As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here's what we learned - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

James Ruvalcaba was the lead operational planner and Joe Plenzler was the public affairs officer for III Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan. They were responsible for authoring the III MEF CONPLAN 5003 to protect all U.S. forces, their families, and Defense Department personnel in Japan. They are both retired Marine lieutenant colonels.

As former lead operational planners for the Biohazard Defense Contingency Plan for all military service members, their families and Defense Department employees in Japan, we noticed the strong possibility of a COVID-19 pandemic in early February of this year.

There are lessons to be learned from an earlier viral outbreak.


In response to the H5N1 or “bird flu” outbreak in 2005, President George W. Bush issued a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza (PI) that November.

Thirteen days later, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace issued a planning order (PLANORD) directing all combatant commanders to conduct execution-level planning for a DoD response to pandemic influenza.

The guidance was clear and broad: Develop a contingency plan that specifically addressed the three major missions of force health protection, defense support for civil authorities, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

As leaders of the planning efforts, we recruited medical experts and researched preventive health materials from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, and disease exposure control studies from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This 18-month planning effort included tabletop exercises with State Department officials and local government officials and resulted in a 650-page biohazard response plan for all Marine Corps forces in Japan.

The plan also involved the additional major mission of continuity of operations to ensure that local governments and military installations continued to provide essential and emergency services during a pandemic.

The plan required all units and critical support agencies and businesses to classify their employees or service members as nonessential, essential or emergency-essential personnel.

The lessons we learned in this comprehensive 2005 planning effort are extensive, but they have not been fully implemented in response to COVID-19.

So what can policymakers, emergency medical responders and today’s planners learn from our plan?

Expect a “new normal” until a proven vaccine is developed. Social distancing measures and restrictions on mass gatherings must continue until the population has been vaccinated and the current COVID-19 virus is no longer a threat.

Just like we adapted to the post-9/11 terrorist attacks by instituting new security measures, we must also adapt to the pandemic by continuing social distancing measures until a proven vaccine has been developed, tested and administered to the entire global community. We must do this to avoid subsequent pandemic waves.

Our plan operated under the advice from health experts that a vaccine may take about a year to develop and that it will take months more for it to be readily available to the entire population. We recommend that the vaccine be prioritized and allocated first to medical responders and other personnel designated as emergency-essential responders. Local public health experts should draft immunization plans, to include the prioritization of immunizations to emergency-essential personnel.

The public should expect to experience additional shortages of medical equipment. We’ve seen the shortages of N95 masks, ventilators and ICU beds in hospitals; however, when restrictive measures are eased or lifted, our planning revealed that there will be a huge demand for infrared thermal detection systems (IR thermometers) in order to conduct public health febrile surveillance — especially prior to boarding flights or mass transportation. The post-pandemic environment will most likely involve febrile screenings to ensure viral threats are contained.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

Ongoing surveillance and contact tracing are extremely critical after the first pandemic wave is contained to a manageable level, in order to prevent a second wave or spreading it to another region. We should leverage technology in our smartphones to self-report if we have been in contact with infected people. China successfully implemented these protocols in Wuhan province through a phone app.

The demand for mortuary services may exceed available capacity. Additionally, new protocols must be established for conducting funerals.

Public Service Announcements are critical to shape public action to comply with evolving restrictive measures implemented by public health officials. Additionally, PSAs alleviate fear and anxiety by providing reassurance and critical educational material to assist the public in helping to contain and reduce the pandemic. Simply stated, PSAs help to reset the expectations of the evolving crisis and the associated escalatory or de-escalatory restrictive measures.

A pandemic may produce a second wave after the first outbreak, and sometimes even a second cycle outbreak after a few seasons. This is due to previously undetected pockets of viral outbreaks, a lapse in compliance to restrictive measures, the reintroduction of the virus from an external source, or the possibility of the virus mutating gradually by antigenic drift, or abruptly by antigenic shift. It is important for medical responders, public officials and the public to understand that we must not let our guard down when we start seeing a reduction in the transmissibility of the COVID virus or a reduction in the number of people infected.

We cannot lean on unfounded messages of hope; rather, we should look to science and condition-based assessments to decide when to ease or lift restrictive measures. The message to policymakers and high-ranking preventive health officials is clear: Demand science-based justifications for lifting restrictive measures.

