6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history - We Are The Mighty
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6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history

The Coast Guard, unlike the other military branches, is a law enforcement agency — meaning that it gets wrapped up in all sorts of operations that the Department of Defense generally is barred from by law.


One of the operations commonly undertaken by the Coast Guard is catching drug smugglers and their illicit cargos, and the Coast Guard gives special attention to the lucrative cocaine trade which has given them some of the largest maritime drug busts in history.

Here, in order of size, are six of the largest:

(All dollar values are converted to 2017 values.)

1. 43,000 pounds cocaine

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton crew stand next to approximately 26.5 tons of cocaine Dec. 15, 2016 aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Woodall)

In March 2007, the Coast Guard Cutters Hamilton and Sherman stopped and investigated the Panamanian container ship Gatun and found two containers filled with 43,000 pounds of cocaine which had an estimated wholesale value of $350 million and a potential street value of $880 million.

2. 26,931 pounds cocaine

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Cocaine sits inside a hidden compartment on a vessel found by a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment. (Photo: courtesy US Coast Guard)

A U.S. Customs Service plane spotted the fishing trawler Svesda Maru sailing around without functioning fishing equipment in April 2001 and the Customs Service obviously found that suspicious. When a Coast Guard law enforcement detachment arrived, it had to search for five days before they found the secret space below the fishing hold.

In that space, they found 26,931 pounds of cocaine.

3. 24,000 pounds/$143 million

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
A Coast Guard law enforcement detachment searches a vessel suspected of piracy. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson)

A Coast Guard boarding team serving onboard a Navy cruiser was sent to investigate a suspected smuggling ship in 1995 and set the then world record for largest maritime drug seizure ever.

In two waste oil tanks they found over 12 tons of cocaine worth the equivalent of $230 million today.

4. 18,000 pounds/$200 million

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft prepares to drop supplies aboard the national security cutter USCGC Bertholf in the Arctic Ocean Sept. 14, 2012, during a patrol in support of Arctic Shield 2012. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class Timothy Tamargo)

A surveillance aircraft flying off of Central America spotted a possible submarine in the water in 2015 and the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf went to find it.

Surprise: Homemade submarines are usually filled with drugs. This particular sub was filled with almost 18,000 pounds of cocaine, about $205 million worth.

5. 16,000 pounds of cocaine

Just a few months before the Bertholf captured the narco sub with 18,000 pounds of cocaine, the Stratton captured another submarine with an estimated 16,000 pounds of cocaine.

The Coast Guard never found out for certain how much cocaine was onboard because homemade submarines aren’t exactly seaworthy and the vessel sank after 12,000 pounds were offloaded. Congrats, whales.

6. 12,000 pounds

The Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf made another 12,000-pound cocaine bust in March 2016 off the coast of Panama after spotting yet another submersible.

Had to feel like deja vu for the cutter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Josephine Baker: Roaring ’20s symbol of the jazz age, WWII spy, civil rights activist

Sitting on a bar stool at the bar of Le Jockey, a classy nightclub in Montparnasse on the Left Bank of Paris, was Ernest Hemingway. African American musicians on stage were playing their saxophones, horns, and drums, while beautiful women danced along.

“One of those nights, I couldn’t take my eyes off a beautiful woman on the dance floor—tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, long, seductive legs: Very hot night but she was wearing a black fur coat,” Hemingway recounts in A.E. Hotchner’s memoir Hemingway in Love: His Own Story

“She was dancing with a big British army sergeant, but her eyes were on me as much as my eyes were on her. I got off my bar stool and cut in on the Brit who tried to shoulder me away but the woman left the Brit and slid over to me. The sergeant looked bullets at me. The woman and I introduced ourselves. Her name was Josephine Baker, an American, to my surprise. Said she was about to open at the Folies Bergère, that she’d just come from rehearsal.”

She told him the fur coat was because she had nothing else on underneath. The Brit followed them as they were leaving, exchanging words the entire way, and pulled Hemingway’s sleeve and slammed him against the wall. Hemingway dropped the burly Brit with his fist as the police whistles were sounding. Hemingway spent the night at Baker’s kitchen table, drinking champagne sent from an admirer. They talked all night, “mostly bullshit,” but also about love and their souls.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Josephine Baker often performed onstage in Paris nightclubs with her pet cheetah Chiquita. Chiquita wore a diamond collar and sometimes, during a performance, Chiquita would decide to jump off the stage and into the orchestra pit, causing quite a ruckus. Screenshot via YouTube.

