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The Military Wants To Make Bases More Walkable Because Vehicles Are For The Weak
As Syria heats up, the Gulf states get snippy, and North Korea keeps lobbing rockets, the Department of Defense’s top military planners are doing what they always do: reviewing maps, rehearsing routes in their heads, planning to engineer new paths and obstacles, and trying to anticipate where resistance will come from.
Their objective: to make you move around more, you lazy fatbodies.
The Atlantic’s CityLab took a deep dive into how the Pentagon is using “active design” trends in urban planning to make its military bases more amenable to walking, running, biking, and generally not being an unsat dirtbag.
The “Healthy Base Initiative” isn’t new — the Pentagon’s implemented it on 14 installations since 2014 — but in addition to improving healthy food choices on post, DoD planners are also looking for “quick micro-changes” to base infrastructure and family accommodations to encourage active lifestyles, like bike shares, healthy food trucks, and more walking trails.
“Our installations were built for the automobile,” Ed Miles, the Pentagon’s director of strategy and innovation for military community and family policy, told City Lab. “They weren’t built for walking, for biking.” But military bases have one advantage: They’re islands unto themselves, making them great places to experiment with infrastructural tweaks.
What does all that mean to Cpl. Schmuckatelli, though? Here are some examples of the base fixes you could see someday:
- “Signs encouraging people to take the stairs.” But if an officer or senior NCO’s behind you in the hallway, you were probably gonna take those stairs, anyway.
- “Family fitness centers that provide child care while adults exercise.” This is awesome. Kids make you fat. It isn’t their fault (not entirely, anyway), but being able to stash the lovable snotmakers somewhere while we do our daily burpees is really all anyone can ask, ever.
- “A bike-share program” financed with “discretionary commander’s funds.” Apparently, this worked out great at Ft. Belvoir in northern Virginia — “Guys were lined up at lunch for the bikes,” Miles said — but consistent funding is a problem. You can’t expect every base commander to give up his soiree money just to improve service members’’ quality of life, natch.
- “Farmers’ markets.” I think this should be a part of military life, and of garrison training: Your CSA has issued you a box of kale, bok choy, radishes, cantaloupe, and avocadoes. Your mission is to make personal provisions out of them. If you can jury-rig a field office in a container box, you can improvise a healthy lunch.
- “Sidewalks, bike lanes, and commercial centers.” An interesting objection to these ideas that CityLab didn’t raise: Driving on base, rather than walking, cuts down on having to salute as much. I’m 50/50 on this one.
- “Food trucks with nutritious options.” This is a two-part idea. One aspect involves distributing food services all over a base rather than in a single central mall/food court/PX area — again, imagine being able to walk 3 minutes for chow instead of driving 10 minutes. The other idea is to offer healthy choices, but I have never seen a food truck that serves healthy food. Isn’t wonderful hot grease the main draw of food trucks?
These all may sound terrific, and many of the advancements detailed by CityLab have already been made on a variety of bases, from tiny New London to sprawling Fort Bragg. But don’t get too excited about your crunchy, military-supported granola lifestyle just yet.
“Whenever you’ve got to build something on a military installation, things like that are in the planning process for years,” Miles told City Lab. “I mean, years.”
That should give you plenty of time to figure out how to cook the bok choy.
KABUL (Reuters) - At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the Islamist group at the weekend.
The surge in hostilities signals deadlock at stop-start peace talks involving U.S and Taliban negotiators in Doha. The Defense Ministry said on Sunday government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in the weekend assaults.
But the Taliban hit back, carrying out attacks on security checkpoints in the northern province of Kunduz on Tuesday night in which a security official who declined to be identified said 15 members of the Afghan army were killed.
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.
More problems with Air Force's new tanker could put the squeeze on the Pentagon's refueling capabilities, TRANSCOM chief says
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.