Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

Navy veteran and spouse Courtney Suesse and her family live in Stuttgart.

Air Force spouse Jennifer Borkey has left base once this year — to travel to a nearby post for a dental appointment. Borkey, her husband, and two children, ages 10 and 13, have made the most of their time confined to a 1,630-square-foot apartment on Robinson Barracks, one of the five installations that comprise Army Garrison Stuttgart. 

Over the past year, the garrison, home to more than 20,000 U.S. military personnel, federal agencies, civilians, and family members, has maintained a variety of restrictive lockdown measures in conjunction with host-nation and Army policies. 

During this time, Borkey’s read 30 books, picked up knitting, and refined her sewing skills. Her advice to other families — “If you don’t have a hobby, find one.”

On March 10, 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stuttgart closed all non-essential services, including CDCs, gyms, and playgrounds. DODEA schools in the region were closed around the same time. 

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Air Force spouse Jennifer Borkey, her husband, Master Sgt. Brent Borkey, and their children, Zara and Xander, enjoyed hiking in Blautopf, Germany when restrictions were eased over the summer.

While a variety of restrictions were lifted in the summer and travel restrictions eased slightly, the situation has remained fluid. New lockdown procedures, including curfews, school closures, and travel restrictions, were put back into place in November and again in December.  

Commissaries, exchanges, and the post office have remained open, but nearly all other retail facilities, including most out in town, have remained shuttered.

As of press time, DODEA schools in the region were partially reopened and some restaurants were allowing takeout but the majority of restrictions remain, including in-person gatherings, which are currently limited to 10 people from two households. While residents are allowed to exercise outdoors with a mask, their movements are geographically limited. 

For Borkey, one of the biggest differences about being stationed overseas is that rules are not optional. “People state-side might not understand that when we are handed down regulations, we have to follow them,” she said. 

“There’s no doubt that the community has had to make a great deal of sacrifices this year, especially with things that you take for granted,” Paul Hughes, public affairs specialist at USAG Stuttgart, said during a phone interview in late February. 

With no 4th of July celebration, Halloween canceled, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays limited, and no New Year’s celebration, COVID-19 restrictions have significantly impacted the Stuttgart community, Hughes says. 

Still, he praises the dedication during this challenging chapter, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing. “It’s been tough and I think the second lockdown is wearing on people a little,” he said. 

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Courtney Suesse, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Suesse, and their daughter, Stella, pictured in Colmar, France before the pandemic.

Navy veteran and spouse Courtney Suesse says that the lockdown has been a struggle emotionally. Having a 3-year-old at home and balancing a full-time college course load during the pandemic has taken a toll emotionally. 

“Everyone has gotten in their feelings and way more personal,” Suesse said, noting that she’s found assistance through a behavioral health licensed counselor on post. 

“If you’re struggling like I am, I highly recommend reaching out and finding resources,” Suesse said. 

Stuttgart Employee Assistance Program Coordinator Kim Roedl says that the garrison has worked hard to make sure families and service members have access to physical and mental health resources. Her office has ramped up its efforts to connect with families and ensure that they know about their free, confidential, and short-term counseling and referral services.

“We want people to know that we are here for them, and we are always here to listen,” Rodel said in an email. 

In addition to mental health services, Suesse says that technology has been a lifeline during the home-bound months. Her daughter has tea parties with her grandparents and playdates with her aunt via Facebook messenger. 

The highlight of each week has been an international virtual trivia with family. 

“It’s midnight for my sister in Saigon, 6 p.m. for our family in Germany, and noon for my in-laws in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We make it work across the globe,” she said. 

Game nights have been such a success for Suesse that she connected with other spouses to start a local virtual game night. The group, to which Borkey also belongs, has been meeting for over a year. With the restrictions in place, they’ve only met in person once during that time even though they live relatively close. 

Suesse says that the game night is a fun release and time to gather. “We commiserate about lockdown and when someone misses a question we tease them saying ‘since you’re a homeschool teacher now, shouldn’t you know the answer?’” 

Both Borkey and Suesse are looking forward to getting off post and exploring the surrounding area once restrictions are lifted. 

“We are most looking forward to travel, travel, and did I say travel?” Borkey joked.

