MIGHTY CULTURE

These are the states with the largest National Guard units

As of December 2018, nearly 430,000 Americans served in the US Army and Air National Guard, according to Department of Defense data.

Guard members sign up to commit one weekend a month and two weeks per year for training — but are often asked to sacrifice much more in service to their state and country.

Between September 2001 and September 2015, some 428,000 members of the National Guard were sent on deployments.

These troops also answer the call when disaster strikes their home states, like the recent fires in California and during Hurricane Harvey.

When it comes to capabilities, no two states are alike — we ranked the top six, measuring everything from sheer size of force to whether the state has special forces, strike, and a brigade combat team. Overall, we found Texas has the most capable National Guard.


Texas Army National Guard soldiers from the 143rd Infantry Regiment conduct a live fire exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in October 2018.

(Texas National Guard photo by Sgt. Kyle Burns)

1. Texas

Don’t mess with Texas’ National Guard.

Texas has a number of capabilities that elevate the Lone Star State to the #1 position.

Its sheer size is a significant factor — the Texas National Guard is host to nearly 21,000 troops, including its army and air components.

Texas is also home to two companies of the 19th Special Forces Group and Air Guard fighter and attack wings that provide strike and drone capabilities.

A California National Guard soldier from the 19th Special Forces Group descends for a landing during a high altitude, high opening training near Los Alamitos, California in February 2018.

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

2. California

California’s National Guard forces nearly equal those found in Texas, including Green Berets in the 19th Special Forces Group.

But because the nation’s most populous state only yields roughly 18,000 troops, they fall in at #2.

A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier looks out the side of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter near Nichols, South Carolina, in September 2018.

(Pennsylvania National Guard photo by Capt. Travis Mueller)

3. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania hosts more guardsmen than California, with a force almost 18,500 members strong.

But because the state does not have Special Forces troops — the most elite forces in the Army, who are called upon for the most dangerous missions — it slid back to take the #3 spot.

F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing, sit on the flight line at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, where they fly to conduct training and maintain readiness during winter months.

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Hope Geiger)

4. Ohio

Though small in geographical size, census data shows Ohio to be the 7th most populated state in the US, so it’s no surprise that it has a highly capable National Guard.

Its 16,500 guard members include Green Berets, jet pilots, and an infantry brigade combat team that has deployed to Afghanistan.

Soldiers assigned to the 101st Cavalry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard off load from a CH-47 Chinook during cold weather training in January 2019.

(Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell)

5. New York

Although New York does not have Special Forces, its force is sizable at 15,500 strong.

It hosts not one but two air attack wings — who fly MQ-9 Reaper drones — and an infantry brigade combat team.

Georgia Army National Guard helicopters fly over the Georgia State Capitol during the inauguration of Governor Brian Kemp on Jan. 14, 2019.

(Army National Guard photo by Spc. Tori Miller)

6. Georgia

Georgia may not have Special Forces, but it hosts the sixth-largest National Guard in the US, with roughly 14,000 troops including an infantry brigade combat team.

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

Articles

North Korea just tried to show how it would ‘take on’ the US Navy

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system on June 8 in Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast. And though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was a pretty weak showing.


The missiles flew about 125 miles, South Korea said, and fired from tracked launchers with forest camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but they showed off a new launcher that can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of being set up.

But those are about the only nice things you could say about these missiles.

In the photos released by North Korean media, it’s clear the missiles are striking a ship that isn’t moving.

The ship appears anchored, with no wake. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.

North Korea also lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.

Unlike its practice with ballistic-missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.

In a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that has surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a threat to the US Navy, Kim showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO increases anti-submarine training aimed at Russia

US and European officials have warned repeatedly in recent years that more sophisticated and more active Russian submarines pose a growing threat, and NATO countries are taking steps to counter that perceived challenge.