“Cruel vibes can offend the soul and send it on to a better place,” Baker told Hemingway. “You need some good stuff to happen in your life, Ernie, to rescue you with your soul.”

Baker was as mysterious as she was captivating, and when asked about her flamboyant persona, Hemingway recalled she was “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw … or ever will.”

The American-born performer moved to France from a poverty-stricken home in St. Louis during the Roaring ’20s. Blacks in the United States weren’t welcomed as they were in Europe. The early success of Black entertainers can be credited to Harlem Hellfighter James Reese Europe, who introduced the jazz scene that would rumble across the continent during World War I. 

Baker performed in the Harlem music-and-dance ensemble La Revue Nègre. She dressed in provocative outfits, including a skirt strung with bananas (and not much else), while on stage and gained a reputation for her comedic and silly style. Soon she became a star, entertaining open-minded white crowds under the stage name the “Creole Goddess.” 

When the Germans invaded Paris in 1940 in the early years of World War II, Baker fled among thousands of others. The 34-year-old was in an interracial marriage with a French-Jewish sugar broker named Jean Lion. She was also openly bisexual and had frequent affairs with women. Had she not fled, she could have been the target of Nazi sympathizers. 

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Josephine Baker was one of the first Black superstars. Current American icons have paid her homage: Beyoncé wore a banana skirt in her 2006 Fashion Rocks performance, and Rihanna memorably wore a sheer Baker-inspired dress in 2014 at the CFDA Fashion Awards. Screenshot via YouTube.

She poured out champagne from several bottles and replaced it with gasoline to endure a 300-mile journey to her country estate, Chateau des Milandes. Here she harbored refugees fleeing the Nazis and was later approached by Jacques Abtey, the head of French counterintelligence, to join the French resistance.

“France made me what I am,” she told him. “I will be grateful forever. The people of Paris have given me everything. […] I am ready, captain, to give them my life. You can use me as you wish.”

And he did. She procured visas at her chateau for French resistance fighters and used her celebrity status to attend diplomatic functions held at the Italian embassy. Axis bureaucrats, diplomats, and spies spoke about the war, and she was nearby listening in. She collected intelligence on German troop movements and gathered insight into enemy-controlled harbors and airfields. She’d write notes on her arms and legs with confidence she wouldn’t undergo a strip search. 

The Nazis paid her a visit, as they suspected she may have been involved in resistance activities. She charmed her way out of having them search her home, which was filled with hidden resistance fighters, but was spooked enough to contact Abtey to leave France. Gen. Charles de Gaulle instructed the pair to travel through neutral Lisbon, Portugal, to London. Between the two of them, they carried 50 classified documents, including Baker’s notes scribbled in invisible ink on her sheet music.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Josephine Baker wearing a French military uniform. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance, and became a Chevalier de Légion d’honneur, the highest order of merit for military and civil action. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube.

After the Allies liberated Paris, she returned to her beloved city wearing a French military uniform. De Gaulle awarded her the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance and named her a Chevalier de Légion d’honneur, the highest order of merit for military and civilian actions.

This war hero then became a vocal advocate against segregation and discrimination in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. 

“You know, friends, that I do not lie to you when I tell you I have walked into the palaces of kings and queens and into the houses of presidents,” she said in 1963 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. “And much more. But I could not walk into a hotel in America and get a cup of coffee, and that made me mad.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day. She also had a family of adopted children she called her “rainbow tribe” to show that “children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers.”

Josephine Baker died on April 12, 1975, at age 68. She preached equality, lived with moxie, and inspired generations of not only Black Americans but all Americans to bring change where it was needed: “Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one’s soul; when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood.”

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In spite of comparisons, here’s why these conventions won’t be like Chicago in ’68

 


The media has been eager to paint the upcoming political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia as repeats of the DNC convention of 1968, but is this a valid analogy? The 60’s were some of the most turbulent years in the history of the United States. The Civil Rights Movement, the sexual revolution, and the anti-war movement divided America like nothing since the Civil War, and it all came to a violent head in Chicago during the summer of 1968.

