The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

It was a cold December morning, and Taylor Olson and his fire department crew had just finished their start-of-shift checks on their gear. They wanted to get a hot breakfast before the winter storm set in, so they headed off while they had the chance. Olson had a paramedic student with him that day, one who hadn’t experienced any critical patients yet. Their fire station crews worked in 24-hour shift rotations, starting at 0700. As they loaded into their fire engine, a winter ice storm began to roll in. A mix of sleet and freezing rain was coming in heavy. 

Olson and his crew had to deviate from their breakfast plans twice because of separate 911 calls for minor car accidents related to ice on the roadways. The saying “where there is one, there are more” usually refers to critters and pests but also applies to winter storms and accidents in a paramedic’s world. 

The crew were eventually able to slam down breakfast. On their way back to the station, another call came in: lights-and-sirens response needed for a semitruck-versus-car accident on a two-lane interstate. To a paramedic, the combination of a semitruck, interstate speeds, and ice carries an ominous feeling — add a standard car to the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster. 

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Light reflects off snow and sleet, impacting visibility while driving. Adobe Stock image.

Olson and his crew took off toward the call in the ambulance with its lights bouncing off the falling sleet. Icy roadways required the paramedics to navigate as quickly and efficiently as possible while being mindful of the conditions. There is a “golden hour” standard that establishes a 60-minute window after a traumatic injury during which a patient needs to receive definitive care at a hospital before risk of death and disability greatly increase.

As the crew crested the last hill on the interstate that was blocking their view, they started to get eyes on scene. A car appeared to have hit black ice, started to turn sideways, and then slammed under a tractor-trailer at highway speeds. Olson said it almost looked like the semi’s rear dual tires had run over the front end of the car and then back off.  

The emergency medical services crew had to piece together the puzzle of the accident from what they could see — there were no eyewitnesses coming forward. Because Olson and his crew handle both fire and EMS calls, they understand the different paths cars will take in various weather conditions and were well equipped to survey the scene.

Once an injury like this is identified, the “golden hour” is more like a couple of minutes — the patient is already in critical condition.

Olson and his ambulance crew approached the wreck as the engine crew dismounted and did the same. A woman stood next to the smashed car, trying to talk to the man inside. They found out he was her husband, and she had been in the car but was able to get herself out. Olson directed her to go with the engine crew since she was considered to be in stable condition. They needed to focus on the man trapped in the smashed car. 

“When I looked in the window, he kind of looked at me but had that thousand-mile stare look going on,” Olson said. “But you kind of know when it doesn’t look good.” Experienced paramedics know this look is a strong indicator of shock. Since there was sharp metal and glass everywhere, Olson and his partner ran back to the ambulance to put on their fire-department turnout gear. 

Olson crawled into the car through the passenger door, where the man’s wife had exited. He climbed into the back seat to better evaluate the trapped man. The driver’s side door was crushed into the patient, and the steering wheel had pinned down his legs. Olson did a double take.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
A view of the damage to the patient’s vehicle. Paramedic Taylor Olson didn’t have much space to maneuver after the accident, giving CPR to the driver from the back seat. Photo courtesy of Taylor Olson.

“I looked down and his — basically his left leg was smashed completely up underneath the right leg. His pelvis was pretty much crushed,” Olson said, although he was surprised to find only minor scrapes and cuts outside of the man’s main injury.  

The internal bleeding caused by a crushed pelvis is fast and severe. Once an injury like this is identified, the “golden hour” is more like a couple of minutes — the patient is already in critical condition. Olson’s chief went to work with a ram bar in an attempt to slam the steering wheel away and free the man. Meanwhile, Olson placed an IV and started running fluids to assist with the man’s dropping blood pressure. The patient was no longer responding.

“He was awake, but I think nobody was home upstairs,” Olson said, identifying a hallmark of shock progressing to dangerous levels. 

The chief was experiencing difficulty moving the steering wheel over. Then the man slumped backward in his seat. Olson checked for a pulse but was unable to detect one, nor was his patient breathing. The man had suffered a traumatic cardiac arrest, which is common with severe trauma. Olson began to perform CPR, but with limited room, he had to work with one arm from the back seat while leaning over the center console. 

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
A closer look at the space the paramedic and fire crew were dealing with after the accident. Photo courtesy of Taylor Olson.

Performing CPR is an exhausting measure even in a wide-open setting, but Olson put forth his best effort to maximize the modified form. He kept on administering chest compressions while the other crew members attempted to cut the car open. As the car was being dismantled, Olson covered the patient with his arms to protect him from getting sprayed with glass. “The cutter was right over my left arm,” Olson said, “like, probably a couple inches away.” 

Paramedic students are expected to familiarize themselves with an ambulance and all the gear they’ll use on the job. Olson’s student was on her first advanced life support (ALS) ride with them, so he wasn’t sure she would bring the right gear when he told her that the patient was in cardiac arrest. However, the student came running up with everything he needed. 

Traffic on the interstate had been halted by police and firefighters, and an extensive line of cars had grown behind them. People were pouring out of their cars, phones in hand to record the event, which increased the stress of an already difficult situation for the first responders. 

“Everything from the waist down was pretty smashed. I mean, there wasn’t much — I don’t think there was anything solid down there.”

Olson attempted to intubate the man — to place a tube into his trachea — from the only position available in the limited space. He wasn’t able to perform a normal intubation and resorted to a last-ditch effort he had never done before: a technique called digital intubation. The paramedic places a hand in the patient’s mouth and uses fingers to guide the breathing tube into the trachea. 

“I got it!” Olson exclaimed after placing it on his first try. A burst of laughter escaped both him and his chief — in chaotic and morbid situations, humor can often help clear the mind to focus on the upcoming tasks. 

Olson continued CPR while another crew member attempted to breathe for the patient via the tube and a bag valve mask, or BVM. The chief and Olson continually knocked helmets in the cramped space while performing their separate tasks. Their patient’s heart had stopped, and to keep his odds of survival as high as possible, they had to keep working on the patient nonstop — and they also had to get him out of the car or the treatments would be in vain. 

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Taylor Olson on the scene of a fire. Photo courtesy of Taylor Olson.

Unable to get the ram bar to move the steering wheel, the chief switched over to a tool called a spreader. At last he was able to push away the wheel, and the crew outside pried the driver’s door open. The man was quickly extracted, moved onto a stretcher, and into the ambulance. They hit the road immediately. 

The hospital was close, but en route Olson and his paramedic student placed an IO — an intraosseous line, sort of like an IV into the bone marrow — for additional fluids and medications to be administered. Now that the patient was out of the car, the destruction he had endured from the wreck was obvious. “Everything from the waist down was pretty smashed. I mean, there wasn’t much — I don’t think there was anything solid down there,” Olson recalled.

