Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The man from Sugar Land, Texas with a passion for travel and teaching children doesn’t seem like a stereotypical ISIS recruit.

Warren Christopher Clark, a black, Texas native who sent a cover letter and resume to ISIS as early as 2015, the New York Times revealed, was captured in Syria by US allies. His goal was not to become a militant or fighter, he later told NBC News. He just wanted to teach English.

Clark, who was charged Jan. 25, 2019, for material support to ISIS, may not be the type of person who comes to mind at the mention of ISIS. But a study published by the RAND Corporation, which analyzed US-based jihadist terrorism activities in the post-9/11 era, shows that the Texan represents aspects of the new reality of terrorism.


“The portrait that emerges from our analysis suggests that the historic stereotype of a Muslim, Arab, immigrant male as the most vulnerable to extremism is not representative of many terrorist recruits today,” the report says.

The changing face of terrorism

That US citizens pose the greatest terrorism-related threat within the US is not a recent development.

In 2015, the George Washington University Program on Extremism reported that of 71 people arrested for ISIS-related activities in the US in that year, 58 of them were US-born citizens.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The GWU study for the most part matches a trend reported by RAND, which independently found that as ISIS gained influence in the post-9/11 era, the number of US-born recruits drawn to jihadist terrorism started to grow.

Of the 152 US persons with known affiliations with ISIS, RAND found that 106 were citizens born in the US.

Comparatively, only 59 of 131 al-Qaeda affiliates were US-born citizens.

In another revelation, RAND showed US-based ISIS recruits have become more racially and ethnically diverse as the group gained influence, and are notably more diverse than those with known al-Qaeda affiliations.

About 65% of US-born ISIS recruits since 2013 are either African-American/black or Caucasian/white. This is a shift from the group’s earlier years, and an even more radical shift from those persons drawn to al-Qaeda.

ISIS has a broader appeal

Aided by the internet, terror organizations began targeting more vulnerable populations over time, specifically young and socially alienated people who find a sense of belonging in a far-away group.

While ISIS has a far more sophisticated understanding and usage of social media, al-Qaeda has shown an ability to tap into the vortex of the internet — RAND reports that the number of “terrorist-related websites exploded from 100 in 1998 … to approximately 4,300 by 2005.”

In that year, ISIS was still in its infancy.

Even so, al-Qaeda’s marketing typically appealed to a narrower field of recruits in terms of religion, race, and nationalism. ISIS, on the other hand, appealed to a wider range of people. Heather Williams, the lead author for the RAND study, told Business Insider that Clark represents an increasingly common type of recruit who is not necessarily drawn to violence, but some other component of terrorist organizations.

“There were people who fit that before, but they are more frequently fitting that profile now,” Williams said.

Terrorism may be changing, but experts caution against reliance on stereotypes

Clark, the 34-year-old teacher from Texas who was recently captured in Northern Syria, doesn’t quite fit into any stereotypical “terrorist” category.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Warren Christopher Clark, who was captured in Syria in early January 2019, sat down with NBC News.

(NBC News)

Clark is a US-born American citizen. According to an interview with NBC News, he did not initially leave the US with intentions of joining ISIS, but sought travel opportunities that ultimately drew him to Turkey, Iraq, and then Syria.

He told NBC that he never took up arms for ISIS and was even detained by the terrorist organization after trying to defect, maintaining that he was drawn to ISIS out of curiosity, not a desire to become a militant.

“The take-away is that the ties [people drawn to ISIS] have to the terrorist organization can be very loose,” Williams said.

The RAND report was published in December 2018, nearly a month before Clark’s capture. But Williams said his background is a good example of the range of individuals answering ISIS’ call.

“A great number of the individuals studied were lured to the call of jihad in Muslim lands abroad rather than domestically; whether adventure seekers or inspired by misguided senses of religious duty, they were not necessarily aggrieved with the US homeland,” the report states.

Still, Williams cautioned against stereotyping a particular profile, especially one based on nationality.

“I don’t think that’s a productive diagnostic tool, and can also lead to bias,” she told Business Insider.

The Trump administration’s travel ban, which targets many Muslim-majority countries, is not necessarily a helpful counterterrorism policy, Williams said, and may even be a distraction.

“If [law enforcement agency] perceptions are based on history, there is validity but they should recognize the shift.”

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

4 reasons military brats make better adults

There’s definitely something different about growing up a military brat. There are obvious things like always being the new kid, living all over the world and missing huge chunks of time with your service member parent. Life was a bit harder for you, harder to you perhaps. But with hard things come some major perks in the adult world.

Here are 4 reasons military brats make better adults:

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

1. You’re a master infiltrator

Do you know what most people are awful at? What creates that dry lump in throats of even the top business professionals? Walking into a room not knowing a soul and having to work that room of strangers. Life taught you not just to work the room, but how to infiltrate foreign camps and dominate the space. Military kids know how to read groups and people like a cheap deck of cards.

Jumping off the deep end into the unforgiving social circles of middle and high school as the newbie pays off in spades as an adult. Trial and error networking in the formative years. Getting it wrong as a kid a time or two saves major face when Tom from the office is profusely sweating from anxiety while you’ve got a drink in hand pulling out stories from your diverse life deck like a boss.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

2. You’ve got contacts

Growing up in the same little town with the same group of friends is as American as apple pie. It’s what’s glorified in the sitcoms, and what you think you’re missing out on. But you’ve been wrong. Life today is international. Staying put is a thing of the past. Lucky for you, you have two generations of contacts all working in different states or even countries around the world to tap into for a reference or internship. If your family ETS’d in Kansas, but NYC is more your speed, the likelihood you already know someone there is far greater than Susan, whose territory ends at the cornfield. Be nice, grow your network and wait for those big doors to open.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

3. You’ve got perspective

What’s the biggest value add potential employers are looking for in addition to a degree? Perspective. And you, you globetrotting, hardship enduring military brat have it in spades. You have actual firsthand knowledge of economies, well-planned cities or progressivism that works because you lived it.

Living it and just reading about it are two very different things. It may have sucked moving time and time again as a kid, but with the right spin, you can become ten times more valuable than a local ever could be.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

4. You’re just a better human

There are two kinds of people. The people that peak in high school, and the ones who unapologetically kick ass as an adult. Not sticking around a place long enough to establish your pre-real-world social hierarchy is painful, only until you realize that all your strife and struggle can and will make you a better adult.

