7 little ways to be an effective radio operator - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Every combat arms unit needs a radio operator. Whether they enlisted as one or they were “voluntold” to be one, someone’s gotta do it. There’s a steep learning curve between being a guy with a radio pack and being the go-to radio operator. If you can manage to be the best, your unit will cherish you.

To be the best, you need to master your equipment. Learning the ins and outs of the radio takes years of hands-on training that you won’t find in any schoolhouse — you can only find it by volunteering during every field op.

That being said, there are some tips and tricks that anyone can pick up to make as a radio operator a whole lot easier.


7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
The radio operator in the TOC may be better at their job than you…
(Photo by Ensign Rixon Fletcher)

Never place the blame on the distant end for comm problems

Want to know the fastest and easiest way to lose all credibility as a radio operator? Blame the distant end.

It might actually be the other radio operator’s fault — too bad your squad won’t look at it that way. Instead, just say that you’ve done everything you can and continue to try and make it right.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
And if basic math is too hard for you, just get a second watch.
(Photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan)

The problem with the radio is probably the time

The way that frequency hop works, broken down Barney style, is that a radio is given a sequence of radio frequencies to hop around to depending on the time of day. If you’ve loaded the COMSEC fill into a radio and you’re not able to talk to anyone, the time is probably wrong.

All COMSEC uses Greenwich Mean Time, so it might be easier to just set your watch to London time, regardless of where you are in the world.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Just don’t get violent with it — or toss it around the room.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Rivard)

Drop tests totally work

Don’t question why or how it works, it just does.

Realistically, if you pick up any piece of electronics and drop it from about a foot off the ground, it could shatter or break. A SINCGARS and some of the older radio systems, however, can handle the abuse.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Just stop licking the damn cable. That’s f*cking nasty.
(Photo by Cpl. Bernadette Wildes)

Carry an eraser or chapstick

W4 cables are used to transmit audio and fill between a radio and whatever. Getting these damn cables to attach properly will be the bane of your existence.

Some people recommend licking the end to get it to work, but that’s just nasty. You can get the same result by just cleaning the prongs and removing gunk with an eraser. You can also use chapstick to lube it up. Sure, that might damage the cable, but since W4 cables are a dime a dozen, it doesn’t really matter.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Toss the bug-out bag in the vehicle — or just anywhere close by, really.
(Photo by Spc. Jesse Gross)

Extra batteries are worth the weight

Every good radio operator has a bug-out bag filled with extra crap. This bag includes the radio system itself, maybe cheat-sheets for the nine-line and everyone’s call signs, an extra hand mic, and a few spare W4s. I know they get heavy after a while, but bring some extra batteries, too.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Just remember to pack it back up before driving off.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Lesley Waters)

SatCom antenneas work best on the roof of a vehicle

Unlike most line-of-sight antennas, a SatCom antennae works by, as the name implies, communicating to satellites. Just because you’ve pointed the antennae toward the other hill doesn’t mean you’ll be able to talk.

Giant metal vehicles disrupt the relatively weak signal, so placing it on the ground next to an MRAP is a terrible idea — but don’t be afraid to climb on top and place it up there if you’re not planning on moving soon. Oh, and point the antennae towards the Equator. That’s around where the satellite is supposed to be.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Another pro-tip: Tennis balls with holes cut in them work far better than the standard-issue tips.
(U.S. Army)

OE-254s still work if the antenna is a bit wonky

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen new radio operators and uptight NCOs waste plenty of time trying to get their OE-254 antenna to stand up perfectly straight. The actual pole doesn’t matter. As long as the head of the antenna isn’t broken and is connected, it’ll work just fine.

Now, don’t misinterpret that. This is just meant to say that it’ll be operational. Hell, you could duct-tape it to the top of a tree and it’ll still work (trust me, I know). This doesn’t mean you should half-ass setting up an OE-254 just because you think it’ll be fine. You better be damn sure that it’s secure.

Military Life

This is how much sleep you should be getting before a mission

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.

 

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Soldiers from the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment try to sleep during a 19-hour flight. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

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.