Adm. James Foggo, head of US Navy forces in Europe and Africa, has said that a “fourth battle of the Atlantic” — which comes after the naval warfare of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War — is already being fought, and it ranges far beyond the waters of the Atlantic.


“I’ve used the term in some of my writings that we are in a ‘fourth battle of the Atlantic’ right now, and that’s not just the Atlantic,” Foggo said on the first edition of his podcast, “On the Horizon,” published at the end of August 2018.

Adm. James Foggo, head of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, meets officers from the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in Spain, Jan. 12, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class M. Jang)

“That’s all those bodies of water I talked about, the Arctic, the Baltic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, and the approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar and the GIUK gap, and the North Atlantic,” he added, referring to waters between Greenland, Iceland, and the UK that were a focal point for submarine activity during the Cold War.

While some intelligence estimates from the Cold war indicate that current Russian sub activity is still well below peaks reached during that time, US and European officials have been expressing concern for the past several years.

“The activity in submarine warfare has increased significantly since the first time I came back to Europe and since the Cold War,” said Foggo, who previously commanded the Navy’s 6th Fleet. “The Russian Federation navy has continued to pump rubles into the undersea domain, and they have a very effective submarine force.”

That force’s readiness has also improved to the point where the Russian navy can keep some of them deployed most of the time.

US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told lawmakers in early 2018 that Moscow has “really stepped on the gas,” with its subs, “both in technology and in … the amount of time that they’re spending abroad.”

Russia’s newest class of submarines, Yasen-class subs, have drawn comparisons to the US Navy’s best subs, and Moscow matches that technical progress with the geographic advantage of being able to deploy from bases on the Barents, Baltic, and Black seas.

Some of Russia’s Kilo-class subs, which are newer, more advanced diesel-electric boats, are able to launch Kalibr cruise missiles from those areas and reach “any of the capitals of Europe,” Foggo said.

But, he added, the best way to track these boats is not just with other submarines.

The Russian Yasen-class nuclear-attack sub Severodvinsk.

While Foggo was a planner at the Pentagon, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, then the Navy’s chief of operations, “would often say, ‘Hey, look, the best way to find another submarine is not necessarily with another submarine. That’s like a needle in a haystack,'” Foggo said.

A more effective approach draws on the submarine, surface, and air assets to put a full-court press on rival subs.

Anti-submarine warfare “is a combined-arms operation, and let no one forget that,” Foggo added, saying that it involved all the US Navy Europe and Africa’s assets as well as those of the 6th Fleet, which is responsible for the eastern half of the Atlantic from the Arctic to the Horn of Africa.

NATO navies, and many other navies around the world, have increased their attention to anti-submarine-warfare capabilities in recent years, adding improved technology and spending more time practicing. One sign of that focus has been the growing market for sonobuoys, which are used to hunt targets underwater.

Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 2nd Class Karl Shinn loads a sonobuoy on a P-8A Poseidon, April 10, 2014.

(US Navy photo by Chief Mass Comm. Specialist Keith DeVinney)

In early 2017, US Navy ships deployed in the eastern Mediterranean engaged in the tricky game of tracking the Krasnodar, a Russian attack sub whose noise-reducing capability earned it the nickname “The Black Hole.”

Sailors in the USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group were tasked with following the elusive Krasnodar, despite having little formal training in anti-submarine operations.

“It is an indication of the changing dynamic in the world that a skill set, maybe we didn’t spend a lot of time on in the last 15 years, is coming back,” Capt. Jim McCall, commander of the air wing on the USS Bush, told The Wall Street Journal at the time.

Cmdr. Edward Fossati, commander of the Bush strike group’s sub-hunting helicopters, told The Journal that improved tracking abilities had helped keep things even with Russian subs’ improved ability to avoid detection.

But the Navy has had to keep pace in what Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer has called “a constant foot race.”

Navy surface forces let their focus on ASW “wane considerably” in the years after the Cold War, Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said in an early 2018 interview.

