5 things you need to know to fight an NJP - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time but some errors are permanent. Maybe you’re innocent, maybe you did it, maybe the command doesn’t care what the facts are and want to make an example out of you. Regardless of what went down, you’re still an American with rights. Higher ups will try to intimidate you into believing you don’t have rights and pressure you to give in – especially if you’re innocent because of ego. This is how you fight back against a Non Judicial Punishment (NJP).

1. Shut up

Demand a lawyer immediately and stay firm. Answer NO questions. In fact, do not say anything to anyone. Do not mention your case or any details. Not even to your friends – especially your friends. Everyone not on your side is going to interrogate your allies. Your strongest weapon is silence. Do not talk to witnesses or the opposing party. Do not confirm or deny anything is even taking place.

A soldier demonstrating the process of reviewing an NJP
Screenshot from a training video intended to familiarize the Alaska National Guard force with nonjudicial punishment, or NJP.

2. Lawyer up

You have the right to an attorney, if they can’t provide you with one, the NJP is postponed until they can. If you’re underway at sea or deployed you won’t have one for awhile. They will threaten throw you in the brig, ration your food and attempt to force you to sign a guilty plea. Stay strong and wait for your lawyer. Once, they know your lawyer is in communication with you they will immediately change their tune. Remember that Staff NCOs are not lawyers, they’re not your friends, and never believe anything they say when it comes to your case. You have the right to meet with your lawyer when they’re available. They cannot stop you from attending your scheduled meetings with your legal council. Do everything your lawyer advises to a T.

3. Write a statement

You have the right to know the charges brought up against you. Process them and write a statement in private. This will help you keep the facts straight while it is still fresh in your mind. Do not hand it over until your lawyer takes a look at it. Be as detailed as possible but do not say you have a written statement ready. This is your secret weapon and you will often catch the opposition off guard. Staff NCOs expect you to roll over and just take it. In their hubris they will provide a verbal statement. This is when you provide your written statement. Any question you are asked just say ‘that information is provided in my written statement’ over and over again.

They’re trying to make you contradict yourself. They may play cop, bad cop, point to the statement and stay firm and respectful.

4. Take corrective action before the trial

Delay, delay, delay. They want to get it over as fast as possible but this is a war of attrition. Set your meetings with your council as frequently and as far across that calendar as you can. If you did it and you know you won’t be able to win, fill those gaps in the calendar with seeking professional help. When it comes time to pay the piper, it will reflect positively that you show remorse and are going above and beyond to make sure this never happens again.

If you are innocent, fight for every second. At first you will have the lawyer provided by the military, use this time to find a lawyer that specializes specifically in the circumstances of your case. It’s easier said than done to not think about the price but your entire life could be changed by the outcome of this case. Stand your ground. Gather as much evidence of your innocence as you can.

Screenshot from a training video intended to familiarize the Alaska National Guard force with nonjudicial punishment, or NJP.
The result of NJP proceedings have a lot to do with how you conduct yourself throughout them.

5. They could be relieved of command themselves

If you’re innocent and they’re still going to crucify you, request a court martial instead — it is also your right. The risk is bigger, yes, but if you win, your reputation will remain intact. Also, the higher ups do not want it to go to court martial because if you win, and they know they’re wrong, it will go very badly for them.

Here is a little secret I learned in S-3 Operations, if the battalion commander has three or more court martials during his time as the commanding officer of your unit he will be placed under investigation. ‘What is going on in this unit?’ If they see tons of NJPs and court martials thrown around for frivolous things people will be relieved of command. If you’re innocent and you know other court martials have happened since the last change of command – do it. Force their hand and call their bluff. They will either drop all charges or risk an investigation where they may lose their rank too. No one is safe from that kind of thorough investigation, every case will be investigated. Just because your command wants you to fry doesn’t mean your service branch wants you to.

If you’re guilty, have your attorney stand down, plead guilty, write a statement, take corrective action, and you may get a slap on the wrist. It can be in the form of keeping your rank, keeping your pay, restriction to your quarters, and some extra duty like sweeping and mopping the company office for two weeks. If it’s a company level NJP and you’ve only had one or two for minor offenses, chances are good you’ll be able to leave with an honorable discharge – and get away with NJP.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the average day for an ancient Roman soldier

Today, the modern soldier wakes up, eats chow, goes through a day of training with his or her squad before resting up. They follow this schedule every day from Monday to Friday. If the troop is on a deployment, they could work anywhere from 12 to 18 hours (if not more) per day, seven days a week, for nearly a year.

It’s a tough lifestyle.

Once a troop fulfills their service commitment, they can be honorably discharged or reenlist — the choice is theirs.

Now, let’s rewind time to around 15 C.E. The Roman Empire is thriving and you’re an infantryman serving in the Imperial Roman army under Emperor Tiberius. In many ways, life was quite different for the average sword-wielding soldier when compared to today’s modern troop. In other ways, however, things were very much the same.


5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
A Roman soldier proudly stands in front of his men.

Many young Romans joined the army at the age of 18. Of them, most were poor men with little-to-no life prospects due to being born into a family of low standing. Once they became soldiers, Roman troops had to overcome 36 kilometer (22 miles) marches in full battle rattle.

