King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Nearly 900 sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp were “cleansed of their slime” Nov. 25 after participating in the age-old ceremony of crossing the equator.


The “crossing-the-line” ceremony is an exclusive maritime experience from the days of hardened sailors aboard wooden ships courageously venturing out into the unforgiving environment of the open ocean.

Also Read: These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

The tradition holds that when King Neptune, a mythical god of the sea, detects an infestation of “pollywogs” — those who have not crossed the equator before — he deems it necessary to take control of the ship to rid it of this plagued condition. A “shellback” is a sailor who has previously crossed the line, and the most senior shellback aboard the ship plays the role of King Neptune in the ceremony.

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas Kreindheder, who earned the title of shellback in 1993, was King Neptune for the Nov. 25 ceremony.

Ceremony Has Evolved

“The ceremony has changed a lot since I went through,” he said. “Our ceremony lasted 48 hours, and it was more of an initiation than a camaraderie event. Our goal with this ceremony was to make sure the sailors were challenged both mentally and physically, but were also smiling and laughing the whole way through. The photos of the event prove that we accomplished that goal.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Sean Galbreath)

Wasp pollywogs were guided through a series of physically and mentally challenging obstacles, led by the 137 shellbacks aboard. Upon completion, pollywogs were summoned by King Neptune and his royal court and relieved of their slime, successfully completing their journey to shellback.

‘A Cool Experience’

“It was a cool experience,” said Navy Airman Apprentice Skyler Senteno. “I was skeptical at first. But there were a lot more events than I thought, and I really enjoyed it. It was an honor to be part of the tradition and become a shellback.”

The crossing-the-line ceremony traces its origin to a time when such a feat was a grave undertaking. Today’s technology allows sailors to be more at ease with their sea travels. Even then, the time away from family, especially around the holidays, can take its toll.

Also Read: Here are the meanings behind 19 classic sailor tattoos

“Ceremonies like crossing the line are invaluable for the crew. They instill pride and a sense of accomplishment that links Sailor to those that have gone before us,” said USS Wasp Command Master Chief Petty Officer Greg Carlson. “The ceremony has evolved to over the years to one of teamwork and unity, which allows sailors to craft memories that they will cherish forever.”

Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan, to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Soldier convert to become highest-ever Muslim chaplain

Shortly after converting to Islam, then-Sgt. Khallid Shabazz struggled to find his way while his devout Lutheran family and fellow soldiers questioned his move.

And with a few Article 15s for insubordination on his record, Shabazz, a field artilleryman at the time, wanted out of the military.

Then, one day while training out in the field, an Army chaplain approached him and struck up a conversation.


“Honestly, it was like a revelation from God,” Shabazz said. “When it hit my ears, I knew that was what I was going to do in life. It was incredible.”

The Christian chaplain had told Shabazz, who was a teacher before he joined the Army, that he should consider being a Muslim chaplain. That way, the chaplain said, he could help other Muslim soldiers in need of guidance.

Shabazz later became a chaplain, and proudly wore his uniform with the Islamic crescent moon stitched onto it. The career change was a catalyst for him, as he went on to achieve several other goals.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service, which is held on Fridays, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Sept. 21, 2018.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Currently a lieutenant colonel, Shabazz holds two doctorate degrees on top of four master’s degrees. He has written three books and teaches online courses at four colleges. This fall, he plans to teach at a fifth one, the University of Hawaii.

He recently was chosen to study at the National War College, a rare feat for chaplains — only three of them are accepted each year.

And in 2017, Shabazz became the U.S. military’s first Muslim division-level chaplain, a position he held with the 7th Infantry Division.

Now the lead chaplain of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command here, he plans to surpass yet another milestone. That’s when he is slated to be promoted to colonel, which will be the highest rank ever attained by a Muslim chaplain.

“It’s phenomenal first, but it’s unbelievable second,” Shabazz said of his pending promotion.

Becoming Muslim

Born as Michael Barnes, Shabazz grew up in a large Lutheran family in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Once a faithful Lutheran himself, Shabazz often attended church and even graduated from a Christian college.

His religious views changed in the Army when he decided to debate a Muslim soldier on the merits of both religions. He admits he was ill-prepared for the debate and had misinformation about what Muslim people actually believed in.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz, the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command’s chaplain, delivers a sermon during a Jummah prayer service.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Claudio R. Tejada)

Afterward, he became curious about Islam and began to study the Quran.

“I didn’t want to convert; I was happy where I was,” he said. “I’m a very inquisitive person. If I don’t know something, I’m going to get to know it.”

While Shabazz found more peace and solace by switching faiths, which included the Islamic custom of changing his name, many people in his life stopped talking to him.

His commander at the time, Shabazz said, even asked why he sided with the enemy.

“I was so hurt by those statements,” he said.

He eventually came to realize it was a lack of understanding some people had with Islam, which he was also guilty of until he studied it.

Islam is sometimes distorted by extremist groups, he said, similar to how other religions can be twisted to incite violent acts.

“Whether it’s the Bible, Quran, or the Torah, I want people to understand that religion really has nothing to do with violence,” he said. “99.9 percent of the people in religion are good people.”

Problem solver

As a whole, he said, the Army has improved its inclusiveness of Islamic culture. Religious accommodations allow Muslim soldiers to worship on Fridays and now give female soldiers the option to wear a hijab and males to have a beard.

He also educates leaders and soldiers about Muslim holidays and other traditions.

For those struggling as he once did, he encourages them to pursue knowledge, too. Often, he receives calls from Muslims across the Army asking for help on issues or how to deal with blowback from others in their unit.

“What I ask you to do is, keep doing your job and keep working hard,” he said he tells them. “Go to school at night and stay focused on everything else besides the treatment.

