These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets - We Are The Mighty
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These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets

In late October, two inaugural events brought members of the military entrepreneurial community together in Dallas and the Bay Area. On Oct. 23-24, the Military Influencer Conference hosted hundreds of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs and community leaders that are dedicated to supporting the military. Just a day later, on Oct. 25, Bunker Labs hosted their inaugural Bay Area Muster as part of their Muster Across America Tour.


I had the opportunity to attend the stand-out session of each event, the Shark Tank Survivors Panel. The panels consisted of veterans and military spouses who not only lived to tell the tale of surviving ABC’s Shark Tank, but also walked away with a partnership agreement with business legend, Mark Cuban.

Members of the Shark Tank Survivor Panel at the Military Influencer Conference Oct. 23 included veterans Eli Crane, Founder of Bottle Breacher, Matthew “Griff” Griffin, Founder of Combat Flip Flops, and military spouses Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley, Co-Founders of R. Riveter. Glenn Banton, CEO of Operation Supply Drop, moderated the panel. Two days later, at the Bay Area Muster hosted by Bunker Labs on Oct. 25, I saw Eli and Griff at it again along with and an additional veteran entrepreneur, Kim Jung, CEO of Rumi Spice. Tristan Flannery, co-founder of Zero Hour Media, moderated the Bay Area panel.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
The Shark Tank Survivors panel, comprised of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs. Photo from R. Riveter Facebook.

Post Shark Tank Success

All four of these start-ups enjoyed wild success after they struck deals on their episodes of ABC’s Shark Tank. However, their AARs of Shark Tank ran deeper than just telling the audience about the deals they landed or how intimidating Mark Cuban can be when he peppers you with questions.

Instead, the Shark Tank Survivors shared their intimate stories with the audience. They shared how they bootstrapped their companies from the ground up in their garages and basements. They explained the realities of entrepreneur life and described their after-show successes. While panel members shared their successes with the audience, they also shared failures and what they learned along the way. Matt “Griff” Griffin, CEO of Combat Flip Flops, revealed supply chain issues he had even after the show.

“Being a part of the panel enables several veteran-owned businesses to share those lessons in the hopes of propelling other veteran entrepreneurs to success,” he said. He expanded, “Shark Tank pushes the limits of any business–marketing, sales, and operations. Through that experience, we learned many lessons, enabling us to be more effective leaders.”

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
The Combat Flip Flops team and Mark Cuban (button shirt) pose by some product. Photo from Combat Flip Flops Facebook.

The Warrior Class has what it Takes to Succeed

The back-to-back Shark Tank panels demonstrated how the climate of the military entrepreneurial community is changing. Veterans and military spouses experience adversity, each in their own way. However, when they come out on the other end, they’ve grown, they’ve learned, and they’re poised to do big things. These panels were a perfect example of veteran entrepreneurs showing future entrepreneurs of the military community that they are capable of going after their dreams.

Related: 9 incredibly successful companies founded by military veterans

Eli Crane, CEO of Bottle Breacher shared his thoughts on the Military Influencer Conference. “I think it was a great conference.  They definitely brought in some serious firepower in various verticals.” He added, “all boats rise with the tide and I personally think this country could use way more veterans in influential positions.”

The Shark Tank panelists embody exactly what Crane mentions above. They are showing the American public that veterans and military spouses have what it takes to be successful as entrepreneurs.  Hand-outs and sympathy are not what they need; they want a chance to put their skills to the test. They’re not just satisfied with their own personal successes either. They are supporting their peers and showing that the military community is strongest when it works together.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Jen and Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher with Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary (center). O’Leary and Cuban (not pictured) both invested in Bottle Breacher. Photo courtesy of Bottle Breacher.

Eli Crane stressed the importance of veteran entrepreneurs mentoring within the military community. He said, “when we exit the service and become successful, it’s imperative that we turn around and guide our brothers and sisters who are behind us looking to do the same.”

Innovating Giving Back

All four of these companies share another unique trait in that they are impactful beyond just the success of their physical products. Their products are unique and innovative, but they are literally changing lives at home and around the world.

Two of the Shark Tank survivors are changing the way people look at American manufacturing. When things get stressful, Eli from Bottle Breacher explained, “we don’t just call up China and increase our order.” Bottle Breacher products are 100% made in the United States and have a 25% veteran hiring rate. Likewise, every R. Riveter bag creates mobile and flexible income for military families through their network of military spouse “riveters.”

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Cameron Cruse (right) and Lisa Bradley (left), co-founders of R. Riveter, with Mark Cuban. Photo from R. Riveter Facebook.

Similarly, two other panelist saw the opportunity to manufacture commercial products for peace, where there had once been war. For every pair of Combat Flip Flops sold, a girl in Afghanistan goes to school for a day.  Rumi Spice employs private farmers to grow their saffron. They are currently the largest private employer of Afghan women in the world.

Respect, commitment, and working towards a higher purpose are standard behaviors among the military community. These Shark Tank survivors demonstrated to the audience exactly what can happen with persistence, passion, and a lot of grit.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The EU and China join forces to fight back in the US trade war

The European Union and China are teaming up to rewrite global trade rules, their latest move as part of the trade conflict President Donald Trump has launched as part of his “America First” agenda.

