Service members spends countless hours stomping across the base, running in formation while yelling a repetitive song at the top of their lungs. Military cadences, or close-order drills, date back hundreds of years as a way to keep troops aligned as they march onto the battlefield. Today, it’s primarily used to keep service members in step as they run, landing their feet at the same time to create a motivating, captivating rhythm.
Not only are these repetitive songs catchy as f*ck, but they’ll also test out your creative side as you can make up the lyrics on the spot. A good cadence call will ignite your fellow troops’ morale, helping them make it through the miles and miles of running we do each time we gear up for PT.
It teaches leadership and confidence
The cadence caller has an important job when they’re running on the left side of the formation. They need to make sure the troops are in step as you emphasize each of the word being yelled out. It’s excellent practice how to lead a pack of service members toward an objective at once, and no signal-caller wants to be seen following out of a run.
You can talk sh*t to other units
The military is full of competition, and we love it. On that note, we commonly run through other areas of the base that our military rivals call home. Since we can easily control what lyrics we yell during our PT sessions, we’re sometimes guilty of creating sh*t talking ones as we move in and through those areas.
No grunt wants to be seen falling out of a run in a near a POG barracks. That just looks bad.
It helps you control your breathing
Since we commonly yell out the cadence lyrics at the top of our lungs, this act helps expel the CO2 out of our lungs and allows us to gain endurance. The more controlled our breathing becomes, the more oxygen we can deliver to our bodies. It also helps troops take their mind off the fact they are running for miles if the troop is concerning on repeating the cadences correctly.
It’s also pretty motivating, and we use that to get us through those tough runs.
The military has a way of ensuring that its troops constantly work, live, and interact with each other. While it’s not uncommon for troops to get off duty and hide away in their barracks or at home, the way the military is structured prevents them from truly shutting themselves off from the rest of the unit.
One of the most mission-critical elements of the military is a foundation of trust and rapport between troops. To that end, the military has a way of forcing its troops into building camaraderie.
1. Basic Training/Boot Camp living conditions
Straight out of the gate, potential recruits are thrown in 30-man bays under the watchful eye of Drill Sergeants/Instructors. Troops will quickly learn the go-to pastime when there’s absolutely nothing else to do: talking to each other.
That quiet kid from a Midwestern suburb will probably have their first interaction with people from nearly every other state, background, economic status, and lifestyle during Basic.
2. Morning PT
You’ll never hear more words of encouragement than you do during physical training. When troops go for a run in the morning, they’ll often shout motivation at one another. “Come on, Pvt. Introvert! You got this!”
This isn’t done solely to lift spirits, but rather to make sure their ass catches back up to the platoon.
3. Working parties
Another perfect way to build mutual understanding is to share suffering. Cleaning the same connex they cleaned out last week may seem boring (because it is), but every time a troop says something like, “man, f*ck this. Am I right?” a friendship is born.
There are few stances shared by troops more than a dislike of mundane, physical labor.
4. Barracks parties
In nearly every comedy about high school or college life, there’s always that one party scene. Those kinds of lavish parties don’t really exist like they do in the movies — college kids are broke. But do you know who gets a regular paycheck on the first and fifteenth of each month and has few bills to spend the money on? Troops.
Actual parties also bring troops together. Everyone is pulled from their barracks room to do keg-stands off the roof of the Battalion Headquarters before staff duty finds them.
5. The “battle-buddy” system
The “battle-buddy” system is a method the chain of command uses to have troops keep an eye on each other. What probably started out as a great PowerPoint presentation given by a gung-ho 1st Lt. gave the military what is, essentially, an assigned best friend. The idea was to prevent troops from getting into trouble, but it’s eventually devolved into simply having two troops stand in the First Sergeant’s office.
This system is even more needed while stationed overseas. Command policies often dictate that a troop can’t leave post without someone keeping an eye on them. Now, instead, there’re two dumbasses let loose on the world.
6. Constant pissing contests
Pissing contests are a weird constant in the military. In the civilian world, people try to one-up each other with made-up stories. In the military, actions speak louder than words, so when troops do awesome things daily, chances are they were trying to one-up the person next to them.
The best way to describe it would be if someone were to say, “Man, I’m awesome. How about you, introvert? How awesome are you?”
Troops stateside can find some room to breathe, but when they’re deployed and end up 30 to a tent with no walking room, well… good luck.
