Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you - We Are The Mighty
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? 

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

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

Articles

7 life events inappropriately described using military lingo

Military service members are famous for their special lingo, everything from branch-specific slang to the sometimes stilted and official language of operation orders.


That carefully selected and drafted language ensures that everyone in a complex operation knows what is expected of them and allows mission commanders to report sometimes emotional events to their superiors in a straightforward manner.

But there’s a reason that Hallmark doesn’t write its cards in military style for a reason. There’s just something wrong with describing the birth of a first-born child like it’s an amphibious operation.

Anyway, here are seven life events inappropriately described with military lingo:

1. First engagement

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
A U.S. Marine proposes to his girlfriend during a surprise that hopefully led to an ongoing and happy marriage. (Photo: Sgt Angel Galvan)

“Task force established a long-term partnership with local forces that is expected to result in greater intelligence and great successes resulting from partnered operations.”

2. Breaking off the first engagement

“It turns out that partnered forces are back-stabbing, conniving, liars. The task force has resumed solo operations.”

3. Marriage

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Again, this is a joke article but we really hope all the marriages are ongoing and happy. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb)

“Partnered operations with local forces have displayed promising results. The new alliance with the host nation will result in success. Hopefully.”

4. Buying a first home

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Glassey)

“The squad has established a secure firebase. Intent is to constantly improve the position while disrupting enemy operations in the local area. Most importantly, we must interrupt Steve’s constant requests that we barbecue together. God that guy’s annoying.”

5. Birth of the first child

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
*Angels play harmonious music* (Photo: Pixabay/photo-graphe)

“Task force welcomed a new member at 0300, a most inopportune time for our partnered force. Initial reports indicate that the new member is healthy and prepared to begin training.”

6. Birth of all other children

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(Photo: Gilberto Santa Rosa CC BY 2.0)

“Timeline for Operation GREEN ACRES has been further delayed as a new member of the task force necessitates 18 years of full operations before sufficient resources are available for departure from theater.”

7. Retirement

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(Photo: Lsuff CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Task force operators have withdrawn from the area of operations and begun enduring R and R missions in the gulf area as part of Operation GREEN ACRES. Primary targets include tuna and red snapper.”

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of March 16th

Life in the military is unpredictable. There’s no way for service members to know what will happen on a day-to-day basis. Luckily, the ranks are filled with photographers who stand ready to capture everyday life, both in training and at war.


Here are the best photos from across the military this week:

Air Force:

Crew chiefs from the 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas wait for take-off Mar. 12, 2018 at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Team Little Rock hosted over 65 Airmen from six wings to train together and showcase tactical airlift. Partnerships and interoperability enhance operational effectiveness and mission readiness.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christine M. Pepin, a crew chief with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, performs a cursory inspection prior to hot pit refueling of an F-16C Fighting Falcon at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia, March 13, 2018. The 177th FW participated in an air-to-air training exercise to sharpen air combat capabilities and accomplish multiple training upgrades.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Cristina J. Allen)

Army:

The U.S. Army Military Advisor Training Academy of the 316th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Benning conducts a field training exercise at Lee Field, March 14. The three-day exercise is the culmination of a four-week program designed to prepare Soldiers to conduct key leader engagements, exercise defense plans with local leadership and foreign forces, and grow the skills necessary to develop report with local populations. The U.S. Army MATA trains, educates, and develops professional Soldiers within the Security Forces Assistance Brigades.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

A combat engineer assigned to Regimental Engineer Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, pulls security as the Soldiers press forward to clear a trench during a live fire exercise at a range near the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, March 13, 2018. These Soldiers are part of the unique, multinational battle group comprised of U.S., U.K., Croatian and Romanian soldiers who serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade as a deterrence force in northeast Poland in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil)

Navy:

An explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 prepares to rappel during helicopter rope suspension technique (HRST) training at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. EODGRU 2 is headquartered at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story and oversees Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2 and all east coast based EOD mobile Units.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, readies for takeoff on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Corona)

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division fire an M777A2 155mm howitzer during the 10th Marines Top Gun Competition for Rolling Thunder at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Mar. 15, 2018. The Marines were evaluated on their timely and accurate fire support capabilities and overall combat effectiveness.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nghia Tran)

A Marine assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) fires his M4 carbine rifle during a routine deck shoot aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21) March 14, 2018. Marines conducted the training to maintain their combat skills and proficiency while deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado)

Coast Guard:

