Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

Virtual recruiting teams, outreach to civic leaders and 770 more recruiters on the ground are helping the Army sign up more new soldiers this year in some of America’s largest cities.

Recruiting is up 27 percent in Minneapolis over this time last year. New York City has improved 19 percent and Baltimore is up 17 percent, according to Army Recruiting Command figures for April 2019.

Cities are where the people live, so the Army needs to recruit there, said Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy. Until this year, however, recruiting success typically seen in the rural South was not shared by the big cities.


“We’re trying to bring a lot of balance to our recruiting effort and focus in on the largest metropolitan areas in the country,” McCarthy said.

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

A recruiter hands out a water bottle from a table of Army items near the Eutaw Street gate during an Orioles game May 3, 2019.

(Photo by Gary Sheftick)

Last year, Army senior leaders selected 22 cities to apply those efforts. These were areas with large populations that had little exposure to soldiers because most were located far from active Army training centers.

Civic engagement

Senior leaders began meeting with mayors of those cities. McCarthy, for instance, first met with the mayor of Chicago, his hometown. He has since met city leaders in Baltimore, Houston and Orlando.

“We’ve got to get out there and forge relationships,” he said.

At the Baltimore meeting, city officials decided that Army interests aligned with one of theirs: keeping youth out of trouble. As a result, the city opened up all 43 of its recreation centers to recruiters.

“It was a great meeting because it opened doors,” said Col. Amanda Iden, commander of the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion, who sat with McCarthy at the meeting table.

“They’ve given us carte blanche access” to the rec centers, she said, adding her recruiters “don’t just play basketball and do sports with these kids,” they actually provide educational aids to help students study.

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

A young fan slaps five to the Orioles mascot as Staff Sgt. Antwon Yourse (left) and Staff Sgt. Bryan Lenis of the Baltimore Recruiting Company watch May 3, 2019.

(Photo by Gary Sheftick)

Recruiters uploaded the Army’s “March2Success” software on computers at the centers so students could study there for college boards and other entrance exams.

“You want to take the LSAT, LCAT, MCAT, all those other different tests, the GMAT, SAT, AECT, it’s a tool to teach you how to take tests,” Iden said, “and it focuses on your weaknesses.”

Meetings with city officials also help open up schools to recruiters.

“It’s a relationship,” Iden said. “It’s about getting to know leaders, principals and guidance counselors.”

Educating influencers

Recruiters are there to help students and influencers — such as parents and teachers — make “informed decisions,” she said. It’s not just about “trying to pull you into the Army,” it’s about helping students be successful and explaining options, she said.

Many students and influencers don’t know the Army has more than 150 career paths, said Col. James Jensen, director of the USAREC Commander’s Initiatives Group.

They don’t know Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has the world’s only school that certifies students in handling hazardous material for serious nuclear-biological-chemical threats, he said, adding graduates can get a job at dozens of agencies once they leave the Army.

Recruiting Baltimore

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They don’t know that military police officers are automatically certified in 32 different states and can become state police officers without attending that state’s police academy, he said.

“We’re trying to expand the audience and touch not only the potential applicants, but the influencers, too,” Jensen said. “Especially within the latest generation, influencers hold a huge amount of weight with the decisions to go into the military.”

Influencers are among the target audience for “Meet Your Army” events in many of the cities. These events often include senior Army leaders returning to their hometowns for speaking engagements mixed with editorial boards, meetings with civic leaders and other public forums.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, for instance, returned to Boston April 14, 2019, to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game. The next day he ran the Boston Marathon — all part of the first-ever “Boston Army Week” proclaimed by the mayor.

Nearly 30 different events took place during the week, including an expo on the Boston Common that had the Army Special Operations Command “Black Daggers” parachute team jump in. Over 30 Army units and 10 senior Army leaders also took part.

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

Sgt. Chobie Van Rossum, a Baltimore area native assigned back to the city as a recruiter, stands on Eutaw Street during an Orioles Game May 3, 2019, to discuss Army opportunities with potential prospects and influencers.

(Photo by Gary Sheftick)

These events maximize resources, Jensen said.

Beginning later this year, new mobile Army recruiting platforms will participate at events such as the one in Boston, Jensen said. These semitrailers will include video-game terminals where visitors will be able to play against members of the Army’s new esports team, consisting of soldiers who will compete at gaming events across the country.

Virtual recruiting teams

Last year USAREC tested the concept of virtual recruiting teams at some of its battalions. Now each of the Army’s 44 recruiting battalions have VRTs that focus on social media.

The teams consist of three to six soldiers proficient in all types of social media. These VRTs are currently manned at about 80 percent, Jensen said, but he added they will be going up to 100 percent by this summer.

The Baltimore Recruiting Battalion’s VRT stood up in September with three members at its headquarters on Fort Meade. Each of the battalion’s six recruiting companies across Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia also have liaisons who work directly with the VRT, Iden said.

These VRTs are “force multipliers” for recruiters, Jensen said. When a potential candidate responds to a social media post and asks a question, the virtual recruiters will initially respond, then pass the prospect off to a neighborhood recruiter, Jensen said.

“This helps the recruiter on the ground with less prospecting and more processing,” he said, “putting [prospects] in boots.”

The VRTs have access to “segmentation” data from the command’s G-2. The Recruiting Command has identified 65 different types of neighborhoods or “segmentations” based on demographic data from the last U.S. census.

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

Sgt. Chobie Van Rossum (left) and Staff Sgt. Antwon Yourse of the Baltimore Recruiting Company hand out water bottles as they discuss opportunities in the Army with young fans attending an Orioles game May 3, 2019.

