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

The origin of the ‘best’ rank in the Marines (Lance Corporal)

Insane work environments, low-income housing, cafeteria food, and a general tone of condescension from leadership, combined with big personalities from all over the United States and beyond, have produced the “best” rank in the Marines — the lance corporal.


Also known as “third from the bottom,” lance corporal is one of the most common ranks in the Marine Corps. Despite the number of Marines who have received this humble endowment, the lance corporal is often called the “best” rank by those who have served in the Corps.

The origin of the rank’s title is both French and Italian and roughly translates to “one who has broken a lance in combat” and “leader.”

Related: 5 reasons veterans love the Terminal Lance perspective

Today, this would be similar to calling a Marine salty. The rank spawned from a need to establish small-unit leadership on the ground. Lance Corporal, as a rank, was used in medieval Europe for the same purpose. When one became a Corporal, they would receive their own horse and lance with which to ride into battle.

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
A U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal, right, addresses guests during the Evening Parade reception at the Home of the Commandants in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

The horse became a symbol of rank, but if the horse died and the soldier was grounded, what was there to separate them from the rest? Thus, lance corporal was established to distinguish corporals on the ground by giving them a lance.

In the U.S. Marine Corps, lance corporal didn’t officially become a rank until 1958, when Congress amended the Career Compensation Act of 1949. However, the rank has a much longer history than that. In the 1830’s, Lance Cpl. was used as a billet title for Marines that were on track to become corporal.

It wasn’t until the rank of private first class was established in 1917 that Lance Cpl. was almost totally removed from Marine rank structure. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the time, felt that the rank of Pfc. ended the usefulness of Lance Cpl., although the rank dies hard, and one writer on Marine Corps tradition asserts that privates were being detailed as lance corporals as recently as 1937.

Despite its turbulent past, the rank has been immortalized not only by heroic actions but also by the ridiculous conduct of Marines who wear its chevron with crossed rifles. Make no mistake — there is a reputation that goes along with this rank, and it has many sides.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Marine lance corporal service alpha dress chevrons.

Yes, it is the senior-junior rank, yes, many great leaders bear the mosquito wings with honor, however, the rank is also synonymous with those who will do anything to get out of a working party. They’re also the one ones who have the best liberty stories, barracks room socials, and an endless stream of comments ridiculing anything the Corps can come up with.

Every Marine who served as a Lance has stories detailing the debauchery consistent with the rank, and if they didn’t serve in the rank, like an officer, they have stories of a young Lance Criminal acting accordingly.

Lance Corporal is considered the best because of the distribution of responsibility amongst its ranks.

Also Read: What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Living Marine legend Kyle Carpenter wears the rank of lance corporal.

When you wear the rank, you are among the highest density of eligible working party Marines, creating an environment primed for skating. It is here that legends are born. These legends range in notoriety from the heroic medal of honor recipients to hilarious battalion level shit-baggery. One of them has even become a dark lord of the Star Wars universe.

Only those who have served in the USMC will ever really know just how much of an impact a Marine Lance Cpl. can have with the proper amount of motivation and creativity, and it is in the name of those hard chargers that we honor the history of the Corps’ best rank.

For more reference, check out the Terminal Lance comics by Maximilian Uriarte, a former Marine Lance who has been chronicling the mind and spirit of the USMC E-3 in the most comprehensive way (comic strips) for years.

Articles

The snowball fight with snipers I’ll never forget

It was a typical winter morning in northern Afghanistan. The sky was clear, and the blinding sun slowly climbed into it. The sun was bright, but it didn’t do much to fight the biting cold that pumped down the turret opening in our Humvee and chilled us all.


I was in a light infantry reconnaissance platoon, made up of an almost even split of snipers and recon guys. We were on our way to a large forward operating base just south of Kabul. Our specific skill set had been requested by the commander there so we crammed into our cold Humvees and headed into the unknown.

Related: 19 pictures of troops braving the cold that will make you thankful to be indoors

We pulled into the base later that morning and were shown to the tent that we’d call home for at least a day or two. After unloading all of our gear and equipment, me and the other lower enlisted guys made ourselves at home while our senior leaders went to work out the specifics of the mission we’d be supporting.

We hadn’t been there long before sudden pounding winds seemed to threaten the integrity of our tent. One soldier leapt up from his cot and ripped open the door flap of our tent. The clear sunbathed sky had faded behind a thick sheet of dark clouds and snow was collecting quickly on the ground outside.

The soldier fastened the door flap shut as we all looked at each other in amazement. “This mission has got to be scrapped” quipped one soldier. “There’s no way we’re going out in this” added another. Assuming the mission was a no-go, we settled back into our cots and pulled out our books, iPods, magazines and other essentials needed to ride out the storm.

