5 traditions you'll see at the Marine Corps ball - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

The Marine Corps ball is once again right around the corner. Marines and sailors of all ages will gather together at various locations to celebrate the Corps’ most important day of the year — the Marine Corps birthday.


In 1925, the first “formal” ball took place in Philadelphia where the Marine Corps originated.

The ball is a perfect time to get your drink on bond with the higher ups that have demanded so much from you over the past year.

In between the pregame drinks, the dinner, and the dancing — there are many traditions that are upheld at the exclusive event.

Related: 5 tips to have the best Marine Corps birthday ever

1. “Colors. Post!”

No formal military ceremony is complete without the Guard posting colors along with playing the National Anthem to start the night off right. In local VFW and Legions, those who’ve served the Corps’ proudly, often don in their beloved dress blues to continue at that ritual.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
These Marine Veteran Color Guardsmen post and retire the colors during Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s celebration of the Birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

2. Escorting out birthday cake

Typically, the cake is escorted out to the center stage for all to see while the Marines’ hymn proudly played. The Marines of present and past commonly stand at attention during this prized and traditional moment.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
These Marine march forward as they present the well-decorated cake for public viewing.

3. The reading from the scroll

A Marine will stand front and center, open a scroll containing a brief history of how the Marine Corps was created — reading aloud for all to hear.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

4. Cutting the cake with a sword

It is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide to cut a traditional cake in celebration of the birth of our illustrious Corps.

There’s even a formatted script to maintain uniformity.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Col. Redifer cuts the birthday cake at the Marine Corps ball.

Also Read: 9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

5. The first three pieces go to:

After the cake cutting ceremony, the first three pieces are presented to the guest of honor, the oldest living Marine present, and the youngest Marine present — a perfect way to display brotherhood and connection.

This tradition is also part of the Marine Corp birthday celebration on the battlefield if possible.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Happy birthday, Marine!

Military Life

Report says troops wouldn’t recommend military service to their own kids

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Spc. Yemima Tarber extended her commitment to the Army during a reenlistment ceremony that was presided over by her mother, Capt. Lisa Campbell at Fort Lee, Va. A new survey by military advocacy group Blue Star Families says most service members with multiple deployments wouldn’t want their kids to go through the same hardship. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Brown)

 


A new report from military family support organization Blue Star Families shows more than half of service members would not recommend military service to their own children. Additionally, slightly less than half of the respondents would not recommend it to other young adults who aren’t related to them.

Blue Star Families has compiled the so called “Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey” reports since 2009, which are widely used by government officials from the White House, Congress, the Department of Defense, and state and local officials to help understand the unique needs and challenges of military families. Data collected from the annual survey often impacts legislation.

This year’s survey respondents consisted of a mixture of 8,390 active duty personnel, military veterans, and military and veteran spouses — a 130 percent increase over last year’s survey.

Of those surveyed, enlisted service members who had been deployed more than three times were the least likely to recommend military service to their own children.

Among officers, those with less than two deployments and an employed spouse were more likely to recommend military service to young people who are not their children, but only if benefits they’d been promised when they commissioned were still in place — and generally only to those who might become officers.

Less than 20 percent of respondents said they would recommend service to anyone if the current trend of cutting benefits continued.

This could be bad news for those who consider military service to be a “family business.”

“The past year has seen new and emerging security threats in numerous regions while Department of Defense budget cuts and personnel downsizing continues,” Blue Star Families said in their summary of this year’s findings. “The resulting operational tempo is very concerning to service members and their families.”

According to the report, almost 60 percent of veterans had at least one parent who served in the military before them, but only 45 percent of currently serving military members had a parent who served prior.

The 2015 report noted that 80 percent of veteran respondents would be “happy” if their children joined the military. While that specific detail about happiness isn’t reported in this year’s survey, when compared to this year’s 67 percent who would not recommend service to their children, it does appear to show a downward pattern of service members who want their children to follow in their footsteps.

