Metal fans have die-hard opinions on bands they love — and bands they hate. Regardless of which side of the line Five Finger Death Punch falls on for you, there’s one group they connect with like no other: troops of the United States Military.
Maybe it’s their firmly anti-communist point of view (Five Finger Death Punch founder Zoltan Bathory was born in Soviet-dominated Hungary and appreciates American democracy on another level). Or maybe it’s because they never forget the troops or law enforcement (Bathory even assisted a cop on the freeway one time). It might also be because of all the songs they write specifically for soldiers.
According to Stereogum, if Billboard’s Top 200 was still based purely on album sales, Five Finger Death Punch would have had the #1 album in 2016. When adjusted for streaming sales, they were still a close second. The band debuted at #2 with their three previous albums and at #3 with their 2011 album, American Capitalist.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Yarnall)
Look at their album titles: A Decade of Destruction, Got Your Six, War Is The Answer, Way of the Fist, Pre-Emptive Strike. It’s clear that the fighting men and women of the United States are never far from their minds — or their work. That might have something to do with all of the USO shows where they’ve performed for troops in combat zones like Iraq.
“When we were over in Iraq playing our USO tour, I had one soldier come up to me, and he laid a burnt iPod down on the table. He didn’t ask me to sign it. He wanted me to keep it. I looked at him a bit funny at first. He told me one of his closest friends went out on a mission and didn’t make it back. Let’s leave it at that. When they found him and his things, his iPod was stuck on ‘The Bleeding.’ The last thing he was listening to before he went was one of our songs. I literally teared up.”
Including war imagery in songs and playing for the troops is nothing new, but Five Finger Death Punch takes it a step further by employing a slew of veterans in their shows, tours, and other material.
Preparing before you join the military is a great way to set yourself up for success once you take that oath.
To start your military career right from Day One, there are some vitally important factors for you to consider so you can be successful in your initial training as well as your follow-on or advanced training. This advice is for anyone planning to join any military service.
5. Start Talking to Recruiters A Year Out.
If you are considering enlisting or joining an officer commissioning program, make a plan to go and speak to all the service recruiters. If you are set on the Marines, go and explore your options with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Air Force anyway. If you are just interested in the Air Force, then talk to the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, and the Navy. At this point, you “don’t know what you don’t know.”
Speaking to recruiters from all military services will give you a very good idea of the full range of positions, training, and signing bonuses that are available to you. At any point in joining the military, there is a spectrum of opportunities that are and are not available based on the current size of the respective services. Speaking to all the recruiters gives you a good idea of what is truly available.
4. Drugs, Legal Violations, Some Tattoos, Obesity, and Fitness Ruin People’s Military Dreams.
There is a large group of people that want desperately to join the military but cannot due to violations of the military service standards that bar them from entering service.
As a broad rule, the use of illegal drugs; legal convictions of criminal activity; some tattoo’s on the face, neck, or hands; personal weight levels above the service standard; and the inability to successfully complete a basic physical fitness test are what remove candidates from consideration for military service.
The best advice is to avoid any and all activities that will disqualify you from military service.
3. Get In Good Overall Shape.
Your goal for fitness and bodyweight should be to get in the best overall shape that you can.
You want to balance strength training and cardiovascular fitness because too much strength training could hurt your run times and too much running may leave you susceptible to injury and could even cause you to fail the push-ups or pull-ups to military standard. There are a number of excellent fitness programs that you can pursue.
2. Do Well On Your High School GPA Graduate.
After the fitness disqualifications to military service, a lack of a high school degree with a decent GPA is next. A high school degree and a good GPA that will help you do well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – a test that partially controls what military specialties that you can sign up to perform.
Graduating high school on time and with a good GPA really will go a long way for your military career.
1. Prepare for Times When Military Service Is Awful.
At my first duty station in Korea, the January weather was so cold that the water buffalos froze inside of heated tents, which made serving hot food impossible. We had limited MREs because they were all in the Middle East so we ate beef jerky or nothing because the peanut butter sandwiches froze. It was a horrible time in the field.
