4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The Marine Corps is always training to become smarter, stronger, and more lethal than those who threaten to destroy our way of life. Marines are outside dogs who thrive on the hunt, however, when not forward deployed, they train the next generation to fight.


The fundamentals used to build up a puppy into a war-dog may seem asinine at first, but they are either proving a concept, developing a character trait, or conditioning muscle memory.

1. Break falls

A break fall is one, if not the first, thing you’ll learn in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. This exercise focuses on muscle memory: tucking the chin or looking up, not reaching out, and dispersing the energy from impact so you can get back on your feet unharmed and continue the fight.

Break falling can take years to perfect (good thing you signed that contract), but it will make you a better sparring partner and will come in handy for those “oh sh*t” moments, like getting in a fight or slipping on an icy sidewalk.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

2. Grass Week

Not every Marine is an infantryman, but every Marine is a rifleman. Generally speaking, it’s probably a good idea to have all personnel achieve proficiency with the metal object they have to carry for months on end while deployed.

Grass Week is when Marines develop muscle memory of shooting positions while aiming at an object (usually a barrel) while coaches fix their posture.

Proper bone support is a fundamental of marksmanship that will help you attain that Expert Rifleman Badge (and bragging rights over your peers). Unfortunately for the Marine, this means staring at the same barrel from dawn to dusk for five days straight.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

3. Fighting Holes

Offense and Defense, also known as O&D, is when Marines have to defend their position against an advancing enemy, conduct patrols, and other combat operations. This also means hours or days of digging with a tiny shovel.

There are set measurements for fighting holes, but their command may take certain liberties contingent on the environment, time, and resources. Dig, fill, relocate, repeat.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

4. Speed Reloads

Speed and tactical reloads make you look and feel like the operator bad ass you imagined yourself to be when signing that contract. The concept is simple: Develop muscle memory to the point that you can reload your weapon in pitch black darkness or blind-folded.

It’s a perishable skill that must be continually honed in the infantry community and it’s a great way to look busy if your staff sergeant is on the prowl for a working party.

As we all know, one must walk before they can run, which translates to many magazines being dropped prematurely.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Censorship in the time of war: How the DoD controlled information

The War Office has the unique ability to censor letters, media reports and controls the flow of information from forward-deployed units to the general public. While most military members know this inherently, it might surprise you to understand how censorship got its legs in America and what it looks like today.

With all likelihood, there was probably some censorship happening during the Civil War, but because so many service personnel were illiterate, it’s hard to know exact numbers. But there had to be some censorship since often letters crossed into enemy territory. But the real start to military censorship started during WWI and the Espionage Act of 1917.


This act allowed the government to fine citizens for interference with recruiting troops or the refusal to perform military duties. The charge came with a fine of $10,000 and 20 years in prison. Within six months of the act being signed, there were over 1,000 people imprisoned.

The Sedition Act of 1918 meant that it became a crime to criticize the government, the Constitution, the flag, or the uniform of men in military service. This applied to both speeches and writing. Under the two laws, thousands of people were imprisoned for acts of nonviolent protest against the war. Additionally, at least 75 newspapers lost mailing privileges and were under governmental pressure to change their outward-facing editorial attitudes.

President Wilson went so far as to create a Committee on Public Information. This committee created a “voluntary censorship code” with newspaper journalists. The committee released a sanitized version of the news to over 6,000 newspapers every single day.

By WWII, censors were on the lookout for anything a soldier might say that would be of value to the enemy or anything that would contradict the official Committee on Public Information reports. The formal establishment of the Office of Censorship in 1941 gave e formal power to censor all communication between the US and foreign countries and prevented news organizations from publishing information that might inadvertently aid the enemy.

By 1942, the Office of War Information took over the flow of information into and out of the government to pass on “approved” versions of news events to news organizations. The OWI prevented any pictures of graphic photos from being released. It also severely limited the letters that it allowed to get through from forward-deployed service members to their families. Letters sent in foreign languages were intercepted, and since most censors didn’t understand what was written, the letter simply wasn’t delivered.

The Vietnam conflict saw the introduction of “5 O’Clock Follies” where press and military officials would gather to receive information about battles ahead of time. Then, the press would wait to report on them until after the battle started. Service member’s letters were heavily censored during this time as well.

During the Gulf War, censorship was not only blatantly accepted by all media outlets, but it was also expected. News reports were submitted to a security review before being released, and a press pool was established to allow one reported to accompany soldiers to combat areas. Letters from service members continued to be intercepted, and information relating to operational security was removed.

Our current conflicts in the War on Terror are still heavily censored, both in what’s allowed to be known ahead of time (like re-deployment dates and precise locations) and in the access the press has to battles. Most often, journalists are no longer allowed to embed in units, and the government has purchased the exclusive rights for commercial satellite imagery of Afghanistan.

