The creator of 'Amazing Grace' was a sailor with a foul mouth - We Are The Mighty
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The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

John Newton was not what you’d call a lucky man. One day, he went off to visit some friends in London and was caught up along the way by a press gang – Royal Navy troops sent just to force people into serving aboard the king’s ships. He found himself a midshipman on the HMS Harwich, a position he of course tried to desert immediately. But he was found out, flogged in front of the ship’s company and even attempted suicide.

But the hard luck doesn’t end there. The man who penned the hymn “Amazing Grace” sure lived a life that would inspire such work.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
If you ever have a bad day, remember John Newton through his autobiographical writing. (The Cowper and Newton Museum/ Wikimedia Commons)

John Newton’s luck was bad even before his impressment. He was practically an orphan; his mother died of tuberculosis when he was six and he was forced to live with a cold, unfeeling relative. After joining the Navy, Newton renounced his faith and plotted to kill his shipmates. He was so difficult to work with, the crew of the Harwich decided to transfer him to the HMS Pegasus en route to India. The Pegasus was a slave trader, but the change in ships did not suit Newton’s temper. The Pegasus decided to leave him in West Africa during one of its slaving missions.

Not quite marooned but not far from it, Newton connected with an actual slaver. He joined the crew of a slave ship and openly challenged the captain by creating catchy songs about him filled with curses and language unlike anything anyone had ever heard. Sailors were known for their foul mouths, but Newton’s was so bad the slaver’s captain almost starved him to death for it.

That’s when a large storm hit their ship.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Life aboard a British slaver in the mid-1700s. (public domain)

The storm nearly sunk the ship, but Newton and another crewman tied themselves to the ship’s pumps and began to work for 11 hours to keep it from capsizing. After their miraculous escape, Newton saw the storm as a message from God. He began to work harder, eventually commanding his own slaving ship and sailing between ports in Africa and North America. Eventually, the man collapsed from overwork. He returned to England and never sailed again.

It was in his adopted home of Olney where he wrote a series of autobiographical hymnals, including the well-known “Amazing Grace” as we call it today. In this work, Newton learned how he was a “wretch” due to his participation in the North Atlantic Slave Trade. In life, he set out to help abolish it in England. Newton new connected with William Wilberforce, the British Parliamentarian who led the charge against slavery in Britain and ended it in the Empire in 1807.

Military Life

This was the first woman in the Iraq War to earn a Silver Star

The Silver Star is currently the third-highest award for valor in combat. The decoration is given to those that exhibit exemplary courage in the face of the enemy. For reference, there are only three women in history that have garnered the honor. The first woman since WWII to earn this prestigious medal did so by directly engaging in combat with the enemy.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Above, a photo of Sgt. Leigh Hester’s Silver Star (Photo by NPR)

When Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester joined the military in 2001, neither she nor anyone else would have guessed that she would be the second woman to be awarded the Silver Star. Hester was assigned to 617th Military Police Company, National Guard, Richmond, KY. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, happened right before Hester was shipped off to basic training. Soon after Hester completed training in 2004, she deployed to Iraq.

Hester and her team ran convoys to clear an area of IEDs and ensure safe passage. According to the Pentagon’s policy, women are not allowed to be assigned to units where their primary mission is to “engage in direct combat on the ground.” Even though women, at the time, were banned from combat positions, some engaged in and witnessed combat. Hester’s experience proves that everyone has the possibility of engaging in combat.

On one particular convoy, in Baghdad, the Humvee ahead of Hester was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Explosions and gunshots rang out while Hester followed her squad leader, Sgt. Timothy Nein, as they positioned themselves in front of a trench and fired back. After 45 minutes of taking enemy fire, the ordeal had ended.

Although three of Hester’s team members were injured, all of them survived the firefight. Hester and Nein received Silver Stars for their actions that saved their whole squad from insurgent attack.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Sgt. Leigh Hester holds up her Silver Star.

Women are still gaining ground in the arena of combat positions, and Hester wants to be clear that her actions had nothing to do with her sex. She states, “I’m honored to even be considered, much less awarded, the medal,” Hester told the American Forces Press Service. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a female. It’s about the duties I performed that day as a soldier.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why the USS Jimmy Carter isn’t an aircraft carrier

The Navy’s tradition of honoring past American Presidents by naming aircraft carrier after them is alive and well. The USS Ronald Reagan, the Abraham Lincoln, and the Gerald Ford are all symbols of the projection of American naval power all over the world. There’s just one exception, one that goes unnoticed by many, mainly because it’s supposed to.

The USS Jimmy Carter is named after the 39th President of the United States, but it’s a nuclear submarine. And there’s a great reason for it.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Carter dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy even as a three-year-old.

Like many 20th Century Presidents before him, Carter was a Navy veteran. Unlike Nixon, Bush 41, or President Ford, Carter’s contributions to the Navy didn’t happen primarily in wartime, however, it happened after the Second World War. Carter, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was immediately appointed as an officer aboard a Navy submarine, the USS Pomfret. He served aboard a number of submarines, mostly electric-diesel submarines, until it was time to upgrade them. All of them.