Just as we were all getting comfortable and cozy in our sleeping bags, a red-faced and snow covered staff sergeant barreled into our tent. “Get your cold-weather gear on and get outside”. The staff sergeant stormed out of the tent just as rapidly as he’d come in.

We tossed our creature comforts to the side and began tearing through our bags for heavy jackets, pants and beanies. Questions and confusion filled the frantic tent. Once suited up, we all funneled out of the tiny tent opening into the storm and lined up in front of the two stone-faced staff sergeants.

We stood there silently as they divided us up between them. Reading our confused expressions, the staff sergeants laughed and explained what was about to happen.

“You guys go with him” he said gesturing at the other staff sergeant and his group. “And you guys come with me. We’ll have 15 minutes to build up our arsenal of snowballs and then it’s on. If you get hit, you’re out. You can be revived by a teammate once, but if you’re hit again, you’re out until the next round”.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ken Scar

Before our shock could fade, we were elbows deep in snow mounds, hastily and inefficiently shaping snowballs with our gloved hands. The 15 minutes were up and my group had established three separate caches of snowballs in case one were to be compromised. Our hodgepodge of recon and sniper guys made it difficult to establish a quick plan of attack. Me and the other recon guys suggested we move between tents to find a good ambush point. The snipers suggested we push to a small hill top and take advantage of the high ground. The infighting put us at a disadvantage.

When the other team started lobbing snowballs, strategy turned into self-preservation and it was every man for himself.

A number of my recon teammates had been taken out of the game so I retreated to the hill top where a few snipers were dug in. The high ground gave us the upper hand, and the continuing snowfall guaranteed we wouldn’t run out of ammo. We had the other team pinned down and just when we thought we had the game won, we were flanked and wiped out.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Image for illustration use, not from the author’s experience. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher McCullough

The snowball fight went a few more rounds and the longer we were out in the storm the more exhausted we got. Our honed military training and tactics gradually devolved into a laughter filled display of “soldiers on ice” as we slipped and fell endlessly.

When the snowball fight was over, we sluggishly made our way back to our tent, shed our cold weather gear and collapsed onto our cots.

The mission we came for had officially been scrapped, so we quietly retrieved the creature comforts we had discarded earlier and tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. The next morning the bright sun rose and melted most of the snow. We gathered all of our equipment crammed ourselves back into our cold Humvees, and headed to the next outpost.

That day was rarely talked about in the months that followed. It was as if we were all safeguarding a cherished memory and if we spoke about it, the day would somehow seem less special.

I’m sure the snowball fight meant something different for everyone on the battlefield that day. For me, its meaning has evolved over the years. What was once just another story from my time in Afghanistan has grown into a meaningful narrative about the human moments soldiers often experience while deployed but are rarely reported.

For me this day was important because it helps me show that not every war story is a tale of heroism or tragedy.

When the winter months creep by here at home, I look forward to an impromptu moment where I’ll look out on a large snow covered field, and I’ll tell whoever will listen, about my snowball fight with snipers.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How to survive the first 4 weeks of Marine boot camp

“Get off my bus right now!”


This is how Marine Corps recruit training, or boot camp, begins. Some guy you’ve never met, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, screams at you to get off the bus. You file out and stand on the yellow footprints, a right of passage for all future Marines, and a reminder that every one of the Corps’ heroes and legends stood where you’re standing.

The first 72 hours are called “receiving,” and they’re a mild introduction to what’s ahead. Those first three days consist of a flurry of knife-hands, screaming, rough buzzcuts, gear issue, and general in-processing and paperwork.

If you’re tired or having second thoughts by then, you’re in trouble. The real work hasn’t even started.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Task & Purpose spoke to Staff Sgt. Thomas Phillips, a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, to talk about what recruits go through during the first four weeks of Marine Corps boot camp.

The 27-year-old Marine enlisted when he was 18, and six years later returned to Parris Island in July 2013 as a drill instructor assigned to the same company where he was a recruit.

“Six years ago, I was in their shoes on that same black line they’re now standing on,” says Phillips, who has now trained eight platoons of Marines. A platoon of recruits can range in size from 50 to 100, and is overseen by three to five drill instructors, depending on the platoon’s size.

Enlisted Marines are trained at only two locations: Parris Island and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. Parris Island is home to 4th Recruit Training Battalion, where female Marines are trained.

Drill instructors serve a variety of roles. There’s the enforcer, often called a “kill hat;” an experienced drill instructor, called a “J-hat” or a “heavy,” who has the most interaction with recruits; and a senior drill instructor, who serves as a stern paternal figure. Phillips served in each of these roles throughout his seven-and-a-half cycles training recruits.

