Fake news and doom and gloom? Not at Sandboxx - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Fake news and doom and gloom? Not at Sandboxx

We have all been there as boots. You just graduated boot camp. You are motivated, fit, look good in that uniform and are king/queen of the world. Everyone back home is looking at you like you are the bee’s knees, and you are ready for the next phase of your military career.


Next thing you know, you are being handed a broom and sweeping the rain off a parade deck or trying to finally locate those damn Humvee keys. You want to get more information on what your journey is like, but there is no recruiter to ask, the Lance Corporal Underground is giving you all types of scuttlebutt, and your NCO is more about giving you a hard time instead of telling you what is next.

Your spouse, parents and family are going through a similar journey. They just watched you complete training. You are now an elite warrior in their eyes (even if you will be doing admin work the next four years). They spoil you on your leave and stuff your face with all the food you can eat.

As they watch you leave for school and then your permanent duty station, they do what spouses and parents do. They worry, fret and turn to any news to learn about what your journey will be like. Yeah, you tell them that you are filing papers or doing maintenance on a 7-ton, but they turn on the news or log into Facebook and are convinced you are being sent to Iran or North Korea soon or are in dire danger at all times because that’s all they see in the media.

Well, thanks to Sandboxx, that will soon change. The company that gave us the app that changed the way you get letters at boot camp is working on building a new resource for everyone from salt dogs who are nearing their 20 to boots that blouse their jeans and military families.

But first, what is Sandboxx? If you went to boot camp recently, you probably remember them.

The Sandboxx app is one that a lot of people have used and part of one of the coolest morale boosters in the history of boot camp.

Sandboxx got its start when Marine veterans Sam Meek and Gen. Ray Smith teamed up with follow co-founder Padmanabhan Ramaswamy to offer a better way to keep in touch with your family when you were at recruit training.

The idea was simple. When you showed up at bootcamp, you filled out a card with your loved one’s information. A group of military spouses would then enter that information in a database, and your mom, dad, spouse, grandparents or girl back home would get your address so they can write to you.

They could then login to the Sandboxx app or on the website and then start sending letters right away. The letters are printed out, put into envelopes and sorted by platoon. Most letters are delivered the next day.

So now, instead of languishing on Parris Island wondering if your girl ran off with Jody for three weeks before you got a huge stack of letters at once, you can get letters daily and keep up to date with family and loved ones. Loved ones can also upload pictures (no, they can’t send alcohol or smokes).

www.youtube.com

You might pull the whole, ‘boot camp is getting soft now’ routine, but the military doesn’t care. Sandboxx letters were shown to dramatically improve morale and cut down on recruits quitting or dropping out of training. This was especially true among female recruits.

Sandboxx also helps family travel to graduations with an amazing travel vertical on their page. As soon as you know Johnny or Suzy will be walking across that parade deck, you can use their user-friendly travel page and get yourself to South Carolina to see them!

There is also a second app called iCorps. This is an easy to use, one-stop shop, resource for all things Marines. You can use PFT calculators, learn how your ribbons should be set up and get your Marine Corps history all in one spot without having to surf through Google and a myriad of MARADMINS.

What is next for Sandboxx?

We Are the Mighty talked to Alex Hollings, who will be heading up this effort by Sandboxx to educate and alleviate fears of military members and their families. Alex himself is a former Marine who served from 2006 to 2012. After getting out and going to school, Alex and his wife endured a big loss in their family. That spurred him to live for the moment and follow his dreams as a writer. After moving to Georgia and working for SOFREP and Popular Mechanics, Alex caught the eye of Sandboxx. He is now their editor and dedicated to providing educating and entertaining news to young service members and their families. When asked about Sandboxx News, he said, “We want to be the website for junior service members that are looking to advance in their career or just understand how what they’re doing plays a role in America’s broader defense apparatus. We want to be the place you can learn, and where you can send your mom or your boyfriend to help them understand what you’re doing and why it’s so important.”

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Look, we all know nowadays the news we read is all doom and gloom and meant to scare us. We need to be frightened of viruses, cruise ships, Iranians, viruses on cruise ships, and Iranians sneaking viruses on cruise ships. Sandboxx is moving around that.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FDJrmOTJx6GxSD6N5dPAN0eUqjtgJJsrJ-JU0Euf1llDJoP0lWY72ur63lov55GNWYL9JQB1SqaxYZkQwLLiXP58PCpkIGWBk_Ey3H4w7CUq11PD-_aVBWHr1T6tANMwVbkU_nstGgKoDGSMDVw&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=345&h=c71df5d0eda59eb533855f7ad0e5d097412216c1e81d11dfdb58425bffbdb7c4&size=980x&c=3846266193 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FDJrmOTJx6GxSD6N5dPAN0eUqjtgJJsrJ-JU0Euf1llDJoP0lWY72ur63lov55GNWYL9JQB1SqaxYZkQwLLiXP58PCpkIGWBk_Ey3H4w7CUq11PD-_aVBWHr1T6tANMwVbkU_nstGgKoDGSMDVw%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D345%26h%3Dc71df5d0eda59eb533855f7ad0e5d097412216c1e81d11dfdb58425bffbdb7c4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3846266193%22%7D” expand=1]

