The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 19th - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of October 19th

The oddest story to came out of the military this week has got to be that sailor who got drunk at Busch Gardens, stripped off all of his clothes, tried to jump in random peoples’ vehicles, and fought the police officers trying to detain him before being taken down by a taser.

Now, if it weren’t for the fact that everyone in this numbnut’s unit now has to go through one hell of a safety brief, I’d be impressed. Clearly, there was a point where he realized that he’d f*cked up so badly that jail time was inevitable, so he nosedived right into legendary status. BZ. It’s better to burn out brightly than to just fizzle, right?


If you didn’t go streaking at a beloved, family-friendly amusement park and take a taser dart straight to the family jewels, then you’ve earned some fresh memes, just for not being a dumbass.

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

(Meme via Shammers United)

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

(Meme via Military Memes)

(Meme via Call for Fire)

(Meme by Ranger Up)

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

7. At least the chow hall has more options than “one patty” or “two patties?”

For real. How is there even a debate between In-N-Out and Whataburger?

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Can you actually pull a grenade pin with your teeth?

GatGatCat asks: Is cooking grenades and pulling the pins with your teeth something people really do or just something in games?

We’ve all seen it — the protagonist of a film whips out a hand grenade, dashingly yanks the pin with his teeth as his hair flows in the wind, counts one-potato, two-potato, three and hucks it at nearby teeming hoards of enemy swarming on his location. But is this actually a thing in real life?

First thing’s first, yes, if you have hair, it is possible for it to flow in the wind… As for the grenade part, the generally recommended proper technique is — “proper grip, thumb to clip, twist pull pin, strike a pose, yell frag out, hit the dirt”.


On the first step of “proper grip” it is particularly important to make sure to NEVER adjust your grip on the lever (called “milking”) once the pin is pulled. Doing so may let up enough on said lever to allow the striker to do its thing to the percussion cap, which in turn creates a spark, thereby causing a slow burn of the fuse materials lasting approximately 2-6 seconds for most types of grenade, after which the main charge will ignite, sending shrapnel in all directions. So should you adjust your grip, you could potentially have a really bad time, even should you re-squeeze the lever after. Such a thing has caused the deaths of many a soldier, for example thought to have been the cause of the death of Specialist David G Rubic who had an M67 grenade explode in his hand as he was about to throw it during a training exercise.

M67 grenade.

(Public domain)

As you can see from these steps, at no point is taking your sweet time getting rid of the grenade after you release the lever, called “cooking”, mentioned. Nevertheless, cooking the grenade is not without its virtues, with the general idea to minimise the window of opportunity the enemy has to react to said grenade — potentially throwing it back or diving for cover.

That said, while in film throwing the grenade back is a common trope, this is an incredibly difficult thing to pull off in real life. Consider that when the grenade is thrown, it is likely going to be in the air or bouncing around on the ground for a couple seconds in most scenarios, and thus about the only chance of someone actually picking it up and throwing it back successfully is if they Omar Vizquel’d it and caught it in the air and immediately hucked it back. But even then, whether it would get back to the thrower before exploding is anybody’s guess — quite literally given, if you were paying attention, that rather variable estimate of 2-6 seconds from lever release to explosion, depending on model of grenade.

For example, the US Army’s own field manual on the use of grenades and pyrotechnic signals states the fuse time tends to vary by as much as 2 whole seconds with, for example, the M67 grenade then having an estimated “3-5 second delay fuze”. So counting one-potato, two-potato potentially only gives you one potato to go through the throwing motion, then take cover. And if you happen to be on the 3 potato end of things to boom, that grenade is going to be extremely close to your position when it sings the song of its people.

It’s at this point we should point out that in many common grenade designs the potential lethal area is approximately 15-30 metres (50-100 feet), with the risk of injury from shrapnel extending to a couple hundred metres with some types of grenades. As you can imagine from this, potentially under one-potato just isn’t a good enough safety margin in most scenarios.

Giphy

For this reason, both the US Army and the Marines Corp strongly advise against cooking grenades with the latter referring to it as the “least preferred technique” to throw a grenade. As for the most preferred technique, to quote the Marine Corps manual on Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain:

The preferred technique involves throwing the grenade hard enough that it bounces or skips around, making it difficult to pick up. The hard-throw, skip/bounce technique may be used by Marines in training and combat.

That said, there are edge cases where cooking a grenade may be beneficial where the reward outweighs the risks and potentially environmental factors make it a safer prospect. As such, the same manual notes that cooking a grenade is a technique that can be used “as appropriate” based on the discretion of an individual Marine, but should never be used during training. Likewise, the US Army notes in its field manual on the use of grenades that the act of cooking off grenades should be reserved for a combat environment only.

As for situations where cooking a grenade is deemed potentially appropriate, the most common are clearing rooms and bunkers where there are nice thick barriers between you and the impending blast. (Although, it’s always worth pointing out that while many a Hollywood hero has taken cover on one side of a drywall wall, this isn’t exactly an awesome barrier and shrapnel and bullets easily go through the gypsum and paper. Likewise as a brief aside, any such hero ever trapped in a room in many homes and buildings can quite easily just smash a hole in the drywall to escape if they so chose. It’s not that difficult. Just make sure not to try to punch or kick through the part with a 2×4 behind it…)

In any event, beyond urban environments, hitting very close enemies behind heavy cover is another common scenario cited in field manuals we consulted for cooking a grenade.