“That’s coming from a person like me who went through that type of turmoil. I was an E-5 and I received some pretty tough treatment back then. I can tell them those stories and I think it helps.”

As a chaplain, he strives to inspire soldiers to be successful, no matter their religious preference. To date, he has helped at least 70 soldiers become officers and many other NCOs gain promotion points by taking college courses.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Lt. Col. Khallid Shabazz speaks during his Change of Stole ceremony inside the Lewis Main Chapel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., May 23, 2017.

“I’m like a chaplain life coach,” he said, laughing. “I’m telling them don’t quit.”

While proud of his faith, he does not want to be known only as the Muslim chaplain — he is one of five currently in the Army. Unless a soldier wants to talk about religion, he will leave those types of discussions at the door.

“I meet soldiers where they’re at. I attack problems,” he said. “My job is not to be your spiritual advisor, your religious guru. I want to help soldiers with school, with their family, their marital problems, and be almost like an arbitrator or a mediator.”

Life changer

Years before, he had to overcome many of his own issues.

In high school, he failed the 9th and 12th grades. He was not able to graduate with his class and had to go to summer school. His destructive behavior continued throughout his first stint of college, he said.

When he was later able to get a job as a teacher, he made just under ,000 per year.

So, he decided to join the Army as a 23-year-old private to take care of his wife and children.

He also sought discipline and stability, which the Army could provide. As he initially thought it was a good idea to sign up, he admits it was a difficult change.

“I found myself getting into a lot of trouble. Having a 19-year-old sergeant cussing at you and telling you what to do didn’t go over very well with me,” he said, laughing.

Then that chaplain decided to stop and take the time to chat with Shabazz, who had just turned Muslim but still wrestled with his identity.

“I was at my lowest level and the chaplain came by and gave me what I needed at that point,” he said. “I wanted to dedicate my life, and I have, to helping people who are in that position. Not by converting them, but by being a person who can put their arm around them and try to help them get to the other side.”

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

The fight to recognize Doris Miller’s valor at Pearl Harbor

As a U.S. Navy messman, Doris “Dorie” Miller, a Black 22-year-old sharecropper’s son from Waco, Texas, was restricted from handling any weapons. His duties included serving the officers’ mess, collecting laundry, and shining shoes. Despite the institutional racism built into the Navy at the time, Miller found success as the boxing champion of his ship, the battleship USS West Virginia. Still, he was segregated from his white shipmates in both his duties and berthing. However, Miller and the Navy would soon learn that hostile fire doesn’t discriminate.

On December 7, 1941, Miller woke at 0600 to serve the breakfast mess. Afterwards, he proceeded to collect laundry. At 0757, a torpedo dropped by Lt. Cdr. Shigeharu Murata of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi struck West Virginia—it was the first of nine torpedoes that would eventually sink the mighty battleship. General Quarters was sounded and Miller made his way to his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine located amidships. Upon finding the position destroyed, Miller proceeded to “Times Square”, a central location where the fore-to-aft and port-to-starboard passageways crossed, to report himself available for other duty.


The COMMO, Lt. Cdr. Doir Johnson, recognized Miller’s powerful boxer build and ordered Miller to accompany him to the bridge to help him move the ship’s skipper, Cpt. Mervyn Bennion, who had taken a piece of shrapnel to the abdomen. Miller and Johnson were unable to remove Bennion from the bridge and instead moved him from the exposed position where he was wounded to a sheltered spot behind the conning tower. Bennion refused to abandon his post and continued to fight the ship, issuing orders and receiving reports from his officers.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

A cartoon depicting Miller’s action at Pearl Harbor (Charles Alston—Office of War Information and Public Relations)

After moving the captain, Miller was ordered to accompany Lt. Frederic White and Ens. Victor Delano to load the number 1 and 2 M2 .50-caliber anti-aircraft machine guns which sat unmanned aft of the conning tower. Since he had no training on the weapon system, White and Delano instructed Miller on how to load and man the guns. Expecting Miller to feed ammunition to the gun, Delano was surprised to turn around and see Miller firing one of the guns. White loaded ammunition into the guns and Miller continued to fire until the ammunition was expended. Miller’s actions with the captain and the machine gun have become well-known thanks to their depiction in Hollywood films; most notably, Pearl Harbor where Miller was portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr.

What is less known are Miller’s actions after he ran out of ammo. Lt. Claude Ricketts ordered Miller to help him carry the captain, now only semi-conscious and bleeding heavily, up to the navigation bridge and out of the thick oily smoke that had begun to engulf the ship. Cpt. Bennion succumbed to his wounds and died soon afterwards. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Miller proceeded to pull injured sailors out of the burning mix of oil and water and was one of the last men to abandon West Virginia as she sank. Afterwards, Miller continued to rescue his fellow sailors from the water and move them to safety.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Adm. Nimitz pins the Navy Cross on Miller at a ceremony aboard the USS Enterprise at Pearl Harbor on May 27, 1942 (U.S. Navy)

While it’s unfortunate that Miller’s actions after his gun ran out of ammo are lesser known, it’s tragic that Miller’s actions during the attack initially went unrecognized. An official Navy commendation list of outstanding actions during the attack did not bear Miller’s name and only listed “an unknown Negro sailor”. The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the leading Black newspapers at the time, didn’t think this was enough. “It made two lines in the newspaper,” said Frank Bolden, war correspondent for the Courier, in an interview before his death in 2003. “The Courier thought he should be recognized and honored. We sent not a reporter, we sent our executive editor to the naval department. They said, ‘We don’t know the name of the messman. There are so many of them.'” The Navy’s apathy didn’t deter the Courier though.

Hoping to undermine the stereotype that African Americans couldn’t perform well in combat, the Courier was determined to identify the unnamed Black sailor and properly recognize him for his actions. “The publisher of the paper said, ‘Keep after it’,” Bolden said. “We spent ,000 working to find out who Dorie Miller was. And we made Dorie Miller a hero.”