For these ancient troops, a full loadout consisted of body armor, a gladius (sword), a scutum (shield), and two pilum (spears). This gear weighed upwards of 44 pounds. To add to that weight, troops carried a scarina (backpack), which contained rations and any other tools needed to serve the Roman officers.

At the end of each grueling march, soldiers set up camp to get some rest. Men were assigned to stand watch and look over the others, the gear, and the animals hauling the heavy equipment. Being ambushed in the middle of the night was a constant possibility.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
These Roman troops stand in a defensive position awaitng the enemy to strike.

Like most troops, they feared the unknown. At any given moment, they could encounter a fierce battle, contract sickness from other soldiers or the environment, or be left to endure the elements. It was a consist struggle to survive in a cutthroat world that was all about expanding the Roman Empire.

In their downtime, most men would gamble, play instruments, or talk about future plans. If the soldiers served for their full 25-year commitment, they would receive several acres of land on which to retire — but surviving to the end was considered a longshot.

So, in many ways, the typical Roman infantryman was a lot like the ground pounders of today — only they were stuck in the suck for longer.

popular

5 real ways the Air Force is different from other branches

The Air Force gets a lot of flak (see what I did there?) from all the other branches for its somewhat lax persona. Yes, sometimes, the USAF seems more like a corporation than a branch of the Armed Forces. But despite decent food and living quarters, Air Force, Inc. is still very much a military branch.


5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Grilled is the only way to eat a salad, Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Taylor)

 

There’s more to the U.S. Air Force than the classic stereotypes of high ASVAB scores, delicious food, nice living quarters, and beautiful women. The Air Force deploys. They do see combat. They just have their own unique way about it.

1. We salute our officers before sending them into a fight.

Our pilots — all officers — are the ones putting their asses in the line of fire supporting troops on the ground (troops from other branches, most likely), but the airmen who maintain and marshal those planes are enlisted.

(Kyle Gott | YouTube)

The video above demonstrates something known as “Freestyle Friday” marshaling and, while it may be funny, those crazy marshaling dances still always end with a sharp salute — no matter what. Those pilots may very well not come back from a combat sortie, so respect is always due.

2. We don’t know if we should salute a warrant officer.

The reason for that is the Air Force doesn’t have warrant officers and hasn’t had them since 1992 when the last warrant officer, CWO4 Bob Barrow, retired. The last airman to become a warrant officer did it in 1959.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
I’m pretty good with ranks, but I have no idea what that is.

 

Does your branch salute warrant officers? How will the Air Force know if no one ever tells us? Do we care? Does it matter? I know airmen who went ten years without ever encountering a warrant.

3. Enlisting in the Air Force gets you halfway to a 2-year degree.

It has its own accredited community college, one that accepts basic training as physical education credits and puts your Tech School training towards an Associate’s Degree. Once at your permanent duty station, you can either take general courses at the base education office or take free, unlimited CLEP tests to finish it off.

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
The Air Force’s two-year degree. (U.S. Air Force photo by Donna L. Burnett)

Getting a degree from the Community College of the Air Force is so easy that it’s now one of those unwritten rules: Airmen need to have one to get promoted.

4. We don’t have ground combat troops.

The Air Force has its Security Forces, its special operations troops, combat arms instructors, and it even lends airmen of all careers to other branches. Airmen see combat all the time. But the USAF’s regular combat force is aircraft. We don’t have an infantry or anything like it.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
All I’m saying is if your Air Force Base is being overrun and you’re not around anyone with a beret on, you’re in deep shit.

5. The Air Force trains hard… just not always to kill.

When you flip a light switch, the lights go on. It seems simple, but a lot of preparation, training, and work went into what happened behind your wall. A JDAM works the same way. Aircraft maintainers, ammo troops, and pilots train relentlessly for years to make sure that kind of support is there when a Marine calls for it.

(Dreamest | YouTube)

Just because an airman’s deployed location is a little plush doesn’t mean they didn’t spend eight years of their life training. Watch how fast a flightline can get a squadron of F-22s in the air and tell me airmen didn’t train hard for that.

Military Life

See the Navy haul its crew’s vehicles on the USS Ronald Reagan

The United States Navy’s aircraft carriers are huge ships. This isn’t just for show; they need to be large to operate four squadrons of multi-role fighters plus other assorted planes, like EA-18G Growlers, E-2 Hawkeyes, and helicopters. But all of that space is useful for transporting other things, too. After all, we’re talking over four acres of sovereign United States territory.


5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles onto an aircraft elevator of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

For instance, when the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) was switching homeports from Bremerton to San Diego (before being deployed to Japan as the forward-based carrier), she did a solid for all of the sailors who man her — she gave their rides a ride.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Sailors’ vehicles are parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Many sailors have vehicles. But when you’re sailing a ship, your options for vehicle transportation are limited. Sure, you can have your vehicle shipped — but you’ll have to pay a fee. Yeah, you can ask a buddy to make the road trip out to your new home port, but what if something happens along the way? Or, you could always sell your car and buy a new one, but that’s a hassle and a half — plus, you don’t want to shed that sweet Mustang, right?

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Since it was just a short trip up the coast and since they didn’t need to operate the air wing, the sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan were allowed to park on the ship. Without the air wing, there’s a lot of room for helping the crew get their vehicles to the new home port.