As for the amount of time it is advised to cook a grenade before throwing it, every official source we consulted notes that 2 seconds is the absolute maximum amount of time a soldier is advised to hold onto a live grenade before throwing it, with emphasis on MAXIMUM.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

All this said, technology has improved this situation in some newer designs of grenades that use electronic timer components, rather than unpredictable burning fuses. In these grenades, you can be absolutely sure that from the moment you release the lever, you have exactly the amount of time the designers intended, making cooking these grenades a much safer prospect in the right circumstances. Further, there are also new grenade designs coming out with position sensors as an added safety mechanism, via ensuring they cannot detonate unless the sensor detects the grenade has been thrown first.

But to sum up on the matter of cooking grenades, soldiers can and do, though rarely, “cook” grenades to minimise the time an enemy has to react to them, although doing so isn’t advised and requires, to quote a book literally titled Grenades, “great confidence in the manufacturer’s quality control”. And, of course, similarly a soldier with balls or ovaries of solid steel and compatriots who are extremely trusting of their ability to count potatoes accurately — when literally a one second margin of error may be the difference between you dying or not, a sloppy seconds counter is not to be trusted.

Now on to the matter of pulling a pin with your teeth… While designs of grenades differ, from accounts of various soldiers familiar with a variety of grenades, as well as looking at the manufacturers’ stated pull power needed — it would seem trying to pull a grenade pin with your teeth is a great way to put your dentist’s kids through college.

For example, the relatively common M67 grenade takes about 3-5 kg (about 7 to 11 pounds) of force to pull free stock. The Russian F1 grenade takes about 8 kg (17 pounds) of pull power to get the pin out. Or as one soldier, referring to the Singapore SFG87 grenade, notes, “The pin was actually partially wrapped around the spoon(handle) of the grenade and was extremely stiff. You had to literally twist and yank the pin out, which made your fingers red and hurt a little.”

Frag out!

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Staci Miller)

Even without bent pins, to illustrate just how hard it can be to pull these pins in some cases, we have this account from Eleven Charlie One Papa by James Mallen. In it, he states,

[The] new guy had entered the hooch and hung up his gear, apparently from the canvas web gearing of his LBG but actually hanging on the pull pin of an HE fragmentation grenade, and then decided to go off somewhere. Worse still, the guy had not bent the cotter pin of the grenade over, so that at any moment…the gear would fall, the pin would be pulled out, the grenades’ primer would ignite, and give seconds later everyone in the hooch at the time would be killed or horribly wounded.I had a mini heart attack and turned immediately to jump out but a soldier behind me was blocking my way, whereupon I mostly violently pushed him out of the way, up the stairs and outside, to escape a quick and violent end…
I learned that the guy who was responsible for it would return soon. I decided that he would have to take care of it… After about ten minutes that soldier … returned…He went back down, seemingly unconcerned, and rearranged his LBG so that it was hanging by the suspender strap instead of the pull-pin of a hand grenade….

Going back to bent pins, while many grenades don’t come stock with the pins bent, this is a common practice done by soldiers the world over anyway, making it even more difficult to pull the pin. The primary purpose behind this is to ensure that the pin doesn’t accidentally get pulled when you’d rather it not, like catching on a stray tree branch as you’re trotting through the jungle, or even in combat when you might be hitting the deck or scrambling around haphazardly with little thought to your grenade pins.

Illustrating this, in Eleven Charlie One Papa, Mallen states, “I pointed out to him that the grenade cotter pin wasn’t even bent over and he said that he was completely unaware that he should have them bent over. So for the last week or so we had been humping the bush with this guy whose grenades could have easily been set off by having the pin catch in a big thorn or spike. I guess it was our fault for not telling the guy things like that, things that were never taught in basic or advanced infantry training back in the states.”

This practice, although widely utilised by soldiers is sometimes discouraged by some in the military precisely because it makes it extremely difficult to pull the pin if one doesn’t first take the time to bend the metal back. This not only makes the grenade potentially take a little longer to be deployed in a pinch, but is also thought to contribute to soldiers unintentionally milking the grenade directly after the pin has finally been pulled with extreme force. This is what is speculated to have happened in the aforementioned death of Specialist David G Rubic, as noted by Colonel Raymond Mason who was in charge of figuring out what went wrong. In the investigation, it was discovered that Rubic had, according to witnesses, both previously bent the pin and been holding the lever down at the time it exploded in his hand.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Dengrier Baez)

Of course, if one throws the grenade immediately upon pin removal, whether you milk the grenade or not makes little difference — with it only being extra risky if you choose to hold onto it for some number of potatos. On top of this, regardless of what superiors say, many soldiers are unwilling to entrust their and their compatriots’ lives to a mere 3-8 kg worth of pull force, which a tree branch or the like while jogging can potentially exert.

That said, a tree branch is not your teeth and whether bending the pins or not, as Sergeant Osman Sipahi of the Turkish Armed forces states, you can pull the pin this way, “but there is a high probability of you fucking up your teeth. It’s the same as biting the top of a beer bottle off; it’s doable but not recommended.”

