8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Kyle Lamb has lived a life most couldn’t even dream of. He grew up in a small town in South Dakota, but by the age of 24 he had been selected into the most elite special operations unit in the military. He went on to serve in “The Unit” for the next 15 years with deployments to Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq on multiple occasions (among many others).

Since Lamb’s retirement from the U.S. Army, he has authored two books on topics ranging from marksmanship to leadership and founded Viking Tactics, Inc., which specializes in tactical training and equipment. You may have even seen some of his articles in Guns & Ammo magazine or his face on the Outdoor Channel.


Coffee, or Die Magazine recently caught up with the retired sergeant major to talk about everything from combat in Mogadishu to his passion for history. Check it out:

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lamb while serving overseas.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

You spent the vast majority of your career as a member of the military’s premiere special missions unit. There’s a lot of mystique that (rightfully) surrounds that world, but what is the one thing that would surprise most people about what it’s like to live that life?

Probably how normal those guys are. Not everyone there is like that, but there are a lot of really normal husbands and dads. They go to work in street clothes, then put on their commando costume and go do crazy stuff. Everyone expects those guys to look and act a certain way, but a lot of them aren’t like that at all. Their neighbors don’t even know what they do. It’s just a different world.

Looking back, what was the scariest “oh-shit” moment in your career?

I think probably the one that stands out the most was being in Somalia in a big gun fight and thinking, We’re done, we’re not gonna make it out of this. I said a prayer and decided to just do the best I can and not be a coward. That doesn’t mean you don’t have the pucker factor though. I don’t think you ever get to the point where you know how you’re gonna act in that sort of situation.

Once you get to a certain level in your training, and once I became a troop sergeant major, my biggest scare then was when we were getting ready to go out. I didn’t want anything to happen to my guys. Not so concerned about myself — I knew I was with the best group of guys, best medics, best equipment — I just didn’t want anyone to get jacked up on the mission.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lamb performing shooting drills at a range.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb/Viking Tactics, Inc.)

What was your plan when you retired from the military?

I was scared to death but what helped me was that I had prepared myself pretty well before I got out. I already had 42 weeks of range classes booked before I got out. So I knew the first year I was gonna be working, making decent money, and I just hoped I would survive after that.

Well, the first year was difficult, but not because of work — I mean, I worked my butt off — it was because of separation anxiety and not having a mission. Luckily, I was around a lot of law enforcement and military guys though, which helped.

You seem to be a student of history. With the U.S. on its 17th straight year at war, how do you think this era will be viewed in future history books?

I’m a diehard history reader, studier, listener — whatever I can do. I haven’t always been that way though. I had a guy on my team named Earl Fillmore who died in Somalia. He would ask me questions about the Civil War, and I didn’t know the answers. He would say, “Man, you’re dumb.” So he gave me this book about Nathan Bedford Forrest. I read this book and thought, This is awesome, and it’s a true story.

So that really got me going with all history. I think being military guys, we definitely need to be students of history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. And if you don’t like to read books, then listen to podcasts or audiobooks.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lamb while serving overseas.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

I think the war is one thing, but what we do at home during that war is the important thing. We’ve always had good warriors out doing good things, but now we have good warriors that are a smaller percentage of the population. And we said we’re gonna do this, and we went out and did this stuff for God and country, and I think the people who read history will say we had the greatest army in the world.

Yet we have more problems at home than a lot of other countries. I feel like we are so separated right now. It’s gonna read one of two ways: “Wow, they had the greatest army,” or “They ruined it with social experiments.” Where are we gonna be at? I just don’t know.

Finally, if you’re an American and you don’t feel that America should be No. 1, how can you call yourself an American?

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lamb with an elk he felled on a hunting trip.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb)

Was coffee a part of your daily routine while in the military? What’s the craziest place you’ve ever enjoyed a cup?

My love of coffee comes from the Army. That’s when I really got into coffee. When I went to Bosnia, I had some really good coffee there. It was really strong, kind of jacked me up. But it was smooth, had the smell, the aftertaste. When I would deploy, I would take an espresso machine with me, a small basic one and a grinder, too. I would take whole beans with me and grind ’em up. I would brew it, and guys would look at me like a I was a weirdo. But by my fifth trip to Iraq, half my troop was bringing an espresso machine with them.

Everything’s relative though. Normal to me is strange to you. Probably the best places I like it is at a high altitude while hunting elk. Water boils at a lower temperature, which makes a difference with your coffee. I enjoy the coffee with that vantage point, that sun coming up.

BRCC Presents: Kyle Lamb

www.youtube.com

You’ve written a few books, including one on leadership. During your tenure, you led specially selected, elite humans performing at the pinnacle of their profession. Do you think your leadership philosophy is better or worse because of that?

Leading smart people is more challenging than leading stupid people. I was leading a lot of intelligent guys who were physically fit; top performers. People like that you can’t just bully them into following you.