For one brief coastal cruise, the Ronald Reagan became a $5 billion, nuclear-powered car carrier. The sailors saved money, the Navy didn’t have to pay contractors to move the vehicles, and we got some cool photos out of the deal. That’s a win-win-win all around.

Military Life

5 reasons you should have enlisted as a ‘Fister’

If you’re considering joining the Army or you’re sick of your current MOS and thinking of reclassing, there are so many options to chose from that it’s a headache to decide.


Maybe you’re picking your MOS based entirely off what you can get, maybe you’re picking it off what would be best suited for your eventual transition back to the civilian world, or maybe you’re following in the footsteps of someone you admire. For those that choose their MOS by counting “cool points,” there’s one MOS that towers them all: (13F) Fire Support Specialist, or ‘Fister.’

These are the 5 reasons why you should enlist as a Fister:

5. The name is perfectly acceptable for use in polite company.

Derived from “Fire Support Team” or FiST, this MOS’s name is the source of innumerable low-brow jokes in field artillery.

While everyone else watches their tongue, taking care not to offend, you get a free pass to say something that could be confused for a violent sex act every time you talk about work.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Finally! A hoodie for every occasion! (Image via CafePress)

4. It’s actually like Call of Duty, except you constantly get kill streak bonuses.

It happens at every recruitment station. There’s always that one kid who comes in thinking he’ll be living his favorite video game before he’s struck with the harsh reality that life isn’t a video game.

While other MOSs are less fun in real life — you can’t just to wait behind a rock to heal and stealing enemy weapons is generally frowned upon — fisters have it better. They don’t get told “sorry, you need to kill a few more bad guys before you can rain hell on your enemies.” They just do it. It’s their job.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Just like Call of Duty, kid. Don’t worry about the imminent stress of getting the exact coordinates right using a crappy laser finder that barely works. You’ll get a sixth sense for those things sooner or later. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

3. You get paid to watch things go boom from a good, safe distance.

Speaking of raining hell on your enemies, that’s what you’ll be doing.

You’ll be attached to whatever unit needs a guy to say, “that thing right there? I don’t like it. Let’s get rid of it with enough firepower to remove an entire grid-square off the map!” This means you’ll be working with damn near everyone from Armor to Aviation to Infantry to Cavalry, all while being left alone to do your badassery.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Safe is a relative term. (Image via Reddit)

2. All the benefits of being a grunt with less of the downsides.

There’s a constant rivalry within the Army between grunt MOSs and the soft ones. Grunts mock others for being weak and POGs mock grunts for being idiots with relatively low promotion point standards.

Some MOSs are just handed the title of “grunt” and no one will ever question it, like infantry. Some have to earn the respect of other grunts to get it, like a hard-ass commo or medic. Then there’s the fister. No one ever questions the balls it takes to be a fister.

They’re out there kicking it with the infantry, while also having the brains to do advanced math on the fly to get the birds blowing up the right spot. Oh — and their promotion points are a lot lower, so you’ll pick up rank faster than a POG.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Pro: You’re a badass. Con: You have to do math. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Joseph Robinson, Company Fire Support Officer)

1. SFC Jared C. Monti and SSG Ryan M. Pitts are some Bad. Mother. F*ckers.

In Afghanistan alone, two fisters have made their brothers proud by being awarded the Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Monti and Staff Sergeant Pitts.

Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti received his Medal of Honor posthumously on Sept. 17, 2009 after his patrol was ambushed by around 60 Taliban fighters. He radioed in for artillery and close air support on their position, but it would take time for the heat to arrive. In the ensuing firefight, several of his men were struck by enemy fire. He was successful in getting recovering one of his men, but was gravely wounded in the process. When the artillery finally arrived, it took out 22 insurgents and dispersed the rest.

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts received his Medal of Honor when well over 200 Taliban forces swarmed his base at the Battle of Wanat in July, 2008. Though critically wounded by shrapnel, he continued to lay down suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. This bought him the time he needed to crawl to a radio, with no regard for his own life, so he could describe the attack to Command and call for indirect fire.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Left: Paul and Janet Monti presented the Medal of Honor for their son’s, SFC Jared Monti, actions. Right: SSG Pitts is presented the Medal of Honor (Images via NPR and People)

Military Life

5 of the rarest unofficial US Navy ‘certificates’

The Navy has plenty of interesting and unique milestones for its sailors to strive for. Though they never appear on official paperwork and not all of them have ceremonies, they’re a fun bragging-rights challenge that sailors can use to flex on the uninitiated (aka ‘pollywogs’).


By accomplishing one of several feats, sailors are inducted into an unofficial ‘order’ and, with that order, typically comes eligibility for a specific tattoo. While not every order is represented by a tattoo, sailors with these markings are either full of sh*t or are undeniably badass.

Check out these 5 unofficial Navy ‘certificates’ for the seasoned sailor.

5. Shellback variations

The shellback is simple enough: a sailor on official duty “crosses the line” of the equator. A golden shellback is more impressive; it means they’ve crossed at or near the International Date Line. Even rarer, crossing at the Prime Meridian grants you access into the Order of the Emerald Shellback.