Or as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Quigley, author of Passage Through A Hell of Fire And Ice, sums up: “The business in the movies of the guy grabbing the grenade ring in his teeth and pulling out the pin is a load; it does not happen unless he is prepared to throw out a few teeth with it as well. We have all commented how we would like to get some of those Hollywood grenades that allow you to bite off the pin, throw the grenade a few hundred yards, and never miss your target, going off with the blast effect of a 500-pound bomb…”

Bonus Facts:

Any article on the discussion of grenade usage would be remiss in not answering the additional question often posed of whether you can put the pin back in after you’ve pulled it and still have it be safe to let go of the lever — the answer is yes, but this must be done VERY carefully, as letting up even a little on the lever before the pin is fully-re-inserted can cause the striker to do its thing, potentially without you knowing it, as illustrated in the death of one Alexander Chechik of Russia. Mr. Chechik decided it would be a good idea to pull the pin on a grenade he had, take a picture, then send it to his friends. The last text he ever received was from a friend stating, “Listen, don’t f*** around… Where are you?” Not responding, reportedly Chechik attempted to put the pin back in, but unsuccessfully. The grenade ultimately exploded in his hand, killing him instantly, while also no doubt making him a strong candidate for a Darwin award.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski)

Next up, as occasionally happens to all of us, if you happen to find a grenade thrown at you or drop the one you’re holding with the pin already pulled, if no readily available cover is nearby the general recommendation is to lay flat on the ground with, assuming you remembered to wear your Kevlar helmet like a good soldier, your head towards the grenade. These helmets are designed to be an effective barrier against such shrapnel. This position also ensures minimal odds of any shrapnel hitting you in the first place via reducing the cross section of you exposed to the grenade’s blast.

Now, you might at this point be thinking as you have your shrapnel proof Kevlar helmet, why not just put it on the the grenade? Genius, right? Well, no. While these helmets can take a barrage of quite a bit of high speed shrapnel, they cannot contain the full force of the blast of a typical grenade, as was tragically proven by Medal of Honor winner, Jason Dunham. In his case, not trusting his helmet to contain the blast, he also put his body on top of the helmet to make sure nobody else would be hurt by the dropped grenade. He did not survive, but those around him did.

In yet another case of a soldier jumping on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers, but this time with a reasonably happy ending, we have the case of Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter. On November 21, 2010 while in Afghanistan, a grenade was thrown into his sandbagged position. Rather than run, he used his own body to shield the other soldier with him from the blast. Miraculously, though severely injured, Carpenter lived and was awarded the Medal of Honor in June of 2014.

In a similar case, during a battle on Feb. 20, 1945, one Jack H Lewis and his comrades were advancing toward a Japanese airstrip near Mount Suribachi. Taking cover in a trench under heavy fire, Jack realized they were only feet away from enemy soldiers in a neighboring trench. He managed to shoot two of the soldiers before two live grenades landed in his trench. Thinking quickly, Jack threw himself on the first grenade, shoving it into volcanic ash and used his body and rifle to shield the others with him from the pending blast. When another grenade appeared directly after the first, he reached out and pulled it under himself as well. His body took the brunt of the two blasts and the massive amount of shrapnel. His companions were all saved, but his injuries were so serious they thought he had died. Only after a second company moved through did anyone realize he was somehow still alive. Jack endured nearly two dozen surgeries and extensive therapy and convalescence. Despite the surgeries, over 200 pieces of shrapnel remained in his body for the rest of his life which lasted an additional six decades. He died at the ripe old age of 80, on June 5, 2008 from leukemia.

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

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran and Israel don’t want to fight a war – can they avoid one?

Editor’s Note: This story was first published on TheConversation.com in May 2018. It does not discuss the most recent development in the region, but is still a great guide to the state of tensions between the two countries.

After Donald Trump announced that the US would unilaterally pull back from the historic 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, Iranian forces in Syria fired rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for the first time. The Israelis retaliated by targeting Iranian forces and positions in Syria. That attack, which killed 23 people, was the biggest Israeli assault on Iranian positions in Syria since the civil war there started in 2011.

For a moment, it looked like two of the Middle East’s major political and military players to the verge of a full-scale military conflict. An Israeli-Iranian war could throw the Middle East into one of its most destructive clashes in modern history, one that could polarise the world’s powers, dragging in the US, a reliable ally of Israel, and Russia, Syria’s strongest ally and hence Iran’s strategic ally. And yet, neither has so far chosen to escalate further. Why?


For its part, Iran knows that its capacity to strike back is limited. But more than that, the two countries’ history and military development makes an explosive conflict unlikely.

While Israel has openly clashed with its Arab neighbors before — notably Egypt, Jordan, and Syria — it has never engaged in a direct military showdown with Iran. In fact, it’s easy to forget now that before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran and Israel enjoyed a close relationship. They were the US’s two main Middle Eastern allies, and Iranian oil was delivered to Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Things only changed when the Iranian Shah was ousted in 1979; after that, the revolution’s spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, proclaimed Israel a “foe of Islam” and cut off all ties with it.

Spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

But then came the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88. This grueling conflict had a huge impact on Iran’s military doctrine, and the experience of it underpins the country’s geopolitical and national security concerns to this day. The reality of war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq compelled the Iranian government to prioritiZe a more defensive foreign policy; where it participates in other conflicts, it usually prefers to do so via proxies rather than by direct military action.

