It has to be a little difficult to be a living legend in the Royal Navy while at the same time being subordinate to someone who is known as a “capable administrator,” but still outranks you. This is the situation British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson found himself in at the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen.
At Copenhagen, the British fleet was under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. During the Battle, the Admiral ordered the brilliant seaman Nelson to do something that was counter to Nelson’s instincts, so Nelson instead used his physical advantage to follow those instincts.
The British Fleet was in Copenhagen to enforce its blockade of Revolutionary France. Denmark was not allied with France, but instead bound to Tsarist Russia and other Nordic countries to assert their neutrality, to continue trading with whomever they pleased despite the British embargo. They were willing to fight to maintain the freedom of the seas, and their trade obligations.
Though outgunned by the Danish fortifications on shore, the British had superior firepower aboard its ships. Parker would stay outside of the harbor while Nelson led 12 Ships of the Line to engage the Danish ships inside the harbor. Nelson’s plan was to engage the weaker ships piecemeal and place troops ashore to take the fortifications.
Nelson, by this time, was already a legend in the minds of the British people and Royal Navy seamen. His victory against the French at the Battle of the Nile propelled him to near-celebrity status. All the more amazing a feat, since Nelson only had one eye – he lost sight in his right eye at the 1794 Battle of Calvi in Corsica.
Parker was a high ranking naval officer who had commanded ships since 1762, received a knighthood for his service, and had served in the American Revolutionary War and in engagements in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At the Battle of Copenhagen, Parker was the overall commander of the Baltic Sea Fleet.
At Copenhagen, Parker saw little action because he was left in command of ships who were too heavy to traverse the channels into the harbor, which is why he passed off command of a detachment to Nelson.
The fight didn’t start well for the British ships. Three ships of the line immediately ran aground in the shallows of the harbor. Then, the shore based gun batteries unleashed a heavier barrage than British planners had anticipated. Watching from the rest of the British fleet, Parker signalled Nelson to withdraw the assault and leave the harbor.
When informed of the command signal, Nelson told his signal lieutenant that his job was to watch the Danish fleet for their surrender signal, not to watch the British ships. Then he told his flag captain, “You know, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.”
Nelson then put his telescope up to his right eye and told his men, he didn’t see Parker’s signal to withdraw. After three hours of implementing his plan, both the British and the Danes were bloodied and beaten, but it was the Danish who signaled an end to the fighting first.
Though he disobeyed Parker’s orders, Parker didn’t seek any redress for Nelson’s actions. The next day, Nelson was allowed to lead the negotiations for Denmark’s capitulation to the British and later given a Baron’s title. Parker was recalled to London and Nelson was made commander of the Baltic Fleet.
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.
Furthermore, Jennifer talks about why she joined the Navy and why she had to exit earlier than she anticipated. She also talks about her husband’s transition and trying to bridge the military-civilian divide. She also shared how the military community in Hollywood helped her gain her sea-legs as she started on this new journey.
Finally, we discussed how a military mindset can help you achieve your goals, the misadventures of motion capture for her first (and probably last) video game, and current volunteer projects that she is passionate about.
Rear Adm. Victorino G. Mercado, hands his wife, Suzane, the national ensign he received during his retirement ceremony in front of USS Halsey (DDG 97).
This is the advice I wish I had been privy to. The dynamics of marriage don’t suddenly change the day of retirement, rather, there is a period of anticipation that leads up to the finality of the transition. In much the same way that we address the stresses of pre-deployment, we should be discussing the stress that comes during pre-retirement.
It’s so complicated
Perhaps I should phrase this as what I didn’t know about the medical retirement process, because that is the one we endured. It is humiliating. Soldiers who have been told their entire career to push through the pain are suddenly being treated with suspicion as if they are trying to milk the government for every penny they can when really, all they want, or mine wanted, was to stay in and serve.
I went to every appointment I was able to attend. This isn’t realistic for all spouses, but in my unique line of work I was able to work my schedule around his. If you are able to, I highly recommend it. Things happen in those appointments where your soldier needs an advocate and a voice of encouragement that the temporary suck is worth the process.
The medical documents were an outright mess. According to the file, my husband had an abnormal pap-smear a few years back. Yes, a pap-smear. A mess!
They required hours of pouring over to make sure that they were correct and then hours more of appealing diagnoses that weren’t correct. This is when you, the spouse, begin to discover your new role of caregiver. It’s not an easy one and as a nurse recently told me it’s important to remember this is a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself and stick with it.
