This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

Chaplains are some of the most misunderstood troops in the formation. While they’re exempt from the minor stresses of the military, like going to the range or pointless details, they’re not above doing the one thing every troop is expected to do: deploy.

This puts them in a unique position. Sure, they have an assistant that’s kind of like a mix between an altar boy and an armed bodyguard, but they themselves are not allowed to pick up a weapon of any kind to remain in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

But that minor detail has never held any chaplains back from serving God and country on the front lines.


This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

It doesn’t matter which religion is on your dog tag, everyone gets the same respect.

(U.S. Army)

Their main objective is to facilitate the religious and emotional needs of all troops within their “flock.” Even if a chaplain was, say, a Roman Catholic priest back in the States, they accept anyone from any faith into their makeshift place of worship down range. They remain faithful to their personal denomination and preach in accordance with their own faith, but they must also learn enough about every religious belief in the formation to properly accommodate each and every troop.

This is because there is no alternative for deployed troops. Chaplains are few and far between in a given area of operation. When the worst happens and a soldier falls in combat, that Catholic chaplain needs a complete understanding of how to perform funeral rites in accordance with that troop’s faith, no matter what that faith may be.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

“Oh father, who art in Heaven, have mercy on this F-16’s enemies, for it shall not.”

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eugene Crist)

Given that there are so few chaplains deployed, and even fewer of any single denomination, they will travel the battlefield — sometimes an entire region command will be under the care of a single chaplain.

It’d be far too costly to send each and every troop around theater each week for a single religious service, so chaplains will come to them. It’s not uncommon for a chaplain to travel to a remote location to give a sermon to just three or four troops. And since there’s only one chaplain performing the ceremonies across the theater, this often means that Easter Mass won’t be given exactly on Easter Sunday, but sometime around then.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

Being named as a Servant of God by the Pope means he’s on the first step to sainthood. If the church canonizes the miracles done in his name or designates him as a martyr, he could become the Patron Saint of the Soldier.

(Father Emil Kapaun celebrating Mass using the hood of a Jeep as his altar, Oct 7, 1950, Col. Raymond Skeehan)

A chaplain and their escort never go out looking for trouble, but trouble often finds them. They’re constantly on the move and, as a result, many chaplains have been tragically wounded or killed in action over the years. To date, 419 American chaplains have lost their lives while on active duty.

Captain Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain, was said to be one of the few Catholic chaplains in his area during the Korean War. He personally drove around the countryside to administer last rites to the dead and dying, performed baptisms, heard confessions, offered Holy Communion, and conducted Mass — all from an altar that rested on the hood of his jeep. He’d often dodge bullet fire and artillery just to make it to a dying soldier in time to give them their final rites.

He was captured and taken prisoner by the Chinese during the Battle of Unsan in November, 1950. While prisoner, he often defied orders from his captors to lift the fighting spirits of the troops in the prison with him. Even while captive, he’d perform ceremonies — but was also said to have swiped coffee, tea, and life-saving medicines from guards to give to his wounded and sickly troops.

Father Emil would die in that prison, but not before giving one last Easter sunrise service in 1951. For his actions that saved the lives of countless troops in captivity, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He became the ninth military chaplain to be bestowed the Medal of Honor, along with being named a Servant of God by Pope John Paul II.

For more in the dangerous, righteous life of an Army chaplain, be sure to catch Indivisible when it hits theaters on October 26, 2018.

Articles

Mexican cartels may have used a ‘homemade cannon’ to fire drugs over the border

Earlier this week, Mexican federal police in Sonora came across a panel van with modifications and additions that allowed it carry a “cannon” possibly used to launch drugs over the border into the US.


This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
According to a release from the federal police, officers came across the van while it was parked in northwest Sonora state’s Agua Prieta municipality, which borders Arizona and Texas. The van was found without license plates and its doors were open.

Inside the vehicle, authoritiesfound “an air compressor, a gasoline motor, a tank for storing air and a metallic tube of approximately 3 meters in length (homemade bazooka).”

The “unit,” as the release referred to it, also had a cut in the end that could have allowed the metal tube to be hooked up to launch projectiles, possibly across the border.

The vehicle in question was linked to a car theft in Hermosillo, Sonora, according to an investigation dated July 1 this year.

Days before, authorities in the same area reportedly found a vehicle with similar additions.

US authorities have said since 2012 that drug traffickers have made use of such cannons. Cans and packets of marijuana, cocaine, and crystal meth have been discovered on the US side of the border, and, according to Mexican newspaper Reforma, those projectiles can be launched from 200 meters inside Mexican territory.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Mexican federal police with a homemade cannon and other components found in a van near the US border in mid-September 2016. | Mexican national security commission

The area around Agua Prieta has been the location of both high- and low-tech smuggling attempts. In the late 1980s, the Sinaloa cartel, under the direction of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, built one of its first “narco tunnels” there, running about 200 feet between a home in Agua Prieta and a cartel-owned warehouse in Douglas, Arizona.

