“Spelling bees are basically memory exercises,” Marino explained on the last day of the tournament. “We’re all familiar with Kim’s Games, used by our Recon and Sniper Marines, and this is basically the same thing. I thought it would be a great chance to get the Corps some publicity in an area that doesn’t involve physical activity, and show people that we have strong minds in addition to healthy bodies.”
He then watched Staff Sgt. Alex Drost, an avid runner and weight-lifter who has competed in several amateur mixed-martial arts tournaments, struggling on-stage to spell the word “radio.”
While Headquarters Marine Corps initially joked that all the spelling bee would prove is that Marines can’t spell “defeat,” they grew more alarmed when it also proved that Marines can’t spell “Marines.” After several days they ordered the contest prematurely shut down.
Category Archives: recruiting
As most of us who’ve served in the military know, official documents, policy statements, training and technical manuals will often contain mistakes, errors, and omissions. It is natural enough, as nobody is perfect, and review of every last thing produced is impossible. In those instances where such mistakes, errors, and omissions are found, an errata sheet is issued, either with distribution of the original document or during the next quarterly update.
Here is the errata sheet for Army Secretary McHugh’s memorandum of 18 October.
There, Secretary McHugh, fixed it for ya. Since you apparently couldn’t bring yourself to type or speak the words you should have. You would boil in oil any Company or Platoon Commander who had made such public statements offensive to women, Islam, gays, minorities, or any other protected victim group du jour, and I suspect you wouldn’t have waited several weeks to say something on the matter. No, in such an instance, I believe you would have been tripping over yourself to apologize on behalf of the Army, in front of a microphone, and would have initiated any number of new “training initiatives” that political pressure dictated.
A memorandum? Extremely weak soup, Secretary McHugh. Why don’t you stand in front of a microphone and apologize to those of Christian faith? And then to the groups your training identified as “extremist”? With a reassurance to your soldiers that their rights of free expression to donate to and affiliate with those organizations will be fiercely protected in keeping with the Constitution you and your Officers were sworn to support and defend?
And if you can’t manage that, why don’t you find the door, and put yourself on the other side of it? And take Dempsey with you.
The economy’s recovery is doing so well, thousands upon thousands of people have simply given up looking for work.
One effect this has had is that many people that previously would have given little or no thought to enlistment have turned to the services in hopes of finding a job, and skills to put to work in the civilian market later.
But the services are also going through severe budget challenges. That means they need to recruit fewer people. Further, there are a lot of people that kinda sorta feel like leaving the service, but take a look at the economy and decide a job they don’t really like is better than no job at all. That is, retention is unusually high, considering the operational tempo all the services have been sustaining.
So where just a few short years ago, the Army(and to a lesser extent, the other services as well) would issue waivers for enlistment for nominal disqualifications, primarily medical and legal, but also for education, today those waivers are highly unlikely to be granted.
Over the last ten years, Navy Recruiting’s enlisted active duty mission has averaged roughly 37 thousand per year; that is a decrease of more than 13 thousand per year needed during the previous ten years. There are many reasons for the decrease in those numbers, but basically, it comes down to how many openings are expected to be available after the Navy’s retention rates are considered. The Navy’s projected enlisted active duty end-strength for FY 2014 is 265,878 (a number by the way that has been in general decline over the past 20+ years) – the Navy’s retention remains high, and I do not expect the recruiting goals for 2014 to exceed the average, as a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if 2014 sees the lowest recruiting mission the Navy has ever had; low 30K? I am speculating, of course, but based on the comments and emails I have received that describe what seems to be an ever increasing number of folks being sent home from MEPS with the distinction, “Qualified, No Jobs” – it sounds like a pretty large chunk of FY-14’s openings have already been filled. (hyperlinks in original-XBrad)
The plural of anecdote isn’t data, but we know our friend AggieSprite’s eldest has been trying for months to enlist, and the service is in no great rush to sign her up.
Now, you’d think this would make recruiter’s lives easier. Actually… no. What happens for the recruiter is that monthly missions remain roughly the same, but the quality requirements each potential enlistee must meet are raised. It’s almost like the various accession commands insist the recruiter’s pain level must be maintained at a certain level.
Exhibit A: Considered pornographic and the cause of aberrant behavior among service men. Banned from the AAFES magazine racks.
Exhibit B: An event which service members were encouraged to attend. Wearing of the uniform, connoting official sponsorship, is authorized.
The feminists and LBGT activists are in charge of this Nation’s defenses. Not Chuck Hagel. Not the Joint Chiefs. All they do is enforce thoughtcrime punishments.
I am sure our allies and our adversaries are impressed.