The only privacy you’ll find is in the latrine. Even then, you might have a conversation with the guy in the next stall.
In the military, there’s no telling what next week will bring. Thankfully, there are hundreds of talented photographers in the ranks that capture the moments that characterize life as a service member, both in training and at war.
These are the best photos of the week:
A U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) member stand watch at an entry control point during exercise Cope North 18 at Tinian, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Feb. 19. Cope North enables U.S. and allied forces to train humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations from austere operating bases, enhancing our capacity and capability to respond in times of crisis
Airman Victor Trevino, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, waits to marshal in a new C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 22, 2018. This is the eleventh C-130J delivered to Yokota as part of a fleet-wide redistribution of assets in motion by Air Mobility Command.
A U.S. Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, engages a simulated enemy tank during Decisive Action Rotation 18-04 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 17, 2018. Decisive Action Rotations at the National Training Center ensure units remain versatile, responsive, and consistently available for current and future contingencies.
A Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), moves trough heavily wooded terrain and snow to his objective point after being dropped off at their landing zone by CH-47 Chinooks during an air assault training exercise in the Fort Drum, New York training area, Feb. 21, 2018.
Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, looks at a mock-up of a ship’s radar during his visit to Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS). Sawyer’s purpose was to provide an overview of 7th Fleet readiness and to provide feedback on how training ties into ensuring safe and effective operations at sea.
Sailors clear the landing spot after attaching cargo to an MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a replenishment-at-sea. Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
U.S. Marine candidates participate in group stretch and rope climb before a 3 mile run at the Officer Candidates School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Feb. 19, 2018. Candidates must go through three months of intensive training to evaluate and screen individuals for the leadership, moral, mental, and physical qualities required for commissioning as a U.S. Marine Corps officer.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Donte Busker)
Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit shoot M9 service pistols on the port-side aircraft elevator of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in Europe and the Middle East. The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and includes Iwo Jima, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 4.
Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach 45-Foot Response Boat—Medium boat crew members, Fireman Thomas Kenny, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brett Weaver and Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Timm, dewater and escort a boat that was sinking approximately 13 miles off the coast of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, on Feb. 21, 2018. The boaters reportedly hit a floating piece of debris, which created a gash in the hull.
At age 25, Monica Rosario was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, a diagnosis that would start her on a personal battle, not only for her future as a Soldier, but for her life.
“When they told me, I felt very numb,” Rosario remembered. She was a first lieutenant serving as a company executive officer in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina at the time.
It never occurred to Rosario, now a captain at Fort Leonard Wood awaiting her pickup in Engineer Captain’s Career Course, that the reason for her frequent visits to her doctor could be so dire. Doctors kept telling her she was just dehydrated and needed to go home and rest.
During one emergency room visit in January of 2015, however, a doctor inquired about Rosario’s frequent medical issues, and her responses prompted him to recommend a colonoscopy.
Her mother and father, who lived not far away in her hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, accompanied her to the appointment. That’s when they learned it could be cancer. The diagnosis was confirmed at a follow-up exam.
“It really hit [my mom] harder than it hit me,” Rosario said. “She was more emotional than I was because I had no idea what I was getting into.”
Rosario’s mentor and commanding officer at the time, Capt. Chinyere Asoh, said she understood what Rosario was about to endure.
“I served as a commander and, each day, I heard news of Soldiers going through the worst unimaginable concerns of their lives, but I stayed strong for them and their families,” Asoh said.
When Asoh heard the news her executive officer had cancer, she couldn’t hide the emotion.
“For me, this was different,” Asoh admitted. “My fighter [Capt. Rosario] was going down, and there was nothing I could do. The day I found out, I called my battalion commander as I cried.”
Rosario approached her situation from another perspective — one inspired by former ESPN anchorman, Stuart Scott, who fought a seven-year battle with cancer. Scott lost that battle in 2015 at age 49.
“Whenever you are going through it, you don’t feel like you are doing anything extraordinary because you are only doing what you have to do to survive,” Rosario said.
Rosario confessed that, while she was undergoing treatment, it made her uncomfortable when people called her a hero. There was nothing she was doing that made her special, she believed.
“When you have to be strong and you have to survive, you don’t feel like you are doing anything special,” she said.