In the meantime, Suesse is walking the base and nearby areas as permitted and exploring German life as she can. 

“There are still trails to walk, architecture to see. . . There’s still an international community you can experience while still being bundled into this military community,” she concluded. 

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

Military Life

What exactly a Trade War is and why it matters

In On War, Carl von Clausewitz teaches that war is an extension of politics by other means, as emphasized by a balance of power strategies. That’s really what a trade war is — political gamesmanship. But that’s not a very practical definition.


In more concrete terms, it’s where trade-related policies have a negative effect on certain countries. Those countries then retaliate. Then, the original country retaliates, upping the ante. The escalation could, theoretically, go on forever until everyone hates them both.

A trade war doesn’t necessarily happen just between geopolitical adversaries. The United States has sparked trade wars with its democratic, political allies. In 1983, the U.S. placed import tariffs and quota on specialty steel coming from Europe. It cost Europe two percent of its steel market share in the United States. Europeans demanded to be compensated. When that didn’t happen, European markets imposed similar tariffs on chemicals and plastics.

Most of the trade wars involving the U.S. since 1980 were with Europe or Canada — only one was with an ideological rival, like China. In 1985, a quota on Chinese textiles resulted in China suspending agricultural imports from the U.S., a $600-million loss for American farmers.

China wasn’t even as important a trading partner as they are today. Still, experts think the countries most likely to take the brunt of a Trump Steel Tariff are Brazil and Canada. And Canada has no qualms about retaliating. They did in 1993 as a result of duties on Canadian steel products.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

As a matter of fact, the Ottawa Reporter already reported that Canada demanded an exemption and vowed retaliation.

So, this all sounds weirdly frightening, even though most of us reading this have no idea how it will actually affect our day-to-day. At worst, it could lead to another Great Depression. The Smoot-Hawley tariffs were protectionist duties that are said to have exacerbated the global economic downturn. Some even believe the looming threat of the tariffs caused the Depression itself.

More to the point, prices of certain goods related to the war will go up, especially if domestic producers of those products can’t fill the demand.

For example, if aluminum manufacturers can’t meet their needs with U.S. aluminum, products requiring aluminum will still need to be made, they’ll just use the aluminum that costs 10 percent more. The cost will pass on to the consumer.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
President Trump plans to implement a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Moreover, since the customer will be forced to pay a higher price for overseas steel and aluminum products, domestic producers will likely just raise their prices to meet the market price.

Here’s the war part: other countries will slap tariffs on the $2.3 trillion worth of exports from the United States. Suddenly, American companies operating overseas are not as competitive in those markets as they once were.

Related: How the Civil War created the modern US economy

China is the U.S.’ largest debt holder (and owns as much as $1 trillion) and many other countries’ desire to invest in purchasing U.S. debt keeps interest rates here relatively low. They may be less inclined to buy American debt in a trade war and that would drive up interest rates on domestic American purchases.

How does one win a trade war? The same way they win a real war: by not fighting it in the first place. The best outcome of all this trade war talk is that the countries involved re-evaluate their trade relationships in a way that prevents a financial battle.

Military Life

5 ethical ways to make Basic Training easier

Let’s get this straight right away: Doing things that are clearly against the rules makes you a sh*tbag Soldier. However, just because you don’t want to be a sh*tbag doesn’t mean you have to strive to be the best. For many, the goal of Basic Training quickly becomes simply making it to the end.


Just take a few pointers from the E-4 Mafia and you’ll find your Basic Training experience to be much more bearable. Keep in mind that while these may not be against any rules, they certainly won’t win you brownie points with anyone.

5. Hide behind the fat kid

Right out the gate, trainees experience a “Shark Attack.” Every stereotype you’ve ever heard about a Drill Sergeant is unleashed upon new recruits in one fell swoop. As newbies get off the bus for the first time, DIs swarm, “attacking” each as they emerge. The Drill Sergeants will try to space themselves out to make sure every trainee gets a chance to “enjoy” the attack. Sometimes, however, they can’t help themselves when a big boy gets off the bus — every Drill Sergeant wants a chance to yell in his face.

