MIGHTY SURVIVAL

11 countries are now using people’s phones to track the coronavirus pandemic, and it heralds a massive increase in surveillance

Governments across the world are galvanizing every surveillance tool at their disposal to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Countries have been quick to use the one tool almost all of us carry with us — our smartphones.


A new live index of ramped up security measures by Top10VPN details the countries which have already brought in measures to track the phones of coronavirus patients, ranging from anonymized aggregated data to monitor the movement of people more generally, to the tracking of individual suspected patients and their contacts, known as “contact tracing.”

Other countries are likely to follow suit. The US Senate’s trillion economic stimulus bill includes 0 million for the CDC to launch a new “surveillance and data collection system” to monitor the spread of the virus, though it’s not yet clear exactly how this system will work.

Samuel Woodhams, Top10VPN’s Digital Rights Lead who compiled the index, warned that the world could slide into permanently increased surveillance.

“Without adequate tracking, there is a danger that these new, often highly invasive, measures will become the norm around the world,” he told Business Insider. “Although some may appear entirely legitimate, many pose a risk to citizens’ right to privacy and freedom of expression.

“Given how quickly things are changing, documenting the new measures is the first step to challenging potential overreach, providing scrutiny and holding corporations and governments to account.”

While some countries will cap their new emergency measures, otherwise may retain the powers for future use. “There is a risk that many of these new capabilities will continue to be used following the outbreak,” said Woodhams. “This is particularly significant as many of the new measures have avoided public and political scrutiny and do not include sunset clauses.”

Here’s a breakdown of which countries have started tracking phone data, with varying degrees of invasiveness:

South Korea gives out detailed information about patients’ whereabouts

South Korea has gone a step further than other countries, tracking individuals’ phones and creating a publicly available map to allow other citizens to check whether they may have crossed paths with any coronavirus patients.

The tracking data that goes into the map isn’t limited to mobile phone data, credit card records and even face-to-face interviews with patients are being used to build a retroactive map of where they’ve been.

Not only is the map there for citizens to check, but the South Korean government is using it to proactively send regional text messages warning people they may have come into contact with someone carrying the virus.

The location given can be extremely specific, the Washington Post reported a text went out that said an infected person had been at the “Magic Coin Karaoke in Jayang-dong at midnight on Feb. 20.”

Some texts give out more personal information however. A text reported by The Guardian read: “A woman in her 60s has just tested positive. Click on the link for the places she visited before she was hospitalised.”

The director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jeong Eun-kyeong, acknowledged that the site infringes on civil liberties, saying: “It is true that public interests tend to be emphasized more than human rights of individuals when dealing with diseases that can infect others.”

The map is already interfering with civil liberties, as a South Korean woman told the Washington Post that she had stopped attending a bar popular with lesbians for fear of being outed. “If I unknowingly contract the virus… that record will be released to the whole country,” she said.

The system is also throwing up other unexpected challenges. The Guardian reported that one man claiming to be infected threatened various restaurants saying he would visit and hurt their custom unless they gave him money to stay away.

Iran asked citizens to download an invasive app

Vice reported that Iran’s government endorsed a coronavirus diagnosis app that collected users’ real-time location data.

On March 3, a message went out to millions of Iranian citizens telling them to install the app, called AC19, before going to a hospital or health center.

The app claimed to be able to diagnose the user with coronavirus by asking a series of yes or no questions. The app has since been removed from the Google Play store.

Israel passed new laws to spy on its citizens

As part of a broad set of new surveillance measures approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 17, Israel’s Security Agency will no longer have to obtain a court order to track individuals’ phones. The new law also stipulates all data collected must be deleted after 30 days.

Netanyahu described the new security measures as “invasive” in an address to the nation.

“We’ll deploy measures we’ve only previously deployed against terrorists. Some of these will be invasive and infringe on the privacy of those affected. We must adopt a new routine,” said Netanyahu.

Singapore has an app which can trace people within 2 meters of infected patients

Singapore’s Government Technology Agency and the Ministry of Health developed an app for contact tracing called TraceTogether which launched on March 20.

Per the Straits Times, the app is used: “to identify people who have been in close proximity — within 2m for at least 30 minutes — to coronavirus patients using wireless Bluetooth technology.”

“No geolocation data or other personal data is collected,” TraceTogether said in an explanatory video.

Taiwan can tell when quarantined people have left the house

Taiwan has activated what it calls an “electronic fence,” which tracks mobile phone data and alerts authorities when someone who is supposed to be quarantined at home is leaving the house.

“The goal is to stop people from running around and spreading the infection,” said Jyan Hong-wei, head of Taiwan’s Department of Cyber Security. Jyan added that local authorities and police should be able to respond to anyone who triggers an alert within 15 minutes.

Even having your phone turned off seems to be enough to warrant a police visit. An American student living in Taiwan wrote in a BBC article that he was visited by two police officers at 8:15 a.m. because his phone had run out of battery at 7:30 a.m. and the government had briefly lost track of him. The student was in quarantine at the time because he had arrived in Taiwan from Europe.

Austria is using anonymized data to map people’s movements

On March 17 Austria’s biggest telecoms network operator Telekom Austria AG announced it was sharing anonymized location data with the government.

The technology being used was developed by a spin-off startup out of the University of Graz, and Telekom Austria said it is usually used to measure footfall in popular tourist sites.