For all that have closely tracked the evolution of this COVID-19 virus from its initial outbreak to a pandemic, the writing on the wall is obvious: National leaders made grave mistakes by not taking the threat seriously.

The lack of early mitigation has now cost us more than 427,000 sick Americans, more than 14,000 deaths and more than .3 trillion.

Our nation is paying a terrible cost for not taking this pandemic seriously enough, early enough. We must act in earnest to implement these lessons to help contain the viral spread so we can safely ease the restrictive measures while preventing a second pandemic wave or subsequent pandemic cycle.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The spectacular naval origin of the phrase, ‘son of a gun’

These days, Americans are less likely to exclaim “son of a gun” than the more-explicit “son of a b*tch,” but there was a time when “son of a gun” itself was not used in mixed company — and that time was more than 200 years after the age of sail.


It seems the Royal Navy, while not keen on having women aboard its ships, sometimes overlooked the practice. Different times throughout its history saw sailors of the Royal Navy either bring either their wives or lovers aboard ships that might be out at sea for a while. While it wasn’t officially tolerated, there are instances of a ship’s company turning a blind eye to it.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

At this point, it’s important that everyone knows I’m talking about prostitutes.

Everyone aboard a ship was counted in the ship’s log back in those days. The log was a detailed account of who was working, who came aboard, who left, who died, etc. It also kept track of who was born aboard one of the King or Queen’s ships. It was uncommon, but it did happen. Women had to get around the world just like anyone else. The Royal Navy kept this count, just like any other ship.

But say there was one of the aforementioned female guests aboard a ship. If that woman just happened to give birth aboard ship, that child would have to be kept in the log. If a child was born with uncertain paternity — that is to say, there were too many possibilities as to who the father could be — the newborn still had to be counted in the log.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

Like an old-timey recording of the Maury Show.

If this was the case, the child’s name was recorded as the “son of a gun” — the son of a seaman below decks. Eventually, the common use of the phrase began to refer to any child born aboard a ship, even those of officers accompanied by their wives. Then, it began to refer to any child of a military man, not just the bastard children of sailors.

Some 200-plus years later, it’s used to lovingly refer to a mischievous person or as an expression of awe or esteem. To use an expletive or insult in the same vein, we’ve moved on as a society. Who knows where language will go next?

MIGHTY TRENDING

12 awesome photos of the USAF honoring Las Vegas shooting victims

Nov. 10 saw the annual Aviation Nation Air and Space Expo at Nellis Air Force Base.


Located outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, Nellis has close ties to its neighboring city. Following the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas in October, last weekend’s air show commemorated and honored the city and the shooting’s victims.

Read Also: This Marine veteran ‘borrowed’ a truck and drove dozens to hospital during Las Vegas shooting

The show also featured US Air Force history, as the Air Force celebrates its 70th anniversary. About 400,000 people were expected to visit the two-day expo.

“This is freaking awesome. It really shakes you in your boots,” one observer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It is rare that you get to see this stuff.”

Here’s what it was like inside the Aviation Nation Air and Space Expo:

Nellis servicemen customized several aircraft, including this F-16 Fighting Falcon, to display the base’s Vegas Strong message.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 57th Wing, displays a Vegas Strong paint scheme as the aircraft flies over the Aviation Nation 2017 Air and Space Expo crowd at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 10. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

This F-15C Eagle was painted to commemorate the shooting, which took place at a country music festival on Oct. 1.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Senior Airmen Brittany Galloway and Dillon Cutlip, 57th Wing creative design team members, observe their final product on the tail of an F-15C Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Nov. 1, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

Here’s more detail on the tail.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Senior Airmen Brittany Galloway and Dillon Cutlip, 57th Wing creative design team members, observe their final product on the tail of an F-15C Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Nov. 1, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver/Released)

The aircraft had to be completely repainted in some cases.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Michael Moore, 57th Maintenance Squadron aircraft painter, applies paint to an F-15C Eagle at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Oct. 25, 2017. The aircraft is being repainted to recognize the Air Force’s 70th Anniversary as well as the unity between the Las Vegas community and Nellis AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver)

Here’s the final product on another F-15C Eagle.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
An F-15C Eagle bears the term Vegas Strong at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Nov. 1, 2017. The aircraft was repainted to promote the unity between the Las Vegas community and Nellis AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver)

Here’s what they normally look like, without the paint job.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
F-15C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons.)