(Nicole Utt, Shane McCarthy, and Alex Hollings of Sandboxx News)

In this time of fake news, doom and gloom, and scare tactics, it is great that a company is taking the time to alleviate the fears a spouse and parents might have and guide young service members on their new adventure/career.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 of France’s greatest military victories that people seem to forget

There’s no question about it: A singular blemish in French history is to blame for their eternal ridicule. The moment Marshal Philippe Petain surrendered (kind of) to the Germans after being the main target of the blitzkrieg was the moment people started associating “s’il vous plaît” with “surrender.”

Ridicule against Vichy France, the German puppet state, isn’t without merit — we get it. But to overlook the storied nation’s thousands of years of badassery is laughably incorrect. Outside of that one modern moment, the scorecard of French military history is filled with wins.


Author’s Note: It’s a fool’s errand to try and rank these by historical significance or how they each demonstrate French military might, so they’re listed in chronological order:

Coincidentally, this would also be the last time England was taken over.

Battle of Hastings

If you want to get technical, this battle happened before the formation of France proper. Still, it’s generally agreed that France began with the Franks. Sorry, Gauls. Their legacy of military might includes (successfully) fighting off vikings, Iberians, and, occasionally, the Holy Roman Empire.

But the single landmark victory for the Franks came when Duke William the Bastard of Normandy pressed his claim over the English crown in 1066. At the Battle of Hastings, outnumbered Normans fought English forces, led by King Herald Godwinson. The Normans, led by William, pushed through English shield walls to take out the crown. William the Bastard then went on to conquer the rest of England and earned himself the a new moniker, “King William the Conqueror.”

Surprisingly enough, feeding your troops makes them fight better.

(Jean-Jacques Scherrer, “Joan of Arc enters Orleans,” 1887)

Siege of Orleans

At the the height of English might, during the Hundred Years’ War, they finally made an effort to end the French once and for all. The city of Orleans was put under siege — and the throne was thrust into dire circumstances. All the English had to do was starve city. That was, until a young peasant girl arrived: Joan of Arc.

Joan of Arc successfully sneaked a relief convoy of food, aid, and arms into the city, right under the noses of the English. This bolstered the strength of the defenders. With food in bellies and morale on the rise, the besieged made a stand and finally pushed the English out of France.

Seriously. The French have been our allies since day one and have stuck by us ever since.

(John Trumbull, “Surrender of Lord Cornwallis,” 1820)

Battle of Yorktown

This is the battle that won the Americans the Revolutionary War, so it’s most often seen as a major victory for the Americans. But the victory would have never been if it weren’t for massive support from the French.

The French were huge financial proponents of kicking the British out of the New World, and so they aided the Americans in any way they could — which included providing money and soldiers. Everything came to a head at Yorktown, Virginia when Lord Cornwallis went up against General George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau. It was an effort of equal parts — both Washington and Rochambeau flanked Cornwallis on each side, forcing his surrender and officially relinquishing British control over the Colonies.

If you gotta go out, go out in a blaze of glory… I guess.

(William Sadler, “The Battle of Waterloo,” 1815)

Most of the Napoleonic Wars

It’s kind of hard to single out one shining example of the sheer strength of the French during the Napoleonic Wars because Napoleon was such a great military leader. If you break down his win/loss ratio down into baseball statistics, like these guys have, he outshines every general in history —from Alexander the Great to modern generals.

Let’s look at the Battle of Ligny. Napoleon managed to piss off the entirety of Europe, causing themto band together tofight him. He was cornered in Prussia andhis enemies were closing in. In a last-ditch effort, he took a sizable chunk out of the Prussian military and forced them to retreat. This all happened while the English, the Russians, the Austrians, and the Germans were trying to intervene.

Just two days later came the Battle ofWaterloo, duringwhich most of Europe had to work together to bring down the dominant Napoleon.

This is why Petain remains such a polarizing figure. He may have given up France in the 40s, but he saved it thirty years earlier.

(National Archives)

The Battle of Verdun

Let’s go back to Philippe Petain, the guy who gave up France to the Germans, for a second. Today, many see him as a traitor, a coward, and a weakling — but these insults can’t be made with putting a huge asterisk next to them. In World War I, he was known as the “Lion of Verdun” after he oversaw and won what is known as the longest and single bloodiest battle in human history.