Woodhams told Business Insider that while collecting aggregated data sets is less invasive than other measures, how that data could be used in future should still be cause for concern.

“Much of the data may remain at risk from re-identification, and it still provides governments with the ability to track the movement of large groups of its citizens,” said Woodhams.

Poland is making people send selfies to prove they’re quarantining correctly

On March 20 the Polish government announced the release of a new app called “Home Quarantine.” The point of the app is to make sure people who are supposed to be quarantining themselves for 14 days stay in place.

To use the app first you have to register a selfie, it then sends periodic requests for geo-located selfies. If the user fails to comply within 20 minutes, the police will be alerted.

“People in quarantine have a choice: either receive unexpected visits from the police, or download this app,” a spokesman for Poland’s Digital Ministry said.

The Polish government is automatically generating accounts for suspected quarantine patients, including people returning from abroad.

Belgium is using anonymized data from telcos

The Belgian government gave the go-ahead on March 11 to start using anonymized data from local telecom companies.

Germany is modeling how people are moving around

Deutsche Telekom announced on March 18 it would be sharing data with the Robert Koch Institute (Germany’s version of the CDC).

“With this we can model how people are moving around nationwide, on a state level, and even on a community level,” a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom told Die Welt.

Italy has created movement maps

Italy, which has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, has also signed a deal with telecoms operators to collect anonymized location data.

As of March 18 Italy had charged 40,000 of its citizens with violating its lockdown laws, per The Guardian.

The UK isn’t tracking yet but is considering it

While nothing official has been announced yet, the UK is in talks with major telecoms providers including O2 and EE to provide large sets of anonymized data.

Google has also indicated it is taking part in discussions.

Like other European democracies, the UK doesn’t seem to be exploring the more invasive method of contact tracing. However, it is considering using aggregated data to track the wider pattern of people’s movements.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Marines are cannibalizing Humvees for the JLTV

The High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle, best known as the Humvee, has been a mainstay of the United States Military for three decades, replacing the classic Jeeps. These vehicles are now giving way to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, which has some big shoes to fill.

However, the Humvee is likely going to help its successor along — by being a parts donor.


According to a release from Marine Corps Systems Command, Humvees will be capable of donating their gun turrets to JLTVs. This turret, known as the Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield, or MCTAGS, helps protect the folks manning the machine guns from enemy small-arms fire.

The MCTAGS entered service in 2005, replacing the older Gunner’s Protection Kit. One of the major advantages offered by MCTAGS is increased situational awareness for the gunners, enabling them to better see and more quickly target the enemy.

The Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield has been used since 2005, but will continue on much longer thanks to a procedure that allows it to be transplanted on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

(BAE Systems)

Marines recently proved that the MCTAGS can be transplanted from a Humvee to a JLTV by carrying out a proof-of-principle operation, but it’s not the only piece being donated. The Improved TOW Gunner’s Protection Kit, or IT-GPK, is also fit for transfer, alongside radios and other communications gear.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will enter service in 2019.

(Oshkosh Defense)

Not only will this second-hand gear enhance the survivability of the JLTV by giving gunners better situational awareness, it’ll also help the Marines save a fair chunk of change. By using existing technology, the Marines will save on development and manufacturing costs. Additionally, many who will operate the JLTV have previous experience with the Humvee’s similar configuration, meaning there’ll be no additional training — another savings.

A Marine Corps Transparent Armor Gun Shield being transplanted on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. This will save time and money for the Marine Corps, while increasing the combat capabilities of the JLTV.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Murphy)

Marines are currently carrying out the Operational Test and Evaluation process on the JLTV. The first units to get the JLTV will be the Marine Corps School of Infantry-West at Camp Pendleton, California; School of Infantry-East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia; and Motor Transport Maintenance Instructional Company at Camp Johnson, North Carolina, which are scheduled to get the vehicles early next year.

MIGHTY CULTURE

12 useful items to keep in your car this winter

Some people think that a full tank of gas and keys are the only things needed to drive a car. Sure, you can sometimes get away with being underprepared, but not during the winter. Factors like snow, ice, and freezing temperatures make winter driving a lot more demanding than normal.

You should be prepared for typical accidents that could potentially happen on the road at any time, but during the winter we’re also tasked with shoveling snow, scraping ice from our windows, making sure our tires have good traction, maintaining safe tire pressure, and more.


Whether you’re taking a spirited drive for fun or traveling from point A to point B, there a few things that everyone should keep in their car at all times during the winter.

No matter what year, make, or model your car is, it should come with basics like a tire iron and jack, but those two items alone won’t cut it. If you end up with a dead battery or a car that’s stuck in the snow, you’ll want to have a few other things on hand.

Check out the 12 items you should keep in your car at all times this winter, below:

(DMOS Collective)

1. A packable shovel

It goes without saying that shovels are useful during the winter, but having one specifically dedicated to your car is a wise move. If you’ve ever had to dig your car out after a snowstorm or gotten stuck along a snow-covered road, you know how convenient it is to keep one in your trunk.

When choosing a shovel to store in the car, people often resort to a cheap mini shovel for the sake of saving space, but it’s bound to break. Or they opt for a full-size shovel that will take up their entire cargo space for better efficiency.