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of November 18th

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:

Lt. Col. Travis Hazeltine and Senior Airman Chas Anderson of the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard taking off in an F-15D Eagle during Checkered Flag 18-1, a large-scale exercise held at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Florida.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Photo by Staff Sgt. Thomas Swanson

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dakota Martin, 1st Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection apprentice, inspects cracks under a black light at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Nov. 15, 2017. The parts are soaked in liquid penetrant, which seeps into cracks, making them visible during inspection under a black light.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandra Singer

Army:

U.S. and Serbian paratroopers descend from the sky during Exercise Double Eagle 2017 in Kovin, Serbia on November 16, 2017. Exercise Double Eagle is a bi-lateral airborne insertion exercise designed to allow U.S. and Serbian forces to work together in areas of mutual interest in securing regional security and peace.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker

1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division soldiers conduct M240 marksmanship training at Camp Commando, Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 15, 2017. The “Summit” soldiers are deployed in support of the NATO Resolute Support mission.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes

Navy:

Sailors observe as an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, transfers cargo from the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) during a replenishment at sea. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nuñez Jr.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, prepares to land during a Landing Signalman Enlisted course. The course is provided by a mobile training team assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, which provides Sailors with the knowledge and skills they need to perform tasks essential to flight deck operations.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch

Marine Corps:

A U.S. Marine with the Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) provides security while conducting a night raid during Combined Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Nov. 15, 2017. Combined COMPTUEX serves as the capstone event for the ARG/MEU team prior to deployment, fully integrating the ARG/MEU team as an amphibious force and testing their ability to execute missions across a range of military operations.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Juan A. Soto-Delgado

The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon executes their “bursting bomb” sequence during a Salute to Service halftime show at a Carolina Panthers vs. Miami Dolphins game at the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 13, 2017. Throughout the year, SDP performs at numerous large-scale events across the country and abroad.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damon Mclean

Coast Guard:

Members of the Pacific Paradise response team work aboard the JW Barnes, a landing craft being used as a work barge, off Kaimana Beach, Nov. 16, 2017. The responders are preparing the Pacific Paradise to be refloated and removed.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class DaVonte Marrow

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Gilbert, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, is lowered from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a search and rescue demonstration at the U.S./China Disaster Management Exchange held at Camp Rilea located in Warrenton, Ore., Nov. 16, 2017.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Soldiers from U.S. Army Pacific, Oregon National Guard and the People’s Republic of China, People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater Command took part in the 13th iteration of the exchange, which is designed to share real-world lessons learned about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read)

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

These are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

While you’re deployed, weekends aren’t really a thing and neither are most holidays.


Thanksgiving, however, is one of the few moments throughout the year when the military slows down for the holidays.

It never comes to a stop. It is the military after all, and it’s been moving non-stop since 1775.

Many of the staff here at We Are The Mighty served. A good chunk of us also deployed. Regardless of the branch of service or duty, we can all relate on the little things that shaped the holidays away from home.

Good food

Oh man do the cooks go all out. All jokes about the quality of their food get tossed out when you smell that turkey for the first time. In 2015, the Defense Logistics Agency said they shipped out 34,760 pounds of turkey, 32,550 pounds of beef, 21,450 pounds of ham just for one holiday.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eric Provost, Task Force Patriot PAO)

The higher-ups serve their subordinates

No matter what unit you’re a part of, or how well the command says they take care of its troops, or how well they actually take care of their troops, the command team should always put their own names on KP duty and do the serving for once.

It’s a sign of respect and has far more of a legacy than a president pardoning a turkey.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff VanWey, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO)

Fun and games

Usually in the form of mandatory fun time, troops spend the rest of the day trying to enjoy themselves. What that means is up to command.

Some times, it’s the platoon getting together for games or a movie in the MWR. Sometimes, its a football game. Almost always, its a long-ass run.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys

“Turkey Shoot” Range Day

But the one things troops get really excited for is a Thanksgiving “Turkey Shoot” range day.

No worries about re-qualifying. No worries about ammo consumption. Just a good ol’ day at the range, playing with all the toys in the unit’s arsenal, and lighting some targets up.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

Lists

7 real excuses troops use that no NCO ever believes

No one likes being stuck on a pointless detail. Whether it’s a legitimate task that needs to be done or it’s just a way to stall for time until close-out formation, everyone would much rather be doing nothing. Some troops will try to talk their way out of work — but NCOs have been in long enough to hear each and every excuse troops can imagine. Plus,chances are they tried to use the exact same ones back in the day.

Yes, there are valid excuses out there, but an NCO who’s been around for a while will side-eye even the most honest troop because of the onslaught of lame excuses, like these:


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Your NCO might set you up with a more effective alarm clock.

