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Here Are The 6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Joined The Military
My military career is complete. I’ve done some good things and some not so good things. I’ve done some things to make the military, and in a tiny way, the world, a better place. At the same time, I can’t say accomplished everything I wish I would have in the military.
The problem with experience is that you only get it after you really need it. I’m a cynic by nature, so I won’t waste your time with B.S. inspirational tropes you’ve heard before. You don’t need yet another person to tell you to work hard and be a team player. I’m sure you can find Successories posters to fill your inspiration quota for the day. Here are a few things I’d wished I’d known when I started my adventure in the Big Green Gun Club.
1. An hour a day is the difference between average and excellent.
Too many people just get their daily tasks done and go home. Being the best doesn’t require staying at work until midnight. It just requires sustained effort over time — a marathon, not a sprint. As Lt. Col. Chris Raible once said in his commander’s guidance, “If you average one hour per workday studying, 6 months from now you will be brilliant.” Know your craft. The military is a profession, not just a job.
2. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
That’s really true anywhere. The military is no exception. Being good gets you in the stadium. Talking good (or “well” if you’re a grammar nerd) gets you in the end zone. Cultivate relationships. You never know who you’ll run into, or when that person you almost didn’t notice will be a critical actor in the play that’s your life. Remember names and keep in touch.
3. Insist on feedback.
The same people who will land planes on ships, face gunfire, or lead armies are just as afraid and awkward as anyone else when providing honest and timely feedback. Oddly, this gets worse the further up you go. So, as a subordinate, you need to force your boss to show his cards. Ask for a sit down when you check in. Agree on a billet description that actually answers the question, “What would you say you do here?” Midway through an evaluation period, ask your boss to give it to you straight on what you can do to improve. When preparing paperwork for that evaluation, ask for another conference to talk about what happened during that period. By doing that, you give yourself both the best chance to meet your boss’ expectations and also help ensure that your evaluation is based on your performance in meeting his expectations, not his gut feelings.
4. You are your own best advocate.
You may think you’re turning water into wine in your corner of the military and that of course your boss is seeing that — because you’re awesome, that’s why. But there are lots of other awesome people in the military, and some of them are salesmen as well as tacticians. Your boss is busy, or at least pretending to be. You don’t have to be obsequious about it, but don’t be afraid to blow your own horn from time to time.
5. Make your own luck.
The military is a big institution. It’s not malicious, but it is going to look out for itself, not for you. At one time, I had the choice of executing orders anytime during a one-year window. My receiving command told me that the earlier I checked in the better, so I could get started on my training. Better for them, as it turned out. As a young hard-charger, I jumped on that gig like it was a grenade in a fighting hole. I spent the better part of a year standing more duty than I ever thought possible. They didn’t need someone to fly a plane. They needed someone to fly a desk. As in the X-Files, “Trust no one.” Do your research and do what’s best for you, not for them.
6. Figure out your priorities.
As legendary military theorist John Boyd said, “To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do?” Do you want to be a unit commander or a sergeant major? The military needs people to fill those jobs. On the other hand, would you rather be the resident expert in your particular field? Those people are essential as well. Different services and even branches within services have different career paths, and I can’t cover all of them, but you have to make a decision. If you drift in the river, just accepting assignments as they come, you will drown, having gone nowhere. After your first tour, you need to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do, and then manage your career accordingly.
Life is tough. Wear a cup. The military is neither uniquely great nor uniquely dysfunctional. It’s a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people who have the same strengths and weaknesses as anyone else. Learn how to navigate them, and both you and the military will be better off for it.
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them. A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Verizon committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace. Verizon is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
Verizon values leadership, motivation, self-discipline, and hard work — all characteristics that veterans bring to the table. Sometimes, however, veterans struggle with the transition back into the civilian workplace. They may need guidance on interview skills and resume writing, for example.
By participating in the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program and developing internal programs to help veterans find their place, Verizon continues its support of the military community and produces exceptional leaders.
CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State's media network on Monday issued an audio message purporting to come from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying operations were taking place daily and urging freedom for women jailed in Iraq and Syria over their alleged links to the group.
"Daily operations are underway on different fronts," he said in the 30-minute tape published by the Al Furqan network, in what would be his first message since April. He cited several regions such as Mali and the Levant but gave no dates.