The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition) - We Are The Mighty
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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

Here are the things you need to know about right now to be the “smart one” in your unit:


Now: Here’s what would happen if every US state declared war on each other

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The first battle of WWII featured one of the last cavalry charges ever

On August 23, 1939, German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov signed a non-aggression pact between their two countries. Contained within the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, was a secret protocol for the division of Poland and the Baltic states between German and Soviet “spheres of influence.”


Just eight days later, German operatives disguised as Polish saboteurs carried out a false flag operation against at German radio station at Gleiwitz. On September 1, without a formal declaration of war, German forces invaded Poland in an operation that many historians agree was the opening battle of World War II in Europe.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Nazi Armor moves through Poland in 1939.

Polish planning did not anticipate an attack from Germany before 1942, so the Poles were still building up and modernizing their military. Without much of a defense, Warsaw relied on its British and French allies for protection in the event of an attack.

The audacity of the Nazi invasion caught everyone by surprise, and the Poles were left to fight the Germans with anything they had at hand – including World War I-era horse cavalry.

Despite the dawn of the mechanized era of warfare, the Polish army included horse-mounted cavalry based largely on its experience during the Polish-Soviet war, where it decimated Soviet lines at the Battle of Komarów. But as technology advanced, the Poles learned that cavalry could be used as mounted infantry armed with the latest weapons and able to quickly move within the battlespace. To this end, Polish cavalry carried machine guns and anti-tank rifles but still retained their sabers on the chance that they might be useful in a typical cavalry fight.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Polish cavalry in Sochaczew (1939).

On the first day of the Nazi invasion — 77 years ago today — the Polish cavalry met the Germans at the battle of Tuchola Forest. The Germans caught the Polish army off guard and were advancing quickly through what defenses Poland could muster. In an effort to save the main Polish force, the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans – a cavalry unit – were deployed to cover the retreat.

At the Tuchola Forest, the Polish cavalry spotted German infantry in a clearing. Polish commander Col. Mastalerz ordered a charge in hopes of taking the Nazis by surprise and dispersing the German unit. He ordered the 1st squadron commander, Eugeniusz Świeściak, to lead two squadrons in the charge.

Wielding modern weaponry along with their sabers, the cavalrymen surprised the Nazis and were soon in close combat. The Germans were quickly overwhelmed.

The Polish victory was short-lived. As the German infantry retreated, armored cars mounted with machine guns appeared from the woods and opened fire on the Uhlans. Caught in the open with no time to deploy their heavy weapons, the cavalrymen rushed for cover. Świeściak was killed and Mastalerz later fell to the German guns trying to rescue his comrade.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
German armored cars at Tuchola Forest in 1939.

Despite suffering numerous casualties, the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans completed their mission and stalled the German advance in their sector. This allowed other Polish units to fall back to a secondary defensive line. The Uhlans’ cavalry charge on horseback would be one of the last cavalry charges in history.

When reporters surveyed the battlefield the next day, they saw numerous dead horses and cavalrymen — with their sabers — and German armor still nearby. This led one Italian journalist to the incorrect conclusion that the Poles had charged German tanks with nothing but swords and lances. German propaganda quickly took this version of the story and used it as a means to convey the superiority of the German army and its technology.

The myth was then perpetuated further by the Soviets after the war to show the ineptitude of Polish commanders. The myth continued long after the war, with some Poles even retelling it as a story of the gallantry of the Polish military.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Polish Cavalry during World War II .

Ultimately, the 18th Pomeranian Uhlans would only hold out for three more days before ceasing to exist as a fighting unit. Poland would continue to resist, though once the USSR joined the Nazi operation on September 17 to claim their portion of the country, it was all but over. Most Polish resistance was finished by the end of the month, but a brave few held out until October 6 before finally surrendering.

Many other units, as well as the Polish government, managed to escape the Nazis and take up the fight from abroad in other Allied nations. Polish troops would later return to help liberate Europe, taking part in such famous battles as Operation Market-Garden. Unfortunately, Poland would never regain most of the territory seized by the Soviet Union during 1939, greatly reducing the land area of Poland to this day.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iranian protests have ebbed, but the anger remains

A 19-year-old participant in Iran’s recent street protests says that while the wave of public demonstrations has subsided, the antiestablishment unrest in December and early January opened many Iranians’ eyes and the underlying anger remains.


“Nothing [the authorities] do will decrease people’s anger and frustration,” Hadi, the son of a working-class family in the northwestern city of Tabriz, told RFE/RL.

Tabriz is one of more than 90 cities and towns where protests were unleashed after a Dec. 28 demonstration in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city, over rising prices and other grievances.

At least 22 people are thought to have been killed in the unrest, which targeted government policies but also featured chants against Iran’s clerically dominated system and attacks on police and other official institutions.

The demonstrations have tapered off in the past week amid a pushback by authorities that included harsh warnings and a conspicuous show of force by security troops, the blocking of Internet access and social media, and reports of three deaths in custody and thousands of arrests.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian officials have blamed the flare-up on foreign “enemies.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. (Photo from Khamenei.ir)

But President Hassan Rohani took a different tack, leaving open the possibility of foreign influence but adding, “We can’t say that whoever who has taken to the street has orders from other countries.” Rohani acknowledged that “people had economic, political, and social demands” and said Iranians “have a legitimate right to demand that we see and hear them and look into their demands.”

Iranian officials were said to have eased some of the price increases stoking some of the protests.