You can do all the physical preparations you want, but your mind has to be prepared to suffer — and suffer mightily. Military recruits that are not prepared to suffer and to perform their best while suffering are challenged to complete a term of military service.
Talking early to recruiters, staying away from activities that disqualify you for military service, being in good shape, possessing a completed high school degree, and having your attitude focused on surpassing suffering while still serving well is how you succeed.
Corpsmen and medics have to be the jacks-of-all-trades when they’re taking care of business. Under the watchful eye of their senior medical officers, “docs” have to execute their insane responsibilities at an efficient rate.
They’re asked to perform some impressive, life-saving interventions that would make a third-year medical student cringe.
They also get blamed for a variety of things they have no control over if they’re the lower man or woman on the totem pole.
It’s funny, considering all the good they’ve done throughout America’s history, that their fellow brothers-in-arms like to f*ck with them every so often by creating and perpetuating stereotypes.
Some of those stereotypes stick and get carried on forever!
So, check out four stereotypes platoon medics get freakin’ stuck with.
4. They joined just to look at other service members’ d*cks.
For the most part, that statement is inaccurate. However, there may have been a few medics, throughout the course history, who probably joined to catch a peek every now and again.
3. Navy Corpsmen are just Marine rejects.
As much as we dislike this one, Corpsman can’t help it if their Marines freakin’ love them and see them as equals. That being said, there are a few “docs” who joined because they couldn’t get into the Corps due to stupid tattoo policies — including yours truly.
Stupid, right? (Image from U.S. Marine Corps)
2. They love issuing out the “silver bullet.”
Nope! We can’t think of a single human being who explicitly enjoys taking another’s temperature via their butthole. Yuck! But they’ll do it if they have to.
Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks took bronze in the men’s pole vault in the XXXI Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on Aug. 15 with a successful vault of 5.85 meters, about 19.2 feet.
Kendricks took the top spot in Olympic qualifications as the first competitor to hit 5.7 meters, about 18.7 feet. But all top nine jumpers hit 5.7 meters in the qualifications, including Kendricks’ top rivals, Renauld Lavillenie from France and Shawnacy Barber of Canada.
Lavillenie is the world record holder and took home the gold in the London Olympics in 2012 while Barber was ranked second worldwide.
Kendricks just missed his first attempt at 5.65 meters and his only one at 5.75. He hit his second attempt at 5.65 and then crossed 5.85, making his 5.75-meter struggles immaterial. Barber failed three times to clear 5.65, which knocked him out of the competition.
Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic champion and holder of the world pole vault record since 2014, entered the competition at 5.75 meters and cleared the bar easily, putting the pressure back on Kendricks.
Kendricks fought his way to 3rd with an impressive series of jumps, but he failed to beat the 5.93-meter bar to stay in the running for gold. Kendricks personal best is 5.92 meters.
Rio’s hometown hero, Brazilian pole vaulter Thiago Braz da Silva, traded Olympic records with Lavillenie. When the dust settled, Silva was on top with a 6.03-meter jump, about 19.78 feet, for the gold while Lavillenie left at 5.98 meters for silver.
Kendricks made it to the podium partially in thanks to the assistance of his coach and father, Scott Kendricks, a 10-year veteran of the Marine Corps.
Another military pole vaulter, Air Force 1st Lt. Cale Simmons, was knocked out during the qualifiers after a disappointing 5.30-meter jump, not good enough for a berth in the Olympic finals.
When a stranger says “Thank you for your service” to a veteran, it’s often an awkward — and short — conversation. For some veterans, being thanked for their job seems odd: I didn’t really do much, some may think. You’re thanking me for something you don’t even understand is another thought that may come to mind.
When I hear it, I cordially say thank you back. In my opinion, it takes some guts for a random stranger to approach and express that appreciation. But I sometimes think it may be the wrong sentiment. Sadly, “Thank you for your service” has become the end of the conversation, not the beginning. It’s a phrase that has become a punchline in military circles — thought as empty and overused — and takes away from what could be a chance for civilians to ask questions and really understand what troops have done.