“Tell [the Colombians] to send all the drugs they can,” Guzmán ordered after the tunnel’s completion.

More recently, in 2011, would-be smugglers a few miles west of Agua Prieta made a more humble effort to get drugs over the border: They were observed setting up a catapult just south of the border fence. Mexican authorities moved in and seized the catapult and about 45 pounds of marijuana.

Articles

Soldier stayed in Army despite alleged support for Islamic State

The Army knew Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang had shown support for Islamic State years ago. It even took away his security clearance for a while.


But he stayed in the service, deploying to Afghanistan in 2013.

Then, last weekend, the FBI arrested the 34-year-old on terrorism charges following a yearlong investigation, shortly after Kang declared his loyalty to the terrorist group and exclaimed that he wanted to “kill a bunch of people,” according to authorities.

The case highlights the challenges investigators face with protecting the public from a potentially dangerous actor on one hand and gathering sufficient evidence to enable prosecution on the other.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Devin M. Rumbaugh

Kang is on record making pro-Islamic State comments and threatening to hurt or kill other service members back in 2011, according to an FBI affidavit filed July 10 in federal court.

The Army revoked his security clearance in 2012, but gave it back to him the following year. Last year, the Army called the FBI when it “appeared that Kang was becoming radicalized,” the affidavit said.

Retired Army judge and prosecutor Col. Gregory A. Gross said he was perplexed that the Army allowed Kang to remain a soldier even after his favorable comments toward the Islamic State group.

But Gross said the Army may have decided Kang was just mouthing off and was not a threat.

Gross served as the initial judge in the court martial of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 in a 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. He said July 11 he was concerned by the similarities between Kang and Hasan’s case.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
First responders use a table as a stretcher to transport a wounded Soldier to a awaiting ambulance at Fort Hood. (Photo from U.S. Army)

“He was making all these statements, and giving these presentations,” said Gross, who is currently a civilian defense attorney for military service members.

Lt. Col. Curtis J. Kellogg, a spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Kang’s court-appointed lawyer, Birney Bervar, said his client may suffer from service-related mental health issues of which the government was aware but neglected to treat. He declined to elaborate.

Noel Tipon, an attorney in military and civilian courts, said there’s nothing in the Army manual on removing soldiers from the service that would address allegations like speaking favorably about a group like Islamic State.

He suspects the FBI wanted to Kang to stay in the Army while they investigated whether he had collaborators.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
A mock trial at Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Donna L. Burnett)

“They probably said ‘let’s monitor it and see if we can get a real terrorist cell,’ ” said Tipon, who served in the Marine Corps.

The FBI said its investigation showed Kang was acting on his own.

Spokesman Arnold Laanui said the probe took nearly a year given the evidence that needed to be collected and the constitutional rights that needed to be protected.

“These tend to be very meticulous and time-consuming matters,” Laanui said. Public safety, he said, was at the forefront of the case, he said.

The FBI outlined its evidence against Kang in a 26-page affidavit filed July 10. It includes allegations Kang filmed a combat training video for Islamic State and bought a drone he believed would be sent to the Middle East to help the group’s fighters.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
US District Court in Honolulu. (Image from Hawaii News Now.)

Agents said none of the military documents — classified and unclassified — Kang gave to people he believed were affiliated with Islamic State ever got to the group.

Kang’s father told Honolulu television station KHON and the Star-Advertiser newspaper his son may have had post-traumatic stress disorder. Kang told the newspaper he became concerned after his son’s return from Afghanistan. He said his son was withdrawn.

Kang enlisted in the Army in December 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 attacks. He served in South Korea from 2002 to 2003. He deployed to Iraq from March 2010 to February 2011 and Afghanistan from July 2013 to April 2014.

Kang was scheduled to appear in court July 13 for a detention hearing.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Canadian Forces will lead the NATO mission in Iraq

In the days leading up to the latest NATO summit, President Donald Trump was harshly critical of the contributions made by other NATO members, especially in comparison to the United States. But when called on to start a new mission in post-ISIS Iraq focused on civil-military planning, vehicle maintenance, and explosives disposal, NATO stood up.

Canadian Forces will contribute half the required troops and take command of the joint effort.

Whether this development comes because of meetings among North American and European leaders at recent G7 and NATO summits is unclear. Coming away from June 2018’s G7 summit, President Trump criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as both “dishonest” and “weak.” At the most recent NATO meeting, Trump claimed Germany was a Russian client state due, primarily, to energy partnerships with Russian gas providers.


The 2018 NATO summit was focused primarily on how the alliance would foot the bills for its actions everywhere in the world. The United States demands the members of the alliance increase their contributions to an agreed-upon two percent of GDP, while the U.S. maintains its 3.5-percent contribution.

