Here's what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

There’s no doubt the Trump Administration has long had a target for Iran. The Islamic Republic, for its part, makes it an easy antagonist for the United States. Now, the U.S. is taking the war of words one step further by designating the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.


While many groups are labeled as foreign terrorists by the United States, the IRGC is the first official military apparatus of an internationally recognized country to be labeled as such. Now what does that mean for the Revolutionary Guards and for Iran?

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

The United States and Iran have not been friends since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 ousted the Shah and installed the Islamic Republic – who allowed American citizens to be held hostage for 444 days. Ever since, the two powers have always stopped just short of an outright shooting war, choosing instead to cause malicious harm to one another behind the scenes. Iran provided material support and outright aid to insurgent groups fighting the U.S. military during the 2003-2011 Iraq War while the United States has consistently backed anti-Iranian operations throughout the region for decades. Labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization changes the game a little.

The Revolutionary Guards are a unit intended to defend the Iranian government, not just its borders; and its mandate extends to anywhere in the world that could pose a threat to the Ayatollah and his system of government. Its main concern isn’t limited to potential invaders, the IRGC will go after any group or person who poses a legitimate threat to Iran, traditionally through any means necessary.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Iranian soldiers in Iraq.

As of April 8, 2019, the Trump Administration has designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Now the IRGC is subject to a slew of financial restrictions that must be followed by citizens of the United States, and the move will pressure U.S. allies to follow suit. Americans and American companies cannot knowingly provide material support to institutions that might support the IRGC, specifically “currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel, transportation, and other physical assets, except medicine or religious materials.”

Revolutionary Guards members and people related to them can also be removed from the United States and any company holding IRGC assets must now retain them and report them to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. More importantly, this gives the U.S. more combat options under the most recent authorization for the use of military force.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

IRGC Commander Qasam Soleimani with Iraqi troops fighting ISIS in Iraq.

The United States has been operating on the post-9/11 AUMF passed by Congress since 2001. In that time, the AUMF has allowed the military to deploy to more than 150 countries in support of anti-terror operations, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere. If the Trump Administration tries to extend the AUMF to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, it could be tantamount to using the full force of the U.S. military against known IRGC units anywhere, under the 2001 AUMF.

Basically, all the President has to do to get the funds to invade Iran is to make a compelling argument that it’s harboring al-Qaeda. Which, to be clear, it is not. The brand of Islam espoused by al-Qaeda, and the brand taught by the mullahs in Iran have been at each others’ throats for centuries – so that argument would have to be incredibly compelling.

Articles

Inspector General claims US Army can’t account for trillions of dollars

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran


In a report released earlier this summer, the Department of Defense Inspector General has determined that the Army’s finances are a world-class mess. Reportedly, the service made $2.8 trillion in adjustments to make their books balance just in one quarter of 2015 in spite of the fact that the entire defense budget for that fiscal year was $585 billion.

According to Reuters, the Army’s books are so jumbled that they may be impossible to audit – and the Army is facing a September 30, 2017 deadline to be ready for one. The harsh IG report concluded the Army “materially misstated” its financial statements for 2015.

Making the task of squaring the Army’s books harder is the fact that over 16,000 documents have vanished from the Army’s computer system. The Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), the Pentagon’s primary agency responsible for accounting services, routinely changed numbers without justification at the end of the year, something employees of that agency referred to as the “grand plug.”

“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” DOD critic and retired analyst Franklin Spinney told Reuters.

The Army has taken issue with the IG report, claiming that the total discrepancies total just under $62.5 billion. An Army spokesman said, “Though there is a high number of adjustments, we believe the financial statement information is more accurate than implied in this report,” that and that the Army “remains committed to asserting audit readiness” and that steps are being taken to root out the problems.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘This Is Us’ hired a legendary Vietnam veteran to be a military advisor

If you enjoy one of the saddest best shows currently on broadcast television, then you’re in for a good cry treat — NBC’s This Is Us is exploring the background of one of its central characters, Jack Pearson, a Vietnam veteran. But to tell the story about Jack’s enlistment, producers and writers on the show needed the perspective that only an enlisted Vietnam veteran could give them.

They got it from one of the war’s most famous veterans.


The show follows the lives of three family members — one adopted — and the history of their mother and father. The family’s patriarch, Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack, died when the show’s three siblings (now in adulthood) were 17 years old. The history of the family’s mother and father is shown mainly through flashbacks. This season is exploring Jack’s service in Vietnam.

Not only did This Is Us put the actors in the show through a boot camp, they sent camera crews to Ho Chi Minh City — the city, as some Vietnam veterans remember, that used to be called Saigon. Most importantly, they wanted to give Jack and his brother Nicky as realistic a Vietnam experience as possible.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Ventimiglia in NBC’s This Is Us. His character is a Vietnam veteran.

(NBC)

Milo Ventimiglia’s character, Jack Pearson, deployed to Vietnam in 1971. He enlisted to follow his little brother, Nicky (as played by Michael Angarano), who was drafted into the Army. In reality, Ventimiglia’s Jack would have been rejected by a draft board for a heart condition. While the reason for Jack’s enlistment is a work of fiction, his experience in Vietnam may not have been.

In order to add to the realism of the show and to Jack’s tour of duty, This Is Us producers hired Vietnam veteran and author Tim O’Brien as a consultant. O’Brien, a draftee himself, wrote the seminal Vietnam war story, 1990’s The Things They Carried.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Author and Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien

(Photo by Darren Carroll)

O’Brien told Variety he was pleasantly surprised by how well the show portrayed realistic Vietnam War firefights while playing up the dread felt by soldiers who were on jungle patrols in the country.

“You’d think you’d be afraid of dying, but you were afraid of your reputation being sullied, am I brave enough, can I stand up under fire? And the alternative is guys lost it, and you’d almost be insane if you didn’t lose it,” O’Brien told Variety.

For medics, like Angarano’s Nicky Pearson, O’Brien says there was very little protection for them — the best they could hope for was to not get killed while getting all their wounded onto helicopters and out of the fighting.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Tim O’Brien in Vietnam

(Tim O’Brien)

O’Brien’s 1990 book is a collection of autobiographical short stories and essays inspired by his service in Vietnam. The author was drafted into the 23rd Infantry Division – the Americal Division – from 1969 to 1970. His unit operated in the area around Mai Lai, where a massacre was perpetrated the year before O’Brien arrived in country. O’Brien describes the lives of Vietnam War medics well.

