4 tips to pass the Army's SIFT Test - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

College applicants need to take the SAT and/or the ACT. Medical students take the MCAT. Before your orders are cut to attend the Army’s flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, prospective aviators will have to pass the Selection Instrument for Flight Training. Better known as the SIFT, both commissioned and warrant officers are required to obtain a score of at least 40 in order to qualify for flight school. The multiple-choice test is broken down into seven sections and can take up to three hours. Full disclosure, I managed a nice SIFT score of 69. Here are some tips to help you achieve the highest score possible so you can be above the best.

1. Study Guides

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Don’t just look at the pictures (U.S. Army)

This one may seem like an obvious answer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother going through the resources that are readily available to them. Books have been published that detail the types of questions that are on the SIFT. While you can take the shotgun method and go through all of them, focus on understanding the reasoning behind the questions you will be asked. Additionally, take the practice tests and, crucially, don’t cheat yourself. Yes, the answers are in the back. But, you’re not learning anything if you peek ahead. Online study guides and quizzes are also available with a quick search. These help to prepare you better since the SIFT is only administered via computer.

2. Play ‘Find It’ Games

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
One of these things is not like the others (KnowYourMeme)

Once you’ve exhausted your conventional study resources, it’s time to get creative. The first two sections of the SIFT are Simple Drawings and Hidden Figures. The former requires you to pick out a drawing that is different from the ones around it and the latter asks you to identify an object hidden in a mess of other objects. In both sections, speed, accuracy, and attention to detail are essential. Having a quick eye to spot differences and pick them out in a crowd will help you succeed here. Who knew all that time looking at “Where’s Waldo?” and hidden picture books as a kid would come in handy?

3. Play Video Games

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
It helps to know which way your aircraft is pointing (Activision)

No, I’m not kidding. But, I’m not talking about Call of Duty or Fortnite either. While those games could help with reaction times which will allow you to submit your answers faster, you’ll want to play flight games in preparation for the SIFT. The next two sections are the Spatial Apperception Test and the Army Aviation Information Test. During the SAT, you will be shown a scene from the pilot’s perspective in the cockpit. Using that, you will have to select the image that depicts the aircraft in that same position relative to its surroundings. The AAIT is a little more straightforward and will ask questions about general aviation knowledge, Army Aviation history, aircraft mechanics and components, principles of flight, and common aviation words and phrases. If you’re a military aviation buff, you’ll have a leg up in the knowledge portion. To help with other questions in these sections, arcade flight simulators like Apache Air Assault and Ace Combat can help immensely, especially with the SAT. You don’t have to be a master pilot on Microsoft Flight Simulator, but more detailed simulations like it will help you to understand the more intricate principles of flight.

4. Pay Attention in School

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
It’s never too late to learn (U.S. Army)

If you’re still in school, do yourself a favor and pay extra attention in math, science, and English. If you didn’t do that well in school and have already graduated, pay extra attention to the SIFT practice tests and seek additional related practice tests. The last three sections of the SIFT are the Math Skills Test, the Mechanical Comprehension Test, and the Reading Comprehension Test. When it comes to the MST, it’s not advanced calculus. But, you will be tested on algebraic expressions, geometric equations and basic trigonometry. You can also expect to calculate percentages and rates over time in word problems. The MCT is a mix of physics, math, and science theory. Be familiar with the laws of physics, simple machines, heat transfer and the inter-connectivity of systems. The best practice for the RCT is to read each passage and the available answers in their entirety. Remember that words have meaning and focus on details to identify context clues and extrapolate the information needed to determine the correct answer.

While the SIFT is not an indicator of how well you will perform in flight school or as an Army Aviator, it does determine your aptitude to train in the skills necessary to fly with the best. A pass/fail result is displayed immediately upon completion of the SIFT and the Test Control Officer/Test Examiner will provide you with the numerical score. Remember that they have to sign your testing letter for your score to be valid. Once you obtain a passing score, you are ineligible to retake the SIFT. Additionally, if you don’t pass on your first try, you will have to wait 180 days before you can retest and a second failure to pass will disqualify you from the Army Aviation Program. As with all tests, study hard, be prepared, and do your best.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Fly Army. Above the best. (U.S. Army)
Military Life

7 hip pocket classes that would actually be useful for troops

Yes, they learn the basics in Boot Camp and Basic Training. Yes, they’ll acquire a general understanding of their MOS while in advanced training. But that’s just it — bare-minimum knowledge. Don’t expect those under your command to be experts in everything straight out the gate. After all, if someone doesn’t know or understand a specific task relevant to their career, there’s no one to blame but you. This is the idea behind “hip pocket training.” 