With a DMOS Collective shovel, you get the best of both worlds. Made in the US using aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, every DMOS shovel features serrated teeth for breaking ice and a collapsible handle for easy storage.

Choose the Alpha 2 for a full-sized shovel or the Stealth for an even more compact design. You’ll never have to buy another shovel again, and it will fit your trunk perfectly.

(Amazon)

2. A snow and ice scraper

A snow and ice scraper is easily the most used tool for drivers during the winter. Keeping one handy will allow you to efficiently clear off your windows and lights before driving. The Snow Angel features an extendable telescopic arm, so it’s easy to store and won’t take up a lot of space when not in use.

(Amazon)

3. Jumper cables

A dead battery is one of the most common car issues, so jumper cables are a must-have. Whether you accidentally left your lights on or cold weather drained your battery, this will bring your car back to life. EPAuto uses thick 4-gauge cables for solid and reliable conductivity.

(Amazon)

4. A flashlight

Keeping a flashlight in your car year-round is a good idea, but with less daylight during the winter, it can be especially useful. Sure, your smartphone has a flashlight app on it, but it’s not as useful as a real one. Whether changing a tire or jumping your car, you want something that shines bright and is durable.

The Outlite A100 has a bright light with an adjustable focus and five modes, including a disrupter strobe and SOS function. It’s also waterproof, so you’ll be able to use it in all weather conditions.

(Amazon)

5. A gas can

Running out of gas can be a major headache at any time of the year, but it’s definitely worse in the winter. You don’t want to store fuel in your trunk, but keeping a small gas container in your car can save you from a tow. Just walk or take a cab to the nearest gas station and fill this can. With a capacity of just over a gallon, it will hold enough gas to get you to a gas station where you can refill your tank.

(Amazon)

6. An external battery

You probably already own a battery pack for keeping your electronics charged on-the-go, but having one that’s always in your car is important. It can be the difference between making a quick call for help or being stranded for hours. The NOCO Boost Plus GB40 acts as a charger flash, LED flashlight, and even has a plug-in to jumpstart your car.

(Sears)

7. A good spare tire

If your tires don’t have good tread, you absolutely want to replace them before winter comes. Driving in wet, snowy, or icy conditions with bald tires is extremely dangerous and shouldn’t be done. Go for a quality set of all-season tires, or opt for a set of snow tires to run on your car during the winter months. In addition to the tires on your car, it’s important to keep a spare that’s in solid condition.

(Amazon)

8. Portable air compressor

Whether your tires are brand new or used, cold weather can cause a loss of tire pressure. Since keeping the correct tire pressure is important to driving safely, an air compressor is a convenient way to maintain good tire pressure at all times. The P.I. Auto Store Air Compressor plugs right into your car’s 12-volt power outlet and features a gauge to let you know you’ve reached the correct PSI.

(Amazon)

9. A first-aid kit

You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit, so keeping a small one in your car is always smart. The Swiss Safe 2-in-1 is a packable case that’s easy to store or carry. It includes a 120-piece kit and a smaller bonus 32-piece kit.

(Amazon)

10. A basic tool kit

Even if you’re not a mechanic, having a basic tool kit can save the day when simple fixes need to be done. The Apollo 56-Piece kit includes everything you’ll need for basic repairs — a wrench, sockets, Allen keys, pliers, a screwdriver, zip ties, and more.

(Amazon)

11. Cat litter

Have you ever been stuck in the snow and your tires just keep spinning and spinning, no matter how much gas you give it? Even with new tires, certain cars can still lose traction, but luckily there’s a solution: cat litter. Simply spread the litter underneath the tires lacking traction, and you’ll be able to drive out of the slippery snow and ice.

(Amazon)

12. A warm blanket

Being stranded isn’t fun at any time of year, but during the winter, it’s more than an inconvenience. Going from driving in a warm car with heat to breaking down and losing power is never a good feeling — and can even be dangerous.

In the event that you do have to tough it out inside your car for a few hours or even overnight, you’re going to need a blanket to stay warm. You don’t need a full comforter set, but a fleece blanket provides warmth and won’t take up too much trunk space.

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

Military Life

6 tips to help you survive the notorious ‘Crucible’

Since 1996, “the Crucible” has been the subject of Marine recruits’ nightmares. It serves as the final test you must complete in order to officially and finally earn the title of United States Marine. During this 54-hour event, your platoon is split into squads, each led by one of your drill instructors, and each recruit must take a crack at being squad leader.

Throughout boot camp, you become accustomed to getting 8 hours of sleep and enjoying 3 meals per day, but during the Crucible, you’ll get just 6 hours of rest and three MREs to last you the whole 54-hour period. You’ll have to face down physical challenges throughout the day to test your mettle and see if you really have what it takes to be a Marine.

Here are some tips for surviving.


Remember — you’ll need this skill for the rest of your career.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Work as a team

Most of the challenges you’re going to face are team-based. You and the other recruits have developing individual strengths throughout boot camp, but you may not yet have developed great teamwork skills. The Crucible will, essentially, force you to figure it out.

Don’t be a weak leader.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Take charge

When you’re selected to be the squad leader, be loud, be firm, and don’t be afraid to use the powerful voice you’ve spent the last three months perfecting.

Even if you plan ahead, be prepared to be hungry the whole time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Plan your meals

For the love of Chesty Puller, don’t scarf down your only meal for the day. Divide up your snacks and save the main meal. It sucks, but it’s better than going hungry in the second half because you ate everything during the first.