A Coast Guard boat crewmember aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, from Station St. Petersburg, Florida, assists two adults and three children Monday, March 12, 2018, from their disabled 18-foot pontoon boat 1 mile south of the Gandy Boat Ramp, Florida.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Massey)

Members of Astoria Emergency Medical Service surround an injured female hiker at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Ore., prior to transporting her to Columbia Memorial Hospital for further medical care, Mar. 11, 2018.The hiker was hoisted from Saddle Mountain by a sector MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, which consisted of Lt. Cmdr. James Gibson, Lt. Jason Weeks, Petty Officer 3rd Class Ali Dowell and Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Yelvington.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Jason Weeks.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

That time the US and Iran teamed up to fight the Taliban

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.


Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
We don’t scramble B-52s for just anyone.

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.

Related: The Special Forces who avenged 9/11 on horseback 

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.

Army Rangers and Special Forces teamed up with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards special ops unit, the Pazdaran. The operation was reportedly planned in Tehran between General Tommy Franks and Iranian General and commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Yahya Safavi.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Yahya Safavi.

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.

The Revolutionary Guards moved in first, setting up a forward post for the assault on Herat. They were joined shortly after by U.S. Special Forces, with an army of 5,000 Northern Alliance fighters led by Ismail Khan. The Americans directed air support while the Shia militias led an insurrection in the city.

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.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
The Afghan city of Herat in 2001.

“The people are celebrating on the rooftops of their houses. Car drivers are honking their horns,” according to the spokesperson.

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.

Military Life

These are the best military photos for the week of September 23

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:

Senior Airman Joseph Clark, 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and a pilot from the 480th Fighter Squadron, conduct a pre-flight inspection at Krzesiny Air Base, Poland, Sept. 11, 2017, in support of Aviation Rotation 17-4. The exercise focused on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities and helps strengthen relationships and engagements with allies.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, take part in an elephant walk in support of exercise Beverly Sunrise 17-07 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 16, 2017. The exercise was a simulated deployment to test the readiness of the 35th Fighter Wing, and assessed their ability to meet deployment and wartime requirements.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman

Army:

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Shelita Taylor of the 400th Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, dons and clears her gas mask during a team-building ruck march held by the 200th Military Police Command during a ‘CSM Huddle’ in Scottsdale, Ariz., Sept. 16, 2017.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret

Soldiers from 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), sweep a mock city for enemy Soldiers during a joint air to ground integration training exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Sept. 6, 2017. Soldiers from 10th SFG(A) participated in a three-week training exercise in support of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. The exercise is designed to enhance the interoperability of multiple air assets supporing Special Operations ground force maneuver.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Army photo

Navy:

OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 19, 2017) Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) prepare to disembark the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

Sailors heave line aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195) while underway in Mediterranean Sea.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Krystina Coffey

Marine Corps:

Cpl. Angelica Mcfarlin, a heavy equipment operator with Support Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, moves shrubbery during Exercise Deep Strike II at Blythe, California, September 6, 2017.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Shoemaker

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Ground Combat Element, Company A, conduct a M240B medium machine gun shoot during Alligator Dagger. Alligator Dagger is an amphibious exercise in order to increase proficiency and enable the force to train for amphibious operations within U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Valero

Coast Guard:

Boat Forces Standardization Team members from Training Center Yorktown VA inspected Station Washington DC this past week. They had the luxury of sneaking in some sightseeing while conducting underway drills.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

This is what happens when celebrity Lidia Bastianich cooks for WATM’s vets

Over the holidays, the Emmy award-winning TV host and celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich prepared a world-class cuisine for the troops aboard the USS George Washington.


But leading to the holiday festivities, she traveled the country meeting veterans and learning their incredible service stories.

Related: Back in the day a soldier’s chow came in a can

“I was inspired as I learned about their food traditions and offered them comfort through food,” Lidia said in her PBS video Lidia Celebrates America.

One of her stops included a visit with some of We Are The Mighty’s veterans who shared some of their fondest food memories while serving in the military.

For Edith Casas (U.S. Navy), it was missing her mother’s meals during deployments. For Bryan Anderson (U.S. Army), it was the meals he prepared in the barracks. For Mike Dowling (U.S. Marine Corps), it was sharing his last meal with Rex, his military working dog.

Here’s a short clip from our visit with Lidia:

Lidia Bastianich, YouTube

Watch the full hour-long documentary special on PBS to see how Lidia pays homage to the men and women of our military and the sacrifices they make. 