Sometime throughout the day, an NCO should give a class on a specific topic. No PowerPoint slides copied from someone else, no reading from a book — the NCO should be the subject matter expert in whatever they’re teaching. If not, there’s no shame in asking someone else who is to “assist” in training.

7. Weapons familiarity

Every grunt and every POG should know how to properly use their weapon system, not just “pull this here, it goes bang, and that thing over there drops.” They should know every inch of their weapon. What every piece does and how it works with other pieces. Troops should know how to properly maintain it and what to do if a malfunction occurs. There’s plenty more you can do other than dime drills.

If you don’t know what a dime drill is: lay in the prone position with a rifle and have someone place either a washer or a dime at the end of the barrel. The objective it to practice pulling the trigger without jerking the weapon to the left or right, but steadily enough to keep a constant grouping of shots.

(TacticsandArms | YouTube)

6. Medical Training

Just as there are countless classes you can host on weapons training, there are countless you can teach on medical. How to treat and dress combat injuries, how to respond to casualties of various weather conditions (hot weather, cold weather, etc.), and how to prepare a troop to properly hand off the injured to professionals — these are all life-saving skills. They don’t need to be field surgeons, but there’s no excuse for not knowing how to bring someone to proper care.

One such class could be on how to properly extract a casualty under fire. For maximum effect, train as you fight — in gear. Practice all means available, from over the shoulder carries to drags. If even the smallest person in your team can find suitable means of extracting the largest person, you’re golden.

(Funker Tactical | YouTube)

5. Radio communication

While the average troop may not need to touch a radio, if the worst comes to worst, they’ll need to know. Troops who can properly use a radio and not talk on it like it’s a freaking cellphone are invaluable on the battlefield. Teach the basics of setting up a radio, proper etiquette while talking, and the common requests, like calling for fire or a nine-line MEDEVAC.

If the radio operator can’t get on the hand-mic or is injured, someone else will need to operate it. The Medical Evacuation will need to know the most important five things before they can set out. They are: The location of the injured, the frequency to reach the radio operator, the precedence and number of the injured,  if any special equipment is needed, and number of patients who need a litter or can walk. The mnemonic device most commonly used to remember this is, “Low Flying Pilots Eat Nachos.”

(Javier NS | YouTube)

4. Wilderness survival skills

The best part about wilderness survival training is that, by definition, it’s supposed to be about not having the proper tools. Whether you train the troop in how to survive outside in a desert or how to survive the backwoods of your military installation, these are tips that can also be applied off-duty when civilians ask to go camping.

A quick and easy skill to learn is how to build a debris hut. You could use a poncho, but you can make a basic structure with just three sturdy sticks as a base and some branches for insulation.

(Tom McElroy | YouTube)

3. Skills relevant to their deployment

Above all, the troop must know the skills required by their specific MOS. But, as what everyone who has ever deployed can tell you, you’ll always do more. Even if you believe that you and your troops have the most cushioned position in the safest place, they should know their battle drills. Specifically, Battle Drill 2: react to contact.

BD2 is the breakdown of what you should do after an enemy engages you. Immediately — before they have time to think — troops should be able to identify what makes great cover from wherever the enemy is. It should be second nature that they should stack on a concrete wall and await the next orders. The rest of BD2 falls on the leader’s shoulders.

(DrakeFoster | YouTube)

2. Cross-train with other sections

Continuing on the theme of “things you weren’t trained to do but do anyways,” we have: other people’s tasks. Your troops should be self-reliant to the point that they don’t need the people from the other platoon to hold their hands through everything. A great way to do this is to find another NCO from another section and make a deal. You help teach their troops this time, they help you teach next time.

This doesn’t have to be between the squad or platoon levels. If you have a buddy in another battalion or brigade who has a wildly different MOS from you, ask them to help break the monotony of daily training. Everyone has something to offer. Even if they’re grunts and you’re far from it, you can still pick up a few things here and there.

(Tactical Rifleman | YouTube)

1. Military history

Troops need to know the shoulders of the giants upon which they stand. Every military installation has names of great troops, famous battles, and historic locations written on nearly every building and street. If you’re a 101st Airborne soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, you should be able to give details on the significance behind the name “Market Garden Road” whenever you run it in the morning.

(Maps of History | YouTube)

Articles

This airman uses horses to help troops and their families adapt to service

Air Force Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan remembers running around the woods of North Carolina trying to catch a wild horse while she was a kid. She had fallen in love with a flea-bitten, little gray Arabian horse that nobody could manage to catch — except her.


Not yet tall enough to put the halter on, she remembers, she would put the rope around the horse’s neck and look to her dad for help.

