NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Shrinking ice coverage in the Arctic has drawn the attention of NATO, Russia, and other countries to the high north, where the promise of more accessible waterways means potential military and commercial competition.

Since Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and incursion in Ukraine, however, NATO members have been concerned about Moscow’s actions closer to home, and developments in recent weeks indicate the alliance is focusing on securing waterways around Europe, in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas and the eastern Atlantic — all areas that could be contested in a conflict with Russia.

Below, you can see what NATO is being warned about, and what the alliance is and isn’t doing to address it.


NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

A Russian Ilyushin Il-22 Bizon and a Su-27 Flanker, flying along the Baltic coast, May 14, 2019.

(UK Ministry of Defense)

The Baltic Sea, bordered by six NATO member countries and with Russia’s second-largest city, St. Petersburg, at its eastern end, has always been a busy area.

Encounters between NATO forces and Russian forces at sea in the Baltic and in the skies over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, where NATO members carry out air patrols, have been on the rise since 2014. (The air policing mission has actually been going on since 2004.)

That encounters include an incident this summer in which a Russian Su-27 fighter escorting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s plane turned into a NATO jet, forcing it away.

These tensions have come with military buildup as well.

Starting in 2016, NATO deployed some 4,500 troops in battle groups to the Baltics and Poland. Since the end of 2017, Sweden, which like Finland is not part of NATO, has sent new military forces to Gotland Island, which it had withdrawn from in 2005.

In Kaliningrad, an exclave that is home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet, Moscow has deployed new weaponry, including nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and upgraded facilities, including what appear to be active nuclear-weapon storage bunkers.

Summer 2019, Russia also set up a helicopter base on Gogland, a small island between Finland and Estonia. Estonian officials played down the military significance, but the base is still seen as a Russian move to assert its power in the region and keep its neighbors guessing.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge participates in a photo exercise during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2018.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold)

NATO countries along the Baltic have sought a more robust presence, and Germany has taken the lead.

Among NATO members, Germany, which has been criticized for the paucity of its defense spending and the quality of its armed forces, has taken the lead and tried to bring NATO and the EU closer together on Baltic security.

Vice Adm. Rainer Brinkmann, deputy chief of the German navy, said in September 2019 that Russia was the “one main challenge” in the Baltic and that Western partners “must take appropriate measures to cope” and “to prevent the Baltic Sea from being a ‘mare clausum,'” or “closed sea.”

Like its neighbors, Russia has legitimate reasons to be in the Baltic, but the number of actors there, each with their own national and commercial interests, make it a delicate situation, according to Christopher Skaluba, director or the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

“I think [the Russians] know that aggressive actions in the Baltic are likely to get the attention, in a way they probably didn’t want, of the NATO nations and Sweden and Finland.”

“The Baltic is pretty small place. There’s a lot of players. That piece of it gets really ugly really quick,” Skaluba told Business Insider in October 2019. “I think for lots of reasons, there are more incentives to avoid [conflict] than there are to … catalyze it.”

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

An F-35B fighter jet aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, Oct. 13, 2019.

(LPhot Kyle Heller/UK Ministry of Defence)

A new battle of the Atlantic.

Russia’s navy is increasingly active in the North Atlantic, and though the level of that activity and the size of Russia’s navy don’t appear to reach that of the Cold War, it has set NATO on edge.

Growing tension between NATO members and Russia in the Atlantic has been called “the fourth battle of the Atlantic,” following World War I and II and the Cold War.

The UK in particular has struggled to keep up, calling on NATO allies to help track Russian subs thought to be lurking in and around British waters.

“In 2010, a Royal Navy ship was called on just once to respond to Russian navy ships approaching UK territorial waters. Last year we had to respond 33 times,” the UK’s then-defense minister, Gavin Williamson, said in May 2018.

The Royal Navy has built new aircraft carriers, equipping them with Britain’s first F-35s, and acquired US-made maritime patrol aircraft after scrapping its Nimrod patrol aircraft in 2010.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Royal Navy frigate HMS St Albans is currently the Nations on call warship for escorting foreign warships.

The UK and its allies in Europe want to keep “a critical choke point” between them open.

While any conflict in the Atlantic today is likely to look much different than previous battles, it’s likely to involve the English Channel and waters around it, especially the North Sea — at least that’s the concern of the five European countries who effectively revived the Cold War-era “Channel Committee” November 2019.

The pact signed on Nov. 7, 2019, by senior navy leaders from Germany, France, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands pledges to “harmonize” naval purchasing plans, potentially to include common procurement, according to Defense News.

But the countries also want to increase personnel exchanges and joint training and eventually recognize the professional qualifications of service members across the group.

“The Channel area is the front door to Central Europe and an important gate to the Baltic Sea,” the text of the pact says. “It is the critical choke point for the maritime traffic between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.”

The committee is also another military tether between mainland Europe and the UK, whose future relations with the rest of the continent remain in doubt amid the turmoil of Brexit.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

The Mediterranean has also become a venue for what the US and others see as an emerging great-power competition.

NATO members in southern Europe have been focused on immigration from the Middle East and North Africa and the threat of terrorism emanating from those regions.

But Russian naval forces are a constant presence in the Mediterranean, traveling to and from Moscow’s bases in the Black Sea and and its base in Tartus, Syria, which is Russia’s only such facility outside the territory of the former Soviet Union.

With the ongoing civil war in Syria, the eastern Mediterranean has also become a venue for military operations, with Russian subs demonstrating their new ability to strike targets on land with missiles.

The Russian presence around the Mediterranean and Black seas, Iran’s presence in Syria, and antagonistic intra-alliance relations with Turkey all present security challenges for NATO, according to a recent Atlantic Council report.

