further, the therapist can help create healthy boundaries moving forward which can prove invaluable when the going gets tough.”
(Photo by Guian Bolisay)
3. Avoid details
When the time is right to bring up the topic of divorce, Kelly A. Frawley and Emily S. Pollock, partners at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres and specialists in matrimonial and family law, suggest not getting into details or specifics of how the divorce will work, custody arrangements or anything other specifics, as they will only overwhelm your partner further. “If he or she is just hearing about the possibility of divorce for the first time,” they say, “don’t go in details about how you are going to divide the brokerage account, who should have the kids for Christmas this year, or how you are already looking for a new apartment.” The key is to give the person time to digest the concept, show emotion, and ask questions.
4. Choose your words
Telling your partner you want a divorce is difficult. There’s no need to make it worse by blaming your spouse for their shortcomings or using phrases like, “You should have,” “You don’t,” or “You didn’t.” You also need to be honest about what you’re feeling and why you believe this decision is the right one. So, when talking about divorce, you have to be specific in your language — this isn’t the time to be vague. “If your words are ambiguous, you may leave your spouse/partner with a glimmer of hope that the marriage can be saved, when that is not your intention,” says Craig S. Pedersen, a partner at Meyer, Olson, Lowy and Meyers. “That can only create further problems down the line.”
5. Acknowledge your mutual unhappiness
Even if a divorce is more one-sided, chances are that neither party in the marriage is particularly thrilled about the way things have been going. With this in mind, it’s wise to open the conversation by laying the cards on the tabled. “I usually will suggest that they start the conversation with a statement such as ‘As you know, I have not been happy in the marriage for a long time. I also think you have not been happy either,” says New York divorce lawyer Jacqueline Newman, author of the Soon to be Ex series of books. “If the other person can acknowledge that he or she is also unhappy, it makes it an easier conversation to have as it is not so one-sided.”
6. Consider a team approach
Rather than focusing on the fact that you and your partner are separating, it’s essential to shift the perspective a bit and talk about how you both will work together to make this while process as easy as possible. “Divorce does not have to be a battle,” reminds Valencia. “Especially if you have children, your common goal should be what is in their best interests. Approaching a divorce by listing the common goals will help both parties realize they are in this together and cooperating behooves both of them.”
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
The United States Coast Guard Culinary Team beat 19 competitors to be named 2020 Joint Culinary Training Exercise Installation of the Year.
The competition included teams from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and international teams from France, Germany and Great Britain, with the Coast Guard earning 20 medals — five gold, six silver and nine bronze, according to a Facebook post. Chief Petty Officer Edward Fuchs, team manager, says training time helped the chefs prepare.
“One of the things that gave us a leg up this year that we’ve never had before is that we had 10 days of training time leading up to it,” Fuchs said. He added that time to run through everything with a team that had never worked together before, made all the difference. He credits Master Chief Matthew Simolon and his crew for opening up the USCG Yorktown, Virginia, galley for their team as one of the reasons they won.
Chief Petty Officer Scott Jeffries, the Coast Guard Team Advisor, shared that many of the other military branch teams competing there had been working on their craft together for six months or longer to prepare for the competition.
“The reaction from them when they would learn about us (USCG team) only being together for nine days prior to the start of the competition was pretty awesome. They understand how hard this thing is and how much work goes into it,” Jeffries said. “The Yorktown galley made it all possible by getting us rations or running us to the store. Without them, this wouldn’t have been successful at all.”
The road to competing in this culinary competition isn’t easy. The hours are long, often stretching into 12-plus hour days. Fuchs shared there was one stretch where he was away from his hotel room for 30 hours. But that continuous hard work and unfailing dedication paid off.
Fuchs said the Coast Guard has always had to work a little harder because all of the rules and important communications come through the Department of Defense, which led to his team being behind on this year because the group was left out of those important emails. He also shared that throughout the 14 years since the Coast Guard first competed, there were years they weren’t funded to compete.