Here are the building blocks of that chaos:

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history

1. LBJ does not seek re-election

President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the country by announcing he would not seek re-election to the presidency. Johnson, despite passing historic civil rights legislation and furthering the integration of the South, also escalated the war in Vietnam. It was in 1968 that the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive and began the perception that the United States was losing the war. Johnson withdrew from the primaries, endorsing his VP, Hubert Humphrey, for the job.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
The fact that you don’t know if this is Humphrey or not should tell you how his election went.

It was during this tumultuous period that former Vice-President (under Eisenhower) Richard Nixon saw a political renaissance and re-emerged into the national spotlight. Nixon lost the Presidential election of 1960 and was famously trounced in the election for governor of California in 1962. Many thought this was the end of his political career, and as if to punctuate the loss, Nixon told the press: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Boom. Nixon – 1, Hippies – 0

But they would have Nixon to kick around again. His campaigning for Republican candidates helped the GOP regain seats in 1966, and Nixon believed a Democratic Party split on Vietnam could be beaten. Nixon easily beat out the other Republican candidates on the first ballot in the Republican Convention in Miami, including George Romney, Nelson Rockefeller, and a more “extremist” up-and-comer named Ronald Reagan.

2. The Democratic Party is corrupt

The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago is probably the most infamous in American history. After Robert Kennedy was assassinated, his nearly 400 delegates were up for grabs by the other candidates. The party was in fact divided over the Vietnam War, with Humphrey running on the pro-war Johnson platform and Senator Eugene McCarthy running an anti-war campaign. Even though 80 percent of Democratic voters voted for peace candidates, the nomination still went to Humphrey, even though he didn’t enter any of the state primaries. Peace Democrats saw corruption in the party.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Best headline of the year.

Outside the convention, a coalition of anti-war groups converged on Chicago. When Mayor Richard Daley learned there were upwards of 10,000 protesters outside, he organized a response consisting of 23,000 policemen and Illinois National Guard troops. Daley was worried they would try to disrupt the convention, spike Chicago’s water with LSD, or attempt to harm the candidates. the area was swarmed with National Guard troops, who formed around the convention and surrounding hotels. The Chicago Tribune called the convention site “a veritable stockade.” The stage for a battle was set.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
The National Guard in Chicago, 1968 (photo by Bea Carson)

3. Protesters fight police in Chicago

On August 28, the crowd gathered at nearby Grant Park. When one of them lowered the American flag at the park, police officers broke through the crowd and beat the demonstrator. The crowd began to throw food, rocks, and pieces of concrete at the cops. The riot broke out in front of the Chicago Hilton, right in full view of all the TV cameras, as the crowd chanted “the whole world is watching.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Student demonstrators in Grant Park (photo by Bea Carson)

Inside the convention, even journalists were roughed up. Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, and Ed Newman were all punched or otherwise assaulted in some way. Rather was famously punched in the gut by a security officer. Walter Cronkite even said of the convention, “I think we have a bunch of thugs here…” When one person tried to nominate George McGovern in a speech, he took the opportunity to mention that if McGovern were president, the police wouldn’t be using Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
National Guard trucks rolling down Michigan Avenue, 1968 (photo by Bea Carson)

4. Nixon wins

The police brutally beat and gassed protesters, reporters, and doctors who came to help. The incident became known as “The Battle of Michigan Avenue.” It split the Democrats in 1968 and allowed Nixon, who ran a campaign on restoring law and order and pulling out of Vietnam, to ascend to the Presidency.

This most unsteady course of events in American history altered the way the Cold War was fought, created distrust in the office of the President, and didn’t stop until after Nixon’s resignation in 1974, which ended over a decade of social unrest, upheaval, and uncertainty in the United States.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This D-Day vet hit the beach strapped to a barrage balloon

As World War II raged overseas, men and women responded to the call of duty in the fight for what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the “four freedoms” – freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear. By the time the United States entered the war, more than 2.5 million African American men had signed up for the draft. In a separate-but-not-equal military at the time, the irony was not lost as the fight for these freedoms continued at home.


“[T]he sky in the distance lit up with searchlights, tracers from ack-acks and the sound of bombs,” Cpl. Waverly B. Woodson, a medic attached to the primarily African American 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, once wrote in testimony to Congress regarding what he witnessed on D-Day.

