The reviews are in for 'Hobbs & Shaw' — The Rock is pulling it off! - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Warning: There are minor spoilers ahead for Hobbs and Shaw.

The last major movie of the summer is upon us, and you’re in for a good time and a few surprises with “Hobbs and Shaw.”

The “Fast & Furious” spin-off puts Vin Diesel in the backseat as the Los Angeles lawman Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and the former British military elite operative Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) are forced to reluctantly work together to save the world.

What went so wrong that Dominic Toretto couldn’t be called? The two enemies need to save the world from Brixton Lorr (Idris Elba), a cybergenetically enhanced superhuman who, along with an evil global organization, is trying to get his hands on a virus to make more of the human race just like him.


Does the premise seem a bit silly? You bet! But if you’ve been following this franchise since 2001, then you know what you’re in for — fast cars, big action sequences, and a bad guy who needs to be stopped. It’s just another day at the office for the Fast fam.

This is a fun one that feels right at home in the “Fast and Furious” universe.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

How much did you want to see a movie with these two after this scene?

(Universal Studios image)

Why you should care: It’s the first ‘Fast & Furious’ spin-off movie, and it features two fan-favorites from the franchise.

This is simple. It’s the Rock/Dwyane Johnson and Jason Statham in a movie. If you saw 2017’s “The Fate of the Furious,” you’ve been waiting for this team-up since their memorable prison-escape sequence.

According to the film’s production notes, the idea for a spin-off Hobbs film had been floated around since he joined the “Fast” franchise in 2011’s “Fast Five.” The “Deadpool 2” and “John Wick” director David Leitch is in the directing chair for this one, so buckle up for some great fight sequences.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

The fate of the world is in these guys’ hands… if they can stop fighting long enough.

(Universal Studios image)

What’s hot: The chemistry of The Rock and Jason Statham, the addition of Vanessa Kirby, some unexpected surprises, and two of the big action sequences.

If you told me years ago that I’d be rooting for Deckard Shaw, the man who killed off one of the most beloved characters in the “Fast” franchise (RIP Han), I’d think you were joking. But here we are. Whoever thought it was a good idea to put Johnson and Statham in a movie together made the right call.

You can easily watch Johnson and Statham banter for a full two hours. One of the jokes may get old after its third run-through, but their inability to cooperate for a majority of the film to save the world makes for a fun watch.

One of the biggest delights of “The Fate of the Furious” was seeing the Academy Award winner Helen Mirren join the cast as Shaw’s mother. She had said she really wanted to be a part of the franchise, so it was great to see her in “Hobbs and Shaw,” if only for a bit. You can tell she has so much fun doing these films. Mirren told Entertainment Weekly she wanted to drive in the next “Fast and Furious” film. She’ll be in next year’s ninth film, so here’s to hoping.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Helen Mirren is in “Hobbs and Shaw” and in jail for some unknown reason.

(Universal Studios image)

The addition of Vanessa Kirby as Shaw’s little sister Hattie is simply great casting. Not only does she look and sound like a young, feisty Helen Mirren, but Hattie is exactly what Johnson and Statham needed to ground their characters so they simply weren’t bickering for over two hours.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Vanessa Kirby is convincing as Helen Mirren’s badass daughter.

(Universal Studios image)

If you felt as if you saw the majority of “Hobbs and Shaw” in the trailers released, that’s relatively true. However, Universal did a great job of leaving two major surprises out of the film I won’t name here. You’ll never guess them, but one of the major additions received the most laughs of the entire movie.

While watching, I couldn’t stop thinking that one or two of the large action sequences would make for a great ride at Universal’s theme parks. Yes, they already have “Fast and Furious” rides at the Hollywood and Orlando, Florida, parks, but two, even three, chase scenes felt immersive enough to make for good additions. You’ll feel as if you’re on a ride yourself.

And pay attention to the music while watching. Elba, who’s also a DJ in real life, also wrote and performed a song that appears in the movie called “Even if I Die (Hobbs Shaw).”

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

I love Idris Elba, but when did the “Fast and the Furious” become “The Terminator”?

(Universal Studios image)

What’s not: There are some really silly moments, and the entire premise of the movie’s villain starts to take the franchise into the sci-fi genre.

Over the years, the “Fast” franchise has gotten more ridiculous in pushing the limits of where the films can go. If you’re along for the ride, you kind of just go with it. (The seventh film had Dom’s team go after a device called God’s Eye.)

But the villains thought up for “Hobbs and Shaw” make the “Fast” franchise feel as if it’s moving from action genre to sci-fi. And it should probably stick to action.

The bad guys want to genetically enhance and evolve the human race for unspecified reasons I’m guessing we’d learn more about in a sequel. That’s textbook villainy from a superhero movie.

That’s not all. There are a few moments when Idris Elba’s character, Brixton, starts to feel like a “Terminator” villain who just keeps coming back for more.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

I guess at some point heist movies and chasing after drug cartels aren’t large-enough stakes when you’re 10 movies into a franchise.

(Universal Studios image)

Brixton is even referred to as such at one point on-screen because his character has been fused with some sort of machine so he can accurately predict others’ hits and movements. As a result, he’s a super soldier who’s more machine than man and appears unstoppable. At another point in the film, he’s called Black Superman.