As a result, to the extent Israel considers Iran a major existential threat today, it’s particularly worried about Iranian involvement in other Middle Eastern conflicts. It has more than once fought Iran’s ally Hezbollah in Lebanon, most recently in 2006. And while the protracted conflict in Yemen, for example, is in many ways a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iranian-backed forces could use Yemeni territory to strike Israeli targets.

But even if a conflict erupted on one of these fronts, there’d be another calculation to factor in: the two countries’ very different military assets.

Treading carefully

The bulk of Iran’s arms stockpile is domestically developed and manufactured, its own-brand rockets and missiles tested in the field mostly by Hezbollah. But in recent years, Iran has also been procuring weapons and technical expertise from nations antagonistic toward the West: China, Russia, and possibly (in nuclear form) North Korea.

Israel’s main strength is its exceptional military power. Its weapons systems include the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defence shields, extremely precise defence tools that can pulverise perhaps more than 90% of hostile missiles in mid-air.

Israel also commands air power unrivalled in the Middle East; it recently took possession of the US-manufactured F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which it is augmenting with its own technology. On top of all this, in 2016, the US agreed to increase its military aid to Israel to US.8 billion a year until 2028.

IAF F-35I Adir on its first flight with the Israeli Air Force, 2016.

And yet, Israel too is less than confident about the consequences of an conflict with Iran. However formidable its strategic and technological edge, it’s still unable to fully mend political and diplomatic fences with many of its Arab neighbours. It lives in hostile surroundings, constantly vulnerable to attack on almost all fronts. A major war with another heavily armed power is the last thing it needs.

At arm’s length

One advantage Iran does have is its array of proxies and non-state allies, which allow it to project hard power far closer to Israel than it would want to send regular forces. It has a valuable ally in Hamas, which controls Gaza; in Lebanon, Hezbollah could be prepared to assist if necessary. It could also exploit Sunni/Shia splits across the Middle East to secure the support of Shia volunteer armies. And since Saddam Hussein’s fall, Iran has been hugely influential in Iraq, which is struggling to establish a political order that can accommodate Shia, Kurds, and Sunnis.

Yet even with all this influence at its disposal, Iran would clearly prefer not to end up escalating a military conflict with Israel. Aside from the military implications, to do so would squander what moral and diplomatic support it’s gathered since the US’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

So for now, both sides are being cautious. Israel’s recent airstrikes targeted raid on military installations, not individuals — an acknowledgement that a heavy casualties might put Iran under pressure to retaliate. Meanwhile, Iran’s domestic debate on whether and how to respond is still rumbling, with progressives insisting the nuclear deal must be safeguarded while their hawkish countrymen would prefer a more confrontational stance. The government has yet to decide which road to take.

But whatever happens in the immediate future, Israel and Iran remain bitter foes, both heavily armed and tied up in a mess of geopolitical interests. Were a war to break out between them, they would gravely damage each other, but neither is likely to rise as the ultimate victor. That both seem to be fully aware of this reality is perhaps the most important thing standing on the way of what could be a true catastrophe.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

Articles

Army fielding new magazine optimized for M4/M4A1 Carbine and M855A1

The Army is issuing Soldiers a new small arms 5.56 ammunition magazine designed expressly for the M4/M4A1 carbine and M16 family of weapons.


The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, was the first unit to receive the new “Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), as free issue In July,” said Anthony Cautero, Assistant Product Manager for the M4/M4A1 Carbine.

Also read: Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision

Other units are acquiring smaller quantities through the standard supply system.

Cautero said the regiment received 6,800 magazines in July.

More than 49,000 of the new magazines will be issued to other units at JBLM before the end of the year, he said.

The Army’s new magazine, dubbed the Enhanced Performance Magazine , is currently being issued to units through the supply system. It is optimized for use with the Army’s steel tipped 5.56mm small arms cartridge, the M855A1, in the M4/M4A1 and M16. The EPM recognizable by its blue-grey follower. | U.S. Army Photo by Rob Hovsepian

Army engineers and scientists optimized the EPM to work with the M4/M4A1, M16 rifle, and standard military 5.56mm small arms round, the M855A1.

The M855A1, known also as the Enhanced Performance Round (EPR), has been in use since 2010.

Following the EPR’s release, engineering tests of M4/M16 rifles firing the M855A1 showed that the weapons were sensitive to the EPR’s steel tip.

A Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. engineering team subsequently made a design change to the magazine that corrected this issue.

The EPM eliminates weapon wear caused by the steel-tipped M855A1 at the upper receiver/barrel extension interface, a condition discovered during laboratory testing.

Soldiers insert the EPM into the magazine well of a carbine’s lower receiver that positions rounds for feeding.

The forward moving bolt and bolt carrier assembly strips the rounds from the magazine and feeds them smoothly into the chamber for firing.

Soldiers also can use the new magazine with the previous standard military 5.56mm round, the M855.

Army 1st Lt. Michael White from South Kingstown R.I., platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-182 Infantry Regiment of the Rhode Island National Guard, fires his M-4 rifle during a training mission. | U.S. Army photo

The EPM is tan-colored and has a blue-gray follower. The latter is the spring-loaded plastic component that positions each round up into the lower receiver of the weapon. Each magazine holds a maximum of 30 rounds.

Tests show that the EPM increases system reliability and durability.

It also ensures optimal performance in M4/M4A1 and M16 weapons when used with the EPM and EPR, Cautero said.

