8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

In company footprints all over the world, America’s finest are about to endure the Valentine’s Day safety brief—COVID-19 edition. We can only imagine what potential threats are being discussed at Battalion and what the subsequential government issued safety standards will be. Here to give you a rise (wink) is our projected list of what to expect.   

  1. No, your go-to dancer does not count as “shelter in place” partners. 
    It has come to our attention that many of you have taken up the recommendation of the Dutch and found a COVID “partner” for sexual activity. Despite your belief of being her “only one” we have intel that suggests otherwise.  
  1. No, we will not tell your wife you are in “special quarantine” this weekend.
    Despite your best efforts, we will not cover for any of you claiming quarantine this weekend as a “hall pass.” To the three of you who already tried, please see medical for a rapid COVID test, results of which will be mailed directly to your spouses. Happy Valentine’s Day.
  2. No, we will not clarify what does/does not count as a mask or “face covering” this weekend. 
    For the love of God, please quit sending reference pictures asking if “this” counts. We do not want to know. 
  1. Previous contact tracing has led us to temporarily blacklist a local dancer by the name of (bleep). 
    Sergeants Davis, Fong and Private Richard please report to medical following this briefing for a “completely unrelated” and “routine “medical test. 
  1. Yes, group gatherings are still against regulations this weekend. 
    Again, we will not clarify the meaning of this. 
  1. Your chem gear is to be used for military-related chem incidents…only. 
    We do not want to know why several of you have made loss claims lately. 
  1. The Commander’s earlier email about remaining six feet apart was not to be interpreted as a challenge. 
    The proximity suggested in today’s email was in no way a reference or challenge for intimate affairs, please do not reference the email in relation to your chosen activity’s proximity. 
  1. Claiming you didn’t know it was him/her because of masks will still be considered fraternization.
    We’re looking at you Drill Sergeants!
military couple on valentine's day
Stay safe, kids.

After reading the Valentine’s Day safety briefs that most people will ignore, make another good choice and shop for Valentine’s day gifts created by veteran entrepreneurs.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Japan is bothered by the Korean Unification Flag

Ahead of the historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea on April 27, 2018, political emblems depicting unity have been rolled out across South Korea.

One of these is an outline of the full Korean Peninsula, like on the Korean unification flag seen prominently at the Olympics. Inside Peace House, where Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In will meet, chairs have been engraved with the same outline and a miniature version of the flag will be placed on a dessert later in the day.

But not everyone views the symbols favorably.


The Korean unification flag features a set of disputed islands between Japan and South Korea that have been a source of tension for over a millennia.

Both South Korea and Japan claim the pair of nearly uninhabitable islets located in the Sea of Japan, which are controlled by South Korea. South Korea refers to the islands as Dokdo, while the Japanese refer to them as Takeshima.

Internationally, they have been given the name of Liancourt Rocks to avoid dispute.

Japan claims it acquired the islands in 1905 as terra nullius during its occupation of Korea, while Korea maintains it was illegally occupied and that Japan’s claims to the islands amount to continued imperialism.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The Liancourt Rocks.u00a0South Korea refers to the islands as Dokdo, while the Japanese refer to them as Takeshima.

The islands holds significant symbolic importance to South Korea but Japan has protested the use of the islands in the Korean unification flag.

On April 25, 2018, Japan’s foreign ministry lodged a formal complaint about the use of the flag, which is set to be featured on top of a mango mousse served during the inter-Korean summit on April 27, 2018.

A Japanese official met with the South Korean embassy in Tokyo, telling them the use of the flag is “deeply regrettable and unacceptable for Japan,” according to NHK News.

The Japanese Embassy in Seoul has also lodged a complaint with South Korea’s foreign ministry.

This is not the first time the symbol has angered Japan.

In February 2018, Japan lodged a protest against the unification flag which was on display during a women’s ice hockey match between the joint North-South Korean team and Sweden.

South Korea later said it would not depict the islands on the flag it intended to use during the Olympics. But pictures of North Korea’s cheerleaders at the games show they appear to have used the controversial flag anyway.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia and the US now plan to build a moon colony together

The U.S. and Russian space agencies have announced a new collaboration to build a space station orbiting the moon, a rare glimpse of bilateral cooperation amid bitter tension between Washington and Moscow.


NASA and Roscosmos said in statements released on September 27 that the two entities had signed an agreement to work together on a project that will eventually serve as a “gateway to deep space and the lunar surface.”

NASA has dubbed the long-term project the Deep Space Gateway, a multistage effort to explore, and eventually send humans, farther into the solar system.

The two countries’ space agencies will cooperate to build the systems needed for both the lunar-orbiting station and a base on the moon’s surface, Roscosmos said.

With tension at levels not seen since the Cold War, space exploration is one of the only areas in which the United States and Russia continue to cooperate.

Russia rockets and capsules bring astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, and Russian cosmonauts and U.S. astronauts work alongside one another on the orbiting station.

Featured

This Memorial Day, honor through action. Here’s how.

There’s a reverence that surrounds Memorial Day in the military community. A day that’s typically associated with summer barbecues and mattress sales has a very different meaning to those of us who understand that “the fallen” we’re all asked to honor are our brothers and sisters in arms, husbands, wives, mommies, daddies, friends.

It’s a day that feels heavy, weighted with nostalgia and fraught, wanting to honor their sacrifice by living, but wanting the rest of the world to pause alongside us, to bear some of the burden of the grief and to mourn our collective, irreplaceable loss.

This year, we’re asking you not just to pause, but to act.


In 2018, USAA, in partnership with The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, created the USAA Poppy Wall of Honor to ensure the sacrifice of our military men and women is always remembered, never forgotten. The wall contains more than 645,000 artificial poppies – one for each life lost in the line of duty since World War I. Red flowers fill one side while historic facts about U.S. conflicts cover the opposite.

The exhibit was installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the Memorial Day weekend in 2018 and again in 2019. This year, USAA is making it available to more people by presenting the educational panels of the wall digitally. We encourage you to take the time to look at the wall, to teach your children and grandchildren about service and sacrifice. But more than that, we’re asking you to dedicate a poppy.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

WATM had the opportunity to sit down with Wes Laird, Chief Marketing Officer at USAA, to talk about why this event matters, not just to the company, but to him.

“I tell people I grew up in a Ranger Battalion,” Laird said. “A long, long time ago in a land far, far away. Just eight and a half months after I enlisted, I was in combat on a tiny island called Grenada. I lost five people from my company, including a young man named Marlin Maynard, who was a PFC. When I got back, I was asked to eulogize PFC Maynard. I just turned 19 and I had to talk about the sacrifice he’d given. It was a very formative, impactful moment in my life.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Wes Laird in his Army days. Photo courtesy of Wes Laird.