“I didn’t set my alarm clock…”

Military life is nothing if not consistent. You know that each and every morning you’re going to be at PT at a specific time.

The only way that someone could not set their alarm clock is if they undid it for whatever reason.

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They’ll know if you come back without your face being numb.

Giphy

“I’ve got an appointment…”

Appointments are known well in advance, so it’s kind of hard to get caught off guard. You can’t miss a dental appointment or else the chain of command will get hammered for it. So, most NCOs won’t interrogate a troop if they say they’ve got to see the dentist, but it just so happens to be time for a huge detail and someone just so happens to have a surprise appointment, they might check their slip.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Don’t worry. Motrin fixes everything.

“I’m not feeling too well…”

Getting seen by the medics/Corpsmen is a necessary headache in the military and coming down with some kind of sickness isn’t unheard of among grunts who live in some rough conditions.

Still, there’s a proper channel for these sorts of things. The military isn’t like some civilian job where you can just “call in sick” whenever you feel like it. The only alibi that might work is to blame MREs for some god-awful movements in your bowels.

Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be ridiculed to the point that you might as well see the medics for burn treatment.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

So many people are getting away with driving without a PT belt. I’m disappointed.

(Meme via USAWTFM)

“I didn’t know that…”

Citing your own ignorance is the fastest way to infuriate an NCO. Essentially, the subordinate is trying to forgive their own wrongdoings by hot-potatoing the blame directly onto a superior.

If what you didn’t know actually was niche information, like the location of connex keys, you might catch some slack, but don’t ever think of saying something like, “but I didn’t know that I couldn’t walk on Sergeant Major’s grass!”

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Everyone gets creative with the crap in supply.

(Meme via Navy Memes)

“I can’t because we’re all out of…”

This is a catch-all excuse for anything that shifts the blame onto supply, but it’s almost always used in regards to cleaning supplies.

Sure, the cleaning closet may look bone dry, but your average supply room has more bottles of PineSol than they know what to do with. They’d be more than happy to clear some space in their lockers for actual military stuff. Just ask them.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

If you’re driving one of these around, we may believe you… but don’t expect sympathy.

“I can’t come in because my car…”

If you’re coming from off-post and your car breaks down, that sucks. Let your superiors know what’s going on. If you report the issue two minutes before formation, you’re in the barracks a few blocks over, and you didn’t ask anyone else for a ride, then good luck keeping your rank.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

“But Sgt. Smith told me…”

Don’t ever play the “mommy vs daddy” game between NCOs — you’ll always lose. They won’t just take you at your word. They’ll argue and you’ll be brought in as a witness. If it turns out that you were just saying that to try and weasel your way out of something, well, try not to cry when you get ninja-punched.

Military Life

West Point central to family legacy

In 1991, 18-year-old June Copeland was brushing her teeth when her twin brother, Jerry Copeland, asked her to join the Army with him. Her answer? A resounding “No.” After much cajoling, the two agreed to enlist together for maybe three to four years.

While Jerry served his commitment and entered civilian life, June ended up making a robust career of it. She would go on to graduate from West Point and become an adjutant general. Nearly three decades later, Col. June Copeland has made both education and the Army central to her family’s legacy. 

Currently, June is stationed at the Pentagon. When you ask her about her greatest accomplishment, she points to her three daughters  June Alyxandra, Jasmyn, and Jeilyn  all of whom have graduated from or are currently attending West Point. 

June’s drive for excellence and her grounding comes from family, particularly her mother. 

“When my ancestors were freed, we decided to stay on the plantation in Georgia. So, my grandmother was born there,” she said. Her mother grew up during Jim Crow and was one of 12 students who integrated schools in Savannah, Georgia. “She always talked about the benefits of education . . . Her biggest emphasis was always on getting a good education, making it count, and working towards a goal.” 

While at basic training, June was crestfallen to learn that her first assignment would be in Germany. She called her mother in tears worried that she wasn’t ready for such a big step. 

“When you are in basic training you see about five colors: brown, brick, dirt, tan, and green. All of a sudden, I saw all of these colors, pink, yellow, red, purple, just floating around and I was mesmerized,” she said. 

Suddenly, June realized that it was her mom dressed in the most beautiful floral shirt. While her brigade was performing drill and ceremony, her mother and 10 family members were there to cheer her on and encourage her. Her mother served as a literal bright spot in the drab world of basic training. 