The two powers usually find themselves on opposite sides in economic disputes. The EU has long blamed China for flooding its markets with cheap steel and has imposed its own steep tariffs on Beijing.

But on this issue the two have been driven together by Trump’s increasingly aggressive push to levy tariffs both on rival powers — like China — and also on longtime allies like the EU.


The pushback took the form of Brussels and Beijing agreeing to form a group inside the World Trade Organization dedicated to rewriting the global rules on subsidies and tech policy in the light of Trump’s actions.

The two also agreed to uphold the global trading system under the WTO, which Trump has described as “unfair” and bad for the US.

The US slapped tariffs on EU steel and aluminum on May 31, 2018, and has more on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, including aircraft tires, agricultural machinery, and printer parts, set to take effect July 6, 2018.

The EU and China have called Trump’s actions “totally unacceptable” and an “act of extreme pressure and blackmail” while retaliating with tariffs of their own on billions of dollars’ worth of US goods.

Trump on June 26, 2018, threatened to escalate things further. “They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!” he tweeted.

Speaking in Beijing ahead of an annual EU-China summit, representatives warned against countries’ unilaterally taking dramatic action on trade policy, a barely disguised attack on Trump’s approach.

“Both sides agree to firmly oppose unilateralism and protectionism and prevent such practices from impacting the world economy or even dragging the world economy into recession,” Liu He, the vice premier of China’s State Council, said in a speech quoted by Japan’s Kyodo news agency.

Jyrki Katainen, the EU’s vice president on jobs and economic growth, added that actions like Trump’s unilateral tariff hikes against China showed that WTO rules on global trade had to change, the Associated Press reported.

“We have to reform WTO in order to make multilateralism better functioning in the future. This unites the EU and China and the moment,” he told CNBC.

“I’m not naive. I don’t expect fast delivery on all fronts, but first you have to decide whether you are in favor of unilateralism or multilateralism. If you are in favor of multilateralism, then you have to engage seriously, for instance in reforming the WTO.”

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Jyrki Katainen, the EU’s vice president on jobs and economic growth.

Scott Kennedy, a China economy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, said the new EU-China partnership was “a big deal” and risked leaving the US isolated.

“It is not in the interests of the United States to just be playing defense and creating a fortress America while the EU, China, and others play offense and attempt to set the rules of the game for the next century,” he told the AP.

The EU wants other governments to join the group, the AP reported Katainen as saying.

The EU has long blamed China for the global overcapacity of steel, and it has imposed steep tariffs on Chinese steel to protect Europe’s domestic metals industry. Katainen urged China to tackle overcapacity in its steel, aluminum, and other sectors including technology, the EU said in a statement.

Separately, France and China also upgraded their bilateral trade relations this week, with Beijing promising to buy more French farm produce and continue talks over the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of Airbus jets, according to Reuters. President Emmanuel Macron declared China’s interest in buying $18 billion worth of Airbus A320 narrow-body jets but failed to clinch a deal during a state visit in January 2018.

France also expressed support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive Chinese project to link some 70 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania through land and maritime trade.

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

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This Midshipman was awarded a Medal for Heroism after saving a Boy Scout troop

A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal Jan. 9 in front of the entire Brigade of Midshipmen assembled in Alumni Hall.


These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Navy Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, left, presents the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to Midshipman 3rd Class Jonathan Dennler during a ceremony at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md., Jan. 9, 2017. Dennler received the medal for his heroic actions while leading a Boy Scout troop. (Navy photo by Kenneth Aston)

Midshipman 3rd Class Jonathan Dennler, a member of the academy’s 20th Company, received the medal — the highest non­combat decoration awarded for heroism by the Navy — for his heroic actions while leading a Boy Scout troop in July.

While camping in Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, the troop was caught in a major storm, with wind gusts of up to 80 mph and lightning strikes. Two trees fell on the campsite, killing a scout and an adult volunteer and severely injuring others.

When Dennler couldn’t contact anyone on the radio for help, he canoed more than 1.5 miles at night in 60 mph winds to a ranger station to bring back help and medical supplies.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal falls in order of precedence just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and above the Bronze Star. It was first bestowed during World War II to Navy Lt. j.g. John F. Kennedy. Only about 3,000 sailors and Marines have received the award since. To earn this award, there must be evidence the act of heroism involved very specific life-threatening risk to the awardee.

The award came as a surprise to both Dennler and his classmates, who listened in silence while academy superintendent Navy Vice Adm. Ted Carter read the award citation. His classmates then gave him a rousing standing ovation.

“It was an incredibly humbling and unexpected experience,” Dennler said. “I’m very thankful to everyone who helped to make that happen and for the support of my family and friends.”

The award wasn’t a surprise to his parents, who also attended the award presentation. Dennler’s mother, Monica Dennler, described her son as “persistent and tenacious.”

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Navy Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, right, speaks to the Brigade of Midshipman about the Navy and Marine Corps Medal awarded to Midshipman 3rd Class Jonathan Dennler during a ceremony at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md., Jan. 9, 2017. (Navy photo by Kenneth Aston)

“He knows how to persevere, and has a kind heart,” she said. “He was the only one who knew what to do back in high school when a classmate broke their leg at a basketball game, because he was an Eagle Scout.”

