How to not be a dirtbag CGO - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Officers in the military don’t always have the best reputation. Company Grade Officers, or “CGOs,” might have it worse — at least there’s some heft behind a full-bird; lieutenants are like wee babes in the wood.


In the four or five years we’re training and partying at frat houses earning degrees, our enlisted peers go on multiple combat deployments and conduct real mission operations.

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So when you show up as a brand new elle-tee with them shiny butterbars, that is decidedly not the time to pull rank; it’s the time to earn the respect the rank commands.

Here are a few ways to do that without being a dirtbag:

1. Be cool, man. Just…be cool.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

CGO’s do not need to swagger. You do not need to throw that commission around. If you show up barking orders, you will be resented. The ideal goal is for there to be mutual respect, and it starts with you.

2. Find a mentor.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Probably someone in the E-4 to E-6 range. These guys know the ropes, they’re experts in their career field, and they’ve been taking care of personnel issues since you were a cadet singing your way to chow.

Learn from them. Take their advice into consideration. Every CGO needs a Yoda.

3. Know your people (and their jobs).

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

There’s a fine line between stellar leadership and stalking. (Image via 20th Century Fox)

You should know the name, marital status, secret hopes and dreams, and blood type of everyone you are responsible for. If they have an injury, you need to know it.

If Private Jones gets shin splints, don’t make him do parade practice — make him go to the doc. It’s your job to keep your people mission qualified, and to do that, you need to know the best and worst of them.

You also need to know their mission. You’re probably not going to know all the details they know, but you need to understand what they’re doing every day and you need to be able to communicate it up the chain.

4. CGOs- ask questions. Seriously. 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

If you don’t know something, don’t bluff your way through it. Acknowledge the information gap and go find the answer. This demonstrates that you are willing to learn and grow, but more importantly, it demonstrates that you are trustworthy.

5. Be a sh*t shield.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Back to Pvt. Jones and his shin splints. It’s your job to recognize that Jones’ medical treatment is more important than a Change of Command ceremony — but that doesn’t mean the commander will see it that way.

It’s on you to convey the needs of your people up the chain of command, and to shield those below you from any backlash.

This is rarely a simple task, but luckily you’ve already proven yourself to be true to your word and earnest in your desire to grow (right? RIGHT??) — the commander will see that, too.

Not being a dirtbag is appreciated up and down the chain.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Military Life

Why milspouses love James Mattis as much as troops do

“Steady as she goes… hold the line.” The words resonated off the screen at me in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Secretary of Defense Mattis, Mad-Dog, father of many marine and soldier warriors, a hero to many and a non-tarnishable example of service and patriotism — had, in those simple words, spoken straight to my heart.


You see, we live in a time where our lives as spouses can be carried out in front of hundreds, thousands, millions of people at a time. Social media, TV-shows, major Hollywood producers — they all try to capture what it is to be and to live the life of a military spouse. Yet none have ever come so close as the man who uttered these words, “Steady as she goes…”

Also read: 4 things you should never say to a military spouse

While news networks and politicians were balking at trivial things that in a hundred years won’t be remembered and while each political side was chewing at the others throats with vile and empty words, Secretary Mattis knew (like the father many see him as) who would be affected the most by a government unable to fund itself.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
A spouse kisses her husband prior to a welcome home ceremony. (Ohio National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Us. The spouses. Yes, the service member flinches and grumbles in disgust — but they have a job to do and they put their heads down and their boots on to do it. It’s the spouses, though, who will sit and worry. It’s the spouses who pour over budget, bills, and pantries in secret when they know no one will be looking; because in front of everyone else, we smile, we shrug, we will be ok. We are steady.

Related: 5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

“…hold the line.” How my heart swelled at these words. These simple words that summed up the core of what we as military spouses do. We hold the line. We hold the hands of the men that kiss us goodbye. We hold the tears of the children who miss out on time. We hold the phone calls from family members who ask questions and worry. We hold our prayers and our worries and our fears, and we do not break.

Mattis knew this. He knew in that, in the end, no matter what the result was of a vote or a bill or a law that passed, we would be the ones to deal with the fallout or the blessing. The spouse, the caretaker, the widow; he spoke to all of us in that memo and in that moment I knew that someone truly understood what Hollywood producers, actors, and even some spouses fail to grasp.

We are steady.

We hold the line.