“There wasn’t much you could really do. And watching people die and die on you day after day and lose feet and legs, you could expect how a guy could lose it,” the author says.
Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Jack Pearson in Vietnam, from NBC’s ‘This Is Us.’

(NBC)

The Things They Carried is routinely listed as one of the top books on Vietnam ever written, is listed as one of the 22 best books of the last 25 years by the New York Times, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. O’Brien himself is the recipient of numerous awards for The Things They Carried and his other works. Most recently, he received the Mark Twain Award in literature. For the show’s producers, collaborating with the Vietnam veteran was a rare treat.

“Tim has been a writing hero of mine since college,” the shows’ creator and executive producer Dan Fogelman told Deadline. “It was incredibly intimidating bringing him into our room to discuss a Vietnam plot line – and it was even more rewarding.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The musical transformation of Aaron Lewis

The Hoyt Sherman Place has been an icon in Des Moines, Iowa, for more than 140 years. Filled with eclectic paintings and sculptures, the structure once hosted some of America’s most powerful and influential people, including former presidents Ulysses S. Grant and William McKinley, as well as General William Tecumseh Sherman, whose brother is the namesake. Today, it’s a music and theater venue.

Last November, on an overcast and snowy evening, I visited the Hoyt Sherman to interview Aaron Lewis, who was taking the stage that night. The world-renowned musician rose to stardom in the early 2000s with the rock band Staind. However, Lewis’ current pursuit in the country music genre signifies a path most fans didn’t expect. The journey has brought his career full circle, reconnecting him to childhood memories and his roots. This unique musical dichotomy embodies who he is, was, and always will be — the ultimate outsider who is still trying to make it.


At 6:30 on the dot — just as expected — Pete Ricci, Lewis’ tour manager, found me in the lobby and took me to Lewis’ tour bus. I walked inside from the bitter cold and was immediately pursued by a small dog who jumped on my lap as I sat down. With a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, Lewis looked at me and said, “That’s Levi. He must like you.” I laughed and shook his hand while introducing myself. He took a sip of his coffee, sat down across from me, and said, “I’m ready.”

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

The stage at the Hoyt Sherman before Aaron Lewis started playing.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

At that moment, I was taken back to my youth — the endless nights as a teenager memorizing his harrowing and cryptic vocals. His two-decade career with Staind spawned seven studio albums — including the five-times-platinum “Break the Cycle” — with over 10 million units sold and worldwide tours but that was only the beginning for Lewis. In recent years, Lewis’ path has taken him in a different direction. A serendipitous voyage back to his first music listening experience: country music.

Lewis began to reveal how he transformed from a rockstar into a country musician whose second country album, 2016’s “Sinner,” debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country albums chart and fourth on the famous Billboard 200. Growing up, Lewis spend a lot of time with this grandfather, a man who had a deep love for the foundations of old-fashioned country music — artists like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams Jr.

Aaron Lewis – “Country Boy” (Official Video)

www.youtube.com

“Growing up I didn’t dig it at all,” Lewis said. “It was a forced listening for sure. I ran as far away from that style and type of music as I possibly could and ended up in a rock band. But it’s kind of a funny story with what rekindled it.

“I was on Kid Rock’s bus one night back in 1998. […] It was one of those nights where we stayed up all night drinking and using substances,” he continued. “The whole time he is playing this old country music, and in my head it’s replaying the soundtrack of my childhood. It was the first time I had let any of that style of music, that twang, come back into my life or listening choices.”

That late night alongside Kid Rock was life changing with respect to Lewis’ future. It was the start of something new, a transformation that would lay dormant as he ascended to the top of the rock industry with Staind. It erupted full flame years later.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing “So Far Away” by Staind in the official music video.

(Screen capture via Atlantic Records/Youtube)

“When I got to the end of my record contract with Staind I was good with that,” Lewis said. “I needed to put that away for a bit and reinvent what I was doing, something that wasn’t going to get compared. So the music of my childhood is where that manifested itself.”

There are endless stories of musicians who tried to transform themselves and failed, but Lewis’ isn’t one of them. His past creations have topped the charts, and his country music has received critical acclaim and best-selling status. Despite that, Lewis still feels out of place. He considers himself an outsider, a man who doesn’t fit in the country-music box.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

(Photo courtesy of Aaron Lewis/Instagram)

Part of the reason is that today’s country music hardly resembles the pillars upon which it was built. It is often conflated with pop culture crossovers in order to appeal to a wider audience and generate more revenue, something that frustrates Lewis. On the business side, Lewis said the conglomeration of radio stations led to the Top 40 industry taking over country radio.

“When [Taylor Swift] came out as a cute little country girl and got airtime on Top 40 radio, all of a sudden [country music] had an audience of hundreds of millions of people across the world,” Lewis said. “It set up a model to strive for. […] Do I get it from the competitive road of radio and advertising? To an extent, but I am also able to see the short-sightedness of it. When you handle the country genre like Top 40, you are alienating a majority of your listeners.”

It’s a conflict that Lewis has never shied away from, even putting it into a hit single from the album “Sinner.”

“Life’s not all sunshine and roses. I mentioned that in ‘That Ain’t Country,'” Lewis said. “Most stuff on country radio these days are tales of good times and happy endings. But guess what? Life isn’t like that. Life is a struggle from the time you realize it is a struggle. But if life wasn’t a struggle, those happy moments wouldn’t stand out so much.”

Lewis’ comments on struggle hit on something he has spoken about over the years. When comparing what he wrote while in Staind to what he is putting out now, there are similar themes. His lyrics are brooding, introspective, and explore the scope of the human experience. It’s curious how a man who has accomplished so much routinely speaks from such a dark place.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing at the Hoyt Sherman.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

“I just can’t help but be a bit dark with my writing. That’s just the vein of creativity I have that is evoked by music,” Lewis said. “I’m never really inspired to write about happiness. I have a couple of times completely by accident and been really weirded out by recording it, as weird as that sounds.”