Won’t get ‘fooled’ again

Hadi, who asked RFE/RL not to publish his last name, dismissed that and other steps as mere attempts to ward off public anger in the short term and said he thought such tactics have lost their effectiveness.

“They may decrease the price of eggs, thinking that they can fool people. But people are now very much aware,” Hadi said.

Hadi talked of his own frustration at being accepted into Iran’s Islamic Azad University but being unable to afford the school’s fees.

“My father says [Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] promised that we won’t even pay for water, [that revolutionaries] said they would give everyone free housing,” he said, adding that four decades later many Iranians struggle to make ends meet.

Related: Everything you need to know about the protests rocking Iran

Hadi said he and dozens of others took to the streets of Tabriz to complain of high prices, poverty, and repression in a country where he says authorities “bully” citizens.

The protests, Iran’s largest since a disputed election sent millions into the streets in 2009, were initially fueled by economic grievances and mostly young citizens frustrated by an ailing economy and a potentially bleak future.

Some Iranians envisaged rising prosperity two years after an international deal traded sanctions relief for checks on Tehran’s nuclear program, and Rohani campaigned for election in 2013 and reelection last year pledging mild reforms and more jobs.

Angry young men

A journalist in Tehran who did not want to be named attributed the protests to “angry young men” disappointed by reformists and conservatives, with no hope in the future.

“They have nothing to lose,” said the reporter, who had witnessed several protests in the Iranian capital.

The demonstrations morphed quickly into protests against the clerical establishment and the country’s leaders. Protesters called for an “Iranian republic” instead of an “Islamic republic,” while some complained that the clerics who have been ruling Iran since the 1979 revolution should “get lost.”

Many demonstrators also complained of Iran’s actions in the Middle East, including its military and other support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and aid to militants in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. They said Tehran should instead focus its resources on Iranians.

“Where in the world does a government spend its money on another country?” Hadi said. “[Assad] supports Iran because he is investing Iran’s money in his country.”

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Iran protests. (Screenshot from Nano GoleSorkh YouTube)

Hadi said he was frustrated at Rohani for abandoning social and economic promises: “He should take action, not just talk. He made many promises four years ago, but he hasn’t achieved them.”

But Hadi primarily blamed Khamenei — who, as supreme leader, holds the final word on religious and political affairs in Iran — for the state of affairs in the country, including the ailing economy and corruption.

“He is the main culprit, and his establishment,” Hadi said, adding that Iranian leaders “don’t know how to rule.”

Khamenei was the target of some of the chants, with protesters shouting, “Death to the Dictator!” and, “Death to Khamenei!” in many places.

Turning point

Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said last week that the people and security forces had ended the unrest, which it said was fomented by Iran’s foreign enemies.

Former student leader Ali Afshari, who has been tortured in an Iranian jail for protesting against the establishment, also warned that there could be more unrest in Iran’s future.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Photo from CounterExtremism.com)

“The forces that took part in these protests are different than those behind other demonstrations we’ve seen in past years,” said Afshari, who now lives in the United States. “They came out because of their basic needs; and since the establishment has serious problems on the economic front, it doesn’t have the ability to respond to these needs.”

Afshari predicted the latest wave of protests would mark a “turning point” in Iran’s modern political history.

“The geographical scope of these protests were unprecedented in Iran’s recent history. Within a week, protests were held spontaneously in 82 cities across Iran.”

Meanwhile in Tabriz, Hadi insisted that the rage that sent him and others into to the streets won’t go away.

“This regime has to go, that’s what I want,” he said. “In Tabriz, we say that now the regime is even afraid or our silence.”

Accounts are just starting to emerge of detainees locked up in connection with the protests, and Iranian officials continue to block many social-media networks and other sources of information, including Western radio and television.

“Even if there are no more protests [right now], it will explode one day,” Hadi said. “This is not the end.”

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SecDef says failed coup in Turkey won’t affect ISIS campaign

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Ash Carter shakes hands with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a meeting of defense ministers from the coalition to counter ISIS at Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 20, 2016. | DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley


Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sought to minimize Wednesday the impact of the failed coup in Turkey and the ensuing purge of military officers on the NATO alliance and the campaign against ISIS.

Despite the recent anti-U.S. rhetoric from the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has demanded the extradition of a Muslim cleric in Pennsylvania, Carter said, “We support the democratically elected government.”

The secretary added, “I don’t have any indication” that the failed coup and Erdogan’s tough response would affect Turkey’s continuing membership in NATO. “The alliance is very strong, our relationship is very strong,” he said of Turkey, a founding member of NATO.

Carter also said he expected commercial power that was cut to the U.S. air base at Incirlik in southeastern Turkey following the coup attempt last Friday to be restored shortly, along with full flight operations that are vital to the air campaign against ISIS in Syria.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford phoned his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, on Wednesday and they “broadly discussed operations in Incirlik and the deep commitment the U.S. has to Turkey.”

Carter spoke at a news conference at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, following the opening session of two days of meetings with the defense and foreign ministers of more than 30 nations in the anti-ISIS coalition on the next steps to eliminate the terror group’s remaining strongholds.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were no-shows at Andrews. Turkey’s ambassador to the U.S., Serdar Kilic, represented his government at the meetings, which will continue at the State Department on Thursday.

After failing to make contact with Isik in the aftermath of the coup, Carter said they spoke by phone Tuesday and he told Isik, “I was glad that he was safe and the ministry was functioning. He assured me very clearly that nothing that happened over the weekend will interrupt their support” for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

Erdogan responded to the attempted coup with a wide-ranging purge of the ranks of the military, police, judiciary, media and academia.