Your soldier needs to know you’re in this, too, and that you’ll be standing at the other side, just like he/she needed to know when they stepped on the plane to deploy.
The information they give you at the transition readiness seminar isn’t always up to date
Take notes and do the research. Double check everything you are told. Document and start a file folder. Sound familiar? It should. It’s the same advice we are given as we begin the pre-deployment process.
I went to the transition readiness seminar with my spouse to take notes. Part of the reason he was medically retired was due to memory loss related to a TBI. One of my new roles was to take notes and help him remember what was discussed.
Spouses are encouraged to attend these meetings, but as the only spouse in attendance I discovered some of the advice that given out was to our disadvantage. I listened as soldiers were told how to navigate around their benefits in order to payout the minimum amount to spouses if the marriage didn’t work out.
What I wish we had been told was not how to screw our spouses, but rather how to love and support one another through one of the more difficult transitions of our lives.
It may not be the best time to buy a house
A lot of couples start dreaming about their retirement home. For some of them, like us, it’s their first home purchase. Look, retirement is a big stressor all on its own. Buying a home might be a stressor you can put off but if not, here are a few tips from Forbes on how to buy a house while also avoiding a break up.
As a newly retired military family, if you are buying a house locate realtors and mortgage companies who have walked through the process with previous veterans from service to retirement. It’s a complicated system finding financing while in transition, one that requires a few experts in your corner. Some friends have had success moving the family months prior to the actual retirement while others have had to live with family until all the needed paperwork to move forward is available.
For us, one word off on the VA paperwork nearly made us homeless. After driving for four days, we were two hours away before we got the call that we had a place to move into. If you are considering buying a house while transitioning out of the military read this first: 5 Home Purchase Considerations For Your Military Consideration.
Experience prepping for deployments can help you in prepping for retirement
We all go into our first deployment with an idea of what it will look like; retirement is similar. I pictured lunch dates, Pinterest DIY projects, and shared household responsibilities. Our careers were about to take off, my husband with his dream of culinary school and mine as a full-time writer. Reality has a way of knocking you down a few notches.
I want you to dream. You need to dream. A year and a half out we seem to finally be getting the hang of communicating how we each need help and tackling the household responsibilities in a way that works. But none of it looks quite like we pictured. As we adjust to the reality of our new normal, we are learning to communicate more openly, to listen more fully and to forgive the missteps along the way.
There are a lot of emotions that go into prepping for deployments and there are a lot of emotions that come with the transition from military to civilian life. Be ready to be honest with one another along the way. Hold each other up because the period of your life doesn’t have to break you, it can be the moment that solidifies you as a couple.
Former Navy SEAL commander Leif Babin knows that, as a leader, it can be difficult to keep an ego in check. But it’s necessary.
“As a leader, you’ve go to be decisive, you’ve got to make calls, you’ve got to be ready to step up and lead even in the most difficult circumstances,” he told Business Insider. “And yet, if you want to be the most effective leader, you absolutely have to be a follower as well.”
Babin was one of two platoon leaders reporting to Jocko Willink, who led US Navy SEAL Team 3 Task Unit Bruiser in the Iraq War. The two founded the leadership consulting firm Echelon Front in 2010, and their firm has worked with more than 400 businesses.
In their new book, “The Dichotomy of Leadership,” Babin shares a story of a mission that illustrates his point of how a leader must also be a follower.
During the 2006 Battle of Ramadi, Babin led a night mission where his SEALs were providing cover for Army soldiers and Marines. The late Chris Kyle, of “American Sniper” fame, was Babin’s point man. At one point, the team gathered on a roof to determine where they would set up a sniper overwatch. Babin and his leaders decided they would move to a certain building for that, but Kyle countered with a different selection that was not close to Babin’s choice.
Babin outranked Kyle, but he also recognized that Kyle had the most experience with sniper missions of anyone on the team, including himself.
“‘Leading’ didn’t mean pushing my agenda or proving I had all the answers,” Babin wrote. “It was about collaborating with the rest of the team and determining how we could most effectively accomplish our mission. I deferred to Chris’ judgment.”
It was a call Babin said turned out to be the right one, and led to a successful mission. In the book, Babin reflected on a moment when he was a fresh platoon leader, and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge a suggestion from a team member who was lower in rank but had more experience led to a failed training exercise. It was fortunate he learned the lesson before deploying.