“Every Memorial Day since, every 4th of July, every time I hear the National Anthem, I think about PFC Marlin Maynard. I think about how I went to college with my veteran benefits. I think about how I went on to have a family, to raise two boys — one who is in the Air Force — how I had a career and a whole life, and how he, and 645,000 other soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Coast Guardsman, how they didn’t. But that’s why this – why Memorial Day, and what we’re doing at USAA – is so important. I want Marlin’s family to know that he is remembered and honored. That his sacrifice, all these years later, has never been forgotten.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

PFC Marlin Maynard, Grenada Company A, 1st Battalion (Ranger)

75th Infantry, kia October 25, 1983. Photo via Sua Sponte Foundation.

“This Memorial Day and every Memorial Day, I dedicate a poppy to him and the four others we lost in Grenada that day. What we’re doing at USAA with the USAA Poppy Wall is giving others an opportunity not just to honor, but to act. This year especially, with the COVID crisis, we are providing people the ability to come together, to unify around something we can all agree on — the importance of remembering the ultimate sacrifices of so many men and women.

“We are proud to partner with the incredible team at the Tragedy Assistance Survivors Program (TAPS) to provide meaningful opportunities for Gold Star families. You see these kids come in who have lost a parent, and the fact that we’re able to assist in their journey is so humbling. These kids need to know that their moms and dads are remembered and honored by all of us. Yes, it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also part of our DNA. We were formed by the military for the military. We say we know what it means to serve and we do know what it means to serve. It’s part of who we are, why we exist — to honor the great sacrifices of so many thousands of men and women who have served before us, alongside us and will continue to serve after us. Memorial Day is the most important day of the year for us. We hope you’ll join us this year by honoring through action.”

For more information about the USAA Poppy Wall, click here.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Purple Heart recipient gets ‘back into the fight’ with adaptive sports

“Back in the days when I got injured while serving overseas, the program to recover wasn’t like the WTB (Warrior Transition Battalion) is now,” explained Capt. David Espinoza, a wounded warrior athlete who is competing at the 2019 Army Trials, March 5-16, 2019.

Espinoza is a light-hearted, Florida-native, and also a Purple Heart recipient who has spent over a decade serving his country. Currently assigned to WTB-Hawaii, he is recovering from a motorcycle accident and receiving care at Tripler Army Medical Center. There he completed seven surgeries and received 26 pins in his left hand.


“The WTB is a great program because the unit has given me time to recover and get ‘back into the fight,'” he said. “And being a part of the WTB has also helped me to recover from my previous deployments.”

Espinoza was first led down the road to recovery in 2007 when the signal officer, a sergeant at the time, was deployed to Iraq. During a night convoy mission, Espinoza’s squad was ambushed by insurgents when his Humvee got hit by an IED and he fractured his left arm and femur.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Staff Sgt. Kohl McLeod, a wounded warrior athlete from Fort Benning gets ready to shoot a bow at archery practice during the 2019 Army Trials.

(Photo by Leanne Thomas)

“I saw a bright light and my life flashed right before me … it was like shuffling a deck of cards,” he said. “The first card was me as a kid … then I recalled my entire life, all the way to current time.”

That experience, he explained, “Was an eye-opener, and it makes me feel grateful for what I have now.”

While recovering from injuries sustained during combat, Espinoza entered the U.S. Army Reserves and said he made a full recovery but went through the experience alone. Now assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit and competing in adaptive sports, Espinoza has the opportunity to heal alongside soldiers who have faced or are going through similar situations.

“It’s an honor to experience this event with other fellow warriors,” Espinoza explained.

The 2018 Pacific Regional Trials was Espinoza’s first adaptive sports competition. There he established a baseline to see where he stands as a competitor.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement … mind, body, and soul,” he said. “This experience has made a big impact on me, and also for my family.”

Now a rookie athlete at the 2019 Army Trials, Espinoza is competing in seven of the 14 sports offered: cycling, powerlifting, archery, shooting, wheelchair basketball, rugby, and swimming.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in wheelchair basketball, but one thing I didn’t know is that I’m actually good at cycling,” the athlete explained. “It’s like a mind game and you’ve got to tell yourself ‘I’ve got this,’ because it’s seven laps, and those seven laps take a long time to finish.”

During the Trials, Espinoza, along with nearly 100 other wounded, ill, or injured soldiers and veterans are competing for the opportunity to represent Team Army at the Department of Defense Warrior Games, coming June 2019 to Tampa, Florida.

“Hopefully this experience keeps going so I can continue to learn and grow as I take this journey to the next level,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mattis just made a surprise visit to Kabul

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is in Afghanistan on an unannounced visit to take stock of the war and the prospects of drawing some elements of the Taliban into peace talks with the Afghan government.


The March 13, 2018, visit, which was not announced in advance due to security concerns, comes as the United States is putting new resources into the more than 16-year-old war.

Before landing in the Afghan capital, Mattis told reporters that the United States was picking up signs of interest from groups of Taliban fighters in exploring the possibility of talks to end the violence, adding that the signs date back several months.

“There is interest that we’ve picked up from the Taliban side,” Mattis said. “We’ve had some groups of Taliban — small groups — who have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking.”

As part of its new regional strategy announced in August 2017, Washington has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military in a bid to break the stalemate and force the militants to the negotiating table.

Also read: The Taliban just fired missiles at Mattis

During a meeting with Mattis, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the new strategy allowed Kabul to extend its peace offer to the Taliban without doing so from a position of weakness.

“It has been a game changer because it has forced every actor to re-examine their assumptions,” Ghani said.

Ghani offers incentives

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

On Feb. 28, 2018, Ghani offered to allow the Taliban to establish itself as a political party and said he would work to remove sanctions on the militant group, among other incentives, if it joined the government in peace negotiations.

In return, the militants would have to recognize the Kabul government and respect the rule of law.

But the Taliban has so far ruled out direct talks with the Western-backed government, which they say is illegitimate.

Related: How Mattis is the stabilizing force of the Trump White House

The group has insisted it would only negotiate with the United States, which it calls a “foreign occupying force.” The Taliban also says that NATO forces must withdraw before negotiations can begin.

Asked whether the United States would be willing to directly talk with the Taliban, Mattis reiterated the U.S. position that the talks should be led by Kabul.

“We want the Afghans to lead and provide the substance to the reconciliation effort,” he said.

The Afghan government and the Taliban held peace talks in 2015, but they broke down almost immediately.

‘Political reconciliation’

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

As part of its new strategy for Afghanistan, the United States has boosted the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500, to a total of more than 14,000, and stepped up air strikes in the country.

Mattis told reporters that the goal is to convince the Taliban militants that they cannot win, which would hopefully push them toward reconciliation.

More: Mattis is keeping all options on the table for Afghanistan

“We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan,” he said. “Not a military victory — the victory will be a political reconciliation.”

Taliban fighters control large parts of the country, and thousands of Afghan soldiers and civilians are being killed every year.