That’s where you come in. Quietly avoid eye contact and let the big guy ahead of you take the brunt.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
This one may be harder than it seems, but if you pull it off, you’ll save yourself from wetting your newly issued ACU trousers. (Photo by Stephen Standifird)

4. Be just good enough

You’re just trying to make it to the finish line. There’s no first place trophy. Well, technically, there’s a Certificate of Achievement, but those are remarkably easy to get after you arrive at your first duty station and rarely is an Army Achievement Medal is given to out-f*cking-standing trainees.

If you’re not already in that 0.1 percent of excellence, your sole focus should be on improving yourself and graduating.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
When you get to your unit, you can a CoA by just existing properly. (Photo by Spc. Tynisha Daniel)

3. Do nothing, say nothing

At some point, you’ll hear the drill sergeants call, “everywhere I go, there’s a drill sergeant there.” You have no idea how true that saying actually is.

You could just be getting ready for lights out and decide it’s safe to f*ck off. Nope, there’s a drill sergeant. You might think no one will notice you skipping out of cleaning the bay. Nope, there’s a drill sergeant. Don’t even bother shamming or slacking off with the other guys in the platoon. Just keep your nose down.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Just clean your rifle when you can. They might confuse this as taking initiative but, in actuality, you’re just avoiding trouble. (Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

2. “Clean” the latrines while you’re on firewatch

Every night, two trainees pull fire watch. In one hour intervals, the two oscillate between sitting at the desk and cleaning.

Always volunteer to be the cleaner because chances are that whatever you’re about to clean has been cleaned already. As long as you, say, wipe down the sink, you’ve technically cleaned something.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Even when you make it to the real Army, you’ll still be mopping latrines. So, get used to it now. (Photo by Maj. Brandon Mace)

1. Don’t stop the sh*tbag from getting in trouble

Nothing is more true in the military than the phrase, “one team, one fight.” Which brings us to the as*hole trainee that doesn’t get the message.

There will always be that one trainee who is not fit for military service and comes in with a bad attitude. There’s no redemption. When they go down in flames (which they will), you’ll look better by comparison by just not being a sh*tbag. But at the same time, don’t get in their way — you don’t want to get bunched together in their idiocy. Whatever you do, don’t try to cover for them.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
You’re going to get smoked regardless, so don’t try to avoid it. (Photo by Sgt. Phillip McTaggart)

Articles

The NFL partners with military analysts for a draft day mission

Weeks prior to the 2017 NFL draft, service members from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, were given the chance of a lifetime to undergo a surprise mission as part of the “Salute to Service” program.


Hosted by USAA, these unexpected military analysts from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, received the opportunity to team up with NFL broadcasters Ron Jaworski and Sal Paolantonio (US Navy vet) for a chance of a lifetime and partake in a draft strategy session.

Related: To Kick-Off USAA’s “Salute to Service,” Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman jumped out of plane with the SOCOM Para-Commandos

The team comes to together and discusses how the military has influences the NFL.

Check out below to how our nation’s heroes handled their day as NFL draft analysts.

(USAA, YouTube)
popular

5 reasons your troops are more important than promotion

If there’s one complaint common across the military, it’s that commanders too often care more about their careers than the well-being of their troops. It’s problematic when higher-ups are willing to put lower enlisted through hell if it means they look good at the end of the day.


Troops are quick to recognize this behavior but, unfortunately, commanders don’t see it in themselves or they just don’t care. There are plenty of cases, though, in which a leader will stick their neck out for the sake of their subordinates at the risk of their own career — because they understand what it means to be a leader.

This doesn’t mean you should be soft. It means that you should think about being in your troops’ shoes and understand the sheer magnitude of unnecessary bullsh*t they go through.

Here’s why leaders need to care more about their troops and less about their promotion.

They’re essentially your children

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Tough love without the love is tough. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

No one like to feel unwanted — and that’s exactly what it feels like to have a commander who cares more about their career. It just results in unnecessary misery across the board.

Troops respond to care with motivation

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
They’ll even charge into battle behind you. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

As previously mentioned, troops know when you’re only after a promotion. Once they pick up on it, they’re going to be reluctant to follow you anywhere. When it becomes clear that you do care, it motivates them to want to work for you. When your troops are motivated, they’ll follow you anywhere.