By some counts, more than 50,000 people have been fired or suspended, and more than 9,000 have been detained on suspicion of supporting the coup that Erdogan has blamed on supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in Pennsylvania.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup, but the Turkish government on Tuesday said that paperwork had been filed with the State Department demanding his extradition. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to review the extradition request while adding that the U.S. would adhere strictly to the law.

The purge has devastated the ranks of the Turkish military, with at least 118 generals and admirals now under detention, including the commander of Incirlik air base, which is shared by the U.S. 39th Air Base Wing and the Turkish air force.

Erdogan told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the attempted coup, which left at least 240 dead and more than 1,000 wounded, was carried out by a minority within the armed forces.

“It is clear that they are in the minority,” Erdogan said. “This organization that we called a terrorist organization [Gulen’s] is trying to make the minority dominate the majority. We have taken all the steps necessary to prevent such an event.”

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, analyst Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations said the failed coup and Erdogan’s harsh response had reduced U.S.-Turkey relations to their “lowest point” in recent times.

“It’s hard to refer to Turkey as a democracy,” Cook said. The U.S. “has to start asking questions about the value of Turkey as an ally,” but has been reluctant to do so because of Turkey’s membership in NATO and the importance of Incirlik air base in the fight against ISIS, Cook said.

However, “the Turks have been reluctant to get involved in fight against the Islamic State,” Cook said. “By their own admission, they’re much more concerned about Kurdish nationalism.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why lying about military service is a crime rarely prosecuted

The Times Free Press in November 2016 published a story that included information about Vietnam veteran Stephen D. Holloway, who was speaking at a Veterans Day event in Pikeville, Tenn., and claimed to be the most-decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. Holloway’s public claims were challenged by veterans of Vietnam and other conflicts, and the Times Free Press has spent more than a year investigating his military record. To date, Holloway maintains his claims are accurate, though few of his medals and awards have convincing documentation. This is part 2 of a two-day series.


The U.S. Supreme Court deemed lying about military service or medals a matter of free speech when in 2012 it struck down the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Intentionally lying about, embellishing or fabricating one’s military service, medals or awards was protected speech under the First Amendment, the court ruled. But in 2013, President Barack Obama signed a revised version of the Stolen Valor Act that defined the violation as relating to fraudulent claims about military service “with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit.”

In other words, lies that materially benefited the person who uttered them could be a criminal violation. That’s aside from the fact that many veterans feel lies about military records or medals diminishes the sacrifices made by others.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Stephen Holloway (Image This Ain’t Hell Fair Use)

The embellishment of military service records is not rare. But it is rarely prosecuted by federal authorities under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013.

Mary Schantag, chairwoman of the POW Network, has investigated hundreds of cases in which people’s lofty claims about their military service turned out to be false.

She said that, without a prosecutor willing to take on a stolen valor case, the best way to fight back usually is to publicly question a person’s claims.

“If he was asked, did he refuse to provide orders? Did he claim they burned? Did he claim he lost them? Did he claim they’re secret?” Schantag said.

“The ball basically is in his court, and there would be a lot of guys out there asking the same question: Why is it on his DD-214? [military discharge papers] Where’s the rest of it? Where’s the orders? Where’s the evidence?”

Schantag said she has seen close to 100 cases in which false information got into military records, whether through self-editing, intimidation of a clerk who handled documents or other means.

“Unless there are orders for this someplace, unless [the claimant] has witnesses, it’s still questionable,” she said.

Violation of the Stolen Valor Act is punishable by a fine and up to a year in prison. The problem is finding a federal agency with the resources and staffing to devote to the cases, Schantag said.

“They’re not going to drop their work on terrorism because we’ve got a guy claiming eight Purple Hearts,” Schantag said. “It’s common sense. That’s reality. But the state level may have the ability to pick that up. It’s a federal crime in most instances, falsifying military records but it pales in comparison to the level of other crimes going on that the FBI has to go after.”

Several states have stolen valor laws on the books, including Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, according to news reports.

Also Read: These civilians get pretty creative with their terms for ‘stolen valor’

Schantag’s voice began to break when she described her passion for the issue.

“It is to make sure our military history and the lives lost to fight for freedom, to make sure those things are accurately told,” she said. “These liars are changing military history and if you think about it, 50 to 100 years from now, who’s going to be able to figure out the truth or a lie?”

Stolen valor takes away from those who spilled blood and, in some cases, lost their lives, she said.

“You get these guys that want that status,” Schantag said. “But they didn’t earn it. They don’t have the nightmares these other guys wake up with because of what they went through. They just want the recognition. They don’t want the pain. They don’t want the nightmares. They just want to be somebody’s hero, and it doesn’t work that way.”

Stolen valor has been a high-profile issue in East Tennessee and the region before.

Charles Kaczmarczyk and his wife, Martha, were the focus of an NBC “Dateline” program titled “Secrets in the Smoky Mountains” that aired in the fall of 2016, revealing how a Veterans Affairs investigation showed they faked military service and disabilities to obtain fraudulent benefits.

The investigation also led to the revelation that Martha Kaczmarczyk murdered her ex-husband as the con began. News reports detailed an initial indictment accusing Charles Kaczmarczyk of creating fake Air Force documents showing medals and decorations he did not earn, as the couple reaped benefits in their social status and finances.