I said so then, and was told such would never come to pass. But it bears repeating. Differing beliefs, the very thing we fight for, will not be tolerated by the People’s Defense Commissariat.
USMC Professional Military Education has gotten a tremendous boost. Why? Tradition.
“I had junior Marines coming to me asking what an oil check was and why getting married would solve all their financial problems,” Mitchell toldThe Duffel Blog. “That’s when I realized that these Lance Corporal traditions were in danger of being lost. It’s up to us to teach a whole new generation what it means to be a Lance Criminal.”
The SgtMaj must be very proud of the results.
He then leaned out the window at his office and called over to a group of Marines in the course hanging out at the smoke pit.
“Hey Marines, don’t forget to cut the grass sometime today!”
“Fuck you, old man!” they shouted back. “Come down here and make us!”
“I had to get busted down to PFC twice before I could speak that authoritatively,” Mitchell said with a big smile,
And there is a practical side to the course, it isn’t all about customs and traditions:
“Every Marine knows the joke about using your [Honor, Courage, Commitment] cards to break into someone’s car or barracks room,” said Dalten. “Here at Lance Corporals Course we teach our Marines to be more innovative. How about placing it on the table at a restaurant like you’re paying so you can sneak out without arousing suspicion? Or stealing your friend’s, then leaving it and his fingerprints behind at a crime scene?”
“A fellow Marine was at a bar getting kind of loud and rowdy, bothering these local girls,” said Lance Corporal Terry Westerberg from Tuscon, Ariz. “But using the training I receive at Lance Corporals Course, I took out my card and showed it to him. While he was distracted by reading it, I smashed a beer bottle across his face. With him unconscious, it was much easier for me to start bothering those girls.”
It brings a tear to my eye to know that these Marines are every bit the Lance Coconuts their fathers were. Ooh-Rah, Sgt Maj. Keep up the good work. As the saying goes, if you are gonna get “bad time”, you damned sure should have a good time!
Which, I know the basic type, but could actually use some help on the sub-type.
Well, Boston police did not produce the category of suspect that most of the mainstream media and former advisors to the Obama Administration almost immediately speculated, indeed, fervently HOPED it would be. The suspects are not white ‘Tea Party’ anti-government types, who picked the city, Boston, and the day of the attack, Patriots’ Day, for the symbolic value of violent opposition to President Obama.
Instead, the suspects were two young brothers from Chechnya, an overwhelmingly Sunni Islamic region. Though motive is certainly difficult to determine for sure immediately, the chances are now ZILCH that it was anti-Obama Tea Party villain or villains who decided to slaughter innocent Americans. Despite myriad commentary that virtually campaigned for a conservative white male to be the target.
CNN’s Peter Bergen speculated that the terrorists were “right-wing extremists”.
Charles Pierce, of Esquire, gave us this bit of brilliance:
I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord, and that the actual date (April 19) was of some significance to, among other people, Tim McVeigh, because he fancied himself a waterer of the tree of liberty and the like.
There was, of course, David Sirota at Salon.com, who expresses his strong preference for white terrorists, while somehow missing the point about radical Islam actually close to BEING an existential threat.
Michael Moore was, of course, certain of the guilt of the Tea Party he despises so much.
And, also, this from taxpayer-funded NPR‘s Dina Temple-Raston:
“April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals,” she said.
“There’s the Columbine anniversary. There’s Hitler’s birthday. There’s the Oklahoma City bombing. The assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco,” she added.
There are a host of other instances of such wishful speculation, on the talking head panels, the liberal blogosphere, and on “twiddah” from the not-so-cerebral far Left.
The most telling, disturbingly so, was the commentary from former Obama adviser David Axelrod. He posited rather confidently what would be President Obama’s thought process and first instinct. While he couches it in softer language, his message is clear. President Obama first looks to his political opponents as the possible terrorists, and opposition to him and his policies as the motive. Axelrod is eminently correct in his assertion.
This, despite the fact that those who believe in the Constitution and oppose his explosive government growth, intrusion into our privacy, curtailing of our freedoms, and raiding of our wallets have never violated the law, threatened to violate the law, or considered indiscriminate murder of innocent people to be the way to get their points across. Unlike Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who still do.
The Obama Administration has to be bitterly disappointed. The terrorists weren’t “home grown” white men who fit Janet Napolitano’s description of Veterans who believe in smaller government, the Second Amendment, and God. They did not give him a reason to further restrict the rights of the law-abiding, or to disparage those who disagree with him as unreasonable and dangerous criminals.