The Army provided Rosario with the time and support she needed in order to devote herself to recovery, she said.
“I can say the Army served me when I needed it most, and I am forever grateful,” she said. “I know there were many times I could have quit. I could have settled for someone telling me I should medically retire. But I knew the Army had more in store for me.”
Rosario said it took about two weeks to recover from her surgery before she could start chemotherapy. Following six months of chemo, it took another two months before she was able to resume her physical training.
She fought hard to keep herself ready to return to full-duty so she could continue her career. Her will to fight was an inspiration to her husband.
“My wife is literally the strongest person I know,” said Bernard McGee, a former military police officer. “She has been through it all and has mustered the strength to take on even more challenges. She is a true warrior.”
“Monica is a true fighter, and I am happy to state that she is a survivor,” Asoh said. “Her illness did not define her. Rather, it broadened her view of life.”
Rosario credits positive thinking and the support of her Army family for keeping her in the Army so that she could make it to Fort Leonard Wood to complete the Engineer Captain’s Career Course.
“The Army’s resiliency training has instilled in me the ability to stay strong and stay resilient in all aspects of life,” she said. “Being resilient has helped me and still helps me on a daily basis. Seeking positive thought, and staying away from negative thoughts impact how we feel and how we live every day.”
The infantry has its fair share of not-so-thrilling jobs. Among those is that of the pointman leading from the front. It’s a stressful job that demands one to be alert at all times because you are the first to meet the enemy. However, a well-trained, veteran pointman can seize the initiative for the patrol and be the commander’s best asset against a determined insurgency.
Pointmen are always first
The pointman must know how to navigate the area of operations during patrols. He will be the first to spot anomalies on patrol. You are the eyes and ears of the patrol: ‘That graffiti wasn’t there before,’ ‘There are no children in the bazaar today,’ ‘That stack of rocks wasn’t there yesterday,’ and so on. These are all indicators that something is about to go down.
Pointmen are the first to provide an ADDRAC when engaging the enemy. It stands for Alert, Direction, Description, Range, Assignment, Control. For example, on patrol we start taking small arms fire from a building ahead in an urban setting. Not everyone in the patrol has eyes on what you see. Also, the enemy is dynamically behind cover attempting to outmaneuver you as well.
In this theoretical situation the pointman would shout ‘Contact front! Twelve o’clock, red building, 300 meters, four small arms, danger area to my left.’ This is information provides the patrol with everything they need to react and for the patrol leader to quickly come up with a strategy and employ it. The pointman will also pin down the enemy with effective fire so the patrol can move around him. As the skirmish goes on, he provides updates on what he sees and the patrol advances and eliminates the threat.
Using a CMD is time consuming and dangerous
Pointmen are cross trained by engineers to use CMDs — combat metal detectors. When scanning a compound for Improvised Explosive Devices, weapons caches or contraband is time consuming. No matter how tired a pointman’s arm is, they cannot let the CMD touch the ground. The risk of accidentally setting off a hidden pressure plate is real. One has to be meticulous, methodical and can never get complacent. If a room isn’t clear and a troop attempts to walk past him, a pointman is fully within his right to grab that person by the throat and yell expletives about their mother. It doesn’t matter what rank that person is, when it happens it’s always someone in charge. No one is going to hold the pointman accountable for the disrespect because the Lieutenant almost got everyone killed. Pointmen must have the courage to correct that MF.
Pointmen are used as human shields
When I was pointman, room clearing for the first time, if the pointman goes down, use him as a shield. Marines when stacked together before kicking down a door to do God’s work, hold the pointman by a strap on the back of the flak jacket. If I expire, they are to hold onto that handle and shoot around me. The first months in theater are scary, but you get used to it and it’s just another day at the office. Use me if you have to, I don’t care, I’m in Valhalla already.
The hardest part is that pointmen are loyal and they refuse to be rotated out if they’re the best for the role. A responsible pointman is indispensable to an infantry squad. It’s hard to let go and will only accept passing the torch if promoted out of the job. It’s the worst job because if something bad happens you know you could have done something about it if you were still there.
“UNREP” (short for “underway replenishment”) is the term used to describe the transfer of fuel, food, ammunition, repair or replacement parts, people and mail from supply ships to combatants like frigates, destroyers, and aircraft carriers.
Simply put, UNREP keeps Navy ships at sea. It’s a dangerous and intense evolution.
