Although the United States and Britain have had their share of disputes early on in American history, today the two countries are the closest of friends.
In case you were living under a rock, British troops fought alongside US in the global war on terror. That means while our service members are overseas, there’s a solid chance they will encounter members of the British army on a joint mission.
That being said, the British have some popular slang terms that we Americans don’t use but probably should know.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s the crazy compound that bounces, molds, stretches, snaps — the non-Newtonian fluid that seemingly takes on new properties with each shape. It’s a beloved toy that has been around since the 1940s, but didn’t make its way into the hearts and hands of families until years later. Why? The substance’s original use wasn’t to become a toy at all, in fact, it was created to have tactical uses in World War II.
Years later when the viscoelastic liquid silicone was rediscovered, it was repurposed into a toy and remains a best seller for Crayola to this day. The business was a slow start, but after a mention in the New Yorker put Silly Putty on the map, more than 250,000 units were sold in three days. Originally intended for adults, manufacturers realized their biggest market was in kids aged 6-12. They went on to create its first commercial, airing during the Howdy Doody Show in 1957.
The history of Silly Putty
In the midst of WWII, the U.S. was rationing its rubber sources to keep up with production of boots, tires, and other necessary war supplies. This was due to Japan’s invasion of countries that produced rubber in the Pacific Rim. During this time, Americans were encouraged to make their rubber items last as long as possible, and donate any extras they might have on hand.
At the same time, the government began researching rubber alternatives that could be used instead. Synthetic compounds that could be used in its placed were sought after in labs, including General Electric, which was located in New Haven, Connecticut.
In 1943, researchers combined boric acid with silicone oil to create a “gooey, bouncy material with unique properties.” It’s disputed as to whether James Wright with General Electric, inventor Harvey Chin, or Rob Roy McGregor of Earl Warrick was the original scientist to do so. However, Wright is given credit in Crayola’s history, while Mcgregor received a patent.
During this time, workers were impressed with Silly Putty for several reasons. It didn’t mold, it had a high melting temperature, it was extremely stretchy and versatile, and it was non-toxic. However, it would not work as a viable replacement for rubber.
Silly Putty becomes a toy
Years later, in 1949, Silly Putty was re-discovered by Ruth Fallgatter, who owned the Block Shop Toy Store. She got in touch with Peter C.L. Hodgson, a marketing consultant, and the pair began marketing it as a toy. It made its debut at the International Toy Fair in New York in 1950.
Hodgson put himself deeper into debt to purchase extra product and packaging. He’s credited for coming up with the name Silly Putty and putting it into plastic eggs. They sold for $1 a pop.
Sales were steadily growing, but with the Korean War, silicone was on short supply — one of the main ingredients to Silly Putty. A year later the shortage was gone and Silly Putty was back on the market.
In 1961 Silly Putty made its way outside the U.S., being sold in the Soviet Union and in Europe, becoming hits in both countries. It also made it into outer space when astronauts from Apollo 8 took it on a lunar orbit in 1968. The surge of popularity turned Hodgson into a multi-millionaire, due to ongoing publicity and sky-rocketing sales.
After Hodgson’s death in 1976, Crayola obtained the rights and began selling it as part of their line of toys. It was introduced to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001, and to-date, more than 300 million eggs — that’s 4,000 tons — had been sold.
Today, Silly Putty comes in many colors and scents, including offensive scents for the class clowns among us (vomit and puke), and aromatherapy options that target older users. Small eggs start at $1.99, topping out at $99.99 for a five-pound block.
So, you want to be a United States Marine Corps Critical Skills Operator? Well, that’s really great to hear, but a word of warning to all you would-be Raiders out there: To start this journey, you must go through MARSOC Assessment and Selection.
MARSOC is one of our nation’s most elite fighting forces; its members are ready to respond to any crisis, anywhere.
These small but well-trained Marine units embrace the unknown and are prepared to face any challenge. To earn a position on a MARSOC team takes a superhuman effort and the willingness to go above and beyond.
On the long road between you and life as a Raider lies a 23-day training evaluation designed to test Marines’ mental and physical limits in order to reveal the true nature of a candidate’s character.
Check out these seven tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors:
7. Be physically fit.
This tip is so obvious it almost goes without saying, but don’t be fooled by the 225 physical fitness test score required to qualify — this is very misleading. If you want to be competitive and have a real shot at being selected, a score of 285 or higher is recommended.
6. Semper Gumby — always be flexible.
Without getting into any specific details, selection creates a dynamic environment replicating austere scenarios that require ingenuity and out-of-the-box problem-solving skills. There is no manual for chaos and chaos is exactly what you will be expected to deal with if you become an operator.