In a report published late on March 12, 2018, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that more than 30,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the year due to continued conflict in Afghanistan.

Articles

Coast Guard commandos guarding Trump, deployed to Med

A little-known group of specially-trained Coast Guardsmen are playing a key role in securing a presidential retreat in Florida and guarding against the smuggling of doomsday weapons out of war-torn Syria.


Few know about the Coast Guard’s cadre of special operations units but that doesn’t mean they’re sitting idle, says the service’s top commander.

“This is a team that’s not sand lot ball. These are the pros that have very unique weapons skills and training and not everyone makes this team,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft during a breakfast meeting with reporters April 12. “These teams are if anything probably over employed right now in terms of their optempo — both on the anti-terrorism front and on the counter-terrorism front as well.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The official patch of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Established in the years after 9/11 to provide another layer of special operations capability both in the United States and worldwide, the Coast Guard previously housed these various specialized teams under one command, dubbed the “Deployable Operations Group.” Comprised of highly-trained boat teams, crisis response forces and counter proliferation experts, the DOG was disbanded in 2012 and its units dispersed to separate commands.

Despite its troubled past, the Coast Guard’s special operators are front and center in some of America’s most high profile missions. Zukunft said his teams are providing maritime security for President Donald Trump when he visits his golf resort at Mar a Lago in Florida, working closely with the U.S. Secret Service to protect world leaders from potential attack.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
Security Zones in vicinity of Mar A Lago, Florida are established during VIP visits to the Miami area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Seventh Coast Guard District)

“I had three teams providing force protection for presidents of the two largest nations in the world — China and the United States — at Mar a Lago. That’s what these teams do, Zukunft said. “We’re seeing more and more of these nationally significant security events in the maritime domain.”

The service’s capability also includes Coast Guardsmen trained to locate and secure chemical and nuclear weapons — operators that are part of the Maritime Security Response Teams. Similar to SEALs, the MSRT Coast Guardsmen can take down ships, oil platforms and other vehicles used to smuggle WMD material over water.

It’s members of these MSRT units that are currently deployed to help the U.S. military guard against doomsday weapons leaking out of Syria and other regional hotspots.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) from Virginia participates in a training evolution in Hyannis, Mass., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The highly trained and specialized team, using a real-world underway ferry, practiced tactical boardings-at-sea, active shooter scenarios, and detection of radiological material. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

“We have a full-up [counter terrorism team] deployed right now in the Mediterranean in support of CENTCOM. It’s an advanced interdiction team in case there is any movement of a weapon of mass destruction,” Zukunft said. “This is a team that if necessary, forces itself onboard a ship … and they have all of the weapons skills of special forces, but they have law enforcement authority.”

Despite the rocky road in the unit’s formation, Zukunft is confident the Coast Guard’s special operations units are here to stay.

“To turn the lights out and then decide ‘whoa we have this threat’ — it’s going to take [a while] to reconstitute that, and in doing so the assumption would be that we will never have a terrorist attack directed agains the United States ever again,” he said. “I am not willing to make that assumption. I am all in.”

Articles

This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

His team spotted by insurgents and forced to take cover in an abandoned compound, Marine sniper Joshua Moore went against his instinct when two grenades landed next to him, throwing one of them back at the enemy and holding off insurgent fire until help could arrive.


Moore, at the time a Lance Corporal, was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Moore was part of a scout sniper platoon during a mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, in March 2011, when insurgents targeted his team.

The Marines fell back to a nearby compound, but enemy machine gun rounds soon sliced through the air, wounding two of them. After taking cover, Moore felt two objects hit him in the back. When he turned he saw two grenades lying in the sand.

Related video:

He reached down, grabbed the first grenade, and threw it back out the window where it detonated just a moment later. He went for the second but noticed it was covered in rust and was likely a dud.

The young sniper would later say that he was, “scared out of my mind, but I knew we had to do everything possible to get everyone home.” Despite the brush with death and under the continuing threat of incoming fire, Moore crawled from the building and held off the enemy until a quick reaction force arrived.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

He went to the north where the enemy attack was heaviest and began aiding the wounded and returning fire. He used an M4 with an attached M203 grenade launcher to suppress fighters where he could find them.

The arrival of a quick reaction force and another sniper platoon allowed the Marines to finally gain fire superiority, evacuate the wounded and fall back to their patrol base.

Moore was meritoriously promoted to corporal less than two months after the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross in Nov. 2013.

“It’s an honor to receive an award like the Navy Cross. But to be honest, I was just doing my job,” Moore said after the ceremony.

Since then, Moore has been promoted to sergeant and assigned as an instructor at the scout sniper basic course. He told Stars and Stripes that he often shares the story of the engagement with his students, but that he avoids talking about his medal.

“That honestly not the important part,” he said.

Articles

How Afghanistan’s version of Delta Force goes after the worst of the worst

“No One Kills Terrorists as Fast as We Do”

Sheik Abdul Hasib is a stout Pakistani who chose to fight under the flag of ISIS in eastern Afghanistan. The area he chose as his redoubt is the border with Pakistan, not too far from where Osama bin Laden and the Arab-speaking jihadis chose to build caves and fight the Soviets in the ’80s. Now seeking to tax poppy growers in the Nangahar province and establish ISIS Khurahsan, the long-haired Pakistani Orakzai tribal fighters have been streaming over four mountain passes from the Khyber and Orakzai regions in Parchinar since 2015. Since then, they’ve terrorized the locals, beheading children and elders alike, and launched a number of violent attacks in Afghanistan.


8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The Afghan anti-terrorist force began in Kabul and expanded to other major urban areas. Unlike the military, they’re trained by the world’s most elite counter-terrorism units to work in intense scenarios in which hundreds of civilians may be at risk. Photo from Recoilweb.com

GROWING THREAT

ISIS established a foothold in the Pakistan tribal areas in mid-2014 with the fracturing of the “little T” Taliban that was made up of former Pakistan-based Taliban fighters. Leaderless, they flowed northward into Afghanistan in 2015 when around 70 ISIS trainers travelled from Syria to school them in tactics, public relations, and ambushes. Led by Abdul Rauf Khadem, a former bin Laden confidant, ISIS began paying three times the Afghan government salary, and twice that of the Taliban. They launched their new sub brand, ISIS-Khurasan, with brutal videos of hapless villagers being blown up and other filmed executions. Islamic religion tradition insists that horse-mounted jihadis carrying the Black Flags of Khurasan will signal the retaking of the Holy Land and the end of Christianity. Not surprisingly, ISIS PR cameramen filmed chubby Pakistanis jogging and jerking along on Afghan nags carrying black flags in their videos.

