The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!) - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SURVIVAL

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

Say you’re taking an adventurous hike off the beaten path. Your trail map isn’t making a lot of sense. The sun is starting to dip below the mountaintops and there’s a chill in the air. You brought enough supplies for a day hike, and that’s it. What do you do? Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. If night is only a few hours off and you’re too mixed up or far away to make it back to the car, get ready to spend the night in the wild. If chipmunks can do it, so can you! These are the top 10 survival skills you should have to stay safe on your accidental adventure.


1. Finding and purifying water

Feeling a bit peckish? Too bad. Snacks are not your first order of business. Even people who are slim can go for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Prioritize what will kill you first! To find water, start simple. Listen for the sounds of fresh, flowing water. If you don’t hear anything, follow the animals. They’re better at this than you are! Look for animal tracks, or note what direction birds are flying in the early morning.

Since water flows downhill, head towards low spots and you’ll likely find water. From there, purifying it is a must. Boiling water works well, but not many people carry a pot on day hike. Instead, plan ahead and bring purification tablets or a Life Straw. Alternatively, you can use one of these methods to collect water that’s already safe to drink.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sarah Sangster)

2. Building a fire and keeping it lit

Keeping matches or flint in your backpack makes this step infinitely easier. There are multiple ways of starting a fire without either, so let’s start with the simplest. Remember that psychotic neighbor kid who liked to burn ants? That works on twigs and leaves, too. If you have a magnifying glass, a pair of glasses, or even ice, you can start a fire just by focusing the light of the sun on some dry kindling. Most of these methods are a little trickier, but they’re worth a try if you’re in a pinch.

3. Staying warm without a fire

If it’s pouring rain, building a fire will be nearly impossible. To stay warm without, try to stay as dry as you can. Water will draw heat away from your body, cooling you down faster. Layer clothing to create insulating pockets of air, but don’t let yourself get too hot either! Sweating will cool you down, so try to shed layers if you start feeling warm. It’s also a good idea to place something between your body and the ground for extra insulation.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
USMC photo by Sgt. Aaron Rooks. (DVIDS)

4. Selecting an ideal location to make camp

Head uphill and look for spots with natural shelter, like large boulders. Thick trees can also provide some protection against the wind. Avoid low areas near water since they may be prone to flash flooding, and steer clear of areas with tall grass that might be home to venomous snakes that could make your impromptu night in the woods a whole lot scarier.

5. Building an appropriate shelter

Your options for shelter depend on what supplies you have. A survival knife or hatchet and a tarp will make things so much easier. If you don’t, you can try building a simple lean-to with branches and debris that will provide at least some barrier against the elements. There are lots more options, too!

6. Navigation, with a compass and without.

Navigating with a compass should be pretty self-explanatory. If you can’t use a compass, you probably shouldn’t be wandering through the woods to begin with. If you didn’t bring one, navigation depends on what part of the world you’re in. The sun does always rise in the east, so that can give you some sense of where you are.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
U.S. Air Force photo//Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek. (DVIDS)

7. Finding and prepping food

Fish, birds, and even non-venomous snakes make for decent meals if you can catch them. If not, try foraging. Look for edible plants and insects, but if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it! Avoid unfamiliar plants and anything with more than six legs. Not that you wanted to eat a spider anyway. Whatever you find, cooking it will make it safer to eat and easier to digest.

8. Avoiding injury

First aid skills are important, but it’s better not to need them. Your biggest tool here is awareness. Be aware of your surroundings, and be aware of your own conditioning. Don’t push past your personal limits unless it’s 100% necessary for survival. If you push yourself to exhaustion, you’ll start slipping. In your weakened state, you’ll be less agile and more prone to injury. Your decision making skills will also suffer. Self-care in the wild is a luxury, not a necessity! Here are some more tips in case you need them.

9. Applying first aid correctly when needed

If you don’t know basic first aid, take a class before heading into the wilderness. Your backpack should have a first aid kit in it even for short excursions. These are some great tips to keep in mind if you manage to slice open your leg or burn yourself miles from a hospital. The short version: Stop bleeding with pressure and keep wounds clean and covered to prevent infection.

10. How to make rope

When you’re trying to build a shelter, rope is an exceedingly useful tool to have. Learn to make your own, or save yourself the trouble and pick up one of these paracord survival belts.

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These were some of the ballsiest pilots of WWII, and their planes didn’t even have engines

In World War II, airborne units were really in their infancy. The Germans pioneered their use in combat, and the United States built perhaps the largest airborne force in the world, with five airborne divisions.


