USAA to Return $520 Million to Members - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

SAN ANTONIO – USAA, the country’s fifth largest property-casualty insurer, will be returning $520 million to its members. This payment is a result of data showing members are driving less due to stay-at-home and shelter-in-place guidance across the country. Every member with an auto insurance policy in effect as of March 31, 2020, will receive a 20% credit on two months of premiums in the coming weeks.

As a member-owned association, USAA historically returns a portion of profits to members. In 2019, we returned $2.4 billion in dividends, distributions and bank rebates and rewards. This brings the total amount returned to members since January 2019 to nearly $3 billion.


USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

“We understand the impact this pandemic is having on our country, and especially our military community and their families, many of whom also are working on the front lines of the crisis. Returning premiums provides timely help for our members,” said USAA President and CEO Wayne Peacock. “USAA has been facilitating the financial security of military members for nearly 100 years, and this is another way we can serve them well.”

Early data trends show USAA members are heeding the calls to suspend nonessential travel, leading to fewer miles driven and fewer accidents.

How it works

Members will automatically receive a credit applied to their bill. They do not need to call, and no additional action is required.

Ways USAA is providing financial relief for members

This is just one of several steps USAA has taken to provide financial assistance to members, including:

  • Special payment arrangements are available to assist members experiencing financial difficulties. USAA will not cancel members’ auto or property insurance policies or charge fees due to late payments on USAA auto and property insurance coverage through June 17, 2020.
  • Expanded auto insurance coverage for members who use their personal vehicles to deliver food, medicine and other goods for commercial purposes.
  • USAA Bank is offering special payment assistance programs for eligible members including a 90-day credit card payment deferral, a 60-day payment extension on consumer loans, and special mortgage and home equity line of credit payment assistance.
  • USAA Life Insurance Company is offering special payment arrangements on life and health insurance policies, including a 60-day extension to the 30-day grace period.
  • USAA Life Insurance Company is waiving and reimbursing deductibles and co-payments for coronavirus-related testing received on or after Feb. 4, 2020, for members who have USAA Medicare Supplement plan.
  • USAA Investment Management Company is reducing managed portfolio fees 50% (effective April 1 through May 20‚ 2020).
USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Additionally, USAA has taken steps to help ensure its employees stay safe and able to serve members by enabling nearly all 35,000 employees to work from home and committed .4 million to help military-focused and other nonprofits respond to this pandemic.

More information is available at www.usaa.com/coronavirus.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why helicopters don’t crash when they lose an engine

Myth: Helicopters will drop like a rock when the engine shuts down.

In fact, you have a better chance at surviving in a helicopter when the engine fails than you do in an airplane. Helicopters are designed specifically to allow pilots to have a reasonable chance of landing them safely in the case where the engine stops working during flight, often with no damage at all. They accomplish this via autorotation of the main rotor blades.

Further, when seeking a helicopter pilot’s license, one has to practice landing using this no-power technique. When practicing, instead of actually shutting the engine off completely though, they usually just turn the engine down enough to disengage it from the rotor. This way, if the student encounters a problem during a no-power landing, the helicopter can be throttled back up to avoid an accident. Given that this isn’t an option during actual engine failure, it’s critical for helicopter pilots to practice this until they have it down pat.


A landing via autorotation is also sometimes necessary if the rear rotor blades stop functioning properly, no longer countering for the torque of the main rotor blades, so the helicopter will spin if the engine isn’t turned off. Whether this happens and the pilot shuts off the engine or in the case of actual engine failure, once the engine drops below a certain number of revolutions per minute, relative to the rotor RPM rate, a special clutch mechanism, called a freewheeling unit, disengages the engine from the main rotor automatically. This allows the main rotor to spin without resistance from the engine.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Once the engine fails or otherwise is shut off, the pilot must immediately lower the pitch, reducing lift and drag, and the helicopter will begin to descend. If they don’t do this quick enough, allowing the RPM of the main rotor to drop too far, they’ll then lose control of the helicopter and will likely not get it back. When this happens, it may well drop like a rock. However, this isn’t typical because as soon as the freewheeling unit disengages the engine, the pilot is trained to respond appropriately immediately.

Exactly what the correct glide angle is to maintain optimal rotor RPM varies with different helicopter designs, but this information is readily available in the helicopter’s manual. The glide angle also varies based on weather conditions (wind, temperature, etc.), weight, altitude, and airspeed, but in all cases a correct glide angle has the effect of producing an upward flow of air that will spin the main rotor at some optimal RPM, storing kinetic energy in the blades.

As the helicopter approaches the ground, the pilot must then get rid of most of their forward motion and slow the decent using the stored up kinetic energy in the rotors. If done perfectly, the landing will be quite gentle. They accomplish this by executing a flare, pitching the nose up, at the right moment. This will also have the effect of transferring some of that energy from the forward momentum into the main rotor, making it spin faster, which will further allow for a smooth landing. Because the flare will often need to be somewhat dramatic, the tricky part here is making sure that the rear of the helicopter doesn’t hit the ground. Ideally the pilot executes the flare (hopefully stopping most all the forward motion and slowing the decent to almost nothing), then levels the nose out just before touchdown.

