The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
The Air Force announced new policies on dress and appearance with regard to tattoos Jan. 9. (Courtesy graphic)


The Air Force announced new policies on dress and appearance with regard to tattoos, as well as changes to service medical accession policy Jan. 9.

These changes result from a review of Air Force accessions policies directed by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in 2016.

“As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified Airmen as possible we periodically review our accessions policies,” she said. “In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality. As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms.”

Authorized tattoos on the chest, back, arms and legs will no longer be restricted by the “25 percent” rule, while tattoos, brands or body markings on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and/or scalp remain prohibited. Hand tattoos will be limited to one single-band ring tattoo, on one finger, on one hand. The hand tattoo change ensures the ability to present a more formal military image when required at certain events and/or with dress uniforms. Current Airmen with existing hand tattoos that were authorized under the previous policy will be grandfathered in under the old policy standards.

A recent review of Air Force field recruiters revealed almost half of contacts, applicants and recruits had tattoos. Of these, one of every five were found to have tattoos requiring review or that may be considered disqualifying; the top disqualifier was the 25 percent rule on “excessive” tattoos. The new policy lifts the 25 percent restriction on authorized tattoos to the chest, back, arms and legs, opening up this population for recruitment into the Air Force.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
Ooooh. Almost, guys. Can’t get in with those face tattoos, and none of them can be gang affiliated. (Meme: Sh-t my LPO says)

Tattoos, brands and body markings anywhere on the body that are obscene, commonly associated with gangs, extremist and/or supremacist organizations, or that advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination remain prohibited in and out of uniform. To maintain uniformity and good order and consistent with Air Force Instruction 36-2903, “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel,” commanders will retain the authority to be more restrictive for tattoos, body ornaments and/or personal grooming based on legal, moral, safety, sanitary, and/or foreign country cultural reasons.

The new tattoo policy is effective Feb. 1, 2017. Further implementation guidance will be released in an addendum to the policy guidance.

The Air Force’s periodic review of medical accession standards and advancement of medical capabilities prompted policy changes with respect to waivers concerning common conditions that have routinely disqualified prospective Airmen from service: eczema, asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Waivers for eczema, asthma and ADHD currently constitute the highest volume of requests from Air Force recruiters. Additionally, current Air Force accession policy with respect to pre-service marijuana use is not reflective of the continuing legalization of marijuana in numerous states throughout the nation.

“We are always looking at our policies and, when appropriate, adjusting them to ensure a broad scope of individuals are eligible to serve. These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody.

While medical accession standards are standardized across the Services, the Air Force has modified some of its more restrictive service policy, or established specific criteria to streamline and standardize waiver processes to increase the number of qualified candidates entering service. These changes include:

• Eczema: Select candidates medically classified as having mild forms of eczema will be processed for a waiver. Certain occupational restrictions may be applied to secure personal and mission safety.

• ADHD: Candidates who do not meet the standard of never having taken more than a single daily dosage of medication or not having been prescribed medication for their condition for more than 24 cumulative months after the age of 14 will be processed for a waiver if they have demonstrated at least 15 months of performance stability (academic or vocational) off medication immediately preceding enlistment or enrollment and they continue to meet remaining criteria as outlined in Defense Department Instruction 6130.03.

• Asthma: The Air Force will use the Methacholine Challenge Test to provide an objective measure of candidates with an ambiguous or uncertain history of asthma. Candidates who successfully pass this test will be processed for a waiver.

• Pre-accession marijuana usage: The revised policy will remove the service prescribed numerical limitations on prior use of marijuana when determining accession qualifications. In accordance with DOD standards, a medical diagnosis of substance-related disorders or addiction remains medically disqualifying for service. Additionally, any legal proceedings associated with pre-service use will continue to be reviewed and adjudicated separately and may be disqualifying depending on the nature of the offense(s). The Air Force will maintain a strict “no use” policy. An applicant or enlistee will be disqualified for service if they use drugs after the initial entrance interview.

The waiver process changes are effective immediately. The Air Force continues to work with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the other services to review existing medical accession standards to allow the highest number of qualified individuals possible to serve.

“Among the fundamental qualities required of our Airmen is being ready to fight and win our nation’s wars. These accession standards ensure we maintain our high standards while bringing more consistency to our policies,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “As medical capabilities have improved and laws have changed, the Air Force is evolving so we are able to access more worldwide deployable Airmen to conduct the business of our nation.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier caught her second wind as a model/actress after battling cancer

Mylee Cardenas had a plan: stay in the Army until they told her to leave. But her dreams of becoming a career soldier were derailed by cancer. Instead, she found her second wind in life as a model and actress.