For almost the entirety of the year 1916, the Germans pushed everything they had into a single forest on the French/German border. It was clear within the first six days that after the Germans spent 2 million rounds, 2 million artillery shells, and deployed chemical warfare for the first time, that the French would not budge. 303 days later, the Germans finally realize that the French wouldn’t give in and gave up.

​So maybe lay off the “French WWII Rifle for sale” jokes. It mightbe funny if it weren’t completely inaccurate.

(National Archives)

Operation Dragoon

In the opening paragraph, there was a “(kind of)” next to mention of French surrender during WWII. Well, that’s because not all of France gave in — just parts of it. France was split into three: Vichy France (a powerless puppet state), the French Protectorates (which were mostly released back to their home rule), and the resistance fighters of Free France.

The Free French resistance fighters were widespread across the French territory, but were mostly centralized in the South. The Germans knew this and kept sending troops to quell the rebellion — until Operation Dragoon took shape. Aided by Allied air power, French resistance fighters were able to repel the Germans out of Free France in only four weeks and give the Allies the strong foothold they needed in the Mediterranean until the fall of fascist Italy.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Mandalorian’ recap: Episode 3 gets interesting

Chapter 3: The Sin has a few choices in it that were easy to predict and a few that I didn’t see coming. By the end of it, I’d been on a satisfying emotional journey and I’m genuinely curious about where the series will go next.

Before we get started, though, let’s talk about Ludwig Göransson‘s music for a minute. That drumbeat is so bitchin’ I’m ready to add it to my workout mix. It’s suspenseful with a bit of levity, which is the tone that series creator Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef) captures really well in his work. It’s no surprise that Göransson also scored films like Black Panther and Creed.

Alright. Let’s get to it. Spoilers for the third episode of The Mandalorian ahead:


I’m gonna say what is on everyone’s mind: that Yoda Baby is so goddamn cute. Like, I don’t know if I want kids, but I will take that little guy. Every scene where our Mandalorian isn’t cuddling that baby makes me anxious. HOLD THE BABY AND TELL HIM EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY, YOU MONSTER.

Instead, “Mando” (I still…hate that nickname, okay? I hate it) surprises me and actually takes the Yoda Baby to The Client. He’s got a guilty conscience about it, though. AS WELL HE SHOULD.

But then again, he’s being paid a lot of beskar steel (like, a lot), so I get it. Still, zero part of me believes that our Mandalorian isn’t going back for the baby…after he suits up with a nice new cuirass that is.

I totally get why he wanted that new armor. My DND rogue just got a Mithril breastplate and, well, it’s thrilling.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Our Mandalorian heads to The Armorer so we can get a female with a speaking role some more information about Mandalorian lore. The importance of keeping his helmet on is repeated here (I have so many questions: can he take it off when he’s alone? How does he brush his teeth?), as is the protection of foundlings, who “are the future.”

As other Mandalorians follow our Mandalorian and his ice cream maker of beskar steel, we learn how much they revile the fallen Empire and, presumably, its attacks against their people. “When one chooses to walk the way of the Mandalore, one becomes the hunter and the prey,” intones The Armorer.

In addition to his new armor, she gives our Mandalorian “whistling birds” which have just become the new Star Wars version of Chekhov’s Gun.

Is that beskar steel in your pocket or…

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Our Mandalorian heads back to Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) to accept another assignment (a Mon Calamari — fun easter egg or foreshadowing?) and we get a heavy-handed reveal that every bounty hunter in the room has a tracking fob for the Yoda Baby. Neither talk of the bounty hunter guild’s code about what happens to assets when they’re delivered (it’s basically a don’t ask, don’t tell policy) nor our Mandalorian’s boarding of his ship make me think for a second he’s leaving that baby.

Where does he store the fuel?

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Sure enough, he heads back and makes quick work of the shoddy Stormtroopers with his marksmanship, flame throwers, and whistling birds (remember the Jericho Missile in Iron Man? They’re that, but pocket-sized). The creepy clone guy begs for his life and claims that he saved the life of the Yoda Baby, who is asleep and hooked up to machines.

Personally, I think we could have gotten some intelligence from this cowering dude, but I guess our Mandalorian wanted to get the hell out of dodge. Luckily I got what I’ve been waiting for: Pedro Pascal cradling the Yoda Baby in his arms.

Don’t judge my biological responses and I won’t judge yours.

Speaking of Disney+, how great is The Rocketeer?

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Just when you think the showdown is over, our Mandalorian exits The Client’s stronghold and is confronted by dozens of bounty hunters and their tracking fobs, lead by Karga. They want the baby, our Mandalorian wants the baby, I want the baby, we all want the baby.

A firefight commences.