Now more than ever, OPSEC is important, since we all have smart devices that we carry with us. Imagery is shared in our modern world in ways it has never been in the past, making it even more important to keep up situational awareness and not give up secrets. For military members and this community, it’s not as much about free speech as it is protecting and defending the ones we love.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how the French special forces hostage rescue operation unfolded

Two French commandos were killed during a night operation to rescue two hostages in the west African country of Burkina Faso on May 10, 2019.

The two petty officers, Cédric de Pierrepont, 32, and Alain Bertoncello, 27, were confirmed to have died in the operation, according to the French Navy.

Here’s how the operation unfolded.


Two Frenchmen, one American, and one South Korean were abducted and taken to Burkina Faso, in West Africa.

French citizens Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas, both of them tourists, were visiting a wildlife preserve in Benin when they were abducted on May 1, 2019.

Their tour guide was fatally shot and their car was burned.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The location where French citizens Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas were abducted.

(Google Maps)

The South Korean and American hostages, both of them women, were held for 28 days. The US State Department did not release the American hostage’s name due to privacy concerns but said she was in her 60s.

The French Foreign Ministry previously issued a travel guidance in the region.

Source: NPR, Vox, NBC News

It was unclear who the captors were, but terror organizations, like the Islamic State, have operated in the area.

The captors were believed to be handing the hostages off to an al-Qaeda group in Mali. The French Gen. François Lecointre told reporters it would have been “absolutely impossible” to successfully conduct a rescue operation under those circumstances.

Around 4,500 French troops are deployed to the region after the country set out to eliminate ISIS activity in Mali in 2013. Twenty-six French troops have been killed since the conflict.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times, France 24

The raid relied on intelligence from the US and France.

The original objective was to rescue the two French hostages.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that neither South Korea nor the US were “necessarily aware” of the abduction of their citizens, according to Reuters.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Operators of the National Gendarmes Intervention Group (GIGN), an elite French force, during a demonstration in June 2018.

French officials, who were tracking the kidnappers, decided to strike after they set up a temporary camp.

“France’s message is clear. It’s a message addressed to terorists,” Parly said after the raid, according to Reuters. “Those who want to target France, French citizens know that we will find track them, we will find them, and we will neutralize them.”

Source: Vox

French commandos launched their raid on Thursday night.

The mission was personally approved by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The commandos in the mission were part of Task Force Sabre, a contingent of troops based in Burkina Faso. It was unclear how many troops took part in the raid.

During the onset of the mission, a lookout was killed after he spotted the approaching commandos roughly 30 feet away. The French commandos then hit the nearby shelters after heard the sounds of weapons being loaded.

Four of the kidnappers were killed and two reportedly escaped.

Source: The Guardian, Fox News, The New York Times

Two French commandos, Cedric de Pierrepont, 33, and Alain Bertoncello, 28, were killed.

Petty officers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello joined the French Navy in 2004 and 2011, respectively.

“France has lost two of its sons, we lose two of our brothers,” France Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. François Lecointre said.

Bertoncello wanted to join the French Navy after graduating highschool, Jean-Luc, Bertoncello’s father, said to RTL.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The two French special forces soldiers Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello who were killed in a night-time rescue of four foreign hostages including two French citizens in Burkina Fasso are seen in an undated photo released by French Army, May 10, 2019.

“What he loved was the esprit de corps … he was doing what he wanted and he always told us not to worry … he was well prepared,” Jean-Luc reportedly said. “They did what they had to do. For him it ended badly, for the others, it was a successful mission.”

Source: The Guardian

Three of the hostages were taken to France.

The French hostages said they regretted traveling to the area, even after officials warned that it could be dangerous.

They also expressed their “sincere condolences” for Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.

“All our thoughts go out to the families of the soldiers and to the soldiers who lost their lives to free us from this hell,” Laurent Lassimouillas said.

France pays tribute to Petty Officers Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello.

A ceremony was held for Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello at the Invalides, in Paris on May 14, 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron described the mission as “necessary” and spoke to family members of de Pierrepont and Bertoncello.

“France is a nation that never abandons its children, no matter what, even if they are on the other side of the world,” Macron said in a speech. “Those who attack a French citizen should know that our country never gives in, that they will always find our army, its elite units and our allies on their path.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

These 4 brothers were heroes of the American Revolution

There were thousands of families that sent sons, fathers, brothers, and—when the families allowed it—daughters and sisters. But one family with five sons sent four of them to war as officers in the Revolution, and they fought at some of America’s crucial battles, eventually earning special honors from Gen. George Washington at Yorktown.


4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Col. Richard Butler, the eldest brother, later served as a general and died fighting Native Americans after the Revolutionary War.

(John Trumbull)

The Butler Family was born to Thomas Butler and his wife Eleanor. Thomas was a gunsmith and a patron of the church as well as an immigrant to America. He moved with his family from County Wicklow, Ireland, to the American Colonies in 1748 and settled in Pennsylvania. The older brothers, William and Richard, emigrated with their parents while Thomas Jr., Percival, and Edward were born in the colonies.