There is also the ebony shellback for crossing the Equator at Lake Victoria (which is almost entirely in Ugandan waters) and a top-secret shellback for submariners who cross the equator at a “classified” degree of longitude.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
So, if you see a Shellback tattoo, they’re either a Navy vet or they just really like turtles. (Image via Imgur)

4. Order of the Sparrow

To be initiated into this order, one must sail the seven seas. While the ancients had a different idea and classification of the term, “seven seas,” it is used in context of sailing the seven largest bodies of water. They are the four oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian), the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Checking a few off a sailor’s list isn’t hard — stay in long enough and you’ll get them. The challenge is getting on a voyage that goes through the last one you need.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Not to be confused with a swallow tattoo for every 5k nautical miles… or the Disney Pirate. (Image from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean)

3. Order of Magellan

This order goes out to every sailor that completes what Ferdinand Magellan couldn’t well, alive anyways, circumnavigating the world.

The Navy doesn’t really care or recognize fun ceremonies like these. They typically have a mission to set out, so we go from point A to point B efficiently. There is some leeway for morale purposes, which is why most ship Captains don’t mind taking some time out to go through the “Golden X.” Circumnavigating the world, on the other hand, requires a specific mission to do so.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

2. Order of the Square Rigger

Square Riggers just need to serve on a ship with square rigs.

Sounds simple enough — until you realize there’s only two left in the entire Armed Forces. One in the Navy, USS Constitution, and one in the Coast Guard, USCGC Eagle. Serving on either of those ships requires you to be the best of the best at looking pretty for tourists.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Still the only active ship that sank another enemy ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Rooney)

1. Double Centurions

While the Century Club exists for pilots who’ve made their 100th carrier landing or flown through hurricane winds over 100 mph, you’ll need to double it to get into the Double Centurions.

It’ll take a long time to reach that number and hurricane hunters usually aren’t willing to fly in CAT 5 winds that could shred their aircraft in seconds.

Usually…

(YouTube | News7)

Military Life

6 types of Commo guys you’ll meet in your first unit

Your first duty station is always full of surprises. You’ll quickly learn that your career is nothing like how you envisioned it in the recruiter’s office. The troops you serve with are nothing like the ones portrayed in films.


Every troop comes from a different walk of life and each has their own story. That being said, when you finally get to know the troops you’re serving with, there are always going to be a few of the same archetypes.

These are the guys you’re going to meet when you visit the commo shop.

Related: The 6 types of lieutenants you just can’t avoid in the military

1. The bonus chaser

It’s no secret that the commo world is extended some nicer enlistment bonuses. The Pentagon sees it as a necessary bribe to fill a high-demand MOS within the service. The bonus chaser signed up for these benefits and they’ll happily let you know it.

This troop is completely average. They’re nothing special, they keep their nose clean, and they begrudgingly say “roger” to every task that comes their way. They’re boring and, chances are, they’ve never said a word to anyone outside of the S-6 — they probably won’t say anything to those guys either.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Yep. Just holding the handmic for 12 hours, pretending they’re awake. (Photo by Senior Airman Chris Willis)

2. The “trooper”

Commo guys work closely with the higher-ups. The radio guy never leaves the officer’s side and the computer guy is always fixing their email. The “trooper” enjoys the attention.

They belt out, “you’ve got it, sir! Right away, sir!” like it was their calling card. They do this because they enjoy the fact that they’re needed more than the average Joe and take pride in their work.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Some call it brown nosing, others call it wanting to be useful. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

3. The talkative nerd

There’s no denying it: the computer side of the commo world attracts a lot of nerds. At some point you’ll probably hear the sergeant major scream, “my internet went out! Someone get me those S-6 nerds!” And, for the most part, they’re right.

These aren’t your typical high-school nerds who sit quietly in the cafeteria. No, these nerds have learned how to talk to others and the military encourages troops to interact — which gives the computer guys an opportunity to explain all of their Game of Thrones fan theories… even if you’ve never watched the show.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
On the other hand, they’re probably the person you go to get movies down range. (Photo by Spc. Kirby Rider)

4. The extreme jock

This commo hates everyone they work with — almost entirely because of the talkative nerd. They’ve heard all about Bitcoin investing, they’ve heard every reason why the Star Wars prequels were just misunderstood for their time, and they’ll probably snap the next time they hear the phrase, “anime waifu.”

They’ll do anything to get away and have at least one conversation involving a sport. They’ll overcompensate to prove to everyone that they’re not the talkative nerd.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Anything to get out of the office, right? (Photo by Pfc. Kirby Rider)

5. The former grunt

This commo guy reclassed for better benefits after a few deployments, during which they did some real sh*t.

It’s sad watching the former grunt work. It eats them up inside every time they need to fill out a work order to get sent to civilian contractors to finally get the admin password so they can reinstall the operating system. This just isn’t their world. Watching these guys work with technology is like seeing a former college football star work at the Apple Store.

If you listen closely, what sounds like a head banging against their desk is actually “kill me” in Morse code repeated over and over again.

Related: 5 stereotype radio guys get stuck with

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

6. The POGiest POG to ever POG

On the scale of grunt to POG, you can typically put most combat arms troops on the grunt side. Even a support MOS is part grunt by proximity. But then there’re these guys.