5. Know your knots.
Bowline, around the body bowline, double fisherman’s knot — believe it or not, knowing these knots is an invaluable skill. It’ll save you much pain and aggravation if you learn basic knots before selection. The granny knot is important, too, but you probably already know that one.
4. Be cool; it matters.
Selection is looking for the best, however, all the physical capabilities in the world amount to nothing if you can’t work as a team. Peer evaluation is a major part of selection. Whether you can get along with others has a substantial impact on reaching phase two.
3. Learn land navigation.
Learn how to read a map, orient yourself with a compass, shoot an azimuth, plot points, make intelligent route selections, and understand terrain association. Master these baiscs and always remember: get high, stay high. A straight line is not always the fastest route.
2. Take care of your feet.
You’ll be moving an impressive amount of gear and water across substantial distances for an unknown amount of time. This will take a toll on your feet. Your feet are your life in many situations, so take care of them accordingly. Seek out a doc and get up to speed on basic maintenance, put together a foot-care kit (gauze, bandages, moleskin, etc.), and use it.
Quitting is the surefire way of never being anything you want to be or do anything you want to do. Quitting is a poison that infects all other aspects of your life. If you start quitting now, it can easily become a habit. It is the exact opposite of what MARSOC is looking for and there is no room for quitters on these teams.
When we received PCS orders to the Washington D.C. area, our plans certainly did not include living in a hotel for six months with an escape artist cat.
In our minds, we would be in temporary lodging for a few weeks while we closed on a new house. With a July move, we fully expected to have household goods delivered by August and be celebrating the holidays in our new home.
My husband and I had firmly decided we wanted to buy a house in the area. He was a cyber operations specialist and I had just separated active duty myself, and still maintained a current security clearance. Between a heady mix of defense contractor jobs available for me and the likelihood of an extended military assignment for him, we knew buying would be a smart move.
We had no idea that decision might take six months.
Due to a ridiculously tight housing market, we struggled to find anything that fit our realistic, non-million dollar budget. Homes that did fit our needs were gone in hours. Others needed such extensive repairs, as to be unfeasible. Days ticked by, summer eased into fall and by the time we finally found a 1950’s Cape Cod with renovations we could actually afford, our California wardrobe of shorts and flip-flops were useless. Our winter clothes were in our household goods, which had gone into storage, and I had received a job offer working downtown – which required a new professional wardrobe. We shook our heads in frustration at trying to figure out how to make living in a hotel with 250 square feet of space functional.
It turned out to be a very powerful lesson in embracing minimalism.
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism can best be explained over many mediums. It appears in art, music, fashion and architecture. Merriam Webster defines it as, “a style or technique characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Others explain minimalism as a lifestyle. In the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo challenges readers to evaluate what items in their environment bring them joy and how to eliminate clutter with the KonMari Method. The military tends to define and embrace minimalism as doing “more with less.”
In our own lives, as we learned to function and live with less, we slowly discovered several advantages in a lifestyle stripped down to the essentials.
1. Re-evaluating purchases
We quickly realized any purchases brought into our tiny space had to be carefully evaluated. Limited by pure square footage and storage capacity, we were forced us to bring in less of everything. It didn’t take long for the habit to become second nature and lead to new shopping patterns.
2. Saving more than just money
As we shopped smarter and bought only essentials, we weren’t surprised that we started saving real money. What did come as a surprise however, was the feeling of actually having more. With less physical space to fill up, and a reduced urge to do so, we not only gained more money and time, we also gained a fresh sense of renewed mental space. Adopting a minimalistic lifestyle created more room for things that mattered.
3. Collecting experiences versus things
Instead of collecting “stuff” that always seemed to turn into clutter, we developed a new focus on collecting fresh experiences. We had more money to travel, to explore new neighborhoods or try a unique restaurant. We quickly embraced this new feeling of liberation – and I knew unequivocally that we had made a permanent lifestyle shift.
4. A new sense of freedom
By the time we finally moved into our home, we were ready for a new change. As we slowly unpacked the sky-high boxes, we realized that by living in a hotel with less, we had refined our priorities. What we truly needed was quickly distinguishable from what could be culled and eliminated. As a result, our next PCS was cleaner and lighter, which turned out to be a very powerful lesson for an overseas assignment. We were allotted 14,000 pounds for Germany and couldn’t help but giggle when our household goods topped the scales at a mere 3,700 pounds.
