This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

With modern technology, US soldiers can learn the essentials of operating everything from grenade launchers to .50-caliber machine guns before they ever set foot on a firing range.


Soldiers with the New Jersey National Guard’s D Company, 1-114th Infantry Regiment recently conducted virtual-reality training on a number heavy weapons at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Capt. James Ruane, the company’s commander, explained the virtual-reality system to Insider, introducing how it works and how it helps the warfighter.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42e3d52dae5c6e6d79f2f8%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=254&h=2898d8f27bb0a569559e34826eac046dfcf4407e149c0c73e64a475cfcc0a813&size=980x&c=2040953553 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42e3d52dae5c6e6d79f2f8%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D254%26h%3D2898d8f27bb0a569559e34826eac046dfcf4407e149c0c73e64a475cfcc0a813%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2040953553%22%7D” expand=1]

New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator at the Observer Coach/Trainer Operations Group Regional Battle Simulation Training Center, Feb. 8, 2020.

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

This virtual-reality system, known as the Unstabilized Gunnery Trainer (UGT), gives users the ability to operate mounted M240B machine guns, Mk 19 grenade launchers, and .50-caliber machine guns — all heavy weapons — in a virtual world.

“When the gunner has the goggles on, he’s able to look around, and it is almost like he’s in an actual mission environment,” Ruane told Insider.

The virtual-reality system is designed to mimic a heavy weapon mounted on a vehicle. In the simulated training environment, users can engage dismounted and mounted targets, as well as moving vehicles and stationary targets.

“It’s the same type of targets they would engage on a live-fire range,” Ruane said.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42dfb42dae5c69fe46ee7b%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=60&h=37c0940f2ff90b5a3c657ad6c369078090a9a723fe18510db5259549ad557976&size=980x&c=3209983508 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42dfb42dae5c69fe46ee7b%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D60%26h%3D37c0940f2ff90b5a3c657ad6c369078090a9a723fe18510db5259549ad557976%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3209983508%22%7D” expand=1]

A New Jersey National Guard soldier on a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

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

The “weapon” is designed to feel and function much like an actual machine gun or grenade launcher.

“When you pull the trigger and actually fire this thing, it moves,” the captain said. “It has the same recoil as a weapon system would. So it gives the gunner as real of an experience as you could have in a virtual environment.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42e4c32dae5c6f3508bd03%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=857&h=7be841280525d857f972f27395285325164ebea402d645ddd6c9b76fe49c85fa&size=980x&c=1808331361 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42e4c32dae5c6f3508bd03%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D857%26h%3D7be841280525d857f972f27395285325164ebea402d645ddd6c9b76fe49c85fa%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1808331361%22%7D” expand=1]

A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

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

To operate the gun, the user even has to load ammunition.

There are, however, limitations to the system that prevent it from being a perfect one-for-one training platform for the real deal.

For example, this virtual-reality training platform does not factor things like jams or barrel changes in, despite both issues being important parts of operating a heavy machine gun.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42e5712dae5c702757c827%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=202&h=9769feac704eaeaf326bf51d2db743446a677c9f3b7c1c6a05e51eb4ebe74b19&size=980x&c=3968122624 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42e5712dae5c702757c827%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D202%26h%3D9769feac704eaeaf326bf51d2db743446a677c9f3b7c1c6a05e51eb4ebe74b19%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3968122624%22%7D” expand=1]

New Jersey National Guard soldiers practice on a Virtual Convoy Operations Trainer, February 9, 2020.

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

In addition to the single gunner training system, there is also a convoy trainer for three vehicle crew members and a dismount.

“In this setup, you have a driver, you have a vehicle commander, and you have a gunner,” Ruane told Insider. “You also have the ability to have a dismount, and all members of that crew are plugged into the same virtual system.”

“They are all wearing the goggles,” Ruane added. “They all have weapons systems attached to the [VR] system, including a dismount who would have an attached M4.”

“They operate like a crew,” he said, telling Insider that while the training, usually carried out over the course of a weekend, is focused on taking troops through the gunnery tables, the simulator can also be used to train forces for convoy protection missions and other more complex mission sets.

The training normally involves two vehicle crews, but it could be connected to other systems for training with a platoon-sized element.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42e4f74b661b6d591be7f7%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=145&h=b271fd5e8319b0ba5710f2af77b92fc3ecb1f7e9d1af1b50e3d5c63bb1962ae6&size=980x&c=4267716236 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42e4f74b661b6d591be7f7%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D145%26h%3Db271fd5e8319b0ba5710f2af77b92fc3ecb1f7e9d1af1b50e3d5c63bb1962ae6%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4267716236%22%7D” expand=1]

A New Jersey National Guard soldier trains with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

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

The company commander said he has seen marked improvements in performance since the introduction of the virtual reality trainer a few years back.

“I’ve definitely seen a dramatic improvement over the last five years,” the captain said.

“In the beginning, crews would have to go two or three times through gunnery,” Ruane, who has been with his company for five years now, told Insider, explaining that soldiers would make “simple mistakes.”

“Now,” he said, “crews are able to get through their engagements and get qualified as a crew” with some of “the highest scores that we’ve seen in the scoring cycle over the last five years.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e42e5313b62b76e1c774567%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=690&h=aa24e60260c83188bf356709eff7335719b0782bb859eafc20d421f21457f504&size=980x&c=110918192 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e42e5313b62b76e1c774567%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D690%26h%3Daa24e60260c83188bf356709eff7335719b0782bb859eafc20d421f21457f504%26size%3D980x%26c%3D110918192%22%7D” expand=1]

New Jersey National Guard soldiers train with a heavy weapons simulator, February 8, 2020.