(Photo by Gary Sheftick)

“There’s a plan for every zip code,” Jensen said.

One of the main segmentations in downtown Baltimore is the “Urban Modern Mix,” Iden said. Characteristics for people in this segmentation include listening to urban adult contemporary music and having an interest in boxing. Virtual recruiting teams use such data to help target their social media posts, she said.

In a Chicago test that began in October, the Army is “micro-targeting” different neighborhoods and changing Internet ads weekly if they don’t resonate with particular segmentations. The pilot program is about to expand to Boston, officials said, and perhaps to more cities in the future.

Partnerships

In another pilot program, the recruiting company in Baltimore is partnering with the Maryland National Guard. In most areas, the National Guard has its own recruiters, but the five recruiting stations in the Baltimore area sign applicants up for the Guard. In return, the Guard provides assets to help recruit at different events, Iden said.

Recruiters also partner with the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks to plan participation in events such as the African American Festival in August.

“It’s inherent when you are amongst the public that you will integrate” and form partnerships, Jensen said.

During the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the mayor signed the city up for the Army’s Partnership for Youth Success program.

Under the PaYS program, recruits are guaranteed two job interviews at the end of their enlistment. For instance, if recruits pick the city of Houston, they might interview for a job with the Department of Public Works and Engineering.

Recruits are 15 percent more likely to sign up with the Army if they are offered the PaYS program, McCarthy said.

Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

Staff Sgt. Bryan Lenis of the Baltimore Recruiting Company hands an Army water bottle to a young fan at the Eutaw Street concessions of Camden Yards during an Orioles game May 3, 2019.

(Photo by Gary Sheftick)

About 900 different companies and agencies across the country are now part of the PaYS program. The Baltimore Police Department is a partner and Iden said the Maryland State Police are about to sign up.

Future focus

With these initiatives, recruiting is now up in 18 of the 22 focus cities, according to USAREC. But still, “there are cities all over the country where we know we have to do better,” McCarthy said.

Jensen cautions that it will take time. “While these initiatives go on, this is a plane in flight,” he said of the Army’s recruiting force. “We have to deliver every day. So you’ve got to be very cognizant of what you’re doing and how many ripples in the water you do to the recruiting force.”

Since the Army Training and Doctrine Command gained oversight of all accessions in September, he said focus and unity of command has improved.

“Having the TRADOC commander has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “Now it really helps us get after our mission and stay focused on our mission, and they [at TRADOC] handle a lot of the things that we used to have to handle.”

The TRADOC focus has brought more total Army assets to help with recruiting, he said, and more senior leader involvement to help educate influential audiences about the Army.

“I think it’s a requirement for every leader of this institution to get out there and talk about the U.S. Army as an organization, to educate our fellow countrymen, to encourage young men and women to take a hard look at this profession,” McCarthy said.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Curtez Riggs – Army veteran, entrepreneur

School. Streets. Military. In 1996, Curtez Riggs graduated high school and those were his options in Flint, Michigan. By that time, the auto industry that built “Buick City” had moved away. As a kid, Curtez picked up bottles, turned in cans and always had a side gig to bring in extra money. When it came time to make the decision, Curtez figured the Army was the best way to start his future.


His entrepreneurship did not stop when he joined the Army. Curtez continuously started businesses outside of his day job as a career recruiter. In this episode, you will hear how Curtez prepared for his military transition – years before he ended his active service.

Flint MI Then and Now

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Currently, Curtez is the CEO of the Military Influencer Conference (MIC). Started in 2016, the conference is a community of entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. Curtez said he sees the conference as a mentorship and connection hub for future and current military veterans looking to make the military transition with an entrepreneurial mindset. This year’s conference is in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8-10, 2019. Starting in 2020, the conference will be placed in a different region each year.

The conference has certain tracks attendees can follow:

  • “Going Live” – Podcasters and Video
  • Real Estate
  • Founders and Innovators
  • Social Impact
  • Content Creators
  • Empower – Milspouse Track
  • Workshops
  • Mighty Talks

#BtBattle Veteran of the Week: Air Force and Army veteran Erin McLyman.

    Enjoy the episode.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Richard Overton, oldest WW2 veteran, dies at 112

    On Thursday, Dec. 27, U.S. Army veteran Richard Overton died after being hospitalized with pneumonia.

    He was the oldest living World War II veteran and considered the oldest man in the United States.

    During World War II, Overton volunteered for the U.S. Army, already in his 30s at the time. He served in the Pacific with the 188th Aviation Engineer Battalion, an all-black unit.

    In 2013, Overton was honored by President Barack Obama at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery:

    “He was there at Pearl Harbor when the battleships were still smoldering. He was there at Okinawa. He was there at Iwo Jima, where he said. ‘I only got out of there by the grace of God.”‘

    Overton once said that the secret to life is Scotch and cigars.

    He is remembered by many for his optimism and ability to live for the simple things in life.

    MIGHTY GAMING

    5 video games that let you play actual military missions

    Military games are awesome. They often have lots of explosions and gunplay, and the best ones take some care to honestly represent military life, imposing a moral cost for decisions or making you feel the loss of comrades in fighting. But it’s always a sweet bonus if you, as the player, are able to step in the shoes of warriors from history.

    So these are five games that let you do just that, either commanding important missions from history or stepping into the boots of a participant. A quick admin note, though: These are games that let you play in a historical mission. They aren’t necessarily the most historically accurate, meaning the creators might have taken some liberties with details.