Then there’s a faceless omniscient machine that’s pulling the strings behind-the-scenes. I’m sure the wizard behind the machine will be revealed to be someone with a grudge against Hobbs or Shaw in an inevitable sequel. But in this film, at least, the machine is a bit over-the-top. Every time its booming voice comes on-screen, it feels as if you’re watching a cheesy superhero film from the early 2000s.

It would all be a lot tougher to swallow if the chemistry between Johnson and Statham weren’t so good. Their wisecracks and fight scenes against Brixton’s goons are good enough to keep you distracted from thinking about how silly the villains are.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Jason Statham fight scenes? Sign me up.

(Universal Studios image)

Other than the villain, the entire third act of the film gets a bit silly when the group abruptly heads to Hobbs’ birth place of Samoa (eagle-eyed viewers will notice that they actually filmed in Hawaii) to enlist his estranged family to take down some high-tech baddies. What about the rest of the Fast fam? Where are they? Shaw only saved Dom’s baby in the previous movie. Surely, they owe him one.

I’ll let the location slide because the Rock himself is from Samoa. Throughout the “Hobbs and Shaw” press tour, he has repeatedly said he wanted to honor his culture on-screen. He even speaks in Samoan in the film. That’s sweet.

But once the Rock meets up with his older brother, Jonah, it’s a little bit tough to take Cliff Curtis seriously as someone who’s related to Hobbs. Curtis is fine in the movie, but he’s given two giant braids of hair to wear for the part. If you’re familiar with the actor from “Fear the Walking Dead,” it’s a jarring look that you never get used to while watching the movie.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

It’s not a perfect film, but it has family at its heart. That’s the mainstay of a “Fast and Furious” film.

(Universal Studios image)

The bottom line: The Rock and Jason Statham keep the energy high in this crowd-pleasing spin-off. Expect more from these two.

I say this every time a “Fast and Furious” movie comes out. These aren’t movies that you take too seriously. They’re a good, fun time with explosions, high action, fast cars, faster car chases, and a few good brawls. If that’s what you go in expecting, that’s what Universal delivers with “Hobbs and Shaw.”

Is it a bit silly? Sure. Did I laugh and enjoy watching the Rock and Jason Statham bicker back and forth? Definitely. But most important, the film doesn’t forget its franchise roots. For as ludicrous as some of the film’s plot becomes, family is always at the heart of the spin-off.

If “Hobbs and Shaw” performs well at the box office, and I expect it will, get ready for a whole lot more of Luke, Deckard, and maybe Hattie as well. Make sure to stay until the film’s very end for a few unexpected end-credits scenes.

Grade: B

“Hobbs and Shaw” is in theaters Friday. Watch a trailer for the movie below.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – Official Trailer #2 [HD]

youtu.be

Hobbs & Shaw In Theaters August 2, 2019 https://www.HobbsAndShawMovie.com After eight films that have amassed almost billion worldwide, the Fast & Furious…

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy awards contract for long-awaited ‘Stingray’

The Navy awarded a contract to The Boeing Co. Aug. 30, 2018, for the MQ-25A Stingray, the first operational carrier-based unmanned refueling aircraft.

This fixed-price-incentive-firm-target contract with a ceiling price of $805.3 million provides for the design, development, fabrication, test, delivery, and support of four MQ-25A unmanned air vehicles, including integration into the carrier air wing for an initial operational capability by 2024.


“MQ-25A is a hallmark acquisition program,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James F. Geurts. “This program is a great example of how the acquisition and requirements communities work hand in hand to rapidly deliver capabilities to our sailors and Marines in the fleet.”

When operational, MQ-25 will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the carrier air wing and provide longer range and greater persistence tanking capability to execute missions that otherwise could not be performed.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

MQ-25A Stingray.

(Boeing photo)

“This is a historic day,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson. “We will look back on this day and recognize that this event represents a dramatic shift in the way we define warfighting requirements, work with industry, integrate unmanned and manned aircraft, and improve the lethality of the airwing — all at relevant speed. Everyone who helped achieve this milestone should be proud we’re here. But we have a lot more to do. It’s not the time to take our foot off the gas. Let’s keep charging.”

The award is the culmination of a competitive source selection process supported by personnel from Naval Air Systems Command and the Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office (PMA-268) at Patuxent River.

MQ-25 is an accelerated acquisition program that expedites decisions that will enable rapid actions with less overhead. The intent is to significantly reduce development timelines from contract award to initial operational capability by five to six years. By reducing the number of key performance parameters to mission tanking and carrier suitability, industry has increased flexibility to rapidly design a system that meets those requirements.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Surprise! Service members drink more on average than any other profession

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with analysis from the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, showed that military service members drink more than any other profession — much to the surprise of absolutely nobody.


The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

A tale as old as time…

It’s no secret that heavy drinking is a staple of military culture in the U.S. In fact, it’s so significant that military consumption of alcohol can seem like something out of an Onion article — like the time Iceland ran out of beer to serve troops.

The CDC study has confirmed just how severe it is, especially when ranked against literally any other profession.

The study covered over 27,000 people from 25 separate industries, focusing on their drinking frequency from 2013 to 2017. It discovered that the average person has at least one drink on about 91 days of the year.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

(Photo by Sgt. Rebekka Heite)

However, military members lead all other professions with a whopping 130 days of drinking per year. That’s a drink a day for more than one third of the year.