“As the south becomes more congested and contested, and great-power competition intensifies, NATO defense, deterrence, and containment mission in the south is increasingly urgent and more complex,” the report states.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

US Navy destroyer USS Carney fires it MK 45 5-inch lightweight gun at night while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 11, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones)

The lack of a strategy in the Mediterranean could have more serious consequences for the alliance as a whole, according to one deputy secretary general.

NATO has made a lot progress improving its defense and deterrence against Russia since 2014, “but it was more talk than action when it came to addressing problems in the south,” Alexander Vershbow, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and coauthor of the report, said during its presentation October 2019.

“This theme figured prominently in my farewell address to the North Atlantic Council three years ago, and unfortunately the situation hasn’t changed all that much since then,” added Vershbow, who was deputy secretary general of NATO and US ambassador to Russia.

According to the report, “many of the conventional defense and deterrence challenges associated with NATO’s east are now reemerging in the south,” including enhanced Russian anti-access/area-denial capabilities, provocative actions in the Black Sea, and hybrid activity on the ground.

Though NATO has taken steps to remedy its shortcomings in the Mediterranean — such as setting up a “hub of the south” at Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy — establishing a maritime-focused enhanced southern presence there could be a way to counter Russia and sharing the burden of doing so among members, Vershbow said.

“Russia is back with a vengeance in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Black Sea,” which adds a geopolitical dimension to NATO’s need to project stability and bolster defense and deterrence, Vershbow added.

“The lack of an effective southern strategy could put alliance solidarity at risk if the publics in the southern NATO countries see the alliance as failing to address what they consider to be their priority concerns,” Vershbow said. “It could undermine their willingness to share the burdens of collective defense against Russia, and everybody loses in that scenario.”

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

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

We found 13 hilarious military memes from around the internet and collected them for you. It’s kind of what we do on Fridays.


1. Being able to just pick it up and shoot is a great feeling (via Military Memes).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Some things needed the bipod more than others.

2. Sure, sure, sure. Clean, clean, clean (via Devil Dog Nation).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
You know how famous the barracks are for being clean, right sir?

SEE ALSO: A Navy carrier just broke the record for dropping bombs on ISIS 

3. Best part is, Plan C is an M4 and Plan D is an M9 (via Devil Dog Nation).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Plan E is a KA-BAR so you’re screwed even then.

4. Yup, sorry man. Mandatory training across the force (via Air Force Nation).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Otherwise, how will people know it’s important to wear a PT belt?

5. This is what the senior NCOs imagined when they heard the new armor would be made of plastic:

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Should probably find some camouflage tape for that.

6. The Marines might be coming out ahead in this one:

(via Pop Smoke)

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Sucks that it’s Arby’s, but it’s still five bucks more than anyone else is getting.

7. When we say everything stops for colors, we mean everything (via Coast Guard Memes).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Now, fold the flag properly. The gloves are no excuse.

8. Seriously, Carl. We’re all hoping (via Military Memes).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Just kidding. We’d be heartbroken. Maybe.

9. These boots are going to be about 20 volts shinier than they used to be (via Sh-t my LPO says).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Nice coffee mug, by the way.

10. BRRRRRT!

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Also, whatever tries to kill my grunts, whatever wears the wrong flag, etc. The list is pretty long.

11. The Coast Guard knows what brings all the recruits to the station (via Coast Guard Memes).

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Remember high schoolers, the services are carefully selecting what parts of the military they show you.

12. Don’t remember going over the procedures for this in sustained airborne training:

(via Military Nations)

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
But congrats to the happy couple!

13. Do the Marines consider properly spelled words to be classified information?

(via Military Memes)

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
This explains so much.

MIGHTY TRENDING

More war talk as leaders tell soldiers to ‘be ready’ in event of North Korea confrontation

The chief of staff of the US Army says his troops must have a “laser-focused sense of urgency” on military preparedness, a day after the defense secretary told troops “to be ready” with military options to deal with North Korea.


Speaking at the US Army’s annual conference Oct. 10, General Mark Milley said improving readiness must be his military service branch’s top task, calling the present day an “inflection point in history.”

“It has never been more important than it is today,” Milley said in Washington. “We are more prepared today and a better Army for our efforts, but we are not there yet.”

Milley said the Army must continue to grow its numbers, develop a large-scale urban combat training center, and streamline acquisition processes, while improving technologies in cyber, combat simulation, and robotics.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
US Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, speaks to an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s 293rd Institute of Land Warfare Breakfast. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden.

He also pushed Congress to pass a budget so the military can move forward with strengthening its force, noting if the US military doesn’t adapt to changes in the global threat, it will lose the next war.

“Preparation for war is very expensive,” Milley told troops. “But preparation for war is much cheaper than fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is fighting and losing a war.”

Milley’s comments come a day after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the US relationship with North Korea remains a diplomatic one, but that the military must be prepared in case the situation breaks down.

Speaking at the conference Oct. 9, Mattis noted the effort to turn North Korea off its nuclear path is currently “diplomatically led” and buttressed by economic sanctions.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gives the keynote address to kick off the 2017 annual meeting of the Association of the US Army (AUSA) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, Oct. 9, 2017. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

“What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there is one thing the US Army can do, and that is you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed,” Mattis said.

Tensions with North Korea have escalated since the start of the year due to a series of missile launches from North Korea and a nuclear test last month.

The US has responded to these acts with military shows of force in international and allied air space. Last month, US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers and F-16 fighter jets flew the farthest north of the demilitarized zone that any US fighter or bomber aircraft had flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century.