Air Force veteran Elizabeth O’Herrin responds in a similar way, saying “my pleasure” in response. But was it really? As she explains in a wonderful essay at the website Medium, the exchange of pleasantries can take a quick turn:
Upon returning home, being thanked for my service became something I found awkward. My experience was not that traumatic. It was not that dangerous. It didn’t truly feel like a sacrifice. Other people certainly deserved a thank you, but not me. Not when I remembered leaning over a guy who had just lost his leg, scrubbing blood from his hands, attempting a conversation to soothe him when he was incoherent, doped up on morphine. Digging through his bag to find his Purple Heart because he became panicked when he couldn’t remember where they put it. I dug through the normal shit he packed in his bag earlier that day, back when he had two legs, like bubble gum. “Thank you for your service.” I didn’t deserve much thanks for anything.
O’Herrin, who helped fuse bombs on jets that were later dropped on the bad guys, is and should be proud of her service. Like many of the post-9/11 military generation, she volunteered at a time of war and performed an essential job that most certainly resulted in saved lives on the ground.
In her essay, she recalls seeing a wounded veteran on the D.C. metro, and making eye contact with his mother. She struggles in that moment with wanting to tell the mother — who has no idea she is a veteran — that she understands at least some of what she’s going through. She wants to empathize with her, and tell her that she feels her pain.
“But I knew I couldn’t say something without sounding vapid and empty, swiping at some semblance of shared experience and missing entirely,” O’Herrin writes.
In this experience, she learns an important point, and one that perhaps all veterans should take to heart. While “thank you for your service” can sometimes sound like an empty phrase, just remember in that time before you heard it, that person had to work up the courage to approach when they were not obligated in any way. Far from the awful homecoming of our Vietnam veterans who were sometimes cursed by those who never served, this generation of veterans should accept that phrase and embrace it.
“They wanted me to know they felt something, and chose to say it,” O’Herrin writes in her closing. “And I feel grateful for their words.”
A US MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft was shot down over the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on October 1, US officials confirmed on Monday.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down the unmanned aircraft over the Jadar area on the northern outskirts of Sanaa. A military official was quoted by the Houthi-controlled SABA state news agency saying the army and various militias brought it down, though it was not immediately clear what weapons were used.
It crashed on the outskirts of the capital around 11 a.m. local time, according to Reuters. Video posted on Twitter by journalist and author Babak Taghvaee shows the drone hurtling toward the ground while on fire and captures a crowd gathering around the wreckage.
There were no reports of casualties from the crash, and Houthi rebels loaded what was left of the drone on to a pickup truck, according to Reuters.
The MQ-9 Reaper is a long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft mostly used by the US Air Force.
It is primarily used for precision-strike and close-air-support missions and is capable of carrying Hellfire missiles and other guided bombs. It is also deployed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. It has a flight ceiling of up to 50,000 feet and a range of 1,150 miles.
US Army Maj. Earl Brown, a spokesman for US Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, confirmed that a Reaper drone was shot down in western Yemen. Brown provided few details, saying the incident was “under investigation.”
The Houthi rebels, who have allied with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh and are backed by Iran, control much of northern Yemen, including the capital.
They are fighting a Saudi-led coalition — which includes Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait and is backed by intelligence, weapons, and logistics from the US — that is trying to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The US has increased its refueling support for Saudi aircraft since the conflict began in early 2015.
The Saudi-led coalition has been accused of violating international law with its bombing in Yemen. Houthi forces or their partners may have also committed war crimes.
More than 10,000 people have been killed during the conflict. Two million people have been displaced by the fighting, and 750,000 people are thought to have contracted cholera.
The US is also fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the region, launching raids and drone strikes against the group’s militants. It’s not known whether the drone downed on Sunday was supporting the Saudi-led coalition or targeting Al Qaeda fighters.
The Good Conduct Medal is one of the easiest medals an enlisted troop can earn. It’s an award given to enlisted personnel for every three years of “honorable and faithful service.” During times of war, the GCM can given out at one year of good service and can be posthumously awarded to service members killed in the line of duty.