“For a while it was just us and our personal funds keeping it alive,” he said.
One year, as an example, they were sponsored by The Coast Guard Foundation. In years past, the chefs competing were mostly those located in Washington, D.C. and the Virginia areas that were close by to the Fort Lee competition because they just couldn’t afford to bring in chefs from units throughout the country. He continued saying that “we kept it on life support, waiting for that funding stream to come through.”
Jeffries echoed Fuchs statement, saying for years it really was a few of them spending thousands of dollars each to maintain a Coast Guard team.
“The coverage was still there because that was our way of being able to showcase to the right avenues, ‘hey we are out here doing awesome stuff and representing the Coast Guard in a great light’ … let’s fund this thing so we can get other people out here,” he said.
They got their wish. The Coast Guard team has been funded for the last two years and this year they were able to bring in chefs from all over the fleet; something they have never been able to do before. And this year’s team was a vibrant representation of the force’s culinary rate and it made all the difference.
“We’ve done this for 14 years and every year you think you have a chance (for culinary team of the year) and then it’s not you. … It’s indescribable, that feeling that you feel when you train a team and they win it. I can’t even put into words the pride and the joy watching them go up on stage to receive the award for culinary team of the year,” Fuchs said.
“We were celebrating the night before because of how great of a job that everyone did in their own personal competitions. The Coast Guard medaled every competition and we already knew that our Coast Guard Chef of the Year had a shot at Armed Forces Chef of the Year, something that the Coast Guard had never won. There was just already so much to celebrate,” Jeffries said.
Both Fuchs and Jeffries describe an “intense” energy in the room after Team Coast Guard was announced as the winner. And so was the respect.
Location: Bldg. 8, Rm. 183 - Photo Studio
Subject: ASCAN Class 22 Group Photo
Photographer: Bill Stafford
Source Photos: jsc2019e044528 & jsc2019e044529.
It’s no surprise that many of NASA’s astronauts have military backgrounds. However, it may come as surprise that one of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis team on December 9, 2020 is a submariner and another is a Navy SEAL. The Artemis program aims to land “the first woman and the next man” on the moon by 2024. Ten of the astronauts chosen for this historic program have military backgrounds.
Barron graduated from the Naval Academy in 2010 and immediately went to grad school at the University of Cambridge in England as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She graduated with a Master’s in nuclear engineering and joined one of the first groups of female naval officers to serve in the nuclear submarine fleet. After serving aboard the Ohio-class nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, USS Maine (SSBN-741), she became the flag aide to the Superintendent of the Naval Academy before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.
If you haven’t heard of the Navy SEAL, doctor, astronaut, you might be living under a rock. Kim enlisted in the Navy out of high school and went straight from his Hospital Corpsman “A” School to BUD/S. During his time with the teams, Kim completed over 100 combat operations and earned a Silver Star with Combat “V”. He commissioned as an officer through the Navy ROTC program at the University of San Diego with a degree in mathematics. Afterwards, he earned a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School before being selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Chari has earned a bachelor’s in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew the F-15E in combat mission over Iraq. Chari has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in the F-15, F-16, F-18, and F-35 fighters. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Chari was an Air Force Colonel select serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
Dominick graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in electrical engineering and commissioned as a naval officer in 2005. He served as a naval aviator flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Dominick made two deployments with Strike Fighter Squadron 3 (VFA-143) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Afterwards, he earned a master’s in systems engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G and has contributed to cutting-edge projects like the X-47B and F-35C. Dominick has accumulated over 1,600 flight hours, 400 carrier traps, and 61 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Glover is an experienced naval aviator with 3,000 flight hours in more than 40 aircraft, over 400 carrier traps, and 24 combat missions. He is also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, the Air Force’s Air University, and the Air Force Test Pilot School. In 2013, he was selected for astronaut training while serving as a Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate. Glover currently serves as the pilot and second-in-command on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Resilience, which launched November 15, 2020. He will also serve as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 64.