The cash and the PR campaign worked. In September 2015, the UN estimated ISIS penetrated 25 out of the 34 provinces.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The Crisis Response Unit is legendary in Afghanistan. They’re never seen in public and stay on their base until a crisis occurs, and then they deploy in minutes directly into a hostage situation. Photo from Recoilweb.com

MOAB

When I met with Resolute Support commander General “Mick” Nicholson in December, he made it clear that although the NATO side of the war was treading water, the counter-terrorism fight wasn’t hindered by a lack of funding or increasing intensity. While the USA waited patiently for the election to end, General Nicholson made his move.

On April 13, 2017, the sky lit up above Achin and the ground shook through eastern Afghanistan as US special operations forces dropped a 12,000-pound MOAB munition that detonated above the exact area ISIS selected as their headquarters.

Nicholson’s air strike had maximum effect. The USA turned the ISIS fighter’s concealment and isolation into their damnation. About 90 fighters were killed instantly by the pressure wave and collapsing buildings.

Although the rank and file of ISIS K were decimated, the work of actually finishing the job was left to US ground operators and Afghans. Ten days later, at 10:30 p.m., 50 US Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos went in on the location of Sheik Hasib, gunning him down about a mile away from where the bomb went off in Mohmand Valley. As in all special operation ground missions, drones, AC 130s, F16s, and Apaches provided constant top cover and ISR support. Down below, air controllers coordinated the troops moving forward, calling out targets and hostiles for Afghan commandos. ISIS in the east was snuffed out like a candle.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The top leadership and 35 members of ISIS were finally removed because they had crossed the line. They had carried out a devastating March 2017 attack on a 400-bed military hospital in Kabul in which ISIS personnel disguised as medical staff killed scores of people. Enough was enough.

Although MOAB was a global headline grabber and there’s every indication that America is getting back into the fight, much of the dirty work of killing terrorists face to face has been left to the Afghans. It’s for this reason that I visited a little-known counter-terrorism unit high above the hills of Kabul.

CRU 222

It’s Friday, the day off in Afghanistan, but Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Raqib Mubariz, the head of Afghanistan’s elite’s counter-terrorism team, has invited me over. He’s clean-shaven, tall, and eager to meet me. He runs the Afghan Crisis Response Unit 222, or CRU 222 for short. He’s unapologetic about his team. His and his men’s job is to kill terrorists in Kabul. Fast.

It’s a brutally simple idea taught to them originally by the SAS and carried forward in their training by American, and now Norwegian, commandos. When suicide bombers try to take hostages en masse, the unit’s mission is to get in and kill them without restraint. In their brutal experience, the faster they kill terrorists the lower the casualties.

Their spotless base sits on the old site of Camp Gibson, overlooking the outskirts of Kabul.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
Kabul is the fifth fastest growing city in the world. Under the Taliban in 2001 the population was barely 1.5 million; today almost 4 million people call Kabul home. Photo from Recoilweb.com

Mubariz walks me around the camp and explains the unit has three groups, one active, one in training, and one in reserve. On operations they have a 60-man protection unit and three operations groups. They work 15 days on and 15 days off, and they’re set up to respond to a crisis quickly; their goal is to be out the door within five minutes of a call.

He expresses pride that his men can “assess a situation, form a plan, and have all the belligerents dead within minutes. Instead of the hours it used to take, now we can be ready in three minutes.”

To underline the seriousness and intensity of their task, he estimates that last year 97 of his 7,000-person, nationwide staff were killed. The high-casualty rate doesn’t faze his enthusiasm for the task.

The training for the anti-terrorist squad lasts four months with a dropout rate of 10 to 15 percent of the class. “We get better training than the commandos, but we work together,” Raqib tells me, talking about another Afghan special mission unit that operates in the rural areas of the country. “We recruit from all over the country.”

I want to understand how this unit ended the March 2017 hospital attack, the most brutal terrorist act after the recent bomb attack at Camp Shahin. He offers to have his men perform a demonstration.

The men roll up to a practice building in armored Humvees, dismount, and take a knee; they lay out a protective circle and deploy snipers. They set up a command and control center, gather intel, and agree on an entry plan. Then, the teams deploy and breach, clearing each room until they reach the top.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The men are fast, aggressive, and their actions appear well rehearsed. But this is an empty building with a journalist sticking a camera in their faces, not a burning building with martyrs killing their way to a 72-virgin afterlife.

The 222 benefits from the knowledge passed on by foreign military advisors. Norwegians from the Marinejegerkommandoen were also on hand supervising and offering training guidance. The Norwegians declined to be officially interviewed, but 222’s opinion of them is effusive. “We love it when they taught us how to shoot off the back of motorcycles in the dark,” one commando laughs.

To understand 222’s tactical response to the Kabul hospital attack, I met with the officer (unnamed at his request) that led the hospital attack.

THE RESPONSE

The soft-spoken colonel describes the siege. “It was Wednesday, March 8, 8:45 in the morning. The first car bomb went off at 9 a.m. at the rear of the hospital. By 9:45 a.m. we were stuck in all kinds of traffic. We travel in armored Humvees, five men to a vehicle. We had to hit cars to get out them out the way. We were waved around to a different entrance from the normal entrance when the second car bomb went off.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The remnants of a vehicle bomb during the March 8, 2017, ISIS attack on the Sardar Daud Khan Military Hospital in Kabul. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The eight-story pink Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan Hospital is in the Wazir Akbar Khan District of Kabul and is the largest military hospital in Afghanistan. Named after the last prime minister before the Soviets landed, the staff provides medical care to members of the Afghan military and their families. There are also two floors filled with wounded Taliban fighters along with a VIP wing; in addition, there are soldiers housed here who are wounded so seriously they can’t be sent home.

“It was complicated when we arrived on scene because we had more than 1,000 doctors, patients, and visitors.” The colonel says there were 400 beds in an eight-floor building and an unknown number of terrorists wearing suicide vests with grenades, knives, and rifles inside. “I was just thinking how we can protect civilians before we can kill the terrorists.”

The men ISIS sent to cause mayhem weren’t just suicide bombers, but fourth-generation suicide fighters called inghimasis, or “those who plunge” into battle. The four attackers were let into the hospital by an employee, the colonel tells us. They put on white lab coats and began to shoot indiscriminately, using knives to kill bedridden victims to conserve ammunition.

“Once the Afghan Army commandos arrived, I stopped everyone and explained how we can work together. We have British SAS tactics; the Afghan Special Forces uses American [tactics]. We have different training and tactics, and we could kill each other.”

The units deconflicted by leap-frogging each other as they cleared the buildings seven floors, floor by floor.

“We are clearing each room, but ultimately we run to the shooting,” says the colonel. “The problem was most of the victims were being stabbed with knives and [the attackers] were dressed in lab coats like many of the hostages. On the second floor we killed the third man; we shot him, and he blew up. Again we ran to the shooting. In various rooms, there were people hiding. The gunman had killed one or two people in each room.”

The responders killed another shooter on the fourth floor as he was hiding behind a bed. “We found another terrorist on the fifth floor. We shot him, and he blew up.”