Recruit training lasts 12 weeks and is broken into three phases.

In first phase, civilians learn how to be Marine recruits, and later, Marines.

First phase begins during receiving, and afterward, recruits are assigned to their platoons and introduced to their drill instructors.

“First phase is that indoctrination,” says Phillips. “They’re not recruits yet, you’re teaching them how to be recruits. It’s a whole new lifestyle.”

Recruits relearn everything they thought they knew: how to dress, walk, talk, eat, and even how to shower and properly clean themselves. Throughout boot camp, recruits must refer to themselves in the third person. The words “I, you, and we,” are replaced by “this recruit,” “that recruit,” and “these recruits.”

“We have to teach them a new way to talk, a new way to eat, brush their teeth, shave their face, everybody comes from different backgrounds growing up” says Phillips, who explains that first phase “evens the playground for everyone, it strips them down and puts everyone on that even playing field.”

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Staff Sgt. Maryssa Sexton, a chief drill instructor with November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, ensures a recruit is paying attention during a history class Aug. 18, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

First phase also involves a lot of lectures, conducted by a drill instructor who lays out the Corps’ history from its founding in 1775 to now.

“The knowledge is such a key part,” says Phillips. “I’ve had kids tell me they didn’t expect there’d be so much classroom time. It’s not ‘Call of Duty,’ kids are like, ‘Man this is completely different from what I’ve expected. I haven’t shot a weapon, I’ve just carried it around.'”

Recruits also drill almost non-stop — which means walking in military formation with their weapons — for 100 or more hours, explains Phillips, who adds that drill teaches recruits proper weapons’ handling, instills discipline, and builds unit cohesion.

“Drill is used in first phase to get that discipline,” says Phillips. “Just standing at attention and not moving for 20 or 30 minutes, that’s hard for a lot of those 18 or 19-year-old kids that are used to just doing whatever they want to do. Drill is that unit cohesion, that teamwork, that sense that if I mess up, those guys on my left or right are going to suffer.”

If you come in with the wrong mindset, it will cost you.

“The thing that’s going to get you spotlighted during first phase is attitude,” says Phillips. “[Recruits] should know coming here that it’s never personal. The Marine Corps is a business. It’s a fighting force.”

If recruits do mess up, and they will, then they “suffer,” usually in the form of incentivized training or “IT,” which involves lots of push-ups, running in place, burpees in the sun, and planks.

Also Read: This is what happens when your father was your drill instructor’s drill instructor

“They watch the videos and hear the yelling and screaming and think ‘I won’t break,’ then they get here and it’s time to be a man.”

This phase of training culminates in two events: initial drill and swim qualification.

Initial drill involves a detailed inspection where recruits’ uniforms and weapons are checked, and they’re quizzed on what they’ve learned in those first few weeks.

The final hurdle in phase one is swim qualification, and if a recruit can’t pass that, then he or she has no chance of moving forward.

“Some kids have never been in the pool and I would tell them to be mentally prepared for that,” says Phillips.

In addition to being mentally prepared, prospective Marines who can’t swim might want to think about taking lessons before they sign on the dotted line.

“If you can’t swim, there is nothing they can do, you are not going to move on to that next phase,” says Phillips.

According to Phillips, no matter how tough the drill instructors are, everything they do is for a reason.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

Consider the knife-hands that recruits are told to point and gesture with. There’s a reason for that. A knife-hand is when your fingers are outstretched and together, like a blade, your wrist is straight, with your thumb pressed down. That’s also the position your hand should be in when you salute.

It’s not a coincidence, says Phillips.

“They don’t even know the reason, but they’re going to reap the benefits of that reason.”

After phase one, recruits move on to the second phase of training where they are taught how to shoot, as they build off what they’ve learned in the first four weeks.

Military Life

Why leaving the wire for a MEDCAP unarmed is absolutely terrifying

Being deployed to a war zone can sometimes mean intense firefights, well-concealed IEDs, and the overall fear of the unknown. These are just a few of the many dangers many of our service members face on a daily basis.


When our troops gear up to leave the wire they put on their armor, chamber a round into their rifles and some quietly recite a prayer to themselves before heading out.

But sometimes these presumably calm foot patrols can go south in a matter of moments.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Marines depart their entry control point on a foot patrol heading toward the bazaar in Now Zad district, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Source: USMC Life)

Related: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

So imagine leaving the outpost unarmed in the face of this uncertainty. That’s what happens on so-called MEDCAP missions.

MEDCAP — which stands for “medical civil action program” — is a process where allied medical personnel exit the semi-safe confines of their FOBs and treat the local populous of their sickly alignments and injuries.