Their pay grade says E-6, but their actions make you question how they even passed Basic Training. Hell, they won’t even make excuses when you call them a POG. They’ll probably just retort with some sh*t like, “Yeah? Well, I can take away your computer access with the stroke of a keyboard!”

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

Military Life

5 sweet ways troops have shown love to those waiting for them

One of the most heartbreaking things troops must do is say goodbye to their loved ones before they deploy. If they’ve found a good one, they know their love will be waiting for them back home. Those troops will look cling on to that bittersweet silver-lining while their beloved waits, always dreading, on some level, the realities of war.


It falls on the shoulders of the troops to let their love know that things will be okay. Even if the worst happens, they will always love their spouse, fiance, girlfriend/boyfriend, children, and family. No matter how long they’ve been together or how many times the troop has deployed, it never gets easier — even if they say it does.

1. Right before they leave

Logically, troops should be spending every waking moment getting ready for war — training, making sure their gear is right. And yet, troops always spend every last second they can with the ones they love.

It’s the kiss that no one ever wants to end, but it must. Duty calls.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
You’ve got to fill an entire year’s worth of love into one hug and kiss. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

2. Mementos

It doesn’t have to be as expensive as a diamond necklace and it doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a diary full of love notes.

Troops can leave behind something even as simple as an old sweatshirt for their loved ones and they’ll never let it out of their sight. But they probably won’t complain if it’s something nicer than the junk they forgot to clean before shipping out.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

3. Mail

Loved ones will always send out care packages filled with sweet cards, treats, and whatever else troops asked for.

Troops don’t usually send care packages back — there’s not much to send back from Afghanistan. But it’s always nice when troops return the favor by writing letters.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
I don’t want to get anyone in trouble with their loved ones, but the mail system does work both ways. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Smith)

4. Phone and video calls

While deployed, it feels like life returns to normal for just a few moments when troops get their hands on a phone just to hear those three words: “I love you.”

Because technology is amazing, troops can now call home on video. This is a perfect chance for dads to read their kids a goodnight story (even if it’s morning time for them).

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Always a peaceful moment… until the internet craps out or the video buffers one frame per minute. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Ashlee J. L. Sherrill)

5. That first kiss upon return

It’s finally over. The plane landed. The formation is over. They’ve been trying their hardest to stand at attention while also trying to find their loved ones among the waiting crowd.

You’ll never see a truer and more passionate kiss like the one a troop’s waited an entire deployment to give.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Happy Valentine’s Day from the troops to our loved ones! (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Holli Nelson)

Military Life

19 pictures of troops braving the cold that will make you thankful to be indoors

 


Troops don’t wait for perfect conditions to get things done, and combat ops and mission training don’t get canceled by winter weather.

Here are 19 pictures that will make you thankful to be indoors.

This picture of Air Force C-130s landing on an icy runway to deliver troops:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Army

These soldiers digging out a vehicle stuck in the snow in Zabul province, Afghanistan:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

These soldiers scaling a cliff with spiked boots and climbing gear:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

This soldier pitching a tent in sub-zero temperatures:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Air Force

 

 … and his brothers who keep him company in the cold:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

… while a few pull sentry duty:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: USMC

 

These cold flight deck sailors waiting on jets to return:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

… while others huddle around the catapult steam to keep warm:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP

 

This Army rifleman providing cold-weather security in the snow:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Army

 

These Marines braving a snow storm on patrol in the bitter cold:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: DVIDSHUB

Or this soldier standing guard in the village of Marzak, Afghanistan:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Army

 

These Marine Corps officer candidates coping with the cold while carrying close to their equivalent in weight:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: USMC

This airman at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan working on a C-130 during snow fall:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: DVIDSHUB

… while this soldier on the other side of the base clears the snow from a Chinook:

Cold soldier clearing snow off a Chinook
Photo: DVIDSHUB

This sailor clearing the snow from the pier to make it easier to get in and out of his home — the USS Missouri:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

This sailor directing an E/F-18 Growler in the middle of a heavy snow storm:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

These guys shoveling snow off the flight deck:

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

 

… while this Air Boss tries to make the best of the cold:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: U.S. Navy

 

… and these Marines showing how moto they are with a little cold, shirtless winter wonderland PT:

 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Photo: Daily Mail

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Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Mar. 11

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:

Spc. Joshua Minter, assigned to Dog Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, fires a Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun while conducting live-fire training at Grezelka range, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 28, 2017. The paratroopers practiced engaging targets at varying distances utilizing the M240B machine gun and the Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. receives fuel from a KC-10 Extender from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. during a Mobility Exercise held by JB MDL. The Joint Base holds an annual MOBEX in Gulfport, Miss. to practice deploying and operating in a deployed environment.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua King

ARMY:

Sgt. Christopher D. Miller (front) and Spc. Matthew B. Barton (back), both divers with the 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, set charges to blow notional mines, Feb. 10, 2017, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The Soldiers were tested on their troop leading procedures, as well as their knowledge of setting up explosives on land, during this training event. 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tom Wade

Pfc. Heaven Southard, an Army military working dog handler with the Directorate of Emergency Services, Area Support Group – Kuwait, releases her military working dog “Jerry” during a demonstration of MWD capabilities at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mar. 7, 2017. 