The crew entered the emergency room with the patient on the stretcher, performing CPR and breathing for him the whole time. While the hospital staff took over, Olson gave them his report. With this transition of care, the role of EMS in the call was concluded. From the point of contact on scene to transferring care to the hospital, approximately 20 minutes had elapsed. The men and women of EMS work efficiently and fast. 

Olson and his crew, exhausted, walked back to the ambulance. They needed to clean up and prep for the next call that would inevitably come in. There was still the rest of their 24-hour shift to endure — just another day in the office.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 quick tips sergeants wished their new troops knew

Ah, the new soldier. A blessing for the command and an absolute nightmare for the first-line supervisor. You don’t know if they’re about to blow a few paychecks worth of money on strippers, salvia, or an overpriced Camaro. Worse, they could be the kind to hit on local girls and accidentally stumble into the first sergeant’s daughter. Here’s what the sergeant wishes the new kids would know before they even showed up:


The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
It’s a Mustang. Try to look at it without buying one. At least for the duration of the article. (Installation Management Command, Mr. Stephen Baack)

 

Seriously, don’t buy the car

OMG, you have a bonus check, and a few paychecks and so many people want to loan you money against your guaranteed government paycheck (unless you are in the Coast Guard, and then it’s mostly guaranteed but not totally, right?).

But you can Uber for a week or two and wait to buy a car you actually like at a decent price instead of getting the first Camaro you can see on the lot.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Don’t care if you’re on Tinder or Grindr, just please do like, a day of due diligence before hopping in the sheets with ’em. (U.S. Army Amy Walker)

 

Really, you don’t need to get laid right away

Yeah, it’s been a long time since you got some. Unless, of course, you were one of the folks hooking up with randos behind the port-a-potties at basic training during blue phase which, ew, gross. You need to get checked out.

If you can get some on your first week at a new duty base, congrats. If you happened to get some back home during leave, good work, but don’t jump through a bunch of stupid hoops to get a new notch in your belt here the first week. Feel free to take a couple of weeks to get the lay of the land, find out who’s likely healthy and who is or isn’t a good idea for a partner.

Stumbling into the first dark room you can find is a good way to trigger IEDs, not a good way to enjoy yourself.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Please don’t let that be a mug of vodka. I mean, I know the dude in the photo is a sergeant and is experienced enough to handle it, but still. (For the record, it’s a water guy holding a mug of water.) (U.S. Army Spc. Aaron Goode)

 

Drink in moderation

Yeah! You can finally drink again! Time to —!

No. Just no. Go get a couple of beers and sip on them. New soldiers drinking until they asphyxiate on their own vomit is the stupidest of cliches. Get drunk. Enjoy it. Get tipsy. Fall over once or twice.

Just don’t drive, and don’t keep drinking until you fall over a balcony. Please. Your NCO support channel has their own stuff to do this weekend that doesn’t include talking to the MPs about your untimely demise.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Yeah, we weren’t gonna go out and take photos of signs outside the nearest base, so here’s a photo of a soldier who still carries coins in her pocket for some reason. (U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Keenan)

 

Avoid literally any place that advertises to you

Don’t care if it says “We accept junior enlisted,” “Finance E-1 and up,” “All ranks welcome” — if it advertises to the military, you shouldn’t be there. Those signs are basically the equivalent of a “Free Candy” sign on the side of a van, and you’re the unsuspecting child.

Please, don’t get in the van.

If (s)he has a military dependent ID, (s)he’s not for you

It does not matter how many times he or she bats their eyes at you, flexes their pecks, or makes obscene gestures with their mouth while pointing at your belt, you are not to engage with them if there is a single sign that they might be the child of a military member or married to one (especially married to one).

Just go find a local hottie…or maybe set up an online dating account.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Doesn’t even matter if your form isn’t perfect. Just do some d*mn sit-ups. (U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell)

 

Do like, four sit-ups every day

Yeah, you’re out of basic and AIT. Congratulations. But when your physical training drops to just the morning formations, there’s a chance that you’re going to start sucking every time you squeeze yourself into some overly tight PT shorts. So, please, for the love of all physical training regulations and military readiness, just do a couple of sit-ups every night before you nuzzle up to your PlayStation controller.

MIGHTY CULTURE

After 45 years, Green Beret faces his past in Vietnam — part three

The one thing that seems to be a constant in Saigon is the delicious smell of food cooking – from the street vendors, open air cafes, coffee shops, and bakeries – it was that way in the late 60’s and remains so today. The first time I came to the city I remember walking to the headquarters with an officer I’d served with in Ban Me Thuot and stopping at a small coffee shop for a coffee and croissant – both were delicious and the whole event seemed surreal given what was going on in the rest of the country at the time.


This time, when I arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon the first thing I saw were customs officials wearing what I remember as North Vietnamese Army uniforms – a bit of a flashback. Stepping out of the terminal I breathed deeply of the humid tropical air – a familiar scent that almost seemed comforting. Driving through the city on the way to the hotel I noticed the beautiful French inspired architecture which added a touch of grace to the cityscape.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

In 1969 Saigon was a multi-faced city, bustling with the business of war. The people were pursuing their livelihood as best they could, while hip deep in the middle of a war zone. They were trying as hard as they could to make life tolerable and better for their families. Today, later generations of those families are doing that same thing, less the war, making life better and succeeding on a grand scale.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Revisiting Saigon and Vietnam after forty some years reaffirmed my faith in humanity – it doesn’t matter who won or lost, doesn’t matter who is in power – it’s all about the people. The Vietnamese people have always been entrepreneurs, caring for their families and their country and have made it a powerhouse in Southeast Asia. It gladdened my heart and closed a circle for me in a most positive way.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

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

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popular

6 ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman

Walk onto any American military base in the world, and you’re going to encounter some pretty disciplined men and women. Continue walking and you’ll also notice all the hard work each troop puts into their day.


But you may also wonder which one of them deploys and fights in combat versus those who ship off to support the war effort.

Well, we’ve got you covered.

Related: 3 key differences between Recon Marines and Marine Raiders

Here are six simple ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman:

1. There are no dog tag in their boot laces.

Infantrymen wear a dog tag around their necks and another looped in their left boot — it’s tradition (and practical for identification in the worst case scenario).

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
(Public Domain)

A dog tag inserted into the left boot — your motivated left boot.

2. When a troop can count how many MREs they’ve eaten.

MREs — or Meals Ready to Eat — are a staple food for any grunt. The classic meal plan is the troop’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as long as you’re in the field or outside the wire. If a troop only had a few during boot camp…they’re probably not a grunt.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Yum! Spaghetti and meat sauce. (Public Domain)

3. They remember and brag about their ASVAB score.

It doesn’t take a high ASVAB to become an infantryman. Grunts mostly brag about their shooting scores and how big their egos are versus what they got on their ASVAB.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
No crayons = POG. (DoD photo)

4. They actually have morale — and you can see it in their eyes.

Read the photo caption — it’s epic.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
The Airmen responded to U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III when he challenged the Air Force to a mustache competition. Mustache March continues to be a method of raising morale for the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese)

5. When you sport a “serious face” for a photo, but you’re stationed on a beautiful military installation.

Look how happy they are!