Never forget that.

Military Life

How Tim Kennedy believes the recruitment problem can be improved

It’s no secret that military recruitment numbers have been on the decline in recent years. There’re many factors that play into this, but one of the main reasons is eligibility. According to Tim Kennedy, however, the military isn’t out of luck just yet. And his solution doesn’t (and none should ever) involve lowering the standards.


On a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Kennedy discussed, at great depth, the problems that plague recruiting depots, specifically recruitment within the Special Forces community. There simply aren’t enough able-bodied recruits. Obesity remains the leading disqualifying factor among young Americans.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(Photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)

Recruits need to be able to meet physical requirements. While basic training and boot camp help slim down prospective troops, recruits must join up at a trainable level — after all, a drill sergeant isn’t a miracle worker.

“It’s harder to get into the military than it is to get into college,” says Kennedy. “You can’t go into the military if you smoke weed. You can’t go into the military if you have bad eyes. You can’t go into the military if you’re diabetic,” and the list goes on. “You can go to college if you have all those things.”

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
If college was so much more difficult than the military, then so many veterans wouldn’t finish their time in the service and easily get in to nearly any university.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)

Those factors above disqualify, off the bat, roughly 71 percent of young adults. Then, when you factor in the willingness to join among the remaining 29 percent, you’re stuck with the headache-inducing task of bringing in just 182,000 new troops this year. “The perception of the military is way less of an issue than us just having a qualified population of viable candidates to chose from.”

The obvious solution is to tell young adults to get healthy. But, as anyone who has had any sort of interaction with young adults can tell you, you’d be better off asking a brick wall to do something. Being unfit for service is a cultural problem that no amount of snazzy recruitment videos can fix.

Kennedy’s suggestion makes far more sense — and it was how he was brought into the military: selectively recruiting physically fit student athletes. Convincing a small subset of students to join is a much easier task than convincing the youth at large to slim down.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
I’m not going to lie, having a recruiter sh*t-talk me while I was trying to impress him with my whole two pull-ups as a teenager may or may not have played a huge role in my enlistment.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)

Back in Tim Kennedy’s high school wrestling days, he was approached by an Army Special Forces recruiter in a really bad suit. All it took was for the recruiter to show up and say, “hey guys, ever thought about Army Special Forces?” He handed Kennedy the card and took off.

That’s all it took to snag the most-beloved Green Beret of our generation.

To watch the rest of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, check out the video below.

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Articles

Hilarious Russian soldier proves that their chow halls suck too

A Russian soldier has reached across the Atlantic and shown that federation troops aren’t that different from their American counterparts — or at least their chow halls aren’t.


Specifically, he has shown that they also get stuck with crappy food and that the best thing they can do in response is to get a few laughs out of it.

He’s been gifted some mashed potatoes from the cooks that leave something to be desired. You know, like it would be desirable if the potatoes resembled food instead of glue:

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Hey, Dairy Queen advertises that Blizzards can do this. (GIF: Facebook.com/smokesmoked)

The soldier has a pretty solid delivery and the video is a quick watch at 41 seconds, but you’ll need to be logged in to Facebook to see it below:


Military Life

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

There’s an old saying in the military: “rank has its privileges.” This is often quoted as a boss bullies their subordinate in a game of “Rock, Paper, Rank.” But a leader worth their salt won’t use their rank to coerce their troops, they’ll use it to help them.

Of course, a leader shouldn’t always bend over backwards to appease the troops below them. Instead, they should use their power and position to offer a helping hand to the men and women that depend on them. Here’s how:


How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Doesn’t mean you can protect them from everything. They’re still in the military, after all.
(Photo by Sgt. Timothy Lenzo)

Leaders can use rank as an “avalanche shield”

There’s another quote that’s often said in jest — “sh*t rolls down hill.” Meaning, a tiny snowball-sized problem from up top will continue roll down the ranks until it’s an avalanche-sized turd that knocks the lower enlisted silly. Fantastic leaders will try to keep most of the problems away from their troops so they can continue to focus on training.

Many troops don’t even realize how lucky they are to not deal with the repercussions caused by the actions of some joker in a completely different unit. A good leader knows their troops and knows that they can be trusted.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Doughnuts and coffee are also a cheap and efficient morale boosters.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson)

Offering to pay for little things

It’s in bad form to refer to or think of fellow troops by their pay grade instead of their rank — but that doesn’t change the fact that the platoon sergeant is making more than the FNG.