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith

NAVY:

OKINAWA, Japan (March 8, 2017) Landing craft utility 1651, attached to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, enters the well deck of USS Ashland (LSD 48). The amphibious dock landing ship is part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is on a routine patrol, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples

ARABIAN SEA (March 3, 2017) The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) transits the Arabian Sea. 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.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Langer

MARINE CORPS:

Sgt. Allison DeVries, combat photographer, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, boils snow during Mountain Training Exercise (MTX) 2-17 at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., Feb. 26, 2017. 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) conducted scenario-driven training that encompassed mobility, counter-mobility and survivability operations in a mountainous, snow-covered environment that challenged 1st CEB to generate combat engineering solutions to infantry driven tasks.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez

Sgt. Johnathan Stamets, radio operator with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through his M8541A optic attached to the M-110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System rifle aboard the USS Somerset (LPD 25) Ombudsman, Jan. 12, 2017.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.

COAST GUARD:

2016 was the 100 year anniversary of US Coast Guard aviation. To help commemorate the event, select Coast Guard units received a MH-65D helicopter with a centennial paint scheme.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Coast Guard photo

A Coast Guard ice rescue team member uses a rescue shuttle board to pull a simulated victim out of the freezing water during training, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 in Burlington, VT. The team hosted Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, First Coast Guard District and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, adjutant general, Vermont National Guard.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

Military Life

The worst duty assignments for every branch of the military

Every branch of the service has that place their soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines just dream of getting orders for.


That place could be anywhere that might appeal to an individual… maybe they love the cultural experience of being in Europe, or they enjoy the sun in Hawaii, or maybe they’re just away from their hometown.

These aren’t those places.

Army: Fort Polk, Louisiana

Ever hear of Leesville, Lousiana? No? Good for you. Living in a swamp is not something anyone grew up dreaming about. The nearest towns are at least an hour away, and the nearest fun is in New Orleans, a long drive away.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Someone take me back to Philly.

Sure, the PX is supposedly great thanks to a facelift, but it had better be: There’s nothing else to do. Fort Polk will supposedly ruin your car, ruin your marriage, and make you hate biting lizards.

Navy: NAS Lemoore

Hey, how does being cast out into one of the most polluted cities on the planet sound? Because NAS Lemoore is a great place to get asthma.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
When Fresno is your biggest selling point…

To make matters worse, the Navy thinks it’s just an image problem. Yes, the place routinely referred to by the residents as an “armpit” does have an image problem.

Air Force: Cannon AFB, New Mexico

Most people who haven’t been to Clovis will argue that I spelled “Minot” wrong. I argue that any place referred to as “Afcannonstan” is probably far worse.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
I once ran into a group of female airmen from Cannon deployed to Saudi Arabia. They seemed happy to be there.

Both places are pretty remote, and while Minot has a seemingly endless winter, the people of Clovis are annually subjected to a wave of giant insects. Also, the stink of cow dung doesn’t travel as far in the cold. Cannon’s airmen would tell you to be happy it’s so cold.

Marine Corps: Twentynine Palms, California

All of the duty stations on this list have one thing in common: They’re pretty far from real American life. Twentynine Palms is no different. These guys are smack-dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
The difference between the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in Twentynine Palms is 108 degrees.

So, Marines can prep for sandstorms in the Middle East with sandstorms right here at home. And remember, when airmen complain about the smell of cow manure in the desert, Marines can complain about the lake of sewage.

Coast Guard: You tell me.

The Coast Guard talks about its districts like it’s in the world of The Hunger Games. Everyone seems to love district 13. In fact, as much flak as the Coast Guard gets for being the awkward child of the military, the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to have a “worst” station among them.

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Also, the Coast Guard always looks like it’s on the way to Jurassic Park.

I’m told the station at Venice, Louisiana can be pretty bad and that the CG will let you choose your follow on orders for doing a tour there. But no one ever seems to talk Twentynine Palms-level smack about any station.

Military Life

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you

If you’re considering joining the military, congratulations! Military life comes with amazing benefits and a lifelong community, but experience from branch to branch varies widely. While you should research any branch you’re considering thoroughly before enlisting, this guide can give you an overview of what to expect from each one.

Who should join the Navy? 

A U.S. Navy commander talks with a Soviet navy captain second rank as they walk along the pier past the Soviet guided missile destroyer Boyevay. Three ships of the Soviet Pacific Fleet are in San Diego for a five-day goodwill visit.

If you like life on the water, the Navy is a safe bet. After basic training, you’ll have to choose from a list of “rates,” or jobs. You can go into engineering, weaponry, medical, construction and numerous other fields, each with specific jobs called “ratings.” You can also train to become a Navy SEAL, but be warned; only a handful of those who begin training succeed. 

There are plenty of other ratings, though, like being a Navy Diver or an Intelligence Specialist. If those are too intimidating, someone also has to handle the laundry and cooking. We’re not joking. Some ratings aren’t quite as thrilling, like being the Ship’s Serviceman or Aviation Maintenance Admin.