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Two Airmen stand with too much pride in front of Andersen Air Force Base. (Source: DoD)

Also Read: 6 questions you asked yourself after your first firefight

6. When they say the words “Well, I’m basically an infantryman.”

No, you’re not — but good job convincing yourself.

Unless your MOS starts or used to start with “11” (Army) or “03” (Marines), you’re not an infantryman.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
(DoD photo)

Two Army infantrymen keep their eyes on a wadi in Andar, Afghanistan. The area is known as a Taliban stronghold and commonly receives small arms fire from the location.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch this amazing police dog traverse tricky obstacles

A Belgian Malinois named Lachi has earned some celebrity for his video in which he traverses two thin ropes in order to retrieve his tennis ball.


MIGHTY CULTURE

11 health benefits to drinking alcohol (in moderation)

Alcohol plays a prevalent role in many cultures, with many of us toasting to big life moments, enjoying happy hours with coworkers or friends, or simply indulging in a few drinks after a long, stressful day.

Of course, health experts have long cautioned against binge drinking, which roughly equates to consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours. If you’ve ever overindulged in your favorite drinks, you know that it typically doesn’t feel great the next day, and repeated alcohol abuse can impact your mental and physical health.

But research has also shown that drinking alcohol in moderation can actually be beneficial for your health in some surprising ways.

Here are some of the most interesting ways drinking in moderation can benefit you, so long as you consume it safely and responsibly.


The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Elevate)

1. Moderate alcohol consumption can lead to a longer life.

It’s true that drinking to excess can lead to illness and disease, including several types of cancer, brain damage, and liver damage, and it can even shorten your life span. But drinking moderately might actually help you live longer, according to a 2014 study conducted by three universities in Spain.

Researchers followed a small group of Spanish participants over the course of 12 years and found that those who who drank “low amounts of wine spread out over the week” but avoided binge drinking showed a 25% reduced risk of mortality.

Another study from 2017 followed approximately 333,000 adults who drink alcohol and found that those who kept their drinking habits in moderation saw a 21% lower risk of mortality than participants who never drank.

Similarly, a 2018 study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, has found that people who drink in moderation may be less likely to die early than those who stay away from booze altogether.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Taylor Grote)

2. It might also reduce your risk of heart failure.

Too much alcohol can cause serious problems for your heart health, but several studies have shown that enjoying a few drinks a week may reduce heart failure risk.

A 2006 study found that light to moderate alcohol consumption “is associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke,” as well as a reduction in vascular risk in middle-aged people in particular.

A 1999 study found that “moderate drinkers are at lower risk for the most common form of heart disease, coronary artery disease than are either heavier drinkers or abstainers,” due to the “protective effects” of alcohol on the heart linked to blood chemistry and “the prevention of clot formation in arteries that deliver blood to the heart muscle,” leading to a lower risk of coronary disease.

Another study completed between 1980 and 1988 found that the risk of coronary disease and stroke in women was particularly low in those that reported moderate alcohol use among a sample of 87,526 female nurses between the ages of 34 and 59.

Though these findings are promising for those who already have a healthy relationship with alcohol, it’s also important to note that adopting overall healthy lifestyle habits is the surest way to protect your heart.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

3. You might have a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

A 2005 analysis published in the journal Diabetes Care noted a “highly significant” reduced risk of type 2 diabetes among moderate alcohol drinkers than heavy drinkers and abstainers, compiling data from 15 different studies, linking healthy lifestyle habits with those who report moderate alcohol use.

“As it stands, we are expecting to see a 37% influx in type 2 diabetes cases around the world by 2030, and though studies have shown no abatement in the risk of type 2 diabetes in those who already drink heavily in their day-to-day lives, there is a notable 30% reduced risk in those that drink in moderation,” cardiologist Robert Segal told Insider.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Louis Hansel)

4. Moderate drinking might help with male fertility.

A 2018 study conducted by an Italian fertility clinic and published in the journal Andrology showed that male fertility was highest among participants who consumed four to seven drinks per week compared to those that drank between one and three alcoholic beverages or more than eight.

The sample size was 323 men, so it was a relatively small pool, but it seems to be another reason to stick to a drink per day or so if you’re hoping for optimal fertility.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by rashid khreiss)

5. Drinking in moderation can help prevent the common cold.

Though too much alcohol can worsen cold symptoms by dehydrating you and potentially interacting with cold medicines, it seems that moderate drinking can help prevent you from catching a cold in the first place.

In a 1993 study by the department of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption led to a decrease in common cold cases among people who don’t smoke. In 2002, according to the New York Times, Spanish researchers found that by drinking eight to 14 glasses of wine per week (particularly red wine), those who imbibed saw a 60% reduction in the risk of developing a cold, with the scientists crediting the antioxidants found in wine.

“Wine is rich in antioxidants, and these chemicals help prepare your body to combat any free radicals in your system by allowing your body to absorb resveratrol, a key compound that helps keep your immune system in top form,” Segal told Insider. “Regardless of healthy or unhealthy drinking habits, smokers should expect to confront the common cold more easily and with more frequency than those who abstain from nicotine consumption.”

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Gerrie van der Walt)

6. You might decrease your chances of dementia.

In a series of studies published by the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment in 2011 that began in 1977 and included more than 365,000 participants, researchers found that moderate drinkers (those who drank one or two drinks per day) were 23% less likely to develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, Science Daily reported.

“Small amounts of alcohol might, in effect, make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses down the road that could cause dementia,” said Edward J. Neafsey, co-author of the study, told Science Daily. “We don’t recommend that nondrinkers start drinking, but moderate drinking — if it is truly moderate — can be beneficial.”

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Brittany Stokes)

7. There might also be a reduced risk of gallstones.

Capping your drinks to two per day might reduce your risk of gallstones by one-third, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The 2009 study found that participants who reported consuming two drinks per day had a one-third reduction in their risk of developing gallstones.

“Researchers emphasized that their findings show the benefits of moderate alcohol intake but stress that excessive alcohol intake can cause health problems,” according to a press release.

The finding was further supported by a 2017 study conducted by researchers at the School of Public Health at Qingdao University in Qingdao, China, who found “alcohol consumption is associated with significantly decreased risk of gallstone disease.”

As for how this happens, Segal told Insider that “consuming moderate amounts of alcohol does help in the production of bile, which keeps gallstones from fully forming.”

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Scott Warman)

8. Postmenopausal women might experience bone health benefits from moderate alcohol use.

People lose bone mass or density naturally as they age, which can lead to osteoporosis, a disorder in which the bones become fragile or weakened. This is particularly common in postmenopausal women, who are more susceptible to bone disorders due to their naturally smaller bones and hormone changes after menopause.