But these divisions had a problem. There weren’t many planes to transport them for large-scale airborne ops. Today, most transports used in airborne operations have rear ramps for loading cargo (like, jeeps and artillery). Back then, they didn’t.

The C-47 Skytrain was based on the DC-3 airliner. The C-46 Commado was also based on an airliner.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
A C-47 takes off, towing a Waco CG-4 glider during Operation Market Garden. (Imperial War Museum photo)

Yeah, paratroops could be dropped, but they could be scattered (thus creating the rule of the LGOPs). How would they drop the heavier equipment, and keep the crews together? The answer came with the development of gliders. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union pioneered the use of them, but the U.S. and Great Britain built lots of them.

According to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association’s web site, the United States built over 13,000 CG-4A Waco gliders. Each of these gliders could carry 15 troops, or a Jeep and four paratroopers, a trailer, up to 5,000 pounds of supplies, an anti-tank gun plus operators, or a 75mm artillery piece and its crew.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Troops with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment load some heavy firepower onto a CG-4 glider. (US Army photo)

The U.S. also used British Horsa gliders to carry even larger groups of troops (up to 30 in a glider) or bigger amounts of supplies. Over 300 of these gliders were used on D-Day, one of those instances where the arsenal of democracy had to borrow a plane made by an ally.

About 6,500 glider pilots were trained during World War II, taking part in eight missions from Sicily to Luzon. In the 1950s, advancements in transport aircraft, both fixed-wing and rotary-wing, led to the glider units being deactivated in 1952. But the gliders helped deliver firepower, troops, and supplies during World War II – when that ability was needed.

The video below shows how gliders were used during the Normandy invasion.

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Marine MP and MMA champ break down the fighting in ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

How realistic is the combat in “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back?” To find out, we went to veteran owned and operated Military Muscle Gym in Davie, Florida, where owner Kelsey De Santis — a Marine Corps MP turned martial arts trainer — and MMA star Anthony “Rumble” Johnson broke down the weapon strategy, positioning and disarmament techniques from the film.


Any object can be a weapon, but you have to “make it count”

Positioning is key to destabilizing an opponent and gaining an advantage

Disarming a gun attacker at close range, according to a U.S. Coast Guard Weapons Specialist

Brought to you by:

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

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This is one of the oldest Middle East deployments of American troops you’ve never heard of

One of America’s longest Middle East deployments has been taking place since 1981. This is part of the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai Peninsula, which helps implement the 1979 Camp David Accords – the peace treaty negotiated by then-President Jimmy Carter between Egypt and Israel.


According to the State Department, the U.S. brokered the historic accords in 1978, with the peace treaty taking effect the following year. While that treaty is best known for the billions of dollars in military aid it has provided Egypt and Israel over the years, what is not as well known is the fact that a peacekeeping force was also established to keep the two sides at bay.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
A Texas Guard soldier shoots during the Task Force Sinai quarterly competition. (National Guard photo)

According to the MFO’s web site, the peacekeeping force was supposed to come from the United Nations, but that organization couldn’t get a Security Council Resolution approved. Israel and Egypt had to get together in 1981 to work out an alternative arrangement. The MFO was born out of those negotiations.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
MFO Battalion South Fijian and U.S. Soldiers conducting security drills during a mass casualty exercise on MFO-South Camp June 28, 2016. (Photo by U.S. Army 1st. Lt. Sondra Setterington, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

The United States provides the largest contingent of troops to this 1,365-person force. The American contingent usually includes an infantry battalion (either National Guard or active component) that serves a 9-month tour. The United States also provides a support battalion to back up not only its infantry battalion, but the troops from 11 other countries as well, including Australia, Canada, and Uruguay.

Colombia and Fiji provide the second- and third-largest contingents, respectively.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
MFO Battalion South Fijian Soldiers conducting security drills during a mass casualty exercise on MFO-South Camp June 28, 2016. Fiji provides the third-largest contingent to the MFO. (Photo by U.S. Army 1st. Lt. Sondra Setterington, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

There have been fatalities during this mission. In 2007, according to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, a DHC-6 Twin Otter crashed while trying to make an emergency landing. All eight personnel on board were killed.