In hopes of gaining the locals’ trust, the medical staff typically don’t wear their protective body armor or carry their side arms to the events.

In several cases, the medical team ends up treating the enemy’s wounds which they may have sustained while battling allied forces — not cool.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Hundreds of local Afghani local nationals gather for a MEDCAP treatment.

Going out unarmed is one thing, but sitting in the same place — sometimes for hours — unprotected in a combat zone is downright terrifying. And one of the biggest dangers comes from suicide bombers, who can sometimes get close enough to detonate themselves or even fire their weapon before getting checked by the guards.

It happens more than you’d like to think.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
U.S. Navy doctor, Lt. Cdr. Ashby, conducts a medical procedure on a local man.

Also Read: 4 gross non-battle injuries medics have to look at

Unfortunately, MEDCAPs usually take place in an open landscape to draw the locals in, but that can make them vulnerable to snipers who crave such a clear shot.

At any moment, a calm situation can go deadly in a world where violence is second nature.

Military Life

6 reasons why beach assaults actually suck

The very essence of being a Marine Infantryman is being amphibious — it’s the reason we exist as a Marine Corps. However, the last two wars have been fought on land, so it’s understandable that beach assaults have taken a back seat in terms of training goals.


But, with the Marine Corps moving into a peacetime and with sights being set on near-peer rivals, amphibious assault training has resurfaced as pivotal.

Plenty of Marines are excited by this — as they should be — but beach assaults are just one more thing to add to the long list of reasons why the infantry is affectionately called, “the suck.”

Related: Marines want to swarm enemy defenses with hundreds of small boats

1. Sitting in an amphibious assault vehicle for hours.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself in a dark, metal box that floats on the ocean for hours? If you answered, “yes,” then you’ll love beach assaults. You get locked inside an AAV while you’re taken from ship to shore. Not only is it really dark and hot, it’s also terribly boring.

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
These vehicles are extremely cramped. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Castillo, 1st Marine Division Combat Camera)

2. Diesel fumes.

Remember that thing about being locked in the metal box? Well, that metal box burns diesel and the fumes make their way into where you and your buddies are waiting. Essentially, you just sit there and inhale the fumes until you reach the shore.

3. Your gear gets soaked.

This isn’t true for absolutely everyone as some AAVs are pretty good about staying air-tight, but these are old vehicles and they’re prone to mechanical shortcomings. As many Marines will tell you, be sure to waterproof your gear because, between ship and shore, you’ll often end up in ankle-deep water.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Good luck turning that gear back in after this. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Carlstrom)

4. The blinding sunlight.

If your assault happens during the day, the moment the ramp drops and you run outside, your eyes are going to have to adjust from the dark, dank interior of the AAV to unrelenting sunlight. For a few seconds, as you run to your position in the attack, you’ll be nearly blind.

5. Your rifle gets extremely dirty.

Between the salt water, sand, and any oil leaks, your rifle is going to get crapped on. Hopefully, you either lubed it up prior to leaving the ship or you did so while sweating your ass off in a cloud of diesel smoke. There’s no way you’ll keep it clean, but this will at least ensure you can shoot your rifle.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Once the attack is over, prepare your anus as the armory rejects your rifle like never before.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sergio Ramirez Romero)

Also read: 5 things service members hate on that are actually useful

6. Sand. Sand everywhere.

It’s rough, it’s coarse, and it gets everywhere. Sand will not only get in every small space on your rifle, it’s going to get into everything you have. Every crack in your gear, uniform, and body. You’re going to have sand in places that didn’t even touch the beach. Once you get back to ship, you’ll have to deep clean everything — including yourself.

Lists

This event is helping military influencers take over the world

The Military Influencer Conference, held in Dallas, Texas, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, was organized by recently retired Army 1st Sergeant Curtez Riggs, who dreamed of designing a conference that merged entrepreneurship, military spouse networking, and the blogging community into what would ultimately become the Military Influencer Conference.


The event was supported by major sponsors, including USAA and National Geographic, which helped contribute to its massive success.

We Are The Mighty was there and we were blown away by how great the event was — but don’t take our word for it. Here are 18 sources who will back that up:

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Military Influencer Conference 2017.

1. a spouse ful™

Lakesha Cole, entrepreneur, blogger, and military spouse, explains how the Military Influencer Conference “reset the standard moving forward” for all other military oriented conferences. Diversity and the ability to network are just two of the things Cole found to be game changers for future conferences.

2. The Hive and Co.

Shiang-Li and Miranda from The Hive and Co. were motivated to find different content than they normally see at conferences. Their thoughts on whether you should attend the conference next year? “You won’t be disappointed.”