Our Mandalorian does a pretty stellar job, considering he’s outnumbered. We also get to see the impressive capabilities of his rifle, which disintegrates enemies much like the Tesseract weapons from Marvel. Still, he’s in a bind…and then, a fun surprising-yet-inevitable deus-ex-machina arrives in the form of a tribe of Mandalorian, who fly in with their rocket packs and take on the bounty hunters so our Mandalorian can escape with the cutest little bounty in the universe.

After outing themselves, the Mandalorian will be forced to relocate. With a salute, our Mandalorian is waved off by one of his wingmen. He makes a mental note to get himself a rocket pack, hands the Yoda Baby a toggle from his ship (which is definitely a choking hazard, but whatever, they’re bonding), and he shoots off into the stars.

Loving the vibe of the #Mandalorian! I can’t wait until episode 3.pic.twitter.com/rcOaAhmufP

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Pilot shot down by Pakistan returns to India

An Indian pilot captured by Pakistani forces on Feb. 27, 2019, after his warplane was shot down in the disputed region of Kashmir has returned to India after being freed by Islamabad in a “peace gesture.”

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman crossed into India at the Wagah crossing point on March 1, 2019, hours later than expected and sporting a black eye.

Varthaman’s release came a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the announcement in a speech to Pakistan’s parliament on Feb. 28, 2019.


Pakistan’s military said its air force shot down two India Air Force jets in its airspace and captured a pilot on the ground in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Feb. 27, 2019.

Pakistan returns captured Indian pilot

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India confirmed the loss of one of its MiG-21s and the capture of its pilot. It said it also foiled an attack by Pakistan warplanes over Kashmir and shot down one Pakistani plane.

Islamabad denies any of its aircraft were shot down.

The aerial confrontation came a day after India on Feb. 26, 2019, struck what it said was a militant camp in northeastern Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing that killed at least 41 Indian troops in the India-controlled part of Kashmir

A Pakistan-based group, the Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM), claimed responsibility for the Feb. 14, 2019 attack — the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.

India has accused Pakistan of having a “direct hand” in the attack and providing sanctuary to the militants.

Islamabad denies involvement.

India’s air strikes in Pakistani territory on Feb. 26, 2019, were the first since the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Stan Lee’s daughter slams Marvel for disrespecting her dad

Since it was announced that Spider-Man would no longer be a part of the MCU, fans around the world have been devastated by the thought of the web-slinger no longer getting to fight alongside Thor, Doctor Strange, and the rest of the Avengers gang. However, it turns out at least one person is happy to see Peter Parker return to Sony Studios, as Joan Celia Lee, the daughter of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, called out Marvel for failing to respect her dad and the career he built.

“When my father died, no one from Marvel or Disney reached out to me,” Joan told TMZ. “From day one, they have commoditized my father’s work and never shown him or his legacy any respect or decency. In the end, no one could have treated my father worse than Marvel and Disney’s executives.”


It’s not entirely clear what Joan is referring to beyond Disney and Marvel not reaching out to her after her father’s death in November 2018 but it is abundantly clear that she feels the studios mistreated her dad. She also showed her support for Sony Studios getting another shot at bringing Spider-Man to the big screen.

(Marvel Studios)

“Marvel and Disney seeking total control of my father’s creations must be checked and balanced by others who, while still seeking to profit, have genuine respect for Stan Lee and his legacy,” she said. “Whether it’s Sony or someone else’s, the continued evolution of Stan’s characters and his legacy deserves multiple points of view.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you want to know about that black hole

A black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, but the hot disk of material that encircles it shines bright. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.

The stunning new image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet.


“This is an amazing accomplishment by the EHT team,” said Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Years ago, we thought we would have to build a very large space telescope to image a black hole. By getting radio telescopes around the world to work in concert like one instrument, the EHT team achieved this, decades ahead of time.”

To complement the EHT findings, several NASA spacecraft were part of a large effort, coordinated by the EHT’s Multiwavelength Working Group, to observe the black hole using different wavelengths of light. As part of this effort, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory space telescope missions, all attuned to different varieties of X-ray light, turned their gaze to the M87 black hole around the same time as the EHT in April 2017. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was also watching for changes in gamma-ray light from M87 during the EHT observations. If EHT observed changes in the structure of the black hole’s environment, data from these missions and other telescopes could be used to help figure out what was going on.

Chandra X-ray Observatory close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy.

(NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen)

While NASA observations did not directly trace out the historic image, astronomers used data from NASA’s Chandra and NuSTAR satellites to measure the X-ray brightness of M87’s jet. Scientists used this information to compare their models of the jet and disk around the black hole with the EHT observations. Other insights may come as researchers continue to pore over these data.

There are many remaining questions about black holes that the coordinated NASA observations may help answer. Mysteries linger about why particles get such a huge energy boost around black holes, forming dramatic jets that surge away from the poles of black holes at nearly the speed of light. When material falls into the black hole, where does the energy go?