The next closest profession was miners at 112 days, followed by construction workers at 106 days. Unsurprisingly, manual labor jobs round out the majority of the heaviest drinking jobs.

Okay, so that’s the rate of knocking off for a beer after work — but what about binge drinking?

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

(Photo from US Army)

The Department of Defense, using data from 2015 and 2016, discovered that about 30% of military members reported binge drinking in the month preceding the survey. Marines, specifically, reported doing so at an astronomic rate of 42.6%.

Veterans’ rate of binge drinking has reportedly risen from 14% in 2013 to about 16% in 2017.

This is alarming, as the initial study has also determined that drinking in the U.S. is trending downward. This has not been the case for service members: the number of days that military members drink has risen steadily since 2014.

Researchers attribute PTSD as one of the major factors causing veterans and active duty personnel to drink. Another reason for the surge could be a systemic culture that has allowed casual binge drinking as a rite of passage, or simply a way to pass time in isolated areas.

Whatever the reasoning, one thing is clear, drinking culture in the military is not going away without some major changes.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The gloves are coming off for cyber warfare

President Donald Trump has reportedly removed restraints on how and when the US can launch cyberattacks on its adversaries — and it could make attacks on other countries more likely.

Trump signed an order Aug. 15, 2018, reversing a series of Obama-era rules, which outlined a process of interagency approval before the US could launch cyberoffensives, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.


The Journal said one administration official briefed on the decision described the change as an “offensive step forward.” The change is meant to support military operations and deter foreign interference in US elections. The Trump administration is under pressure to show it is taking threats of foreign interference seriously in light of mounting evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.

The Obama-era rules, known as Presidential Policy Directive 20, meant agencies that wanted to launch a cyberattack had to gain approval from groups across the federal government. This was to ensure that existing defense operations were not harmed by the launch of a new attack.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Former President Barack Obama.

(Marc Nozell)

Michael Daniel, who served as the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator under President Barack Obama, said the change could do more harm than good. “You could end up having an operation wreck a carefully crafted multiyear espionage operation to gain access to a foreign computer system,” he told The Journal.

The new policy applies to the Defense Department as well as other federal agencies, an administration official told The Journal. The person declined to say which other agencies would be affected.

Sources did not tell The Journal which rules were replacing the Obama-era directive, citing the classified nature of the process; as The Journal pointed out, the Obama-era rules were classified as well and were made public only in the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks.

Read the full report in The Wall Street Journal.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This American President started his day in the most veteran way possible

Our first president, George Washington, sold whiskey from one the country’s largest distilleries after leaving office — but reportedly never drank his own supply. Instead, Washington sipped a dark porter style of beer mixed with molasses that was brewed in Philadelphia. His presidential successor, John Adams, loved drinking hard cider, rum, and Madeira wine during his time off. The eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, drank so much whiskey that he earned the nickname, “Blue Whiskey Van.”

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

Many of our Presidents turned to their alcohol beverage of choice in order to relax after a long day’s work. However, one president flipped the script and decided to start his days by knocking back a shot of his favorite: bourbon.


It’s reported that President Harry S. Truman liked to start his days with a nice, brisk walk and a shot of Old Grand Dad (bourbon).

Truman appreciated a strong Old Fashioned and, reportedly, would complain to his staff if he felt the cocktail was too weak. Although it may seem unhealthy for a person of his position to consume such a potent drink so early in the morning, he actually prided himself on maintaining a nutritious diet.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!
Truman sitting at a table with Roosevelt discussing some presidential stuff.

In a diary entry, dated January 3, 1952, Truman wrote:

“When I moved into the White House, I went up to 185. I’ve now hit an average of 175. I walked two-miles most every morning at a hundred and twenty-eight steps a minute, I eat no bread, but one piece of toast at breakfast, no butter, no sugar, no sweets. Usually have fruit, one egg, a strip of bacon and half a glass of skimmed milk for breakfast, liver & bacon or sweetbreads or ham or fish and spinach and another non-fattening vegetable for lunch with fruit for dessert. For dinner, I have a fruit cup, steak, a couple of non-fattening vegetables, an orange, pineapple, or raspberry for dinner. So, I maintain my waistline and can wear suits bought in 1935!”

On behalf of the veteran community, we say well done, sir.

MIGHTY MONEY

The reasons and risks behind Russia’s big oil bet

For years now, Russia has been laser-focused on insulating itself from an external economic shock.


It may have just sparked one.

In an unexpected move on March 6, Russia rejected a call by OPEC countries to further cut oil production in order to help prop up prices amid sagging global demand for energy due to the coronavirus.

The decision broke three years of cooperation under an arrangement called OPEC+ and stunned participants at a meeting in Vienna, not to mention some of Russia’s own oil executives — one suggested the move was “irrational” — and governments from the Middle East to the West.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia swiftly responded to the snub by announcing it is no longer obliged to hold back production, causing the largest single-day drop in the price of oil in nearly three decades and sending global stock markets and the ruble tumbling. Why?