3. Operation Supply Drop

The team from Operation Supply Drop noted that hundreds of years of military service and tens of millions of dollars in revenue were represented in the 35 speakers presenting in 21 different sessions.

4. Jennifer Pilcher, MA- Strategic Military Communications, LLC, MilitaryOneClick

Pilcher’s in depth focus on TNT, or Trust, Need, and Transparency, explains how Military Influencer Conference founder Curtez Riggs was able to put together this explosive conference in only months. A little help from Philip Taylor — (PT Money and founder of FitCon) — and a whole lot of elbow grease, and Riggs set the whole place on fire.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Fred Wellman, Lakesha Cole, and Paul Szoldra deliver the final panel at the Military Influencers Conference. (Image A Spouse Ful)

5. Vet2BizLife, LLC

Dan Dwyer, owner of Vet2BizLife, LLC, recognized the passion, motivation, and ambition of the attendees at the Military Influencer Conference, and he has 10 tips on how to keep that ambition moving forward after the fact. His 10 tips will help you solidify “an action plan that you’ll be able to execute once you’re recovered, reinvigorated, and ready.”

6. MilitaryByOwner

Founders Dave and Sharon Gran both had two very interesting things to say about the Military Influencer Conference. Sharon: “The Military Influencer Conference is the only conference around for military spouses, veterans, and active duty members who blog, write, speak or own businesses in the military space to come together and learn from each other.” Dave: “The conference is not only a venue to hear the stories and advice from successful entrepreneurs, but an opportunity to network and build relationships.”

7. Her Money Moves

Christine, owner of Her Money Moves, is here to tell you WHY you should attend next year’s conference, even if you’re a nobody and brand new to this entire thing called military life.

8. Medium

Retired Air Force veteran and founder of the Unconventional Veteran Bernard Edwards praised the Military Influencer Conference in its hands on approach and ability to relate to the typical veteran (who is, apparently, not a general or a pilot).

9. Countdowns and Cupcakes

Blogger Rachel McQuiston writes about her four biggest takeaways from the Military Influencer Conference. She writes of her fellow attendees “these are my people.”

10. Consilium

Global business advisor Ed Marsh outlines what made the Military Influencer Conference different from most conferences, and how that difference is what made the entire experience worth him waiving his normal speaking fees and travel costs. Calling the attendees “Quiet Professionals,” Marsh notes that “there was the quiet confidence of a group that knows they’ll win. They may not yet be sure how, and may not even yet be clear on what challenge they’re facing — but experience tells them that their grit, determination, doggedness, ingenuity, and flexibility will enable them to prevail.”

11. GreenZone Hero

Founder of GreenZone Hero John Krotec writes “I can’t ever recall experiencing anything like it at any of the professional conferences that I’ve attended throughout my thirty-plus year business career. Honestly, it was electric.” His observations of the Military Influencer Conference are a must read.

12. The Fortitude Coach

Nicole Bowe-Rahming, aka “The Fortitude Coach,” notes that the Military Influencer Conference elicited moments of “aha!” and humility, as well as a need to get back to the harmony between being an entrepreneur and an influencer. Her biggest “aha” moment? When Daniel Alarik, CEO and founder of Grunt Style, said “You can’t, but WE can.”

13. Anna Blanch Rabe

Anna Blanch Rabe, an Army veteran who’s worn so many hats she could open her own hat store, attended the Military Influencer Conference against her will after spending 4 months touring the country. She wrote of her concerns with attending the event: “I would regret not spending extra days in Washington D.C. with my husband after the Marine Corps Marathon.” Rabe soon found she was mistaken.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
The 2018 Military Influencer Conference will be in Orlando, Florida, from Sept. 23 – 25, which logically means we all unofficially meet up at Disney World after, right guys? (Image A Spouse Ful)

14. Stacey Peters

Freelancer Stacey Peters notes that at first she felt awkward, unsure of herself, and how she “was wrong — dead wrong.”

15. Erica McMannes

MadSkills co-founder Erica McMannes discusses three things that you missed if you missed this year’s Military Influencer Conference: how to perfect your pitch, the way the military spouse community was embraced as part of the group rather than just married to it, and how important validation is.

16. Adventures of a Natural Family

Air Force veteran and current military spouse Alana Wilson digs in to what it means to be a military influencer, and how impressed she was with the over-all community. She writes “My biggest takeaway is that I sit back in awe of the military community. Even after being in this community for 14 years now, I have a whole new wave of appreciation for the kind of people that make up this group. These people are some of the most creative, loyal, hard working, no-quite, all grit, give you the shirt off their back type of people.”

17. The Seasoned Spouse

Lizann Lightfoot, the founder of The Seasoned Spouse, writes about the 8 big lessons she took away from the Military Influencer Conference. Among them? “Never underestimate the power of a dream.”