In 1985, 250 personnel from the 101st Airborne Division were killed while returning from their tour, according to a Montreal Gazette report.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Career Marines talk life as a dual-serving couple

Family first, mission always.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Charles Vanscoyk and his wife, Staff Sgt. Alexandra Vanscoyk, are both aviation supply specialists who recently returned to the fleet after completing tours on recruiting duty. The transition has been met with unexpected challenges that magnify the logistics needed for couples seeking successful careers and a growing family.


The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

The Vanscoyks met in 2013 shortly after Alexandra left college and enlisted in the Marine Corps. She says the two quickly became friends, deciding to date after being stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, together.

“For three years our lives crossed paths on and off and eventually timing lined up where we were both single and we decide to try dating each other,” she explained in an email.

Alexandra said it came natural to date someone who understood the military lifestyle.

“It was always difficult finding civilians who wanted to date a ‘female Marine.’ I’m not really sure why. My best guess is our job title is intimidating to most civilians and we usually have an alpha personality which can also come off as intimidating. It also made conversations easier. We use so many acronyms and random jargon that most people will never understand, no matter how many times you tell them. So, for me, dating a Marine was what seemed realistic,” she said.

Missouri-native Charles Vanscoyk followed his twin brother into the Marines in 2004 after a short stint at college proved school wasn’t for him. Charles says a conversation with the recruiter made him realize the military was what he had been looking for.

“Growing up I was an athlete and liked to be challenged and stay competitive. Plus coming from a small town in the middle of nowhere the idea of travel and adventure sounded cool,” he said.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

Both Marines were attached to Recruiting Station Houston, completing the independent duty assignment then relocating to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. They both admit it’s been an adjustment to not only be back in the fleet, but doing so with the added stress of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, childcare is a trending issue for households with working parents. Alexandra says a good command definitely makes it easier for them.

“Since we are both active duty it’s very difficult to come up with a solid routine while the daycares are closed. We’ve got two kids at home — one school aged who needs to complete online class work and an infant who needs constant attention. Thankfully our command has been very helpful but I know other dual couples who have not been as fortunate,” she said.

Prior to the pandemic, she adds, some of the challenges “were deciding who would stay home if the kids got sick, who would take time off work for appointments, worrying about when you or your spouse has 24–hour duty,” though she is quick to point out their family has benefitted from “very understanding units and leadership.” And the exposure to solid leadership over the years has guided her throughout her career.

“The commanding officer at my first unit had a moto: “family first, mission always.” At the time I didn’t have a family but it stuck with me. At my second unit I had two different COs and both were huge family men. Seeing them, 15 years plus into their career and still having a strong family made me realize it is possible to have the best of both,” she said.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

Alexandra adds that her advice for younger service members is to find a good balance for work-home life, especially if you’re in a dual military relationship. Charles echoes that sentiment.

“The best advice I could give is put your family first. Still be a good Marine and proficient at your job, but understand this machine that is the Marine Corps will not fall apart if you are not there. Be there for you kids and family. Don’t miss those moments you will never get back with your family,” he said.

The Vanscoyks have their sights set on serving in the Marines for the long haul, with Alexandra weighing the idea of either pursuing warrant officer school or becoming a career recruiter. Charles says he has checked the box on many of his goals making career progression the natural focus.

“As a Marine you always strive for the next rank, so MSgt is my goal. And continue to try and motivate and inspire these next generation of Marines that will carry on the legacy,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.


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The US Air Force may make history and buy this ridiculously cheap jet

Years after initial development, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II finally seems like it’s well on its way to enter the US’s fleet of fighter jets. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the DoD isn’t seeking alternative jets to supplement their squadrons.


According to Defense News, the US Air Force announced that it would begin testing aircraft that were not currently planned to be in its inventory. After signing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Textron AirLand, the Air Force will begin a series of tests to determine if Textron AirLand’s flagship jet, dubbed “Scorpion”, will be airworthy.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Textron AirLand’s Armed Scorpion | Photo courtesy of Textron AirLand

“This is the first of its kind, we have not done a CRADA like this before and we have never had a partnership with industry to assess aircraft that are not under a USAF acquisition contract,” an Air Force representative explained in a statement from Defense News.

The Scorpion is a different beast compared to the other jets around the globe. Starting with its cost, Textron AirLand’s President Bill Anderson explained in a Bloomberg video, “The Scorpion … was designed to be very effective and very affordable.”

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Photo courtesy of Textron AirLand

“The goal was to create a very mission-relevant aircraft for today’s security environment that’s below $20 million in acquisition costs, and below $3,000 an hour to operate.”