After Miller was identified, the African-American community swelled with pride. Amidst the shock and sorrow that gripped the country following Pearl Harbor, they had a war hero that represented them. Initially, however, the Navy only awarded Miller a letter of commendation. It took a campaign by the Black press and a proposal from Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the Pacific fleet, to President Roosevelt for the commendation to be upgraded to the Navy Cross, the third highest honor for valor at the time.

Miller continued to serve in the fleet aboard the USS Indianapolis and was advanced to Messman First Class in June 1942. Later that month, the Courier started a campaign for him to return home for a war bond tour alongside white war heroes. As part of the campaign, the Courier published a photo of Miller next to a photo of a Sgt. Joseph Lockard receiving an officer’s commission for sounding a warning that went unheeded before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The photos were captioned, “He Warned…Gets Commission. He Fought…Keeps Mop,” highlighting the disparity in the treatment of white and colored servicemen.
King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

The recruiting poster was designed by artist David Stone Martin (U.S. Navy)

The campaign succeeded and Miller returned to Pearl Harbor in November. He went on a war bond tour that included Oakland, Dallas, and his hometown of Waco until he reported to Puget Sound in May, 1943. He was advanced to Cook First Class on June 1 and reported to the escort carrier Liscome Bay. That year, Miller was featured on a Navy recruiting poster called “Above and beyond the call of duty.” At the Battle of Makin, Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine on November 24, 1943. Miller and two-thirds of the crew were listed as presumed dead. His body was never recovered.

Since his death, Miller has had schools, streets, community centers, and a foundation named after him. A memorial in his hometown of Waco, Texas features a nine-foot bronze statue of Miller. While the Navy named a Knox-class frigate after him, the remainder of Miller’s naval dedications are quarters, galleys, and a housing community—until now. On January 19, 2020, the Navy announced that CVN-81, a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, would be named the USS Doris Miller. The Doris Miller is scheduled to be laid down January 2026, launched October 2029, and commissioned in 2030. She is the first supercarrier to be named for an enlisted sailor and the first to be named after an African American.
King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Miller’s niece, Brenda Haven, and her family react after the unveiling of a framed graphic commemorating the future USS Doris Miller at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (U.S. Navy)

The fight to honor Miller continues though. Since the Navy announced that a carrier would bear his name, efforts to upgrade Miller’s Navy Cross to a Medal of Honor have been renewed. The man who was told he could not handle a weapon but still defended his ship and rescued his shipmates will have his name on one of the Navy’s mightiest ships. Doris Miller will be listed alongside names like Gerald R. Ford and John F. Kennedy. If he is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, it will mark the final victory in the fight to properly recognize Miller for his courage, valor, and dedication to duty.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon sets aside a 6th military base for quarantining people fleeing the coronavirus outbreak in China

The Pentagon has approved the use of six military installations, the most recent being a National Guard base in Nebraska, for the quarantine of evacuees returning to the US from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of a novel coronavirus outbreak.


The Department of Defense approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to quarantine up to 75 people for a period of 14 days upon their return from overseas at Camp Ashland, a Pentagon spokesman said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced that it would allow up to 1,000 people to be quarantined at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in California, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and the 168th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Colorado.

Prior to that announcement, the Department of Defense approved the use of March Air Reserve Base in California for the quarantine of 195 passengers who arrived back in the US last week.

“This week,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Wednesday, “several planes carrying passengers from Wuhan China will arrive in three states. These locations are Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, CA, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, NE.”

Two aircraft arrived at Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar carrying 350 passengers Wednesday morning, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The CDC said that the planes will be met by CDC teams upon their arrival. While the health statuses of the passengers were assessed before takeoff and during the flight, each passenger will undergo additional screening once they arrive in the US.

The passengers will then be quarantined for 14 days. The CDC explained that this is “intended to protect the travelers, their families, and the community.”

As of Wednesday, the novel coronavirus that broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, had infected more than 24,000 people and killed nearly 500. While the outbreak is most severe in China, the virus has spread to more than two dozen countries.

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

Articles

7 life events inappropriately described using military lingo

Military service members are famous for their special lingo, everything from branch-specific slang to the sometimes stilted and official language of operation orders.


That carefully selected and drafted language ensures that everyone in a complex operation knows what is expected of them and allows mission commanders to report sometimes emotional events to their superiors in a straightforward manner.

But there’s a reason that Hallmark doesn’t write its cards in military style for a reason. There’s just something wrong with describing the birth of a first-born child like it’s an amphibious operation.

Anyway, here are seven life events inappropriately described with military lingo:

1. First engagement

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
A U.S. Marine proposes to his girlfriend during a surprise that hopefully led to an ongoing and happy marriage. (Photo: Sgt Angel Galvan)

“Task force established a long-term partnership with local forces that is expected to result in greater intelligence and great successes resulting from partnered operations.”

2. Breaking off the first engagement

“It turns out that partnered forces are back-stabbing, conniving, liars. The task force has resumed solo operations.”

3. Marriage

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Again, this is a joke article but we really hope all the marriages are ongoing and happy. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb)

“Partnered operations with local forces have displayed promising results. The new alliance with the host nation will result in success. Hopefully.”

4. Buying a first home

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Glassey)

“The squad has established a secure firebase. Intent is to constantly improve the position while disrupting enemy operations in the local area. Most importantly, we must interrupt Steve’s constant requests that we barbecue together. God that guy’s annoying.”

5. Birth of the first child

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
*Angels play harmonious music* (Photo: Pixabay/photo-graphe)

“Task force welcomed a new member at 0300, a most inopportune time for our partnered force. Initial reports indicate that the new member is healthy and prepared to begin training.”