While the United States was embroiled in the Korean War, Carter the engineering officer, was sent to work with the Atomic Energy Commission and later Union College in Upstate New York, where he became well-versed in the physics of nuclear energy and nuclear power plants. He would use that knowledge to serve under Admiral Hyman Rickover, helping develop the nuclear Navy. Carter would have to leave the active Navy in 1953 when his father died and left the family peanut farm without an owner. In less than a year after Carter’s departure, Rickover’s team would launch the USS Nautilus, the world’s first-ever nuclear-powered submarine and the first ship in a long line of nuclear ships.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

The USS Nautilus

According to President Carter, Rickover was of the biggest influences on the young peanut farmer’s life. Carter’s 1976 campaign biography was even called Why Not The Best? – after a question Rickover asked the young naval officer while interviewing to join the nuclear submarine program.

Rickover asked Carter what his standing was in his graduating class at Annapolis and when Carter replied, Rickover asked him if he did his best.

“I started to say, ‘Yes sir,’ but I remembered who this was and recalled several times I could have learned more about our allies, our enemies, weapons, strategy and so forth. I was just human. I finally gulped and said, ‘No sir, I didn’t always do my best.”

“Why not?” asked Rickover. It was the last thing the Admiral said during the interview.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Rickover (far right) with then-President Carter and his wife Rosalyn, touring a U.S. nuclear submarine.

Later, of course, Carter would become Hyman Rickover’s Commander-in-Chief, having taken in everything he learned from Rickover about nuclear energy and the U.S. Navy. The nuclear sub would become one of the pillars of American national security.

As President, Carter would restrict the building of supercarriers due to their massive costs, instead favoring medium-sized aircraft carriers, much to the consternation of the Navy and defense contractors. It would make little sense to have Carter’s name on a weapons program he discouraged as President – kind of like having Andrew Jackson’s face on American currency even though the 12th President was opposed to central banking.

But the Navy had to do something for the only Annapolis graduate to ascend to the nation’s highest office and serve as the Leader of the Free World. So naming the third Seawolf-class submarine after the former submarine officer and onetime nuclear engineer made perfect sense. The USS Jimmy Carter is the most secret nuclear submarine on the planet, moving alone and silently on missions that are never disclosed to the greater American public.

Lists

7 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to watch before ‘Infinity War’

Not planning a two-day Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon right before seeing “Avengers: Infinity War?”

Nobody has time for that.

To accommodate fans who want to freshen up their knowledge, we collected a list of the most essential MCU movies to watch right before you see “Infinity War,” which is scheduled for release April 27, 2018.

From “Captain America: The First Avenger” to “Thor: Ragnarok,” here are the 8 MCU movies you need to catch up on.

(To see where to watch, check this list of where to stream all 18 movies in the MCU.)

Here’s 7 MCU movies to watch before seeing “Infinity War”:

1.”Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

In addition to debuting Captain America, this movie introduces us to the Infinity Stones, setting up the story years before “Infinity War.” The film’s villain, Red Skull, is trying to gain the power of the Tesseract, which contains the blue Space Stone.

2. “The Avengers” (2012)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

In “The Avengers,” Loki is working for Thanos. He makes a failed attempt to get the Tesseract and take over Earth. It’s also an introduction to the Avengers team, and Mark Ruffalo’s version of the Hulk. In 2012, this movie felt like the biggest movie of all time, but now it feels so small.

3. “Captain America: Civil War” (2016)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

“Civil War” is important because it divides the team right before “Infinity War.” It’s also essentially an Avengers movie. Captain America and his friends are now on the run from the law because of what happens in this movie, so it will be interesting to see how a team that is so divided sets aside their differences and comes together.

“Civil War” is available to stream on Netflix.

4. “Doctor Strange” (2016)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Doctor Strange will play a pretty prominent role in “Infinity War” since he has the Time Stone, which Thanos needs to achieve his goal of wiping out half the universe. “Doctor Strange” is a really good movie, and it will help you better understand Strange’s complicated and cool powers.

“Doctor Strange” is available to stream on Netflix.

5. “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

“Ragnarok” — which is a weird, fun action-comedy that defies all action movie laws in the best way — directly sets up “Infinity War,” so you absolutely have to see it. If you don’t, you’ll be very confused. The film focuses on Thor and Loki’s complicated relationship, which could be important in “Infinity War,” depending on where Loki’s loyalties lie.

6. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014), “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017)

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Since Thanos, the primary villain in “Infinity War,” is the father of two Guardians of the Galaxy, these films are worth revisiting to get an idea of how Gamora and Nebula feel about their dad. They don’t like him, but it’s complicated. This dynamic could play a huge role in “Infinity War.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is available to stream on Netflix.

7. “Black Panther”

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

You’ve seen the trailers. There’s clearly a huge battle scene in “Infinity War” that takes place in Wakanda, and it looks like some of the characters from the movie will make an appearance. You’ll have to go to a theater to see “Black Panther,” since the DVD and Blu-ray release isn’t until May 8, 2018, but it’s worth it.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 things that made the Infantry Training Battalion terrible

For the ten days immediately after you graduate Marine Corps boot camp, you’ll feel like the world’s biggest badass. That brief high comes to a crashing halt when you report to the School of Infantry. If you’re a poor crayon-eater who signed an infantry contract, you go to the Infantry Training Battalion. You’ll arrive thinking that becoming a Marine means you’ve been given superhuman abilities only to very quickly find your all-too-human limits.