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

The SR-71 Blackbird was developed by Lockheed Martin as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft that could hit air speeds over Mach 3.2 ( 2,455 mph) and climb to an altitude of 85,000 feet.


In March 1968, the first operational Blackbird was flown out of Kadena AFB in Japan. With the Vietnam war in full swing, the intent was to conduct stealth missions by gathering photographs and electronic intelligence against the enemy. The crew would fly daily missions into sensitive areas where one slight mishap could spark an international incident.

Related: Russia sold its enemy the metal for the greatest spy plane ever

After climbing to 60,000 feet, the crew switched off its communication system so that only a select few would know the mission’s target. The aircraft didn’t always rely on its speed for defense; it was equipped with a jammer that would interrupt the enemy’s communication between the radar site and the missile itself.

On occasion, the enemy would fire missiles without radar guidance, which would sometimes get so close that the pilots could spot the passing missiles 150-yards away from inside the cockpit.

When reaching its target area, The SR-71’s RSO (reconnaissance systems officer) would engage the high-tech surveillance equipment consisting of six different cameras mounted throughout various locations on the Blackbird.

The system could survey 100,000 square miles in an hour, with images so clear analysts could see a car’s license plate.

With so many successful missions, enemy nations did their best to blow the SR-71 Blackbird right out of the skies. Five countries attempted that near impossible feat.

Also Read: These 4 aircraft were the ancestors of the powerful SR-71 Blackbird

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOjEeGY4QCM
(The Joint Forces Forces Channel, YouTube)
Articles

These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

A recent Navy Times article notes that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) joined the “Order of the Blue Nose” — a distinction reserved for ships and crew that crossing the Arctic Circle.


Most people have not heard of such a mystical Navy order, and there are others that are equally shrouded in seafaring lore, according to a list maintained by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

That list includes both well-known orders and not-so-well known orders. They are for notable feats — and in some cases, dubious ones.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Command Master Chief of aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Spike Call plays the role of King Neptune during a crossing the line ceremony aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clemente A. Lynch/Released)

Perhaps the most well-known is the “Order of the Shellback,” given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. The “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been portrayed both in the PBS documentary series “Carrier,” as well as being the plot point for an episode of “JAG” in the 1990s.

But there is more than one kind of shellback.

If you cross the equator at the International Date Line (about 900 miles east of Nauru), you become a “Golden Shellback” (since those who cross the International Date Line are called Golden Dragons).

If you cross the equator at the Prime Meridian (a position about 460 miles to the west of Sao Tome and Principe), you become an “Emerald Shellback.”

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk (WMEC 913) line up on the flight deck and make sounds like a whale to call to the whales as part of their shellback ceremony. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by OS3 Vicente Arechiga)

Now, we can move to some lesser-known, and even dubious orders.

The “Order of the Caterpillar” is awarded to anyone who has to leave a plane on the spur of the moment due to the plane being unable to continue flying. You even get a golden caterpillar pin.

The eyes of the caterpillar will then explain the circumstances of said departure. The Naval History and Heritage Command, for instance, notes that ruby red eyes denote a midair collision.

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

Then, there is the becoming a member of the “Goldfish Club.” That involves spending time in a life raft. If you’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, you become a “Sea Squatter.”

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

Using the Panama Canal makes you a member of the “Order of the Ditch.”

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

Oh, and in case you are wondering, crossing the Antarctic Circle makes you a “Red Nose.”

Humor

4 unusual tasks Corpsman do that their recruiters left out

When men and women around the globe enlist in the Navy with a contract to become Corpsmen, it’s a pretty good feeling.


Good recruiters can make chipping paint and shining brass sound bad ass (“think of the adventure!”), but let’s be honest: they have quotas to fill each month, people.

For the most part, they’ll tell you the truth about what will be asked of you while you serve, but there are some details that don’t make it into the recruiting pamphlets.

As a “Doc,” you’ll get to work alongside and assist Doctors, nurses, and IDCs (Independent Duty Corpsmen), gaining knowledge from them to support your career moving forward; but that’s not all you’ll have to do.

Check out these unusual tasks Corpsmen never saw coming.

Also read: 6 tips to get a ‘sick in quarters’ chit in the military

1. The silver bullet

Probably the most popular slang “medical” term in any branch. Typically, temperature is taken orally, but if someone falls out of a hike or PT because of heat exhaustion…standby for the bullet.

Feared by all

2. Having sick call in your barracks room

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
And the day after that and the day after that… (Image via giphy and Simpsons World).