“Because of me, they’ve raised billion over the last year, so I think the Secretary General [of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg,] likes Trump,” the President of the United States said after the summit. “He may be the only one, but that’s okay with me.”

Another result of the summit was a British pledge to double the number of UK troops in Afghanistan. Canada will also contribute helicopters to the NATO mission in Iraq.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

Kandahar, Afghanistan. 12 February, 2002. For the first time since the end of the Korean War, Canadians relieve Americans in a combat zone.

(Photo by Sgt. Gerry Pilote, Canadian Armed Forces Combat Camera)

“We are proud to take a leadership role in Iraq, and work with our allies and the government of Iraq, to help this region of the Middle East transition to long-lasting peace and stability,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Canada currently spends 1.23 percent of its output on the alliance, but its commitment requires it to move up to two percent by 2024, an agreement signed by Trudeau’s predecessor, Stephen Harper. Canada’s special forces are also training and assisting Kurdish fighters still battling the Islamic State.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia just tried to claim they took on US fighter jets

Russian media on Jan. 28, 2019, sparked a social-media frenzy after the release of photos that seem to show a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet locked in the crosshairs of a Russian fighter jet.

Online, a source claiming to represent a Russian fighter-jet pilot surfaced with the picture and said two Su-35s tailed and “humiliated” the US jets until a Japanese F-15 surfaced to support the F/A-18s, which the Russians also said were out-maneuvered and embarrassed.


Russian commenters rushed to brand the incident as proof of the “total superiority of the Russian and the total humiliation of the Americans.”

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

A U.S. Navy F/A-18C in flight.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

The same source previously said they beat a US F-22 stealth fighter in a mock dogfight — a fighting scenario that involves close-range turning and maneuvering — in the skies above Syria, but this incident supposedly took place over Russia’s far-east region.

The source recently became the first to feature images of Russia’s new stealth combat drone, suggesting some degree of official linkage or access to the Russian military. Russian media, for its part, accepts the source’s claims.

Lt. Cmdr. Joe Hontz, a US European Command spokesman, told Business Insider that US “aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian units in international airspace and seas, and most interactions are safe and professional.”

“Unless an interaction is unsafe, we will not discuss specific details,” Hontz added.

This suggests that either the encounter happened and was deemed totally safe, or that the encounter did not happen.

The US did have an aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Regan, in Russia’s far-east region and in Japan in late January 2019. Japanese fighter jets regularly train with the US.

Russia’s Su-35 holds several advantages over US F/A-18s in dogfights. But, as Business Insider has extensively reported, dogfighting — the focus of World War II air-to-air combat — has taken on a drastically reduced importance in real combat.

The F-15’s dogfighting abilities more closely match up with the Su-35, but, again, these jets now mainly seek to fight and win medium-range standoffs with guided missiles, rather than participate in dogfights.

Additionally, Russian media has a history of running with tales of military or moral victories in their armed forces that usually end with something for Russians to cheer about at the expense of US, which is usually exposed as incompetent.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This speedy missile gave bombers a lot of punch

In the late 1960s, the cancellation of the B-70 Valkyrie program and the retirement of the B-58 Hustler meant that the United States Air Force was likely to struggle with bypassing Soviet defenses. The FB-111 Switchblade was coming online to help address this gap in capabilities, but the plane’s production run was cut down to 76 airframes (from an originally planned 263) in 1969.

The US Air Force needed an answer — a fast one.


That answer came in the form of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile, or SRAM. The “short range” bit in the name, in this case, was relative. The AGM-69 SRAM had a maximum range of 100 miles. That’s considered “short” when compared with something like the AGM-28 Hound Dog (which had a 700-mile range). In theory, this weapon allowed B-52s or FB-111s to take on enemy air-defense sites.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

A training version of the AGM-69 Short-Range Attack Missile is loaded onto a B-1B Lancer. The B-1 could carry two dozen of these missiles.

(USAF photo by Technical Sgt. Kit Thompson)

Any air-defense site that drew the ire of a B-52 or FB-111 enough to require the use of a SRAM was in for some hurt. The SRAM packed a W69 thermonuclear warhead with a yield of 200 kilotons. A single AGM-69 sounds painful enough — the FB-111 could carry as many as six of these missiles. The B-52 could carry an even 20. By comparison, the legendary BUFF could only carry two AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missiles.

The AGM-69 entered service in 1972 and was widely deployed among Strategic Air Command units. This missile had a top speed of Mach 3 and weighed just under 2,300 pounds. The missile was 14-feet long and 17-and-a-half inches wide. Over 1,500 SRAMs were built.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

The AGM-69 could be carried in a rotary launcher inside the bomb bay of bombers like the B-52, or on pylons on the wings.

(USAF)

The missile served until 1990. It was retired after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The planned successor, the AGM-131 SRAM II, which would have had longer range (250 miles) and smaller size (under ten-and-a-half feet long and a little more than 15 inches across) was cancelled the following year.