One potential answer: President Vladimir Putin wanted to punish the United States by putting severe pressure on the U.S. shale-oil industry, which has sold millions of barrels of oil while Russian companies kept production down under the existing OPEC+ agreement.

“The Kremlin had decided that propping up prices as the coronavirus ravaged energy demand would be a gift to the U.S. shale industry,” Bloomberg News reported. The acerbic spokesman for Russian state oil giant Rosneft, Mikhail Leontyev, suggested that was at least one of the motives, telling the agency: “Let’s see how American shale exploration feels under these conditions.”

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, an old and close Putin ally, has long been said to be chafing under the existing OPEC+ production limits, and was widely seen as playing a role in the decision to reject further cuts.

Some analysts played down the idea that the Kremlin was out to get U.S. shale, however, saying that Russia’s coordination with OPEC+ was fragile to begin with and that Moscow and Riyadh had different views of the current volatility on the global oil market.

Whatever the reasons, it’s a risky move for Moscow at an uncertain time.

The oil price collapse stoked by Moscow’s move and concerns about the effects of the coronavirus on a slew of industrieswill hurt Russia’s economy in the short-term, and there is no guarantee that it can knock out U.S. shale in the long run, analysts said.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

U.S. Benefits

The United States has been a beneficiary of the high prices maintained by the OPEC+ output cuts over the past few years, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia — now Number 3 — as the world’s largest oil producer.

As the coronavirus ravaged the Chinese economy and hit others around the world, slashing oil demand, Saudi Arabia lobbied for OPEC+ to cut another 1.5 million barrels at the March 6 meeting in Vienna. Russia recommended maintaining the existing cuts. OPEC+ — a 24-member group consisting of OPEC nations plus non-cartel members like Russia — first agreed to oil production cuts in 2017.

Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it would hike production sent the price of U.S. crude oil tumbling by 25 percent on March 9 to a low of a barrel. Prices gained back some of the losses on March 10 but were well under for U.S. and the global benchmark, Brent Crude.

Some U.S. shale producers have a break-even price of a barrel or above, putting them in a vulnerable position, said Chris Weafer, an energy specialist and founder of Moscow-based consultancy firm Macro-Advisory.

Oil producers in Saudi Arabia and Russia have lower production costs, enabling them to weather the price.

“There are three parties facing off against each other — Russia, Saudi, and U.S. shale — and it really is a case of who blinks first,” Weafer told RFE/RL.

Several analysts said that in the short-term, Russia is in the strongest position among those three players.

“The impact of this price crash on U.S. shale companies is going to be pretty devastating” in the short term and could result in a U.S. production decline in 2020, said Gregory Brew, a historian at Southern Methodist University in Texas focusing on energy politics and the Middle East.

Diamondback Energy, a Texas-based shale producer, announced March 9 it would immediately reduce investment following the price drop.

Russian oil companies have some insulation. They are profitable at a oil price, helped by a free-floating currency, and the budget is protected for years to come.

The Kremlin’s conservative fiscal policy over the past few years boosted foreign currency reserves to about 0 billion and driven down the price of a barrel of oil necessary to balance the budget from above 0 to below .

At the current ruble rate of nearly 75 to the dollar, the budget can balance at per barrel, said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington.

Saudi Arabia’s budget break-even oil price is closer to and its foreign currency reserves have been declining amid a massive state spending program.

Risky Bet

Riyadh not only faces budget pressure, but potentially investor pressure to cut production to keep the market stable, Sarah Ladislaw, a senior vice president at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a March 9 note.

Riyadh recently sold shares in state oil company Saudi Aramco, raising .6 billion in the world’s largest initial public offering. The shares are now below the price the investors paid for them.

But the U.S. shale industry has shown resilience in the past and is likely to do so again, analysts said. Low oil prices lead to consolidation, which should make companies more competitive in the longer term, Brew said — the opposite of what Moscow may be angling for.

Saudi Arabia failed to achieve the goal of shuttering the U.S. shale industry several years ago: The producers improved their efficiency in response to price pressure, driving down their own production costs.

Unlike large onshore or offshore oil fields that can take years to develop, shale fields can start producing in weeks, said Rauf Mammadov, an energy analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington. And the biggest U.S. oil companies, which are less vulnerable than smaller outfits, are investing more into shale.

“It will not impact the shale industry in the long run,” Mammadov told RFE/RL.

Meanwhile, the impact of the oil price drop is being felt globally, including in Moscow.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

‘Very Unexpected, Irrational’

Russia’s already slow-growing economy could potentially contract this year if oil prices stay low for the rest of the year, said Ribakova. She previously forecast growth of more than 2 percent in 2020.

Russia is losing 0 million to 0 million a day at an oil price of rather than , said Leonid Fedun, the billionaire vice president for strategic development at Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, which is not state-owned.

Fedun called the collapse of the Russia and OPEC+ agreement “very unexpected, irrational.”

That’s not the view at Rosneft, though. Sechin was the driver behind the Kremlin’s decision not to agree to additional cuts, Weafer said.

In June, Sechin accused the United States of using sanctions against energy-producing nations to make room for U.S. domestic production.

The United States has angered the Kremlin by imposing sanctions on Russian Baltic Sea export gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, delaying its completion indefinitely, and by slapping penalties last month sanctioned a trading arm of Rosneft for doing business in Venezuela.