Just say, “f*ck it.”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

Don’t be afraid to do anything

Hopefully, during boot camp, you’ve learned the importance courage since it’s one of the core values of the Corps. If you’re not brave yet, the Crucible is filled with challenges that will make sure you are before you become a Marine.

Just get back up and keep moving.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Be resilient

You may fail some challenges, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get to try again. So, don’t get discouraged when you’re getting smoked by a drill instructor.

Embrace the suck and you’ll make it through.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Have a positive attitude

A positive outlook will get you through any situation. Even if you’re sitting on the cold dirt at 3 am when it’s less than 30 degrees outside, if you can find a way to be positive, you’ll get through it. If you learn this during boot camp, the rest of your military career will be a piece of cake.

Articles

US government places sanctions against Syrian chemists after attack

The U.S. government put 271 Syrian chemists and other officials on its financial blacklist April 24, punishing them for their presumed role in the deadly chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in early April.


In one of its largest-ever sanctions announcements, the Treasury Department took aim at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which it said was responsible for developing the alleged sarin gas weapon used in the April 4 attack.

The attack left 87 dead, including many children, in the town of Khan Sheikhun, provoking outrage in the West, which accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible.

The sanctions will freeze all assets in the United States belonging to the 271 individuals on the blacklist, and block any American person or business from dealing with them.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based think tank, the SSRC is Syria’s leading scientific research center, with close links to the country’s military.

Articles

Navy Super Hornets hit targets hard as Mosul offensive heats up

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Josh Hammond/Released)


As Iraqi troops enter the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul this week, they have help from the sky in the form of F/A-18 Super Hornets based on the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Arabian Gulf.

The aircraft, which have been launching strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria since July, are now conducting high-intensity, seven-day-a-week operations to protect the ground forces moving into Mosul.

Also read: The Air Force is running out of bombs to drop on ISIS

Rear Adm. James Malloy, the commander of the Eisenhower carrier strike group, told Military.com in an exclusive interview this week that the crew of the carrier has been tireless as conditions on the ground intensify.

“The sailors are motivated and focused and understand the sense of urgency with this enemy,” he said. “And the ground [conditions are] a direct result of naval power projected ashore. So it’s pretty easy to explain to them both what they’re doing and the effect that they’re having on the enemy.”

The carrier, which deployed in June, launched about 116 airstrikes on Islamic State targets during its transit through the Eastern Mediterranean sea, and more than 1,330 since its arrival in the Arabian Gulf as of Sunday, Malloy said. But these numbers, he noted, did not take into account the aircraft that were at that moment in the air over Mosul.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 makes an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike). Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. | U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew J. Sneeringer

While strikes have been ongoing in and around Mosul for months in anticipation of the last major offensive into the city, operations have changed in recent weeks as the assault began.

Navy pilots are destroying fewer deliberate targets — fixed objectives they’re assigned to hit before they launch from the carrier deck — and more dynamic targets, often moving objectives that they are assigned after they arrive in the region and check in with the air controller.

Nearly 90 percent of strikes launched from the Eisenhower are now assaulting dynamic targets, Malloy said.

“The reason why [dynamic] targeting is much more critical now is because that is in direct support of troops on the ground moving against the enemy,” he said. “So by the time the pilots get to their targets from the carrier, the forward line of troops may have moved and the surgical precision of Navy air is critical to be able to impact the battle as it is occurring.”

Typical dynamic targets are command and control nodes and key areas where Islamic State militants will attempt to conduct resupply and ground maneuver in response to being attacked.

“They are being targeted as they try to do that, so we are accelerating the ground campaign with the airstrikes,” Malloy said.

The Eisenhower will likely remain in the region for several more months until its deployment concludes. On Thursday, multiple media outlets reported that Iraqi and Peshmerga troops, shored up with a small contingent of U.S. advisers, had finally breached the limits of Mosul.

For the Super Hornets, known for speed, precision and maneuverability, it’s an opportunity to show off what they can do.

“As a major offensive is occurring, the dynamic targeting capability of the aircraft come to fore,” Malloy said. “And that is where they shine for the most part: their responsive capability from the air.”

Articles

5 Army myths that just won’t die

The rumor mill is one of the most amazing things about Army service. Conjecture seems to travel through the Private News Network at speeds rivaling any military vehicle. Unfortunately, the PNN is not the most accurate place to get news and there are certain urban legends that show up time and again. Here are five of the rumors that just won’t die.


1. “These soft new soldiers could get a break in basic by just raising their stress cards.”

It seems like every time the Army graduates a class of basic trainees, the rumor pops up that this class was issued the fabled “stress cards.” These legendary pieces of paper would allow soldiers to take a time out if basic was getting too stressful and challenging, but the cards were never supposed to provide a break.

Snopes researched this myth and found an example of cards referencing stress in Navy recruits, while Stars and Stripes found a card that was issued to new soldiers. Neither card allowed for a time out though. The Navy card listed resources stressed sailors could turn to instead of running away or committing suicide. The Army cards served as a reminder to training cadre that recruit stress was real and should be managed.

For both services, there are reports of recruits trying to get out of training by raising the card, but training cadre were not obliged to provide a time out. A 1997 federal advisory committee recommended the use of the cards end due to the widespread misconception that they could be used to take a break.