6. Birth of all other children

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
(Photo: Gilberto Santa Rosa CC BY 2.0)

“Timeline for Operation GREEN ACRES has been further delayed as a new member of the task force necessitates 18 years of full operations before sufficient resources are available for departure from theater.”

7. Retirement

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
(Photo: Lsuff CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Task force operators have withdrawn from the area of operations and begun enduring R and R missions in the gulf area as part of Operation GREEN ACRES. Primary targets include tuna and red snapper.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

How US PsyOps lured an African warlord to defect using his mother’s voice

A team of Fort Bragg soldiers set their sights on one of the top officials within warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army late last year.


The soldiers, working with government agencies and nonprofit organizations, tracked down the family of the official — communications chief Michael Omona.

He played a key role in the Ugandan warlord’s cultish militant group, which was built on the backs of former child soldiers abducted from their homes in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Fort Bragg soldiers – part of a regional psychological operations team deployed to Africa – weren’t targeting Omona with firepower. Instead, it was a campaign fueled by facts and meant to counter the misinformation Kony spread across his force.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, Col. Bethany Aragon, the commander of the 4th Military Information Support Group at Fort Bragg, described what happened next.

“If you can envision yourself walking through this dense jungle,” she said. “… As he’s walking through the jungle, he hears his mother’s voice begging him to come home.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Michael Omana, the communications chief for Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, walked for two weeks to defect after hearing his mothers voice piped through the jungles begging him to come home.

The voice came from a U.S. Army loudspeaker team, piping voices into the countryside.

A little while later, leaflets dropped from the sky. On them, images of Omona’s uncle, who raised him as a father, and his daughter; both pleading for Omona to turn himself in to authorities.

“We targeted him,” Aragon said. “And in January 2017… he walked for two weeks to defect.”

Omona’s defection gave authorities key information in the search for Kony and the LRA. He provided access to codes used by the group and inside information on the higher workings of the LRA.

It was one of the highest profile defections in the long-running effort to dismantle the LRA. And Aragon used the example to show the value psychological operations soldiers played in those efforts.

“For over two decades, they abducted over 60,000 children, massacred tens of thousands of civilians, displaced two million people and then really destabilized a region the size of California,” she said of the LRA.

Today, Aragon said the LRA has been rendered irrelevant. And a generation of stolen Uganda children have been returned to their homes as the LRA has dwindled from an army of thousands to less than 100 members.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Students walk in front of a recently constructed building before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. In October of 2002, regional instablitity forced the school’s students and faculty away from its current location in the village of Alanyi. The Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel force, attacked civilians and attempted to seize control of villages throughout northern Uganda.

At AUSA, Aragon and other special operations leaders presented case studies on the value of their forces during a panel led by Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Often working with foreign partners, conventional forces and other government agencies, Tovo said the Army’s special operations forces provide a set of unique capabilities that can’t be easily reproduced.

They are complementary skills, Tovo said, that when mixed with other capabilities and forces form a “symbiotic whole” to fuel national objectives.

“To quasi-quote Tom Cruse in ‘Jerry Maguire,'” he said. “We complete each other.”

Tovo said there are about 4,300 special operations soldiers deployed around the world in 78 countries. That includes Special Forces, psychological operations, civil affairs, Army Rangers and other special operations troops.

While the more violent aspects of special operations tend to make the most headlines, Tovo’s panel largely focused on the more unheralded aspects of the force – what he called an “indigenous approach” to operations around the world.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Members of the Uganda People’s Defence Force and the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) Soldiers deployed to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa stand for a class photo after the UPDF graduated from the third of a four-phase psychological operations training held at the Uganda Junior Command and Staff College, Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 15, 2017. The training was part of the U.S. mission of strengthening partner nation defense forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

“We live among, train with, advise and fight alongside people of foreign cultures,” Tovo said. “We think this indigenous approach provides a low-cost, high-impact option.”

Joining Tovo on the panel were Aragon; the former ambassador to Ukraine and current ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt; Brig. Gen. David Komar, director of the requirements integration directorate at the Army Capabilities Integration Center; 75th Ranger Regiment commander Col. Brandon Tegtmeier; and Lt. Col. Tom Craig, commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

Tegtmeier discussed how the Rangers are working with Afghan partners. And Craig, who left Northern Syria about a week ago, discussed the task force comprised of Special Forces A-teams, special operations and conventional troops working to train and support Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State.

“The indigenous approach is absolutely working,” he said, explaining how special operations forces are uniquely suited to the ongoing fight against ISIS.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Hurst, 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) noncommissioned officer in charge, deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, serves as an observer, controller and trainer to members of the Uganda People’s Defense Force during a four-phase course that trains the UDPF to secure objectives through influencing attitude and behaviors. The training took place at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As the region continues to contend with multiple VEOs, a sustained international working relationship will only further efforts of global stability. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Craig said his Special Forces soldiers have language skills and cultural understanding built up over multiple deployments that allow them to have influence on the nation’s Syrian partners.

“In Syria, it’s important to note,” he said. “We are advising a partner who is in the lead.”

He said the relatively light footprint of U.S. forces in Syria allow them to be agile and flexible, while also providing important support.

Craig said troops are training, equipping, advising and providing air support and intelligence to their partnered forces.

Pyatt said that in a world of diffuse power and shifting threats, most challenges to American national security will happen in so-called “gray areas” between diplomacy and hard power.

Those are the areas in which special operations forces thrive, officials said.

Pyatt said the relationships between SOF and diplomats were critical.