Pros: 

  • Best base locations because they’re always on the coast
  • Chances to explore the world
  • Less rigorous physical training than the Army or the Marines
  • The opportunity to become a Navy SEAL if you want a (massive) challenge
  • The food tends to be pretty good compared to other branches
  • Interesting jobs that can become excellent post-military careers

Cons: 

  • Basic training can be freezing cold
  • Being at sea is part of the job, sometimes for months at a time
  • No privacy and cramped quarters
  • No internet access

Who should join the Army?

An Army Sergeant walking across Route Green. The army is one of the most popular branches.
US Army (USA) Sergeant (SGT) Michael Taylor, Foxtrot Company (F Co), 1-68th Combined Arms Battalion (CAB), 4th Infantry Division (ID), walks across Route Green while his troops remain on alert near a Traffic Control Point (TCP) area in Narwan, Iraq (IRQ), during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

As the oldest branch of the military, the Army is one of the most popular branches to join. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, however. Basic training in the Army is incredibly tough, second only to that of the Marines. During Basic Combat Training, you undergo a grueling 10 weeks of training. During that time, your physical fitness is put to the test. You’ll also learn basic marksmanship, tactical foot marches, field training exercises, and Army values. You’ll have to suffer through gas chamber training, too- and it’s not fun. (But don’t worry, it won’t kill you!) 

You’ll also have to pick a MOS, or Military Occupation Code. There are tons to choose from, but you probably won’t qualify for them all. Your score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB, will determine what your options are. Still, there are so many to choose from that you’re bound to find something that interests you. 

Pros:

  • Stationed on a base, not on a ship
  • Amazing benefits, including housing benefits if you’re married and live off base
  • Opportunities to learn trades
  • Like the Navy, travel is a part of the job
  • Over 150 MOS’s to chose from

Cons

  • Plenty of jobs aren’t the most exciting. 
  • You don’t have a choice about where you’re stationed.
  • Physical training gets intense. 
  • You’ll have to get used to waking up crazy early. 

Who should join the Air Force?

US Air Force (USAF) Major (MAJ) Mike Hernandez climbs out of his Lockheed Martin built F/A-22 Raptor fighter after flying a training mission at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada (NV).

If you’re looking for a military job that’s more similar to civilian work, the Air Force is probably your best bet. It’s very well-funded, and it works more like a corporation than a combat unit. Basic training is significantly easier than it is in other branches, because high levels of fitness aren’t as important. You still need to be in decent shape, but the eight and a half weeks of training are more about drills and learning Air Force standards than combat training. You’ll still learn basic rifle skills and undergo explosives training, and train for deployment.

Sounds cool, right? Yes, with a caveat. Lots of people go into the Air Force with hopes of becoming a pilot, but there are just over 1,000 pilot slots open each year. About half of those are reserved for Air Force Academy grads, and another third are set aside for ROTC members. If you want to become a pilot, signing up for the Air Force isn’t your safest bet. Check out the Air National Guard instead.

The options in the Air Force are still appealing, as long as you’re not deadset on flying. You can become a drone pilot, an air traffic controller or a cyber warfare expert; the later of which open up amazing civilian job opportunities after retirement from the military.

Pros:

  • Easiest basic training
  • Great on-base housing options
  • Better quality of life than most other branches
  • Interesting jobs that can transition to lucrative careers later on
  • You may have the opportunity to become a pilot
  • If you’re not a pilot, you’ll probably never see combat

Cons:

  • More stringent requirements to get in than those of other branches
  • Other branches tend to turn their noses up at the Air Force
  • Some jobs require insanely long hours
  • It’s actually pretty hard to land a pilot slot

Who should join the Marines? 

US Marines shaking hands. The Marine Corp is one of the most physically demanding branches
United States Marine Corps (USMC), Corporal (CPL) James J. Huntsman, a team leader with the first platoon, Company “E” Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) graduates from Corporal’s Course aboard the USS TORTUGA (LSD-46) Dock Landing ship.

If you want to see combat, join the Marines. If you don’t, steer clear. The Marines work both on land and at sea to defend Navy bases and participate in Naval campaigns. Because Marines are usually on the front lines when deployed, boot camp is extremely rigorous. If you can’t deal with getting yelled at, don’t sign up. Marine boot camp takes place in three phases, which include everything from intense training and martial arts to rifle skills and swim training. 

Marine jobs are organized by MOS’, just like other branches, but many people sign up specifically to be an infantryman. Being in the infantry means participating in foreign conflicts right off the bat. Other options that lead to more opportunities upon retirement include dog handling, cryptologic digital network technology, and counterintelligence. 

Pros:

  • The Marines are considered the best of the best. They’re highly respected, and jokingly say they’re actually a department of the Navy: the men’s department. 
  • Marines are usually the first line of defense when a war takes place. 
  • The uniforms are amazing. 
  • After being in the Marines, you’ll be in amazing shape.

Cons:

  • There isn’t as much variety when it comes to job opportunities 
  • Promotions take longer than in other branches
  • The standards for uniform and appearance are stringent.
  • The quality of life tends to be lower than that of some other branches.

Who should join the Coast Guard?

Members of the coast guard performing a rescue
Members of a United States Coast Guard (USCG) help Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) aboard the cutter USCG MUSTANG (WPB-310) during maritime operations in the Port of Valdez, Alaska, in support of exercise Northern Edge 2002.

