6 ways a leader's rank can help their troops - We Are The Mighty
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:


6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
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.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
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.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
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.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
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.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
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.

Humor

24 people to marry with better benefits than a US service member

Recently, the military healthcare system Tricare posted a photo on its Facebook page that had its fans in a frenzy.


People got pissed; they complained; they shared the post with harsh words; some even used “caps lock” in their comments. It was terrible.

What was so offensive about the post, you ask? If you hadn’t already seen it, it was a wedding photo with the comment “You had me at #TRICARE.” See below.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Tricare recently posted what was supposed to be a humorous post to its Facebook page. Instead, it got a lot of backlash!

As someone who works online almost exclusively, I had to laugh at the post. In fact, I laughed a lot. I could understand why some people were upset (hello, pushing a negative stereotype on female military spouses), but mostly I couldn’t understand how the marketing department at Tricare saw the post and said “Oh hey, THIS post is an EXCELLENT idea!”

My first reaction when I saw it, honestly, was “I wonder how long whomever approved this post will have a job?” I post all kinds of crazy things on my own personal Facebook page, but I’ve been called into more than one come-to-Jesus meeting with a boss over a poorly planned social media post.

When that’s your job, you have to be aware of your audience.

And who is the audience for most of Tricare’s social media pages? Probably spouses who want to keep up with changes in Tricare benefits. So it’s no small wonder that a whole bunch of them were butthurt.

So I did what any responsible journalist in my position would do: I shared the flub on my personal Facebook page and asked for hilarious feedback. My friends did not disappoint.

The idea? If we were to marry someone for his benefits, couldn’t we have chosen someone with better perks?

The military benefits are great, don’t get me wrong. But what about if you married:

1. A mob boss

All the Italian food your heart desires and the destruction of your mortal enemies. (this is obviously my first choice)

2. Prince Harry

Crowns and gowns, you’d never have to work! (wait. maybe this is my first choice)

3. United State Senator or Representative

The best health care your tax dollars can buy. Plus no one’s allowed to hurt your feelings. (gag me now)

4. A doctor

All you can eat hospital food! (food? queue the fat dependa jokes, because I AM IN)

5. A dog breeder

Picks of the litter! (meh, I’m not really a puppy person. Don’t shoot me, I prefer a full-grown rescue)

6. Donald Trump

If you ever go bald or are in desperate need of a tanning bed, you’re already in the right place! (If you can stomach this, its an option for those of you under 25!)

7. Any president

Free food, vacations all over the world; top private schools for kids; secret service body guards; couple cabins in the woods; free airfare!! (Woah woah woah…. someone sign my husband up!)

8. A Masseuse

Happy massages for days. (Okay I’m really torn between this one and Prince Harry. Can we choose two?)

9. Bill Gates

When one door closes the windows are always open!! (I’m a Mac girl, so…)

10. A handyman

All the crap around the house might actually get done! (Except my daddy raised me to be able to DO all the crap around the house, so this isn’t an issue here.)

11. Cesar Milan (the dog whisperer)

Maybe he can make the kids behave! (Wait, I have to choose between behaving kids and Prince Harry? Adulting is hard.)

12. A plastic surgeon

Think this speaks for itself. (Meh, not really my cup of tea)

13. A Starbucks barista

I think this also speaks for itself. (Okay, so do you think Harry could make coffee AND be a mob boss AND be a masseuse? Someone with connections find this out for me?)

14. An airline Pilot

Get to travel for free or for little out-of-pocket when there are seats available. (I’m married to a pilot. I see how he drives, I DO NOT want to fly with him.)

15. A personal trainer and chef

Never have to cook again and always fit into your skinny jeans! (I already fit into my skinny jeans. I just buy them bigger now.)

16. A hotel manager

Free room and board with complimentary continental breakfast! (I do enjoy food…)

17. A mechanic

(Free oil changes?)

18. Matt Damon

He’s my fantasy celebrity boyfriend and I’m waiting for his proposal. (Obviously this wasn’t my suggestion. If it’s not obvious, I super like Prince Harry. Just saying.)