Without any money in the family to afford college, Mylee had intended to use the military to become a doctor, joining at seventeen as soon as she finished high school. Once she was in, however, her plan quickly changed to be a career soldier. She deployed to Northern Afghanistan, where her unit was responsible for all nine provinces in the region. However, while she was there, things changed.

When she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer, she had every intention of defeating it and throwing herself straight back into the fight. The medical board reviewing her case had other ideas. After a lengthy process, she was declared unfit for duty, and retired due to both the breast cancer and severe combat-related PTSD.

She lost her uniform, which she considered her shield and strength overnight, but she gained so many new opportunities. Through motivational speaking, she was able to inspire people, especially veterans, around the country with her story. She now models, acts, and is a fitness coach on the side while she goes to school in the hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

Although she still comes home with the muscle memory of waiting for a phone call telling her she can return to duty, she now has other plans in place. While her circumstances of leaving the military were sad, she also came out with the feeling of suddenly being free.

Articles

DARPA wants your mess cranks to be robots

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy


DARPA is making your next kitchen appliance in the form of a robot named Baxter that can learn to cook your favorite dishes from watching YouTube videos.

Also watch: The 7 coolest high-tech military projects

According to DARPA researchers at the University of Maryland, funded by the agency’s Mathematics of Sensing, Exploitation and Execution (MSEE) program, recently developed a system that enabled robots to process visual data from a series of “how to” cooking videos on YouTube. “Based on what was shown on a video, robots were able to recognize, grab and manipulate the correct kitchen utensil or object and perform the demonstrated task with high accuracy – without additional human input or programming,” DARPA said.

These scientists throwing the calculus of “cooking is as much of an art as it is a science” way off. Perhaps one day having a personal robot chef will be as commonplace as having a toaster, microwave or blender.

“If we have robots that are humanoid and they have hands, that will be the next industrial revolution,” said Yiannis Aloimonos, University of Maryland computer scientist. “I am particularly very happy to be participating in this revolution because it will change fundamentally our societies.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine Chef Ramsay getting any satisfaction out of yelling at a robot on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen . . .

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

Here’s the robot in action.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.

His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.

From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.

“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”

Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, LaffghanistanComedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.

Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.

For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.

“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”

Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.

Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.

“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and  their families and how much they’re freaking out.”

But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.

Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking)

. You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:

Mandatory Fun is hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

Articles

13 steps to putting U.S. Navy warheads on ISIS foreheads

We see a lot of FLIR footage showing bad guys blowing up, but what really goes into schwacking ISIS on a regular and persistent basis?  Here’s a quick look at the life of a bomb from birth to boom.


1. After the bomb is manufactured it is trucked to a military ammo depot.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

2. When the aircraft carrier is ready to go to sea, it loads some of the ordnance — tailored for the planned mission — pierside.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

3. The rest of it is loaded closer to the war zone using underway replenishment.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the middle of an ammo onload (using both vertrep and unrep). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

4. As the aviators plan the strikes in the carrier’s intelligence center, the “ordies” in the magazine many decks below build the bombs they’ve requested, adding the appropriate fin kits and fuses to the bodies of the weapons.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

5. Once built, the bombs are wheeled to the ordnance elevator and taken up to the hangar bay.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

6. The bombs are inventoried and then taken to the flight deck and staged behind the carrier’s island.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Stephen Early)

7. As launch time approaches, squadron ordies wheel the ordnance to their jets.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kelly M. Agee)

8. Bombs are uploaded onto the airplane’s weapons racks using good ol’ fashioned muscle power.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)

9. Aircrew check with the ordies to make sure everything’s good-to-go before cranking the jets up for launch.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
Cmdr. Chad Vincelette, executive officer of the Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, speaks with an aviation ordnanceman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) before his flight to support Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park)

10. Once the jet is positioned on the catapult for launch, pilots show their hands above the canopy rail while ordies pull the arming pins.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
Ordie pulls the pin arming a laser Maverick hanging from an F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

11. Launch ’em!

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

12. “Pickle, pickle, pickle . . .”

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
An F/A-18C (also loaded with Sidewinder and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and HARM anti radar missiles) dropping a 1,000-pound bomb. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

13. Special delivery for Mr. ISIS!

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

Articles

‘World of Tanks’ lets players hop into intense armored combat

After Action Report | World of Tanks from WATM on Vimeo.

World of Tanks” has a simple premise: Get into a tank and go kill stuff. And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.


The game starts off with a tutorial level that gives the absolute basics of tank driving in World of Tanks before allowing players to fight bots for practice. After that, players are thrown into the deep end with other players.