The Monroe County couple is in prison now, with Martha sentenced to 50 years for her ex-husband’s murder.

In April, military veteran and former Holly Springs, Ga., police officer Shane Ladner was convicted by a Cherokee County jury on six felony counts of making false statements. Jurors found he lied about awards he received from the Army in the early 1990s, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Ladner had told people he carried out top-secret missions in Central America, Cuba and Somalia. He led people to believe he was a decorated war hero who was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received during a firefight in Central America, according to the Journal.

Jurors convicted Ladner of submitting a falsified DD-214 to his former employers and to the Cherokee County Tag Office to obtain a tax-exempt Purple Heart license plate for his Ford F-150.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Purple heart medals. USMC photo by Cpl. Sara A. Carter

In a 2016 story about a Veterans Day ceremony in Pikeville, Tenn., Vietnam veteran Stephen Douglas Holloway told the Times Free Press he was a POW and had earned more than 50 medals, including nine Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars, three Army Commendation Medals, three presidential citations and scores of others.

But those medals were not all listed on Holloway’s military severance documents the newspaper obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, part of the National Archives.

A primary release paper, the DD-214, is given to all military service members when they are discharged. Holloway has two DD-214s filed in the National Archive for his first enlistment. They’re identical except for the awards listed.

One of the National Archive copies and a matching copy provided by a family member show Holloway earned a National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and a Vietnam Campaign Medal.

The other says he also earned “(9) PURPLE HEARTS, BRONZE STAR, ARCOM W/V, SILVER STAR.”

Veteran students of military documents and fakery contacted by the Times Free Press saw several problems with that DD-214.

The awards are out of order, for one thing, and the rarity of a Silver Star, in combination with the other suspicious claims, raises questions about that award, as well. Of the 60 million people to have served in the American military, only about 130,000 earned the Silver Star, experts said.

Bruce Kendrick, a member of Ernie Pyle Chapter 1945 of the Military Order of Purple Hearts, said Holloway’s failure to provide proof of his awards is suspicious, too. Decorated veterans usually are happy to produce documentation of their service and medals, he said.

“If somebody sees me wearing this [military veteran’s] hat and they say, ‘I don’t believe you,’ then I’ll prove it. I don’t mind it. It’s not going to offend me or anything like that,” Kendrick said. “I’ll get out my DD-214 and if that doesn’t satisfy them, I’ll meet them somewhere else and I’ll bring them these things, and I’ll bring these pictures and I’ll bring them these orders and let them read them.

“It’s that important to me,” he said.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

Two national experts in the area of stolen valor contend that anyone awarded nine Purple Hearts would be a national hero, a legend.

The fact that no one has heard of Holloway is one of many red flags raised, said Anthony Anderson, founder and CEO of Guardian of Valor LLC and a retired Army staff sergeant.

Virginian Doug Sterner, founder of the organization Home of Heroes and its website, echoes Anderson’s assessment. Sterner and his wife, Pam, in the last decade or so played a role in the early versions of the federal legislation.

Sterner noted details of the major decorations listed on Holloway’s DD-214. Pointing to horizontal alignment of the type and some differences in the shape of the characters and the spaces between them, he said the document looks like “it went through at least two iterations on at least two typewriters.”

Also, Sterner said the awards are in reverse order of the way they should be listed, with the most valorous medals first and the lesser ones — the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal — last.

“It’s obvious to me that those four awards were added to the DD-214 and were not put on there when the DD-214 was actually generated,” Sterner said.

Sterner said a fire at the National Personnel Records Center on July 12, 1973, destroyed 16-18 million military personnel files. Because of that, veterans are allowed to submit paperwork to be placed in their files, an opportunity that could be tempting for people who wanted to embellish their records.

Also Read: This state just made it a crime to lie about military service

Records show Holloway is a Vietnam veteran who served almost 27 months as a supply clerk with the 71st Transportation Battalion between Jan. 5, 1967, and Aug. 17, 1969, before being honorably discharged as an E-5, or Specialist Second-Class.

A Statement of Service obtained by the newspaper dated Aug. 1, 1983, said Holloway was honorably transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve on Aug. 17, 1969, where he remained until he was honorably discharged Sept. 7, 1971. Then he re-enlisted Sept. 8, 1971, for four years but was discharged “under honorable conditions” in just over 11 months.

According to The Fort Hood Sentinel, an Army newspaper, there are five types of discharge: Honorable; General, Under Honorable Conditions; Under Other than Honorable Conditions; Bad Conduct; and Dishonorable.

The documents obtained by the newspaper show Holloway’s rank at his second discharge as E-4, which is lower than E-5. The documents did not explain the difference, and other paperwork obtained by the Times Free Press — “2-1” jackets, manila document holders with an index listing the contents — link many of the claimed medals to the time period associated with the Army Reserve, despite the fact that the box for listing “wounds” is empty though Holloway claimed to have been wounded in combat nine times. Officials have said the 2-1 forms can be modified by civilians or veterans.

Anderson said that, given the medals he claims, Holloway should have at least maintained his rank or been given a significant promotion, unless there was a problem with his service.

The Times Free Press has asked the National Personnel Records Center for documents related to Holloway’s second tour of duty. The paper also contacted Holloway’s family members throughout the past year but, beyond providing one of the DD-214s the newspaper has now obtained, they have declined to participate in the story.