But a 2012 study published in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society showed that moderate alcohol intake can actually slow down bone loss in women after menopause, potentially leading to a lower risk of developing bone disorders like osteoporosis.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Mattias Diesel)

9. You might also be less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

A 2010 study published in the journal Rheumatology showed that people who don’t drink are almost four times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis than those who have at least one drink three times per week.

Researchers said that’s likely due to alcohol’s anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent joints from aching and swelling if drinking is in moderation.

Researchers also found that people with arthritis who drink alcohol in moderation have less severe symptoms, though they noted that heavy drinking can be damaging to those who already suffer from arthritis, as it can exacerbate symptoms and interact with medications.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Louis Hansel)

10. By drinking moderately, you can reap the nutritional benefits offered by wine and beer.

Believe it or not, beer actually has a few nutritional benefits that you can take advantage of if you drink in moderation. By enjoying beer moderately, you’ll enjoy the vitamins, minerals, and proteins it contains.

Meanwhile, wine has iron in it, as well as the aforementioned antioxidant properties.

Of course, a pint of beer shouldn’t take the place of your daily multivitamin, but the occasional drink can be part of an overall balanced diet and lifestyle without impacting your health in a negative way.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo by Pille-Riin Priske)

11. You might feel improvements in your mental health, too.

While there are many physical benefits to drinking in moderation, there are also psychological benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

One study found that those who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol reported an increase in happiness and “pleasant and carefree feelings.” Researchers also found a decrease in “tension, depression and self-consciousness,” saying that “heavy drinkers and abstainers have higher rates of clinical depression than do regular moderate drinkers.”

Though your mental and physical health with respect to alcohol is best discussed with your doctor, the connection between heavy alcohol use and depression is well known, and should not be taken lightly.

If you’re able to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol and not rely on it as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression, you might find a healthy balance between moderate drinking and your mental health. Check in with your doctor to ensure that alcohol is playing a safe and responsible role in your lifestyle.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of July 26th

Well. It seems this “acclimatize the troops to Iraq” heat wave is sweeping the globe and I think it’s a very proper time to mention the silver bullet is very much real and that sick, sadistic medic in your unit has been dying to test it out.

For those of you who aren’t up to speed, it’s a shiny thumb-sized thermometer that is brought out specifically for heat casualties and is, well, inserted rectally. Why they do this is beyond me. I would assume the standard under-the-tongue thermometers would work just fine, but I’m not a medic. Although, I guess that one doesn’t terrify the troops into drinking plenty of water for the ruck march.

So go ahead, high speed. Try drinking all night and wake up to a Monster energy drink for this run. See what happens. I guarantee you that you won’t make this same mistake twice.


To the rest of you smart enough to know how to properly identify pee charts and drink water accordingly, here’s some memes.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme by Call for Fire)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Not CID)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Good 2 Go Apparel)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via The Disgruntled Leader)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why the Expert Field Medical Badge is one of the most difficult to earn

It doesn’t matter what it is, somebody wants to be the best at it. For as long as time, competition has driven people to learn new skills and improve on the ones they know in order to rise to the top of their field. This desire to be best is what has baseball players at the batting cage long after the sun has set. It’s what keeps runners sprinting down the track, shaving milliseconds off of their personal best.

This same competitiveness is what drives some medics within the United States Army. In one recent competition, 283 medics entered to see if they could earn the Expert Field Medical Badge. Only 17 — just six percent — met the requirements to be awarded the EFMB in a June 2018 test held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.


The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

U.S. Army Spc. Austin Braussard-Rangel, a platoon medic assigned to 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, assesses and prepares a mock casualty with a neck injury to be removed from a vehicle during the Expert Field Medic Badge testing.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Gallagher)

So, what does it take to earn this badge? The requirements are many. The easy part, if you could call it that, is passing the Army Physical Fitness Test with scores of at least 60 in all three areas— earninga cumulative score of 180 or more. Of the other ten requirements, five are completed under simulated combat conditions.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Communications skills are also tested among candidates trying to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge — after all, that MEDEVAC won’t call itself.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Gallagher)

Among the myriad skills tested is communication. Candidates for the EFMB must be able to prepare and transmit a MEDEVAC request correctly and be familiar with both communication procedures and the operation of field radios.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

U.S. Army Sgt. Alex Pickens (left), a lab technician assigned to the Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, passes a mock casualty over a barrier with his litter team during the Expert Field Medic Badge testing at the Medical Support Training Center on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Gallagher)

During the competition, candidates must also negotiate an obstacle course while carrying a litter (under simulated combat conditions, of course) with three other candidates. There are eight obstacles to overcome, including an upstairs/uphill carry, a downhill/downstairs carry, a barbed-wire obstacle, and a trench obstacle.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Handling a chemical attack is also part of the EFMB evaluation. After all, a casualty can’t wait for the poison gas to dissipate.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Gallagher)

Candidates also face a 100-question test — on which they need to get at least 75 questions right. Marksmanship (EFMB candidates much achieve the rating of Marksman or better), evacuation skills, and even cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques are also tested. As many as 25 percent of candidates can pass a given course, but rates of as low as five percent are not unheard of.

The Expert Field Medical Badge is reserved for only the fiercest competitors — those who strive to be the very best at helping others in even the most dire of circumstances.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US Army veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha is a good dude

If you know one thing about U.S. Army veteran Clint Romesha, it’s that he earned the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009 during the Battle of Kamdesh. If you know another, it’s that he wrote a book, “Red Platoon,” about that battle. What most people don’t know — or at least what’s not obvious to the casual observer — is that Romesha doesn’t particularly like the spotlight that being a Medal of Honor recipient has put him in.

“I’ve always been a very quiet personality,” Romesha said during a recent phone interview with Coffee or Die. “I like to have one-on-one conversations with people and not be the center of attention in the middle of a crowd. It’s just not my personality. So that was very much a shock, something I’m still trying to get used to.”


Romesha grew up in a small town in Northern California, and his family has a history of military service. His grandfather served in World War II, his father in Vietnam, and two of his older brothers joined the service when they turned 18. “It wasn’t one of those ‘to be a Romesha, you had to do it,’ but it was just always encouraged,” he said.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

In 1999, Romesha enlisted in the Army, expecting to “just do three years, check the box, get the GI bill, grow up a little bit, come back home, have some silly stories of being too drunk in Germany and escaping the polizei or something like that.” He wasn’t going to make a career out of it — nor did he think his service would define his future.

The first sign that things wouldn’t be as cut and dry as he expected was the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Romesha was doing maneuvers in Germany when his unit was called into formation in the early afternoon and briefed on the situation. No one had been watching television or knew what was happening.