But the GCM isn’t the same as a service stripe, which is given to soldiers every three years, Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen every four years, and is never given to airmen. To earn a GCM, you need to keep your nose clean (or don’t get caught doing something you shouldn’t) for three years. If you’re a solider, boom, that’s an instant 10 promotion points.
(Photo by Pvt. Paul R. Watts Jr.)
The intent behind the GCM is to award outstanding troops who’ve managed to go three years without ever failing to be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. The disqualifying factor for this medal is if you ever receive an NJP.
Now, what is and isn’t considered eligible for a non-judicial punishment is loosely defined and is entirely at the discretion of the commander. Talking too severely to a subordinate could be considered an NJP-worthy offense by a commander that’s cracking down on hazing, while another unit’s commander may turn a blind eye to horrendous acts that discredit the military.
The moment a troop gets a “Ninja Punch,” their 3-year GCM timer restarts. Three years after a sergeant knifehands a private, that private is once again eligible for a Good Conduct Medal. A scumbag who has brown-nosed the commander or has a commander who “doesn’t want the unit to look bad” will receive this medal every third anniversary of their enlistment. Do you see the discrepancy?
(Photo by Cpl. Brady Wood)
Once again, one unit may make an elaborate ceremony to honor the troop for their three years of good conduct while another may just ask a troop to buy a Good Conduct Knot to add to their ribbon rack. Again, this is at a commander’s discretion.
There is a silver lining to all of this. Fresh young troops who are giving the military their best can feel like their world’s been shattered the first time they screw up. Stern talking-tos and regular bad conduct counseling statements don’t blemish one’s good conduct streak — take the lickings and move on. An offense typically only turns into an NJP when it’s one in a series of misconduct.
(Photo by Spc. Adeline Witherspoon)
The Good Conduct Medal should be awarded to those troops who exemplify the military values. It is a flawed system that sees undeserving scumbags awarded while good troops who make a genuine and innocent mistake aren’t — but the troops that do deserve it and earn it make the military proud.
The U.S. has been quietly amassing firepower in the Pacific during a lull in tensions with North Korea, but recent developments on an under-the-radar nuclear weapon suggest preparation for a potential tactical nuclear strike.
While the B-2 and B-52 are known as the air leg of the U.S.’s nuclear triad, as they carry nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles, a smaller nuclear weapon that has undergone some upgrades may lend itself to a strike on North Korea.
Not only will the B-61’s new modification make it ideal for destroying dug-in bunkers, the kind in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might hide during a conflict, but it has an adjustable nuclear yield that could limit harmful radioactive fallout after a nuclear attack.
Though the U.S. has plenty of nuclear weapons that can easily hit North Korea from land, air, or sea, they’re predominantly large ones meant to deter countries like Russia or China.
A 2017 paper in MIT’s International Security journal suggested that recent advances in guidance systems and nuclear weapons could allow the U.S. to destroy all of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure while causing 100 or so deaths, versus 2 million to 3 million deaths on both sides of the 38th parallel without them.
But Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, suggested the paper was flawed.
Hanham told Business Insider that the paper’s supposition that only five sites would constitute the bulk or entirety of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure stood without merit.
North Korea has gone to great lengths to deter nuclear or conventional strikes by spreading its nuclear infrastructure across the country. The sites are shrouded in secrecy, and the U.S. intelligence community, despite its best, concerted efforts, has been wrong about their locations before, a former State Department official told Business Insider.
Trump seems to like the idea of tactical nuke strikes and striking North Korea
Despite evidence that tactical nuclear weapons won’t solve the North Korean military quagmire, President Donald Trump’s administration has looked favorably on smaller nuclear weapons.
The B-61 bombs live in military bases spread across Europe and are much less visible than big bombers, whose movements are often publicized. For example, The Aviationist reported in October that a civilian with a handheld radio scanner intercepted B-2 and B-52 pilots over Kansas training to pull off a strike on North Korean VIP targets.