18. ScoutComms

According to Fred Wellman, “It was hard to predict how the first MIC would go. It was clear something special was in the making, based on the incredible list of speakers and sponsors taking the leap of faith on a first-time event.”

And special it was. He listed big takeaways from the event, including the fact that sixty percent of the attendees were military spouses, proving what we’ve known for a long time: our families are a vital part of our military experiences and capabilities.

Featured Image via milblogging.com. From left to right: Glenn D BantonEric MitchellMichael KellyBernard EdwardsCurtez RiggsMatthew Griffin, Eli Crane, Abe Minkara and Adam Whitten of Marc Cuban Companies.

popular

Why the US military has shoulder pockets

In 2004, the U.S. Army unveiled its new combat uniform, complete with upgrades including wrinkle-free fabric and a digitized camouflage print. The Army Combat Uniform (ACU) had many changes (18, in fact), but one of the troop favorites was the shoulder pocket.


 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

 

Obviously, pockets themselves weren’t new to military uniforms. The quintessential pant-leg cargo pocket was indispensable in the Korean War; as a result, cargo pockets have adorned military combat uniforms (and military-inspired fashion?) ever since. They were also used on blouses during the Vietnam War, and after 9/11, they got fancy even more utilitarian.

“This isn’t about a cosmetic redesign of the uniform,” said Col. John Norwood, the project manager for Clothing and Individual Equipment. “It’s a functionality change of the uniform that will improve the ability of Soldiers to execute their combat mission.”

One of the favored changes was the addition of the shoulder pocket, which replaced the bottom pockets on the jacket after troops realized they couldn’t access the front of their uniform while wearing body armor. The shoulder, however, was a handy location. These were tilted forward and buttons were replaced with zippers for function and comfort in combat.

Also read: 5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Prior to the uniform change, troops in the field had been modifying their gear to include the shoulder pocket for years, including Desert Storm and the early years of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
It’s the perfect size for your sanity. (Image via Mil-Spec Monkey)

Regulations around the pocket only dictate that “articles carried in pockets do not protrude from the pocket or present a bulky appearance,” so what’s actually carried in them is up to the individual, but it gets fascinating. Users on reddit list everything from pens and notebooks, U.S. flag patches to hand out to local children, to candy…which got me thinking…

…what did you carry in your shoulder pocket? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Articles

6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

There aren’t many jobs in the military where your sea-duty station consists of serving with another branch. But for the Navy rate of an “HM,” or Hospital Corpsman, that’s exactly where you can expect to find yourself.


After you graduate Field Medical Training Battalion, expect to get orders to the Marine Corps side of the house or what we call, the “Greenside” — sooner rather than later.

We call it the greenside because you’re going to wear a sh*t ton of green for the next three years.

Related: 4 unusual tasks Corpsman do that their recruiters left out

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
Doc, meet the company first sergeant. (imgflip.com)

It can be pretty nerve-wracking for a Corpsman to cross over for the first time. But don’t worry, WATM has your back.

Check out what you should know about heading over to “Greenside.”

1. PT

You don’t have to be a marathon athlete, but don’t let your Marines ever see you fall out of a hike, a run, or get hurt — you’ll look like a p*ssy.

Be the exact opposite of this guy (giphy

2. Chugging a beer

Marines drink a lot of beer during barracks parties. So get your tolerance up and have a few I.Vs handy.

Finding new ways to drink is badass. Plus you’ll look cool. (giphy

3. Always be cool

Marines are trained to love their Doc — they’re also trained to kill. They’re going to look to you for advice from time-to-time. When your grunts do something right, congratulate them.

Great job, Lance Corporal! (giphy)

4. Know every line from “Full Metal Jacket”

Marines love that sh*t when you manage to work a line or two into a conversation. Oh, make sure you have a copy of the movie on your hard drive when you deploy; it’s the “unofficial” movie of the Marine Corps.

Any line will do, as long as it fits the conversation. (giphy)

5. Know your ranks

Marine ranks are different than Navy ones. A Marine Captain is an O-3, compared to a Navy Captain who is an O-6. Big difference.

“Do I look like I’m in the Navy to you!” (giphy)Learn to count chevrons. Senior NCOs’ collar devices can blend into their uniform, making it tough to make out their proper title. Find an alternate way to greet them properly, or you can just take the less populated walkways (aka the long way).

Also Read: 8 tips for ‘skating’ in the military

6. Learn sick call

Face it, the Navy has only given you officially 12-16 weeks worth of medical training. No one is going to ask you to perform open-heart surgery on your first day.