Autorotation may sound like a fairly complex and difficult thing to do, but according to one instructor I briefly chatted with about this, it’s really not all that difficult compared to a lot of other aspects of flying a helicopter. In fact, he stated that most students have a lot more trouble when they first try things like hovering, than they do when they first try a no-power landing. Granted, this is partially because students don’t try autorotation landings until they are near the end of their training, so they are more skilled than when they first try a lot of other maneuvers, but still. It’s apparently not nearly as difficult as it sounds and most of the problems students have just stem from being nervous at descending at a higher rate than normal.

You can see a video of someone executing a near perfect autorotation landing below:

Helicopter Autorotation EC-120

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What all the letters and numbers in Navy ship designations mean

Even to the other branches of service, the Navy can be a deep dark mystery of rates and rankings, Captains that have a lot of authority and wearing name tapes on your pants. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And one of the biggest questions posed by vets of other branches and civilians alike is just what the heck do all those letters on these ships mean anyway?


It means you’re in for a history lesson.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Hmmm… maybe not that far back.

In 1920, the Navy was producing so many new kinds of ships, they needed a better way to keep track of them all. So, acting Navy Secretary Robert Coontz decided to standardize a numbering system that included a two-letter code that would identify the ship and its status as well as its number in the series, type, and sub-type. If the ship didn’t have a sub-type, the first letter would just be repeated

So the Battleship USS Missouri, being a battleship with no sub-type and the 63rd ship in that series was designated USS Missouri BB-63.

Easy, right? Well, Mostly.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Welcome to the military, where nothing is really that easy.

That was the early 20th Century. World War I had only just introduced a number of new technological innovations to the battlefield, and there were a lot more to come. Training ships, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and so, so much more were still to come to the U.S. Navy, and they would need even more designation letters, ones that would describe their purpose and even their power source.

So where do aircraft carriers get the designation CVN, as in the USS Gerald Ford CVN-78? The C is for carrier, and the N means it’s a nuclear-powered ship. The V, well, that’s not that simple. According to the publication “United States Naval Aviation 1910-1995, Appendix 16: US Navy and Marine Corps Squadron Designations and Abbreviations,” the V means it carries heavier-than-air aircraft (as opposed to, say, blimps), but no one really knows for sure why the letter V was chosen, though many believe it was to represent the French vol plané, the word for “glide.”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Meanwhile Russia’s carrier just smokes and slowly retains more water, like your mom.

But there is now more than a century’s worth of Naval Ship Designations for you to peruse, far too many for me to list in their entirety. There are even four-letter designations now, like the SSGN (Attack Submarine, Guided Missile, Nuclear Powered).

Luckily for the curious, there’s always Wikipedia, where someone took the time to list them all, including all the historical designations, like monitors and coastal defenses. Be sure to leave a tip.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The time and place for the Putin-Trump summit is set

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton has confirmed that an announcement will be made on June 28, 2018, regarding a planned summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

“There will be an announcement on that tomorrow simultaneously in Moscow and Washington on the date and the time of that meeting,” Bolton said after holding talks on June 27, 2018, with the Russian president in Moscow.

Trump will raise a full range of issues with Putin, Bolton said, including alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, something Putin has denied.


The adviser said he did not rule out concrete results to come out of the summit, adding that the leaders believe it is important to meet, despite their differences.

Earlier, a Kremlin aide said the summit — the first full-fledged meeting between the two presidents since Trump took office in January 2017 — will be held in a third country that is convenient for both sides. He said several more weeks were needed for preparations.

At the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Putin said that Bolton’s visit “instills hope” that steps can be taken to improve badly strained relations between Moscow and Washington.

Putin said he regretted that ties between the former Cold War foes are “not in the best shape” and suggested their dire state is due in large part to what he called “the internal political struggle” in the United States — indicating he does not blame Trump.


“Russia has never sought confrontation, and I hope that we can talk today about what can be done by both sides to restore full-format relations on the basis of equality and respect,” Putin said.

Bolton said he was looking forward to discussing “how to improve Russia-U.S. relations and find areas where we can agree and make progress together.”

When Moscow and Washington had differences in the past, Russian and U.S. leaders met and that was “good for both countries, good for stability in the world,” Bolton said. “President Trump feels very strongly on that subject.”

Bolton also said he would like to hear Putin’s account of “how you handled the World Cup so successfully.” The United States will co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

Bolton met with Putin after holding separate talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and a senior member of Putin’s Security Council, Yury Averyanov.