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

Ruane says virtual reality has enhanced their training in a big way.

“A lot of people think, especially some old-school military people, think that the virtual-reality stuff takes away from the actual live-fire ranges, when in fact this is actually an enhancer,” he explained, adding that “when you get out to the live-fire ranges, it is going to be muscle memory at that point, and it’s going to go flawlessly.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 cringe-inducing weapon fails from ‘The Walking Dead’

Without Rick and Morty, Westworld, or Game of Thrones, Sunday nights are getting fairly thinned out with regards to binge worthy TV shows. Luckily we still have The Walking Dead, a great show that keeps fans watching every week because of the fantastic cast of characters living out the zombie apocalypse fantasy we all think about.


This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

One of the key components of the show is the over indulgence of firearms. Makes sense, right? Zombie apocalypse would need plenty of nobodies to pack some heat to survive. Not everyone can be a bad ass with a crossbow or katana.

However, people who have actually seen a firearm cringe when they see how the weapons are actually portrayed.

Some things can be hand-waved away by the user being a idiot and no one correcting them in the apocalypse (I’m looking at you, everyone with sh*tty trigger discipline!).

Other times the writers throw in a spotlight piece of dialogue, such as when someone gets a headshot on a walker from maybe 500 yards and someone else says, “Wow! That’s impressive!” and they respond with “I wasn’t aiming for that one.”

This is called “hanging a lantern” on stretches of the imagination (but it still doesn’t explain the max effective range on a 9mm Glock).

This list is ranked from “Okay, I guess the show creators are taking some creative freedom with that” to “Wait… what? But why… what?”

Minor non-specific spoilers ahead if you care about spoiler tags.

#6. Cocking your weapon multiple times

This one isn’t specific to just The Walking Dead. If you’ve never picked up a weapon before, you might think guns are ready to jump into bang-bang mode at any moment. This doesn’t happen in reality. A weapon won’t fire a round if there’s no round in the chamber. And it is possible that they did chamber their weapon off-screen — not everything in life is cinematic enough to make good cinema/television.

But this isn’t like weapon maintenance and cleaning. Even more egregious is when they show the same weapon being cocked when they’re about to start fighting. And then again when they’re seconds away from a fire fight. Possible? Totally. But we’d see that round that was chambered a few minutes ago fly out. Just going to gloss right over the manual cocking sound of a revolver being applied to semi-auto pistols, but you catch the drift.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
I won’t bore you with my rant on how there’s never any brass on the ground, unless it’s for a cool low-angle “after battle” shot  (Television Series “The Walking Dead” by AMC)

#5. Who needs a rear sight post anyways?

Quick run down on how aiming works: Think of when you were looking at the stars. If you line up a tree with, say, a fence post and sit in the same spot days later. You can observe the movement in the sky. You lined up the object at four points. The star, the tree, fence post, and your eye. You need two points between your eye and the star to keep positioning just right in a straight line.

In the case of a firearm, that straight line is also the barrel. Take away a sight post, that straight line is skewed. All of this means that it won’t hit jacksh*t, and the characters wasted their time zeroing their weapons.

Or maybe no one needs to zero their weapon in the zombie apocalypse…

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
Don’t worry, I’m not done with the Governor just yet…

#4. Who needs an eye to look through the scope anyways?

Okay. Maybe they’re so intertwined with their weapon that it becomes second nature. Like previously mentioned, everyone is an expert as shooting walkers from god knows how far. The rifle being brought up to the shoulder may just be out of second nature.

What about our characters that don’t have their dominant firing eye? What the hell are they even aiming at?

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
You’d think at least the actor with the eye patch would notice this and say something… (Television Series The Walking Dead by AMC)

#3. Infinite Ammo Cheat Codes

L1, R1, SQUARE, R1, LEFT, R2, R1, LEFT, SQUARE, DOWN, L1, L1.

Apparently everyone types this in before every episode of the show, because unless it’s for dramatic tension, no one runs out of ammunition. The world is ending. It’s a constant worry in the show to find food. But ammo? Nah. We got it covered.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

#2. Misunderstanding what certain bullets do

Last science rundown: Newton’s Third Law of Motion. All forces between two objects exist in equal magnitude and opposite direction. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

In firearm science, this means that the kickback from firing a weapon will hit the target with a similar kick, accounting for minor air resistance and many other factors. So if you were to shoot a handgun at someone, they are hit with the same force. It’d hurt like a b*tch, but no one is flying through a window.

Same works the other way around to. If you shoot a M2 .50 Caliber machine gun into the engine block of a civilian jeep, it won’t just ding off like some dirt.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

#1. Head shots for days against zombies, but no one can seem to hit a human for some reason

Why why WHY can no one hit a single living person? Plot armor must be a hell of a thing. At least the Stormtroopers have a reason for why their aim ‘sucks’.

Related: 6 reasons why it would suck to be a Stormtrooper in Star Wars

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
At least Shiva was consistent about her killing ability. If you didn’t want spoilers, don’t look too deep into the use of past tense. (Television Series The Walking Dead by AMC)

*Bonus*  Just. No. That’s not how that works…

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

MIGHTY TACTICAL

5 Army weapons soldiers might actually get their hands on soon

Despite all the disruptions of 2020, Army modernization officials have tested new, longer-range and more precise infantry weapon systems. They also announced efforts that could lead to future machine guns, precision grenade launchers and possibly even hand-held directed energy weapons.