For Nolan, a 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, this is where her passion for horses began, and that passion continues to be a blessing in her Air Force career.

“She can pick up on a horse’s personality in a second; she has a natural gift with them,” said Teresa Nolan, the airman’s mother. “Lauren would always get up really early. By the time I woke up, she would already be out in the pasture to see her horse and have her tied up, grooming her by herself.”

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Airman 1st Class Lauren Nolan, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron materials management journeyman, poses for a photo with her horses, Tiz and Shoobie, Oct. 13, 2016, in Wichita, Kan. When Nolan moved to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. her first duty station she had her horses shipped to the area and now boards them off-base in the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Jenna K. Caldwell)

Stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas since 2015, Lauren has two horses that occupy her time: Tiz Sunshine, 4 years-old, and Shoobie, 6 years-old — both off-the-track thoroughbreds. She boards them in the local community and spends her off-duty time taking care of them and training them for barrel racing.

“When I leave work, if I’m not helping out at the barn, I’m working with them on barrels,” Nolan said. “Shoobie is a diva, and Tiz is a little doll button. If you’re trying to teach Shoobie something and she doesn’t understand, she’ll give you attitude right back. Tiz will do whatever you tell her; she doesn’t care. She will stand there, look at you and stick her tongue out at you — she is so quirky.”

Much as a military training instructor develops civilians into airmen, training horses takes the same time and perseverance, although it’s a milder process. Nolan works with the horses almost every day, and has even set individual goals for them. She wants them to be patterned with the barrels and running well by the spring, she said.

“I have to have a lot of patience,” she added. “You can’t take a 1,200-pound animal and turn it into a superstar overnight. It takes months and months, but it’s very rewarding to take a horse that didn’t really have a chance, work with it and make it into something.”

Nolan also uses patience at work. She works in an office ordering aircraft parts for the KC-135 Stratotanker. The stress of having the responsibility of ordering millions of dollars’ worth of equipment and the potential for mistakes can be somewhat daunting. If she has a bad day at work, she said, her outlet for stress is in the dusty barn and muddy pasture.

“It’s very relaxing to go and just hang out with them and get rid of all the stressors of the day,” Nolan said. “My family is over 1,000 miles away. I can’t see them but once a year, so the horses mean everything to me. Tiz and Shoobie have helped me more than anything else ever could.”

With the unique challenges military members face, from frequent moves to deployments, everybody needs a way to unwind. Spending time with the horses is Nolan’s way, and realizing how much Tiz and Shoobie help her, she is sharing this experience with others.

“Every once in a while, I’ll take airmen out to see them so they can have their little getaway,” she said. “They could come ride them, brush them or just interact with the horses to help them cope with whatever they’re dealing with.”

Nolan also brings airmen’s families out to see the horses. She specifically wants to help first-term airmen who are new to base, as well as children with deployed parents, she said.

“I take anybody out to see the horses who needs it,” she added. “Being on base and in military life is stressful for a lot of the people. It has impacted and helped everybody I have ever brought out there — you can see it. The kids grin, laugh and giggle the whole time. It’s instant. They get all giddy the moment they see them.”

Just as Nolan takes pride in her work as an airman, she has pride in her horses. When she brings other people out to the barn to see Tiz and Shoobie, she said, she wants them to look their best.

“It’s in her nature, it’s who she is and what she loves,” Teresa Nolan said. “Lauren will do whatever she has to do to keep them healthy and well-fed, even it means she’s not going to have something, just to take care of the horses.”

She gets off work and switches from combat boots to cowboy boots. When she gets to the barn and heads to the pasture to round up the horses, she stops in her tracks. She’s got fellow airmen coming to the barn to see the horses and Shoobie looks like a walking mud puddle from rolling on the ground after a night of Kansas rain.

With a sigh, a few words mumbled under her breath and a hint of smile, she gets the watering hose and brush. Here they go again.

Military Life

8 stores that let you know you’re near a military base

Military installations are built to be self-sustaining. Many have their own water and power supplies, housing facilities, and enough entertainment options to keep troops on the installation. Just off-post, however, you’ll always find the same selection of stores that easily let anyone on TDY know that they’ve found the right place.


Many of these shops are helpful and offer troops better deals than they’d find on-post. Others, however, cater to a troop’s less-than-helpful needs. It’s not to say that all shops off-post are sketchy — but plenty of them are.

Here’s just a handful of the shops that thrive off of having a huge population of troops just a stone’s throw away.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

It’s more than likely that any given Marine has the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattooed on them — but not all tattoos are the same. Don’t be the guy with the worst in the platoon.

(Courtesy Photo)​

Tattoo parlors

Troops love to show off their ink. Plenty of tattoo parlors around military installations are home to masterful artists who approach each job with pride. They take their labor of love seriously and put their best work forward for America’s war fighters.