In fact, these terrorists, who they are and what they did, both at the Marathon on Monday and last evening, put paid to the falsehood that infringing on the Constitutional liberties of the law-abiding with draconian gun laws will prevent someone intent on evil from perpetrating that evil. Fresh off the stinging rebuke of his anti-gun platform by a Democratic Senate, President Obama cannot even leverage his beholden press to further demonize non-liberal white males as terrorists and murderers who pose a threat to our freedoms.
However, there should be considerable alarm at the willingness, or rather enthusiasm, with which the majority of our media and government officials ruminate, without proof or precedent, on the collective culpability of an entire segment of American citizens. They simply rub their hands and wait for a chance to bring the full weight of government authority and public opinion (to the extent that they influence the latter) to bear against those they disagree with.
Well, maybe next time.
In the meantime, I will cling to my guns and my religion and the Constitution. But I have no illusions about the desire of my own government to target me, because of my race and my beliefs, and label me an enemy. After this fiasco in Boston, none of us should. All they need are the “right suspects”.
The argument for women at rifle battalion team level is unsound. Makes as much sense as mandating women on all-male professional contact sports teams.
Life in a rifle company is still incredibly brutal, filthy, requires enormous physical energy and upper body strength, and calls for a spirit of personal violence. There is zero personal privacy. Bodily functions take place in close proximity.
Troops are constantly injured from carrying heavy loads and crashing down hills in the dark. They dig like moles to stay alive.
Infantry units live like wild animals during periods of extended combat. Mostly it is a business of self-selected young men. Most of these combat soldiers end up in these units because they actually want to fight.
One might think there would be some additional recognition of such opinions expressed by long-time practitioners of the craft of ground combat. But alas. Objective analysis gives way to activism and some other “isms” all too often.
Pity the truthful leader who attempts to hold to standards based on realistic combat factors, and tells truth to power. Most won’t, and the others won’t survive.
(H/T to Battleland)
The Late General Robert H. Barrow, former Commandant of the Marine Corps, winner of the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Veteran of three wars, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, speaks on the notion of women in ground combat units. Thirteen and a half minutes. (The last three are dark screen.) Listen to it all.
Those who would dismiss General Barrow as hidebound, sexist, closed-minded, or any other of the various derogatory labels that tend to be employed by the feminists who push such agendas should feel a tinge of shame. If they are capable of such, which I doubt.
Those who comprise the Joint Chiefs of Staff, particularly CJCS Dempsey, CSA Ordierno, and Marine Commandant Amos, should be ashamed of themselves. They must know deep down that what a man like General Barrow asserts is the brutal truth. Yet they have nodded their heads in enthusiastic agreement with their political masters as a sop to the feminists and progressives who despise our military and everything it stands for. Gentlemen, you must do some serious soul searching. You KNOW that General Barrow speaks an unvarnished truth honed by 41 years of wartime service and leadership of men in some of the most bitter combat of the 20th Century. Are your current assignments and your careers so much more important than the lives of those you will unnecessarily risk to implement this corrosive policy?
The Commandant’s assertion that “we will maintain our high standards while ensuring maximum success for every Marine” smacks of the dishonesty of the “everyone gets a trophy” Left. War, we damned well should know, knows no such considerations. If we didn’t have such morally and intellectually bankrupt leadership spending so much time and money painting the Potemkin Village instead of training to win our nation’s wars, we would not find ourselves in the current fix.
The only kind that matters. The rest is fluff.
The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;
‘E keeps ‘is side-arms awful: ‘e leaves ‘em all about,
An’ then comes up the Regiment an’ pokes the ‘eathen out.
All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,
All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,
All along of abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho,
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!
The young recruit is ‘aughty — ‘e draf’s from Gawd knows where;
They bid ‘im show ‘is stockin’s an’ lay ‘is mattress square;
‘E calls it bloomin’ nonsense — ‘e doesn’t know, no more –
An’ then up comes ‘is Company an’kicks’im round the floor!
The young recruit is ‘ammered — ‘e takes it very hard;
‘E ‘angs ‘is ‘ead an’ mutters — ‘e sulks about the yard;
‘E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” which ‘e’ll swing for by-an’-by,
An’ the others ‘ears an’ mocks ‘im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.
The young recruit is silly — ‘e thinks o’ suicide.
‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;
But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,
Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.
Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,
Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;
Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,
Learns to keep ‘is ripe an “isself jus’so!
The young recruit is ‘appy — ‘e throws a chest to suit;
You see ‘im grow mustaches; you ‘ear ‘im slap’ is boot.
‘E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word ‘e slings,
An ‘e shows an ‘ealthy brisket when ‘e strips for bars an’ rings.
The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ‘im ‘arf a year;
They watch ‘im with ‘is comrades, they watch ‘im with ‘is beer;
They watch ‘im with the women at the regimental dance,
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ‘is name along for “Lance.”