American President Donald Trump has engaged in weeks of taunts with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling the dictator “Rocket Man” and saying the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea, if necessary, to protect itself and its allies if Pyongyang attacks.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How to use bow-drill to start a lifesaving fire


There have been plenty of stories where people get stranded in the middle of nowhere and go to insane lengths to survive. Since the majority of the population doesn’t prepare for getting get stuck out in the elements, they typically don’t find themselves with extensive survival kits.

If you find yourself marooned in an area that doesn’t get good cell-phone service and you’re unable to contact a lifeline, things can start getting a little stressful. Luckily, most people can find the right material in their surroundings to at least start a fire, but may not know how to go about creating the one.

Well, we’re to teach you how to create the spark you’ll need without burning through tons of energy to achieve that warm fire. Introducing the bow-drill.


First, you need to gather a few things.

A small piece of flat wood that can fit inside the palm of your hand (the socket), a longer but thin piece of wood (the fire board), a wooden peg (spindle), a curved piece of wood, and a cord make up the bow-drill.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
All the natural lifesaving materials you’ll need.
Ultimate Survival Tips/ YouTube

Fasten the ends of the cord to the tips of the curved piece of wood, then single-wrap the cord around the spindle. Place the tip of the spindle onto the fire board and start moving the bow-drill in a sawing motion while continuing to secure the spindle in your hand with the socket.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
The full-bow drill configuration.

Note: all these materials need to be as dry as possible.

After easily rotating the spindle with the bow-drill, the wooden peg will create a noticeable notch in the fire board. Shortly after, friction will cause smoke to build. Once the smoke starts to billow, add some very dry tinder into the mix as well as plenty of oxygen. Once the tinder ignites, lightly blow on the flame and feed it with the additional dry brush.

Quickly feed the fire with more dry wood and secure the burning area with rocks to prepared unwanted spreading. The fire can also be seen from far away, so that will only aid in your rescue.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fl3JDnePt8MlFnFApq.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=153&h=fe25099dd419537f5fd68cc45d4f39b6a375467e677bd4902df691164596ce15&size=980x&c=131676986 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Fire!” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fl3JDnePt8MlFnFApq.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D153%26h%3Dfe25099dd419537f5fd68cc45d4f39b6a375467e677bd4902df691164596ce15%26size%3D980x%26c%3D131676986%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

Congratulations! Since you made a legit fire, you just might survive through a night in the wilderness.

MIGHTY HISTORY

George Washington desperately wanted to be a British officer

American Gen. George Washington, the hero of the Revolution and the country’s first president, spent much of his early career wishing he was a British officer, working as an unpaid aide, and then traveling approximately 450 miles just to earn his “Lobsterback” coat.


Before he was a hero to the American people, he was a hero to Royal Governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie was the lieutenant governor when he ordered Washington on one of his first major missions, a diplomatic undertaking to tell French forces in the Ohio Valley of Virginia to please, “GTFO. K, thanks. Byeeee!” on behalf of the governor.

The French, secure in their fort and coveting the rich farmland for themselves, invited Washington in for dinner and then told him that these fine cuts of meat were all he was ever going to get from the Valley. It’s unknown if they even let him take his leftovers with him in a simple brown bag.

Washington reported back to Virginia and then published a pamphlet about the mission. (Pamphlets were the tweets of their day, but the maximum number of characters was crazy high. For example, Washington’s title alone was 63 characters above the limit of a newer tweet.)

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Fort Necessity, where Washington was forced to surrender to a larger French force.

(Photo by Ikcerog)

The pamphlet went super viral and was a hit in the U.S. and Britain, where a number of distinguished men were known to drop monocles and women suffered the vapors when they read it. The French threat in the valleys had apparently been allowed to grow much too large, and something needed to be done about it.

Washington was sent back, this time at the head of a 160-man force. They snuck up on a French encampment in the night but were spotted in the half-light of dawn, May 28, 1754. Someone fired a shot and a battle quickly raged. Washington was successful in the initial engagement, but was forced to surrender to a larger body of French forces on July 3.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

There were about to be Redcoats for days, man.

(Photo by Lee Wright)

Washington bounced back from this setback, even without the benefit of a montage, which had not yet been invented. The battles in the Virginia wilderness triggered a war between the French and British that raged across the world. For the colonies, this fight would center on alliances with the Native Americans and control of valuable territory.

And Washington, recently promoted, ambitious, and knowledgeable of the area, was perfectly positioned to aid a British victory. He applied for a commission in His Royal Majesty’s Army, ready to lead loyal subjects of the crown to their destined glory!

The Brits didn’t want ‘im. He was a dirty colonial, after all, and there were some questions about whether Washington’s success on May 28 had been a valid engagement or a war crime amid French claims that they tried to surrender.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Colonel of Militia George Washington, just a few years before he became a general and showed all his Lobsterback detractors what was really up.

(Charles Willson Peale)

At the time, officers in the British Army were often placed above their colonial counterparts, regardless of rank. Rather than suffer the indignity of reporting to officers he outranked, he became an unpaid aide to the British commander, Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock.

Washington’s advice to Braddock was often timely, accurate, and ignored until the Battle of Monongahela. On the Monongahela River, Washington was suffering from dysentery but took command after Braddock was shot. While the British lost the battle, Washington’s actions were credited with saving hundreds of soldiers from capture and death, and he once again became a hero. Braddock, who later died of his wounds, even gifted Washington his commander’s sash, a red length of fabric signifying command.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Woodcut of Braddock’s death. He actually died a little after the battle, but never let the facts get in the way of a good woodcut, guys.