When Corpsmen get stationed with the Marines (also known as the Greenside), you typically live with them in the barracks. This also means a lot of your medical gear is right there in the room with you.

If your Marines love you, which most of them do, they tend to show up at your barracks door at 0400 for an I.V. treatment to “rehydrate” them an hour before mandatory PT.

The B.A.S. or Battalion Aid Station isn’t open on nights, weekends, or early mornings — just normal office hours.

3. Bore punching

Working sick call as a boot Corpsman, you’ll get exposed to some interesting on-job-training. Bore punching is a euphemism for swabbing male genitals for an STD with a 6 inch Q-tip. Yup! Right down the pee hole.

If your Chief or Lieutenant are “too busy” and they say you need to do it for a patient — you need to do it.

Welcome to the Navy, baby!

4. Finger waving

No, this isn’t the newest break dancing move or a classy way to hit on someone at the bar — it’s the alternative name for a rectal exam. It is shocking what the Navy allows Corpsman to do after only 12-16 weeks of training.

Don’t forget the lube! Can you think of any more? Comment below. And don’t forget to include all the slang terms for Corpsmen.
Military Life

5 reasons why troops stick together after they leave the service

The moment a troop gets his or her DD-214, they start to feel that bittersweet freedom settle in. Sure, they can enjoy the little things in life, like sleeping in until 8 am, and go more than a single day without shaving, but life is never the same. Saying your goodbyes to the brothers and sisters you’ve earned is the hardest.

Every now and then, however, a troop won’t find themselves alone — a comrade will join them in the civilian world.


It’s a true sign of friendship when those veterans who fought together are now cruising the local bars as a unit, just like they did when they were still in.

It’s not uncommon for veterans to make friends with other veterans, but this one goes out to the buddies that endure the suck and venture into the civilian world, shoulder to shoulder.

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

It’s always good to have someone to embrace the new suck with.

Their goals and interests are aligned

Friendships in the military are formed by sharing suffering, but brotherhood is formed when two can talk to each other about things outside of work.

If both veterans share plans of doing something, like attending college to get a degree in criminal justice, they’ll do it together. They’ll probably be roommates through it all, too.

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

You’ll need someone with a tolerance for BS as low as yours.

They can’t relate to civilians

The civilian-military divide is real. Not only do civilians have a hard time understanding what being in the military is really like, the troops also lose touch with what civilians are up to.

Trends in pop culture don’t have any real effect on people who’ve been in a desert for 12 months without internet access. The only people veterans can relate to are the other troops who also skipped whatever viral joke is currently big.

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

No one will lie for you like the guys that covered for you when you were “at dental.”

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Their friendship circle is closed enough

There’s an upper limit on good will for most veterans. Keeping track of all the niceties you’re socially obligated to upkeep gets exhausting. The only thing you need to do to maintain a strong bond with another veteran is show up with beer.

An easy test of a friendship is if both can sit and drink a beer in silence without feeling awkward.

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

It’s hard to impress veterans when sh*t like this was just called “Tuesday.”

They know how to keep things interesting

Veterans are rarely boring. A civilian friend may come over for a beer and talk about mundane crap, but veteran stories are always filled with foul, disgusting, and down-right hilarious details.

This isn’t even a skill that’s shared among the troops that served together. Veterans have mastered the art of enjoying the little things in life — you’ll never find a better storyteller.

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

Get out with your brother and you’ll never have to bother the prior service recruiter.

They promised each other they would

The military has bred us to be creatures of commitment. If we say something in passing, we’re going to keep our word — no matter how insignificant or nearly impossible it seems.

Years down the line, one veteran will turn to the other and say something along the lines of, “I promised you that I would, didn’t I?”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how John Kelly shut down speculation on President Trump’s gold star family call

Florida Congresswoman Rep. Frederica Wilson claimed she was with the wife of a fallen Special Forces soldier when the woman received a phone call from President Donald Trump. Wilson claims the president had some insensitive words for the grieving young woman.


“He said to the wife, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he was getting into,’ ” said Wilson. “How insensitive can you be?”

The call was to Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Myeshia after her husband was killed in an ambush in Niger with three other soldiers on Oct. 4. The couple had two children and were expecting a third.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Sergeant La David Johnson and three other soldiers were killed in action in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

President Trump denied the accusation via Twitter, while the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the call as “respectful” and “sympathetic” but asserted that no recordings of the calls exist.

Johnson’s mother, who was also listening to the call, then stepped into the media spotlight by affirming Wilson’s story.