Today, June serves as a mentor, cheerleader, and bright spot for her own daughters.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

“Everyone loves our story,” June said. “The thing I love the most about the girls is that they are good people. They are amazing human beings. They are good people to their hearts,” she said. 

For June, the values of West Point just make sense for her family. “The values: don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Be an honorable person. Character matters. These are all things that my parents instilled in me and I made sure I instilled them in my children. It works,” she said. 

When her oldest daughter, June Alyxandra, was a sophomore in high school, the two mapped out a plan for her educational and career goals. 

“It wasn’t until we sat down and talked about the future that I really thought about West Point,” June Alyxandra said. 

A 2020 West Point graduate, 2nd Lt. June Alyxandra Copeland is now 23 and stationed at Fort Drum, New York, where she serves in the 10th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion of the Combat Aviation Brigade. 

Twenty-year-old twins Jasmyn and Jeilyn Haynes were eager to follow in their big sister’s footsteps. Both are currently juniors at West Point. Jasmyn, an IT major, is on the dance team and Jeilyn, a history major, is on the debate team. 

“I would have loved to make the debate team, and I think she would have loved to be on the dance team . . . but we had to part ways,” Jasmyn said with a smile. “There was a lot of teasing.” 

All three girls say that the institution provides a structure for success. 

“They teach you how to fail so they can figure out what you’re good at so they can help you discover where you need to work to succeed,” June Alyxandra said.  

Jeilyn says that West Point presented many challenges physically, academically, and in terms of time management. “However, the one thing where we never struggled with was the character and moral values because our mother raised us. She taught us character. She taught us courage.”

“Resilience!” Jasmyn interjected. “She taught us resilience! So when we did fail, we would always get back up.”

“Education is very important to our family,” Jeilyn added. “So are the values of duty, honor, country. What’s astounding about my mom is that she took those values and she raised us with them. So going into West Point, when people found out our mother was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, people looked at us like these West Point Simbas.”

“Yea, like we grew up low crawling to breakfast,” June Alyxandra interrupted with a laugh. 

June says that while there have been many lessons for the girls, education remains at the heart of her family’s priorities. 

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

“One thing my mother would always say is that the key to changing your life, the key to elevating yourself and your family, and [taking] your legacy to the next level is always making sure you have an education. Once you get that piece of paper, it can never be taken away from you,” June concluded. 

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

Military Life

What you learn while living in hotel during a 6 month PCS

When we received PCS orders to the Washington D.C. area, our plans certainly did not include living in a hotel for six months with an escape artist cat.

In our minds, we would be in temporary lodging for a few weeks while we closed on a new house. With a July move, we fully expected to have household goods delivered by August and be celebrating the holidays in our new home.

My husband and I had firmly decided we wanted to buy a house in the area. He was a cyber operations specialist and I had just separated active duty myself, and still maintained a current security clearance. Between a heady mix of defense contractor jobs available for me and the likelihood of an extended military assignment for him, we knew buying would be a smart move.


We had no idea that decision might take six months.

Due to a ridiculously tight housing market, we struggled to find anything that fit our realistic, non-million dollar budget. Homes that did fit our needs were gone in hours. Others needed such extensive repairs, as to be unfeasible. Days ticked by, summer eased into fall and by the time we finally found a 1950’s Cape Cod with renovations we could actually afford, our California wardrobe of shorts and flip-flops were useless. Our winter clothes were in our household goods, which had gone into storage, and I had received a job offer working downtown – which required a new professional wardrobe. We shook our heads in frustration at trying to figure out how to make living in a hotel with 250 square feet of space functional.

It turned out to be a very powerful lesson in embracing minimalism.

What is Minimalism?

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Minimalism can best be explained over many mediums. It appears in art, music, fashion and architecture. Merriam Webster defines it as, “a style or technique characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.” Others explain minimalism as a lifestyle. In the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo challenges readers to evaluate what items in their environment bring them joy and how to eliminate clutter with the KonMari Method. The military tends to define and embrace minimalism as doing “more with less.”

In our own lives, as we learned to function and live with less, we slowly discovered several advantages in a lifestyle stripped down to the essentials.

1. Re-evaluating purchases

We quickly realized any purchases brought into our tiny space had to be carefully evaluated. Limited by pure square footage and storage capacity, we were forced us to bring in less of everything. It didn’t take long for the habit to become second nature and lead to new shopping patterns.