At least part of the meeting between Bolton and Putin was also attended by others including Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, and Fiona Hill, senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted that Bolton was meeting with Putin and other Russian officials “to discuss United States-Russia relations, as well the potential for a Presidential meeting.’


The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that in addition to bilateral ties, Lavrov and Bolton discussed current global issues including Syria and Ukraine — where Moscow’s involvement in military conflicts is a source of U.S.-Russian tension.

Bolton traveled to Moscow after meetings with U.S. allies in London and Rome on June 25-26, 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a television interview over the weekend that Trump is likely to meet Putin “in the not-too-distant future.”

Ushakov’s comments suggested that the summit is likely to take place at some point after Trump attends a NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12 and visits Britain on July 13, 2018. Vienna and Helsinki have been cited as possible venues.

An Austrian newspaper earlier this week said teams from the United States and Russia were already in Vienna preparing for a July 15, 2018 meeting between the two leaders.

However, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on June 26, 2018, that Finland’s capital, Helsinki, was the likeliest choice, but the final decision depended on the outcome of Bolton’s talks.

Trump and Putin have met twice on the sidelines of international summits and they have spoken at least eight times by telephone. Trump telephoned Putin to congratulate him in March 2018 after the Russian president’s reelection and said the two would meet soon.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members
President Donald Trump

However, Russian officials have since complained about the difficulty of setting up such a meeting, as ties between Washington and Moscow have further deteriorated over issues including the war in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, which the West blames on Moscow.

Relations were already severely strained by tension over issues including Russia’s seizure of Crimea, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and what U.S. intelligence agencies concluded was an “influence campaign” ordered by Putin in an attempt to affect the U.S. presidential election, in part by bolstering Trump and discrediting his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Democrats and some Republicans have accused Trump of being soft on Russia. Trump made clear during his campaign and into his presidency that he wants better relations with Russia and Putin, and has often praised the Russian president.

Bolton’s trip and the movement toward a Trump-Putin summit comes after Trump unnerved allies by calling for Russia to be readmitted to the G7, the group of industrialized nations it was ejected from in 2014 over its interference in Ukraine.

Trump has also sharply criticized a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the alleged Russian meddling and whether his associates colluded with Moscow. Russia denies it interfered, despite substantial evidence, and Trump says there was no collusion.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Aussie Navy pilots targeted with laser beams in South China Sea

Australian navy helicopter pilots were hit with laser beams from fishing boats during military exercises in the South China Sea in May 2019, an analyst who was observing Australia’s operations said.

Euan Graham, an Asian security expert at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, was observing the Royal Australian Navy’s operation from on board the HMAS Canberra, a helicopter docking vessel, and said that Australia’s helicopters were being targeted with lasers from fishing boats.

He wrote for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank, that the lasers pointed at the helicopters led to “temporarily grounding them for precautionary medical reasons.”


Graham posited that the boats where the lasers originated could be Chinese: “Was this startled fishermen reacting to the unexpected? Or was it the sort of coordinated harassment more suggestive of China’s maritime militia?”

Graham noted to CNN that: “It’s no secret that the broader thrust of China’s approach in the South China Sea is to try to make life difficult for foreign aircraft and warships there.”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

China claims the South China Sea, despite competing claims and legal disputes from other countries in the region.

(Google Maps)

He said that it was unlikely to be fishermen using lasers to warn the helicopters away as there was little chance that a helicopter and a boat would be on course to collide.

“That makes sense for collision of vessels, but obviously there is no direct threat from aircraft to vessels in the South China Sea,” he said. “The maritime militia is, I think, not beyond argument as a tactic which is employed deliberately.”

Reports in 2018 said that more than 20 attacks with lasers were made against US military pilots in the East China Sea between September 2017 and June 2018.

Graham told CNN that he did not witness the lasers first hand, but pilots told him that they were repeatedly targeted.

He said in the post for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute that the Australian navy was “followed at a discreet distance by a Chinese warship for most of the transit, both on the way up and back, despite the fact that our route didn’t take us near any feature occupied by Chinese forces, or any obviously sensitive areas.”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

The HMAS Canberra at sea in 2016.

China claims the vast majority of the South China Sea as its own despite protests and legal battles with other countries in the region. It is a key transportation route for nations in the region, and contains oil and gas reserves. China has staked its territorial claims in recent years by creating manmade islands in the area, some of which are home to airfields.

Graham said said that radio communications between the Chinese and Australian navys was “courteous” during his time with the operation.

Australia’s military was conducting its Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 exercise, which concluded this week. The 11-week operation brought the military to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia to share disaster relief expertise.

Officials from Australia’s military told CNN that they were looking into Graham’s claims.

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

popular

This is what we know about Area 51

Area 51 is a restricted site in Nevada with an almost cult-like mythology surrounding it. Some people claim it’s a standard military operation site, but others swear that it within its gated walls exists proof about extraterrestrial life.