“Had we gone with my initial choice — had I disregarded Chris and overruled him because ‘I was in charge’ — we would have been highly ineffective, disrupting virtually no attacks, and that might very well have cost the lives of some of our brethren,” Babin wrote.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
U.S. Army Sgt. Dustin McGraw is stationed with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the culmination of a life-long dream of being a paratrooper like the heroes of World War II movies that he watched as a child. But as he made his way up, he discovered a love of World War I that has led to him re-enacting battles in France.
His re-enactment group spends a lot of time at a park in Tennessee a few hours from Fort Campbell, allowing McGraw to indulge his passion while maintaining his active duty career. (That park is named for famed Doughboy and Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alvin C. York, making it a pretty appropriate place to host re-enactments.)
And there is more crossover between the passion and the job than one might initially assume. While re-enactors, obviously, do not face the dangers and many of the hardships endured by soldiers in combat, they do work hard to portray their chosen period accurately. That means that they have to get uniforms, tactics, weapons, and other details right.
And it’s hard to steep yourself that deeply in military history without learning an appreciation for the discipline and perseverance that it takes to succeed in combat. As McGraw points out in the video, maintaining your cool in wool uniforms and metal helmets in the broiling sun isn’t always easy. And, practicing World War I tactics can still help reinforce an understanding of modern warfare. After all, machine guns and rifles haven’t changed all that much.
But that leads to another benefit for McGraw and other soldiers who choose to re-enact past periods of military history: They learn a deep appreciation of modern systems, from weapons to logistics to medicine to gear.
Where modern troops have GPS, Kevlar, lightweight automatic weapons, aid bags, and helicopters, World War I Doughboys had to make do with maps, cotton, rifles of wood and steel, field bandages, and horses. So, while it’s easy to complain when your helicopters are late to the LZ, most people would be more appreciative of the challenges if they spent their weekends trying to simulate logistics with horses.
The scene of the Italian Air Force display team performing their trademark final maneuver has gone viral, so much so President of the United States used it for a message of encouragement to Italy.
Italy is, after China, world’s most affected country by the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The latest figures tell of about 2,500 tested positive to Covid-19 and more than 1,800 people deaths. For about a week now, the whole country is on lockdown to slow down the new infections and death toll and the Italians have relied on emotional flashmobs and social media initiatives to break monotony and lift spirits.
Among all the things that have been used to boost morale in this tough period, one has really emerged as a symbol of unity: the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force display team. A clip showing the Frecce’s ten MB.339A/PAN aircraft performing their final maneuver went viral quickly reaching well beyond the (virtual) borders of the Italian social media channels.
As aviation enthusiasts (especially those who attend airshows) know, the Frecce Tricolori display is constituted by an uninterrupted sequence of some thirty figures, the performance of which requires on average some 25 minutes. Following the performance of the first part of the programme with all ten aircraft, the solo display pilot detaches, alternating his own manoeuvres with the ones flown by the remaining nine aircraft. The display, which has a more or less fixed structure, but can occasionally be modified, always concludes with the Alona (Big Wing), the long curved flypast with a tricolour smoke trail by nine aircraft with undercarriage down, performed in harmony with the broadcasting of the voice of Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun dorma”, the famous aria from the opera “Tourandot”.
The first time the team broadcasted the “Nessun Dorma” performed by Luciano Pavorotti during their final maneuver was in 1992 during the Frecce Tricolori’s second North American tour for the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Boosted by the experience accrued during their preceding overseas transfer, the Frecce Tricolori achieved a remarkable success with the public, flying, between Jun. 11 and Jul. 31, 1992, 14 displays and flybys in the USA and Canada. It was at that point, during “Columbus 92”, that the practice of broadcasting the famous aria became the norm: the “Nessun Dorma” was preferred to other musical pieces test-broadcasted during the displays carried out during the North American tour.
As an Italian who has watched the Frecce Tricolori perform their display hundreds times, that final maneuver that draws in the sky the longest Italian flag, always gives me shivers.
As said, the clip posted these days (that, based on the setting, was probably filmed at Jesolo, on the Adriatic coast near Venice, during one of the airshows held there in the last years), has gone viral. Some users on social media said the scene symbolized the end of the Coronavirus: the larger formation trailing a tricolor smoke encompasses the smoke trail of the soloist “virus plane”, turning it invisible. Whatever the meaning you give it, it’s the moving end of the Frecce’s display.
Even President Trump used the clip for a tweet of encouragement to Italy.
For those who don’t know them, the Italian Frecce Tricolori are one of the world’s most famous display teams. They also hold several records.