“X-rays help us connect what’s happening to the particles near the event horizon with what we can measure with our telescopes,” said Joey Neilsen, an astronomer at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, who led the Chandra and NuSTAR analysis on behalf of the EHT’s Multiwavelength Working Group.

Chandra X-ray Observatory close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy.

(NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen)

NASA space telescopes have previously studied a jet extending more than 1,000 light-years away from the center of M87. The jet is made of particles traveling near the speed of light, shooting out at high energies from close to the event horizon. The EHT was designed in part to study the origin of this jet and others like it. A blob of matter in the jet called HST-1, discovered by Hubble astronomers in 1999, has undergone a mysterious cycle of brightening and dimming.

Chandra, NuSTAR, Swift and Fermi, as well as NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) experiment on the International Space Station, also looked at the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, called Sagittarius A*, in coordination with EHT.

Getting so many different telescopes on the ground and in space to all look toward the same celestial object is a huge undertaking in and of itself, scientists emphasize.

“Scheduling all of these coordinated observations was a really hard problem for both the EHT and the Chandra and NuSTAR mission planners,” Neilsen said. “They did really incredible work to get us the data that we have, and we’re exceedingly grateful.”

Neilsen and colleagues who were part of the coordinated observations will be working on dissecting the entire spectrum of light coming from the M87 black hole, all the way from low-energy radio waves to high-energy gamma rays. With so much data from EHT and other telescopes, scientists may have years of discoveries ahead.

This article originally appeared on NASA. Follow @NASA on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these ridiculous photos of Kim Jong Un riding a white horse

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had a photoshoot on a white horse on Mt. Paektu, a symbolically important location for his family and for North Korea.

Kim Jong Un has had similar trips and photo shoots before; during one such trip, North Korean state media claimed that the rotund dictator climbed Mt. Paektu, while photos of the event showed him in leather business shoes.

Of course, the photo caused a stir on Twitter, with some Photoshopping the pictures into prestige drama ads for Netflix:


Or bringing up a similar winter photoshoot:

But apart from looking faintly ridiculous to the outside world, the new photos from the Hermit Kingdom are shot through with meaning, according to experts. Read on to see what Kim Jong Un’s snowy ride means.

The North Korean leader on the side of Mount Paektu.

(KCNA)

Propaganda images are nothing new for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North Korean propaganda machine is an important part of the regime.

Photos of the North Korean leader climbing the mountain on horseback is “a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution,” according to KCNA, the North Korean state media.

North Korean propaganda is nothing new; in fact, it’s everywhere in the country. From posters showing the US’s evil aggression toward North Korea, to Kim’s winter wonderland, controlling the message in the hermit kingdom is vital in order to keep citizens obedient and in the dark about the rest of the world.

(KCNA)

Kim rides an immaculate, snow-white horse to match his surroundings. But it’s not just about equine aesthetics.

The white steed upon which Kim Jong-Un is seated is reminiscent of the legendary creatures Chollima, a winged horse, and Mallima, a horse with incredible speend and indurance, according to Reuters.

Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, was also supposedly visited by a white steed during his guerilla days, according to The Washington Post.

There are postage stamps of Kim Jong Il riding white horses on Mt. Paektu, according to Michael Madden, a North Korea researcher for the Stimson Center, but “no one’s had the balls to take a horse up there,” he said.

Kim Jong Un resembles his grandfather physically, and has had a number of propaganda photos mirroring his grandfather’s. Kim Jong Un’s resemblance of his grandfather allows him to “project power and gravitas,” Madsen told The Guardian in 2014.

Kim Jong Un isn’t the only person harkening the past in the photo shoot, though; in other photos, his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is riding a horse like the one her father used to ride, and is dressed like her grandmother, Kim Il Sung’s first wife Kim Jong Suk, who is considered the mother of North Korea and holds vital importance in the country’s mythology.

(KCNA)

Mt. Paektu is a loaded location for the Kim family — and North Koreans.

Mt. Paektu is an important place for the Kim family, as it cements their status as the rightful rulers of North Korea.

It’s said to be the “location of Kim Il Sung’s mythical guerrilla base,” Joshua Pollack, a North Korea researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told Reuters. Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather, was the first leader of North Korea, and the country’s mythology sees him as a great guerilla fighter against imperilalist Japan, which ruled the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Of this latest photoshoot, Pollack said, “The location and the clothes are meant to evoke the founder’s legacy.”

And according to North Korean state media, Mt. Paektu is where Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, was born, although it’s more likely he was born in the Soviet Union. It’s also, according to legend, where Dagun, the leader of the first Korean kingdom, was born thousands of years ago, according to the BBC.