Obviously, this was a fateful time to set up life in the colonies. And, soon enough, the four elder brothers were serving in the Continental Army. Richard was recommended for commission as a major in 1776, and he received it. He was quickly promoted to lieutenant colonel and sent to Morgan’s Riflemen, The 11th Virginia Regiment. He received credit for the constant state of readiness in that unit.

More positions and commands followed. He survived Simcoe’s Rangers’ raids near Williamsburg and then was a part of the American victory at Saratoga. He then led troops in the assault on the British positions at Yorktown and, when British Gen. Charles Cornwallis was forced to surrender, Washington selected Richard to plant the first American flag on the former British fortifications. Baron von Steuben ultimately took the honor for himself, though.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The Battle of Monmouth, where three of the Butler brothers fought.

(Emanuel Leutze)

Richard’s younger brother William was commissioned as a captain in 1776 and promoted to major during October of that year. He fought in Canada and, after promotion to lieutenant colonel, at Monmouth. He then fought defensive actions against Native American tribes and took part in the successful Sullivan-Clinton Expedition to break the Iroquois Confederacy and its British allies in 1779.

The third brother, Thomas, was commissioned as a first lieutenant in early 1776 and promoted to captain later that year. His bravery at the Battle of Brandywine allowed him to rally retreating Colonials and stop a British thrust, earning him accolades from Washington. Later, he fought at Monmouth and was cited for defending a draw against severe attack, allowing his older brother Richard to escape as the British forces were tied up.

(Fun fact about Thomas: He was court-martialed in 1803 for multiple charges but defeated all of them except for “wearing his hair.” Basically, he wore a Federalist wig and refused to take it off for the Army.)

The youngest brother to fight in the war was Percival, who was commissioned as a first lieutenant in 1777 at the age of 18. He fought at Monmouth with two of his brothers after a winter at Valley Forge.

All of this led to the Butlers being specially praised by senior leaders. Washington gave a toast during a victory banquet, “To the Butlers and their five sons!” And Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, said, “When I wanted a thing done well, I had a Butler do it.”

Thomas, the men’s father, fought in the Revolutionary War as well and the youngest brother, Edward, fought for the U.S. and died in combat in 1791.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what we know about China’s dangerous ‘carrier killer’ missile

China offered an unprecedented look at its new DF-26 “carrier killer” missile in a video seen by military experts as a direct warning to US aircraft carriers that they’re in danger of being sunk.

The footage of the DF-26 broke with norms in several ways. China strictly controls its media, and any data on a its ballistic missiles or supporting infrastructure amounts to military intelligence for the US, which considers China a leading rival.


And a close look at the video reveals a capable weapon with several strengths and features that seriously threaten the US Navy’s entire operating concept.

Analysts who spoke with the South China Morning Post about the video concluded that the video sought to strike fear into the US by showing a fully functional, confident Chinese rocket brigade loading and firing the missile that the country said can sink US Navy ships as far away as Guam.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZMvtqtHVf4
Tension High: China Tests DF 26 Carrier-Killer Missile, Shoulde Navy Be Worrie

www.youtube.com

China has increasing its threats against the US Navy for sailing in international waters near its territory, with a rear admiral even calling for China to sink US aircraft carriers.

Many in the US dismissed the Chinese naval academic’s talk as bluster, but China went through with deploying the missiles and showed them off in the video.

“This is the first time, to my knowledge, the DF-26 has really been materially visible in any video,” Scott LaFoy, an open-source missile analyst at ArmsControlWonk.com tweeted in response to the video. “This sort of imagery wasn’t released for literally decades with the DF-21!” he continued, referencing China’s earlier, shorter-range “carrier killer” missile type.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The DF-26 warhead revealed.

(CCTV / YouTube)

What we know about the missile

The DF-26 has a known range of 1,860 to 3,500 miles, putting much of China’s near periphery in range, along with much of the US military’s Pacific basing and infrastructure.

With at least a 2,500-pound throw weight, China can use the missile to carry conventional, nuclear, or anti-ship warheads.

First off, the missile is road-mobile, meaning that if the US sought to kill the missiles before they’re fired, they’d likely be able to run and hide.

Second, the missile is solid-fueled. This means the missile has fuel already inside it. When North Korea launched its intercontinental-ballistic-missile prototypes in 2017, it used liquid fuels.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

The ranges of Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles, air-defense systems, and warships.

(Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments)

Liquid-fueled missiles must take fuel before the launch, which for road-mobile missiles, requires a large team of fueling and support trucks. The long convoy makes the mobile missiles easier to track and would give the US about 30 minutes to hunt the missile down.

Third, the missile is cold-launched, according to LaFoy. This makes a minor difference, but essentially allows the missile to maximize its range by relying on compressed gas to eject it from the tube to get it going, rather than a powerful blast of fuel.