    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    (YouTube/MKIceAndFire)

    Medal of Honor

    The 2010 game Medal of Honor is set during the invasion of Afghanistan with a prologue that includes clearing Bagram Airfield and a main campaign centered on special operators in the Shahikot Valley. Eagle-eyed historians will recognize the story as a (loose) interpretation of Operation Anaconda, the largest battle of the invasion of Afghanistan complete with dozens of special operators, thousands of friendly soldiers, and about 1,000 guerrilla fighters.

    While the names of individuals and units have all been changed, a lot of the key moments and terrain features from the actual battle are represented like when a SEAL is lost on Takur Ghar or the many times that members of Delta Force called in airstrikes on enemy forces.

    (As a bonus, some versions of this game come with the 2002 Medal of Honor: Frontline which has some stunning depictions of real battles like the D-Day landings and Operation Market Garden, though even the remastered version has quaint graphics by modern standards.)

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    (YouTube/GamePlayShare)

    Call of Duty 2

    To be honest, there are really too many World War II shooters to list all of the ones with real missions, even if we dedicated an entire list to World War II. We went with Call of Duty 2 for this list. It features missions in North Africa, lets you play with the Rangers on Ponte du Hoc on D-Day, and a variety of other real missions besides.

    The original Call of Duty has other World War II missions like the defense of “Pavlov’s House” in Stalingrad and the final assault on Berlin.

    But don’t learn your history from Call of Duty games. The “Operation Pegasus” mission in the game has nothing to do with the actual World War II mission of the same name. And the commando assault on Eder Dam in the game is a far cry from the true “Dambusters” of history.

    Battlefield Vietnam

    Battlefield Vietnam is a well-received game about the Vietnam War (duh) originally released in 2004. The game is a little arcade-y with lots of run-and-gun action in settings like the Ho Chi Ming Trail, the Siege of Hue, and missions like Operation Flaming Dart.

    Players can get behind the controls of lots of vehicles from the era including the iconic Patrol Boat-Riverine.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    (YouTube/Valefisk)

    Company of Heroes

    This is a real-time strategy game set in the American campaign to land at Normandy and then drive to Berlin. Company of Heroes sees the player commanding companies of soldiers in the 1st Infantry Division and 101st Airborne Division at battles from Carentan to Hill 192 to St. Lo.

    The game doesn’t actually limit the player to what a company commander could do in the war. It gives players the options to upgrade all of their units and allows them to control armor, infantry, engineering, and other soldiers. But the maps feel different based on what battle is playing out, and they’re all destructible so you can fight house to house in St. Fromond or create chokepoints to slaughter German troops as they come through the village.

    Ultimate General: Civil War

    This Civil War strategy game has *checks notes*, all of the Civil War battles. There’s a Union campaign and a Confederate one, and each features dozens of battles and missions. These include both battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga Creek, Cold Harbor, and much, much, more.

    The size of the player’s force is decided by how well they do in each fight. So while you get to play all sorts of historical battles, realize that the actual forces at each fight are decided according to your performance, not according to historical accuracy. So be prepared for a Gettysburg where the Confederacy has three times the troops and wins.

    Articles

    The Air Force is looking for more pilots to fly like the Russians and Chinese

    Air-to-air dogfights have been lacking in recent years.


    In one sense it is a good thing – it means the United States has been able to take control of the air very quickly. But American pilots still need to be able to practice – and not everyone can get to Red Flag or the Navy’s equivalents.

    Recently the Air Force has been using Northrop T-38 Talons to help alleviate the problem. The T-38 Talon is a supersonic trainer that served as the basis for the F-5 “Freedom Fighter” and the F-5E/F Tiger. The F-5s were light, day-time fighters that were very maneuverable, and they have served as Navy and Marine Corps aggressors for the long time.

    The Air Force has been using T-38s to supplement F-16s at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    A T-38 Talon participates in the 2004 Lackland Airfest. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

    Aggressor training, developed after the Ault Report showed shortcomings in naval aviation, has helped keep American airmen good, and emerged in the late stages of the Vietnam War. The famous “Top Gun” school, in particular, had a marked effect, sending kill ratios skyrocketing to over 13:1.

    Many of the aggressor pilots are currently members of the military, but according to a report by Aviation Week and Space Technology, that is changing as the Air Force seeks to hire contractors. Part of the reason has been an ongoing pilot shortage.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    An air-to-air right side view of an F-21A Kfir (young lion) aircraft. The Israeli-built delta-wing tactical fighter was used as part of the Navy’s aggressor training. (US Navy photo)

    The other reason is that some of the private companies can offer planes beyond the T-38 for these missions. A 2016 report from DefenseOne.com noted that one company has a mix of F-21 Kfirs, A-4 Skyhawks, Hawker Hunters, and L-39 Albatross jets. Among the companies getting into the mix is Textron, which makes the Textron AirLand Scorpion.

    The final reason. though, maybe the most important.

    That is because turning the aggressor training over to contractors could make them even tougher opponents for Air Force and Navy pilots. While many an Air Force pilot has non-flying billets at various points in their career, contractors will be able to just keep flying and dogfighting. This will make the military pilots they face off against sweat more, but it may prove the wisdom behind one old saying: The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The Church of Scientology has its own paramilitary Navy

    Imagine a priesthood where they wear uniforms like the Navy’s, are disciplined like Marines, do as much real work to advance a mission as any nonner in the Air Force, and are worked like Army privates with none of the pay and benefits. If that sounds appealing, you’re ready for Scientology’s Sea Org, a paramilitary “fraternal organization” comprised of the most devoted Scientology has to offer.