He continued: “I tend to tap into the darker side of myself for writing purposes. The things that I can’t say in life and normal conversation are what I tend to express in songs. We can all be socially challenged sometimes when trying to say what is on our mind the right way — to truly express it to the person sitting in front of you in the manner you are trying to. To say it in a manner they won’t take the wrong way for any multitude of reasons. I’m not affected by those limits in the writing process.”

After accepting a cup of coffee and a cigarette from Lewis, the conversation veered into the acceptability of the aforementioned lyrical topics — how it may be okay in one genre but considered taboo in another. I relayed how my parents were conflicted about the music I listened to as a teenager: Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Korn, and a handful of others. These bands were contemporaries of Lewis and Staind. My stepmother was convinced that this music made me rebellious and was the work of the devil.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing at the Hoyt Sherman.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

“That was a way for parents to define how this music could have such an effect on their children,” Lewis said. “As a parent, to wrap your head around the fact that your child is finding solace in something like that — that can be a tough thing to define. To someone who is super religious, well, it must be the devil for it to have that much of a hold and an impact — but that’s just the magic of music.”

But as magical as music can be, it still takes a toll on someone who makes it their career. Life on the road can present a troublesome and extreme burden. The sacrifices made by artists like Lewis aren’t often recognized by listeners beyond what they hear in a song. Fans aren’t necessarily attached to the plight of their favorite artists, just what they produce.

Lewis mentioned that the Thanksgiving holiday prior to our meeting was one of the only breaks he’d had from touring since February. There is certainly a cost to being in the limelight. But what exact price has he paid — and has it been worth it?

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing at the Hoyt Sherman.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

“As crazy as it might sound coming from my mouth, I still feel I am only as good as the next song that comes out,” Lewis said. “I still have a really, really hard time stopping and smelling the roses. I still feel at times that maybe one day I will make it — it’s really fucked up.

“Most creatives are the walking wounded. We would do just about anything to be seen and heard. We are so broken on the inside that we will wager anything to feel that connection and acceptance. This ride that I’ve been on, this ‘dream come true’ that everybody calls it, that I’m living my dreams — yeah, okay, maybe. But it’s also cost me everything that has ever meant anything to me.”

After letting that sentiment sink in, I took one more drag of my cigarette and one last sip of coffee before asking what advice Lewis would give an aspiring musician.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing at the Hoyt Sherman.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

“Be careful what you wish for. There is a cost to everything,” he said. “There is a lot of truth to that old story about Robert Johnson meeting the devil at the crossroads and selling his soul. That is kind of what you are doing when you sign a record deal. The longer you survive having a record deal, the more your soul fades and pretty soon there is nothing left — because your feet never touched the ground and you never slowed down enough to see it all go away. So be careful what you wish for.”

With those cautionary words, I turned off my recorder. Lewis was set to take the stage in an hour, so after a final handshake, I prepared to head back into the venue.

“Enjoy the show, Chris,” Lewis said as I made my way off the tour bus.

Over the next few hours, Lewis and his bandmates performed a memorable set for the sold-out crowd at the Hoyt Sherman. The set list included most of his recent country efforts, but he also threw in several Staind hits. Lewis played a few new songs from his upcoming album, “State I’m In,” including “The Party is Over,” “God and Guns,” and “Keeps on Working,” the latter of which he joked would make him some more friends in Nashville. “State I’m In” is slated for release on April 12, 2019.

Here’s what being labeled a terrorist organization means for Iran

Aaron Lewis performing at the Hoyt Sherman.

(Photo by Christopher Hart/Coffee or Die)

Lewis’ musical transformation is a testament to the idea that life isn’t about the destination — it’s about the journey. And while his solo country music career appears to have solid footing, he’s made headlines recently for walking off stage when the audience was being unruly. He also mentioned during a live performance earlier this month that Staind might be making a comeback. “I might be lying, but I might not. There might even be live shows this year. I can’t say for sure. You never know.”

Lewis shows no signs of slowing down, but he also appears to be living in constant conflict. As I left the Hoyt Sherman, I replayed the night’s events in my mind and wondered when, if ever, Aaron Lewis would feel that he had made it.

Aaron Lewis – That Ain’t Country (Official Video)

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US Army is sending 20,000 troops across the Atlantic to see if they have the ‘bandwidth’ to fight a major war

US Military Sealift Command cargo ship USNS Benavidez and US-flagged merchant vessels MV Resolve and MV Patriot set off across the Atlantic for Europe last month, escorted by guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf through a path made by the Eisenhower carrier strike group.


Crossing the Atlantic isn’t new for the Navy, but this exercise — a convoy operation simulating an opposed transit — is the first of its kind since 1986.

“We may not have been doing it for the last 35 years, but we have had … to conduct convoy operations around the planet,” Capt. Andrew Fitzpatrick, Vella Gulf’s commanding officer, told reporters last week. “So we’ve put some of those concepts and lessons learned into how we’re executing this particular operation.”

The convoy comes ahead of this spring’s Defender-Europe 20, a massive multinational exercise to which the US is shipping 20,000 troops and much of their gear — the largest deployment of US-based forces to Europe in 25 years.

Defender-Europe 20 will feature “a fictional near-peer competitor” in a future “post-Article V environment,” an Army planning official said last year, referring to NATO’s collective-defense provision.

Like the Navy’s convoy, the Army-led Defender-Europe 20 is about practicing old skills to confront new challenges.

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USNS Benavidez in the Atlantic, February 26, 2020.

US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Jordan R. Bair

The right bandwidth

Preparations for Defender-Europe 20 began in January, when US personnel loaded vehicles and equipment for rail transport to US ports.

The first combat power arrived on February 20, when US Army tanks and other vehicles rolled into the port of Bremerhaven in Germany. Participating countries will stage equipment at 14 air and seaports in eight European countries as the exercise gets underway.

Another 13,000 pieces of equipment will be drawn from Army Prepositioned Stocks in northwest Europe and deployed across 18 countries for training — ground convoys will cover some 2,500 miles to stage the exercise.

Defender-Europe 20 will end with US and partner forces cleaning training areas, returning equipment to those stocks, and for US troops, redeployment to the US.

