Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

The role of the Dustoff is sacred, enshrined in both the relationship between medical personnel and their patients as well as treaties that underlie the Law of Armed Conflict, but the practical concerns of providing medical care to troops under fire will be sorely tested in a war with a modern foe.


Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

An Army air ambulance picks up a simulated Marine casualty during a 2018 exercise in Romania.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Sturdivant)

Currently, the U.S. and most of its allies — as well as many of its greatest rivals — enjoy nearly unquestioned air superiority in their areas of operations and responsibility. So, a commander of a modern military force, whether they’re Italian, French, Chinese, or American, can request a medical evacuation with near certainty that the wounded or sick person can be picked up quickly.

Even in active theaters of war like Afghanistan, wounded personnel can often be delivered to advanced medical care within the “Golden Hour,” the first hour after injury when medical intervention will make the biggest difference between life and death, recovery, and permanent disability.

In one recent case, military personnel in Africa were able to save an Italian woman’s life after she was injured in a car crash, thanks to collaboration between medical personnel from six nations, multiple ambulance services and air crews, and a doctor-turned-linguist.

But the advanced medical capabilities available across NATO and in Russian and Chinese forces rely on an evacuation infrastructure built for uncontested environments, where the worst threat to aircraft comes from IEDs and machine gun fire.

In a new paper from RAND Europe, defense analyst Marta Kepe dovetails recent speeches from military leaders, war game results, and scholarly work. They all point to a conflict wherein troops may have to wait days or longer for evacuation, meaning that providing care at the point of injury, possibly while still under threat of enemy attack, will be the only real chance for life-saving intervention.

Take the case of war with North Korea, a much “easier” hypothetical conflict than one with China or Russia. While North Korea lacks advanced air defense assets and electronic warfare assets, that simply means that they can’t jam all communications and they likely can’t shoot down fifth-generation fighters.

But medevacs rely on helicopters that, by and large, are susceptible to North Korean air defenses. Fly too high and they can be targeted and destroyed by nearly any surface-to air missile that North Korea has. Fly too low and infantrymen with RPGs and machine guns can potentially kill them.

North Korean weapons and aircraft, while outdated, are numerous — there are over 1,300 aircraft in the arsenal and widely deployed anti-air missile sites on the ground. It might take months to wipe them all out during an invasion, the same period of time when ground commanders would expect to take the most casualties.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

An M113 ambulance drives through the Kuwaiti desert during a demonstration.

(U.S. Army)

And that’s before the helicopters’ traditional escorts in Afghanistan and Iraq, AH-64 Apaches that’re armed to the teeth, are tasked for more urgent missions, like taking out air defense and artillery sites.

All this combines to form a battlefield where command teams will need to use ground ambulances and standard vehicles to get their wounded far from the front lines before they can be picked up, tying up assets needed for the advance, taxing supply lines that now have competing traffic, and extending the time between injury and treatment.

Some battlefields, meanwhile, might be underground where it’s nearly impossible to quickly communicate with the surface or with air assets. People wounded while fighting for control of cave networks or underground bunker systems would need to be carried out on foot, then evacuated in ground vehicles to pickup sites, and then flown to hospitals.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

The hospital ship USNS Mercy pulls into port.

(U.S. Military Sealift Command Sarah Buford)

And the closest hospitals might be ships far offshore since role 3 and 4 hospitals on land take time to construct and are vulnerable to attack. While deliberately targeting a hospital is illegal, there’s no guarantee that the treaties would be honored by enemy commanders (Remember, Russia’s annexations of South Ossetia and Crimea were violations of international law, as were China’s cyber attacks and territory seizures in the Pacific).

All of which means that a war with North Korea would see tens of thousands of injured troops die of wounds that wouldn’t have been fatal in a more permissive environment. A similar story exists in Iran.

But China and Russia would be worse since they have the assets necessary to shutdown American communication networks, making it impossible for ground commanders to call for medical aid. They’re also more likely to be able to pinpoint signal sources, making it risky for a platoon leader to call for medical aid for wounded troops.

And China and Russia’s air forces and air defenses, while not quite as large as America’s, are much more potent and well-trained that Iran or North Korea’s. They could likely hold out for months or years while inflicting heavy casualties to American air assets, preventing the establishment of a permissive medevac capability for even longer.

A 2016 analysis by RAND even postulated that China would be nearly impossible to conquer by 2025. The same weapon systems expected to protect China’s mainland from successful invasion would make it nearly impossible to evacuate all the personnel injured while trying to effect the invasion.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Air Force special operators render simulated medical aid during an exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2017. The ability for non-medical personnel to render aid under fire is expected to become more important in the coming years.

(U.S. Army)

There is good news, though. The U.S. military has acknowledged these shortcomings and is trying to lay the framework for what a medical corps in a contested environment should look like.

The Army is expanding it’s “Tactical Combat Casualty Care,” or TC3, program where combat lifesavers are trained in military first aid. DARPA is working on autonomous or remotely piloted pods that can fly medical capsules with supplies in or casualty evacuation capsules out without risking flight crews. The Marine Corps already has an experimental autonomous helicopter for logistics.

Beyond that is re-building medical units to perform work closer to the front lines. This is a return to the old days to a certain extent. The only dentist to receive the Medal of Honor earned the award in World War II while acting as a surgeon in a hospital overrun by Japanese attackers.

They could also be more dispersed. Instead of building a few large hospitals with large staffs on easily targeted installations, surgical teams and other care providers could operate in small groups. That way, if one or two teams are destroyed or forced to retreat, there would still be a few groups providing medical care.

In addition to more dispersed and forward-positioned medical personnel, there’s room for expanding the medical capabilities of non-medical personnel.

In 2017, then-Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, the deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, suggested that the non-medical soldiers trained in first aid could be sent on rotations with civilian paramedics and other medical personnel that treat trauma victims, building up their understanding of medical care and their resilience.

LaCamera was promoted to lieutenant general and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps in January, 2018, increasing the chances that his directions will result in actual policy changes. He’s also the commander of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where special operations medical personnel have been sent to local hospitals to train for years.

Historically, those types of rotations have been limited to medics and other specialized troops. Medical personnel, meanwhile, would see an increased number of rotations into civilian trauma centers in the U.S. and allied countries.