19. A farmer

Cheap help from laborers, tractors and back hoes to dig as many holes as I need to bury the bodies. Then, when the old man ain’t worth it anymore I just take him out to pasture on the back 40! (So maybe not husband material, but maybe as a side piece while I’m married to the mob boss? Questions need to be asked here.)

20. A coffee importer

I would always have the best coffee. Ooh or someone who owns a bookstore too! Unlimited coffee and books for life it can’t get any better than that. (Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if Prince Harry has a library? Asking for a friend.)

21. The owner of a winery

(Also need to find out how Harry feels about wine)

22. A civilian so you never have to sleep alone

…Or worry. (I know, too serious)

23. A Costco employee

I used to work at Aetna. Let me tell you — those folks get great insurance. Or they used to. Free glasses once a year for all members of the family. (It IS time for me to get new glasses.)

24. The heir to a million dollar business with really nice in laws

No wait.. better! Heir to an awesome chocolate company. (Note to self, find out how Prince Harry feels about wine and chocolate and masseuse school and libraries and…)

I just realized that Prince Harry is in the military as well, so maybe I just really appreciate a man in uniform and the benefits aren’t really even the icing on the cake.

Military Life

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

If you’re in the military, you’re going to move. It’s a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there’s a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.

That’s right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.

1. Overkill is underrated

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Still a better ride than a Humvee (Uhaul)

Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it’s really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.

2. Buy all the moving supplies

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
(military.com)

Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That’s not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you’re short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You’re covered either way.

3. You don’t have to do it all yourself

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Pizza is a great incentive (U.S. Army)

Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won’t fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.

4. Stock up

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Yes, motorcycles count toward the weight of your household goods (U.S. Army)

The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I’m not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That’s called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you’ve been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you’ve been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It’s also worth noting that it’s to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.

5. Save your receipts

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Those receipts are literally your money (U.S. Air Force)

If you’ve been in the military for a minute, you know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won’t print you a receipt from your fill-up? You’d better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump’s screen won’t do it.

6. Take the toll

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Hopefully your drive looks better than this (USDot)

On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you’re cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren’t required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.

7. Know what doesn’t count

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Sorry, your Camaro doesn’t count for weight (Uhaul)

Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.

Military Life

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

On deployment, troops are asked to complete some pretty intense missions under hostile conditions. Half of the time, they leave the wire with little-to-no sleep and still have to perform at a high level. Due to our crazy schedules, we are required to be up at the butt-crack of dawn for PT, eat chow, and prepare for the 12-16 hour workday ahead. After all that, we try and get some rest before we have to do it all over again the next day.

That sh*t can burn a troop out in no time.


Since we’re dedicated as f*ck, we suck it up and move on. Unfortunately, being sleep deprived increases the risk of some significant health problems, like diabetes, strokes, and even heart attacks. Aside from these major problems, running on too little sleep can cause troops to make dumb mistakes and severely lowers reaction times.

 

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Soldiers from the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment try to sleep during a 19-hour flight. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to maintain a high quality of life. Unfortunately for some troops, that simply can’t happen. In fact, some people don’t even produce the sleep hormone called “melatonin” until way later on in the night. We call those guys and gals “night owls.”

Now, we can’t blame this hormone entirely — today’s technology plays a unique role among those who might have a little insomnia.

In 2002, scientists found a sensor in our eyes called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells that, apparently, do not like many forms of blue light — which is likely found in the very computer screen you’re using right now.

When blue light interacts with those cells, they send messages to our brain that tell us the sun is still out, which can inhibit your body’s natural melatonin production. The takeaway from that study is you might want to start reading a book (instead of staring at your phone) on your way to sleepy land.

For those who have naturally lower melatonin production in their brains, food like almonds, raspberries, and gogi berries can help boost levels.

Check out Tech Insider‘s video below to get a humorous take on catching enough sleep.

Military Life

Why the US has a base 695 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Every military installation has its ups and downs. You could be assigned to a tropical paradise, but you can’t afford anything off-base. You could be assigned to a breathtaking foreign country, but learning the local language will take some time. Or, you could be assigned to Thule Air Base in Greenland, where there’s literally nothing but ice and rock for 65 miles (and, even then, it’s just a remote Eskimo village).