“Up until a few years ago, their ASW systems were not modernized to deal with new Russian and Chinese subs,” said Clark, a former submariner, but the Navy has added new, improved gear, like processors and towed arrays, that have increased their capabilities.

“Surface ships are able to get back into the ASW business,” Clark said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 women earned Silver Stars in this WWII battle

The U.S. military in World War II kept women out of many of the front line areas of World War II, limiting much of their contributions to ferrying planes or sorting the mail. But women often rose to the occasion when they were called to serve within range of the enemy guns, possibly none more so than the four women recognized for valor at the Anzio beachhead.


The American advance in Italy stalled out in late 1943, and U.S. planners needed a way to draw off German forces from the Gustav Line or lance their way into Rome directly. The proposed solution: land troops at Anzio and Nettuno, just 35 miles from Rome. The bold amphibious assault didn’t initially go well.

The Army quickly took a beachhead, and the corps commander wanted to take a hill that would allow the soldiers to sever German supply lines. He didn’t have the troops to protect his own logistics lines if he took the hills, though, so he just held the area around his beachheads.

This did threaten German lines and drew off their forces, but not enough to allow the other allied forces to break through the Gustav Line. Instead, the troops at Anzio were confined to a small area and subject to constant artillery and air bombardment. Their field hospital included plenty of female nurses and, obviously, the German fire didn’t pay much attention to the nurses’ noncombatant status.

Troops unload tanks and other gear from Navy ships at the Anzio Beachhead.

(U.S. Army)

Enter First Lt. Mary Roberts and Second Lts. Elaine Roe, Virginia Rourke, and Ellen Ainsworth. In February 1944, as the Germans built up their forces to contain and then pierce the American bubble, they rendered aid to wounded soldiers even as shells rained upon them.

There were rumors that the Germans were using the Red Cross on the hospital as an aiming marker, even though it should’ve marked it as a non-target. There were rumors that the counter assault was coming any day, that the hospital was going to be evacuated, that the hospital would never be evacuated because the damage to morale would be too great.

The Allies suffered 19,000 casualties.

The nurses kept as many of the men alive as they could. On Feb. 10, Roberts was running the operating room when the surgical tent took a direct hit. Two corpsmen were wounded, and equipment was destroyed, but she rallied the medical staff and kept the surgeries going so the wounded could keep receiving treatment.

Ainsworth was working in the surgical ward that same night and moved the patients to the floor, continuing to render aid as the explosions rocked the tent. She was hit in the chest and died six days later of her wounds.

Meanwhile, Roe and Rourke were working at another field hospital on the beachhead where they continued patient care without electricity, their calm demeanors soothing the fears of the wounded. When ordered to evacuate the wounded, they organized the troops and got their 42 patients out safely despite the threat.

Ainsworth received her medal posthumously, and the other three got their medals in a combined ceremony.

And if you’re curious what happened next for the larger Anzio battle, Hitler got impatient. He ordered his generals to get rid of the American presence at Anzio. But, while the Americans didn’t have the forces to threaten and hold the German lines, they had been building up their defenses.

The defenses were so well built that, when the German assault began in the middle of February, it was a slaughter. German assaults broke, one after another, against the British and American defenses. Allied losses were high, 7,000 were killed and another 36,000 wounded or missing. But as the German losses mounted, it eventually made it possible for the Allies to break out.

On May 23, 1944, American forces were back on the march, and Italy would soon be knocked out of the war.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US won’t send ships to China’s anniversary celebration this year

The US Navy will not send warships to participate in celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.

More than 60 countries, including US allies Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, are expected to send naval delegations to attend the celebratory fleet review, The Japan Times reported, citing the Chinese defense ministry.

The US, however, will only send a defense attaché from the US embassy in Beijing.