But the most important aspect of medical care under fire in tomorrow’s war will be the same as it is today: Achieve and maintain fire superiority. The best way to open a window to evacuate your own personnel is by killing everyone on the enemy side wounding your troops and trying to prevent it.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This vintage Army guide to Iraq is surprisingly relevant

U.S. involvement in Iraq has gone on for far longer than you might have thought. In the heat of World War II, Hitler had his eyes on the Middle East for resources. However, the British had laid claim to the area with the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and America was doing whatever they could to help their allies.

Although the circumstances for landing troops in the country were far different back then than they were in 1990 and 2003, elements of the local culture have remained the same. Surprisingly, the troops’ 1942 guide to Afghanistan still holds up fairly well today.


Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Which had a lot to do with backing the Brits in the Anglo-Iraqi War.
(National Archive)

To prepare any American soldiers for their time in region, the U.S. Army printed several pamphlets, like the Short Guide to Iraq. The guide covered many things you’d expect to find in a pocket guide: general do’s and don’ts, translations and a pronunciation guide, and little snippets about daily life in Iraq.

Despite being more than a half-century old, the guide holds up surprisingly well. If you were to take the WWII-era pamphlet and swap out any use of “Nazism” with “Extremism,” you’d have a pretty useful modern tutorial. The goal back in the 40s was cull the spread of Nazi influence, just as today’s goal is to cull the spread of terrorism. The way to do this was, as always, by winning the hearts and minds of locals while keeping a military option on the table.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Which is, and always will be, the American way of life.
(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Todd Frantom)

Societies change over the years, but many of the “do’s and dont’s” in Iraq have a lot to do with religion and culturally appropriate reactions to hospitality. Certain things have proven timeless: It’s rude to refuse food, so, if you don’t want it, just take a small amount. Don’t gawk at two men holding hands while they walk. Don’t stare at people and accidentally give them the “Evil Eye.”

Even the little things about Iraq, like the fact that every price can be bargained and cigarettes make the best bribes, were known back then. Of course, like any good Army guide, it ends by reminding us that “every American soldier is an unofficial ambassador of good will.”

Be sure to read the Short Guide to Iraq before you mingle.

MIGHTY HISTORY

It took 50 years to recognize this Vietnam War hero

In the fog of war, it’s not uncommon for outstanding pieces of heroism to go unrecognized — at least for a time. In the case of Joe Rochefort, a lack of recognition was one part needing to protect secrets and another part bureaucratic vengeance.

Other times, it simply takes a while for the necessary proof of heroism to be gathered. This was the case for Corporal Stephen Austin.


Austin served with the 27th Marine Regiment during the Vietnam War. According to a report by the Fresno Bee, it took two attempts and a number of years to gather the statements from Austin’s fellow Marines about what he did when his platoon was ambushed on June 8, 1968, during Operation Allen Brook.

Fellow Marine Grady Birdsong felt no bitterness about the length of time it took to recognize Austin’s valor.

“We were on the move all the time and, to be real honest with you, we weren’t concerned about awards. We were just concerned about staying alive and being able to come home,” he explained.

Birdsong, though, took up the cause after the death of Al Joyner, another Vietnam veteran who served alongside Austin.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Dog tags once worn by Stephen Austin during his military service, when ended when he was killed in action.

(USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Marcos Alvarado)

The initial award was slated to be a Silver Star. However, after the statements were reviewed, the award was upgraded to the Navy Cross — a decoration for valor second only to the Medal of Honor. If you read the citation, it’s clear why it was upgraded.

“With complete disregard for his own safety,” the citation reads, Austin broke cover to attack an enemy machine gun nest with a hand grenade. He succeeded in hitting the position but was mortally wounded. Because of his actions, surviving members of his platoon were able to eliminate the enemy.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

General Robert Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the Navy Cross to Austin’s daughter.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Olivia Ortiz)

The Navy Cross was personally presented by General Robert Neller, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, to Austin’s daughter, Neily Esposito, on July 21, 2018. The 27th Marine Regiment is currently inactive.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How America trained its first super-secret frogmen

1st Marine Raider Support Battalion held an event giving U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command personnel the opportunity to learn about the involvement of World War II Raiders in the war and their legacy that lives on at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 29, 2017. World War II Marine Raiders played a large role in the success of World War II, on and off the battlefields.


Many in attendance know of the World War II Raiders’ victories on the battlefield, but their aid off the battlefield is less known. With the establishment of the Office of Strategic Services came the creation of the OSS Special Maritime Unit Operational Swimmers, also known as the country’s “first frogmen.” The Raiders’ facilities and training methods became the foundation of the operatives’ training and preparation for the war.

The assistant operations officer for 1st MRSB introduced Erick Simmel, the battalion’s guest speaker who would lecture on the history of the OSS Maritime Unit. Accompanying Simmel at the lecture was the last living OSS Special Maritime Unit operative, Henry “Hank” Weldon.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reorganized the Office of the Coordinator of Information into the Office of Strategic Services, after U.S. entry into World War II. OSS founder Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, a World War I hero and Wall Street lawyer, restructured the organization to similarly match the British Special Operations Executive and Secret Intelligence Service operations.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

“The intent was to create an elite agency with units created for conducting guerrilla warfare as well as collecting and sabotaging intelligence behind enemy lines,” said Simmel, an OSS Maritime Unit descendant and historical expert of World War II special operations forces.

One of the many units created were the frogmen. These men received an extraordinary waterman-operative skillset to use during World War II operations. The men who made it into the unit were the first swimmers sent to attend the Marine Raider Training Course at Camp Pendleton in the fall and winter of 1943-1944. These men were trained in both Marine Raider skills and underwater demolition techniques.

The purpose for both training courses was to prepare the operatives for reconnaissance, underwater demolition, infiltration and exfiltration by sea and intelligence gathering. Though equipment, tactics and techniques have changed over the last 70 years, today’s Raiders and the OSS frogmen emphasize the same skillsets in training.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
MARSOC Raiders conduct swim training. Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. Donovan Lee

After the lecture, the Raiders were introduced to weapons and equipment used during that time period at a series of static displays. Amongst those displays were images of the frogmen and Raiders collaborating with allied British forces.

British special operators also participated in the frogman training pipeline, developing their skills under the tutelage of Raider instructors. Along with attaining new training, British and U.S. forces exchanged information on warfare tactics, technology and logistical concepts to use against German forces. The training consisted mainly of techniques needed for infiltration by sea.

Instructors for this course consisted of World War II Raider officers and enlisted personnel, who trained the frogmen in mock attacks designed to test harbor defenses. In one exercise scenario, combat swimmers were tasked with successfully breaching America’s maritime harbor defenses.