But experts and politicians have characterized the idea of a nuclear strike as destabilizing and frankly crazy. Rep. John Garamendi, a California Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, questioned the wisdom of it in an interview with Business Insider.
“Certainly, North Korea understands that the U.S. is pretty tough,” Garamendi said. “The U.S. is prepared and willing to respond to aggression by North Korea.”
He added: “But we must assume that if we were to do a bloody-nose attack, that North Korea would respond in some way. Then what?”
A hacker who got ahold of sensitive US military documents tried to sell them on a dark-web forum — only to find there were no buyers. The hacker was forced to lower his price to $150.
After a team of undercover analysts from Recorded Future’s Insikt Group embedded themselves with users from the dark-web forum, they came across the hacker who exploited a simple vulnerability on Netgear-brand routers.
Through this exploit, the hacker gained access to documents belonging to a US Air Force service member stationed at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, and documents belonging to another service member believed to be in the US Army.
The sensitive files included a maintenance manual for the MQ-9A Reaper drone, a list of airmen assigned to a Reaper drone unit, manuals on how to suppress improvised explosive devices, and an M1 Abrams tank manual.
Although the materials do not appear to be classified, the information was still prohibited from being “released to another nation without specific authority” and was intended for “military purposes only.”
The hacker also tapped into live footage of surveillance cameras at the US-Mexico border and NASA bases, and an MQ-1 Predator flying over the Gulf of Mexico.
The MQ-9A Reaper
(U.S. Air Force photo)
The hacker claimed to have stolen “classified” information from the Pentagon, but Insikt Group’s analysts say their interactions with the hacker painted a less sophisticated picture. After building a rapport with other users on the dark-web forum, analysts chatted with the hacker and discovered he possessed “above amateur” abilities and may have been part of a group within a larger group.
“I wouldn’t say that they possess skills of highly advanced threat-actors,” Andrei Barysevich, a researcher at Recorded Future, told Business Insider. “They have enough knowledge to realize the potential of a very simple vulnerability and use it consistently.”
Analysts say they have a “good level of confidence” of the hacker’s identity, and are coordinating with Homeland Security officials in their investigation. A DHS representative declined to comment on the matter and the affected Air Force drone unit did not respond to requests for comment.
He didn’t fear the Reaper
The hacker may not have been fully aware of the nature of the information he possessed. At one point, he complained that he was unable to find interested buyers for the files — which he believed were highly valuable. He ultimately lowered his price.
“I expect about 0 or 0 for being classified information” he said, according to a transcript.
In an attempt to make a quick sale, he was also “proactive in giving” samples to analysts, which in turn allowed them to determine whom the documents were stolen from.
“[It] clearly shows he had no knowledge of how much this data may cost and where and whom to sell it to,” analyst Barysevich said. “He was attempting to get rid of it as soon as possible.”
After Barysevich’s team alerted US officials, the vulnerable computers were taken offline. That move ultimately cut off the hacker’s access to the files.
The hacker, who is believed to live in a poverty-stricken country in South America, said his internet connection was slow and that, because his bandwidth was limited, he did not download as much information as he had hoped to, prior to finding a willing buyer.
Instead, he relied on screenshots and shared them with the analysts, who say they believe he was still unable to find a buyer.
A password impasse
The Netgear router vulnerability, which dates back to 2016, allowed hackers to access private files remotely if a user’s password is outdated. Despite several firmware updates and countless news articles on the subject, thousands of routers remain vulnerable.
A simple search on Shodan, a search engine for devices connected to the internet, reveals more than 4,000 routers that are susceptible to the attack.
“We’re literally talking about thousands of systems,” Barysevich said. “And many of them appear to be operated by government employees.”
Hackers, like the one Barysevich’s team encountered, would scan large segments of the internet by country, identify which routers would have a standard port used by private servers, and then use the default password to discover private files.
It’s difficult to match the contents of the files with their owners, but that’s not exactly the point. It’s a brute-force method with only one goal in mind: to find valuable data and exploit it.