     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    The Few. The Vowed. The Sea Org.

     

    With a reported 6,000 members, the Sea Org is Scientology’s version of a religious order. The symbol of two palm fronds around a star is supposedly the emblem of the Galactic Confederacy seventy-five million years ago. Led by the space lord Xenu, the Galactic Confederacy killed a bunch of people with hydrogen bombs in a volcano. Or something. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but so do a lot of religions if you think about it. We’re not here to make fun of religion, we’re here to talk about this particular one’s Xenu-damned Navy.

     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    And before the commenters start in on me for not believing the same things they do, lets get some perspective.

    Origin Story

    Where would any service be without its creation story? The wild blue yonder, the halls of Montezuma, Valley Forge, Custer’s Ranks, Last night on shore, drinking to the foam and all that. No service is complete without its mythology. Keep in mind, the Sea Org is only twenty years younger than the Air Force and probably richer, since Scientology isn’t developing a trillion dollar fighter that ignites on takeoff.

    The Sea Org began in 1967 when founder L. Ron Hubbard (or LRH to his followers), science fiction writer and Navy veteran (like his father) who served during World War II, launched his own private naval force and declared himself commodore. The Church of Scientology was founded just 13 years prior, and Hubbard staffed his ships with volunteer Scientologists, reportedly looking for buried treasure from one of LRH’s previous lifetimes.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Physical fitness was clearly not a central tenet of his new Navy.

    Scientology defector Janis Grady, a former Sea Org member, told the New Yorker, “I was on the bridge with him, sailing past Greek islands. There were crosses lining one island. He told me that under each cross is buried treasure.” Hubbard commanded four ships, the Diana, Athena, Apollo, and Excalibur for eight years, cruising the Mediterranean, either existing on a diet of a lot of drugs, evading UK taxes, or looking for a safe haven for his beliefs, depending on who you ask.

    Recruiting

    The Sea Org actively seeks young, able-bodied individuals to fill its ranks. In her book Troublemaker, actress Leah Remini, who was born into Scientology, notes she was recruited into the Sea Org at age thirteen. According to Remini, Scientologists consider minors to be spiritual beings responsible for their own condition in life and can make decisions for themselves. As a result, many don’t go to traditional schools and instead attend Scientology schools. This might not be so bad, if a Sea Org member could retire after doing their twenty, but they don’t. Ever. Retire at all.

     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    999,999,983 years and a wake up!

    Sea Org members don’t do just twenty years. Remember how incensed some people in basic training were complaining how their recruiters lied to them? Sea Org recruiters at least have the decency to tell you the truth when you sign a billion-year enlistment contract. Since Sea Org members are expected to reincarnate, they owe all their next lives to the Sea Org for the next billion years. Way to Blue Falcon your future selves. I hope the reenlistment bonus is worth it.

    Basic Training

    Trainees are sent to the Estates Project Force, or EPF, at a dumpy motel in Clearwater, Florida (called “Flag”), doing 12 hours of manual labor a day and two and a half hours of Scientology study until they complete the courses. They eat rice and beans or liquid eggs every day.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    How’s that chow sound now, trainee?

    Leah Remini recalled having to steal food because she wasn’t fed enough. Twenty years later, she would admit it in a “transgression session” (which is way less fun than it sounds), and was voluntold to repay three months of custard and hamburgers to the tune of $40,000 so she could level up. So just like Uncle Sam, when you owe Scientology, they take what you owe them without mercy. It’s called a “Freeloader’s Debt.” Nothing beats a Leave and Earnings Statement (or LES — a military pay stub) with fifty cents on it.

    Imagine spending three months cleaning and managing a Days Inn you don’t own with people you hate while going to night school the rest of the time and being forced to do things like “scrubbing a dumpster with a toothbrush till late at night,” then “getting up at six to do laundry.”

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    Dumpsters? That sounds so hard.

     

    With the exception of Sea Org pay being a far cry from E-1 pay (around $50 a week), Sea Org basic training may still sound a little familiar, except it sometimes never ends. One defector describes the order as “pseduo-military butlers.

    But seriously, the only reason it isn’t slavery is because they volunteered. For a billion years. The good news is there are plenty of ranks to move up to. It’s unclear just how one moves up in rank, except for the obvious Scientology method of paying a ton of money for the privilege.

    Culture

    Remini, like many others, say they joined the Sea Org to help “clear the planet.” Or save the world. They’re young and idealistic. They believe LRH has secrets to save the world and the Sea Org is central to those secrets and they really want to help you. They come in to the Sea Org and start learning right away. Unlike the real Navy, no one ever gets to become a “salty” NCO.

     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    But if the Sea Org has “boot as f*ck” recruits, this is one of them.

    Since members of the Sea Org get very little in the way of education and are entirely devoted to the Church and its functions, those who leave (or “blow”) find themselves unable to manage even the most basic of adult tasks, like keeping a job or paying their bills. Many have little to no formal education or skills with which to get a job in the first place.

    In her book, Remini reminisced about playing pranks on other Sea Org members. I wonder if they ever sent a recruit out to get a box of grid squares, to get some prop wash, or to find Shelly Miscavige.

     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    They’re fighting for A SANE PLANET, PEOPLE

    Sea Org Members are not allowed to have premarital sex. They can marry but if they want to have kids, they have to leave the Sea Org, because if LRH wanted you to have a family, he would have issued you one.