Like many Afghans, and out of respect for the dead, he won’t describe the specifics of the dozens of victims. Most of the people had been killed with knives. Later I find out from one of the men who was there that a pregnant women, the wife of a military officer, screamed, “You can’t kill me!” He looks down and describes the brutality, “They cut out her child and then killed her.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

Finally, there were 65 hostages on the top floor being held by the last gunman.

“I had heard shooting from the rooftop, and I requested an air drop,” says the Colonel. “The Mi-17 will carry 15 troops and can land on the roof where people were fleeing. Some were on the window ledges outside. [Our] snipers were using the windows, but there weren’t clear shots in the confusion. There is a green house on the top floor, and we went up and found the hostages.”

“We were using CS grenades and wearing gas masks,” he says. “It’s hard to see through the mask when you’re running and the smoke. So I aimed for his center of his vest and he exploded, killing some of the hostages.” When I ask him why he didn’t take a head a shot he looks up and just gives me a pained look.

“I think we were done by 14:00. We then had to coordinate the removal of the dead and wounded, and order ambulances since all the staff had fled.”

At the end, over 60 people were dead and roughly as many were wounded.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The attackers were trained in Pakistan and were reportedly told to kill as many people as possible before detonating their suicide vests. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

UNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY

Colonel Mir Ebaidullah Mirzada from Kapisa province explains how ISIS recruits and trains for these attacks. “I was in military school in high school, then I joined CID police. I spent 31 years in the intelligence service,” he says. His job now is to make sense of these attacks and understand the enemy. That enemy, he says, is increasingly more foreign.

The history of the CRU also coincides with violent attacks launched from Pakistan.

“There was a series of attacks in Kabul in 2005. At that time there was no special unit. They sent police, members of the Afghan National Directorate of Security and the Army, and there were a lot of civilian casualties. It was then they decided to create the CRU. National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar established a division of special police when he was interior minister.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The work of CRU 222 is not without sacrifice. In 2016, 97 members of the Afghan national anti-terrorism group were killed. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

The first unit was 222. They started with 100 members; now they have around 7,000. Ebedullah was one of the originals. “We started with Hungarian and Bulgarian AKs, Russian PiKas (PKM), and Iranian RPGs. We swapped to Russian AKs [after] seven years with a gift of 20,000 AKs, and now, thanks to the US Embassy, we’re using M4s.

The men of the 222 still have to tape their flashlights to the barrel and make do with Chinese knockoff gear. They favor the bright green laundry bag camo pattern sprayed on their gear. It used to take three hours for the unit to jock up, and now it takes them less than five minutes to get out of their compound. Still, a Colonel gets by on $600 a month, and some of the men aren’t fully kitted. But they don’t complain. He pulls out the dossier on the attack on the hospital attack.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
More than 70 percent of Kabul’s population lives in illegal settlements like these hillside homes built without permits or proper sanitation. These migrants include thousands of former jihadis returning from Pakistan. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

“The attackers were from Pakistan, two from Tajikistan, and two were Afghan. The people know that Pakistan is behind this.” He takes pains to read the next sentence carefully.

“They trained for four months by Major Ahmad from ISI Punjab, in Mansehra near the military base at Rawalpindi. This information comes from the ‘other side,'” he noted with a smile. Manserhra is only 13 miles north of where bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad.

Recruiting is done from the madrasas, free religious schools sponsored by Sunni donors from the Gulf area.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
(Photo from Recoilweb.com)

Mirzada lays out the training process. “They pass three steps to come. The first step is for ISI people who operated under the guise of being scholars who train young people. They identify those who respond to extreme ideology.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
Despite the steady stream of violent attacks, the people of Kabul go on with their daily lives. In 16 years the country has experienced dramatic growth and education. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

“In the madrasa they’re separated, and when they say, ‘I want to be a martyr,’ they’re ready. Then the preparation work stops. They blindfold them and take them to a military base. There they’re trained about three months on weapons, explosives, and what destiny awaits them in paradise. Before the plan [takes] place they set up companies to provide fake IDs, transportation, and lodging. They transport them to Kabul without weapons.”

Typically, he says, they’re between 14 and 25 years old, mostly from poor families. Their family gets paid 400,000 Pakistani rupees, just under $4,000 US, after they’ve reached the end of their path to martyrdom.

“The handlers train them again to get used to the area where they speak Pashto,” Mirzada says. “There are also people who know Farsi. Once they learn the area, then they ship in the weapons. There are also people who are responsible to make the film. Even when they rush and fight, they’re always filming. Before they attack they film a speech and they get injections to make them brave.”

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The elite reputation of CRU 222 attracts hundreds of young Afghan recruits; 15 percent will drop out during training. (Photo from Recoilweb.com)

One witness in the media insists he heard one of the men talking to “Mullah Sahib,” which sounds like Mullah Hasib, the head of the ISIS cell in Nangahar. The man gunned down after the MOAB was dropped by US forces. Mirzada closes the file.

When and if another hostage situation occurs, CRU 222 sits waiting for the call, stopwatch at the ready.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-22s left at Tyndall likely damaged by massive hurricane

The U.S. Air Force anticipates that a number of F-22 Raptors left behind at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, during Hurricane Michael were damaged by the storm, an official said Oct. 12, 2018.

“A number of aircraft were left behind in hangars due to maintenance or safety reasons, and all of those hangars are damaged,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement. “We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well, but we won’t know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment.”

Neither the extent of the damage nor how many fighters were left behind was disclosed.


Officials also did not describe what maintenance was taking place that led officials to leave the jets at Tyndall instead of moving them to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, where other F-22s from the 325th Fighter Wing moved.

The damage could hamper operations for the already dwindling Raptor fleet as the Defense Department aims to restore its fighter readiness rates.

While some aircraft have come out of active status for testing purposes, the Air Force has 183 of the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-22s in its inventory today. More than 160 belong to active-duty units; the remainder are with Air National Guard elements. Four aircraft were lost or severely damaged between 2004 and 2012.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

An Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 3rd Wing flies over Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 27, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Jamal Wilson)

The Pentagon last estimated the F-22 unit cost at 9 million in 2009, roughly 3 million in today’s money. The last F-22 was delivered in 2011. But in a classified report submitted to Congress in 2017, the Air Force estimated it would cost “6 million to 6 million per aircraft” should it ever want to restart the production line for newer, more advanced F-22s.

The DoD said that would amount to approximately ” billion to procure 194 additional F-22s.”

Roughly 120 fifth-generation stealth Raptors are combat-coded, or authorized to perform in wartime operations, at any given time. But the platform’s mission-capable rate has decreased over the years.

According to Defense News’ fiscal 2017 statistics, F-22s had a 49.01 percent mission-capable rate, meaning less than half were flyable at any given time. In 2014, more than three-quarters of F-22s were deemed mission capable.