You’ll be the one making the point of saying hello to the new guy in the office. You’ll be the one to see “different” as potential versus problematic. You will view the world through a much better, much bigger lens than your peers. You will be nicer overall because you endured a heck of a lot more things as a kid that has prepared you to face the hardships of life head-on.

No doubt growing up as a child in the military is quite the experience. There is, however, a tremendous amount of hope that all of those experiences can and will make military children the best damn adults around. Here’s to you military child.


MIGHTY CULTURE

10 best places to party on leave

Troops train year-round to maintain the high standard of readiness essential to the preservation and defense of democracy. However, none of us are machines that can operate under constant pressure over an infinite amount of time. And enlisted professions, infantry, in particular, are among the most stressful jobs available. That’s why leave (or ‘vacation days’ in civilian terms) is a crucial component to blowing off steam and keeping morale high.

Homesick troops will often use their leave days to go and visit the family. However, those who have leave days burning a hole in their pocket should consider visiting these party cities if they’re looking for something new. Plus, there’s a good chance that someone from your platoon/squad is from the city you’re visiting and may even offer to be your guide.

In no particular order, these are the 10 best places to party on leave.


Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

New York, New York

New York City has earned the reputation of being the city that never sleeps and defends its title vigorously. In the Big Apple, you can party until the small hours of the morning and still find a place serving piping hot, fresh, New York-style pizza. As the economic crown jewel of the U.S. you can find the best brands of any product imported from around the world.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Can’t answer SSGT’s call in another country.

Barcelona, Spain

Parties here start at 1 a.m. and last all night long, which means you’ll have enough time to do touristy things, go to the hotel to change, pregame, and invade Spain like a Roman Legionnaire. The theme parties here can get out of control, so definitely bring a battle buddy or two.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

I’m ready for my close up.

(emerictimelapse.com)

Los Angeles, California

Music labels, film studios, and conglomerates have built empires on keeping you entertained. Los Angeles offers media from every medium, genre, and artist on an unparalleled scale. LA Weekly and Ticketmaster provide information on upcoming events to plan your trip around.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Home of the original libo risk.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

A classic destination on every bucket list but you might want to wait until you have your DD-214 to fully toke take in the culture. If your agenda doesn’t include visiting its coffee shops, there’s plenty else to do — Europeans party hard AF.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

(emerictimelapse.com)

Las Vegas, Nevada

Sin city, a single Marine’s paradise — and other branches, too. The casinos offer free booze while you gamble, gentlemen’s clubs offer the perfect location to blow away your bonus, and many hotels have venues and clubs built into the location. Excellent for post-deployment debauchery relaxation.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Ze colors!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is another city that never sleeps, and it is home to tons of DJs. The mainstream venues are good, but the underground parties are unbeatable. Bring someone who speaks German so you can have your finger on the pulse of this city.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The parties are year round.

(Miami.com)

Miami, Florida

Miami has arguably the best club scene; one that can compete with LA and New York. Florida’s beaches are often featured on top ten lists and are capable of dethroning Hawaii. Every troop must storm these beaches at least once in their career.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

(Air Forces Central Command)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

U.A.E. is home to the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Islands, and an indoor ski resort in the mall, but make sure you read up on the local laws. As a conservative Islamic country, it has many restrictions — unless you’re wealthy. Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The famous bar crawls of Austin

Austin, Texas

Austin has been earning a reputation as a must-visit spot for partygoers at a steady rate in recent years. The city offers pub crawls, ghost tours, historic landmarks, and lounges. It is common to see Austin on lists of top places to live for both liberals and conservatives. This growing metropolis with a southern twang should not be underestimated.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

New Years Eve in Iceland!

(icelandnaturally.com)

Reykjavik, Iceland

Vikings are still drinking and celebrating in both Valhalla and Reykjavik. Although Iceland is small, their festivals aren’t. Reykjavik is LGBTQ+ friendly and accepting of all types, but don’t wander off into the inland — the wilderness here is dangerous as hell.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Russia-Saudi oil price war and U.S. national security

On 18 March, U.S. crude oil prices fell to their lowest level in 18 years. The following day, momentarily distracted from their hype of the coronavirus pandemic, pundits and analysts reminded us again that low oil prices are the result of Saudi Arabia instigating a price war with Russia. And again, the culprit named was Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Among his motives, they claimed, is hobbling the fracking industry that has ended American dependence on Middle East oil. Now, let’s examine the real backstory.


Weeks before a scheduled meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel dedicated to supporting oil prices, the Saudis became concerned that the coronavirus pandemic was causing the oil price to decline. To stop or at least slow that decline, Riyadh worked to get oil-producing countries to agree to counteract falling prices with a production cut of 1.5 million barrels per day.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The Saudis were successful with OPEC and non-OPEC members, with one exception: Russia. On March 7th, it was clear that the Russians would not agree to any cut in their production, despite an existing 3-year old deal with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh then punished the Russians by undercutting prices to all their main customers – like Communist China – by increasing production by 2 million barrels per day.

On 20 March, Brent crude closed at .98 per barrel, far below Russia’s cost of production. Even at , Russia loses 0 million to 0 million per day. Goldman Sachs predicts the price will continue to drop to per barrel, far below Russia’s budget needs. Analysts say that even if the ruble stays stable, Russia needs per barrel, even with spending cuts and drawing on monetary reserves. With Russia’s main exports being energy and weapons, there are few other options.

Two things drove Russia to make its drastic decision. First, Russia’s power in the world, especially in the EU, has a great deal to do with energy politics. Russia is one of Europe’s main energy suppliers, and with Brexit, that dominance will increase. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is a critical element in Russia’s European energy strategy and Washington, understanding that levied sanctions on the pipeline as well as on state-owned Rosneft. As a result, Moscow rightly believes that American fracking-based energy independence underpins Washington’s ability to threaten Russia’s global energy politics. That was demonstrated in the first days of March when Putin met with Russian oil companies. At that meeting, Rosneft’s head, Igor Sechin, said that low energy prices “are great because they will damage U.S. shale.”