What began as a challenging PCS turned into a beautiful and liberating life lesson in simplicity. And couldn’t we all use a little more simplicity in this crazy, but wonderful military life.
This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.
For hundreds of years, military cadences have been used as an iconic tool to keep service members upright during formation runs and marches.
Structurally designed to keep each man or woman properly covered and aligned, a cadence helps a formation of troops in PT land each step at the exact same time as everyone else, preventing a massive falling domino effect.
Military cadence is a preparatory song performed by the leader of the formation during the marches or organized runs. Many parts of these running songs are so catchy, they will be forever embedded into our heavy left feet.
Take a listen and let yourself be transported back to the good ol’ days of the little yellow bird and the days of sitting in the back of your truck with Josephine.
1. “Down By The River”
2. “Pin My Medals Upon My Chest”3. “C-130 Rolling Down The Strip”4. “Hey, Hey Whiskey Jack”5. “How’d Ya Earn Your Living?” Cadences tend to cross-breed through the different branches and change words to make them service-specific. We salute everyone for their originality.
But even now, 18 months after his retirement, there are things that happen in our daily lives that make me smile because I am certain they’re completely foreign to my friends who are married to “civilians.” These are 6 such things:
6. You’ve ever had to say, “don’t you knife hand me!”
I might say this at least once a week. Okay, once a day. That knife hand is fierce and even my 5-year-old will employ it from time to time. Oorah.
And even then, my husband is stressed out. After all, if you are on time, you’re late. I’m not mad at this one (most days). My teenager has also learned this life skill and will do just about anything not to be “on time.”
Even though he’s no longer active duty, we still have duffle bags, green socks that I swear multiply if they get wet after midnight, paracords, backpacks, and those little black, clicky pens. Everywhere. And don’t even think about trying to get rid of those green t-shirts. Just don’t do it.
3. Your spouse, before bedtime, says, “I’m gonna go check the perimeter.”
Firearm strapped to his hip, my husband will go check the perimeter just to make sure we are all safe. I love this, but I don’t think any of my non-military spouse friends get this level of security each night. I’ll take it.
2. When you can’t watch military films or TV shows…
We’ll settle in for a great movie or TV show that has something to do with the military. Then, like clockwork, he pauses the DVR. “First of all… that ribbon is in the wrong place. And look at those stripes! No way does an E-5 have that many years of service. Who is advising this film?!”
You know the one I am talking about. When a movie, TV show, or really great military-related commercial comes on and it touches your veteran. You look over and he/she is biting that bottom lip just slightly, eyes are welling a bit, but they are trying hard not to cry.
You realize it has reminded them of someone who didn’t come home or an experience they may never feel ready to share and you’re reminded of just how incredible your spouse is for signing on that line and agreeing to pay the ultimate price for our country.
And then you say a little prayer of thanks that your spouse is one of the lucky ones.
The Soviet-run Red Star Kennel mated Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, Rottweilers, and Moscow Divers as the primary breeds. These were chosen for the Schnauzer’s agility and sharp guarding instinct; the Airedales’ happy disposition, perseverance, and staying power; and the Rottweiler for its massive make, shape, and courage.
Other breeds included Newfoundlands, Caucasian Shepherds, and others – including the now-extinct Moscow Water Dog.
They created the ideal working dog, a large breed that stays alert, is protective without being aggressive, and is able to withstand the extreme climates of Russia – which ranges from frozen Siberia to dry, hot desert. By 1983, it was declared a new breed worldwide.
As a result of the extremely selective breeding, the Black Russian Terrier is a big dog, upwards of three feet tall and 130 pounds – and needs a job to do in order to be happy.
While initially used to guard prison camps and against potential industrial sabotage, the dogs were needed at a time when the population of the Soviet military’s working dogs was on the decline. While not added to the American Kennel Club until decades later, the young breed was at work in the Soviet Union by 1954.
They love to run around in big spaces and a reportedly very lovable pets. But they need to be around people. Think of it: a specifically bred large, powerful dog with big teeth, who only wants to cuddle. Some owners report they will destroy your house like German Panzer Army if you leave them alone too long!
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:
An aircrew member with the 15th Special Operations Squadron looks out at Puerto Rico from an MC-130H Combat Talon II, Sept. 27, 2017. Approximately 50 Air Commandos are part of a group deployed to provide humanitarian aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated islands in the Caribbean.
Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jean Fernandez, assigned to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) and a native of Bonao, Dominican Republic, conducts an inspection for an EA-18G Growler in preparation for flight operations on Misawa Air Base.