Also read: One man dumped most of the combat footage of D-Day into the English Channel

War raged in every corner of sky, sea, and land within sight as dawn broke on the morning of June 6, 1944. The 320th was the only African-American amphibious assault unit the U.S. First Army used in Normandy. According to Woodson, they were dispersed among various landing craft for protection of unit members.

“The military personnel on our landing craft looked in awe at the spectacle in the distance and wondered, ‘What next?'” he wrote. Woodson, along with several seamen and soldiers on a Landing Craft Tank, was part of the first wave heading toward Omaha Beach.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Army 1st Infantry Division troops land on Omaha Beach on D-Day. (Photo by U.S. Navy Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent)

The water was choppy and the noise deafening. As the landing craft neared the French coastline, it hit a submerged mine, which took out the motors. Within minutes, it hit another mine and endured several German 88mm artillery shells. The Germans continued to rake the ship with machine gun fire and mortar shells, preventing any nearby ship from coming to the rescue, Woodson said.

One mortar shell landed on the steel deck of the craft and exploded. Before Woodson had a chance to move, shrapnel took out the soldier next to him and more shrapnel lodged into his own thigh. After another medic dressed his injury, Woodson tended to the wounded and dead onboard. Of the 34 service members on board Woodson’s craft, only 11 survived by the time the ship hit the beach.

Related: This battleship went from Pearl Harbor to D-Day to nuclear tests

“D-Day was the most emotional and dangerous day in my life,” Woodson wrote. “As a young soldier far from home … the assault units waited patiently to begin their mission… Everyone knew the first 23 hours would be critical to the course of the war.”

Once Woodson reached the beach, he tended to the wounded and consoled the frightened. He dressed wounds, administered pain medication, and conducted amputations for the next 30 hours. He later saved and resuscitated four drowning soldiers before collapsing from exhaustion and injury. Woodson spent three days recovering in a hospital ship and then asked to be taken back to the beach to continue working.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
The Seabees land at Omaha Beach on D-Day. (US Navy photo)

A note from the assistant director in the Office of War Information to a White House aide states Woodson’s commanding officer had recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross. This was upgraded to the Medal of Honor by the office of Gen. John C.H. Lee in Great Britain. At home, the press called him the “No. 1 Invasion Hero.”

Woodson never received the Distinguished Service Cross or Medal of Honor. After the war, he was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions on D-Day.

Nearly one million African American service members served in World War II. In the segregated military, most African American service members were assigned to the Army for service- or combat-support roles. A small percentage held positions in combat arms.

Retired Cpl. William Dabney, now 93, is one of two surviving members of the 320th. In 1942, he was in his second year of high school when he enlisted in the Army – and only after convincing his great-aunt to sign a document granting him permission to serve. He soon found himself training to use hydrogen-filled barrage balloons, which had thin metal cables with bombs attached that would detonate if triggered by low-flying enemy planes.

More: This is the first African American to earn the Medal of Honor

On June 6, Dabney made his way to Omaha Beach with the first wave with a barrage balloon strapped to him.

“I was dodging bullets mostly,” said Dabney with a laugh. His mission was to protect the advancing soldiers. As Dabney approached Omaha Beach, his balloon caught fire from being hit by gunfire.

“It happened just as I hit the beach, so I couldn’t move,” said Dabney. “I wasn’t equipped to do anything else because that was my job. The only thing I could do then was unstrap the cables from myself and take cover under the dead bodies so I wouldn’t get shot.”

By the end of the day, the mission of the 320th had been accomplished successfully. Dabney was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest military honor, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. His proudest moment from that day: getting a hug and a kiss from First Lady Michelle Obama, who recognized him before he could introduce himself.

(Defense Department photo/Linda Hosek)

“Allowing my dad to share his experiences with others helps spread the information about the accomplishments and contributions of black men throughout history – specifically throughout World War II,” said Vinney, Dabney’s eldest son.

Segregation in the Armed Forces remained an official policy until 1948. The heroic actions of many African American service members went unacknowledged – due to their race – entire units, such as the 320th, were left unmentioned in history. While prejudice took a backseat during D-Day, the years ahead would see a different story, said Woodson.

Woodson spent the remainder of his career serving the medical community at then-Walter Reed Army Hospital and then-National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He spent 38 years working in clinical pathology at the National Institutes of Health before retiring. He passed away in 2005.