Mann graduated from the Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering and commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 1999. She earned a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford in 2001. Following grad school, she completed TBS at MCB Quantico and flight school at NAS Pensacola. She flew the F/A-18C during combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom before becoming a naval test pilot. Mann has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft, 200 carrier traps, and 47 combat missions. She is currently training for the crew flight test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, the first crewed flight for the vehicle.
McClain graduated from West Point in 2002 and immediately attended grad school at the University of Bath. She trained on the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and went on to earn ratings in the C-12 Huron, UH-60 Blackhawk, and UH-72 Lakota. Over her career, she has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in 20 different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. She was selected from astronaut training in 2013. Most recently, McClain served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 58 and 59.
Moghbeli commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 2005 after earning her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from MIT. She has since earned a master’s in aerospace engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and has graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. She flew the AH-1W Super Cobra in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom and has flown the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters in test and evaluation roles. Moghbeli has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours in over 25 different aircraft and more than 150 combat missions. She was selected for astronaut training in 2017.
Rubio is a West Point graduate and Army Blackhawk pilot. He has accumulated over 1,100 flight hours during deployments to Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Rubio earned a doctorate of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He served as a clinic supervisor, an executive medicine provider and a flight surgeon at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. When he was selected for astronaut training in 2017, Rubio was serving as the battalion surgeon for the 3rd Battalio, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Tingle earned a bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering and worked for three years at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California before commissioning as a naval officer in 1991. In 1998, he graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School and served as an Operational Test Pilot with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program. He flew with Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). The wing was one of the first responders after 9/11 and conducted strikes in Afghanistan in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom. Tingle has accumulated over 4,500 flight hours in 51 different aircraft, 750 carrier traps, and 54 combat missions. He was selected for astronaut training in 2009 and most recently served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 54/55.
“The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration,” said Vice President Mike Pence after announcing the names of the Artemis astronauts, “and that future is bright.” Artemis I is scheduled for 2021 and will be an uncrewed flight test. Artemis II will be the first crewed flight test and is scheduled for 2022.
It’s no secret the military is full of soup. Even an FNG could tell you that. There are even more specific alphabet soup acronyms within each branch: the Air Force has OTP, and the Marines have OSM (semi-respectively).
Here’s a couple of acronyms we made up that aren’t in use, but should be.
“Sergeant ran out of real tasks.”
This acronym is used to explain why you are: measuring the length of floor tiles, power washing a lawn chair, or cleaning an actual pile of garbage with Windex. We don’t ask why. We know.
Example: I know we’re outside in the desert, but S.R.O.O.R.T. so now we all have to sweep the dirt.
Images From The Korengal Outpost – The Far Side.
“Only dipping tobacco while on deployment.”
This acronym is the lie you tell yourself while on deployment. It soon warps into the closely related acronym “O.D.T.B.O.D.” which is “Only dipping tobacco because of deployment.”
Example: Yeah, I never used to chew Cope, but I’m O.D.T.W.O.D.
“Good piece of gear.”
This acronym is used to describe a fully functional piece of gear in the military.
Example: *N/A, no plausible use*
“Dinner” aboard the USS Green Bay.
(Sgt. Branden Colston/ USMC)
“Why did I even grab a fork?”
This acronym is used to describe the fine delicatessen cuisine service members enjoy on a ship. It’s food so sparse, so understated, so daringly simple, it begs the question: why did I even grab a fork?”
Example: Welcome aboard, today we will be serving delectable items from the W.D.I.E.G.A.F. cuisine: our first course is a handful of hard white rice, followed by two triangles of cardboard garlic bread, accented with a chalice of warm water. Served sea side. Bon Appetit.
“Not old enough for beer, only for armed combat.”