“There’s a very, very high return on investments,” he said. “They don’t cost a lot of money, but they get a lot done.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Lance Cpl. Denis Nokrach and Capt. John Robert Mwonge, both Marines in the Uganda People’s Defence Force, review a psychological operations plan during training with the 346th Tactical Psychological Operations Company (Airborne) who are deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, at the Uganda Senior Command and Staff College in Jinja, Uganda, Aug. 14, 2017. As a subordinate unit of U.S. Africa Command, CJTF-HOA uses the primary tool of military-to-military programs and operations, coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, to assist African nations strengthen their defense capabilities and build partnerships. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Komar said the conventional force was beginning to model some of its reforms after the SOF community, specifically with the creation of security force advise and assist brigades.

At the same time, he said the days of deconflicting between SOF and conventional forces were largely over. Instead, the Army has embraced and integration between the two types of units.

In addition to ongoing operations and recent case studies, the panelists discussed ways the special operations community was preparing for future fights.

Tovo said each special operations specialty has different skillsets, but complement one another.

Whether serving as a crisis response force or working alongside State Department personnel, special operations forces are able to provide unique perspectives and insight.

“When bad things happen in any part of the world and we’ve got SOF there,” he said. “… We provide the nation a suite of tools applicable across the full range of military operations.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
A force reconnaissance Marine goes over threat detection methods with a group of Ugandan soldiers, Feb. 28. Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 12 sent a small team of Marines into Uganda, Feb. 3, to train Ugandan forces for the fight against al-Shabaab in Somalia and the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s resistance army.

Aragon said the campaign against the LRA was the most effective psychological operations campaign in Africa to date.

She said the groundwork was laid in 2011, when a team of just four psyops soldiers from Fort Bragg deployed to the continent.

Aragon said Omona and other members of the LRA lived in dense jungle and worked for an unhinged leader. Most, like Omona himself, were former child soldiers abducted from their homes years ago.

“He’s susceptible,” she said. And so were others within the LRA.

The goal was to use radio, leaflets and area loudspeakers to reach disaffected members of the group.

Key to those efforts were buy-in from the Ugandan government, which offered amnesty for defectors, she said.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Students sit in a classroom during a music a rehearsal before a dedication ceremony at St. Theresa secondary school in Lira, Uganda, Feb. 23. Service members from the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa attended the ceremony, marking the the completion of a $500,000 project funded by CJTF-HOA. The project provided two new student dormitories to house 300 students, a staff house, new latrines, three water-harvesting tanks, and new solar panels for a computer laboratory.

Early successes gave the psyops team additional weaponry – the voices and stories of former LRA members who could speak to the fair treatment they received.

The first mass defection came in 2013, Aragon said, when 19 combatants defected.

Omona’s name came up in latter conversations, identified through a nonprofit group dedicated to the reintegration of former child soldiers in Africa called Pathways to Peace.

Omona had been kidnapped by the LRA when he was 12. Twenty-three years later, he was personally in charge of Kony’s communications.

Aragon said soldiers enlisted the aid of Omona’s family. His defection helped the soldiers end their mission against the LRA earlier this year.

But for the next fight, potentially against a more advanced enemy force, Aragon said officials must begin their efforts now.

“We cannot wait until the deployment to find the next Michael Omona,” she said. “We have to be doing that persistently if we are to be ready and relevant.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

The new ‘Stranger Things’ trailer feels like the series could be ending

The next season of the 1980s-horror-nostalgia-fest that is Stranger Things will debut on July 4, 2019, on Netflix and in the new trailer, it really feels like the series could be ending. Because of one specific plot element, this excellent trailer for Stranger Things 3 makes a strong case that perhaps, the series could — and should — end after this season.

On June 20, 2019, Netflix released the final trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. Unlike season 2, in which Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) was separated from Lucas, Mike, and Will for almost the entire season, this time around, everyone is back together and clearly hanging out in the town of Hawkins. This is smart because what made season 1 of Stranger Things so great was the fact it went small to go big, and it looks like season 3 is the same; keeping it local in Hawkins, reminding everyone why they loved the show in the first place.


The new season looks great, and it’s super exciting to see how the kids will defeat the Upside Down creatures once and for all. Speaking of which…that roar at the end of the trailer was clearly the Mind Flayer creature from season 1, and it seems like the Mind Flayer itself is narrating the trailer. All the kids are worried: maybe it never left? Maybe it’s possessed one of the regular cast! Oooh, spooky!

(Netflix)

Honestly, I love this trailer and the 12-year-old in me thinks it’s right to make the stakes in season 3 about familiar creatures. Eleven wonders aloud: “It doesn’t make sense…I closed the gate.” But clearly, she didn’t. When you’re a little kid, this is how sequels always worked in your mind: Let’s just bring back the monster from the first story, only bigger, badder and grodier than before. The fact that Stranger Things season 3 isn’t trying to do something experimental, but instead is doing something safe is why this trailer kicks ass. It’s why I want to see this season RIGHT NOW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcnHOQ-cHa0
Stranger Things 3 | Official Final Trailer | Netflix

www.youtube.com

But, the return of the Mind Flayer and the continued questioning of whether or not the Upside Down has really been sealed off makes me think this really should be the final season of Stranger Things. Last year series star Millie Bobby Brown got everyone worried that the show was ending after this season but then clarified that she wasn’t saying that outright. However, she also didn’t say there 100 percent was going to be a season 4 after this. So, right now, no one actually knows.

Because the new trailer is so focused on resolving old conflicts, it feels like season 3 could really be the end. But then again, because we haven’t seen it yet, we don’t know that for sure, either. Still, as much as I love Stranger Things doubling-down on its own nostalgia, how much nostalgia is left in the Upside Down? If Eleven closes that dimensional doorway again should we really re-open it?

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

Military Life

7 do’s and dont’s of surviving toxic leadership in the military

The buzz word that seems to never leave the tips of the Big Military’s tongue is “toxic leadership.” It can be defined as the behavior of a leader who puts their own well-being first while destroying the well-being of everyone underneath them — the type of person who would stand on the neck of their troops if it meant a single “attaboy” from their own superiors.