Aside from the memorials to the Las Vegas shooting, the Air and Space Expo had some of the best features of a traditional air show. Spectators were treated to a show from the Air Force Thunderbirds.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

The opening ceremony featured members of the Air Force’s Wing of Blue Parachute Team jumping out of aircrafts.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
A member of the U.S. Air Force’s Wing of Blue Parachute Demonstration Team jumps out of an aircraft over Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 10 during the opening ceremony of Aviation Nation 2017 Nellis Air and Space Expo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

Here’s what it looks like when they land.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

Aviation Nation also celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the US Air Force, showcasing older aircraft such as the B-25 Mitchell.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Dwayne Jones)

The Texas Flying Legends flew in formation, showing off some WWII-era aircrafts.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
A Texas Flying Legends pass over the Nellis Air Force Base flight line during Aviation Nation 2017 Nellis Air and Space Expo, Nov. 10, 2017. The Texas Flying Legends is dedicated to honoring the men and women who have served—or are currently serving through an active display of World War II aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

Also on site was a U-2S Dragon Lady.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
A U-2S Dragon Lady, reconnaissance aircraft from Beale Air Force Base, Calif arrives at Nellis Nov. 10, 2017.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew Sarver)

Humor

5 best reasons why the Air Force doesn’t need warrant officers

Many an airman have found themselves utterly confused whenever they encounter these wonderful and mythical creatures normally found somewhere downrange (or near one of our sibling service’s chow hall).


Their rank insignia is confusing for the airman seeing it for the first time — but don’t you dare stare! Yes, this rare and godlike commodity is the warrant officer.

What, exactly, is a warrant officer?

A warrant officer is a technical expert. For the branches that have them (i.e. not the U.S. Air Force), they serve as the technical base for their respective service. They, simply put, have become officers based on expertise and, well, warrant.

Sounds great, but does the Air Force need them? Here are five reasons why they might not:

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
They definitely don’t know what to do with their hands. (Image from Columbia Pictures’ Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)

Related: 7 more professional athletes you didn’t know were veterans

5. Congress had a better plan

The Air Force actually did once have warrant officers.

From the moment the Air Force become a separate branch on Sept. 18, 1947 until 1958, the enlisted ranks topped out at E-7. Congress then created the ranks of E-8 and E-9 for the Air Force, allowing for more growth.

The Air Force didn’t see a need for these technical experts anymore and used this momentum to usher out what had become a somewhat pesky group of individuals.

The Air Force made their last warrant officer appointment in 1959 and the one in active duty retired in 1980.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
This is how the Air Force Warrant Officer went away. (Image from ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock)

4. Wait, aren’t we actually getting them?

This is a rumor that has been going around for decades. I, personally, heard it back in my earliest days in Air Force blue and thought it was a great idea.

I heard it again a few years and bases later, and even right now the idea of re-introducing the warrant officer tier to the Air Force is being kicked around.

It’ll probably, eventually, likely, maybe-not-but-just-might happen… one day.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

3. We must be different

Just like most younger siblings, the Air Force strives to be different from our big brothers in blue, green, and Marine.

We learn from their history, their triumphs, and their missteps to be a better version of awesome whenever and wherever possible.

Most of the time, that makes sense. But sometimes, different is just different — not better.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Pictured: Air Force fighting for independence.

2. Because… air power

Keeping in line with the snootiness of being the baby sibling, the Air Force went a step further in hardening the line between enlisted and commissioned than our brothers did.

The Air Force zigged when the Army zagged.

Why? Because there will be no misnomer about ranks, positions, and titles in the Air Force, right?

Also read: This is what it was like being in the military on 9/10

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Air Force being Air Force… different isn’t always better. (USAF photo by Airman Jack Sanders)

1. We have our own unicorns

We already have mythical, rarely seen, hard-to-catch creatures in the Air Force.

Unlike other services, where you commonly see some type of operator doing all types of things (from working out to shopping), in the Air Force, you could easily go your entire career without ever seeing a pararescueman or combat controller with your own eyes.

