On deployment, troops are asked to complete some pretty intense missions under hostile conditions. Half of the time, they leave the wire with little-to-no sleep and still have to perform at a high level. Due to our crazy schedules, we are required to be up at the butt-crack of dawn for PT, eat chow, and prepare for the 12-16 hour workday ahead. After all that, we try and get some rest before we have to do it all over again the next day.
That sh*t can burn a troop out in no time.
Since we’re dedicated as f*ck, we suck it up and move on. Unfortunately, being sleep deprived increases the risk of some significant health problems, like diabetes, strokes, and even heart attacks. Aside from these major problems, running on too little sleep can cause troops to make dumb mistakes and severely lowers reaction times.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain a high quality of life. Unfortunately for some troops, that simply can’t happen. In fact, some people don’t even produce the sleep hormone called “melatonin” until way later on in the night. We call those guys and gals “night owls.”
Now, we can’t blame this hormone entirely — today’s technology plays a unique role among those who might have a little insomnia.
In 2002, scientists found a sensor in our eyes called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells that, apparently, do not like many forms of blue light — which is likely found in the very computer screen you’re using right now.
When blue light interacts with those cells, they send messages to our brain that tell us the sun is still out, which can inhibit your body’s natural melatonin production. The takeaway from that study is you might want to start reading a book (instead of staring at your phone) on your way to sleepy land.
For those who have naturally lower melatonin production in their brains, food like almonds, raspberries, and gogi berries can help boost levels.
Check out Tech Insider‘s video below to get a humorous take on catching enough sleep.
The military is known for its rules. There are books upon books filled with them. But even when there’s no official documentation to back them up, troops adhere to rules laid out before them (usually). No unofficial rule is followed by as many troops as not walking on grass.
It’s so prevalent in military culture that most NCOs don’t even know why they’re yelling at a private for walking on grass — they just know that first sergeant is looking.
To any civilian or new recruit, it’s mind-blowing. Troops will do PT on the grass in the morning but once they’re told to shower for work call, they’re not allowed back on the grass until the following day (unless they’re cutting it).
But why? A few footsteps aren’t going to hurt anything.
(Photo by C. Todd Lopez)
To be completely straightforward: Your sergeant major doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the grass itself. The grass will still grow all over the world with or without “blood, bright red blood.”
The restriction is symbolic and it’s about not taking literal shortcuts. The idea is that if a troop takes a shortcut once, they’ll see no problem cutting corners the next time.
Since military sidewalks are usually straight lines that intersect each other at 90-degree angles, a young private may save a half of a second by cutting through the grass. If enough troops cut that same corner, then the grass will die and become a path, thus destroying the need for the sidewalk to begin with.
Another reason for the rule is that it requires a level of attention to detail. If you’re not capable of noticing that you’re now walking on soft grass instead of the sweat-stained concrete, then this is very likely not the only ass-chewing you’ll see in your career.
Your sergeant major probably isn’t a staunch environmentalist who’s trying to preserve the sanctity of poor, innocent blades of grass. They and the NCOs below them have ten million more important things to do than to knife-hand the fool who’s careless enough to do it — but they will. Stepping on the grass and spending the half-second required to stay on the pavement is symbolic of a troop’s discipline.
H/T to the Senior NCOs at RallyPoint for clarifying this mystery.
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, announced the commanding officer for the 2018 and 2019 seasons at a press conference at the National Museum of Aviation onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, April 4.
A selection panel comprised of 10 admirals and former commanding officers selected Cmdr. Eric Doyle to succeed Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi.
Applicants are required to have a minimum of 3,000 flight hours and be in current command or have had past command of a tactical jet squadron.
Doyle, a native of League City, Texas, joins the Blue Angels after serving as the commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113. His previous assignments include six squadron tours, where he flew the F/A-18 Hornet and F-22A Raptor as an operational test pilot. He has deployed in support of Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.