    They have medals

    In 2004, Tom Cruise was awarded the Freedom Medal of Valor, which sounds stupid the first time you hear it. And also the second.

    They have their own slang and acronyms

    Scientology doesn’t have POGs, but they have their own version of it. According to Remini, Tom Cruise was once served a chipped tea cup. His response: “‘You served me tea in a chipped mug? Do you know who gets served with a mug that’s chipped? F*cking DBs.” DB, in Scientology parlance, means Degraded Being, Someone so infested with Body Thetans, evil spirits, as to be unauditable or insane.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Cruise’s ex-wife Nicole Kidman, and now Remini, along with many others, and probably myself now too, are called SPs, or Suppressive Persons, which is funny because in the actual military, if being openly hostile to the service or to the people with whom you serve gets you declared a social outcast, then everyone in the military would have to ignore each other for the next billion years.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    This is how they see themselves. (In a weird way, you have to respect the only guy who decided to wear enlisted stripes in the back row, all the way to the right.)

    The Sea Org developed its own acronyms over the years, you know, to keep things simple. There are thing like: KSW – Keeping Scientology Working, LRH – L. Ron Hubbard, PTS – Potential Trouble Source, COB – Chairman of the Board (David Miscavige), RPF – Rehabilitation Project Force, MAA – Master at Arms, etc.

    For example, if an EPF member messes up bad enough, the MAA will send them to RPF, where they’ll do MEST (Matter, Energy, Space, and Time) work. Did you find that sentence confusing? That’s what you sound like to civilians.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    The RPF  is a punitive re-education camp for spiritual rehabilitation. Like cleaning grease traps. Hallelujah!

    The Fleet

    The only ship left in Scientology’s fleet is the Freewinds, an asbestos-ridden heap anchored at Curacao, causing irreparable environmental damage. Unfortunately for the locals there, the Freewinds is the only place a Scientologist can learn Operating Thetan Level VIII, the highest operating level. This is where you can reportedly drop thoughts into people’s heads and talk to plants and animals.

     

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

     

    It turns out most of the modern Sea Org doesn’t even serve on the ocean. When researching their training regimen, “sailing” or “seamanship” or “ships” never really came up. The only time “water” appears is when the Sea Org is trying to discipline people, they throw them into the ocean. That’s esprit de corps right there.

    So, potential Sea Org cadet, until we meet once more, here’s wishing you a happy voyage home… Now go clean my toilet and get me a new coffee mug, you f*cking DB, before I have you sent to Gold Base so fast you’ll wish the COB would just RPF you to death.

    Articles

    5 things Marine Corps recruits complain about at boot camp

    Marine Corps boot camp is a slice of hell that turns civilians into modern-day Marines.


    With constant physical training, screaming drill instructors, and so much close-order drill recruits eventually have dreams about it, spending 12 weeks at boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina or San Diego, California can be difficult for most young people.

    Having stepped off a bus and onto the yellow footprints at Parris Island on Sep. 3, 2002, one of those young people was me. While in hindsight, boot camp really wasn’t that bad, I thought then that it was the worst thing ever. While writing this post, I thought I would speak in general terms, but since my mother kept all my correspondence home, I figured I would go straight to the source: my original — and now-hilarious-to-read — letters back home.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Drill instructors are the worst.

    Having a crazy person with veins popping out of their neck scream in your face and run around a barracks throwing stuff can be quite a shock to someone who was a civilian a week prior. Although I later learned to greatly respect my DI’s, I didn’t really like them at the beginning, as my first letter home showed.

    “Our DI’s are complete motherf—king a–holes. There’s no other way to describe them,” I wrote, before including a great example: “Today they sprayed shaving cream and toothpaste ALL OVER the head and we had to clean it up. Yesterday, threw out all of our gear, had to change the racks, and sh– was flying.”

    Sounds about right.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

    My recruiter totally lied to me.

    It’s a running joke in the Marine Corps (and the greater military, really) that your recruiter probably lied to you. Maybe they didn’t lie to you per se, but they were selective with what they told you. One of my favorites was that “if I didn’t like my job as infantry, I could change it in two years.” That’s one of those not-totally-a-lie-but-far-fetched-truths.

    In my initial letter, I took issue with my recruiters for telling me that drill instructors don’t ever get physical. Most of the time they won’t touch you, but that’s not exactly all the time.

    “Oh, by the way, recruiters are lying bastards. They [the drill instructors] scream, swear a lot, and choke/push on a daily basis,” I wrote. (It was day three and I was of course exaggerating).

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Mail takes forever to get there.

    Getting mail at boot camp is a wonderful respite from the daily grind at boot camp, but letters are notoriously slow to arrive. In my letters home, I complained about mail being slow often, since I’d ask questions in my letters then get a response of answers and more questions from home, well after I was through that specific event in the training cycle.

    “Sometimes I write more letters than everyone back home and I have way less time to do it,” I wrote in one letter.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    The other recruits were terrible.

    I’m sure they said the same thing about me. Put 60-80 people from completely different backgrounds and various regions of the United States and you’re probably going to have tension. Add drill instructors into the mix constantly stressing you out and it’s guaranteed.

    Then of course, there’s the issue of the “recruit crud,” the nickname for the sickness that inevitably comes from being in such close proximity with all these different people.

    Throughout my letters home, I complain of other recruits not yelling loud enough or running fast enough. “They don’t sound off and we are getting in trouble all the time,” I wrote. No doubt I was just echoing what the drill instructor has given us as a reason for why he was bringing us to the dreaded “pit.”