Oh, they exist like a motherf*cker but, unless you’re in that world, you’ll only see them in your dreams.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Pictured: absolute badass, Chief Master Sgt. Davide Keaton (Retired).  (USAF photo by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

MIGHTY TRENDING

New photos illustrate the large shows of force in disputed skies

The US military put on a show of force in China’s backyard on Sept. 26, 2018, as a US B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber linked up with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets in the contested East China Sea.

US bombers have been increasingly active in both the East and South China Sea recently following a pattern of behavior set in August 2018, when the US sent B-52 bombers through the disputed seas four times in total.

These flights come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Beijing over both economic and military matters.


As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

The flight through the East China Sea was flown in support of Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement on Sept. 27, 2018.

Source: Pacific Air Forces

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept. 23, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

B-52 bombers flew through the South China Sea once on Sept.23, 2018, and again on Sept. 25, 2018, showing off America’s capabilities over tense tides. Beijing warned the US against “provocative” military behavior in response.

Source: Business Insider and Reuters

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

B-52H Stratofortress bomber taking off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says that these flights are only an issue because China made these seas global hot spots. “If it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” he explained on Sept. 26, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thief who stole from the National Archives will go to jail

French historian, Antonin DeHays, who stole almost 300 U.S. dog tags from fallen Airmen and around 134 other items, which included identification cards, a bible, and pieces of downed US aircraft, has been sentenced to 364 days in prison.

Approximately 291 Dog Tags and 134 other items were sneaked out by Antonin DeHays during his visits to the National Archives in College Park in Maryland. All of the dog tags belonged to fallen airmen who fell in Europe in 1944. Those tags bore the cruelties of war and Antonin DeHays made advantage of that when selling these items online.


“Burnt, and show some stains of fuel, blood… very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash,” DeHays told a potential buyer in a text message.

On another dog tag, he texted a potential buyer that the item was “salty” or visibly war-damaged while also marketing the “partially burned” appearance of a Red Cross identification card.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
The National Archives Building in College Park, Maryland.
(National Archives)

Not only did he sell most of the items, some of the items were used as a trade in return for rare experiences. He gave a brass dog tag to a military aviation museum in exchange for the chance to sit inside a Spitfire airplane, according to the Department of Justice.

On April 9, 2018, a federal judge in Maryland sentenced DeHays to 364 days in prison for the theft of government records, and ordered him to pay more than $43,000 in restitution to the unwitting buyers who purchased the stolen goods.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Army wants more soldiers, and it’s using esports to put a ‘finger on the pulse’ of potential recruits

After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.


The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.

Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, “build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth.”

By January 2019, more than 6,500 soldiers had applied for a team that was expected to have about 30 members. In September 2019, the Army credited the esports team, one of two new outreach teams set up that year, as having “initiated some of the highest lead-generating events in the history of the all-volunteer force.”

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Staff Sgt. Michael Showes, far right, with fellow Army Esports Team members and a game enthusiast at an exhibition in San Antonio, January 19, 2019.

US Army/Terrance Bell

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the team, said in January 2019.

Team members who were competing would train for up to six hours a day, Jones said at the time, and they received instruction on Army enlistment programs so they could answer questions from potential recruits.

“They will have the ability to start a dialogue about what it is like to serve in our Army and see if those contacts are interested in joining,” Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said in early 2019.

Thousands of soldiers play esports, Muth said, and the audience for it has grown into the hundreds of millions — West Point even recognized its own official esports club in January — but the appeal wasn’t obvious at first to Army leaders, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday.

“This was one [idea] that when the first time Gen. Frank Muth briefed … Army senior leadership, we’re like, ‘What are you talking about, Frank?'” McCarthy told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“We’re about 18 months into it,” McCarthy said, and with that team, Army recruiters were “getting their finger on the pulse with 17- to 24-year-old Americans. What are they into? How do they communicate? And [finding] those right venues and shaping our messaging to talk about here’s the 150 different things you can do in the Army and the access to education and the kinds of people that you can meet and being a part of something as special as this institution.”

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The Army Esports Team trailer at ArmyCon 2019, October 12, 2019.

Army Esports Team/Facebook

In 2019, the Army rolled out an esports trailer with four gaming stations inside, as well as a semi-trailer with eight seats that could be adjusted so all eight players played the same game or their own on a gaming PC, an Xbox 1S, a PS4 Pro, and a Nintendo Switch, Jones, the NCO-in-charge, told Task Purpose in October.