And that’s when it gets really fun. After all, “World of Tanks” is a multiplayer game, and the best parts happen when fighting in the massive 15-on-15 tank battles. Playing in random groups gives you the chance to drop right into the action. But players can set up platoons with friends so that they can go into the battle and fight as a team.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

Fighting as a team is very valuable considering the game has 120 million players worldwide, some of whom have been gaining experience since the game launched five years ago.

These teams are built around a mix of tank types. Players can drive light, medium, and heavy tanks as well as tank destroyers and self-propelled guns.

No matter which tank type you try driving, you get the feeling that you’re moving out in a true, multi-ton weapon of war, driving over trees and through buildings in battle.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

But, you learn that the enemy is just as strong as you the first time a medium or heavy tank starts pounding on your hull with anti-tank rounds or an SPG hits you with artillery through your soft top armor.

Each kind of tank has its own strengths and weaknesses, and “World of Tanks” does a good job making them feel unique while teaching players how to tactically use each tank on its own and in a platoon.

Tactics are very important in “World of Tanks.” The game’s physics discourage firing from slopes down onto the enemy, a big no-no in real tank combat as well.

Each vehicle has specific weak points that players learn to protect. Players also have to quickly learn to fire from behind cover and to use concealment when maneuvering.

Juggling all of this can be hectic but is exciting in matches, especially when the enemy missteps and you’re able to blast them away with a shot in the rear armor.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

To make your mission a little easier, the game lets you recruit and train crew members, allowing for faster reloads or better tank handling in combat. Players can also upgrade their tanks. Researching a new gun may give a semi-automatic capability or buying a new engine will get a tank around the battlefield faster. The eight research trees are split by nationality and each country’s armor strategy feels unique.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

With all eight tech trees combined, the game features 450 tanks complete with their own handling, armor, and weapons characteristics as well as notes about their history and development.

Historical accuracy is important to “World of Tanks,” and the tanks and weapons are carefully created to match their real-world counterparts. The game does take some liberties with the historical accuracy, though, tweaking some weapons and stats to keep the game balanced and fun.

Basically, everything is kept true to history unless one tank starts being able to run roughshod over everyone else. When that happens, the designers make a few small changes to rebalance the game.

While 15-on-15 tank battles are the default, the game does have other modes like Clan Stronghold or Global Map, where clans of tankers fight each other for resources.

Wargaming.net is even bringing Football Mode back for a short time to celebrate Euro 2016. Basically, it’s soccer with tanks:

The game is free to play, but the premium version allows players to more quickly upgrade their tanks. Players can also opt to buy awesome, premium tanks in one-time transactions.

Check the game out for free on Wargaming.net.

Articles

Satellites show N. Korea is amping up nuke program

In a revelation that has strategic implications for Japan, analysis of satellite imagery shows the existence of North Korea’s second submersible test-stand barge — a sign that the nuclear-armed country could be ramping up development of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.


According to the analysis released May 1 by the 38 North website, a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the barge was identified in commercial satellite images taken April 19 of the Nampo Naval Shipyard on the country’s west coast.

The isolated nation already operates one barge on the country’s eastern coast, at the Sinpo South Shipyard, from where it has conducted at least four — but as many as six — test-launches of the Pukguksong-1, or KN-11, SLBM since 2014, when that barge was first seen.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

According to the report, the newly detected barge appears to be identical in size and layout to the original. Such barges are used by navies to test underwater new and modified submarine missile launch tubes and systems, and to conduct initial test-launches before the systems are installed in submarines.

“The discovery of a second missile test barge may have a number of implications for the future of North Korea’s SLBM program that appears to be an important priority for Kim Jong Un,” the report said, adding that the timing of the barges’ acquisition could help reveal the direction of the program.

Also read: The tension between North Korea and the US is not good

If both were acquired at the same time, the report said, it would imply that Pyongyang is planning a more extensive test program than it has conducted so far.

It is unclear if the new barge was acquired or manufactured by the North, but since there have been no indications of barge construction work at the North’s west coast naval shipyards over the past year, that suggests the vessel had been acquired from abroad.

“Since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet,” the report said. “None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.”

The Pukguksong-1 would give the reclusive state a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent since the threat of a retaliatory second-strike would throw a wrench into any scenario where the U.S., South Korea, and Japan attempt to preemptively destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.

Related: US pushes ‘enhanced deterrence’ approach to North Korea

According to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Pukguksong-1 has a maximum range similar to the North’s Rodong missile of about 1,250 km, allowing it reach most or all of Japan from a submarine located near the Korean coast.

However, the North’s submarine fleet remains limited in range as it is undergoing a modernization revamp, and would currently be easily detectable by superior U.S., South Korean, and Japanese anti-submarine warfare technology.