You gain more respect

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Respect is a two-way street. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

If you rely on your rank to get your respect, you’re going to have a bad time. Your goal as a leader should be to earn the respect of your subordinates by being the commander who gives a sh*t.

Here’s a tip: if a troop comes to you with a problem that doesn’t need to be reported to someone above you, handle it in-house. Your goal should be to do everything you can to avoid having your troops crucified if they don’t deserve it.

They’ll follow the rules

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Maybe your sign will look less and less like this over time. (Terminal Lance)

This may not always be true but when troops respect you, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you look good because they want you to succeed and climb through the ranks. After all, kids want to impress their parents by doing good things.

They’ll understand when they have to do something stupid

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
They’ll be happy to do things like this for you, but only after you earn respect… (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

If your troops know you’re the type who won’t ask them to needlessly do stupid tasks, they won’t blame you when you have to. Instead, they’ll blame someone above you for giving you such a task to pass down and understand that you aren’t trying to make their lives miserable.

In fact, they may even start to take initiative for minor tasks so you won’t have to ask them to do it.

Military Life

8 Things your civilian resume needs to have right now

Jumping from the military into a civilian role and vacancy is a huge change to make in your life and, of course, there’s a lot of differences that need to be taken into account. To succeed in this unforgiving job-seekers world, you need to be prepared and you need to have the right mindset and drive.


Even for someone who wasn’t in the military, finding a job can be stressful enough which is why it’s, even more overwhelming for veterans.

So, to ensure things go as easy as possible and you have everything you need to succeed, here are eight essential things you need to put into your resume to make sure it stands out from the crowd and secures you that all-important interview.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
This won’t be necessary.

1. Define the Objective

One of the most important things to remember when creating your civilian resume is that you need a clear goal/objective to be defined. You need to know exactly what job you’re applying for before you even start writing.

“If you already have a resume written, you’ll need to edit it or every job application or vacancy that you apply for. Be sure to put the job clear in your mind, so you know exactly what kind of language to use and what style you need to be writing in,” shares Paul Taylor, a resume editor for Paper Fellows.

2. What Can You Do For Me?

When writing your civilian resume, you need to make sure that you’re speaking to the employer who is reading your resume and answering all the questions they asked, or slipped into, the job advertisement.

You need to be answering the questions and stating who are you and what you can bring to the table for this vacancy. Why are you the person they need for this job? For this, you’ll need to research the company and the job description, but this can be done easily using the internet.

3. Assuming No Military Knowledge

Not everybody is going to understand military terminology, and it’s important that you remember that when writing your resume. When it comes to listing out roles, individual titles, awards, training programs and anything else military-related, make sure that you put it all into layman’s terms.

4. Highlight Your Experience

During your time in the military, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time building up your skills, having lots of experiences and completing many achievements. All these achievements, even if you’ve won any awards, need to be highlighted in your resume.

This is what your employer is looking out for so make sure you put it near the top, so it’s the first aspect of you that they see.

5. Use Online Tools

When writing your resume, you need to make sure that it’s free from errors and mistakes which could cost you the interview. Of course, not everybody is writer so here is a list of tools you can use to make things easier;

  • To Vs Too – An online blog you can use to brush up on your knowledge of how to use grammar properly.
  • State of Writing – An online blog that’s full of resources on everything about writing professionally.
  • Easy Word Count – A tool for actively tracking and monitoring the word count of your resume.
  • Cite It In – An online tool you can use to manage and properly format your citations, quotes and references.
  • Grammarix – An online tool for improving and enhancing your knowledge of grammar for your resume.

6. Never Downplay Your Military History

When it comes to the fact that you’ve been in the military, make sure you never play it down and highlight it throughout your resume; be proud of what you’ve done. There are a ton of employers out there who wholeheartedly recognize the benefits and skillsets that come with hiring veterans – so make sure you’re clear about it.

7. Avoid Gory Details

If you’re a veteran who found themselves in live and active combat situations, it’s important you remember to leave out the details, such as accounts and experiences.

Of course you can state what roles you played – especially if you were managing a team – but a lot of what you could say might make your employer very squeamish.

8. Test Improve Your Resume

Once you’ve written the perfect resume, try sending it out to a few places and see if you hear back from them. If you hear nothing back within a week or two, be sure to edit your resume and make changes before sending it off to other places.