The leader doesn’t need to buy everything for their troops, or even that much. But picking something up from the gas station once in a while can’t hurt.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
They’re a leader’s troop in both the bad times and the good.
(Photo by Sgt. Justin M. Smith)

Rank can help defend troops from peers and superiors

No leader wants to get the phone call or text informing them that their subordinate screwed up. If they’re going to be NJP’d, a good leader should act as a pseudo-lawyer between them and the commander.

The subordinate could be dead-to-rights wrong and could be a constant problem for the unit, but it’s still up to a good leader to try and showcase the tiniest bit of good in them to make sure their punishment isn’t unjust.

A soldier in the supply room
Just don’t be a dick to supply. If you’re on their good side, you can get some really awesome stuff that “fell off the truck.”
(Photo by Keith Hayes)

Sweet-talking supply

On paper, the commander and senior enlisted are in charge of a unit — but it’s the supply guy who really has the most power.

A good leader can procure whatever they need from supply if it’s going to benefit the troops. This can range from lost gear replacements to better gear to better training aids. It’s all for the greater good, so long as you’re not bullying supply.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
And don’t be a dick to the training room guys, either. The reason they’re not always expedient is because they deal with a load of crap, too.
(Photo by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell)

Speeding up paperwork

Just like with supply, rank can also give you more oomph when you’re trying to get paperwork done.

Pvt. Snuffy may not be able to get a word in as they try to get a leave packet approved, but they’ll listen to you.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Giving a hand with menial tasks goes a long way.
(Photo by Bill Orndorff)

Turning down peers to work with their troops

If a leader is of a high enough rank, they can tell others that “all hands” means “all hands.” Nothing earns a troop’s respect faster than an NCO or officer sweating as much as the lowest private.

The one constant among all of the great leaders that I have had the honor to serve under is that they all would much rather get dirty with their troops than brown-nose the higher-ups.

Military Life

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Serving in the military is often portrayed as a challenging task and with the right reasons. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly many advantages — embracing mother nature while serving is the one we’ll focus on. A lifestyle (what I’ve become to understand what the service actually is!) that offers you the chance to travel worldwide is unique and rewarding. The military has created this long culture of moving around, which means more opportunities for soldiers to experience outdoors in different countries and continents. Acknowledging the hardship of continuous relocations for military families, I will emphasize my personally-identified outdoor benefits in serving in the military.

  1. Soldiering up while learning to live in the field

Whoever has been in the army still has vivid memories of their first Field Training Exercise. There’s always that guy or gal who forgot his one piece of equipment he shouldn’t have forgotten leading up to a long, cold, freezing night. I have great stories about the rookie mistakes my buddies and I made in our first days in the field. Yet, this was all part of the learning process, and as time went by, we all learned how to gear up and started to relish mother nature every time. 

If you’re a morning person (well, no one cares if you are or not, you’re still waking up early), you can see the morning mist slowly vanishing into nothing. At these times, we enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee and having small talk with our fellow soldiers. 

If you like sunsets, there’s nothing like watching them as you eat an MRE with your friends (the MRE is not a must). 

  1. Enjoying outdoors all over the world

Having served in the military in Europe, I was fortunate to train with many countries worldwide. I was attached to a Royal Commando Company from Great Britain. We trained together on the beautiful beaches of Albania. Having the sea breeze cool us off after strenuous exercises was something we all craved. The mixture of the Adriatic Sea combined with Commando Fighting Tactics was a combo made in heaven.

outdoors
NATO Snipers Practice High-Angle Shooting in Austria

On the other side of the world, in Wisconsin, I enjoyed one of the most beautiful spring weather ever. My unit was attached to a National Guard Unit from the Midwest and drove to this beautiful Army Base near the Canadian border. The trees, the air and the scenery were something I’ll never forget.

One of the best pieces of training I’ve ever completed was Winter Survival Training with Austrian, German and Swiss Alpine Infantrymen. My fellow cadets and I attended the two-week training in the Sharri Mountains near the trijunction between Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. If you wanted to see the power of nature, this was the place. We would start our morning hikes in beautiful sunny weather, wearing only shirts. As we approached the peak, an immense cloud with atrocious wind would cover us in no time. We would have to rush back to our shelter to survive — the beauty, unpredictability and mercilessness of nature-all within 30 minutes. No other profession offers this opportunity!