Experts say any scenario involving an attempted firing of a Pukguksong-1 from the Sea of Japan by submarine would effectively be a suicide mission for the North.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Drones will soon decide who to kill

The US Army recently announced that it is developing the first drones that can spot and target vehicles and people using artificial intelligence (AI). This is a big step forward. Whereas current military drones are still controlled by people, this new technology will decide who to kill with almost no human involvement.

Once complete, these drones will represent the ultimate militarisation of AI and trigger vast legal and ethical implications for wider society. There is a chance that warfare will move from fighting to extermination, losing any semblance of humanity in the process. At the same time, it could widen the sphere of warfare so that the companies, engineers and scientists building AI become valid military targets.


Existing lethal military drones like the MQ-9 Reaper are carefully controlled and piloted via satellite. If a pilot drops a bomb or fires a missile, a human sensor operator actively guides it onto the chosen target using a laser.

Ultimately, the crew has the final ethical, legal and operational responsibility for killing designated human targets. As one Reaper operator states: “I am very much of the mindset that I would allow an insurgent, however important a target, to get away rather than take a risky shot that might kill civilians.”

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

An MQ-9 Reaper Pilot.

(US Air Force photo)

Even with these drone killings, human emotions, judgements and ethics have always remained at the centre of war. The existence of mental trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among drone operators shows the psychological impact of remote killing.

And this actually points to one possible military and ethical argument by Ronald Arkin, in support of autonomous killing drones. Perhaps if these drones drop the bombs, psychological problems among crew members can be avoided. The weakness in this argument is that you don’t have to be responsible for killing to be traumatised by it. Intelligence specialists and other military personnel regularly analyse graphic footage from drone strikes. Research shows that it is possible to suffer psychological harm by frequently viewing images of extreme violence.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

An MQ-9 Reaper.

(US Air Force photo)

When I interviewed over 100 Reaper crew members for an upcoming book, every person I spoke to who conducted lethal drone strikes believed that, ultimately, it should be a human who pulls the final trigger. Take out the human and you also take out the humanity of the decision to kill.

Grave consequences

The prospect of totally autonomous drones would radically alter the complex processes and decisions behind military killings. But legal and ethical responsibility does not somehow just disappear if you remove human oversight. Instead, responsibility will increasingly fall on other people, including artificial intelligence scientists.

The legal implications of these developments are already becoming evident. Under current international humanitarian law, “dual-use” facilities — those which develop products for both civilian and military application — can be attacked in the right circumstances. For example, in the 1999 Kosovo War, the Pancevo oil refinery was attacked because it could fuel Yugoslav tanks as well as fuel civilian cars.

With an autonomous drone weapon system, certain lines of computer code would almost certainly be classed as dual-use. Companies like Google, its employees or its systems, could become liable to attack from an enemy state. For example, if Google’s Project Maven image recognition AI software is incorporated into an American military autonomous drone, Google could find itself implicated in the drone “killing” business, as might every other civilian contributor to such lethal autonomous systems.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

Google’s New York headquarters.

(Scott Roy Atwood, CC BY-SA)

Ethically, there are even darker issues still. The whole point of the self-learning algorithms — programs that independently learn from whatever data they can collect — that the technology uses is that they become better at whatever task they are given. If a lethal autonomous drone is to get better at its job through self-learning, someone will need to decide on an acceptable stage of development — how much it still has to learn — at which it can be deployed. In militarised machine learning, that means political, military and industry leaders will have to specify how many civilian deaths will count as acceptable as the technology is refined.

Recent experiences of autonomous AI in society should serve as a warning. Uber and Tesla’s fatal experiments with self-driving cars suggest it is pretty much guaranteed that there will be unintended autonomous drone deaths as computer bugs are ironed out.

If machines are left to decide who dies, especially on a grand scale, then what we are witnessing is extermination. Any government or military that unleashed such forces would violate whatever values it claimed to be defending. In comparison, a drone pilot wrestling with a “kill or no kill” decision becomes the last vestige of humanity in the often inhuman business of war.

This article was amended to clarify that Uber and Tesla have both undertaken fatal experiments with self-driving cars, rather than Uber experimenting with a Tesla car as originally stated.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

Articles

How this soldier became a collegiate wheelchair basketball star

For Army Sgt. Shaun Castle, the Army was becoming a career.


As a military policeman in the early 2000s, Castle had some key war-zone assignments to Kosovo, Macedonia and the Middle East that were tracking toward a bright future in the service.

But in 2005, Shaun suffered a spine injury that eventually ended his Army career. And while he recovered enough to serve as a police officer in Alabama, his prior-service injury worsened and he had to leave the force, losing the use of his legs.