An’ now ‘e’s ‘arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,
‘Is room they up an’ rags ‘im to see what they will get.
They rags ‘im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,
But ‘e learns to sweat ‘is temper an ‘e learns to sweat ‘is man.
An’, last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,
‘E schools ‘is men at cricket, ‘e tells ‘em on parade,
They sees ‘im quick an ‘andy, uncommon set an’ smart,
An’ so ‘e talks to orficers which ‘ave the Core at ‘eart.
‘E learns to do ‘is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;
‘E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ‘im straight again;
‘E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;
An ‘e learns to make men like ‘im so they’ll learn to like their work.
An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,
An’ when it comes: to action ‘e shows ‘em how to sight.
‘E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;
‘E knows when they are takin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.
‘E knows each talkin’ corp’ral that leads a squad astray;
‘E feels ‘is innards ‘eavin’, ‘is bowels givin’ way;
‘E sees the blue-white faces all tryin ‘ard to grin,
An ‘e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap’em in.
An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,
An’ no one wants to face ‘em, but every beggar must;
So, like a man in irons, which isn’t glad to go,
They moves ‘em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.
Of all ‘is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much
Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.
It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an ‘op –
But if ‘e ‘adn’t learned ‘em they’d be all about the shop.
An’ now it’s “‘Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “‘Oo comes on?”
And now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the Captain’s gone;
An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ‘ear
‘Is voice, the same as barrick-drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.
‘E’s just as sick as they are, ‘is ‘eart is like to split,
But ‘e works ‘em, works ‘em, works ‘em till he feels them take the bit;
The rest is ‘oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,
An ‘e lifts ‘em, lifts ‘em, lifts ‘em through the charge that wins the day!
The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone –
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own.
The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness must end where ‘e began
But the backbone of the Army is the Non-commissioned Man!
Keep away from dirtiness — keep away from mess,
Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!
Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho;
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!-Rudyard Kipling, "The 'Eathen"
Red Sox elder statesman Johnny Pesky, the line-drive hitting shortstop of the great Boston teams of the late 1940s, died this afternoon at age 92. Born John Michael Paveskovich, Pesky set a rookie record with 205 hits in 1942, even while beginning his Navy aviation training in Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts. Following his rookie season, Pesky spent three years in the United States Navy as a Naval Aviator during World War II. He returned to the Red Sox to play shortstop on the 1946 Pennant winning team.
Like so many athletes of his era, including the most famous of them, Pesky served his country during wartime. Among his classmates in his Turner’s Falls training was teammate Ted Williams, A’s pitching ace Joe Coleman, and Braves right-hander Johnny Sain.
While neither Pesky nor Williams would see combat in World War II, Ted would fly F9F Panthers for the Marine Corps in Korea, alongside John Glenn, and belly-landed once due to damage from Chinese ground fire.
Johnny Pesky hit .307 for his major league career, which lasted an abbreviated ten seasons. 1942, 1946-1954. He served as a coach, manager, broadcaster, and ambassador for the Boston Red Sox in his 73-year baseball career. However, he was as proud of his time in the United States Navy as of any other career accomplishment. In an era where athletes peddle their wares ostentatiously to the highest bidder and complain about the “humiliation” of a $12.5 million salary, Johnny Pesky will be missed. As will Feller, Williams, Spahn, Musial, Doby, and all those who are leaving us along with their less-famous comrades who served our country and our cause.
Cross-posted at USNI
Keith Nolan, presenting at a TED conference event, makes a strong case for it.
(video under the fold because of autoplay issues)
I’m on the road, so I’ll be doing some “best of” posts. Right now, this is the most searched for post.
While most people in the Army spend just about all their time in a working uniform like the ACU, there are occasions when something a little more formal is needed.
Since the late 1950s the standard Army Service and Dress uniform for most soldiers has been the Army Green Uniform. Folks in the Army almost universally refer to it as “Class A’s”.
When the uniform jacket is removed, the Army Green Uniform can be worn as the Class B uniform, suitable for most office environment jobs. When I served as a recruiter, most days we wore the Class B.
The problem with the Army Green Uniform was simple. It was ugly as sin in church. There was an alternative, however, one with a great history dating back practically to the first days of the Army. The Dress Blue Uniform.
There’s a reason why the trousers are a different shade blue from the coat. Back in the days of the Old West, when cavalry troopers wore the blue uniform as there work clothes, they would routinely remove their coat, roll it up and carry it strapped to the back of the saddle. The trousers faded from the sunlight and wear and tear, but the coat didn’t. Hence the difference.
Service Dress Blues were always an optional item for enlisted personnel. You could buy them, but you didn’t have to. Since they cost a lot of money and there were relatively few occasions to wear them, most junior folks did without.