Soldier lethality is a key Army modernization priority, one that has gained momentum since the service unveiled a strategy in 2017 to equip combat units with a new generation of air and ground combat systems.

In the short term, the Army wants to field new squad-level weapons to close-combat units and a set of high-tech goggles that projects a sight reticle in front of soldiers’ eyes.

The service announced long-term efforts to develop new belt-fed, crew-served weapons, as well as to begin thinking about what infantry weapons will look like decades from now.

Here’s a look at five weapons-related programs Military.com has reported on this year:

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division used the latest prototype of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) during a trench clearing exercise in October at Fort Pickett, Virginia. The event was part of a larger Soldier Touchpoint, the third major milestone in the development and testing of the IVAS, which will undergo one more STP in the spring before initial fielding next year. (U.S. Army Photo by Bridgett Siter)

1. Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).

In October, Army modernization officials finished the third soldier touch point (STP) in which troops evaluated the first ruggedized version of IVAS. The Microsoft-designed goggles are intended to provide a heads-up display that offers infantry troops situational awareness tools to help them navigate, communicate and keep track of other members of their unit day and night.

But IVAS is also designed to enhance troops” marksmanship with a tool known as Rapid Target Acquisition. A special thermal weapons site mounts on the soldier’s weapon and projects the site reticle into the wearer’s field of view via Bluetooth signal. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division involved in the STP said it took some adjustment to learn how to shoot with IVAS, but most said they were easily hitting 300-meter targets from a standing position. If all goes well, the IVAS is slated to be ready for fielding sometime in 2021.

2. Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW).

The Army is in the final phase of evaluating NGSW rifle and auto rifle prototypes, chambered for a new 6.8mm round, that are slated to start replacing the 5.56mm M4A1 carbine and the M249 squad automatic weapon in infantry and other close-combat units in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

Textron Systems, General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems Inc., and Sig Sauer have delivered prototype systems and ammunition that have gone through STPs. Each vendor’s design is unique and fires a different version of the 6.8mm ammunition. The Army plans to select a single firm to make both the weapons and ammunition in the first quarter of fiscal 2022.

The NGSW weapons are so promising that U.S. special operations units such as the 75th Ranger Regiment and Special Forces units are expected to adopt them, as well as conventional units.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
A soldier aims an XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement weapon system at Aberdeen Test Center, Md. Army photo

3. Precision Grenadier.

Army weapons officials announced in November that the service is pursuing a longer-term effort to arm some infantry squad members with a precision, counter-defilade weapons system designed to destroy enemy hiding behind cover. Currently, two infantrymen in each squad are armed with an M4A1 carbine with an M320 40mm grenade launcher to engage counter-defilade targets, but weapons officials have long wanted something more sophisticated.

During the past decade, the Army tried to field the XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System — a semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon that used 25mm high-explosive, air-bursting ammunition. XM25 stirred excitement in the infantry community but, in the end, the complex system was plagued by program delays that led to its demise.

The Army is currently conducting the Platoon Arms and Ammunition Configuration (PAAC) study — scheduled to be complete by 2024 — which will look at the enemies the service will face in the future and help guide weapons officials to a new counter-defilade weapon sometime in 2028, Army officials say.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
1st Lt. Emilio Pacheco, an Expert Infantry Badge Candidate from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, fires blank rounds from an M2 .50 caliber machine gun during training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on Oct. 18, 2019. The Army and Marine Corps are looking for a replacement for the M2, known as “Ma Deuce.” Army photo

4. Next-Generation Medium and Heavy Machine Gun.

Army weapons officials also announced in early November that the service wants to eventually replace the venerable 7.62mm M240 and the .50 caliber “Ma Deuce” M2 with next-generation machine guns. But Army officials said that the decision to move forward on such a program will depend on the future performance demonstrated by the NGSW once it’s fielded. The PAAC study will also help to guide decisions on what the next-gen medium and heavy machine guns would look like, according to Army officials.

The Marine Corps is working the Army on the next-gen machine gun effort but is also assessing a .338 Norma Magnum machine gun — that U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is developing — to potentially replace the M240s in Marine rifle companies.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
Soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia live-fire testing a new suppressor from Maxim Defense on M240 Machineguns during Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) 2021 which began in late October. (U.S. Army)

5. Machine Gun Suppressors.

The Maneuver Battle Lab at Fort Benning, Georgia, live-fire tested a promising M240 sound suppressor from Maxim Defense during Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) 2021, which began in late October. Benning officials said this is the first year that a machine gun suppressor has created excitement in the maneuver community.

Other suppressors in past tests have not been able to stand up to the heat and audible roar produced by the 7.62mm M240. Finding a durable, affordable suppressor that can dampen the sound signature of an M240 would make it more difficult for enemies to locate and target machine gun teams from a distance, Benning officials say.

When the AEWE concludes in early March, Battle Lab officials will compile a report detailing the performance of equipment tested. If testing continues to go well, the Battle Lab may recommend that the Maxim suppressor undergo further testing for possible fielding, according to Benning officials.

Looking further into the future, it will likely be a long time until infantrymen are armed with the blaster weapons like those carried by Stormtroopers or Han Solo in the “Star Wars” saga, but Army weapons officials have already started thinking about it.