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Getting “pitted” is the worst five minutes of your life.

    Marine boot camp has two unique features constantly looming in the back of a recruit’s mind: the “pit” and the quarterdeck. The quarterdeck for recruits is the place at the front of the squad bay where they are taken and given “incentive training,” or I.T. — a nice term for pushups, jumping jacks, running-in-place, etc — for a few minutes if they do something wrong.

    But for those times when it’s not just an individual problem — and more of a full platoon one — drill instructors take them to sand pits usually located near the barracks for platoon IT. Think of them as the giant sandboxes you played in as a kid, except this one isn’t fun. For extra fun, DI’s may play a game of “around the world,” where the platoon is run from one pit to another.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Taliban launches new attacks despite peace discussions

    Taliban militants killed dozens of Afghan security forces in fresh attacks on several government targets, according to officials.

    Safiullah Amiri, deputy chairman of the regional council in the northern Kunduz province, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that 15 Afghan military personnel were killed in an attack in the Dashti Archi district that began late on Sept. 9, 2018.

    Amiri said that another 18 security personnel were injured in the attack.

    A security source in Dashti Archi said Taliban militants attacked several security teams in the district.


    Meanwhile, in the northern province of Jawzjan, provincial police chief Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani said at least eight police were killed in early-morning fighting with the Taliban in the Khamyab district on Sept. 10, 2018, the Associated Press reported.

    Jawzjani told the AP that Afghan troops were forced to retreat from a headquarters in the district in order to prevent civilian casualties. He said seven Taliban militants were killed and eight others wounded.

    “There was intense fighting and we didn’t want civilian houses destroyed, or any civilian casualties,” Jawzjani said.

    In the northern city of Sar-e-Pul, the capital of the Afghan province of the same name, the Taliban carried out overnight attacks on military and police installations, officials and security sources said.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Taliban Militants.

    Provincial council member Asif Sadiqi was quoted by the dpa news agency as saying that at least 17 soldiers were killed in the attacks in Sar-e-Pul, which he said the militants launched from three directions.

    Taliban militants reportedly seized control of several military bases and police checkpoints in Sar-e-Pul, and provincial council member Reza Alimzada said that several security personnel were taken hostage.

    Meanwhile, Taliban fighters killed another 14 local Afghan security-force members and government-loyal militiamen in the Dara Suf district of the northern Samangan Province, provincial spokesman Sediq Azizi said.

    Azizi said that that six others were wounded.

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

    Articles

    Trump’s Marine general picks all served together during the Iraq War

    Just before the 1st Marine Division advanced on the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003, Maj. Gen. James Mattis pinned a star onto each collar of his assistant division commander, Col. John F. Kelly. He was now a brigadier general, and the first to be promoted on the battlefield since the Korean War.


    Not far from there, another colonel in the unit named Joe Dunford was leading his regimental combat team.

    Also read: 6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

    By the end of the campaign, they had fought together in places like Nasiriyah, Al Kut, and eventually Baghdad. The division they were in — along with the US Army and UK armored elements — carried out one of the most aggressive, high-speed attacks in history, and 1st Marine Division’s ground march was the longest in the history of the Marine Corps, for which it earned the Presidential Unit Citation.

    Those three officers went on to become four-star generals. Mattis retired in 2013 as the commander of Central Command, while Kelly retired as commander of US Southern Command in 2016. Dunford became commandant of the Marine Corps, and eventually chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he remains.

    All three remain good friends. And if President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for his Cabinet are all confirmed, they’ll once again be serving together — only this time, it’ll be in the White House.

    Secretary of Defense James Mattis

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    DoD photo

    Mattis has often been praised by senior leaders at the Pentagon as both a strategic thinker with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and an incredible leader. His legendary status among Marines mainly originated from his command of 1st Marine Division, where he popularized its motto, “No better friend, no worse enemy.”

    The 66-year-old retired general is the only pick that has a legal roadblock in front of him. A 1947 law, updated in 2008, requires military officers to be out of uniform for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon. Mattis would need a waiver, which Republicans have already signaled support for.

    When asked recently if he was concerned by Mattis as Trump’s pick, Gen. Joe Dunford just said, “No.”

    If confirmed, Mattis would replace Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who supports Mattis and called him “extremely capable.”

    Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    DoD photo

    John Kelly just accepted Trump’s request for him to serve as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, according to CBS News.

    Like Mattis, he is a blunt speaker who opposes the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

    “What tends to bother them is the fact that we’re holding them there indefinitely without trial. … It’s not the point that it’s Gitmo,” he told Defense One earlier this year. “If we send them, say, to a facility in the US, we’re still holding them without trial.”

    Kelly is also the most senior-ranking military official to lose a child in combat since 9/11. His son, Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.

    If confirmed, Kelly would replace Jeh Johnson.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joe Dunford

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    US Marine Corps photo

    Joe Dunford is the last of the three generals who is still in uniform. He served briefly as commandant of the Marine Corps before President Barack Obama nominated him as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in May 2015. He earned the nickname “Fighting Joe” during his time with 1st Marine Division.

    Dunford has been in the Marine Corps for 39 years, less than Mattis’ 44 years and Kelly’s 45. His chairmanship term is scheduled to run through 2017. Though the Joint Chiefs are not part of the president’s Cabinet, they are appointed by — and serve as the top military advisers to — the president.

    Trump is likely to replace many of Obama’s appointees, but Dunford may not be one of them.

    Typically, Joint Chiefs chairmen serve two terms, and having comrades like Mattis and Kelly in Dunford’s corner would make it much harder for Trump to replace him.