This is a much needed acronym for the millions of 18-to 21-year-olds in our military who cannot legally buy beer but can legally be trusted with billions of dollars of equipment and the lives of men who are old enough to buy beer. Granted, this one doesn’t really roll off the tongue—but neither does explaining the ancient logic behind this law.
Example: I’ll take an automatic rifle, a crate of C-4 explosives, and a Shirley Temple to drink, sorry I’m N.O.E.F.B.O.F.A.C.
“You make comm awful.”
This is for anybody who never shuts the hell up over comm. They add useless information, make bad jokes, clog up the line, and all kinds of other annoying things.
Example: You don’t have to mouth breath for 3 seconds before saying what you need to say. Y.M.C.A. Over.
“Boy, our operation’s boring, Sgt.”
Sometimes you have said all you need to say. You’ve been in a foreign place with the same 6 dudes for months. You can only talk about how bad the Cleveland Browns are, or what kind of food you wish you could eat, for so long… Sometimes, when you’ve been away for months and don’t have anything to talk about, you just talk about B.O.O.B.S.
While Russia likes to point to the “successes” of its state re-armament program, the fact is that many of the weapons have fallen well short of their touted potential. The T-14 is underfunded and probably overhyped. The Su-57 can’t be stealthy and fast at the same time. The nuclear-powered cruise missile might be what killed Russian scientists last month.
The RSM-56 Bulava missile has some problems that we’ll get into in a minute, but on paper, it’s one of the most impressive weapons in the world today.
These nuclear-armed missiles are able to fly over 5,000 miles from the Borei-class submarine that launched them. That’s far enough for the sub to fire from the southern coast of Brazil and hit anywhere on the U.S. East Coast. And when it hits, it hits hard. Estimates of its punching power vary, but it’s thought to carry between 6 and 10 independently targeted warheads. And each warhead has a 100-150 kiloton yield.
While it’s hard to get good numbers for how far the different warheads can spread, each one can essentially take out a city, and those cities can likely be spread 100 miles or more apart. Oh, and each sub carries 12-16 missiles.
Add to all of that the warhead follows a lower arc, foiling many missile defenses, and can deploy decoy warheads. It’s a recipe for absolute destruction. Each submarine can take out, conservatively, 72 city-sized targets. Well, they can do so if each missile works properly.
Russia overhyped the Su-57, failed to field the T-14 in significant numbers, and then claimed its nuclear-powered cruise missile was ready to go about a year before that missile blew up in testing and killed top scientists. So, yeah, there’s always the possibility that the Bulava doesn’t work as advertised.
But since the missiles have had successful tests and can take out entire regions of America, it could legitimately be the last thing millions of Americans ever see if there’s a nuclear shooting match between the U.S. and Russia. But hey, at least the suspense won’t last long.
It’s that brain-tingling, hard-to-describe oddity. The sort of peculiar sensation that’s hard to describe and even harder to articulate. Sometimes people call it a “silvery sparkle” or the feeling of getting goosebumps on the scalp. It came in waves for Jennifer Allen, like warm bubbles, before making its way down her spine. In its wake, a feeling of being complete, whole, and of gratitude.
Allen loved the feeling, but she had no idea how to replicate it when needed or why it seemed to be triggered by certain sounds. Every few years, she’d try asking the internet but got nowhere fast until about a decade ago, when she finally found something on the internet that seemed to match what she’d been feeling. Allen continued to comb through the internet forum where she discovered countless other people just like her – people who experienced sensations in their brains when they heard certain sounds or saw certain images.
So she set out to really understand what was going on with her and others. But she still didn’t know what to call this strange sensation, so she made up a new clinical-sounding name for it: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR. Allen says she started the term with the word autonomous because these are feelings that come from within. ASMR is a perceptual, sensory phenomenon that’s likened most often to a transcendent state often experienced during meditation.