“He is a quiet young man who would not want a big fuss, but rightfully deserves it,” said Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Howell, the senior enlisted leader of 20th Company. “Out of his classmates, he is the one who has the level head to think clearly and decisively act to contain the situation and help bring about the best possible solution.”

Dennler is a political science major and completed two years of college at George Washington University before transferring to the Naval Academy.

“USNA has taught me how to work and think in environments where many things are out of my control, and I think the academy helps to create mindsets that put others first,” he said. “I am incredibly thankful for those lessons.”

An active member of the academy’s Semper Fi Society, he hopes to serve in the Marine Corps after graduating in 2019.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (Aug. 12 edition)

Here’s your Hump Day news lineup:


Now: 5 general officers who were almost certainly crazy 

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Here are the Got Your 6 chief’s lessons from his first 100 days

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Bill Rausch at SXSW (Photo: Got Your 6)


The first 100 days of any new job is both exciting and potentially daunting. As the new executive director of Got Your 6, I’ve found this to be especially true as we work to empower veterans to lead a resurgence of community across the nation.

Here are six big lessons I have learned or have re-confirmed in my first 100 days:

1. Organizations are people (#OneTeamOneFight)

Over the past 100 days, I’ve assessed where Got Your 6 has been and where we’re headed. It’s  clear that our success is the direct result of the people in our organization. The team is essential to achieving the goals we’ve set as we forge ahead in 2016. Having the right team is critical, and without the right people in the right places, it’s impossible to succeed. The Got Your 6 team is second to none and our success this year and beyond will be a direct result of their hard work and dedication. The team consists of three Post-9/11 combat veterans (Go Army!) and two amazing civilians who have participated in national service. Every member of the team believes in service over self and I couldn’t be more fired up to lead such a dedicated and talented team!

2. There is no substitute for victory (#BOOM)

With new leadership at the helm, it’s important to get early wins to build momentum. Simply put, everyone wants to succeed and success is contagious.  Arguably the biggest honor for us early in 2016 was being presented with the Social Good Award from Cynopsis Media for best “Awareness Campaign or Initiative Category.”  Matt Mabe, Senior Director of Impact, and I had the honor of attending the awards ceremony in New York City and when Got Your 6 was announced as the winner it crystallized the impact of our campaign. We beat out the likes of AE Networks, Discovery Communications, and Sony Pictures Television; giants in the awareness and perception shift causes. We also closed out the first quarter with a huge win coming out of our first Collaboratory of 2016 in Austin, Texas with our 30 non-profit partners where we created a roadmap to success for 2016 and beyond as a coalition and collective impact campaign.

3. Partnerships are Critical (#GenuineRelationships)

Got Your 6 has a world-class nonprofit coalition compiled of amazing people and inspiring organizations that empower veterans across the country. We have partnerships with the entertainment industry, a new area for me, that have inspired me in ways I didn’t think were possible. In one of the most competitive industries in the world, our entertainment partners have made supporting veterans a top priority.  Effectively engaging the Got Your 6 coalition, along with remarkable supporters and partnerships, has been critical to settling into the role of executive director effectively. Likewise, exploring new partnerships in order to increase impact and effectiveness has been a key part of our “one team, one fight” strategy. And is needed to provide the team with necessary support as we move forward with our vision and goals for the year ahead. Without the right partners, with the right shared values, success isn’t possible.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Got Your 6 team at the White House Easter Egg roll. (Photo: Got Your 6)

4. Values-based leadership matters (#FollowMe)

Getting to know any new organization and a team can be a challenge. It’s important to understand the values of the organization you lead which is why the first thing we did as a team was gather offsite at The Bunker in Alexandria. We had an honest conversation about our personal values and how they translate to our organization. Together, we defined our values: Integrity, Positivity, Commitment, Courage, Trust. These values drive how we do business and act as our north star for every decision we make. Our team has gotten to know each other as individuals and now understand who we are as an organization and pride ourselves in choosing “the harder right over the easier wrong” in everything we do.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Cpt. Bill Rausch, U.S. Army

5. Where we’ve been is important; where we are going is critical (#CommunityMatters)

The history of an organization is important. We need to know where we’ve been and why. For Got Your 6, our founding was rooted in the spirit of service and pride in our nation. Got Your 6 is a campaign focused on bridging the civilian-military divide through perception shift and collective impact. Through the Got Your 6 coalition we’ve helped veterans get jobs, go back to school, find housing and many other critical areas. Now we are raising the stakes. Real problems exist across the nation that aren’t specific to the veteran community; suicide, unemployment, disconnected communities. These are American problems and Got Your Six is working to harness veteran skills to address these issues. Research shows our country is not as engaged as we used to be or could be. The Got Your 6 Veteran Civic Health Index shows us that vets are civic assets and more likely to be engaged. Given the decline in community and veterans as civic assets, our new focus will be empowering veterans to lead a resurgence of community across the nation. Veterans returning home aren’t the problem– we believe veterans and their unique skill sets are part of the solution. We can empower veterans to serve themselves by serving others; the nation we know and love.