By comparison, a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) costs about $13 million and $1,500 per hour to operate, while the conventional F-35A costs $98 million per unit and $42,200 an hour in 2015.

The Scorpion features a tandem cockpit and a composite airframe in order to keep its weight and costs down. In addition to its twin turbofan engines that are able to achieve a flight speed up to 517 mph, it houses an internal payload bay that’s capable of holding 3,000 pounds.

“It’s quite maneuverable,” explained Scorpion test pilot Andy Vaughan. “It reminds me of my days when I used to fly the A-10 in the US Air Force.”

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Courtesy of Textron AirLand

From start to finish, the construction of the Scorpion was kept secret to maintain a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, the secret wasn’t kept very long — Textron AirLand was able to conduct testing soon after the aircraft’s conception.

“In a classic DoD acquisition program, they can spend up to 10 years just developing and fielding an aircraft — and we’ve done it in less than 2,” Anderson said.

However, it’s still too early to determine whether this move by the Air Force will also move the sale of Scorpion units both in the US and abroad — according to Defense News, the program has attracted only one potential customer.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

People quarantined at a US military base are petitioning the CDC after a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus was accidentally released from hospital isolation

Wuhan, China, evacuees being held at a military base in California drafted a petition demanding improvements to the CDC’s quarantine protocol after a person infected with the coronavirus COVID-19 was accidentally released from hospital isolation.


Passengers aboard a State Department-mandated evacuation flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have been quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar.

One passenger, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was accidentally released from isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center back to the air base on Monday. The woman was discharged prematurely after her results were mislabeled, per the CDC’s methodology to protect patients’ identities, local news station KNSD reported.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the woman and three others were discharged and on the way back to the base when it was discovered that three of four tests had not been processed yet.

“We decided, OK, we’re going to put these people in isolation in their rooms and instruct them not to leave, not to mingle with the general population there at Miramar base, and we’re going to wait for the results of those tests,” CDC official Dr. Christopher Braden told The Union-Tribune. “Well, of course, as luck would have it, it was one of those tests that came back positive.”

The woman’s symptoms were described as mild and she was not exposed to members of the public. The woman was not symptomatic before she went to the hospital for testing, so it’s unclear what impact if any it will have on the others in quarantine at the base. The three people she was transported with, however, will likely have to extend their quarantine time, The Union-Tribune reported.

Still those on the base are concerned about their overall safety. The petition from those in quarantine was written “in light of the first confirmed case at Miramar coupled with the current precautions taken at the center,” and the listed improvements were “critical measures toward mitigating the potential risk of spreading the virus at the Miramar Center.”

The five suggestions in the petition are as follows:

  • “Everyone in the facility be tested.
  • “Preventing the gathering of large numbers of people into small, enclosed environments; suggesting meals be delivered to the door and town hall meetings through conference calls.
  • “Periodic delivery of personal protective gear to each room, including masks and sanitizing alcohol for in-room disinfection.
  • “Provision of hand sanitizer at the front desk and in the playground.
  • “Disinfection of public areas two to three times a day, including playground, laundry room, door knobs, etc.”

“We really felt the need for these basic things to be addressed,” Jacob Wilson, who is being held at the airbase, told KNSD, “and we hope that the petition would at least be able to address these basic concerns.”

Wilson described what it was like under quarantine at the air base, saying the CDC recommended the residents stand six feet away from each other, but they are placed shoulder-to-shoulder for daily temperature checks, which he said “flies in the face of the protections and precautions.”

“We’re trying our best to disinfect things with the hand soap that we’ve been given, even though we don’t have disinfectant,” he told The Daily Beast. “We’re frustrated and worried.”

The 232 Wuhan evacuees arrived at MCAS Miramar on two flights — one on February 5 and the other on February 6. All passengers were subject to 14-day quarantines starting the day they left China.

Thus far there have been 14 cases reported in the US.

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

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6 legends of the Army Reserve

The U.S. Army Reserve celebrates its 109th birthday on Apr. 23. During more than a century of service, its soldiers have defended America in combat, added to its prestige in peacetime, and — in one case — even provided a president who led America through the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War.


Here are six of the most impressive Army reservists to ever wear the uniform:

1. Charles Lindbergh

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Cadet Charles Lindbergh graduates from the Army Aviation Cadet Program.He later rose to the rank of colonel in the Army Reserve. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The famous pilot of the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, Charles Lindbergh, was the first man to fly from New York to Paris non-stop. He did so in his capacity as a civilian pilot, but he was also an Army Air Service reservist. President Calvin Coolidge awarded Lindbergh the Medal of Honor.