Watching how some people lead in the civilian world, I feel bad for them. They try to bully and don’t define their mission. They are so politically correct that they’re ineffective. I want the truth, even if it hurts. Our guys were super honest because we wanted to be the best; we wanted our unit to be the best. If you have thin skin, you’ll get eaten alive. You want performers on the team, not people who believe in status or entitlement.

You need to look at all the people you are working with or for and figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Build on their weaknesses and utilize their strengths. People who aren’t out of control but are pushing the envelope.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lamb working with a student on a pistol range.

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Lamb/Viking Tactics, Inc.)

Many guys who serve in special operations and then go on to live public lives face criticism from their military peers for stepping out of the shadows of the “quiet professional.” Have you faced those criticisms, and if so, how have you dealt with it?

The difference is that I haven’t let any secrets out of the bag. The other difference is that I had my books approved by the unit. Any redactions that they asked for, I did it. I did have one TV show that I did — I never said anything about the unit, but one guy wanted to string me up for that. What that really did for me, at that point in my career as a washed-up military dude doing my thing, is upset me for a while. I was like, Why did I do that? Then I got mad. So, I called up the unit commander and said, “Hey man, what’s going on? This dude’s trying to throw me under the bus.” He said nothing’s wrong, don’t worry about it.

But here’s the deal: Eventually you’re going to get out of the military, and you’re allowed to use the term “Delta.” They tell you that when you get out, but I never used it. I’m glad that happened though because it was a real learning and growing experience. I’m just not gonna sweat it anymore, but I’ll still abide by all the rules. When you get that one dude out of a thousand who attacks you, it just shows he was never your friend to begin with.

Most guys coming out of the military are much better with a rifle than a pistol. If you had to narrow it down, what’s the one thing that will improve a pistol shot more than anything else?

You need to train. There’s not one specific little task that you can perform, it’s a total package. You gotta draw safely, present the weapon, squeeze the trigger straight to the rear, follow through on the shot, and repeat as necessary. One mag, one kill. Get out and train on your own, and once you hit that plateau, go seek professional training from someone who is a better shooter than you. Then take it to the next level. If you were in the military, you might be familiar with weapons or comfortable with them, but you may not be the best shot so get out and train. The pistol is much more difficult to shoot than the rifle for most military people.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

John Kelly says anti-military teacher can ‘go to hell’

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Jan. 31 that a Los Angeles-area high school teacher “ought to go to hell” for bashing U.S. military service members in classroom remarks.


Kelly, a retired Marine general, blasted Gregory Salcido in an interview with Fox News Radio.

Salcido has been off work from El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera after video surfaced of him scolding a 17-year-old student who was wearing a U.S. Marine Corps sweatshirt.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
Then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul F. Zukunft share a light moment during the 136th U.S. Coast Guard Academy Commencement in New London, Conn., May 17, 2017. Both leaders addressed the graduating class at the ceremony. (Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

The student captured Salcido urging him not to join the military and referring to military service members with a crude term for stupid.

“They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people; they’re the frickin’ lowest of our low,” Salcido says on the recording.

“I don’t understand why we let the military guys come over here and recruit you at school. We don’t let pimps come in the school,” Salcido adds.

The video was posted online Jan. 26 by a friend of the student’s mother. It went viral and has drawn millions of views, along with outraged comments.

Kelly added his own on Jan. 31.

“Well, I think the guy ought to go to hell,” Kelly told Fox News Radio. “I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for.”

Also Read: High school teacher made honorary Army recruiter

The video doesn’t show Salcido’s face but his suburban school district has confirmed he made the remarks during class.

The El Rancho Unified School District is investigating and placed Salcido on leave Jan. 29.

“Our classrooms are not the appropriate place for one-sided discussions that undermine the values our families hold dear,” the district said in a statement.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department increased security at the school.

In an email, Salcido told the Los Angeles Times that he wouldn’t comment on the situation “because of the many vulgar and violent threats against my family.”

Salcido, a Pico Rivera City Council member, also has drawn criticism from his council colleagues. Mayor Gustavo Camacho told CNN that he plans to strip Salcido of his committee assignments.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This paratrooper just took his first jump in 31 years

It is uncertain what the record is for the time between Army parachute jumps, but Lt. Col. John Hall may hold it at 30 years and six months.


When Hall parachuted from a military aircraft January 2018, it was the first time he had done so in over thirty years. Hall, a 53-year-old school teacher at Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan, is serving a one-year tour of duty in Vicenza, Italy, as the public affairs officer for the storied 173rd Airborne Brigade, the contingency response force for U.S. Army Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

I first worked with the 173rd Airborne when I was put on active duty with the Michigan National Guard in 2014 and sent to the Baltic Countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve and in support of Latvia, our State Partnership Nation,” Hall said. “The 173rd Airborne Public Affairs leaders and I developed a close working relationship, so last summer, when they needed an experienced public affairs officer to lead their team, I was selected and put on orders.

The 173rd Brigade commander sent word to Hall that he would be expected to jump from aircraft as a part of his duties.