“Sadly, very few understand the importance of properly securing wireless access points [WAP], and even fewer use strong passwords and understand how to spot phishing emails,” Recorded Future said in a report.
“The fact that a single hacker with moderate technical skills was able to identify several vulnerable military targets and exfiltrate highly sensitive information in a week’s time is a disturbing preview of what a more determined and organized group with superior technical and financial resources could achieve.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage,” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.
All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this video, we get a few of Connolly’s jokes, along with the story of how he went from Harvard to the Marine Corps … to standup comedy.
The British navy’s newest and most expensive aircraft carrier needs repairs after a faulty shaft seal was identified during sea trials.
Officials say the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which cost roughly 3 billion pounds ($4 billion) to build, will be “scheduled for repair” at Portsmouth.
Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Dec. 19 the repairs wouldn’t be paid for by taxpayers because contractors who built the ship would be responsible.
Her Majesty The Queen takes the salute at the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Queen spoke at a ceremony in Portsmouth’s Naval base this morning, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, military chiefs and former Prime Ministers (Ministry of Defense Photo)
A Royal Navy statement says the problem won’t prevent the ship from sailing or interfere with the extensive sea trials program underway.
Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month attended the commissioning ceremony of the carrier, which is named after the monarch.
In 2017, when Hurricane Irma, a monster Category 5 storm, barreled toward Florida’s southern peninsula and Homestead Air Reserve Base, The Air Force Reserve commander had a lot of decisions to make.
Thankfully, history – in the form of Air Force historians – was on her side.
The Air Force Reserve Command history office pulled data and information from three previous hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5, which devastated the base 25 years ago. In just a few hours, the office had a timeline and a list of issues that came up in each of the three previous storms. Historians worked through the data with the Innovation, Analyses and Leadership Development directorate, or A9, and determined that the biggest issue was maintaining communications as Andrew had continued into Georgia, knocking out power to the AFRC’s battle staff.
The commander and staff then worked to prevent history from repeating itself.
The results were good communications throughout the storm, clean up and reconstitution. The base opened airfield operations and sustained 24-hour operations, offloading 112.8 short tons of cargo and relief supplies, including two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, cargo and personnel from the 66th and 920th Rescue Squadrons and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Those “good comms” resulted in the AFRC coordinating aircraft, relief supplies, Airmen and equipment with the right skills and the right gear to save lives. In previous years, relief efforts were delayed because nobody could talk.
“Now, did History do all that?” asked Dr. Jim Malachowski, a senior aerospace historian for the Air Force History and Museums Program at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. “No but knowing what worked and didn’t work in the past gave her a good starting point to ask the right questions.”
Malachowski explained when the right knowledge is injected with historical perspective at the right point in the decision cycle it helps commanders make better decisions.
The history of Air Force history
Located in the heart of Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, is a gold mine and although it does not contain precious metals, the Air Force Historical Research Agency is filled with the world’s largest and most valuable organized collection of original documents concerning U.S. military aviation. The more than 100 million pages of Air Force history inside the repository chronicles the evolution of American military flight and provides a treasure trove of information for researchers, authors and historians.
While touching the pages of history is unique, said Malachowski, applying the historical lessons learned from the study of past wars is fundamental to the preparation for the next. This is why it is so crucial for the Air Force’s operational and institutional memory is preserved.
Sam Shearin, a researcher with the Air Force Historical Research Agency looks through World War II unit lineage documents, June 7, 2018, at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. There are more than 70 million pages devoted to the history of the service, and represents the world’s largest and most valuable organized collection of documents on US military aviation.
(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)
When he established the Army Air Forces (AAF) Historical Division in 1942, General Henry “Hap” Arnold, widely considered the architect of the Air Force, He assembled nine prominent historians from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Harvard and asked them how the Air Force should organize and run its history program. Following their recommendations, Arnold put trained historians in every unit to record history “while it is hot.” Historians had to be independent so history would be recorded accurately and factually “without an axe to grind.”