Undaunted, Shaun focused on getting a college degree and earned a place on the roster of the University of Alabama wheelchair basketball team where he’s also a member of the 2020 Paralympic Games development team.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
In 2012, after standing under the Paralympic banners of the Birmingham-based Lakeshore Foundation, Castle began training six days per week – hard work that has paid dividends for the now collegiate and professional sports star who plays for the University of Alabama’s men’s wheelchair basketball team and the USA Developmental team. Castle also has played professional wheelchair basketball in Lyon, France, and is a Paralympic hopeful for the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
An advocate for Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Lakeshore Foundation, Castle has participated in numerous radio spots and other promotions in which he’s known for making mundane topics – like MREs (meals ready to eat) – sound interesting. In 2016, Castle pioneered the construction of an arena dedicated solely to wheelchair basketball at the University of Alabama. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
Castle also is active with the Make-a-Wish Foundation and NORAD Tracks Santa. A lover of Christmas, Castle and his wife Stephanie buy presents each year for underprivileged children. (Photo from Shaun Castle)

 

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why experts think Kim Jong Un never actually attended an elite military academy

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is not only the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), the fourth-largest military in the world.

North Korea’s military is part of its foundation; Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather and the founder of the so-called “Hermit Kingdom,” used his own military service — as a guerilla fighting against the Japanese occupation of Korea — to burnish his cult of personality, according to Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield’s book, “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.”

Military service is baked into the North Korean constitution; “National defense is the supreme duty and honor of citizens,” it says, and military service is generally compulsory. Kim has never served in the North Korean military but reportedly graduated near the top of his class at a prestigious military academy, a claim that experts and a former North Korean military member found highly suspect.


North Korea spends approximately 25% of its GDP on its military, including its nuclear program, spending .5 billion each year on its forces between 2004 and 2014. It boasts 1.1 million troops, about 5% of its population, according to CFR.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy
(KCNA)

According to North Korean propaganda, the 35-year-old Kim Jong Un prepared to lead this massive force by attending Kim Il Sung Military University in Pyongyang; experts said it was more likely that he had received some instruction from military trainers associated with this university.

Some propaganda accounts cited by Fifield say Kim, who reportedly started at the academy when he was 18, was such a natural at military strategy that he was soon training his instructors.

Kim’s ‘elite’ alma mater

Kim Il Sung Military University is a “military institution for educating elite military officers,” according to Bruce W. Bennett, senior defense analyst at The RAND Corporation. It was established in 1952, according to North Korea Leadership Watch, and is one of several military training schools.

“The students of this university are middle level officers such as majors and lieutenant colonels,” Bennett said, equating the university to institutions like the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

“It is the university that is a gateway to becoming a senior officer in the Korean People’s Army (KPA). Most of North Korean military generals studied in this university when they were mid-career,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.

The Air Force just announced an awesome tattoo policy

An image of Pyongyang, with Kim Il Sung Military University outlined.

(North Korea Leadership Watch/Google Images)

Fifield’s book, and official North Korean propaganda, report that Kim studied here alongside his older brother, Kim Jong Chol.

“It was their mother’s idea to send them to the military academy, a way to bolster her sons’ claim to succession,” Fifield writes. Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Chol are the children of Kim Jong Il and Ko Yong Hui, to whom he was not officially married. Kim Jong Il installed Ko Yong Hui and her sons in a home in his compound, ensuring they were well cared for.

Kim Jong Un reportedly entered the university in 2002, after his early education in Switzerland, and began studying “juche-oriented military leadership,” Fifield writes, referring to the North Korean concept of juche, or self-reliance. Juche is essential to the North Korean identity, although the country was economically dependent on the Soviet Union until its collapse. China is now its most important economic relationship.

“I would expect that most of the training at Kim Il Sung Military University would be on military operations, military history, and political indoctrination,” Bennett told INSIDER via email.

“But a big part of the curriculum is likely also competition between the personnel to see how they deal with each other physically and mentally, which leads to forming bonds of friendship critical as officers are promoted.”

‘A natural at military strategy’

While Kim Jong Un never served in the KPA, North Korea Leadership Watch (NKLW) contends that it’s likely some students are able to enter Kim Il Sung Military University without any prior service, straight out of high school.

NKLW describes Kim Il Sung Military University as modeled on Soviet military academies; while there might be classes on North Korean military history, the structure and academics of Kim Il Sung Military University find their closest analogs in the Soviet system.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in an unknown location in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.

(KCNA)

According to North Korean official state media, Fifield writes, Kim Jong Un was “such a natural at military strategy that he was instructing the instructors rather than learning from them.”

He graduated on Dec. 24, 2006, Fifield writes, “with honors,” after writing a final dissertation on “A Simulation for the Improvement of Accuracy in the Operational Map by the Global Positioning System (GPS).”