“We are working on the Next Generation Squad Weapon … but then what’s the next weapon after that?” Col. Rhett Thompson, director of the Soldier Requirements Division at Benning, said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s Armaments, Robotics and Munitions conference in early November.

“Does it fire a round? Instead of a magazine with ammunition, is it some sort of energy capacity … or is it something more directed energy or something else?” he said. “That is really what we are getting at as we get further out there, and some of that is kind of fun to think about.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Did acting SECDEF just throw shade at the F-35?

Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan took a swipe at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in a off-camera briefing at the Pentagon Jan. 29, 2019.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has been accused of bias toward his former company, which lost the bid for the development of a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet to competitor Lockheed Martin.

“Am I still wearing a Boeing hat? I think that’s just noise,” the acting secretary said Jan. 29, 2019, responding to the allegations. But, then he took a thinly-veiled jab at the F-35.


“I’m biased towards performance. I am biased toward giving taxpayers their money’s worth. The F-35 unequivocally, I can say, has a lot of opportunity for more performance,” he explained, possibly suggesting that the aircraft is not quite where it needs to be.

Shanahan has signed an ethics agreement recusing himself from participating in matters pertaining to Boeing, a major US defense contractor.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

An F-35 Lightning II performs aerial maneuvers during a combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base Nov. 19, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class James Kennedy)

His latest comments on the fighter, which were relatively diplomatic, are nothing compared to what he reportedly said in private meetings while serving as the deputy secretary of defense.

A former senior Defense Department official recently told Politico that Shanahan has described the F-35 as “f—ed up” and said its maker, Lockheed Martin, “doesn’t know how to run a program.”

“If it had gone to Boeing, it would be done much better,” that same former official recalled Shanahan saying, according to Politico.

Lockheed beat out Boeing in the Joint Strike Fighter competition around the turn of the century, with the Department of Defense ultimately picking Lockheed’s X-35 — which later became the F-35 — over Boeing’s X-32 in 2001.

During its development, the F-35, a costly project which could cost more than id=”listicle-2627524757″ trillion over the course of its lifetime, has faced constant criticism for a variety of problems. The F-35 is generally considered the most expensive weapons program in US history.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

“The F-35 is our future,” he said in September 2018 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space Cyber Conference.

“I think we can all agree that it is a remarkable aircraft, with eye-watering capabilities critical to the high-end fight,” he added. “I tip my hat to its broad team of government, industry, and international partners. Having worked on programs of similar size and complexity, I have enormous respect for your talent and commitment.”

Despite these decidedly kind words, his comments Jan 29, 2019, seem to suggest that the F-35 has left a lot to be desired.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s what happens when the Coast Guard makes a drug bust

Most troops and vets know very little about what the Coast Guard actually does. They’re often seen as either the “Navy National Guard” or as a bunch of puddle pirates trying to pretend like they’re one of the cool, DoD kids.

Yeah, sure; we’ll hear their name get brought up whenever a hurricane hits or they’ll be cursed at when they catch someone speeding on a private lake, but the truth is that they’ve more than earned their right to be a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.

When they aren’t out helping idiotic boaters, they’re dropping narco-terrorists just like their grunt brothers.


This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

When it kicks off, Coasties stay busy and can probably expect six or so busts in a week after that long-ass wait.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake)

It all begins with actionable intelligence. Despite what you might think about gangs not snitching on each other to save their own hides — they absolutely do. Apparently, it doesn’t even take that much to get them to talk. A threat of extradition and being sent back to their home country (where they face grave, domestic threats) is usually enough to get them singing like a canary.

So, the Coast Guard goes out to the expected route of traffickers in their Cutters and they wait… and wait… and wait…

This process could take days, weeks, or even months. If it turns out that the collected information is indeed legit and they find the smugglers, then the fun begins.

First is the show of force and an appeal to try and get them to surrender peacefully. There’s literally no escape when the Coast Guard has you surrounded with much faster vessels and helicopters flying overhead. The ones who value their well-being will give themselves up.

If they don’t, warning shots will strafe the waters in front of the bow. If they still don’t get the message, snipers from inside the helicopters will disable the engines — that’s right: The Coast Guard has highly trained snipers who can hit speedboats from helicopters with surgical precision.

They should get the hint by now, but just in case they don’t, the Coast Guardsmen then board their vessel and detain the smugglers while remaining very weary of any potential threats that may appear. For a look at what that’s like, in a safe-for-television manner, check out the video below:

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

Ever wonder what half a billion dollars looks like? This was from just three busts.

(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mariana O’Leary)

The traffickers will go into custody and may be sent back to their host nation for trial (or execution, depending on the country). Then, the drugs are incinerated or destroyed by other means.

We’re not talking small amounts either. We’re talking about cartel-level quantities. Each bust account for tons of narcotics that will never make it to the streets. When they’re set ablaze, that’s millions that will never make it back to the cartels. Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard took out 500 tons of cocaine — billion in street value.

The war on drugs is a constant battle, but busts like these make significant dents.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the ENVG goggles are making soldiers more lethal

Advancements in U.S. Army technology can give Soldiers an edge in an ever-changing operational environment, supporting the warfighter.

You may not have a pair of the L3Harris ENVG-B night vision goggles in your team room lockers yet, but they could be coming soon. The L3Harris ENVG-B are currently being fielded at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division. Should the DoD decide that these make the cut, they could be issued Army-wide.

For the past 18 months, L3 Harris and PEO Soldier have conducted 11 events to perfect the goggles.