2. Saving more than just money

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

As we shopped smarter and bought only essentials, we weren’t surprised that we started saving real money. What did come as a surprise however, was the feeling of actually having more. With less physical space to fill up, and a reduced urge to do so, we not only gained more money and time, we also gained a fresh sense of renewed mental space. Adopting a minimalistic lifestyle created more room for things that mattered.

3. Collecting experiences versus things

Instead of collecting “stuff” that always seemed to turn into clutter, we developed a new focus on collecting fresh experiences. We had more money to travel, to explore new neighborhoods or try a unique restaurant. We quickly embraced this new feeling of liberation – and I knew unequivocally that we had made a permanent lifestyle shift.

4. A new sense of freedom

By the time we finally moved into our home, we were ready for a new change. As we slowly unpacked the sky-high boxes, we realized that by living in a hotel with less, we had refined our priorities. What we truly needed was quickly distinguishable from what could be culled and eliminated. As a result, our next PCS was cleaner and lighter, which turned out to be a very powerful lesson for an overseas assignment. We were allotted 14,000 pounds for Germany and couldn’t help but giggle when our household goods topped the scales at a mere 3,700 pounds.

What began as a challenging PCS turned into a beautiful and liberating life lesson in simplicity. And couldn’t we all use a little more simplicity in this crazy, but wonderful military life.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Articles

17 images that perfectly show the misery of returning your gear

Over the past few days, you’ve been collecting exit signatures for your check-out sheet, and low and behold, you’re almost home. The process has been relatively straightforward up until this point.


The last item you need to get signed off is from the Central Issue Facility, or supply, where you need to check in all of your gear. Supply is one of the last stops a service member makes before obtaining their official DD-214.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong. If one aspect of your gear is not check-in ready, integrating back into civilian population will be delayed.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

So check out our list of what it typically takes to check in your gear and move on with your life.

(This is based on many true stories)

1. What it looks like when you’re on your way to the central issue on a Friday afternoon.

Oh, come on. (Images via Giphy)

2.When you walk inside and all you see are other troops waiting in a long a** line.

There’s too many to count. (Images via Giphy)

3. To add insult to injury, everyone who works there looks slow and grumpy.

Why do I hate life? (Images via Giphy)

4. After waiting what felt like an eternity, you finally haul your heavy gear over to the counter and begin the checkout process.

So heavy. (Images via Giphy)

5. You make it to the counter, and just as your morale has been boosted, you realized you’re at the slowest worker’s section.

Please, hurry the f*ck up! (Images via Giphy)

6. The clerk starts to review all your gear, pulling everything out piece-by-piece — most of which you never used.

And we mean most things. (Images via Giphy)

7. After completing the inventory, the clerk finds an issue with your almost squared away paperwork. All of your gear is clean enough to pass, but there’s a missing signature.

No way freakin’ way. (Images via Giphy)

8. Your superior officer’s signature is missing for an expensive piece of gear which got destroyed while you were deployed. The clerk informs you that you can either pay for it yourself or get the signature before you can get out of the military.

You can’t believe what you’re hearing.

I ain’t paying for sh*t. (Images via Giphy)

9. You speed back to your company HQ to find your CO.

Pedal to the metal. (Images via Giphy)

10. You dash into the HQ in search of the man or woman who can set you free.

Where are they? (Images via Giphy)

11. You find your superior, he or she signs the paperwork and then your emotions take over.

This may be wrong but it feels right. (Images via Giphy)

12. Now that you got your signature, it’s time to head back to central issue.

Almost to the finish line. (Images via Giphy)

13. You get back the central issue building and attempt to eyeball the person who helped you earlier to avoid waiting in line again.

Look at me. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

15. It worked. The clerk spots you and waves you over. You hand her the signed paperwork, she looks it over and now you wait.

The anticipation grows. (Images via Giphy)

16. The clerk slowly stamps your paperwork. You’re clear.

You want to get mad, but you can’t at this point. (Images via Giphy)

17. You did it! Now go get your DD-214 and move on with your life.

Five years of college here I come. (Images via Giphy)

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of July 22nd

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:

An F-16CM Fighting Falcon assigned to the 20th Fighter Wing lowers its landing gears in preparation for landing at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., July 21, 2017. The F-16 is a highly maneuverable multi-role fighter aircraft in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack during combat operations.