Learn more about this essential, Cold War-era missile in the video below!

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

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS is now fighting US Marines head-on in Syria

U.S. Marines, attached to special operations forces in Syria, often found themselves in direct-fire gunfights with Islamic State fighters early 2018, according to the commander of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response for Central Command.

The unit, designed with capability to launch combat forces within six hours anywhere in the CENTCOM theater, sent two rifle companies to support Special Operations Command units operating in Northern Syria between January and April 2018, Marine Col. Christopher Gideons, commander of the task force, said June 8, 2018, at the Potomac Institute.


“When Marines deploy, they want to get involved,” he said. “When there is a gunfight out there … they want to find that opportunity to feel like they are making a meaningful contribution. We did exactly that.”

Gideons initially deployed a platoon-size element that linked up with Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) teams.

“They were integrated with [special operations forces], absolutely integrated. We were providing Marine infantry, we were providing indirect fires, and we were providing anti-tank fires,” he said.

The SOF elements would push forward, advising Syrian Democratic Forces, “the ones that were primarily engaged in the direct firefights with ISIS,” Gideons said.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

“You would have Marines integrated with those ODAs … providing fires down at that lower tactical level,” he said.

During its 243-day deployment, the unit had to conduct several “rapid planning processes” to deploy forces on short notice, he added.

Over time, more support was needed in Syria, so Gideons deployed more Marines to grow the platoon-size element to “two infantry [companies minus]” that were located in two separate locations in Northern Syria.

“We anticipated that that requirement would grow with a need for Marine Corps capabilities, and it did,” he said.

Soon the fighting intensified.

“On a number of different occasions, there would be various engagements, some direct, some indirect,” Gideons said. “As the SDF would close in sometimes, they would outstretch particularly what our mortar fires could provide.

“We would displace out of our small [forward operating bases] we were operating out of, move closer in behind the SDF and then provide fires — a lot of times mortar fire … and of course as you were getting into an engagement, there is the potential for stuff to come back at you,” he said.

Marines operated in both mounted and dismounted roles. F/A-18s coming out of Bahrain provided close-air support when needed, Gideons said.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
F/A-18

Despite the action Marines saw, there were no casualties.

“I am very happy and proud to say that we brought everybody home,” Gideons said.

He described the deployment as “dynamic.”

“What was unique on our watch is over our 243 days in theater … from our perspective, we were more distributed than any other SPMAGTF up until that point,” he said. “We had Marines operating in 10 different countries and 24 separate locations. I had Marines from Egypt to Afghanistan.

“I didn’t own missions in Iraq or Syria, but I had capabilities that could augment and support that mission’s successful accomplishment.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @military.com on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Still the champ: 3 things you should know about the SR-71 Blackbird

Before the advent of stealth aircraft, the U.S. military had a very different approach on how to operate its planes in contested airspace. That approach could be summarized in two words:

Brute force.

In those early years of air defense system development, the U.S. was less interested in developing sneaky aircraft and more concerned with developing untouchable ones– utilizing platforms that leveraged high altitude, high speed, or both to beat out air defenses of all sorts — whether we’re talking surface to air missiles or even air superiority fighters.


Lockheed’s legendary Kelly Johnson, designer of just about every badass aircraft you can imagine from the C-130 to the U-2 Spy Plane, was the Pentagon’s go-to guy when it came to designing platforms that could evade interception through speed and altitude. His U-2 Spy Plane, designed and built on a shoestring budget and in a span of just a few months, first proved the concept of flying above enemy defenses, but then America needed something that could also outrun anything Russia could throw its way. The result was the Blackbird family of jets, including the operational SR-71 — an aircraft that remains the fastest operational military plane ever to take to the sky.

You could make a list of 1000 amazing facts about the SR-71 without breaking a sweat — but here are three even a few aviation nerds may not have of heard before:

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

USAF

The Blackbird had over 4,000 missiles fired at it. None ever hit their target.

The SR-71 Blackbird remained in operational service as a high speed, high altitude surveillance platform for 34 years — flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3 at altitudes of around 80,000 feet. This combination of speed and altitude made it all but untouchable to enemy anti-air missiles, so even when a nation knew that there was an SR-71 flying in their airspace, there was next to nothing it could do about it. According to Air Force data collected through pilot reports and other intelligence sources more than 4,000 missiles were fired at the SR-71 during its operational flights, but none ever managed to actually catch the fast-moving platform.

Its windshield gets so hot it had to be made of quartz.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

i1.wp.com

Flying at such high speeds and altitudes puts incredible strain on the aircraft and its occupants, which forced Lockheed to find creative solutions to problems as they arose. One such problem was the immense amount of heat — often higher than 600 degrees Fahrenheit — that the windshield of the SR-71 would experience at top speeds. Designers ultimately decided that using quartz for the windshield was the best way to prevent any blur or window distortion under these conditions, so they ultrasonically fused the quartz to the aircraft’s titanium hull.