    Trump has floated other generals and admirals for his Cabinet, including Gen. David Petraeus for secretary of state and Adm. Michael Rogers for director of national intelligence. Michael Flynn, his controversial choice for national security adviser, is a retired lieutenant general who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    These choices don’t come without pushback. Some, like Phillip Carter, a former Army officer with the Center for a New American Security, have argued that Trump’s reliance on retired military brass for traditionally civilian-led organizations could jeopardize civil-military relations.

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Taiwan overhauls combat drills to fight off an invasion by China

    Taiwan is planning a series of new, large-scale combat drills to boost military readiness for the possibility of armed conflict with mainland China.

    Taiwan’s military announced Jan. 9, 2019, that new drills are “being drafted based on newly adopted tactics for defending against a possible Chinese invasion,” according Maj. Gen. Yeh Kuo-hui, chief of the Ministry of National Defense’s Operations and Planning Division, the Associated Press reported, citing Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.


    2019’s exercises will include a month of combat readiness training in the first quarter, another month-long live-fire exercise in the second quarter, joint anti-landing operations in the third quarter, and joint anti-airborne maneuvers in the fourth and final quarter, Focus Taiwan reported.

    China claims absolute, indisputable sovereignty over Taiwan, an autonomous democratic territory perceived in Beijing as a renegade province. “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures” to achieve reunification, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned in a message to the island.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    China has an 3-million-member army and the world’s second largest defense budget. Taiwan lacks the numbers, but it does have a technologically capable fighting force, which the island hopes could repel a Chinese invasion.

    Beijing has previously warned Taipei that efforts to bolster its military capabilities are pointless.

    “I want to stress that it is a dead end to deny reunification by using force,” Wu Qian, spokesman for the Chinese defense ministry, stated in late December 2018, stating that the People’s Liberation Army will continue to conduct exercises and operations near Taiwan.

    The Chinese military carried out 18,000 military drills in 2018 and China’s armed forces are expected to continue to ramp up training in response to perceived threats to Chinese national interests. Taiwan’s military is doing the same.

    “We want to assure citizens that the military is constantly beefing up its combat preparedness and stands ready to fight for the survival of the Republic of China (Taiwan),” Taiwan’s military spokesman Chen Chung-chi said recently.

    In 2019, for the first time ever, the Council on Foreign Relations listed Taiwan as a potential flashpoint on its annual Preventive Priorities Survey, although it was ranked as a Tier II concern beyond other possible conflict zones, like the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Russia wants its flag to be raised at a consulate it doesn’t run

    The Russian Embassy in Washington has demanded that a flag removed from the now-closed Russian Consulate in Seattle be put back.

    The embassy claims that the U.S. removal of the flag “under the cloak of night” in late April 2018, violated international law and was “unacceptable treatment” of the Russian national symbol.


    But U.S. State Department officials countered on May 2, 2018, that the Russian flag was lowered “respectfully” from the Seattle consul-general’s residence after it was vacated in April 2018, under orders from the department.

    While the Russian Embassy said the mansion is still its property and the flag should still be flying there, the department countered that the house was built on U.S. government-owned land.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    The building that housed the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

    The State Department said it asked Russian consulate personnel to take the flag down themselves before they vacated the premises.

    U.S. officials say that U.S. diplomats took down an American flag flying at the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg with a brief ceremony when they were similarly ordered to leave by Moscow.

    “Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them,” the department said, adding that it will return the flag removed in Seattle to the Russian Embassy.

    The Seattle Consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government poisoned a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom with a nerve-agent in March 2018.

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

    Articles

    Army picks Sig Sauer to replace M9 service pistol

    The U.S. Army on Thursday awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth $580 million to make the service’s next service pistol.


    Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, the maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol.

    “I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System team,” Army Acquisition Executive Steffanie Easter said in a Jan.19 press announcement. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we have optimized private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines, and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”

    The Army did not offer any details about what caliber the new Sig Sauer pistol will be.

    Related: The Marine Corps has ordered Leathernecks to use PMAGs for their rifles

    The service launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. One of the major goals of the effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.

    Army weapons officials informed Beretta USA and FN America at SHOT Show 2017 that they had been dropped from the XM17 Modular Handgun System in a recent down-select decision, according to a service source who is not authorized to speak to the press.

    The decision formally ends the Beretta’s 30-year hold on the Army’s sidearm market.

    Beretta has fought hard to remain to remain the Army’s pistol maker. In December 2014, Beretta USA submitted its modernized M9A3 as a possible alternative to the Army’s Modular Handgun System program.

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities
    A soldier fires a Beretta M9 pistol. | US Army photo

    But the Army rejected the improved M9A3 which featured new sights, a rail for mounting lights and accessories, better ergonomics and improved reliability.

    Beretta was not finished yet. It developed a new striker-fired pistol, the APX and entered it into the APX.

    The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the joint effort has been in the works for more than five years. It could result in the Defense Department buying nearly 500,000 new pistols.

    Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 handguns, according to Program Executive Office Soldier officials. The Army also plans to buy approximately 7,000 sub-compact versions of the handgun.

    The other military services participating in the MHS program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.

    “As MHS moves forward into operational testing, the due diligence taken by all of the stakeholders will ensure a program that remains on-budget and on-schedule.” Easter said.

    Lists

    5 ways for spouses to survive a duty station they hate

    As your time is nearing an end at your current duty station and your rotation date is approaching, you are probably getting extremely anxious waiting to hear where your next assignment might be.