Do not get this twisted. Toxic leadership is not “Sergeant said something mean to me one time!” It is not “Sergeant had to punish me when I messed up!” And it is not “Sergeant made me do military things!” Toxic leadership is like bad art. You can’t quite nail down how to perfectly define it, but when you see it — you know.

1. Do praise the good leaders

During my time in the Army, I’ve had the pleasure of serving under some damn fine officers and NCOs (a few of which I know read my articles years after I got my own DD-214 blanket.) Every single one of the good ones understand that respect is a two-way street. And every single one took strong stands against the toxic leadership that is “the scoliosis of the backbone of the Army.”

If you want to see the good leaders, shine a light on them. They’re out there. This is best and most effective means to cleaning the toxicity out of the military.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
And you’ll never forget the lessons the damn good ones taught you. (Author is on the far left. Image via Facebook)

 

2. When dealing with toxic leadership, don’t give up 

If you do find yourself under the boot of one of those slimy bastards, continue the fight. If you want to count the days until your blanket, that’s fine. If you want to put an end to that crap to help your brothers and sisters-in-arms, that’s better.

No one should ever hate their time in the military. We’re a family closer than most blood families.

 

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Good leaders aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with their troops. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Laboy)

 

3. Do respectfully and professionally communicate with them

The first sentence of the U.S. Army and Air Force Non-commissioned officer creed is: No one is more professional than I. The Marines have “I am the backbone of the Marine Corps” and is a sentiment shared by every branch. These are the words they swore to live by. If they are worth a damn, they prove it every day.

Find out if what they’re doing is truly toxic or if there’s just a bigger picture at play. Even if you don’t owe it to them, owe it to the rank they wear.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Never forget, your superiors are still human. They may make mistakes, but they will still have human moments with you. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

4. Don’t disrespect their position or rank

That being said, even if every fiber of your being is saying they don’t deserve their rank, you can’t lose your military bearing. Keep the formalities. Stand at attention or parade rest. Refer to them by their rank and don’t use expletives in reference to them.

It’s much harder for your concerns to be taken seriously if you come across as complaining to their peers.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
If you lose your bearing, you lose the fight against toxicity. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

 

5. Do Command Climate Surveys

The most mind-numbing briefings and paperwork lower enlisted seem to do is a Command Climate Survey. They seem to get filled with a bunch of fluff that won’t change things — or fluff that can’t be changed. But what actually gets the hosts of the surveys to sit on the edge of their seats is signs of actual toxic leadership.

They won’t bother listening to gripes and complaints. However, if you point out specific events and provide actual solutions: they do listen.

 

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
Command Climate Surveys really are the most effective means, even if it doesn’t seem feel it. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Vazquez)

 

6. Don’t put toxic leadership on blast

Keep your bearing. If you know the reason they’re not at morning formation isn’t because they’re “at Dental,” you don’t need to shout it out in front of the platoon. And whatever you do, don’t put a photo out of context on social media.

Use the open door policy to their superior. Explain the situation in a more controlled environment that won’t put a target on your back.

 

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
That, and blasting them on Social Media is an offense under UCMJ of online misconduct (Dog used to not single anyone out.) (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin N. Boyer)

 

7. Do strive to be better than toxic leaders

To avoid sounding like one of those knitted pillows on Grandma’s couch, everything is a learning experience. It’s easy to look at the good leaders and follow their footsteps. But it’s much more critical to look at a toxic leader and say “When I’m that rank, I will never be like them.”

Watch them burn, hold your head up high and march forward. Right now, you’re the leader your unit needs.

 

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time
These words stuck with me and can be found on the walls of the 7th Army NCO Academy. Never forget them.(Image via AZ Quotes)

When in doubt, make sure they receive this link: How to not be a dirtbag CGO

MIGHTY TRENDING

US State Dept. in Europe to discuss ‘Iran-backed terrorism’

The U.S. State Department says its coordinator for counterterrorism is traveling to the three Scandinavian countries to discuss matters including “Iran-backed terrorism” in Europe.

The State Department announced Ambassador Nathan Sales’ trips to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in a Jan. 29, 2019 statement, saying that Iran “remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”


“In recent years the regime has directed or backed terrorist plotting in France, Denmark, The Netherlands, Albania, and elsewhere,” it added.

In January 2019, the European Union approved fresh sanctions on Iran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals, accusing them of attempting — or carrying out — attacks against Iranian government opponents on Danish, Dutch, and French soil.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Nathan A. Sales prepares to sign his appointment papers to become Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 29, 2017.

(State Department Photo)

Tehran denied the claim, saying the accusations were aimed at damaging relations between Iran and the EU.

The Dutch government in 2019 accused Iran of likely involvement in the killings of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in 2015 and 2017. Both were opponents of the Iranian regime.

In October 2018, Denmark accused Iran’s authorities of planning to carry out attacks on its soil on Iranian exiles belonging to an Iranian opposition group, while France blamed Tehran for a foiled bombing attack that targeted a rally organized by another banned group near Paris in June 2018.

And in December 2018, non-EU member Albania expelled Iran’s ambassador to Tirana and another diplomat, saying they were suspected of “involvement in activities that harm the country’s security.”

Precise reasons for the move were not given, but U.S. officials said it sent a clear message that conducting “terrorist operations in Europe” was unacceptable.

The alleged plots in Europe have strained relations between Tehran and the European Union, which has been working to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out of the accord aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.

The U.S. State Department said that Sales’ talks with Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian officials will also touch upon the prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters who traveled from Europe and other parts of the world to fight alongside the extremist group Islamic State in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

“The United States is urging its partners to repatriate their citizens and prosecute them for the crimes they have committed,” the statement said.