“Extended family separations, frequent moves, and outdated expectations that military spouses sublimate their personal, professional, and familial priorities to support their service member’s military service are the most prevalent topics identified as substantially reducing the quality of life and attractiveness of martial service,” Blue Star Families said. “Military families understand that serving may mean making sacrifices in support of service; however, DoD must also examine the military necessity of the burdens it asks military families to bear.”

The survey isn’t all bad news for the family business of military service. Military spouses who are able to maintain a career were 36 percent more likely to recommend it, and a whopping 76 percent of all spouses surveyed who felt that the military had a positive or neutral career impact were likely to recommend service.

There were two surprising findings elsewhere in the report: almost 80 percent of respondents were satisfied with the military lifestyle, and over 80 percent were satisfied with Tricare Standard.

You can view the Executive Summary on Blue Star Family’s website.

 

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Blue Star Families 2016 Military Lifestyle Survey at a glance.

 

“This year’s survey results show a military community at a point of inflection. It shows the country needs to get smarter about what a healthy All-Volunteer Force really looks like—and what it needs it to look like to ensure future success,” Blue Star Families argued. “The All-Volunteer Force was not designed for our current security environment of protracted low-level conflict, nor was it designed for the modern service member—who is better educated, married with children, and living in an increasingly diverse and inclusive society.”

MIGHTY MONEY

What are allowances and why do you get them?

Next to base pay, allowances are the most important part in the breakdown of your paycheck. They are funds paid to the service member to provide for specific needs that are not directly provided for by the military – for example, clothing and housing — and they are generally not considered taxable income.


5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

BAS:

Basic allowance for subsistence, or BAS, is intended to partly compensate the service member for the cost of food. These allowances are not intended to compensate the service member for the cost of feeding dependents.

Who: All service members, though service members utilizing the chow hall, deployed, or attending schools/training may not receive BAS as it is directly applied to chow halls or MREs (meals ready to eat).

How much: Officers rate $246.24 per month, enlisted personnel rate $357.55 per month.

BAH:

Basic allowance for housing, or BAH, like BAS, is intended to compensate the service member for the cost of housing.

Who: Service members who do not reside in military quarters or on-installation housing.

How much: BAH differs by duty station and rank. Additionally, there are several different types of BAH that impact the exact amount the service member receives.

BAH with dependents will be higher than BAH without dependents.

Partial BAH is paid to service members who live in government quarters without dependents.

BAH reserve component/transit (BAH RC/T) is for service members who fall within certain parameters that wouldn’t generally receive BAH (i.e. a reservist activated for less than 30 days or a service member stationed somewhere with no previous BAH rate set up, generally overseas).

BAH-differential (BAH-Diff) is authorized for service members who pay child support but don’t necessarily have a dependent living with them (this amount is determined by subtracting the amount of BAH without dependents from that of BAH with dependents).

BAH can be determined here.

Clothing:

There are several types of clothing allowances: initial, cash clothing replacement, extra clothing, and military clothing maintenance.

Initial:

Who: Officers and enlisted alike rate an initial clothing allowance.

How much: The allowance is directly applied to the bill when uniforms are issued.

Cash clothing replacement:

Who: Enlisted personnel yearly in the anniversary month of the service member’s enlistment.

How much: Varies by rank.

Extra clothing:

Who: Any service member in a situation where additional uniforms or specific civilian attire is necessary in order to perform duties (i.e. detachment commanders at an embassy require suits).

How much: For civilian attire, this amount ranges from $287.45 to $862.35 and depends on whether it’s the initial payment, and for how long the service member is going to be in the position.

Military clothing maintenance:

Who: All service members during and after 3 years of active duty.

How much: Varies.

Dislocation:

Dislocation Allowance, or DLA, is intended to partly reimburse service members for the cost of relocating due to orders or evacuation.