“The U.S. Navy will continue to pursue its primary goal of constructive, risk-reduction focused, discourse with the PLAN,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told Business Insider in an emailed statement April 4, 2019. “Along with the international community, the Department of Defense engages with the PLAN in forums that advance international rules and norms and a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”


“The United States Navy will continue to engage the PLAN through established military-to-military dialogues,” Eastburn added. He declined to say why the US Navy will not be participating in China’s anniversary celebration as it has done in the past.

Tensions between the US and China have been on the rise in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. In recent years, the US and China have had occasional confrontations at sea.

The guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald under way in the Pacific Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paul Kelly)

The US disinvited the Chinese navy from 2018’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises in response to China’s militarization of the South China Sea.

“The PLA is the principal threat to U.S. interests,” Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2019. Stressing that China is a threat to US and allied interests in the First Island Chain, he added that “the PLA is quickly increasing its ability to project power and influence beyond the First Island Chain.”

The US Navy sent the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald to participate in the Chinese navy’s 60th anniversary event, the South China Morning Post has reported. The decision to not send one this year could be seen as a snub.

“America’s ships and sailors are needed across the Indo-Pacific,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe recently told The Washington Free Beacon, praising the administration’s decision.

“America’s Navy is busy enough confronting the challenges posed by China’s aggression in the South China Sea and other critical aspects of great power competition without the distraction of participating in communist pageantry,” the Oklahoma Republican added.

Indeed, the anniversary fleet review is a major propaganda moment for Beijing. “The naval parade in April aims at sending a message to the international community” about the capabilities of the Chinese navy, a Beijing-based military analyst told the South China Morning Post.

The anniversary celebrations will be held in Qingdao from April 22 to 25, 2019.

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

Military Life

6 comfort zones you’ll learn to break out of in the military

Nobody wants to hear the phrase, “suck it up, buttercup.” But there’s a reason for it outside of being plain rude. The fact is, there isn’t much to be gained by complaining about something uncomfortable to others that are stuck in the same suck.

Think about it this way: it’s like being stuck down in a well with a few others. What good does it do for anyone if you start whining about how you hate wells?


Everyone around you is dealing with the same problems. You can either work on improving what you can change, embrace the things you can’t, and joke about the suck with everyone else — or you could just get out. These are the comfort zones you’ll learn to abandon by joining the military.

Robots, or just really weird people, I guess.

(Photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

Morning PT

Nobody wants to wake up early. Nobody. It’s impossible for any human being to willingly enjoy the idea of getting less sleep because they feel the need to get some physical exercise. If that does describe you, I seriously doubt that you’re a human being, but rather some sort of autonomous robot.

We do it because we must.

Just do everyone a favor and take your ass to the aid station if you think it is infected, Don’t plop out that nastiness unannounced.

(Photo by Lt. Col. Angela Wallace)

The human body

Before you know it, you’ll end up in communal showers. There, you’ll see plenty and plenty will see you.

And we’re not talking about exposed genitalia — you’ll get over that real quick. You’ll see sores, fluids, and all sorts of nastiness that some happens to the human body during a deployment. If you’re a medic or Corpsman, expect your friends to randomly ask, “hey, doc, does this look infected to you?”

If you’re airborne, don’t expect your knees to ever be fully functional again.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love)

Pain

It’s not just knee and back pain, or “weakness leaving your body” as the PT instructor calls it. That’s guaranteed. Expect an amount of unnecessary physical pain. If your battle buddy is an idiot, expect to get smoked with them. If they have a loud mouth at the bar, expect to get punched in the face at least once throughout your career.

Just get used to waking up in the morning and wondering what happened to your 18-year-old body. Be prepared to ask yourself why you’re complaining about the same pains as your grandmother.

Your only escape is to forget you’re surrounded by everyone.

(Photo by Pfc. J.P. Lawrence)

Lack of personal space

If you maintain a personal space bubble and feel awkward when someone comes within a foot of you, curb it. You probably shouldn’t be claustrophobic either.