“I was really excited and completely terrified at the same time. I graduated from ‘Jump School’ when I was 19 years old and last jumped when I was 22, so I knew what to do,” Hall said with a laugh.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
Army Lt. Col. John Hall, a paratrooper and public affairs officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade, poses for a photo in Vicenza, Italy, Jan. 31, 2018. Hall is a Michigan National Guard soldier currently on active-duty orders with the 173rd. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C. Henninger )

The 173rd put Hall through a one-day airborne refresher course, he said. This training included parachute landing, actions in the aircraft, and emergency procedures, followed by multiple jumps from a 34-foot tower in which his technique was assessed.

The next day, Hall reported to Aviano Air Base in northern Italy, donned his parachute with a couple of hundred other Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, climbed aboard an Air Force C-17 aircraft and, when 1,200 feet over the Juliet Drop Zone, exited the door and tested his training.

Perfect landing

“The jet blast spun me in the air so when my ‘chute deployed it was pretty twisted and did not have a full canopy,” Hall said. “I was surprised that I automatically reached up, pulled the ‘risers’ apart and worked the parachute fully open. Good training takes over and we automatically do the right thing. I then checked my position in the sky and prepared to land. It was all over in less than a minute. I took up a good parachute landing fall position and the landing was perfect.”

Hall has served in the Army since graduating from LakeVille High School in the Flint area where he was an All-State wrestler, president of the school’s student council, and where he began dating his eventual wife, Laura.

“I enlisted as a combat medic when I was 19 years old and served in the 82nd Airborne Division in the mid-1980s, where we conducted frequent parachute operations as a part of our combat training,” Hall said. “After leaving the 82nd, I didn’t think I would ever jump from a military aircraft ever again.”

Also Read: That time a dangling paratrooper was rescued by open-top biplane

Since leaving active duty with the 82nd, Hall has served in the Army Reserve, the Florida and Michigan National Guard, and has been called back to active duty — to include combat duty in Iraq — on multiple occasions, but he has not been assigned to a unit with an airborne mission until now.

He was initially commissioned as a cavalry officer following officer candidate school and served as a Scout Platoon Leader in E Troop, 153rd Cavalry Regiment in Ocala, Florida. His later assignments include company commander in the 1-125th Infantry in Flint, Michigan, as well as executive officer and commander of the 126th Press Camp Headquarters at Fort Custer, Michigan. It was in the 126th PCH that Hall served a combat tour in Baghdad.

Service in Iraq

Coincidentally enough, while serving as a press officer for Multinational Forces Iraq, Hall was serving in a combat zone at the same time as his daughter, Savannah, who had recently been commissioned as an officer through the University of Michigan ROTC program.

“My daughter, Savannah, grew up around the Army and has seen me in uniform since I was in the 82nd Airborne,” Hall said. “She decided when she went to college that she wanted to enroll in ROTC, serve in the Army, and be a paratrooper. It was indeed a proud moment when I pinned her ‘Jump Wings’ on her at Fort Benning, Georgia. And now my youngest daughter, Samantha, is shipping off to Army basic training later this spring. It remains to be seen if she, too, will become a paratrooper.”

Hall has been working in Vicenza, Italy, on the senior staff of the 173rd Airborne Brigade since August 2017. In this short time, he has supported airborne combat training in Latvia, Germany, Slovenia, a historic mission to Serbia, mountaineering training with the Italian Alpini Brigade, and next week will travel to Toulouse, France, to support 173rd Airborne combined engineering operations with French paratroopers.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
Hundreds of 173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers conduct a tactical airborne insertion exercise onto Juliet Drop Zone in northern Italy, Jan. 24, 2018. (Photo Credit: Army photo by Lt. Col. John Hall )

High operational tempo

“The operational tempo here at the 173rd Airborne is intense. We continually have combat training going on with our NATO allies throughout Europe,” Hall said. “Our command philosophy is that we are always ‘preparing our soldiers for the unforgiving crucible of ground combat.'”

A significant part of this, in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, is conducting airborne operations, so Hall will complete several more jumps from military aircraft in the coming months.

As far as teaching is concerned, Hall intends to return to the classroom teaching English, history, and theater for the fall 2018 semester. It is certain that the dynamic training and real-world experiences contribute to his classes and his students’ enthusiasm.

Until then, Hall is an Army paratrooper and he said he’s proud of the Soldiers he works with.

Hall added, “It is truly an honor to be able to serve with the ‘Sky Soldiers’ of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. To be able to begin my military career with the 82nd Airborne Division and end it with the 173rd Airborne Brigade is remarkable. I am humbled every day by the discipline, determination, and dedication of these young Americans forward stationed and always prepared to defend their country.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

What It’s Like to Transition Off Active Duty, in GIFs – Part III

Need to get caught up? Check out Part I and Part II.


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Part III: The Job Hunt

Your job search starts off strong, empowered with the tools and skills you learned during TAP. You put on actual pants every morning. You are the picture of motivation and efficiency.