Back in 2005 or so, the Chief of Staff of the Army made the decision to do away with the Army Green Uniform and modify the Blue uniform to replace it.The new variations are shown below.
Personally, I wish they had done this about 25 years ago. I always hated the Green Uniform, and as soon as I could, bought a set of Blues. And anytime I had a chance to wear them, I did. One fairly common occasion was the “Dining Out”. A Dining Out is when a unit, typically a battalion, has a formal banquet, with spouses and sweethearts invited*. This is a social occasion run on military lines- the colors are presented, the chaplain gives the invocation, there are a couple of (usually brief) speeches, and maybe some awards and recognitions. Then there is usually some dancing. The important thing is, your best girl gets a chance to put on her best dress and go out to be seen. Chicks dig that. Since a lot of guys didn’t own Dress Blues, they made do with the Army Green Uniform with a white shirt and a bow tie.
Incredibly, I managed to save this picture, but lost the picture of my date. You’ll have to take my word for it that she was stunning. Really. The two guys in the photo were great friends and fellow warriors, but neither was all that attractive….
*You could invite your spouse, or your sweetheart, but NOT your spouse and your sweetheart…
There’s stupid, then there’s Assistant Professor grade stupid:
Amy Hagopian, assistant professor with the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health concludes military recruiters are a “threat to the health of adolescents.”
Hagopian says, “A review of the medical literature suggests military service is associated with disproportionately poor health for young people. The youngest recruits have the greatest number of mental disorders in the U.S. military, including alcohol abuse, anxiety syndromes, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
First, the good professor has bias that should discount any and all research she may have conducted on this matter. If you read the article, this has been a hobby horse of hers for some time.
Second, her argument that research shows high rates of poor health is pure crap. The average recruit is in far better physical condition that the age group population as a whole. As to mental health issues, there’s a reason why service members show higher rates of the listed disorders. It’s because the military is the only organization that screens for these disorders, diagnoses them, and treats them. Universities and employers don’t care. They may have some services that offer walk in services, but they don’t take a look at every person. How hard do you think I’d have to look to find a couple of undiagnosed cases of alcohol abuse in a campus fraternity/sorority system? Or anxiety disorders around mid-terms? Or how about PTSD in victims of on campus sexual assault who never reported their attack? I’ve seen women burst into tears for being yelled at in the office. Is that not anxiety disorder? But they were not diagnosed. I’ve seen men that couldn’t take the pressure of sales jobs that suddenly “fell ill.” Isn’t that PTSD?
I spent a long time as a recruiter. And I spent a goodly portion of that time working to gain access to high schools. Some schools welcomed me with open arms. Others treated me like a leper. But I’ll tell you this, the Recruiting Command response to this putrid slur was spot on:
“We show America’s youth what the core values of the Army are – physical fitness, moral fitness, the kinds of behaviors that we expect of our soldiers,” Smith says. “To say these men and women are somehow equivalent to a sex predator is just wrong headed.”
As a recruiter, I wasn’t selling a tangible product, I was selling an ideal. No one wants to work for an organization that doesn’t stand for something. Most of us want our lives to have meaning, and for many of us, that means belonging to something larger than ourselves. When I worked in high schools, my job was to represent the best that the Army stood for. I didn’t do that by “grooming” kids. I did that by living the values that I held dear.
As a practical matter, when recruiting high school seniors, unlike a predator striving to separate a child from his parents, as a recruiter, I instead worked very hard to get access to the parents. You know the hardest part of recruiting a high school senior? Selling mom on the idea. And you may take my word for it, no bullshit friendly approach is going to convince Momma that you have their son or daughter’s best interests at heart. You either mean it or you don’t.
So, Amy Hagopian, why don’t you quit with the smears and rigged “research” and find something useful to do with your life?
Thanks to Ghengis at Ace’s, where some of the comments are great as well.
Columbia is a nation at war. They’ve fought a brutal civil war against FARC and other rebel groups for 30 years. And while we gringos may have a tendency to look down on our little brown brothers, that’s a serious mistake. Operating on a shoestring budget and with a pool of recruits that lack the level of education of ours, they’ve managed to field a very professional army.
And much like our Army, they use television ads for recruiting purposes:
Cheerfully stolen from John Boq at The Castle. Go ahead and click the link. You need to see the other video.
We don’t show a lot of love for the Coast Guard here. We feel kinda bad about that, because if we hadn’t joined the Army, we would have joined the Coasties. They may not be the most gung-ho uniformed service around, but they sure are among the hardest working.