Doyle attended Texas AM University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1996. He earned his commission through the Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. Doyle has more than 3,000 flight hours and 600 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (with combat V), Navy Commendation Medals (one with combat V), and Navy Achievement Medal, as well as various campaign and unit awards.
“This was a childhood dream come true,” said Doyle. “My motivation to become a pilot came from watching the Blue Angels.”
Doyle will serve as commanding officer and flight leader for the 2018 and 2019 Blue Angels air show seasons. He will report for initial training in Pensacola, Florida in September and officially take command of the squadron at the end of the air show season in November. The change of command ceremony is slated for Nov. 12, at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
As the Blue Angels’ commanding officer, Doyle will lead a squadron of 130 personnel and serve as the demonstration flight leader, flying the #1 jet. The Blue Angels perform for 11 million people annually across the United States, and are scheduled to perform 61 shows in 33 locations for the 2018 season.
It’s the goal of almost every young corpsman who enters into their first unit to one day earn a Fleet Marine Force pin. Like everything else in the military, the pin is earned through plenty of hardship and many hours of studying.
The FMF pin itself has a beautiful design. It’s an extension of the Marine Corps’ Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, adorned with a wave that’s crashing onto a beach, signifying the historical sands of Iwo Jima. Two crossed rifles lie behind the globe, symbolizing the rifleman’s ethic that this program is designed to instill into sailors assigned to Marine Corps units.
Before a corpsman can proudly wear the badge, each sailor has to prove themselves through a series of written tests and oral boards. These tests are stringent, but we’ve come up with a few tips to help you navigate your way into earning the beloved pin.
Study the manual
When a sailor checks into their first unit, they will receive a thick book full of Marine Corps knowledge that’s nearly impossible to memorize. It’s a good thing you won’t have to.
The information within the manual is divided up into three different sections: the Marine Division (infantry), Marine Logistics Group (supply), and the Marine Air Wing (pilots and sh*t).
Outside of Marine Corps history, all you have to study are the sections that apply to you — which is still a sh*tload.
Learn by doing
For many sailors, it’s tough to sit down, read from a book, and retain all the information you need to qualify. Many of us learn better by doing. Go through the channels necessary to get your hands on a few weapon systems so you can learn the disassembly and reassembly process. Do this before you go in front of the FMF board.
Have your Marines quiz you
Remember how we talked about getting your hands on those weapon systems? Nobody knows those suckers better than the Marines who use them every day. So, when you’re with your new brothers, have them put you through a crash course on their gear.
Board while on deployment
When you go before the board to earn your pin, you should know everything, inside and out. That being said, most sailors don’t pass the board on their first time up.
If you opt to be evaluated stateside, the board will expect you to know everything there is to know, since you’re not on deployment and patrolling daily. If you board while on deployment, they usually stick to the basics — you’re under enough as it is patrolling the enemies’ backyard.
Secondly, studying for your FMF is an excellent way to pass the time — and it gives you a solid goal to accomplish before you pack up and go home. Frankly speaking, getting pinned by your Marine brothers is a great way to end a stressful deployment.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Firefighters from the 151st Civil Engineer Squadron extinguish a simulated airplane fire June 7, 2016, at the Salt Lake City Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters Training Center. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with a simulator, which allows for interior and exterior training and includes a multitude of various fire scenarios.
An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron performs a low-angle strafe during the Hawgsmoke competition at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., June 2, 2016. The two-day competition included team and individual scoring of strafing, high-altitude dive-bombing, Maverick missile precision and team tactics.
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, carry equipment through a pond during the team obstacle course at the French Jungle Warfare School near Yemen, Gabon, June 9, 2016.
A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides security during Decisive Action Rotation 16-06 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., May 16, 2016.