The Pentagon wants to increase readiness rates for the F-22, F-16, F-35 and F/A-18 to 80 percent by September 2019 — a 31 percent bump for the Raptor alone.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

An F/A-18 lands on the flight deck USS Theodore Roosevelt.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Luke Williams)


In July 2018, the Government Accountability Office said the F-22 is frequently underutilized, mainly due to maintenance challenges and fewer opportunities for pilot training, as well as the fleet’s inefficient organizational structure.

In October 2018, an F-22 at Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson made an emergency landing on a base runway. Photos showed the jet, from the 3rd Wing, leaning on its left side, which the Air Force said was the result of a landing gear malfunction.

The latest incident comes months after an F-22, also assigned to JBER’s 3rd Wing, experienced engine failure April 6, 2018, during a routine training flight at Tyndall. Days preceding the engine failure, another F-22 experienced a belly skid at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Pentagon will move its data to the cloud

The Pentagon is accelerating an acquisition plan to migrate its defense networks to the cloud as part of a sweeping effort to modernize and streamline its data systems and better defend against cyberattacks, a DoD announcement said.


The initiative, launched last Fall by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, is now grounded in a specific, fast-paced acquisition plan to keep pace with fast-moving technological change.

“DoD is using a tailored acquisition process to acquire a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret requirements. Known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud, the planned contracting action will be a full and open competition,” a Pentagon statement said.

The Pentagon has released a Request for Information to industry and is planning an industry day March 2018 as a precursor to the planned contract awards.

Led by a recently established Cloud Executive Steering Group, cloud migration program leaders are now in the analysis and fact-finding phase of this process to determine how many contracts will best meet DoD’s needs, officials said.

The acquisition effort is broken up into two distinct phases, according to DoD developers; phase one includes cloud acquisition and phase two “will work with offices throughout the department to build cloud strategies for requirements related to military operations and intelligence support,” a Pentagon statement said.

Read more: Pentagon will aggressively implement new Electronic Warfare strategy

“Technologies in areas like data infrastructure and management, cybersecurity and machine learning are changing the character of war. Commercial companies are pioneering technologies in these areas and the pace of innovation is extremely rapid,” Shanahan writes in the memo, released last Fall.

Cloud migration has received much attention in recent years, and this new effort strives to accelerate cloud development and add a specific, measurable structure to an otherwise broad-sweeping or more loosely configured effort. For instance, the Pentagon has emphasized a move toward broader use of Windows 10 in a move to quickly embrace more commercial systems and cloud systems.

However, many of the various acquisition efforts have been stovepiped or, by some estimations, in need of greater integration and interoperability. DOD’s ongoing Joint Information Environment (JIE) and Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) efforts are emerging as efforts to address these challenges.

The Pentagon’s Joint Regional Security Stacks will increasingly use cloud technology and move to more off-the-shelf technology, such as Windows 10, according to senior Pentagon IT officials.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008 (Image by David Gleason via Wikipedia)

JRSS is on track to reduce the physical footprint of servers and — that it will support cloud technology structures.

JRSS is also engineered to increase security and intrusion detection technologies. The security of the network is centralized into regional architectures instead of locally distributed systems at each military base, post, or camp, according to a previous statement from the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“Deploying JRSS enables the department to inspect data, retrieve threat and malware data on the network and troubleshoot, patch, protect and defend the network,” a DISA statement said.

Shanahan’s new program could bring nearer-term achievable metrics to the ongoing JIE initiative. At the same time, there is a chance it could also help accelerate the ongoing movement toward greater domestic and international data consolidation efforts already underway with JRSS.

A key element to cloud migration, considering that it involves movement toward more virtualization and a decreased hardware footprint, is that emerging software upgrades and programs can quite naturally have a faster and more ubiquitous impact across a range of data systems.

When it comes to data security and resilience against intruders and cyberattacks, the cloud could be described as consisting of a two-fold dynamic. In one sense, data consolidation through cloud architecture can potentially increase risk by lowering the number of entry points for intruders – yet it also affords an occasion to identify patterns across a wide swath of interconnected systems.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Furthermore, cloud technologies can facilitate standardized security protocols so that attempted breaches can be more quickly detected. Along similar lines, JIE proponents explain that although greater interoperability could increase vulnerabilities, various networks can be engineered so they can both share data while also leveraging routers, switches and IP protocol specifics to separate and secure networks as well.

An often-discussed phenomenon seems to inform Shanahan’s push for faster cloud migration, namely that multi-year government developmental programs are, in many instances, generating technical systems which are potentially obsolete by the time they are completed. Commercial innovation, therefore, coupled with an open architecture framework, is intended to allow faster, wide-sweeping upgrades more consistent with the most current and impactful innovations.

“I am directing aggressive steps to establish a culture of experimentation, adaptation, and risk-taking,” Shanahan’s memo states.

The integrated DoD effort is closely aligned with various US fast-moving cloud efforts among the US military services.

Army cloud migration

DISA and the Army are working with industry to extend commercial cloud technology to mobile devices as part of a broad effort to both improve access to data and provide security for forces on the move.

Drawing upon hardened commercial cloud networking technology, soldiers, sailors or airmen using smartphones and tablets will have secure access to classified networks. By extension, a commercial cloud can enable secure networking such that smartphone applications themselves can be better protected, DISA leaders have explained.

As part of this broadly-scoped DOD effort, industry giants like Microsoft are working with the services to extend cloud-based security and connectivity to mobile devices.

The Army’s Unified Capabilities (UC) program, for example, is an example of how this strategy can be implemented.

More reading: This vet group says the Pentagon is disclosing private data on millions of troops

The UC effort is based on an Army-ATT collaborative effort to leverage the commercial cloud to improve networking interoperability using voice, video, screen sharing and chat functions for one million service business leaders on both classified and unclassified networks.

“Unified Capabilities is one of the first commercial cloud-based solutions that will be delivered across the Army Enterprise,” Sergio Alvarez, product lead, Enterprise Content Collaboration and Messaging, told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall.

By using a commercial cloud, users will be able to draw upon software to access voice services from any Army-approved end user device — desktops, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief
(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy L. Wood)

Forward-deployed or dismounted soldiers will have an ability to connect and share combat-relevant data from farther distances, potentially beyond an otherwise limited network.

“There are many benefits to COTS — including saving money on initial investment, meeting IT requirements while avoiding costs, lowering maintenance investments and enabling cost-effective new upgrades,” an Army statement said.

The service will also provide video conferences and desktop sharing services, as well as multi-user chat functions.

As is the case with desktop systems, the strategy for this kind of cloud execution is often described in terms of centralized control – decentralized execution.

When it comes to more traditional fixed locations, increased cloud networking and security at a central server location brings the added benefit of helping implementation and security for the ongoing Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) effort.

Navy analytics strategy

Fall 2017, the Navy unveiled a data analytics strategy document designed to accelerate IT modernization, consolidation of information, innovation and efforts to keep pace with commercial technological progress.