First of all the team’s size: the Italians are the only ones to fly with 10 aircraft.
Another peculiary which makes the Frecce (also known as PAN – Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale – Italian for National Aerobatic Team) unique is the fact that the whole display is executed in sight of the public. Separations, transformations and rejoins are always performed in front of the spectators, a circumstance which requires absolute preciseness in all phases of the display.
By the way: another record accomplished by the Frecce Tricolori is the fact that they separate into two formations (one flight of 5 and another of 4 aircraft) which then fly an opposition pass and subsequently rejoin in less than two minutes. Rejoin time is a factor that can influence deeply a flying display.
One more peculiarity of the PAN is the Downward Bomb Burst, a maneuver which has been part of the Pattuglia’s tradition since its creation, having been part of the Italian Air Force heritage for 90 years now. It is a maneuver in which the aircraft, starting from a high altitude and in formation, dive towards the ground and then separate into 9 individual elements which depart in different directions, finally returning for an opposition pass, at three different levels, over the same point. This is a very spectacular and complex manoeuvre, which no one else is capable of reproducing, especially due to the difficulty in opposition passing and rejoining in the very short time frames required for a display.
The other record of the Frecce Tricolori is tied to the Solo’s Lomçovak. This is a display which is typically executed by propeller aircraft, and foresees a “standing roll” followed by a vertical spin, reverse and subsequent aircraft pitch down. Such a manoeuvre is usually “outside the flight envelope” for most jet aircraft, but the PAN’s Solo pilot can execute it in complete safety, thanks to the outstanding handling capabilities of the MB.339.
The aircraft the team flies is the PAN variant of the single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft. Apart from the livery, it differs from the standard model serving with the Aeronautica Militare’s 61° Stormo (Wing) at Galatina (Lecce) airbase by the presence onboard of the coloured smokes generation system; this device is controlled by two buttons: one on the stick, for white smoke, and one on the throttle for coloured smoke. The system is fed from an under wing fuel tank filled with a colouring agent which is discharged through nozzles placed in the jet exhaust. The agent, vaporised in the jet exhaust, produces a coloured trail. Another PAN aircraft peculiarity is that in order to enhance manoeuvrability along the aircraft longitudinal (roll) axis, and to reduce wing loading, it flies with no tip tanks. These are cylindrical 510 litre tanks which are only mounted on the aircraft for long-range ferry flights. They are replaced by an ad hoc wingtip fairing which covers the wingtip tank attachment points. Since 2002, the PAN also received Mid Life Updated MB.339s. This MLU programme has integrated the previous series models with updated structural features and avionics, such as GPS, formation flying position lights, a new V/UHF radio equipped with a new tail antenna, in addition to reinforced nose and tail. The MB.339 has equipped the PAN since 1982, when it replaced the FIAT G.91, a light fighter bomber aircraft which entered service with the Frecce Tricolori in 1963. The MB.339A/PAN will be replaced by the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).
As the United States continues to take preventative steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus known as Covid-19, the Pentagon has issued number of statements pertaining to the coronavirus and PCS orders, as well as official and non-official travel, in the coming months.
If you have a family member or loved one currently attending recruit training, make sure to check our regularly updated article explaining audience attendance restrictions at graduation ceremonies across the force here.
It’s important to remember that most service members and even their families are not at high risk even if they are exposed to Covid-19. These precautionary measures should be seen as responsible steps aimed at preventing the spread of the infection, but not as cause for significant worry. This story will be updated as more changes manifest.
You can follow these links to jump directly to sections explaining different changes pertaining to military snd civilian travel, the coronavirus and PCS orders.
On Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced new travel restrictions that will go into affect on Friday, March 13. The restrictions include a 60-day ban on travel to any nation designated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a “Level 3 Location.” This ban includes all TDY and PCS related travel.
“This restriction includes all forms of travel, including Permanent Change of Station, Temporary Duty, and government funded leave,” the Defense Department announcement states. “The Level 3 countries are set by the CDC and may change. The DoD guidance will follow those changes. Service secretaries and commanders may issue waivers to this policy as they determine necessary to ensure mission readiness and address specific cases”
The Pentagon also advises that service members that are traveling to unrestricted nations take specific care to ensure their travel arrangements do not involve stops or layovers in areas designation by the CDC as “Level 3.”
“Authorized Departures are delayed until appropriate transportation and reception procedures are in place for their intended route of travel as prescribed in this memorandum,” the memo states.