More reading: First African-American Marines finally get their own monument

In 1997, after a study commissioned by the U.S. Army investigated racial discrimination in awarding medals, President Bill Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to seven African American World War II veterans. But to the dismay of family and friends who knew Woodson, he remained missing from the list.

Many of Woodson’s military records were lost in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri. With the help of U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, his family has since started a petition to award him the Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day.

“Black History Month recognizes that there are lots of Black heroes largely uncelebrated because their stories aren’t being told,” said Dabney. “I’d like people to not just remember the 320th. I would like for all African Americans that were fighting in this war to be recognized. They did a job, too, and there was quite a few of us out there.”

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This wounded airman saved his team (with an A-10’s help)

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Gutierrez is a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) who was awarded the Air Force Cross for heroism during an intense firefight in Afghanistan in 2009.


JTACS are military personnel who direct combat support aircraft like the A-10, calling in air strikes to support ground operations.

Gutierrez was part of a nighttime raid with an Army special forces detachment to capture a high-value Taliban target, a “brutal” man living outside of the city of Herat in Western Afghanistan.

The team was attacked with heavy fire from a numerically superior and battle-hardened enemy force. Gutierrez was shot in the chest, his team leader was shot in the leg, and the ten-man element was pinned down in a building with no escape route.

“We were just getting hammered, getting peppered,” he recalls in a six-minute interview. He talked to his team’s leader who wanted to drop bombs on the enemy targets.

“If you put a bomb on that it’ll kill us all,” he told his leader. “Guys are getting wounded. Our best chance is a 30mm high-angle strafe.”

Gutierrez is having this discussion as bullets pepper the walls behind him, as a medic works on his chest wound, a through-and-through which the medic couldn’t find the entrance wound. He is also still holding off Taliban fighters with his M4 rifle.

“This is danger close, I need your initials,” he told his team lead.

“How close?”

“Less than 10 meters.”

Gutierrez needed the support of an A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka “Warthog,” whose 30mm GAU-8 Cannon rounds are the size of beer bottles, to make a precision strike on the attacking insurgents.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
An A-10 bombing run, too explosive to support Gutierrez’ team (U.S. Air Force photo)

Capt. Ethan Sabin, an A-10 pilot based at Kandahar Airfield, asked a nearby F-16 pilot to mark the target with the laser on his targeting pod.

The A-10 attack was so close, Gutierrez’s right eardrum burst and his left eardrum was severely damaged from the noise. He lost five-and-a-half pints of blood getting away from the combat zone.

After the first A-10 strafing, the medic had to re-inflate Gutierrez’ collapsed lung so he could direct two more strafing runs. For four hours, the team held off the enemy fighters and escaped the battlespace.

To give an idea of the kind of interactions JTACs have with close-air support pilots in the heat of the moment, the video below is a prime example of the extraordinary actions Gutierrez and airmen like him perform on the battlefield every day.


Feature image: USAF photo

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This is the biggest predictor of success in military special ops

Creating a fool-proof selection program as well as finding the right entry requirements to test candidates is something the military, police, special ops, and fire fighter worlds constantly seek to perfect. I recently was asked the following question by a few friends who are either active duty or former Tactical Professionals (aka military, special ops, police, swat, and fire fighters):


Do you think there will ever be a measurable test or metric to predict the success of a candidate in Special Ops programs?

My unqualified short answer is… maybe? I think there are far too many variables to test to create a measurable metric to predict success in selection programs or advanced special operations training. Now, this does not mean we should stop looking and creating statistical analyses of those who succeed and fail, or testing out new ideas to improve student success. There is no doubt that finding better prepared students will save money, time, and effort, and it’s worth remembering that much of the entry standards are based on those studies. The ability to measure someone’s mental toughness (aka heart or passion) may be impossible, but there are groups making great strides with quantifying such intangibles.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
U.S. Navy SEALs exit a C-130 Hercules aircraft during a training exercise near Fort Pickett, Va.

Recently, Naval Special Warfare Center (BUD/S) did a three-year study on their SEAL candidates attending Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL Training. If you are looking for the physical predictors to success, this is about as thorough of a study as I have ever seen to date.