“They gave us a bunch of dummy TNT at high tide, dropped us off about a half-mile offshore and told us to plant it all along the coast while our commanding officers kept watch,” said Weldon. “One of the commanding officers said he thought he saw something, but they didn’t see us. When daylight came, the tide went out and all you could see was the dummy TNT all along the shore.”

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
U.S. Marine Corps Raiders hit the island of Makin in World War II. (Photo: Public Domain)

This ability to get in and out without detection, allowed the World War II Raiders and Navy frogmen to be two of the most effective fighting forces of World War II. The skills learned from the World War II Raiders and used by the OSS Special Maritime Unit A swimmers proved the value of their direct action operations behind enemy lines during World War II.

As World War II came to a close, President Harry S. Truman dissolved the OSS and its Special Maritime Units. The lineage and legacy of the first frogmen carries on today in elements of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command’s SEAL community and the modern Raiders of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Team Rubicon CEO Jake Wood announces it’s time to move on, with no regrets

On April 7, 2021, Team Rubicon CEO and Marine Corps veteran Jake Wood announced his decision to hand over the reins of leadership to Team Rubicon’s Chief Operating Officer, Art delaCruz. Despite the palpable ripple of shock felt by those outside the organization, it was always the plan. 

Wood was candid in sharing he’d been thinking about this transition for years. “It’s not because I don’t enjoy it anymore but it’s just an exhausting job. You are responding to catastrophes 365 days a year and it wears on you,” he explained.

Ten years ago Wood lost one of his closest friends and original Team Rubicon partners, Clay Hunt, to suicide. The loss pushed Wood to go “all in” on the organization. Wood said he finds it “almost poetic” that after a decade of leading, he announced his transition of leaving on the anniversary of Clay’s funeral. “It’s just a good time to do it. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success and I am really proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Wood said. 

The rise of Team Rubicon and its disaster relief support has been extraordinary throughout the past decade. But it was the global pandemic which truly demonstrated the vital impact and importance of the organization to communities across the world. Their leadership role in the fight against COVID-19 changed the landscape of disaster response and despite having its most successful year yet, Wood is more than ready to hand it all over to delaCruz.

Team Rubicon manning a mobile testing site in Charlotte. Photo courtesy of Team Rubicon.

DelaCruz came onboard as the COO in 2016 and was instrumental in scaling the work Team Rubicon has been able to accomplish. A retired Navy veteran and former TOPGUN instructor, his experience and skill set on the executive team was transformative, Wood said. Wood is confident the organization will flourish under delaCruz’s leadership.

“I made the decision back in December to step down as CEO while I was on paternity leave…I spent a lot of time reflecting during those six weeks off,” Wood shared. His youngest daughter was born with a serious heart condition, creating immense worry for both parents. The time of reflection with his family solidified his decision to transition out, he said. 

Team Rubicon's Jake Wood
Photo courtesy of Jake Wood

His family is excited for the new role and future ahead, now that they too have gotten over the initial shock, according to Wood. “Being a Team Rubicon spouse is a lot like being a military spouse, you’re signed up too, because the job comes home with you,” he explained. “She’s been an amazing partner for me along the journey. She’s supported me and stuck by me during hard times. I think she’s also ready for a change and we are both excited to plot what’s next.”

Although Wood has no concrete plans yet, he jokingly said he definitely wasn’t ready to write another book. Now on a corporate board and exploring options, he remains excited for the future, whatever it holds. “I think by the time the official transition happens in June I’ll have settled on what the next thing is,” he said. “I love being an entrepreneur — it’s awesome. Greatest challenge ever and definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

It isn’t completely goodbye, either. You’ll still find Wood working hard to ensure Team Rubicon continues to serve communities across the globe for centuries to come. This time as its Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. “I’m excited to have a role that still has me meaningfully involved in the organization…I know how hard it is to be at the top and I hope to continue to support Art as he needs it and be a thought partner for him,” he explained. 

With zero regrets, Wood said he’s confident that leadership will be in the best possible hands and he can’t wait to tackle his new adventures this summer. “The one thing I always told our staff is that I would not cling on to this job simply because I’m a founder,” he said with a laugh. “I always said that I would walk away when the time was right. The time is right.” 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coronavirus Basic Training updates for each military branch

In recent months, the novel Coronavirus, formally known as Covid-19, has begun spreading rapidly throughout communities around the world, and the U.S. military has already begun taking proactive steps aimed at curbing the spread of the infection among service members and their families.


It’s important to note that service members are often not a high-risk demographic even if and when they may be infected by Covid-19. The virus, however, can be dangerous to people with underlying health issues or otherwise compromised immune systems living in the surrounding community. The Pentagon also hopes to minimize the affect Covid-19 has on the military’s overall readiness–which means it’s better to stem the tide of infection than to keep recovering service members in isolation as they rebound from the virus. As a result, making every effort to mitigate the spread of this virus has been deemed a worthwhile enterprise.

The Pentagon has already issued guidance to service members and their families oriented toward protecting themselves from infection and curbing the spread of infection among those who get sick. These practices are not dissimilar from the guidance being provided to the general public through public institutions like the Center for Disease Control.

You can jump directly to coronavirus basic training changes for your specific branch with these links.

Marine Corps

Army

Air Force

Navy

Coast Guard

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

media.defense.gov

The Pentagon’s guidance for preventing the spread of the coronavirus:

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

What else is the military doing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

According to a DoD statement issued on March 9, the military’s response to the Coronavirus can be summed up in three objectives:

  • Protecting service members and their families
  • Ensuring crucial DoD missions continue
  • Supporting the whole go government approach to the unfolding situation

A number of military commands have already initiated what the Defense Department refers to as “pandemic procedures,” which are a series of pre-planned protocols put into place to rapidly identify service members who may have been exposed to the virus and isolating them from the general and service populations. These patients are treated by military medical personnel with appropriate protective equipment, and are re-evaluated on a day by day basis.

Every military branch is also screening all new recruits and trainees for signs of infection, and isolating any who may have been exposed to the virus or may be exhibiting symptoms of infection. The goal of these tests is not to stop new service members from entering into training, but rather to postpone training until after the recruit or trainee recovers completely and is no longer able to spread the virus to others.

Marine Corps Coronavirus Basic Training Changes

Graduation and Family Day events will continue as scheduled aboard MCRD San Diego and MCRD Parris Island. However, the Marine Corps is asking that no one attend these events if they are currently exhibiting active symptoms of Covid-19 or have been in contact with anyone that may potentially have been infected. Thus far, MCRD Parris Island has not made any official statements regarding potential changes to graduation or family day ceremonies.