If your biggest goal for your future military career is to save lives, join the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is responsible for search and rescue missions, but that’s far from all they do. They intercept drug trafficking ships, inspect container ships, work on environmental protection, escort civilian ships with risky cargo, and lots more. Basic training takes eight weeks. During that time, you’ll have to meet physical fitness standards, plus practice specialized water training, firefighting, and marksmanship. When you graduate, you have a solid chance of being guaranteed a base location, which is a big plus. 

Most people join the Coast Guard because they want to be Aviation Survival Technicians, aka rescue swimmers. Being a gunners mate is another popular job, but there are plenty of less adventurous options, too. If you don’t mind sitting around keeping watch, operations specialists do that a few days a week for up to 12 hours at a time. Not the most exciting, but much less risky, too.

Pros:

  • You won’t be deployed abroad, and deployments are often shorter
  • You’ll get to live near the sea, with a lower likelihood of living on a ship for months on end
  • You have a chance at choosing your base
  • It’s a smaller branch, so you’ll be able to get to know people really well

Cons:

  • It’s tougher to get in because it’s such a small branch.
  • Quarters on board are often cramped
  • Certain Coast Guard jobs are surprisingly dangerous

At the end of the day, choosing the right branch all comes down to you.

These descriptions are only guidelines. If more than one branch intrigues you, dig deeper. Learn more about day to day life in any branches of interest. If you’re really serious, you can speak with a recruiter as well, or connect with veterans to understand exactly what you’re signing up for. 

Consider your long-term goals as well. Where do you want to be in 10 years? An engineer or pilot will have many more job opportunities after service than someone in the infantry. Enlisting isn’t your only option, either! You could become an officer instead, which is a totally different ballgame. 

This isn’t a decision to make on a whim, so take your time to figure out the perfect branch for you. You won’t regret it.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 most annoying assumptions female veterans absolutely hate

Let’s face it, with more women than ever serving in the military, not to mention in combat positions, there’s still a lack of acknowledgment for female veteran service (and quite often this comes from our own brothers-in-arms). Female veterans are in a unique position; the military tends to be associated with the high-and-tight haircut on, well, a man, but modern technology and shifting mindsets mean there are more women serving than ever before.


Still, we all look different, have different grooming habits while out of uniform, and remain subject to stereotypes.

Most of us still encounter the look of surprise when someone realizes we served. Usually, people thank us for our service or ask questions about military life, but inevitably, we also get judgment and assumptions. Here are a few of the worst:

4. Assuming a woman could never have been in the military based on her appearance

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Ask this Soldier if she’s weak. I dare you. (Images via Pin-Ups for Vets)

The problem female veterans face, during service and when they get out of the military, is that people automatically judge a woman based on appearance.

The reality is veterans come in all shapes, sizes, and genders, but when women decide to reclaim some femininity, they are looked down upon or disregarded as vets. It’s a lose-lose situation when lipstick and colored hair are equated with loss of veteran credibility.

3. Assuming anything about a woman’s mental health status based on gender or career field AFSC/MOS

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Women serving their country need the same support as men. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika)

We all know career fields in the military are not created equal as far as physical stress or deployment tempos go. People may assume that administrative careers in the military, and anything other than combat positions, don’t get exposed to trauma. This simply isn’t true. First of all, you don’t have to go beyond the wire to be attacked, but more importantly, trauma is experienced in many forms — a veteran’s experience is between them and their doctor.

Women of all career fields deploy, and many come home with PTSD from traumatic events they experience during their time overseas — just like men. According to the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20 of every 100 (or 20%) have been diagnosed with PTSD.”

What these numbers don’t reflect are the women who have not sought help and been diagnosed for their PTSD. Also, these are just the statistics for Iraq and Afghanistan — they don’t mention every other conflict that women served in. Women work, fight, come home, and live with what they experience, exactly like their male counterparts.

Furthermore, it doesn’t take a deployment to be affected by the life-and-death stress situations the military demands.

2. Assuming female veterans are lesbians

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Careful, your ignorance is showing.

Now, this is almost a joke to even mention because it seems so far-fetched, but it is more common than one would think! There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian or any other sexuality, for that matter, but for some reason, when women tell people that they are veterans, many are then met with assumptions about their sexual orientation. Well, I guess since it needs to be said: not all women who serve are attracted to other women.

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that military service and sexual orientation are unrelated. Yes, women who have served and are serving need to be able to throw femininity to the side regularly to get the job done, but that doesn’t mean sexuality changes as soon as it’s time to get our hands dirty.

Women can be feminine and brave at the same time, and neither of these things has to do with who they’re attracted to.

1. Assuming a woman is the spouse of a veteran and not a veteran herself

5 things you need to know to fight an NJP
Femininity does not equal weakness.

Statistically, this at least has a little merit. Nevertheless, showing up to a VA appointment and being asked, “Who’s your husband?” is frustrating. It doesn’t just happen at the VA, but also at Veteran Resource Centers, American Legions, and anywhere where there is an abundance of veterans present.

It might not seem like this is such a big deal, but the assumption behind the question is that women don’t serve in the military — or worse, that we can’t serve. Plus, it gets exhausting trying to explain why we joined and how we fared “in a man’s world.”

Bottom line: the military isn’t just a man’s world anymore.