There are three vehicles at Holloway’s Hixson residence, two that bear Tennessee-issued Purple Heart license plates and one that has a Tennessee-issued Silver Star plate. The Times Free Press has verified that all three are registered in Holloway’s name.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
DD-214 1955 (Image Wikipedia)

Is there an investigation underway in Holloway’s case?

Since early summer, Anderson and Sterner’s requests for Holloway’s military service records have been stymied. Both say they were told the records had been released to someone else or possibly another government agency. The Times Free Press shared the records it obtained so far with the military experts and veterans who assisted with the story.

Anderson and Sterner said they have encountered only two reasons for the files to be removed by another government agency: an investigation to add earned commendations or awards or an investigation into a problem in the record.

When the United States as a nation was in its infancy, President George Washington even weighed in on the issue of claiming unearned military awards. On Aug. 7, 1782, as a military general, Washington issued a general order creating several new military decorations for the Continental Army, among them the Badge of Military Merit, which would later become the Purple Heart when it was reconstituted by General Douglas MacArthur in 1932, according to the website dedicated to the history of the first president, mountvernon.org.

“[S]hould any who are not entitled to these honors have the insolence to assume the badges of them they shall be severely punished,” Washington states in the order.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the military is starting to crack down on the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’

Recently, a new “challenge” trend has emerged on the internet. This time around, people are eating single-load Tide Pods and, with this reason-defying phenomenon, comes a wave of memes defending the pods and even videos of teenagers actually eating them.


It’s called the “Tide Pod Challenge.” What started out as a joke about how the colors and smells of a Tide Pod are candy-like (kind of like a larger version of a Fruit Gusher) quickly got swept away, following Poe’s law, by idiots. A large majority of people who defend eating them are just trolling. They — and others — understand that eating laundry detergent is f*cking toxic.

And yet, there’re at least a few dumbasses that don’t get the joke and are actually eating the damn things.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

The Duffel Blog released a satirical article about Marine Corps leaders telling Marines to stop eating Tide Pods. Their article was a great piece of satire, joking that the officials feared an uptick in sick Marines as others “pass on troublesome rumors that they can eat Tide Pods to give them more energy on hikes or give them a boost in upper body strength.”

But in at least one Army AIT, they actually are cracking down on Tide Pods. Posted on The Salty Soldier Facebook page, someone sent in proof that their sergeants were taking away their laundry pods.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
(Image via Salty Soldier)

If you do a little digging, you’ll find that there are other users on social media talking about how, usually in Basic or AIT, other privates are eating them. We’re dumbfounded, but don’t be surprised if this Friday’s safety brief includes a reminder to not eat toxic chemicals, no matter what you read on the internet.

Besides, if you eat one and post it to YouTube, your video will be taken down and you’ll basically just poison yourself for nothing. To everyone who thinks this is an actual problem, you can relax knowing that it’s just a terrible joke that will die down sooner or later.

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It’s time for the F-35 to start blowing up old F-16s

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The first QF-16 target aircraft seen at Tyndall Air Force Base in 2012. | US Air Force photo by Chris Cokeing


Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle of the US Air Force recently declared a squadron of 15 unmanned F-16s operationally capable, IHS Jane’s reports.

These drone versions of the F-16, called QF-16s, will provide targets for the Air Force as it tests out new weapons capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“The QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target will provide the next generation of combat training and testing for US warfighters,” a Boeing statement on the drones said.

While the old F-16s may seem like costly targets, the Air Force is touting them as a more realistic opponent than what was previously available, and they are economical to some extent because they’re made from older, retired F-16 airframes.

“The QF-16 will replace the existing QF-4 fleet and provide a higher-capability, fourth-generation aerial target that is more representative of today’s targets and threats,” the Boeing statement continued.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Having realistic targets to train against will help the F-35 pilots. F-35 Joint Program Office

“This leap forward in airframe capabilities, combined with advanced electronic pods, will allow us to properly test and evaluate our 5th generation aircraft and weapons,” Lt. Col. Matthew Garrison, the commander of the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, told C4ISRNET in an email.

In fact, an F-35 already participated in a test in which a QF-16 drone was shot down, though it did so with an SM-6 missile fired from a land-based silo.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marine Corps suspends physical fitness tests (PFT)

As the Marine Corps continues to adjust fire in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, has ordered a halt to Physical Fitness Tests (PFTs) across the Corps until further notice. Despite testing being suspended, however, Marines are still expected to stay in fighting shape.


Marines, the PFT requirement for this semi-annual period is cancelled in accordance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Our fitness to fight remains a priority, and I expect each of us to continue to maintain our fighting condition. Find details in a forthcoming MARADMIN.

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“Marines, the PFT requirement for this semi-annual period is cancelled in accordance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Our fitness to fight remains a priority, and I expect each of us to continue to maintain our fighting condition. Find details in a forthcoming MARADMIN.” General Berger wrote.

The forthcoming MARADMIN, or Marine Administrative Message, will likely provide further guidance upon its release, including when Marines can expect to commence testing again.

