Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
An Open Letter To The Pentagon Regarding The Serious Matter Of My Beard
Dear U.S. military planners,
After eight years of both Active Duty and National Guard service, I will be hanging up my uniform permanently this December. And what would be my driving reason behind forgoing another romp with the mighty U.S. Air Force? That would be my beard.
That’s not a typo, and it’s not that ridiculous. In 2015, the Army lifted its tattoo requirements on account of losing too many good soldiers who wished to continue adding to their dermal canvas. At the time, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno stated, "Society is changing its view of tattoos, and we have to change along with that. It makes sense. Soldiers have grown up in an era when tattoos are much more acceptable and we have to change along with that."
Replace the word "tattoo" with "beard," and you experience my current reality. I have grown up in a society where beards are not only relatively commonplace but even a sign of one’s masculinity and virility. I must admit that a good portion of my self-esteem is tied up in those facial follicles. Yet here I am, stationed in a non-chemically threatened environment, shaving my face on the daily, and regretting never purchasing stock in Gillette.
It's not an impossible issue to address. Indeed, the Navy on Tuesday announced looser hairstyle regulations for female sailors, rules that now allow for dos that include locks, ponytails, and other longer styles. Style options for females are now expanded exponentially, thanks to the changes pieced together by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bob Burke, in response to input from sailors.
This isn't a matter of comfort, but strategy. Consider that the Air Force trained approximately 4,700 non-prior-service airmen in 2017. Estimates on total initial training cost range anywhere from about $30,000 to $75,000 in training; throw in a Top Secret/Secret Compartmentalized Information (TS/SCI) clearance and you can add another $3,000 to $15,000 in investigative fees to that total. In my case, for instance, the Air Force invested between $33,000 and $90,000 into my initial entry in the U.S. armed forces; this doesn't even include all the money the Air Force dumped into my initial on-the-job training and travel funds for any temporary duty assignments.
Either way, it’s crystal clear: Training non-prior service Airmen is expensive and a strain on resources. According to the fiscal 2018 budget request, the Air Force would like to add roughly 2,600 airmen this year, bringing the active-force total up to 325,100. Well, you could make that 2,601 if you relax those damn beard requirements.
Why are we continuing to do this to our male warfighters? In addition to medical exemptions, the military is now allowing beards for religious preferences. From Sikhs to heathens, the military has already created accommodations for the bearded. Why not just open the regs to all? Allow soldiers to grow a beard on the condition that it be trimmed, unobtrusive, and well-kept. Beards must not impact the proper use of any military equipment, such as a gas mask.
Look, a quick Google search produced multiple petitions to allow beards in the military, with tens of thousands of signatures; this is not an uncommon request from U.S. service members. It's time to free the beard, for all of us, for all time.
Bryant Bartlett is a current member of the Air National Guard and design student in scenic Washington state. After several years as an active-duty airman, he previously worked for Amazon.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.