2. “The Army was drugging us in basic. That’s why we didn’t want to have sex.”

Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth

Soldiers in basic may be surprised to find they can go months without sex and not miss it during training. In whispered conversations over dining facility tables, this is blamed on the Army lacing the food or water with saltpeter or other anti-libido drugs.

Stars and Stripes addressed this rumor and every branch of service provided an enthusiastic denial of the myth. In the article, a spokeswoman for the Kinsey Institute addressed the likely cause of soldiers’ lowered sex drive.

“Most people when they are under stress are not interested in sex,” Jennifer Bass told Stars and Stripes. “There are other things going on that are more important that they have to take care of physically and emotionally, and usually those two have to be working together for sexual response to happen.”

The rumor sometimes manifests as the Army drugging deployed soldiers, but the real cause of the dampened libido overseas is probably the physical and emotional stress of combat.

3. “Really, my granddad’s uncle had an M-16 with Mattel right on the grips.”

Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

The story goes that the first shipments of M-16s to U.S. troops in Vietnam had handgrips stamped with the Mattel logo, since Mattel had been subcontracted to make the parts in the first few runs of the new rifles.

While a great story, it’s not true. Snopes thinks the rumor started due to a joke among service members. The M-16 was plagued with problems when it first debuted with U.S. troops. Since it was made of plastic and did not function well as a weapon, troops joked that it was a toy using the tagline of the largest toy manufacturer of the time, “You Can Tell It’s Mattel… It’s Swell!” Mattel also manufactured a toy version of the weapon, likely adding to the myth.

The rifle was originally created by Armalite, and it had been producing the M-16 for export for over three years before the U.S. placed an order in 1962. Armalite had supplied an order to the Federation of Malaysia in late 1959, followed by orders for testing in India and fielding by the South Vietnamese. Manufacturing of the design was licensed out in 1962 to Colt who made the weapons finally delivered to U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1965. Colt, Armalite, and yes, even Mattel, have all denied involvement the toymaker had any part in manufacturing parts for the M-16.

4. “Hollywood doesn’t get our uniforms right because it would be against the law.”

Military movies are filled with annoying inaccuracies, something WATM has been happy to point out on multiple occasions. The rumor when it comes to uniform errors is that federal law prohibits civilians from wearing military uniforms, so Hollywood changes aspects of the uniform to get around the law.

First, the law exists but it applies whenever someone fraudulently wears the uniform, even if they intentionally get details wrong. Also, there are exceptions written into the law to protect artistic performances.

Since actors are allowed to wear the uniform while performing, Hollywood could legally portray the uniform properly just as easily as they display it incorrectly. Typically, movies gets the uniforms wrong because the crew doesn’t know better or doesn’t care. At the end of the day, it’s a costume designer outfitting the actors, not military technical advisors.

5. “Starbucks doesn’t support the troops!”

Photo: US Army Sgt. Carmen Gibson

Many companies have been accused of not supporting the troops for various reasons, but Starbucks seems to be the one who gets criticized the most due to a myth that they openly voiced a lack of support to the Marines. The origin of the Starbucks myth is actually well established. A Marine Corps sergeant heard that some of his peers had requested free Starbucks coffee and been turned down.

The sergeant blasted out an email requesting true patriots boycott Starbucks. Starbucks addressed the accusations, saying that the corporation doesn’t provide free coffee to any organization besides non-profit charities, and the policy wasn’t meant as a comment on military service members. Starbucks employees receive free coffee from the company, and Starbucks allowed its employees to donate this coffee to troops deployed. The company itself just didn’t directly donate any beans.

The originator of the email later apologized, but the myth that Starbucks once voiced opposition to war veterans persists. Starbucks has made a few large overtures to the military community to prove its loyalty. They’ve sent care packages to troops, introduced programs to hire more veterans, and used profits from stores in military areas to fund local veteran charities. In 2014, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced a $30 million donation to support research into PTSD and brain trauma.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 truths about the drill life

Whether you’re about to live it or are wondering if it’s a viable personal move (as well as a great professional move), there are many questions surrounding drill life. Known as being “on the trail,” drill sergeants and their families deal with a schedule and a lifestyle that differs from the rest of the military world. (And the rest of training units for that matter.)


Here are 5 truths of what it’s like to live on the trail, and what you can expect as a military spouse or dependent of an incoming drill.

It’s not like “regular” military life

If you’re a milspouse, you think “been there, done that,” right? Perhaps your spouse has been deployed, you’ve experienced several TDYs apart, and more. So if going drill is on the table you might be thinking, NBD. But the truth is, the life of a drill family greatly differs from the rest of the military.

Training units in general are a whole new world, but add in trainees that – at least for a portion of time – have to be supervised at all hours, and you’re looking at a schedule that’s spotty at best, and an unequal balance of parenting and household responsibilities. Be ready to pick up the slack; life on the trail is by far a family effort.

The hours are long

Military spouses are often left to handle things at home for days on end. Middle of the night calls when they have to go into work? Check. Last-minute overnights? Also a yep. Because trainees are involved, planning days ahead doesn’t always work. Everything could be listed out in excruciating detail, then something goes incredibly wrong, and drill sergeants have to return to work. Is that always the case? Of course not. Units do their best to keep hours low, but it’s always a possibility.