Who: All service members regardless of whether the member has dependents; except for National Guard members and reserve members who are reporting to or leaving active duty unless the member is activated for longer than 20 weeks at one location and is authorized to receive PCS allowances and have family members accompanying.

How much: Varies depending on rank and dependent status.

FSA:

Family separation allowance, or FSA, is paid to service members who have dependents and are given unaccompanied orders for more than 30 continuous days.

Who: All service members.

How much: $250 per month.

FSSA:

Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, or FSSA, is program designed to help military families contending with issues or demands that cannot be met by current military allowances.

Who: All service members who meet the criteria.

How much: Varies.

Military Life

4 of the worst things about training in ‘Mojave Viper’

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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

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!

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

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.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

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.

Articles

7 military regs service members violate every day

Let’s face it, the military has a lot of rules and regulations that they expect everyone to follow to the letter. For the most part, service members abide by the guidelines their commands set for them, though there are some that push the boundaries any chance they get.


Even the most squared away troop has violated a military statute at one time or another because many of them are bull sh*t less important to the mission than others.

Check out our list of regulations that service members violate every day.

1. Hands in pockets

As crazy as it sounds, having your hands stuffed inside your warm pockets on a cold day isn’t allowed; it’s the military way — but we still do it.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

2. Fraternization

A consensual adult relationship between officers and enlisted members totally violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but it’s a lot of fun to brag about after you get out.

3. Adultery

Sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse is just a d*ck move. But just because it’s not cool doesn’t mean it never happens.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

4. Wearing white socks

Although they’re more comfortable than wearing black socks with combat boots, don’t let the higher ups see you sporting the out-of-reg look.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

5. Hazing

Most service members prefer the term “hardcore training” — but for those enduring the tough discipline, it’s seen it as a negative thing.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

6. Contract marriages

Getting married strictly for monetary gain or medical benefits happens frequently, especially right before a deployment — it can turn south real quick.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

7. Walking & talking on a cell phone

For millennials, this is the biggest hurdle to jump over when they first enter military service.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Bonus: Showing up to work drunk

Because service members like to drink.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Can you think of any more? Leave a comment!

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.

Military Life

6 reasons why no one likes the most ‘moto’ guy in the platoon

Being “the best” in the military is a weird paradox. Of course, you should always strive to be the best at whatever you do. But, at the same time, you can’t put others down or set yourself to such a high bar that it screws over everyone else. There is a fine line between giving Uncle Sam the best version of yourself and stepping into “Blue Falcon” territory.


You can be an outstanding troop without brown-nosing. You can be a great leader without throwing your troops under the bus. You can be highly motivated without overdoing it — but it’s a tricky balance to strike.

1. They integrate their military gear into their civilian attire

Ask anyone who’s ever rucked more than 24 miles in a single march: The best feeling ever in the military is, after finishing a grueling ruck, taking your gear off and throwing it across the room as hard as you can. Why in the hell would someone willingly wear their uniform after work hours for any reason outside of sheer laziness?

There are only two types of people who wear combat boots with civilian clothes: FNGs who haven’t had a chance to buy civilian shoes and the overly-hooah.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Hell, no one wants to wear boots while in uniform. (Photo by Sgt. Audrey Hayes)

2. They force everyone to do more PT

Morning PT means its just another day in the military. It’s not designed as much for personal improvement as it is for camaraderie-building and sustainment. If you want to improve, the gym is open after work hours.

Do not get this twisted: Everyone should be sweating with everyone else. But remember, there’s a fine line. When you’re overzealousness legitimately breaks your comrade and they’re now on profile, you’re an ass.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

3. They always ask for more work

The one phrase every NCO loves hearing from their troops is, “what else should we do?” It’s also, coincidentally, the last phrase lower enlisted want to hear right before close of business.

If the mission is complete, that’s it — shut up and move on.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
There’s always more work to do. If you ask, you’ll find yourself being the only one not completely pissed off. (Photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

4. They step on others to get to promotion points

This applies to boards, schools, certifications, medals, badges, etc. They are all in limited supply and can’t be handed out like candy. Remember, it’s not a competition and your battle-buddies are not your enemies.