Second, the Kremlin is determined to maintain the political influence it has achieved in the Middle East after years of expensive effort. To continue to meet those expenses, Russia must not only use profits from weapons sales but also from unrestricted production and sale of crude oil and gas. Propping up oil prices by restricting production does not fit that requirement, and higher prices certainly do not “damage U.S. shale.”

As it continues to confront Russia’s motives, Washington should take comfort in the knowledge that the dark clouds of the oil price war have silver linings with regard to American national security.

First, rock bottom oil prices that force Russia to sell crude at a net loss will undoubtedly impact its budget, which in turn will substantially lessen its appetite for foreign military adventures. As a bonus, low oil prices will similarly impact Iran. Together, those two aggressive nations continue to menace the United States and kill American soldiers on a roll call of battlefields.

In Iraq, Tehran is attempting to ramp up attacks by its proxy forces on bases manned by U.S. forces. These relatively minor and uncoordinated attacks are hampered by a lack of leadership and lack of essential funding. The recent U.S. killing of an enemy combatant, General Soleimani, has been as telling to Iran as the fall of oil sales revenue.

In Syria, Russia and Iran are successfully propping up dictator Bashar al-Assad at considerable cost. The Saudis are as concerned about Syria as they are about their long border with Iraq, so Riyadh will not be anxious to end the economic punishment they are meting out to Moscow and Tehran.

Who will win the oil war?

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Russia has boasted they will survive selling oil at a loss for years by “adjusting the budget.” Those adjustments will mean at least pausing their expensive aggression in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya, not to mention developing and brandishing new weapons aimed at NATO and the United States. Despite their brave front, the pain was already evident when Russia signaled it was willing to join an OPEC conference call to discuss market conditions. Saudi Arabia and other members did not agree to attend. The call was canceled.

Iran is using its disastrous domestic coronavirus epidemic as a ploy to gain sympathy, pleading for the lifting of sanctions. The firm U.S. response was to increase sanctions, excepting only agricultural and humanitarian supplies. With just a sliver of oil sales income remaining, domestic unrest, inflation and disease are turning the Islamic Republic into a failing state.

Saudi Arabia, like Russia, stated its budget can weather the lower oil prices for years and is already trimming expenditures by 5%. If further cuts are needed, it will be relatively easy for the Kingdom to postpone ambitious domestic projects – knowing they will not run out of oil for a very long time.

The United States, preoccupied with the coronavirus, is almost a bystander in the oil price war. Despite loud complaints from Wall Street brokers and the discomfort of over-extended oil companies, our domestic energy supply remains secure for civilians and warfighters. Gas prices at the pump have dropped to levels not seen in twenty years. We are filling our strategic reserve with inexpensive oil as a hedge against the future. And Saudi Arabia is an ally that has clearly stated, whatever else may drive it, that it has no intention of crushing our fracking industry.

As for Russia and Iran, Ronald Reagan once summed it up nicely: “They lose, we win.”

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian subs can strike European capitals

NATO naval officials have repeatedly warned about Russia’s submarines — a force they say is more sophisticated and active.

US Navy officials have said several times that Russian subs are doing more now than at any time since the Cold War, though intelligence estimates from that time indicate they’re still far below Cold War peaks.

They’re also worried about where those subs are going. US officials have suggested more than once that Russian subs are lurking around vital undersea cables. (The US did something similar during the Cold War.)


But the most significant capability Russian subs have added may be what they can do on land.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Long-range Kalibr cruise missiles are launched by a Russian Navy ship in the eastern Mediterranean.

(Russian Defense Ministry photo)

Asked about the best example of growth by Russia’s submarines, Adm. James Foggo, the head of US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, pointed to their missiles, which offer relatively newfound land-attack capability.

“The Kalibr class cruise missile, for example, has been launched from coastal-defense systems, long-range aircraft, and submarines off the coast of Syria,” Foggo said on the latest edition of his command’s podcast, “On the Horizon.”

“They’ve shown the capability to be able to reach pretty much all the capitals in Europe from any of the bodies of water that surround Europe,” he added.

The Kalibr family of missiles — which includes anti-ship, land-attack, and anti-submarine variants — has been around since the 1990s.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Ranges of Russia’s Kalibr missiles when fired from seas around Europe. Light red circles are the land-attack version. Dark red circles indicate the anti-ship version.

(CSIS Missile Defense Project)

The land-attack version can be fired from subs and surface ships and can carry a 1,000-pound warhead to targets between 930 miles and 1,200 miles away, according to CSIS’ Missile Defense Project. It is said to fly 65 feet above the sea and at 164 to 492 feet over land.

After the first strikes in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Kalibr was accurate to “a few meters” — giving them a capability not unlike the US’s Tomahawk cruise missiles.

In 2011, the US Office of Naval Intelligence quoted a Russian defense industry official as saying Moscow planned to put the Kalibr on all new nuclear and non-nuclear subs, frigates, and larger ships and that it was likely to be retrofitted on older vessels.

But the system wasn’t used in combat until 2015.

In October that year, Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired 26 Kalibr missiles at ISIS targets in Syria. The submarine Veliky Novgorod fired three Kalibrs from the eastern Mediterranean at ISIS targets in eastern Syria later that month, and that December a Russian sub fired four Kalibrs while en route to its home port on the Black Sea.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

A Russian Navy ship launches Kalibr cruise missiles from the Caspian sea at targets over 1000 miles away in Syria.

(IN THE NOW / Youtube)

Russian surface ships and subs have fired Kalibr missiles at targets in Syria numerous times since. But their use may be more about sending a message to Western foes than gaining an edge in Syria.

“There’s no operational or tactical requirement to do it,” NORTHCOM Commander Adm. William Gortney told Congress in early 2016. “They’re messaging us that they have this capability.”

Russia has used “Syria as a bit of a test bed for showing off its new submarine capabilities and the ability to shoot cruise missiles from submarines,” Magnus Nordenman, the director of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider in early 2018.

A 2015 Office of Naval Intelligence report cited by Jane’s noted that the “Kalibr provides even modest platforms … with significant offensive capability and, with the use of the land attack missile, all platforms have a significant ability to hold distant fixed ground targets at risk using conventional warheads.”

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

A long-range Kalibr cruise missile is launched from the Krasnodar submarine in the Mediterranean.

(Russian Defense Ministry photo)

“The proliferation of this capability within the new Russian Navy is profoundly changing its ability to deter, [or to] threaten or destroy adversary targets,” the report said.