Before we get into public knowledge, I want to throw in my thoughts on this. I was an intelligence officer in the Air Force and I maybe shouldn’t post this on the internet but my final assignment was in a place that rhymes with Rational Maturity Agency, and while the government definitely does some cool classified work there, I can say with high confidence that no one would be able to keep aliens a secret. At least not the kinds of aliens we tell stories about. Maybe Area 51 has some petri dishes of extraterrestrial amoebas…but I really doubt it.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members


What’s more likely is that the government tests advanced technology out in the desert. The flight pattern of an aircraft like the Harrier could totally be interpreted as a UFO at night.

As the video below states, “No doubt aircraft are still being secretly built and tested there today.”

You can check declassified documents to learn about what has been tested on site in the past. In fact, because of the Freedom Of Information Act, U.S. citizens have the right to request access to federal agency records; there are limitations, of course, but it’s a fun pastime to ask the “Rational Maturity Agency” for documents concerning things like aliens or Elvis or other conspiracies.

Check out this fascinating video to get a no-nonsense re-cap of what we know about Area 51 — then let me know what you think is going on out there!

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the average day for an ancient Roman soldier

Today, the modern soldier wakes up, eats chow, goes through a day of training with his or her squad before resting up. They follow this schedule every day from Monday to Friday. If the troop is on a deployment, they could work anywhere from 12 to 18 hours (if not more) per day, seven days a week, for nearly a year.

It’s a tough lifestyle.

Once a troop fulfills their service commitment, they can be honorably discharged or reenlist — the choice is theirs.

Now, let’s rewind time to around 15 C.E. The Roman Empire is thriving and you’re an infantryman serving in the Imperial Roman army under Emperor Tiberius. In many ways, life was quite different for the average sword-wielding soldier when compared to today’s modern troop. In other ways, however, things were very much the same.


USAA to Return $520 Million to Members
A Roman soldier proudly stands in front of his men.

Many young Romans joined the army at the age of 18. Of them, most were poor men with little-to-no life prospects due to being born into a family of low standing. Once they became soldiers, Roman troops had to overcome 36 kilometer (22 miles) marches in full battle rattle.

For these ancient troops, a full loadout consisted of body armor, a gladius (sword), a scutum (shield), and two pilum (spears). This gear weighed upwards of 44 pounds. To add to that weight, troops carried a scarina (backpack), which contained rations and any other tools needed to serve the Roman officers.

At the end of each grueling march, soldiers set up camp to get some rest. Men were assigned to stand watch and look over the others, the gear, and the animals hauling the heavy equipment. Being ambushed in the middle of the night was a constant possibility.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members
These Roman troops stand in a defensive position awaitng the enemy to strike.

Like most troops, they feared the unknown. At any given moment, they could encounter a fierce battle, contract sickness from other soldiers or the environment, or be left to endure the elements. It was a consist struggle to survive in a cutthroat world that was all about expanding the Roman Empire.

In their downtime, most men would gamble, play instruments, or talk about future plans. If the soldiers served for their full 25-year commitment, they would receive several acres of land on which to retire — but surviving to the end was considered a longshot.

So, in many ways, the typical Roman infantryman was a lot like the ground pounders of today — only they were stuck in the suck for longer.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out these amazing photos of sniper camouflage

Snipers are masters of disguise who are able to hide in plain sight, providing overwatch, scouting enemy positions, and, when necessary, taking out threats.

“No one knows you’re there. I’m here. I’m watching you, I see everything that you are doing, and someone is about to come mess up your day,” First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a Texas native and experienced US Army sniper, said during a recent interview.

“We are capable of hurting you in many ways … We’re not going to tell you how we’re coming. But, we’re coming for you.”

Business Insider asked a handful of trained Army snipers, elite sharpshooters who have served across multiple combat deployments in multiple countries, how they disappear in any and all environments. Here’s what they had to say.


USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

An Army Green beret sniper, assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), takes aim at a long-range target for a timed shooting event during advanced skills sniper training at Fort Carson, Colorado, Dec. 12, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

Concealment is about putting anything you can between yourself and the watchful eyes of the enemy.

“A sniper is not limited to any one method,” Sipes, a veteran sniper with more than a decade of service, explained. “We are extremely free. You are limited only by however you limit yourself.”

Snipers use a mixture of natural and artificial materials to achieve concealment and camouflage to avoid enemy detection, as the sniper must remain unseen by the enemy to collect intelligence or take a shot if needed. The aim is to effectively blend into the negative space, areas the eye naturally overlooks.

Concealing oneself from an adversary’s gaze is about putting “anything you can between you and whatever might be observing you,” Staff Sgt. David Smith, a sniper instructor at Fort Benning, told BI, explaining that this could be natural vegetation, face paints, false screens, a sniper’s ghillie suits, or the hides they construct.