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sean Sweeney

Four F-18 Super Hornets from Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, fly over Klamath Falls returing to Kingsley Field after a morning of air-to-air combat training with a variety of other fighter jets from around the country during Sentry Eagle 2017. Sentry Eagle is an air-to-air combat exercise bringing a variety of different fighter jets from around the country to train and work together. This year’s line-up includes the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcons, F-18 Hornets, and the F-35 Lighting. Along with the training exercise the 173rd Fighter Wing is hosting a free open house for the public with static displays and other events on Saturday the 21st.

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Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Van Mourik

Army:

Illuminating projectiles, each weighing close to 100 pounds, are staged by Pfc. Juan Valenzuela and others from the California Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 144th Field Artillery Regiment July 21 at National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. About 1,500 of these and similar rounds were to be expended by the end of the 144th’s annual training.

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Army National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza

U.S. Soldiers, assigned to the 1-26 Infantry Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), participate in a simulated force on force exercise during the Network Integration Exercise (NIE) 17.2 at Fort Bliss, Tx, July 20, 2017.

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Courtesy Photo

Navy:

Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Sean Martin heaves a line around with the First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) during a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) 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.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis

The littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) prepares to moor at Broadway Pier to provide public tours July 22-23. Giffords is the newest Independence variant littoral combat ship and one of seven LCSs homeported in San Diego.

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U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Phil Ladouceur

Marine Corps:

A U.S. Marine Corps recruit with Platoon 3052, Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, holds a M16A4 rifle during a final drill evaluation at Peatross parade deck on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., July 19, 2017. The recruits are scored for final drill according to execution of movements, confidence, attention to detail, and discipline.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Colby Cooper

U.S. Marines load into a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter to be transported onto the USS Somerset (LPD 25) as part of UNITAS 2017 in Ancon, Peru, July 19, 2017.UNITAS is an annual, multi-national exercise that focuses on strengthening existing regional partnerships and encourages establishing new relationships through the exchange of maritime mission-focused knowledge and expertise during multinational training operations.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony Mesa

Coast Guard:

A U.S. Coast Guardsman jumps into Lake Goodrich during a water survival demonstration at the 2017 National Jamboree at Summit Bechtel Reserve near Glenn Jean, W.Va. July 21, 2017. More than 30,000 Boy Scouts, troop leaders, volunteers and professional staff members, as well as more than 15,000 visitors are expected to attend the 2017 National Jamboree. Approximately 1,400 military members from the Department of Defense and the US Coast Guard are providing logistical support for the event.

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jazmin Jenkins/22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 helicopter aircrew conducts maintenance on a MH-60 windshield at Forward Operating Location Kotzebue, July 20, 2017. FOL Kotzebue houses two MH-60 helicopters and their aircrews in support of Operation Arctic Shield.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Brian Dykens

 

popular

6 misconceptions civilians have about the Army

Whenever soldiers go on leave, it always plays out exactly the same:


“O! You’re in the Army? My friend from work’s brother is in the Navy, so I know allllllll about it…”

This is followed by a in-depth one-sided discussion about what people think they know about the Army, usually followed by some uncomfortable questions.

Here’s a list of assumptions we get that leave us sitting there thinking, “No, dude. Not even close.”

6. “You’re exactly like the other branches of the Armed Forces.”

This one stings.

It’s not that it’s entirely wrong. There is plenty of overlap between soldiers and other branches. But we still have our own mission and they still have theirs. Especially the stupid Navy.

 

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The best analogy you can use is like the relationship between EMT, nurse, and doctor. They all have a very similar purpose in life, but they each have a different part to play in the grander scheme of things.

5. “You’re all hard ass SOBs with who can ‘John Wick’ someone with a pencil.”

No matter what a soldier did while serving, when they get out they probably won’t correct someone if they hear, “You don’t want to upset him man, he was in the Army! He could snap you in half!”

Many soldiers are required to go to Combatives Level 1 and eventually Level 2 (depending on their unit.) And yes, physical training is a thing everyone does in the morning, and many soldiers also enjoy going to the gym after work ends.

But

While it’s definitely frowned upon, we still have soldiers that look like they should have cheeseburgers slapped out of their hand to make height and weight regulations. Even on the other end of the spectrum, there are also plenty of scrawny soldiers in the Army as well.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Will someone please give Private Rogers that dude’s cheeseburger so he stops looking like he belongs in a Sarah McLachlan commercial.