The CSORT — Computerized Special Operations Resiliency Test is another method of pre-testing candidates prior to SEAL Training — while still in the recruiting phase. The CSORT is part of the entry process and has become a decent predictor of success and failure with a candidate’s future training. Together with the combined run and swim times of the BUD/S PST (500yd swim, pushups, situps, pullups, and 1.5 mile run), a candidate is compared to previous statistics of candidates who successfully graduated.

Can You Even Measure Mental Toughness?

This is a debate that those in the business of creating Special Operators still have. In my opinion, the “test” is BUD/S, SFAS, Selection, SWAT Training, or whatever training that makes a student endure daily challenges for a long period of time. The body’s stamina and endurance is equally tested for several days and weeks, as is one’s mental stamina and endurance (toughness) in these schools. The school IS the test. Finding the best student — now that is the challenge.

Related Articles/ Studies:

Here is a study on general “Hardness” with respect to Army SF graduates.

Some other intangible qualities of successful special operators.

Some Science of Mental Toughness.

Building Blocks of Mental Toughness.

Training to Think While Stressed. Thinking under pressure is a common trait of successful operators.

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com’s Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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The difference between Air Force and Army hair expectations

Civilians might think of military hair regulations as one standard look (see: jarhead), but there’s actually some variance among the branches. The “high and tight” sported by soldiers and Marines is much too short for your average airman.

Just ask Air Force captain Mark Harper.


In 2005, Harper deployed to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq as Officer In Charge of the Joint Combat Camera team. Though he deployed with the Air Force, it was a joint environment, so Harper found himself reporting to an Army colonel and supervising about 40 grunts.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history

The first day he reported to Army HQ, those soldiers jumped on the chance to give him a hard time about his hair (which is probably a good thing — you only haze the people you like, right? Right?).

“I learned my schedule was intense and I wouldn’t be able to get someone else to cut it, but I wasn’t going to endure this mockery again, so I thought, ‘How hard can this be? I’m just going to cut it myself…'”

He lucked out — the Post Exchange sold Wahl clippers.

That night at 0200 he finally found some spare time to cut his hair.

Also read: These are the rules NATO allies have about growing beards

With no practical experience selecting clipper guards, Harper wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing, but the Wahl gear was pretty intuitive and he even managed to fade it on the sides.

“So I officially did it. I cut my own hair.”

He then walked proudly into the Air Force tent.

Check out the video below to see their reaction:

www.youtube.com

We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the leader in the professional and home grooming field.

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10 life hacks to get you through deployment boredom

The one thing no one ever talks about with deployments is the mind numbing boredom that comes between missions. Times have changed from the “Wild West” days of early 2000’s where even having a power outlet was a luxury.


Things have gotten slightly less monotonous but they haven’t changed that much. Troops are still sitting at the same USO, playing on the same broken Foosball table, watching the same videos that have been shared by everyone.

Here are some pro-tips that help make the deployment a little less sucky.

1. Coffee pot ramen

There was nothing more valuable than a cheapo coffee pot that every PX larger than the back of a semi-truck sold. Even then they would probably still sell them.

Instead of using it for coffee like officers in S-3 do, place ramen noodles in the glass carafe and the powder on top where the hot water will eventually drip down. It will save you time on running to the dining hall or spare you another night of MREs (depending on your level of POG-ieness). 

 

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
It also acts as the bowl from which to eat. (Image via The Mary Sue)

2. MRE hacks

You can talk about the blandness of MREs for months at a time, but there’s hope: you can combine your way through any MRE, it just takes a lot of ratf*cking a bunch of ingredients from several other MREs. It’s common knowledge to combine the Cocoa powder, coffee, sugar, and creamer to make Ranger Pudding, but with enough creativity, you can take it to the next level.

Taken to the extreme, even the old dreaded Egg and Cheese Omelet (which was thankfully removed years ago, a long enough time to make it inedible by Army standards) could be mixed with the Beef Stew and crackers to make it “decent”.

If all else fails, have family members send out cheap seasonings like Lowry’s or Tony Chachere’s.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Mix until decent (Image by Logan Nye of WATM)

3. Knock off all that inter-unit bullsh*t

There’s no reason to keep up the “screw (whatever MOS) platoon!” Don’t stop playful banter — but don’t be a jerk, either. One team, one fight.