Experience depends on unit

Drill schedules take this to a new level. For instance, each MOS has its own timeline for basic and AIT scheduling. Each also comes with various rules on if/when weekends are non-work days, how many drills have to be present at each time, etc. But even furthermore, each individual company has its own rundown for days off, long weekends, especially in OSUT scenarios. (BCT and AIT in one location.)

If you have orders, the best source of information will be those who have been there first.

Stephen Colbert learns how “mean” drill instructors can be.

They’re loud, but not “in-the-movies” mean

When the “brown round” goes on, the voice escalates. Privates are talked down to, they’re encouraged to learn respect, and quickly. Being a drill means your spouse will have to, from time to time, be mean. But don’t freak out, either; it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, drill school teaches how to break and build incoming soldiers, but personality plays into this, too. Each drill will have their owner leadership style, their own way of being heard. Donning the same headgear as Smokey the Bear won’t suddenly make your spouse a screaming, demanding individual.

Drills don’t like being gone either

It won’t take long for most military spouses to wish they had more time with their always-working spouse. But while they’re gone for hours, sometimes days, remember that they don’t like the schedule, either. They are likely getting little sleep and training round-the-clock.

Being married to a drill is definitely a grind, but with a solid effort, it’s also a great way to fast-track a military career.

Keep in mind that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and incredible honor involved with life on the trail. It’s a great way for families to become tight-knit and rely on one another, even with crazy schedules.

Articles

This F-15E scored an air-to-air kill by dropping a bomb on an Iraqi helicopter

The first time the F-15 Strike Eagle saw combat was in the skies over the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. Although the F-15 C and D were incredibly lethal in air-to-air combat, the F-15E was primarily used to take out mobile Scud missiles and surface-to-air missile sites. It was the F-15E’s only air-to-air kill during Desert Storm that would become the most memorable.


On Valentine’s Day 1991, the offensive part of the First Gulf War was in full swing. U.S. Air Force Captains Richard “TB” Bennett and Dan “Chewie” Bakke were pilot and weapons system officer, respectively, on a Scud patrol. AWACS ordered their F-15E to hit Mi-24 Hind Gunships that were close to a U.S. Special Forces operation.

Bakke told the author of “Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements” that the F-15E’s radar became “intermittent” when they moved to strike. The pilot couldn’t get a missile lock on the targets because one the Hinds began to accelerate so fast. Bakke switched his thinking to a ground attack.

Since he could only see the rotors using his LANTIRN pod (the ground targeting system used by the Strike Eagles) Bakke used a laser-guided, 2,000-pound GBU-10 bomb on the helicopter as it began to lift off. The bomb when through the rotors and the cockpit, its fuse delay exploding the munition underneath the Hind, completely disintegrating the helicopter. The other helicopters bolted after that and more U.S. air cover came in to protect the ground force.

After the Special Forces team was extracted, they confirmed the F-15E’s kill and sent Bennett and Bakke a “Thank You” via their headquarters based in Riyadh.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Massive Russian wargames signal worries about NATO

The Russian military is getting ready for what is said to be an “unprecedented” military exercise, but as thousands of men and machines gather in Russia’s east, leaders in Moscow may be increasingly concerned about what’s going on in the West.

Early August 2018, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called the upcoming Vostok-2018, or East-2018, exercises “the largest preparatory action for the armed forces since Zapad-81,” referring to a Soviet military exercise in 1981 involving about 100,000 to 150,000 troops, according to a CIA estimate at the time.


Shoigu said on Aug. 28, 2018, that the Vostok-2018 exercise, scheduled for Sept. 11-15, 2018, will have some similarities to Zapad-81 but involve vastly more personnel.

“In some ways, they resemble the Zapad-81 drills but in other ways they are, perhaps, even larger,” Shoigu said, according to Russian state-owned media outlet Tass.

“Over 1,000 aircraft, almost 300,000 servicemen at almost all the training ranges of the Central and Eastern Military Districts and, naturally, the Pacific and Northern Fleets and the Airborne Force will be fully employed.”

Russian troops participating in Zapad-2017.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The Russian military has already begun evaluating its forces’ combat readiness and logistical support with “snap inspections” that involve special drills and are done under the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Just imagine that 36,000 pieces of military hardware are simultaneously in motion: these are tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles and all this is, naturally, checked in conditions close to a combat environment,” Shoigu said on Aug. 28, 2018, according to Tass.

Russia has invited military attaches from NATO countries to observe the upcoming exercises — an offer that a NATO spokesman told Reuters was under consideration.

Russia conducted another large-scale exercise, Zapad-17, or West-17, in September 2017. About 70,000 personnel took part in that — though only about 13,000 of them were part of the main event that took place in Belarus and western Russia. (The number of troops involved became a point of contention between Russia and NATO.)

Russian forces will not be the only ones taking part this time around. Chinese and Mongolian units will also take part, with Beijing reportedly sending more than 3,000 troops, 30 helicopters, and more than 900 pieces of other military hardware.

Chinese participation in Russian military exercises “speaks about the expansion of interaction of the two allies in all the spheres,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Aug, 28, 2018, according to Tass.

‘It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time’

Peskov was asked if the expense of the Vostok-18 exercise was necessary at a time when Russia’s economy is struggling and demands for more social spending are rising.