6. If the work isn’t hard but fun and fulfilling, it’s not worth doing (#VetInspired)

I believe that improving the lives of others is not only fulfilling but also exhilarating. As a person and individual that is my purpose. I want to continue to improve  the lives of others. When you can align your purpose in life with your purpose at work good things will happen. Enjoying what you do–and having fun while doing it–is important even when dealing with serious and life changing issues. When you meet a fellow veteran or hear their inspiring story you can’t help but smile (even if sometimes you’re smiling through a few tears). That’s why this work is so fulfilling.  If you follow the work we do or see us around town we’ll always be working hard but having fun.

Now watch Chris Pratt and others in this GY6 video:

For more about Got Your 6’s mission and events check out their website here.

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This is the Russian soldier who likely avoided a nuclear war

He’s credited with saving the world. Avoiding a nuclear attack and a full-out torpedo launch was possible thanks to the cool-headedness of one soldier, Russian Vasili Aleksandrovich Arkhipov, who served as a Soviet Navy officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Despite incredible peer pressure, Captain Arkhipov was the lone hold-out, abstaining from launching on the U.S. Navy on October 27. 

For his efforts, Arkhipov was credited with having saved the world by former director of the U.S. National Security Archive, Thomas Blanton. 

Here’s how it went down:

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
A map showing the approximate reach of Soviet nuclear weapons that were located on Cuba. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, tensions were high, to say the least. In response to American missiles in Italy and Turkey, the Soviet Union placed its own missiles in Cuba. This heightened the possibility of a nuclear war between two of the world’s foremost superpowers. 

The Soviet submarine, a Foxtrot-class B-59 was deep underwater near Cuba. A nearby U.S. Naval sub dropped signaling depth charges, which are explosives that force the enemy to surface. Both were in international waters, so the charges were alarming.

Even more alarming, the Soviet sub was too deep to receive radio signals. In fact, they hadn’t been in contact from Moscow for days. Therefore, the Soviet seamen didn’t know if they were at war or not. The charges led them to believe the former to be true. 

The sub’s captain believed war was underway and wanted to send a nuclear torpedo at the U.S. vessel. Protocol stated that all three officers in charge had to agree, unanimously, before a launch could take place. Arkhipov was second in command and the lone holdout of the three. He convinced the captain of the ship to surface and await instructions of Moscow.

Upon their return to Russia, however, Arkihipov received little recognition. In fact, superiors were angry they had given away their location — one was so angry he said it would have been better for the soldiers to have sunk with the ship.

A year prior, Arkihipov served as executive officer of a K-19 submarine whose cooling system failed. Unable to reach Moscow, the crew had to create a way to cool the sub before reaching a nuclear meltdown. While they were successful, many of the ship’s engineers were exposed to so much radiation they perished soon after. While Arkihipov himself was exposed, he did not die from the effects. 

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
USS Charles P. Cecil (DDR-835). Image: Wikimedia Commons.

It’s believed that his experience on the K-19 allowed him to remain calm in yet another stressful undersea situation, and ultimately, allowed him to avoid a nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

Decades later, American officials announced just how close to nuclear war we had become during the discharge exercise — far closer than we even realized at the time. One of JFK’s advisors further stated it was the “most dangerous moment in human history.” 

Arkhipov served 20 more years for the Soviets, retiring in the 1980s as a Vice Admiral. He died in 1998 after being awarded three of the Soviet’s highest honors, including Order of the Red Banner, Order of the Red Star and Future of Life Award.

Featured Photo: Captain Vasili Aleksandrovich Arkhipov. (Wikimedia Commons)

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4 things that got a Nazi an automatic Iron Cross

Germany’s highest awards for valor, the Iron Cross, was the most awarded of the top tier medals of any nation in World War II. But Germany awarded more top-tier valor awards than any other country for two very good reasons. First, most German troops fought for the duration or the war unless they were crippled.


As German ace Gunther Rall put it, that meant Third Reich troops’ destiny “was either the Iron Cross or the wooden cross.” They would be heroes or they would die in the attempt.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
The Iron Cross second class. (Photo: Public Domain)

Second, German troops could earn the Iron Cross with a series of events, like succeeding in enough aerial battles, rather than for just a single act of extreme valor like in most militaries. While the medal was awarded for singular military achievements and bravery, it was also automatically warranted after a service member completed a challenging act.

Here are four things that would get a World War II German soldier an automatic Iron Cross:

1. Destroying a set number of enemy tanks

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
A German Tiger tank rolls forward in the Battle of Kursk. (Photo: German Army archives)

For German tankers, the “easiest” way to earn an Iron Cross was to achieve enough tank victories to qualify. While the number required increased as the war ground on, 50 was the magic number for a few years. That’s 50 Allied tank kills before a single tank managed to kill them.

2. Killing a set number of Allied planes

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
(Photo: Public Domain)

German Luftwaffe pilots could net an Iron Cross by accruing an ever-increasing number of points. Single-engine aircraft were worth one point, dual-engines netted two points, and four engines were worth three points. Fighters could get the Iron Cross second class for becoming an ace (downing five enemy aircraft).