And then there’re the parlors that offer dirt-cheap ink that won’t cut deeply into a young, dumb boot’s beer money. Remember, you’ll get exactly what you paid for.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

The chances of you getting spotted at one of the thirty-seven now-open liquor stores is slim.

(Courtesy photo)

Liqour stores

Since military installations are exempt from sales taxes, it would make sense that buying highly taxed items, like liquor, almost exclusively at the Class 6 (on-post liquor store) is a no-brainer.

But those lines are long and no one wants to run into their first sergeant while you’re both carrying a bottle of Evan Williams on a Tuesday night.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

“You’re trying to sell me a vintage poncho liner used by Gen. Mattis himself? Best I can do is .”

(Courtesy Photo)

Pawn shops

Troops are constantly moving between installations and, along the way, they may want to shed a few household goods. Conversely, they may not want to spend the extra cash on buying something new if they know they won’t have it for long.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

Do you want to get made fun of for buying a car at 35% interest rate? Because that’s exactly how it happens.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Trujillo)

Used-car dealerships

In the military, everyone needs a car to get around. When troops come back with some extra “play money” they earned on deployment, they’ll upgrade their ride.

Many used-car dealerships aren’t as altruistic as they seem. If the only selling point they have going for them is that “E-1 and above are approved,” then you know that you’re about to get hammered on interest rates.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

Which kinda defeats the purpose of having a privately owned weapon, but whatever.

(Photo by Michael Saechang)

Gun shop

Military and gun cultures go hand in hand. So, it makes sense that gun shops find a happy home just off-base.

Not to burst any bubbles among the lower enlisted who live in the barrack, but personally owned firearms and weapons are prohibited in living quarters — rules are rules. So, if you want one, you’ll need to store it in the unit’s arms room and hope you can convince the armorer to come in when you want to go hunting.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

That, and their lines are a lot shorter when you’re scrambling to get back within regs after a 4-day weekend.

(Photo by Joe Mabel)

Nail salons/barber shops

In the civilian world, nail salons are plenty. Barber shops are also plenty. But you won’t find the two mixed as often as you do near military bases.

Sure, it’s more expensive than on-base options, but sometimes it’s worth it. Especially if you want a haircut that says, “maybe I’m an officer, maybe I’m just a specialist.”

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

Who knows? Maybe you’re buying the exact poncho liner that “went missing?”

(Photo by William Murphy)

Military surplus stores

These stores almost always claim first dibs outside of the main gate. Here, you’ll always find a good deal on something that you’re trying to avoid getting a statement of charges for. Why pay the to Uncle Sam because someone took your poncho liner when you can buy and immediately turn in a one found at the surplus store?

Now, we’re not openly accusing any military surplus stores of unintentionally fencing stolen, military gear, but some of the shadier ones are the go-to spots for blue falcons.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

By going to a payday loan spot, you’re essentially paying to avoid getting help from the people trying to help you.

(Photo by Pvt. Yoo, Jinho)

Payday loan offices

There’s a silver lining to most of the places on this list, especially if they’re owned and operated by veterans of the installation they service. Then there are the payday-loan scammers that prey on troops like vultures in a desert.

There are far too many alternatives available to troops that don’t involved being nickeled-and-dimed to death in the name of scrounging up a few quick bucks. If you are really hurting for cash, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your commander and see what options are available through your branch’s version of an emergency relief fund.

Military Life

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

If you’re in the military, you’re going to move. It’s a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there’s a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.

That’s right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.

1. Overkill is underrated

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Still a better ride than a Humvee (Uhaul)

Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it’s really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.

2. Buy all the moving supplies

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
(military.com)

Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That’s not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you’re short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You’re covered either way.

3. You don’t have to do it all yourself

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Pizza is a great incentive (U.S. Army)

Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won’t fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.

4. Stock up

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Yes, motorcycles count toward the weight of your household goods (U.S. Army)

The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I’m not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That’s called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you’ve been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you’ve been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It’s also worth noting that it’s to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.

5. Save your receipts

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Those receipts are literally your money (U.S. Air Force)

If you’ve been in the military for a minute, you know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won’t print you a receipt from your fill-up? You’d better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump’s screen won’t do it.

6. Take the toll

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Hopefully your drive looks better than this (USDot)

On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you’re cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren’t required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.

7. Know what doesn’t count

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Sorry, your Camaro doesn’t count for weight (Uhaul)

Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.

Military Life

4 tips for dating your fellow military members

You’d figure service members dating each other would be way easier than service members dating civilians because of the shared connection and a mutual understanding that service comes first, but it’s actually the opposite. There’s a laundry list of expectations and rules pressed on a relationship in the service that don’t exist for dating a civilian.