Lindbergh later had a falling out with the Roosevelt administration over his isolationism and resigned his commission in April 1945. When America joined the war that December, Lindbergh was blocked from re-entering military service but managed to fly combat missions in the Pacific anyway.

2. Carl Eifler

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Carl F. Eifler during his promotion to colonel.(Photo: CIA.gov)

Army Reserve officer Carl Eifler was selected to lead American guerrilla operations in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II. His force, Detachment 101, recruited, trained, and led Kachin Rangers against Japanese forces in Burma, eventually killing 5,428 enemy soldiers and rescuing 574 Allied personnel — mostly downed aircrews.

Eifler had originally joined the Army when he was only 15 and was first discharged at the age of 17 when the military found out. He became a Reserve officer years later and eventually rose to the rank of colonel. For his work with Detachment 101, he was dubbed “the most dangerous colonel.”

3. Beauford T. Anderson

Staff Sgt. Beauford T. Anderson was fighting on the island of Okinawa when Japanese forces managed to flank part of the 96th Infantry Regiment (Organized Reserves) and force them back. The Americans eventually fell back into an old tomb and Anderson slowed their assault by emptying his carbine into the attackers at point blank range.

Out of ammo, Anderson grabbed a Japanese mortar round that hadn’t exploded and threw it into the oncoming attackers. It detonated and blew a hole in the lines, so Anderson grabbed a box of U.S. mortar rounds and started throwing those. The explosions saved the unit and led to Anderson’s Medal of Honor.

He had already received the Bronze Star with Valor for rescuing wounded soldiers under fire on Leyte.

4. Harry S. Truman

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Harry S. Truman in his World War I Army uniform, 1917 Source: trumanlibrary.com

Yes, that Harry S. Truman, the one who ordered two nuclear bombs to be dropped on Japan. He was an Army Reserve colonel when America entered World War II and was excused from drilling for obvious reasons. He served in the Senate for most of the war before being selected as President Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate in the 1944 elections.

Truman entered office as the vice president in January 1945 and rose to the presidency just a few months later upon the death of Roosevelt. Truman ordered America’s two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan and helped oversee the creation of the United Nations and NATO.

5. Earl Rudder

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Then-Lt. Col. Earl Rudder on the Pointe du Hoc on D-Day.(Photo: U.S. Army)

Army Gen. Omar Bradley had a tall order on D-Day. Someone had to climb 100-foot cliffs on Pointe du Hoc and blow up the massive German guns on it. He selected Army Reserve Lt. Col. Earl Rudder and his 2nd Ranger Battalion.

The guns had a long range and threatened the invasions at Omaha and Utah Beach, but Rudder and the 2nd Rangers succeeded. Rudder later led an infantry regiment in the Battle of the Bulge. He then held off the German attackers despite being outnumbered 10 to 1.

6. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
(Photo: Army.mil)

The son of the popular president, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was a hero of two world wars and twice invaded foreign countries with his own son. He earned a Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, and a Distinguished Service Medal for actions in World War I, and a Medal of Honor and two Silver Stars for his fighting in World War II.

His World War II awards stemmed from actions at Normandy and in North Africa, both campaigns which his son Capt. Quentin Roosevelt II took part in. The younger Roosevelt received one Silver Star in the war for calling in artillery strikes while under air attack in North Africa.

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Beijing lambastes US warship patrol in South China Sea as tensions rise over waterway, North Korea

Beijing issued a scathing rebuke on July 3 of a US warship’s patrol a day earlier near a contested island occupied by Chinese troops in the South China Sea — the latest irritant in the two powers’ increasingly fraught relationship.


The patrol, the second known “freedom of navigation” operation under the administration of US President Donald Trump, came as the White House appeared to grow ever more frustrated with China over its moves in the waterway and lack of progress on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Sunday’s operation, which involved the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based USS Stethem guided-missile destroyer, was conducted within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, a US defense official confirmed to The Japan Times.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
USS Stethem. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian A. Stone

China’s Defense Ministry lambasted the move in a statement, issuing what appeared to one of the strongest condemnations yet of the US operation which Washington says is aimed at affirming its right to passage.

The US “actions seriously damaged the strategic mutual trust between the two sides” and undermined the “political atmosphere” surrounding the development of Sino-US military ties, the statement said. The Chinese military, it added, would take bolstered measures in the waters, including “an increase in the intensity of air and sea patrols.”