3. Sinking a set amount of Allied shipping

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Photo: German Federal Archives

For submariners, the Iron Cross was usually awarded for sinking tons of Allied supplies. The Iron Cross second class usually required sinking 50,000 tons of shipping, while the Knight’s Cross, a higher level of the same award, would be granted to those who sank 100,000 or more tons.

4. Downing a “Night Witch”

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
(Photo: Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 Douzeff)

Oddly enough, pilots could earn an Iron Cross for downing a single wooden biplane, as long as it was being flown by the Night Witches.

These were older, frail planes piloted by Soviet women who would carry a few bombs at a time and drop them on Nazi massed forces, breaking up German attacks on Soviet positions. But the planes were so slow and quiet that they were hard to find and harder to fight, so the Luftwaffe promised an Iron Cross for a single kill.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy carrier strike group is weirdly deploying without its aircraft carrier

Ships from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group are deploying without their carrier and accompanying air wing after the flattop suffered an unexpected electrical problem that required maintenance, the Navy revealed Sept. 12, 2019.

The destroyers USS Lassen, USS Farragut, and USS Forrest Sherman, along with the cruiser USS Normandy, will set sail from their homeports in Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida, in the near future. These ships will be accompanied by helicopters from Helicopter Maritime Squadron 72 out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, however, will remain behind.


The move is unusual. Normally, if a carrier is down for maintenance or some other reason, it will simply be replaced with another carrier. But, the East Coast carrier fleet is currently short a suitable alternative in the inventory due to maintenance backlogs and delivery delays, among other issues.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) underway in the Atlantic Ocean.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley)

In late August 2019, the Truman aircraft carrier experienced an “electrical malfunction within the ship’s electrical distribution system requiring analysis and repair,” US Fleet Forces Command spokesman Capt. Scott Miller told USNI News, which first reported the news of both the electrical issue and the unusual deployment.

US 2nd Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis characterized the latest developments as “unfortunate” in talks with USNI News. “The situation with Truman frankly is unfortunate,” he told the naval affairs outlet. “Obviously, we’re working really hard to fix it, and we will fix it, but it’s unfortunate — nobody wanted that to happen certainly.”

The Navy said Sept. 12, 2019, that “repairs are progressing and all efforts are being made to deploy the carrier and air wing as soon as possible.” But, as there are still a number of unknowns surrounding the issue, it is unclear when the Truman will again be ready to sail.

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets

USS Harry S. Truman in drydock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

“Not having the aircraft carrier,” Lewis explained to USNI News, “it does detract from the symbolism and the deterrent effect, no question.”

“The aircraft carrier is a behemoth beast with an amazing capability, it shows up off your shores, and if you’re not our friend you become our friend quickly if you know what’s good for you. There is no question that that effect is lost with smaller ships.”

The deploying ships have formed a Surface Action Group, and the admiral insists that these ships bring the kind of capability to confront both low- and high-end threats.

Explaining that the ships have anti-submarine, air-and-missile defense, and strike warfare capabilities, he insisted that this is a “very capable group” that is ready “to do the nation’s bidding in this great power competition,” an apparent reference to 2nd Fleet’s role in countering a resurgent Russia.

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

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The story of the iconic Soviet general and the secret order for a special kind of Coca-Cola

As World War II ended and the Iron Curtain fell over Eastern Europe, relations deteriorated between the Soviet Union and its Western allies.

The Soviet repudiation of the West and of capitalism went as far as banning business with Western companies, as there was no reason to trade with “imperialist” powers.

That created a problem for one of the most revered Soviet military leaders, marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov, who oversaw many of the USSR’s greatest victories against the Nazis.

The problem? Zhukov had developed an intense liking for Coca-Cola, a drink now illegal in the Soviet Union. Not only that, but Zhukov also feared that being seen consuming such a recognizable Western product would lead to punishment.

In an effort to maintain good ties, the Truman administration undertook a covert effort to get Zhukov the soda he wanted.

A cultural icon

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Soldiers the front lines of the Cassino Front drink the first Coca-Cola to reach US troops in Italy on March 16, 1944. (PH/Sherman Montrose ACME)

Coca-Cola’s steadfast support for the Allied war effort helped make it both distinctly American and recognizable worldwide.

As the US entered the war, Coca-Cola President Robert Woodruff ordered his company “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.”

The soft drink was seen as an important morale booster and thus a wartime necessity. Coca-Cola bottling plants sprang up close to front lines all over the world to get the drinks to Allied troops as fast as possible.

More than 100 employees known as “Coca-Cola colonels” were even given the Army rank of technical observer and deployed to the front to ensure soldiers got their Cokes quickly and efficiently.

In 1943, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, a fan of the drink himself, ordered 3 million bottles to the front in North Africa. He also requested enough supplies and materials to refill 6 million more bottles every month.

When Richard Bong, a US Army pilot in the Pacific theater, set the American record for air-to-air-combat victories in January 1944, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, the head of the Army Air Forces, sent him two cases of Coke as a reward.

By the end of the war, Allied military personnel had consumed 5 billion bottles of Coke from 64 bottling plants around the world.

‘White Coke’

These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets
Zhukov, Eisenhower, and Montgomery at a banquet at Allied headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1945. (Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Zhukov acquired his taste for Coke after drinking it during a meeting with Eisenhower after the war. Zhukov could enjoy Coke in meetings with Western officials but not at home, as the Soviet Union had banned Coca-Cola outright.