There are two Kim family compounds nearby, including one built by Kim Jong Il on Mt. Paektu, Madden told Insider. Somewhere in the vicinity — perhaps at that compound — is the secure facility Madden referred to as the “North Korean panic room,” where the Kim family can head in case of disaster. They also have the option of crossing the nearby border into China.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a horse during snowfall in Mount Paektu in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Oct. 16, 2019.

(KCNA)

While the photos may look absurd, they’re intended to have a very serious message.

“This is a statement, symbolic of defiance,” Pollack told The Washington Post. “The pursuit of sanctions relief is over. Nothing is made explicit here, but it starts to set new expectations about the coming course of policy for 2020.”

North Koreans have suffered from international sanctions due to its nuclear program; the photos seem to show that North Korea will not bow to international pressure.

According to multiple reports, Kim Jong Un has visted Mt. Paektu prior to major announcements or policy decisions before. For example, a 2017 trip came just days after the North Korean military launched its largest-ever intercontinental ballistic missile.

Madden told Insider that the photo shoot most likely portends a military announcement of some kind, possibly that North Korea and China are announcing a long-term strategic aggreement. “A member of the Chinese Military Commission is in North Korea right now, and [talks are] going very, very, very well,” he told Insider.

Madden told Insider that “North Korea in 2020 is either going to launch a rocket, or announce that they have attained the ability to perform sub-critical nuclear tests,” and the photos could be in advance of such an announcement.

Whatever the announcement is, it’s almost certainly not about making concessions to the US or any of its allies, Madden said.

“North Korea has massively regressed in the past few months,” in terms of foreign policy “and I have no idea why,” Madden noted.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

In the era of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, training was frequent and necessary in order to maintain the level of combat readiness required to sustain and prevail in battle. While times have changed, our Operational Tempo (Optempo) has not.


The number of troops needed in combat zones has decreased significantly. The amount of funds needed to maintain those combat zones has decreased as well. Funds have been redirected to modernize equipment, further training and have helped our forces remain relevant and vigilant. But what is this current wartime Optempo and Personnel Tempo (Perstempo) doing to our troops and our families?

How much is it really costing us?

Their lives

Since 2001, more than 6,000 U.S. service members and DOD civilians have lost their lives. Of that, over 5,000 were KIA. Even more staggering is the number of wounded in action (WIA) since then. At least 50,000 service members have been wounded in action (DOD 2019). Since the wars began in 2001, the United States has spent 0.4 billion dollars on medical care and disability benefits.

This is only the beginning of medical care for wounded troops.

According to Costs of War, the financial costs of medical care usually peaks 30 to 40 years after the initial conflict (Bilmes, et al. 2015). In a study, it shows that although veteran suicide rates have recently decreased in numbers, the rate of suicide of military members versus civilians is still substantially higher, and ever-increasing. Furthermore, the number of veterans who use VHA versus those who don’t also, have a higher rate of suicide (DVA 2018). The toll this is taking on military families is creating unsalvageable relationships, emotional distress for children, and, ultimately, lives that are forever lost.

Their families

At the start of the war in 2001, Perstempo policies have been disregarded by many. According to the GAO:

DOD has maintained the waiver of statutory Perstempo thresholds since 2001, and officials have cited the effect of the high pace of operations and training on service members; however, DOD has not taken action to focus attention on the management of Perstempo thresholds within the services and department-wide (GAO 2018).

Is there a lack of genuine concern for family stability and well-being? Understanding the expectation of family interaction would decrease during wartime, once the service member has completed their deployment, reintegration, and revitalization of the home and family must take place. Families have been neglected and left without the proper resources to cultivate a healthy family environment. The concern for service member readiness has been an on-going issue in recent years. Studies have been conducted, and programs implemented, but is that enough?

Marital issues have often been associated with Perstempo, such as length of partner separation, infidelity during separation, and other challenges encompassed in a military marriage. The stress on the family of a service member is immeasurable; oftentimes, even discounted in comparison to the stress the service member endures. Support or resources for military spouses seeking separation or divorce are nearly nonexistent. They have been conditioned to believe that the well being of their soldiers comes before their own.

Military spouses sacrifice their academic achievements and employment opportunities in support of their service member’s careers. As the budget cuts roll out for the fiscal year, more much-needed family programs are becoming extinct. Programs that provide support for spousal employment, childcare, and leisure activities are being defunded, which can destabilize already struggling families.

Child and domestic abuse are an ever-growing concern within a community that is known for its patriotism and heroism. The families suffer in silence. Surviving recurrent deployments, solo parenting, housing issues, and the lack of program funding, the plight of the military family continues to decrease soldier readiness and morale.

Their mental well-being

The rate of PTSD and mental health diagnoses is on the rise for both service members and their families. However, services providing support and medical care for these issues have declined. The effect of time away from children has taken a toll on military children.