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Ok, time to find the perfect job. I mean you can do anything, right? You’re a leader! You managed multi-million dollar assets! You’re combat-tested!

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Oh…wait. All these jobs want 7 years of industry experience. And a certification. Uh oh. You figure out that despite your experience and skills, your qualifications—on paper—may not cut it.

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Ok, so maybe what your TAP instructor and parents and DVOP told you is true. People get jobs through networking. Time to practice your handshake and your not-swearing-in-work-environments.

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You’re still applying for jobs, but haven’t been hired for any of the ones you want (and you’re not excited about any of the ones recruiters are contacting you about). RIP, wearing pants every day.

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Without your old routine, or the sense of purpose the military gave you, you’re starting to wonder: “Who am if I’m not what I do for a living? And what do I really want to do?”

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Maybe it’s the half dozen major life changes or the low-grade depression you ignored the last few years you were on active duty, or maybe the less-than-healthy coping mechanisms you developed to help you get through the tougher times, but you’re feeling…low.

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You decide to talk to a pro. It’s not magic, but it starts to help.

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lh3.googleusercontent.com

Therapy is validating, and soon you’ve got some insight about what you want. Oh, you’re actually less stressed in high-stress situations? Good to know. You’ve got zero work-life boundaries? Hmmmm, tell me more.

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lh5.googleusercontent.com

With new tools in your toolkit, you approach job search with renewed vigor. Soon, a job catches your eye, and it’s perfect for you.

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lh6.googleusercontent.com

You apply and cross your fingers for a call.

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lh6.googleusercontent.com

Holy smokes, you got the interview! You practice articulating your skills, and explaining your experience without acronyms.

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lh3.googleusercontent.com

Turns out the team thinks you’re perfect for the job. They’re ready to make an offer, and you’re ready to commit. Hooray!

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just sent supersonic bombers to the Korean peninsula

US supersonic bombers have flown over the Korean Peninsula as part of an exercise with Japanese and South Korean allies, the USAF said ahead of a visit to the region by President Donald Trump.


Two B-1B aircraft took off from a US base on the Pacific island of Guam, and were joined by Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighters, the US Pacific Air Force said in a Nov. 2 statement.

The exercise was part of the “continuous bomber presence” mission in the Pacific and “was not in response to any current event,” the statement said.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters fly alongside 2 B-1B Lancers. Photo by Japan Air Self-Defense Force

The flights angered North Korea, which condemned the drill as “blackmail” early on Nov. 3.

Tensions are high over North Korea’s ballistic missile and atomic programs, which in recent months have seen it test intercontinental ballistic missiles and carry out its sixth nuclear blast.

Trump arrives in Hawaii on Nov. 3 and is setting off on an Asian tour on Nov. 4 that will include visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

North Korea in July launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles apparently capable of reaching the US mainland.

The North followed up with two missiles that flew over Japan, and a sixth nuclear test, by far its most powerful so far.

Trump has warned of “fire and fury” in response to Pyongyang’s threats.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Nuclear investigators found uranium at a secret facility in Iran

Nuclear investigators have found uranium particles at a facility that had not been declared by Iranian government, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Associated Press (AP), and the BBC reported, suggesting the country’s further departure from the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The agency has detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said in a confidential report published Nov. 11, 2019, according to AFP.

The particles had been mined and had undergone initial processing, but not enriched, AFP reported.


The report did not name the facility that had been producing the particles, the BBC and AFP reported. However, anonymous diplomatic sources told AFP that the samples had been taken from a facility in Tehran’s southwest Turquzabad district.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Uraninite is the most common ore mined to extract uranium.

Iran has previously claimed that the Turquzabad site is a carpet cleaning factory that has no other purpose.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly warned about Iran’s undeclared nuclear archives, told the UN last year that the Turquzabad site contained “a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.”

Many Iranians mocked Netanyahu’s claim and took selfies in front of the facility to refute his claims at the time. Iran has repeatedly said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The IAEA has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on the report and clarification on the location of the uranium found.

Separately, the IAEA’s report also confirmed that Iran had been enriching uranium and using centrifuges in Fordo, an underground site in the country’s northwest, the AP reported. The nuclear deal had ordered the Fordo site to be a research center, but it is now home to 1,000 centrifuges, the AP said.

The IAEA also said Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium had grown to 372.3 kg (820.78 pounds) as of Nov. 3, 2019, according to the AP. The nuclear deal limited the stockpile to 202.8 kg.

Iran said last week that it was now enriching uranium to 5%, higher than the 3.67% mentioned in the deal, AFP reported. The IAEA report said the highest level of uranium enrichment is currently at 4.5%, the news agency said.

Iran has over the past few months taken incremental steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal in what appears to be an attempt to stand up to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement and increased sanctions on the regime under his “maximum pressure” campaign.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

The ministers of foreign affairs of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, China, the European Union, and Iran, March 30, 2015.

(United States Department of State)

The country prompted suspicion earlier this month when it attempted to impede an IAEA investigation into its nuclear facilities.