It said that a 2017 UN Security Council resolution requires states to combat terrorist travel, using tools including terrorist watch lists and airline reservation data.

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

popular

9 of the biggest mistakes sailors make while at BUD/S

Navy SEAL candidates go through what’s considered the hardest military training before earning their precious Trident. That training is called the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S. When young men across the country join the Navy, they head down to the sandy beaches of Coronado, California to test themselves, both mentality and physicality, to see if they have what it takes to become a member of the Special Warfare community.

Since the BUD/S drop-out rate is so high (roughly 75% of candidates fail), many are left wondering what it takes to survive the rigorous program and graduate. Well, former Navy SEAL Jeff Nichols is here to break down a few of the mistakes that contribute to that high rate of failure.


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Speaking with a recruiter before passing the physical screening test

According to Nichols, if you excel well beyond the required standard on physical fitness tests, you’ll have a lot more sway in getting into the Spec Ops community. Your performance speaks volume in telling recruiters that this is what you want and that you’re ready to move forward.

Not everyone is ready to take the plunge — show recruiters you have what it takes.

You train your strengths often, but ignore weaknesses

Most people train using methods that they’re accustomed to, like swimming or bodybuilding. However, according to Nichols, Special Forces training is designed to expose a candidate’s weaknesses. Locate those weaknesses and train them.

Training until failure too often

Many workout routines recommend pushing yourself until you’re too physically exhausted to continue. Nichols suggests that you add a few training days into your routine during which you focus on perfecting technique instead of exhausting yourself.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Eating healthy is a solid idea.

Malnutrition

Nichols notes that, far too often, people either eat too little or too much of the wrong thing. To properly prepare yourself for training and recovery, you’ll need to give your body the nutritional tools it needs.

Picky eaters are in for a big surprise as the Navy isn’t know for a vast selection of cuisine.

Training to be sleep deprived

Being sleep deprived is extremely debilitating. Many of those who plan to take a shot at earning the Trident will try and train themselves to be sleep deprived. Don’t do this.

Sleep deprivation is a difficult thing to endure. The best way to get through is to make sure your body is in top physical shape — which requires that you get as much rest as possible between training sessions.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Most candidates aren’t ready to run in boots

Nichols recommends that you learn how to run in boots. Start with comfortable tennis shoes, then work your way up. This will lower your chances of developing shin splints during the real thing.

Overtraining yourself

Many candidates over-train themselves, aiming to be “run-dominant” and avoiding taking on mass, thinking that hypertrophy (bodybuilding) will make them slow. You can be muscular and still maintain great run times. Remember, Usain Bolt weighs over 200 pounds.

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Candidates don’t do enough fin work

You can be a solid swimmer, but once you put on those fins, the physical equation changes. Putting fins on your feet amplifies the stress your legs have to endure in the water.

So, get those fins on and start practicing.

Listening to SEALSWCC.com

We realize that telling you not to listen to the website might sound controversial, but Nichols finds a lot of the information listed there is wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pwMjfnnF2Y

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the big takeaways from the latest Space Force press conference

What started as wishful thinking by a bunch of vets hoping to one day become space shuttle door gunners is starting to take shape as the next steps in establishing a Space Force are underway.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence held a conference at the Pentagon on Aug 9 to discuss the latest plans and updates on the creation of the United States Space Force. To clear some of the fog surrounding it, it’s not about sending armed troops into space nor is it an over-the-top plan to fight aliens.

There is a real and current strategic advantage in using space to aid with Earthly conflicts through satellites operations and missile defense — both of which would fall under the purview of the new Space Force.


King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Vice President Mike Pence has championed our current space commands within the Air Force and the Navy.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Hoffman)

Secretary Mattis opened up the briefing and announced that the Pentagon will release its latest space report to Congress, reinforcing the specifics on how they will move forward. He then welcomed Vice President Pence to take the podium.

Vice President Pence reiterated both the desire to push mankind back into space exploration and to utilize space for the rapid advancement of technology. He likened the establishment of the Space Force to that of the Air Force when it was first created.

“In 1939, at the start of the second World War, the U.S. Army Air Corps was still a fledgling organization… By 1945, the American military had nearly 30 times the number of planes and 85 times the number of pilots and support crews compared to just six years earlier and our allies emerged victorious from WWII because of the strength of our armed forces and because our armed forces adapted to meet the emerging threats of the day,” said Vice President Mike Pence.
King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Once you realize just how many U.S. satellites are in space, how little protection they have, and just how dependent our society is on their safety… you’ll stop thinking of the Space Force as a joke branch.

(Air Force illustration)

Our current military does, in fact, have a space command and has had one for decades. Expanding the space command into a full branch would give the tens of thousands of troops and civilian contractors currently working on the space mission far greater spending to continue and expand upon the responsibilities of the domain.

Founding the Space Force will firmly establish America’s leadership in space. In President Trump’s own words,

“It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space. And so we will.”

One of the first technologies announced was the fielding of a new generation of jam-resistant GPS and communication satellites. This also comes along with a new missile defense satellite that is “smaller, tougher, and more maneuverable than ever before.”

The need for dominance over space is growing by the day. China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed a test satellite in 2007. Russia has been designing an airborne laser that is said to disrupt satellites and claim to be creating missiles that could be launched mid-flight to destroy satellites. Both have claimed to have ability to move their satellites closer to our own — which could pose an unprecedented new danger.

Many more details about the new branch’s establishment will come soon as we move forward towards its eventual creation with a possible date set for 2020.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Air Force’s metals techs keep aircraft flying

The 100th Maintenance Squadron’s aircraft metals technology technicians aim to achieve the highest levels of precision when grinding, welding, fabricating or repairing parts for Team Mildenhall aircraft.

For the airmen of the aircraft metals technology section, it’s their job to ensure that Team Mildenhall has the tools and parts needed to accomplish the mission.