Submarines, for example, shoot cold-launched missiles near the surface before letting their engines rip.

Finally, according to LaFoy’s close analysis of the launch, the DF-26 may carry field reloads, or essentially get close to rapid fire — which could allow China’s batteries to overwhelm a carrier’s robust defensive systems.

If the DF-26 units carry with them additional rounds and operate as portrayed in the video, China may truly have a weapon that they can confidently show off knowing the US can scrutinize it but likely not defeat it.

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

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of December 16th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Firefighters begin creating fire lines to combat the wildfire in Custer State Park, S.D., Dec. 13, 2017. Ellsworth Airmen worked with more than 330 firefighters from four surrounding states to combat the wildfire covering 55 square miles of the park.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Donald C. Knechtel)

U.S. Air Force Airmen sit on the back of a C-130 cargo aircraft during Operation Christmas Drop 2017, Dec. 15, 2017, at Mariloa Atoll, Chuuk. Over the course of 12 days, crews will airdrop donated food, supplies, educational materials, and tools to 56 islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis)

Army:

Pfc. Brandon DeFlippo, a Rolla, Mo. native and a tank systems maintainer with 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, performs maintenance on a Bradley fighting vehicle during training in Adazi, Latvia Dec. 9, 2017.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III/22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Regiment Cavalry bound forward and find cover behind a berm as support fire is being provided by another team during a live fire exercise at the Guadnek training range in Orzysz, Poland, Dec. 14, 2017. These Soldiers are a part of the unique, multinational battle group, comprised of U.S., U.K., Croatian and Romanian soldiers serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade as a deterrence force in northeast Poland in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Navy:

Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) returns to its homeport of Guam following a four-month forward-operating period in the Western Pacific. Key West is one of four forward-deployed submarines homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Navy photo by Culinary Specialist Submarines Seaman Jonathan Perez)

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the Atlantic Ocean at night. Ford is underway conducting test and evaluation operations.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard)

Marine Corps:

Gunny Claus poses with children after the 2nd Marine Division (2d MARDIV) holiday concert at the base theater, on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 9, 2017. The program included a variety of traditional and modern Christmas and holiday music performed by the full concert band, jazz ensemble, party band, and soloists.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)

U.S. Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, observe a beach after a simulated amphibious breach in support of exercise Steel Knight 2018 at San Clemente Island, Calif., Dec. 9, 2017. Steel Knight is a 1st Marine Division led exercise enabling Marines and Sailors to operate in a realistic environment developing necessary skill sets to maintain a fully capable Marine Air Ground Task Force.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Rhita Daniel)

Coast Guard:

Members of the Hurricane Maria ESF-10 Puerto Rico response examine a vessel wrecked by Hurricane Maria, Fajardo Puerto Rico, Dec. 13, 2017. The ESF-10 is offering no-cost options for removing vessels stranded by Hurricane Maria; affected boat owners are asked to call the Vessel Owner Outreach Hotline at (786) 521-3900.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando)

A Coast Guard boat crew aboard the Triumph II, a 52-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Cape Disappointment, conducting a tow off the Pacific Northwest coast, Dec. 10, 2017. The Triumph II is one of only four 52-MLBs in the Coast Guard and is specially designed for the deep water bars of the Pacific Northwest.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Fishler

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Were the builders morons?’ Russia’s first theme park leaves few amused

Rising above a sea of asphalt parking are the stubby turrets of Russia’s first-ever foray into the theme-park business. At first glance, the complex in Moscow bears a slight resemblance to Disneyland, the American amusement park that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was not allowed to visit in 1959, but hoped one day to reproduce at home. Now, after several false starts, Russia finally has its own amusement park: Dream Island.


With none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin on hand, joining Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, the park was opened to the public on February 29.

Officials are hoping millions of visitors from Russia and abroad will pass through the turnstiles annually, lured by Dream Island’s attractions scattered over its 30 hectares, all enclosed under glass domes to keep out the Russian capital’s notoriously harsh weather.

Russian officials are quick to note that the id=”listicle-2645441716″.5-billion theme park is the largest in Europe and Asia and to predict it will be a key part of the legacy Sobyanin leaves behind. The opening was delayed twice: once in 2018 and again in December 2019.

Many Russians, not least those active on social media, are skeptical to say the least with many lampooning what they see as a boondoggle and a poor imitation of the Disney original. Many lament the forest that was chopped down to make way for the park and the enormous expanse of parking. Others note the shady background of those involved with the project.

Perhaps more than anything, ticket prices at the park have been a lightning rod for criticism.

Tickets on the weekend cost 11,000 rubles (3) for a family of four. The average monthly wage in Russia last year was just over 46,000 rubles (3). And inflation continues to take bites of that. Overall, in 2019, about 14 percent of Russians lived on less than 0 per month, the official poverty line.