Don’t get me wrong, some military members weather the storm and make long-lasting relationships from serving together, but it takes more attention to detail than a non-military/military courtship.

1. Just don’t go there.

Okay, I know this is supposed to be about advice on how to date other military members, but there needs to be a disclaimer up-front because things can get real messy. First off, it’s probably best not to date anyone from your same unit. If the relationship sours, you will have to see that person every day for who-knows-how-long until one of you moves workplaces or duty stations.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Whoa.

The military is small and the chances of seeing your ex again or having them as a supervisor sometime in your career are pretty high. Imagine that: Your ex could be your supervisor. Admittedly, there are military couples out there that make it work, but they probably followed the other tips on this list.

2. Keep it on the down low.

If you end up dating the cute blonde in the orderly room, just know that you are not dating a civilian and this is not the time or place for announcing your courtship. No one likes workplace drama, but relationship workplace drama is even worse. Fights about who left the towel on the floor shouldn’t impede the work environment — keep all of that at home.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
HEY. Get back to work.

Don’t make it evident you’re dating each other because it will just stir the pot and amplify anything you do wrong. Everyone already assumes you’re unprofessional due to your inter-squadron relationship; keeping it secret just keeps everything professional.

You need to separate work from play.

3. No PDA in the presence of co-workers or in uniform.

There is a mission to attend to and sucking face with Senior Airman Smith isn’t on the checklist. Plus, PDA is never allowed in uniform, so don’t get caught even grazing each other’s hands or you will get torn a new one by anyone who sees you.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
The real response is usually much louder.

Undoubtedly, to some service members, this is just common sense, but some new enlistees may make the mistake of showing affections merely because they’re wet behind the ears. Don’t worry; they will get corrected, eventually. The majority of mil-on-mil relationships learn to deal with this aspect of dating and, most times, it’s a non-issue.

4. Don’t date a supervisor, commanding officer, or anyone who gives you orders.

This needs to be said because some still do it even though they know they shouldn’t. It’s against the fraternization laws of the military and it’s in place for good reason: There can be no preferential treatment in your chain of command.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

All kinds of disasters take place when others find out about a relationship between a subordinate and their superior. Plus, who could stand their significant other giving them orders at work and home anyway?

Articles

How to handle sleep deprivation, according to a Navy SEAL

Everybody always says the same thing when you announce you’re expecting: “Better catch up on your rest!” Or, “Sleep in while you still can!” Or even worse, “I’m your carefree single friend who stays out until two AM and then goes to brunch!” All of them also think they’re sharing a secret, as if they’re frontline soldiers watching new recruits get rotated to the front. These people are incredibly annoying. Or maybe they’re not. Who knows, you’re in a groggy, sleep-deprived haze.


Related: What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet

How you deal with sleep deprivation defines your first years as a parent. If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about propping up sagging eyelids, it’s John McGuire. A Former Navy SEAL, he not only survived Hell Week — that notorious 5-day suffer-fest in where aspiring SEALs are permitted a total of only four hours of sleep — but also the years of sleep deprivation that come with being a father of five. McGuire, who’s also an in-demand motivational speaker and founder of the SEAL Team Physical Training program, offered some battle-tested strategies on how to make it through the ultimate Hell Week. Or as you call it, “having a newborn.”

Get Your Head Right

It doesn’t matter if it’s a live SEAL team operation or an average day with a baby, the most powerful tactic is keeping your wits about you. “You can’t lose your focus or discipline,” McGuire says. In other words, the first step is to simply believe you have what it takes best the challenge ahead. “Self-doubt destroys more dreams than failure ever has.” This applies to CEOs, heads of households, and operatives who don’t exist undertaking missions that never happened taking out targets whose the Pentagon will not confirm.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
U.S. Navy photo

Teamwork Makes The Lack Of Sleep Work

“In the field, lack of communication can get someone killed,” says McGuire. And while you might not be facing the same stress during a midnight diaper blowout as you would canvassing for an IED, the same rules apply: remain calm and work as a team. Tempers will flare, but the last thing that you want, per McGuire, is for negativity to seep through.

One way to prevent this? Remind yourself: I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I love my family, so I’m going to really watch what I say. At least that’s what McGuire says. And when communicating, be mindful of your current sleep-deprived state: “If you are, you’ll be more likely say something along the lines of, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling myself because I didn’t get enough sleep,'” he says.