Like crossing the Atlantic, getting around Europe isn’t new, but doing so now will test skills that haven’t been used much in the years after the Cold War, when the US presence in Europe dwindled and NATO’s ability to rapidly deploy atrophied.

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A M1 Abrams tank was the first piece of combat power to roll into Europe for Defender-Europe 20, in Bremerhaven, Germany, February, 20, 2020.

US Army/Sgt. Benjamin Northcutt

“I’m concerned about the bandwidth to be able to accept this large force,” Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of US European Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 25, when asked what challenges he expects the exercise to present.

“I’m also concerned about road and rail from the center portion of Germany … all the way to the eastern border,” Wolters said.

“Because we have the appropriate resources, we now possess a white-team capability to examine our speed of move from west to east, and we also have enough white-cell individuals to assess how safely we get stuff through Bremerhaven and to the next point,” Wolters added. “Bandwidth with respect to size and speed are my greatest concerns.”

This exercise “will allow us to see ourselves at all three levels — tactical, operational, strategic,” Gen. Gus Perna, head of US Army Material Command, which oversees installations, maintenance, and parts, told reporters in February.

“It will reinforce where we think we are tactically as far as material readiness,” Perna added. “Can we mobilize ourselves out of the barracks and the motor pools, move to the ports and the airfields, and then strategically project ourselves to some place across the ocean?”

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Tracked vehicles are unloaded from US vessel ARC Endurance at Bremerhaven, Germany on February 21, 2020.

US Army/Jason Johnston

Counting every second

Since Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine, the US military has boosted its presence in Europe and increased its logistical capability there, disembarking in new places and using new methods to get around.

“On the logistics side of the house, the environment in Europe has to be mature enough to be able to absorb 20,000 soldiers and get those soldiers to the right prepositioned locations to be able to grab the appropriate gear that they’re supposed to get to their foxhole and be able to execute,” Wolters said.

“What we want to do is count every second that it takes to get the soldier from the first point of entry all the way to his or her foxhole to be successful … and we anticipate that there will be some snags,” Wolters said.

Wolters credited the European Defense Initiative, started after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, with making Defender-Europe 20 possible.

EDI has “funded the rotational brigade combat teams that go to Poland, and that teaches all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines how to lift and shift larger quantities of forces across the Atlantic and to do so without any harm,” Wolters told the committee.

EDI also funded “our emergency contingency air operations sets for the Air Force, and our deployable air base systems for the Air Force,” Wolters said. “We’ve also been able to dramatically improve our airfield infrastructure and the reception infrastructure in the eastern part of Europe to where it is equipped today to safely receive those resources and effectively get those resources where they need to go.”

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US Army troop carrier vehicles are put on railcars during an Army Prepositioned Stock movement, the first in support of Defender-Europe 20, at Coleman Barracks in Mannheim, Germany, January 28, 2019.

US Army/Spc. Elliott Page

But EDI funding has been particularly important for the Army’s Prepositioned Stocks.

Two years ago, “we weren’t mature enough with respect to the prepositioned stockpiles to have a soldier show up at location X and be able to grab resources. Today, we can do that,” Wolters said. “We know the fitness of the resources, and now we’ll be able to examine the speed at which they can get to the foxhole and be able to execute.”

Those stocks keep heavy equipment like tanks and critical supplies like ammunition at forward locations so troops can deploy, equip, and move to the front line.

Perna, head of Army Material Command, said last month that his command was working on another prepositioned stock to be located where Wolters and the head of US Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, felt it was needed.

“I can envision where Defender 2020 might illuminate several things” about those stocks, Perna said. “Is it in the right place? Do we need to adjust? Do we want to set up alternate sites to keep everybody guessing about what we’re doing? Is there a better place to put things for better advantage?”

“I also think coming out of Defender 20 might be a thought process of, ‘Hey, we need more … or we need different from what we have,'” Perna added.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e5f4983fee23d4c79335f95%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=75&h=b560df129e5a5a891eca4597d68f9bb19c01f46eeac2667bddd0130e6846e446&size=980x&c=2551768918 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e5f4983fee23d4c79335f95%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D75%26h%3Db560df129e5a5a891eca4597d68f9bb19c01f46eeac2667bddd0130e6846e446%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2551768918%22%7D” expand=1]

US Army Reserve soldiers check vehicles at Fallingbostel, 30 miles outside of Bergen-Hohne, Germany, for Defender-Europe 20, February 8, 2020.

US Army/Maj. Joseph Bush

‘Shoot, move, and communicate fast’

In his testimony, Wolters expressed concern about road and railways in eastern Germany, but transportation infrastructure throughout Eastern Europe has been a persistent worry.

In addition to a tangle of customs rules and transport regulations, railway sizes often vary between countries in that part of Europe, meaning delays as cargos cross borders. Roadways there are often narrow and, in some cases, can’t handle heavy vehicles — a particular problem for Eastern Europe’s many aging bridges.

All this would be complicated in wartime, as Russia, which used to control much of Eastern Europe, is familiar with the weak points. (Russia is “not overly pleased” with Defender-Europe 20, Wolters said.)

NATO and the European Union have also devoted resources to improving local infrastructure. NATO also set up two new commands to oversee movements like those underway for Defender-Europe 20. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, oversees operations in the Atlantic, while Joint Support and Enabling Command in Ulm, Germany, oversees allied armor and troop movements in Europe.

Limitations on civilian infrastructure, particularly in the Baltics and Poland, are “an issue that all of Europe was very, very aware of in the mid-’80s, and they are getting themselves reacquainted with it today,” Wolters said.

“They understand the imperative of making sure that we have bridging programs in the regions in the northeast and the southeast of Europe to ensure that we can shoot, move, and communicate fast.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The highly caffeinated life of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the chain-smoking D-Day mastermind who became president

There are a lot of benefits one can get from drinking coffee. Studies show the right amount of coffee can lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes. It also has a protective effect on your liver, whatever that means.

But history shows that drinking the right amount of coffee could also help your ability to mastermind the largest amphibious military operation in history (sorry, Marines), defeat the Axis powers, and reassert federal authority over the states. In the mind of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the “right amount” was as much as 15 to 20 cups of coffee every day, depending on which of those feats was most important.