Country authorities forbade an unnamed IAEA inspector from entering the Natanz uranium enrichment facility — claiming that she had triggered an alarm at the entrance — and briefly held her, Reuters reported.

The inspector later had her travel documents and nuclear accreditation taken away, the news agency reported. The IAEA has disputed the claim that the inspector triggered an alarm, and said Iran’s treatment of her was “not acceptable,” the BBC and AFP reported.

Richard Nephew, the lead sanctions expert in US-Iran negotiations from 2013 to 2014, told Business Insider earlier this year that Iran is looking for “leverage” amid the sanctions and the EU’s inability to bring Washington and Tehran back to the nuclear deal.

“The Iranians have showed us since May 2018 [when the US pulled out of JCPOA] that their first priority is to take small steps that demonstrate they can take bigger steps, but not to do things that fundamentally change” the geopolitical landscape, Nephew said.

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

Read more:

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how you thank someone for their service

In 2006, Gina Elise decided to support the United States’ war effort by finding a creative way to help hospitalized veterans. She created a calendar inspired by World War II nose art — and in the thirteen years since, she has devoted herself to the military community. From donating tens of thousands of dollars in medical equipment, to visiting thousands of vets at their bedside in hospitals all over the country and overseas, to supporting Gold Star Wives and military families, she has been a beacon of light for service members and their loved ones.

And this week, Mike Rowe and his team decided to return the favor in a major way.

If you’ve never heard of Pin-Ups for Vets, this moving episode of Returning the Favor is a perfect introduction to Gina, her ambassadors, and some of the inspiring veterans she has impacted along the way.

Here’s your feel-good moment of the week:



Pin-Ups for Vets

www.facebook.com

I dare you not to cry:

Gina was informed that a production crew wanted to film a documentary about her organization. She had no idea that this was actually for the Facebook show Returning the Favor, hosted by Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It). The show highlights “bloody do-gooders” and presents them with a gift that will support the great work they do.

For Gina, it wasn’t too far off from her normal routine: pamper some vets and military spouses with thank you makeovers, visit service members at a local hospital, and swap stories at the American Legion. You’d never know from her bright smile and picture-perfect look how much work she put in behind the scenes to coordinate all the activities.

That’s the thing about Gina — she’s one of the most generous and hard-working people out there, especially when it comes to supporting the troops.

I should know — I’m one of the vets whose lives she has changed.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Dani Romero, Gold Star Wife.

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Adrianne Phillips, U.S. Air Force Veteran

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Lindsey Stacy, spouse caretaker

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Jessica Hennessy-Phillips, Army veteran

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Mary Massello, wife of career Navy sailor

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

“One of the things we do is morale-boosting makeovers for military wives and veterans,” begins Gina, who has seen firsthand the effect a pin-up makeover in particular can have. There’s something about it that feels a little extra special, from the classic look dating back to a heroic time in our nation’s military history, to the bright colors, to the inherent playfulness that comes with a flower in the hair.

Female veterans have said it helped them reclaim some of the femininity they put aside in the military. Spouses and caretakers often set aside their own needs but being pampered for a day helps them restore their energy and health.

Even Mike Rowe got on board with a…transformation…of his own!

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Mike Rowe and Navy wife Mary Massello have some fun on set!

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

If you can’t tell from this photograph, Rowe is as playful and kind as he is the professional host America has come to love. His altruistic show is a great match for him — every minute of Gina’s week, he was full of energy, genuinely interested in the stories the service members had to share, and perfectly tight-lipped about the surprise he had in store.

More: Pin-Ups for Vets brings out the bombshell in a military caregiver

“What do you need?” he asked Gina.

“I’ve always wished that we had a big sponsor that would sponsor the rest of the tour so we could meet our goal of visiting all fifty states and veterans across the country,” she confided.

Neither Rowe nor his crew even blinked. Talk about well-practiced poker faces.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Smiles abound when Gina is in town!

(Image by Shane Karns. Hair and Makeup by Ana Vergara. Dress by Voodoo Vixen.)

Navy Vet Jennifer Watson tends the bar at the American Legion post in Pomona where she shared what it was like being among the first women to serve on an aircraft carrier.

“It was very hard. It was very discriminatory. You cannot help but want to be active in the fight for everybody to get what makes us equal,” she shared. “I think everybody should do a little bit of service for their country so that you understand what it is to sacrifice.”

Also read: Pin-Ups for Vets proves women can be strong AND feminine

Rowe also sat down with Josephine Keller, one of Gina’s ambassadors and a 26-year Air Force air medic. Keller was there on 25 June 1996 when Khobar Towers was bombed in Saudi Arabia. It was her first deployment and one she’ll never forget. Rowe asked her how many lives she saved. With the kind of humility that leads me to suspect the number is both very high and also tempered by the number of lives lost, Keller responded, “I was part of a team, so we have touched thousands.”

Finally, it was time for Gina to feel appreciated.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

American Legion Post 43 Adjutant and Army Veteran Dianna Wilson was the “Insider” for Gina’s big surprise.