An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire training exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 25, 2017. 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment attached to 210th Field Artillery Brigade certified 16 crews in five hours as they completed their Table VI certification.
U.S. Army Pfc. Emmanuel Bynum, assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), reinstalls the fairings on a HH-60m Black at Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 27, 2017. The 101st CAB will be conducting medical evacuation and relief efforts to support FEMA in the recovery process of Puerto Rico after the devastation created by Hurricane Maria.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) transits the Baltic Sea Sept. 26, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Equipment Operator 2nd Class Patrick Reiter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, operates a rig during water well drilling operations in support of Southern Partnership Station 17. SPS 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America.
U.S. Marines adjust an 81mm mortar to improve defensive posture near Gereshk, Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2017. Several advisors with Task Force Southwest are assisting their Afghan National Defense and Security Force counterparts throughout Operation Maiwand Six, which is designed to thwart insurgent presence and promote security and stability in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Sanchezangel, an infantry Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, holds security for a rehearsal raid during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 27, 2017. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.
The Coast Guard Cutter James serves as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The cutter’s crew deployed to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations and the ship’s communications capabilities are being used to help first responders coordinate efforts.
Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Scott Smith of the Pacific Strike Team and Laredo Construction Project Manager Bob Springob evaluate removal operations for a displaced vessel here in Houston, Texas on Sept. 28, 2017. The Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency have been fully integrated into a Unified Command with the mission assignment of removing displaced or partially submerged vessels as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
From a troop’s first day in the military to their last, they’ll pick up various leadership traits that will (hopefully) propel them into a positive, productive future. Although most of us won’t ever know what it’s like to lead a whole platoon or battalion, we’re often thrown into temporary leadership roles as we take boots under our wings, showing them how sh*t gets done while fostering a level of respect.
Leadership can be taught during training, but it’s not truly understood until you’re in the field. The following skills are the cornerstones of leadership.
We’ve all experienced first-hand how infuriating it is when someone constantly feels the need to put in their two cents — just because they can. Many young leaders, eager to meaningfully contribute, will feel compelled to change something to their liking, even if it won’t help better complete the mission at hand.
It’s an important to know when you should back away.
Show one, do one, teach one
It’s up to the military’s leaders to impart their knowledge onto junior troops. As essential part of the military is training troops to win battles. When a troop doesn’t know how to pass a certain test, it’s up to their leader to teach them.
The winning strategy here is, “show one, do one, teach one.” The leader will first show a troop how to do something, that troop will then do it for themselves, and then, finally, that troop will go teach another how to complete the task.
They say that teaching is the best way to learn — this method benefits both a leader and his troops.
All too often, we see orders get passed down by people who wouldn’t dare complete the task themselves. These so-called leaders tell you, “good luck,” and then show up in the end to take all the credit.
Don’t do this. Instead, lead from the front. Help with the dangerous missions you helped plan.
Know your team’s strength and weakness
When you walk onto the battlefield, either literally or metaphorically, it’s important to know what each individual in the team is best at in the event something pops off. We’ve encountered leaders who don’t know elbows from as*holes when it comes to their squad.
We’d all like to be appreciated for our hard work, but victories are rarely due to a single act. Recognize that the military is a team environment. Each member plays an important role in achieving victory. Taking all the credit for a group’s hard work only makes you look dumb.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the Atlantic Ocean at night. Ford is underway conducting test and evaluation operations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The U.S. Army first started training troops in the jungles of Panama in 1916, just two years after the opening of the Panama Canal. Training began in earnest in the early 1940s as World War II in the Pacific necessitated the need for soldiers to be well-versed in the tactics of jungle warfare.
The 158th Infantry Regiment even adopted the nickname “Bushmasters” after the vicious pit viper they encountered while training there.
However, it was not until 1953, as the Korean War was drawing to an end, that the Army finally established a formal school, called the Jungle Operations Training Center. Operations ramped up once again during the 1960s in order to meet the demand for jungle-trained soldiers to fight in Vietnam.
In 1976, the Army realized it would be more efficient to train whole battalions at one time rather than training individuals piecemeal and sending them back to their home station. Those battalions would go through some of the toughest, most grueling training the Army had to offer. The jungle itself provides challenges of its own.
The thick, triple canopy and dense foliage made radios all but useless and reduced visibility to just a few yards. Rain and humidity ensured soldiers were constantly wet and the jungle floor was always slick with mud, which the soldiers had to march and crawl through.
There were tree roots and vines on which to trip or become entangled. Other plants offered worse. A manual written for troops stationed in Panama during World War II listed over 100 poisonous or injurious varieties of flora. Leaning or brushing against the wrong plant could lead to some rather uncomfortable conditions.