Parris Island has released this message pertaining to prevention efforts, however:


Novel Coronavirus

www.facebook.com

Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) has released this statement regarding recruit training and the coronavirus as it pertains to MCRD San Diego spefically:

We understand that graduation is a very special event for new Marines and their families. In line with Center for Disease Control’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, we ask that if you are actively sick with a cough or fever, or have been in contact with a suspected case of COVID-19, you not attend graduation or its associated events aboard the Depot. Thousands of family members visit the Depot for graduation weekly, so your decision would be in the interest of public health and the health of our recruit population. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s information page, the NMCPHC information page, and the DOD information page. Links are provided below:
CDC.gov
Med.Navy.mil
Defense.gov

Army Coronavirus Basic Training Changes

*Updated March 11

Fort Sill

Fort Sill has announced that beginning March 16, they will suspend attendance at graduation ceremonies until further notice.

Ceremonies will be live streamed for families and supporters on the Fort Sill Facebook page. This is a developing situation with more details to come.

You can read Fort Sill’s full announcement below:

You can watch Fort Sill’s livestream here.

Fort Leonard Wood

Fort Leonard Wood has announced that attendance at Basic Training family day and graduations will be suspended until further notice after this week. Families and supporters will be able to watch the graduation ceremonies on Facebook Live on the Fort Leonard Wood Facebook page.

Family Day activities on Fort Jackson have been canceled going forward, and soldiers will be allowed to make supervised visits to AAFES activities and to make purchases to prepare them for travel to their next appointed place of duty. No travel with family members in their personal vehicles will be permitted after 1-34 IN BN graduates this week.

You can read the full post from Fort Jackson below:

Air Force Coronavirus Basic Training Changes

**UPDATE**

The Air Force has announced that it has suspended family members from attending Basic Military Training graduations, effective immediately and until further notice.

Air Force Basic Military Training graduation ceremonies will be live streamed via 37th Training Wing’s Facebook page every Friday beginning March 13 at 9 a.m.

You can find the steam here.

You can read the Air Force’s complete statement below:

In an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 and to prioritize the health and safety of Department of the Air Force personnel, the following modifications have been made:
• At the United States Air Force Academy, official travel outside of the United States has been restricted for cadets, cadet candidates and permanent party. Personal/leisure travel to countries with a CDC Level 2 or higher rating is also prohibited. As of now, restrictions will remain in place through the end of March.
• Air Force Basic Military Training has suspended family members from attending graduation until further notice.
• Since South by Southwest events in Austin, Texas, was cancelled, the Air Force’s Spark Collider and Pitch Bowl will now take place virtually, March 12.
• The Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado Child Development Center has been closed for cleaning since a parent (family member) tested positive by the state for coronavirus.
• All Department of the Air Force personnel have been directed to follow Center for Disease Control levels for travel guidance.

The Air Force maintains an actively updated page with frequently asked questions here.

Navy Coronavirus Basic Training Changes

Navy Recruit Training has decided to suspend attendance at their graduation ceremonies until further notice. Liberty associated with recruit training graduation has also been canceled. Graduation ceremonies will be live-streamed for families and supporters to watch.

Friday’s ceremony will be streamed at 0845 Central Standard Time.

You can watch the stream here.

Here is the Navy’s officials statement and associated social media links:

Beginning 13 March, Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s boot camp, will suspend guest attendance at graduation ceremonies to prevent any potential spread of COVID 19 to either Sailors or Navy families.
Graduations themselves will continue, and will be live-streamed on Navy online platforms, including our Facebook page.
Commander, Naval Service training command, which oversees RTC, will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical experts to decide when it is appropriate to resume guest attendance at graduation ceremonies. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among recruits, and RTC has robust screening processes in place for those who arrive each week.
This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of Sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained Sailors. RTC Recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones.
Liberty will be cancelled for graduates of RTC. They will report directly to their follow-on assignments. Liberty or guest access at those locations will be at the discretion of those commands. Families are encouraged to contact their recruits following graduation for details. We cannot speak on behalf of the commands they will be reporting to regarding their liberty policy.

Coast Guard Coronavirus Basic Training Changes

The Coast Guard has requested that family members planning to attend this week’s graduation refrain from attending graduation ceremonies if they are sick, and exercise the CDC and Defense Department’s recommended practices for prevention of the spread of coronavirus or any other illness. The Coast Guard outlines those recommendations as such:

-Stay home when you are sick.
-Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
-Wash your hands often with soap and water.
-Implement social distancing interventions in schools, workplaces, and at large events such as graduation.
-Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like door knobs.
-Be prepared and stay informed on the latest information.

You can see the Coast Guard’s full statement below:

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army tests Black Hawk digital cockpit

Combat aviators are conducting operational tests of Army modernization efforts using three UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters.

The UH-60V Black Hawk will retrofit the Army’s remaining UH-60L helicopter fleet’s analog cockpits with a digital cockpit, similar to the UH-60M helicopter.

Retrofitting aircraft that are already owned by the Army is a major cost saving measure over purchasing new builds, according to Mr. Derek Muller, UH-60V IOT Test Officer, with the West Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Aviation Test Directorate.

Muller and his test team worked with aircrews from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade by applying realistic operational missions, post-mission surveys and after action reviews along with onboard video and audio instrumentation to collect data directly from crewmembers.


Instrumentation installed by Redstone Test Center (RTC), Alabama provided audio, video and position data for test team to review after each mission.

“The OTC/RTC partnership has been paramount to the successful testing and evaluation of the UH-60V,” said Muller.

“The data collected during the test will support an independent evaluation by the U.S. Army Evaluation Center,” he added.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and support personnel from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a logistics resupply mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.

(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)

The evaluation will inform a full-rate production decision from the Utility Helicopter Program Office at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

Aircrews flew over 120 hours under realistic battlefield conditions.

They conducted air movement, air assault, external load and casualty evacuation missions under day, night, night-vision goggle, and simulated instrument meteorological modes of flight.

“Anti-aircraft weapon simulation emitters are a valuable training enabler and reinforce much of the Air Mission Survivability training assault aircrews have received with respect to operations in a threat environment,” said Capt. Scott Amarucci, A Co. 2-158 Company Commander.

“This approach permitted evaluators from the U.S. Army Evaluation Center to see and hear how a unit equipped with the UH-60V performed operational missions against a validated threat in a representative combat environment,” said Muller.