There have certainly been times of heavy rain and freezing cold, which I didn’t enjoy and that I’ll never forget. However, having had the opportunity to travel to more than 30 countries and four continents, I have enjoyed the outdoors everywhere I trained and traveled in the military capacity. These travels have made me appreciate nature so much more!

3. Hiking while completing mandatory ruck marches

If you serve in an infantry unit, you will probably have frequent ruck marches. Such activities can certainly be challenging and tedious, but if you’re into hiking and outdoors, they will feel less like work. The opportunity to patrol in mountains and hills with no signs of human construction feels more like a movie from WWII. 

The remote areas where this training takes place more often than not offer a fantastic escape from urban stress. This is undoubtedly a factor not to be ignored since today’s world is defined by a fast-paced life with a rapid decrease in outdoor activities. Going out in ruck marches and FTXes will allow you to enjoy nature and fulfill your professional duty while getting paid to do so. Having a few beers and barbeque would be excellent, but we all know that’s not going to happen!

4. Working out in the outdoors with passion and camaraderie

One of the leading military activities known to occur in the outdoors is physical training. Whether soldiers are training with their platoon or in large running formations with their Battalion Commander, they’re undoubtedly enjoying the camaraderie. 

As soldiers test their limits in developing their physical stamina, they learn how to cope with the weather and the environment. The all-weather training regimen gives the soldier a challenging task but also prepares them for any engagement. The CrossFit culture has dramatically shifted the culture from gyms to out-of-doors while achieving better results.

Serving in the outdoors and appreciating it

serving in the outdoors

The military profession is essentially defined by the outdoors. All soldiers seem to enjoy it since it gives them an excellent opportunity to develop personally and savor nature. At the same time, they can travel around the globe while experiencing sceneries from all over the world. While this may appear as an unorthodox way to defend your country’s freedoms, it comes with difficulty and risk to soldiers’ lives. 

Yet, true warriors overcome all obstacles and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, wherever they may be.

Articles

This Army captain refused to let cancer keep her from serving

At age 25, Monica Rosario was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, a diagnosis that would start her on a personal battle, not only for her future as a Soldier, but for her life.


How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Capt. Monica Rosario, a cancer survivor, is at Fort Leonard Wood awaiting her pick-up for Engineer Captain’s Career Course. (Photo Credit: Stephen Standifird)

“When they told me, I felt very numb,” Rosario remembered. She was a first lieutenant serving as a company executive officer in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina at the time.

It never occurred to Rosario, now a captain at Fort Leonard Wood awaiting her pickup in Engineer Captain’s Career Course, that the reason for her frequent visits to her doctor could be so dire. Doctors kept telling her she was just dehydrated and needed to go home and rest.

During one emergency room visit in January of 2015, however, a doctor inquired about Rosario’s frequent medical issues, and her responses prompted him to recommend a colonoscopy.

Her mother and father, who lived not far away in her hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, accompanied her to the appointment. That’s when they learned it could be cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed at a follow-up exam.

“It really hit [my mom] harder than it hit me,” Rosario said. “She was more emotional than I was because I had no idea what I was getting into.”

Also read: Competing in the Warrior Games also helped this Navy officer fight breast cancer

Rosario’s mentor and commanding officer at the time, Capt. Chinyere Asoh, said she understood what Rosario was about to endure.

“I served as a commander and, each day, I heard news of Soldiers going through the worst unimaginable concerns of their lives, but I stayed strong for them and their families,” Asoh said.

When Asoh heard the news her executive officer had cancer, she couldn’t hide the emotion.

“For me, this was different,” Asoh admitted. “My fighter [Capt. Rosario] was going down, and there was nothing I could do. The day I found out, I called my battalion commander as I cried.”

Rosario approached her situation from another perspective — one inspired by former ESPN anchorman, Stuart Scott, who fought a seven-year battle with cancer. Scott lost that battle in 2015 at age 49.

“Whenever you are going through it, you don’t feel like you are doing anything extraordinary because you are only doing what you have to do to survive,” Rosario said.

Rosario confessed that, while she was undergoing treatment, it made her uncomfortable when people called her a hero. There was nothing she was doing that made her special, she believed.