L3Harris is planning to deliver about 10,000 systems to the Army by the end of the year.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
The ENVG-B

According to its website, the L3Harris ENVG-B arms soldiers with superior abilities to target, engage, and neutralize threats, enhancing mission success and operator safety. “The ENVG-B is a helmet-mounted, dual-waveband goggle with industry-leading [sic], fused white phosphor, and thermal technologies.”

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
White Phosphor view though ENVG-B.

ENVG-B is primary use is as a binocular. Yet, it also offers a monocular option to provide dominant or non-dominant eye relief. A simple rotation of lens into stow position changes monocular to binocular vision. The advanced design includes a low-profile stow position against the helmet. Twin-tube design provides in-field protection from failure or damage.
Soldiers can also attach weapon sight images into their goggles.

This allows soldiers to see around corners without the risk of exposure, and to identify, assess and engage targets with greater accuracy and speed. It provides them with proven clarity even in degraded battlefield conditions.

SFC Brion Baker said that, “The ability to shoot around corners from behind cover without exposing the soldier to any enemy fire is going to be exponential on the battlefield. I will save lives and protect its most valuable assets, its people.”Read Next: US Army’s new night vision goggles can link to rifle sights to fire around corners

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
A U.S. Soldier testing the ENVG-B

Soldiers can keep their eyes on the target without having to look down to read maps or check radios for critical information.

So what this means is that leaders can do map overlays, have their soldiers upload them into their End-User Device (EUD), aka their Samsung phone, and then see the product through their night vision, without ever looking down at their map.

Imagine being able to see a compass, azimuth, waypoint, etc., right there in a heads-up display through your night vision goggles both in daytime and nighttime conditions.

Nearly 20 Maryland Army National Guard soldiers recently tested the ENVG-B to measure the effects of image intensifier tube imbalance for both target identification and depth perception. The tests were conducted at the Army Research Lab – Human Resources and Engineering Directorate facility in Aberdeen Proving Ground.

The ENVG-B enables the Army’s combat forces to observe and maneuver in all weather, through obscurants, during limited visibility, and under all lighting conditions.

Paul Fedele, a physical scientist with the Army Research Laboratory, helped MDARNG Soldiers administer both tests in the dark. The tests established basic operational parameters for the ENVG-B system.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the Maryland National Guard,” said Josh Rubinstein, a senior research psychologist with the DoD’s Data and Analysis Center. “They are helping us test the equipment and providing us with the Soldiers to complete the study. The caliber of effort that I’ve seen with the Maryland National Guard has been exceptional.”

This article was originally published on January 29, 2021.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 reasons why being a Roman Legionnaire would suck

The Roman Empire stretched from modern-day Syria to modern-day Spain. To maintain that amount of real estate, you have to have an amazing military to protect it. The Roman Legion was one such force.

But every military that has made its mark on history was notorious for rigorous training and extremely harsh conditions that make today’s toughest Special Operations training look like Air Force boot camp. Here’s why, in reality, being a Roman Legionnaire would’ve sucked.


This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

Suddenly, Sergeant Major doesn’t seem so far away.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Judith L. Harter)

Minimum enlistment requirement

It was 25 years. These days, when you sign the dotted line, you’re in for a minimum of four years and you have the option to stay longer to earn a pension and retirement benefits. The average Roman Legionnaire was expected to serve 25 years — no exceptions.

The retirement benefits, however, involved getting a nice piece of land within the empire to spend the rest of your days — If you don’t die first, that is.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

It doesn’t make this suck any less, right?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brennon A. Taylor)

Long, forced marches… Every day.

If you think the 20-kilometer hike you just did last Wednesday, the 25 kilometers you had to do the night before Christmas leave, or the 30-mile hike you did in Korea sucked, just think about what you’d have to do as a Roman Legionnaire. These guys had to carry their entire kit 90 miles, every day.

This kit included their armor, weapons, shield, and a backpack, which contained the equipment needed to help build camps. Additionally, they had to carry their rations and cooking gear.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

Remember this? It would be more regular as a Roman Legionnaire.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Marching cadence

Remember those 90-mile forced marches we mentioned? Imagine your company commander calling cadence the whole time. Well, that’s what Centurions did for their Centuries. They would call, “right, left,” the whole time, starting with the right, of course, because the left was seen as wrong or evil.

That’s why issued rifles are made for right-handed war heroes.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

The amount of training probably saved a lot of lives…

(History Answers)

Weapons training

In the Roman Legion, you wake up in the morning and eat breakfast with your seven tent mates and then you do a little weapons training. By a little, we mean a lot. You’re training every morning with your gear and wooden weapons and shields that weigh twice as much as your regular gear, constantly going against your friends to become a much better warrior.

This is a good thing, but you know you complain about three-day field ops. Yes, you do.

The pay was salt

And you thought your steady income and clothing allowance was bad. Granted, the Roman Legion did pay their soldiers but, at the time, salt was worth quite a bit. So, a soldier would get paid in salt.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FEKU9dpJaJTXLq.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=0&h=581a4a9fd34cc78e09410d8d43eea0624e3725ff08111e5366544cb8957e5122&size=980x&c=2866231099 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FEKU9dpJaJTXLq.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D0%26h%3D581a4a9fd34cc78e09410d8d43eea0624e3725ff08111e5366544cb8957e5122%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2866231099%22%7D” expand=1]

Gunny Hartman would’ve had a great time, though.

The hazing was terrible

If you think your seniors duct-taping a mattress to you and having you take a leap of faith from the third story of your barracks was bad — it was so much worse the Roman Legion.

Remember those annoying Centurions from the marches? They carried a vine branch to whip the disobedient and it was totally okay for them to do so. Getting whipped for stepping out of line is pretty mild considering your friends could stone you to death for being a coward or trying to desert — and that’s only barely scratching the surface of Roman Legion punishments.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy destroyer tracks advanced Russian warship in the Caribbean

One of Russia’s most advanced warships is sailing around in the Caribbean, but it’s not alone, as the US Navy has dispatched a destroyer to keep a close eye on it.

The Admiral Gorshkov, the first of a new class of Russian frigates built for power projection, arrived in Havana on June 24, 2019, accompanied by the multipurpose logistics vessel Elbrus, the sea tanker Kama, and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian warship made headlines earlier this year when Russia reported that it was arming the vessel with a new weapon — the electro-optic Filin 5P-42 — that emits an oscillating beam of high-intensity light designed to cause temporary blindness, disorientation, and even nausea.


The US military said on June 26, 2019, it was monitoring the Russian ship’s activities.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham was operating roughly 50 miles north of Havana as of June 25, 2019, USNI News reported, citing ship-tracking data. The Navy told the outlet that it was monitoring the situation.

The Admiral Gorshkov entered the Caribbean Sea via the Panama Canal on June 18, 2019. The ship departed its homeport of Severomorsk in February 2019 and has since traveled more than 28,000 nautical miles, making stops in China, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and now Cuba.

The warship is preparing to make port calls at several locations across the Caribbean, the AP reported, citing the Russian Navy, which has not disclosed the purpose of the trip.

Over the past decade, Russia has occasionally sent warships into the Caribbean. While these deployments are typically perceived as power plays, Russia characterizes them as routine. Russia has also sent Tu-160 strategic bombers into the area, most recently in December 2018.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

Russian Tupolev Tu-160.

(Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin)

While Russian ships have made visits to the Caribbean in the past, this trip comes at a time when the US militaries are finding themselves in close proximity. For instance, earlier this month, a Russian destroyer nearly collided with a US cruiser in the Pacific, an incident that came just a few days after a Russian fighter jet aggressively buzzed a Navy aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea.

Russia also sent ships from its Baltic Fleet to monitor the NATO Baltops 2019 exercises held in mid-June 2019 near Russia. These exercises involved ships and aircraft from 16 NATO allies and two partner countries.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Op tempo is killing our troops… and their families

In the era of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, training was frequent and necessary in order to maintain the level of combat readiness required to sustain and prevail in battle. While times have changed, our Operational Tempo (Optempo) has not.


The number of troops needed in combat zones has decreased significantly. The amount of funds needed to maintain those combat zones has decreased as well. Funds have been redirected to modernize equipment, further training and have helped our forces remain relevant and vigilant. But what is this current wartime Optempo and Personnel Tempo (Perstempo) doing to our troops and our families?

How much is it really costing us?

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

Their lives

Since 2001, more than 6,000 U.S. service members and DOD civilians have lost their lives. Of that, over 5,000 were KIA. Even more staggering is the number of wounded in action (WIA) since then. At least 50,000 service members have been wounded in action (DOD 2019). Since the wars began in 2001, the United States has spent 0.4 billion dollars on medical care and disability benefits.

This is only the beginning of medical care for wounded troops.

According to Costs of War, the financial costs of medical care usually peaks 30 to 40 years after the initial conflict (Bilmes, et al. 2015). In a study, it shows that although veteran suicide rates have recently decreased in numbers, the rate of suicide of military members versus civilians is still substantially higher, and ever-increasing. Furthermore, the number of veterans who use VHA versus those who don’t also, have a higher rate of suicide (DVA 2018). The toll this is taking on military families is creating unsalvageable relationships, emotional distress for children, and, ultimately, lives that are forever lost.

Their families

At the start of the war in 2001, Perstempo policies have been disregarded by many. According to the GAO:

DOD has maintained the waiver of statutory Perstempo thresholds since 2001, and officials have cited the effect of the high pace of operations and training on service members; however, DOD has not taken action to focus attention on the management of Perstempo thresholds within the services and department-wide (GAO 2018).

Is there a lack of genuine concern for family stability and well-being? Understanding the expectation of family interaction would decrease during wartime, once the service member has completed their deployment, reintegration, and revitalization of the home and family must take place. Families have been neglected and left without the proper resources to cultivate a healthy family environment. The concern for service member readiness has been an on-going issue in recent years. Studies have been conducted, and programs implemented, but is that enough?

Marital issues have often been associated with Perstempo, such as length of partner separation, infidelity during separation, and other challenges encompassed in a military marriage. The stress on the family of a service member is immeasurable; oftentimes, even discounted in comparison to the stress the service member endures. Support or resources for military spouses seeking separation or divorce are nearly nonexistent. They have been conditioned to believe that the well being of their soldiers comes before their own.

Military spouses sacrifice their academic achievements and employment opportunities in support of their service member’s careers. As the budget cuts roll out for the fiscal year, more much-needed family programs are becoming extinct. Programs that provide support for spousal employment, childcare, and leisure activities are being defunded, which can destabilize already struggling families.

Child and domestic abuse are an ever-growing concern within a community that is known for its patriotism and heroism. The families suffer in silence. Surviving recurrent deployments, solo parenting, housing issues, and the lack of program funding, the plight of the military family continues to decrease soldier readiness and morale.

Their mental well-being

The rate of PTSD and mental health diagnoses is on the rise for both service members and their families. However, services providing support and medical care for these issues have declined. The effect of time away from children has taken a toll on military children.

Neglect, abuse, and mental health issues are being ignored due to a lack of care. Some military installations cannot provide adequate mental health care because of their remote locations, and the costs to contract providers are often more than the proposed budgets allow. Because of this, the family’s needs go unmet.

With orders coming down the wire, Command Teams are obligated to carry out relentless training exercises, and soldiers are feeling the burn. Everyone is exhausted, each soldier doing the job of three, and families are becoming isolated. They lack sleep and proper nutrition, putting them at greater risk of making mistakes during training that may cost them their lives, but the soldiers march on.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

The way forward

Repairing family units are necessary for the success of soldier readiness. Programs and support for families should not be cut. Revisions of budget direction may be necessary in order to tailor programs in a way that both benefits the government and the well-being of the service member and their families.

Allow soldiers to receive mental health care without fear of retaliation or loss of career. Provide structured support programs for spouses that go beyond counseling. Long term care is necessary for service members and families upon redeployment. Taking a true interest in supporting our military members and families should be the priority for our Department of Defense. We are fighting wars but not fighting for our families. Cultivate strength by improving the quality of life for everyone.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What Snowden has to say about theory that the government is hiding aliens

Edward Snowden shut down the conspiracy theory that the US government is secretly harboring aliens at its top secret facilities during an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, which aired on Oct. 23, 2019.

Snowden, an American whistleblower who revealed details of classified US government surveillance programs in 2013, addressed rumors about secret extraterrestrial lifeforms in his recently released memoir “Permanent Record.”

“I know, Joe, I know you want there to be aliens,” he said. “I know Neil deGrasse Tyson badly wants there to be aliens. And there probably are, right?”

“I do,” Rogan responded.


Speaking to Rogan from Russia, where he has been granted asylum, Snowden said as far as he knew the US government has not made contact with aliens and is not housing them at their facilities, like that of Area 51 in Nevada.

“But the idea that we’re hiding them — if we are hiding them — I had ridiculous access to the networks of the NSA, the CIA, the military, all these groups. I couldn’t find anything,” he asserted.

He said, he found no evidence of extraterrestrial life during his time spent snooping through government databases when he worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Joe Rogan Experience #1368 – Edward Snowden

www.youtube.com

He admitted that it was entirely possible that knowledge of alien contact were “hidden really damn well” from people with direct access to classified information.

“Everybody wants to believe in conspiracy theories because it helps life make sense,” he told Rogan. “It helps us believe that somebody is in control, that somebody is calling the shots.”

In his book, which came out September 2019, Snowden shut down other popular conspiracy theories, like the idea that the US faked the moon landing, or that climate science is a hoax.

“For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they haven’t contacted US intelligence,” he wrote.

“Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing,” he added.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

8 photos of Russia’s best attack helicopters

America has one dedicated attack helicopter, the AH-64 Apache. But our rivals in Russia have a much more diverse set of offerings with Hinds, Alligators, Black Sharks, and more all flying in concert with one another. Here are eight photos of them from some recent events in Russia:


This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopter sports a 30mm cannon in the nose and four hardpoints for carrying a mix of gun pods, rockets, anti-armor, and anti-air missiles. The pilot sits in a back seat while the weapons officer sits in the front, similar to the pilot and gunner in the American-made AH-64 Apache.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The pilots sit in an armored cockpit and, at first, could only fight during the day due to sensor limitations. Those limitations were fixed with the Mi-28N, allowing these bad boys to tackle Russia’s enemies in low light and night conditions thanks to a radome installed above the rotor.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Interestingly, the Mi-28 was pitted against the Ka-50 in trials, and the Mil-28 lost. But it performed well enough to keep flying anyway and eventually entered the main arsenal. Then, defense priority changes led to the Mi-28 becoming a rival to the Ka-50. Now, the Mi-28 regularly flies alongside the Ka-50s and Ka-52s in combat and training.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Ka-52 Alligator is a successor to, and two-seater version of, the Ka-50 Black Shark. The attack helicopter has six weapons hardpoints that can carry everything from anti-tank missiles to rockets to a massive anti-ship missile capable of taking down tanker ships.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Alligator uses a coaxial rotor where the two sets of blades spin in opposite directions, making it more stable than traditional helicopters and eliminating the need for an anti-torque tail rotor.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Mi-35 Hinds are a very special kind of beast. They’re often classified as an attack helicopter, but the alternate description is “heavy assault gunship,” which might be a better description. The Hind can not only tear apart enemy troops on the ground, it can also drop off an infantry squad to take control of the ground after.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

The Mi-35s have an ungainly look on the ground but are vicious in the air, sort of like a fat duck on PCP.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

(Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

When they fly in large formations, they can drop entire infantry platoons or companies into the fight and provide close combat attack support to keep those infantrymen alive and lethal. They’re expensive and ungainly, but there’s a lot of value in its capability.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

General wants Army aviators to stop apologizing and start asking

Retired Gen. James Thurman recently told Army aviation officials they’ve got to “quit apologizing” to the Pentagon and ask for what they need to win the next war.

“The Air Force doesn’t apologize, the Navy doesn’t apologize, so don’t apologize. You’ve got to go forward and put the bill on the table, and you’ve got to have the analytical data to back it up. That’s what happens in the Pentagon,” he said during a panel discussion last week at the Association of the United States Army’s Hot Topic event on aviation.

Thurman, who commanded U.S. Forces Korea from 2011 to 2013, made his comments during a discussion on the Army’s effort to track training and readiness against the backdrop of the service’s six-priority modernization effort.


Future vertical lift is the Army’s third of six modernization priorities. Aviation officials must compete for the same resources advocates of the other priorities — long-range precision fires, the next generation combat vehicle, a mobile network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality — are vying for if the service is going to field a new armed reconnaissance aircraft and a new long-range assault aircraft by 2028.

“You’ve got to fight for it … if we don’t modernize this force, we are going to lose the next fight. It’s as simple as that,” Thurman said, warning of the progress potential adversaries are making in battlefield technology. “If you look at what the Russians are doing and what the Chinese are doing, in my mind, the Chinese are number one right now.”

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

The Lockheed-Boeing SB-1 Defiant.


In addition to modernizing, Army aviation officials say the branch needs to use training resources more effectively to ensure units are at the appropriate readiness levels.

“I think we do ourselves a disservice anytime we are funded to a certain level and under-execute for multiple reasons,” said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, commander of the Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Alabama. “If we fly less and we still call ourselves trained, that is doing a disservice to us … because the Army will resource us at a lesser level.”

Army aviation accounts for 25 percent of the service’s budget for training and sustainment, said retired Lt. Gen. Kevin Mangum, vice president for Army Aviation Programs, Rotary and Mission Systems at Lockheed Martin. But, he said, “aviation is the only branch where the number of [Training and Doctrine Command] seats is limited by budget.”

“For every other branch, we determine how many seats are required and fund it,” he said. “For aviation, seats are based on funding available.”

Mangum said he agrees with Thurman’s advice. “Don’t apologize, but we’ve got to use that 25 percent of the Army budget as effectively and efficiently as we can.”

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

Military Life

8 normal civilian things that make you weird in the military

The military is its own beast. Many of the things we do while enlisted would seem weird to civilians. Well, the door swings both ways.


The following things seem perfectly normal before you join up, but might net you a few odd looks when you join the service.

Related: 7 military things that somehow get you fired in the civilian world

8. Not embracing the silly

Deployments quickly turn into the movie Groundhog Day. You see the same people, do the same missions, and eat the same chow. You’ve got nowhere to go and nothing to do. As you might imagine, things get real weird real fast.

At about month six, you’ll see things like troops singing Disney songs to each other or guys starting fights with traffic cones as arms. If you don’t join in, you’d better be filming it.

Our deployment videos always kill on YouTube because people think we’re super serious all the time. 

7. Wanting personal space

One unexpected advantage of Big Military cramming as many troops into as small of a space as possible is that we get close to one another. There’s nowhere to go, especially on a deployment, so you might as well get to know everyone who shares your space.

Civilians might be surprised at the level of closeness between troops in a platoon, especially when it’s snowing outside and everyone is wearing summer PTs.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
“Here, we see a bunch of soldiers waiting for morning PT…” (Screengrab via BBC’s Planet Earth)

6. Mentioning it’s your birthday

For better or worse, hazing is highly frowned upon in the military. Any type of initiation or harassment directed toward fellow troops is a major offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No commander would dare allow their troops to partake in any form of hazing — unless it’s someone’s birthday, of course!

If the unit finds out on their own, you’re in for a terrible surprise. If you’re the idiot who brings it up, don’t expect cake and ice cream from the guys.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

5. Being gentle

To the normal person, this would contradict the earlier rules of “embrace silliness” and “forget personal space,” but this is different in its own weird way.

We tell ourselves that we’re hardened, ass-kicking, life-taking, warfighting machines. The truth is, we just don’t have the time or desire for little things, like talking about our feelings or establishing emotional safe spaces. If you just really need a hug, you’ll have to either disguise it as a joke or go and see the chaplain — and even they probably won’t give you a hug, wimp.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range

4. Asking questions

Normal people would try to figure out the little things, like “why are we doing this exact same, mundane task for the ninth time this month?” Troops, on the other hand, just give up hope after a while and do it.

This is so ingrained that when someone does ask a question, it’s treated like a joke.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
And don’t you dare ask a question in a group setting. You’ll get death glares. (Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett)

3. Taking care of your body

Troops work out constantly. Once for morning PT and probably again when they go to the gym.

All that effort totally negates all of the coffee, energy drinks, beer, pounds of bacon, burgers, pizza, and cartons of cigarettes that an average troop goes through… right?

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
It’s the breakfast of champions! (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Ortiz)

2. Turning down a chance to do dumb things

If a troop gets a call and the person on the other end says, “we need you out here quick. Don’t let Sergeant Jones find out about it,” context doesn’t matter. They’re there and are probably three beers in before anyone can explain what’s happening.

Best case scenario: It’s an epic night. Worst case: It ends up being a “no sh*t, there I was…” story.

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
Don’t worry if you don’t go. Everyone who was there will share the story at least three times that week. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Barbour)

1. Showering without flip-flops on

Only two types of people clean off in a community shower without “shower shoes:” Idiots and people trying to catch gangrene.

You have no idea what the person before you did in that shower nor how often that shower has been cleaned. Why on Earth would you dare put your feet on that same spot?

This awesome tech lets US soldiers learn to fire a heavy machine gun before they ever set foot on a range
That and you don’t want to walk between the shower and your hut without them. (Photo by Sgt. Randall Clinton)

Do Not Sell My Personal Information