Within months, her fledgling group had spread to six continents, and soon members were creating videos to produce ASMR. Videos started cropping up online and often featured an anonymous woman delivering soft-spoken voice-over narration. Now, thousands of video creators release, on average, about 500 new ASMR videos each day on YouTube. Videos range from women chewing gum, simulating eye exams, turning pages in books, and even peeling dried glue off of artificial ears.
These videos aim to relax the viewer and might work on helping lull tired viewers sleep. As everyone in the military knows, the concept of a work-life balance is pretty much nonexistent.
With that comes chronic sleep deprivation and rest deficiencies. According to sleep.org, almost 8 in 10 service members on active duty have a diagnosed sleep condition like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or sleep apnea. Medications leave personnel groggy the next morning, so the military is suggesting exploring ASMR videos instead.
Added to that is the high number of service personnel who suffer from some stress-related disorders like PTSD, MST, or combat stress. Of course, ASMR isn’t going to replace cognitive therapy, but it might help offset some of the debilitating aspects of having a PTSD related condition. There’s an entire section of ASMR videos related to promoting feelings of being safe. There are even entire channels specifically curated for veterans dealing with these issues.
While ASMR might seem weird at the outset, there’s really not much else to lose – especially if you are one of those eight in 10 service members who are already having trouble sleeping. Research is currently ongoing to explore whether or not ASMR benefits are clinical in nature or simply psychosomatic. But really, what’s it matter if it’s helping you feel less anxious, calmer, and eventually, more rested? It can be hard to accept the idea of a brain tingle, but for those who have experienced it, ASMR might just be the thing that helps them finally get to sleep.
When you think of the VFW, what comes to mind? For many of us younger veterans the stigma is that your local VFW post is a dark, dusty bar with a bunch of older vets telling war stories. Whether that is fair or not, the VFW has had an issue attracting younger veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to its ranks, despite the obvious benefit that the VFW provides to those vets.
One post in San Antonio is moving to change all that.
VFW Post 8541 has created a cyber café in its facility with the intent that younger veterans will have a place to hang out, build fellowship, have an escape and be part of the local veteran community. And no, this isn’t a couch with an Xbox and two controllers.
Take a look at this:
Video games have come a long way since Space Invaders and Pong. Nowadays, it’s a billion-dollar industry that continues to grow every year. Consoles continue to war with each other, video game franchises compete to have the best upgrades in graphics and gameplay, and players now compete in more organized tournaments. Esports has blown up quite a bit with professional leagues forming with players making six figures a year! (Tell that to your girl the next time she gets mad when you have a COD marathon!)
Even pro sports leagues are getting in on esports. The NBA, NASCAR and Formula 1 have all had their best stars compete when everything was shut down during Covid.
While some people scoff at the amount of time and energy people put into gaming, there have been proven benefits to veterans.
Video games have been increasingly recommended to veterans as a way to cope with the effects of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. How so? Mental health experts will tell you that a great way to deal with mental health issues is to find an activity that puts you into a flow or zone. Whether it’s running, shooting drills, surfing, reading a book, or playing a game, an activity that takes up your concentration and allows you to escape and give your attention completely to that task has proven to be beneficial.
Video games provide just that. Even the Department of Veteran Affairs now says that “Video games can help in overcoming such problems as PTSD and substance abuse disorders.”
This is something Bill Smith saw during his deployments and is now bringing to his VFW post.
Bill Smith is VFW post commander who served 32 years in the Army, most of it in the Special Forces.
He did two deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. After getting out in 2015, he was involved with the VFW and was rapidly put in charge of Post 8541 when the post came under suspension 3.5 years ago. He went to a meeting to talk about the suspension and found himself nominated to take over. Immediately, he looked for ways to get things back on track. And boy, has he. Post 8541 has been the #1 post in Texas the last 2 years out of 298 in the state. That is based on membership, community services, legacy programs signups. For each new life member, you get points for that.
Right now, Bill’s priority is getting lots of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to sign up. It has been an issue that many posts struggle with or don’t even try to attempt.