4. “You’re all wounded and fragile shells of who you once were.”

War is hell. There’s no denying that. But very rarely are soldiers as truly broken as the civilian world thinks we are.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
I don’t know what his problem is, he’s not even looking at the war.

When civilians think about soldiers and PTSD, the worst-case-scenario comes to mind. While there are veterans who suffer from acute PTSD symptoms, most service members have the tools to treat their service-related conditions, and nearly all are still functional members of society.

3. “You’re free to make decisions like where you want to live.”

Back to the lighter and funnier side of things, it is always hilarious whenever people say things like, “Why can’t you just call in sick?” or “You’ll be able to take this day off, right?”

Sure, you have the occasional “Army of One” jerk who thinks he can get away with skating. But no. We don’t choose whether or not we want to go to work. We don’t choose days off without a long drawn-out process. And even if you reenlist for a new duty station, chances are, you won’t get to decide where you live in the world.

That’s just the way things are and soldiers get used to it.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

2. “You’re a master of foreign affairs and know what the military is doing constantly.”

Most soldiers couldn’t even tell you what their Joes are currently doing, let alone what the Special Forces are doing in [Country Redacted]. Even if you were talking with a senior advisor at the Pentagon, they still couldn’t even tell you what every little detail of the Army is up to.

The Army is just way too big and way too diverse, even within itself. When civilians start throwing our opinions into it we’ll either stare blankly or make something smart up.

Also, we don’t like talking about work during leave.

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1. “You’re all constantly training.”

Nothing blows a civilian’s mind quite like the fact that there actually is down time in the military and that we do more than just shoot weapons and practice kicking in doors.

Want to hear what 75% of a lower-enlisted’s day looks like?

Wake up to work out with the platoon at the weakest guy’s level. Pretend to check our equipment that hasn’t been touched since the last time we pretended to check on it. Quick hip-pocket training by a sergeant that was just reminded that they’re a sergeant (“How to check that equipment you just checked,” or “Why DUIs are bad”.) Then wait that for same sergeant to get out of a meeting where they’re told that nothing happened but they should watch out for their Joes getting in trouble. Finally go back to the barracks to do all the things their sergeant was warned about.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
With a packed schedule like that, we’re way too busy to be killing babies, Grandma.

Military Life

5 ways troops deal with their bug problems

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

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


7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

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

(Photo by Spc. Matthew Drawdy)

Busting out a can of bug repellant

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

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

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

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

(Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Sosner)

Insect-repelling uniforms

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

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

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

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

​(Courtesy Photo)

Smoking tobacco

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

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

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Whatever works, am I right?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick)

Field-goal kicking camel spiders

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

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

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

(Courtesy Photo)

Night-vision goggles to spot bugs

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

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

Military Life

6 effective ways to discipline your troops without paperwork

Discipline is of paramount importance to the military’s operation. There are so many moving pieces in the armed forces that when one gear goes off course, many others feel the disruption. When a leader inevitably finds themselves in charge of a subordinate that’s not pulling their weight, it’s time to break out what the military is best known for: ass chewings.

A good leader knows that, even when it comes to discipline, every problem should be solved with the right tool — no using sledgehammers for thumbtack-sized problems. The “sledgehammer,” in this case, is paperwork. Paperwork should always be the last resort in a leader’s disciplinary arsenal.

For most problems an idiot may give you, there are more effective options outside of paperwork. You can get the same, if not better, results by using methods that don’t leave a blemish on a troop’s permanent record for being late to formation that one time.


7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Any exercise is hard if you add 45 lbs of resistance.

(Photo by Spc. Nicholas Vidro)

Physical training

No single method is more tried and true than making someone do push-ups until you get tired of watching them push. “Sweating out the stupid” (as it was so eloquently put by one of my NCOs) should be the first response to anything that warrants a slap on the wrist.

But don’t just stick to the standard push-ups — that’s child’s play. Break out some of the free weights your supply sergeant has in the locker and really make them feel it.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Find a relevant example for every problem. It may be other troops who’ve failed.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Show them why it matters

Nobody’s perfect and mistakes happen. Most troops don’t know what they did wrong because they don’t understand why it’s wrong in the first place. By telling a troop why what they did was wrong, you’re applying the same logic used when the garrison commander places vehicles wrecked from DUI-related crashes near the main gate. That is what happens when people don’t follow the rules of drinking and driving and that is the result.