There, you’ll be deprived of sleep (yet again) and you won’t be fed on a regular schedule. It’s not a fun experience, but you’ll come out the other side a better warrior, a lethal Marine. Still, that doesn’t mean we should ignore all the following reasons why the Infantry Training Battalion is terrible.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

In retrospect, boot camp isn’t so bad…

(U.S. Marine Corps)

You thought boot camp was as bad as it gets…

…and you were wrong. So, so wrong. Your Drill Instructors built you up to think that earning the title of Marine was the toughest task on Earth. You used that promise to reason with yourself — nothing else will ever be this bad, right? Then you get to the School of Infantry and realize that boot camp was only the worst time of your life up until that point.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Spoiler alert: You’re not as tough as you think you are.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

You’ll show up cocky

There’s a level of pride that comes with becoming a Marine. Fresh out of boot camp, many of us take that pride a step too far and become just plain cocky. When you get to SOI, you learn the hard way the pride comes before the fall. You’re quickly put in place and realize you’re just a small detail in a much bigger picture. You are far from the toughest guy around.

Truth hurts.

You actually get some time off

West Coasters know what we’re talking about — you get your weekends, if you’re lucky enough to be spared the wrath of your Combat Instructors, that is. This sounds like a good thing, but it makes Sunday mornings unbearable. Dread sets in as you anticipate the return of the week… and your Combat Instructors.

You’re sleep deprived the entire time

In boot camp, Drill Instructors are required to allow you eight hours of sleep per night — with the exception of the Crucible. Maybe that’s a rule for Combat Instructors, too, but, if you’re a grunt, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like it is. You’ll find yourself standing in front of your wall locker at 2 a.m. wondering what the f*** you’re doing.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Combat instructors are just… scary.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

The Combat Instructors are scarier

Drill Instructors are scary at first, but you get used to them. Your Combat Instructors are plain terrifying and they never stop being that way, not even after you graduate.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

You get used to them after a while.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

You eat MREs all day

Nobody likes MREs — nobody. This sucks, but it’s best to consider it training in its own right because, as a grunt, you’re going to eat a lot of them.

Still, that doesn’t make them taste any less like cardboard dog sh*t.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines want to shut out China, Russia with laser communications

As the Pentagon reorients toward great-power competition with adversaries like Russia and China, its preparations go beyond learning to ski and practicing to drive across Europe.

US military units rely on wireless networks and radio-frequency communications to talk on the battlefield, sharing intelligence, targeting data, and orders.


But concern is growing that rivals like China and Russia could pick up those transmissions and jam them, change them to confuse or deceive, or track them to target the people sending and receiving them — tactics Russia and Russian-backed forces are believed to have used before.

The Pentagon has started exploring the use of laser communications systems that are harder to detect and disrupt.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Marine Corps field radio operators remove the free space optic system from a tactical elevated antenna mass at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Aug. 17, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Valero)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been working on sensors and hardware to send and receive signals from free-space optical technology — which sends light beams through the air rather than a cable — for some time.

in early 2017, the Defense Department awarded million for a three-year project involving three of the service branches, focused on developing a laser communications system — “basically fiber optic communications without the fiber,” Linda Thomas, whose team at the Naval Research Laboratory got about one-third of the grant money, told Breaking Defense at the time.

Thomas’ team’s Tactical Line-of-sight Optical communications Network, or TALON, was able to send messages through laser beams over distances similar to those of Marine Corps tactical radios, which typically can range to about 45 miles.

Free-space-optical communications systems are available commercially, but their range is limited. The Naval Research Lab team was able to exceed the range of those systems, a problem that involved sending the low-power beam through the atmosphere without it being made unintelligible, though Thomas didn’t say how they did it.

Marines have already gone into the field to test a free-space optics system developed by the Naval Research Lab.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Marines lift a tactical elevated antenna mass mounted with the free space optic system at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, August 17, 2018.

(US Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kindo Go)

Marines from the III Marine Expeditionary Force tested a free-space optics system that “transfers data on a highly secured and nearly undetectable infrared laser, separate from the radio frequency spectrum” in Okinawa this month, according to a Marine Corps release.

The mobile system allows more data — larger files and imagery — to be transmitted without using more of the radio-frequency spectrum, “an already constrained resource,” one of the Marines involved said.

“When it first came up, we thought it would be a lot more difficult to set up and understand,” said Marine Sgt. William Holt, a cyber-systems administrator. “When the Marines heard ‘free space optics’ and ‘lasers,’ they got nervous about that. Then when they actually got behind the gear and were able to operate it, it was easier than expected.”

Thomas and other engineers from the Naval Research Laboratory were also on hand.

“We came out to Okinawa because it was one of the harshest humid environments with highly variable weather on very short time scales,” she said. “We are looking at how the system operates and handles these conditions and how we can better fulfill the needs of the future Marine Corps.”

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Russian troops participating in Zapad-2017.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

‘The threat is out there’

US Marines are not the only ones gearing up to communicate in a contested environment.

China’s People’s Liberation Army considers electronic warfare a central component of its operations, and its EW doctrine “emphasizes using electromagnetic spectrum weapons to suppress or to deceive enemy electronic equipment,” the Defense Department said in a report about Chinese military capabilities released in August 2018.

Chinese units “routinely conduct jamming and antijamming operations against multiple communication and radar systems and GPS satellite systems in force-on-force exercises,” the report said. In addition to testing Chinese troops’ ability to use these systems, such tests “help improve confidence in their ability to operate effectively in a complex electromagnetic environment.”