In 2019, the United States supplied oil to Russia’s western neighbor Ukraine for the first time — as Kyiv seeks to reduce reliance on Moscow amid a continuing war with Russia-backed separatists in its east — while Belarus has inquired about purchasing U.S. oil as it seeks alternatives to Russian crude.

Rosneft will increase production by 300,000 barrels a day following the exit from the agreement with OPEC+, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified company officials.

Mammadov questioned the notion that Russia is targeting the U.S. shale industry.

The abundance of global supply, while largely driven by the United States, is also due to greater output from Canada, Brazil, and other non-OPEC countries, some of which have high-cost production and will be impacted, he said.

“This is more the outcome of the failure of the negotiation rather than a premeditated strategy or tactic” to crush U.S. production, Mammadov said. “There are too many global unknowns at the moment and that is the reason why Saudi Arabia and Russia could not agree on cuts.”

If the spread of the coronavirus retreats globally, leading to a pickup in economic activity and oil demand, the tensions between Russia and Saudi Arabia will ease as the question of greater cuts subsides, Mammadov said.

Another factor potentially limiting the depth of the price war is the Kremlin’s determination to maintain the political influence it has achieved in the Middle East in recent years, Weafer said.

That greater influence was on display in October 2017 when Saudi Arabia’s King Salman traveled to Moscow, the first-ever visit by the nation’s leader to Russia.

“The Kremlin will want to try to get back to the negotiating table because the political relations” with Saudi Arabia are “very important,” Weafer said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US won’t send ships to China’s anniversary celebration this year

The US Navy will not send warships to participate in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

More than 60 countries, including US allies Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, are expected to send naval delegations to attend the celebratory fleet review, The Japan Times reported, citing the Chinese defense ministry.

The US, however, will only send a defense attaché from the US embassy in Beijing.

“The U.S. Navy will continue to pursue its primary goal of constructive, risk-reduction focused, discourse with the PLAN,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told Business Insider in an emailed statement April 4, 2019. “Along with the international community, the Department of Defense engages with the PLAN in forums that advance international rules and norms and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”


“The United States Navy will continue to engage the PLAN through established military-to-military dialogues,” Eastburn added. He declined to say why the US Navy will not be participating in China’s anniversary celebration as it has done in the past.

Tensions between the US and China have been on the rise in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. In recent years, the US and China have had occasional confrontations at sea.

The reviews are in for ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ — The Rock is pulling it off!

The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald under way in the Pacific Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

The US disinvited the Chinese navy from 2018’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises in response to China’s militarization of the South China Sea.

“The PLA is the principal threat to U.S. interests,” Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2019. Stressing that China is a threat to US and allied interests in the First Island Chain, he added that “the PLA is quickly increasing its ability to project power and influence beyond the First Island Chain.”

The US Navy sent the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald to participate in the Chinese navy’s 60th anniversary event, the South China Morning Post has reported. The decision to not send one this year could be seen as a snub.

“America’s ships and sailors are needed across the Indo-Pacific,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe recently told The Washington Free Beacon, praising the administration’s decision.

“America’s Navy is busy enough confronting the challenges posed by China’s aggression in the South China Sea and other critical aspects of great power competition without the distraction of participating in communist pageantry,” the Oklahoma Republican added.

Indeed, the anniversary fleet review is a major propaganda moment for Beijing. “The naval parade in April aims at sending a message to the international community” about the capabilities of the Chinese navy, a Beijing-based military analyst told the South China Morning Post.

The anniversary celebrations will be held in Qingdao from April 22 to 25, 2019.

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

Lists

5 secrets to shopping at the Commissary with the kids

Shopping in any grocery store with children (young or old) can be a real pain. Add in going to the commissary on payday and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Maybe you’ve already tried all of the tricks for navigating shopping with kids in tow. Or are you are new to the whole grocery with kids game? Either way, try these five parent-tested secrets for making it through the experience without losing your mind.


1. Do it in the car

No list? No plan? Before you jump out of the car, write down must-have items and meal ideas, then prep any necessary items before you unleash the munchkins. Refresh your mind on coupons, write down any necessary purchases you remembered on your way there, and make sure you have any distraction items for the baby. It’s better to do this now than before you get in the store.

2. Get Attached

If they are little enough, the best place to have your kids is hanging out on you in a carrier. You can talk to them while you go to shelves and they aren’t climbing out of the cart and getting hurt. If they are at the in-between age where they want to run around, make holding onto the cart a game. “If you hold on through this aisle, you can pick out the cereal.” Or, if they sit still in the cart, say they can have a slice of cheese at the deli or bring a healthy treat along to get them through a rough spot. Make the reward something that can be given sooner rather than later.

3. Create a game

Involve you kids in the process and they’ll look at the grocery store as a fun place to be. Can they spy something orange in the fruit section? Find things that begin with “A”? See if they can locate the can of tomatoes you always buy first. How many uniforms can they count in the store? Don’t be afraid of looking a little silly. The commissary is a little crazy on payday anyway!

4. Give them a job

Oh, how kids love to help! But often it is the kind of help that gets them in trouble. Instead of letting them pick and choose their role, give your little helper a job each time you go. “You are in charge of crossing things off of the list.” Be sure to bring a clipboard. Or maybe they can get the items off of the low shelves. Can they help you pick out apples while sitting in the shopping cart? The more involved you make them on your terms, the less they will be on the receiving end of a reprimand.