A ghillie suit is designed with loose strips designed to resemble natural backgrounds like twigs or long grasses, and can make snipers nearly undetectable by visual. Ghillie suits typically do not shield the wearer from detection via thermal imaging, a technology that advanced militaries are likely to use; however, the Army is developing an improved ghillie suit which is expected to offer enhanced protection.

With the tools they bring with them and materials found in the field, snipers can break up and distort their outline, making them significantly harder to spot.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Pfc. William Snyder, 1-173rd Infantry, practices sniper camouflage techniques at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, April 7, 2018.

(Photo by Army Staff Sgt. William Frye)

In many ways, it’s about knowing your environment.

“The best tool snipers can use to disguise and conceal themselves from the enemy is a solid understanding of their surroundings,” Capt. Greg Elgort, the company commander, told BI.

Snipers need to know the lay of the land, they need to plan their route, and they need to take advantage of whatever nature gives.

“I want to look at the terrain. What can I put between myself and the target,” Sipes, who runs the marksmanship training company alongside Elgort, said.” It’s not just about the face paint or what I attach to my body, it’s the natural environment around me that I can utilize to keep them from seeing me.”

For example, the winners of the International Sniper Competition, two non-commissioned officers from the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, hid themselves from view with nothing more than a ghillie suit hood and various materials they found in the field.

In particular, they focused on hiding their face.

“Just by being able to disfigure and break up the outline of their face — you know, a human face stands out very vividly in a woodland area — by concealing the outline of their face, they were able to win,” Elgort explained. “It really comes down to an understanding of that and knowing what you’re presenting and adjusting accordingly.”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Sgt. Chayne Walsh, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, prepares to execute his concealment exercise during sniper training at Fort Benning.

(Patrick A. Albright/MCoE PAO Photographer)

There are a lot of small things that if overlooked could be fatal.

Snipers have to manage their tracks, scent, shadow, glare and countless other things to remain hidden from enemies. “There are a million things that go into being a sniper, and you have to be good at all of them,” Sipes explained.

Here’s just a few of the many things snipers have to think about.

“If you are facing east in the morning, the sun is going to be coming at you, so you need to do something with your scope to prevent glare,” Elgort told BI. To combat this problem, snipers build cat eyes.

“We use natural vegetation, we use wraps, netting, whatever to block the optics from any observation but allow us to see through it,” Sipes said, noting that other considerations include whether or not he is silhouetting himself against something else. A shadow could give away his position, exposing him to the enemy.

As for scents, he said that snipers avoid scented soaps, smoking, any type of cologne, deodorant, etc.

In colder climates, a sniper can eat snow to hide their breath, but it only works for a short time. “You would have to continuously eat snow, and then you have to pee,” Smith said, bringing up another potential consideration.

Snipers also have to think about bodily excretions. Sometimes when nature calls, a sniper will use bags with sponges to soak up their business. They can also bury it in the earth. Other times, they just have to hold it.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

US Army Sgt. John Stewart, a Sniper assigned to NATO’s Battle Group Poland, improves his fighting position during react to contact drills at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, Nov. 8, 2018.

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Sarah Kirby)

Some environments are easier than others.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Jones, another sniper instructor, identified two decidedly difficult environments for concealment — fresh snow and the urban environments.

“You can disappear into the snow. It takes a little more thought. It’s a little harder to play with the blending in,” he told BI. “And, in the urban environment, there’s just so many eyes on you from the onset that it makes it pretty tough for you to get into your setup without someone knowing that you’re already there.”

Places like cities and suburbs are also the hardest areas to shoot in.

“I can say that the most difficult place to shoot is in an urban environment,” Sipes said, calling attention to the some of the angles and structures obstructing visibility, among other problems.

“The targets are generally moving. They have civilians around them. They’re using the patterns of life on the ground to conceal themselves. And they’re never in one location,” he added.

As for the easiest environments to blend into, that is definitely your standard woodland or jungle, Jones explained.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Hidden beneath twigs and weeds, a sniper’s stomach is flat on the ground, dirt and grime on his face. All that can be seen in the bundles of cheatgrass is a pair of steady, intense eyes.

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

One of the greatest dangers is that new technologies are making it harder for snipers to hide.

The US is once again in a time of rivalry with other military powers, and that means they must learn to counter more advanced threats from adversaries like China and Russia.

“Defeating a thermal signature is probably the hardest thing that a sniper has to do, especially with emerging technology by our near-peer enemies,” Smith told BI. Snipers can hide in the visible spectrum, but combating high-end sensors is a challenge.

US rivals are starting to “creep into the thermal arena, and that in itself is dangerous to a sniper because then you can’t hide from that,” Smith said. Thermal imagers can easily detect a human body’s heat against the ambient temperature of the environment around it.

Smith called this a “large challenge” that the Army is “working to defeat that as well.”

Sometimes that means getting back to the basics. Snipers often use laser range finders to get a more accurate read on a target, but that’s not always an option.