The multinational team stationed there consists of around 400 Danish troops, 150 American troops, and a handful of Canadians. Team Thule is charged with tracking satellites and orbiting debris using a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS), a remnant from the Cold War by being strategically placed roughly halfway between Moscow and New York City.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

The BMEWS is still manned and operated by both American and Danish troops. Denmark holds territorial claim over Greenland but gave them “Home Rule” in 1979 and Greenlanders voted for self-governance in 2008. Denmark still handles much of the defense of Greenland, however.

Troops at Thule are locked out from the rest of the world by the ice for nine months, so during the three “summer” months, everyone loads up on supplies that’ll last them the rest of the year. Thule is also home to the Air Force’s only Tug Boat, the Rising Star, which it uses for these resupply missions.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Just an average day at Thule Air Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Hoffman)

The Military One Source Pamphlet hilariously tries to downplay the roughness of Thule while also telling you that there are no ATMs, no commissary, the PX is extremely limited, and there’s all of one bar and a single “base taxi.”

But hey! At least every barracks room comes with free WiFi and it’s kind of accepted that everyone shelters-in-place during the four-month-long Polar Night where winds can reach 200 mph and the temperatures are -28.

Military Life

See the Navy haul its crew’s vehicles on the USS Ronald Reagan

The United States Navy’s aircraft carriers are huge ships. This isn’t just for show; they need to be large to operate four squadrons of multi-role fighters plus other assorted planes, like EA-18G Growlers, E-2 Hawkeyes, and helicopters. But all of that space is useful for transporting other things, too. After all, we’re talking over four acres of sovereign United States territory.


6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles onto an aircraft elevator of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

For instance, when the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) was switching homeports from Bremerton to San Diego (before being deployed to Japan as the forward-based carrier), she did a solid for all of the sailors who man her — she gave their rides a ride.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Sailors’ vehicles are parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Many sailors have vehicles. But when you’re sailing a ship, your options for vehicle transportation are limited. Sure, you can have your vehicle shipped — but you’ll have to pay a fee. Yeah, you can ask a buddy to make the road trip out to your new home port, but what if something happens along the way? Or, you could always sell your car and buy a new one, but that’s a hassle and a half — plus, you don’t want to shed that sweet Mustang, right?

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Sailors direct the movement of vehicles on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles D. Gaddis IV)

Since it was just a short trip up the coast and since they didn’t need to operate the air wing, the sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan were allowed to park on the ship. Without the air wing, there’s a lot of room for helping the crew get their vehicles to the new home port.

For one brief coastal cruise, the Ronald Reagan became a $5 billion, nuclear-powered car carrier. The sailors saved money, the Navy didn’t have to pay contractors to move the vehicles, and we got some cool photos out of the deal. That’s a win-win-win all around.

Military Life

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

Getting assigned to your first unit or transferring to a new unit can be exciting…and unnerving. You want to make a good impression and quickly find your role on the new team, but you know being too much too soon can give off a bad vibe. 

First impressions matter, but what matters more is the impression others have of you after your first four to eight weeks. This is the time when you move beyond pleasantries and others will truly see who you are and what you’re like. That’s why if you follow the 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

new unit commaraderie

1) Don’t talk.

When you join a new unit, it’s important to remember others might be skeptical of you and they might not trust you. It has been their unit for some time, and you’re the newbie. You’ll want to lay low when you start out. Keep your opinions about what the unit should be doing to yourself and don’t engage in conversations about controversial issues like politics or religion. Eventually, your unit members will become more comfortable with you, trust you and ask for your opinions. That’s the point when you have the willingness of your teammates to be open to what you think.

2) Listen.

While you’re doing a good job keeping your mouth shut, open your ears. As the new unit member, you’ve got a lot to learn, and the only way you can learn by listening. Pay attention and listen to everything and everyone you can—briefings, presentations, off-hand conversations with other unit members, etc. After a while, you’ll get a good sense of how the unit works, who the influencers are and how to get things done.