These things should go to the best and most deserving — not to the person who made everyone else look like sh*t.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
A key part of leadership is knowing how well those people you f*cked over will help you when the time comes. Remember that. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

5. They parrot NCO sayings unironically

It’s a little bit funny when it’s coming down outside and an NCO turns to their troops and says, jokingly, “if it’s not raining, we’re not training. Am I right?” When a staff officer peaks their head out from behind their PowerPoint presentation and says it to troops who are soaking wet… not so much.

You need the rank and position to make those kinds of jokes. Otherwise, you’ll be glared at with disdain.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

6. They have flaws and overcompensate for them

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes or slip up. Regular troops take the hit on the chin, learn from mistakes, and move on. Ultimately, nobody cares if the mistake doesn’t involve the UCMJ.

You don’t need to lose your mind because you accidentally saluted with the wrong hand. The officer will probably laugh at you for your stupid mistake and forget about it. You don’t need to stand outside their office all day to prove you can salute properly.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Just take your licks like a big kid and move on. (Photo by Sgt. Takoune Norasingh)

Military Life

How to command troops as a colonial officer

To become an officer in the Revolutionary War you needed to have brass…courage. The initial fervor against England drove men to enlist in droves to fight against tyranny. The British Army was the best trained and equipped army in the world at the time. Congressional leaders urged for bigger enlistment quotas and longer term contracts. However, locals who wanted to join preferred to join militias and elect their own officers.

Similarly to Europe, officers came from the same cloth of the upper levels of society. A gentlemen of warfare, a Colonial Officer is expected to be honorable, self-sacrificing. The fledgling country promised signing bonuses, free land at the end of the war and a lifetime pension to entice them to fight for God and country.

revolutionary
This is just a reenactment, but you get the idea.

Whereas, upon becoming an officer the realities of the war became apparent and they were now your problem. Different states allocated their contributions to the war by varying degrees of dedication. The troops looked to you to provide what the state promised such as adequate food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. It was not always feasible to meet these promises. Officers had the additional burden to restrain their troops because the threat of mutinies was very real.  

Different from their British counterparts, Colored cockades on their hats distinguished officers by their rank; green for lieutenants, yellow for captains, and red for majors, colonels and lieutenant colonels. General officers wore sashes: green foraide-de-camp, pink or red for brigadier generals, purple for major generals, and blue for general and commander-in-chief. Under those circumstances, a competent officer had a secret weapon to turn a rag-tag group of men into a professional army: the first drill manual in American history.

Based on ‘Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States’ by Inspector General Friedrich Wilhem Von Steuben, an officer now had something to reference on how to manage the men under his command.

Training

Von Steuben recommended patience when training new recruits. They are not the pedigree, standing armies of England. This strategy worked in encouraging the men with positive reinforcement and ‘mildness’ in terms of respect. The term ‘sergeants are the backbone of the army’ comes from this era. Officers trained their Sergeants, in turn, their Sergeants trained the men.

A properly trained soldier could fire three to four shots per minute.

Formations

A company is to be formed in two ranks, at one pace distance, with the tallest men in the rear, and both ranks sized, with the shortest men of each in the center. A company thus drawn up is to be divided into two sections or platoons; the captain to take post on the right of the first platoon, covered by a sergeant; the lieutenant on the right of the second platoon, also covered by a sergeant; the ensign four paces behind the center of the company; the first sergeant two paces behind the centre of the first platoon, and the eldest corporal two paces behind the second platoon; the other two corporals are to be on the flanks of the front rank.

Chapter three, Of the Formation of a Company

The term ‘Line Company’ for Company sized elements is still in use in Marine Corps infantry battalions. Modern formations have the officer in the front and the men formed in formation behind them. This is modern formation is used in all branches for ceremonial and accountability purposes.