The SR-71 was the last major military aircraft to be designed using a ‘slide rule.’

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

USAF

There are countless incredible facts about the SR-71 that would warrant a place on this list, but this is one of the few facts that pertains specifically to the incredible people tasked with developing it. Not long after the SR-71 took to the sky, the most difficult mathematical aspects of aircraft design were handed off to computers that could crunch the numbers more quickly and reliably — but that wasn’t the case for the Blackbird. Kelly Johnson and his team used their “slide rules,” which were basically just specialized rulers with a slide that designers could use to aid them in their calculations in designing the mighty Blackbird. Years later, the aircraft was reviewed using modern aviation design computers only to reveal that the machines would not have suggested any changes to the design.

Just for fun, here’s Major Brian Shul’s incredible “Speed Check” story about flying the Blackbird.

Major Brian Shul, USAF (Ret.) SR-71 Blackbird ‘Speed Check’

www.youtube.com

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How to honor Vietnam veterans

The following is an Op/Ed written by Ken Falke. The opinions expressed are his own.


There’s an important day of commemoration on March 29th — or in some U.S. States, March 30th — that goes unnoticed until the nightly evening news or a stumble on social media. This very special day is Vietnam Veterans Day, or in some states, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

In 1974, President Nixon established this commemoration to recognize the contributions of the men and women who served during this unpopular war and tumultuous time in our history.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Vietnam War memorial. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons | InSapphoWeTrust)

While many will rightly mark the day with speeches, tributes, and celebrations fitting for this great generation, there is a more meaningful way to honor our Vietnam veterans and all veterans. That honor is to provide them new and innovative ways to improve their mental wellness and reintegration into their communities.

Approximately 2.7 million young men and women served in Vietnam — about the same number that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001. While all serving since 9/11 volunteered, few realize that almost two-thirds of Vietnam veterans volunteered to serve as well.

Even though Vietnam was an unpopular war, 91 percent of Vietnam Veterans said they were glad they served in the war, and one-quarter said they would do it again. What these numbers show is the incredible commitment to service that our Vietnam-era veterans share with the post-9/11 veteran generation.

But there are disturbing similarities as well. The current veteran suicide rate of 20+ per day is well publicized; though that the average age of the veteran is 55 years old is less known. PTSD rates from both generations hover around 30 percent.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
An American Green Beret (right), and a South Vietnamese soldier assist wounded Vietnamese soldier to medivac helicopter following fighting near the Special Forces camp at Duc Phong, 40 miles north of Saigon, Sept. 9, 1969. South Vietnamese spokesmen said government casualties reached a two-month high 502 dead and 1,210 wounded. It was the highest casualty toll since the week ending June 14, which saw 516 dead and 1,424 wounded. (Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS by Shunsuke Akatsuka)

Additionally, Vietnam veterans struggled — and many still do — with the same challenges that today’s veterans face: PTSD, anxiety, drug, and alcohol dependency, and family and work stability. By a percentage comparison, of the 591 Vietnam prisoners of war (POWs) only 4 percent had symptoms of PTSD.

So why did POWs who experience what would be considered the most traumatic experiences seem to fare so well?

Many suggest the leadership of Admiral James Stockdale while a POW in the “Hanoi Hilton.” His leadership provided purpose, mission, and direction as a team to “return with honor.”

Often, the sense of purpose provided by leadership during transitions facilitates growth to occur. While the DOD, the VA, and other organizations work hard to care for our veterans, the element of leadership seems to be lost after service and veterans fall into a “no-man’s land” that lacks wellness, a clear mission, and renewed purpose.

Why have we made so little progress in mental wellness for our returning warriors?

Many experts, including the Journal of American Medical Association, suggest that our reactive approach to combat related stress such as PTSD doesn’t work. Indicators show that our current approach has made little progress since the Vietnam War, and some suggest since World War I.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Understanding PTSD is critical military veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

We are repeating minimally effective practices where veterans are offered medication, which largely attacks symptoms and leaves them as diminished versions of themselves, or talk-therapy provided by well-intended but often ill-equipped therapists, and cased in stigma.

Though the VA has announced plans to hire 1,000 additional mental health professionals, more therapists will not fix the inadequacies of the current approaches.

How can we do better?

First, expand public-private partnerships. The private sector and nonprofit organizations have developed new approaches to veteran wellness and reintegration that could be expanded. These approaches leverage training (which is compatible with military personnel and veteran culture) and new technology that could “triage” veterans and provide skills to facilitate Post-traumatic Growth before the need for medication or therapy.

Second, we need to recognize and address the stigma associated with therapy. While veterans — and civilians — can gain some benefit from talk-therapy and medication, one can only grow by learning the skills associated with growth. This requires a holistic training approach that veterans understand and allows them to thrive, not just survive.