“Metals technology repairs, modifies and manufactures aircraft and ground equipment parts or anything needed to accomplish the mission,” said Senior Airman Samuel Muncrief, 100th MXS aircraft metals technician journeyman.

“We also fabricate tools for other shops; there are parts on our aircraft that they no longer make tools for, so we make the new part and the tool to remove the old one.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Staff Sgt. Brandon Telles, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technician craftsman, uses a tungsten inert gas welder on a fire inlet door at RAF Mildenhall, England, January 7, 2020.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)

When it comes to welding, grinding or fabricating, the airmen of metals technology have a reputation for excellence, and it’s well deserved.

“Every day we are dealing with tight tolerances, or how much we can be over or under on the dimensions of a part,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Telles, 100th MXS aircraft metals technician craftsman. “Usually, we are dealing with tolerances the size of a strand of hair: I enjoy the challenge, it forces you to pay close attention to your work.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Staff Sgt. Brandon Telles, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technician craftsman, welds a fire inlet door at RAF Mildenhall, England, January 7, 2020.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)

In a profession with such exacting standards, it’s important to continue to learn and improve.

“We are constantly learning, and we start by studying the basic concepts in training, and when we arrive at our shop, we begin to master our craft,” Telles explained. “We have 16-year veterans who still learn something new every day.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

US Air Force Senior Airman Austin Good, 100th Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems journeyman, weighs a carbon dioxide bottle for aircraft life support systems at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 20, 2019.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman Luke Milano)

In addition to their primary job, the aircraft metals shop helps save Team Mildenhall thousands of dollars.

“Today we worked on a part which could be outsourced to the civilian sector for ,000,” Telles said. “We’ve already completed eight of those parts and we will complete two more; it adds up to a considerable sum.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Senior Airman Samuel Muncrief, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technician journeyman, uses a pencil grinder on a part at RAF Mildenhall, England, January 7, 2020.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)

Innovation and creative solutions are also key for aircraft metals technicians, sometimes leading them to gather insight outside of their shop.

“We speak with engineers and gather information from blue prints to get exact dimensions and determine what a part needs to be made of,” Telles said. “Occasionally, the blueprints don’t match the aircraft perfectly and we have to go out to the aircraft and measure; it’s a lot of precision work.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Senior Airman Samuel Muncrief, 100th Maintenance Squadron aircraft metals technician journeyman, uses a pneumatic grinder to modify a part at RAF Mildenhall, England, January 7, 2020.

(US Air Force/Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)

The metals technology shop has a considerable impact on the mission, but for them its just business as usual.

“In a way we are the last line of defense. When a crew chief finds something that needs to be fixed it comes to us,” Telles said. “At that point, we have to fix it, weld it or replace it and if we don’t get it done the plane doesn’t fly.”

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The reason these military helicopters are painted pink

The Sikorsky S-70 platform is one of the most popular and versatile medium-lift utility helicopters with the U.S. military and government agencies. As a result, it can be seen in a variety of color schemes. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawks can be found sporting a dark gull gray scheme while Navy SH-60 Sea Hawks bear a lighter maritime gray. Army UH-60 Black Hawks are painted in a dark green while their Special Forces 160th SOAR MH-60 counterparts are completely blacked out. However, there is one color that can be seen on multiple S-70-based aircraft and many others besides.

When serious wildfires break out on the west coast, state and local firefighting teams are augmented by the National Guard. Ground forces are often employed cutting fire breaks while air assets are used to rescue fire victims and attack the fire directly. However, air operations in the middle of a fire are extremely dangerous. High winds, thick smoke, and extreme heat make for a difficult flying environment that can challenge even the most experienced aviators. The firefighting effort against the 2020 Creek Fire has already produced 7 Distinguished Flying Cross recipients who heroically braved the deadly conditions and ignored orders to abort their mission to save hundreds of people trapped by the flames.
King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

A UH-60 Black Hawk of the CA National Guard 1-140th Aviation Battalion (Assault) (Army National Guard)

Although modern technology like night vision goggles and advanced sensor suites can assist pilots in navigating through the treacherous conditions that they face while fighting fires, one low-tech firefighting modification is applied to every military aircraft that flies against a fire. While their gray and green paint schemes help to reduce their visual signature in their respective combat environments, they can serve as a hazard in a firefighting situation where visibility is low and heavy air traffic results in increased risk of mid-air collisions. In order to mitigate this, military aircraft used to fight fires are painted with a fluorescent paint called shocking pink.

The result of an agreement between the California National Guard and CAL FIRE, shocking pink is the official color that is applied to aircraft from outside agencies that are assigned to battle fires. Aircraft identification numbers are repainted in the vivid color along with thick stripes on the tail and fuselage. “There can be a lot of aircraft fighting the fire in the fire lane,” said Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Pulgencio, a pilot with the California Guard’s 1-140th Aviation Battalion (Assault). “We need to see each other as well as ground forces need to see us.”

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Spc. Nicholas Ehrenheim of the 351st Aviation Support Battalion applies pink paint to a Black Hawk (Army National Guard)

Although shocking pink is the official color, it is not always what is used. As a result of heavy firefighting focus in California, resources in surrounding states have been heavily reduced. During the 2018 wildfires in Washington State, Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist in the firefighting effort. National Guard units stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord quickly mustered and gathered their firefighting equipment. However, one resource that was lacking was the shocking pink paint for their aircraft. “They ran out of paint,” Black Hawk crew chief Spc. Noah Marshman said as he applied pink paint to his aircraft. “They just went to the craft store.” The use of craft store paint highlights both the necessity of the brilliant color and the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the soldiers.

If you ever see a military aircraft overhead with pink markings, know that it’s being crewed by service members on their way to fight a fire…not that you could miss it.


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