Continue to edit and improve your resume, and you’ll be amazed at how many interviews you can secure for yourself.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

Checklist:

To summarise, these are the things you need to put in your resume right now;

  • Defining your goal
  • Answer the job description
  • Rewrite resume in layman’s terms
  • Share your experience
  • Use online tools for help
  • Never shy away from your history
  • Edit out the details
  • Analyze and enhance

Mary Walton is a writer whose work on resume writing has appeared in the Huffington Post and elsewhere. She helps with resume editing and proofreading at Resumention. Mary contributes to online education by helping PhD students with dissertation writing, and she blogs at Simple Grad.

Lists

10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF


Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown

My Marine husband is the worst to shop for.

The worst, I tell you.

The man sees something he wants and he hauls off and buys it. It makes Christmas shopping extremely difficult.

So in an effort to put together a good Christmas list I asked him to consult with me on an article for WATM’s “10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF.”

This is what he sent me:

1. Operator Stocking

This stocking is definitely operator AF.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
High Speed Operator Stocking / Accessory Pouch

Specs:

  • Double Zipper Main Pocket
  • Santa Clause Approved & Compatible.
  • Modular Webbing for Pouch Attachment
  • 3x Polymer D-Rings
  • Integrated Drag / Carry Handle
  • 2x Hanging Hooks
  • External Small Pouch with Elastic Cord Closure
  • 3″x2″ Patch Panel
  • Made from High Durability Nylon Fabric

2. Hidden gun rack

No one will ever catch him by surprise as he’s flexing in this mirror.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
N.J. Concealment Furniture surface mounted wall mirror

Specs:

  • 16″x52″x3.75″ inside 12″ x48″ 2 3/4″
  • Construction:
  • Solid hardwood with hardwood plywood back.
  • Includes:
  • 2 1/4″ Kaizen foam
  • mounting hardware
  • Includes magnetic lock and one magnetic key.

3. Plate carrier

…Because every operator should wear this every time he leaves the house.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Plate Carrier With Cummerbund Molle Style

Specs:

  • tab “panes”
  • External cummerbund that offers a more stable MOLLE platform
  • Cummerbund is fully adjustable and removable
  • Small/Medium has three rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Large/ X-Large has four rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Carrier is not releasable
  • Armor not provided

4. SureFire weapons light

…For seeing under the couch and shit.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Surefire X300U-A 600 Lumen LED WeaponLight Rail Lock

Specs:

  • Virtually indestructible LED regulated to maximize output and runtime
  • Tactical-level output with TIR lens for close- to longer-range applications
  • Quick-detach rail clamp
  • Accepts optional pistol grip and long gun forend switches
  • Weatherproof—O-ring and gasket sealed
  • Construction—High-strength aerospace aluminum with Mil-Spec anodizing; impact-resistant polymer; coated tempered window
  • Includes high-energy 123A batteries with 10-year shelf life

5. A sweet 1911 handgun

Because every SureFire needs a firearm attached (..and because this is MARSOC AF!).

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol

Specs:

  • M1070CQBP SPECIFICATIONS
  • CALIBER .45 ACP
  • WEIGHT 2.8lbs (1.27 kg)
  • CAPACITY 7+1 Wilson Magazine
  • OVERALL LENGTH 8.5in (21.59cm)
  • BARREL LENGTH 5in (12.7cm)
  • FIRING ACTION Single Action
  • FIRING SYSTEM Series 80

6. JetBoil stove

Because even operators need their coffee.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister
  • Fuel Isobutane-propane
  • Auto Ignition Yes
  • Integrated Pot Yes
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) 100g canister: 42 minutes
  • Average Boil Time 4 min. 30 sec.
  • Dimensions 7.1 x 4.5 x 4.1 inches
  • Liquid Capacity (L) 1 liter
  • Liquid Capacity (fl. oz.) 33.8 fluid ounces
  • Weight 15.25 ounces

7. Kevlar helmet

Holidays are coming. So are the in-laws. Enough said.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
3M Combat High Cut Helmet with Rails and NVG Shroud

Specs:

  • Meets or exceeds NIJ Level IIIA ballistic standard for penetration
  • Meets a minimum of 650 mps V-50 for 17 grain tested according to STANAG 2920
  • Shell sizes: S-XL
  • Variable thickness, 7 impact absorbing pads can be adjusted or removed for individual comfort
  • Pad thickness sizes: standard size 6 @ 3/4″ or optimal size 8 @ 1″
  • Weight: starting at 2.4 lbs (small)
  • Includes: Wilcox NVG mount and side accessory rails

8. Hammock

Sometimes an operator just needs to hang shit in the back yard and sleep there.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
OneLink Sleep System – JungleNest

Specs:

  • JungleNest Hammock
  • Your Choice of Atlas or Helios Straps
  • Your Choice of Rain Tarp
  • Set of Carabiners Included
  • Set of Stakes Included

9. Combat boots

For stomping on all those battery operated toys his mother-in-law is going to send the kids this year.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
Nike Special Field Men’s Boot

Specs:

  • Quick-drying synthetic leather overlays for durability and support
  • Multiple ventilation zones that allow the boot to breathe and drain quickly
  • Genuine leather footbed for durability, flexibility and comfort
  • Nike Free-inspired outsole, designed for traction and natural range of motion
  • Sticky rubber forefoot lugs for exceptional traction on all terrain
  • Weight: 15.9 ounces (men’s size 9)

10. Backpacking stove

For when the holidays get to be too much and he takes his SureFire, JungleNest and JetBoil out to the woods for a few days. He’ll need to cook.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister, Liquid
  • Fuel Auto, Isobutane-propane, White Gas, Kerosene
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) (20 oz.white gas) 1 hr. 50 min. / (8 oz. isobutane) 1 hr. 15 min.
  • Average Boil Time (White gas) 3 min. 30 sec. / (isobutane) 3 min. 45 sec.
  • Dimensions 6 x 6 x 4.75 inches
  • Weight (Stove, pump & canister mount) 13.7 ounces
Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of July 15th

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


Air Force:

Chief Master Sgt. Alan Boling, Eighth Air Force command chief, visited Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 10-11, 2017. During his visit, Boling spoke with 5th Bomb Wing Airmen and visited facilities including the fire department, phase maintenance dock, bomb building facility, dining facility and parachute shop.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong

French Alphajets, followed by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and two F-22 Raptors, conduct a flyover while displaying blue, white and red contrails during the Military Parade on Bastille Day. An historic first, the U.S. led the parade as the country of honor this year in commemoration of the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I and the long-standing partnership between France and the U.S.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Michael McNabb

Army:

A U.S. Army airborne paratrooper from the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry division prepares to jump out of the open troop door on a U.S. Air Force C-17 from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., July 12, 2017 in support of Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. The purpose of TS17 is to improve U.S.-Australian combat readiness, increase interoperability, maximize combined training opportunities and conduct maritime prepositioning and logistics operations in the Pacific. TS17 also demonstrates U.S. commitment to its key ally and the overarching security framework in the Indo Asian Pacific region.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, deputy commanding general for Army National Guard, U.S. Army Europe, talks with Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 113th Field Artillery Regiment, North Carolina National Guard during Getica Saber 17 on July 7, 2017 in Cincu, Romainia. Getica Saber 17 is a U.S-led fire support coordination exercise and combined arms live fire exercise that incorporates six Allied and partner nations with more than 4,000 Soldiers. Getica Saber 17 runs concurrent with Saber Guardian 17, a U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe-led, multinational exercise that spans across Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania with over 25,000 service members from 22 Allied and partner nations.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Antonio Lewis

Navy:

Sailors refuel an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp is currently underway acquiring certifications in preparation for their upcoming homeport shift to Sasebo, Japan where they are slated to relieve the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zhiwei Tan

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands and 26,000 military and civilian personnel.

Families stationed in Germany get creative during lockdown
U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor

Marine Corps:

Landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, offloads Marine equipment on a beach as a part of a large-scale amphibious assault training exercise during Talisman Saber 17. The landing craft utility 1666, assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, launched from USS Green Bay (LPD 20) that enabled movement of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) forces and equipment ashore in order for the MEU to complete mission objectives in tandem with Australia counterparts.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers

A Marine, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departs the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of a large-scale amphibious assault during Talisman Saber 17. The 31st MEU are working in tandem with Australian counterparts to train together in the framework of stability operations.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Gavin Shields

Coast Guard:

Four people are transferred from a sinking 30-foot recreational boat to Coast Guard Station Menemsha’s 47-foot Motor Life Boat off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, July 17, 2017. The vessel was dewatered and returned to Menemsha Harbor under its own power.