Russian forces carried out similar tests during the massive Zapad 2017 exercise conducted late 2017.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

A training specialist from the Army Space and Missile Defense Agency shows Army National Guard soldiers on how to detect electromagnetic interference on a GPS receiver, June 23, 2018.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

According to Estonia’s military intelligence chief, Col. Kaupo Rosin, the amount of jamming Russia deployed against its own forces during that exercise “was at a level we haven’t seen.”

“The threat of the Russians is that if they are jammed, they can fall back into a civilian infrastructure on their own land, which gives them an advantage in operating in the vicinity of Russia,” Rosin told Defense News in 2017. “So they have that advantage.”

US troops have also tested their capacity to thwart electronic interference.

Ohio National Guard troops trained with a team from the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command in summer 2018 in order to be to detect and mitigate cyberattacks on GPS systems.

“There are adversaries out there with the capability to deny, degrade and disrupt our capabilities,” said Capt. Kyle Terza from US Army Space and Missile Defense Command. “The threat is out there and … we have to be trained and ready to operate without it.”

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

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The 6 dumbest things I thought I knew about the military before joining

When I joined the military, I didn’t have a lot of time for things like “background research” or “making an informed decision about doing something that might affect the rest of my life.” I didn’t even look into which branch I should join. I just walked up to the line at the recruiters’ offices. Like a drunk stumbling through the streets late at night on the hunt for food, I went with whatever was open at the moment I got there.


The list of things I didn’t know is a mile long. Life in the military was like a big black hole of awareness to me. Like most civilians (maybe), I assumed that what I saw in television and movies was more than a little exaggerated. So, what it was really like to live that military life was as foreign to me as the Great Wall of China.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

You’ll never get with 1980s Cher in that outfit, guys.

1. Sailors wear crackerjacks all the time.

I’m pretty sure the Navy wanted everyone to think that sailors wore white crackerjacks 24/7 as a marketing gimmick. By 2001, when I was at Fort Meade, I didn’t know who the hell those people in the dungarees were.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

And the learning curve for calling these guys “Soldiers” is harsh.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. We were all Soldiers.

Yeah, I didn’t know any better and I still don’t blame civilians for not knowing that only Army troops are called “Soldiers.” I learned I would never be called “Soldier” when I got to Air Force basic training.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Pictured: 20+ second lieutenants who all made more money than me on my best day. And have zero student-loan debt.

(Photo by Greg Anderson)

3. Enlisting is the only way to join.

There’s a difference between officers and enlisted people. That’s a no-brainer to me now, but back then, I seriously thought signing up at recruiter was the only way in. I knew the military paid for college, but I thought enlisting was the only avenue toward getting that benefit.

4. Enlisting is non-stop adventure.

If an airman’s additional duties count as “adventure,” then sign me up for the next squadron burger burn!

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re on a base full of airmen and it’s being overrun and there aren’t any airmen with berets on, you’re in deep shit.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice)

5. Everyone wearing camo could end up in the infantry.

I didn’t know that every new recruit goes to technical training. Regardless of the branch you join, you’re more than just a generic troop. Even if you’re in the actual infantry, you still have a military specialty. It’s more likely that you’ll end up in a technical field than in the dirt.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

And for good reason.

(U.S. Air Force)

6. All airmen fly planes. That’s what we do.

The closest I ever got to the controls of any plane was taking video of the cockpit. Despite being in the Air Force and the new title of “Airman” I just earned, I would never, ever be taught to fly a plane.

MIGHTY HISTORY

One of the first two female FBI agents got her start in the Marines

It seemed almost immediate: right after the death of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in 1972, the FBI began opening up training to women who were qualified candidates. At Hoover’s funeral was a young female Marine, sent to Washington as a representative of the U.S. Navy. As soon as Hoover’s replacement offered the title of “special agent” to women, that Marine was one of the first ones to go to Quantico.


Susan Roley Malone wanted to be an FBI agent ever since she was tasked to give a presentation on the Bureau in the eighth grade. The young Malone was supposed to research the agency, interview special agents, and tell her class about career opportunities, even though she would not be eligible for them. The FBI was her passion as she grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. She read books about the FBI. She watched movies about the FBI. When it came time to serve her country, however, she wasn’t allowed to join. So she became a Marine.

She and another woman – a former nun named Joanne Pierce – went to the FBI academy on Jul. 17, 1972 – little more than two months after Hoover’s death. Her FBI career would include investigating the Patti Hearst kidnapping, organized crime, and monitoring foreign nationals.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Susan Roley Malone

The hostility began right away – and abated just as fast. At lunch, some male agent trainees sat around her and began to grill her on her dedication to training with the Bureau.

“Why are you here?”

“Who are you?”

“Why do you want to be here?”

“What makes you think you can be an FBI agent?”

Her answer was curt but honest. She sat down and told them what’s what: she was there for the same reason any man was there. She loved her country just like anyone else. She wanted to continue to serve, now in law enforcement. She knew the FBI and the work it did. She cherished their work and she wasn’t going anywhere.

“It’s like any organization,” Malone says. “When you’re the first and you’re a pioneer, you know, you’re going to get push back from some people. But I got a lot people that helped, a lot of people that held out their hands, and were colleagues and allies to help. Those people that didn’t help or were maybe nasty to me, they have to walk in their own skin and you know they probably didn’t feel good about themselves, I can’t say.”

Her first field office was Omaha, Nebraska, wrangling cattle rustlers, which she thought was a cruel joke at first, chasing down cattle rustling in the 1970s. It turns out that stealing cattle was a big business. But she was a good agent – and dedicated one. She began making arrests right away, the first arrest ever made by a female FBI agent.