3) Meet as many people as you can.

Once you report to your unit, you’ll obviously meet with your unit leadership, but make sure you also schedule check-ins with personnel, operations, logistics, plans, communications, training, finance and any other support functions your unit or command has. While it might not be required, it’s a good practice because developing good relationships with officers and enlisted in those functions can help you get things done in the future. 

It might be hard to keep track of everyone you meet, so keep notes of who they are and the roles they play. Doing so might be impressive to others and help you build good will early on. 

4) Don’t cause any problems.

The last thing you want to do as the newbie to a unit is cause a problem, big or small. Obviously don’t be the one missing your Reveille or muster time, but also don’t be the one leaving dishes in a kitchen sink or leaving extra copies of your documents on a printer. Those little things will be noticed by other unit members and will make it more difficult for you to assimilate with your new group. Remember that the quicker you learn and follow the unit’s unwritten rules, the faster you’ll become one of the team.

In the end, it’s important to prioritize your long-term role in your unit. You can be known as the thoughtful, hard-working, reliable and strategic-thinking teammate, or you can be known as the one who causes problems, talks too much and doesn’t listen. By following these unwritten rules of joining a new unit, your choice will be obvious.

Military Life

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

For better or worse, non-judicial punishment (NJP) is exactly what the name implies. As authorized by Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a commander may discipline their troop without the need for a court-martial.

On the one hand, a commander is keeping things at the lowest level possible and punishments can only be so extreme (depending on the type of NJP, of course). On the other, due process is sidestepped and the judge, jury, and executioner is a single person.


But there are a few ways to make sure your Article 15 process goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Why the hell would there be such a glaring loophole that says you can’t be in trouble if you don’t want to be?

(Photo by Naoto Anazawa)

Don’t think not signing means you’re in the clear

It’s an embarrassingly common misconception. Some people think that signing an Article 15 is an admission of guilt. It’s not. It’s just saying that you agree to go down that route. More often than not, depending on the circumstances, you’ll want to just take the NJP.

Escalating the hearing to court-martial means that you’re putting yourself at risk of confinement and possibly an administrative discharge. If you are facing just a summarized Article 15 (the least severe of NJPs), the most you can get is 14 days of extra duty, 14 days of restriction, and an oral reprimand.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Every situation is unique, but it’s more than likely that you want to stay at just the NJP level.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Carter)

Don’t cry for a lawyer

Your civil rights are still a thing when facing a NJP, but it’s not always the best course of action to call for a lawyer when the punishment can be kept in house. You are allowed legal representation (if you’re not facing the extremely light summarized), but remember, you’re not convincing a military judge who has heard many trials.

Instead, you’re trying to convince your commander who has long been with you and should (probably) know who you are as a troop by now. You may bring spokesmen, evidence, and witnesses and you should probably let the person who knows the commander best do all the talking.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Why would you want to upset the one person who holds your career in their hands?

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Donte Busker)

Don’t mouth off to your commander

Now is not the time to pop off with an attitude. If you know with 100% certainty that you are innocent, explain the situation as calmly and soundly as possible. If you know you’re guilty and the commander has you dead-to-rights, then don’t dig your grave deeper.

Actual judges and justices must hide emotion and let the facts do the talking. Your commander doesn’t want the unit to look bad and is doing what they must. The fact that they allowed you to just take an Article 15 instead of automatically going to court-martial means they’re at least a little bit on your side.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Just hide back in the formation and keep your nose clean.

(Photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty)

Don’t scoff at the chance of a suspended punishment

Another element unique to an Article 15 is that the commander may suspend the punishment. Meaning, if they choose, a commander can put you on probation without any actions taken against you. This probation can last up to six months and, at the end of those six months, the commander may believe your punishment was paid for with a very stern lecture (if your behavior’s been good).

Thank your commander if they give you this option and keep your word when you say, “it’ll never happen again.” One slip up and your actual punishment begins. This could even happen for something small, like being a minute late to PT formation.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Each link on the chain may be more and more time consuming…

(Photo by Master Sgt. Joey Swafford)

If you feel you were unjustly punished, don’t forget to appeal

But let’s not give every single commander the benefit of the doubt. We’ll admit it; there are bad apples who may drop the hammer for a slight infraction because they hold a grudge against you. You always have the right to appeal the verdict, escalating the issue to the next highest level.