“When you have to be strong and you have to survive, you don’t feel like you are doing anything special,” she said.

The Army provided Rosario with the time and support she needed in order to devote herself to recovery, she said.

“I can say the Army served me when I needed it most, and I am forever grateful,” she said. “I know there were many times I could have quit. I could have settled for someone telling me I should medically retire. But I knew the Army had more in store for me.”

Rosario said it took about two weeks to recover from her surgery before she could start chemotherapy. Following six months of chemo, it took another two months before she was able to resume her physical training.

She fought hard to keep herself ready to return to full-duty so she could continue her career. Her will to fight was an inspiration to her husband.

“My wife is literally the strongest person I know,” said Bernard McGee, a former military police officer. “She has been through it all and has mustered the strength to take on even more challenges. She is a true warrior.”

Asoh agreed.

Related: This Army officer beat cancer twice while going through Ranger School

“Monica is a true fighter, and I am happy to state that she is a survivor,” Asoh said. “Her illness did not define her. Rather, it broadened her view of life.”

Rosario credits positive thinking and the support of her Army family for keeping her in the Army so that she could make it to Fort Leonard Wood to complete the Engineer Captain’s Career Course.

“The Army’s resiliency training has instilled in me the ability to stay strong and stay resilient in all aspects of life,” she said. “Being resilient has helped me and still helps me on a daily basis. Seeking positive thought, and staying away from negative thoughts impact how we feel and how we live every day.”

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of September 30th

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 aircrew member with the 15th Special Operations Squadron looks out at Puerto Rico from an MC-130H Combat Talon II, Sept. 27, 2017. Approximately 50 Air Commandos are part of a group deployed to provide humanitarian aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated islands in the Caribbean.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick

Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jean Fernandez, assigned to the Garudas of Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) and a native of Bonao, Dominican Republic, conducts an inspection for an EA-18G Growler in preparation for flight operations on Misawa Air Base.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Bacon

Army:

An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire training exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 25, 2017. 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment attached to 210th Field Artillery Brigade certified 16 crews in five hours as they completed their Table VI certification.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA BDE PAO

U.S. Army Pfc. Emmanuel Bynum, assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), reinstalls the fairings on a HH-60m Black at Ceiba, Puerto Rico, Sept. 27, 2017. The 101st CAB will be conducting medical evacuation and relief efforts to support FEMA in the recovery process of Puerto Rico after the devastation created by Hurricane Maria.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Pablo N. Piedra

Navy:

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) transits the Baltic Sea Sept. 26, 2017. Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Utah Kledzik

Equipment Operator 2nd Class Patrick Reiter, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1, operates a rig during water well drilling operations in support of Southern Partnership Station 17. SPS 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brittney Cannady

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines adjust an 81mm mortar to improve defensive posture near Gereshk, Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2017. Several advisors with Task Force Southwest are assisting their Afghan National Defense and Security Force counterparts throughout Operation Maiwand Six, which is designed to thwart insurgent presence and promote security and stability in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brian Sanchezangel, an infantry Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, holds security for a rehearsal raid during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 27, 2017. WTI is a seven week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) cadre which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter James serves as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 25, 2017. The cutter’s crew deployed to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations and the ship’s communications capabilities are being used to help first responders coordinate efforts.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. Pete Melnick.

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Scott Smith of the Pacific Strike Team and Laredo Construction Project Manager Bob Springob evaluate removal operations for a displaced vessel here in Houston, Texas on Sept. 28, 2017. The Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency have been fully integrated into a Unified Command with the mission assignment of removing displaced or partially submerged vessels as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Hillard.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier found out she was pregnant only after she had a baby in Afghanistan

In the summer of 2012, young Benjamin was born to Pvt. Ashley Shelton in the middle of FOB Shindand, Afghanistan. The story was first broken by Stars and Stripes in October 2012, but details surrounding the birth weren’t released until WTHR 13 Investigates got into contact with the mother recently.