The collection of historical data for the Air Force began before the service’s inception, even pre-dating the Army Air Corps. Without a plan to preserve it, the bulk of airpower history from the First World War was lost. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Committee on Records of War Administration to preserve an accurate and objective account of military experiences. By 1943 the AAF Archives had been established and historians began collecting, assimilating and organizing contemporary and historical information.
The creation of this archive dedicated to receiving, organizing and preserving the information gathered by these early historians has evolved into today’s collection.
The majority of AFHRA’s library consists of unit histories, written by unit historians, which chronicle Air Force operations and activities in peace and war from World War I to the present day. These materials provide the data and historical perspective to support planning and decision-making processes throughout the Air Force.
The archive was later moved to Maxwell AFB from Washington D.C., putting it in the direct control of the Air Force and at the disposal of professional military education students, faculty, and the public.
The history kept inside of AFHRA’s walls isn’t just sitting idle – it’s continually being added to, vigorously being researched and, most importantly, actively being interpreted by Air Force historians to get valuable information to leaders and decision makers to create a more efficient and lethal Air Force.
Collecting the data
Capturing Air Force history begins with aerospace historians. Today, there are just over 200 historians placed at wings and 10 major commands, which is 75 percent less than in 1990. Air Force civilians now fill all roles in collecting the history at wings and commands.
Air Force civilian and Reserve historians also support a continuous deployment rotation as combat historians to support combatant commands and joint staff tasking across the globe.
A researcher at the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., looks through microfilm to track down the shipment history of bomber aircraft that were shipped overseas to fight during WWII, June 7, 2018, at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Ala. Private researchers can visit and use the AFHRA for research.
(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)
Dr. Bill Harris, the Deputy Director of the Air Force History and Museums Program, says whether at home station or deployed the most important aspect of a historian’s job is being actively involved in their organizations.
“What Aerospace historians bring to the table is we are the only person in the room whose sole job is to capture and preserve the institutional memory,” said Harris. “Just documenting the events of this war will not help the leaders of the next. We also interpret. So, in history professor terms, interpreting is how we help decision makers understand and learn from the past.”
Harris explains when historians are operationally integrated into situations they observe while also collecting and recording what happens, documenting the “right now for the future.” A historian will understand the organization’s history and have a deep knowledge base of the mission set. They recognize patterns and can provide a quick write-up to inject information to leadership on that highlights how other people have navigated similar situations before decisions are made this time.”
The first priority for field historians at the wing and MAJCOM level is to complete and submit an accurate periodic history report, which are the official history of an organization and serves as its institutional memory in AFHRA’s archive.
“To do the job, you have to get out there and be part of the mission, collect hundreds of important documents, reports, and emails and then figure out where the holes are., We do that with interviews.” said Malachowski. “Research interviews are more QA to find out what’s going on inside the organization. Oral history interviews are a little bit more in-depth interviews conducted with key personnel whose memories and perspectives are recorded for future generations.”
Job two for historians is heritage.
The Air Force history slogan is history makes us smart, heritage makes us proud.
In addition to a dozen field museums, historians often work within their organizations to build squadron heritage rooms and displays to showcase physical reminders of the unit’s historical past to promote morale and serve as daily reminders of a unit’s identity.
That identity is also visible in a unit’s heraldry. “Organizations use visible, enduring symbols to promote spirit de corps, morale and a sense of heritage,” said Jack Waid, a historian at Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters. “Air Force heraldry in the form of emblems gives Airmen a connection to the past and the motivation to live up to the proud lineage from which they come.”
The Air Force Historical Research Agency keeps a repository on the unit’s emblem history, including original and re-designed emblems and the paperwork approving the artwork.
(US Air Force photo by Perry Aston)
With the newly authorized transition from the Airman Battle Uniform, which did not permit the wear of unit patches, to the Operational Camouflage Pattern, Airmen will once again be to wear their units on their sleeve.
Waid explains it’s important to understand, emblems and patches are completely separate entities and authorization to display them is approved and maintained by different Air Force offices as well.