The tiny islet is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, and is not one of the seven fortified man-made islands located in the South China Sea’s Spratly chain, which is further south.

Late July 2, China’s Foreign Ministry said that it had dispatched military ships and fighter jets in response to warn off the Stethem, which it said had “trespassed” in “the country’s territorial waters.”

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

“Under the pretext of ‘freedom of navigation,’ the US side once again sent a military vessel into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands without China’s approval,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement using the Chinese name for the Paracel Islands.

The US, he said, “has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, infringed upon China’s sovereignty, disrupted peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands.”

Lu said the US “deliberately stirs up troubles in the South China Sea” and “is running in the opposite direction from countries in the region who aspire for stability, cooperation, and development,” adding that the patrol “constitutes a serious political and military provocation.

FONOPs represent “a challenge to excessive maritime claims,” according to the US Defense Department. The significance of the distance of 12 nautical miles derives from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which generally grants coastal states jurisdiction over seas within 12 nautical miles of land within their territory.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Paracel Islands, as seen from above. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The patrol was believed to be the second near Triton Island, after a similar FONOP under the administration of President Barack Obama in January 2016. The July 2 operation was first reported by Fox News.

Ahead of the patrol, there has been growing speculation that the White House is frustrated not only with Beijing’s moves in the strategic waterway, but also its failure to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

This frustration was seen in a tweet sent by Trump late last month, when he wrote: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi  China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

And on June 30, in a step that the White House said was not aimed at Beijing, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against a Chinese bank linked to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. The sanctions came just a day after the US announced a new $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Donald Trump speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by George Skidmore)

Earlier last week, the US State Department also listed China among the worst human-trafficking offenders in an annual report.

According to Mira Rapp-Hooper, an Asia expert at the Center for a New American Security think-tank in Washington, the July 2 FONOP was “not particularly provocative,” and was “basically a repeat of an earlier one.

“But given that the administration also announced North Korean sanctions and a Taiwan arms package, it’s hard to see the timing as pure coincidence,” Rapp-Hooper said. “This may not be an effort to pressure China to specific ends, rather a ‘snap back’ in Trump administration foreign policy, which was solicitous of Beijing for several months as it sought help on North Korea.”

“The White House now understands that Beijing will not solve this problem for it,” she added.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Photo from The Moscow Kremlin

Zack Cooper, an Asia scholar with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, noted the timing between previous FONOPs and the rapid-clip announcements of recent US actions against China.

“These four actions have come in just five days,” he said, adding that the last FONOP was just under 40 days ago, while the one before that took place more than 215 days earlier.

However, Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, said in a statement that “FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

“US forces operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis,” Knight said. “All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Photo from US Navy

“That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe,” he added.

China has continued to militarize its outposts there — despite a pledge to the contrary — as it seeks to reinforce effective control of much of the waterway, through which $5 trillion in trade passes each year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

Now, with fewer constraints on a tougher approach to China across the board, experts say Trump could butt heads with Beijing over a number of issues.

“What we know for sure is that the Trump administration is now more comfortable with higher levels of friction with China than in previous months,” said Ely Ratner, a former deputy national security adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden and current senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Obama commutes WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence

President Barack Obama commuted the majority of WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence on Tuesday, with only three days left in office.


Manning was convicted of violating the Espionage Act, among other charges, in 2013 after she stole secret documents from a computer system she had access to while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq and leaked them to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She received a 35-year sentence for the leak and has served seven years in Fort Leavenworth. She will now be freed in five months, on May 17.

Manning, a transgender woman, has attempted suicide twice while in prison.

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, said last week that he’d agree to be extradited to the US if Obama grants clemency to Manning.

The US has threatened to prosecute Assange over the 2010 leak. Assange has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of sexual assault.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told The New York Times on Tuesday that there’s a “pretty stark difference” between Manning’s case and that of former government employee Edward Snowden.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Chelsea Manning | via Twitter

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” Earnest said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

Snowden declared his support for Manning on Twitter.

“In five more months, you will be free. Thank you for what you did for everyone, Chelsea. Stay strong a while longer!” Snowden tweeted.

The president has not granted clemency to Snowden.

Obama pardoned 64 other people on Tuesday and shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners. Over his two terms, Obama has commuted the sentences of 1,385 people and granted 212 pardons.