DILI, Timor Leste (June 8, 2016) Crew members assigned to the Blackjacks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 move an MH-60S helicopter into the hangar aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). Deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2016, Mercy is on its first stop of the 2016 mission. Pacific Partnership has a longstanding history with Timor Leste, having first visited in 2006, and four subsequent times since. Medical, engineering and various other personnel embarked aboard Mercy will work side-by-side with partner nation counterparts, exchanging ideas, building best practices and relationships to ensure preparedness should disaster strike.
PACIFIC OCEAN (JUNE 4, 2016) An F/A-18E from the Flying Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-122) launches from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck during night flight operations (left) while an EA-18G Growler from the Vikings of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ-129) taxis onto a catapult (right). The ship is underway conducting command assessment of readiness and training (CART) II off the coast of Southern California.
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conduct military operations on urban terrain during a field exercise (FEX) at Camp Pendleton, California, May 24, 2016. FEX is designed to sharpen the battalion’s combat capabilities.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division advance down range during the Eager Lion 16 final exercise in Al Quweyrah, Jordan, May 24, 2016. Eager Lion is a recurring exercise between partner nations designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability, and enhance regional security and stability.
Flight Mechanics serve a dual role in the aircraft. First, they help the pilots monitor performance and flight instruments. Their knowledge of the aircraft and technical expertise make them invaluable resources for identifying and troubleshooting aircraft malfunctions. Second, they are responsible for operating the helicopter’s hoist. This entails both physically manipulating the hoist as well as providing conning commands to the pilot at the controls.
The pilots at Air Station Savannah come from a myriad of backgrounds. For some, this is their first operational aviation tour. Others have completed multiple tours around the country in places like Kodiak, AK and Puerto Rico. We also have a large number of Direct Commission Aviators who transferred over to the Coast Guard from other services such as the Army and Marines.
Scenario #1: A young service member walks into their newly assigned barracks room and notices how nasty it is. And on top of that, they have to share the small space with two or three other people that may or may not be very clean. The struggle is real.
Scenario #2: A service member may just have received orders to go on a 13-month deployment wants to make some cash while they’re gone.
Both of these very real circumstances of military life can be strong motivators for troops to tie the knot — and not for love.
Often called a “contract marriage,” these pairings are purely for monetary gain or medical benefits. No one is suggesting you do this versus saving your money or getting a second job if your command allows, but if you do it, keep these very important things in mind.
If you do get a divorce, the military typically won’t stop the extra pay right away. So don’t go spending all that extra cash too fast. The government will take back every cent from your paycheck until they recoup what’s theirs.
The answer is, yes. (images via Giphy)You’re welcome America!
The days following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States were strange days for many of us. Not only here at home, where the American worldview changed literally overnight, but also in Afghanistan. For obvious reasons.
What might not be so obvious are the many ways which the United States systematically struck back against al-Qaeda and the Taliban who protected its members in Afghanistan. By now, many have heard of the U.S. Army Special Forces who assisted the Northern Alliance on horseback. The new movie 12 Strong depicts their mission.
But three days after the Green Berets and Northern Alliance leader Abdul Rashid Dostum teamed up for the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, another joint American-Northern Alliance team was fighting to capture – and keep – the Afghan city of Herat.
According to reports from the open-source U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, American air power had been conducting air strikes on the city since October 2001, destroying armored columns, tunnel complexes, and other support facilities. The city was ready by the time the joint assault took place.
American Special Forces, Northern Alliance fighters, and Shia militias moved on the city as the populace took arms against the Taliban with anything they could find. Defeated Taliban fighters fled the city within the same day.
The whole operation was overseen in Tehran by agents of the CIA working with Iranian intelligence officers. Shortly after the city fell, a Northern Alliance spokesperson said it was the first time Khan set foot in the city since it fell to the Taliban in 1995.
In 2005, an Iranian Presidential candidate alluded to the story via an interview with USA Today’s Barbara Slavin, who was able to confirm some parts of the story, while some sources alluded to further collaboration and denied other parts.