Everyone has one or two things that can help everyone else while deployed. Commo always have batteries and new movies. Medics always have medical supplies and hygiene stuff. Chaplin Assistants always have the best care packages. Mechanics always have cigarettes. The list goes on.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
We all embrace the suck deployed.

4. Living Space

If you can manage to get a bunk bed all to yourself, you’ve got it made.

Instead of storing gear on the empty bunk, hollow the bottom bunk out and brace it with plywood. This way you can use that space for your own bedroom. Complete with tough box furniture and one of those cheap lawn chairs.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Just tactically acquire a second poncho for both sides. (Image via Defense.gov)

 

5. Cotton sock cooler

Troops always deploy to unpleasant areas of the world — usually in crazy hot climates. It gets so bad that drinking water becomes so blistering hot, you feel more thirsty after drinking it than you did before you took a swig.

Here’s the solution: Take a single cotton sock and get it damp. Put a cool bottle of water from the dining hall or S-shop mini-fridge and stick the bottle in the sock.

The eventual evaporation helps cool down the water bottle inside. Same concept behind sweating. Because science. It won’t relieve much boredom, but at least you’ll feel better.

 

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Just use clean socks. Because logic. (Image via Eabco)

6. The Postal Service is faster than the Connex

Deploying to the sandbox and coming back stateside, troops split their gear and personal belongings into two categories: Stuff they take on the plane with them and stuff they send with the connex (which arrives months later).

Why not split it into a third? Things too bulky for the plane, but things you’d want immediately. The moment you get the APO address, send out your Xbox, cheapo TV, gear that might be useful, and extra personal supplies (hygiene stuff, ramen noodles, etc.)

Same deal for your return trip, too.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
The postal service works both ways. (Image via Army.mil)

 

7. Scorpions glow under UV. Weird way to kill boredom, but we’ll take it.

If you are deployed to an outlying post in the middle of nowhere, you probably noticed a few scorpions.

Spotting them while you’re walking at night is tricky. Since scorpions glow, pick up a black light flashlight to help guide your way.

 

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Looks like we have another competitor for this week’s Hunger Games! (Image via Phoenix Pest Control)

8. MOLLE pouch for your Woobie

In the PX, there’s countless amounts of “sort of” military gear that no one is ever issued and no one really has a purpose for. The M249 SAW ammo pouch, however, can come in handy for plenty of things.

If you get sent on multi-day missions, that pouch fits your Woobie perfectly. No need to awkwardly dig through your assault pack when the ammo pouch is on the side.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Who would actually argue against bringing the greatest piece of military gear with them? Heartless souls. That’s who.

 

9. .50 Cal Brass as a cigarette cover

We Are The Mighty does not encourage smoking. But if you must smoke…

Every smoker who goes without a cigarette for an extended period of time can tell you that you can spot a cigarette from blocks away.

In the day time, the smoke floats and gives your position away. Especially dangerous at night is the glow of the cigarette, which can give a sniper a bright red target to aim at.

Take an expended .50 cal brass from the Ma Deuce and place it over the cigarette if you just need to have one while on mission. Still does nothing for the smell though.

 

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
And the brass slips perfectly under the MOLLE strap. (Image via Wikicommons)

10f. No one is as stealthy as they think

It should seem obvious, but with your entire platoon squished into a tiny tent on a tiny outpost, there is very little privacy. The sooner you realize it, the sooner your platoon stops mocking you.

If you think you can take a piss in a Gatorade bottle without everyone else in the tent hearing it because you’re too damn lazy to get out of your bunk, you’re wrong. Same goes with everything else that happens in the tent.

Everything.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history

Articles

These are the 10 deadliest self-propelled howitzers

A longtime saying in war is that artillery is the king of the battlefield.


But some artillery are better than others, but the best are those that can drive themselves to battle.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
An ARCHER Artillery System. (Wikimedia Commons)

For a long time, all artillery was towed. First the towing as done by horses, then by trucks or other vehicles. But there was a problem. The artillery took a while to set up, then, when the battery had to move — either because troops advanced or retreated – or the enemy found out where the artillery was located, it took time to do that.

Fighter pilots say, speed is life.” Artillerymen would not disagree. Towed artillery had another minus: It had a hard time keeping up with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Night falls at Fort Riley, Kan., as an M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer with 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, fires a 155 mm shell during 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s combined arms live-fire exercise Oct. 30, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Portela/released)

The way to cut the time down was to find a way a howitzer could propel itself. The advantage was that these guns not only could support tanks and other armored units, but these guns often had an easier time setting up to fire. They could also be ready to move much faster, as well.