“The social security network and the pension system are a constant element of state policy and a very important component,” Peskov responded, according to Tass. “But the country’s defense capability in the current international situation, which is frequently quite aggressive and unfriendly for our country, is justified, needed and has no alternative.”

Russia has consistently condemned Western military activity and NATO maneuvers as provocative, but Peskov’s reply may hint at a growing unease in Moscow, which is still uncertain about President Donald Trump as it watches the defense alliance deploy an array of units to its eastern flank.

Trump has signaled a conciliatory stance toward Russia and hostility toward NATO, but those attitudes haven’t translated significantly into US or NATO policy.

“We don’t like the picture we are seeing,” Vladimir Frolov, an independent political analyst in Moscow, told Defense News.

“NATO is getting serious about its combat capabilities and readiness levels. Trump may trash NATO and his European allies,” he said, “but it is the capabilities that matter, and those have been growing under Trump.”

President Donald J. Trump and President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, July 16, 2018.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

NATO members have been boosting their defense spending and working to build military readiness — moves stoked recently by the combination of uncertainty about Trump and concern about assertive Russian action, like the incursion in Ukraine in 2014.

NATO troops, including US forces, are practicing tactics that have been little used since the Cold War. A number of former Soviet republics have embraced the West. NATO units have forward deployed to the alliance’s eastern flank, and Poland has even offered to pay to host a permanent US military presence.

Some European countries are also debating augmenting their own militaries and defense sectors. Germany, long averse to a large military footprint, is looking to recruit more troops, and some there have restarted debate about whether Berlin should seek its own nuclear-weapons capability.

Moscow has long used confrontation with the West to bolster its domestic political standing, and many leaders in the West have come to identify Russia as a main geopolitical foe — a dynamic that is likely to perpetuate tensions.

Early 2018 Russian officials called military exercises involving NATO and Ukrainian personnel “an attempt to once again provoke tension in southeastern Ukraine and in the entire Black Sea region” and said “countries … constantly accusing Russia of threatening regional stability shall be held responsible for possible negative consequences.”

NATO spokesman Dylan White told Reuters that countries have a right to conduct military exercises, “but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner.”

“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict,” White added. “It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

A Vietnam veteran re-enlisted to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan

Don Nicholas joined the military twice. The second time was for a reason soldiers don’t often give. His first enlistment began as a Marine in 1971. He spent the war on an aircraft carrier and didn’t set foot in South Vietnam until the war was over. He re-enlisted to land a spot as an embassy Marine in Saigon in 1974. He was on the second-to-last American helicopter leaving the city as it fell in 1975. He left active duty in 1978.

In 2004, he came back. The Marines thought he was too old at age 52. But for the Army Reserve, he was just what the doctor ordered. Literally.


It’s really not a fascination with war itself,” Sgt. Nicholas, who became a podiatrist in the intervening years, told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s more trying to keep people from getting killed. I’m taking the spot of some 19-year-old.”

The now-Army NCO Nicholas’ Marine Corps Saigon Embassy ID photo.

(Don Nicholas)

In 2011, he was 59 years old, the oldest of 6,000 troops in the 25th Infantry Division sent to eastern Afghanistan. He tried for years to get back into the military after his service ended. He tried during Desert Storm and again after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It wasn’t until the height of the Iraq War that the Army was ready to take a man of his skill and advanced age.

Though “advanced” is a term used only because the Army’s average age of enlistees back in 2004 was somewhere between 30 and 35. Nicholas’ wife says his return to service actually replenished his youthful vigor.

He doesn’t want the other 19-year-olds to go,” Mrs. Nicholas said. But “it makes him 19 again. He finds youth in the military.”

Don Nicholas in Afghanistan.

(Fox News/Daily Mail UK)

After his initial re-enlistment in 2004, he was sent to Iraq for 11 months. After a brief stay back at home, he redeployed to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, among other places. At age 60, he would be ordered out of the battlefields of Afghanistan due to age restrictions. Instead, he fought to stay in Kunar Province of Afghanistan for another year, pushing back against the military’s attempted mandatory retirement. He has only seen 16 years of active service and wants to complete 20 years.

If I have my chance to stay in and complete my 20 years. I absolutely would,” he told the Daily Mail. “Probably would stay in a few more years after that if I could.” As of 2011, he was hoping his podiatry practice could get him attached to a medical unit.
MIGHTY TRENDING

China is now building its third aircraft carrier

China is working on a third aircraft carrier, one expected to be much more technologically advanced and powerful than its predecessors, the Department of Defense said in its new report on China’s growing military might.

China has one carrier — the Liaoning — in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Formerly a Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser, this vessel is the flagship of China’s navy.


China is believed to be close to fielding its second aircraft carrier, the country’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier. This new ship recently completed its fifth sea trial, and the Pentagon reported that this vessel will “likely join the fleet by the end of 2019.”

Type 001A, China’s first domestically produced carrier.

While based on the Liaoning, the second carrier is slightly bigger, creating the potential for a larger carrier air wing, most likely consisting of the J-15 “Flying Sharks,” with which the Liaoning sails. Like the Liaoning, the Chinese navy’s newest carrier will use a ski-jump-assisted short-takeoff-but-arrested-recovery (STOBAR) launch system to sortie aircraft.

Incorporating this new aircraft carrier into the fleet will be a major milestone, but that achievement may be overshadowed by a more impressive achievement in just a few years, the Department of Defense said in its latest report.