Back in 2008, the Coasties and the Navy signed an agreement to allow small numbers of Coast Guardsmen to attend the Navy’s SEAL training, and integrate with the active SEAL teams. After a period of time, they would return to the Coast Guard and share their knowledge and skills.
Two Coast Guard officers became the first in their service to earn SEAL tridents Friday, according to Navy and Coast Guard officials. Another three are in the pipeline.
They will be the first uniformed personnel ever assigned to an operational SEAL team while a member of another branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Why is this important? In today’s COIN world, we’ve seen a lot of military operations move to a more law-enforcement orientation in terms of their operations overseas. And the Coast Guard is the nation’s primary maritime law-enforcement agency. This partnership can potentially give the SEALs greater flexibility in countering piracy and terrorism, and allow them to learn from the Coasties some of the less kinetic skills they have in their repertoire. And it will give the Coasties a better understanding of the challenges facing special operators as well as learning tactics, techniques and procedures used on the special warfare side.
H/T: War News Updates, whose incredible output make being a blogger much, much easier.
We often hear about casualties in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But so often, all we hear are the numbers. Some use those numbers as a political cudgel to beat their opponents over the head. Others simply, honestly bemoan the loss of so much life. Still others seem to feel our lost warriors are hapless victims, fed into the maw by an uncaring nation for ends either vague or nefarious.
But the fact is each and every fallen hero is a warrior by choice. When I was a recruiter, I learned there were many reasons why people joined the service. In those peaceful days, very few people joined expressly for the pride of serving their country. But even then, it was almost always an important influence on their decision to enlist.
We older folks often bemoan the youth of today. But many young people instinctively feel a need to be a part of something larger than just themselves. They grasp, at some level, that they have been blessed with opportunities that many throughout history could not even imagine. People find different ways of paying this debt. Many join churches, or social service organizations. Others become politically active. And some join the military.
Every unit in the Army tries to inculcate this sense of being part of a larger picture. Morale and esprit de corps are the terms used. But it basically an acknowledgement by the members of a unit that, while they as individuals have great worth to the unit, they also have an obligation to that unit.
We’ve come to know quite a few people during our time on the blogosphere, and through them, learn of others. AW1 Tim brings us the story of a family friend, Andrew Small. Nearly four years ago, Andrew was faced with a terrible situation. His squad was pinned down by Taliban fire during an ambush. Casualties were mounting, and his squad looked like it would be wiped out. Private First Class Andrew Small, B Co., 1st Bn., 32nd IN, 10th Mountain Div., exposed himself to enemy fire in order to lay suppressive fires upon the Taliban. His display of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers. And cost him his own.
And as you go about your day, or lay your head to rest tonight, please remember to say a prayer for Andrew Small, his family and loved ones, and all those American Soldiers who strive so hard today and every day to make the world a little better.
Yesterday saw news stories about a new group of retired officers who’ve started an organization called Mission: Readiness that wants to address the problems of a limited pool of recruits available to the services because of failure to meet height and weight standards for entry.
National security is threatened by the sharp rise in obesity rates for young people over the last 15 years, the group Mission: Readiness contends. Weight problems are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected, the group says, and thus jeopardize the military’s ability to fill its ranks.
In a report released Tuesday, the group says that 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too fat to join the military. The retired officers were on Capitol Hill advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation’s school lunches healthier.
As a recruiter, I faced this problem fairly often. Some guys (and girls, of course) were so obese, it was a waste of my time to talk to them. They would never overcome the challenge of losing enough weight to enter. Why should I try to talk them into joining when they would never be eligible?
Other cases, borderline folks, were a different matter. Some were dedicated to joining and would put in the effort to lose weight and meet the standard. Other folks, well, they liked what I was selling, but not that much.
Of course, being fat wasn’t the only disqualifier for service. There were myriad other medical conditions that would preclude entry. But I’m not a doctor, so while I would screen applicants for potential problems, I’d make the doctor justify not letting them in. There were times when it seemed there was no rhyme or reason to which conditions were unacceptable, and others were fine. But if I knew of any issues, and had the records to explain them, I’d have a much better chance of my applicant being accepted.
As a rule of thumb, we figured that only about one third of any graduating high school class was qualified to enlist- mentally, morally, and physically. That didn’t even address their desire or propensity to enlist. So you can see what a challenge finding qualified enlistees was. As the population gets fatter and more sedentary, it will continue to become more difficult.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I hated recruiting. I met a lot of great people, but so much of the job was a pain. Finding people that wanted to join the Army wasn’t much of a challenge. Finding qualified people that wanted to join was a huge challenge.
I talked to a lot of people every day (which was a challenge in and of itself- I’m not the most outgoing person) and even a lot of people that were seemingly a good fit for service were, for one reason or another, ineligible.