Not only has Bill’s post been starting to get a younger crowd, but it has been a good smooth transition.
As Bill says, “The only way to change it is to get in there and change it.” So, he went and found ways to attract younger vets.
“I was connected with the Texas Guard… just selling. I would get out and tell them this is what we have going on, come out and try it out. “Bill continues, “We had a banquet hall and one of the first things we did, was open up the hall for military functions.” A great example was a Special Forces Party that was held at the hall. The VFW picked up a id=”listicle-2647079334″,000 bar tab for the party to help with the costs. The next day the post had 40 new signups. Bill also created a family room at the post. Now if you want to get to the VFW, but have the kids, you can still go. While these were great steps, Bill was still thinking ahead of the curve. Which brings us to the cybercafé and video games.
Where did Bill get the idea?
“When I was in Afghanistan, I was embedded with French Special Forces. When I went to Bagram, I went to JOC and was berthing with some guys in 7th Group. As I was sitting there, I kept hearing. ‘Who shot me? Who did this?’
Bill saw in their down time they were gaming a lot. It was their escape and they spent a lot of time decompressing through video games. He also saw ODA guys playing in their down time.
“My sons are 26 and 23 and they game a lot, so I saw gaming was big. My oldest son’s friend, Sam Elizondo owns LFG Cybercafe and they sponsored a team for a tournament. Bill decided to talk
And talking to Sam, they came up with the cybercafé idea.
Sam Elizondo, after talking to Bill, decided to help make this idea into a reality. Sam said, “I think what I love most is that we arrived at this leg of the journey out of Bill Smith’s relentless drive to help people. He wants to give these younger combat veterans a place to heal and a place to be. It’s been a privilege to use my skill set for that mission.”
Sam’s background and livelihood are in gaming. He also comes from a military family. As Bill and Sam started planning, they knew they had to get the support of the current VFW Post members on board. After all, it’s their club and building a video game center in their post was something that might not sit well with Vietnam veterans. But to Sam’s surprise, the older vets were really receptive to the plan. Once they started seeing the plan turn into a reality, they became even more excited.
The buildout of the café started in January and is almost done. However, there was one big obstacle that Bill, Sam, and workers had to deal with. Covid -19 shut down the post for a while but they pushed through on building it out. Unfortunately, with the current rules, Texas has their post shut down just when they were about to open the café. While veterans will have to wait just a big longer before they can take advantage, the work that Sam did is utterly amazing.
This is just the first step. Most games will be provided via Sam’s company. There will be about 70 games for the PC consoles which he will manage the system remotely Right now the plan is to have 12 PCs and 6 Xboxes. Also, Grande Communications is installing fiber optic cable so that the Post will have the best download speed.
Microsoft also made a generous contribution. They shut down their brick and mortar store and decided to donate thousand in hardware. The post has had admittedly older computers (some running on Windows XP) so now they will have fast computers and fast internet connection. Sam is also helping build out a new business center with these resources so vets young and old can have access to computers.
So, what next?
Sam hopes, “Veteran Esports Competitions and just a better connected family of VFW’s. There is so much value in building out infrastructure like what POST 8541 is doing that the sky truly is the limit. They have the ability and the network to do some incredible things. It just needs to be embraced.”
Once COVID is over, the café will be open for vets to come game. The hope is it will be a place for them to escape the world and find comfort in fellowship. Bill and Sam are hoping other VFWs will take notice and build their own centers. This will hopefully lead to gaming competitions between local and long-distance posts.
The VFW has been a backbone of veteran activity for decades. Thanks for forward thinkers like Sam and Bill, it is shaping up to continue to be that backbone.
Special operations forces are the most highly disciplined, mission-capable, and formidable units in the world. They go through rigorous selection processes and training in order to conduct unconventional warfare tasks that are beyond the means of standard military forces.