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New financial resources for Army families facing natural disasters and other emergencies

Members of the U.S. military and their families experience many milestones and seasonal events: the start of PCS travel, back-to-school in the fall, end-of-year holidays, and many more. After a year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of these familiar rhythms were delayed or significantly disrupted, we are all looking forward to the sense of normalcy that a return to these activities will bring. However, there’s one critical period that isn’t ‘circled’ on calendars, yet still is no less significant: the beginning of Hurricane Season.

June 1 was the official start of Hurricane Season, which runs from now until the end of November. As in recent years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s official forecast predicts an above-average season, with potentially 20 named storms. This comes on the heels of 2020, when NOAA actually ran out of hurricane ‘names’ and had to start using Greek letters. Already this year, we’ve had five named storms by early July, including this week’s Hurricane Elsa.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Krystle McGrath, assigned to the 1st Armored Division (AD) CAB, loads food on a S-61 Sikorsky in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 11, 2017. The 1AD provided aviation assets to assist emergency services, the territory of Puerto Rico and federal agencies responding to the hurricane relief effort. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Kyara Aguilar)

Preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters – whether fires, floods, or tornadoes – is critically important. But sometimes, all the preparation in the world isn’t enough to ward off serious damage when Mother Nature’s fury strikes. When that happens, Army Emergency Relief (AER), the official nonprofit organization of the U.S. Army, stands ready to help. Since 1942, we’ve assisted 4 million members of the Army team, providing more than $2 billion in assistance to soldiers and their families facing financial challenges of all kinds, including more than $1 billion since 9/11. This assistance typically takes the form of grants and zero-interest loans – far better than relying on the payday lenders that set-up shop near many Army installations, which can charge up to 36% interest (and sometimes higher) on short-term loans for soldiers in need. Plus, AER’s dollars can normally be accessed in as little as a day, which is critical when dealing with emergency situations. 

Last year, AER helped nearly 6,000 soldiers and families facing financial difficulty due to natural disasters and other emergencies – including home repairs, evacuation, travel, clothing, hotels, home insurance deductibles, and other urgent expenses. However, we know that because of the financial strains of the pandemic, some military families are still getting back on their feet today. That’s why for 2021, we are announcing plans to allocate at least $1 million in no-payback grants for natural disaster and emergency expenses incurred by active duty and retired Army families.

With this effort, we are continuing to fulfill our mission of supporting the Army team when they need it most. AER isn’t a giveaway program; it’s a hand-up for soldiers and Army families experiencing temporary financial hardship. We help soldiers get ‘back on their feet and back in the fight’. 

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
A hand-up. Photo/AER

Active duty soldiers, retired soldiers, reserve and National Guard soldiers activated on Title 10 orders, and surviving spouses are all eligible.  In some specific circumstances, assistance may be in the form of a zero-interest loan, and we aim to convert disaster assistance loans to grants once we’ve assessed the total impact of the disaster. AER Officers located at Army installations around the world can assist soldiers with this process. AER approves 99% of eligible requests, so soldiers and their families shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to us if they need help.

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes in the Gulf, wildfires fires in the Western States, tornadoes in the Midwest, and many other natural disasters, 2020 was unfortunately a very difficult year for the nation as a whole and certainly for military families. While we all sincerely hope that this year will prove to be less challenging, AER continues to stand ready to provide financial assistance when disasters and other difficult events strike. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.

Retired Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason is director of Army Emergency Relief.

Featured image: Rafael Martinez looks down from his front porch at the trash and debris caused by Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island, N.Y., Nov. 6. Sandy ravaged portions of the Northeastern United States in October 2012. Photo/USMC

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Navy SEALs are cracking down on drug use

The Navy’s elite SEAL teams have taken on a lot of America’s enemies, and have proceeded to kick ass and take names. Now, though, they are facing a potential challenge from within — a streak of drug use.


According to a report by CBSNews.com, five SEALs were kicked out for drug use in a three-month period late last year, prompting a safety stand-down.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Navy SEALs retreat after a training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo)

“I feel like I’m watching our foundation, our culture, erode in front of our eyes,” Capt. Jamie Sands, Commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group 2, said in a video of a meeting carried out during the December 2016 stand-down.

“I feel betrayed,” Sands added. “How do you do that to us? How do you decide that it’s OK for you to do drugs?”

One of three SEALs who went to CBS News outlined some of the drugs allegedly being used.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
Navy SEALs train. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

“People that we know of, that we hear about have tested positive for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy,” the SEAL said in an interview. CBS disguised the SEAL’s voice and concealed his identity.