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Photo by Lt. John Doherty, Barnstable County Sheriff

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Keola Marfil, honorary Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Bishop and Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Dickey walk to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a search and rescue drill at Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, Alaska, July 8 2017. Fulfilling Bishop’s wish to be a rescue swimmer, they hoisted a hiker and simulated CPR while transporting him to the air station.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Benson

Military Life

5 reasons a draft is a terrible idea

You’ll meet people, both on social media and in real life, who argue that a solution to a widespread lack of discipline is to start drafting citizens right out of high school to serve in the military in some capacity. Whether you think there really is a discipline problem today or not, the truth remains the same — a draft outside of a wartime is unnecessary and extremely toxic.


The thing people don’t realize is that the United States military thrives on the fact that its members are volunteers. The reason our military is so efficient is because the people who join want to be there. While that may not remain the case for every service member for the entire duration of their contracts, you’ll still find most of them serving with honor until the job’s done.

Related video:

 

Here’s why having a draft would ruin that.

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Each of these recruits may run the Department of Defense around ,000.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

The cost

The cost of training a single service member is pretty high already. Spending tons of money training people who don’t want to be there only to have most of them leave the service as soon as humanly possible is just not worth it. We already have plenty of people who join voluntarily and, in boot camp or somewhere else along the line, decide they made a wrong choice. Suddenly, the tons of money spent training them goes down the drain.

It’s all the people who make it through training and complete their service honorably that justify these losses.

A draft is basically indentured servitude

People who serve today feel like they’re overworked and underpaid. When the government is faced with absorbing tons of money lost due to wasted training expenses, where do you think the cuts will start?

If you felt a sharp pain in your wallet just now, then you already know.

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There are people relying on others to do their jobs so they might stay alive.

A draft is dangerous

A problem with forcing people to do a job is that they won’t care about doing it well. When those aloof people play key roles in the infantry, failing to do the job well might be fatal. These people may not care about holding security or staying awake on watch, which can needlessly endanger the lives of all the people who want to do their job the right way.

You’ll have a lot more sh*t bags

There are tons of people who “slip through the cracks” in the military already. They have no business being in the service, but somehow manage to avoid discharge. Forcing people, against their will, to serve is going to increase those numbers.

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The volunteers are what make the military great. Let’s not mess that up with dumb ideas.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matt Britton)

An all-volunteer force is much better

As stated before, our military is as good as it is because the people who serve chose to be there. They want to do a good job. Furthermore, it’s a good feeling to know that you’re doing the hard work that not everyone is cut out for. By enacting a draft, we would lose the very thing that makes the military great: pride.

Military Life

Why death iconography is a beloved part of military culture

Take a look at the naming convention of any combat arms battalion. Chances are that alpha company is “Assassins,” bravo company is “Barbarians,” and, because there’s no clever, hardcore, historical fighter that starts with ‘C,’ charlie company will be “Reapers” or something.


Toss in the occasional Spartans, outlaws, rebels, anarchists, dragons, zombies, gladiators, and make sure to leave some clever pun for headquarters (something like “Troubleshooters” — get it? It’s an IT thing and it’s because they shoot trouble. Hey, don’t you roll your eyes at me, I didn’t make it up…).

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Let’s not forget everyone who uses The Punisher’s skull on everything…
(Courtesy Photo)

Recently, the Australian Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, issued a directive to ban any and all “death symbology and iconography” from the Australian Army, effective immediately. This includes all of the above-mentioned names and forbids the use of symbols like skulls and weapons in logos (which, technically, should include the most Australian special operations unit, the 1st Commando Regiment, whose logo pictures a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife stabbing a boomerang. Just sayin’).

Lieutenant General Angus Campbell said,

“Such symbology… is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession — the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.”