The truth is, the world may never know exactly what these teams have accomplished, but their public records contain enough to earn global respect. In no particular order, these are ten lethal special operations units from around the world.
Formerly known as the Snow Wolf Commando Unit, named for the tenacity of arctic wolves and their ability to survive in harsh conditions, this is a specops unit of the People’s Republic of China. At their inception, they spent five years training in secret to conduct counter-terrorism, riot control, anti-hijacking, and bomb disposal for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
They’ve trained alongside Russian special task force units during joint anti-terror exercises with the primary mission of maintaining peace and stability.
The unit prides itself on the speed and accuracy of their marksmanship, their strength and stamina, and their spirit of self-sacrifice. Each recruit must serve in the People’s Armed Police for 1-2 years before undergoing physical and psychological tests. Perhaps where they excel the most is in martial arts and close quarter battles, but their sniper squadron shouldn’t be discounted.
The SBS is the UK’s equivalent of the US Navy SEALs. The selection process for the elite team has a 90% failure rate and includes a grueling 4-week endurance test that grows increasingly more challenging and concludes with a 40 kilometer march — that’s 24.8 miles for my fellow Yankees — which must be completed in under 20 hours.
Graduates will master weapons handling, jungle training, complex fighting, and combat survival before they are officially inducted into the elite unit.
Born out of World War II, today, the SBS remains one of the most well-respected units in the world. Since 9/11, the Special Boat Service has been deployed against Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban, as well as on rescue missions around the globe, including in Sierra Leone and Libya.
Soldier in the Polish Naval Special Forces Unit GROM during NATO exercise Trident Juncture 15.
GROM is an acronym that loosely translates to the Group for Operational Maneuvering Response.
More poignantly, however, grom means “thunder” in Polish. It’s a unit that can trace its lineage to the exiled Polish paratroopers of World War II known as “the Silent Unseen.” 315 men — and one woman — trained for months in Great Britain before jumping into occupied Poland to oppose the Nazi hold there.
In 1990, the GROM unit was organized after Operation Bridge, a mission to help Soviet Jews enter Israel. Intelligence reports indicated a significant Hezbollah threat in the area of operations, so the elite counter-terrorist force was approved. It remained a secret from the public until 1994, when they deployed to Haiti for Operation Restore Democracy.
GROM performs rescue operations, including hostage recovery, as well as counter-insurgency missions. They have extensive weapons and medical expertise and have mastered a variety of military disciplines, including parachuting, amphibious insertion, diving, pyrotechnics, and vehicle handling.
Whether fighting terrorists or war criminals, GROM more than lives up to its name.
Business Insider reported that training for the Pakistani Special Services Group requires a 36-mile march done in 12 hours and a five-mile run in full kit in 20 minutes — if that’s true… then holy s***.
Created to combat terrorism, extremism, and separatism, SSG training consists of grueling physical conditioning, airborne school, a 25-week commando course, and hand-to-hand combat training. Reportedly, only 5% of recruits complete the rigorous training.
Due to their location, they are kept actively engaged in counter-terror missions. From hotspots along the India-Pakistan border to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan to Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint military offensive targeting terrorist organizations, the SSG goes where the fire is hot.
Delta Force and soldiers pictured deep behind Iraqi lines during the 1991 Gulf War
6. Delta Force
Delta Force is the U.S. Army’s elite counter-terrorism unit, with Army Rangers and Green Berets among its numbers, but it also has operators from the Navy and Air Force. It’s been called many things — Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, the Combat Applications Group, and now the Army Compartmented Elements, but throughout its short history, it has maintained its superior ability to capture or kill high value targets, dismantle terrorist cells, and conduct covert missions in any area of operations.
Most of the missions executed by Delta Force remain classified — and it’s rare to find an official document that even acknowledges the unit — but one of its most notable accomplishments includes Operation Red Dawn, the capture of Saddam Hussein.