“According to the official site of the new Moscow park: ‘Dream Island is a socially significant site for the Moscow region.’ An entrance ticket for anyone over 10 years old costs 2,900 rubles []. That means, it costs at least 8,700 [rubles, or 1] for a family [during the week]. The mayor’s office has a strange idea of ‘social significance,'” lawyer and moderator for the nationalist Tsargrad television channel Stalina Gurevich wrote on Twitter.

Others have taken issue with the id=”listicle-2645441716″.5 billion price tag. Twitter user Sakt points out that the Burj Khalifa, the needle-shaped, 830-meter skyscraper that dominates the skyline in Dubai, cost roughly the same, suggesting the United Arab Emirates got more bang for its buck.

Some are aesthetically appalled with what they consider a poor rip-off of the American theme-park icon.

Vasily Oblomov, also on Twitter, juxtaposed Dream Island and Disneyland.

“Today in Moscow the amusement park Dream Island is opening. One photo shows the pathetic foreign version. The other, the unique, Russian original. I think it won’t be difficult to figure out which is which.”

Another Twitter user, identified as Kolya Shvab, also was less than impressed with Dream Island’s castle: “What a mess. One look is enough to know that the person who designed this blindingly ugly barn with turrets, never in his life saw a real castle.”

Another Twitter user gave builders credit for taking a bad idea and making it worse.

“It was horrible from the beginning, but the builders managed to screw it up even more. All the rounded elements were made square. It’s not a ‘Dream Island’ but an island of shame,” he writes.

That message of disgust with the design of Dream Island was echoed by Twitter user, Sofiya, who identifies herself as an “architect” and “designer.”

“Dream Island is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my architectural life. This is hell for an architect. But my son is 13 years old. That means I’ll probably go there soon as a loving mother, and while my son enjoys the attractions, I’ll be suffering.”

Others were perplexed by the massive parking lot stretching out for acres in front of the park entrance, wondering why it couldn’t have taken up less space by being built underground or as a multilevel complex.

“Are we correct in thinking that for the Moscow authorities Dream Island is parking in front and beautiful scenery in the background so that parking wouldn’t be so boring?” asked Twitter user Gorodskie Proekty.

“Parking in front of the park. Were the builders morons?” Katyusha Mironova asked on Twitter.

Even before its opening, the theme park was targeted for criticism, not least from those living near the site, who were among the loudest complaining after a forest was chopped down to make way for the project.

Twitter user Interesting Moscow posted what appears to be satellite imagery of the area before and after the park was built.

Others couldn’t help but notice the opening just happened to coincide with a demonstration in the Russian capital to commemorate Boris Nemtsov, the Putin critic who was shot dead near the Kremlin five years ago. Many used the event to protest proposed amendments to the country’s constitution. Critics say the planned changes are aimed at extending Putin’s grip on power after his current presidential term ends in 2024.

Twitter user Borrelia persica said half of Moscow was at the Nemtsov march, the other at the opening of Dream Island.

The owners of the complex are Amiran Mutsoyev and his brother, Alikhan. The two are the sons of Zelimkhan Mutsoyev, a shady businessman and former State Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party with alleged ties to organized crime figures.

Whether any of that will matter to Russians considering a visit to Dream Island remains to be seen.

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

Military Life

How your gym selfie can help give back to the USO

The USO is bringing back its viral social media challenge again this year with 2018’s #Flex4Forces campaign. Running from now until Independence Day, using the hashtag #Flex4Forces will help bring awareness to the USO and its continued contributions to the troops.


The challenge is simple: Snap a photo or video of yourself flexing, post it on any social media platform, and be sure to caption it with #Flex4Forces. Next, tag four of your friends (or celebrities) to flex next and keep the challenge going. Finally, you can donate $4 at USO.org/Flex.

The USO debuted the challenge last year to overwhelming success. Troops, veterans, civilians, companies, communities, sports teams, and more joined in on the fun. Chris Pratt, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tim McGraw, and many more celebrities also helped spread the challenge.

USO CEO and President J.D. Crouch II said,

“At the USO, we believe service members should feel connected and supported, no matter where they serve, and Flex4Forces encourages Americans to recognize the service of the one percent who protect and defend our nation. This campaign is a simple way to bring the American people closer to service members and to show them our strong support.”

It’s all in good fun and it’s the perfect way to mix both the military’s love of the USO and love of showing off that deployment body. Even if you’re not as jacked as Dwayne Johnson, you can still join in. At the end of the day, it’s not really about gloating — it’s about sharing the goodwill that the USO has shown to our troops over the decades.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

Navajo airman is heir to ‘code talker’ legacy

Airman 1st Class Phillip Rock is part of his family’s legacy of military service — a legacy that, in fact, would not have continued if it weren’t for that military service itself.

Stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Rock is a B-2 Spirit weapons load crew member in the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. It is his first Air Force assignment and the most recent in his family’s military history.