Some military families love to PCS. The sense of adventure that comes with moving to another duty station every few years is exciting to them. Even when they receive orders to a location not on the top of their wish list, they find a way to embrace the suck and learn to love their new home until military orders move them once again.
Being positive about the process is an important coping skill, but what happens if you find yourself really unhappy? What if you just can’t shake truly hating your duty station?
My husband’s final duty station was at an Army base in Arizona. As a Florida native, and as someone who loves the south and being close to the beach, I tried to embrace the new high desert landscape. I firmly believed it was best to make the most of where we were. But in reality, I loathed being stationed there. It was extremely dry, the temps were super hot in the summer (dry heat or not, 110 is miserable) and we got snow in the winter.
I missed all of the tall trees, greenery, and water I was accustomed to. We were also 2-3 days drive from our family. That had always been a difficult aspect of military life for me, but we had been blessed with orders within a days drive in the past, which made it bearable.
I was miserable.
And I felt like a spoiled brat. My husband was home and out of the fleet. Friends at other duty stations were saying goodbye to their spouses for yet another deployment, and mine was home every night. How dare I be so miserable because the beach was not close by.
And then I realized that me feeling guilty and forcing myself to pretend it wasn’t so bad, was making it worse. There is nothing wrong with having a preference when it comes to where you live. I wasn’t being a spoiled brat because I desperately missed the area I called “home,” but I did need to survive it without being completely miserable or making those around me the same.
So I accepted that I was never going to love the place.
Instead, I focused on the people. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be good people. We joined a Cross Fit gym, I sang with a local community choir and we made an effort to get to know our neighbors.
I focused on the opportunities. We traveled to southern California, the Grand Canyon, and other places we would probably not have the opportunity to visit after retirement. We visited interesting local spots like Bisbee and Tombstone frequently.
I focused on the future. With retirement just a few years away, we started to pay off debt in anticipation of buying our first home. We started to dream about what our lives would look like when we were able to plant permanent roots in an area we both loved.
And we survived. Acknowledging that Arizona was not my favorite has made me appreciate our forever home location even more. In the summer when we have 100% humidity, I am reminded how miserable that dry heat was for me. In the winter when it drops to 20 for a few days, I am reminded how I hated all that snow. And when I am at the beach, I appreciate it’s beauty in a way I didn’t before.
There are many different routes to becoming an officer within the U.S. Armed Forces. Military academies and ROTC programs are common, but only one in-road immediately garners respect, admiration, and loyalty — we’re talking about Mustang officers. A ‘Mustang’ is a prior-service officer who did their time before jumping from the green side (enlisted) to the gold side (officers).
You can often point them out in a crowd. They’re a bit older than most butterbars, they already have that sharp-as-a-KA-BAR glare, and they’re probably a bit hungover.
Now, this isn’t meant to bash officers who were not previously enlisted. In fact, this list is meant to spotlight the reasons why Mustangs get more love and what all officers will eventually learn with time. Mustangs just have a head start.
1. They don’t need to be taught the small stuff.
There are a lot of minor details in military life that you simply can’t learn from books. The most important difference between a Mustang and a fresh officer is learning the constant give-and-take that comes with leadership.
There is an extremely fine line between earning respect through leading by example and being a knowledgable leader. If an officer hides in their office, they alienate their troops. If they put their nose in troops’ business, they’re micromanaging to the point of exhaustion. Each officer must forge their own path. Mustangs just have a better understanding of what it’s like to deal with officers of both types.
2. They’ve made the same dumb mistakes as the lower enlisted.
One aspect of leadership that no leader wants to deal with is learning someone you’re in charge of messed up. Troops are a direct reflection of the officers over them and when it’s found out that a subordinate “goofed,” the chain of command asks just one question to the officer: “What’s wrong with your Joe?”
Fresh officers tend to drop the hammer — either because they don’t know the proper response or they believe it’ll set an example. Despite being former NCOs, Mustangs will wield the hammer to the appropriate level to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Oftentimes, it can just be as simple as letting the NCO smoke the problems out of the subordinate.