If you appeal within five days, your case will be brought higher. Worst case scenario, your appeal gets denied. If it gets accepted, then the worst case is that your punishment stays the same. You don’t really have anything to lose by appealing.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

But your buddies will still laugh with you. Or at you, depending on what you did.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

After two years (or you PCS/ETS), don’t bring it up again

This final tip is for E-4 and below. After two years (or if you PCS/ETS), an Article 15 is destroyed and can’t be used against you.

E-5 and above, unfortunately, have the Article 15 on their record forever (unless you have it expunged). If you messed up as an E-3, took it on the chin like an adult, and now you’re thinking of staying in, just keep that embarrassing blemish on an otherwise clean career to yourself and nobody will give a damn.

Articles

The complete hater’s guide to the Warthog

So, we are back with another complete hater’s guide to one of the Air Force’s aircraft. Last time, we discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


This time, we will go to the plane that everyone in the Air Force loves…and yet, it keeps ending up on the chopping block. That’s right, it’s time for us to discuss the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016, during the first combat training mission of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

Why it is easy to make fun of the A-10

Let’s see, it’s slow. It doesn’t fly high, if anything, the plane is best flying very low.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
As any of its pilots will tell you, it’s ugly — but well hung. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It’s not going to win any airplane beauty pageants any time soon due to being quite aesthetically-challenged. Also, when it was first designed, it was a daylight-only plane with none of the sensors to drop precision-guided weapons.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook

Why you should hate the A-10

Because it has this cult following that seems to think it can do just about anything and take out any one. Because its pilots think the GAU-8 cannon in the nose is all that — never mind that a number of other planes took bigger guns into the fight — including 75mm guns.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Because that low, slow, flight profile means it is a big target. Because you’d rather claim that a relative died in a motorcycle accident than admit they fly that ugly plane.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Because that plane always seems to stick around when the Air Force wants to retire it. Because it is useless in a dogfight.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Representative Martha McSally, pictured in her office during her Air Force career, preparing to distribute BRRRRRT. Helps explain why the A-10 will be around indefinitely. (Photo credit unknown)

Why you should love the A-10

Because this plane can bring its pilot home when the bad guys hit it — just ask “Killer Chick.” Because it also has a proven combat record in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and the War on Terror.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Kim Campbell looks at her damaged hog, which she landed at her base after a mission over Baghdad in 2003. (Photo via National Air and Space Museum)

Because it not only has a powerful tank-killing gun, it can carry lots of bombs and missiles to put the hurt on the bad guys.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft takes part in a mission during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and Mark 82 500-pound bombs. (Air Force Photo)

Because while it is designed for close-air support, it also proved to be very good at covering the combat search-and-rescue choppers.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for refueling Sept. 12, 2013, over southern Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

Because, when it comes right down to it, the A-10, for all its faults, has saved a lot of grunts over the years.

Military Life

8 things you realize leaving drill life

Coming off the trail is a strange period in a military family’s life. After putting years into an OSUT unit — yes the WHOLE family puts in time — suddenly it’s about to be over. Back to normal working hours … well normal military working hours. Back to a life where you’re not constantly supervising. And now, after putting in so much blood, sweat and tears, after losing so much sleep, things are different. On the other side of drill life has somehow changed, all for the better. Because now you’ve had a fulfilling experience, helped grow the military, helped change lives and make stronger soldiers

  1. It’s an EMOTIONAL experience

You never knew just how much you had invested in this gig until it’s over. Do you hear that sound of deafening silence? It’s relief overtaking your entire body. Let it soak in. That is, if you can hear it over the sound of your still-yelling voice. Remember, it’s now ok to talk at normal decibels. Carry on. 

  1. You feel bad for the new guys

Each new drill and their subsequent family — they’re coming in with a long road ahead. Even the mention of how long their stint is can make you cringe. It’s best to take a deep breath and walk on.