Finally, innovation costs money. The President’s proposed budget has a 6 percent increase to the VA’s budget; much of it to focus on health care. While this is positive, we need to use new funds to create innovative solutions, not further outdated practices. While the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue and future threats remain, veteran mental health issues will likely worsen.

This March 29th and 30th we will stop to honor and welcome home our Vietnam veterans. While speeches, ceremonies, and commemorations will recognize their sacrifice, to truly honor their service — and the service of those that follow — we should facilitate growth and purposeful lives they truly deserve and welcomes them home.

Recognized as one of We Are The Mighty’s 25 veterans to watch in 2017Ken Falke is a 21-year service-disabled combat veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired Master Chief Petty Officer and is the CEO of organizational improvement solutions company Shoulder 2 Shoulder, Inc. He is also the founder and Chairman of Boulder Crest Retreat.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 great tequila cocktails to make this summer

Summer is in full swing, so chances are you’ve already had a margarita or three. Yes, it’s a a great drink, if made well, but it’s become more than just a little ubiquitous. Come on, people. We can do better. In fact, tequila deserves some better company — at least from time to time. Contrary to popular belief, the agave spirit is extremely versatile. There are a wide variety of delicious bottlings to choose from and a number of excellent tequila cocktails to whip up. So, if you’re ready to extract yourself from the margarita rut, here are six tequila cocktails, and the bottles to make them.


This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

(Photo by wu yi)

1. Paloma

A perennial favorite, the Paloma is a well balanced refreshing summer cocktail. While some recipes call for a sweet grapefruit soda, we prefer fresh squeezed juice. It’s just better. We also prefer to start with a crisp blanco tequila like Patrón Silver. If the Paloma is not already in your repertoire, make this one first.

Ingredients:

  • 2oz Patrón Blanco Tequila
  • 2oz Freshly squeezed and strained grapefruit juice
  • 1/2oz Freshly squeezed lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • Dash of simple syrup
  • 1-2oz club soda

Directions:

Rim a highball glass with salt, fill with ice. Add tequila, juices and simple syrup. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.


This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

(Photo by Johann Trasch)

2. Bloody Maria

Yes, it’s a Bloody Mary made with tequila instead of vodka. But using an aged Anejo adds extra depth to the classic concoction.

Ingredients:

  • 2oz Espolòn Añejo Tequila
  • 3/4oz Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur
  • 4oz tomato juice
  • 3 dashes for Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-6 dashes hot sauce (we prefer Tapatío)
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • 1/2oz Freshly squeezed lime juice (juice from half a lime)

Directions:

Rim a highball glass with celery salt (mixed with chili powder if desired) fill with ice, add all ingredients and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a celery stalk.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

3. Tequila Mule

Simplicity, thy name is the mule. A perfect party drink, we recommend using Partida’s Añejo as the spirit’s tropical fruit and vanilla notes work well with the lime and ginger.

Ingredients:

  • 2oz Partida Añejo Tequila
  • 1/2oz Freshly squeezed lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 2-4oz Ginger beer

Directions:

Some will shake all the ingredients with ice before pouring into a copper mug or cup, but we prefer to mix the tequila and lime over ice before topping with the ginger beer

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

(Photo by Cody Chan)

4. Firing Squad

The firing squad is a fantastic cocktail to make in large batch for your next pool-side party. While the traditional recipe calls for grenadine, we like to substitute an organic cherry juice for a tarter drink. You can also add a little simple syrup to if you prefer. Casamigos Blanco makes a nice base for this cocktail thanks to its citrus and vanilla flavors

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 oz Casamigos Blanco Tequila
  • 3/4oz Fresh lime juice (the juice from about 3/4 a lime)
  • 1oz Cherry juice
  • 4-6 dashes of bitters

Directions:

Shake everything over ice and strain into a glass filled with more ice. Garnish with a lime.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

(Photo by Jez Timms)

5. El Diablo

The base of this recipe is quite similar to the mule, but the addition of the creme de cassis makes it a cocktail of a slightly different feather. The black currant flavored liquor pairs nicely with a minty, herbaceous, and earthy spirit like 7 Leguas Blanco.

Ingredients:

  • 2oz 7 Leguas Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2oz Crème de cassis
  • 1/2oz Freshly squeezed lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 2-4oz Ginger Beer

Directions:

Shake tequila, lime and crème de cassis over ice and pour over more ice. Garnish with a lime round on top.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield

6. Añejo Fashioned

Indeed this is a tequila version of an old fashioned (perhaps our favorite cocktail.) We recommend using a rich añejo like Casa Noble’s. It’s sweet, spicy and complex with notes that pair well with mole bitters and orange.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2oz Casa Noble Añejo Tequila
  • 4 Good dashes of mole bitters
  • 1- 2 dashes of simple syrup
  • Orange peel

Directions:

Muddle orange peel and simple syrup in the bottom of an old fashioned glass, pour in a tequila and bitters. Add a large ice cube and stir gently.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Articles

How some special operators are turning to illegal drugs to deal with deployment stress

They have achieved cult hero status for their exploits since 9/11, but their success on the battlefield is taking a personal toll on Navy SEALs and members of other US special operations elite forces.