Leadership in Naval Special Warfare Group 2 viewed the drug use situation as “staggering,” according to the CBS News report. One of the SEALs who went to CBS said that “it has gotten to a point where he had to deal with it.”

“I hope he’s somebody that we can rally behind and hold people accountable, but I’m not sure at this point,” the SEAL added.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)

One thing Sands has done has been to carry out drug testing even when away from their home bases, something not always done in the past.

“We’re going to test on the road,” Sands told the SEALs in a video released to CBS News. “We’re going to test on deployment. If you do drugs, if you decide to be that selfish individual, which I don’t think anyone’s going to do after today — I believe that — then you will be caught.”

During the stand-down, drug testing was done, and one SEAL who had earlier tested positive for cocaine ended up testing positive again, this time for prescription drugs. That SEAL is being kicked out.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 ways to camp like a soldier

Camping is a quintessential summer activity, but let’s face it; we’ve gone soft. On my last camping trip, I packed pillows, blankets, a stove, a hammock, books and approximately a month worth of junk food. I brought along a car adaptor so I could blow up our three air mattresses with ease. On the way out the door, my friend asked if she could run back in to grab her straightener. Her. STRAIGHTENER.

Camping in the field is another game entirely. It’s not even a game, really. It’s challenging, team-building, possibly life-threatening work, but you’ll return knowing you fought nature and won. SO much cooler than glamping. Think you’re tough enough? Here’s how to try it for yourself. (Sort of.)


The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
(U.S. Army photos by Pvt. Adeline Witherspoon, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)

1. Say goodbye to your lounge chair. 

As the owner of a 7-passenger SUV, I can proudly say that I have used 100% of my available cargo space on a single, five day camping trip. All of it. Camping with friends and family is about fun and convenience, not necessity.

Camping in the field, however, is more like extreme backpacking. Kiss your air mattress, propane heater, bluetooth speakers, and endless snacks goodbye. Creature comforts are out, necessities are in. Imagine you’re about to be stranded in the wilderness, alone, and you can only bring what you can carry. Marshmallows, White Claw, and movie projectors probably don’t make the cut.

2. Forget relaxing and get to work. 

This probably goes without saying, but day drinking, movie nights, and leisurely hikes aren’t exactly the point of being in the field. You’re expected to follow a strict schedule; you have a job to do, after all! Your exact duties will likely vary, but sightseeing isn’t on the agenda.

The top 10 survival skills you should know (If you want to live!)
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Tawny Schmit)

3. Pick people for practicality, not play. 

Look, it’s not personal. Your buddy who starts day drinking right after rolling out of a hammock at noon just won’t be able to keep up. Nor will Pinterest camp mom, who shopped for an entire cooler’s worth of perishable ingredients to try out the nine different gourmet campfire meals she added to her camping board. By the time she’s made a three-course campfire foil brunch and mimosas with fresh-squeezed OJ, the rest of the troops will have left her behind.

Day drinking dude and Pinterest mom are ultra-fun to camp with, but camping in the field isn’t about fun. You’ll be camping with those who are the most useful to your mission, so you better learn to like them. Even if you’re not best buddies, you’ll learn to appreciate their unique skills.

4. Expect the unexpected.

If a sudden rainstorm hits during a family camping trip, you can stuff all your junk in the car and book it to the closest Motel 6. Or maybe a nice hotel with a hot tub and room service. You’ve got options. When you’re a soldier, your only option is to find the driest patch of land, build a shelter with what you have, and wait it out. If there’s a dust storm, your options aren’t much better. You just have to deal with it, basically, and hope you don’t come across a demonic-looking camel spider. Shudder.

5. Prep your survival skills. They’re not just for show. 

Who here has watched Bear Grylls eating bugs and drinking reindeer blood from the couch? Just me? As it turns out, Bear Grylls actually served in the British Army reserves from 1994–1997. He was trained in desert and winter warfare, unarmed combat, climbing, parachuting, explosives, and (duh!) survival. His training actually gave him much of the knowledge he needed for his more well-known career as a survivalist and TV persona. While you probably won’t have to resort to drinking animal blood at your cozy family campground with running water, bathrooms, and fire pits, crazy survival skills like that are actually useful in the field. While one hopes you never need them, it’s best to have them in case you do! And if you don’t, you can retire and go into reality TV.

 

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