“We got there and formed up, and our colonel came out,” Romesha recalled. “He gave us a little pep talk like, ‘Hey, they flew planes into the towers there in New York, and everything from this day forward is going to change.'”

Romesha deployed four times during his nearly 12-year career as an armor crewman and cavalry scout. His final deployment was to Afghanistan in 2009, which would be his second sign that his military service would have a bigger impact on his life than he planned. That deployment is where he would earn the highest U.S. military award for valor. However, when asked about the most significant part of his military service, he doesn’t mention the Battle of Kamdesh — he talks about leadership.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Romesha with his unit.

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“It was always pursuing that mentality to just be a good leader,” Romesha said, “to have those young kids look up to you just like when I was a brand-new private coming in, looking up to guys like Sergeant [Joseph] Garyantes, those NCOs. I was like, ‘Man, if I could be half the man those guys were, I’d be a fairly decent leader.’ And that really was the significance of staying in and really building my career throughout 10 years leading into Afghanistan.”

That leadership mentality is also part of what made it difficult for Romesha to accept that he was being awarded the Medal of Honor.

“I’ll be honest — part of it was embarrassment,” he said of his initial feelings about the award. “The fact that you sit there, and you’re about to get nationally recognized for ultimately what’s a really shitty day. And part of that embarrassment came from — I know I did a decent job that day, but we also lost eight guys. They never get to come home anymore. They never get to spend time with their families. They never get to have any more birthdays or Christmases or Thanksgivings. I’m still here. That just weighs on you — why am I getting all this attention when I got to come home and those guys didn’t?

“So, initially, it was, like I said, just a deep down sense of embarrassment because as a leader, as good as you think you are or you feel you are,” he continued, trailing off. “They say I saved a lot of guys that day, which I don’t doubt I did. But I feel as a leader, you almost feel like a failure any time you lose anybody, no matter how hard you try and how good the plan was.”

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Romesha wrote about his experiences in ‘Red Platoon’.

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha/Facebook.)

When he got the call about the award, Romesha had been out of the Army for almost two years and was working in the oil fields in North Dakota. He managed a smooth transition from military to civilian life by keeping in touch with his Army buddies and throwing himself into a demanding job.

“I think a lot of things are about timing,” he said. “And the [oil] boom [in North Dakota] was going on, and I fell into a job where I worked 42 days straight before my first day off. We were working 12- to 16-hour days, and I never had that low time of, ‘Oh, man. I’ve just left my entire known adult life behind and all those guys behind.’ I just rolled right into work that gave me a sense of purpose, a direction, and kept me super busy enough not to get caught in that reflection.”

Romesha also took advantage of his 76-mile commutes to and from work to call his battle buddies and catch up.

“Even though I didn’t get to see them every day […] I got to talk to at least one of them,” Romesha said. “And still having that connection was just powerful — to still feel part of that group, even though we were hundreds if not thousands of miles apart.”

He was told his life would change after receiving the Medal of Honor, but he wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Romesha worked through his unease and natural quietness by continuing to shift the focus away from himself and onto the men who lost their lives during the battle.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“For me, Oct. 3, 2009, was just a date that I knew when I talked to my buddies I was there with, and we’d reminisce about it. But the rest of the world never really knew about October 3 until Feb. 12, 2013, the day I received the medal. And then almost overnight, on a national level, everybody knew what happened that day. And now you’re sharing that day with everybody,” Romesha said.

“And because sitting there talking to the guys and talking to the Gold Star families, it was also an opportunity to make sure, ‘Look, if I’m getting this attention, well, I can use it for good. I can make sure those guys — Gallegos, Scusa, Kirk, Mace, Hardt, Martin, Griffin, Thomson — those guys will never be forgotten. I can talk about them again. And even though they’re not here, they’re going to always be with us. And that’s what really got me over the embarrassment.”

Romesha applied that same reasoning when he decided to write “Red Platoon.” He didn’t want it to be the Clint Romesha story. So he talked to his platoonmates and the Gold Star families, making sure that they were on board to share their stories, too. For two years, he travelled the country, reconnecting with and interviewing those he served with.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

(Photo courtesy of Clint Romesha.)

“A lot of these guys hadn’t even talked about that day before with anybody,” Romesha said. “And it was capturing their perspective, and it was, at first, a very scary thing — how is this going to be received? I don’t even know what to expect from going out and doing this — and how are these guys going to react? At the end of the process, though, it was almost therapeutic.”

“Red Platoon” was optioned for a film the year it was released in 2016; however, there hasn’t been any significant momentum on that project. While he’s waiting for that call, Romesha currently spends his time “totally underemployed or overemployed, depending” on the day, with speaking engagements.

“I don’t want to be a career speaker my entire life, but it’s what pays the bills and gives me the flexibility right now to do a lot with veteran outreach and nonprofits,” he said. “Someday I’m going to have to grow up and figure out what my new occupational life’s going to be — but for right now, that’s what’s filling that spot.”

Whatever that next step is for Romesha, he credits the Army for instilling in him the work ethic and value system to get there. From a “check the box” enlistment to Medal of Honor recipient, Romesha has stepped outside of his comfort zone to be a voice not only for the soldiers he lost in Afghanistan, but for the veteran community as a whole.

“We can never forget about our service,” he said. “We can’t let it control us or dictate the rest of our lives, but we can never forget what we’ve been through and what we’ve experienced. It’s all about that follow-on mission and what we can do next and what we can accomplish going forward.”

Embedded With Special Forces in Afghanistan | Part 2

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

3 ways to take advantage of post activities, COVID and all

For months now, we’ve been at the mercy of the coronavirus, wondering if and when activities will be held open to the public. Rules, of course, change state-to-state, and by base in general. Some locations still have hard orders in which military members and their families are limited to essential errands only. This also means that on-post activities have almost all been canceled or postponed.

However, that doesn’t mean you still can’t get out and about and have some fun, it just means you have to be creative about it instead!


Look for outdoor events

Check your local MWR website or Facebook page for ongoing events. Even with most programs being moved to the right, they are still hosting outside programs. Golfing, concealed carry lessons, zip lining, fishing, and more are likely available. See if you can sign up for or attend any of these events for a fun day out.

You can always scour the great outdoors on your own! Consider day trips like hiking, heading to a river or pond, geocaching, birdwatching, scavenger hunts, and more. All of these activities are available on post. Check local pages for tips on when and where to go for the best experience.

Shop the marketplace

There’s no better place to find a deal than on your local marketplace. Folks are PCSing and ready to be rid of things, and then there’s those who purchase something they used one time. This is a great stop to try something new without paying full price. Use Facebook, Craigslist, and more for items such as:

  • Kayaks
  • Bikes
  • Strollers
  • Kites
  • Skates
  • Fishing poles
  • And outdoor sporting equipment

If you have an inkling to try something new, test it out by getting a deal.