While Russia’s submarine force is still smaller than its Soviet predecessor, that cruise-missile capability has led some to argue NATO needs to look farther north, beyond the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap that was a chokepoint for Russian submarines entering the Atlantic during the Cold War.

Today’s Russian subs “don’t have to go very far out in order to hit ports and airports and command and control centers in Europe, so they don’t have to approach the GIUK Gap,” Nordenman said in a recent interview. “In that sense the GIUK Gap is not as important as it used to be.”

Foggo said US submarines still have the edge, but the subs Russia can deploy “are perhaps some of the most silent and lethal in the world.”

Concerns about land-attack missiles now mix with NATO’s concern about bringing reinforcements and supplies from the US to Europe during a conflict.

“That’s why Russian submarines are a concern,” Nordenman said in ealry 2018. “One, because they can obviously sink ships and so on, but related, you can use cruise missiles to shoot at ports and airfields and so on.”

“We know that Russian submarines are in the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing a very complex underwater battle space to try to give them the edge in any future conflict,” Foggo said. “We need to deny that edge.”

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

US Navy crew members on board a P-8A Poseidon assisting in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the in the Indian Ocean, March 16, 2014.

(US Navy photo)

This has led to more emphasis on anti-submarine warfare, a facet of naval combat that NATO forces focused on less after the Cold War.

The US Navy has asked for more money to buy sonobuoys, supplies of which fell critically short after an “unexpected high anti-submarine warfare operational tempo in 2017.” NATO members also plan to buy more US-made P-8A Poseidons, widely considered to be the best sub-hunting aircraft on the market.

But the Kalibr’s anti-ship capability has also raises questions about whether ASW itself needs to change.

At a conference in early 2017, Lt. Cmdr. Ian Varley, deputy commander of the Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopter force, said anti-ship missiles were pushing ASW away from “traditional … close-in, cloak and-dagger fighting” to situations where an enemy submarine “sits 200 miles away and launches a missile at you.”

“That becomes an air war,” he said. “We need to stop it becoming an air war. We need to be able to have the ability to defend against that.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

LRC develops future leaders by using hands-on practice in tackling both leader and follower roles

After the Second World War, the Air Force established their version of a LRC, Project X, which would be used as one of the four means to evaluate students of the Squadron Officers Course at Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.


“What we are trying to replicate for the students is being under stress and how you manage people under stress with limited resources, limited time and trying to solve a complex problem with a group of people with different personalities, different ways of leading and ways they want to be followed,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Clayton, Air University assistant professor of leadership.

The primary purposes of the course are to improve the students’ leadership ability by affording the student an opportunity to apply the lessons learned in formal leadership instruction. Secondly, to assess the students by measuring the degree to which certain leadership traits and behaviors are possessed. It’s also used to provide the students with a means of making a self-evaluation to determine more accurately their leadership ability and to provide the opportunity to observe the effects of strengths and weaknesses of others during a team operation.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Most importantly, the LRC is used to develop diverse individuals as future leaders in the Air Force.

Stress plays an important part in the evaluation of each leader as it is through stress the critical leader processes and skills will be observed by the evaluator. To produce a stressful environment for the working team, certain limitations are placed on them.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Officer trainees work together to overcome an obstacle at the Project X leadership reaction course. The course is designed to improve leadership traits to Air-men attending Squadron Officer School, Officer Training School, Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy and other schools on Maxwell AFB.

(Air Force photo by Donna L. Burnett/Released)

According to the LRC standard of operations, the course operation is designed so that each individual will be a leader for a task-one time and serve as a team member or observer the remainder of the time. For each task there is a working team and an observing team. The working team is responsible for completing the mission while the observing team acts as safety personnel, overwatch elements, support elements, or competition.

The tasks themselves vary. For example, one task may be to get personnel and equipment across a simulated land mine without touching the ground by building a makeshift bridge from supplies. Another task may incorporate fear and more physical endurance by getting a team and gear over a high wall. Each task has a time limit and unique problems to solve the mission.

Although completing the mission isn’t the goal of the LRC.

“As a leader, you have to recognize some of these people may be scared to do this task or to move across this task with me. So, how do you motivate those people? Do you have the emotional intelligence to understand that you may be able to get through this task on your own, but other people may be scared to do it, so how do you understand that? How do you communicate to your people, motivate them, lead them by example, inspire them to follow you and get through the task? These tasks are designed to cause that stress and to make you apply the leadership skills you learned in the classroom,” Clayton said.

The whole concept is getting students to identify what type of leader they are as well as understand and identifying leadership traits in others.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

Articles

2500 more US troops will deploy to fight ISIS

The U.S. is sending 2,500 additional forces to Kuwait to serve in a reserve capacity in the fight against the Islamic State, Army Times reports.


Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Branden Quintana, left, and Sgt. Cory Ballentine pull security with an M4 carbines on the roof of an Iraqi police station in Habaniyah, Anbar province, Iraq, July 13, 2011. Ballentine is a forward observer and Quintana is a platoon leader, both with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kissta Feldner/Released)

The forces will largely be drawn from the 82nd Airborne division and will be used at the discretion of ground commanders in the ISIS fight. The announcement is the latest in a series of escalations by the Trump administration in the war against ISIS which could signal a prolonged U.S. presence in Syria and Iraq.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command would not comment to The Daily Caller News Foundation on the role these forces may play in Syria. The additional personnel will be “postured there to do all things Mosul, Raqqa, all in between,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson told Congress Wednesday.

U.S. conventional forces could be used in stabilization operations in Syria after the initial local force assault on ISIS’s capital of Raqqa, Army Gen. Joseph Votel intimated to Congress Thursday. The Trump administration is also significantly increasing the number of U.S. personnel inside Syria to support the assault.

The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday it deployed nearly 400 additional troops to Syria to serve in a support capacity for the Syrian Democratic Force’s assault. The troops include U.S. marines to provide artillery support who will set up a firing base just 20 miles away from the terrorist group’s headquarters.

The additional personnel to Syria and Kuwait, are likely part of a larger facet of a new Pentagon plan to “eradicate” ISIS. Trump campaigned heavily on a promise to defeat the terrorist group and ordered Secretary of Defense James Mattis to deliver a series of options to the White House to get rid of the group.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford told a think tank audience in late February it would be “a political-military plan.”