“I am where I am today because of the talents and gifts of many people that have opened doors for me,” she says. That have assisted me along on my journey. And especially some of the people that I recall that were FBI agents… These people had such talent and they were willing to share it. They were willing to take a young agent, whether it was a man or women, and share that talent. And for that I am grateful.”

Articles

9 reasons why military camouflage works — or doesn’t

Sun Tzu once said that he who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.


To be honest, in a way, that is exactly what camouflage is all about. It is not about colors, shapes, or ninja stuff. It is about knowledge, patience, and the manipulation of anything anywhere.

All to achieve one goal: to become the environment. In this article, I am going to give you a small, bitter taste of the art of camouflage.

When I was in the Israeli Airborne SF, I served with one of the SR groups. My secondary specialty in my team was what we call in the IDF, a ‘builder.’ Basically, someone who is capable of concealing anything, from one man to an entire team or vehicles in any environment.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Eliran Feildboy. Photo courtesy of Breach Bang Clear.

What is camouflage?

Back in the days, when I used to assist as an instructor for the next generation of builders, one of the first questions I asked the young soldiers in every introduction lesson was, ”What does the word ‘camouflage’ mean to you?”

The majority of the answers were split into two: hiding or disappearing.

While both might sound correct, those two words describe a long-living misconception that one experiences when he gets involved with task-oriented concealment work.

Long story short, the majority of the time camouflage begins with understanding the nature of observation.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Applying standard camo. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod.

The purpose of it is not only to hide, but to make you part of the environment, allowing you to safely observe, document, and, when necessary, respond.

Being a master of camouflage means being able to live off nature’s hand for 72 hours (or more), being just hundreds of meters away from the objective, and being able to observe the point of interest all the while.

Let’s say camouflage is the art of manipulation–the controlling of reality.

Fundamentals of Camouflage

There are three fundamental camouflage actions. These are the main principles that are found in any concealing construction.

  • Hiding: The action of hiding is setting a barrier that separates you physically, and often visually, from the surrounding environment and its unfolding reality.
  • Blending: Resembling your surroundings by combining different, like elements into a single entity. The main difference between success to failure lays in properly blending subtle details.
  • Disguising: In short, disguising is an action we perform to alter an existing shape or form. We do that to eliminate or create intentional target indicators, such as smell, shape, or shine. Disguising, for example, is adding vegetation to a Ghillie suit or collecting branches to conceal my hide side.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Photo courtesy of Breach Bang Clear.

Target Indicators

Knowledge is power. One of the keys to perfect camouflage at the tactical level is the ability to understand what kind of X or Y signatures my presence creates that will lead to my exposure.

TI, or target indicators, are about understanding what signatures my enemy creates in a specific environment. Those target indicators suggest presence, location, and distance in some cases.

There are two dimensions to consider when detecting and indicated presence. The first–and oldest–dimension is basic human sense. The other is technological.

Human Sense

While smelling, hearing, and touching are obvious senses, but those senses normally only come into play in short distance.

Let’s focus on ‘seeing.’

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Snipers with 1st Sapper Company, Burundi National Defense Force, observe enemy movement, donning field-made ghillie suits. USMC Photo by 1st Lt. Dominic Pitrone

The visual sense is, by far, the most reliable sense for humans. We use it up to 80% of the time to collect information and orient ourselves. So, what kind of visual signatures could I leave that may lead to my exposure? In short:

  • Shape – The perfectly symmetrical shapes of tents or cars, for example, don’t exist in nature. Those, and the familiar shape of a human being, are immediate eye candy.
  • Silhouette – Similar to ‘shape,’ but with more focus on the background. A soldier walking on top of the hill or someone sneaking in the darkness with dark clothes against a white wall–the distinction of a foreground element from its background makes a target indicator sharp and clear.
  • Shine – Surface related. Radiance or brightness caused by emitted or reflected light. Anything that my skin, equipment, or fabrics may reflect. Popular examples would be the reflection of sunlight on hand watches, skin, or optics for example.
  • Shadow – Shadows are very attractive and easy to distinguish for human eyes, depending on a shadow’s intensity. For example, caves in open fields stand out for miles and are very easy to recognize. As a result, we never use caves for hiding, as they’re a natural draw to the eye.
  • Color – Let’s make it sure and simple–wearing a pink hoody to a funeral is a good way to stand out. Match your environment.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Army photo by Pfc. Dixie Rae Liwanag/Released

Technology-Based Target Indicators / Multi-Spectral Awareness

Oh boy, this is where the real challenge begins! I’m actually going to risk it and say that ghillie suits are becoming less and less relevant today due to increases in technology.

Before we will dive into all that Einstein stuff, these are the main wavelengths used by different devices to find your ass:

  • Infra-Red / NIR – Used in NVGs, SWIR cameras, etc. Night-vision devices, for example, use active near-infrared illumination to observe people or animals without the observer being detected.
  • UV – UV radiation is present in sunlight. UV-capable devices are excellent, for example, in snowy environments for picking up differences undetectable by the naked eye.
  • Thermal – Your body generates a temperature different from any immediate background, such as the ground in the morning or a tree in the evening. Devices tend to set clear separations between the heat or cold of different objects, resulting in pretty nice shapes that are easy to distinguish for the observer.
  • Radar (radio)– A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves, an emitting antenna, and a receiving antenna to capture any waves that return from objects in the path of the emitted signal. A receiver and processor then determine the properties of the object. While often used to detect weather formations, ships, structures, etc., there are numerous devices that can give you an accurate position of vehicles and even humans. It’s a long story, hard to manipulate. Such devices exist already in the tactical level.