Washington, once again a hero and now wearing a pimp red sash, traveled to Boston to meet with Governor William Shirley, the new acting commander-in-chief now that Braddock was dead, to ask for a commission in the Royal Army. Shirley thanked Washington for his service but turned him down. He did decree that militia officers outranked royal officer of lower ranks, so that was something.

Washington eventually left the governor’s service to concentrate on farming. Did some things, and ended up being on the id=”listicle-2588139621″ bill after some trials and tribulations that probably helped him grow as a person or something.

Articles

11 things a military buddy would do that a civilian BFF probably won’t

Here’s a short list of things military buddies would do for each other that civilian friends probably won’t:


1. Check out a rash

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Blades of Glory, Dreamworks

2. Skip the pleasantries and get right to calling ‘bulls-t’

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Terminal Boots, YouTube

3. Tee up a minor issue just to get a rise

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Goodfellas, Warner Bros.

4. Have a buddy’s back, no questions asked

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Casino, Universal Pictures

5. Give a hand loading stuff that explodes

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley

6. Cuddle under a woobie to stay warm

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Photo by Paul Avallone

7. Not complain about a buddy’s weight

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Forrest Gump, Paramount Pictures

8. Go above and beyond, like this guy who volunteered to be a POW for his buddies

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Cpl. Tibor Rubin, Holocaust survivor and Prisoner of war hero. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rubin was credited with saving the lives of 40 prison mates by sneaking out of the camp every night and back in every morning, stealing food and medical supplies from his captors and local farms.

9. Jump on a grenade . . . a real one

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Cpl Kyle Carpenter receiving the Medal of Honor. Photo: The White House

… and do it again if required

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Photos: Wikipedia/Department of Defense

Jack H. Lucas jumped on a grenade twice to save his buddies and lived. He was also the youngest man to be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor.

10. Ignore the most agonizing pain

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe Photo: US Army

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe pulled six other soldiers from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle while drenched in fuel and covered in flames.

11. Follow each other through the gates of hell.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Benavidez was a close friend of Leroy Wright and felt that he owed his life to him from an earlier incident in which Wright saved him. His attempt to repay the deed by rescuing Wright led to the insane heroics that almost cost him his life, even Ronald Reagan said it was hard to believe.

popular

This was the inspiration behind ‘The Hunt for Red October’

First published in the mid-1980s, “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy quickly rose from obscurity to national bestseller lists, with even then-President Ronald Reagan calling it “my kind of yarn.”


In 1990, the book was made into a blockbuster movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.

The hit novel tells the tale of a next-generation Soviet ballistic missile submarine — the eponymous Red October — going rogue with both the United States and the Soviet Union racing against time to find the missing sub.

While the Soviet Union, to the best of our knowledge, never had a submarine and its crew attempt to defect to the West during the Cold War, it did have two very similar incidents — both of which served as the inspiration for this famous book.

In 1961, a young Soviet Navy captain by the name of Jonas Pleskys steered his vessel, a barge turned into a submarine tender, away from a charted course to Estonia in a successful attempt to defect to Sweden.

This Lithuanian-born naval officer, a graduate of the Leningrad Naval Academy, was thoroughly dissatisfied with life in the USSR, finding it corrupt and cruel.

 

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
An official photograph of Jonas Pleskys during his time as a Soviet Navy officer (Photo Soviet Navy)

According to Marion Boyle’s book, “Search for Freedom: The Man from Red October,” Pleskys planned his defection in advance, reaching port and protective custody in Gotland, Sweden, before the Soviet Navy was able to stop him.

In absence, the Soviet military sentenced the captain to death, though they would never have the opportunity to carry out the execution.

The CIA later hid Pleskys in South America before moving him to the US, where he lived out the rest of his years.

Years later, in the mid-1970s, a second (and considerably more embarrassing) incident involving a Soviet Navy vessel — a brand new Krivak class frigate named “Storozhevoy” — proved to be the second event that would factor into the making of “The Hunt for Red October.”

The ship’s political officer, Valery Sablin, seized control of the ship while it was berthed in a Soviet naval port, imprisoning the captain and many of the ship’s officers in compartments belowdecks. Quickly sailing the frigate out of port, Sablin aimed the ship’s bow towards Northern Europe.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

With visions of Pleskys’ earlier defection flashing through their minds, Soviet brass deployed half of their Baltic Fleet immediately upon learning of their newest warship going missing and Sablin’s intentions.

Over 60 maritime patrol and attack aircraft were deployed to find and stop the Storozhevoy… and if it came to it, sink the frigate with its entire crew aboard.

According to former Storozhevoy officer Boris Gindin in his co-written autobiography, “Mutiny,” the frigate was never meant to fall into American hands. Sablin was loyal to the Soviet Union to the very end — he just wasn’t a fan of the corruption of the Soviet government, and saw their actions as a major departure from Leninism and “true communism.”

Instead, the disillusioned political officer wanted to sail the frigate to Leningrad (now known as Saint Petersburg), where he would moor the Storozhevoy alongside an old museum ship, the cruiser Aurora, and would then broadcast a message to the Soviet people with the hopes of revealing the government’s corruption, and with sparking a second communist revolution to retake the country.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
The cruiser Aurora permanently parked in St. Petersburg. Sablin wished to moor the Storozhevoy near the symbolic Aurora during his mutiny and escape (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

As it turns out, the Soviet military wasn’t having any of that, and within a matter of hours, the Storozhevoy was found and hailed. Now less than 50 miles from Swedish territorial waters (though that wasn’t the ship’s destination), the frigate continued to sail on without heeding calls to stop.

The order was given to sink the ship.