“The grievances of the [Syrian] civil war have to be addressed, the safety and humanitarian assistance that needs to be provided to people have to be addressed, and the multiple divergent stakeholders’ views need to be addressed,” Dunford continued.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

MIGHTY BRANDED

8 musicians who aren’t named Elvis that served in the military

When you think of famous musicians who have honorably served in the United States Armed Forces, the mind immediately goes to Elvis Presley — and how could it not? Photos abound of the handsome, young Elvis in a crisp Army uniform. When he arrived at the airport to attend basic training, the airport was mobbed with screaming fans.

Upon being drafted, Elvis Presley entered the United States Army in spring of 1958 and served until spring of 1960, receiving his discharge from the Army Reserve in 1964. At the time of his draft, he was the most well-known entertainer in the Armed Forces, but he didn’t let his fame get in the way of service. Despite being offered a safer, cushier role in the Special Services as more of an entertainer and recruiting tool, Elvis chose instead to serve as a regular soldier.

However, Elvis isn’t the only famed musician to serve their country. Let’s look at eight other musicians you might be surprised to learn served their country in the United States Armed Forces.


Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

​Ice-T

Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known by his stage name, Ice-T, is one of many young adults who found themselves turning to military service as a way out of a tough situation. Dealing drugs on the streets of Los Angeles to support himself, he knew he needed to turn his life around when his daughter was born.

Marrow enlisted in the Army and served four years in the 25th Infantry Division at the Tropic Lightning Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

During his time in Hawaii, Marrow served as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks. It was during this time that he purchased musical equipment and began work to hone his skills, save money, and prepare to launch a career in music. As Ice-T, Marrow went on to a dynamic career, first as a Grammy Award-winning musician, rapper, and songwriter, then as an actor on television on the hit show Law Order: Special Victims Unit.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Jimi Hendrix

American rock legend Jimi Hendrix remains one of the most influential guitarists of all time, despite an incredibly short career of only four years.

Well known for his groundbreaking instrumentalization on electric guitar and his legendary performance at Woodstock, Hendrix entered the military as one of two choices given to him by police after being caught twice in stolen cars: it was prison or the military.

Hendrix enlisted in May 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and stationed in Kentucky. Hendrix next completed paratrooper training and was given the prestigious Screaming Eagles Award in early 1962.

However, it seems that Hendrix wasn’t well-suited to military service and was given an honorable discharge just six months later. While Hendrix later claimed that he received a medical discharge after breaking his ankle in a parachute jump, he was actually discharged due to “unsuitability” for service.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes
Johnny Cash receives an award from a Marine sergeant during his performance for military personnel at the naval station.

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black was first a man in uniform. Johnny Cash, singer, songwriter, and one of the bestselling musicians of all time, had a career that spanned decades, genres, and generations.

Before he was an award-winning musician, Cash served in the United States Air Force. At age 18 and directly after high school, Cash enlisted and attended basic training at Lackland Air Force Base and technical training at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas.

He was assigned to the 12th Radio Squadron Mobile of the Air Force Security Service in Germany as a Morse code operator, intercepting Soviet transmissions.

His earnings in the military allowed him to buy his first guitar while stationed in Germany and he actually formed his first band, the Landsberg Barbarians, in the Air Force. Upon his discharge, he took advantage of the GI Bill to attend a radio announcing course in Memphis before launching his country music career.

And if it weren’t for his time in Germany, we probably wouldn’t have this version of “I Walk the Line” to contemplate!

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Willie Nelson

Singer, songwriter, and grassroots activist, Willie Nelson is one the most famous voices in country music. He’s well-known for his work supporting American farmers and advocating for the legalization of marijuana through his role as co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

He grew up in Texas during the Great Depression. After tumultuous early years, he moved to Arkansas to live with his grandparents, and he began playing honkytonks to avoid field work.

After he left high school, Nelson enlisted in the Air Force and served for about nine months before receiving a medical discharge due to back issues.

And while he didn’t serve very long, he has stayed passionate about veteran issues throughout his storied career as a singer, songwriter, author, and actor, advocating for increased medical care for veterans and supporting veteran advocacy groups, helping to raise awareness about homelessness among veterans.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Yes, that MC Hammer.

MC Hammer

Stanley Burrell, known professionally as MC Hammer, is an American hip-hop recording artist, dancer, and producer who enjoyed tremendous success during the 1980s and ’90s with hits such as “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit to Quit.”

After graduating from high school in Oakland, Burrell took undergraduate classes in communications. Discouraged by his lack of success, he was at a crossroads. He vacillated between considering work as a drug dealer or a job in the military.

He ultimately decided to join the United States Navy for three years, serving as an Aviation Storekeeper 3rd Class at the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, until his honorable discharge.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

John Coltrane

Jazz legend John Coltrane was one of the most influential saxophonists and composers of all time. Known for his own recordings (more than 50) and his collaboration with other jazz greats, including Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, Coltrane died young of liver cancer but leaves behind an exceptional musical legacy.

To avoid being drafted by the Army in 1945 during World War II, Coltrane enlisted in the Navy on the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. He trained as an apprentice seaman and was sent to Pearl Harbor.

During this time, his musical talents came to light, and he joined the Melody Masters, the base swing band. By the end of his service, he had assumed a leadership role in the band, and it was during this time that he made his first recording with other Navy musicians, playing alto saxophone on jazz standards and bebop tunes.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Tony Bennett

With a career that has spanned more than six decades, Tony Bennett is the living voice of American pop standards, jazz classics and, more recently, contemporary duets with other legends such as Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga. He has earned 19 Grammy awards, two Emmy awards and is a Kennedy Center Honoree. He has sold more than 50 million records worldwide.

However, before he was Tony Bennett, he was Anthony Benedetto, who was drafted into the United States Army in November 1944 during the final stages of World War II. As a replacement infantryman, he served across France and into Germany, and in March 1945, he joined the front line.

During active combat, Bennett narrowly escaped death several times and he participated in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp, where American prisoners of war from the 63rd Division were also freed.