This ability to “shoot and scoot” made them much harder to locate.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
2S19 Msta self-propelled howitzer. (Wikimedia Commons)

Most self-propelled howitzers fire either a 152mm round (usually from Russia and China, but also from former communist countries like Serbia) or a 155mm round (NATO and most other countries). Often these guns are tracked, but some have been mounted on truck chassis, gaining a higher top speed as a result.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
A PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer belonging to the Dutch Army fires on the Taliban in 2007. (Wikimedia Commons)

Some of the world’s best self-propelled howitzers include the American-designed M109A6 Paladin, the Russian 2S19, the South Korean K9 Thunder, and the German PzH-2000.

You can see the full list of the ten deadliest self-propelled howitzers in the video below.

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (Aug. 14 edition)

Here are the headlines you need to know about going into the weekend (whatever that is. Around WATM we call it “two working days until Monday”):


Now: 11 weapons from pop culture we could totally use right now

Articles

The fledgling Afghan Air Force is training to take on Al Qaeda and the Taliban

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
An Afghan air force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan during a training mission April 6, 2016. NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air worked daily with the Afghan air force to help build a professional, sustainable and capable air force. | U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura


It was just a few months ago that the first A-29 Super Tucanos touched down in Afghanistan, and a new video of live fire drills gives us a rare look at the Afghan pilot’s progress since then.

As part of NATO’s Operation Resolute Support to provide support and security to the Afghan National Government in the face resurgent terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the US has provided A-29 light air support planes to the fledgling Afghan Air Force.

Throughout the video, you can hear US Air Force trainers instructing the Afghan pilots.

The A-29s in the video are firing off rockets, as well as the .50 calibre guns.

The A-29s sent to Afghanistan are US made, designed specifically for counter insurgency and are super versatile.

The planes have five hardpoints on each wing and can carry up to 3,300 pounds of additional ordinance, like AIM-9X missiles, rocket pods, 20 mm cannons, smart freefall bombs, and even air-to-air missiles, according to IHS Jane’s.

Watch the full video below (the firing starts at around the 3:10 mark):

Articles

The 4 biggest stories around the military right now (July 27 edition)

Attention to orders: It’s Monday. Here’s what you need to know to get the week started right:


 

Articles

Watch this boy find and defuse a rare Civil War artillery shell

Britain Lockhart, the teenage treasure hunter and American history preserver behind the YouTube channel “Depths of History,” recently made his most important and dangerous discovery to date — a live 20-pound Civil War-era Parrot artillery shell.


Related: That time a soldier used a payphone to call back to the US to get artillery support in Grenada

The teenager found it while scanning for bullets and canister shots left behind by Union and Confederate soldiers in the Tennessee countryside. He nearly missed his discovery because he’d dug so deep that he wanted to quit.

“I got about 20 inches, and I was like, I gotta give this hole a break,” Lockhart said in his video. “I went over there and dug up one more bullet, and I was like, okay we can come back to it.”

“So I removed a rock, then we went into another field and started hunting, and I came back to it and ya’ll can’t even believe this,” the excited teen added. “I think I have a whole shell down in the hole.”

Lockhart was right; the shell was 3 feet under the earth. He pulled the entire live round to gasps of astonishment from onlookers off camera. “That’s the biggest find out here,” said an off-camera voice.

6 of the biggest cocaine busts in Coast Guard history
Britain Lockhart plucking a Civil War-era Parrot shell from a three-foot hole. Source: Depths of History, YouTube.

Worried that the round could explode, Lockhart took it to expert Steve Phillips to defuse and preserve the shell. Phillips is a relics legend who has defused over 2,000 cannon balls, according to Lockhart.

“People think that if they drill one under water, it can’t blow up,” said Phillips. “That’s not true, people have been blown up under water while drilling them with their hand.”

While cautiously preparing the shell to drill, Pillips wisely summed up his experience, “you just have to think it might blow up.”

This YouTube video shows how Britain Lockhart finds, defuses, and preserves a Civil War-era artillery shell.

Watch:

Depths of History, YouTube
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