Category Archives: ARMY TRAINING

Thanksgiving dinner in the field

The Army has traditionally gone to somewhat great lengths to try to ensure every soldier has a traditional Thanksgiving dinner whether at home station, or deployed to war. And for the most part, they succeed. I’m sure every career helicopter pilot has a tale of flying a mermite can of turkey and dressing to some remote hilltop.

At any given time, there are bound to be some detachments of soldiers in isolated areas where regularly supplying them with hot meals is a logistical challenge. At the same time, the size of the detachment is too small to justify sending a cook and kitchen forward to feed them.

And so, the bright minds at the Army’s Natick Laboratory came up with the Unitized Group Ration- Express. We’ll talk more about the family of UGRs later. But for now, we’ll focus on the Express.

Most of you are already familiar with the self heating pouch supplied with an MRE to warm that ration. The UGR-E takes that idea to another level. The UGR comes in a box, with all the food, compartmented trays, utensils and condiments needed for the meal. Even better, it’s self heating. Pull  a tab and the same technology that heats an MRE will heat the UGR-E. Each ration is a complete meal for 18 troops.  Here’s a typical breakfast menu:


And here’s a typical dinner menu:


There’s also a special issue holiday meal specifically for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Designed to be grunt proof, and not needing any food service specialist support, the UGR-E means troops won’t have to subsist solely on MREs for extended periods of time even when situated far from their parent unit.

There’s a good chance that Thanksgiving dinner for some remote Combat Outpost in Afghanistan will come from a box. I’ll remember that when I’m struggling with roasting my turkey.

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Ebola isolation at US base ‘pretty much vacation’ – U.S. – Stripes

HAMPTON, Virginia — With plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.

The Defense Department is requiring military service members to undergo 21 days of isolation and monitoring as a precaution, but that doesn’t mean the troops are sitting in a hospital or even just one building. At Langley Air Force Base, one of five U.S. bases designated to house returning service members for monitoring, a wooded section of the base near the runway has been turned into a small village.

via Ebola isolation at US base ‘pretty much vacation’ – U.S. – Stripes.

I hope no one saw the Duffel Blog’s piece saying the 21 days would be charged as leave.  :)

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BRILLIANT! I-594 Requires Background Checks For Nail Guns, Flare Guns – Bearing Arms

Will Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s, Cabela’s and countless other sporting goods and hardware stores, as well as construction companies in Washington and even the state Department of Transportation, comply with Initiative 594 when it becomes law, and will this state’s prosecuting attorneys prosecute those who don’t?

via BRILLIANT! I-594 Requires Background Checks For Nail Guns, Flare Guns – Bearing Arms.

“Here, hold this for a second” is, by law in Washington, cause for a transfer and background check.

Bad laws make criminals of innocent men.

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Are you Koalafied?

Sergeants do not punish their soldiers for their misdeeds. Punishment is a specific term for the penalties awarded either through Non Judicial Punishment (by ones commander) or via a court martial.

Instead, Sergeants motivate, correct, instill a sense of discipline, alacrity, and attention to detail. They make on the spot corrections, and they provide corrective training, and extra military training to bring their soldiers up to the expected standards of behavior and performance.

Now, how they do that… can be sometimes somewhat creative.


And yes, I’ve both had my troops do this, and done it more than once myself.



Exclusive: Flournoy Drops Out of Race to Be Next Secretary of Defense

Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Flournoy, the co-founder and CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a think tank that has served as a farm league for future Obama administration officials, would have been the first female secretary of defense had she risen to the position.

via Exclusive: Flournoy Drops Out of Race to Be Next Secretary of Defense.

DoD needs some real talent and a steady hand at the tiller for the next couple years. But it’s unlikely to get that.

Why would anyone want to serve as SecDef for the rump of a failed presidency, particularly when any real authority remains in the hands of Valerie Jarrett and Susan Rice?

Anybody taking odds on how long before Ash Carter says “thanks, but no thanks?”



