Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
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.
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.