UNREP begins by raising the Romeo flag. On the control ship, it means, “I am ready for your approach.” On the approaching ship, it means, “I am commencing.”
One of the most challenging aspects of UNREP is matching the speed of the control ship and steering into position.
Once the ships are on a parallel course, a shotline is sent for the phone and distance (PD) line, which is marked by flags every 20 feet. Once the shotline is fired, sailors on the supply ship catch it like a wedding bouquet.
After the shotline is received, line handlers must haul in the messenger line, which is much heavier.
After the wires and hoses are connected, the teams on deck and in the pump room are ready to begin the transfer of cargo and fuel.
Sailors in the pump room monitor fuel levels…
… while pallets of food, mail, and supplies are transferred topside.
At the same time sailors man the .50 cals, ever-vigilant for threats.
Thousands of pounds of fuel and cargo are transferred between the ships while maintaining the same speed and distance apart.
The exchange can be dangerous for both sides…
Sailors have to watch out for rogue waves.
Helicopters can also be used for resupply …
They call this process “VERTREP,” short for “vertical replenishment.”
Resupplying the ship is an all-hands task. In this photo, sailors and Marines on an amphibious ship form a human chain to transfer packages.
Sometimes ships will tag-team a supply ship to save time. In this photo, two missile destroyers — an Arleigh Burke class and a Ticonderoga class — are attached to the USNS Lenthall (T-AO 189).
Sometimes an UNREP could go well into evening…
… and package distribution could go on for hours after the ships have disconnected.
But, the long hours and hard work pay off when you receive a care package from home; it’s like Christmas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s always a question of women’s strength when it comes to meeting combat position qualifications. The truth is that there are definitely women out there that have the ability, as of now, to meet those requirements.
The CrossFit revolution that has swept the nation over the past couple of years has opened up doors for female athletes. Female CrossFit athletes develop body types we aren’t used to seeing on women, mainly because of existing misconceptions of weakness attributed to gender.
CrossFit is not just centered solely on lifting, but also on general strength and endurance. These women, and others like them, could tear apart the physical standards required for combat positions.
1. Sam Briggs
This English-born athlete came onto the CrossFit scene in 2010 and has been putting her competition to the test ever since. Just taking a look at her barbell stats, it’s easy to see that she would be a contender if she were to sign up for a combat position in the military.
Briggs stands at 5’6″ tall at age 35. She can squat 280 lbs, deadlift 375 lbs, and press 127 lbs, just to name a few stats. In 2013, she won the CrossFit games and became the fittest woman on Earth.
Since all combat positions are opened and gender-neutral, the qualification standards are not lowered for women, so they have to prove themselves against male counterparts. There’s no doubt Briggs could go toe-to-toe with men in any physical component of these standards.
Davidsdottir hails from Iceland and is a two-time winner of the CrossFit Games in 2015 and 2016. She certainly is a force to be reckoned with and is well known for her 255-pound back squat and 310-pound deadlift. Davidsdottir is still competing and one of the most well-known CrossFit athletes.
CrossFit incorporates running in high-intensity workouts while adding weighted vests to the equation. Davidsdottir had to run a mile and half with a weighted vest, swim another mile, and then run another mile and a half — not to mention the endless reps of deadlifts, pull-ups, and squats that followed. Some combat positions don’t even require all of the abilities that these female athletes have conditioned their bodies to perform.
3. Tia Claire Toomey
The reigning champ of the 2017 CrossFit games and has been crowned Fittest Woman on Earth. Toomey is from Australia and is young blood on the scene.
At the young age of 24, Toomey has been able to train her body, in a short amount of time, to accomplish amazing feats. Her barbell stats include a 297-lbs squat, a 244-lbs clean and jerk, a 357-lbs deadlift, and 50 pull-ups in a timed period. She could certainly make an excellent candidate for any combat position in the military.
4. Sara Sigmundsdottir
Sigmudsdottir is also from Iceland and has been rocking the CrossFit competitions — repeatedly ranking third. She’s always in the winds and nearly takes the title every year, but misses it just by a few marks.
Even still, her barbell stats are pretty impressive. Sigmudsdottir clean and jerks 243lbs, back squats 298lbs, and deadlifts 341 lbs. Not too shabby for third place. She could definitely contend in combat qualifications.