Attack aircraft began strafing the ship with their cannons, obliterating the bridge of the Storozhevoy while pockmarking the rest of the gray warship with bullet holes. Bombs were dropped near the rogue ship, and soon, it became evident that the ship’s steering and propulsion was damaged to the point that the vessel could not go any further – it was dead in the water.

However, the Baltic Fleet had already closed in, and began firing warning shots from their deck guns. In a matter of minutes, Soviet naval commandos boarded the vessel and arrested the 200-strong crew of the Storozhevoy, regardless of who was and wasn’t involved in the mutiny.

As it turns out, during the ship’s escape from port, a number of its officers and crew, previously imprisoned for resisting the mutiny, had escaped captivity and overpowered Sablin and his bridge crew.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
A Krivak-class frigate at anchor. Storozhevoy would have looked almost identical to this ship (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

In true Soviet style, the incident was hushed up quickly, with Sablin facing a firing squad for treason against the Soviet Union. The Storozhevoy was quietly repaired in dockyard, repainted and sent back out to the fleet. By the end of the 1990s, the frigate was pulled from service and sold overseas to the wreckers.

In the early 1980s, a 37 year-old insurance salesman by the name of Tom Clancy Jr. came across the Storozhevoy’s tale in the US Naval Academy’s archives while doing research for his first novel.

Later making contact with Jonas Pleskys, and inspired by his and the Storozhevoy’s short-lived adventure, Clancy penned “The Hunt for Red October” soon afterwards, with the novel hitting bookshelves in 1984, a resounding success.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Chinese ‘re-education centers’ hold millions prisoner

In the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, many locals read endlessly, write often, and sing loudly.

But not by choice.

In extrajudicial indoctrination camps around Xinjiang, ethnic Uighur men and women are forced to study Chinese history, write personal reflections, and sing songs like “Without the Communist Party, there is no New China.” Many are beaten, tortured, and are unable to go home.


China considers this process “re-education.” It runs outside the court system with people dragged away for infringements like talking to a loved one overseas or having a beard, and there is no course for appeal.

A recent estimate put the number of people who have been, or are currently, interned since April 2017, in the hundreds of thousands, or even just over one million.

Though the exact total is unknown, Adrian Zenz, a social researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology, pored over local job ads and government bids to find new evidence of the system’s existence and scale.

Since 2016, there were government bids to construct or upgrade 73 facilities in Xinjiang that, despite various names, appeared as though they will operate, wholly or at least in part, as re-education centers.

Re-education centers are often disguised as vocational training hubs, as many were in these bids, but the details betray their hidden purpose.

Together, the facilities required guard rooms, video surveillance, security fences, police equipment, police living quarters, handheld security inspection devices, steel-reinforced concrete walls, and even iron chains.

“Many of these facilities are heavily secured, to an extent that they do not just aim to keep potential intruders out, but to keep those inside under tight surveillance.” Zenz told Business Insider.

Twenty bids listed new or upgraded monitoring or video surveillance. One bid from January 2018, wanted 122 cameras to cover the whole facility without leaving any “dead angles.”

One center required security nets, the renovation of a guard room, and “four watchtowers.” Another, submitted on April 25, 2018, requested an 86,000 square-foot “underground facility.”

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

These security features, according to Zenz, confirm reports that vocation centers frequently function as internment camps, though many facilities likely sit on a continuum.

“All we know is that a substantial number of facilities, likely capable of holding at least several hundred thousand, are geared more towards the re-education side. Some are explicitly and directly marked as re-education facilities. More than likely, facilities with a stronger vocational training focus can likewise hold several hundred thousands,” said Zenz.

“Some even specifically state that they are designed to perform ‘re-education.’ An official government notice from April 2017, pertaining to these facilities in a particular prefecture mandated that training topics include military drill, Chinese language, legal knowledge, ethnic unity, religious knowledge and patriotic education.”

Job ads are also a huge giveaway

As easy as it may be to silently whisk away thousands of people to new re-education centers, skyrocketing prisoner would also require a huge recruitment drive.

According to Zenz, from May 2017, counties with large ethnic minority populations “initiated a wave of recruitments” for so-called education and training centers.

But ads for such staff were often listed in the same ads as open police positions, and some ads even preferred recruitees with a military or police background.

Other job ads conflated the two roles, hiring “training center policing assistants.” If the staff were being hired to work at a regular vocation center the high number of security personnel would be “difficult to explain,” said Zenz.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe
Armed Police soldiers in the street of Urumqi.

Ads also frequently lacked required skills or qualifications that would normally be crucial to providing vocational training. Many required only a middle-school education whereas other provinces, where few Uighur would live, usually require at least a bachelor degree.

In one Xinjiang country, where Uighurs make up 95% of the population, 320 jobs available at a “training center” had three criteria: have a middle-school education, be loyal to the Chinese Communist Party, and be part of the ethnic majority Han.

Re-education isn’t the only problem Uighurs face

In an attempt to crack down on religious extremism, authorities in Xinjiang have targeted almost any form of religious expression by Uighur Muslims.

Women have been banned from wearing burqas and veils. Residents were barred from fasting during Ramadan with restaurants ordered to stay open despite religious obligations. And in 2016, millions of Xinjiang residents were ordered to surrender their passports and must seek permission to travel abroad.

Authorities have installed surveillance apps on residents’ phones and begun collecting DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types from all Xinjiang residents aged between 12 and 65. They have also collected voice samples that may be used to identify who is speaking on tapped phone calls.

There’s also 40,000 facial-recognition cameras that are being used to track, and block, the movement of Uighurs in the region.

Xinjiang is considered by experts to be a testing ground for what the US State Department has described as “unprecedented levels of surveillance.”