During his service, he also sang with the Army military band under the stage name Joe Bari, and played with many musicians who went on to have post-war music careers. Once discharged, Bennett studied at the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

George Strait with U.S. Army Chief of Staff Peter J. Schoomaker at the 2005 San Antonio Stock Show Rodeo, before Schoomaker swore in a new group of Army recruits in front of rodeo fans.

George Strait

Country music singer, songwriter, and producer, George Strait, AKA the “King of Country,” is considered by many to be one of the most popular and influential country music artists of all time. George Strait is famed for his neo-traditionalist style, his cowboy look and 60 No. 1 Billboard country music hits.

In 1971, Strait eloped with his high school sweetheart, Norma, then joined the United States Army. He was enlisted in the Army from 1971 to 1975 and was stationed in part in Hawaii. While there, he launched what would become a lifelong career, singing with the Army-sponsored band called Rambling Country.

Strait’s commitment to the men and women of the Armed Forces has continued throughout his illustrious career. He even served as the spokesman for the Wrangler National Patriot program, which raises awareness and funds for American wounded and fallen military veterans and their families.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants to know why it failed to launch rockets into space

Russia’s latest space launch failures have prompted authorities to take a closer look into the nation’s struggling space industry, the Kremlin said Dec. 28.


A Russian weather satellite and nearly 20 micro-satellites from other nations were lost following a failed launch from Russia’s new cosmodrome in the Far East on Nov. 28. And in another blow to the Russian space industry, communications with a Russian-built communications satellite for Angola, the African nation’s first space vehicle, were lost following its launch on Dec. 26.

Asked about the failures, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Dec. 28 that authorities warrant a thorough analysis of the situation in the space industry.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes
Luna satellite schematic as drawn by the CIA. (Image: CIA)

Amid the failures, Russian officials have engaged in a round of finger-pointing.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s military industrial complex and space industries, said in a television interview that the Nov. 28 launch from the new Vostochny launch pad in Russia’s Far East failed because the rocket had been programmed to blastoff from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan instead of Vostochny. He accused the Russian space agency Roscosmos of “systemic management mistakes.”

Roscosmos fired back, dismissing Rogozin’s claim of the flawed programming. It did acknowledge some shortcomings that led to the launch failure and said a number of officials were reprimanded.

Rogozin quickly riposted on Facebook, charging that Roscosmos was “trying to prove that failures occur not because of mistakes in management but just due to some ‘circumstances.'”

The cause of the failure of the Angolan satellite hasn’t been determined yet. Communications with the satellite, which was built by the Russian RKK Energia company, a leading spacecraft manufacturer, were lost after it entered a designated orbit.

Also Read: 3 crew members return to earth from International Space Station

Russia has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets to launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station. A trio of astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States arrived at the space outpost last week following their launch from Baikonur.

While Russian rockets have established a stellar reputation for their reliability, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into question Russia’s ability to maintain the same high standards for manufacturing space equipment.

Glitches found in Russia’s Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik is helped out of the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft just minutes after he, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy, landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Bresnik, Nespoli and Ryazanskiy are returning after 139 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 52 and 53 crews onboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The suspension badly dented the nation’s niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches. Last year, Russia for the first time fell behind both the U.S. and China in the number of launches.

While Russia plans to continue to use Baikonur for most of its space launches, it has poured billions of dollars in to build the new Vostochny launch pad. A launch pad for Soyuz finally opened in 2016, but another one for the heavier Angara rockets is only set to be completed in late 2021 and its future remains unclear, drawing questions about the feasibility of the expensive project.

Work at Vostochny also has been dogged by scandals involving protests by unpaid workers and the arrests of construction officials accused of embezzlement.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Russia and US are having separate Taliban peace talks

As the prospect of a negotiated end to the war in Afghanistan is closer than it has ever been, the peace process with the Taliban could be derailed by competing agendas.

Longtime rivals Russia and the United States have backed separate negotiations with different stakeholders, muddling the complex process.

To highlight the confusion, the Taliban first sat down for talks with American negotiators in Qatar before meeting a delegation of powerful Afghan power brokers in Moscow for “intra-Afghan” talks.


Why two simultaneous negotiating processes?

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held a series of direct talks with Taliban negotiators in the Qatari capital, Doha, culminating in the basic framework of a possible peace deal.

Meanwhile, Moscow has organized two peace conferences — the latest on Feb. 5-6, 2019 — that have drawn representatives from Afghanistan’s neighbors, opposition politicians, and the same Taliban negotiators that met with the American delegation in Doha.

Taliban, Afghan Delegations Meet In Moscow

www.youtube.com

Both processes have frozen out the Afghan government, which the Taliban has refused to meet. The militants see the Kabul government as a Western puppet and have said they will negotiate directly with Washington.

Analysts say Moscow is trying to promote itself as a power broker to challenge the U.S.-backed peace process.

Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent think tank in Kabul, says the Russian peace talks are fueled by “Russian political sniping against the [United States].”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Feb. 4, 2019, that the United States was trying to “monopolize” peace talks with the Taliban and was conducting talks in secrecy while keeping regional countries “in the dark.”

Haroun Mir, an Kabul-based political analyst, says it has been the Taliban’s strategy to have two simultaneous tracks for negotiations.

“The Taliban has insisted on negotiating first with the United States and then bypassing the Afghan government and initiating a dialogue with different Afghan political groups,” says Mir. “Thus far they have been successful in dividing the Afghan political elite who have supported the constitutional process in the past 18 years.”

What are the consequences of having two tracks?

Analysts say a major consequence is deepening divisions inside Afghanistan between President Ashraf Ghani’s administration and a host of powerful opposition politicians, including former President Hamid Karzai.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Among those who attended the Moscow meetings were key power brokers who have announced their candidacy to run against Ghani in the July presidential election.

Ruttig says for Moscow not to include the Afghan government was an “affront” and has the strong feel of election campaigning and Russia taking sides.

“A united ‘Kabul camp’ would be better, but maybe this is an illusion anyway,” says Ruttig. “But [unity] was clearly not the desire of the Russian government: this is divide and interfere.”

Ghani is reportedly furious about his administration being left out of both the U.S. and Russian talks.

The president’s office criticized the meeting in Moscow, saying that Afghan politicians attending the gathering were doing so “in order to gain power.” Meanwhile, Kabul fears Washington will make a deal in Doha with the Taliban behind their back.