“When going against a near-peer threat or an adversary that has the capability to identify that, we have to rely solely on the reticle that’s in our scope,” Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, a sniper instructor team sergeant from Colorado, explained.

There are also new camouflage systems, such as the Fibrotex’s Ultra-Light Camouflage Netting System capable of providing more persistent infrared, thermal, and counter-radar performance, that are in development to help the Army’s snipers, as well as other soldiers, hide from the more advanced threats.

Warfare is always evolving, which means that US snipers have to be ready for anything.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 military terms that aren’t as pleasant as the FNG might think

The military is known for its clever vocabulary. If you cut out the obscenity, you’re left with a collection of terms that are either more accurate (i.e. it’s not exactly a ‘shovel,’ it’s an “entrenching tool”) or overly sarcastic (i.e. it’s not “beating the crap out of someone,” it’s “wall-to-wall counseling”).

This overly sarcastic way of referring to things that generally suck is a coping mechanism. It’s a way to add color to the typical monotony that comes with military service. The following terms might sound exciting on the surface, but there’s a general understanding among troops to not get hyped over any of them — but it’s always a good laugh when the new guy doesn’t get it.


USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Cleaning connexes… Just as much fun as getting drunk in the barracks.

(U.S. Army Photo by Spc James C. Blackwell)

“Working party”

Out of context, this one sounds like a couple of guys within the company getting together, having a good time, and maybe accomplishing a few things in the process — and, to be honest, that’s how it almost always turns out when the NCOs turn their back for longer than two seconds.

In actuality, a “working party” is four or five lower enlisted and two NCOs. The troops will do most of the heavy lifting while the NCO that still has a spine remembers what it was like to be a private joins in. The other supervises while pretending to do work. The moment the lazy NCO turns away, three of the original lower enlisted will start slacking until the motivated NCO says something like, “the faster this gets done, the sooner we can go.” But that never happens. Ever.

There are always more pointless details to be done.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Want a real force multiplier? Why not boost morale or, you know, add more troops?

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

“The Good-Idea Fairy”

It almost sounds whimsical. It’s as if, out of the blue, a good idea was magically sprinkled into the heads of the chain of command and logic reigned supreme.

In practice, this term is used when a lieutenant gets a wild hair up their ass after coming to an agreement in the echo chamber that is staff meetings. Suddenly, that lieutenant can’t wait to implement the newest and best “force multiplier” that has never been thought of before.

These force multipliers never really have an end-game, though, so it’s basically just a fancy way of saying, “I wonder how the troops would react if we did this?”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

You can typically tell if someone earned their stuff or if they’re just really good as ass kissing by checking their ribbons rack. If they have multiples of lesser awards that are common among the lower ranks, you know they’ve worked hard from the beginning.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Paris Maxey)

“Chest candy”

Certain awards, medals, and badges confer the highest amount of respect. In some cases, a highly-decorated troop commands greater respect from those around them than the unproven leaders above them.

When the awards, medals, and badges are referred to as “chest candy,” however, it’s basically saying that none of those awards have any real substance. Take the airborne wings in the Army, for example. They look nice and say that the person is airborne qualified — but don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, think that means that “five jump chumps” are actual paratroopers. Same goes for many other awards that are handed out like it was Halloween to troops — typically anything given to staff officers who found that week’s “force multiplier” without doing a fraction of the work their subordinates did.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Chances are high that your training room clerk is dealing with more secret information than you ever will.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Gina Randall)

“Some secret, squirrel-type sh*t”

There’s nothing wrong with being in the conventional military, and yet troops will jump at any conceivable chance to play the “if I told you, I’d have to kill you” card at the bar. If it’s labelled confidential, you know they’re going to see “some secret, squirrel-type sh*t!”

In actuality, unless you’ve got CIA operatives coming into your S3 and demanding confidentiality agreements, the red stickers are actually really f*cking boring. The closest any regular military troops are ever going to get to secret information are personnel records. They’re confidential because they could realistically be used against someone. “Secret squirrel” is almost entirely used for this kind of mundane crap that is technically classified.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

If you honestly think the General nothing better to do than to inspect every single room in the barracks for lint, you’ve lost your mind.

(DoD Photo by Gloria Montgomery)

“Dog and pony shows”

The military is all about prestige and perfectionism when it comes to general officers swinging by to “inspect the troops.” Everyone will spend days getting ready to impress the two-star and get the nod of approval.

Nine times out of ten, the general won’t come to the barracks. They’ll meet at the company area and talk for thirty minutes before they go on their way. That one time they do inspect the troops, the chain of command will try to guide the general to the room that they know is spotless — typically an empty room that was quickly converted to look like it’s actually occupied.