You could have a genuine heart-to-heart with your troop and explain the situation to them on an adult level — or you could take extremes. Say they missed shaving: take them to the CS chamber and they’ll quickly understand.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

Your knifehand should be sharp enough to make your drill sergeant proud.

(Photo by Sgt. Ken Scar)

A good, old-fashioned ass chewing

Sometimes, the easiest way to show someone they f*cked up is to let them know. When something looks more like a pattern of misconduct than a genuine mistake, it’s time to take action: Inform them of wrongdoing with a proper ass chewing.

You’re not yelling, you’re speaking with your rank. There should be no empathy in your voice. Showing signs of emotion distracts from the point. Don’t use body language — but if you do, only use knifehands.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

What would really drive the point home is to actually take their ass to the barbershop and dictate the haircut to the barber.

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan KirkJohnson)

Inverting the problem

Was a soldier ten minutes late to work call? Make them show up ten minutes early until they get it right. Is someone lacking a proper haircut? Shave their head bald. Did somebody lose their weapon? Make them carry something twice as heavy.

This one takes some creativity — each consequence should directly juxtapose each given problem. The goofier you can make the discipline, the more readily the lesson will stick.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

But if the company area actually does need cleaning…

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Austin Livingston)

Extra duty

If there’s one thing young troops have, it’s time. When it comes time for discipline, take advantage of that fact and fill that time.

Honestly, the more menial an extra duty the better. A troop shouldn’t think that what they’re doing is just part of the job — it’s punishment, and there should be no doubt in their mind of that fact. The reason they’re “giving the stones a new paint job” is because of their mistake.

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator

That’s what this is all about anyways. Not to hurt your troops but to make them grow.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

Give them responsibility over others

This may sound like the dumbest idea at first, but hear me out. Troops don’t usually see the bigger picture from where they’re standing in the formation. The moment someone else depends on a troop is the moment that many would-be NCOs step into the bigger world.

This is the most psychologically deep disciplinary action on this list. When others hold them accountable, any failure is compounded by all the troops who look to them for guidance. If the experiment fails, cut sling-load and take back over. If not, you just set up someone to be a fine NCO some day.

Articles

The 7 enlisted jobs with awesome entry-level salaries

Serving in the military can be very rewarding personally and professionally, but a lot of potential recruits want to know which jobs make the most cash. The military pay tables are here, but in the meantime, here are seven of the most lucrative military jobs for new enlistees:


1. Army Military Working Dog Handler

7 little ways to be an effective radio operator
Photo by Pierre Courtejoie

Military working dog handlers train and work with dogs that specialize in finding explosives, drugs, or other potential threats to military personnel or law and order. They train for 18 weeks after the Army’s 10-week basic combat training.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits.

2. Air Force Histopathology Specialist

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Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David Miller

Histopathology specialists in the U.S. Air Force prepare diseased tissue samples for microscopic examination, aiding doctors in the diagnosis of dangerous diseases.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

3. Marine Corps Engineer

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Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. John McCall

Engineering Marines build and repair buildings, roads, and power supplies and assist the infantry by breaching enemy obstacles. There are different schools for different engineering specialties including Basic Combat Engineer Course, the Engineer Equipment Operator Course, and the Basic Metal Workers Course.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

4. Navy Mass Communications Specialist

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Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Kamaile Chan

Mass Communications Specialists tell the Navy story through photography, writing, illustration, and graphic design. They educate the public and document the Navy’s achievements.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

5. Army Paralegal Specialist

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Darryl L. Montgomery

Paralegal Specialists assist lawyers and unit command teams by advising on criminal law, international law, civil/administrative law, contract law, and fiscal law. The are experts in legal terminology, the preparation of legal documents, and the judicial process.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

6. Air Force Firefighter

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Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Kathrine McDowell

Firefighters in the Air Force have to combat everything from building fires to burning jets to forest fires. They operate primarily on Air Force bases but may also be stationed at other branches installations or be called on to assist civilian fire departments.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

7. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Crewman

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Photo: US Navy Geoffrey Patrick

Light armored vehicles support the Marine Corps mission by carrying communications equipment, Marines, and mobile electronic warfare platforms. The heart of the LAV mission is the LAV crewman, who drives, maintains, and operates these awesome vehicles.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

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