3. They take on more important tasks than their peers.
An officer’s reputation depends entirely on the actions of their troops. Good officers have faith in their troops and maintain focus on what’s important — building skills needed for warfighting and doing the menial tasks that just need to get done — instead of chasing the tasks that net them a shiny new award.
There are no specific right answers to finding a good task balance for your troops but there definitely is a wrong answer: forgetting to factor morale into this equation. Mustangs just tend to watch their own lane and put themselves in the boots they once wore.
4. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty with their troops.
Rank has its privileges. If the officer needs to do their own work, they’ll stay in their lane. If the only hold up is the Joes’ dirty work, officers have the choice of “supervising” the NCOs supervising the troops, or they can lead by example, get their hands dirty, and earn a bit more trust (once again, consider alienation versus micromanaging).
Mustangs have swept their fair share of motor pools and they’ve filled their fair share of sandbags. They can dive back into that world every now and then without getting labelled as a micromanager.
5. They would never say something as stupid as, “well, Sergeant Major, technically, I outrank you!”
Yes, as with all formalities and regulations, the dumb butterbar is technically correct. The proper response from an E-9 isn’t to immediately open a can of whoop-ass on the unfortunate soul, but rather to turn to their officer equivalent with a deadpan look and ask them to unf*ck that officer before they do.
A Mustang knows that NCOs often have a battle-buddy that outranks them…
6. They aren’t sour if they aren’t saluted.
There’s a time and place for saluting. Of course, it shows the proper respect to officers, but even officers get tired of “chopping logs” when they have to salute every three seconds.
If a Mustang knows their troops respect them, they don’t need a hand raised to their eyebrow to prove it. They’ll still expect the salute for formality’s sake, but they know it’s not the end of the world should a troop forego one. Plus, you’ll never see a Mustang get worked up when they’re not saluted in a combat zone.
For one very specific reason… (Photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins)
7. Their heads aren’t up their asses.
Let’s face it: Everyone who becomes an officer has their own idea of leadership and hopes to etch their name into military history books — but there are steps they must take. Every officer they read about in books was once a young lieutenant. It takes time. It takes making mistakes. It takes years to learn your own leadership style. No one ever comes out of the gate and immediately changes the world.
Relax. Stay humble. Everything can be summed up with the phrase, “trust is a two-way street.” Mustangs trust their troops and the troops will make sure their name is remembered fondly.
It doesn’t look like much now, but give it a few months — it’ll look like freakin’ gold.
We trade the more popular items for other goods or services — if we don’t scarf them down first.
Like we mentioned above, a few of the items that come in the rations are tasty and sometimes hard to find. Troops have their favorites but they don’t necessarily get to choose which meal they get at chow time.
If you happen to come across a package of M&Ms and cheese spread with jalapeños, you could negotiate with a fellow troop to take one of your assigned duties in exchange for the item — it happens all the time.
You can sometimes use an item or two to gain information.
In last decade, we’ve been in conflict with an enemy who isn’t known for their nutritious eating habits like most Americans are. In many cases, Taliban and ISIS fighters have quit their posts due to hunger.
When allied forces leave the wire for a short amount of time, we tend to bring the tasty snacks that come in the MREs, like the almond seed poppy cake or the First Strike Bar, to enjoy during a security halt.
When we come in contact with a potential bad guy who looks like they haven’t eaten in days, handing over the sweet cake could gain trust and lead to the whereabouts of a nasty IED before it goes off.
We gamble with them
When you’re on a patrol base that barely has any electricity, you have time to come up with some original games based on your environment. One of our favorites is good-natured wagers. Betting the strawberry shake you didn’t drink at lunchtime can make the game much more exciting and kill time.
Let us know what you’d barter your favorite MRE for, and check out the very first episode of Meals Ready to Eat above to see how military cuisine is created and tested in high-tech kitchens then shipped to the troops on the front lines.