5. Acknowledge and avoid their triggers

Kids feed off of your anxiety and the more amped up you are the crazier they feel. If you know you have a big shopping trip, don’t make it 20 minutes before lunchtime. Everyone will be hungry and grumpy, and you’ll have to rush through the store. If naptime is at noon, avoid bumping up against it and opt to go afterwards. If you know your child is going to flip in the cereal aisle, distract him as you grab the Cheerios. You know what has made shopping a miserable experience every trip before so create a battle plan that will keep you and your shopping buddy happy right to the checkout.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways being a military child shaped how I travel now

Where did you grow up? This is a complicated question for children from a military family. My answer: everywhere and nowhere.

Because of this unique childhood I’ve always felt at home in the world and understood why I love to travel. Later in life, it dawned on me it also influenced how I travel.


As the daughter of a Marine, and the wife of a soldier, I’ve been exposed to a lifestyle that carries with it a certain mindset and way of moving through the world. I’ve adopted a few of these valuable tools for myself and found they inspired a sense of confidence and self-reliance. Whether I’m miles away in a foreign country or just down the road, they are always there as a reference.

In addition to a sense of humor and infinite patience, these 5 lessons have served me well on my travels.

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“Check Your Six”

Situational awareness. I can’t talk enough about this one. It’s first on the list because it’s so important, especially in this age of attention-detracting smartphones. In a crowd or on your own, it’s a simple concept worth practicing. Keep your eyes and ears open, pay attention to your surroundings, and trust your instincts if something feels amiss.

Find the courage

As someone who often travels solo, I get asked about fear all the time. It’s healthy to be afraid but more often than not, we imagine scenarios and dangers that will likely never happen. It helps to break the situation down into manageable pieces. Try to pinpoint exactly where the issue lies and look for ways to solve that particular problem. As the saying goes, “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

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Stay In Touch

Situation Reports (aka sit-reps) are a vital means of communication in the military. By checking in occasionally to say what you’re doing or where you are, you’re ensuring an extra level of personal safety. Hiking alone in the desert can be exhilarating but a quick message to let someone know your general direction is always a good idea.

Be Prepared

Spontaneity is exciting, but preparation and organization leaves you with even more room to sit back and relax stress-free. At the simplest level, it could mean arriving at the airport with ample time or packing a complete carry-on for an unexpected delay. On the serious end of the scale (i.e. having emergency supplies or extra fuel in a remote area) it could be the difference between life and death.

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Don’t Forget The Bennies

The scope of recreation-related benefits available to service members and their families has changed and grown tremendously. Taking advantage of these free or discounted perks can make for interesting and cost-effective travel. A simple web search will produce an exhaustive list but here are a few ways to enjoy military-friendly travel: USO airport lounges, Space-A flights, RV rentals from Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) or an Armed Forces Vacation Club membership.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

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Milspouses can now get free LinkedIn memberships through DoD

The Defense Department’s Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program is launching a new partnership with LinkedIn, the virtual professional networking platform.

Military spouses will soon have access to a free LinkedIn Premium membership, valid for one year, every time they have a permanent-change-of-station move, including access to more than 12,000 online professional courses through LinkedIn Learning, as well as access to LinkedIn’s military and veterans resource portal. The membership is also available for the spouse of a service member who is within six months of separation from the military.


“The partnership with LinkedIn will offer military spouses a great opportunity to advance their careers during their times of transition,” said Eddy Mentzer, associate director of family readiness and well-being in DoD’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy. “Spouses will be able to access a global network of professionals any time, from any place. They can plan their next career step before they move, as soon as they have orders [for a permanent change of station].”

More Than Networking

A premium account includes enhanced insights comparing users to other applicants, on-demand learning, and use of the InMail feature, where users can send direct messages to LinkedIn members they’re not connected to. As corporate interest in hiring military spouses steps up, DoD and LinkedIn will be using the military spouse LinkedIn group to connect spouses to each other and employers.

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Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Kendra Velasquez speaks with a representative from Facebook during a job fair hosted by The Fleet and Family Support Center at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale, Wash.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher R. Jahnke)

“It is important for military spouses to see LinkedIn Premium as more than just enhanced networking. LinkedIn has developed a learning path specific to military spouses to help them find and succeed in remote, flexible, and freelance work opportunities,” Mentzer said. “Additionally, LinkedIn provides enhanced resources for spouses that own and operate their own business as well as for employers to search the military spouse community for potential employees.”


The LinkedIn partnership is designed to help military spouses overcome a common challenge, sustaining steady employment. The number one contributing factor to military spouse unemployment is continual relocation from duty station to duty station. On average, active-duty military personnel move once every two to three years, more than twice as often as civilian families, and military spouses move across state lines 10 times more frequently than their civilian counterparts.

Empowering Spouses

“Empowering our community of military spouses to reach their personal and professional goals is part of maintaining a healthy military community,” said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. “We encourage military spouses to take advantage of the LinkedIn Premium membership opportunity as just one of many tools available to them through the SECO program.”