Neglect, abuse, and mental health issues are being ignored due to a lack of care. Some military installations cannot provide adequate mental health care because of their remote locations, and the costs to contract providers are often more than the proposed budgets allow. Because of this, the family’s needs go unmet.

With orders coming down the wire, Command Teams are obligated to carry out relentless training exercises, and soldiers are feeling the burn. Everyone is exhausted, each soldier doing the job of three, and families are becoming isolated. They lack sleep and proper nutrition, putting them at greater risk of making mistakes during training that may cost them their lives, but the soldiers march on.

The way forward

Repairing family units are necessary for the success of soldier readiness. Programs and support for families should not be cut. Revisions of budget direction may be necessary in order to tailor programs in a way that both benefits the government and the well-being of the service member and their families.

Allow soldiers to receive mental health care without fear of retaliation or loss of career. Provide structured support programs for spouses that go beyond counseling. Long term care is necessary for service members and families upon redeployment. Taking a true interest in supporting our military members and families should be the priority for our Department of Defense. We are fighting wars but not fighting for our families. Cultivate strength by improving the quality of life for everyone.

MIGHTY CULTURE

WATCH: 87-year-old Marine on cruise recovers from COVID-19

As interviewer David Begnaud said, “The world is looking for some good news right now.”

This interview with 87-year-old Marine veteran Frank Eller who contracted COVID-19 on a cruise is it. Eller has emphysema, heart disease and all sorts of underlying medical conditions, but also the USMC in his blood.


Facebook photo/Frank Eller

Eller was feeling pretty rough a few days into a two week cruise when he finally went to the medical center on the third day of symptoms at his wife’s insistence. Barely able to breathe, Eller got a chest x-ray which revealed his lungs were filled with infection. The doctor started antibiotics and he was evacuated by the United States Coast Guard to a hospital in Puerto Rico, where he was finally administered a test for COVID-19.

Eller spent 25 years with the Marines and as you can see, is tough as nails with a great sense of humor and an awesome family.

87yo U.S. Marine survives #COVID19 after being evacuated from cruise ship & treated in Puerto Rico

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87yo U.S. Marine survives #COVID19 after being evacuated from cruise ship & treated in Puerto Rico

Semper Fi!

MIGHTY MOVIES

That time a mortar attack interrupted Toby Keith’s Kandahar USO concert

In 2008, Toby Keith was in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on one of his many USO tours when a mortar attack interrupted the show.


The singer and the crowd of 2,500 service members, took cover in a nearby shelter for about an hour where Keith posed for photos and autographs. Pretty standard mortar attack pastime.

Once given the “all clear,” Keith went right back up on stage and finished his concert — starting from the verse where he left off.

Here’s video from the concert where he sang the “Taliban Song,” just because he could:

Who had the best USO act? Tell us in the comments!
MIGHTY CULTURE

US Air Force addresses key areas to readiness recovery

After decades of readiness decline, the Air Force is working to accelerate its recovery, ensuring the service is prepared to combat rapidly evolving threats.

Today, more than 75% of the Air Force’s core fighting units are combat ready. The service’s goal is for 80% of those units to have the right number of properly trained and equipped airmen by the end of 2020 – six years faster than projected before the Air Force developed a recovery plan.

“Restoring the readiness of the force is our top priority,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “And the budget Congress recently passed will have a significant impact for airmen across our active, guard and reserve components.”

To do this, the Air Force is focusing on three key areas: people, training, and cost-effective maintenance and logistics.


Cost-effective maintenance and logistics

The third element of restoring the readiness of the force is weapons system sustainment — the parts, supply and equipment — to make sure our aircraft are ready to go when needed.

“There are a thousand fingerprints on every aircraft that takes off. From air traffic control to crew chiefs to weapons loaders to avionics technicians — it is a total team effort,” Goldfein said. “When the plane is twice the age of the team, it makes it harder. So we are looking at new methods across the board for how we are maintaining an older fleet with a younger workforce.”

Focused efforts in Conditions-Based Maintenance Plus, additive manufacturing and retention, are helping to create solutions to achieve a more combat ready force.

CBM+ represents a conscious effort to shift equipment maintenance from an unscheduled, reactive approach at the time of failure, to a more routine and predictive approach. The Condition-Based Maintenance Plus approach to maintenance is based on evidence of need before failure occurs. Evidence of a need forecasted by analyzing data collected automatically by sensors.

“We’re trying to take some of those lessons learned in technologies and capabilities that (commercial airlines) are using and apply it into our inventory, and we’re starting to see some benefits,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander.

Airmen at Travis Air Force Base, California, are implementing innovative strategies to reduce man-hours and increase mission effectiveness with the procurement of a 3D hand scanner, capable of producing three-dimensional representations of aircraft parts. The device has also been used to inspect aircraft damage.