In just over two years, the brigadier general who’d never seen combat became the supreme Allied commander in Europe — an intense situation for anyone. Throughout the war (and into his presidency), Ike drank up to 20 cups of coffee and smoked four packs of Camels as he worked day and night to win the war in Europe.

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NPG.65.63. PO 3262. Oil on canvas, 1947.

For Eisenhower, the answer was simple; Type 2 diabetes wasn’t occupying Paris, and doing the work necessary to win World War II required a diet of coffee and cigarettes.

There’s a lot to be said about Eisenhower’s service record. For one, Ike never saw combat, and that was never his specialty, even if it grated on him at times. But there’s more to serving in the military than being a hardcore, door-kicking Nazi-killing machine.

Someone has to get the Nazi-killing machines to the Nazis, and that’s where Ike came in.

At the outset of World War II, Eisenhower was a relatively unknown junior officer who had never held command above a battalion level. But as the war continued, his boss, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, came to rely more and more on his logistics and leadership ability.

First up was planning the greater war in the Pacific. Eisenhower needed to send a division of men to reinforce Australia. He requisitioned the British luxury liner RMS Queen Mary to carry 15,000 soldiers from New York to Sydney around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. After the ship departed, the Army learned that Axis U-boats knew about it and would be hunting it every step of the way. Eisenhower paced the floor until the Queen Mary arrived in Sydney.

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Ike was fueled entirely on coffee, cigarettes, and a burning desire to win.

That’s the kind of leader Eisenhower was. He didn’t show it, but he was wracked with anxiety over the potential loss of so many Allied soldiers. Chugging coffee, chain-smoking, and pacing was how he dealt with the pressure.

When he was awaiting word on that first troop transport’s arrival in Sydney Harbor, Eisenhower wore the same calm demeanor as he did reviewing the troops preparing to land at Normandy on June 6, 1944. He walked among them and asked questions, speaking with them at ease. He watched as they prepared to mount an invasion that even he wasn’t sure would be a success.

Ike famously wrote two speeches for the D-Day landings — one if they were successful and one in case they failed. He knew he was taking a gamble with all those men’s lives.

In his mind, 75% of them were going to die trying to free Europe on his orders. He had done all he could, drinking cup after cup of coffee, battling insomnia and headaches to give them their best shot at victory.

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Trolling his own vice president? Public domain photo.

As June 6 came and went, he paced around a trailer, chain-smoking through the day and into the night. He downed cup after cup of coffee, waiting for reports of the invasion to come in.

Coffee was Eisenhower’s constant companion as he navigated the postwar world of the 1950s, managing the Soviet Union, the end of the Korean War, the Suez Crisis, the Interstate Highway System, and the use of the US Army to enforce federal laws in the states.

Ike struggled with health issues, especially heart disease, in his post-military career. He suffered at least seven heart attacks and a stroke before his death in 1969. But that wasn’t the coffee’s fault. The supreme Allied commander developed a brain tumor that made him vulnerable to heart attacks.

All that coffee just fueled the end of fascism in Europe and a reboot of the American century.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.


Articles

US Navy Blue Angels will fly over Disney World

You don’t see too many planes flying over Walt Disney World, but that will change on April 6 when the U.S. Navy Blue Angels make two flybys over the Magic Kingdom.


This isn’t the first time the performance squadron has graced the skies above Mickey’s place. The Blues did a flyby back in 2015, when six F/A-18 Hornets flew right over Main Street and performed a Delta Break in which they split into six different directions. The two planned flybys on April 6 will happen between 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m., according to the Disney Parks blog.

The Blue Angels are set to perform at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida. They practice at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on April 6 and April 7 and have performances on April 8 and April 9.

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Smoke on! (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While they are based in Pensacola, the Blue Angels are making their first Florida appearance of the year. Their Air Force counterparts, the Thunderbirds, have already made two of their three planned air show appearances for 2017 ,having just performed at the Melbourne Air Space Show the weekend of April 1.

A highlight of that was the transportation of 87-year-old Buzz Aldrin, who can now say he’s walked on the moon and flown in a Thunderbird. They earlier performed at the TICO Warbird Airshow in Titusville, Florida, and had their own flyby of an American icon, when they took to the skies over Daytona International Speedway ahead of the Daytona 500.

The Thunderbirds finish their Florida schedule for 2017 with a stop up in the Panhandle for the Gulf Coast Salute at Tyndall Air Force Base on April 22-23.

The Blue Angels will make three more stops in the state stretching into November: the mid-summer Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 8, a two-day performance at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Nov. 4-5 and the Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Nov. 11-12. Air shows held at military bases are free.

The Sun ‘n Fun will also feature the French Air Force’s Patrouille de France Jet Demonstration Team, which this year is making its first U.S. appearances in 30 years.

popular

See what happens when this airsofter with a minigun takes on a full squad

So let’s get this out of the way, right away: Airsofters can take things a little too far. There are few things more ridiculous than a 17-year-old in full kit, complete with Ranger tabs, talking about “being in the s**t.”


But to venture a guess, most airsoft players are probably just in it for the fun game that it is.

Not everyone meets the military standard. Or wants to.

If you don’t take the airsoft life too seriously, the game is a fun exercise that gets you out of the house and away from a computer screen. Take it from a military writer who spends a lot of time chained to a desk. That pic above might as well be me on my way to work every day.

Life is full of force-on-force exercises. So why not mix it up by playing a game?

And maybe take it a step further and go head on against an airsofter with a rotary cannon.

The rules of the game “Juggernaut” are simple. One volunteer gets a large ammo capacity gun, preferably some good protection from incoming fire, and about 10-15 other players to fight. The juggernaut starts at one end of the “battlefield” while everyone else starts at the other.

There are many variations on how to “kill” the juggernaut. Some games use a milk jug attached to the back of the juggernaut. Once you shoot away the jug, the game is over. In the video below, they tie a series of balloons the other players must pop to “kill” the juggernaut.

Watch the Juggernaut take on a squad of his friends in some admittedly awesome Star Wars-inspired custom armor.

Articles

This is how agile ‘Lightning carriers’ could rule the South China Sea

The US Marine Corps just set forth its vision of a battle plan to take on growing threats around the world — and it calls for small “Lightning carriers” armed to the teeth with F-35s.