Rent equipment for your fun

Even with scheduled events on the nix, most military bases are still renting out equipment for use. Contact local offices and see what’s available for pickup and/or delivery. Most bases rent out items such as:

  • Boats
  • Canoes/kayaks
  • Golf carts
  • Bounce houses
  • Tents and camping equipment
  • Lawn equipment

While you’re at it, you can even get in some yard beautification to help fill your time. Perfect for the green thumb who’s always on the move.

COVID doesn’t mean you can’t still utilize on-post activities and equipment. Look to these fun outdoor events to keep the entire family occupied.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army offers to repay soldiers’ college loans if they go infantry

The U.S. Army is offering to pay off student loans of up to $65,000 or to give $15,000 bonuses to recruits willing to sign up for the infantry.


The Army has been offering increased financial incentives to attract recruits to take on one of its most physically challenging jobs since it missed its recruiting goal in fiscal 2018 by 6,500 soldiers.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

“There’s a very unique bond between infantry soldiers not found in any other [career] in the Army,” Staff. Sgt. Leonard Markley, a recruiter in Toledo, Ohio, whose primary career field is infantry, said in a recent service news release. “It’s us against the world, and we as infantrymen all know about the hardships that come with this [career]: walking countless miles, sleep deprivation and rationed meals.

“Even when I see another infantryman walking by, I have respect for him and have his back, because we are brothers through all our hardships,” he added.

To qualify for the infantry, applicants must score a minimum of 87 on the combat line score of the Armed Forces Qualification Test and pass the Occupational Physical Assessment Test at the heavy level, according to the release.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Recruits attend a 22-week Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. During training, they will list their specific infantry job preferences, although assignments are determined by the needs of the Army. Upon graduation, soldiers are assigned as either an infantryman (11B) or an indirect fire infantryman (11C), the release states.

“The Infantry has instilled a work ethic in me that is noticeably different than my peers,” Markley said. “This work ethic and discipline will set me apart wherever I go after the military. It is the premier career for leadership and management development skills. I can go anywhere and be a successful manager in any civilian field.”

Until recently, Army recruiters were offering bonuses of up to ,000 for a six-year enlistment in the infantry. The Army began paying out hefty bonuses for infantry recruits in May 2019 to meet a shortfall of about 3,300 infantry training seats by the end of fiscal 2019. It was part of a sweeping new recruiting strategy launched at the beginning of fiscal 2019, after the service missed its fiscal 2018 goal.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

OP-ED: This is what it takes to lead the Navy during war

In thinking about who to select as the Navy’s next generation of senior leadership, the Nation should be fully engaged, particularly with the increasing potential of war at sea against a peer competitor. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral John M. Richardson, who wrote an article for Proceedings Magazine in June 2016 entitled, “Read, Write, Fight,” understands this. So too does Admiral Scott H. Swift, former Commander, Pacific Fleet, who suggested a way to better prepare for a fight in his March 2018 Proceedings piece, “Fleet Problems Offer Opportunities.” Given the possibility of high-end warfare facing the nation now for the first time since the end of the Cold War, picking the right leaders will be key. The question is: Is the right leadership being picked today? Is there a different, better way to consider who will lead the Navy in war?


Since 1974, every Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has come to the office with the following credentials: command of a carrier strike group (CSG); command of a fleet, and; an operational, four-star command, either Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), Atlantic Fleet/U.S. Fleet Forces Command (LANTFLT/FFC) or Naval Forces, Europe (NAVEUR). The one exception to this formula is that submariners do not command CSGs: Instead, they command submarine groups at the one-star level.

In the last 44 years, there have been only three anomalies: Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda, the 25th CNO never commanded a fleet. Then, in 1996, Admiral Jay L. Johnson, the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) who had been scheduled to command Naval Forces, Europe, instead became the 26th CNO when Admiral Boorda took his own life. The current CNO, Admiral Richardson, is the third anomaly in that he has neither commanded a fleet nor had an operational four-star command.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Richardson.

Not surprisingly, there are considered reasons in this successive, operational flag, command rule: First, the Navy exists to support the operational element of the fleet – the so-called, “pointy end of the stick.” It is believed that the leader of an organization whose mission is to “conduct prompt and sustained combat operations at sea,” should be a person who is closely acquainted with firing shots in anger, from ensign to four stars. Second, perhaps of even greater import, the CNO sits in the “tank,” with the other Joint Chiefs. It is imperative that he or she knows the score out in the various combatant commands, and this requires genuine joint expertise attained at a high level. This sort of experience comes in places such as the forward fleets, and especially to those who command PACFLT, NAVEUR, or FFC.

This is not to say that the formula works perfectly. By the turn of the century, Surface Warfare Officers dominated a majority of significant leadership positions in the Navy, and held the office of the CNO, without pause, between 2000 and 2011. It was also this generation of leaders which presided over the diminution of the entire surface community. Still, this may all say more about either the struggle against increasing budget restrictions or a misplaced spirit of selflessness on the part of these CNOs than it does about a faulty selection approach. Nor is this to say that those who were anomalous did not perform admirably as CNO. That is for others to decide, in time.

Either way, the questions are these: How does an officer arrive at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in the first place? What are the implications which arise when there are sustained and dramatic perturbations at the flag-level? And finally, what does (or should) the future hold in preparing the Navy to face a new era of potential conflict at sea?

A process defined

Sustained superior performance is essential, but beyond that, a careful choreography occurs in every community beginning at first command if not before. Selection to flag is seldom, if ever, accidental or unanticipated. This management becomes even more meticulous once flag officers are selected. At that point, there is a determination made as to who will be groomed for the three and four-star levels, and who will serve in other, still important flag positions. To effectively regulate this complex daisy-chain, a detailed, long-term, name-to-job interaction occurs between all of the warfare communities and the Navy’s (and ultimately government’s) top leadership.

There are really only a few, key, operational flag positions available, and they are earmarked for those bound for the top. This is important as the timing and positioning associated with getting the right officers through those wickets is not a matter of chance. Here is one example: In the surface community, presume that eight officers make flag each year. Of these eight, only four will go on to command a CSG. Of those four, only two will deploy. These deployers are those who have been selected for upward movement, and this is easily observed in a historical review of those who rose higher. Likewise, while there are any number of important three-star commands, they are in not all equal regarding carrying an officer to the office of the CNO.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) left,the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) transit the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Barnes)

Moreover, it is necessary to mention the one outlier in this job pecking order; Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP). A remarkable number of four-star admirals, some of whom achieved senior operational command, have passed through the CNP’s office, including Admirals Leon A. Edney, Ronald J. Zlatoper, John C. Harvey, Mark E. Ferguson III, and former CNOs Jeremy Boorda and James D. Watkins. Evidently, excelling in this position imparts a unique cachet, though it is neither joint nor operational.