It is nearly impossible to eliminate your signature against devices who work within the wave length. The only solution is to understand what the human being sees through advanced optics and manipulate the final result.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Army photo by Andrew Zimmer

Buckle up and get your aspirin – we’re moving into the science stuff.

The human and its environment emits different signatures that can be picked up by different technological devices that make use of different types of waves.

Cones in our eyes are the receivers for tiny visible light waves. The sun is a natural source for visible light waves and our eyes see the reflection of this sunlight off the objects around us.

The color of an object that we see is the color of light reflected. All other colors are absorbed.

Technically, we are blind to many wavelengths of light. This makes it important to use instruments that can detect different wavelengths of light to help us study the earth and the universe.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Army photo by Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander

However, since visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes can see, our whole world is oriented around it.

Until recently.

With the advancement of technology, humanity slowly cracked and understood the existence of other light waves.

We began to see those dimensions through different devices.

Since the visual camouflage has foiled many plans throughout a history of wars and conflicts, militaries around the world began researching the possibilities of using non-visible wavelengths in detecting the signature of specific objects in specific environments.

Summary

Camouflage is not about hiding and it’s definitely not only about wearing a ghillie suit or digging deeps foxholes.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth
Soldiers with the Estonian Defense Force defend their position May 12, during Operation Siil in Oandu, Estonia. Army photo by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt.

It’s an involved, looping process that starts with understanding how humans detect and continues with manipulating this detection.

The old standards, such as ghillie suits, are becoming less and less relevant to the modern battle space as detection technologies advance.

New predators such as SWIR or advance thermal cameras are hard to beat unless you know the device, the interface, and the humans who use it.

As Albert Einstein once said, technology has exceeded our humanity–so get creative.

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘How to get posted at Area 51’ & other dumb military questions answered

“How do you get posted at a location such as Area 51 or the Pentagon while in the military?”

I feel bad because no one actually answered this question. You see, in the military, there are a finite number of jobs at each location. Depending on the branch or the assignment, the average PCS (Permanent Change of Station) rate is about 4 years (shorter for a remote tour or a deployment). So someone will be assigned to work at the Pentagon and then after 4 years they’ll be due for a transfer, leaving their position open.

Let’s say you’re graduating from boot camp in August (congratulations, you did it, you little hero!) and Airman Snuffy is gonna PCS in August, leaving his Pentagon position open. You now have the option to go work at the Pentagon!

But you have to compete for it. So how did you do at boot camp? Huh? Did you cry? Did you piss off your drill sergeant? Or did you shine like the future freedom fighter that you are?

Your command will rate you based on your performance and recommend you for your list of assignment preferences. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your number one choice (the Pentagon I guess?) and if you’re not, well, bring mittens to Minot.

But you weren’t *really* asking about the Pentagon, were you? You were asking about aliens.


How to get posted at Area 51 | Dumb Military Questions 104

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How to get posted at Area 51 | Dumb Military Questions 104

Area 51 is the most exciting conspiracy theory in the U.S. military. Aliens could be real! Just imagine!

But trust me, my little tinfoil-hat tribe, if there were actually aliens in a bunker in Nevada, you just know some boot would have instagrammed them by now. If the inability of humans to keep secrets doesn’t satisfy you, then you can fill out a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Security Agency. They’re required by law to pretty much share any information they have on anything really — they’ll just redact anything classified. You win some, you lose some.

Related: Here’s what we know about Area 51

Moving on!

“My husband is a Marine who makes fun of anyone in a different branch of service. Is this normal?”

Navy vet August Dannehl had a great stream of responses to this: “We’re all family but we’re all talking sh** on each other, you know? Marines, Army…they’re all stupid. Navy, we’re all gay. Air Force, bougy-as-f***.”

And I mean, I can’t protest this, especially since the next cut showed Air Force captain Mark Harper sporting business casual in pastel and a rainbow unicorn Pomeranian. 100% Air Force.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

His name is Ding Dong and he’s a perfect gentleman.

“What level of self-reliance training do Green Berets have? What can they actually do?”

Actually, I don’t even want to spoil the answers to this one. Go to 1:17 of the video and watch Harper dominate this question. We’re done here.

“What would a real-life U.S. military party do in a scenario like the first Predator movie?”

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

It’s possible that U.S. Air Force vet Tara Batesole is the only one to have seen a Predator film in this group, but U.S. Marine Graham Pulliam had some thoughts as well: “Not run around shirtless with a machine gun?”

Why not, Pulliam? What do shirts have to do with killing monsters?

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

“What are some acceptable gifts to send soldiers who are deployed overseas?”

Here’s a short list — and you can *totally* trust us:

–Booze

–Condoms

–Porn

–Books

–Copenhagen

–Anything that explodes

–Playboy Magazine

–Good canned food

–Playgirl Magazine

–Toothpaste

–Maybe some illegal drugs

–Blunts

–Booze

–Beef Jerky

–Porn

–Candy

–RipIts

You’re welcome.