The 2017 Marine Aviation Plan acknowledges the burgeoning “missile gap” between the US and adversaries like China, who have a number of “carrier killers” — long-range precision weapons specifically designed to hit land bases and aircraft carriers before they can hit back.

While the US Navy is working on the MQ-25A Stingray as an unmanned refueling system to extend the range of its carrier aircraft, the Marines seem ready to press ahead with a similar concept in “Lightning carriers.”

Basically, the Marines will already have enough F-35Bs to equip several of their smaller amphibious assault ships, sometimes known as helicopter carriers, while the Navy waits on their F-35Cs to sort out carrier-launch issues for its larger, Nimitz-class carriers.

Related: Here’s when the F-35 will use stealth mode vs. ‘beast mode’

“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier, it can be complementary, if employed in imaginative ways,” reads the plan. The Marines refer to one such creative use of the smaller carriers as a “Lightning carrier,” or an amphibious assault ship with 20 F-35Bs and an “embarked, organic aerial refueling capability” to extend their range.

The Marines plan to further reduce reliance on land and sea bases with “mobile forward arming and refueling points” that employ decoys and deception to confuse the enemy and keep US aircraft spread out and unpredictable.

The F-35B with its stealth, unparalleled intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, plus extended range, can match the long range missiles fielded by Russia and China and help the Marines secure land and sea bases by allowing them to see first, and if need be, shoot first.

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Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during the Lightning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration. | US Navy photo by Andy Wolfe

In December, an F-35 pilot aboard the USS America, a new type of amphibious assault ship built specifically for the F-35, called the “Lightning carrier” concept “the most powerful concentration of combat power ever put to sea in the history of the world.”

Additionally, the F-35 won’t just increase capabilities, but if acquired faster to replace the aging F-18s and Harriers in the Marines’ fleet, it could save $1 billion, according to the US Naval Institute.

But the Marines aren’t just waiting on the F-35B to save them. The service has big plans to network every single platform into a “sensor, shooter, electronic warfare node and sharer – able to move information throughout the spectrum and across the battlefield at light speed.”

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From boots on the ground to satellites in the sky, this complicated graphic details how the Marine Corps plans to integrate every bit of data from any platform, anywhere. | USMC Graphic

With upgraded data sharing and command and control abilities, every asset from boots on the ground to satellites in the sky will work together to provide decision-quality information to war fighters, whether they’re on carriers, land bases, or taking a beach.

While China cements its land and sea grab with militarized islands in the South China Sea, the Marines’ aviation plan takes on a new urgency. The plan details how the first F-35B squadrons will deploy to Japan and the US’s West Coast.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Fort Benning hosts ‘Shark Tank’ style competition for changes to the base

On December 1st of 2020, Fort Benning launched a new type of platform. One where soldiers could bring their best ideas to the table and have them heard by the higher-ups. Known as the Maneuver Innovation Challenge, or MIC, the goal was to bring in great ideas that could help all involved, from soldiers, to the base as a whole, and the programs that help it run. It was put into action by Major General Patrick J. Donahoe, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning. 

Inspired in part by the TV show, Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to potential investors, the MIC created a way for small voices to be heard in a big way. Maj. Gen. Donahoe served as a judge, along with Col. Matthew Scalia, Sgt. 1st Class Kendall Willridge, Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph McAuliffe, Dr. Jay Brimstin and Capt. Joseph Barnes.

The project was announced through a series of videos and social media posts, alerting people to sign up with their idea. 

“The best ideas are not going to come from some old, staid general. They’re gonna come from some young sergeant figuring out the next great solution. So join us in the Maneuver Innovation Program, and let’s figure out the next big idea,” – Donahoe said.

The MIP works like this: between Dec. 1st and Feb. 1, 2021, soldiers and civilians could pitch their ideas to the cause. Using an online platform, folks submitted their best ideas to the powers that be. A total of 23 ideas were collected online, ranging from functional apps, to improving tank camouflaging, to programs to help divorced, dual military couples.

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The team narrowed the ideas to four finalists, which were pitched live to judges on Feb. 4th. Those making the cut earned prizes in their own right, including:

• A four-day pass.

• Sitting as Donahoe’s guest(s) for a luncheon at MCoE headquarters.

• Official backing for a training course of their choice at Fort Benning, if enrollment qualifications are met. 

After the competition, a video was released on Twitter with the hashtag #shootmoveinnovate, announcing that the final four ideas would be put into action by integrating with facilities through TRADOC, Army Training and Doctrine Command, and innovation program resources. 

The ideas included: streamlining policies for on-post housing, an app for maintaining digital accountability of soldiers during holiday block leave, and multiple variations for digital options for in/out-processing.

“They’re all winners, Donahoe said. “Clearly when you look at it, all good ideas.”

Articles

China deploys rappers to fight US missile defense

China’s fight against the deployment of a battery of Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense missiles has now expanded to the deployment of hip-hop.


No, you didn’t read that wrong – China’s now using a rap video as a form of public diplomacy against the ballistic missile defense system, according to a report by the New York Times. The video seems to be bombing, with less than 50,000 views on YouTube.

The video, in English and Chinese, urges South Korea to reconsider the system’s deployment.

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AiirSource Military | YouTube

Dubbed “CD Rev,” the rap group is based out of Sichuan, China, and has done other videos in support of Beijing’s government — including one on that country’s claims in the South China Sea, a maritime flashpoint involving five other countries, as well as a video celebrating the legacy of Mao Tse-Tung.

A London Daily Mail report from 2011 noted that Mao was responsible for at least 45 million deaths during “The Great Leap Forward,” a brutal attempt to shift the country from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial one.

The deployment of THAAD has drawn sharp criticism from China – and the reactions have included hacking that targeted the South Korean company that allowed the battery of missiles to be placed on a golf course it owned. The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also hacked. China has also been blocking videos of South Korean artists, particularly from the K-pop genre.

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Heritage.org

South Korea recently elected Moon Jae-in, who has favored diplomacy with North Korea, as President after the impeachment and removal from office of Park Geun-Hye.