Marines are going to get sick and injured, and that’s your time to shine. When you’re working in the B.A.S., or “battalion aid station,” you’re going to have to explain why your patient is in sick call to the Independent Duty Corpsman or the doctor on staff. Knowing the medical terminology will earn you respect from the Navy doctor to the point they aren’t going to waste their time doing the second examination.

Getting your Marine a day off work or light duty is key. Impress your Marine and your life, and your heavy pack will seem lighter on a hike — it’s a beautiful thing.

Can you think of any more? Comment below.
Military Life

Why the Veteran’s Day parade may be the big day for Pinks & Greens

The U.S. Army’s upcoming dress uniform switch that’ll put soldiers in updated Pinks and Greens is all but official. The date set for senior leadership to make the final call also coincides with another huge moment for the Army: the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. It’s also the date of the upcoming (semi-controversial) military parade in Washington D.C.


According to road maps outlined by the Army Times and Marlow White Uniforms, different phases of the uniform’s slow roll-out coincide with the Army’s important historic dates. Over this summer, 150 soldiers from the Northeast Recruiting Battalion will wear the uniform, testing to find any kinks in the prototypes. After that, fielding of the uniform will begin next summer, on June 6th, 2019 — the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
A fitting day for the finest dress uniform to make it’s comeback.
(National Archives)

But before that, on November 11th, 2018, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey will give the official verdict. If you look at their the schedule for that day, you’ll see they’ll be fairly busy with the military parade going on in Washington.

Dailey’s opinion on the Pinks and Greens are well known throughout the Army. He’s worn the uniform at high-profile events and has accompanied himself with soldiers wearing the uniform many times.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
(U.S. Army Photo)

Take all of this with a grain of salt, as nothing has been officially confirmed nor denied. However, given the Sergeant Major of the Army’s knack for showmanship and the military parade in Washington happening, it wouldn’t be hugely surprising if his official verdict was made clear by him showing up in the new dress uniform.

All of this may sound a little like pure fanboy speculation about a dress uniform, but, in my humble opinion, we shouldn’t be surprised if the Pinks and Greens make their debut at an event that has officially called for troops to wear period uniforms.

Military Life

Watch Army Special Forces do their own dive training

When we think of Green Berets, we think of tough, highly-trained troops that have been groomed to take on high-priority missions. Seeing as the military is home to a number of unique specializations, it’s easy to assume that when it comes to any kind of amphibious assault or landing, you’ve entered Navy or Marine Corps territory — right? Not necessarily.

The U.S. Army does some of its own diving. In fact, the U.S. Army actually operates a number of its own ships, too, for moving stuff around. In an instance of Hollywood actually getting it right, the 1986 film The Delta Force touched on one instance in which dive training proved very useful: infiltrating a target.


How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Chuck Norris prepares to infiltrate a terrorist base in ‘The Delta Force.’ The diving is not Hollywood BS.

(Cannon Films)

So, how do Green Berets learn how to carry out such missions? Well, to even get into the Combat Diver Qualification Course at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School, soldiers must first demonstrate outstanding physical fitness and pass swim tests. Once a Green Beret has arrived in Key West, Florida, they face seven weeks of training.

The training is extremely tough — one of three candidates who attend the school will not pass the course. After another series of tests (known collectively as “Zero Week”), Special Forces diving students learn how to handle SCUBA gear and re-breathers and learn all the skills required for an amphibious insertion. Then, It all culminates in a field training exercise.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO

One-third of the soldiers training will wash out of the Combat Divers Qualification Course.

(U.S. Army photo by Linda L. Crippen)

Check out the video below to see an old-school video about Green Berets putting their dive training to good use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJhMxdZAJ64

www.youtube.com

Military Life

6 reasons why working with a foreign military can suck

Going to another country on Uncle Sam’s dime can be amazing. It gives you an opportunity to travel and learn about a new culture in ways most civilians will never know.


As a service member, working with a foreign military is one of the most rewarding things you can do because you get to directly interact with a nation’s real population, not just the tourist-facing folk. But there’s a downside to everything — and this is no exception.

Here’s why working with another country’s military can be extremely disappointing.

Related: 6 reasons why working with a foreign military is amazing

1. Dog-and-pony shows

When working with a foreign force, the American military will try its best not to offend the host country. This doesn’t mean, however, that they won’t try to make the U.S. Military look better than everyone else at every opportunity. This leads to the ol’ dog-and-pony show where your command will not only make you look as pretty as possible, they’re also going to make you give up your free time to make themselves look good.

This may come in the form of Olympic-style fitness competitions, parades, or doing some extra cleaning around the barracks/ship/bivouac. Ultimately, the aim is to say (without saying), “here in the U.S. Military, we’re better than you — and we know it!”