The Marine Corps PFT, which consists of three timed events, is one of two fitness tests the Marine Corps uses to assess the physical readiness of each Marine. The PFT consists of dead hang pull ups (which can be substituted for push ups), crunches, and a three mile run. Because Marines do their crunches with a spotter that both holds their knees and keeps tally of the repetitions, it may have been deemed impossible to effectively practice social distancing during the execution of the test. Other events do not necessarily include such close proximity to other Marines, but may still have resulted in unnecessary exposure.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

(Marine Corps photo by: Lance Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torre)

The military as a whole has been taking proactive steps to ensure the health and safety of service members, their families, and civilian DoD personnel. Recently, all members of the military were ordered to wear cloth masks in circumstances that don’t allow for social distancing, and everyone on base, regardless of whether they are military or civilian, are expected to wear masks when in close proximity with others.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

(Lance Cpl. Zachary T. Beatty/ Marine Corps)

Despite multiple overlapping initiatives, the military has seen a sharp rise in the number of infected service members in recent weeks, many of which hail from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Thus far, nearly 700 Sailors from the Roosevelt have tested positive for the coronavirus. The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group has been ordered to remain at sea for the time being in order to ensure the safety of the crew and the readiness of America’s rapid response to any potential threats.

Marines have played an active role in numerous DoD efforts relating to COVID-19, including a small detachment of Marines deployed to Guam to support the recovery of the Roosevelt’s crew. Marines from Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment made headlines around the world last week when they sprinted life-saving oxygen tanks to ambulances waiting to transfer COVID-19 patients that were stuck waiting in traffic.

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

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National Guard chief says ‘tie goes to the soldier’ in California re-enlistment bonus scandal

The head of the National Guard said Oct. 26 that the Pentagon will continue to investigate re-enlistment bonuses paid to thousands of California National Guard soldiers a decade ago and will force those who wrongfully accepted them to pay the money back.


Chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said his office is looking into more than 13,600 cases that could be fraudulent, but he admitted investigators have to prove that the soldier knew they were accepting upwards of $15,000 they didn’t qualify for.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Sgt. Jeffrey Nelan, a Infantryman with the 184th Security Force Assistance Team, California National Guard, plays with Afghan children during a leadership engagement at the Afghan Uniformed Police headquarters in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 25, 2013. | U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Harold Flynn

“The tie goes to the soldier,” Lengyel said at a breakfast meeting with defense reporters in Washington. “If their hands are clean where this soldier is doing their duty and doing their job, it is not our intent to try to enforce this hardship on them 10 years later.”

A nationwide furor erupted after a Los Angeles Times story revealed the California National Guard was demanding repayment with interest for some bonuses it doled out to its Guard troops as an incentive to re-enlist during the height of the Iraq war. The former head of the  state’s Guard incentive program was later convicted of filing over $15 million in false claims and the bureau began looking into the scope of the problem in 2012.

Some soldiers, the Times story alleges, have been forced to pay pack tens of thousands of dollars to the government after nearly a decade — some who sustained severe injuries during their subsequent deployments and have been financially ruined by the errors.

President Obama weighed in on the scandal Oct. 25 and reportedly ordered the Pentagon to speed up the audits, but he stopped short of asking for a blanket amnesty, the Times said.

Pentagon chief Ash Carter said in a statement the next day that he’s ordered a suspension of the paybacks and has asked his office to establish a more streamlined process to investigate fraud claims and allow Guard soldiers a speedier appeal.

“This process has dragged on too long, for too many service members,” Carter said. “Too many cases have languished without action. That’s unfair to service members and to taxpayers.”

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Guard officials claim over 13,600 questionable bonuses were paid out to California soldiers in the mid-2000s — some for re-enlistment incentives, others for education reimbursement. About 1,100 bonuses were given to soldiers who officials allege were not entitled to them, about 4,000 were error free and about 5,300 had paperwork errors. There are still about 3,200 that Guard officials are still trying to track down.

So far about 2,000 soldiers have been asked to pay back all or part of their bonus cash, Guard officials say.

Lengyel explained some of the more egregious cases included officers who took the cash to re-up when the money was intended to help fill the enlisted ranks, some who took bonuses to stay in certain jobs even though they were already in the process of changing their roles in the Army Guard and others who took re-enlisted bonuses despite being on track to take a slot at officer candidate’s school.

“Was there an intent to trick the system, to take advantage of the fact that apparently there’s some new sheriff in town who’s handing out bonuses?” Lengyel wondered. “Unfortunately with all of this was mixed in some proven intent to defraud the government, in some cases. There was some intent to take money knowingly that you weren’t entitled to by some people.”

But he added that likely the vast majority of soldiers who took the bonuses didn’t have any intent to illegally work the system.

“We think there are a lot of people out there who were 22-year-old soldiers who were given information that they thought by all means they were entitled to the money,” Lengyel said. “They were told they could take this money, they were told that they were entitled to this money, they took the money, the re-enlisted and they went about whatever they were doing and they were given bad data.”

Guard officials say there are more cases of alleged fraud in the re-enlistment bonuses for National Guard troops in other states, but that they pale in comparison to the California errors. Lengyel said in all about $50 million in questionable bonuses were paid out in California during the period, and the Guard is investigating each one individually.

The National Guard is granting exceptions, he added, particularly for those who were paid bonuses without submitting records that they were actually eligible. Lengyel said, for example, a bonus paid out to a soldier that didn’t forward a copy of a high school diploma will likely be given a pass since he couldn’t have joined the Guard without it in the first place.

“That’s a technicality by which this member shouldn’t be levied a fine,” Lengyel said. “The blanket rule is to do the right thing.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been outraged by the story, with some already calling for an investigation into the issue and forwarding language to an upcoming defense bill that would give some bonus recipients amnesty. National Guard officials say they did notify Congress of the potential for bonus fraud but nothing was done.

Vet groups have been quick to side with California guardsmen, arguing it’s unfair to put so many soldiers in financial peril due to a former military official’s malfeasance.