Analyst Mir says by keeping the Kabul government out of the U.S.- and Russia-backed talks the Taliban wants to “reduce the legitimacy of the Afghan government to a minimum and thus further strengthen [its] bargaining position vis-a-vis the United States and extract maximum advantage.”

Who are the likely winners and losers?

Graeme Smith, an Afghanistan analyst and a consultant for the International Crisis Group, says no one has won or lost because all of the actors have stakes in the outcome.

“If these talks give birth to an inclusive intra-Afghan process, the people of Afghanistan could finally gain relief from the world’s deadliest war,” says Smith. “If the talks fail to include all sides and no durable peace results [from them], the people could suffer another collapse into civil war.”

Sidelined and frustrated, the weak, deeply unpopular Afghan government may feel it is the biggest loser so far.

Mir says it’s not just the government that stands to lose, but “all of those who have defended the constitutional process for the past 18 years.”

Analysts say the talks have given Russia the chance to burnish perceptions of Moscow’s global significance while dealing a fresh blow to Western influence.

Ruttig says Moscow’s role is another assertion that it is “back in the strategic game.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Scottish actor Gerard Butler stopped by the Pentagon in October 2018 to promote his upcoming movie “Hunter Killer” by speaking to the press about how he worked with the Navy to research his role as an submarine captain.

Among the details he revealed about his time aboard the nuclear-powered attack sub USS Houston at Pearl Harbor was a peculiar aspect of how a crew reacts after someone falls overboard.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but when you are doing a man overboard, rather than putting a man overboard, they throw a bag of popcorn into the water,” Butler told reporters.


“Then you spend the next — you have four minutes, because if you are in cold water, he’s not going to make it, and neither is the popcorn — because, actually, the bag breaks open,” he added. “So you spend the next four minutes maneuvering an 8,000-ton sub to try and get next to the popcorn so somebody can jump in and rescue it.”

There’s more than a kernel of truth to Butler’s anecdote.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Sailors stand watch on the conning tower of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee as it returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Feb. 6, 2013.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class James Kimber)

While it isn’t standard, most US submarines do use popcorn for man-overboard drills, Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a public-affairs officer for the Navy’s Atlantic submarine forces, told Business Insider on Oct. 16, 2018.

The popcorn and the bag it comes in are biodegradable. The bag, once the popcorn is popped, is also about the size of the human head and equally hard to see when its bobbing in the ocean, Self-Kyler added. It will also float for a short period, usually less than 10 minutes, and disappear, adding time pressure to the exercise.

Sometimes crewmen will tape two bags together, but once the popcorn is away, Self-Kyler said, it “most accurately represents what a man overboard looks like from a submarine.”

Though different subs will handle things differently, such drills are typically only done while entering or exiting port, as that is generally the only time subs are surfaced. Many crew members have to be involved to carry it out.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Sailors point to “Oscar,” a training dummy, during a man-overboard drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, June 22, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jessica O. Blackwell)

The popcorn, usually pulled from the sub’s general inventory, is popped in a microwave then sent to the top of the conning tower, where it gets thrown overboard.

At that point, Self-Kyler said, sailors on watch will shout that a man has fallen overboard and crew members in the control room will mark its location.

It then becomes the job of navigators and sub drivers on duty to steer the boat back to the location where the popcorn went overboard, “work[ing] together to pinpoint that location.”

Above deck, watch-standers have to keep their eyes on and fingers pointed at the popcorn the whole time, so as to stay focused on the very small object as the submarine manuevers to come back alongside it.

“Every watch-stander is required to be qualified on this kind of operation,” Self-Kyler said. They “have to show the captain they can drive the ship back to that bag of popcorn.”

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

A sailor throws “Oscar,” a man-overboard training dummy, off the port side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan during a man-overboard drill, Jan. 14, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford)

In the event of a real man-overboard, the submarine would also send out an alert to all mariners in the area, telling them via a radio call to keep an eye out for a sailor in the water and relaying their last known position. The sub’s crew would also be mustered for a roll call to identify the missing crewman.

Bags of popcorn aren’t the only things submariners use for man-overboard exercises. They can also use cardboard boxes, Self-Kyler said, though whatever they use also has to be biodegradable. There are also specialized floats or mannequins that sailors use for search-and-rescue drills.

Navy ships do not use popcorn in their man-overboard drills, Jim DeAngio, a spokesman for the Navy’s Atlantic surface forces command, said in an email.

“They primarily use what is referred to as a ‘smoke float,’ a canister that, when dropped into salt water, activates itself,” De Angio added. “It floats and smokes and provides an object to target for rescue.”

A sailor going overboard is not a common occurrence, but it does happen.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

A Navy search-and-rescue swimmer rescues “Oscar” and brings him back to the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale, July 15, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox)

“In a man overboard situation, obviously, we want to recover the sailor as quickly and efficiently as possible,” DeAngio said.

A decade ago, the Navy introduced a Man Over Board Indicator for the float coats sailors working on deck are required to wear. A transmitter in the coat, a receiver in the ship’s pilot house, and a directional finder on a rigid-hull inflatable boat deployed to pick up the sailor were to be used in conjunction to make the rescue process a matter of minutes.

Aircraft carriers, which have open flight decks and carry more crew members than other Navy ships, have nets along the deck to catch sailors before they hit the water. They don’t always work though.

Peter von Szilassy, an airman on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2002, was blown by a jet blast in a bomb-disposal chute, one of the only areas without a safety net. He fell 90 feet into the Persian Gulf and was sucked toward the ship’s 66,000-pound propeller. But he was able to swim free and was picked up with little more than bruises.

Navy search-and-rescue swimmers go through rigorous training to be able to pluck sailors out of the water within minutes — a life-or-death time limit when the sea is freezing.

“When the three whistle blasts are broadcasted you have to be out there. It’s not about you. It’s about the person in the water,” Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Tiscareno said in 2018.

“Whoever is out there, it’s their worst day. They don’t know if they’ll make it back.”

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

Articles

Here’s why your MRE heater says to rest it on a ‘rock or something’

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes


NATICK, Mass. (May 30, 2013) — If you’re familiar with the phrase “rock or something,” then you’ve probably used a Flameless Ration Heater to warm up a Meal, Ready-to-Eat.