Commands

There are nine movement related commands and 27 commands for loading and firing a musket. The rate of fire during the first or second minutes of the battle were the most critical. The fog of war would make it difficult for troops to hear commands. Due to the chaos of battle the men would eventually fire at will, an officer had to maintain discipline for as long as possible. A typical drill used at the outset of a battle is dictated in ‘Position of each Rank in the Firings’ of the drill manual.

Front Rank! Make ready! [One motion.]

[Spring the firelock briskly to a recover, as soon as the left hand seizes the firelock above the lock, the right elbow is to be nimbly raised a little, placing the thumb of that hand upon the cock, the fingers open by the plate of the lock, and as quick as possible cock the piece, by dropping the elbow, and forcing down the cock with the thumb, immediately seizing the firelock with the right hand, close under the lock; the piece to be held in this manner perpendicular, opposite the left side of the face, the body kept straight, and as full to the front as possible, and the head held up, looking well to the right.]

Take Aim! Fire!

Rear rank! Make ready! [One motion.]

[Recover and cock as before directed, at the same time stepping about six inches to the right, so as to place yourself opposite the interval of the front rank.]

Take Aim! Fire!

Drill commands still used today

These are the drill commands still in use today in ceremonial drills. Rifle stacks are another method of temporarily storing firearms when not engaged that have also survived to the modern era.

Attention!

Rest!

Attention! To the Left/Right- Dress!

To the Right – Face! Now used as ‘Right/left – Face!’

To the Right about – Face! Now ‘About – Face!’

To the Front – March! Now ‘Forward – March!’

Halt!

Fix- Bayonet!

Shoulder – Firelock! Now ‘Shoulder – Arms!’

Present – Arms!

Make ready!

Fire! Obviously, still in use today.

Military Life

Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Being “OC sprayed” is an absolutely terrible experience.


OC, or Oleoresin Capsicum — better known as pepper spray — is used to train military and law enforcement personnel as a necessary exercise, so they know what it feels like and can continue to function if they are sprayed.

“It may be the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” former Marine Ben Feibleman told WATM. Echoing this sentiment, WATM’s own Mike Dowling described it as “the worst day of his life.”

Despite the suffocating and searing sensation of the face, it’s a non-lethal form of policing, riot control, and personal self-defense. In most cases, the worst that will happen is irritation of the skin, temporary blindness, pain and the psychological effect of fear, anxiety and panic. As part of their training, troops are subject to voluntary OC spraying and asked to perform crowd restraint exercises.

The active ingredient in most OC sprays is a high concentration of pepper and alcohol, which is why “pepper spray” is commonly used to identify the spray. The only way to mitigate the spray’s effect is a direct stream of water to the eyes to flush the chemical out. In most cases – depending on the chemical concentration – the average effect lasts 30 minutes, according to SABRE, a brand of OC spray.

Here’s what a typical OC spray qualification is like:

The pepper spray is voluntary. He may look calm…

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Photo: Cpl. Manuel A. Estrada/USMC

… but here’s what he’s really feeling.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

 

Next, nearly blind from the pepper spray, the trainee must take down a threat by submission.

 

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Photo: Seaman Apprentice Brian H. Abel/US Navy

Then, the trainee must simulate fending off a potential threat.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Photo: Cpl. Manuel A. Estrada/USMC

Once training is complete, it’s off to rinsing your face with water.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
Photo: Gunnery Sgt. Scott Dunn/USMC

No matter how much pepper spray hurts, don’t be this guy:

 

Articles

These are the Air Force medics trained for special ops

Everyone knows about the famous 4077th MASH, or Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. But if you ever wanted to see the kind of docs that Michael Bay or Jerry Buckheimer would do a movie about, look at the Air Force’s Special Operations Surgical Teams, or SOSTs.


According to the U.S. Army, a MASH unit usually had about 113 people, while a 2006 Army release about the last MASH becoming a Combat Support Hospital, or CSH, notes that the CSH has about 250 personnel.