One of the senior leaders dispatched to an esports event was Gen. Mark Milley, who was Army chief of staff at the time and is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the president’s top uniformed military adviser.

“He said, ‘You’re going to make me do what?'” McCarthy said Friday. “Then when he went, he learned a lot, and he got to engage with young men and women, and what we found is we’re getting millions of leads of 17- to 24-year-olds to feed into Army Recruiting Command to engage young men and women to see if they’d be interested in a life of service.”

The esports team is part of a change in recruiting strategy, McCarthy said, that has focused on 22 cities in traditional recruiting grounds in the South and Midwest but also on the West Coast and the Northeast with the goal of informing potential recruits about what life in the Army is actually like as well as about the benefits of serving, such as money for college or soft skills that appeal to employers.

The service has also shifted almost all its advertising spending to digital and put more uniformed personnel into the Army Marketing Research Group to take more control of its messaging.

McCarthy on Friday called it “a comprehensive approach” to “improve our performance in a variety of demographics, whether that’s male-to-female ratios or ethnicities.” That geographic focus yielded “a double-digit lift” among women and minorities, McCarthy said last year.

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Army Gen. Frank Muth, back row, third from right, with members of the Army Esports Team in front of USAE gaming truck, in Washington, DC, October 14, 2019.

US Army Esports Team/Facebook

The outreach hasn’t been universally welcomed.

After the 2018 recruiting shortfall, service chiefs, including then-Army Secretary Mark Esper, said schools were not letting uniformed service members in to recruit. Anti-war activists attempted to disprove that claim by offering ,000 to schools that admitted to barring recruiters.

Suggestions the Army start recruiting children in their early teens also received criticism for both its impracticality and the harm it could do to the military as an institution.

But recruiting has improved year-over-year, hitting the goal set last year and being ahead of pace now, McCarthy said.

“This has been a major turnaround, because I think we just got a little lazy and we started losing touch with young men and women … but you have to sustain this,” McCarthy added. “We’re in a war for talent in this country — 3.5% unemployment, they have a lot of opportunities.”

“We travel to a lot of American cities, and we meet with mayors and superintendents of schools and other civic leaders to try to educate those influencers, to try to help us in recruiting, and it’s yielded tremendous benefit.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Christopher Plummer from The Sound of Music and Battle of Britain dies at 91

Legendary Canadian actor Christopher Plummer was arguably one of the greatest actors post-WWII. Beginning his career in 1946, Plummer remained an active thespian throughout his life. He is best known for his role as Captain George von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Plummer was also a go-to actor to play historical figures like Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Waterloo, Emperor Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire, and Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception. On February 5, 2021, Plummer died at the age of 91.

Born in Toronto, Ontario on December 13, 1929, Plummer was a direct descendant of Sir John Abbott, Canada’s third Prime Minister. He was inspired to take up acting after watching Laurence Olivier’s Henry V and became an apprentice at the Montreal Repertory Theatre where William Shatner also acted. In 1946, Plummer performed his first role as Mr. Darcy in a school production of Pride and Prejudice.

In 1953, he appeared on television, both Canadian and American, and Broadway. Plummer acted mainly on stage and did not appear on screen for six years after 1958. His return to film was as Emperor Commodus in 1964’s The Fall of the Roman Empire. The next year, Plummer would see his film career soar to new heights with The Sound of Music.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Plummer and Andrews in The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox)

Despite it being his best-known role, Plummer once described The Sound of Music as “so awful and sentimental and gooey.” Aside from working with Julie Andrews, Plummer recounted that he found all aspects of making the film to be unpleasant, going so far as to nickname it “The Sound of Mucus.” Still, he acknowledged the film’s importance in retrospect. “But it was a very well-made movie,” he said in a 2009 interview , “and it’s a family movie and we haven’t seen a family movie, I don’t think, on that scale for ages.”

Classic military film enthusiasts will be most familiar with Plummer for his roles in the war epics Battle of Britain from 1969 and Waterloo the following year. In Battle of Britain, Plummer plays Canadian pilot Squadron Leader Colin Harvey, one of the first allied characters audiences are introduced to. In Waterloo, he takes on the role of the legendary British hero, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley who ended the Napoleonic Wars by defeating the French Emperor in the titular battle.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Plummer acted across from fellow legend Michael Caine in Battle of Britain (United Artists)

Christopher Plummer went on to act through the century and right up to his death. One of his last on-screen appearances was in a 2020 episode of Jeopardy! as a clue presenter. His final movie role is as a voice actor in the yet-to-be-released animated film Heroes of the Golden Masks.