Reports of rampant illicit drug abuse by special operators — while on deployment and at home — have prompted congressional lawmakers to call for an accountability review of the “culture” inside special operations units.

Drug and alcohol use by some members of special operations units is nothing new to the culture within the teams, who see such behavior as a coping mechanism in response to the unforgiving tasks these soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have been asked to carry out.

“They are pretty much out there on a daily basis in very dangerous situations and working with [partners] who you don’t know if they are going to put a bullet in your back,” one former team member with knowledge of personnel issues told The Washington Times. “The level of stress these people are experiencing is off the charts,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

The unprecedented pace and tempo in which US special operations forces have been used in the post-9/11 global war on terrorism, beginning with al Qaeda and the Taliban and now encompassing Islamic State, Boko Haram, and other groups, has exacerbated those stress levels, leading to even riskier coping behaviors.

“Kill/capture” missions by US special operations units combined with clandestine drone strikes formed the backbone of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism doctrine. Six months into his term, President Trump has shown little sign of abandoning that strategy. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in May that the United States is entering an era of global conflict defined by protracted small wars with extremist militant groups.

“This is going to be a long fight,” Mr. Mattis said.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley.

Aside from deploying hundreds of special operations military advisers to the front lines of the Islamic State fight in Syria and Iraq, the Trump administration has ordered the expansion of US Special Operations Command’s mission in Africa, battling the Somali-based terrorist group al-Shabab.

“You see our forces engaged in that from Africa to Asia. But, at the same time, this is going to be a long fight. And I don’t put timelines on fights,” Mr. Mattis told CBS News.

‘Something has to give’

The operational tempo for Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and other “Tier One” US special operations forces units, which spend a majority of their time overseas on deployment, is a vicious cycle but a prerequisite for the job, the former team member said.

“We’re not talking about 18-, 19-year-old kids. You have to have a level of resilience to get where they are,” he said. But even with the most seasoned and battle-hardened veterans, “something has to give” from the relentless demands to deploy.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Photo credit Tanjila Ahmed

A pair of random, command-wide drug screenings conducted from November through February uncovered a total of 59 cases of illicit drug use among sailors serving in Naval Special Warfare Command.

Seven command members tested positive for illicit drug use from among more than 6,300 subjected to a sweep of random tests late last year, according to figures that command officials provided to The Times. The command also uncovered 52 cases of illegal drug use among 71,000 tests carried out since August 2014.

Of the 52 command members who tested positive for illegal drug use during the most recent round of tests across the Navy command, 10 were SEAL team members. Command officials could not confirm how many SEAL members were part of the seven positive drug tests found during a round of testing in November and December.

Drug abuse, domestic abuse, or other behaviors tied to the seemingly constant rotations to conflict zones are “endemic of what these people are going through,” the team member said. “These are your franchise players. They want to be the best of the best. It’s a quality you need but also makes it hard to disengage. A lot of it is just coping just the physical toll [the job] takes on you. You have to find an outlet.”

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
USAF photo illustration by Senior Airman Chad Strohmeyer

The problem of drug use within the special operations community gained unwanted attention in April when news leaked of a closed-door speech by Capt. Jamie Sands, head of all East Coast-based Navy SEAL teams. The captain warned all 900 Navy special operators in the command about cracking down on the use of illicit drugs — including cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy — among the SEAL teams that went public.

One active-duty SEAL attached to the East Coast teams told CBS News at the time that a number of his team members had tested positive for illegal drugs multiple times but remained on active duty since the Navy was unable to monitor their drug usage on a regular basis. Their frequent, extended deployments overseas allowed team members to avoid regular drug screenings.

Capt. Sands said that would no longer be a loophole in the command.

“We’re going to test on the road,” the officer said. “We’re going to test on deployment. If you do drugs, if you decide to be that selfish individual, then you will be caught.”

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
DoD Photo by Maj. Will Cox

Accountability review

Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, in June pushed for legislation requiring US special operations command and the head of the Pentagon’s special operations directorate to conduct an accountability review of the military’s elite units amid reports of heavy drug abuse within the teams.

The review was included in the House draft version of the Pentagon’s spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which sets aside $696 billion for military programs and operations. The full House overwhelmingly approved the defense spending package this month.

The measure would require Mark Mitchell, acting assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, as well as top brass from Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, “to provide a briefing regarding culture and accountability in [special operations forces].”

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Gardner

Critics say the Pentagon’s policies do not properly address the problem of illicit drug use among special operators, a claim US Special Operations Command officials vehemently deny.

“No one has turned a blind eye to the challenges special operations forces face after a decade and a half of continuous combat operations,” command spokesman Kenneth McGraw said in a statement to The Times.