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
It may look something like this. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)

2. Learning tactics

This can be cool if you’re working with a military that has plenty of experience and, therefore, employs tactics that are equally efficient as ours. But when you work with a host country whose military falls short in several areas, it can be less than stellar. American tactics are built around an individual’s ability to act, while other countries rely on squad leaders to make every decision.

When you learn that another country’s tactics are terribly inefficient, it becomes disappointing. You have to come to terms with the fact that you’re training with that country because you might have to work with them in the future.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
It’s hit or miss. Some countries are great, others fall short. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. Sergio RamirezRomero)

3. Language barriers

It’s a given that when you travel to another country to work with their military, foreign troops are probably not going to speak English very well if at all. Even if they do, there are so many dialects across the United States that there may still be issues with translation. Some languages don’t have terms or phrases for things that Americans do, so communicate becomes difficult.

4. Cultural disconnect

Even if you’re working in a country with plenty of English speakers, there’s still a cultural disconnect. Hell, even within the United States, people still argue about whether it’s “pop” or “soda.” Humor may vary between countries, so jokes that Americans find funny may not translate — be warned.

Pay close attention to the culture briefs you get prior to deployment and do some of your own research to figure out how to keep making your foreign counterparts laugh.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
This is a two-way street. So be flexible and open-minded. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sergio RamirezRomero)

5. Flexing American tactics

Your command will undoubtedly make you show off your tactics. This might not sound so bad, but try watching the light in a foreign troop’s face disappear when they realize Americans are considerably better warfighters and they’ll likely never stack up.

You can teach American tactics all you like, but they may not have the resources for proper training.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
They’re just going to have to live with the fact that we’re better. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sergio RamirezRomero)

 

Also read: 5 more of the greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

6. Gear thievery

Stealing is common everywhere you go, and the American military has no tolerance for such dishonorable activities. The problem here is that other countries may have service members who want your gear because theirs is trash (they’re in for a surprise). Make sure that your gear is secure to avoid losing an issued item.

 

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
This is what they think when they see your precious unguarded gear laying around…

Articles

How interrogation techniques are used on recruits and no one knew it

For countless years, various interrogation techniques have been used to locate the bad guys, gain confessions and convict criminals. In 1996, the CIA and Army intelligence officers were forced to release a collection of writings called “Kubark” after a Freedom of Information Act request.


This former secret document reveals practices used against the nation’s enemies to admit wrong doings and learn information to prevent future attacks.

Related: President ponders review of suspected terrorist interrogations and black sites

Section nine (shown below) describes the stages of coercive techniques used to extract vital information from sources. Once you look closely, you may realize you’ve experienced one or more of these techniques up close and personal during your stay in boot camp.

How to not be a dirtbag CGO
The levels of Kubark from the original document published in 1963. (Source: NSA Archive / Screenshot)

Here’s how 8 out of 12 forms of counterintelligence interrogation techniques are used on recruits in basic training.

1. Arrest

In this case, arrest doesn’t mean being handcuffed and hauled off to jail, we’re talking about using the element of surprise to achieve the maximum amount of mental discomfort. Picture a few drill sergeants barreling into a squad bay screaming and yelling waking up their recruits at moments notice — it’s the same principle.

2. Detention

According to the NSA archive, the continuity of a man’s surroundings, appearance, daily habits, and actions define his identity. In boot camp, the recruit has no control over any of these aspects in his new military life.

3. Deprivation of Sensory Stimuli

Basic training is known for breaking down recruits before they’re built back up. So recruits are banned from anything positive at least until graduation.

4. Threats and Fears

When a DI tells you that nothing you can do is right and you’re a complete failure, it takes a toll on the mind. Even worse, if you fail you’re going to have to repeat the tough evolution if you don’t get a move on.

5. Debility

Living in close counters with up to 80 other people means getting sick is almost guaranteed. Getting a head cold and forced to hard days work can break anyone’s spirit. The interrogation doesn’t stop for a detainee if they have a little fever.

6. Pain

Everyone’s threshold to tolerate pain is different. As many would collapse and quit, others use it as motivation to push forward and fight. Boot camp is all about mental and physical toughness and so is surviving a harsh interrogation.

7. Heighten Suggestibility and Hypnosis

This state of consciousness means getting someone to accept suggestion without them thinking about it and taking action. In military terms, it’s building up muscle memory.

8. Narcosis

Today it’s mainly known as sleep deprivation. Everyone needs rest or they can make vital mistakes. Boot camp is widely known for keeping military hopefuls up for multiple hours conducting various tasks to see how they respond to the stress.

Also Read: This Navy SEAL’s intense boot camp prepares actors for movie combat

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