The “Navy Strategy for Data and Analytics Optimization,” which incorporates faster network cloud migration, calls for cloud migration and rapid transformation of training, concepts, and policies designed to make data analytics faster and more efficient.

Recognizing that the pace of technological change is often faster within industry and commercial enterprises, the strategy is woven around the premise that new solutions, software updates or improvements in operating systems and data analysis often emerge quickly.

Continued reading: Inside the Department of Defense’s Fire School

With this in mind, the strategy also heavily emphasizes a growing need to look for open source solutions for expediting IT acquisition.

When embracing commercial innovation might not make sense for a government developmental IT effort, the strategy calls for increased collaboration with academia and industry.

“It is paramount that we become able to adapt faster to data-driven innovations, create new innovations and deploy those innovations,” the strategy states.

The text of the strategy articulates a few goals, such as an ability to “predict and inventory the right data analytics to meet the demands of DON (Department of the Navy) data consumers and decision makers — and — deploy and operate innovative solutions with minimal time to market.”

As a way to accelerate the key aims of the new strategic effort, the Navy’s Chief Information Officer is establishing a new Data and Analytics Consortium to define emerging policies, share lessons learned and help establish best practices.

Articles

Marine Corps rolls out biggest fitness standard overhaul in 40 years

misty-posey-assist-marine-pull-ups-1200x800-ts600


The Marine Corps is solving the problem of requiring pull-ups for women by adding a push-ups option for all troops on the physical fitness test, Military.com has learned.

On Friday, the Corps rolled out a series of sweeping changes to the PFT, combat fitness test, and body fat standards — the result of a review of existing policies that began last November. The new fitness standards go into effect Jan. 1, 2017, officials said, and the body composition standards take effect immediately.

New pull-up policy

Perhaps the most significant change is the elimination of the flexed-arm hang as an alternative to pull-ups for women on the PFT. Instead, both men and women will be able to opt for push-ups instead — an exercise that was not previously part of the test. To encourage troops to do the more demanding exercise, the new standards limit the number of points available to those who choose the push-ups option. While women can achieve the maximum 100 points for completing between seven and ten pull-ups, and men can meet their max at between 20 and 23 reps depending on age, the push-ups scoring chart maxes out at just 70 points.

Most female Marines will have to complete between 40 and 50 push-ups to earn those 70 points, while most men will have to do between 70 and 80.

“Push-ups become an option on the PFT, but Marines are incentivized toward pull-ups, as these are a better test of functional, dynamic upper body strength and correlate stronger to physically demanding tasks,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in an administrative message to the Corps released Friday. “Push-ups are also a valid exercise and good test; however maximum points can only be earned by executing pull-ups.”

Taken together, Neller said the changes to the PFT were the most significant updates to the program since 1972.

The hybrid pull-up option is the Marines’ solution to a four-year conundrum of how to promote pull-ups for all Marines without making it impossible for women to succeed. In 2012, the Corps announced it was doing away with the female flexed-arm hang in favor of pull-ups, with a minimum of three. Those plans were delayed multiple times, and in 2014, Marine officials admitted that half of women tested in boot camp couldn’t meet the three-pull-up minimum.

Brian McGuire, the deputy force fitness branch head for the standards division of Marine Corps Training and Education Command, told Military.com that push-ups, like pull-ups, could be completed in the field. But, he said, the pull-up is a more functional test and requires individuals to overcome their entire body weight, while push-ups only require them to overcome 75 to 80 percent of their body weight. But even with its limitations, the push-up is superior to the flexed-arm hang, he said.

“The flexed-arm hang, in many studies, has been shown to be an inadequate test of upper body strength,” McGuire said.

The high number of pull-up repetitions required of women in the new scoring standards reveal an optimism about how training will help them improve. Earlier this year, the Marine Corps promoted a training program piloted by Marine Maj. Misty Posey that promised to use strength and repetition pyramids to get female Marines from “zero to twenty-plus.”

The female pull-ups scoring chart maxes at 10 reps for women between the ages of 26 and 30, though most women will have to do at least seven reps to max their score.

Notably, all of the new standards will keep in place a gender-normed scoring system, which scores men and women differently on the same exercises in acknowledgment of different physical ability thresholds. While the Marine Corps introduced gender-neutral minimum standards for entry into an array of ground combat jobs last fall, McGuire said gender-neutral physical fitness standards for the Marine Corps were never ordered or considered.

Age-specific scoring

Marines may also find themselves doing more repetitions than in previous years to max out their score. The new scoring charts divide Marines into eight age groups, all with different maximum standards based on calculated peak ability. For men and women, the charts assume peak fitness between the ages of 21-25, and 26-30. While the previous PFT scoring chart maxed out pull-up repetitions at 20 for all ages, the new male scoring chart maxes at 23 for men between the ages of 21 and 35.

McGuire said the new age groups were added to meet Neller’s guidance to create relevant and challenging standards. Previously, the Marine Corps had only four fitness age groups, and they only dictated minimum allowable standards.

“We had a 27-39 age group, that’s 12 years,” McGuire said. “There’s some performance differences that happen during that time.”

For events requiring repetitions, such as pull-ups, crunches, and the ammunition can lift, McGuire and TECOM officials went to the fleet to gather real data on Marines’ performance thresholds. Between January and March, they tested around 2,000 Marines at bases around the Corps to chart maximum and median repetition levels. As a result, some repetition maximums are increasing significantly. Max reps for the two-minute ammunition can lift portion of the combat fitness test are going up for 91 to 120 for men and from 60 to 75 for women in some age categories.

For other events, such as running on the PFT and maneuver-to-contact on the CFT, TECOM looked at existing data from Marines who were taking the tests, creating scatter charts and graphs to determine the real distribution of times and scoring. As a result, some maximum times were increased and some minimum times shortened.

“By elevating the standard, which was based again on our data collection, this will allow for greater levels of distinction” among Marines taking the tests, McGuire said.

Male and female run times are getting relaxed for some of the new age categories. While run times for men continue to max at 18 minutes for three miles and for women at 21 minutes, the standards now allow more time for men and women over 40.

Younger Marines will have to work harder, though, to achieve their minimum run score. While the previous standards awarded points for a 33-minute run time for men, now male Marines under 30 will have to beat 28 minutes to pass the test.

Similarly, Marines in younger age groups will have to do more crunches — between 105 and 115, depending on age and gender — to max their score on the exercise. Previously, all charts maxed out at 100 crunches.

Under the new program, the Marines’ combat fitness test will continue to feature maneuver-under-fire, the ammunition can lift, and movement-to-contact. But all scores are now age-normed using the new eight age groups.

No body fat limits for PT studs

Beginning in January, Marines who can get close to maxing out their PFT and CFT scores, earning at least 285 points out of a possible 300, are exempt entirely from the hated tradition of body fat testing, Neller said in his message to the Corps. Those who can score at least 250 on the tests also receive a bonus: an extra allowable one percent body fat above existing standards.