One thing is for sure: For some female athletes, the standards never need to be lowered.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Lt. Col. Travis Hazeltine and Senior Airman Chas Anderson of the 104th Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard taking off in an F-15D Eagle during Checkered Flag 18-1, a large-scale exercise held at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Florida.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dakota Martin, 1st Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspection apprentice, inspects cracks under a black light at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Nov. 15, 2017. The parts are soaked in liquid penetrant, which seeps into cracks, making them visible during inspection under a black light.
U.S. and Serbian paratroopers descend from the sky during Exercise Double Eagle 2017 in Kovin, Serbia on November 16, 2017. Exercise Double Eagle is a bi-lateral airborne insertion exercise designed to allow U.S. and Serbian forces to work together in areas of mutual interest in securing regional security and peace.
1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division soldiers conduct M240 marksmanship training at Camp Commando, Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 15, 2017. The “Summit” soldiers are deployed in support of the NATO Resolute Support mission.
Sailors observe as an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, transfers cargo from the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) during a replenishment at sea. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danny Ray Nuñez Jr.
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, prepares to land during a Landing Signalman Enlisted course. The course is provided by a mobile training team assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, which provides Sailors with the knowledge and skills they need to perform tasks essential to flight deck operations.
A U.S. Marine with the Battalion Landing Team (BLT), 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) provides security while conducting a night raid during Combined Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Nov. 15, 2017. Combined COMPTUEX serves as the capstone event for the ARG/MEU team prior to deployment, fully integrating the ARG/MEU team as an amphibious force and testing their ability to execute missions across a range of military operations.
The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon executes their “bursting bomb” sequence during a Salute to Service halftime show at a Carolina Panthers vs. Miami Dolphins game at the Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C., Nov. 13, 2017. Throughout the year, SDP performs at numerous large-scale events across the country and abroad.
Members of the Pacific Paradise response team work aboard the JW Barnes, a landing craft being used as a work barge, off Kaimana Beach, Nov. 16, 2017. The responders are preparing the Pacific Paradise to be refloated and removed.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jordan Gilbert, an aviation survival technician at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, is lowered from an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a search and rescue demonstration at the U.S./China Disaster Management Exchange held at Camp Rilea located in Warrenton, Ore., Nov. 16, 2017.
The British evacuation at Dunkirk during WWII was a turning point for the island nation. Unable to go on the offensive against the Germans with their conventional Army, the British turned to more unconventional methods. “Enterprises must be prepared, with specially-trained troops of the hunter class, who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts [of occupied Europe],” stated Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a minute to General Ismay, “first of all on the butcher and bolt policy…leaving a trail of German corpses behind them.” This butcher and bolt policy was carried out by British Commandos, forerunners of the modern Royal Marine Commandos, Special Boat Service and Special Air Service.
The elite soldiers of the SAS are well-known in popular culture thanks to their daring exploits and their depiction in media. SAS soldiers famously ended the Iranian Embassy Siege in London in 1980 and have operated in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries during the War on Terror. They have been depicted in video games like Call of Duty and movies like 6 Days. Even the rom-com Love Actually referred to the SAS as, “ruthless, trained kilers,” and so they are.
More so than regular Army units, the SAS is expected to kill, and kill well. Embracing this mission, members of the SAS have taken to donning a Punisher skull badge after their first kill in combat. This affinity for the Punisher skull was allegedly adopted from the U.S. Navy SEALs who wore the symbol extensively whilst operating alongside the SAS in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the practice is not dissimilar from fighter pilots painting the flag of the enemy on their aircraft after making an air-to-air kill, it came under scrutiny from Army officials.
In 2019, it was revealed that Army officials banned the wearing of the Punisher skull. The move was driven by the claim that the symbol was too similar to the Death’s Head symbol worn by Nazi SS soldiers. This order was reportedly issued after a visit to the SAS Regiment’s Herefordshire base by Army chiefs. Unsurprisingly, the change was not received well by the SAS. One source within the regiment noted that the “order to remove it has gone down really badly.” They elaborated on what the symbol means to a soldier when he earns it. “It’s in recognition for the work he has done – it’s not a celebration of taking a life but more to do with putting himself in a position where his own life has been put at risk.”