According to the Air Force web site, the SOST is much smaller. It has six people: an ER doctor, a general surgeon, a nurse anesthetist, a critical care nurse, a respiratory therapist, and a surgical technician.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
This is a typical Combat Support Hospital. (DOD photo)

The MASH and CSH have trucks and vehicles to deliver their stuff. SOSTs only have what they can carry in on their backs. Oh, did I mention they are also tactically trained? Yep, a member of a SOST can put lead into a bad guy, then provide medical care for the good guys who got hit.

In one Air Force Special Operations Command release, what one such team did while engaged in the fight against ISIS is nothing short of amazing. They treated victims who were suffering from the effects of ISIS chemical weapon attacks, handled 19 mass casualty attacks, and carried out 16 life-saving surgical operations. A total of 750 patients were treated by these docs over an eight-week deployment.

Again, this was with just what they carried on their backs.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
U.S. Air Force photo

At one point, the team was treating casualties when mortar rounds impacted about 250 meters away. The six members of the team donned their body armor, got their weapons ready, and went back to work. Maj. Nelson Pacheco, Capt. Cade Reedy, Lt. Col. Ben Mitchell, Lt. Col. Matthew Uber, Tech. Sgt. Richard Holguin, and Maj. Justin Manley are all up for Bronze Stars for their actions.

It takes a lot to get into a SOST. You can download the application here. One thing for sure, these are the most badass folks with medical degrees!

MIGHTY MONEY

Army reports lack of training as biggest setback to readiness

Earlier this month, the Army’s top general in charge of supplying units with troops blamed a lack of readiness on limited time for training, adding that lack of funding isn’t the biggest challenge.


Head of Army Forces Command Gen. Robert Abrams said the lack of training stems from lawmakers making policy that commits the service to engagements around the world without an eye toward keeping the force healthy and trained up.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball
U.S. Soldiers of Rider Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade record information while conducting a brief during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 11, 2016. The exercise is designed to train the Army’s regionally allocated forces to the U.S. European Command. Combined Resolve VII includes more than 3,500 participants from 16 NATO and European partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Caleb Foreman)

Abrams explained that soldiers were expected to deploy more and have less time home because of downsizing.

“Our goal has always been … one month gone, two months back,” Abrams said, adding that the Army is currently experiencing a ratio of “deploy-to-dwell” that trends closer to one month gone, one month back.

“Our commitments worldwide across the globe in support of our combatant commanders remains at a very high level while we continue to simultaneously downsize the total force,” Abrams told an audience at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

“Our number one constraint for training is time available.”

Recent budget cuts have forced the Army to reduce its total active duty soldiers to 450,000 while still meeting its obligations worldwide. As a result, the operational tempo for soldiers is higher and more demanding — ultimately requiring soldiers to train more, for longer periods of time, in addition to more and longer deployments, Army officials say.

“The impact of non-standard missions continues to have a degrading effect across our force in being able to sustain proficiency in combined arms maneuver,” Abrams said.

Because soldiers are experiencing a minimal deploy-to-dwell time, there isn’t enough time for soldiers to maintain the training the Army requires.

“We struggle today to maintain and meet Department of the Army standards in our critical combat fleets,” Abrams explained before highlighting unmet requirements within the Army’s aviation and ground fleets. He was quick to explain that in aviation in particular, the problems do not lie with the aviators. The problem stems, instead, with plans to restructure the way the Army finances those fleets, impacting training requirements, upkeep on aircraft, and overall readiness of aviators.

While Abrams was very careful not to blame funding shortfalls for the readiness issues facing the Army, he did not hesitate to blame the readiness of the National Guard in particular on lack of money.

“We’ve dug ourselves this hole because of funding,” Abrams said.

Despite the tough times, Abrams said the Army has made tremendous strides in the last year in terms of readiness and overall capabilities.