“The operational environment designed by USAOTC and 16th CAB helped evaluators accurately assess the company’s ability to complete doctrinal missions, when equipped with the UH-60V,” said Mr. Brian Apgar, Plans Deputy Division Chief of USAOTC AVTD.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade staged at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., prepare the cockpit and conduct final pre-mission checks for a nighttime air assault mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.

(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)

The U.S. Army Center for Countermeasures employed three types of threat simulations to stimulate the aircraft’s survivability equipment and trigger pilot actions using the updated cockpit capabilities.

“The three independent threat simulation systems enhanced the quality of the test and enriched the combat-like environment,” said Muller.

“2-158th aircrews reacted to threat systems they rarely have the opportunity to encounter,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Toby Blackmon, Test Operations Officer in Charge, USAOTC AVTD.

“Using Blue Force Tracking, the test operations cell and Battalion Operations Center tracked and communicated with crews during missions,” he said.

“Each day I hear feedback from the crews about the testing,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Clyde, 2-158 BN Commander. “Each Soldier I talk to is glad to place a fingerprint on a future Army Aviation program.”

Aircrews executed their Mission Essential Task Lists using the UH-60V conducting realistic missions against accredited threat systems.

“The UH-60V training has allowed excellent opportunities to train important tasks which enable our proficiency as assault aviation professionals,” added Amarucci.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

In this photo clip of a 360-degree-view, aircrews from 2nd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade and support personnel from 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Gray Army Airfield, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a logistics resupply mission during operational tests of Army modernization efforts with a new digital cockpit in the UH-60V Black Hawk helicopter.

(US Army photo by Mr. Tad Browning)

Testing at A Co.’s home station allowed the application of key expertise and resources, provided by the test team, while flying in its routine training environment.

New equipment collective training and operational testing caused A Co. to focus on several critical areas, including mission planning, secure communications, aircraft survivability equipment, and internal/external load operations, improving its overall mission readiness while meeting operational test requirements, according to Muller.

“Moreover,” Muller said, “the test’s rigorous operational tempo provided an ideal opportunity for 2-158th Aviation Regiment to exercise key army battle command systems including, but not limited to, Blue Force Tracker (BFT), secure tactical communications, and mission planning.”

Ground crews from the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) prepared and hooked up sling loads during 18 missions, allowing pilots to see how the UH-60V cockpit displays provided situational awareness while carrying an external load.

“Static load and external load training not only improved unit readiness, but fostered safe operations during day and night missions throughout the test,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Keefer, AVTD’s Test Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge.

Future operational testing will ensure soldiers continue to have a voice in the acquisition process, guaranteeing a quality product prior to fielding.

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

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4 times Canada was more moto than the US

America’s neighbor to the north is known for their politeness, medical care, maple syrup cartels, Ryan Gosling, hormone-free cows, and love for Kraft Mac and Cheese.


Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Also, have you tried a double double and a Maple Dip? Holy hell they are good.

None of these facts should come as a surprise. Canadians are just a hair’s breadth away from being Americans. In fact, we wanted Canada so bad the Articles of Confederation stated that Canada could join the United States at any time, just by asking. Everyone else needed a nine-state agreement. We settled for Vermont instead.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Vermont: Canada Lite.

But don’t be fooled by their overwhelmingly nice disposition, their Prime Minister who takes public transit to work, or that Alex Trebek shaved his mustache. Outnumbered Canadians beat the crap out of us in the only war we ever fought.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
We burned Toronto, so they burned Washington. They also gave the Canadian soldier better sideburns in their War of 1812 monument.

Canadian Forces are still deployed around the world, often alongside American counterparts. And historically, Canada has been just as hyped as the U.S. to take the fight to the fascists, the Communists, or the terrorists.

Maybe it comes from being the world’s largest consumer of Budweiser. Don’t drink too much of that stuff, guys. You’ll be buying hummers and spreading freedom in no time.

1. Canada just built a Civil War monument.

At a time when the U.S. is removing some Civil War monuments, an Ontario-based Civil War re-enactors group erected one. It’s a monument to the Canadian soldiers who died in the American Civil War.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
They call themselves the Grays and Blues.

Though Canada was still in the British sphere during the time period, some 6,000 Canadians headed south (and some further south) to fight on both sides of the war.

“We don’t have any far-right maniacs, racists or anti-Semites, we’re just town folks who are interested in history,” Grays and Blues president Bob McLaughlin told Postmedia News.

2. They were the first to declare war on Japan.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Canadian Parliament was adjourned. But in the hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Mackenzie King and his cabinet decided that war with Japan was inevitable and called it then and there. The Japanese had also hit Malaya and Hong Kong – possessions of the United Kingdom – on Dec. 7th.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
In the long run, sucker punching is not a sustainable strategy.

The United States didn’t declare war until the next day. When Parliament reconvened on Jan. 21, 1942, King let them know that Canada was at war with Japan…and also Finland, Hungary, and Romania.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Mackenzie King will f*cking kill you…then have a seance and ask your ghost for political advice.

3. Canada took in Vietnam Draft Dodgers…then replaced them.

It wasn’t official or anything. Canada didn’t exchange unwilling participants with willing ones. While an estimated 30,000 would-be conscripts fled the draft for Canada (and were warmly welcomed), 30,000 Canadians fled peace-ridden Canada for the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Canadian Rob McSorley, left, is pictured in March 1970 with two members of his U.S. Army Ranger regiment after a dangerous reconnaissance mission. McSorley was killed in action only weeks after this photo was taken. (L Company Ranger 75th Infantry Archives)

The Canadian government outlawed such volunteerism, but the 30,000 Canadians still managed to sign up for Vietnam service. Those that did received the same treatment as every other soldier, including the assignment of social security numbers. That is, until, after the war, when they got none of the post-service benefits. It wasn’t until 1986 that they got the same treatment…in Canada.

The Canadian Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial is called “The North Wall” and can be found in Windsor, Ontario.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
The North Remembers.

4. Canada took in Americans during the 9/11 attacks.

Flights bound for the U.S. that day were diverted or grounded — except in Canada, where they were welcomed by Operation Yellow Ribbon. Canada wanted to help get any potentially dangerous flights on the ground as soon as possible. They even opened up their military airfields to the 255 flights diverted to their airspace.