Military Families and Civilian Personnel Travel
Military families and civilian personnel are also barred from traveling to “Level 2” locations for 60 days. Some “level 2” designation nations include the UK, Japan, Singapore, and Bahrain — where the U.S. Navy’s Central Command is currently located.
“The Department of Defense’s top priority remains the protection and welfare of our people,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a released statement. “While directing this prudent action, I continue to delegate all necessary authority to commanders to make further decisions based on their assessments to protect their people and ensure mission readiness. While we deal with this fluid and evolving situation, I remain confident in our ability to protect our service members, civilians and families.”
PCS and Transfer Changes
The Department of Defense’ Customer Movement Portal has updated its page to include brief answers to many of the most frequently asked questions among service members and their families pertaining to coronavirus PCS order changes.
Here are the Defense Department’s answers to the questions you have about the Coronavirus and your PCS orders, sourced directly from the Pentagon’s FAQ:
Q: My PCS is rapidly approaching–how do I know if my planned move is covered by this order?
A: Contact your chain of command immediately!
Q: I’ve confirmed that my PCS is impacted by a stop movement order, but I have already submitted my movement request to the Personal Property Office. What will they do with my shipment?
A: It depends.
– If your shipment has not yet been awarded to a moving company, it will be put in a hold status pending further guidance (e.g. either the stop movement order is rescinded or you receive approval from your chain of command to continue with your move).
– If your shipment has been awarded to a moving company, but has not yet been serviced (e.g. packing has not begun), please contact your servicing Shipping Office. They will work with you to change your pickup dates to a future date in coordination with your mover and in line with DOD guidance.
Q: My shipment has already been picked up by the moving company. What will happen to it now?
A: Contact your Shipping Office to determine your shipment’s status. Depending when it was picked up, it may be in storage in the local area, en route to your planned destination, or in storage near your destination.
Q: What about my POV? I have an upcoming appointment to drop my car off at the Vehicle Processing Center (VPC). What should I do?
A: If you are unsure if the stop movement order applies to you, contact your chain of command. If the stop movement order does not apply to your PCS—or your chain of command has approved an exception to the order—proceed to the VPC as planned.
Q: I’ve already dropped my POV off, but my PCS has been delayed. Can I get my car back?
A: If you’re interested in retrieving your vehicle, contact the VPC immediately. VPCs are postured to assist customers with changing appointments, vehicle retrieval, and answering any other POV-related questions you have.
The DoD also advises that service members contact their local Personal Property Office for answers to their specific questions, or you may be able to find more answers on their customer service page.
You can also contact USTRANSCOM’s 24-hour hotline Toll Free at (833) MIL-MOVE, (833) 645-6683.
CDC Designated Level 3 Travel Health Notice Nations
The Center for Disease Control currently designates these nations as “Level 3,” barring any travel to these countries for service members for at least the coming 60 days, starting Friday, March 13.
This Veterans Day, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is launching a first-of-its-kind event, called a “virtual march,” to generate awareness surrounding veterans’ issues and raise funding for solutions. Veterans and their friends and families will march, virtually at home or in their neighborhoods, until they’ve logged a collective 2,093 miles — far enough to march clear across the nation.
Show your solidarity with the men and women responsible for #DefendtheGIBill, a movement that thwarted massive potential reductions to the GI Bill over five years, by getting involved in the Support America’s Veterans March, this Veterans Day — Nov. 11, 2020.
IAVA provides mental health and suicide prevention resources for veterans. In addition to that, their Quick Reaction Force program provides guidance for veterans that need help with housing, benefits, or GI Bill-related issues.
Quick Reaction Force is IAVA’s one-stop-shop solution. QRF provides free, confidential, 24/7 peer support, remote care management and connections to quality resources for all veterans and family members.
Membership is free to all veterans, family members and supporters. With over 425,000+ veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. They get results. They use data and stories from our community to catalyze needed, positive change for America’s veterans. They also drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none!
Last month, on Sept. 9, 2020, IAVA CEO, Jeremy Butler, led the charge in a battle for vets in a Senate hearing about veteran suicide. Donations to IAVA help support these critically important actions that keep veteran issues in the spotlight.
But you don’t need to offer testimony at a Senate hearing to make a difference. By marching virtually, we can show our leaders in Washington just how powerful the veteran community is when we band together. There’s no question that 2020 has been a strange year and, for obvious reasons, a physical march isn’t the best idea — but vets adapt and overcome. Via technology, no one is left behind.
Ready to get involved?