  1. Your career will never be as entertaining

Never underestimate the stupidity of a private … that’s a saying for a reason. I mean, it’s not their fault — they’re the new guy who doesn’t know any better. (What dumb moves did you make as a private?) But in the same light, their moves brought endless entertainment. So much so that it’s likely to never be beat — that is, unless you promote and return to basic once again. 

  1. There’s no use in repurposing the hat

Unless you catch a job as Smokey the Bear, there’s no re-using the brown round. And good riddance to the things, too. They’re hot, they’re heavy, and they serve little purpose other than identifying you to your trainees. Put them on display or blow them up in the field, that’s your call. 

drill life
  1. If you haven’t lived it, you won’t understand

Families who haven’t lived drill will never understand what it’s like. It’s a far cry from “normal” military life. And unless you’ve been there personally, it doesn’t hit quite as close to home. Anyone who says it’s “not that bad” should be promptly told where to go. Anyone considering volunteering should be patted on the back and wished the best of luck. 

  1. You made less than minimum wage

All that extra drill pay everyone talks so much about? Yeah, you didn’t know it would be accounting for all hours of the night, endless stints of the field, and really never getting a clear day off. Count in the pandemic and you may or may not have felt like you’d never go home again. Our best advice is to NOT do the math on how much you’re actually making per hour. It’s beyond depressing. 

  1. Your sanity still exists

Don’t worry, it’s still in there, somewhere. Once you come off the trail, life somehow settles. That crazy feeling you had from lack of sleep? It’s gone. That shakiness from too much caffeine? The blinking and your kids grew three inches and learned 10 new skills? The wanting to pull your own hair out because you cannot just relax and have a “chill day.” All that — it’s gone and comes back … eventually. 

  1. You made great friends along the way

Leave was non-existent unless it was the holidays (and we don’t mean four-days, what are four-days anyway? Lolz) — we’re talking about the big ones: Christmas, Haunnaukah, New Year’s — that’s your annual leave. Two weeks of freedom is all. That meant spending time off — rare as it might have been — with fellow families on the trail. And in some big moments in life, you were all each other had. It made you close and wonderful memories were made. 

Military Life

How US sailors can be confined in the brig with just bread and water

Under the command of Capt. Adam Aycock, the USS Shiloh became known in the Pacific as the “USS Bread and Water.” It seems Aycock’s favorite non-judicial punishment for his junior enlisted was an old but legal punishment that confines the sailor to the brig with nothing but the world’s simplest combo meal.


6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops
Works for ducks. Why not you?

According to the Department of the Navy Corrections Manual, “Confinement on Bread and Water (BW)… may be imposed as punishment upon personnel in pay grade E-3 or below, attached to or embarked in a vessel.”

Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice outlines the punishment further:

• It may not be implemented for more than three consecutive days.

• Rations furnished a person undergoing such confinement shall consist solely of bread and water. The rations will be served three times daily at the normal time of meals, and the amount of bread and water shall not be restricted.

• The medical officer must pre-certify in writing that a deterioration of the prisoner’s health is not anticipated as a result of such action.

• Prisoners serving this punishment will be confined in a cell and will be bound by the procedures set forth for disciplinary segregation cells. They will not be removed for work or physical exercise.

While the Bread and Water punishment sucks and does seem rather archaic, it’s hardly the worst punishment that can be handed to a sailor at Captain’s Mast — especially for an E-3 or below.

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Captains can send sailors to the brig for 30 days, forfeit their pay, take stripes, assign extra duties and restrictions, or any combination of these. As retired Navy Captain Kevin Eyer pointed out in a Naval Institute article on Bread and Water, the “arcane” punishment of Bread and Water only affects the sailor. This is especially important if the sailor is married because the other potential Article 15 punishments would affect the whole family.

As of December 2017, the elimination of the Bread and Water punishment was up for review by President Trump.

Humor

33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

For the first few months of military service, we go through some pretty intense training during the week, and maybe we have to pull duty on a weekend.


So, when a holiday approaches and the commanding officer awards your unit a 96-hour liberty, you’d better take advantage.