Command officials and their counterparts in the services’ special operations directorates formed a task force to address issues such as drug use and other symptoms related to prolonged deployments of the elite US troops. The task force takes a “takes a holistic, integrated approach” to post-deployment issues unique to Special Forces units “designed to maximize access to treatment and minimize any stigma associated with seeking help,” Mr. McGraw said.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay

Despite the command’s task force and other associated efforts, lawmakers are pressing command officials on the problem of drug use inside the teams.

Ms. Speier’s office declined repeated requests for comment on the legislation and the level of cooperation House members are receiving from command officials and the Pentagon. But her characterization of the need for accountability within the special operations teams to address drug use is the wrong way to view the problem, the former team member said.

“I do not know if this is an accountability issue. It is not just about bad people. I think a lot of it is just what they have been through,” he said. “You have to realize you are not going to eradicate this [problem]. You cannot eradicate those experiences” of war.

popular

6 ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman

Walk onto any American military base in the world, and you’re going to encounter some pretty disciplined men and women. Continue walking and you’ll also notice all the hard work each troop puts into their day.


But you may also wonder which one of them deploys and fights in combat versus those who ship off to support the war effort.

Well, we’ve got you covered.

Related: 3 key differences between Recon Marines and Marine Raiders

Here are six simple ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman:

1. There are no dog tag in their boot laces.

Infantrymen wear a dog tag around their necks and another looped in their left boot — it’s tradition (and practical for identification in the worst case scenario).

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
(Public Domain)

A dog tag inserted into the left boot — your motivated left boot.

2. When a troop can count how many MREs they’ve eaten.

MREs — or Meals Ready to Eat — are a staple food for any grunt. The classic meal plan is the troop’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as long as you’re in the field or outside the wire. If a troop only had a few during boot camp…they’re probably not a grunt.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Yum! Spaghetti and meat sauce. (Public Domain)

3. They remember and brag about their ASVAB score.

It doesn’t take a high ASVAB to become an infantryman. Grunts mostly brag about their shooting scores and how big their egos are versus what they got on their ASVAB.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
No crayons = POG. (DoD photo)

4. They actually have morale — and you can see it in their eyes.

Read the photo caption — it’s epic.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
The Airmen responded to U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh III when he challenged the Air Force to a mustache competition. Mustache March continues to be a method of raising morale for the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kyle Gese)

5. When you sport a “serious face” for a photo, but you’re stationed on a beautiful military installation.

Look how happy they are!

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
Two Airmen stand with too much pride in front of Andersen Air Force Base. (Source: DoD)

Also Read: 6 questions you asked yourself after your first firefight

6. When they say the words “Well, I’m basically an infantryman.”

No, you’re not — but good job convincing yourself.

Unless your MOS starts or used to start with “11” (Army) or “03” (Marines), you’re not an infantryman.

This is what an unarmed chaplain brings to the battlefield
(DoD photo)

Two Army infantrymen keep their eyes on a wadi in Andar, Afghanistan. The area is known as a Taliban stronghold and commonly receives small arms fire from the location.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea had a military parade on the eve of the Olympic Games

North Korea held a military parade and rally on Kim Il Sung Square on Feb. 8, just one day before South Korea holds the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.


More than 10,000 troops trained for the parade at a military airfield for several weeks and residents had practiced in plazas around the North Korean capital with bouquets of plastic flowers to spell out slogans during the parade.

A South Korean government official said tens of thousands of people participated or watched the parade that morning in Pyongyang. It wasn’t clear if Kim Jong Un spoke during the event, as he has on previous prominent national events.

 

 

The South Korean official also says it wasn’t immediately clear whether North Korea displayed strategic weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles during the parade. The official didn’t want to be named, citing office rules.

The North had said the parade and rally would mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of its military.

Feb. 8 has been seen as a less important founding anniversary but was elevated this year in part because it is the 70th — a nice round number.

But the Olympics undoubtedly weighed heavily in the decision to elevate the occasion, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going out of his way to make sure the North will hold attention throughout the games.

Following a last-minute proposal during Kim’s annual New Year’s address, North Korea is sending 22 athletes to compete and a delegation of more than 400 musicians, singers, martial artists, and cheering squads to the games.

Also Read: South Koreans are not happy to be Olympic partners with the North

Kim is also dispatching his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to attend the opening ceremony. That, in itself, is a major development — she is one of his closest confidants, holds a senior party position, and her trip will mark the first time any member of the ruling Kim family has visited the South since the Korean War.

The North’s conciliatory moves related to the Olympics have generally been welcomed in the South. The parade, however, was more problematic.

Though possibly best known for their legions of goose-stepping troops, North Korean military parades are the country’s primary means of showing off its most recent advances in military technology — sometimes with aspirational mock-ups.

The North unveiled five new kinds of missiles at its most recent major military parade last April.

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