But a former member of the North Korean military who now lives in the US and is familiar with the Kim family said it was unlikely that Kim Jong Un actually attended Kim Il Sung Military University, at least not in the traditional sense.

“According to North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong Un attended Kim Il Sung Military University, but I couldn’t find any of his classmates or Army mates. If he really attended that university, somebody should know that he attended,” the former military member said.

“If Kim Jong Un actually attended that college, he has pictures, he has a record, and he has friends. But [none] of the North Korean elite could find his picture and his friends. I think it’s a kind of propaganda,” the former military member said, noting that the North Korean propaganda department would have exploited any evidence of Kim Jong Un having attended the university to build up his cult of personality.

Rather than actually physically attending classes, there were “probably private instructors visiting his house to give him a lecture,” the former military member said.

“Kim Il Sung Military University is a more closed university, the students are military officers, not civilians, so they can keep the secret that Kim Jong Un didn’t actually attend.”

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(KCNA)

Kim would have been unique in attending the military school named for his grandfather; “I don’t think most of the Kim family become military officers — they avoid becoming military officers,” the former military member said.

“They have a good life […] they don’t need to go [in] the military to risk their lives.”

In order to qualify for a school like Kim Il Sung Military University, potential recruits must have, “superior service records, excellent physical condition and trusted political reliability” and have “a flawless family background, be popular among fellow soldiers, and receive the approval of their commanding and political officers,” according to Joseph Bermudez’s book “Shield of the Great Leader: The Armed Forces of North Korea.”

NKLW contends that Kim probably had private tutoring for at least a few years, and that he was likely a very good student, exhausting teachers with his questions. The academics on military operations are thought to be rigorous, even if it’s unlikely Kim also participated in the physical and professional competitions that other students must face.

In whatever capacity he studied with the university’s instructors, it influenced his relationship with the North Korean military today, in particular the aggressive missile testing North Korea undertook under the third Kim leader.

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

Articles

Here’s a list of minor league baseball teams offering major military discounts this season

Pin this to your refrigerator for summer fun planning, military families.


Summer means baseball action, and many minor league baseball teams across the country are making an effort to honor those who serve the nation.  Here’s the WATM list of minor league baseball Military Appreciation games:

*Scroll all the way down to view list of teams with season-long discounts. 

 
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May 21st

Florida

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  • Fort Myers Miracle – Free pre-game picnic for veterans and their guests (up to 100 attendees). Pre-game ceremony for veterans. Veterans and active military personnel admitted free of charge for all games.

 

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  •  Lakeland Flying Tiers – Free admission to all veterans and one (1) guest.  The event features honoring veterans and local recruits, a JROTC Pass and Review, welcome home soldier ceremonies and much more.

May 26th

Florida

  • St. Lucie Mets – They will wear custom military appreciation jerseys, which will be auctioned off during the game.  The local Vietnam Veterans Chapter 566 will be selling tickets, and a portion of those ticket sales will go to the Health and Welfare fund of the VVA. Military receives a $4 discount for all games.

May 28th

North Carolina:

  • Hickory Crawdads – Salute to Troops Night offering free parking for military. Two free tickets for military members and one (1) guest for all games.

 

Utah:

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  • Salt Lake Bees – Free admission to all military members and ½ price tickets for their families.

 

May 29th

Indiana:

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  • South Bend Cubs – May 29th May 30th: Any former or current military member will receive 2 free tickets to either game with proof of service.

 

 

Mississippi:

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  • Biloxi Shuckers – Discount to all active and retired military personnel and their families in the box level and the reserved level seating locations.

 

May 30th

Kentucky:

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  • Louisville Bats – Free admission to all active duty, reserve, guard and family members with valid ID.  Tickets may be obtained in advance or the day of the game at the Louisville Slugger Field box office. Free admission to all veterans – VFW, DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, Ladies Auxiliary and all other veterans with ID or DD Form 214.
Michigan:
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Indiana:

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  • Indianapolis Indians – Ticket Discount: $1 off advanced ticket price, $3 off day-of ticket price. Players will wear specialty camouflage jerseys that will be auctioned off postgame. Auction proceeds to benefit WGU Scholarships Fund for Indiana National Guard members.

 

 

Iowa:

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  • Quad Cities River Bandits – All active military, reservists, guardsmen

    and veterans get in for free.  Military Tuesdays: $1 Bleacher tickets for all military and up to four (4) guests.

 

 

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June 4th

Nevada:

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June 10th

North Carolina:

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  • Carolina Mudcats – June 10th-12th –  $5 tickets for military personnel and their family with proper military ID.  Cammo hat giveaway to the first 1,200 guests who are 15 and older.