Put The Oxygen Mask On Yourself First

The more you can schedule your life – and, in particular, exercise – the better, says McGuire. And this is certainly a tactic that’s important with a newborn in the house. “It’s like on an airplane: You need to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can put one on your kid.” Exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and get the endorphins pumping. “You can hold your baby and do squats if you want,” he says. “It’s not as much about the squats as making sure you exercise and clear the mind.” Did your hear that, maggot!?

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
U.S. Navy SEAL candidates from class 284 participate in Hell Week at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. U.S. Navy photo

Don’t Try To Be A No-Sleep Hero

McGuire has heard people say that taking naps longer than 20 minutes will make you more tired than before you nap. Tell that to a SEAL (or a new dad). McGuire has seen guys sleep on wood pallets on an airplane flying through lightning and turbulence. He once saw a guy fall asleep standing up. The point is, sleep when you can, wherever you can, for as long you can. “Sleep is like water: you need it when you need it.”

Know Your Limits

Lack of proper sleep effects leads to more than under-eye bags: your patience plummets, you’re more likely to gorge on unhealthy foods, and, well, you’re kind of a dummy. So pay attention to what you shouldn’t do as much as what you should. “A good leader makes decisions to improve things, not make them worse,” says McGuire. “If you’re in bad shape, you could fall asleep at the wheel, you can harm your child. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Students in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 279 participate in a surf passage exercise during the first phase of training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf passage is one of many physically strenuous exercises that BUD/S class 279 will take part in during the seven weeks of first phase. The Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. U.S. Navy photo by Kyle Gahlau

Embrace The Insanity

It would be cute if this next sentiment came from training, but it’s probably more a function of McGuire the Dad than McGuire the SEAL: Embrace the challenge because it won’t last long. Even McGuire’s brood of five, which at some point may have seemed they may never grow up, have. “You learn a lot about people and yourself through your children,” he says. “Have lots of adventures. Take lots of pictures and give lots of hugs,” he says. It won’t last forever — and you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when it’s over.

Articles

This is how JTACs stay sharp

We all know troops on the ground love their air support — especially from planes like the A-10 Thunderbolt II.


But those planes need to know what to hit. How does that happen?

Well, the Air Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are who make that happen. JTACs are members of what are known as Tactical Air Control Parties, and their task is to coordinate air support for ground units. Becoming a JTAC isn’t easy. Business Insider has a look at the process of how someone goes from civilian on the street to becoming one of these elite personnel.

In 2015, the Army and Air Force formalized the embedding of Air Force JTACs in Army units down to the company level. These personnel aren’t just good at bringing down firepower, they can even advise ground commanders on how to handle cyberspace operations.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
U.S. Air Force Combat Control JTACs from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron call for close air support from a A-10 Thunderbolt II while attending the Air Force’s JTAC Advanced Instructor Course (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

But it’s not just train, deploy, and be done. There’s always a need to refresh skills, and there are always new perspectives. So, recently, some JTACs with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing were joined by JTACs from the Royal Air Force. The cross-training helps, primarily by breaking down communications barriers.

“Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world,” RAF Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard said. The RAF controllers are familiar with the U.S. Air Force, particularly the A-10s, which they praise effusively.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during takeoff as part of Carrier Airwing training conducted by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., April 7, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally, released)

“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” British Squadron Leader Neil Beeston said.

The ultimate benefit to this cross-training, though, is that the stakes are lower. Master Sgt. Francisco Corona told the Air Force News Service, “I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.”

Articles

This is what happens when celebrity Lidia Bastianich cooks for WATM’s vets

Over the holidays, the Emmy award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich prepared a world-class cuisine for the troops aboard the USS George Washington.


But leading to the holiday festivities, she traveled the country meeting veterans and learning their incredible service stories.

Related: Back in the day a soldier’s chow came in a can

“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.

One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.

For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.

Here’s a short clip from our visit with Lidia:

Lidia Bastianich, YouTube

Watch the full hour-long documentary special on PBS to see how Lidia pays homage to the men and women of our military and the sacrifices they make. 

Military Life

4 of the worst things about being stationed at Camp Pendleton

In 1942, the government purchased some land in beautiful Southern California from a private owner for $4,239,062. The property was soon named in honor of Maj. Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton for his outstanding service. Thus, Camp Pendleton was born.

Several years later, Camp Pendleton became the home of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, countless brave service members, and their families.


4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Maj. Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton

Known for its beautiful beaches and sprawling landscape, there are a few drawbacks to getting stationed on the historic grounds…

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test

It’s harsh, but true.

It’s a huge military town outside the gates

Marines and their families typically live just outside the gates and you’ll see them while out on liberty — they’re everywhere. So, good luck dating someone who isn’t attached to the military somehow. You’ll have to drive an hour or so before you leave the true confines of the camp.