The THAAD battery, consisting of six launchers that each hold eight missiles along with assorted support vehicles, was deployed to South Korea to counter the threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missiles. According to ArmyRecognition.com, the system has a range of over 600 miles.

The United States has other options to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile, including the sea-based RIM-161 Standard SM-3. The system is considered far more capable than the MIM-104 Patriot systems that the United States, Japan, and South Korea have deployed.

Here’s the video from CD Rev:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Interview with HISTORY’s Garry Adelman: ‘GRANT’ 3-night miniseries event starting Memorial Day

HISTORY’s six-hour miniseries event, “Grant,” executive produced by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and biographer Ron Chernow and Appian Way’s Jennifer Davisson and Leonardo DiCaprio and produced by RadicalMedia in association with global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) will premiere Memorial Day and air over three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 25 at 9PM ET/PT on HISTORY. The television event will chronicle the life of one of the most complex and underappreciated generals and presidents in U.S. history – Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant: Official Trailer | 3-Night Miniseries Event Premieres Memorial Day, May 25 at 9/8c | History

youtu.be

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Garry Adelman has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for more than a decade. Seen here holding the first Civil War photo he owned, given to him by his grandmother when he was 17 years old.


Garry Adelman is the Chief Historian with American Battlefield Trust. He is a Civil War expert, published author and the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography. He appears on the forthcoming miniseries “GRANT” that will air over three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 25 at 9PM ET/PT on HISTORY.

The American Battlefield Trust has preserved more than 15,000 acres of battlefield land, hallowed ground, where Grant’s soldiers fought.

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Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

Leaders who lead from the front are very popular, however, even in today’s military there are officers who believe they’re above that. Grant was very hands on, how did he imprint that side of leadership onto his officers?

More than anything he was a product of his time. He would have learned at West Point and his war in Mexico in the 1840s that: Lieutenants, Colonels and Brigadier Generals are expected to recklessly expose themselves to danger at that time to inspire their men. It’s one of the roles of the civil war officers had to do this by possessing unbelievable personal bravery. He was cool under fire and by not being shy to roll his sleeves up to get a job done and remain cool under fire he inspired his troops to do the same.

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Photo by Joe Alblas Copyright 2020

Maintaining order and discipline in the chaos of combat is paramount. Was there anything special about Grant’s training methods that turned raw recruits into warriors?

I’m not aware that Grant trained his troops in anyway, substantially different than other civil war commanders. What Grant did was give his soldiers victory.

“If you follow my example, if you stick to your post and do your duty, if you relentlessly pursued and attacked in front of you – I will give you victory- you will be part of that victory.”

That is the key to grant, more than any particular training he gave them. Again, leading by example and giving soldiers a purpose.

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Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

When I was deployed to Afghanistan, my platoon had the luxury of having internet maybe twice a month. How did Grant facilitate communication between his troops and their loved ones?

A lot of people don’t realize but to be a great commander in the 19th century, as today, you do not simply possess the skills of strategy and tactics but rather you need to be an excellent communicator, which Grant was. You need to be an excellent administrator, which Grant was, and in the latter manner; Grant was keeping his troops fed, kept his telegraph lines open, by keeping the mail running, Grant kept his troops happy.

Those troops were able to communicate primarily by letter, sometimes by telegraph, to get important messages home and more importantly to receive letters from home – including care packages. Grant accomplished that through the greatly underrated attribute of being organized.

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Photo by Joe Alblas Copyright 2020

Grant’s popularity grew among the civilian population following his victories on the field of battle, how did he feel about becoming a celebrity General?

I think Grant could have done without any of the celebrity he achieved. Some of that allowed him to get certain things done, especially when he became President of the United States. It helped him become President of the United States, however, if Grant could keep a low profile and getting the job done – in this case; winning the civil war – it was all the better for him. An example: He arrived to be the first general to receive a third star since Washington.

He’s going to become a Lieutenant General in the United States Army.

When he showed up to check into his room, nobody recognized him. They didn’t offer him a room, nothing special, until he wrote his name on the ledger then everybody knew he was Ulysses S. Grant. He didn’t go out of his way to make sure people knew that. I think he could have done without every bit of his celebrity.

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U.S. Military R.R., City Point, Va. Field Hospital


Brady, Mathew, 1823 (ca.) – 1896

These battles were brutal to say the least. What kind of medical care did Union troops receive?

Medical care in the Civil War really changed during the civil war. In fact, it is night and day between the beginning of the Civil War and the end of the Civil War.

Let me explain what I mean.

By 1862, both North and South recognized the inadequacies of their medical systems. By 1863, both sides had come to possess many of the systems that save lives today. In other words: Triage, trauma and our modern 911 system were all developed during the Civil War.

When they started asking questions: “What is that ambulance made of? What is in that ambulance? How many of each of those things are in those ambulances? Who stocks the ambulance? Who drives the ambulance? How does the ambulance know where to go with the wounded soldiers?

When they do get to a field hospital, who mans that field hospital? Who does the surgery? It was unbelievable the leaps and bounds these simple systems, created by a guy named Jonathan Letterman, made in preserving life during the civil war.

Let’s say I traveled back in time and watched a Civil War surgery being performed. Most were done with anesthesia, they didn’t bite the bullet and sawed through bone while people were perfectly awake, that was a very rare occurrence.

Nonetheless, I may be horrified by the lack of hygiene. I’d say, “Wash that saw!” and the doctor may stare at me and say, “Why?”

“Well, trust me here, you can’t see them but there are these little things that live on all of us. Some are good and some are bad. If the bad ones go in the wrong place you’re going to get really sick!”

They would absolutely lock me up in an insane asylum.

We now know things that the people of the Civil War didn’t. One thing they did know, though, was how to turn a wound into something they could treat. That’s why amputations are so common. They didn’t know how to treat internal injuries the way we do now, but they could cut something off and tie it off to give some chance of survival.

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Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

During Grant’s presidency, he installed a network of spies in the South to combat the growing threat of the Ku Klux Klan. How did these spies gather actionable intelligence for, now President, Grant?

During the Civil War when Grant had something to accomplish he rarely went at it in just one way. Rather, he would think of five different ways to go and deal with a particular problem and maybe one of them would stick. In the case of dealing with the Ku Klux Klan, Grant did everything he could in Washington, through legislation, to enforce the rights of these relatively recently freed African Americans.