“Last year at this exact forum, one of underlying themes was that as an army in terms of our joint war-fighting capabilities, we were pretty rusty,” he said. “I’m happy to report today that we have made progress in our ability.”

Military Life

5 ways troops deal with their bug problems

Insects carry disease, infect food stores, and bring loads of other concerns with them. Keeping an area bug-free is a top priority for maintaining good health and hygiene.

The military has plenty of rules and regulations in place to help troops keep an area free of pests (which usually involves a lot of cleaning), but there are far more ingenious — and fun — ways to ward off these crawlers.


5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

And yet so many people forget bug spray on their packing list…

(Photo by Spc. Matthew Drawdy)

Busting out a can of bug repellant

A regular can of bug repellent works wonders. Normally, you’d spray it on your skin to deter pests for a little while, but you can also use it to protect an entire area.

The more expedient way, however, is to just spray it everywhere. Or, for maximum recklessness, you could just take a knife to the can and let it explode everywhere. Just watch out for open flames, though, because aerosol bug-repellent is highly flammable.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Other branches have a version of this, but they actually respray their uniforms instead of just hoping it’s good enough.

(Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Sosner)

Insect-repelling uniforms

For the soldier with plenty of faith in the system, the U.S. Army fielded factory-tested, insect-repelling ACUs to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2012. To their credit, the permethrin-treated clothing works kinda well at first.

Under factory conditions, the ACU-Ps were said to work for fifty washes. In the hands of soldiers, however, they last maybe three before the colors started to run.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

It’s really a toss up. Most insects don’t really care, but you’re really just trading mosquitoes for wasps.

​(Courtesy Photo)

Smoking tobacco

Among the least-advised methods of repelling bugs (according to most medical officers, anyway) is to smoke nicotine, but many older vets swear by it — or it’s just a convenient excuse.

Let’s set the record straight on this with some university-backed studies and advice from subject matter experts: Yes, some insects, like flies and some mosquitoes, are deterred by tobacco smoke. However, most insects are actually drawn to heat and smoke because it feels like an ideal environment — burnt and damaged trees. Additionally, plenty of the more aggressive insects, like wasps, are actually drawn to the smell of nicotine and discarded cigarette butts.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Whatever works, am I right?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick)

Field-goal kicking camel spiders

Camel spiders are notorious. They’re extremely large spiders that will desperately cling to shade, even if that shade is cast by troops standing in the open desert. They’re not aggressive and non-venomous to anyone larger than a mouse, but no one wants to see a giant f*cking arachnid skitter up close in attempts to stay shaded.

Some troops will openly accept the punishments associated with negligent discharge if it means they can open fire on those suckers. Others opt for a more effective (and satisfying) method: punting ’em into a million pieces when they rush you.

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

Just remember, the see-through ones are the most dangerous ones. Have fun!

(Courtesy Photo)

Night-vision goggles to spot bugs

Scorpions give off trace amounts of ultra-violet bio-luminescence that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Coincidentally, most night-vision goggles pick up light from both ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. For better or worse, you can spot scorpions more clearly at night through a pair of NVGs.

Be warned. Sometimes, you’re better off not knowing how many scorpions are really hanging around your fighting position.

Military Life

This is why sniper duels are absolutely terrifying

“Getting shot at sucks. At no point is that a good thing.”


True words spoken by Tim Kennedy, a former member of the Army’s elite 19th Special Forces Group.

With snipers being one of the most feared warriors on the battlefield – think Carlos Hathcock and Eric R. England – their patience and stealth make them a fearsome force to be reckoned with.

Related: These 3 snipers had more kills than Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam

“Things change very dramatically when you know you are being hunted the same way you’re hunting them,” says Terry Schappert, a former Green Beret and sniper instructor,  when talking about his experiences.

You can see the ultimate sniper duel in “The Wall” starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena.

Check out the video below for the “Man in the Shadows” – Part 2

(We Are The Mighty, The Wall, YouTube)

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