There’s only a limited pool of potential recruits, and it isn’t as big as you may think. First, the target market, people from 18 up until their mid-20s isn’t the largest demographic in the country. Then, add in minor things like having a high school diploma, being physically and medically qualified, having a clean (enough) criminal record and passing the ASVAB test. Pretty soon, you’ve whittled down the pool even further. How much.
According to Wired Magazine, as much as 75% of the demographic is unqualified. Ouch. Fatboys seem to be the biggest component of that.
Not surprisingly, the experiences of returning soldiers has had an impact on the training new soldiers receive when they first report to the Army and undergo Basic Combat Training. Also not surprisingly, the Army is a large beauracracy, and any change takes time. Sometimes, too much time.
Here’s an interesting article on some of the changes in Basic Combat Training, now that experienced leaders from Iraq and Afghanistan are rotating back to run the training installations:
Old way: New soldiers wouldn’t be fully trusted with their own weapon until week three or four of basic training’s 14 weeks. They learned to shoot by crouching in foxholes and firing straight ahead while a drill sergeant yelled instructions. They couldn’t leave until a drill sergeant had “rodded” their weapon, pushing a rod down the barrel to make sure it had been cleared.New way: Privates get their weapon on day three and are taught basic marksmanship right away. They are expected to clear their own weapons, under supervision, assuming responsibility themselves rather than letting that responsibility fall on the drill sergeant. By week seven they are maneuvering on the rifle range, reacting as targets appear – and quickly discerning whether the target is another U.S. soldier, a civilian, or a bad guy.
Recently, with the election of President Obama, the subject of gays in the military has garnered attention again. Currently, by law, the military follows the policy of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell, Don’t pursue.” That is, the military no longer asks potential recruits if they are gay, and if the servicemember doesn’t announce that he or she is gay, the military won’t pursue allegation that they are in fact gay. The application of this policy is of course, often flawed. There’s no such thing as a perfect policy.
I’m curious what my readers think of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Should we scrap DADT and go with a policy allowing openly gay soldiers to serve? Should we keep DADT? What are some of the practical problems with either option?
We supported the pre-DADT policy on prohibiting gays to serve. And we came to realize that DADT was not the end of the Republic.
Our concern with gays in the military has never been about gays per se. It has been about the ability of military units to form cohesive teams with high esprit de corps. This is absolutely critical to success in combat. It may or may not be fair to exclude gays from the service, but the military isn’t about fairness, first and foremost. It is about winning.
In our own experience, we believe that openly serving gays would have had a very disruptive effect on units and hurt the ability of teams to perform at their peak. The military serves under conditions that few other occupations impose. The close quarters of both garrison and field duty, let alone combat, mean that you are cheek by jowl with your co-workers not only during duty hours, but off duty time as well, to an extent that most people can scarcely comprehend.
Our service began almost a quarter century ago, and ended over a decade ago. It is quite possible attitudes towards gays in the public sphere have changed a good deal in the interveneing years. I see a lot of older folks decrying any attempt to allow gays to serve. I also see quite a few mid to senior NCOs and mid-grade officers with the same stance. But I’m seeing an increasing number of junior servicemembers who think the current policy is outdated and should be scrapped. I’m also starting to see some numbers of mid- to senior-level officers who think gays should serve openly.
We have an open mind on the topic right now. Our concern is not social justice, but what is the best way to fill the ranks with motivated servicemembers who can fight and win.
Now comes Argent, a longtime friend of our humble blog. He has a definite viewpoint. He is openly advocating for gays to serve openly in our military, and has started a blog to promote that. It is intended to be a venue for serious discussion of the topic, so please stop by and see what he has to say.
Argent, also known as Aaron, is an interesting character. He’s Australian, openly gay, and has never served in any military. But he is a robust supporter of the military, both his and ours. And he is self taught enough to have a good grasp of most military concepts, even if he doesn’t know the inner workings and the exact feel of the culture. But most interestingly, he also wants to not only advocate for gays in the military, he wants to give the gay community a better understanding of the military. He sees his task as building a bridge between what are essentially two separate cultures. As we have seen our task here as helping the public better understand what their Army is all about, we can certainly support the latter endeavor wholeheartedly, even as we are undecided about the former task.
So, where do you stand? Take the poll, and leave your comments. I’m interested in hearing from servicemembers of all branches and grades, of course, but I’m also deeply interested in hearing from the civilian community (it’s your Army, after all) and from the gay community. It’s an emotion laden topic for many, so I’ll ask that you please keep a civil tongue.
Not me. The United States Army. Established by an act of the Continental Congress on 14 June 1775, the Army was initially composed of six companies of infantry, and was to act as the umbrella under which the various militias would serve to fight the British Army during the Revolutionary War.