“If any of these people were misled about their own eligibility for the bonus with the intent to keep them on, they shouldn’t be held responsible for that,” said John Hoellwarth, National Communications Director for AMVETS. “We think the benefit of the doubt has to be with the soldiers,”

Lengyel said his office is sending investigators to California to help speed up the process of determining whether a bonus or incentive was paid in error in hopes of helping affected soldiers get on with their lives.

“We’re focused on helping those service members who were doing the right thing and served their country and thought they were entitled to a bonus to get this out of their past and out of their way,” Lengyel said. “And we want to help California do that, and help the service members do that as quickly as we possibly can.”

MIGHTY FIT

6 pieces of equipment you need for your home gym

It’s proven that working out three to five times a weeks increases morale, decreases waistlines, and can even help save money in medical bills over time.

Nowadays, going to the gym can be a freakin’ hassle. You have to get into the car, drive through traffic, fight off some of the other gym patrons for time on the machines, and hope you don’t get sick from all the bacteria that covers the various plastic workout benches.

To add to that, many military and civilian gyms have a lot of restrictions against doing awesome reasonable things like taking your shirt off or grunting while lifting heavy loads. Let’s face it, when we deploy to a combat zone, we usually grunt as loud as we want to — for motivation — and we work out without our shirts. It shows off the “guns.”

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Since many veterans want the freedom of doing whatever the f*ck they want to do during their workouts, the idea of working out at a judge-free area, like at home, is catching on within the fitness world. Many people have decided to build home gyms to combat the unique crowd that tends to flock to the gym just to text message their friend while sitting on the flat bench.

That sh*t gets annoying.

So here’s the basic breakdown of what you need in any home gym.

Also Read: Here’s how working out every day can save you money

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Treadmill

Aerobic activity is the most critical type of exercises on the planet. It has been clinically proven to boost brain function and stimulate good heart health. Now, you don’t have to purchase a treadmill because you can run outside all you want for free.

The upside to buying a quality treadmill is that it’s specialized belt system can protect your knees from injury. Running is considered one of the most high-impact activities our bodies can be put through, and we want to protect our lower body joints.

Squat rack with straight bar mounts

This is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you’ll find it any gym and has several practical uses. Since there are several types of squat racks to choose from, you’ll want to find one that fits your budget and contains the various physical components you’ll need for your specific workouts.

To get the most out of your squat rack, look for one that has adjustable straight bar mounts. This means you can do both leg squats and bench press without having to purchase two separate stations. This will save you space in your home gym (and money — you’re welcome).

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The multi-angle workout bench.

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Multi-angle workout bench

You know when you walk into the gym, and you see a variety of workout benches scattered throughout the facility? In a home gym, you need to find a way to get all the various versions of those benches to hit all the angles of your chest. It’s a good thing the bright minds in the fitness industry have already combined a condensed version of the workout bench with a multi-angle one.

These multi-angle benches can move from a 17-degree decline to 90-degree incline in seconds. Having this piece of equipment will save you time and space in your home gym.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_8T925OpdU

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Dip station and pull up bar

This machine is one of the most famous pieces of equipment you can find in any gym. As long as you have enough headroom to house this tall standing workout station, you can work your back, triceps, and lower chest, and get a complete ab workout.

It’s worth having if you can fit it.

A television set

We know this isn’t a piece of workout equipment. However, watching TV during a workout can take your mind off the fact that you’re working out if you’re not a fan of the activity. On a positive note, watching TV doing a workout can motivate you if you see an attractive person on the screen and you want to look like them one day.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

Bowflex selectTech 552

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Multi-weight dumbbells

Would you rather have a few dozen dumbbells laying around, or have a set of multi-weight ones taking up a small percentage of space in your garage or spare bedroom? The upside to having these multi-weight dumbbells is you can go from five-pounds to 55-pounds just by turning a dial.

The downside is, these weights aren’t a tough as standard dumbbells. Meaning, after you finish your set, you don’t want to drop these weights on the floor as they work off of a gear system and the plates could fall off. If you can avoid this issue, the weights will last you for years.

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See the intense Navy deck logs from the Pearl Harbor attack

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan’s Imperial Navy infamously attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor. For the men and women working on Navy ships that morning, their normal peacetime duties were suddenly and violently interrupted with the outbreak of war.


The officers on watch helped lead the immediate defense and rescue efforts, and they also maintained the deck logs that detailed what happened in the hours immediately preceding the attack and throughout the day.

While few of the logs from that day maintained by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration have been scanned into digital copies, the White House released a few on its Facebook page to mark the 75th anniversary of the attacks.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Maryland received little damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the hull of the capsized USS Oklahoma and the burning USS West Virginia are visible in this photo with it. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The USS Maryland survived the attacks and went on to fight at the Battles of Midway, Tarawa, Saipan, Leyte Gulf, and others. The ship was decommissioned in 1947 with seven battle stars. At Pearl Harbor, the ship engaged Japanese planes and a suspected submarine

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The deck log of the USS Maryland detailed the ship’s quick defense during the attack, getting her guns firing within minutes of the first Japanese planes flying overhead. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Solace was a hospital ship which quickly began taking on wounded. It went on to serve throughout the Pacific and survived the war.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Solace at anchor. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The deck log of the USS Solace, a hospital ship, which rapidly began taking on wounded from other vessels. (Photo: National Archives Administration)