 

 

June 12th

Washington:

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June 15th

Indiana

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  • Fort Wayne TinCaps Free tickets for military personnel (active and veteran) and their families.

 

June 16th

New Jersey

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June 17th

Ohio

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  • Toledo Mud Hens – Military families will receive free tickets to this game.

 

 

 

June 24th

Maryland

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  • Bowie Baysox – Fort Meade Appreciation Night. Free tickets to military personnel at Fort Meade. Military discount $2 off general admission and $3 off reserved seat tickets for every home game during the season. Additional Military Appreciation nights: June 22, July 6, August 10, September 3 – show current or past proof of service to receive half price ($8) box seat ticket.

 

June 25th

South Carolina

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June 30th

Wisconsin

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  • Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – Free admission for all military personnel (active and veteran). Pregame performance. First 1,000 fans will receive a Khris Davis bobblehead.
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July 2nd

Florida

  • Palm Beach Cardinals  $3 discount for family members of active and retired military. Veterans and active military personnel with valid military ID are admitted free of charge for all games.

 

July 4th

Florida

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  • Tampa Yankees – Free admission for all military personnel. Active and retired military receive a free upper reserved ticket with valid ID on all Saturday home games.

Indiana

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  • Indianapolis Indians – Ticket Discount: $1 off advanced ticket price, $3 off day-of ticket price. Indians to wear specialty Stars Stripes jerseys that will be auctioned off postgame. Auction proceeds to benefit Indiana National Guard relief fund.

 

 

Ohio

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Oregon

  • Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – Military personnel honored on the field will receive complimentary box seats for them and their family.

 

 

 

July 8th

Massachusetts

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  • Lowell Spinners – Vietnam Veterans Night. July 28th – Military Night/Camo Jersey Giveaway first 1,000 fans. All active/retired military and their families receive free standing room tickets to any Spinners home game with valid military ID.

Texas

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  • Midland RockHounds  – Military members can redeem a voucher for a free picnic for 4 people. Military members receive $1 reserved seats on all normal game days.

 

West Virginia

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  • Princeton Rays – Dedication of Military Honor Seat at H.P. Hunnicutt Field. Free tickets for active duty and retired military and $4 tickets for up to four additional tickets for family/friends.

July 9th

North Carolina

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  • Durham Bulls – Military Appreciation Night.  Active duty military receive free admission for all normal Durham Bulls games.

 

 

July 11th

California

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Montana

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  • Missoula Osprey – and July 25th. $5 reserved tickets for all active retired military personnel with valid military ID.

 

 

July 14th 

Vermont

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  • Vermont Lake Monsters – Free tickets for active and retired military and their families along with Digital Camo  and $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards.  Free tickets available to first 40 military members at each home game.

 

July 15th

Louisiana

  • New Orleans Zephyrs – $5 ticket with presentation of ID for active or retired military. No cap on tickets purchased.

 

 

July 16th

New York

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  • Rochester Red Wings – Free admission to military personnel with valid ID.  Custom game-worn jerseys are auctioned off to benefit Children of Fallen Soldiers Foundation.

 

July 21st

West Virginia

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July 22nd

Michigan

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July 26th

Virginia

  • The Pulaski Yankees – Free family 4-pack (General Admission) for any veteran or active member with valid military ID.

 

July 30th

Virginia

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  • Richmond Flying Squirrels –  Camo hat giveaway and post-game fireworks. Discounts available for local military groups and support organizations.

 

 

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August 5th

Maryland

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  • Bowie Baysox – Navy Night Navy USNA staff and other local naval personnel receive free tickts, Entire summer plebe class from the USNA in Annapolis attends the game.

 

 

August 12th

Connecticut

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  • Connecticut Tigers –  Baseball card set giveaway featuring nine local military heroes to the first 1,000 fans. Fans are encourage to nominate their military heroes.

 

August 27th

Idaho

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If you don’t see your favorite team – check their website.

These teams have season-long discounts and perks for military personnel with proper ID during the regular season:

Oklahoma City Dodgers  –  Seat upgrade options at no additional cost.

New Orleans Zephyrs – $1 off admission.

Potomac Nationals –  $1 off tickets Monday-Saturday games and $2 off tickets on Sunday games.

Quad City Bandits – $1 off Bleacher tickets – limit 4 per military family.

Mississippi Braves – $7 ticket to sit at any level on Monday games. (Club, Home Plate, Dugout or Field).  Excluding July 4th

Lake Elsinore Storm – 4 box tickets Sunday home games. $8 box seat tickets on all other games.

Visalia Rawhide – Discounted grand stand tickets – limited quanties. Half priced soda and beer.