“Gina thinks we’re continuing the photoshoot at a second location, but that’s because we lied to her!” Rowe winked. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, the veteran community was gathered for a celebration. Gina is graceful and the epitome of class, even when she has absolutely no idea what’s really happening.

Which makes it that much more meaningful when Rowe finally revealed the true intention of the week. When he handed Gina the check for ,000, her reaction was completely genuine and had every person in the lot in tears — and I guarantee a few more were shed at home.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

“Thank you so much for helping us to continue what we do. This is a team effort. Thank you guys for supporting this vision that I have to give back. You give me the strength to keep going. From the bottom of my heart, I love you so much and I couldn’t do it without you, so thank you,” shared Gina, as eloquent as ever — in spite of the shock.

“Print more calendars than you think. I’m not kidding. You’re gonna sell a bunch,” suggested Rowe, who accurately predicted that people from all over the country would be eager to buy one.

At a calendar, there’s really no reason not to.

Articles

13 memes showing how it feels to get your DD-214

For the uninitiated, the DD-214 is the Department of Defense form issued when a military service member retires, separates, or is otherwise discharged from active-duty service.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Sometimes the wait seems like forever.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

When it’s so close to your hands, some units try to convince you to reenlist.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

But you’ve done your job and it’s time to move on.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

You might “drop your pack” a little while waiting for that day.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

You’ll never forget the day you first lay eyes on it …

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

… Looking at that glorious golden ticket.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

And then you become a civilian, which comes with its own set of problems.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Not everyone handles it well.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

But you won’t be deterred:

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

But even so, this is true for all branches:

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

NOW CHECK OUT: Amazing WWII photographs you’ve never seen before 

Articles

7 things the military learned from Trump’s first week

Many have acknowledged that this has been one of the fastest-moving presidencies in recent memory, as President Donald Trump made moves on many of his campaign promises this week. From international relations, to military administration nominations and exploring ways to shake up long-held views on how things are done, Trump made the most of his first seven days.


1. He will defer to defense secretary and CIA director on torture

Despite firmly believing that interrogation tactics—such as waterboarding, which has been banned in the U.S.—work, he will follow the lead of new Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who has said in the past he does not find the practice of torture to be effective.

2. He values a stronger military over a balanced budget

During the campaign, Trump talked repeatedly about the need for a balanced budget, while also advocating for a stronger military. This week, he acknowledged it might not be possible to achieve both at the same time. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said, “Our military is more important to me than a balanced budget. Because we’ll get there with a balanced budget.”

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania head to the Inaugural Parade reviewing stand from the White House in Washingtion, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. Trump was sworn-in as the 45th president of the United States earlier in the day. | U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

3. His federal hiring freeze could heavily impact veterans

During his first week, Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze, similar to the ones both former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush implemented during their terms. Many veteran groups rushed to point out the move would have a ripple effect for veterans separating from military life and looking to gain employment at a government position, as well as for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

4. He announced his choices for the USAF and Navy secretary positions

With many positions in his administration left to fill, Trump announced his picks for two of the military secretary positions—both veterans themselves. Former congresswoman and U.S. Air Force Academy graduate Heather Wilson will seek confirmation for the Secretary of the Air Force position, while Army Reserves veteran and career businessman Philip Bilden was nominated to be the Navy secretary.

5. His choice to lead the White House budget office has opposed military increases in the past

Republican Mick Mulvaney took heat from Sen. John McCain during his hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. McCain pointed out Mulvaney’s past votes in favor of withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan and against military funding increase. “It’s clear from your record you’ve been an impediment to that,” McCain said during the hearing, referencing Mulvaney’s support of the military.

6. He has plans to establish refugee camps in Syria

As mentioned during his campaign, Trump announced this week wanting to explore setting up ‘safe zones’ in Syria to house refugees, as an alternative to accepting them into the country, which he plans to ban. The safe zones would require an increase in military presence on the ground in Syria, something former President Barack Obama tried to avoid during his time in office.

7. He plans to double down on China in South China Sea

During Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments during his confirmation he said, “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” The China state media responded by saying the U.S. would need to “wage war” to prevent them from the islands in the South China Sea.

MIGHTY MOVIES

These are your picks for the best fictional infantry squad ever

Serving in the Marine Corps infantry is one of the toughest jobs there is. From deploying every other year to completing the rigorous training required to hold the “03” MOS, the infantry is full of badasses. In the Marines, each infantry squad typically consists of a platoon leader, a squad leader, three fire team leaders, three SAW gunners, six riflemen, and a hospital corpsman.

A while back, we ran a similar story in which we hand-picked our top choices from fiction for each role and made a squad. You guys had a lot to say about our selections. The response was so freakin’ epic that we decided to create this article in your honor, using the choices you made in the comments.

So, check out all the great characters that made the cut. You guys picked some incredible, iconic badasses — well done!