Sign up on IAVA.org and start finding sponsors — ask friends, family, or, hell, just sponsor yourself! For each mile you march, your sponsors will pledge an amount of money of their choosing. If, as a collective, we can raise just $100 per mile marched, IAVA will raise over $209,300 for the ongoing fight to honor and care for our nation’s veterans.
So, get ready to march and be sure to report your walk, run or even your ruck results on their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or YouTube Channel (and be sure you’re wearing your IAVA gear). IAVA will feature pictures and videos shared on social media on their channels.
Also, be sure to hydrate. Veterans are an ambitious breed — we don’t do the bare minimum. If you’re planning a socially distant haze-fest for yourself and loved ones, just remember to hydrate.
Whether it’s jogging in place or taking a walk around the neighborhood with Ol’ Glory, get involved, post your route — and be sure to include the hashtag #SAVmarch to take part in the socially distant action.
Over the last two decades, special-operations forces have become the go-to choice for policymakers and military leaders around the world.
The successes of US and coalition special-operations units in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) and in Syria against ISIS have showcased the importance and utility of small teams of highly trained troops.
While the US and its allies have been fighting in the Middle East, the Chinese military has been paying close attention, especially to US special operations. As a result, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is increasingly investing resources in its own special-operations forces.
So with everyone gearing up for great power competition, how do Chinese special operations measure up against the US’s and what are the biggest difference between the two?
US special operators
US special-operations units can be divided into unofficial tiers.
Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 would be at the top (Tier 1), followed by the 75th Ranger Regiment, Night Stalkers, MARSOC, and SEAL and Boat Teams (Tier 2), and then the Special Forces Groups (Tier 3). Air Commandos are harder to categorize since they most often augment other units rather than deploy as teams.
It’s important to note that these tiers have more to do with mission sets and funding than with the quality of the troops.
For example, SEAL Team 6 is part of the National Mission Force (the Pentagon’s first responders, in layman’s terms) and has far more money to spend and resources to use than a “vanilla” SEAL team, but both are manned by SEALs.
Chinese special operators
Irregular warfare and special operations have been part of Chinese military culture since the time of Sun Tzu, whose writings highlighted the value of specialized individuals and units in warfare.
However, modern Chinese special operations are fairly new. The first unit, the Special Reconnaissance Group, was established in 1988. In the late 1990s, as part of PLA’s modernization, seven Special Operations Groups of between 1,000 to 2,000 men were created.
Now there is one special-operations brigade-size unit in each of the five theater commands, which are a rough equivalent of the US’s combatant commands.
The Navy’s Jiaolong (Sea Dragons) is probably the most famous Chinese special-operations unit after it successfully recaptured a ship from pirates in the Gulf of Aden and assisted the evacuation of civilians from war-torn Yemen, which became the subject of a Chinese propaganda movie.
All in all, China has between 20,000 and 40,000 special-operations troops of varying quality.
Crucially, Chinese special-operations units have more than doubled in number in the last two decades, showing that Chinese leaders are paying close attention to the high-reward, low-cost characteristics of special-operations units.
Both special but not the same
Since the early 2000s, the PLA has undergone a drastic modernization and professionalization process, transitioning from a mainly conscript force to a smaller, mostly volunteer military, though conscription remains as a policy.
The new force’s main aim is to fight short wars against regional adversaries while having a technological advantage.
Chinese special-operations units, and the PLA as a whole, have gained from that modernization and learned from the example provided by Western special-operations units over the past 60 years, but Chinese forces are still untested in combat.
On the other hand, US special-operations units have amassed an astounding level of combat experience in the last two decades. It’s not uncommon to have operators with double-digit combat deployments and hundreds of real-world operations under their belts.
Chinese special-operations units are also regionally focused and lack a centralized command like the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This could limit their effectiveness and hurt interoperability.
Moreover, Chinese special-operations units lack the dedicated aviation and maritime assets that American commandos have, namely the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Special Boat Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams, and the Air Force’s Special Operations Squadrons.
Without specialized insertion platforms, the utility of Chinese commandos is limited and their geographic scope localized. However, according to the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), the PLA is establishing aviation brigades that might resolve some of these asset shortcomings.
Additionally, there is a difference in mission sets.
Chinese special-operations units focus on direct action, special reconnaissance, and counterterrorism. Unlike US commandos, they don’t conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, counterinsurgency, hostage rescue, civil affairs, and psychological operations.