“Our office deals with a unit’s official emblem, but anything that goes on the uniform, like patches, are approved through the AF/A1 (Office of Personnel) uniform office,” said Waid. “A unit’s history and lineage goes with an emblem whereas a patch is a wearable symbol of pride, history, warrior spirit and honor.”
With more than 7,000 emblems to convert into OCP patches, there is a huge demand for the production and supply chain. The Air Force estimates it will take the full-30 month OCP transition period to manufacture and distribute all the patches. For units with approved emblems, the MAJCOM/A1 office will notify them when their patches are ready to order.
Units without an approved emblem should contact their historian.
“Since June we have been doing everything in our control to help units make sure they have an accurate emblem,” said Waid. “More than two-thirds of AFMC’s units are without an emblem or possessing one that does not meet standards.”
“It is important to make sure the time-honored Air Force unit patch returns to the uniform properly so that units can display their heritage with pride. Wearing the squadron patch completes the family group, you have your name tape and then you have the greater family, the Air Force, but now these patches give Airman an opportunity to show how extended their family is and how rich their heritage is by wearing their unit’s emblem.”
Changing the paradigm
For decades, periodic history reports were written in narrative monograph format, a print-era framework that could reach hundreds of pages. It was long and time consuming to write and worse to search for answers. “Even with academic historians, the monograph just isn’t the answer anymore. Technology has changed, but our reports haven’t.” said Malachowski.
The Secretary of the Air Force recently directed that commanders would integrate their historians in operations at the wing-level and above and ensure they had access to data and information to complete timely history reports.
With fewer historians, a high-demand deployment schedule and mountains of data to ingest, historians have little time to write long, cumbersome reports and even less time if they want to be fully involved in their organizations.
Something had to change.
“With the help of the Air Force Survey Office, we asked more than 150 wing and group commanders what they needed from historians. The commanders are very adamant that they don’t want these hundred-page tombs. They want something much, much shorter because they don’t have whole lot of time and they want something focused more on their priorities,” said Harris.
A survey of historians said the same thing. Historians want to be more involved with their units and want a better process.
“If we lock ourselves away for half of our time to write we are not out in our units doing our job. So we have to refocus the writing and we have to improve our ability to put the right things into the archives for future researchers,” said Malachowski. “So all we can really do is record the present for the future and the real funny thing is it is exactly what Gen. “Hap” Arnold told us in 1943. He wanted us to record the present for the future. So we’re going back to the future, if you will.”
General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold was a pioneer airman who was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, and commander of Army Air Forces in victory over Germany and Japan in World War II. He established the Army Air Forces (AAF) Historical Division in 1942, when he assembled nine prominent historians from Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Harvard and asked them how the Air Force should organize and run its history program. Following their recommendations, Arnold put trained historians in every unit to record history “while it is hot.”
Arnold’s direction was to document the operations and activities of an organization immediately into a rough form that future historians would improve on. He believed the only reason a history program should exist is to further the operational efficiency of the Air Force.
The Air Force History program had to redesign itself in a dynamic new way and embrace change by revising their policies and revolutionizing their processes.
Now, a modular history report is being adapted that stresses accuracy, speed and relevance across the joint enterprise. It provides uniformity and consistency, which synchronizes history operations across the Air Force and focuses on unit activities and operations at the right level of warfare. This new system also creates one standard of writing for peacetime and wartime reports.
The four-part modular system reduces the writing complexity of history reports to a more short and concise process on what matters most to the commander, unit and mission. Short studies are written and published immediately, freeing up historians to be historians.
Another change is the creation of an Operational History Branch that is solely focused on war and contingency operations. All wartime history reports will be routed and evaluated through this fusion cell to write monthly and annual summaries that provide a holistic picture of combat operations.
“The way it’s designed the Operational Historian Branch will help us mature history at the Joint warfighting level, improve historical support to deployed commanders, and prevent several historians from deploying each year,” said Malachowski. “Most wings only have one historian so this saves us from turning out the lights at so many home station history offices.”
Focused on the past since its inception, the Air Force History Program has now reinvented itself by embracing its own past in order to create a more efficient future.
This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.