“I was raised in Kayenta, Arizona, which is an hour away from the four corners,” said Phillip, who is three-quarters Navajo American Indian. “It is really the heart of the reservation.”


Raised by his grandparents, he learned much about his cultural heritage from them. He also learned where his family’s long military lineage began.

This Rock family tradition started with his great grandfather, Joseph Rock — Grandpa Joe — who served in World War II.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Airman 1st Class Phillip E. Rock, a 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron B-2 weapons load crew member, weaves a dream catcher on Nov. 15, 2018, in his dorm at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

“At first, I didn’t know much about what my great grandfather had done,” Phillip said.

Grandpa Joe died in 2004 at age 92 when Phillip was 5 years old. It wasn’t until he was nearly a teen that Phillip realized his great grandfather was a war hero.

One day, when Rock was 12 years old, he was flipping through TV channels with his grandfather, Ernest Rock Sr., in their living room. They stopped to watch a historical documentary about World War II.

Rock recalled asking his grandfather about his great grandfather’s role in the major world conflict which spanned across Europe and the Pacific.

“I said, ‘Isn’t that the war Grandpa Joe fought in? What did he do?'”

His grandfather told Phillip “He was a code talker.”

Western expansion, cultural repression

It was the early 1900s and Joseph Rock was a young boy living on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. As the country expanded westward, much of the tribe’s land was taken by the U.S. government. Joseph was sent to school, where his long hair was cut and his name was changed.

“He went up to a chalkboard, pointed at a random configuration of letters, and that’s how he became Joseph Rock,” Phillip said. “Four generations later, we still carry on that last name.”

Grandpa Joe was also punished in school if he spoke his native language — the same language that would later save countless lives.

By 1941, shortly after the U.S. had entered WWII, the Marine Corps began to recruit Navajo tribal members for a top-secret code-communications program that wouldn’t be declassified until two decades later.

At first, fewer than 30 Navajo Indians were recruited as code talkers. In total, only about 400 of the 44,000 American Indians who served in WWII were Navajo code talkers. Joseph Rock was asked to work among them, and he accepted.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Airman 1st Class Phillip E. Rock, a B-2 weapons load crew member assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, poses for a portrait on Nov. 15, 2018 in his dorm at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

“He was told if he served, the family would get some of their land back and a house,” Phillip Rock said. “None of that happened.”

But those promises weren’t what enticed Grandpa Joe to join the military. He wanted to serve his country, and did so honorably.

“My great grandfather was proud of his service,” Phillip Rock said. “It’s his legacy.”

Military recruitment

This was not the first time American Indians were recruited for U.S. military service, either as combatants or code talkers. During the first World War, American troops relied on messages transmitted in Cherokee and Choctaw tribal languages to pass secret information. However, the languages used were eventually all deciphered by enemy troops.

The Navajo language, though, is considered particularly linguistically difficult. And at that time, it had not been written down. The U.S. government knew it would be nearly impossible for a non-Navajo to learn.

So, in the early 1940s, Navajo code talkers used their language to create more than 200 new words for military terms and then committed them to memory.

“The enemy never understood it,” a Marine general was quoted as saying after the Navajo code was first used in WWII. “We don’t understand it either, but it works.”

The Navajo code is the only spoken military code that has never been deciphered, and Navajo code talkers are credited with saving thousands of Americans’ and allies’ lives.

Winning the war

Before he knew his Grandpa Joe served as a code talker, Phillip learned about his tribe’s role in WWII as a boy in school.

“We were taught that we should be extremely thankful for what they did,” Phillip said. “Without the code talkers, we wouldn’t have won the war.”

During the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, Navajo code talkers worked around the clock sending and receiving thousands of messages. One Marine later stated, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima,” according to the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Joseph Rock was one of those code talkers involved in the critical battle to claim the Pacific island.

During the battle, a grenade landed only feet away from Joseph Rock, who “watched it hit the ground,” Phillip said. Then, Joseph Rock saw one of his fellow Marines dive on top of it, giving his life to save Grandpa Joe.

“He wanted to save the life of a code talker,” Phillip Rock said. “It’s inspiring what people will do to continue with the mission. My Grandpa Joe owed his life to that man.”

Neither Joseph Rock nor the Rock family was ever able to find out who the Marine was, but know future generations of Rocks have their lives thanks to his valor.

“I owe my life to that man, too,” Phillip said.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Traditional native american jewelry is laid out on the couch of Airman 1st Class Phillip E. Rock, a B-2 weapons load crew member assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Each piece of jewelry was gifted to rock throughout his childhood.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla White)

Culture and service

Since Grandpa Joe, many members of the Rock family have answered their nation’s call including his grandfather, his father, uncles and an aunt.

For Phillip, his great grandfather’s service as a code talker influenced Philip’s own decision to join the Air Force.

Phillip is the most recent member of his family to serve in the military.