Plummer died peacefully in his home with his wife by his side from complications following a fall. “The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” said The Sound of Music costar Julie Andrews. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years.” Plummer’s legacy is immortalized on screen in over 100 films and in the hearts and minds of his fans around the world.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Christopher Plummer and Andrews on the set of The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox)
MIGHTY TACTICAL

Step inside a 30-ton Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle built to battle onto enemy beaches

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — For more than four decades, the amphibious assault vehicle has been key to getting Marines ashore and into the fight.


US Marine Corps AAVs are large, tracked vehicles capable of operating in the water and on land that are essential for getting Marines onto the beach in an assault, and Insider recently had the opportunity to climb inside.

i.insider.com

The AAV replaced the older Landing Vehicle, Tracked (LVT) and is expected to eventually be replaced by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), but for now, the AAV is the go-to vehicle for amphibious assaults.

Over the past month, the Marines at Camp Pendleton in California have been training with their Japanese partners to execute an amphibious assault in the latest iteration of Iron Fist.

“AAVs bring a lot to that fight,” 2nd Lt. Nicholas Pierret, an officer in charge on a live-fire range, told Insider as the gunners practiced putting fire down range.

An AAV is a lightly-armored, fully-tracked amphibious landing vehicle specifically designed to get troops from ship to shore, as well as take troops inland to continue the fight.

Although Marine Corps AAVs are more than 40 years old, these 30-ton tracked vehicles are still the “the number one vehicle” to perform the amphibious assault task, Pierret told Insider.

These heavy “amphibious tractors” are commonly called “amtracs” or “tracks” by Marines.

Each AAV can carry around two dozen Marines and their gear.

The standard operating procedure for these vehicles is three operators — the crew chief, the driver, and the rear crewman — and 21 infantry.

The crew are sometimes referred to as “trackers.”

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Marines drive an AAV into the water during training at Camp Pendleton, California.

Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie/US Marine Corps

It is currently the only operational Marine Corps vehicle capable of operating on land and in the water.

AAVs can run at a maximum speed of around 45 mph on land but only about 8 mph in the water, where they maintain an exceptionally low profile with over 75 percent of this amphibious armored personnel carrier submerged.

The AAV has a V-8 diesel engine that powers two water jets that propel it through water. In combat, it can push through waves up to 10 feet high. The ride can be rough, and there are no seat belts. It’s not uncommon for people to throw up.

AAVs are armed with significantly more firepower than the infantry units they carry ashore.

The amtracs, as the Marine’s call them, are equipped with a Mk 19 40mm grenade launcher and M2HB .50-caliber machine gun, weapons operated by the crew chief.

“Those are heavy firepower assets. Infantry has nothing that compares,” Pierret explained.

AAVs can be outfitted with additional weaponry as needed.

For example, the Marines have AAVs outfitted with Mk 154 Mine Clearing Line Charges (MICLICs) that can fire a rocket-propelled explosive line charge filled with C4 to eliminate mines and improvised explosive devices.

These AAVs can clear an entire lane out to a distance of about 100 yards.

In addition to these assets, the Marines inside all have their service weapons.

Each of the infantrymen riding in the AAV will dismount with their M4 service rifle.

Besides bringing extra firepower to the fight, another thing AAVs are really good for is logistics.

“They can carry supplies, ammo, MREs,” Pierret told Insider, referring to the sealed Meals Ready to Eat that troops eat in the field. “An AAV is also a very good casualty evacuation platform.”

On land, additional gear can be stored externally.

Marines can also live inside an AAV if necessary.

An amphibious assault vehicle is big enough to serve as an armored battle camper when necessary. Some Marines are said to call it a battle RV.

Sgt. Juan Torres Jr., a section leader, told Insider that he once lived out of an AAV for almost a month and a half. “You’re out in the field,” he said, “This is your home.”

Marines can even shower in them.

Theoretically, there is supposed to be air circulating inside the vehicle, but when it’s packed with Marines and the engine is running, it gets really hot, one Marine told Insider.

“A couple days in the field, and we’re smelly,” they said.