Pvt. Ashley Shelton was assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Ansbach, Germany and deployed in the spring. Normally, Army regulations bar pregnant soldiers and those who recently gave birth from deploying. However, due to her pregnancy tests being disregarded as “false-positives,” she was still sent with her unit.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Pvt. Shelton’s unit in Afghanistan. (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

Related: 5 struggles those who wore BCGs will remember

She continued her regular Army duties, even those that would normally be unfit for an expected mother such as physical training and combat duties. There were no normal signs of pregnancy, such as weight gain or a baby bump. Morning sickness or and cramping was mostly written off with a dismissive, “Well, it’s Afghanistan…”

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Baby Benjamin shortly after birth. (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

Then, on Aug. 12, she went to the aid station for cramps. The doctor told her to drink fluids and prescribed her bed rest. On her way back, her water broke and she blacked out. Her child, Benjamin, was born. The U.S. Army has yet to clarify what exactly went wrong, but they conducted internal investigations. Army representatives told WTHR 13 Investigates that they can not talk about personal health issues due to federal health privacy laws.

Years later, Benjamin exhibits some congenital birth defects, which may be a result of mishandled pregnancy. His medical records show a small knot in his lower left leg, described as a club foot, and a lower speech level than normal. Ashley Shelton has been struggling the last years with getting attention for her son’s and her own medical conditions.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Benjamin Shelton (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

That hasn’t stopped the fun-loving kid from running around the playground, though. There’s no telling if the kid ends up being a superhero, but that’s a backstory that tops Marvel and DC characters. Even if the kid doesn’t become a superhero, if he serves in the Army like his mother, you can bet that he’ll have a one-up card on everyone. “Where were you born? Some POG civilian hospital not in the middle of combat? That’s cute.”

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of December 9th

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:

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jojie Arcega, a loadmaster with the 36th Airlift Squadron, pushes a practice bundle from a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during Operation Christmas Drop, Dec. 8, 2017, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Over the course of 12 days, members of OCD provide critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands, impacting about 20,000 people covering 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Juan Torres Chardon)

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stands by for takeoff Dec. 5, 2017, at Gwangju Air Base, Republic of Korea during Exercise Vigilant Ace-18. Vigilant Ace gives aircrews and air support operations personnel from various airframes, military services and ROK partners an opportunity to integrate and practice combat operations against realistic air and ground threats.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristen A. Heller)

Army:

Soldiers assigned to the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, conduct a parachute insertion and foot march on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Dec. 5, 2017. The jump was part of a larger situational training exercise to test the Soldiers proficiency with combat related tasks.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas, dismount an M-1 Abrams tank during training Dec. 6, 2017 at Smardan Training Area, in Smardan, Romania. The crews are required to qualify as a team if any member leaves or joins, or re-qualify every six months.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Shelton Smith / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Navy:

U.S. Navy Culinary Specialist 3rd Class James Washington, from Dallas, left, and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Cole Sams, from Salem, Ore., lower the ensign aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as the ship departs Naval Air Station North Island, Dec. 6, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline)

An MH-60R Sea Hawk attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 descends to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship is in port Norfolk, Virginia, conducting routine maintenance after a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mario Coto)

Marine Corps:

Marines sight-in on a target with an M777 A2 howitzer during a direct-fire exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 4, 2017. The M777 provides timely, accurate and continuous indirect fire support, while having the capability to engage targets directly in the event of enemy contact. The Marines are with 1st Battalion 10th Marine Regiment.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Luke Hoogendam)

U.S. Marines conduct simulated village raids at the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa, Japan, December 5, 2017, during the 3rd Marine Division Annual Squad Competition. The raids were a timed event in which the Marines had to hike and raid the village within two hours. The squad competition is conducted to test and compare each unit to see which is the fittest for combat. The squads are with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment; 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment and Combat Assault Battalion.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carl King)

Coast Guard:

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew searches the Gastineau Channel in Juneau, Alaska, for two men in the water after their skiff capsized Dec. 6, 2017. Five people were aboard the vessel when it capsized, one of which was rescued by the Coast Guard and two were able to safely swim to shore.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios)

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba crew stand next to approximately 12.4 tons of cocaine Dec. 7, 2017, aboard the cutter at Port Everglades Cruiseport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba offloaded the cocaine in Port Everglades worth an estimated $378 million wholesale interdicted in international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean between mid-October and late November.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Woodall)

Military Life

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Blue Star Families 2016 Military Lifestyle Survey at a glance.

 

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The USO’s new tool can empower veterans in a big way

With more than 200 USO locations throughout the world, their mission never ends, connecting American’s troops to their friends and families back home.