Related: 22 things every boot has done but will never, ever admit

Check out what many young troops do on their first 96-hour liberty away from the base.

1. When everyone is told, their 96-hour liberty has been approved at the same time.

Best news ever! (Images via Giphy)

2. How you caught a ride to leave the base.

Stuntin’ 101. (Images via Giphy)

3. What it feels like walking into your hotel room

All mine. (Images via Giphy)

4. What you look like drinking your first beer in months and can finally take a shower by yourself.

It tastes so good. (Images via Giphy)

5. How you looked properly preparing yourself for an evening out with the boys

Need to buff those floors. (Images via Giphy)

6. How awesome you felt drinking with your new military friends

I feel so cool doing a fourth wall break. (Images via Giphy)

7. That moment when you notice a female troop for the first time out of uniform, and she’s hot

Holy sh*t! (Images via Giphy)

8. After a few hours of partying, you start showing off your boot camp muscle gains

“I have the power.” (Images via Giphy)

9. Eating that first real hamburger after getting the beer munchies

So good. (Images via Giphy)

10. Trying to sleep after drinking way too much the first night

“I thought I was supposed to pass right out.” (Images via Giphy)

11. Waking up with a hangover and you need a quick pick-me-up to start the day

Coffee was meant to be ingested, but whatever. (Images via Giphy)

12. Thinking for something fun to do after you recovered from your hangover

I’m so bored. (Images via Giphy)

13. When you’re replying to all those Facebook messages for the first time in months

So many messages. (Images via Giphy)

14. When your boys invite you to come to the local dance club

Gotta practice. (Images via Giphy)

15. How you think you’re dancing at the club after a few drinks

Just like back at home. (Images via Giphy)

16. How you’re really dancing at the club after those drinks

How do I look? (Images via Giphy)

17. When you find some girl who actually said “sure”

It’s a new world record. (Images via Giphy)

18. What your conscience is trying to tell you before it’s too late

“Shut up brain.” (Images via Giphy)

19. Waking up next to that girl who said “sure” and she’s not what you remembered

Beer goggles are real. (Images via Giphy)

20.  Making your escape

Shh! (Images via Giphy)

21. Getting made fun of by your boys for hooking up with her the next morning

You had it coming. (Images via Giphy)

22. Your reaction

Damn. (Images via Giphy)

23. When the group plans an evening at the strip club after dinner

Cheers. (Images via Giphy)

24. But you really want to go now

Run! (Images via Giphy)

25. Then you get hammered at the strip club

Not that hammer, but whatever. (Images via Giphy)

26. When your guys find the first stripper who appears interested

“We so had her!” (Images via Giphy)

27. Then the gents get kicked out of the strip club

I guess we weren’t allowed to touch? (Images via Giphy)

28. Then someone drunkenly jokes saying “you’re not tough enough to get a tattoo”

That’s a good one bro. (Images via Giphy)

29. Then follows it up by saying “no balls”

Wait. What? (Images via Giphy)

30. Waking up the next morning with an unwanted tattoo

Sh*ttiest tattoo ever. (Images via Giphy)

31. Stay in the hotel room for the whole day and think about all the money you wasted

What was I thinking? (Images via Giphy)

32. Heading back to base after your 96 is up.

I don’t think I can make it. (Images via Giphy)

33. Look at all the photos you took the next day at work — that 96 was so much freakin’ fun

That was the best weekend ever! (Images via Giphy)What did you do on your first 96-hour liberty? Comment below.

Lists

7 real excuses troops use that no NCO ever believes

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

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


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

“I didn’t set my alarm clock…”

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

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

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

Giphy

“I’ve got an appointment…”

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

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Don’t worry. Motrin fixes everything.

“I’m not feeling too well…”

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

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

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

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

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

(Meme via USAWTFM)

“I didn’t know that…”

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

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

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

Everyone gets creative with the crap in supply.

(Meme via Navy Memes)

“I can’t because we’re all out of…”

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

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

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

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

“I can’t come in because my car…”

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

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

“But Sgt. Smith told me…”

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

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