“I feel like it was a prideful thing to carry on that lineage of service,” said Phillip. “It felt like the right calling. My Grandpa Joe was the first to wear this name on a uniform. I am very proud of this name. I knew I wanted to carry that on and wear it on a uniform.”

Meanwhile, Navajo principles have taught him respect, perseverance, and determination.

“My culture really shapes who I am,” Phillip Rock says. “I wear my culture on my sleeve and my name on my chest.”

This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch as a massive ammunition depot blows up in Ukraine

Massive explosions at an  in central  have prompted the evacuation of more than 30,000 people and the closure of airspace over the region, the country’s emergency response agency has said.


The blasts late on Sept. 26 sparked a blaze at the depot near Kalynivka in the Vinnytsya region, some 270 kilometers west of Kyiv, the September 27 statement said.

 military prosecutor’s office said investigators were treating the explosions and fire as an act of sabotage, Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) spokeswoman Olena Hitlyanska said on September 27.

National Police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said in a statement on September 27 that hundreds of police officers from the Vinnytsya, Zhytomyr, Khmelnitskiy, Kyiv, and Chernivtsi regions were providing security and safe evacuation of people at the site.

Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman, who arrived in Vinnytsya hours after the blast, said that “external factors” were behind the incident.

Zoryan Shkiryak, an adviser to the head of the Interior Ministry, said on Facebook that he was “convinced that this is a hostile Russian sabotage,” and said it was the seventh fire at military warehouses in Kalynivka.

He said a state commission of inquiry will be set up to investigate the cause of the explosions.

Some 600 National Guard troops were deployed to the area to assist with the evacuation of the residents and to ensure the protection of their property from looters, the National Guard said in a statement. Some 1,200 Ukrainian firefighters were working to contain the blaze, UNIAN reported.

Witnesses said that after an initial loud explosion, bright flashes were visible in the night sky. Some residents said they feared the smoke and fire from the explosion might produce toxic gases.

Local media reported that the explosive wave knocked out the windows in the Kalynivka district state administration, where an emergency headquarters for teams seeking to put out the explosions and fire was later gathered.

Witnesses said the sound of explosions could be heard as far away as Kyiv. Local media said that in Kalynivka, officials turned off the lights and disconnected gas and electricity supplies.

Shortly after the explosions, the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of , General Viktor Muzhenko, arrived in Vinnytsya, authorities said.

A volunteer of the Avtoevrozile organization of Vinnytsya, Ihor Rumyantsev, told RFE/RL that he saw about 10 buses arrive to evacuate people. He said he was helping to evacuate residents, giving priority to women and children.

Early on September 27, Rumyantsev said the explosions started to increase, doubling in size, prompting people to hide in their cellars.

Rumyantsev said the railway connection in the area had completely stopped. Ukrzaliznytsya reported a change in railroad routes due to the explosions.

An employee of the Vinnytsya Oblast Council, Iryna Yaroshynska, confirmed the rerouting of trains going through Kalynivka.

Ukraerocenter closed the airspace within a radius of 50 kilometers from the zone of explosions in the military warehouses, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuriy Lavrenyuk said on Facebook.

Residents posted video online showing what appeared to be a fire burning, lights flashing, and smoke billowing into the night sky.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Lawmakers try to expand list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits

Proposed amendments to the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act would add three diseases to the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ list of illnesses presumed to be linked to Agent Orange — measures that, if approved, would provide health care and disability benefits to roughly 22,000 affected veterans.

The House and Senate amendments, proposed by Rep. Josh Harder, D-California, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, would add bladder cancer, hypothyroidism and Parkinsonism to the VA’s list of 14 conditions considered related to herbicide exposure during the Vietnam War.


In 2016, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine deemed the three named diseases to be associated with exposure to defoliants used during the war.

But the proposals do not include hypertension, a condition that the Academies also linked to Agent Orange in 2018. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is common among the elderly and, if included, could add more than 2 million veterans to VA disability rolls in the next 10 years, at an estimated cost of $11.2 billion to $15.2 billion, according to department estimates.

Thirty veteran and military groups have backed the proposals and asked congressional leaders to do the same.

On Tuesday, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America and 27 other groups wrote House and Senate leaders urging them to get behind the provisions.

“We call on you to lead and pass House Amendment 264 into law and end the waiting for many of our nation’s ill veterans so they can receive disability benefits,” stated letters sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“There is more work to be done to care for those who are ill from toxic exposures, including adopting hypertension as a presumptive disease … but with your leadership, tens of thousands of Vietnam War veterans will receive their benefits and justice,” they wrote.

A decision on whether to add the three conditions has been delayed since 2017, when then-VA Secretary David Shulkin expressed support for including them but never formally announced his decision.

According to internal VA documents, Shulkin had been on the verge of including the three conditions when the Office of Management and Budget and other White House officials objected, citing what they called “limited scientific evidence” and cost.