The Army expects to field more than 1.8 million of the new magazines over the next 12 months.

Center Industries of Wichita, Kansas, is the manufacturer.

Cautero said the Army has received more than 700,000 of the new magazines from the company to date.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

CNO sends a message to the Fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Gilday sent a message to the fleet to celebrate the 245th Navy Birthday.


Below is the text of his message:

Shipmates, this year we are celebrating our 245th Birthday virtually, around the world, together.

Although this birthday is different than in past years, what has not changed is how proud we can be of two and a half centuries of tradition, as well as our Sailors and civilians who continue to build our legacy with family members and loved ones at their side.

Today, Sailors stand the watch from the Western Atlantic to the South China Sea, and from the High North to the South Pacific. Your Navy enables prosperity 24/7/365 – at home and abroad – by helping keep the maritime commons free and open. And I promise you that our allies and partners – as well as your fellow Americans – all sleep better because you are there.

Our birthday is an important occasion because we celebrate our rich past, recognize the accomplishments of our shipmates today, and look to our bright future ahead.

The Navy needs you to be the best that you can be. Serve others. Be courageous. And always remember that America has a great Navy.

Happy 245th Birthday Navy Family. See you in the Fleet, Shipmates.

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Articles

UK’s SAS veterans are coming out of retirement to fight ISIS

The jihadist group Daesh (as ISIS hates to be called) warned the UK  it “will suffer the lion’s share of the slaughter it plans for Europe.” British military vets are going to be ready.


The threat Daesh poses to Europe is being taken very seriously by members of the United Kingdom’s veteran community. So seriously, in fact, almost 60 former members of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS), the UK’s most elite special forces outfit, are looking to get back in the fight.

According to the UK’s Mirror, 30 SAS operators, veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond have reenlisted, while 30 more are on standby to do the same. The SAS, along with U.S. special forces operators are currently fighting Daesh in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Related: American dudes with rifles make a quick stop in Libya and no one knows why

The recent Daesh attacks on Paris give the effort to fight the terror group abroad new urgency. Just as French special operators are on the streets of Paris and conducting counterterror operations they learned from Israeli commandos, the SAS’ elite counterterrorism unit, the Special Projects Group, are currently patrolling London in unmarked civilian vehicles.

“Former members of the SAS do rejoin the regiment, especially when there is a war approaching,” an unnamed British government source told the Mirror. “It happened after the 9/11 attacks and when the Iraq War began. But we have never seen a response like this.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

From homeless to hopeful: Veterans thrive with peer specialists’ support

Five years ago, Marine Corps Veteran Frederick Nardei returned to service, but not the military. He became a certified peer support specialist, dedicated to helping fellow Veterans whose futures were as uncertain as his had once been.


Nardei served as a peer specialist for a recent study at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, helping Veterans enrolled in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) manage their mental health and substance misuse challenges. The study was also conducted at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass., where it was led by Dr. Marsha Ellison.

Actively and significantly engaged in their own recovery from mental health issues, VA peer specialists serve as success stories for their fellow Veterans. Their experience using mental health services, combined with their VA training and certification, have made them valuable additions to VA’s mental health offerings.

“My own experiences with homelessness, drug abuse and mental illness had prepared my heart to serve in ways that the Veterans could easily relate to… When I share my recovery story, they say that they are inspired and empowered because they can see that I am the evidence that recovery is possible and achievable,” said Nardei.

The study, led by Pittsburgh VA’s Dr. Matthew Chinman, found that formerly homeless Veterans who worked extensively with peer specialists had greater improvements in their symptoms than those who did not work with a peer specialist. When asked about their work with a peer specialist, both the Veterans and the other HUD-VASH staff expressed great satisfaction. Veterans reported being less isolated, more integrated into their community, and more involved in recovery activities as a result of their work with a peer specialist.

Who better to help other Veterans on their recovery journey than someone who has been in their shoes?

“The Veterans who struggled with the shame and stigma of being homeless were able to overcome those barriers… because I was able to share with them my own experience with being homeless for seven months after my wife left, because of my heroin addiction,” said Nardei, one of an estimated 1,100 Veterans serving as VA peer specialists.

Recover, heal, grow

The peer support program inspires and empowers participants to recover, heal and grow. Nardei believes that there is nothing more powerful than seeing someone accomplish the things that once seemed impossible.

He’s the proof he inspires in others.

To become a VA-trained peer specialist, visit the VA Careers webpage for details.

To learn more about peer specialists and their how they improve Veterans’ lives, download the Peer Support Toolkit.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bellingcat alleges new evidence that Russian suspects are spies

The independent Bellingcat research organization claims to have more information that the two men suspected in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal have links to Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU.

Bellingcat said on Sept. 20, 2018, that a joint investigation with Business Insider “can confirm definitively” that the two suspects, Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov, have links to the GRU, “based on objective data and on discussions with confidential Russian sources familiar with the identity of at least one of the two persons.”

On Sept. 14, 2018, Bellingcat said it had reviewed Russian documents that indicated the two men had no records in the Russian resident database prior to 2009, a sign they may be working as operatives for the government.


“Crucially,” Bellingcat added at the time, “at least one man’s passport files contain various ‘top-secret’ markings which, according to at least two sources consulted by Bellingcat, are typically reserved for members of secret services or top state operatives.”