If fighting the well-defended Viet Cong on their home turf wasn’t dangerous enough, imagine having to crawl your way through a series of extremely tight and narrow underground tunnels to capture or kill them.
Armed with only a flashlight, a single pistol, or maybe just a knife, a “Tunnel Rat” didn’t have much in the way of defense.
“The most dangerous part would be psyching up to get into the tunnel,” Carl Cory says, a former 25th Infantry Div Tunnel Rat. “That was the part that was most frightening because you didn’t what you were getting into.”
It was the duty of the brave Tunnel Rat to slide alone into the tunnel’s entrance then search for the enemy and other valuable intelligence. Due to the intense and dangerous nature of the job, many Tunnel Rats became so emotionally desensitized that entering a spider hole was just another day at the office — no big deal.
With danger lurking around every corner, the Tunnel Rat not only had to dodge the various savage booby traps set by the Viet Cong, but typically only carried 6-7 rounds of ammunition with him even though the tunnels were commonly used to house up to a few dozen enemy combatants.
With all those physical dangers to consider, the courageous troop still needed to maintain a clear and precise mental state of mind and not let the fear get the best of him.
After completing a search, many American and South Vietnamese units would rig the tunnels with C-4 explosives or bring in the always productive flamethrowers to flush out or kill any remaining hostiles.
Under the command of Capt. Adam Aycock, the USS Shiloh became known in the Pacific as the “USS Bread and Water.” It seems Aycock’s favorite non-judicial punishment for his junior enlisted was an old but legal punishment that confines the sailor to the brig with nothing but the world’s simplest combo meal.
According to the Department of the Navy Corrections Manual, “Confinement on Bread and Water (BW)… may be imposed as punishment upon personnel in pay grade E-3 or below, attached to or embarked in a vessel.”
• It may not be implemented for more than three consecutive days.
• Rations furnished a person undergoing such confinement shall consist solely of bread and water. The rations will be served three times daily at the normal time of meals, and the amount of bread and water shall not be restricted.
• The medical officer must pre-certify in writing that a deterioration of the prisoner’s health is not anticipated as a result of such action.
• Prisoners serving this punishment will be confined in a cell and will be bound by the procedures set forth for disciplinary segregation cells. They will not be removed for work or physical exercise.
While the Bread and Water punishment sucks and does seem rather archaic, it’s hardly the worst punishment that can be handed to a sailor at Captain’s Mast — especially for an E-3 or below.
Captains can send sailors to the brig for 30 days, forfeit their pay, take stripes, assign extra duties and restrictions, or any combination of these. As retired Navy Captain Kevin Eyer pointed out in a Naval Institute article on Bread and Water, the “arcane” punishment of Bread and Water only affects the sailor. This is especially important if the sailor is married because the other potential Article 15 punishments would affect the whole family.
Being in combat is one of the craziest experiences a person can have. Bullets are zipping by your melon and impacting the wall behind you, eyes wide and on the alert as the incoming rounds blanket your position. Sounds crazy. Because it is.
War is hell.
Well-trained military minds know, winning the battle is the most important aspect of winning the war. In combat, the rules are different than in any other situation you’ll probably find yourself. All available fingers need to be pulling triggers.
So if allied forces take a mass casualty, the guy who is hurt the worst isn’t necessarily the one who gets treated first.
During combat, the rules on who receives care first changes in a matter of moments. If a squad is under heavy attack and a few trigger pullers get hurt, then the unit is down a few bodies.
After the field medic takes care of their wounds, let’s say subject “A” sustained a “GSW” or gunshot wound to the chest, they are now out of the fight. If subject “B” took a bullet to their leg, they’re still considered in the fight because it’s not life-threatening.
So during wartime rules, subject “B” is supposed to be treated first to allow them the chance to get back on their weapon system and return to the fight. Hopefully subject “A” will be okay and pull through.