No alternative sated Zhukov’s thirst for Coke, but in 1946, he had an idea: If the drink were delivered without its distinctive caramel color, it could possibly be passed off as vodka.

Zhukov asked his American counterparts to see if such a feat was possible. Gen. Mark W. Clark, commander of US forces in the American sector of Allied-occupied Austria, eventually passed the request to President Harry Truman, who contacted James Farley, chairman of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation.

Coca-Cola was actually in the process of expanding its business operations in Austria, and one of its employees was assigned to the effort. A company chemist soon made a clear version of the drink by removing caramel from the ingredients.

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Zhukov, then Soviet defense minister, demonstrates a bayonet thrust at the military academy at Dehradun, India in January 1957. (CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

At Zhukov’s request, the new beverage wasn’t put in the usual Coke bottles but instead in unmarked, straight-edged bottles. To create a communist-friendly appearance, Coca-Cola even used custom-made white caps emblazoned with a red star on the bottles.

Fifty crates of “white Coke” were delivered to the Soviets in Vienna. While all other goods entering the Soviet occupation zone were stopped and inspected, Coca-Cola was able to deliver the crates without interference.

In the end, the rare olive branch between East and West amounted to little more than a personal favor between wartime colleagues.

It’s not known what became of the drinks or their bottles, and the exchange had no effect on the deteriorating relationship between the two blocs.

It didn’t even earn Coca-Cola better treatment, either. Its rival Pepsi eventually gained a virtual monopoly in the Soviet Union, which the Soviets maintained — once trading several warships for $3 billion worth of Pepsi — until 1985.

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

Feature image: Bettman/ Getty Images

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This Air Force crew reportedly evacuated 800 people from Kabul on a single flight

The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate. Taliban forces have taken over bases, captured stockpiles of weapons and vehicles, and have entered the nation’s capitol, Kabul. Civilians flock to the airport in hopes of boarding an airplane and fleeing the country.

A major component in the air bridge out of Afghanistan is the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. One Air Force C-17A and its crew appears to have done the impossible and flew an estimated 800 people out of Kabul.

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A C-17A Globemaster III taxis at Dover AFB (U.S. Air Force)

C-17A reg. 01-0186, designated flight RCH (Reach) 871, is based out of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to reported air traffic, the flight took off from Kabul on August 15. Following its departure, RCH 871 made radio contact to report their status. A one-minute sound recording posted online contains what sounds like an air traffic controller communicating with the flight.

“Ok, how many people do you think are on your jet?” the controller inquires. The audio only reveals one side of the conversation. “800 people on your jet?!” he asks in disbelief. “Holy…holy cow,” he says after taking a second to process that number. He goes on to commend the Air Force crew on their accomplishment and asks details about the passengers. Because the audio is one-sided, whether or not the majority of the passengers are Afghan nationals fleeing the country cannot be confirmed. However, given the situation, it is a good assumption to make. The audio concludes with the controller asking for their ETA at OTBH, the airport code for Al Udeid Air Base Qatar.

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Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division loaded on a C-17 (U.S. Air Force)

The Boeing C-17A Globemaster III is a heavy-lifter in Air Mobility Command. It’s powered by four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines which produce 40,900 pounds of thrust each. According to Boeing, however, the aircraft’s official passenger capacity is 134 paratroopers with 80 sitting on 8 pallets, plus 54 passengers sitting on sidewall seats. For RCH 871 to cram 800 people onto their aircraft is an incredible feat.

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More than 670 displaced Filipinos crammed aboard a C-17 following Super Typhoon Haiyan (U.S. Air Force)

This isn’t the first time that an Air Force crew has overloaded their aircraft to save lives. In 2016, C-17s of the 535th Airlift Squadron based out of Hawaii flew mercy missions in the Philippines. The islands were hit hard by Super Typhoon Haiyan, resulting in the displacement of thousands of locals. The airmen flew in thousands of tons of food, water, and machinery to aid in relief efforts. Moreover, one C-17 evacuated over 670 Filipino civilians in a monumental humanitarian effort.

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The RAF has at least nine transports, including four C-17s, assisting with the airlift out of Kabul (RAF)

While RCH 871’s reported evacuation of 800 people is incredible, other aircraft and their crews continue to fly people out of Kabul. A fleet of KC-135R Stratotankers is performing mid-air refuelings for the relief flights, some shortly after takeoff from Kabul. Britain and the United Arab Emirates also have military aircraft involved in the ongoing evacuation efforts.

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Hundreds of people run alongside an Air Force C-17 on the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

Unfortunately, the demand for relief flights outweighs the airlift capabilities at Kabul. As flights load and take off, people can be seen swarming the aircraft. Some cling to the landing gear in a desperate attempt to escape. Tragically, videos have been posted online of people falling to their deaths as a result.

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Huge crowds gathered at the airport in Kabul

For the 800 people aboard RCH 871, and others that have managed to flee Afghanistan aboard military transports, the herculean efforts of the aircrews who got them out is literally lifesaving.