In its latest report, Bellingcat said it and Business Insider obtained Petrov’s and Boshirov’s border-crossing data for several European and Asian countries. It said the men’s names are believed to be aliases.

“Their globe-trotting, unpredictably meandering itinerary is at times reminiscent of characters out of [film series and television program] Mission Impossible, yet a focus on the countries of Western Europe is clearly visible,” it said.

A handout picture taken in Salisbury of two Russian men who have been identified as Aleksandr Petrov (right) and Ruslan Boshirov.

Bellingcat said a source in a Western European law enforcement agency informed it that the suspects had been previously arrested in the Netherlands, but “no information has been provided as to the time and context” of the arrests.

Passport numbers

Bellingcat said it discovered there were just 26 intervening passport numbers between Petrov’s document and the cover passport issued for Eduard Shishmakov, aka Shirokov, a former Russian military attache in Warsaw expelled by Poland in 2014 for espionage.

Shishmakov’s passport was issued in August 2016, the report said.

The finding suggests that the special authority that issued the passports had only granted 26 passports between April and August 2016, Bellingcat said.

It has been previously reported that the passport numbers of Boshirov and Petrov differed only three digits and that they held “Top Secret” and “Do Not Provide Information” markings.

The documents were allegedly issued by an authority normally reserved for intelligence officers and important government officials, it said.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on March 4, 2018, on a bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. They were seriously ill but later made a full recovery after spending several weeks in a hospital.

British officials said the two were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government for the attack.

In June 2018, a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, died and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, fell ill when they stumbled across remnants of the poison in a town near Salisbury.

Britain on Sept. 5, 2018, announced charges against the two Russian men as police issued photographs of the suspects.

The men acknowledged they were in Salisbury at the time, but claimed they were there as tourists.

Russia has denied any involvement in the poisoning.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mexico just took down one of its most wanted cartel leaders

Mexican marines captured a top leader in the Gulf cartel in northeast Mexico on Feb. 19, 2018, just a few weeks after a high-level member of the rival Zetas cartel was captured in Mexico City.


Jose Alfredo Cardenas, nicknamed “The Nephew” and “The Accountant,” was arrested in Matamoros early on Feb. 19, 2018. Officials said no shots were fired in the raid, which also seized two military-grade weapons, ammunition, and some cocaine and marijuana. A group of armed men reportedly fled the scene.

Mexican authorities tracked down Cardenas using wire intercepts, Mike Vigil, a former chief of international operations for the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider. Cardenas was captured along with two other men while entering a house, said Vigil, who said additional weapons and documents were seized.

Also read: Mexican cartels may have used a ‘homemade cannon’ to fire drugs over the border

Cardenas, 37, is the nephew of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the Gulf cartel boss who was arrested in 2003, extradited to the US in 2007, and sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2010. The younger Cardenas became a cartel leader after Guillen’s capture, and according to the DEA’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, he is one of two main leaders in a cartel that has seen “rapid turnover in leadership.”

Mexican federal officials said that Cardenas — one of the country’s most wanted criminals— moved among Matamoros, Mexico; the nearby city of Brownsville, Texas; and Mexico state in central Mexico.

The Gulf cartel has fragmented, with several factions now vying for influence in Tamaulipas, its traditional stronghold. The state is an important smuggling route for narcotics, migrants, and other illicit goods, and criminal groups there have expanded into kidnapping, extortion, resource theft, and other activities. Homicides in the state have risen each of the past three years, hitting 1,053 in 2017.

Related: Mexico’s cartel wars are getting worse before they get better

“What has happened in Tamaulipas is we have had two big groups of organized crime that have fragmented, and now we have more than 20,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a professor at George Mason University who wrote the book “Los Zetas Inc.,” told Business Insider late January 2018.

“It’s difficult to identify the number of cells that survive right now in the state and are still occupying or controlling different criminal activities,” Correa-Cabrera said, adding that there are “different factions of the Gulf cartel and some factions of the Zetas” in other cities around the state.

Cardenas is said to have taken control of a Gulf cartel faction in the area after the April 2017 killing of Juan Manuel Loisa Salinas, known as “Comandante Toro,” in Reynosa, a border city west of Matamoros. Mexican government sources also identified him as the Gulf cartel boss in Matamoros.

A statement issued by Mexico’s navy after Cardenas’ arrested said that “presumably he was the leader of a criminal organization in the region.”

He was reportedly competing for control of the cartel with a rival group in the nearby Mexican city of Rio Bravo.

By the morning of Feb. 20, 2018 — less than 24 hours after Cardenas’ capture — Matamoros residents were using social media to report gun battles in several areas of the city. “Matamoros under shootouts” and “precaution” were messages circulating with video recordings of the gunfire that appeared on social media.

Some said cars were left stranded after spikes on the roads punctured their tires.

Correa-Cabrera said that while it was too early to say definitively what provoked the clashes, they appeared related to Cardenas’ arrest.

After the mayorship was transferred from the conservative National Action Party to the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party in late 2016, the situation in Matamoros appeared more coherent, and the Gulf cartel leader’s capture may have disrupted some kind of agreed-upon pact, Correa-Cabrera told Business Insider.

More: This is what a Mexican cartel has done to up its drone game

“I am not sure why they arrested Cardenas,” she added. “It is interesting. We need to wait and see.”