Check out more of these videos right here:

Vets answer dumb military questions – part one

Vets answer dumb military questions – part two

Vets answer dumb military questions – part three

What happens if you refuse to shower other dumb questions

What do snipers think when they miss’ other dumb military questions

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what your wardrobe on mandatory fun days says about you

For better or worse, you’re going to find out basically everything about your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. The longer you serve with them — the more field ops, the more deployments, and the more random BS — the more you’re going to learn all the tiny, little details about your fellow troops.

But if you want a crash course on the personal life of any other troop, look no further than how they dress whenever they’re given the option to show up in civvies instead of the uniform. Sometimes it’s at the recall formation at 0200 on Saturday morning and everyone’s just rolled out of bed. But when it’s a “mandatory fun” day with the unit, troops tend to get a bit… uh… creative with their wardrobe selection.

Here’s what your choice of mando-fun outfit says about you.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Look at them. Being all successful and sh*t.

(U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Aux. Barry Novakoff.)

Average civilian clothes 

Nothing really stands out about this troop. They’re probably the type to stay in, honorably discharge, get into a nice school under the GI Bill, and become a productive member of society. There’s nothing really bad you could say about them but, man, these guys are boring as hell.

They may fit in with world when they’re on leave, but in the unit, they’re the odd one out — because they’re not what society considers odd like the rest of us.

There’s a 50% chance that all of these guys’ military stories are about other (more interesting) people.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

They’re probably 98% more likely to also being too lazy to even change from the work day before…

(U.S. Army photo)

Basically the uniform, but with blue jeans and without the top

If this troop has been in any longer than one pay period beyond basic training and still dresses like they’re barely satisfying the minimum requirement to be “out of uniform,” then they’re lazy as f*ck. The longer this troop has been in, the less of an excuse they have — they get a clothing allowance that specifically includes extra cash for civilian clothes.

It’s literally the one time the military gives you money and says, “go buy yourself something nice” and this troop wasted it on booze, video games, or strippers.

These bums have a 98% chance of asking you to spot them until payday, saying they can “totally” get you back (but never will).

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

If they do wear a kilt in formation, they have a 100% chance of asking you, “do you know the difference between a kilt and a skirt?” before mooning you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by SSgt. Marc R. Ayalin)

Over-the-top, ridiculous clothing

This troop has been eagerly awaiting the moment they’re told they can wear civilian clothes. This dude is the platoon’s joker while in uniform, so don’t expect that to change when they’re given the freedom to wear whatever.

You can never really predict what they’re going to show up in. Maybe they’ll wear a Halloween costume in April. Maybe they’ll show up in a fully-traditional kilt. Maybe they’ll just wear that mankini thing from Borat.

These bros also have a 69% chance of repeating a joke if you don’t laugh at it, insisting that you must have missed it the first time two times.

Overtly moto clothes

It’s not entirely uncommon for troops to start up clothing lines when they leave the service. Hell, we even got into the veteran-humor t-shirt game to help pay the bills. Warning: shameless self-promotion here.

But there’s just something odd about troops who wear overly-Hooah, I’m-a-Spartan-sheepdog-who-became-the-Grim-Reaper-for-your-freedoms shirt when everyone in the unit knows you’re a POG who just got to the unit. We’re not knocking the shirt (because that’s something we should probably start selling sooner or later…) but, you’re not fooling anyone.

These boots are 1% likely to actually be a grunt.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

This was your first sergeant ten years ago… and ten days ago…

Same style you had before you enlisted

That moment you enlist is probably the last time you really give a damn about clothing styles. So, your closet is (probably) still full of clothes that you might get around to wearing some day. We get it. But it gets kinda sad the longer you’ve been in the military.

Dressing like a background actor in Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8r Boi” music video may have been cool back in the day, but when you see a salty, old first sergeant try to rock that look it’s… just depressing.

These dudes have a 75% chance of reaching 10 years, saying, “what’s another 10 anyways?” to themselves, and immediately regretting that decision.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Civilian clothes don’t have a standard, but if they did…

(U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. John Ross)

Business casual with a “high and tight”

When the commander puts out the memo saying troops can wear whatever they want as long as they’re in formation, these guys kind of break down. Freedom of choice is a foreign concept to them.

What they chose to wear is, essentially, another kind of uniform: a muted-color polo tucked into a pair of ironed khakis, a brown belt, and loafers — and maybe a branch hat that they picked up at the PX because they’d have an anxiety attack if the open wind touched their bare head.

This guy has a 99.99% chance of also trying enforce some sort of clothing standard when there isn’t even a need for it.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Navy veteran and legendary actor Sean Connery turns 90. Here are his best military roles

“Bond. James Bond.” These are Sir Sean Connery’s first lines in 1962’s Dr. No as he brought Ian Fleming’s spy of mystique to life on the silver screen. Ironically, Fleming didn’t want the working-class, bodybuilding Scotsman to portray his suave and dapper British super-spy. However, Connery went on to play the role a total of seven times, and each time was met with critical acclaim. In 1964, Fleming even wrote Connery’s heritage into the Bond character, saying that his father was from Glencoe in Scotland. On August 25, 2020, the veteran actor celebrated his 90th birthday. What many people don’t know about him is that before he played Commander James Bond, Connery was a sailor himself.


The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

“Bond. James Bond.” (United Artists)

In 1946, at the age of 16, Connery enlisted in His Majesty’s Royal Navy. He received training at the naval gunnery school in Portsmouth and was assigned to an anti-aircraft artillery crew. His first and only ship assignment was the Illustrious-class aircraft carrier HMS Formidable. After three years of naval service, Connery was medically discharged due to a duodenal ulcer.