If the plants weren’t bad enough, there was local wildlife to contend with. Poisonous snakes and bugs surely top the list of unwanted encounters. Enormous spiders would spin giant webs across narrow jungle paths. Snakes waited in the underbrush and in trees. Jim Smit, a National Guard platoon sergeant and Vietnam veteran captured and killed a fifteen-foot boa constrictor during his time at Jungle Warfare School.
He said it was the best training, short of combat, that any soldier could undertake.
There was also the venomous and dangerous Bushmaster pit viper. Mercifully, the snakes preferred not to make contact with humans, so encounters were rare. Rounding out the dangerous reptiles in the area were the crocodiles that lived in the waterways nearby.
However, the worst encounter for many soldiers was the common mosquito. They are ubiquitous in jungle environments and are a terrible nuisance. Although most bites simply leave soldiers itchy, their most dangerous quality is their ability to carry malaria. In the jungle, a little carelessness can lead to a lot of pain. Failing to properly secure mosquito netting at night could mean waking up covered in mosquito bites. Even with the netting, soldiers weren’t entirely safe. Exposed skin, carelessly pressed against the net while sleeping, would be open to bites.
It was in this setting that the Army conducted some of the best training and created some of the best unit cohesion possible. The terrible conditions forced soldiers and leaders alike to have to think through situations while not being able to simply go “by the book.”
This is because the jungle is a great equalizer in combat conditions. The thick foliage interferes with radio signals, renders night-vision devices nearly useless, and stops hand-held GPS devices from working properly. Soldiers at Jungle Warfare School could not rely on the technological advantages they were accustomed to.
These circumstances were what made the Jungle Warfare School unique, though. While soldiers learned how to operate in the jungle learned many valuable warfighting skills that are difficult to replicate in other environments.
Although not technically authorized for wear, many students who completed the school wore the Jungle Expert tab or patch.
Despite the unique nature of the school and the exceptional training it provided, it was not relocated when Fort Sherman closed down in 1999. Soldiers would not have the opportunity to attend Jungle Warfare School again for another fifteen years, when it was reopened in Hawaii in 2014.
Mock IEDs attacks, fire and maneuvering drills, and scrambled medical evacuations are just a few exercises Marines and sailors run while training at Mojave Viper. “The Viper” takes place in Twentynine Palms, California, the largest training base of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Although each scenario the Marines encounter is played out under strict supervision, it’s considered the closest thing to war a young infantryman are exposed to before facing the real enemy. The training takes place in a desert landscape that closely resembles the environment troops will meet in Afghanistan — and it sucks.
It’s f*cking filthy
Infantry Marines and sailors from various bases show up to Camp Wilson, where their desert training will take place. 99.9 percent of the time, the Marines occupy the K-spans located on the grounds. Those K-spans are rarely cleaned before the incoming troops arrive, which causes problems.
Plus, since you’re training in an open-desert landscape, the wind will blow all types of viruses and bacteria about. This, in conjunction with already-dirty living conditions, causes troops to come down with all kinds of illness, like pink-eye and a variety of sniffles. Keep your mouth closed and your eyes covered whenever possible.
Cpl. Dwight Jackson, a working dog handler with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force, cools off his dog, Hugo while training in Twentypalms, Calif.
The summer heat
If you’re unlucky, you’ll be sent to Mojave Viper during the late spring and early summer months. You better start getting ready for the heat.
Not only is it freakin’ hot in the direct sunlight, but the blazing heat is made even worse by training in your full PPE gear. Welcome to hell!
Lance Cpl. Charles Wohlers, 1st LE Gunner, Marine Wing Support Squadron 371, prepares his gear for the cold wear before the Motorized Fire and Movement Exercise exercise on range 114, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.
(Photo by Pfc. William Chockey)
The cold nights
If you think the days are bad, just wait until the sun goes down and the temperatures drop. Hell has just frozen over.
Lance Cpl. Daniel Breneiser, right, gets vaccinated against smallpox by Hospital Corpsman Nathan Stallfus
(Photo by MC1 Nathanael Miller)
Showering in a pool of smallpox
While stationed in the camp, most troops receive a smallpox vaccination on their upper arm. This vaccination creates a small blister which takes a few weeks to heal and may leave a scar. However, during that healing period, troops still have to shower to maintain proper hygiene.
As you shower, water will run over the blister and onto the floor. When multiple troops shower at the same time, the plumbing usually gets backed up, essentially creating a nasty pool of smallpox-laden backflow. Great.