However, he also appointed someone he thought he could trust; Lewis Merrill, a very active, athletic cavalryman. He employed a large body of spies in order to try to infiltrate and spy on the Ku Klux Klan. [The Klan] was so persistent, Merrill once joked, “Just shoot in any direction and if you hit a white man, he’s probably part of the Ku Klux Klan.”

That’s how pervasive it was.

His employment of spies, including African American spies, helped preserve some of the lives of his soldiers and helped to ultimately mitigate the Klan and the domestic terrorism that ensued.

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President Grant vetoes the 1874 Inflation Bill, bottling the Genie of Butler.

Paine, Albert Bigelow Th. Nast: His Period and His Pictures (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1904)

There is a divide between the portrayal of Grant versus the reality, such as the over blown perception of his drinking problem, which could be linked to his post-traumatic stress after the Mexican-American War and isolation in California – was there any real merit to the propaganda?

At one point, yes.

Ulysses S. Grant did in fact have a genuine drinking problem. Call it what you will, but it was really his enemies that took one aspect of him and constantly extenuated that as if it was a constant thing.

For instance, Grant had a drinking problem while out in California long before the Civil War so he must have one contrary to the evidence. If he won a battle, his enemies would still complain that he was a “butcher” because too many people died. Yet, by the time he died, he was loved by everyone – people of the south, the north, black, white, Native American, everybody.

Sadly that didn’t reflect in the 20th century interpretation of Grant. He’s a wildly popular figure who suffered at the hands of historians and only now are people reexamining him under a new light. We’re now more looking more critically at the claims of his drinking, him being a “butcher,” and the other terrible claims.

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Photo by Casey Crawford Copyright 2020

Both Grant and Lee were heralded as both being some of the greatest military minds. Grant mentions to Lee at the Appomattox Courthouse that the two had briefly met beforehand during the Mexican-American War. Were there any other interactions between the two – even if it was just Grant seeing Lee from the edge of the formation?

Certainly not before the war. Grant would, of course, know of Lee when Lee was the commandant at West Point and he was a cadet. Lee, for his part, could not remember Grant from West Point and barely from Mexico. What I don’t think people realize is how much the two worked together in the post-war period to reconstruct the nation. They did correspond and they would meet at least once after that. I find that especially interesting. These commanders that rose to the top of their respective armies because of their skills would, to a certain degree, end up working together to reunite this nation after such a brutal war.

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If you could go back in time and offer Grant one piece of advice, what would it be?

I would tell him don’t change a thing except one: When President Lincoln offers to you to go to Ford’s theater on April 14th, 1865 – accept the invitation. Bring a side arm and the two toughest men to guard the door. With that, maybe the life of Abraham Lincoln could have been spared.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here are some tips to get you through holiday stress

There are many joyous things about the holiday season, but this time of year can also bring on stress, depression, and other challenges. For veterans or their family members, the unique experiences of the military and transitioning back to civilian life can make enjoying the season difficult.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for as the holiday season approaches — as well as healthy tips for managing these challenges.


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(Photo by Jonathan Borba)

The holidays are typically times spent with family members and friends. But veterans transitioning back to civilian life — or even those who returned home years ago — might find themselves avoiding the people and activities they would usually enjoy.

“I’m a pretty extraverted, amicable person, but I didn’t want anything to do with anybody. I didn’t want to talk with anybody,” says Bryan, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Sometimes a vicious cycle can develop: The more time you spend alone, the less you feel like people will understand you. And the less you feel like people understand you, the more time you want to spend alone.

“You can’t isolate yourself,” says Bryan. “You have to surround yourself with good people that want to see you do better. Take advantage of the programs they have at the VA or the nonprofit organizations that are there to help veterans out.”

Feelings of guilt can sometimes lead people to withdraw, become irritable, or feel like life has lost meaning. These behaviors can strain personal relationships, especially during the holidays, when most people spend a lot of time with family members and friends. But if you’re having trouble forgiving yourself — for something you did or did not do — talking with your family members and friends is actually a positive first step.

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If you notice yourself withdrawing from loved ones, here are a few ways to begin breaking a pattern of isolation. If these actions feel overwhelming, start with small steps.

  • Identify the thoughts and feelings that make you want to be alone.
  • Reach out to your family members or friends, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing. Research shows that spending time talking with family members and friends improves your mood and your health.
  • Connect with veterans’ groups or participate in clubs or hobbies focused on something you like.

“Isolation and withdrawal [are] not going to get you the end result that you need,” says Marylyn, a U.S. Army veteran. “You want to get back to enjoying your life, the things you like to do, and be able to explore new things. So you’re going to eventually have to talk to someone and connect with someone.”

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(Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik)

Feeling on edge in large crowds?

Whether you’re walking through a crowded shopping mall or attending a large party with loud noises, you may find yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable during the holidays. Your military training taught you the importance of being observant and alert when you need to be — and being in that state of high alert in civilian life may be stressful.

“When you’re in large crowds or there’s a lot of chaos, you have to keep an eye on everything because you don’t know where a potential threat is,” says Casey, a U.S. Army medic. “After you see things like a life or death matter, your No. 1 goal is ‘I’m always going to protect myself.'”

This experience of feeling on edge is also called hypervigilance, a symptom experienced by some veterans who have returned from war or experienced traumatic events during their time in the military. Hypervigilance is a state of being on very high alert — constantly “on guard” — to possible risks or threats.

“It takes a long time to shed that alertness,” says Casey. “Once it’s there and you depend on it to stay alive, it’s really hard to lose it once you’ve been back.” Talking to your family and friends can be a first step. Turn to them whenever you are ready.

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(Photo by erin mckenna)

On edge?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you find yourself feeling on edge in large crowds:

  • If you’re with friends or family, tell them what you’re feeling so they can try to help you work through it.
  • Try grounding yourself by focusing on details of your surroundings or neutral physical sensations, such as the feeling of your feet on the floor.
  • Practice relaxation exercises, such as taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Calmly remove yourself from the situation.

“Being able to talk helps me manage, because it’s not built up,” says Ertell, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam. “It helps me to manage my hypervigilance.”

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

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