“China began construction of its second domestically built aircraft carrier in 2018, which will likely be larger and fitted with a catapult launch system,” the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China. “This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations.”

Catapult launch systems are much more effective than the ski jumps, which tend to put greater strain on the aircraft and tend to result in reductions in operational range, payload size, and ultimately the number of flights the onboard aircraft can fly.

A J-15 taking off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.

“The new one is something that might be a little more interesting, a little more compelling,” Matthew Funaiole, a fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously told Business Insider. “If the third carrier does have some catapult-assisted launch system, that will be a huge step forward for China.”

“They would very quickly have moved closer to what current technology is,” he added. “That’s something that very few countries can do. That would put China in a very elite status.”

It is unclear if the catapult launch system will be steam-powered, like those on the US Nimitz-class carriers, or electromagnetic, like the catapults on the Ford-class carriers. It is also unclear whether or not the new Chinese carrier will be conventionally powered or nuclear-powered, like those of the US. China has expressed an interest in the latter, but the country may not have overcome the developmental hurdles to building one.

China is focused on building a world-class military, and a key part of China’s military-modernization program is building power-projection platforms, such as increasingly capable aircraft carriers. The country still has a ways to go to catch up to the US Navy, which has 11 modern aircraft carriers in its arsenal.

China’s third carrier is expected to be completed and operational by 2022.

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

Military Life

6 ways troops deal with hangovers and still make it PT

It’s no secret that troops and alcohol go together like a fine whiskey does with a couple of ice cubes. That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear troops talk about drinking heavily on a work night, even when they know they’re about to PT their asses off in just a few hours.


There’s no magical cure to being drunk. No matter the remedy or superstition, whether it’s drinking coffee or taking a hot shower, nothing can immediately sober someone up — only time and a good night’s rest can do that. But there are ways troops can take the sting out of nature’s reminder that alcohol is, technically, a poison and function at the level required by Uncle Sam.

Everyone wants to get swoll but forgets that cardio helps you drink more. Don’t forget to balance the two.

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

Get fit

How alcohol is handled by the human body depends greatly on a person’s body type. The larger the person, the less of an effect each drop of alcohol has. The metabolism of a person also determines how quickly the alcohol is cleared through the body. This is exactly why extremely big and fit people, like Andre the Giant, can drink 152 beers in a single sitting and function relatively well the following day.

You, probably, aren’t as massive as he was, but you can still boost your metabolism through rigorous exercise.

Don’t be that idiot who puts alcohol in their Camelback. You need actual water and the alcohol will eat through the plastic lining.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko)

Hydrate the night before

To understand why everything hurts in the morning, let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening to your body when you’re hungover. In actuality, it’s the same sensation as doing some extreme training in a hot climate: It’s a bad case of self-inflicted dehydration.

Take a tip from your medic or corpsman and take in plenty of regular, old water before the night begins. It should go without saying, but you should be a one or a two on the pee chart before things get crazy.

Which shouldn’t be an issue because they’ll probably be on their way to PT and not stopping by Burger King.

(Photo by Patrick Buffett)

Eat a big meal beforehand

As we said, dehydration is the leading reason why hangovers suck. We can continue to mitigate this by making sure our bodies retain as many fluids as possible throughout the night.

Greasy foods with high sodium are common go-tos among troops. While these might not be healthy choices in general, the fats and grease line the stomach, decreasing the amount of alcohol absorbed into the bloodstream.

It should be noted, however, that greasy foods are terrible after someone is hungover because the body will reject it, making nausea worse.

If you cut it with a bottle of Gatorade or something, it will go down a lot smoother. But seriously, this stuff tastes like ass.

(Courtesy Photo)

Hydration solution formulas

Since hangovers are literally just terrible cases of dehydration, it makes sense that products designed for re-hydration are helpful choices. There aren’t many options for name-brand hydration solution formulas, but if you go into the baby-food aisle at most stores, you’ll find something like Pedialyte.

Yes, it’s technically baby formula. Yes, it’s designed for children with stomach and bowel sicknesses. And yes, it’s going to taste like crap. But if you want a quick hit of electrolytes to help you function as an adult, just drink the damn baby formula.

They got pills back there in the Aid Station for every situation and ailment and yet the only thing they give us is Motrin… Just saying…

(Photo by Charles Haymond)

Motrin and water

If you really want to hear what your medic has to say, give ’em a visit. They may hook you up with a saline bag (to quickly replenish your fluids and keep ’em in there) or they’ll just toss you some Motrin and tell you to go away.

Now, the Ibuprofen isn’t going to cure your hangover, but it’s going to lessen the symptoms until your body can handle itself. The water, however, is actually going to help, so drink up. You’ll need it if you’re already dehydrated before a big run.

The world doesn’t give a damn if you’re in pain. So, neither should you.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Villarreal)

Suck it up, buttercup

If you really want to know how your crusty ol’ first sergeant handledtheir alcohol back duringtheir barracksdays —they just stop caring and moved through the pain.

Being hungover doesn’teven makethe list of the top 10 thingsthat bothera senior NCO. They’ve pushed their bodies to the limit for God-knows-how-many years and they seem to be doing just fine. At the end of the day,they know that complaining about it doesn’t make it anybetter.