The point here is that delicate timing and positioning are required to marshal those deemed to be most deserving to the top. Though off and on-ramps may be built into the process to allow for surprises and opportunities, the whole process is quite fragile. In recent years, this fragility has been demonstrated through two events; The “Fat Leonard” scandal, and the aftermath of the two warship collisions in Seventh Fleet.

Gutting the operational side in the Pacific

As every sailor knows, there are two sides to any chain-of-command – operational and administrative. The administrative side of the equation is responsible for the manning, training and equipping of units provided to the operational side of the chain. The operational side employs these “all-up rounds” in carrying out the nation’s business at sea.

Following the collisions in Seventh Fleet in the summer of 2017, justice was meted out on behalf of the Navy, through the agency of a Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA), Admiral James F. Caldwell Jr, Chief of Naval Reactors, appointed by the CNO, Admiral Richardson. Ultimately in this effort, the entire operational chain-of-command in the Pacific, from the ships’ officers of the deck, to CIC watch officers, to the command master chiefs, to the executive officers, to the commanding officers, and then up through their destroyer squadron commander, task force commander, fleet commander and all the way to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, was implicated and then either actually or effectively fired. It was a scorched earth approach never before seen in the Navy, and it appeared to be aimed at not only justice but at sending a message to the American people.

Though the punishment handed out to Commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF), Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden may seem to have been appropriate, particularly in view of the fact that he was the responsible administrative agent charged to provide fully ready ships to the operational commanders, the fact is that he was only a small part of the responsible administrative chain-of-command. Actually, CNSF relied on a universe of other administrative commands to carry out its mission effectively. For example, the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) was responsible for providing schools and personnel (both of which were in demonstrated to be in short supply), and the Office of the CNO was responsible for the provision of funding. U.S. Fleet Forces Command was the “parent” command of CNSF, just as Pacific Fleet was the parent of Seventh Fleet. So, while it may have been desirable, for whatever reason, to create a firewall between the operational commands and those administrative commands responsible for providing the necessary wherewithal to the fleet, it also meant that significant responsibility was evaded by nearly half the chain-of-command, top-to-bottom.

The long reach of Fat Leonard

A crisis was created when Admiral Scott H. Swift, then Commander, Pacific Fleet, was implicated in the Seventh Fleet collisions. Admiral Swift had long been expected to become the next Commander, Indo-Pacific Command, and his removal from the field meant that the Navy was in danger of losing control of its most historic and treasured combatant command to the Air Force. The solution hit upon was to send Admiral Phil Davidson, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, to command the U.S. Pacific Command. Not only was Admiral Davidson one of the few viable candidates with sufficient credential and seniority, but he was arriving fresh from completion of the Comprehensive Review (CR) of the collisions, and was unsullied by that disaster. Though that may have been good news regarding saving Pacific Command for the Navy, Admiral Davidson’s last and only tour in the Pacific was a single one as a commander, serving as a staff officer at Pacific Fleet headquarters. Whether a conscious part of the decision or not, his lack of Pacific-experience meant that he was beyond the potential taint of Fat Leonard.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Admiral Phil Davidson.

Numerically speaking, only a few flag officers have been caught in the Fat Leonard scandal. Nevertheless, there have been many more who were frozen in place while the investigation continued. This “freezing” caused some of these officers to miss their planned wickets, resulting in an extraordinary upset in the carefully mapped-out flag progression. As for the collision aftermath, it is impossible to know the exact impacts of those events on the “daisy-chain.” Certainly, the loss of ADM Swift and the shifting of ADM Davidson are significant.

Regardless, all of this begs the question of who may be the next CNO? Watchers had long considered Admiral Davidson to be a leading candidate for the position, and his shift to INDO/PACOM has stirred debate regarding who might be a viable relief for Admiral Richardson.

Based on the historical template, the next CNO likely will be one of the following:

  • Commander, U.S Pacific Fleet: Admiral John G. Aquilino
  • Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces: Admiral Christopher W. Grady
  • Commander, U.S Naval Forces, Europe: Admiral James G. Foggo III
  • Vice Chief of Naval Operations: Admiral William F. Moran

Each of these officers has all of the historical credentials of operational command and joint experience at the highest level, with the exception of Admiral Moran. However, Admiral Moran merits inclusion in that he would not be the first former Chief of Naval Personnel to become the CNO, though he has not had either fleet nor four-star operational command. Moreover, the current CNO, Admiral Richardson likewise arrived at the job with credentials other than the classic operational command/joint ones which have been common. In other words, a new template may have been set.

Reset the grid for war

If the Nation is moving from a “Profound Peace” into a period of “Great-Power Competition,” then every effort must be bent to ensure that America is fully preparing to meet what may well be an existential challenge. If, as suggested by Captain Dale Rielage, in his May, 2018, USNI General Prize-winning essay, “How We Lost the Great Pacific War,” the United States were to be defeated in a conflict with China – a conflict which would most certainly be primarily a fight at sea – the United States would, for the first time since World War II lose primary control of the sea lines of communication, in the vital Pacific. China would assume dominance of at least Asia and become a prime hegemon all the way to the Arabian Gulf.

In thinking about who the Nation selects for our Navy’s senior leader, it is understood that he or she must be fully and unselfishly engaged in preparing the Fleet for war at sea against peer competitors. What are the characteristics and experiences of peace-time Navy leaders (beyond the aforementioned operational positions)? Are these characteristics the same as those which might be sought leading into a major conflict? History suggests that they are different. One needs only consider the last, great war-at-sea. Many of the Navy’s leaders at the start of World War II were cast aside in favor of those who could bring fire to the enemy. For many of those officers, including Admirals Earnest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey, it is fair to say that they might never have arrived at flag rank based were they measured against today’s standards. To win that war no one cared who was charming or polished or politically astute or properly connected. The question had nothing to do with who had attained a “zero-defects” record. It had everything to do with who could and would defeat the enemy.

More recently, there have been other “reaches” undertaken to identify the right person for the job. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower reached deep to select Admiral Arleigh Burke as the 15th CNO. At the time of his appointment, Burke was still a rear admiral (two-star). He was promoted two grades and over the heads of many flags of far greater seniority. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon selected Admiral Elmo Zumwalt as the 19th CNO for very specific reasons and aims, despite his lack of “traditional” credentials.

Today, more than ever, modern war is a “come-as-you-are” affair. There will be no slow, years-long buildup allowed. Economies and modern weapon systems suggest that a real fight will ramp up to criticality almost immediately and that wide-spread, cannot-be-quickly-replaced/repaired damage will be done to the fleets in a matter of months, if not weeks. In other words, what the Navy has, regarding leadership and wherewithal, on day one, is the best that it may have throughout the conflict. The point is this: The right leadership needs to be found and selected, now.

Prove your readiness

Cast a wide net, and seek leaders who are determined to resist the self-interested pressures of outside agencies, prioritizing lethality in the Navy above whatever else may be prized. Who in today’s ranks is best equipped to lead the Navy in waging a high-end war?