You won’t have any room to do anything or anywhere to be by yourself.

Just accept that you’ll tell everyone in the smoke pit your life story. Even if you don’t smoke.

(Photo by Cpl. Paul D. Zellner II)

Sharing personal details

Don’t feel like spending 12 hours at a time with the options of staring at a blank wall or talking with some random person? Too bad. You’re about to turn into Forrest Gump and tell them everything.

At the end of the day, we’re all in the same fox hole. Enjoy the company.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel Brusseau)

Learning you’re not special

Individualism is a blight on the uniformed services. It’s “one team, one fight,” not “everyone plus this guy.” This rule applies to everyone — and not just the person crying because Sergeant gave them a dirty look. Even the troop that is damn-near Captain America is guilty if they start demanding the military start handing out opportunities.

The military doesn’t owe anyone anything unless it’s earned. And even earning something doesn’t mean the door is now open for making more demands.

MIGHTY HISTORY

From stewards to pandemic leaders, the evolution of the Filipino-American sailor

“Hey, Stew,” the LTJG called out. The Filipino sailor did not respond. “Hey! Stew!” The Filipino sailor continued to mop the deck. “Hey! Stew! I’m talking to you!” The Lt. j.g. grabbed the Filipino sailor by his shoulder and turned him around.

“Oh, sir. I didn’t know you were talking to me,” the Filipino sailor responded. “I thought you were looking for someone named Stew. As you can see on my uniform, my name is Tongson. The name my parents gave me, my Christian name, is Benjamin. If you called me by those names, I would have responded to you.” This earned Seaman Tongson a tirade of expletives from the young naval officer who then stormed away. Later, Tongson decided to invoke the open door policy of the ship’s skipper. “Sir, may I have a moment of your time?” Tongson asked as he knocked on the bulkhead of the captain’s quarters.

“Come on in Tongson. What can I do for you?” The captain motioned for Tongson to enter.


“Sir, one of your officers refuses to address me and the other stewards by our names. Instead, he only calls us ‘Stew’. I do not find this behavior to be acceptable for an officer.”

“And so you shouldn’t,” replied the Captain. “Which of my officers is doing this? I’ll take care of it.”

The 1947 Military Bases Agreement provided a 99-year lease on many Philippine military and naval bases to the United States Military. Under Article 27, Filipino citizens could also be recruited into the U.S. military. However, they were restricted to serving as stewards. Despite this restriction, the Navy would recruit anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Filipinos every year according to a New York Times article from 1970.

With many of these men coming from poverty, a job with the US Navy presented a better prospect than what they could find in the post-war Philippines. While Filipino sailors were paid equal wages, they, like Tongson, often experienced racism and differential treatment. However, following a modification to the Military Bases Agreement in 1971, Filipinos could enter into any enlisted rating that they were qualified for. In Tongson’s case, he became an Electrician’s Mate and eventually rose to the coveted rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Tongson (first row, first from the left) as an Electrician’s Mate Petty Officer First Class (USS Montrose Cruise Book/released)

Today, Filipino-Americans can be found in all branches of the U.S. military—although their presence is still strongest in the Navy. Anyone who has spent time aboard a ship is familiar with the “Filipino Mafia”, the network of Filipino-American sailors that seem to be able to get you anything you may need while underway, including Filipino food like adobo, pancit, and lumpia. Filipino-American sailors have made greater strides than just acquiring scarce goods and sharing delicious meals, though.