The scanner was first used in November 2018 to inspect the landing gear of a C-17 Globemaster III after a bird strike. Since then it has greatly reduced the time required to complete damage inspections.

“One of our C-5 aircraft went through a hail storm in 2013 and we found many dents on all the panels,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Smithling, 60th Maintenance Squadron assistant section chief for aircraft structural maintenance. “We’ve performed an inspection of this aircraft every 180 days and we’ve had to measure every dent that’s still on the wing’s surface. The first few times we did that, it took us 48 hours. We had that C-5 in our hangar last week and we were able to inspect the four primary structural panels in 30 minutes.”

The 60th MXS is also in the process of procuring two 3D printers, one polymer printer and one metal printer, so they can reproduce aircraft parts.

“With the two additive manufacturing units, we will be able to grab any aircraft part, scan it and within four to eight hours we will have a true 3D drawing of it that we can send to the additive manufacturing unit to print it,” Smithling said.

That capability, Smithling said, will decrease the time Travis aircraft are out of service.

Solutions to maintenance readiness are also being sought with advances in Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing. Traditional manufacturing is a subtractive process, beginning with cutting a lump of material to create a needed part. Three dimensional printing, one type of a larger set of techniques labeled additive manufacturing, extrudes or prints a base material in layers to create 3D solids.

For the Air Force, readiness is first and foremost about people. In fiscal year 2018, Congress provided funding to allow the Air Force to address a serious shortage of maintainers by adding 4,000 active duty maintainers.

Airmen at aircraft maintenance squadrons around the service began innovating with new scheduling, accelerated hands-on training courses and virtual reality simulators to get new maintainers proficient quickly; keeping more aircraft ready to fly and improving operational readiness.

Col. William Maxwell, chief of aircraft maintenance division at the Pentagon, has been charged in his new role with assessing the maintenance enterprise for the director of logistics in order to develop the strength of the maintenance career field and to share the best practices and solutions developed by the airmen on the flight line.

Maxwell said there are a lot of changes ahead for the aircraft maintenance community in order to develop and retain their airmen to sustain an aging fleet.

“The (aircraft maintenance community) is a passionate group of people and it’s fun to be a part of that,” Maxwell said, “because I love that passion I see in the airmen taking care of these weapon systems out there.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian military wants to shoot down passenger jets

Russia’s Defense Ministry has outlined draft legislation that would allow Russian forces to shoot down civilian passenger planes within the country’s airspace.

The draft document placed on the government’s list of proposed legislation says passenger planes that cross into Russian airspace without authorization and do not answer warning signals or respond to warning shots can be shot down if they are deemed to pose a threat of mass deaths, ecological catastrophe, or an assault on strategic targets.


Humor

6 practical jokes you played on the FNGs

In the military, practical jokes help pass time, generate camaraderie, and send a message of where you rank socially. The truth is, practical jokes are the reason for some of a troop’s most ingenious uses of time.


If you think about it, it can take a considerable amount of time to come up with various ways to prank somebody when they least expect it and get them to laugh about it afterward.

So, what kind of practical jokes do service members play on one another? Well, the list is long, but here are a few common ones that are easy to pull off.

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Go find the blinker fluid

You know, the fluid that keeps your blinker lights shining bright? It’s an essential fluid that powers the electrical current of the blinker. So, when your sergeant or corporal tells you to go locate a bottle of blinker fluid and top off the Humvee — you better do it most ricky-freakin’-tick.

Below is a tutorial video on how to accomplish such an easy task.

Getting your mattress stamped at the quarterdeck

When you check in to your first training school or unit, it’s written in some rule book somewhere that you must get your mattress stamped at the quarterdeck before you sleep on it. This means you’ll have to haul the bed to the quarterdeck, locate the Watch, and have them whip out their “mattress stamp.”

Note: The Watch may give you a dirty look when you ask for the stamp, but that’s normal.

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Getting your ID10T form signed

This is one of the most critical forms that every FNG is required to get signed by everyone in their chain of command. First, head to the personnel office and ask for it. They may give you a hard time, but it’s all apart of their SOP.

Keep demanding the paperwork until they cave.

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Pouring Tabasco sauce in a sleeping troop’s mouth

Like they say, “you’ll have time to sleep when you’re dead.” As a newbie in the field, falling asleep with your mouth open just isn’t a good idea — like ever.

Tossing a training grenade into the berthing areas

It’s only funny to the guy tossing the training grenade inside. And usually nobody ever gets hurt… for the most part. Although the act seems dangerous and childish, it’s a solid way to train your troops never to let their guard down.

Service members love to spin their shenanigan bullsh*t and make it sound like legit training. It’s our unique talent.

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Yell out, “attention on deck!” when you catch a troop dozing off

You never know when a superior officer is going to make their way over, so you need to be prepared at all times.
Don’t let them catch you slippin’.