This drawn-out procedure is known as putting on a “dog and pony show” and, unfortunately, neither dogs nor ponies are typically involved.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Even worse is when troops get reprimanded for speaking to the Chaplain. Which, unfortunately, does happen in some of the toxic units…

(U.S Marine photo by Lance Corporal Tayler P. Schwamb)

“Open-door policy”

You’ll often hear the commander or first sergeant tell you that their door is always open if you need to talk. When this policy works the way it should, it’s fantastic. It gives the little guy in the formation a strong ally when it comes to personal or professional issues.

Unfortunately, although their door may indeed always be open, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from reprimand. There are those in the chain of command who take it way too personally when a troop goes directly to the commander. They feel like the troop “jumped” the chain of command to fix something.

The hurt feelings are doubly potent if the problem is “toxicity in the troops’ leadership.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 great gifts for your military pet

You’ve covered the kids, your spouse, neighbors, your in-laws, and even snagged a little something for the mailman and school principal. As you’re making your list and checking it twice this holiday, don’t forget a favorite military pet!

The best gifts for pets are useful and practical items that might also benefit the pet owner in some way (think: hours of entertainment for an energetic pup or frisky feline). Here are the best gifts for pets this year:


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(PetFusion)

1. Interactive cat toy

This top-rated toy uses a cat’s natural hunting instincts to captivate their attention using a feather. Battery powered, the device mimics prey and mixes it up to keep pets engaged and anti-skid feet help to keep the gadget in place for any cat owners who might be worried about forceful felines.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Nite Ize)

2. Light up ball

Make fetch more fun with this LED light-up ball that promises hours of fun for your dog, even after the sun goes down. One bounce activates the color-changing toy and an easy-to-replace battery ensures playtime longevity.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Crown Paw)

3. Custom artwork

As it turns out, your pet can also be a military member….sort of. Crown Paw allows users to submit a headshot of their pet and then customize it into a regal portrait. All pets are welcome and users can choose from canvas themes like “The Admiral” or “The Colonel.” More than one animal in your house? Multi-pet themes like “The Officers” make gifting easy.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(SmartBones)

4. Rawhide-free chews

Skip the rawhide for your pup this year and pick up some SmartBones, which are made from whole ingredients like vegetables and chicken. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, these treats not only taste delicious to a dog, but the natural motion of chewing helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Design Dua)

5. Stylish beds

Help your pet get the best sleep of their lives without sacrificing your interior design style. These woven beds (and specialty pods for feline friends) are made from natural Elephant Grass and are handcrafted using traditional Ghanian craft techniques. Each basket comes with a fitted cushion and are available in a range of sizes.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Furbo)

6. Pet camera

The whole family will enjoy this wifi-enabled camera that allows you to drop in your pet when you aren’t home. Using an HD, wide-angle lens, the device allows users to see, talk to, and even dole out treats, to pets using an app on their phone. The bonus? A built-in sensor alerts pet parents to animal and human movement, so you’ll never wonder what your pet is up to all day again.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Rocco Roxie Supply Co)

7. Pet odor + stain eliminator

Alright, this one might be a gift for the pet parents and not the pet, but 10,000+ reviews speak to the power of this enzyme-powered stain and odor remover. Created to work for both cats and dogs, this formula is chlorine-free, color safe and promises to work or you’ll get a full refund. You will never stress about pets and rental carpets again!

Still at a loss on what to gift your favorite military pet? Quality time still ranks pretty high on their list — and maybe a few extra treats, too.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Check out awesome National Guard photos on its 382nd birthday

The National Guard, a unique part of the American military, traces its origins to the birth of the first organized colonial militia regiments on December 13, 1636.

The Guard, which includes some of the oldest units in the US military, is a reserve component that can be called up on a moment’s notice to respond to domestic emergencies or participate in overseas combat missions.



Happy 382nd Birthday, National Guard!

www.facebook.com

These 11 stunning photos from the past year show the Guard in action — dealing with fires, hurricanes, volcanoes, and more.

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(N.Y. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Andrew Valenza)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

A Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), a C-130 Hercules plane modified for fire-fighting efforts, releases fire retardant over Shasta County, California, during the Carr Fire in early August 2018.

(California National Guard)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brittany Johnson)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Florida National Guard photo by David Sterphone)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(North Carolina National Guard)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Florida National Guard)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Oregon Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Holden, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Photo Composite by SSG Brendan Stephens, NC National Guard Public Affairs)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(Photo courtesy of the State of Hawaii, Dept. of Defense)

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)

11. An Idaho Army National Guard sniper, from the 116th Calvary Brigade Combat Team, practices his skills during the platoon’s two-week annual training at the Orchard Combat Training Center on June 8, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Thousands of flights cancelled, re-routed when Pakistan closed airspace

Thousands of flights around the world were canceled or rerouted when Pakistan closed its airspace amid flaring tensions between it and nuclear rival India.

Authorities in Pakistan closed the entire country’s air space after a confrontation between it and India over the contested Kashmir region, in which Pakistan says it shot down two Indian military planes.