A leaked recruiting video gave a glimpse at different training methods for Delta Force, including tactical driving, vehicle takedowns, and assaulter team tactics. A testament to their precision, one of their final exams includes breaching operations with fellow team members playing the hostage as his brothers live fire against targets nearby. The operation builds trust within the team and provides the shooter a sober reminder not to hit the hostage.
Their training program is notoriously brutal and lasts fourteen months — if recruits can make it that long. One documentary team followed a group of potential recruits and saw 120 of them whittled down to 18 in two weeks. It includes one of the best marksmanship schools in the world, weapons handling, airborne courses including HALO jumps, hand-to-hand combat, diving, survival training, and explosive ordnance disposal.
These guys are lethal, but they value fire discipline. Rumor has it that they’re just issued a 6-shot .357 revolver as their official sidearm — with only 6 rounds, you bet they’re going to make each one count.
Also known as “Unit 269,” Israel’s Sayeret Matkal is a highly secretive special-operations brigade with almost legendary status. Since its inception in 1957, Sayeret Matkal has gained a reputation for its deep reconnaissance capabilities and counter-terrorism and hostage recovery missions.
They rely on secrecy, attacking in small numbers and in disguise, then fading away before the enemy realizes what happened.
The disguised task force was airlifted in with Land Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz. They managed to infiltrate the local army, kill the terrorists, and rescue all but four of the hostages. Only one Israeli soldier was killed in the attack.
That’s the thing with Sayeret Matkal — once you know it’s there, you’re already out of time.
Spanish Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers partner with a U.S. Marine during a mock non-compliant boarding as part of exercise Sea Saber 2004.
(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jeffrey Lehrberg)
3. Spain’s Special Naval Warfare Force
Spain’s Special Naval Warfare Force was created in 2009 when the country merged different units of the Spanish Navy into one combatastic entity. The “Fuerza” is comprised of the Special Combat Divers Unit, Special Explosive Diffusers Unit, and the Special Operations Unit — its main tactical predecessor.
The Special Operations Unit was responsible for maritime counter-terrorism, combat diving, air and amphibious insertion, combat search and rescue, and ship-boarding — today’s elite unit carries on the fight.
They have a strong history of utilizing those tactics in hostage rescue and pirate confrontation. In 2002, the hombres rana supported Operation Enduring Freedom in the Indian Ocean when they stormed a North Korean vessel transporting SCUD missiles to Yemen. Then, in 2011, they rescued a French hostage from Somali pirates.
And that’s just what’s known to the public — like the other elite units on this list, most of their missions remain classified.
Russia’s badass Spetsnaz is shrouded in mystery, but it dates back to the Red Bolshevik Guard, a paramilitary force organized during the height of the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century. Most of its members are comparable to U.S. Army Rangers, but an elite few train like Delta Force.
Recently, Russia has been increasingly modeling its Spetsnaz off American counterparts.
To a casual observer, they can appear difficult to distinguish from one another, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason Russia is trying to keep up with the United States.
Members of U.S. Navy Seal Team One move down the Bassac River in a SEAL Team Assault Boat (STAB) during operations along the river south of Saigon. November 1967.
1. U.S. Navy SEALs
I lied. I saved this one for last. Because, come on.
United States Navy SEALs are perhaps the finest special operations forces in the world. The competitive standard to even be considered for BUD/S training is to swim 500 yards in 10:30, 79 push-ups, 79 sit-ups, 11 pull-ups, and a 10:20 1.5 mile run. That’s just to get in.
Preparation to become a SEAL consists of Basic Underwater Demolition, Parachute Jump school, and SEAL Qualification Training — which have all been described lightly as “brutal” — then they do another 18 months of pre-deployment training.
SEALs deliver highly specialized, intensely challenging tactical capabilities including direct action warfare, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and foreign internal defense.
From the Korean War and the Vietnam War to Somalia to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, to Operation Inherent Resolve, and, of course, the death of international terrorist Osama bin Laden, Navy SEALs have made their mark.