Violence also broke out in Reynosa in the hours after the killing of Salinas. Gunmen shut down parts of the city with road blockades, and the federal attorney general’s office there came under fire several times. The months afterward also saw sustained, elevated violence.

However, Correa-Cabrera stressed that the criminal dynamics in Reynosa and Tamaulipas were distinct, making it hard to predict the fallout.

“We are not dealing here with a pure ‘kingpin strategy effect,’ understood in the most traditional sense” as a fight between malefactors for control of the territory, Correa-Cabrera told Business Insider.

Rather, a variety of actors with overlapping and sometimes shared interests are in Reynosa, she said, including federal forces, state authorities, and factions of different criminal groups. Paramilitary groups, made up of criminal and government forces acting in concert, may also be present. (There are at least 18 regional cartel leaders operating in northeast Mexico, according to El Universal.)

Criminal elements and members of the local, municipal, and state governments in Tamaulipas have often developed symbiotic relationships. Changes in political power and shifts in cartel leadership have in some instances disrupted those ties, leading to more violence.

“The situation in Reynosa is much more complex,” Correa-Cabrera said. “The whole state is very complex.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Germany might be considering a nuclear bomb

President Donald Trump’s relationship with Europe has been characterized by him attacking NATO for what he perceives as failures to meet the defense-spending goals alliance members have agreed to work toward.

A consequence of this newly contentious relationship is more interest in Europe in domestic defense capacity. In Germany, that interest is going nuclear.


(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

At the end of July, prominent German political scientist Christian Hacke wrote an essay in Welt am Sonntag, one of the country’s largest Sunday newspapers, arguing Germany needed to respond to uncertainty about US commitment to defending European allies by developing its own nuclear capability.

“For the first time since 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany is no longer under the U.S.’s nuclear umbrella,” Hacke argued, according to Politico Europe.

“National defense on the basis of a nuclear deterrent must be given priority in light of new transatlantic uncertainties and potential confrontations,” Hacke said. Divergent interests among Germany’s neighbors made the prospect of a joint European response “illusory,” he added.

Hacke is not the first in Germany to suggest longstanding ties with the US have fundamentally changed.

In June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Europeans “need a balanced partnership with the US … where we as Europeans act as a conscious counterweight when the US oversteps red lines.” Maas compared Trump’s “America First” policies to the policies of Russia and China.

While concern about Trump is very real, Germany is treaty-bound not to develop nuclear weapons, and discussions of doing so are seen as little more than talk.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

(Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

“Germany developing nuclear military capability, a nuclear weapon, a nuclear deterrent, will never be in the cards ever,” said Jim Townsend, an adjunct senior fellow in the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

“Things nuclear are always hot in Germany,” said Townsend, who spent eight years as US deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy. “This is not something that’s going to change and all of a sudden the Germans are going to think seriously about developing a nuclear capability. That’s just not going to happen.”

Others in Germany were also dismissive.

Journalist and defense expert Christian Thiels described the discussion as “a totally phony debate” and referred to Hacke’s argument as a “very individual opinion.” The same question was discussed “by very few think-tankers media people one year ago,” he added, “to zero effect.”

Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference and a former German ambassador to the US, argued that Germany’s pursuit of nuclear weapons would set an undesirable precedent.

“If Germany was to relinquish its status as a non-nuclear power, what would prevent Turkey or Poland, for example, from following suit?” he wrote in a response to Hacke. “Germany as the gravedigger of the international non-proliferation regime? Who can want that?”

German plans to phase out nuclear energy likely preclude the development of nuclear weapons, Townsend said, and, as noted by Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel in Germany, politicians who can’t convince Germans to support spending 2% of GDP on defense are unlikely to win backing for nuclear weapons.

This is not the first round of this debate.

Not long after Trump’s election, European officials — including a German lawmaker who was foreign-policy spokesman for the governing party — suggested French and British nuclear arsenals could be repurposed to defend the rest of the continent under a joint command with common funding or defense doctrine.

In mid-2017, a review commissioned by Germany’s parliament found Berlin could legally finance another European country’s nuclear weapons in return for protection.

There have been suggestions that “what Europe should do is depend on the French, the French nuclear capability, and the Germans pay into that and thereby kind of fall under the French nuclear umbrella,” Townsend said.

“Well, that’s not going to happen either,” he added. “As cool as it sounds for a think-tank discussion, in reality the French would never do that.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has advocated closer defense cooperation between France and Germany, but Paris has in the past expressed reservations about ceding control of its nuclear weapons. (The UK’s plans to exit the EU complicate its role in any such plan.)

Townsend said the debate was unnecessary, given that its premise — the loss of US nuclear deterrence — was unfounded.

“Trump notwithstanding, the US nuclear guarantee is not going anywhere,” he said. “No matter where we might be domestically as we talk about Europe or as we talk about NATO, we’re not going. Our nuclear guarantee is going to be there.”

But Trump has changed the way Europe thinks about its defense. Some welcome discussion of Germany acquiring nuclear capability, even if they don’t support it.

Ulrich Speck, senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, said on Twitter that while he didn’t favor “Germany becoming a nuclear state,” he did believe “there is a debate looming with the many question marks over the US with Trump, and that it’s better to have the debate. Germany needs to think through nuclear deterrence.”