Military spouses interested in the LinkedIn Premium upgrade can visit MySECO for more information and to learn how best to maximize this new service. Eligible military spouses are expected to have access to the LinkedIn Premium membership later this summer.

The DoD established the SECO program to provide education and career guidance to military spouses worldwide, offering free comprehensive resources and tools related to career exploration, education, training and licensing, employment readiness and career connections. This program also offers free career coaching services six days a week. This program may further develop partnership with private sector firms such as LinkedIn for purposes of enhancing employment opportunities for military spouses pursuant to authority in Section 1784 of Title 10, United States Code. The formation of such partnerships does not signify official DoD endorsement of any such private-sector entity or its products or services. Learn more about the SECO program by visiting Military OneSource or calling 800-342-9647 to speak to a SECO career coach.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @usnavy on Twitter.

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This is what basic Marine infantry training is like

If you know anything about Marine infantry, you know that we’ve built up one h*** of a reputation over the past 243 years. Whether it’s destroying our enemies or our profound capability to drink an entire town dry of alcohol, one thing is for sure — we’ve made a name for ourselves. But, the biggest and most important reputation is the one we have on the battlefield.

But the infantry plays the biggest role — closing with and destroying the enemy. Some may even regard us as the best in this respect but, to be the best, you have to train like the best from the ground up. This all starts at the Marine Corps School of Infantry so here are some things you should know about how the Marine Corps makes Infantry Marines:


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You’ll be pushed further than you were in boot camp.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson)

Infantry training is tough

You probably expected as much. But, let’s get this out of the way now: it’s tough but it’s not as tough as you’ll think it is. There are going to be lots of challenges but remember that the goal is to mentally and physically prepare you for being a professional war fighter.

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A lot of late nights and early mornings, but it’s for the best.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Sleep deprivation

Not unlike the first 48 hours of boot camp, you’re deprived of sleep. Very unlike the rest of boot camp, the sleep deprivation doesn’t end after the first 48 hours. In fact, you might develop a mentality like, “I can sleep when I get to my unit.” But, chances are, you won’t.

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It’s better than nothing though.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Shane T. Manson)

Malnourishment is a common side effect of joining the infantry

In boot camp, you get three meals at the mess hall each day with the exception of field week, where you get MREs, and the Crucible, where you get, like, one MRE for three days. In SOI, you get nothing but MREs – and believe me, your gut will feel it.

There might even be times your instructors don’t pull your platoon aside to make sure you eat; you’ll just have to eat when you can.

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Okay, you might get tents in your unit.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Donato Maffin)

Sleeping indoors is rare

You might have expected this. Infantry Marines sleep outside no matter what. Sleeping inside is something you only get to do when you’re out of the field so get used to sleeping in the dirt under the rain.

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Remember that they’re teaching you a lot of valuable lessons, even by being tough.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Orrin G. Farmer)

The instructors are more harsh

Just because they don’t scream in your face all the time like Drill Instructors doesn’t mean they’re better. Combat Instructors are, in a way, much easier to deal with. Overall, they’re way more harsh in the long run because they know you might end up in their squad or platoon and they want to make sure they trained you well enough to be there.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US wants to hunt Chinese fighters with these new long-range missiles

The US military is developing a new, longer-range air-to-air missile amid growing concerns that China’s advanced missiles outrange those carried by US fighters.

The AIM-260 air-to-air missile, also known as the Joint Air Tactical Missile (JATM), is intended to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) currently carried by US fighters, which has been a go-to weapon for aerial engagements. It “is meant to be the next air-to-air air dominance weapon for our air-to-air fighters,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Air Force Weapons Program Executive Officer, told Air Force Magazine.

“It has a range greater than AMRAAM,” he further explained, adding that the missile has “different capabilities onboard to go after that specific [next-generation air-dominance] threat set.”


Russia and China are developing their own fifth-generation fighters, the Su-57 and J-20 respectively, to compete against the US F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, and these two powerful rivals are also developing new, long-range air-to-air missiles.

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The Sukhoi Su-57.

In particular, the US military is deeply concerned about the Chinese PL-15, an active radar-guided very long range air-to-air missile (VLRAAM) with a suspected range of about 200 km. The Chinese military is also developing another weapon known as the PL-21, which is believed to have a range in excess of 300 km, or about 125 miles.

The PL-15, which has a greater range than the AIM-120D AMRAAM, entered service in 2016, and last year, Chinese J-20 stealth fighters did a air show flyover, during which they showed off their weapons bays loaded with suspected PL-15 missiles.

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J-20 stealth fighters of PLA Air Force.

Genatempo told reporters that the PL-15 was the motivation for the development of the JATM.

The AIM-260, a US Air Force project being carried out in coordination with the Army, the Navy, and Lockheed Martin, will initially be fielded on F-22 Raptors and F/A-18 Hornets and will later arm the F-35. Flight tests will begin in 2021, and the weapon is expected to achieve operational capability the following year.

The US military will stop buying AMRAAMs in 2026, phasing out the weapon that first entered service in the early 1990s for firepower with “longer legs,” the general explained.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Ranger fought in Mogadishu before becoming a country music star

On October 3, 1993, Task Force Ranger conducted a raid in the Black Sea neighborhood of Mogadishu, Somalia to capture high-ranking lieutenants of the Aidid militia. The task force was an all-star special operations team composed of elements from the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st SFOD-D, 160th SOAR, Navy SEALs from DEVGRU, and PJs and CCTs from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron.