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Because infantrymen from a country where everything can kill you shouldn’t be associated with things that can kill you.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob Skovo)

With the utmost respect towards the Australian Chief of Army, hardcore names and symbols don’t take away from the seriousness of combat. It never has and never will. It boosts the morale of our troops while demoralizing the enemy. If even a single life of any American, NATO, ANZAC, and any other allied troop is saved by the psychological impact of these symbols, then repeatedly telling troops they’re hardened killers is worth it.

Death iconography bands the troops together because it’s a fun symbol to be associated with. It’s powerful. It hypes them up for the ultimate reality — some of them will fight in combat and see real consequences. The symbols serve as warnings to the enemy that these people are not to be messed with.

Articles

Travis Manion Foundation honors fallen Marine — and builds America at the same time

Travis Manion Foundation empowers veterans and families of fallen heroes while striving to strengthen America’s national character. The non-profit was named for 1st Lt. Travis Manion, a Marine who was killed by an enemy sniper while saving his wounded teammates on April 29, 2007.

Today, Travis Manion Foundation exists to carry on the legacy of character, service, and leadership embodied by Travis and all those who have served and continue to serve our nation.


Now, three Gold Star family members are carrying on the legacy of their own fallen loved ones through Travis Manion Foundation. Ryan Manion, Amy Looney, and Heather Kelly sat down with Jan Crawford from CBS This Morning to share how they are working to impact their local communities, strengthen America’s character, and empower veterans.

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When asked what they would say to other family members suffering the loss of a service member, Travis’ sister Ryan said, “Your suffering is probably the most horrible thing that will ever happen to you but there is a light ahead.”

Over the past decade, TMF has helped over 60,000 veterans, and it began with a phrase Travis said before he left for his final deployment. “If not me, then who?” He is not the first person to speak those words, but in many ways, he captures the spirit that our military takes to heart when they volunteer to serve.

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A testament to Travis’ impact, in fall 2014, at the age of 73, Sam Leonard set out to walk across the country to raise funds for the Travis Manion Foundation. He began in Florida but was forced to stop in Houston when he was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He sadly passed away four months later. Albie Masland, the TMF west coast veteran service manager reached out to his good friends and TMF ambassadors Nick Biase and Matt Peace, to see if they wanted to help honor Sam by completing the last 1,500 miles of his journey and raise money for the TMF on his behalf. They finished the trek in 30 days at the USS Midway and on the anniversary of Travis’ death.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anna Albrecht/ Released)

Travis Manion Foundation volunteers help by cleaning up communities here at home, building houses in underdeveloped countries, and inspiring school-aged children growing up in America. The organization is defined by its core values:

  • Build, Measure, Learn, Repeat
  • Be accountable
  • Purpose begins with passion
  • Out of many, one
  • We are fueled by gratitude
  • Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo

Travis Manion Foundation is launching a Legacy Project, with ten projects over ten days beginning April 20, 2018. Volunteers can make a difference in their own communities by joining an Operation Legacy Project.

Articles

5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

In 1993, US forces consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos stormed into Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid and key members of his militia.


During the raid, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, 18 Americans were killed, and 73 were wounded.

Director Ridley Scott brought the heroic story to the big screen in 2001’s “Black Hawk Down” which portrays aspects of the power of human will and brotherly bonds between the soldiers in the fight.

Peel back the layers of the film and check out a few nuggets of wisdom you may have missed in the story.

Related: Here’s how Hollywood turns actors into military operators

1. Never underestimate the enemy

US forces tend to believe because a nation is poor, they don’t have any fight in them. Remember that the enemies we typically fight have home field advantage.

2. Don’t f*ck with Delta Force

Enough said — and probably the coolest line in the movie.

3. Understanding what you can’t control

It’s a common misconception that the ground troops know why they’re sent to a fight.

The truth is — there’s always a mission behind the mission. But that doesn’t matter, because it boils down in the end to surviving and taking care of your men. That’s real leadership.

4. Life doesn’t always make sense

After watching one of the hardest scenes in the film, a Ranger’s death, Sgt. Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) questions himself and over-analyzes his own leadership. Honestly, no matter how much you train, you can’t predict sh*t.

Also Read: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

5. Why we do it

It’s nice to be told “thank you for your service” by civilians every now and again, but truthfully we don’t like it. Hoot (played by Eric Bana) clears it up in one line — why grunts do what they do.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

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.

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