In 1992, Rear Admiral (then Commander) Eleanor Mariano was selected to serve as the Navy physician to the White House Medical Staff. President Clinton later selected her to serve as the White House Physician and director of the White House Medical Unit for which she was promoted to Captain. In 1999, she was nominated to the rank of Rear Admiral and was formally promoted in 2000, becoming the first Filipino-American to reach the rank. In 2014, Captain Ronald Ravelo took command of the USS Ronald Reagan, becoming the first Filipino-American sailor to do so. A year before, Rear Admirals Rauqel Bono and her brother Anatolio Cruz became the first and (so far) only Filipino-American siblings to simultaneously hold a flag-officer rank. While Cruz retired later that year, Bono was appointed by President Obama to the position of Defense Health Agency director and promoted to Vice Admiral in 2015. Following her retirement from the Navy in 2019, Bono became a Senior Fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. On March 22, 2020 she was appointed as the head Washington State’s COVID-19 health care response team by Governor Jay Inslee. The state’s COVID-19 confirmed case, hospitalization, and death statistics peaked on March 23rd. At the time of the writing of this article, all three statistics have more than halved.

Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, DHA Director, command portrait (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/released)

Filipino-Americans continue to serve as an integral part of the U.S. Military. The naval officers previously mentioned all descend from parents who served in the U.S. military. As for Tongson, his daughter served in the U.S. Army as a nurse during Desert Storm and his grandson, the author, currently serves in the U.S. Army as a 1st Lt. with the 10th Mountain Division. Tongson gave his grandson his first salute at his commissioning ceremony aboard the USS Midway, a ship that Tongson served on, in 2017.

Tongson with the author at the commissioning ceremony (photo taken by Laceé Pappas/released)


MIGHTY TRENDING

China warns the US to prepare to lose an arms race in space

If the United States and China are on a war footing in space, one of the People’s Republic’s top generals has some tough talk for the U.S.: Be prepared to lose. Maj. Gen. Qiao Liang, is a top general in China’s air force and recently co-authored a book called “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.” In it, he warns the United States that they could not outspend a wealthy, organized, and manufacturing-oriented Chinese economy.


Retired People’s Liberation Army Air Force Maj. Gen. Qiao Liang.

“China is not the Soviet Union,” Qiao the South China Morning Post. “If the United States thinks it can also drag China into an arms race and take down China as it did with the Soviets … in the end, probably it would not be China who is down on the ground.”

At the same time, China and the United States are in competition for space dominance. The Pentagon believes China is developing directed-energy weapons for use in the vacuum of space, and the United States is creating its sixth branch of military service, focused solely on a space mission. China has had such a program for the past four years. Now, both countries seem to be preparing to fight a war in space rather than avoid one.

Artists’ Rendering.

General Qiao Liang says China is not seeking such a war but is asserting itself and its right to national defense. Its biggest asset at the moment is its economic and manufacturing superiority, a position Qiao says will leave it as the winner of an expensive space race with the world’s only superpower.

“When the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in the Cold War and the arms race, the United States was the largest manufacturing country, and the Soviet Union was not even the second,” he said. “But today it is China who is the world’s top manufacturer.”

Articles

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

On the morning of Jul 18, Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles became the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest honor for military valor.


Receiving the Medal of Honor confers a great deal of prestige on the recipient as well as an acknowledgement that the recipient and their unit members went through an especially dire and dangerous experience or gave a heavy sacrifice for the American people. The celebrity that goes with the medal allows recipients to cast light on issues that affect veterans and active duty troops.

But in addition to the intangible benefits like honor and stature, there are some tangible benefits that the military and the U.S. government give to medal recipients to acknowledge their sacrifice. Here are 6 special benefits that serve as an enduring “thank you” from the American people:

1. Preferred access to military academies for their dependents

(Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

Every American senator can nominate up to 10 candidates from their state for each of an allotted number of seats in the next freshman class at the Army, Navy and Air Force military academies. The number of slots changes from year to year, but the total number of names that state senators can put forward represents an annual “quota.”

But as a recognition of the sacrifice that MoH recipients have made for their country, recipients’ children can bypass this part of the selection process and put their name in for consideration regardless of whether there are open slots in that state’s  academy quota.

2. A monthly stipend

Every Medal of Honor recipient is entitled to a monthly stipend on top of all other pay or retirement benefits. This stipend was originally $10 a month in 1916 but has climbed to $1,299 per month.