To this day, the phrase remains part of a pictogram on the package of the heater, known as the FRH, which was developed at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate and is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013. It refers to directions that advise warfighters to place the FRH at an angle when heating up a Meal, Ready-to-Eat, commonly known as an MRE.

“The term ‘rock or something’ has now reached cult status,” said Lauren Oleksyk, team leader of the Food Processing, Engineering and Technology Team at Combat Feeding. “It’s just taken on a life of its own.”

Oleksyk was there at the beginning with colleagues Bob Trottier and now-retired Don Pickard when the FRH and that memorable phrase were born in 1993.

“We were designing the FRH directions and wanted to show an object to rest the heater on,” Oleksyk recalled. “(Don) said, ‘I don’t know. Let’s make it a rock or something. So we wrote ‘rock or something’ on the object, kind of as a joke.”

The joke has legs. As Oleksyk pointed out, there now are T-shirts and other items for sale that bear those words. “Rock or something” even has its own Facebook page.

Introduced to the heater years ago, famed chef Julia Child insisted on following the package directions and activating it by herself. With no rock handy, she decided to employ a wine glass stem.

“Which is so classic Julia,” Oleksyk said, laughing. “So there have been many things other than the rock or something that have been used. There are many, many Soldiers over the years that have their own personal joke about what they might use in place of a rock.”

The FRH is no joke, however. Adding an ounce and a half of water to the magnesium-iron alloy and sodium in the heater will raise the temperature of an eight-ounce MRE entrée by 100 degrees in about 10 minutes.

“Some of the challenges were keeping it lightweight and low volume, and not requiring a lot to activate it,” Oleksyk said.

The heater’s arrival gave warfighters the option of a hot meal wherever they went and whenever they wanted.

“I’ve heard more feedback on this item than any other item I’ve ever worked on in my career here,” said Oleksyk, who has been at Natick nearly 30 years. “They’re so grateful to have this heater in the MRE. It’s almost always used whenever they have 10 minutes to sit down for lunch.”

Prior to the FRH, warfighters used Trioxane fuel bars with canteen cups and cup stands to heat their MRE entrees. As Oleksyk pointed out, the fuel bars couldn’t be packed alongside food in the MRE package.

“So if the fuel bar and the MRE didn’t marry up in the field,” said Oleksyk, “they really had no way to have a hot meal.”

The FRH has remained essentially the same over the past two decades because, as Oleksyk put it, “it’s tough to find a better chemistry that’s lighter in weight, lower in volume and that heats as well.” A larger version has been developed, however.

“We’ve expanded it to a group ration,” Oleksyk said. “So now we have a larger heater that is used to heat the Unitized Group Ration-Express. We call that ration a ‘kitchen in a carton.’ It serves 18 Soldiers.”

The next-generation MRE heater is being tested now, and it will eliminate the need to use one of the most precious commodities in the field.

“The next version of this is a waterless version,” Oleksyk said. “It’s an air-activated heater, so you wouldn’t have to add any water to activate it at all, but that’s still in development and will have to perform better than the FRH overall if it’s ever to replace it.”

Oleksyk remembered sitting on a mountain summit one time during a weekend hike with friends. Suddenly, she heard laughter behind her.

“I hear a guy — sure enough, he says, ‘Yeah, I need a rock or something,'” said Oleksyk, who turned to see him wearing fatigues, holding a Flameless Ration Heater, and telling his buddies how great it was.

“So it’s far reaching,” Oleksyk said. “It really had an impact on the warfighter.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

Marilyn Monroe’s first job was building drones for the Army

In 1942, young Norma Jean Dougherty married Jim Dougherty, a Van Nuys, Calif. factory worker. The next year, her husband enlisted in the Merchant Marine and, by 1944, was sent to the Pacific Theater of World War II. Then just 18 years old, Norma Jean moved in with his parents in Van Nuys and began working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory.

That’s where an Army Air Forces photographer captured some photos of her at work, and her life changed forever.


Norma Jean had a rough life up until that point. Her mother was mentally unstable and she was placed in and out of foster homes and orphanages until she was 16. That’s when she married Jim Dougherty in an effort to avoid being sent back to another orphanage. She became a housewife for a brief time until the Second World War forced her husband to join the Merchant Marine and she was sent to work in a factory.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes
The newly christened Norma Jean Dougherty’s wedding photo, 1942.

That factory was making an early flying drone used by the military as aerial targets, the Radioplane OQ-2. It was while working at the Van Nuys airport-based Radioplane plant that Norma Jean was photographed at work by a photographer from the Army Air Forces First Motion Picture Unit, who capturing morale photos for Yank Magazine.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Norma Jean Dougherty working on a propeller unit at the Radioplane Factory in Van Nuys, Calif., 1944.

(U.S. Army Air Forces)

The photographer, Pvt. David Conover, was sent to the factory by his commander, Capt. Ronald Reagan, who wanted photos of pretty girls hard at work on the homefront for the boys fighting overseas.

I moved down the assembly line, taking shots of the most attractive employees,” Conover later wrote. “None was especially out of the ordinary. I came to a pretty girl putting on propellers and raised the camera to my eye. She had curly ash blond hair and her face was smudged with dirt. I snapped her picture and walked on. Then I stopped, stunned. She was beautiful. Half child, half woman, her eyes held something that touched and intrigued me.
Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

One of Norma Jean Dougherty’s first modeling photos.

In the end, Conover didn’t use any of Dougherty’s photos for the work he was assigned to do for the Army that day. He would end up taking leave from the Army Air Corps to spend two weeks shooting Norma Jean and teaching her how to pose for the camera. Eventually, she signed on with the Blue Book Modeling Agency in 1945, sometimes using the name Jean Norman.

The photographer was soon sent off to the Philippines and lost contact with Norma Jean. It wasn’t until 1953, when her career was taking off, that he learned his discovery was the bombshell everyone knew as Marilyn Monroe. She credited this to Conover all her life, and the two were reunited briefly on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

Marilyn Monroe and Emmeline Snively on the set of ‘No Business Like Show Business.’

Her first modeling gigs were mostly advertisements and men’s magazines, as she had more of a “pin-up” figure than one of a fashion model, according to her agency. It was the Blue Book Modeling Agency’s founder, Miss Emmeline Snively, who introduced Norma Jean to the movie industry.

The rest is history.

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