Hudson Valley Renegades – Free admission on Tuesday night home games and $1 off family member tickets.

Iowa Cubs – $7  Grandstand tickets.

West Michigan Whitecaps –  $5 reserved seats for Thursday night games.

Salem Red Sox – $1 off of ticket price on day of game.

Rochester Red Wings – $2 off admission for active military.

Columbia Fireflies – $2 off All-star or Reserved set.

St Lucie Mets – $4 off admission.

Palm Beach Cardinals – Free admission.

Tampa Yankees – Free upper reserved ticket.

Fort Myers Miracle – Free admission.

Hickory Crawdads – Free admission for two.

Greensboro Grasshoppers – $2 off all ticket prices.

Durham Bulls – Free admission to home and USA Baseball games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Asheville Tourists – Various discounts. See website for details.

Vermont Lake Monsters – 40 free tickets military and immediate families – first come first serve.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers – Two (2) Free tickets on Wednesdays.

Bowie Baysox – $3 off GA tickets and $2 off reserved.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals – $1 off tickets purchased at ticket office.

Lumber Kings – $1 off General Admission.

Kane County Cougars  – Free admission for military and immediate families. Show ID at ticket window.

Connecticut Tigers – $2 off tickets purchased at Box office.

Williamsport Crosscutters – Free admission on Monday nights.

Idaho Falls Chukars – $6 General admission.

Articles

McCain takes aim at Littoral Combat Ship, wants new fleet

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wants to restructure how the Navy buys its frigates, and possibly redesign the program to add new capabilities.


The Senate Committee on Armed Services seapower subcommittee will hold hearings this spring to reexamine the future of the frigate program.

“The frigate acquisition strategy should be revised to increase requirements to include convoy air defense, greater missile capability and longer endurance,” McCain said at an event outlining the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ recent U.S. Navy fleet architecture study, U.S. Naval Institute News reported.

Related: Here’s how the US is sticking it to Beijing in the South China Sea

The littoral combat ship program (LCS) is the skeleton for the Navy’s frigate strategy. Currently, the Navy pans to release a request for proposals on the new frigates in March or April.

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The US Navy littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) moors pier side at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to refuel. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay

McCain criticized the LCS program in December for costing $12 billion, but producing 26 ships, which have “demonstrated next-to-no combat capability.”

“When you look at some of the renewed capabilities, naval capabilities, that both the Russians and the Chinese have, it requires more capable weapon systems,” McCain said.

Each LCS costs around $478 million initially. But as repairs cost increase, the total amount for the 26 ships already delivered to the fleet amounts to $12.4 billion, and the Navy wants to buy a total of 40.

Should the Navy continue to purchase the LCS to bring the total number to 40, the cost will be closer $29 billion for ships that have failed to live up to capabilities promised, and continually breakdown.

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 TRENDING

Navy seizes 2,521 assault rifles from illegal traffickers

The guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham seized an illicit weapons shipment containing 2,521 AK-47 rifles Aug. 28, 2018, U.S. 5th Fleet officials announced Sept. 6, 2018.

The weapons were found aboard a stateless skiff in international waters in the Gulf of Aden.

The full count follows an initial estimate of more than 1,000 rifles. The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag-verification boarding conducted in accordance with international law. The origin and intended destination of the skiff have not yet been determined.


Searching for illegal weapons

“As a part of our countertrafficking mission, we are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds,” said Navy Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces.

“Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and countering malign actors at sea continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies,” Stearney added.

The seizure comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet assets.

The first seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Melbourne, Sept. 27, 2015, when it intercepted a dhow containing 75 anti-tank guided munitions, four tripods with associated equipment, four launch tubes, two launcher assembly units, and three missile guidance sets.

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U.S. sailors stack AK-47 automatic rifles aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham in the Gulf of Aden, Aug. 30, 2018. The ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team seized the weapons from a skiff during a flag verification boarding as part of maritime security operations.

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)

The second seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin, which intercepted a dhow Feb. 27, 2016, and confiscated nearly 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 81 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 spare PKM barrels and 20 60 mm mortar tubes.

The third seizure was by the French navy destroyer FS Provence March 20, 2016, and yielded again almost 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and six PK machine guns with bipods.

The fourth seizure was by U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco, which was operating as part of U.S. 5th Fleet, March 28, 2016, when it intercepted a dhow containing 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns.

The United Kingdom-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research studied and linked three of the caches to weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.

Based on an analysis of all available information, including crew interviews, a review of onboard records and an examination of the arms aboard the vessel, the United States concluded that the arms from the four interdictions in 2015 and 2016 originated in Iran and were intended to be delivered to the Houthis in Yemen in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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