As Nightstalker MH-6 Little Birds inserted Delta Operators on the target building, Rangers fast-roped down from MH-60 Blackhawks to the building’s four corners to secure a perimeter. During the insertion, Pfc. Todd Blackburn missed the rope and fell to the street below. Undeterred, the rest of the Rangers fast-roped out of the Blackhawks to establish security. The last Ranger out of the Blackhawk in front of Blackburn’s was team leader Sgt. Keni Thomas. As he reached for the rope, Thomas turned to the Blackhawk’s crew chief who yelled to him, “NO FEAR!”

“SCREW YOU!” Thomas responded as he dropped into the gunfire below. In his mind, it was easy for someone to say “no fear” if they’re the ones that get to fly away from the bullets. But Thomas was a Ranger, one of America’s elite, highly trained warriors. He led his team and maintained the perimeter around the target building from the Somali militia who were shooting at them, but mostly missing by his account.

Thirty-five minutes later, the target individuals were secure, loaded up on the trucks, and everyone was ready to return to base. With everything looking good, Thomas’ thoughts drifted as he thought about how he was now a bona fide combat veteran and could qualify for a VA loan. It was then that CW3 Cliff Wolcott and CW3 Donovan Briley’s Blackhawk was shot down. What was supposed to be a quick mission on a day off had turned into a battle against an entire city; after all, an American Soldier will never leave a fallen comrade.

Super 61 went down about five blocks from the target building. As the Rangers stepped off to secure the crash site, Thomas’ squad leader was shot in the neck. As the medics treated the squad leader’s neck wound, the platoon sergeant came up to Thomas and told him, “You’re in charge now.”

“What do you mean I’m in charge sarn’t?” Thomas asked, not wanting the increased responsibility.

“Hey, hey, sarn’t Thomas,” Sgt. Watson snapped his fingers to focus Thomas’ attention. “You’re in charge.” It was then that Thomas’ NCO training kicked in and he rogered up. Taking his squad leaders’ radio, he reassigned positions in his own team and took lead of the squad. The Rangers continued to make their way to the crash site as they took fire from unseen enemies.

Suddenly, one of the Rangers spotted a hostile Somali. “He’s in the tree sarn’t! He’s in the tree!” Pfc. Floyd, Thomas’ SAW gunner, yelled out frantically.

“Well if you see him, why don’t you shoot him?” Sgt. Watson responded self-evidently. It dawned on Floyd that he had, in fact, joined the Army and was allowed to shoot at people who shot at him. But rather than firing in 3 to 5 second bursts, Floyd proceeded to let out a constant stream of cyclic fire until Thomas hit him and told him to stop.

With the barrel of his machine gun glowing from the heat, Floyd stood up, lifted his goggles, and asked naively, “Did I get him?”

As the tree fell over, cut down by Floyd’s gunfire, Thomas said sarcastically, “Floyd, I don’t know if you got him, but you got the whole tree.”

Thomas and his squad continued to fight their way to the crash site and defended it until the bodies of the crew were recovered the next day. Incredibly and in spite of their casualties, their chalk was the only one to return with everyone alive that day. Thomas credits this accomplishment to the skill of their medic and the leadership of Sgt. Watson.

After Somalia, Thomas went on to serve in the Ranger recon teams. He ended his military career in 1997 as a Staff Sergeant, having earned the Master Parachutist Badge, the Military Freefall Parachutist Badge, the Special Operations Diver badge, British and Belgian jump wings, and a Bronze Star for Valor with a “V” device.

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Thomas served in the Army with distinction (Photo from KeniThomas.com)

Upon leaving active duty, Thomas worked as a youth counselor and eventually became a motivational speaker, drawing on his experiences in the Ranger Regiment. He also served as a consultant on We Were Soldiers and Black Hawk Down where he was portrayed by actor Tac Fitzgerald. However, it was Thomas’ passion for music that he focused on most after the army.

Thomas formed the country music band Cornbread and began his music career by performing in and around Columbus, Georgia. By the late 90’s, the band started to make a name for itself, playing shows on college campuses like Auburn University. In the 2002 movie Sweet Home Alabama, Thomas and Cornbread perform a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama as the movie’s featured song. To date, the band has released three albums as Cornbread and four under Keni Thomas’ name. Thomas has also performed several times at the prestigious Grand Ole Opry, with his most recent performance in May 2014.

Though he’s broken into the country music world, Thomas has not forgotten his military roots. He has performed overseas on USO tours during which he takes the extra time to connect with each servicemember that he meets and exchange stories. His favorite venues are the remote outposts where he performs for groups as small as a platoon. He also donates some of his proceeds to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a non-profit that provides scholarships and financial aid to the children of wounded or deceased operators.

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Thomas performing in Kuwait on a USO tour in 2006 (U.S. Navy photo)

From the streets of Mogadishu to the music halls of Nashville, Thomas has lived up to both the Soldier’s Creed and the Ranger Creed in never leaving a fallen comrade. He continues to tell the stories of his fallen brothers in his music and his motivational talks. Rangers like Thomas lead the way…all the way!

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