The camp encompasses more than 125,000 acres and houses thousands of Marines inside. Now, step outside the camp’s gates, and it still feels like you’ve never left.

If you get stationed in Camp Pendleton and think you’ll somehow be an individual — you won’t.

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Oh, we know that.

Seeing paradise nearby is torture

Occasionally, when you’re out in the field training, you’ll see a beautiful beach and a bunch of civilians out there enjoying themselves. You’ll wish it was you.

But no, you’re stuck mining a post pretending to be deployed in Afghanistan for the next 72 hours.

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You’re all alone.

The infantry is in the middle of nowhere

If you’re stationed in the Division aspect of the camp and you need to head over to main side to the large PX, you’re going to have to get in a car and drive at least 20 to 25 minutes.

Now, if you don’t have a car, then your options are limited. Good luck getting someone to take you all the way over there — it’s mission.

Marines hike supplies up a hill during a training exercise.

Hiking those freaking hills, man

The hills of Camp Pendleton are famous throughout the Corps. 1st. Sgt’s. Hill in San Mateo (62 Area) is one of the most notorious natural obstacles over which Marines will climb to either visit the Sangin Memorial or to get that daily PT.

Compared to flat landscape of Camp Lejeune, the hills of Camp Pendleton can be a huge pain in the ass.

Military Life

The top 6 reasons people decide to join the infantry

Deciding to join the military is a huge step for anyone looking to make a life-altering change. One of the most appealing aspects of becoming a member of the armed forces is the vast array of professional opportunities the service offers.

You can sign up, ship out, and, within a few short months, be guarding a military installation as your newfound brothers- and sisters-in-arms sleep.


That’s a pretty crazy thought, right? Well, we think so. While everyone has their individual reasons for signing up for service, electing to serve in the infantry, the dangerous role, says a great deal about a person. These are the top 6 reasons that people sign up to join the ground-pounders.

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It’s a family legacy

A common reason for joining the military is a family connection to service. However, since joining the infantry can mean seeing some intense combat, it takes a bold person to follow in their father’s or grandfather’s war-hero footsteps. To those brave troops that serve to honor their family legacy, we salute you.

To be a part of something big

Signing up means you could help your unit rid an enemy-infested area of insurgents and free the innocent locals within — it’s a possibility. However, serving in the infantry doesn’t always mean you’re going to end up in a bloody war zone.

You will, however, likely end up deploying to another country where you’re going to work alongside a foreign Army and help them train. It’s how much of our nation’s foreign relationships are built and we think that’s badass.

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(Columbia Pictures)

You got conned into it

Military recruiters are slick when it comes to talking a teenager into joining the infantry. That’s a pretty cut-and-dry way many end up going to the grunts.

Yes, that’s kind of messed up, but honorably completing your service contract is an outstanding feat nonetheless.

Using it as a segue

Serving in a grunt unit opens many, many doors for service members. That’s right; not all ground-pounders transition into law enforcement when they get out. You can write about your unique experiences for a living, become a military adviser for a Hollywood production, or go back to school and learn a new craft.

The choice is yours.

The experience

Sitting behind a desk isn’t the worst job you can have in the military. But serving in the infantry offers you tons of experiences that you otherwise would never see. Use the military like they’re going to use you. Take every opportunity you’re offered and you can make a career out of those experiences after you get out.

Look at all of us who work at We Are The Mighty — just sayin’.

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Bragging rights

Not many people in the world can say they helped clear out an enemy-infested city alongside their brothers- and sisters-in-arms, but we totally can.

Plus, you can rest easy tonight knowing you aren’t a POG.

Articles

Here’s how to make it to the CrossFit Games while on active duty

Think you can hack competing as a top CrossFit athlete while on active duty? Former Navy SEAL and top CrossFit athlete Josh Bridges thinks so, too.


Bridges, who while a member of SEAL Team 3 placed second in the 2011 worldwide CrossFit championship, known as the Games, told Military.com that given enough motivation, dedication and a friendly command, an active duty athlete could have what it takes.

“As long you had the right command who was willing to be like ‘yeah, we’ll let you train’ – as long as you’re doing your job and getting all that stuff done, why not?” Bridges told Military.com during a recent interview. “I think it’s doable.”

Since 2011 when he first competed while on active duty, Games-level CrossFit competition has shifted from a field of athletes who hold full time jobs outside of the sport, to athletes who train fulltime. That change, Bridges said, would undoubtedly make it harder for an active duty service member today to make it than it was for him in 2011.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
DoD photo by Sgt. Ruth Pagan.