Since that time, the Army’s strength has waxed and waned several times. Historically, the people of the United States had an aversion to a strong standing Army. It wasn’t until after WWII, at the beginning of the Cold War, that the Army maintained a large peacetime force. Since then, the Army has been at war several times, while arguably, the Republic has not.
Today, the Army is one of the most trusted institutions in American life. Soldiers enjoy a public approval greater than almost any other period in the history of the Army.
Each year, the Secretary of the Army selects a theme to emphasize during the year. This year is the Year of the NCO. The NCO corps, Corporals through Sergeant Majors, is the backbone of the Army. They are the middle management. They get things done. They are the folks who train soldiers. They provide purpose, direction and motivation to their teams. If you want to learn about leadership, learn about NCOs. As you’ll see below, you can’t recruit NCOs from another industry. You have to grow your own.
We are extremely proud of our service as a Noncommissioned Officer. While much of what was fun in the Army consisted of shooting things and blowing stuff up, what was rewarding was leading, training, and mentoring younger soldiers. Even some aspects of recruiting duty were similarly rewarding. I met a lot of young folks that just weren’t going to join the Army. But I still had a blast talking with them about their plans for the future. Some were obviously on the right path. To them, I said, more power to you. Others hadn’t figured out their path in life. I hope I was able to give a little substanative guidance to some of them.
Today’s NCO is entrusted with a level of responsibility that I could only dream of. They still have to execute their core competencies of leading and training soldiers. But they are also in many ways the face of America in lands far from home. When the average Iraqi or Afghani sees an American, it is a damn good chance that he’s seeing a Sergeant in the US Army. His perceptions of America and her people are formed by how that meeting goes. There’s a concept put out by a former Commandant of the Marine Corps called “The Strategic Corporal”- the actions of a junior NCO can have immense impact on how our foreign policy is shaped and executed. The NCOs of today’s Army have embraced that and realize they have a heavy burden.
NCOs also have a burden to make sure that none of their soldiers are killed or wounded because they weren’t well trained. Training never stops. No, not even in war. Before missions, briefings and rehearsals. After missions, and After Action Review to see what worked and what didn’t.
We personally aren’t big fans of leadership by slogan. We weren’t a big fan of fads. We tried to stick with what had worked over 200 years of experience. From time to time, the Army comes up with things like various creeds and mottos. We don’t spend a lot of time memorizing them. But there are seven core values that the Army has promoted. It’s kinda cheezy, sure, but the fact is, we support and endorse these values. They put into words what NCOs put into action.
- Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and fellow Soldiers.
- Duty – Fulfill your obligations.
- Respect – Treat others as they should be treated.
- Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
- Honor – Live the Army Values.
- Integrity – Do what’s right, both legally and morally.
- Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity, both physical and moral.
If you look, the first letter of each value forms the an acronym, LDRSHIP. Leadership. It’s what NCOs are all about.
And let’s not forget that today is also Flag Day. Long may she wave.
The Army is a large organization. And like any large organization, leadership and management are important parts of successfully achieving the organizational goals.
Troops start leadership training from Day 1, mostly by learning how to be a good follower, but soon learn leadership and management both by on-the-job training, and through the Army’s formal schools system. There isn’t a pay grade in the Army where you stop learning leadership and management.
The Navy of course, is much the same. They take a justifiable pride in their ability to train and teach leadership. Unlike a business, they can’t really go out and hire mid-level managers. They have to grow their own.Currently, there’s a fad in the Navy to adopt business practices as the best way to manage the Navy’s assets and people. This is not universally appreciated by the sailors and officers in the fleet. Some are downright skeptical.
But the Army and the Navy are also somewhat insular organizations, with limited interaction with the rest of the community. So it is nice sometimes it is nice to see what others think of what the Navy is doing. As a part of an effort to better explain what the Navy is and does, they recently invited several influential bloggers, most of whom are not affiliated with the services, to partake in brief “embark” aboard the USS Nimitz and see what life was like aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier underway and conducting operations.
Bill Reichert is an entrepenuer and blogger. Here’s a taste of his take on how private business can learn from the Navy (and I would argue, most of this applies equally to learning from the Army).
4. Recruiting and Training: There is a common misperception that the military attracts the lower performers in our society who have no other choices. The Navy is very fortunate to have more people who want to join than there are available slots. But more important, the men and women who make it through training are astoundingly competent people. The lesson here is that it’s not about fancy degrees and prior polish; it’s about a commitment to excellence in each individual, and the willingness to work to exhaustion to make sure you live up to your commitment.
Go over to the excellent USNI Blog and see his other nine points.