In a nutshell, in terms of mission sets, Chinese commandos are closer to World War II special-operations units than to modern US special operations. It’s not that they aren’t capable, but their scope is more limited, a reflection of the PLA’s strategic priorities.
But perhaps the biggest and most important difference is the people.
“Humans are more important than hardware,” is one of the five US special-operations “Truths.” Western special operators take pride in their independence and out-of-the-box thinking, which is encouraged if not expected by their leaders.
Units like Delta Force, the SEAL Teams, the Special Forces Groups, and allied units like the Special Air Service (SAS) excel because of their noncommissioned officers. When planning operations, it’s these NCOs who come up with the ideas and approach. Ironically, the British SAS have titled this enlisted-driven process “the Chinese Parliament.”
Conversely, elements of Chinese military culture, in particular the use of conscripts as well as differing views on unit cohesion, pose a significant barrier to small-team independence.
Allegiance to and scrutiny by the Communist Party complicates things further and adds another level of bureaucracy.
China is used to stealing and copying military technology and concepts, which is believed to be behind Beijing’s advances in fighter jets and other weapons. But when it comes to special-operations units, these cultural aspects aren’t easy to mimic.
Having to stay home for your health is challenging enough. Imagine being told to stay home when you had no home or were worried about losing it. What would you do? Where would you turn?
Tens of thousands of Veterans in the United States live that reality. In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counted more than 37,000 Veterans living in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, or without any housing at all. Many more Veterans are at imminent risk for losing their housing in the coming months. Precise data is nearly impossible to collect because the population is transient by definition.
We do know that too many Veterans experience homelessness.
Any effort to help these Veterans must address not only their housing but also their mental health. The relationship between homelessness and mental health challenges is complicated, with each potentially impacting the other. For example, mental health issues might prevent a Veteran from holding a job that would allow them to afford stable housing. Similarly, homelessness is considered a traumatic event that can worsen mental health; it’s associated with issues such as increased alcohol use and lower recovery rates from mental illness.
As part of its commitments to improve Veterans’ mental health and relieve housing instability, VHA has developed a guidebook to provide Veterans facing homelessness with information about local resources and options.
“Connecting Veterans With VHA Homeless Programs: A Patient-Centered Booklet to Help Veterans Navigate VHA Resources” isn’t your typical informational resource. It’s a “graphic medicine” booklet, with information presented in graphic novel style, using stories and illustrations to convey important messages that makes the guidance easy to follow.
Because VA facilities vary in scope and size, the printable, 10-page booklet is designed to be customizable. Each facility can include local contact information for asking questions about program eligibility and how to access VHA and community-based services for Veterans who are homeless.
A VHA homelessness program manager said the booklet “gives providers another way to put a tangible reminder in a Veteran’s hand,” showing that VA has something for them.
One Veteran described the booklet as “in-depth and helpful” and noted that “everything is useful if you need the services.”
Why a graphic booklet?
The use of comics in graphic medicine guides has been around for decades. Today’s versions are in the graphic novel style, which gives room for the content writers to tackle more-serious-than-traditional comic books in both their topics and tone.
The combination of storytelling and expressive art can convey complex, layered ideas and information that neither writing nor pictures can achieve alone. With graphic medicine, the comic style can give even bland clinical data a familiar, approachable feel. Plus, its unique appearance stands out among VA waiting room pamphlets and may attract those who either need housing support or know a Veteran who does.
This patient-centered form of communication is gaining wider acceptance in the medical community, in part because it works. A study found that in one hospital’s emergency room, 98% of patients who received their discharge instructions in comic form read them, while only 79% read their traditional discharge instructions.
Experts also say graphic medicine books can have an emotional impact on readers because they often include authors’ personal experience with the issue at hand. In the case of “Connecting Veterans,” members of the book’s advisory committee at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System included Veterans — some with firsthand experience of housing challenges — and professionals from VA’s homelessness programs.
Ray Facundo, a social worker, researcher and Army Veteran, played an integral, hands-on role in developing the booklet. He explained that it was important to include input from other Veterans: “We should never do something for them without them.”
Integrating a range of resources
VHA took the lead in creating the guide because homelessness is associated with health concerns — some that one might expect, such as exposure, untreated injuries or being subjected to violence, as well as a suicide risk that’s 10 times that of the general population.
Even though “Connecting Veterans” is distributed by VHA providers, the booklet combines resources from VA offices that are often viewed as separate entities. The booklet takes a team approach in working toward improving stability and mental well-being through a range of programs and services, including:
The itch to pull up stakes, un-circle the wagons and head West…or East…or…ok you get it.