The White House has since criticized the Florida Congresswoman for politicizing the practice of calling Gold Star Families on the event that their loved one was killed in action. But President Trump opened himself to criticism on this issue as well, by falsely claiming that his predecessors never did anything like it

Enter former Marine Gen. John Kelly, now the White House Chief of Staff.

Read: Everybody should read General John Kelly’s speech about two Marines in the path of a truck bomb

President Trump told reporters President Obama  never called then-Gen. Kelly when the General’s son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. The White House claims Kelly was on hand for Trump’s call to Johnson and saw the conversation as “respectful” and appropriate.”

On Oct. 19, Kelly himself took the podium during the White House Press Briefing to explain to reporters what happens when American troop are killed in action, how the remains are transported, how the family is notified, and who sends their condolences.

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

Kelly set the record straight with how Presidents send their condolences and how it should be done. He confirmed that President Obama did not call his family – not as a criticism, just a fact. And Kelly advised Trump against calling too.

“I recommended that he not do it,” Kelly said. “It is just not the phone call they’re looking forward to. … It’s not a negative thing.”

When Trump decided to call he asked Kelly how to make the call and what to say. He told the president there’s no way he would ever understand how to make that call.

“If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call,” Kelly said.

As he continued, Kelly emotionally recalled what Gen. Joseph Dunford, the casualty officer assigned to the Kelly family, told him when Kelly’s son was killed in action.

“He [Kelly’s son] knew what he was getting into… he knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war,” Kelly recalled. “When he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
U.S. Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, left, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stand at attention. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Related: This is why John Kelly could comfort families of fallen troops

Kelly then lashed out at Rep. Wilson for tarnishing what he believed was one more formerly sacred institution in America. He said he had to go walk among “the finest men and women on this earth. … You can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.”

Watch the full press briefing below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps5ttDzWBaY
Military Life

7 reasons why enlisted love ‘Mustang’ officers

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.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
An officer’s thoughts should only lead to one place: deployments. (Photo by Senior Airman Justyn Freeman)

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.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
An officer’s pen is mighty, but it’s not always the answer. (Photo by Sgt. Jermaine Baker)

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.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Spoiler alert: the correct balance doesn’t include practicing drill and ceremony every day. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Pender)

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.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
No Private will ever complain about an extra hand filling sandbags. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Carl Greenwell)

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…

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…by a lot. (Photo by Alejandro Pena)

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.

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

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

Military Life

5 brilliant military hacks that are useless everywhere else

If there’s one thing military personnel are taught from their time in service it’s to improvise, adapt and overcome.


This mentality keeps our troops flexible and inventive in the absence of modern comforts. But for all their ingenuity, the following five military hacks have no place outside of the military:

1. The “everything” sandwich.

 

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Photo: Joel Cooper/Flickr

Troops are fast eaters — it’s a habit formed out of necessity. Whether it’s being allotted a few minutes in boot camp to process divisions through the chow hall or out in the fleet with a few minutes between a hectic schedule, troops eat with urgency. Some troops save time by putting everything on their plate between two pieces of bread to make an everything sandwich. Hey, it’s all going to the same place anyways.

2. Cooking with C4.

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Photo: Wikimedia commons

During the Vietnam war, troops would use C4 explosives to heat their C-rations. In fact C4 is almost harmless without the detonator; you can shoot it, cut it, and light it on fire without it exploding as demonstrated by the guys on Mythbusters. Although warm meals are nice, they still ate their food cold after sunset to avoid being spotted.

3. Filling a mop bucket with a dust pan.

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

Deck sailors do a lot of swabbing (mopping) but have few options to fill up their water buckets. In most cases they use a shower head, but in situations where there aren’t any around – such as on decks without living quarters – they improvise by using a dustpan to direct water into a bucket.

4. Going commando

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Photo: Wikimedia commons

Going without underwear is erotic and sexually stimulating to some people, while it’s considered immodest and socially unacceptable to others. Grunts, on the other hand, go without underwear for practical reasons; to increase ventilation and reduce moisture in the crotch area. They also go through long periods of time without being able to do their laundry.

5. Using condoms to protect equipment.

Enlisting in 2021? Here’s how to choose the right branch for you
Photo: US Navy

While condoms were invented to prevent pregnancies and STDs, service members also use them to protect equipment. Grunts us condoms to prevent rifle barrels from clogging and flight deck sailors use them to make their radio microphones waterproof.

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