Feature Image: U.S. Air Force photo

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why fast-tracking promotions can ultimately hurt the unit

Promotions are hard-fought and well-earned by the right troops. After proving themselves to their chain of command, an ambitious troop is rewarded by being placed into a higher rank that’s worthy of their effort. In general, there’s a timeline for promotions. When you’re among the junior enlisted ranks, you can expect to your hard work to be recognized (roughly) every six months and, at your third or fourth year, you’ll be considered for the move up to NCO.

Then, there are troops that get a leg up on their peers by getting that promotion early. With the utmost respect to the troops that have dutifully earned their promotion, I think it’s fair to say we all know some troops that get handed a leadership position for all the wrong reasons.

Just because someone can do their job well and scores high on their PT test doesn’t automatically mean they’ve got what it takes to lead troops into battle.


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Any hindrance on the unit may prevent it from fulfilling its sole purpose: fighting and winning America’s wars.

(U.S. Air Force by Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones)

While most soldiers, including myself, can attest to the lackluster leadership abilities of some fast-tracked leaders, the RAND Corporation is finally backing it up with evidence in a recently released report titled, The Value of Experience in the Enlisted Force.

The report explores the relationship between a leader’s experience and junior soldiers’ attrition rate. The three key traits of an effective leader, as found through interviews, were:

  1. leaders who care about their soldiers,
  2. leaders who effectively train their soldiers,
  3. leaders who are knowledgeable.

Soldiers under leaders who mastered all three of these were far more likely to reenlist in the Army. Soldiers who served under leaders who failed in two or more these categories were far more likely to leave after just one term. This is precisely where a lack of experience in leadership positions hamstrings the unit.

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Being a leader is more then even book knowledge – it’s finding the balance in all traits of being a leader.

(U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale)

There are two key types of experience that leaders need in spades: Interpersonal experience, which is knowing your soldiers and how they react to things, and technical experience, which can be learned in school and by simply leading. Both of these can only be achieved with time.

Soldiers who are tossed under leadership lacking in this invaluable experience are set up for failure. They’ll be unprepared to handle all the minor things that no one tells you about leading troops, like the insane amount of paperwork required or a complete lack of a personal life.

Most of these problems of inexperience are solved by gradually transitioning a troop into a leadership role. It’s best to start someone with command over one or two soldiers rather than immediately putting them in charge of the entire platoon.

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Just be honest with yourself and your superiors. Everyone is affected by a single leader in the unit.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Alex Kilmon)

Now, this isn’t to say that fast-tracking promotions is inherently wrong. It’s more to say that the qualities many units use to identify troops for quick promotion are flawed. These should include leadership skills — not just outstanding PT scores or test results.

As for sergeants, staff sergeants, and sergeants first class, they should only bite off what they can chew. If it takes a trip to the NCO academy before they’re 100-percent confident in leading, then they should go. No one is being helped by shoehorning an unprepared NCO into a leadership position just to maintain the status quo.

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This is how North Korea plans to strike the US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is on the cusp of having something his father and grandfather could only dream of — the ability to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States.


For anyone paying attention, the test launch of his country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile on the Fourth of July came as little surprise.

He has been racing to develop better and longer-range missiles and vowed this would be the year of the ICBM in his annual New Year’s address. He made good on that vow with the launch of the “Hwasong-14.”

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Photo released by the Korean Central News Agency

But that isn’t all he’s been doing.

Here’s a quick primer.

Closing the Gap

North Korea’s newest missile is called the Hwasong-14. Hwasong means “Mars.”

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Photo from KCNA

Experts believe the two-stage, liquid-fuel missile gives Kim the capability of reaching most of Alaska and possibly Hawaii. Some experts add Seattle and San Francisco. North Korea’s missiles aren’t very accurate, so big, soft targets like cities are what they would be aimed at.

Big caveat: Kim’s technicians still have a lot of work to do.

It’s not clear if this missile could be scaled up to reach targets beyond Alaska, like New York or Washington. Reliability is also a big issue that requires years of testing to resolve. And that liquid fuel makes the missile a sitting duck while it’s being readied for launch.

Diversifying the Arsenal

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Photo from Arirang News via YouTube

Along with a record number of tests — 17 this year alone — Kim has revealed a surprising array of missiles: Harpoon-style anti-ship missiles, beefed up Scuds, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and missiles that use solid fuel, which makes them easier to hide and harder to destroy.

Also read: Analysts say that despite North Korean missile test, Kim Jong-un is likely years away from an ICBM

David Wright, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said heightened activity over the past 18 months suggests Kim decided a couple of years ago to speed up and diversify.

The takeaway: North Korea is well on its way toward a fine-tuned arsenal of missiles that can strike South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Pushing the Envelope

What’s next?

More sanctions, almost certainly. US President Donald Trump claimed “severe things” could be in the offing. The US has circulated a new list of sanctions in the UN Security Council and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley put the world, and especially China, “on notice” if it doesn’t toe Washington’s line.

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UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, has reduced its imports from the North, including a cutoff of coal purchases. It appears to still be selling lots of goods to North Korea, which may anger some sanctions advocates but generates a huge trade deficit that could spell destabilizing inflation for the North if left unchecked.

North Korea, meanwhile, needs to improve its nuclear warhead technology. Its Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site has been on standby for months. So a test is fairly likely. And there will be more launches.