An answer may lie in Admiral Swift’s March 2018 piece, “Fleet Problems Offer Opportunities.” Deeper opportunities may be offered to the Navy in this Fleet Problem concept. If, as he suggests in his piece, the new Fleet Problem is designed to do more than check a box, before the deployment of carrier strike groups…if Pacific Fleet is determined to truly test leadership in simulations which approach the real world…if officers will be challenged to do more than just go through the motions…if failure is an option, is this not a chance to really put officers, at a variety of levels, to the real test?

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget

Ships from Carrier Strike Group 8 in the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julia A. Casper)

And this test need not only apply to strike group commanders, and their respective warfare commanders. A variety of officers, all at different places in their careers, can be tested in this crucible. Is there any reason that an upward-bound submariner could not take command of the Maritime Operations Center (MOC) for the duration of the game? Stand up an exercise Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). Stand up an exercise Joint Forces Command. Is there any reason for an officer under consideration for fleet command could not play fleet commander during the game?

Admiral Swift offers a key point in all of this: “We have to guard against the natural byproduct of this training reality, which is an aversion to the risk of failure that is associated with learning at the leading edge of knowledge. We had to convey to the operational leaders that failure during the Fleet Problem was not just tolerated but expected. Without pushing our operational art to the point of failure, learning would be subdued and subtle, not stark and compelling. High-velocity learning happens at the leading edge of knowledge, not at its core, and certainly not at its trailing edge.”

Learning yes, but also testing. Officers at every level can be regularly assigned to the game, and throughout their careers, to test whether they possess skills beyond administrative? The Navy needs lions for leadership in war. The Navy also needs able administrators. Certainly, there are officers in the ranks who are both.

The Navy regularly pulls officers out of their employment to serve in a wide variety of boards. Is there any reason to think that this proposal would not be infinitely more valuable to the service, both in developing the entire officer corps for real, war-time thinking at the operational and strategic level? Let officers merit their promotion beyond unit-level by demonstrating the skill necessary to fully grasp that which is imperative in fighting a war…and that which is chaff.

The next CNO has, in all likelihood already been selected. The process of selection and vetting in long and complex and it is unrealistic to think that ADM Richardson approaches the end of his tenure without a relief already having been selected. The question is, and should be, this: Is the next CNO equipped to lead in war-time?

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how powerful names of military operations are picked

The tradition of naming major operations with an inspiring name is relatively new considering the long history of warfare. Battles and conflicts before 1918 are titled after a city or territory: The Battle of this, The Siege of that, or The Third battle of this and that. In 1918, the central powers launched Operation Fist Punch and were able to capture the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine from the Russian Bolsheviks. Over the course of 11 days the Russians surrendered and highlighted the merits of naming offensive operations with a name. From this point forward commanders around the world contemplated giving operations proper names.

The World Wars made it a thing

During World War I Germany favored naming operations over radio communications to maintain secrecy. When we fast forward to World War II the naming of operations had evolved. The Nazi empire, armed with the newly forged weapon of propaganda, blazed across Europe with the intent of intimidating allied forces and inspiring support for the war in Berlin. However, the allies had their own champions such as Frank Capra, to counter the Nazi’s Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the will. While the media giants battled on the silver screen to win the hearts of the civilians at home, allied commanders debated, agreed, and named operations to maintain operational security and motivate the troops conducting them. For example, the British launched Operation Chronometer in 1941 to capture the port city of Assab on the west coast of the Red Sea. On the American front, operations follow a color code prior to 1943.

The winter traffic collision this paramedic won’t forget
Marines work a 155mm gun position on Guadalcanal in 1942. National Archives photo

Winston Churchill is the grandfather of modern ops names

The turning point for the Pentagon on the subject of operational names came when Winston Churchill petitioned a better way of naming them. He convinced allied high command that they should change the name of Operation Soapsuds, the bombing raid of Romanian oil fields, to Operation Tidal Wave. At the time British commanders were vulnerable to committing their troops to comical names he outlined three clear guidelines:

1. Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives ought not to be described by code words which imply a boastful or overconfident sentiment or, conversely, which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency. They ought not to be names of a frivolous character. They should not be ordinary words often used in other connections, names of living people, ministers and commanders should be avoided.

2. After all, the world is wide, and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called “Bunnyhug” or “Ballyhoo.”

3. Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British and American war heroes, could be used, provided they fall within the rules above.

Winston Churchill

The U.S. adapted to use nouns and adjectives for operations consistently afterwards. With success gaining momentum in both the European and Pacific theaters, the importance of good sounding names grows as well. America did have some proper sounding names that obscured the mission such as the Manhattan Project in 1941. America had parallel thinking with Britain, it just needed a little nudge to cross over.

The U.S. is the current champion of Badass Operation Names

The allies had Operation OVERLORD for the D-Day invasion and Operation Downfall, the proposed invasion of Japan. Among the sea of operational names that sprouted from the war, it had become an American tradition to pick awe inspiring names for operations of future wars. Operation Rolling Thunder, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom – Americans are the best at it. Our secret ingredient is a little computer system, NICKA. It that tracks the names of code words, exercises, and nicknames to ensure they are not duplicated. The task of new names falls upon commanders at the highest levels. The pentagon chooses first and second words for an operation dictated by OPNAVINST 5511.37D in three steps:

First, Permanent First Word Assignment. Major users are permanently assigned first words in enclosure (1) to avoid duplication. Applicable activities shall use these for all originating nicknames/exercise terms. Authorized Navy first words are chosen from blocks of letters assigned to Navy, listed in enclosure (1). All nicknames which are exercise terms will follow the criteria for propriety given in subparagraph 7d.

Second, Requests for first word assignments will be made in writing by the initiating activity (see paragraph 9a) to CNO (N30P), who will ensure its validity. Nicknames/exercise terms must be approved before use. CNO (N30P) is the approving authority.

Third, Second Word Assignment. The second word is used in combination with the permanently assigned first word to identify a specific nickname/exercise term. Users with first, word assignments can suggest a second word to CNO (N30P) in writing. All second words must be approved by CNO (N30P) before use. Unlike first words, second words are not restricted by alphabet. The first and second words combined must meet criteria in subparagraph 7d.

OPNAVINST 5511.37D

For decades the U.S. has had names that get the juices flowing. Operation Red Dawn was the prelude to the toppling of Iraq and capture of Saddam Hussein. Operation Urgent Fury served to make an example of the island nation of Grenada. It was getting too close for comfort with the Soviet Union. The millennial generation has Operation Phantom Fury, the Battle for Fallujah. There are still more blank pages in the book of history with room for future wars. Rising tensions in the South China Sea may call upon the pentagon once again to come up with a name. This time to liberate the pacific, only time will tell what it may be.

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