Your platoon leader: Maj. Payne

This Marine leads from the front and has an extremely effective method for taking your mind off a physical ailment — he’ll break your finger.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Universal Pictures)


Your company gunny: Bob Lee Swagger

He’s an ace sharpshooter with a sniper rifle and will go through hell or high water to defeat corruption. That’s why he made your fictional infantry squad.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Paramount Pictures)

Your squad leader: Carwood Lipton

This soldier was a real-life badass. His on-screen depiction in HBO’s Band of Brothers showcased his heroics and landed him in the hearts of our audience.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(HBO Films)

Also Read: We made the best fictional infantry squad ever

Three fire team leaders:

1. Dutch

If you can single-handedly kill an alien hunter deep in the jungle, you can lead “a few good men” with no problem.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Fox Pictures)

2. Johnny Rico

This badass jumped up on a monster bug and blew it up with a hand grenade. It’s pretty easy to see why he made the list.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Sony Pictures)

3. Cpl. Hicks

Because he’s not afraid of f*cking an Alien’s ass, that’s why!

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Fox Pictures)

SAW gunners:

1. Sgt. Barnes

He’s not a leader but, like all SAW gunners, he doesn’t take any sh*t from anyone.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Orion Pictures)

2. Bane

He a backbreaking brawler like any dependable infantryman SAW gunner. Plus, he looks like he can carry the massive weapon system around all day.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Warner Brothers)

3. “Dirty Harry” Callahan

Anyone who can fire a .44 Magnum and handle the killer recoil with one hand can carry a machine gun while serving the grunts.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Warner Brothers)

Riflemen:

1. Axel Foley

He’s f*cking funny — and infantrymen need a good laugh to survive the stress.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Paramount Pictures)

2. Forrest Gump

He’s all heart and will follow your orders exactly as you give them.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Paramount)

3. Bryan Mills

He’s got a “particular set of skills” that will have the enemy running away when he shows up.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Fox)

4. John Wick

He’s on your list because Wick is an old-fashioned badass who loves puppies.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Lionsgate / Summit)

5. Casey Ryback

Who wouldn’t want a Navy SEAL to serve in the infantry? The only training he needs is how to render a proper hand salute.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Warner Brothers)

6. Bones Conway

This Californian is quirky as hell — and he can help purify your drinking water.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(Buena Vista)

Hospital corpsman: Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce

Hospital corpsmen are highly-trained and treating their men seriously. Despite that, readers wanted this humorous doctor in their infantry squad.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
(20th Century Fox)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia releases details of upcoming war games

On Sept. 7, 2018, two US F-22 Raptor fighter jets intercepted two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-95MC strategic bombers flying over the Arctic Ocean, escorting them for part of their journey over the waters of the Arctic and the Bering and Okhotsk seas.

The US planes tracked the Russian bombers until they left the area, flying west over the Aleutian Islands.

A defense official told The Washington Free Beacon that the bombers may have been practicing for a cruise-missile strike on US missile-defense sites and radars in Alaska — which may be a feature of the Russia’s upcoming massive Vostok-18 exercise that Russian officials have said will be the largest such drill since the Cold War.


Russian troops have already undergone “snap inspections” in preparation for the exercise, the active portion of which will take place between Sept. 11 to Sept. 17, 2018, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, according to Russian state-media outlet Tass.

Exercises will take place at five ground testing areas and four aerial testing areas over the Sea of Japan and the Bering and Okhotsk seas.

“Aircraft have been flying maximum range sorties with refueling in flight and practicing landings at tactical airfields. Naval ships have been performing combat maneuvering and firing practices,” Shoigu said, according to Tass.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Russian armored vehicles participating in Zapad-2017 exercises.

(Russian Ministry of Defense)

Shoigu said in late August 2018 that about 300,000 Russian personnel and 1,000 aircraft, including drones, would take part, adding that “up to 80 combat and logistics ships and up to 36,000 tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles” will be involved.

Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russia’s general staff, said Sept. 6, 2018, that 21 formations had been mobilized in 10 regions for the exercise, the main purpose of which, he said, “is to check the level of training that can be assessed only in an exercise of proper scale.”

“This exercise, to be held on the bilateral basis, will be the strictest test of combat skills and the military districts’ readiness for ground, air and naval operations,” he added.

“Involved in the exercise will be forces from the Eastern and Central federal districts, the Northern Fleet, and Airborne Forces, as well as long-range, military transport and tactical aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Force,” Gerasimov said, according to Tass.

Gerasimov also said that Chinese and Mongolian personnel will take part “side by side” with Russian forces.

Shoigu said in September 2018 that up to 3,500 Chinese army personnel would be involved “in the main scenario at the Tsugol proving ground” in Russia’s Eastern Military District.

China’s involvement has elicited surprise, given that Vostok, or East, has long been seen as Moscow’s preparation for a potential conflict with Beijing. China and Russia have done joint drills before, but this appears to be the first time Beijing has taken part in the Vostok exercise.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China “is now being invited to join as a friend and even a quasi-ally,” Alexander Gabuev, a China expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told The New York Times in August 2018.