The recipient’s base retirement pay is also raised by 10 percent.

3. Free, priority Space-A travel

(Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Medal recipients are granted lifelong access to the military’s “Space A” travel, which allows active duty military members, some veterans and their dependents to hitch rides in empty seats on military planes. MoH recipients get preferred access, meaning they can jump the line.

4. Special parking spots at on-base amenities

Service members with an MoH also get lifelong access to other military benefits like the commissary, on-post gyms and pools and recreational facilities. Many of these facilities have reserved spaces for MoH recipients.

5. Special status in the exchange of salutes

Medal of Honor recipient Col. Lewis Millett salutes the flag during a memorial ceremony commemorating the bravery of his men during the Korean War. (Photo: US Army Al Chang)

While military members aren’t required to salute Medal of Honor recipients, they are encouraged to do so as long as the recipient is physically wearing the medal, even when the recipient is in civilian clothes.

Also, while military salutes in other situations are always up the the rank structure — meaning the junior soldier salutes the senior one — anyone may render a salute to a MoH recipient first. There have even been cases of American presidents saluting MoH recipients.

6. Headstones with gold lettering and full burial honors

Medal of Honor recipients are guaranteed a burial with full military honors — an honor otherwise only guaranteed to retirees and active duty service members. This includes a nine-member team of six pallbearers, a chaplain, an officer-in-charge or noncommissioned-officer-in-charge and a bugler.

At the gravesite, the MoH recipient is also entitled to a special headstone with gold lettering.

Author’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Medal of Honor Recipient and Lt. Col. Charles Kettles as an Army major. He was a major at the time of the actions for which he received the award, but he retired and received the award as a lieutenant colonel. The author regrets this error.

Articles

US Navy leaders applaud ‘peaceful’ encounters with China at sea

The Navy’s top officer strongly advocated robust “engagement” with China to reduce the growing tensions generated by Beijing’s aggressive behavior in the South China Sea, while minimizing the effectiveness of the Asian giant’s highly touted anti-access, area-denial defense capabilities against U.S. naval forces.


During a Sept. 12 appearance at the Center for a New American Security n Washington, D.C., the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson also favorably compared the conduct of People’s Liberation Army – Navy ships during at-sea encounters to the threatening actions by fast-attack craft operated by Iran’s militant Revolutionary Guard in the congested Persian Gulf. And he said US commanders have the freedom to respond to those acts.

A helicopter attached to Chinese Navy ship multirole frigate Hengshui (572) participates in a maritime interdiction event with the Chinese Navy guided-missile destroyer Xi’an (153) during Rim of the Pacific. (Chinese navy photo by Sun Hongjie)

In a classic understatement, Richardson described U.S. relations with China as “complicated,” and said “we have to structure our relations with our counterparts, the Peoples Liberation Army – Navy along those lines. First and foremost, we’ve got to continue to engage. I’m an advocate for engagement, thoughtful engagement.”

Noting that “there are areas where we have common interests,” he suggested aligning US efforts to support those common interests.

He suggested that one of those “common interest” was freedom of navigation that would allow all nations to use the maritime domain for commercial reasons, despite the fact that China’s aggressive claims to virtually all of the South China Sea and parts of the East China Sea far from its territorial limits would deny others access to those vital waterways.

Richardson acknowledged that during his recent visit with the head of the Chinese navy, he was “very honest and very frank in terms of those things that would be helpful in moving the relationship forward in mutually beneficial ways and those behaviors that would be completely not helpful in terms of moving that relationship down the road.” That was an effort, he said, toward “minimizing the uncertainty, the miscalculations, by asserting in advance these things that would be very good, those that would be troublesome.”

But the Navy chief insisted that any regional arrangement for security in the Asia-Pacific region had to include China.

Asked about the A2AD capabilities China is developing to keep U.S. forces out of its claim zone of control, Richardson said that was “sort of an aspiration rather than any kind of strategy.”