In all, some 30,000 people were left displaced inside Canada. And if you have to be a refugee somewhere — even temporarily — Canada is the place to be. If hotels, gyms, and schools were full, Canadians started taking Americans into their own homes and putting them up.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghans brace for coronavirus as thousands return from Iran

HERAT, Afghanistan — Officials in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat are bracing for a rise in coronavirus infections, as thousands of Afghans return from neighboring Iran every day.


The provincial Public Health Department told RFE/RL on March 12 that nearly 10,000 Afghans had entered Herat from Iran the previous day alone.

That’s a twofold increase from March 9, when local officials said about 4,800 Afghans had crossed the border from Iran in one day.

Afghanistan has so far reported only seven cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

But provincial Governor Abdul Qayum Rahimi said the situation was certain to worsen soon, creating new challenges for the war-torn country. “Increasingly high numbers of people are crossing the border from Iran and we are seriously concerned that [some of them] will bring more coronavirus to Afghanistan,” Rahimi told RFE/RL on March 10.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Map of the risk of the virus’s spread in Tehran.

Wikimedia Commons

Tehran reported more than 1,000 new cases on March 12, raising the official number of infections in Iran to more than 10,000. But many Iranians say they distrust the figures released by the authorities and believe the Iranian government is grossly underreporting the extent of the outbreak there.

Iran is home to more than 3 million Afghans — including migrant workers and refugees as well as university and religious students.

Five of Afghanistan’s confirmed COVID-19 patients are from Herat. The other two are from the northern province of Samangan. All of the confirmed cases are Afghans who had recently returned from Iran, local officials say.

Bracing For Worse

Afghanistan has deployed small teams of medics who have been screening Afghans who cross the border from Iran into Herat Province. The medics are checking temperatures of returnees and asking if they’ve had any potential COVID-19 symptoms.

They also are asking returnees whether they’ve been exposed to an infected person, said Abdul Hakim Tamanna, the head of Heart Province’s Public Health Department. Those with high fever or other symptoms are transferred to a special ward at a hospital in the provincial capital.

“We’ve allocated a special ward with 80 beds for COVID-19 patients, both for the suspected and confirmed cases in isolated sections. But this is not enough,” said Muhammad Ibrahim Basem, who oversees the special ward. “The situation is extremely fluid and requires that at least 1,000 beds are ready,” Basem told RFE/RL on March 12.

Similar concerns are being voiced in Samangan Province, where two people tested positive earlier this week. “We’ve been prepared in advance. A hospital ward with 20 beds was prepared for potential COVID-19 patients,” Abdul Khalil Musaddiq, head of Samangan Public Health Department, said on March 10.

But Musaddiq warned that Samangan Province did not have the resources to handle an outbreak beyond the hospital’s capacity.

Health officials in Herat are calling for Afghanistan’s central government to provide equipment for laboratories in provincial regions so that more people can be tested.

Afghanistan, a country of 35 million people, currently has only one laboratory that is able to test for coronavirus. Authorities outside of the Afghan capital must send samples from suspected cases to the laboratory in Kabul for testing.

The Afghan government has allocated million to combat the outbreak. Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz said another million “is in a state of reserve if the unwanted incidents escalate and get out of control.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

Low Public Awareness

Provincial authorities in Herat declared an emergency when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed there on February 24. Schools, restaurants, wedding halls, and public baths have been closed and large gatherings are banned.

Officials from Herat’s provincial government told RFE/RL on March 12 that the public spaces were unlikely to reopen in the foreseeable future.

Buses and minibuses that carry a large number of passengers have also been banned as part of Herat’s effort to contain the virus.

Mosques remain open. But RFE/RL’s correspondent in Herat reports that the number of the worshipers has dwindled in recent days.

The war-ravaged country’s poor health-care services, as well as low public awareness about health and hygiene, are adding to difficulties in the battle against coronavirus.

One patient last week briefly escaped from the quarantine ward of Herat hospital, sparking concerns that he could contaminate many more people. Hospital officials said the patient was apprehended and isolated. They said those who came in contact with him have been told to take tests and exercise precautions.

Authorities also have launched an extensive coronavirus-awareness campaign through media in recent weeks.

The Education Ministry, meanwhile, has set up a special working group along with public-health authorities to assess the situation in other high-risk regions and decide whether to suspend schools.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The designer of the most popular rifle in the world just got his own statue in Moscow

With a sprinkle of holy water and a protester condemning the late Mikhail Kalashnikov as a “manufacturer of death,” Russian authorities have unveiled a monument to the designer of the widely used AK-47 assault rifle.


Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and the head of state-run military-industrial conglomerate Rostec were on hand for the dedication of the monument to Kalashnikov on the Garden Ring road in central Moscow on September 19.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
AK-47 | Public Domain photo

The statue — not far from monuments to renowned poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Aleksandr Pushkin — was unveiled by Kalashnikov’s daughter, Yelena Kalashnikova.

Minutes before the ceremony began, a man unfurled a sign saying, “the manufacturer of weapons is a manufacturer of death.” He was quickly detained by police and taken away from the site.

The weapon Kalashnikov invented is the most widely used assault rifle in the world and has been fired in nearly every conflict around the globe for the last 50 years.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Hungarian rebels carrying captured AK-47s. Public domain photo.

There are estimated to be as many as 200 million Kalashnikov rifles around the world.

“Mikhail Kalashnikov is an embodiment of the best features of a Russian person — extraordinary natural giftedness, simplicity, honesty, organizational talent,” Medinsky said, adding that “the Kalashnikov assault rifle is truly…a cultural brand of Russia.”

The head of Russia’s Udmurtia region, Aleksandr Brechalov, spoke at the ceremony, praising Kalashnikov for his contribution to “Russia’s glory and defense.”

Kalashnikov lived and worked for many years in the capital of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, where Kalashnikov assault rifles are still made.

A Russian Orthodox priest then prayed for Kalashnikov and sprinkled the monument with water sanctified by the church.

But Kalashnikov — who was born into a peasant family during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution and died in 2013 at the age of 94 — voiced mixed feelings about his achievements and his legacy late in life.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
US Marines test firing AK-47 rifles. The AK-47 is the most popular assault rifle in the world. (Photo US Marine Corps)

Several months before his death, he wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in which he said: “The pain in my soul is unbearable.

“I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people’s lives that means that I…am responsible for people’s deaths.”

Medinsky presented plans to Putin for the Kalashnikov statue in September 2016 during a tour of the Kalashnikov Group’s headquarters in Izhevsk.