Meanwhile, thousands of veterans have waited.

“Vietnam vets have been waiting for this for decades, and it’s a national shame that it’s not fixed yet,” Harder told Military.com. “We have a real chance here to make this right after all this time, and we should seize the opportunity.”

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told lawmakers late last year he wants the results of two studies — the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study, or VE-HEROES, and the Vietnam Era Mortality Study — to be reviewed for publication before announcing a decision on whether to broaden the presumptives list.

But lawmakers and advocacy groups have balked at the delay.

“This is something we are still fighting after how many decades from the Vietnam War?” asked Corey Titus, director of veterans benefits and Guard/reserve affairs at MOAA. “We should be making sure there aren’t any service members with illnesses who aren’t getting the care and benefits they earned.”

In February, Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, penned a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to “take corrective action” and add all four diseases to the list, including hypertension.

“Your administration has the ability to add these conditions to the presumptive list and provide lifesaving benefits to more than 190,000 veterans. Without your action, tens of thousands of sick and aging veterans will continue to go without VA resources and health care in their time of need,” he wrote.

The letter was signed by 77 members, all Democrats.

While hypertension is not included in the proposed amendment, the coalition of veterans and military organizations pledged to continue working on adopting it as a “presumptive disease as linked by the National Academies.”

“This needs to be covered as well. This is not something that we will forget — hypertension,” Titus said.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have both passed their versions of the fiscal 2021 defense bill and forwarded them to their respective chambers for consideration. Currently, committees are weighing the rules for amending and deliberating the bills before they move ahead for debate.

Both Harder and Tester’s proposals must make it through that process before coming up for a vote.

A legislative source said Tester’s amendment has been identified for a vote.

“With a bipartisan team of lawmakers and the support of the entire veterans community, we have a strong chance to finally get this done,” Harder said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Watch the first of these never-before-seen D-Day videos in stunning 4K

While 4K video was far from the technology of the day, the people over at AARP pulled out all the stops to get the legendary footage of history’s largest amphibious landing into the viewing technology of today. Narrated by acclaimed actor Bryan Cranston, the video series presents the personal letters and feelings of the men who landed on the beaches of Occupied France that day.


The first in the series, “Landing on Omaha Beach,” is the story of the landing through the eyes of Pfc. Dominick Bart, a 32-year-old infantryman who landed on the beach during the first wave. Cranston brings Bart’s experiences alive as he reads about the Private First Class’ experience on the beaches in Bart’s letter to his wife, Mildred.

Omaha was just one of five Allied sectors invaded that day, and one of two that would fall to the American invasion forces. Omaha’s principal challenge was the 150-foot cliffs overlooking the beach, from which Nazi guards rained death on the invaders.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance

Some 43,000 men assaulted Omaha Beach alone that day, and by 7:30 in the morning had managed to get through the beach to the cliffs. A half hour later, 900 American GIs were at the tops of the bluffs and assaulting the entrenched enemy positions. By 9:00 a.m., U.S. troops had cleared the beach and began moving inland. An estimated 2,000 – 5,000 men were killed and wounded in the assault on Omaha Beach alone, not to mention the four other sectors engaged by British and Canadian troops.

For the Americans, it was their finest hour.

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Mar. 25

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Several A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft wait for a sunset take off during night training at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho on March 20, 2017.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur

Pararescuemen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron prepare for a night jump from a C-130 Hercules over Grand Bara, Djibouti March 20, 2017. The training allowed the pararescuemen to maintain their qualifications on night jumps. The 82nd ERQS conducts full spectrum personnel recovery, casualty evacuation, medical evacuation, and sensitive item recovery in support of Defense Department personnel.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia

ARMY:

NAVY:

ARABIAN GULF (March 23, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class William Duskin stands in the rain on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during flight operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. George H.W. Bush is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

ARABIAN GULF (March 23, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

MARINE CORPS:

The Patriots Jet Team performs aerial acrobatics as pyrotechnics provided by the Tora Bomb Squad of the Commemorative Air Force explode, forming a “Wall Of Fire” during the 2017 Yuma Airshow at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, March 18, 2017.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Lance Cpl. George Melendez

Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 274 prepare to perform casualty evacuation drills during a training operation at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, March 9, 2017. MWSS-274 conducted casualty evacuation drills in order to improve unit readiness and maintain combat skills.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow

COAST GUARD:

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson gathers on the newly commissioned cutter during a commissioning ceremony held at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey, March 18, 2017. The Lawrence Lawson is the second 154-foot Fast Response Cutter to be commissioned in Cape May and will conduct missions from North Carolina to New Jersey.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nate Littlejohn

Members of Coast Guard Forward Operating Base Point Mugu and Los Angeles County Fire Department conduct joint cliff rescue training at Point Vicente Lighthouse March 21, 2017.

4 important training exercises that seem useless at first glance
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Anderson

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