While acknowledging the technological advances that allow detection and precision targeting at greater distances, “there is a whole sequence of events that have to happen in perfect symphony to execute that mission. There are many ways to deconstruct that chain of events,” he said.

In response to a question about what authority US commanders had to respond to the rash of threatening actions by the Iranian small craft, Richardson said, “there’s really nothing that limits the way they can respond.”

He noted that in those “super dynamic situations,” the commanders must make decisions “in very short periods of time. We try to make sure our commanders have the situational awareness and the capabilities and the rules of engagement that they remain in command of the situation.”

He called that a “a great demonstration of something I advocate for, the need to continue to develop a sort of decentralized approach toward operations. These sort of things happen on a time scale that really doesn’t allow commanders to sort of phone home for permission and then respond.”

“They have to know what their commanders expect, have to be given the freedom to act, to take advantage of opportunities, but also so they can respond to these very quick acting opportunities.”

“Is our Navy prepared to respond? The answer is yes in every respect,” he said.

Richardson said the actions by the Iranian Guard vessels were unlike the meetings with Chinese warships, which under an agreement on encounters at sea, “the vast majority of encounters with the Chinese have been peaceful.”

And, he added, it would be useful to have a similar agreement with Russia to prevent the recent close encounters with Russian ships and aircraft in the Black Sea.

Articles

That time the US and Russia agreed to be allies if aliens attacked Earth

The Dream Team has nothing to do with basketball. On a 2009 episode of Charlie Rose, former Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev was a guest, commemorating the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. During the interview, Gorbachev made a number of interesting statements. He wasn’t impressed with President Reagan’s challenge to tear down the wall.


But he did think Reagan was a great leader. Joining Gorbachev on the show was Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz, who brought up Reagan and Gorby’s famous Lake Geneva Summit. Schultz admitted he wasn’t present when the two leaders ducked out to a nearby cabin to talk. Gorbachev remembered their conversation very clearly.

Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

“From the fireside house, President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’

“I said, ‘No doubt about it.'”

“He said, ‘We too.'”

President Reagan was an avid fan of science fiction films, like The Day the Earth Stood Still and even once got an advance screening of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Reagan repeated the story to a group of Maryland high school students after his return to the US. Deputy national security adviser Colin Powell used to go through the President’s speeches and remove mentions of what he called “the little green men.”

Articles

This chart proves there are already way more contractors in Afghanistan than US troops

President Donald Trump said he plans to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan in a speech August 21 and continue the longest-running war in American history.


Currently, there are about 9,800 US troops stationed in Afghanistan and more than 26,000 contractors.

The Pentagon defines a defense contractor as “any individual, firm, corporation, partnership, or other legal non-federal entity that enters into a contract directly with the DOD to furnish services, supplies, or construction.”

US defense contractors versus US troops deployed to Afghanistan in last decade. Image by Skye Gould via Business Insider.

This also includes intelligence analysis, translation and interpretation, as well as private-security contractors — who began taking over roles once held by uniformed soldiers after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The defense industry has also made incredible profits since 2001, including nearly $100 billion in Afghanistan since 2007.

The graphic above compares the number of US troops and defense contractors in Afghanistan over the last decade.

Intel

5 things about getting shot you probably didn’t know (even if you’ve been shot)

Some people go skydiving or do other extreme sports to get their adrenaline fix. Troops, on the other hand, get into gunfights. Celebrated war correspondent, Sebastian Junger nails this phenomenon in his 2014 Ted talk about why soldiers miss war.


Related: How to survive a gunfight (according to a drunk Green Beret)

While thrilling, the downside to any gunfight is getting shot. This video reveals five random facts about gunshot wounds you probably didn’t know. (For instance, did you know that women are more likely to survive than men? What does that do to your “women in combat” matrix?)

Watch:

Video: WatchMojo.com