AAV crews can shower in their tracks using five gallon jugs filled with water carried onboard or stored in the hull. The AAV can hold up to 171 gallons of any liquid.

It takes a ton of maintenance to keep these old amtracs operational.

A few hours of training can require as much as four times as much prep work and maintenance, Torres told Insider.

“The four hours of cool stuff we get to do adds up to about 16 hours of hard work and preparation if not more,” he said.

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

Articles

This is what it looks like when ISIS traps an Iraqi army unit for 20 hours

Whatever criticism is leveled at CNN, some of the network’s international reporters are as badass as they come. They may wield a pen, pad, and camera instead of an M4 rifle, but they face danger just like many troops on the frontline — and keep going back despite the risk.


One of those war journos is Arwa Damon, a fluent Arab speaker and a senior international correspondent for CNN based in Istanbul. She’s covered the bloody civil war in Syria — a fight that’s taken the life of over 100 journalists since 2011 — and was recently embedded with Iraqi troops during their assault on the ISIS stronghold in Mosul.

It’s one thing to embed with U.S. troops in a combat zone — with its professionalism, training and sheer firepower embedding with American forces offers a lot of extra protection when the sh*t hits the fan. But when you’re staking your life on the effectiveness of a rebuilt military like the Iraqi army, it’s an entirely different danger equation.

During a patrol in Mosul late last year, Damon finds herself in the nightmare scenario many American troops knew well to avoid. A slow-moving convoy of up armored Humvees weaving through ever-tightening streets and alleys with bad guys maneuvering on all sides. An explosion disables the lead vehicle, another targets the trailing one. Grenades and rockets hit the MRAP, VBIDs stream in from the sides.

A veteran of many hairy combat situations herself, Damon can sense things are about to go pear shaped and when they do, it’s the CNN reporter who has to tell the Iraqis to take a strong point and get the hell off the “X.”

What follows is a nerve-wracking 20 hours of waiting for backup. No call for fire, no QRF, no gun runs are going to un-as$ this cluster. The only respite comes at daybreak when, under fire, the crew makes a break for it and barely maneuvers it out of the kill zone.

What she brought home, however, is a harrowing look at what it’s like to be at the mercy of ISIS in an enemy-controlled city relying on a military that’s got a long way to go before it can hold its own in a complex urban fight.

MIGHTY TRENDING

A new North Korean missile test could be fired from a sub

North Korea may soon engage in its next provocation and test a submarine-launched ballistic missile, according to a Japanese press report.


The Tokyo Shimbun reported Nov. 30 the Kim Jong-un regime could soon launch the Pukguksong-3, an SLBM that is nearing completion.

Also Read: North Korea May Have Equipped Two Submarines With Ballistic Missile Launch Tubes

Quoting a source familiar with the North Korean military, the newspaper’s China-based correspondent reported North Korea may be placing finishing touches on the missile, and could test the weapon soon.

The fuselage of the Pukuguksong-3 is slimmer than the Pukguksong-1, and up to two of the missiles can be deployed to a newly built submarine, the source said.

North Korea successfully tested the Pukuguksong-1 in August 2016. In February 2017, the regime tested the Pukguksong-2, an upgraded SLBM.

North Korea launched what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, and released images of the launch on Nov. 29.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned
Kim Jong-un next to the newest and most powerful missile in the North Korean arsenal, Hwasong-15. (Photo from Rodong Sinmun)

Images of Kim included the leader by the gigantic rocket.

Michael Duistman, an analyst with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies said the size of the Hwasong-15 signifies a new stage in North Korea’s nuclear development.

“Only a few countries can produce missiles of this size, and North Korea just joined the club,” the analyst said, according to the BBC.

The size of the missile’s nose cone indicates it could carry a “super-large heavy” nuclear warhead, according to the report.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the must-go-to conference if you’re a military blogger

Back and better than ever, this year Dallas, Texas, will host the largest gathering of top-tier military bloggers and entrepreneurs during the Military Influencer Conference to be held Oct. 22-24.


What started as a get-together for a handful of military bloggers back in the early 2000s has mushroomed into a full-fledged conference that brings together hundreds of community leaders, digital entrepreneurs, and influencers united by a passion for the military.

Through inspiring keynote speeches and immersive, hands-on workshops with some of the top names in the digital space, attendees can learn proven strategies, tactics and techniques needed to grow their brands.