The USS Vestal, a repair ship, took multiple bomb hits and was forced to beach itself. Fires onboard the ship created such thick fumes that crewmembers were evacuated to the Solace. The ship survived the battle and served in the Pacific during the war, repairing such famous ships as the USS Enterprise and USS South Dakota after major battles.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Vestal was beached after suffering multiple bomb hits at Pearl Harbor. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Vestal’s log details the progression of the fight as vessel after vessel took heavy damage on Battleship Row.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The deck logs of the USS Vestal detail the damage done to nearby battleships. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Dale was a Farragut-class destroyer that was heavily engaged throughout World War II, earning 12 battle stars before the surrender of Japan.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Dale sails through the water on Apr. 28, 1938. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

At Pearl Harbor, it’s officers took detailed notes on the reports coming into the ship and show the chaos of the day. The ships were warned of probable mines, parachute troops, submarine attacks, and other dangers — many of which were false — as the military tried to get a handle on the situation.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Dale’s log at Pearl Harbor detailed the reports of attacks by paratroopers, submersibles, and other Japanese elements. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

The USS Conyngham was a destroyer that screened ships from air attack for most of the war. It fought at Midway, the Santa Cruz islands, Guadalcanal, and others. The ship received 14 battle stars in World War II.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Conyngham served with distinction throughout World War II, earning 14 battle stars before the war ended. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

At Pearl Harbor, the Conyngham had just taken on a resupply of ice cream when the attack began. Alongside other destroyers, it set up a screen to shoot down Japanese planes attempting further attacks.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
The USS Conyngham was enjoying an ice cream delivery just before the attack started. (Photo: U.S. National Archives)

(h/t US National Archives and Angry Staff Officer)

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Today in military history: Marine Corps aviation is born

On May 22, 1912, Marine Corps aviation was born when Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham reported to the U.S. Naval Academy’s aviation camp for instruction.

Cunningham dreamt of the skies since he went aloft in a balloon in 1903 — the same year the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. 

On May 22, the first of the officers arrived at the aviation camp at the U.S. Naval Academy for training. Cunningham was a former soldier and huge aviation enthusiast who had lobbied for a Marine Corps air arm for months before becoming its first pilot.

Cunningham’s orders were changed soon after his arrival and he was sent elsewhere for “expeditionary duty,” but he returned in July only to find that no aircraft were available for him to train on. 

Undeterred, he got the Corps to give him orders to the aircraft factory and obtained instruction from the civilians there. He obtained less than three hours of instruction before taking off solo on August 20. Improvise, adapt and overcome, right, Marines?

Cunningham thus became the Marine Corps’ first aviator and the fifth pilot in the Department of the Navy. In 1913 he participated in the first Naval Aviation exercises with the fleet in Cuba, demonstrating the first use of airplanes in scouting missions.

As Assistant Quartermaster of the Washington Naval Yard, he recommended the establishment of a Navy Air Department, a Naval Air Station at Pensacola, and the placement of an airplane aboard every battleship. He would also go on to become the first pilot to fly a catapult takeoff from a warship under way.

His actions would lead to the success of early aerial combat during the first World War and his contributions to military aviation remain immeasurable. The First Marine Corps Aviator and First Director of Marine Corp Aviation died May 27, 1939 in Sarasota, Florida. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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A WWI Hungarian soldier turned out to be a serial killer

Imagine being a landlord, finding out your tenant was missing, and then walking into a house of horrors when cleaning out their space. That’s exactly what happened during World War I in Hungary. An unsuspecting landlord found out his tenant had gone MIA. Rather than finding normal personal belongings within the home, he found preserved bodies, all women who had been reported missing in months before. 

At least, that’s one way the story is told. 

Another is that the enlisted soldier, Bela Kiss, was known for stockpiling gasoline in preparation for war rations. While he was away at war, his gasoline was needed and confiscated by said landlord. However, rather than fuel, they found foul odors and blood-less bodies — essentially pickled human remains. In all, 24 metal drums had been sealed in a vat of alcohol. Each victim was strangled, had puncture marks on their necks and were void of blood, leaving authorities to believe he was an aspiring vampire. 

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Kiss’ drums, where the landlord found the remains. (Wikimedia Commons)

The victims were almost all female, with one male body. 

Kiss was conscripted (drafted) to the Hungarian Army in 1914. While away, he left his home in the care of his cleaning lady; he also willed her his money. Unfortunately for her, this led police to believe she was involved. However, she showed them around the property, including a locked room that she wasn’t allowed to enter. Inside the room were countless books on strangulation and poisoning. There were also letters from more than 74 women that Kiss was manipulating. Long before “catfishing” was a term, he would put out false marriage requests in the paper and try and woo the women out of their money through letters. He also pretended to be a matrimonial agent or a fortune teller to lure a larger audience of women. He stole money from as many women as he could, but only invited those without family ties to visit. Those women would unfortunately become his victims. Many of the women were reported missing but ultimately never found, until Kiss’s drums were opened.

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)
Kiss’ home (left) (Wikimedia Commons)

Upon the discovery of Kiss’s killings, the Army sent for his arrest. However, he was able to evade arrest for several years. It’s thought that he swapped identities with a deceased soldier. Several sightings were reported in the next several years, but ultimately, he was never caught. 

The last official sighting of Kiss took place in 1932 in New York City, when he was spotted by homicide detective, Henry Oswald. Oswald saw Kiss coming off of a Subway train, but was unable to reach him. They later found that he was working as a janitor, but when they had gone to search for him, he was gone. 

His fate still remains unknown to this day. 


Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

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