As Kim put it, expect lots more “gift packages, big and small” for Washington.

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These Are The Most Incredible Photos The US Army Took In 2014

The past year has been a busy time for the US Army.


US soldiers remained engaged in operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan and took the lead in multi-national training exercises throughout the world. Army veterans received high honors during a memorial to the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, while one Afghanistan veteran received the Medal of Honor.

The Army compiled a year in photos to show what they were doing 2014.

These are some of the most amazing photographs of the Army from the past year.

In March, members of the US Army Parachute Team conducted their annual certification test.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Joe Abeln/US Army

The past year saw the first instance of the Spartan Brigade, an airborne combat team, training north of the Arctic Circle. Here, paratroopers move to their assembly area after jumping into Deadhorse, Alaska.

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Photo: Sgt. Eric-James Estrada/US Army

Elsewhere, in Alaska’s Denali National Park, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, hiked across Summit Ridge on Mount McKinley to demonstrate their Arctic abilities.

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Photo: US Army

Beyond the frozen north, the Army took part in training exercises around the world. In Germany, members of Charlie Company trained Kosovo authorities in how to respond to firebombs and other incendiary devices.

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Photo: Spc. Bryan Rankin/US Army

Charlie Company also fired ceremonial rounds from their M1A2 Abrams tanks during Operation Atlantic Resolve in Latvia. US forces were in the country to help reassure NATO allies in the Baltic as well as provide training to Lavia’s ground forces in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy J. Fowler/US Army

Members of the US Army, Marines, and Alaska National Guard also participated alongside the Mongolian Armed Forces in the multi-national Khaan Quest 2014 exercise in Mongolia.

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Photo: Sgt. Edward Eagerton/US Army

Even with the drawdown of forces from Afghanistan, US Army personnel are still active in the Middle East. Here, a soldier loads rockets into an AH-64 Apache during a Forward Arming and Refueling Point exercise in Kuwait.

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Photo: Spc. Harley Jelis/US Army

Linguistic and cultural training for the Army is also continuing. Here, ROTC cadets participate in a training mission in Africa through the US Army Cadet Command’s Culture and Language Program.

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Photo: US Army

Here, an M1A2 tank drives past a camel during multi-national exercises in the Middle East.

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Photo: Sgt. Marcus Fichtl/US Army

This past year marked the end of US-led combat operations in Afghanistan. In this picture, US Special Forces soldiers fight alongside the Afghan National Army against Taliban insurgents.

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Photo: Pfc. David Devich/US Army

Here, US Army soldiers go on a patrol in Sayghani, Parwan province, Afghanistan to collect information on indirect fire fire attacks against Bagram Air Field, outside of Kabul.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Daniel Luksan/US Army

Throughout 2014 US Army Rangers engaged in constant training operations to maintain their tactical proficiency.

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Photo: Spc. Steven Hitchcock/US Army

Here, Rangers fire a 120mm mortar during a tactical training exercise in California.

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Photo: Pfc. Nahaniel Newkirk/US Army

An MH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment provides close air support for Army Rangers from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, conducting direct action operations during a company live fire training at Camp Roberts, California.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/US Army

A Ranger carrying an M24 rappels down a wall during a demonstration at an Army Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Georgia.

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Photo: US Army

Rangers took part in the grueling Best Ranger competition at Camp Rogers, Fort Benning, Georgia. Through a series of physical challenges, the event finds the best two-man team in the entire US Army.

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Photo: Sgt. Austin Berner/US Army

US Army Medics also competed in the All-American Best Medic Competition, a series of tactical and technical proficiency tests.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas/US Army

Everyone in the army receives combat training, whatever their job may be. Here, Pfc. Derek Evans, a food service specialist, engages targets during a live-fire waterborne gunnery exercise

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Richard Sherba/US Army

Training exercises allow the Army to maintain its readiness for all possible battlefield scenarios. In this scenario, MH-47G Chinook helicopter move watercraft over land or water to a point of deployment.

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Photo: Sgt. Christopher Prows/US Army

Soldiers were picked up by a Black Hawk helicopter as part of a survival training exercise called Decisive Action Rotation 14-09.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/US Army

Here, a soldier from the California Army National Guard takes part in Warrior Exercise 2014, a combat training mission.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts/US Army

The Army National Guard had a busy 2014 responding to natural disasters. Here, members of the Washington National Guard’s 66th Theater Aviation Command respond to wildfires.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Dave Goodhue/US Army

Members of the Oregon National Guard trained in firing the main gun of an Abrams M1A2 System Enhanced Package Tank during combat readiness exercises.

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Photo: Maj. Wayne (Chris) Clyne/US Army

One member of the Army received the nation’s highest recognition for combat bravery. On May 13, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to former US Army Sgt. Kyle White for his actions in Afghanistan.

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Photo: Spc. Michael Mulderick/US Army

On May 28, newly commissioned second lieutenants celebrated commencement at the US Military Academy, at West Point, New York.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham/US Army

The past year also marked the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion. To honor America’s role in liberating France from the Nazis, a French child dressed as a US soldier held a salute on the sands of Omaha Beach for 2 hours.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Abram Pinnington/US Army

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