Still, he said “If you really want to be a competitive athlete and be in the military at the same time, it’s doable. You’re going to have to put in long hours, and when your friends and buddies are going out to the bars on the weekends, you’re not going to be able to. … There’s going to be some sacrifices you’re going to have to be willing to make.”

To make the Games while on active duty he said he had to get permission from his Chief to miss some training. He also had to sacrifice a lot of time at home.

Also read: This former NFL player started a gym to help wounded warriors

“It was tough,” he said. “There were definitely days where I’d be out doing land warfare drills in 105 degree temperatures, and then on a one or two hour break in the middle of the day, I’d have to go into the gym and train. You definitely had to set your priorities right and just be like ‘this is what I have to do if I want to go to the Games. It is what it is.'”

Competing at Games level and successfully training as a SEAL share some of the same skills, Bridges said, in that sometimes you have to just “shut your brain off” about the physical demands.

“In CrossFit, at the Games, you’re going to be asked to do workouts that you’ve never done and movements that you’ve never practiced,” he said. “Being a SEAL is the same way – you almost have to shut your brain off and stop thinking. …You definitely have to be 110 percent into it.”

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross

Bridges, 34, finished first this year in CrossFit’s California regional Games qualifier and will compete in the Games in Madison, Wisconsin August 3 to 6. Bridges left the Navy in 2015 as an E-6, and spent the last three years of his active duty time in a training command as a master training specialist while rehabbing from knee surgery for a torn ACL, PCL and MCL sustained during deployment.

Anyone familiar with CrossFit knows that thanks to the sport’s focus on movements that rely heavily on knee strength and mobility, including heavy barbell and odd weight work, getting back into competition shape after a major knee injury is no small feat. But Bridges said he keeps the fire burning by focusing on his goals.

“It’s not easy, for sure, to sit there and go into the gym day in and day out and grind, and grind and grind,” he said. “When I went to start competing I had a goal to win the Games. I fell just short. After the injury I was like ‘hey, you can have same goes, it’s just really going to be hard. … I’m a little hard-headed sometimes, that once I have that goal, I’m going to make it happen no matter what.”
Military Life

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

If you’re in the infantry, you know just how annoying field ops can be. It’s not because of the job or the self-loathing that comes with signing an infantry contract, it’s because of the bullsh*t you have to endure while you’re out there. And, since you’re outside the whole time and there’s no chance at privacy, there’s nowhere you can go to have a good cry.


The infantry experience is Murphy’s Law embodied — and hastened. Not only will every possible thing go wrong, it’ll all go to hell before you even start your hike or movement. Here are some of the most annoying things that somehow happen almost every time you go to the field.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Make sure you bring your rain gear.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tanner D. Casares)
 

Rain

If you’re in the infantry, this one isn’t even reserved for the field — it’ll rain no matter where you’re at. It can be a bright, sunny day without a cloud in the sky but the moment grunts are gathered in large numbers, clouds will suddenly appear and rain will come down like a biblical flood is on the horizon.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
Rest assured, there’s someone out there who will cry hazing.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tanner D. Casares)

Hazing scandals

You don’t necessarily have to be in the field for this to happen but, typically, hazing scandals come up as a result of how a Boot is treated in the field. Hazing scandals will often come from field ops because there are Boots who don’t like having to carry their own weight or being tested by their seniors to earn trust and loyalty.

Lost serialized gear

It’s always a pain in the ass but you better prepare for some Boot, whether its a lieutenant or private, to drop their damn night vision goggles in the jungle or forget a radio in a vehicle. Now, everyone else has to search the area at 3 a.m.

For the love of showers and hot food, don’t be that grunt. Keep track of your gear.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
It’ll get old quick. Trust us.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Medical evacuation

There’s always that one person who gets to the field, somehow, without realizing there’s something horribly wrong with their body. Whether that’s the moment you start hiking out or the third day of the op, some piece of sh*t will cry about something so they can get taken out of there.

Real medical emergencies are less likely but, either way, it means that someone’s squad is going to be short-handed and others must pick up the slack.

Lost rifle

This one’s less frequent, but much more severe than losing serialized gear. Losing a rifle is the worst thing that can happen, but someone always manages to do it. Your rifle is your lifeline and, in theory, it should be difficult to lose since you should always carry it.

But, rest assured, there’s a moron somewhere who will do it. They’ll probably leave it in the porta-john or leaning against a tree somewhere. Hell, they might even somehow leave it on the range.

4 tips to pass the Army’s SIFT Test
When you get brought in for a formation like this, be prepared for bad news.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl Scarlet A. Sharp)

Extensions

Just when day fourteen rolls around and you think you’re heading back, your company commander informs you that your field op is being extended for another three days. You thought you’d soon be out of the rain; you were terribly mistaken.

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