Army Chow- Just in time for the holidays

Old AF Sarge has a post up at his place musing over the best and worst of dining in an Air Force chow hall.

Meals in basic training were…. rapid. You didn’t have time to taste them. But the burping the rest of the day let you know what it was you had wolfed down. Not bad meals. Just not really a great environment to enjoy them. We did have Thanksgiving during my cycle, and my mom and an aunt and uncle were able to join me.  As usual, the Army does a fine job of putting on a traditional turkey dinner.

My unit mess in Hawaii seemed to be… poorly staffed. Breakfast was always good. It’s pretty identical throughout the Army. But lunch and dinner, while occasionally good, were usually just serviceable.

I was on three different posts in Germany. The first was excellent, the second was very good, and I simply cannot recall the third. Seriously, I’m drawing a blank on where it was, or what it was like.

You see, about halfway through my tour in Germany, I was assigned as a driver for the brigade XO. And the XO doesn’t plan his day around my ability to eat in the mess hall. So onto BAS I went. I could eat in the mess hall when feasible. Or failing that, I was expected to eat on the economy. Even after I left that job, I simply stayed on BAS the rest of my time in the Army. I still ate in the mess hall often. I simply paid cash.

Worst mess hall experience? TDY to Fort Benning for a couple months. We were billeted well away from any mess hall. And the school hours precluded us from actually eating in a mess hall. But the byzantine regulations that cover feeding and pay said that technically a mess hall was available, so we didn’t get any extra money. BAS hardly covers eating out for an entire month. There was at least a decent food court near our billets. For lunch, the instructors for the course set up a grill and made burgers for a buck a pop. Two or three burgers, and a quick trip to the vending machine for a couple bottles of YooHoo! were lunch.

Not exactly a mess hall, but ABN-AMRO/LaSalle Bank in Chicago had a cafeteria in the basement of their offices. And it was fantastic. And the members cafeteria of the Chicago Board Options Exchange had a monthly prime rib for about $7. A slap of nearly raw beef the size of a dinner plate! 

What’s your fond memories? Good mess halls? Bad college meal plans?




Everyone else is talking about it, so here’s a couple random thoughts.

You’ll hear people lament that Michael Brown didn’t deserve to die for his crimes. Deserve? No. But the evidence shows that he took actions that led almost inevitably to his death.

There’s a tendency among males, especially young males, and most markedly among black urban young males, to escalate a confrontation. When that involves the police, that often ends badly for the police. But it almost always ends badly for the young man.

Brown wasn’t killed for stealing cigarillos, or jaywalking. He was killed because he placed a police officer in danger. Just being unarmed doesn’t mean there’s not a  potentially deadly threat. Don’t believe me? Allow me to introduce you to WorldStar HipHop (NSFW).

What the heck took the Guard so long to show up last night? It’s not like everyone didn’t know rioting was going to break out.

From the Conservative Wahoo:

 Those of us sitting in our comfy places watching and tut-tutting probably don’t understand deeply enough the mistrust that exists between a good bit of the black community and police forces.  I’ll wager that if we were to get some of these hooligans to sit down and present them with the evidence, they might even come to the same conclusion as the grand jury–but their reactions would still be the same.  This isn’t necessarily about Brown’s death, it is about perceptions built up over years and simmering rage.  The Ferguson incident simply provides a convenient outlet for these emotions.

Emphasis mine. Concur.

If you want to tell me there is a problem with how the police and the black community in America intersect, I’m all ears. But the Brown case isn’t the mountain to plant your flag on. Why is it that those who seek to incite their community to outrage always seem to chose a losing case? It can’t be that hard to find a case where a shooting was pretty clearly uncalled for. Heck, just ask Radley Balko.  The guy makes a career out of trying to highlight unjustified use of force by the police.

Or take a look at this shooting in NYC.

Could it be that certain instigators don’t wish for justice, but rather thrive on the unrest?