“It’s crucial for Germany and Europe that we have a strategic debate,” Ulrike Franke, an analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Politico Europe. “What Germany is slowly realizing is that the general structure of the European security system is not prepared for the future.”

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Navy’s expeditionary medical teams provide COVID-19 support in New Orleans, Dallas

Navy medical personnel assigned to Expeditionary Medical Facility-M (EMF-M) have deployed as part of a U.S. Northern Command-led COVID-19 response to support civil health authorities in existing facilities in New Orleans and Dallas.

The first 50 personnel with EMF-M deployed to New Orleans April 1, followed by more than 60 additional personnel on April 4. They will work at the temporary federal medical station at New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.


Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cameron King, left, with the Expeditionary Medical Facility New Orleans Detachment checks the temperature of Ralinda Guss from Melba’s Poboys who donated food to the personal housing unit (PHU) April 16, 2020, in support of the Department of Defense response. The PHU is designed for symptomatic patients with pending COVID-19 test results. The EMF works in coordination with federal, state, and local health officials to ensure equipment and resources are in place and are operationally capable to safely treat patients. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric S. Garst)

“As we see more and more hospitalizations, this medical monitoring station will play an essential role in freeing up ICU beds for the most critically ill,” said New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Collin Arnold.

The EMFs work in coordination with federal, state, and local health officials to ensure equipment and resources are in place and are operationally capable to safely treat patients in an effort to lessen the strain on hospitals in the New Orleans region. Personnel assigned to the EMF will provide acute and emergency care in the personal housing units at the convention center.

The personal housing units will serve as isolated individual housing units for symptomatic patients transferred from area hospitals and who require observation, housing, meals and isolation while awaiting their COVID-19 test results.

U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to the Expeditionary Medical Facility-M, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services conduct a patient scenario exercise in Dallas, Texas in support of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Public Affairs Officer Lt. Eileen Suarez)

Once results are received, patients will be either released or transferred to the appropriate level of care depending on the patient’s COVID-19 status. If the patient tests positive for COVID-19, they may be transferred to the medical monitoring station across Convention Center Boulevard.

Additionally, over 170 personnel deployed to Dallas, April 3 to work in a temporary federal medical station established there to assist local medical personnel. Both locations will treat recovering COVID-19 patients and “low-acuity patients” — those who are ill but whose symptoms don’t require intensive or emergency care. All patients will be screened first at a local hospital.

This article originally appeared on All Hands Magazine. Follow @AllHandsMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

U.S. Marine Rob Riggle’s new mini-golf show is so extra it’s perfect

Maybe it’s because I recently went head-to-head in a heated eighteen holes of mini golf with a Navy SEAL, or maybe it’s because Rob Riggle’s humor is so goofy and delightful, but I am really enjoying ABC’s new show Holey Moley.

“Last week billions watched as mini-golf swept the nation. Diseases were cured, families reunited, ABC executives promoted. The world came together in arms and wept in joy for the only sport that matters on earth: mini golf,” Riggle announced, and he would never lie.

Riggle joins Joe Tessitore as on-camera commentators while Jeannie Mai reports from the course, which includes holes like the “Slip ‘n’ Putt” (where one contestant literally fell on his face — like, right on his face, guys; he started bleeding) and “The Distractor” where golfers must try to get a hole-in-one while something, or someone, distracts the hell out of them.

Enter Sergeant Putton.


Putton may be wearing the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, but his branch is 100% “Drill Sgt.”

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

In an episode titled “The Thunderdome of Mini Golf,” the “Distractor” as Sgt. Putton, whose only objective was to distract the golfer enough to miss the shot.

“He’s pushing buttons. The drill instructor is pushing buttons…because that’s what they do,” observed Riggle, who would know.

Also read: 23 photos of drill instructors terrifying the hell out of Marine recruits

Played by Travis Joe Dixon, Sgt. Putton proved to be loud, forceful, and a crowd favorite — much like real drill instructors, who are absolutely hilarious…as long as you’re not their target.

“My guess is ‘Jimmy Tropicana’ doesn’t respond well to authority figures. No doubt Sgt. Putton is equally repulsed by Jimmy’s civilian tracksuit,” declared Riggle with a jaunty commentator voice.

“Get out of the shadow,” ordered Jimmy, elevating my fear response. You don’t tell the drill instructor what to do, Jimmy! You never tell the drill instructor what to do!!!

Jimmy Ruiz proves he’s got balls in that tracksuit.

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

Putton agreed, marching over to get in Jimmy’s face again. “You do not tell me what to do. You and your hair gel.”

Imagine if someone wore hair gel to basic training…

Related: Should you wear your cowboy hat to basic training?

“The gallery’s simply loving this drill instructor,” laughed Riggle.

In the end, Jimmy finally survived Sgt. Putton and advanced to the next round and the ,000 cash prize.

Rob Riggle Is Golfing For Veterans

www.youtube.com

Rob Riggle Is Golfing For Veterans

Riggle’s been golfing for over twenty years and, in addition to hosting his new show, he produces an annual InVETational golf classic, raising money for Semper Fi Fund, a veteran non-profit that helps critically wounded service members and their families.

Holey Moley is on ABC Thursday nights at 8PM, sorry, 2000 hours — or you can find it on Hulu right now. Check it out and discover for yourself how satisfying it can be to watch people struggle succeed.