The closure had a massive effect on the aviation industry, given Pakistan’s pivotal position between Asia and the Middle East.

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Thousands of flights regional flights, as well as flight to Europe and Canada, were cancelled or rerouted to avoid Pakistani airspace.

Here are some of the airlines and routes affected by the closure across Feb. 27 and 28, 2019:

  • Thai Airways said on Feb. 27, 2019, that it had canceled all flights to Europe, as well as all flights to and from Pakistan. On Feb. 28, 2019, the airline said that it had resumed its flights to Europe, and that the flights would go through China instead.
  • Emirates cancelled 10 flights between Dubai and a number of Pakistan’s airports on Feb. 28, 2019.
  • Air Canada warned of delays of flights to Bombay and New Delhi on Feb. 27 and 28, 2019, because of airspace closures “due to political activity.”
  • Qatar Airways said that flights to Peshawar, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Sialkot were delayed or suspended until further notice.
  • Singapore Airlines said on Feb. 27, 2019, that a number of flights to Europe would be rerouted so they could stop to refuel en route to their destination.
  • British Airways was forced to reroute an unspecified number of flights, Reuters reported.

As of Feb. 28, 2019, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority’s website said that most flights scheduled to arrive in all of Pakistan’s airports are cancelled.

Flight tracking website Flightradar 24 shared an image of what it said was “the most extreme example yet of the circuitous routing required due to the closure of Pakistani airspace” on Feb. 28, 2019. The Uzbekistan Airways flight was from Uzbekistan to India.

Flightradar 24 also shared a map comparing airspace above Pakistan when the closure was made, versus a month before:

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority told passengers to contact their airlines for updates on their flights to and from Pakistan.

Tension has increased between two rival nuclear powers

Pakistan’s military on Feb. 27, 2019, said it had shot down two Indian aircraft that crossed into Pakistan’s side of the disputed Kashmir region, while India said that it had shot down one Pakistan Air Force plane.

Pakistan has one Indian pilot in custody, identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

General Vijay Kumar Singh, the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, described the pilot as “embodiment of a mentally tough, selfless courageous soldier” and called for his safe return.

“During these testing times the country stands, as one, behind him his family. Our efforts are on under the #GenevaConvention we hope that the brave pilot would return home soon,” he said.

Pakistan on Feb. 28, 2019, said that it would return the pilot on March 1, 2019, as a “peace gesture.”

Pakistan released a video of the detained pilot, which India called a “vulgar display” and an “unprovoked act of aggression.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said at a press conference on Feb. 27, 2019, that the two countries “should sit down and talk.” He urged “better sense to prevail.”

Khan said that given the two nations’ nuclear arsenals, “My question is that given the weapons we have can we afford miscalculation.”

USAA to Return $520 Million to Members

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on Wednesday and said India and Pakistan should sit down and talk.

(Sky News)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Feb. 28, 2019, that “the entire country is one and is standing with our soldiers.”

He did not specifically mention Pakistan, but said “When our enemy tries to destabilize the country, when terrorists attack – one of their goals is that our progress should stop, our country should stop moving ahead,” CNN reported.

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

How a negative pressure room lets families say goodbye

Some of the most treasured rituals involved in end-of-life care have become out of reach as we put in place the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 illness.

To protect our most vulnerable Veterans, the Community Living Center at VA Black Hills was the first ward to close to visitors. Even with compassionate exceptions, hospice visitation had a time limit and families could only visit one at a time. The policy required families to nearly give up the experience of physical touch, sharing memories and long goodbyes.


Dr. Mary Clark knew these protective measures were difficult for grieving families to accept. Hospice services aim to relieve suffering and provide bereavement support to families. Under normal circumstances, hospice care provides a comforting environment for families to share uninterrupted, quality time with their loved one. Clark is the Rehabilitation and Extended Care associate chief of staff.

Social worker Renee Radermacher works closely with Veterans and their families on the CLC. She thought of a way to give back some of what some families lost. She recommended converting one of the family rooms adjacent to the patient hospice room to a negative pressure room. This would provide an additional safety measure allowing up to three family members to visit for one hour each day.

VA Black Hills Hospice Family Room

A multi-disciplinary team addressed engineering, infection prevention, clinical considerations and social work. The team quickly added a reverse air flow machine and ready the room to receive families. Negative air flow is effective to reduce the transmission of dangerous infectious diseases. Along with good hygiene and masking, it allows families to spend more time with their loved ones, providing relief to the family

“The families are relieved” Dr. Clark said.

“Dr. Clark deserves all the credit for the hospice patients’ family visits. If not for her sensitivity and concern there would be no family visits and the patients would pass away alone,” added Brett Krout, safety manager and workgroup team member.

Providing compassionate patient care during this pandemic requires us to focus on safety while never forgetting the experience of the patient and their loved ones.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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