For more than seven decades, the USO — or United Service Organizations — has thrived on boosting the morale of service members stationed around the globe with various musical performances and celebrity appearances.

Famous for entertaining the troops, the USO has established a program that will continue to support service members as they transition back into civilian life called Pathfinder.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Cpt. Jason Pak takes time with his interpreter for a quick photo op during his Afghanistan deployment.

The USO Pathfinder transition program offers personalized and hands-on services to those exiting from their military obligation.

USO Pathfinder services are co-located with USO centers at 13 locations across the U.S. for one-on-one support.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
USO Pathfinder unique’s one-on-one veteran support.

This Pathfinder program connects service members and military spouses to the resources that are best fit for them across a variety of focus areas, including employment, education, financial readiness, veteran’s benefits, housing, legal family strength wellness, and volunteerism.

Lists

5 things boots need to do before earning the squad’s trust

Squads are the most fundamental part of the military. While you can generally get by with having an issue with someone else in the company, a squad can’t function unless everyone is on the same level.

It takes years to earn someone’s trust to the point of knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that they have your back. To get the new guys in the squad up to speed, they’ll have to be given a crash course in earning it.


How to not be a dirtbag CGO

There is a difference between impressing the squad and impressing the platoon sergeant. Choose wisely.

(Photo by Spc. Noel Williams)

PT as well in the morning

the uninitiated may think that the fastest way to earn respect is to out-hustle, out-perform, and outlast the rest. The problem here is that morning PT isn’t designed to improve — it’s for sustaining one’s assumed peak performance. If you’re looking to improve, it’ll probably happen off-duty.

With that in mind, many troops who’ve been in for years won’t be impressed by the new kid smoking everyone on the pull-up bar. They’re probably hungover from drinking the night before. During morning PT, there’s no way to improve your standing with the guys, but making everyone else look bad will definitely cost you some points.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

This also means don’t ever miss the 50m target — you will be justifiably ridiculed.

(Photo by Sgt. Maj. Peter Breuer)

Shoot as good at the range

This rings especially true with line units. It’s also assumed that by the time a Drill Instructor hands off a boot to the unit, they’re ready to be hardened killing machines. Taking time to train someone to shoot perfectly is no longer in the training schedule, there’re still guys who’ve been in the unit for ages rocking a “pizza box,” or Marksman badge.

If you can show everyone that you’re not some kid, but rather someone who’s ready to train with the big boys, the squad will take notice and use you to belittle the guy who missed the 50m target. That’s a good thing for you.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Or keep an eye out for staff duty and keep them occupied so they don’t crash the party.

(Screengrab via YouTube)

Party as hard in the barracks

Barracks parties are very tight-knit. There may be some cross-over with other platoons or companies that are cool with whomever is hosting, so don’t fret and be cool. It’s a real sign of trust if someone is willing to show you to the others off-duty.

Chances are that most boots are fresh out of high school. No one wants to party with the kid who’s going to get them arrested by the MPs for underage drinking. For all the legal reasons, you really shouldn’t be drinking if you’re under 21 (even though we all know what happens in the barracks). You can still play a part, however, by being the designated driver or helping others who’ve drank too much by grabbing water, junk food, and sports drinks.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Chances are that the joke, just like your first time, will be quickly forgotten by most people involved.

(Photo by Pfc. Vaniah Temple)

Joke as witty off-duty

As odd as it sounds, the surefire way to make everyone in the squad trust you is to get them to like you. They’ll overlook a lot of your flaws if you’re not quite “grunt enough” if you can make them laugh.

No one wants to be around the guy who’s telling the same unfunny story that ends with getting yelled at by the drill sergeant. No matter how mind-blowing it was to you back then, I assure you that it’s nothing special. Dig deep and find that real humor. Joke about something personal, like the first time you got intimate with someone. There’s definitely an awkward moment in there that’s funny to reflect on.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

I’m just sayin’. Nearly every friendship is sealed in the smoke pit.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

Be as loyal when the time comes

There’s no concrete way to know when this time will come, but it will. At some point, everything will be on the line and you need to swoop in with the clutch. When it happens, you’ll know.

This is when you’ll show the squad that you’re one of them — that you value the rest of the guys above your own well-being. It could be as large as saving everyone’s ass from an enraged first sergeant to just bringing an extra pack of cigarettes to the field. Get to know your squad and you’ll know what it takes.

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