    You want to prepare, maybe even start packing, but you don’t even know what to save for immediate use at your next duty station or what to let the movers pack.


    Friends and family ask you every day if you know where you are going.

    How do you answer their questions when you, yourself, have a million questions running through your mind?

    “Will it be hot or cold where I’m going next?”

    “What will the housing be like? Is there space on base or will I be looking for a home in town?”

    “How am I supposed to enroll my kid in school if I don’t even know where I’m going?”

    “We are supposed to have our PCS Move in a couple of months and have not heard anything. We are still PCSing, RIGHT?!”

    Your neighbors and peers are getting assignments left and right. Every time you hear of a new assignment drop, you can’t help but judge their next base.Regardless if it’s a dream location or one that you would like to avoid, there is a sense of jealousy for the fact that they at least KNOW where they’re going.

    That’s when it happens. You get the phone call, email, tap on the shoulder, whatever it is, that you have been (im)patiently waiting for.

    “Congratulations! Your next assignment is ___________.” Is this a joke? There’s actually a military installation there?

    I’ve only ever heard it referred to as the location that you spend your whole career trying to avoid. I’ve heard others even console themselves after receiving a less-than-ideal assignment by saying, “well at least it’s not ___________.”

    What do you do in this situation?

    I’ll tell you what you do.

    You hold your head high and hope for the best. Chances are, you only have a split second to figure out your emotions before people start looking for your reaction.

    And guess what? Your reaction to this news is what sets the stage for the rest of your move.

    So how do you stay positive when you’ve only ever heard negative things about this duty station?

    1. Forget Your Past Wants

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Everyone puts together a “dream sheet” of assignments, whether actually written down on paper or just in your head. You imagine all of the amazing places the military could send you.

    It’s time to let go of all of that.

    Your past wishes and desires for assignments don’t matter anymore (at least not right now). Turn your new assignment into your first choice and make yourself believe that it’s what you have wanted all along.

    Our very first assignment drop was a public event. My husband stood in front of a room full of people as he was told where he would be going next, while I sat in the audience.

    We were waiting to hear whether we would be living on the East Coast or West Coast. When my husband was told that we would be moving across the globe to a remote island, my world was rocked.

    Everyone around me immediately turned to see my reaction, mouths wide open. Someone asked, “Is that what you wanted?” I was numb and don’t even know how I managed to get any words out, but I responded, “It is now.”

    I have tried my best to keep this mentality EVERY time we move. I try to get excited for any assignment and research everything I can about our new “home.” It’s not always easy, especially when you are leaving a fantastic place for the unknown, but it sure makes moving a lot easier when you’re looking forward to the place you’re going.

    2. Go Straight to the Source

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Most of what you have probably heard about this new location is hearsay. You’re likely hearing rumors from people that have NEVER been there before. Before you get all riled up, try speaking to people that have been there recently, or better yet, are currently there.

    One of the best resources I have found for gathering intel on a new duty station has been social media. Simply type your new duty station into the search bar of Facebook and you will probably find a number of informational pages.

    Join the local classifieds pages, spouse pages and activity pages. Here you will be able to ask any questions you might have and receive up-to-date answers.

    3. Debunk the Rumors

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Each duty station has a number of rumors associated with it, whether good or bad. Try to figure out why your new assignment has a bad rap and focus on the positives. Here is an example for our current assignment:

    “There is nothing to do.”

    “Think about all of the family time we will have. We can go camping, hiking, horseback riding, check out local farms and attend rodeos.”

    There will always be something to do and places to explore, but you have to actively search for them.

    “It’s in the middle of nowhere.”

    “We can do road trips on the weekend and see parts of the country we’ve never seen before.”

    Attempt to find the silver lining to each of the negative statements. Maybe even make it a challenge to dispel each of the rumors during your time at your new location.

    4. It’s Only Temporary

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    Do you remember how quickly your last assignment flew by?

    Be prepared for that to happen again.

    Three years (plus or minus) is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Make the most of your assignment and get to know a new part of the country (or world!) in the short time that you are there.Make a point to visit that local landmark, attend the parade downtown, see the state park and just go for a drive.

    Immerse yourself in the local culture and get to know your new home. If you’re not careful, it might be time to move again before you even got to know this new town.

    5. Remember that Attitude Is a Choice

    Army recruiting more soldiers from major cities

    You, and only you, can decide how you feel about something. You can make the choice to be excited about a new assignment, or you can choose to dread every minute of it.

    Don’t be tempted by those around you trying to bring you down.

    When you tell people where you are going next, you might hear, “I’m sorry” or, “Maybe you’ll get a good assignment next time.”

    They might be trying to be sympathetic, but in a sense they are peer pressuring you into feeling lousy about your assignment.

    You still have a choice. You can still choose to look forward to your move. You can still choose to stay positive.

    Finally, appreciate the fact that you have been given the opportunity to experience a place that you most likely would not have lived had it not been for the military.

    I am often told by civilians that I am “so lucky” to move every three years and travel the world. Even though PCSing most definitely has its ups and its downs, I do try to remind myself that we REALLY ARE lucky.

    I have made friends all over the world.

    Ihave artifacts from each of our assignments proudly displayed in our home.

    I have lived in the Deep South, the West Coast, a foreign country and the Great Plains.

    I have a greater understanding and appreciation for new people that I meet.

    The military has provided me with wonderful opportunities to try new places and has really shaped me as a person. I am more resilient, more patient and more curious than before.I have to remember that each assignment, no matter where it is, is simply adding to my life experience.

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

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