The concern is Xinjiang could also be a testing ground for a nationwide re-education system.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Vladimir Putin’s career went from the KGB to the Kremlin

Vladimir Putin‘s KGB career may have ended decades ago, but that didn’t stop the Russian president from citing his spy credentials during July 16, 2018’s press conference with US president Donald Trump.

Dissmissing the idea that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia in 2016 and disputing the credibility of the Steele dossier, Putin said, “I was an intelligence officer myself, and I know how dossiers are made up.”


Russia is accused of hacking the DNC’s emails and engaging in other forms of cyber subversion in order to throw the race to Trump. A series of politically-charged and disinformation-spreading social media groups and advertising campaigns have been traced back to Russia.

Putin has denied hacking the election. Trump has argued that he “doesn’t see any reason” why Putin would meddle in the election, despite the consensus of the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in order to ensure a Republican victory.

Here’s a look into Putin’s early career as a KGB spy:

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

“The Shield and the Sword” (1968)

As a teenager, Putin was captivated by the novel and film series “The Shield and the Sword,” writes Steven Lee Myers in “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin.”

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Adolf Hitler.

The story focuses on a brave Soviet secret agent who helps thwart the Nazis.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

Putin later said he was struck by how “one spy could decide the fate of thousands of people.”

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Saint Petersburg State University.

Putin went to school at Saint Petersburg State University, where he studied law.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

His undergraduate thesis focused on international law and trade.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

KGB headquarters — also known as the Lubyanka Building.

After initially considering going into law, Putin was recruited into the KGB upon graduating in 1975.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Satsivi.

(Flickr photo by Paul Keller)

After getting the good news, Putin and a friend headed to a nearby Georgian restaurant. They celebrated over satsivi — grilled chicken prepared with walnut sauce — and downed shots of sweet liqueur.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Moscow’s Red Square.

He trained at the Red Banner Institute in Moscow.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” The Telegraph

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Sergei Ivanov.

Putin’s former chief of staff and fellow KGB trainee Sergei Ivanov told the Telegraph that some lessons from senior spies amounted to little more than “idiocy.”

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” The Telegraph

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Vladimir Putin.

Putin belonged to the “cohort of outsiders” KGB chairman Yuri Andropov pumped into the intelligence agency in the 1970s.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Yuri Andropov.

Andropov’s goal was to improve the institution by recruiting younger, more critical KGB officers.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

Putin.

Putin’s spy career was far from glamorous, according to Steve Lee Meyers’ “The New Tsar.”

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

His early years consisted of working in a gloomy office filled with aging staffers, “pushing papers at work and still living at home with his parents without a room of his own.”

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Saint Petersburg.

He attended training at the heavily fortified School No. 401 in Saint Petersburg, where prospective officers learned intelligence tactics and interrogation techniques, and trained physically. In 1976, he became a first lieutenant.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin,” “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

1987 anniversary celebration of the KGB.

Putin’s focus may have included counter-intelligence and monitoring foreigners.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

According to Meyers, Putin may have also worked with the KGB’s Fifth Chief Directorate, which was dedicated to crushing political dissidents.

Source: “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

In 1985, Putin adopted the cover identity of a translator and transferred to Dresden, Germany.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

In the biography “Mr. Putin,” Fiona Hill and Cliff Gaddy speculate his mission may have been to recruit top East German Communist Party and Stasi officials, steal technological secrets, compromise visiting Westerners, or travel undercover to West Germany.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Dresden, Germany.

(Flickr photo by Bert Kaufmann)

Hill and Gaddy conclude that the “most likely answer to which of these was Putin’s actual mission in Dresden is: ‘all of the above.'”

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

Putin has said that his time in the KGB — and speaking with older agents — caused him to question the direction of the USSR.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

“In intelligence at that time, we permitted ourselves to think differently and to say things that few others could permit themselves,” he said.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

At one point, crowds mobbed the KGB’s Dresden location after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” The Telegraph

Putin has claimed to have brandished a pistol to scare looters from the office.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” The Telegraph

It’s believed that Putin’s tenure in the KGB, which occurred during a time when the USSR’s power crumbled on the international stage, helped to shape his worldview.

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin,” “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

“It was clear the Union was ailing,” Putin said, of his time abroad. “And it had a terminal, incurable illness under the title of paralysis. A paralysis of power.”

Source: “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin

Putin ultimately quit the KGB in 1991, during a hard-liner coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Source: “Putin: Russia’s Choice

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

He became an official in Boris Yeltsin’s subsequent administration and was appointed to lead the FSB — the post-Soviet successor to the KGB — in 1998.

Source: “Putin: Russia’s Choice

Putin then took over for Yeltsin upon his resignation in 1999. One of his first acts as president was to pardon his predecessor for corruption.

Source: “Putin: Russia’s Choice,” PBS, Business Insider

Putin was ultimately elected president for the first time in 2000.

Source: “Putin: Russia’s Choice,” PBS, Business Insider

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Preparing future generations for leadership and military service

The children are our future. Isn’t it time to talk to them about leadership and military service? Today’s children are the future leaders and military personnel of our country. They are the ones that will one day take that oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” The reality that today’s youth are the future of our country and our military is why it is so important that we have programs in place to mold, teach, and prepare them to be the strong leaders of tomorrow. The military branches have had programs in place for decades to aid in this preparation of today’s youth. These programs include: the Sea Cadets, the Young Marines, and the ROTC.


NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

The US Naval Sea Cadet Corps is sponsored by both the Navy and the Coast Guard. They are designed to promote interest and skill in naval disciplines while also instilling strong moral character and life skills through leadership and technical programs. The main goals of the Sea Cadets are: developing an interest and ability in seamanship and seagoing skills, instill the virtues of good citizenship and strong moral principles in each cadet, demonstrate the values of an alcohol-free, drug-free, and gang-free lifestyle, expose cadets to the prestige of public service and a variety of career paths through hands-on training with our nation’s armed services.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

The Young Marines set out to build tomorrow’s leaders today. They promote the mental, moral, and physical development of each of their members. The Young Marines program focuses on the values of leadership, self-discipline, and teamwork. They strive to strengthen the lives of America’s youth, and they do so by teaching the importance of self-confidence, academic achievement, honoring our veterans, community service, and living a healthy drug-free lifestyle. The Young Marines aims to mold today’s youth into productive members of society.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

The Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, or ROTC, as it is more commonly known, is designed to give young people invaluable experiences while still in school. ROTC is different because it is a program that is a part of a school or university. Each branch has its own ROTC program, so students can choose which path they want to take. Through the ROTC program, students can begin a military career in health care, aviation, finance, engineering, chemistry, law enforcement, and transportation, among others. ROTC is designed to mold them and prepare them for officer programs and careers in the armed services.

No matter what program the youth of today chooses to join, they will be taught valuable skills and learn how to become the strong leaders the future of our country depends on. They will be taught structure and discipline, while being molded into productive members of society. Whether or not they choose to go into a career in the military, the experiences they receive in these programs will follow them through the rest of their lives. They will learn invaluable lessons that will aid them in any career path they choose, and they will make memories that will last a lifetime.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Your guide to 2019 military discounts for Major League Baseball games

Major League Baseball teams are showing their appreciation for service members, both past and present, with military discounts on 2019 game tickets. Many teams also hold military appreciation days to honor those who have served our country.

Look for your favorite team in the list below and take advantage of the military discounts that can help get you to the ballpark for less.

Play ball!


NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Sailors and Airmen present a giant American flag before the 2012 major league baseball All-Star Game. More than 30 Sailors and 45 Airman held the flag during the singing of the National Anthem and pregame events.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason C. Winn/Released)

American League

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles offer a discount off of all tickets for military and their families, available at the Oriole Park Box Office. You can also find bigger discounts by contacting your nearest ITT/Leisure Travel office.

Houston Astros

Members of the military are invited to purchase discounted tickets (online only) to 2019 Houston Astros home games. There is a limit of 6 tickets per person per game. Choose from all Monday through Thursday games and for the Mariners Weekend Series on 9/6 – 9/8. Blackout dates include the Yankees Series (4/8 – 4/10) and Cubs Series (5/27 – 5/29).

Kansas City Royals

Active duty and retired military may purchase up to 4 half-price tickets for all regular season Kansas City Royals games (excluding Opening Day and Marquee game dates) in the Field Plaza, Outfield Plaza and View Level seating areas.

Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels offer discounted tickets to military personnel. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification.

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins offer Military Mondays. For select games throughout the season, active military members or veterans, plus four guests, receive half-price tickets in Home Plate View seating locations.

Oakland Athletics

The A’s offer a military discount to all 2019 home games. Active-duty, reserve, veterans, and retired military personnel are able to purchase tickets at 25% off the dynamic rate in any Field Level or Plaza Level section.

Seattle Mariners

Military members receive 10% off select Main, Terrace and View Level seats at all regular season home games, excluding Opening Night. Limit four tickets per ID.

Tampa Bay Rays

Military members can receive two complimentary tickets to select Monday home games, additional bonus dates and special ticket offers throughout the season. MacDill Air Force Base ITT also offers discounted tickets to Tampa Bay Rays games.

Texas Rangers

Military members receive special pricing on game tickets. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Sailors man the rails while Marines hold up the American flag during the pre-game ceremony of the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Petco Park.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chad M. Trudeau)

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Military members receive special pricing on game tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Specially priced tickets can be purchased online with verification. Service members can enjoy up to 50% off select locations for every game of the season.

Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves offer discounted tickets for all regular season home games during the 2019 season. They are offering off seats in the Terrace Infield and Home Run Porch, along with 50% off seats in the Grandstand Reserved seating locations. Get this discount online after verification or at the SunTrust Park ticket windows with valid ID.

Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds offer special pricing on tickets to active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired service members and families. Tickets are available in a variety of locations on a first-come, first-served basis. Get discount online after verification.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies offer active duty, retired military, reservists and veterans discounted tickets to select home games throughout the 2019 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates offer military and their families special pricing on game tickets (up to half off) after verification online.

San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres offers military discounts, including 50% off Sunday Military Appreciation tickets. Tickets for military and their families are available online through verification or at the Padres Advance Ticket Windows at Petco Park. And military personnel can also get discounted Padres tickets at the San Diego MWR.

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have a special ticket offer for active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired military personnel. Military service members can also receive discounted tickets through MWR and ITT offices at area bases and the Pentagon.

Keep up with all military discounts

Whether you’re an active duty service member, a military family member, or a veteran, stay on top of all the military discounts you’re eligible for, from travel accommodations to auto and entertainment deals. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to get full access to all discounts.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

popular

10 tips for succeeding at BUD/S, according to a Navy SEAL

When sailors hit the Navy SEAL training grinder, they’ll undergo what’s considered the hardest military training on earth in attempts to earn the Trident. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training uses the sandy beaches of Coronado, California, to push candidates beyond their mental and physical limits to see if they can endure and be welcomed into the Special Warfare community.

Roughly 75 percent of all BUD/S candidates drop out of training, leaving many to wonder what, exactly, it takes to survive the program and graduate. Well, former Navy SEAL Jeff Nichols is here to break it down and give you a few tips for finding success at BUD/S.


NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

SEAL candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Russell)

Diversify your training

According to Nichols, the ability to sustain yourself through various types of physical training will only help your odds of succeeding at BUD/S. Incorporate various exercise types, variable rest periods, and a wide array of resistances into your training regimen.

Get massages

When candidates aren’t in training, it’s crucial that they heal themselves up. Massages improve the body’s circulation and can cut down recovery time. That being said, avoid deep-tissue massages. That type of intense treatment can actually extend your healing time.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Vice President Joe Biden places a hand on the shoulder of one of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates while speaking to them on the beach at Naval Special Warfare Center during his visit to San Diego, Calif.

(Photo by MC2 Dominique M. Lasco)

Find sleep wherever possible

If you can avoid staying up late, you should. Nichols encourages candidates to take naps whenever possible. Even if its only a quick, 20-minute snooze, get that rest in as often as possible.

Stay away from smoking and drinking alcohol

Both substances can prevent a candidate from performing at their best during their time at BUD/S. Smoking limits personal endurance. Alcohol dehydrates — which is especially harmful in an environment where every drop of clean water counts.

Know that nobody gives a sh*t

Ultimately, the BUD/S instructors don’t care if you make it through the training. Don’t think anyone will hold your hand as the intensity ramps up.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Sailors enrolled in the BUD/S course approach the shore during an over-the-beach exercise at San Clemente Island, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

Surround yourself with good people

It’s easy to quit BUD/S and it’s challenging to push yourself onward. Surrounding yourself with good people who are in training for the right reasons will help you through the darkest moments.

Take advantage of your days off

Although you only have roughly 2 days of rest time, take advantage of them to the fullest and heal up as much as you can. Eat healthily and clear your mind by getting off-base as much as possible.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

A Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL instructor is about to show a member of BUD/S Class 244 just how hard it can be to rescue a drowning victim when the “victim” comes at you with a vengeance during lifesaving training at the Naval Special Warfare Center.

(Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey)

Trust the BUD/S process

According to Nichols, the BUD/S process doesn’t fail. Listen to the instructors as they tell you how to properly negotiate individual training obstacles as a team. They all have proven experience, you just need to listen.

Don’t take anything personal

The instructors will slowly chip away at your self-confidence with the aim of getting you to quit. Brush off those remarks. Remember, this is part of the test.

BUD/S is considered a fair environment

Nichols believes that the program is a fair method of getting only the strongest candidates through the training and onto SEAL teams. It’s up to the SEAL instructors to put out the best possible product.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsnXb4xAcWw

Articles

Army Veteran spends his days comforting the dying

Julian Scadden, by his own admission, was not always all that likable.  He had some rough edges.


“I didn’t use to be a nice guy,” he said. “In fact, I use to be a bouncer.  I would take out my frustrations by throwing guys out of the bar.  I’m 5-foot-4 and I just loved throwing big guys out of the bar.”

But that was a long time ago.  The 67-year-old Vietnam-Era Veteran now spends his days doing quieter work.  He’s a housekeeping aide at the Denver VA’s Community Living Center. But his custodial skills are not his primary contribution to the hospital.   Over the last nine years Scadden has developed another skill:  comforting Veterans in their final hours.

Good Instincts

“Julian is an incredibly important part of our care team here,” said Dr. Elizabeth Holman, a palliative care psychologist who works with Scadden. “He has an instinct for what people need when they’re nearing the end.  Sometimes they just need his quiet presence.  Sometimes they need words of encouragement.  He’s just so ‘present’ with these Veterans.  He makes them feel safe.”

He’s so humble…he doesn’t realize the tremendous value of his services, and of his heart.

She continued:  “It makes such a difference, to spend your last moments with someone who is kind and caring. And it’s such a comfort to family members, knowing that their loved one wasn’t alone when they died.”

“I didn’t think I would be any good at it,” Scadden admitted. “I didn’t think I could handle it. But they give you training.”

Scadden’s training, however, got off to a rough start.  At one point his trainers began to wonder if he really had the ‘right stuff’ to become a member of the Denver VA’s Compassion Corps  —the volunteers who spend time with dying Veterans.

“They had their doubts about me,” he said.  “During training they told me I was doing everything right except one thing.  I said, ‘What’s that?’  They said, ‘You have to learn how to talk to people!'”

It was a sad truth.  Scadden’s people skills had become a bit rusty.  He had plenty of compassion, but it was hidden somewhere deep inside where no one could see it.

“I had to learn to be polite,” he said.

And so he learned.

NATO is trying to up its game in the waters around Europe

Of Ducks and Water

“I’m glad they were patient with me during the training,” said the Army Veteran.  “Once I completed the training they just put me out there and I took to it like a duck to water.  And it’s made me a better person, to be honest with you.  I think this is my calling.  This is what my higher power wants me to do.”

But not all patients — even those who are dying — believe in a higher power.  And that’s okay with Scadden.

“My very first patient didn’t believe in a higher power,” he recalled. “But about a week before he died, he told me to thank my higher power for allowing me to be there with him.”

Scadden said that during his nine years of hospice work he’s seen some patients get very angry at what’s happening to them.  Some get mean.  Some get abusive.

“You see every kind of scenario,” he said.  “Some of them are just scared, or confused.  They don’t want to die. They’ll ask things like, ‘Why me?’   They feel like they’ve led a good life, and they don’t understand why they have to go through all this suffering.”

Other patients, as the end nears, slip quietly into a coma.  Scadden said this can be unsettling for some family members, who feel they can no longer communicate with their loved one.

“Just because their eyes are closed doesn’t mean they can’t hear you,” he said.  “I try to explain that to the family.  I tell them, ‘Talk to him, tell him you love him, because he can still hear you.”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information