This year’s speakers include Matt Griffin of Combat Flip Flops, The Duffel Blog‘s Paul Szoldra, Erica McMannes from Mad Skills and Honor Courage Commitment‘s Urshel Metcalf — among many others.

With more than 21 educational sessions and a wide range of dynamic, inspiring speakers, this event gives digital entrepreneurs an unprecedented opportunity to find the resources and connections needed to grow an online business.

All tickets to the 2017 Military Influencer Conference can be purchased online until Oct. 10. And right now if attendees use the discount code “wearethemighty” they can earn a 20 percent discount on tickets.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marine Corps’ JLTV is officially ready for the battlefield

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is officially ready to deploy and support missions of the naval expeditionary force-in-readiness worldwide.

Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Combat Development and Integration declared the JLTV program — part of the Light Tactical Vehicle portfolio at Program Executive Officer Land Systems — reached initial operational capability, or IOC, on Aug. 2, 2019, nearly a year ahead of schedule.

“Congratulations to the combined JLTV Team for acting with a sense of urgency and reaching IOC early,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts. “Changing the speed in which we deliver, combined with coming in under cost and meeting all performance requirements, is a fine example of increasing Marine Corps capabilities at the speed of relevance which enables our Marines to compete and win on the modern battlefield.”


The JLTV, a program led by the Army, will fully replace the Corps’ aging High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle fleet. The JLTV family of vehicles comes in different variants with multiple mission package configurations, all providing protected, sustained, networked mobility that balances payload, performance and protection across the full range of military operations.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“I’m proud of what our team, in collaboration with the Army, has accomplished. Their commitment to supporting the warfighter delivered an exceptional vehicle, ahead of schedule, that Marines will use to dominate on the battlefield now and well into the future.”

Several elements need to be met before a program can declare IOC of a system, which encompasses more than delivery of the system itself. The program office also had to ensure all the operators were fully trained and maintenance tools and spare parts packages were ready.

“IOC is more than just saying that the schoolhouses and an infantry battalion all have their trucks,” said Eugene Morin, product manager for JLTV at PEO Land Systems. “All of the tools and parts required to support the system need to be in place, the units must have had received sufficient training and each unit commander needs to declare that he is combat-ready.”

For the JLTV, this means the program office had to fully field battle-ready vehicles to the Marine Corps schoolhouses—School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; School of Infantry West at Camp Pendleton, California; The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia; and the Motor Transport Maintenance Instruction Course at Camp Johnson, North Carolina—and to an infantry battalion at II Marine Expeditionary Force. The program office started delivering vehicles to the schoolhouses earlier this year and started delivering vehicles to the infantry battalion July 2019.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle displays its overall capabilities during a live demonstration at the School of Infantry West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 27, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

On Aug. 2, 2019, Lt. Col. Neil Berry, the commanding officer for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, notified Morin and his team of the unit’s combat readiness with the JLTV. On Aug. 5, 2019, The Director, Ground Combat Element Division at CDI notified PM LTV of its IOC achievement. The JLTV is scheduled to start fielding to I MEF and III MEF before the end of September 2019.

According to LTV Program Manager Andrew Rodgers, during the post-acquisition Milestone C rebaseline of the JLTV schedule in January 2016, IOC was projected to occur by June 2020.

Rodgers says that detailed program scheduling, planning and, most importantly, teamwork with stakeholders across the enterprise enabled the program office to deliver the vehicles and reach IOC ahead of schedule.

As military planners, we strategized for a pandemic—here’s what we learned

The Marine Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicles has achieved initial operational capability.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Smithers)

“It was definitely a team effort, and we built up a really great team,” said Rodgers. “In terms of leadership, our product managers’ — both Gene Morin and his predecessor, Dave Bias — detailed focus and ability to track cost, schedule and performance was key. Neal Justis, our deputy program manager, has significant prior military experience working for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, so having him on board knowing how to work the Pentagon network was a huge force multiplier.”

Rodgers is quick to note that, although the team has reached IOC, this is really only the beginning of the JLTV’s future legacy.

“We are really at the starting line right now. Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see JLTVs in the DOD,” said Rodgers. “We’ll easily still have these assets somewhere in the DOD in the year 2100. Welcome to the start of many generations of JLTVs.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

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