The exercise is also expected to include simulated nuclear-weapons attacks, US officials told The Free Beacon. A Pentagon official said the US would watch the war games closely, calling them “strategic messaging” by both China and Russia.

Mongolia is also participating for the first time, and contingents from there and China are “completing coordination and adjustment at the Tsugol proving ground,” Gerasimov said, referring to an area near the eastern intersection of the three countries’ borders — where Gabuev suggested they might be restricted so Russian troops elsewhere could train for a potential clash with China.

NATO has also criticized the exercise, with a spokesman for the alliance saying it “fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence.”

Russia’s deputy defense minister, Col-Gen. Alexander Fomin said in September 2018 that the upcoming drills “lacked the slightest traces” of “anti-NATO bias or aggressiveness.”

Fomin also said Russian military personnel had been briefed on security and safety measures in accordance with Moscow’s agreements with neighboring countries, including the US.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Veterans are writing eulogies to ‘the buddy they’ll never forget’

Few things in this world are stronger than the bonds forged by troops who fought together in combat. Those who survive life-threatening ordeals on the battlefield become closer in ways that others may never understand. When one of them loses their closest friend, it’s a tragedy that hurts forever.

What could be a more fitting for the coming Memorial Day than to write about what that friend means to you?


This memorial day, AARP is collecting stories about the friendships forged in war. Close friendships forged on the front lines of Vietnam and in the Nazi POW camps of World War II all the way to the remote combat outposts of Iraq. Veterans are writing stories of the best friends they met during these trying times. Two crewman stationed aboard the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, Marines fighting in the frozen wastes around the Chosin Reservoir, a young lieutenant and his radioman in the jungles of Vietnam.

Some survived the war. Many did not. What they have in common is that they’ll never be forgotten. Corporal Charles Thomas was that buddy for Lt. Karl Marlantes.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
Marlantes in Vietnam after an eye injury.
(Courtesy of Karl Marlantes)

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Marlantes is the author of two books, What It Is Like to Go to War and the critically-acclaimed Matterhorn.

Marlantes was a newly-christened Marine in Vietnam when Thomas was assigned to be his radioman. Like any good young officer, Marlantes listened to his more experienced corporal when he made suggestions. The young man even saved his lieutenant’s life on a mission in the mountains near the DMZ. Marlantes told AARP The Magazine:

“In early December 1968, we were on a long mission, high in the mountains, and it was monsoon time. We couldn’t get resupplied and were without food for three or four days. It was also cold, but we had no extra clothes, just the stuff rotting on us. One night I got hypothermic, really hypothermic. I couldn’t think and started shivering. Everybody knew hypothermia kills you. And Thomas just laid me on the ground and wrapped a quilted poncho liner around us and hugged me. And then his body heat got me back. Saved my life.”

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb
Marlantes receiving the Navy Cross.
(Courtesy of Karl Marlantes)

Corporal Thomas was an outstanding Marine in combat and a talented radioman. Sadly, during an assault on an NVA position in 1969, Marlantes had to send Cpl. Thomas around the hill to set up an ambush. Following his orders, Thomas left the safety of his cover and made a dash for the objective with his squad. That’s when three rocket-propelled grenades struck, killing him and one other. Marlantes, now 73, recalled the moments afterward for AARP:

“I had to go through all the guys’ bodies to pull out, if you can believe this, anything like pictures of naked girls, so their parents wouldn’t be upset — it’s bad enough that their kid comes home in a body bag. And I pulled a letter out of Thomas’ pocket from his mother and remember it said, “Don’t you worry, Butch.” We knew each other only by last names and nicknames. I never knew he was Butch, that his mother called him that. “Don’t you worry, Butch, you’ll be home in just 11 more days.”

Watch Karl Marlantes look back and tell the story of Cpl. Charles Thomas.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 14th

The higher-ups at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson instituted a new ban on the sale of alcohol past 2200. It’s going to be put in place on Monday, June 17, so this will be the last weekend troops there can buy liquor through AAFES until 0800.

On one hand, I totally understand the frustration. Which soldier hasn’t run out of beer at midnight and needed to stumble to the Class Six to pick up another six-pack? That’s part of the whole “Lower Enlisted” experience. On the other hand, I get why. It’s a reactionary step that the chain of command took in response to the rise in alcohol-related incidents while not outright banning alcohol in the first place.

There’s an easy workaround, and it’s probably one the chain of command might already know and actually prefer. Just stockpile all the booze in the barracks room. Think about it. If all the booze is in one place, there’s no safer place for a young soldier to get sh*tfaced drunk. A few steps away from their bed, there’s an NCO within shouting distance at the CQ desk, usually the unit medic is nearby, and any alcohol-related issues can be handled within house.


So if you’re stationed at Carson, here are some memes while you stockpile booze like it’s the apocalypse.

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Not CID)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Victor Alpha Clothing)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via ASMDSS)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

8 questions with former operator Kyle Lamb

(Meme via Uniform Humor)

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