However, he added, all Marines must still comply with the service’s professional appearance standards, ensuring troops look good in uniform.

For some, weight standards will become more relaxed, beginning immediately. The new standards increase weight maximums for women by five pounds across the board. A 5’3 female Marine who previously maxed out her weight at 141 pounds can now weigh 146 pounds and stay within regulations.

Neller told Military.com in February that female troops had told him they struggled to get stronger in order to complete pull-ups and work to enter newly opened ground combat jobs while staying within existing height and weight standards.

“Whether women go into ground combat or not, they’re telling me they’re going to do pullups for the fitness test. They’re going to get stronger. You get stronger, normally you gain weight, you get thicker,” Neller said then. ‘[Female Marines are] wanting to know, ‘Hey, Commandant, make up your mind. What are you going to have us do and if we do this, understand that I’ll do it, but it’s going to cause me probably to have a physical change, so don’t penalize me for doing what you’re telling me to do.'”

The decision to ease the female weight requirements was also supported by data from the Marines Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, an experiment that tested the ability of female Marines to succeed in the infantry alongside men.

“Females who were performing better at the integrated tasks were heavier,” McGuire said.

In his message Friday, Neller said Marines would also use more precise measuring devices to measure body fat. While the “rope-and-choke” circumference method of measuring body fat isn’t going away, McGuire said the Marine Corps would start using self-tensioning tape measures designed to yield more accurate measurements.

“It does eliminate some of the error,” he said.

Also taking effect immediately is a new waiver authority governing troops who max out their weight and body fat limits and are assigned to the body composition program, which can stall career progression and promotion. If Marines cannot get within standards after six months in the program, they risk expulsion from the Corps.

Now, Neller said, the first general officer in a Marine’s chain of command will have the authority to sign off on a waiver exempting him or her from the BCP on account of satisfactory fitness and military appearance.

While the new weight standards are not retroactive, Marine officials said, troops who are currently assigned to the BCP or in the process of administrative discharge because they can’t meet standards will be re-evaluated immediately in light of the new policy. If they fall in line with the new regulations, they will be removed from the BCP right away.

“We will monitor the effects of these adjustments for two years and then adjust if required to ensure our standards continue to contribute to the effectiveness of our force and enhance our ability to respond when our Nation calls,” Neller said.

Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, the commander of TECOM, said the new physical standards “raised the bar” for Marines’ fitness.

“Marines today are stronger, faster and fitter than ever and these changes reflect that. Bigger and stronger often means heavier, so tying performance on the PFT and CFT to changes to the Body Composition Program are improvements that we think the Marines will appreciate,” he said in a statement. “In the end, it’s all about improving the readiness and combat effectiveness of our Corps and the physical fitness of every Marine contributes to that.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

19 restaurants where kids eat free (and parents get a break)

Planning out and making a home-cooked meal every night can get old; so can the evening routine. Also, kids are expensive and you need for something, just once in a while, to not cost so goddamn much. Fortunately, there is the great American tradition of “kids eat free,” wherein chain restaurants offer free, road-tested, mostly fried children’s meals on certain days (Tuesday seems to be a popular one) or have special deals that significantly offset the cost of a kid’s meal out.


From fast-casual restaurants like Applebee’s and Red Robin to more regional chains, here are 19 restaurants where kids eat free. Because why not score a free mini-quesadilla or plate of chicken fingers for the kids when you can?

Applebee’s

Kids eat free on certain days of the week based on location. The menu includes a range of classic kids’ favorites and moderately more adventurous dishes, from mac-and-cheese and chicken fingers to chicken tacos, pizza, and corn dogs.

Bob Evans

On Tuesdays after 4 p.m., when parents order an adult entrée, kids under 12 eat free. Parents will appreciate the family meals to go, which can be customized for whatever size family you have.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Cafe Brazil

For those in Texas, this eclectic cafe offers free meals to kids under 12 with the purchase of an entrée from Sunday through Thursday. The menu has Tex-Mex favorites like tacos and empanadas, plus classic brunch picks like waffles. Kids will get a kick out of the “pancake tacos.”

Cafe Rio

With the purchase of an adult entree, you can snag a free kid-sized quesadilla.

Chili’s

Rewards members get a free kid’s meal as long as they spend at least every 60 days. The kids’ menu includes favorites like sliders, chicken fingers, pizza, pasta, grilled cheese, and quesadilla, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Denny’s

At this beloved breakfast joint, kids eat free when adults order an entrée. It’s limited to two free kids’ meals per adult, and may apply to different days according to location.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Kids under 12 eat free on Sundays for each adult that spends at least . With the hearty portions offered at Dickey’s, nobody will be left hungry.

Hooters

Kids eat free at select locations, but….

IKEA

Everyone’s favorite Swedish home store offers free baby food with each entrée purchased. Plus, certain locations offer free meals for bigger kids on special days of the week.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

Johnny Rockets

At select locations of this old-fashioned diner and burger joint, kids eat free on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the purchase of a regular entrée and drink.

Marie Calendar’s Restaurant and Bakery

Kids under 12 eat free on Saturdays with the purchase of an entrée at this regional chain with restaurants in California, Utah, and Nevada.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant

Kids eat free on Saturdays and Sundays at participating locations of this New England chain.

Moe’s

At participating locations, kids eat free on Tuesdays. Plus, all entrées come with free chips and salsa, and kids’ meals also include a drink and cookie.

8 ridiculous lines we fully expect to see in this year’s Valentine’s Safety Brief

live.staticflickr.com

Qdoba Mexican Grill

Kids eat free on Wednesdays and Sundays when adults order an enchilada entrée.

Red Robin

The deal varies by location, so check with your local franchise, but popular deals include “kids eat free” one night of the week and id=”listicle-2645141716″.99 kids’ meals. At all locations, kids can get a free sundae on their birthday, and royalty rewards members get a free burger during their birthday month as well as every 10th item free.

Ruby Tuesday

This national chain lives up to its name. Kids eat free every Tuesday after 5 p.m. with the purchase of an entrée.

Sweet Tomato

This buffet-style restaurant is perfect for the kids who can never seem to answer the question, “what do you want for dinner?” The 50-foot salad bar might even entice them with some veggies. Rewards members get a free kid’s meal on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Tony Roma’s

Kids eat free all day, every day at the largest ribs joint in the country. Participating locations only.

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Uno

Kids eat free every Tuesday at participating locations of this famous Chicago pizza joint. For the more sophisticated palette, Uno offers a surprisingly wide-ranging menu, from classic deep dish to vegan and gluten-free pizzas, seafood options like lemon basil salmon, pastas like buffalo chicken mac-and-cheese and even the buzzed-about Beyond Burger. Plus they have margaritas. Amen.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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