The project was backed by the Russian Military-Historical Society — which is chaired by Medinsky — and by Rostec, whose CEO is Putin ally Sergei Chemezov. Rostec is the majority owner of Kalashnikov.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

The monument was unveiled on a state-mandated professional holiday honoring Russian arms makers going back to tsarist times.

Kremlin critics say that Putin, who has involved Russia in wars in Syria and Ukraine and touts Soviet and imperial-era battlefield achievements to promote patriotism, focuses on military affairs to draw attention away from domestic troubles.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

4 legendary search and rescue helicopters

Air Force pararescuemen are among the elite when it comes to special operations. Their main task is to rescue pilots who have been shot down behind enemy lines. It’s never been an easy task, but at least the tech has improved since World War II. Back then, a pilot had to walk back to friendly lines – a very long walk.


Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
A pilot ejects from his P-51 Mustang in the skies over Normandy. Not ideal.

Amphibious planes, like the PBY Catalina and HU-16 made rescue possible, but you needed enough water – or a strip of land – for them to land and take off. The same went for other planes, even the L-5, the military designation for the Piper Cub.

Insert the helicopter. They first appeared in a small capacity during the Korean War before they really came of age during Vietnam, proving to be the search-and-rescue asset America needed.

Here’s a look some legendary choppers that carried out that mission.

1. Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giant

The first helicopter to become a legend for search and rescue was the Sikorsky HH-3. The H-3 airframe was first designed for the Navy to carry out anti-submarine warfare, and was called the Sea King. But the size of the chopper lead the Air Force to buy some as heavy transports. They were eventually equipped with 7.62mm Miniguns and used to rescue pilots, with some seeing service in Desert Storm and the last ones serving until 1995.

According to an Air Force fact sheet, the HH-3 has a top speed of 177 miles per hour, and could carry up to 25 passengers or 15 litters, plus a crew of four and two attendants.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
An A-1 Skyraider escorts an HH-3C rescue helicopter as it goes in to pick up a downed pilot in Vietnam. (National Museum of the USAF Photo)

2. Sikorsky HH-53 Super Jolly/Pave Low

The Air Force didn’t stop with the Jolly Green. Eventually, the even larger HH-53 was procured, and called the Super Jolly Green Giant. They also took part in search-and-rescue missions during the Vietnam War, but after that war, the HH-53s were upgraded into the Pave Low configuration, making them capable of operating at night and bad weather. They also became used as special operations transports. The last Pave Lows were retired in 2008.

According to an Air Force fact sheet, the latest version of the Pave Low has a top speed of 165 miles per hour, an un-refueled range of 690 miles, and a crew of six.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Sikorsky MH-53M Pave Low IV on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

3. Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk

The Air Force though, was looking for more search-and-rescue assets – mostly because they only bought 41 of the Super Jolly Green Giants. The HH-60G is primarily tasked with the combat search and rescue role, and it usually carries .50-caliber machine guns to protect itself. Like the Pave Low, the Pave Hawk can carry out missions at night or day. The HH-60G is currently serving.

An Air Force fact sheet notes that a total of 99 Pave Hawks serve in the active Air Force, the Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve. The Pave Hawk has a top speed of 184 miles per hour, an unrefueled range of 504 nautical miles, and can carry a crew of four.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
The HH-60G’s primary wartime mission is combat search and rescue, infiltration, exfiltration and resupply of special operations forces in day, night or marginal weather conditions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lance Cheung)

4. Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter

The H-60 airframe has been a mainstay of all five armed services, so much so that the replacement for the HH-60G is another H-60. In this case, the HH-60W is a modified version of the Army’s UH-60M Blackhawk.

According to materials provided by Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, the HH-60W has a combat radius of 195 nautical miles, and is equipped with new displays to reduce the air crew’s workload, and to help the pararescue jumpers do their job more efficiently. The Air Force plans to buy 112 HH-60Ws to replace the 99 HH-60Gs currently in service.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency
Artist’s impression of Sikorsky’s HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter (Graphic from Lockheed Martin)

In short, when a pilot goes down, the assets are now there to pull him out, and to keep him from becoming a guest in a 21st century Hanoi Hilton.

Articles

5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the French Foreign Legion

1. Legionnaires are instilled with a “fight to the death” attitude. Giving up is not really an option.

In April 1863, a battle between the French Foreign Legion and the Mexican army showed how effective and ballsy legionnaires really could be. With a total of just 65 men, the legionnaires fought back against a force of approximately 3,000 at the Battle of Camarón. Despite the overwhelming odds, the small patrol of legionnaires inflicted terrible losses on the Mexican forces and they refused to surrender.


Instead, their French officers actually called on the larger Mexican force to surrender multiple times. Holed up inside of a hacienda, only five men remained able to fight (most were killed or wounded) — and incredibly — mounted a bayonet charge against the opposing force, until they were ultimately surrounded and forced to surrender.

“Is this all of them? Is this all of the men who are left?” a Mexican Major said at the time, according to the book Camerone by James W. Ryan. “These are not men! They are demons!”

The Legion still celebrates and commemorates the battle today — and the wooden hand of their slain commander, Capt. Danjou, is the most prized possession at the Legion’s museum in Aubagne, writes Max Hastings.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

2. Legionnaires who are wounded are granted automatic French citizenship.

Though troops serving the Legion hail from 138 different countries, they can become French citizens eventually. After serving at least three years honorably, they can apply to be citizens. But they also have a much quicker path: If they are wounded on the battlefield, they can become citizens through a provision called “Français par le sang versé” (“French by spilled blood”), according to The Telegraph.

The French government allowed this automatic citizenship provision in 1999.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

3. More than 35,000 foreigners have been killed in action while serving with the Legion.

Throughout its history, the French Foreign Legion — and the fighters who make up its ranks — were seen as expendable. The foreigners who continue to join do so accepting the possibility of their death in a far-off place, in exchange for a new life with some sense of purpose. But meaningless sacrifice has gradually become a virtue in itself, according to a Vanity Fair article about the Legion.

“It’s like this,” an old legionnaire told William Langeweische of Vanity Fair. “There is no point in trying to understand. Time is unimportant. We are dust from the stars. We are nothing at all. Whether you die at age 15 or 79, in a thousand years there is no significance to it. So f–k off with your worries about war.”

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

4. The Legion used to accept anyone — criminals and misfits especially — with no questions, but now there is a thorough screening process.