The order received plenty of backlash since its issuance. Former Sergeant and Military Cross (the third-highest British Military Award) recipient Trevor Coult called the move, “politically correct nonsense and ludicrous.” Enough dissension was raised that the Army reversed the decision in May 2021. The reversal also comes with a new Director Special Forces who said that he has no problem with troops wearing the badge. He reportedly wore the Punisher skull himself while operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MoD did not comment on the reversal.
The return of the Punisher skull was welcomed by the SAS. “When the badge was initially banned, there were many in the regiment who thought that the unit was going to fall victim to political correctness. But fortunately, someone has seen sense,” a source said. “The special forces are often sent on very dangerous missions which often involve killing people – that is a fact of life.” The SAS continues to undertake highly classified and extremely dangerous operations around the world.
It’s no secret that military recruitment numbers have been on the decline in recent years. There’re many factors that play into this, but one of the main reasons is eligibility. According to Tim Kennedy, however, the military isn’t out of luck just yet. And his solution doesn’t (and none should ever) involve lowering the standards.
On a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Kennedy discussed, at great depth, the problems that plague recruiting depots, specifically recruitment within the Special Forces community. There simply aren’t enough able-bodied recruits. Obesity remains the leading disqualifying factor among young Americans.
(Photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)
Recruits need to be able to meet physical requirements. While basic training and boot camp help slim down prospective troops, recruits must join up at a trainable level — after all, a drill sergeant isn’t a miracle worker.
“It’s harder to get into the military than it is to get into college,” says Kennedy. “You can’t go into the military if you smoke weed. You can’t go into the military if you have bad eyes. You can’t go into the military if you’re diabetic,” and the list goes on. “You can go to college if you have all those things.”
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Alyssa M. Akers)
Those factors above disqualify, off the bat, roughly 71 percent of young adults. Then, when you factor in the willingness to join among the remaining 29 percent, you’re stuck with the headache-inducing task of bringing in just 182,000 new troops this year. “The perception of the military is way less of an issue than us just having a qualified population of viable candidates to chose from.”
The obvious solution is to tell young adults to get healthy. But, as anyone who has had any sort of interaction with young adults can tell you, you’d be better off asking a brick wall to do something. Being unfit for service is a cultural problem that no amount of snazzy recruitment videos can fix.
Kennedy’s suggestion makes far more sense — and it was how he was brought into the military: selectively recruiting physically fit student athletes. Convincing a small subset of students to join is a much easier task than convincing the youth at large to slim down.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)
Back in Tim Kennedy’s high school wrestling days, he was approached by an Army Special Forces recruiter in a really bad suit. All it took was for the recruiter to show up and say, “hey guys, ever thought about Army Special Forces?” He handed Kennedy the card and took off.
That’s all it took to snag the most-beloved Green Beret of our generation.
To watch the rest of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, check out the video below.
You’ll use it as a multi-tool, including to tie down cammie netting, attach extra gear to your body armor and air dry your laundry.
3. Shock resistant camera
Deployments are life changing experiences. You’re going to want to capture the moments, but not any camera will do.
Shock resistant Cameras are designed for rugged outdoor use and are great when ambushing ISIS. They tend to run a little more expensive than traditional digital cameras, but when you’re on patrol and take heavy fire, these little bad boys shouldn’t let you down when recording your personal history.
4. A Cheap laptop
Deployments can be boring, with loads of downtime if you’re lucky. Consider bringing a cheap laptop with as many movies as your external hard drive can hold. Don’t spend too much money on one; chances are dust and debris will ruin it after too long.
What better way to spend a Friday night with your brothers then huddling around a 15-inch screen watching an action movie. The more variety of movies you have in stock the better.
5. Calling cards
No, we don’t mean that unique object you leave after getting away with a heist.
A calling card or phone card allows you to make calls from any working phone without charging the expenses to the receiver. It can get pretty expensive that way.
Many foreign bases around the world have USOs set up for deployed members to call home or use the internet. Some require the purchase of calling cards so have one handy dandy if you walk into one where Uncle Sam is too cheap to fit the phone bill.
6. Music player
Self-explanatory, because everyone likes music.
7. Magazine subscriptions
Having new magazines show up during mail call is one of the greatest gifts a Marine can receive. Especially, when you’re in an all-male infantry unit stationed in the middle of bum f*ck nowhere and Maxim magazine arrives. Everyone celebrates.