It’s time to move again. PCS.
It’s a familiar feeling to most military spouses. Birds have an innate sense when it’s time to migrate, and I think military families develop something like that. Every few years it’s time to fly.
It starts as a faint tingling on the back of your neck. Then you see dust bunnies frolicking on top of the refrigerator and decide to ignore them because you’re moving soon, so who cares? Those little freaks start to get it on everywhere — under the bed, the couch, that weird piece that was your grandfather’s that you feel compelled to keep, but have no real place for.
You say to yourself “Go on, spawn away, little humping dust bunnies. Soon a moving van will magically appear and nice men wearing low-slung pants will lift off your illicit hideaways and expose your obscene way of life…along with their butt-cracks.”
You download the assignment lists from the BUPERS website and fantasize about the possibilities. You prowl through Zillow, drooling over granite countertops and in-ground pools, and measure the distance to the nearest Target (i.e. bar). When your spouse walks in, you slap the laptop shut like a teenager caught in the act, knowing you’ll be chastised for getting your hopes up too early about one duty station or another.
You start challenging yourself to cook with nothing, but the ingredients in the pantry (coconut milk and chickpea casserole is surprisingly tasty — said no one ever). You stop going to the stock-up sales at the commissary. You secretly purge bags of old clothes and toys from your kids’ rooms while they’re at school and then fake concern over the missing items.
“What?? You can’t find that t-shirt with the torn sleeve and the kool-aid stain that you outgrew two summers ago? Oh no!! Wherever could it be?!” Parenthood Fakery should be an Oscar category…
It’s that time again for our family. We’ve been in China Lake, CA for nearly three years and are scheduled to PCS this summer. Our days wandering in the desert are supposed to be over. I came, I bloomed where I was planted, and now it’s time to go find a new adventure.
Actually, I shriveled up like a California raisin and could plant corn in the furrows that have developed on my forehead.
Regardless — it’s time to go.
Except it’s not.
We’ve been extended.
For an indeterminate amount of time.
What the hell am I supposed to do now?
I find myself more upset about this than I should be. It’s not that I don’t like China Lake. We’ve had a good tour here and I’ll have fond memories and lasting friendships.
(Photo by Arnel Hasanovic)
It’s that I feel like something is wrong. The routine is off.
Have I become addicted to moving? After nearly 20 years married to the Navy, it’s become part of my DNA.
Neither my husband nor I had ever moved until we left home for college. And once we started regularly relocating, I started to crave the fresh feeling that comes with it. The removal of baggage, so to speak. The cleaning out of cobwebs — mostly from beneath my furniture, but also from the corners of my mind. A wanderlust that says “this place was fine, but what’s around the next corner?”
One would think that I would have resisted such a nomadic life, having never experienced it as a child. But then again, perhaps if I had gotten to escape my surroundings as a kid I wouldn’t have pretended to be a popular cheerleader named Anastasia on my 8th grade trip to Washington DC. Even then I was desperate for reinvention…
And moving every few years gives me that fresh start. I find it very freeing. If I’m not satisfied with my surroundings, I know it’s only temporary. I don’t have the heavy burden of forever (well, I suppose in theory, marriage is forever, but a few more years of stumbling over boots left in the floor will probably take care of that…)
Now I find myself sitting here with the realization that not only am I not moving…but I don’t know when I will. And now I have to reinvent myself right where I am.
But forget about me having to stop obsessing over the future and concentrate on the present. There’s something way more concerning about staying put.
The only fate that is FAR WORSE than having to move.
Now I have to clean my damn house.
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
Everyone has a different way of passing the time during deployments. Some people work their way through seasons on Netflix, some CrossFit their way to a better physique, while others pursue academic goals. For Green Beret Nate Boyer, it was watching YouTube videos and practicing those skills that helped him chase his dream of becoming a professional football player.
In Sunday’s Super Bowl commercial, we see the journey of Nate Boyer. Following his service in the Army, Boyer wanted to go to college and to be a starter on the Texas Longhorns football team.
There was only one tiny wrench in his plan: he had never played football.
Boyer was told he was “too small, too slow, too old. Nobody wants a 30-year-old rookie on their team.” But just ask Boyer: he’s no ordinary rookie. Following tryouts, Boyer learned that there would be a starting position open as a long snapper for the Longhorns.
“I didn’t even know what a long snapper was,” he said.
Boyer learned and honed the skills through YouTube and watched as his dreams came true: