Roger Moore, famous for his roles on the small screen and his seven films over 12 years as James Bond, died at the age of 89 in Switzerland on May 23, 2017. His family said that he died “… after a short but brave battle with cancer.”
He had previously defeated prostate cancer.
But while Moore is most famous for his acting career, a lot of soldiers could relate with the man’s little-known military service. Moore was drafted from a blue collar family in England in 1946, married his first of four wives while he was in the military, and then returned home to so little available work that he had to move to America.
In 1946 at the age of 18, Moore was an up and coming young actor and child of a police officer when his career was interrupted by conscription. He answered the call and married his friend, Lucy Woodard, who performed as an actress and ice skater under the name Doorn Van Steyn.
Moore was deployed to West Germany under the service ID number 372394 and rose to the rank of captain. After a short period, he was able to transfer into the Combined Services Entertainment Unit, a morale-boosting initiative that allowed some Cold War-era servicemen to complete their service obligation entertaining the rest of the military.
According to a June 2015 question and answer session on his website, it was in the CSEU that he really enjoyed his national service.
When he left the military after about three years, Moore returned to England to pursue acting once again. Despite his training before the service as well as his experience in the British Army, jobs were few and he wasn’t able to make much headway.
In Los Angeles, he did some modeling and bit parts before MGM signed him and put him into a series of movies, none of which were hugely successful.
Moore transferred over to Warner Brothers where he saw more success and got a role on the TV show “The Saint,” a spy series that helped lead to his being cast as the lead in “Live and Let Die,” his first James bond role.
For the next twelve years, Moore would film another six Bond movies including The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy.
He continued acting after leaving the Bond role but also expanded his work in charitable causes. It was his extensive work as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF that led to his being knighted and becoming Sir Roger Moore.
Senior U.S. military officials said April 7 that they were looking into whether Russia aided Syrian forces in this week’s deadly chemical attack on civilians in Idlib province.
“We think we have a good picture of who supported them as well,” one senior military official told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the Pentagon was “carefully assessing any information that would implicate the Russians knew or assisted with this Syrian capability.”
The officials said that at a minimum, the Russians failed to rein in the Syrian regime activity that has killed innocent Syrian civilians. They said Russia also failed to fulfill its 2013 guarantee that Syria’s chemical weapons would be eliminated.
The U.S. military officials noted that they had not seen evidence of Russian involvement in the chemical attack. However, the officials said the Russians had an aviation unit based at the airfield where the attack originated and have “chemical expertise in country.”
U.S. military officials have shown reporters the Syrian aircraft flight path that was taken April 4 from al-Shayrat airfield to the town of Khan Sheikhoun, where more than 80 people were killed in the attack that local doctors said involved sarin nerve gas.
On April 7, U.S. military officials said that after the attack, they watched a small drone, also called a UAV, flying over the hospital in Khan Sheikoun where victims of the chemical attack were being treated.
“About five hours later, the UAV returned, and the hospital was struck by additional munitions,” one official said.
The senior military official said the U.S. did not know why the hospital was struck or who carried out the strike, but had determined that it was potentially done “to hide the evidence of a chemical attack.”
Meanwhile, senior military officials said the United States and Russia would maintain a line of communication aimed at preventing midair collisions of their warplanes in Syrian airspace. That contradicted Moscow’s earlier assertion that it had suspended those communications in protest against the Tomahawk cruise missile strike on al-Shayrat airfield.
The communication line is primarily used to ensure that Russian and U.S. planes conducting combat missions in Syria do not get into unintentional confrontations. The U.S. is using the airspace to conduct strikes against Islamic State terrorists.
The U.S. used the line to inform the Russians of the intent to strike in order to warn any Russians who were at the base, officials said.
The April 6 U.S. strike used 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit targets on the Syrian airfield, including about 20 aircraft, aircraft storage facilities, ammunition supply bunkers, and radars, officials said.
A U.S. military official told Voice of America there was an area on the airfield known to have been used as a chemical weapons depot. The source said that the U.S. military did not know whether chemical weapons were still in that area, but out of an abundance of caution to avoid potential casualties, the missiles did not strike that area.
Other U.S. military officials told Voice of America the strikes did not target the airfield runways so as to not threaten Russians, adding that the Tomahawk type used was for “precision strikes, not cratering.”
One military official deemed the strikes as “appropriate, proportionate, precise, and effective.”
The office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described the strikes in a statement on April 7 as “reckless” and “irresponsible.” The statement added that the attacks were “shortsighted” and a continuation of a U.S. policy of “subjugating people.”
Russia, which is providing troops and air support to the Assad government, condemned the U.S. military action, calling it “aggression against a sovereign state,” and said it was suspending a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. for flight safety over Syria.
The 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alfred M. Gray Jr., once stated, “Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.” The problem here is that being a skilled shooter doesn’t equate to knowing how to handle the job of an infantry rifleman.
To be fair, when the statement was issued, it was probably true. In a type of war where the battlefield is all around you and every soul out there is equally subject to the harvest of death, like the Vietnam War, grunts were taking many casualties on the front lines. The powers that be had to start pulling Marines from POG jobs to be riflemen to fill the ranks.
But, in the modern era, the more accurate statement is, “every Marine knows how to shoot a rifle,” because they’re taught to do so in boot camp. But being a Marine rifleman is so much more than just shooting a gun well.
Now, it’s important to note that there are plenty of POGs who can shoot better than grunts but, if all it takes to be a rifleman is accurately firing a weapon in a comfortable, rested, and stable position, then why have the Infantry Training Battalion?
Why spend so much time and money to teach a Marine to be a rifleman if they learn the skills they need in boot camp? It’s because the job of the rifleman is not so simple. What POGs need to understand is that when they don’t know the fundamentals well enough, they become a liability on patrol.
If you find a desk-bound POG who thinks they’re superior because of their shooting ability, ask them the preferred entry method of a two-story building. Ask them what the dimensions of a fighting hole are and why. Chances are, they’ll try to remember something they learned back in Marine Combat Training, but won’t be able to. This is where the divide is — this is why riflemen are so annoyed with this statement. We know our job is much more complicated.
General Alfred M. Gray Jr.’s iconic statement has become, frankly, kind of insulting to the job of the rifleman at this point. It’s really annoying, as a 21-year-old lance corporal walking around the base in a dress uniform with ribbons from deployment, to pass a 19-year-old POG sergeant with two ribbons that thinks, for some reason, that they’re better than you because of rank.
The rank deserves respect, absolutely, but when you sit there and think you rate because of rank, you’re an arrogant prick and no grunt is going to want to work with you.
The most annoying argument we hear is along the lines of, “I’m better than a grunt because I have to do their job and mine.” First off, it’s flat-out false. You don’t do our job; you do your job and the only time you get anywhere close to ours is the annual rifle range visit. And even then it’s immediately clear who the POGs are (hint: they’re the ones with the messed-up gear, usually no mount for night vision goggles, and rifles that look like they just came out of the box).
Second, if you were better than a grunt, you wouldn’t look so damn lost when you do patrols or any infantry-related tasks.
The statement, “every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman,” is an insult to the job of an infantry rifleman. The notion that POGs take away from this statement, that they’re equal just because they know how to shoot a rifle, is absolutely not true.
The new Battle Skills Test is a solid step in the right direction, but POGs need to realize that their job is not more or less important and stop trying to feel better about not being grunts. After all, we’re all on the same team.
There are so many dumb questions, but don’t worry, we’re here for you with the answers. We Are The Mighty regulars are joined by special guests U.S. Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke and Green Beret Terry Schappert in the third installment of this riveting series.
Do soldiers fall in love while in war zones? | Dumb Military Questions 103
“Have you ever seen someone cry at the U.S. Army basic training?”
The video opens strong with the cold human truth: oh yes — everyone cries at the U.S. Army basic training (phrasing kept intact here because it’s hilarious; can we make adding ‘the’ to basic training a universal thing?).
“Why are the U.S. Navy’s and the U.S. Army’s special forces considered elite even though their training period before joining is only a few months long compared to civilian skills like guitar that take years to learn?”
Schappert ain’t got time for that.
Dear twenty-something rich kid sitting in your mom’s basement playing ‘Wonderwall’ again on your six-string: we don’t know how to convey to you that pushing yourself beyond your physical limitations consistently for months on end while sleep deprived in order to learn tactics and skills that will keep you and your friends alive in the face of lethal force is harder than finally nailing your first F chord on the guitar. But please trust us: it is.
“Could a Green Beret break out of a supermax prison?”
Lucky for us, we had not one but two Green Berets on hand to answer this question.
“Why don’t we make our soldiers look scary or creepy? Wouldn’t that be good psychological warfare?”
Trust me. Our soldiers are creepy. Just look through the We Are The Mighty comments sometime.
Watch the video above to see the full line-up of questions and their answers!
Then make sure you check out more videos right here:
When you’ve got nothing but time on your hands, it’s hard not to get into a discussion with a fellow Marine. And, with all the possible topics, you’ll inevitably stumble across something you disagree on.
These are among the most popular debates you might find yourself embroiled in.
This one usually spawns after a higher up gives a lower enlisted an ass-chewing. If you’re stationed somewhere hot (say, Hawaii or Guam), the additional airflow from not wearing an undershirt can help make the day-to-day less miserable.
However, there are lower enlisted who believe in wearing an undershirt and they will debate you on this topic.
2. Rank versus billet
A billet in the Marine Corps is your specific position within your occupational specialty. According to doctrine, certain billets require certain rank, but since it might be more difficult for some to get the required rank, many will have the experience needed without having the position.
This becomes a debate when someone of higher rank with low experience (say, a Corporal fresh out of 8th and I) comes to the unit and they’re automatically thrown into a billet, like squad leader or team leader, when they know nothing about that position — since they just spent the last three years being set pieces at the White House.
3. Foliage on helmets
When you’re in a jungle, adding some of the local flora to your gear might complement your camouflage, but a problem invariable arises when a lance corporal takes a twig and sticks it in their helmet to be ridiculous. This, of course, ruins it for everyone else.
4. Favorite adult film star
Everyone’s got their preference and to each their own, but if you exclaim the name of a favorite, someone is bound to debate you on why their pick is better. They’ll go into insane detail, bringing up every film they’ve ever done and give you a complete breakdown of that star’s career as if they studied them in film school.
Some like brown glue that tastes like a childhood favorite while others will argue passionately about why they prefer the yellow dog poop with jalapeno flavor more. They’ll also be sure to tell you why you’re wrong for enjoying the other. Either way, they both come in MREs and should be avoided if at all possible.
The three-day Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and one that tipped the scales in favor of the Union, started 155 years ago.
The Union fielded 90,000 troops in the battle, and the Confederacy 75,000, according to historian James McPherson. Eleven thousand died, 29,000 more were wounded, and 10,000 were missing or captured.
The hallowed grounds of Gettysburg, as McPherson described them, witnessed nearly 10 times as many casualties as the D-Day invasion in World War II.
There were many engagements over three days of combat — such as Devil’s Den, the Slaughter Pen, and the Valley of Death — but some were more consequential to the battle, and therefore the war itself, than others.
Here’s how the battle unfolded.
Here is a shot of Gettysburg from Cemetery Hill, which was taken in July 1863. The battle started, some historians say, because both armies were looking for shoes in the town. McPherson says this story cannot be proved or disproved, but whatever the case, it was a “meeting engagement” or “encounter engagement.”
(Library of Congress)
The first day of the Battle of Gettysburg was a skirmish compared with the last two days, as troops from both sides were still filing into the area. Still, as night fell, “three thousand dead and dying soldiers and the moans of many of the additional seven or eight thousand wounded” could be seen and heard on the field, McPherson said. Below is a photo of dead Union soldiers after the first day’s fighting.
(Library of Congress)
Though the Confederates had not captured the Cemetery and Culp’s hills by the end of the day, the prospect of the battle still appeared promising for Robert E. Lee and the Rebel army.
John L. Burns, who is pictured below, is one of the more colorful people to take part in the battle. On the first day of the battle, the 69-year-old Gettysburg resident grabbed his musket and joined the Union ranks, much to the confusion of the Northern officers, when he saw the battle materializing.
(Library of Congress)
He was deployed to the woods and picked off numerous Confederate troops before getting shot in an arm and a leg. When the Confederates found him wounded and wearing civilian clothes, after the Union soldiers had retreated from the area, he told them he was just a lost old man who had gotten caught in the cross fire. This picture, by famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, was taken shortly after the battle.
On the second day of the battle, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee sought to capture the two hills known as Little and Big Round Top. The Confederate troops advanced uphill numerous times, but the Union lines held. Below is a shot of dead Southern troops at the foot of Little Round Top, known as the Slaughter Pen.
(Library of Congress)
One of the heroes of Little Round Top was Col. Joshua Chamberlain. He had been ordered to hold the extreme left of the hill with his 20th Maine Regiment and stop the flanking Rebels. His 360 men were outnumbered and low on ammunition when he decided on a daring, yet successful, bayonet charge. In the end, his regiment took 400 prisoners, and the line held.
(Library of Congress)
Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his exploits on Little Round Top. An ardent abolitionist and scholar who could read seven languages, Chamberlain was elected governor of Maine in 1866.
The third day of battle, which culminated with Pickett’s Charge, proved disastrous for the Confederacy. After an insane barrage of Rebel cannon fire to soften the strongly fortified Union positions, Robert E. Lee sent three divisions, about 13,000 men, across a mile-long open field between the Cemetery and Seminary ridges.
(Library of Congress)
When the Rebels were exposed, the Union artillery atop Little Round Top and Cemetery Ridge opened fire. “We could not help hitting them with every shot,” one Union officer said.
The Northern troops, as they were slaughtering the Confederate troops, chanted “Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg,” a crushing earlier defeat for the Yankees. Only a few Confederate soldiers reached the Union lines. In less than an hour, 7,000 Rebel soldiers were dead or wounded.
One of the unsung heroes for the North, a man who graduated last in his class at West Point and would later become famous at the Battle of Little Big Horn, was Gen. George Custer. Before Pickett’s Charge and during the North and South’s dueling artillery barrages, there were numerous cavalry engagements in the field. Custer led several Union regiments, at one point getting his horse shot out from underneath him before jumping onto an empty steed and continuing in the fight.
The commander of the Northern Army of Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and perhaps the best general of the Civil War, made a costly error with Pickett’s Charge. Brimming with confidence after Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, he believed himself and his men invincible.
(Library of Congress)
After the three Rebel divisions had retreated from the field, Lee asked General George Pickett to rally his division for a counterattack. Pickett replied, “General Lee, I have no more division now.” Lee eventually withdrew his remaining army from Gettysburg, and the Union did not give chase, much to the anger of President Abraham Lincoln.
About 11,000 men were killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest of the Civil War. Company F of the 6th North Carolina regiment lost every soldier. One Minnesota regiment lost 82% of its men in five minutes.
“Wounded men were brought into our houses and laid side by side in our halls and first-story rooms,” one Gettysburg resident said. “Carpets were so saturated with blood as to be unfit for further use. Walls were bloodstained as well as books that were used for pillows.”
Pictured here are three Confederate soldiers taken prisoner after the battle. It is one of the most famous pictures of the Civil War, which was taken by Mathew Brady. “You see exactly how the Confederate soldier was dressed,” Southern historian Shelby Foote once said. “You see something in his attitude toward the camera which is revealing of his nature.”
(Library of Congress)
President Abraham Lincoln visited the battlefield on November 19, 1863, to dedicate the Gettysburg cemetery. It was here that he would deliver one of the best-known speeches ever given, the 269-word Gettysburg Address. Lincoln is seen in the middle of the photo in the midst of sitting down. The speech was so short that the photographer did not have time to capture him delivering it.
(Library of Congress)
Lincoln’s full Gettysburg Address:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The Pentagon’s new report on China’s developing military capabilities exposes the fighting force on the front-line of China’s quest to control the seas.
The Chinese Maritime Militia, a paramilitary force masquerading as a civilian fishing fleet, is a weapon for gray zone aggression that has operated in the shadow of plausible deniability for years. Supported by the People’s Liberation Army Navy “grey hulls” and Chinese Coast Guard “white hulls,” the CMM “blue hulls” constitute China’s third sea force.
“China has used coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict,” the report explains. For instance, after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague discredited China’s claims to the South China Sea last July, Beijing dispatched the CMM to the territories China aims to control.
“China is building a state-owned fishing fleet for its maritime militia force in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon report introduced.
China presents the CMM as a civilian fishing fleet. “Make no mistake, these are state-organized, -developed, and -controlled forces operating under a direct military chain of command,” Dr. Andrew Erickson, a leading expert on Chinese naval affairs, explained during a House Committee on Armed Services hearing in September.
The maritime militia, according to the Pentagon, is a “subset of China’s national militia, an armed reserve force of civilians available for mobilization to perform basic support duties.” In the disputed South China Sea, “the CMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting, part of broader [People’s Republic of China] military doctrine that states that confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives.”
The Department of Defense recognizes that the CMM trains alongside the military and the coast guard. A 2016 China Daily article reveals that the maritime militia, a “less-noticed force,” is largely “made up of local fishermen.” The article shows the militia training in military garb and practicing with rifles and bayonets.
“The maritime militia is … a component of China’s ocean defense armed forces [that enjoys] low sensitivity and great leeway in maritime rights protection actions,” explained a Chinese garrison commander.
The CMM is not really a “secret” weapon, as it has made its presence known, yet throughout the Obama administration, government publications failed to acknowledge the existence of the maritime militia. “We have to make it clear that we are wise to Beijing’s game,” Erickson said in his congressional testimony.
The CMM harassed the USNS Impeccable in 2009, engaging in unsafe maneuvers and forcing the U.S. ship to take emergency action to avoid a collision. The maritime militia was also involved in the 2011 sabotage of two Vietnamese hydrographic vessels, 2012 seizure of Scarborough Shoal, 2014 repulsion of Vietnamese vessels near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters, and 2015 shadowing of the USS Lassen during a freedom-of-navigation operation. China sent 230 fishing vessels, accompanied by several CCG vessels, into disputed waters in the East China Sea last year to advance China’s claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands administered by Japan.
Commissar of the Hainan Armed Forces Department Xing Jincheng said in January that the members of the Maritime Militia should serve as “mobile sovereignty markers.” He stated that this force is responsible for conducting “militia sovereignty operations” and defending China’s “ancestral seas,” territorial waters “belonging to China since ancient times.”
“I feel that the calm seas are not peaceful for us,” he said. “We have to strengthen our combat readiness.”
While the maritime militia has been mentioned by Navy officials, as well as congressional research and commission reports, the new Department of Defense report is the first high-level government publication to address the third sea force. “The fact is that it is there,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said in November, “Let’s acknowledge that it is there. Let’s acknowledge how it’s being command-and-controlled.”
Dragging the maritime militia into the light significantly limits its ability operate. “It is strongest—and most effective—when it can lurk in the shadows,” Erickson wrote in the National Interest.
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Writers Gil Kenan and Jason Reitman have made a very, very smart decision.
By the looks of things, they’re giving the belovéd Ghostbusters universe a complete makeover by honing in on supernatural mystery while still maintaining the comedic levity of the original film. After the underwhelming 2016 reboot (ahhhh there was so much potential there and yet…so much disappointment), it looks like Juno’s Reitman (who will also direct) just might strike the perfect chord for this franchise.
Hop in your Ectomobile (because the kids in this film sure do) and let’s go for a ride:
Opening on a sleepy rural town plagued by unexplainable earthquakes, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a true sequel to the original films, including references to the supernatural activity of the 80s.
Single mother Carrie Coon (who is fantastic in everything she does — did you see Gone Girl? Why isn’t everyone talking about her at every moment?) and her kids (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard and The Haunting of Hill House’s Mckenna Grace, who is also a killer talent) inherit a family farmhouse that’s definitely definitely haunted.
With the help of Paul Rudd, they learn that they are descended from an OG Ghostbuster, which explains the ghost traps and Ectomobile on the property.
I’d watch him do anything. Honestly, anything. He’s perfect.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Sony Pictures
The trailer hints at a great Stranger Things-like vibe, which is very sexy right now, mixed with just the right amount of nostalgia and humor. And if that’s not enough to tingle your Twinkie then I’ll remind you that the film is rumored to include cameos from Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife will open in theaters July 2020.
Troops always like feeling appreciated. A simple “good job” at the right time can go a long way in improving the morale of a unit. You can even take it a step further by expressing your gratitude to troops in many different ways: by releasing them early, taking them out for chow, going a little easier on them throughout the work week — you name it.
Then, there’s the Certificate of Appreciation. Given its name, it may seem like a good thing, but if you’re the type of leader that puts a troop in for one of these after they’ve worked their ass off for an extended period of time, well, you might as well just tell them they’re garbage.
Keep in mind, the Certificate of Appreciation is different from a Certificate of Achievement. They look exactly alike, have the same acronym, and they’re often treated the same way at ceremonies — but the one for achievement is actually worth something: Five promotion points each, to be exact, for a maximum of 20 points. It’s not huge, but it’s something.
2nd Lts. handing them out is fine, because it’s the best they can do and they’re at least trying to do something nice. Company commanders and above who can argue for higher have no excuse.
The other key difference between these two certificates is the approving authority involved. A Certificate of Achievement has to go through the battalion commander for approval. The Certificate of Appreciation, on the other hand, can be signed by literally anyone in the unit because all it tells a troop is that someone appreciates them. Despite that, if you look at who most often hands them out, it’s Lieutenant Colonels in battalion commander positions.
If that troop royally f*cked up, fine. But there’s nothing more discouraging than seeing everyone else get something better while you’re stuck with a CoA.
Don’t get this twisted — not every action warrants official recognition. If a troop did something great or put forth a little extra effort, but it’s still well within the scope of their normal duties — like if a commo soldier brought the NIPR net back up at a critical moment — then it’s the right amount of reward. You can even make it a huge thing and officially let the unit know that you appreciate the hard work that a certain soldier put forth at the right moment.
This becomes a problem when the act was actually deserving of an award — like what happens to the many troops who “earn” one as an end-of-tour award. Troops who put heart into what they do get burnt out because they’ve earned far better than what they’re being given. Certificates of Appreciations like that are what sour it for the entire military. If you’re going to go through that extra effort to congratulate them, then make it actually matter.
It’s also costs the same amount of money on behalf of the unit, since the troops have to go out and buy the damn medal themselves after the ceremony.
If you actually want to show a troop they’re appreciated, let them know. Hell, you can even keep the exact same format— bring the troop in front of the formation and personally thank them for what they did. Just replace the “military’s version of a high five” with an actual high five.
But when that exact same level of effort on the leadership’s part that could be put toward something that actually matters? Please don’t insult your troops like that. Hell, an Army Achievement Medal is also approved at a battalion commander-level and that could actually make a difference on a troop’s morale by appearing on their uniform — if they’ve done something worthy of it.
Divers from U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) Two, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) One, and the U.S. Coast Guard braved harsh Arctic waters to play a critical role during a torpedo exercise as part of Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018.
ICEX 2018 is a five-week biennial exercise that allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies, and partner organizations.
During the exercise, the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) each fired several training torpedos under the ice. Training torpedoes have no warheads and carry minimal fuel.
“The primary objective of this year’s ICEX is to test new under-ice weapons systems and validate tactics for weapon employment,” said Ryan Dropek, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, Rhode Island Weapons Test Director. “Once the divers recover these torpedoes, we can extract important data about how they perform and react in these conditions.”
After the submarines fire the torpedoes, helicopters transport gear and personnel to the location where the positively-buoyant torpedo is expected to run out of fuel. Each torpedo has a location device in order to assist in the search. Once found, a 3-4 person team will then drill a series of holes for the divers to enter and exit, as well as one hole for the torpedo to be lifted by helicopter.
“Once we know the location of the torpedo and drill holes, our divers slip into the water to begin placing weights on a line attached to the tail end of the torpedo,” Chief Warrant Officer Michael Johnson, officer-in-charge of MDSU-2 divers, explained. “The weights help shift the torpedo from a state of positive buoyancy to neutral buoyancy under the ice.”
Once the torpedo is neutral, the divers place brackets with cables to the top and bottom of the body of the torpedo. A helicopter then connects to the torpedo before lifting it vertically out of the hole.
The three dive teams completed additional training in preparation for diving in the unique environment of the Arctic Ocean.
“To prepare for ICEX, we completed training at the Coast Guard’s Cold Water Ice Diving (CWID) course and earned our ordnance handling certification from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center,” said Johnson. “Additionally, each unit completed MK48 Torpedo recovery training and Unit Level Training (ULT) classroom training on hypothermia, frostbite, ice camp operations, dry-suit, and cold-water ice diving.”
The USCG CWID course is a two-week course in Seattle, Washington hosted by the USCG instructors at Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) which focuses on the use of equipment and diving operations in harsh Arctic waters. During the course, divers complete a diving practical in Loc de Roc, British Columbia at 5,000 ft. elevation to put environmental stresses on the divers and equipment to acclimate to the cold and altitude.
“Our underwater construction teams have always had the ice-diving capabilities, so it was awesome to be invited out to this exercise to make sure we’re keeping up with something that we say we can do,” said Builder 1st Class Khiaro Promise, assigned to Construction Dive Detachment Alfa.
During ICEX, the divers conducted dives using two different types of diving methods. UCT-1 and the USCG dove with SCUBA equipment, which provides divers with an air supply contained in tanks strapped to the backs of the divers. The divers equip themselves with a communication “smart rope” which is a protected communication cable to the surface that acts as a tending line so support personnel on the surface has positive control of the divers and so they can quickly return to the dive hole.
MDSU-2 divers used the diving system DP2 with configuration one, which provides voice communications and an air supply provided by the surface. This configuration allows the divers to swap the composite air bottles without the diver resurfacing and without interrupting their air supply.
“We decided to use the DP2 system because it performs in arctic conditions very well,” said Navy Diver 1st Class Davin Jameson, lead diving supervisor for MDSU-2. “The ability to change our air supply during the dive is critical and allows us to stay under the water a lot longer.”
Not only did the divers have an essential role in torpedo recovery, they were also essential to camp operations. “Prior to torpedo retrieval dives, all the divers on ice helped set up the camp and in the building of two runways (one 1,300 and one 2,500-ft),” Senior Chief Navy Diver Michael McInroy, master diver for MDSU-2. “In the camp, everyone has responsibilities to keep operations on track. The divers worked hard to do their part in and out of the water.”
MDSU-2 is an expeditionary mobile unit homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story (JEBLCFS) in Norfolk, Virginia. The unit deploys in support of diving and salvage operations and fleet exercises around the world. The primary mission is to direct highly-mobile, fully-trained and equipped mobile diving and salvage companies to perform combat harbor clearance, search and expeditionary salvage operations including diving, salvage, repair, assistance, and demolition in ports or harbors and at sea aboard Navy, Military Sealift Command, or commercial vessels of opportunity in wartime or peacetime.
UCT-1 is also homeported at JEBLCFS and is worldwide deployable to conduct underwater construction, inspection, repair, and demolition operations. Seabees operated off the coast of Alaska for the first time in 1942 when they began building advanced bases on Adak, Amchitka and other principal islands in the Aleutian chain.
ICEX divers and their support elements are a proven and vital component to the success of this five-week exercise. The partnership between the Navy and Coast Guard builds on the foundation of increasing experience and operational readiness even in the one of the harshest regions of the world.
“The brotherhood in diving means we have a lot of trust in that other person when you go underwater, and you get close to your coworkers, it’s more of a family,” Promise said.
Medical cannabis might not be legal in all 50 states yet, but mark my words: it is the future.
It’s less addictive and destructive than prescription meds, alcohol, or hard drugs. Meanwhile, more and more scientists and doctors are discovering and acknowledging its medicinal benefits.
Still, there’s a stigma around that delicate little flower. So, let’s talk about it, shall we?
1. Federal laws still limit legal use of marijuana
Though several states have approved the use of marijuana for medical and/or recreation use, veterans should know that federal law classifies marijuana — including all derivative products — as a Schedule One controlled substance. This makes it illegal in the eyes of the federal government.
That being said, the VA is actually more progressive here than one might have expected. According to their website, veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use and they are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.
Maybe there’s hope in this cruel world…
2. Medical cannabis can help treat PTSD, anxiety, and pain
And there are clinical studies in the works to prove it, specifically in the case of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — but because cannabis remains a federally controlled substance, widely recognized research is hard to come by.
Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence explored the use of marijuana to relieve anxiety, and found that a low dose of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a main active ingredient of cannabis) produces subjective stress-relieving effects, but that higher doses could actually increase negative mood. This means the user needs to find the right dose.
Security cam footage of me in a dispensary.
3. There are more ways to imbibe than just smoking
You’ve heard of edibles (magic brownies… mmmm), but there are so many sophisticated ways to enjoy marijuana without smoking it. Infused food and beverages are just one way (one easy and delicious — but super potent way. Again, educate yourself about doses — more on that later).
I personally still categorize vape pens and vaporizers in the “smoking” category but, technically, they do not involve smoke inhalation. Vaporization methods raise the temperature of the product just enough to create a light vapor.
Topicals are some of my favorites for pain relief. Oils, lotions, or balms infused with cannabis (and quite often essential oils like lavender, mint, or citrus — they don’t teach you about these things in boot camp, but dammit, they should) to soothe aches in the body.
4.20 There are potential side effects — so use with caution
Look, marijuana contains chemicals called cannabinoids that affect the central nervous system. Scientists are still exploring its impact over short- and long-term use. Tread lightly.
WebMD lists some of the possible side effects (as well as a more comprehensive list of “other marijuana names” than I would have expected, which I found very amusing: Anashca, Banji, Bhang, Blunt, Bud, Cannabis, Cannabis sativa, Charas, Dope, Esrar, Gaga, Ganga, Grass, Haschisch, Hash, Hashish, Herbe, Huo Ma Ren, Joint, Kif, Mariguana, Marihuana, Mary Jane, Pot, Sawi, Sinsemilla, Weed).
As with any substance, marijuana should be explored carefully and with proper research. There are so many strains and so many ways to imbibe and so many ways for the body to absorb the chemicals, which is why it’s recommended that you start slowly and consult your physician.
The first time I tried an edible, I thought I was supposed to eat the whole thing. Next thing I knew, I was time traveling and I was convinced there was a rabbit in the closet that wanted to bite my ankle. I spent the night perched on my dresser like a cartoon character that just saw a mouse. My mom thought it was hilarious, but I wasn’t thrilled about the experience.
I now know that the edible I ate contained 100mg of THC — today, I take about 2mg at a time to treat anxiety. So, yeah, you could say I had too much.
The bottom line is to educate yourself and enjoy safely.
As the shadow operators of the Cold War reveal more and more about their formerly classified service, they’ve highlighted the wide set of soft skills necessary for finding success as they stared into the eyes of one of the greatest adversaries the U.S. ever faced — and they’re worried that today’s military might not have the same, broad toolkit.
For former Special Forces soldiers Master Sgt. Robert Charest and Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Stejskal, those skills were needed while they were assigned to West Berlin during the Cold War as part of a top-secret Army unit known as Detachment-A.
“We did everything,” Charest told WATM in an interview, “direct action, guerrilla warfare, unconventional warfare, stay behind, anti-terrorist. These all changed with the situation, year by year, as it happened in Europe.”
The members of Detachment-A, which Stejskal said included roughly 800 people over its 34-year lifespan, from 1956 to 1990, were tasked with monitoring Soviet activities in the city and surrounding areas and slowing or halting a Soviet invasion of the rest of Europe for as long as possible in the case of war.
To do this, the men tailed Soviet operatives; practiced crossing the city in secret, even after the Berlin Wall went up; and practiced digging up caches of secret radio equipment, weapons, and medical supplies that were placed there by the CIA in case war broke out.
While preparing for these missions required a lot of cool-guy, “hard skills,” like SCUBA diving through Soviet canals and shooting enemy role-players in the face and chest, they also required that the men develop “soft skills,” like diplomacy and psychological operations.
A lot of their skills, from using knives and forks the German way and speaking like a Berliner, were learned from Germans and other Europeans recruited into the military under the Lodge Act.
“One of my favorite quotes,” Stejskal told WATM, “is, the guy talking to the [Commanding Officer] and the guy, he’s a reporter, and he asks the CO what languages he speaks and the CO comes back, ‘Why would I want to learn a foreign language? I’m just going to kill the guy.’ It, kind of, sums up how I feel about the hard-skill people these days.”
“You can only kick doors for so long before you realize that it’s not going to solve the issue,” Stejskal said. “There’s always going to be a door to kick down. So, I think, things like psychological operations are good. Emphasis on intelligence collection, finding out what the problems are, and figuring out how to solve them.”
The intelligence-gathering issue is one that Robert Baer, a former top-CIA case officer in the Middle East, has addressed in his non-fiction books and writings.
Baer talked about the run-up to the September 11th attacks in his book, See No Evil, in 2002 and said:
“As for Islamic fundamentalists in particular, the official view had become that our allies in Europe and the Middle East could fill in the missing pieces. Running our own agents — our own foreign human sources — had become too messy. Agents sometimes misbehaved; they caused ugly diplomatic incidents. Worse, they didn’t fit America’s moral view of the way the world should run.”
In the next paragraph, Baer writes:
In practical terms, the CIA had taken itself out of the business of spying. No wonder we didn’t have a secure source in Hamburg’s mosques to tell us Muhammad Atta, the presumed leader of the hijacking teams on September 11, was recruiting suicide bombers for the biggest attack ever on American soil.
This isn’t meant to say that the military or the CIA has completely abandoned soft skills or that soft skills could’ve necessarily prevented the 9/11 attacks, but it is to say that men and women who carried the mantle against the Soviets in the Cold War and against Islamic extremists in the 80s and 90s have seen a lapse in the kind of skills they once used to assure victory.
Stejskal specifically mentioned future conflicts while lamenting the loss of soft skills, and he mentioned a new domain where we need experts besides the trigger pullers.
“I think that the next wars are going to be fought as a complete combination of military, civil, and in the cyber arena. I think those are areas that we need to look at.”
So, what would an increase in soft skills look like? More language experts, like those in Special Forces and psyops units but spread further through the force. It would include, like Stejskal mentioned, additional cyber and civil assets. We need to be ready to defend our networks and to rebuild cities after we take them, hopefully addressing the concerns of scared citizens before they grow into an insurgency. But, certainly addressing the issues if an insurgency is already in place.
“If you go to the insurgency in the El Salvador in the 1980s, 1990s, you can see a good resolution for a problem and it wasn’t just military,” he said. “It was us working with the local government, with people and, eventually, with the insurgents to determine what the problems were and find a solution for them. Killing people is not going to solve the problem of why they’re out there in the first place.”