Since its founding in 1831, the Legion has become the one place of escape for those with haunted pasts. Men with criminal records, shady business dealings, or deserters from their home country’s armies were accepted into the ranks, with no questions asked. Stripped of their old identity and given a new one, the new legionnaires are able to begin their new life with the slate wiped clean.

The legion will still accept deserters and other minor miscreants, but it’s not as easy as it once was. New recruits are given a battery of physical, intelligence, and psychological tests before they even get any kind of training. Later on in the process, recruits are screened for “motivation” in order to weed out those who don’t have the drive to make it in the ranks.

Some of the process was detailed by Simon Bennett at Vice:

Finally, after countless hours spent lingering in uncomfortable conditions, the only thing standing between us and a spot with the Legion was what was referred to as the “Gestapo.” Rumor had it that at this point, the Legion knew everything about you. The word Interpol is thrown around a lot—any financial, criminal, family, and employment background information is supposedly fair game. Call it a hunch, but I think that’s bullshit. Make no mistake, I believe someone, somewhere has access to all of that information. But a sweaty, apathetic French administration in a run-down, quasi-bureaucratic shithole in suburban Marseille isn’t that someone or somewhere. In any case, they called me in for an interrogation.

While they may not necessarily be running from their past when they join the Legion these days, all new legionnaires are still stripped of their old identities and given new ones, which they maintain for at least their first year of service.

“Legionnaires begin a new life when they join,” a legionnaire named Capt. Michel told NBC News. “Each and every one of them is allowed to keep his past a secret.”

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

5. The pay is terrible, and so are the benefits.

Legion recruiters could easily steal the infamous U.S. Marine Corps recruiting poster with the slogan, “We don’t promise you a rose garden.” The pay is terrible, as are the benefits, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Despite the promise of a very rough life and the possibility of being sent to fight anywhere, thousands continue to show up each year.

Legionnaires can expect deployments to austere environments and/or see plenty of combat. The Legion is currently in Afghanistan and Mali, for example.

Their starting pay is roughly $1450 per month for at least the first couple of years in. That’s a pretty small paycheck compared to the lowest-ranking U.S. Army soldier making $1546, which is guaranteed to go up to $1733 after being automatically promoted six months later (if they don’t get in trouble of course).

There is at least one bonus to the Legion if you fancy yourself a drinker: There’s plenty of booze. Even in a combat zone, legionnaires are drinking in their off time, and their culture of heavy drinking would make any frat-boy blush.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Brightest light in universe detected after mysterious space explosion

Two violent explosions in galaxies billions of light-years away recently produced the brightest light in the universe. Scientists caught it in action for the first time.

The explosions were gamma-ray bursts: short eruptions of the most energetic form of light in the universe.

Telescopes caught the first burst in July 2018. The second burst, captured in January 2019, produced light containing about 100 billion times as much energy as the light that’s visible to our human eyes.


Gamma-ray bursts appear without warning and only last a few seconds, so astronomers had to move quickly. Just 50 seconds after satellites spotted the January explosion, telescopes on Earth swiveled to catch a flood of thousands of particles of light.

“These are by far the highest-energy photons ever discovered from a gamma-ray burst,” Elisa Bernardini, a gamma-ray scientist, said in a press release.

Over 300 scientists around the world studied the results; their work was published Nov. 20, 2019, in the journal Nature.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

The Hubble Space Telescope imaged the fading afterglow of the gamma-ray burst GRB 190114C (center of the green circle) and its home galaxy.

(NASA, ESA, and V. Acciari et al. 2019)

50 seconds to capture the brightest, most mysterious light in the universe

Gamma-ray bursts happen almost every day, without warning, and they only last a few seconds. Yet the high-energy explosions remain something of a mystery to scientists. Astronomers think they come from colliding neutron stars or from supernovae — events in which stars run out of fuel, give in to their own gravity, and collapse into black holes.

“Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the universe and typically release more energy in just a few seconds than our sun during its entire lifetime,” gamma-ray scientist David Berge said in the release. “They can shine through almost the entire visible universe.”

After the brief, intense eruptions of gamma rays, hours or days of afterglow follow.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

An illustration depicts a gamma-ray burst.

(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Telescopes have observed low-energy rays that come from the initial explosion and the afterglow.

“Much of what we’ve learned about GRBs [gamma-ray bursts] over the past couple of decades has come from observing their afterglows at lower energies,” NASA scientist Elizabeth Hays said in a release.

But scientists had never caught the ultra-high-energy light until these two recent observations.

On Jan. 14, 2019, two NASA satellites detected an explosions in a galaxy over 4 billion light-years away. Within 22 seconds, these space telescopes — the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope — beamed the coordinates of the burst to astronomers all over Earth.

Within 27 seconds of receiving the coordinates, astronomers in the Canary Islands turned two Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes toward that exact point in the sky.

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

On January 14, 2019, the Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) observatory in the Canary Islands captured the highest-energy light ever recorded from a gamma-ray burst. This illustration of that event also shows NASA’s Fermi and Swift spacecraft (top left and right, respectively).

(NASA/Fermi and Aurore Simonnet, Sonoma State University)

The photons flooded those telescopes for the next 20 minutes, leading to new revelations about some of the most elusive properties of gamma-ray bursts.

“It turns out we were missing approximately half of their energy budget until now,” Konstancja Satalecka, a scientist who coordinates MAGIC’s searches for gamma-ray bursts, said in the release. “Our measurements show that the energy released in very-high-energy gamma-rays is comparable to the amount radiated at all lower energies taken together. That is remarkable.”

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

The large central H.E.S.S. telescope array in Namibia detected the light from a gamma-ray burst on July 20, 2018.

(MPIK / Christian Föhr)

Ultra-high-energy light came in the afterglow, not the explosion itself

The photons detected from a gamma-ray burst six months earlier, in July 2018, weren’t as energetic or as numerous as those from the January explosion.

But the earlier detection was still notable because the flow of high-energy light came 10 hours after the initial explosion. The light lasted for another two hours — deep into the afterglow phase.

In their paper, the researchers suggested that electrons may have scattered the photons, increasing the photons’ energy. Another paper about the January observations suggested the same thing.

Scientists had long suspected that this scattering was one way gamma-ray bursts could produce so much ultra-high-energy light in the afterglow phase. The observations of these two bursts confirmed that for the first time.

Scientists expect to learn more as they turn telescopes toward more gamma-ray bursts like these in the future.

“Thanks to these new ground-based detections, we’re seeing the gamma rays from gamma-ray bursts in a whole new way,” Hays said.

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

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