After leaving the Navy, Connery went into bodybuilding and football (the European sort). Though he was offered a contract with Manchester United, the short-lived career of a footballer deterred him. “I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23,” Connery recalled. “I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”

Connery started his acting career onstage in the 1953 production of South Pacific. Back in uniform, albeit a costume, Connery played a Seabee chorus boy before he was given the part of Marine Cpl. Hamilton Steeves. The next year, the production returned out of popular demand and Connery was promoted to the featured role of Lt. Buzz Adams.

When Connery made the transition to motion pictures, it wasn’t long before he was portraying military men again. Less than two weeks after Dr. No was released in the UK, The Longest Day hit theaters with Connery playing the role of Pte. Flanagan. After six Bond films, Connery traded his onscreen Naval rank for an Army one. The 1974 film Murder on the Orient Express featured Connery as British Indian Army Officer Colonel John Arbuthnot. Three years later, Connery took on one of his most iconic military roles in 1977’s A Bridge Too Far, portraying Major General Roy Urquhart and his command of the British 1st Airborne Division as they attempted to hold a bridge in Arnhem during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden.
The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Connery wearing the iconic paratrooper’s red beret (United Artists)

The 1980s would see Connery reprise the role of Commander James Bond one last time in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. The Scotsman also donned an American uniform, playing Lt. Col. Alan Caldwell in the 1988 film The Presidio. Serving as the Post Provost Marshal, Caldwell clashes with maverick SFPD detective and former Army MP Jay Austin, played by Mark Harmon.

Exploring the uniforms of other nations, Connery then went behind the Iron Curtain as Soviet Submarine Captain Marko Ramius in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October. If I have to explain this one, your weekend assignment is to watch it.
The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

“One ping only” (Paramount Pictures)

1996 saw Connery play the role of a military man one last time in The Rock. As former British SAS Captain John Mason, Connery starred alongside Nicholas Cage and Ed Harris in this action thriller directed by Michael Bay and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, the production duo that brought us Top Gun.

Connery was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh on July 5, 2000. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute when he announced his retirement from acting on June 8, 2006. When asked if he would return to acting to appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Connery announced that he would not, saying, “Retirement is just too much damned fun.”
MIGHTY TRENDING

Syria withdrawal under fire after ISIS attack kills US troops

Top Republicans on Jan. 16, 2019, warned President Trump against embracing “retreat” in Syria after an ISIS-claimed attack killed two US soldiers and two other Americans, pointing to the deadly attack as yet another sign the president should back down on his plan to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested Trump’s Syria pullout had bolstered ISIS’ resolve.


“My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you have set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting,” Graham said in impromptu remarks as he chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Graham made it clear he hopes Trump will take a careful look at his policy toward Syria following Jan. 16, 2019’s attack.

The creator of ‘Amazing Grace’ was a sailor with a foul mouth

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“You make people we’re trying to help wonder about us. As they get bolder, the people we’re trying to help become more uncertain. I saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Graham said in an apparent reference to the rise of ISIS in the years that followed the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011.

Graham said he understood people’s frustrations at the ongoing presence of US troops in Syria, and that “every American” wants them to “come home.” But he suggested that keeping troops in Syria is a matter of ensuring America’s safety.

“We’re never going to be safe here unless we’re willing to help people over there who will stand against this radical ideology,” Graham said.

“To those who lost their lives today in Syria, you were defending America, in my view,” the South Carolina senator added. “To those in Syria who are trying to work together, you’re providing the best and only hope to your country. I hope the president will look long and hard about what we’re doing in Syria.”

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, echoed Graham’s sentiments.

“[ISIS] has claimed credit for killing American troops in [Syria] today,” Rubio tweeted on Jan. 16, 2019. “If true, it is a tragic reminder that ISIS not been defeated and is transforming into a dangerous insurgency. This is no time to retreat from the fight against ISIS. Will only embolden strengthen them.”

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a US Air Force veterean who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, also warned of the dangers of “retreating” in Syria.

“Retreating from a fight against ISIS is only gonna send the wrong message and frankly, pour fuel on the recruiting efforts of ISIS,” Kinzinger told CNN on Jan. 16, 2019.

The deaths of the four Americans were a result of an explosion in Manbij, Syria. Three other troops were also injured in the incident.

“U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time,” Operation Inherent Resolve tweeted Jan. 16, 2019.

In a statement on the incident that made no mention of ISIS, the White House on Jan. 16, 2019 said, “Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country.”

Jan. 16, 2019’s lethal attack came exactly four weeks after Trump tweeted, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.” This came as Trump abruptly announced a plan to withdraw the roughly 2,000 troops stationed in Syria, prompting alarm in Washington due to the ongoing, well-documented presence of ISIS in the region.

In the days that followed, Trump flip-flopped on his claim ISIS is defeated as he scrambled to justify the controversial, hasty plan.

The president has faced criticism from the military and politicians on both sides of the aisle over the pullout and the opacity surrounding it. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned a day after Trump made the announcement. Mattis had disagreed with Trump on an array of issues, but the Syria pullout seemed to be the final straw.

The White House has offered little in the way of specifics about the pullout which has led to confusion in the Pentagon and beyond. No US troops have been pulled out of Syria yet, but the military has started withdrawing equipment.

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

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