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By the hammer of Thor! A Nevada National Guard soldier can now rock a Norse beard
Hear me Odin! Of beards and men I sing.
I bring you the tale of Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Hopper, an explosive ordnance disposal technician deployed to Afghanistan with the Nevada Army National Guard.
An observant Norse Pagan, Hopper has been allowed to wear a great, big, bushy beard under a religious accommodation to Army Regulation 670-1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms – which is not to be confused with "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.
"My personal faith is deeply tied to the modern warrior lifestyle that I have been able to live during my military career," Hopper said in a news release from the Nevada National Guard. "In short, it is honoring the pillars of Heathenism, our ancestors and ancient gods and way of life."
American Gods S1 EP8 "I am ODIN!" Clip www.youtube.com
After a March 2017 Defense Department memo recognized Pagans along with Sikhs and Muslims as religious groups that merit accommodations to grooming standards, Hopper formally requested to grow a Norse beard, known as a Skegg.
Nevada's adjutant general at the time approved Hopper's waiver to grow the Skegg.
Two other Pagan soldiers with the Nevada Army National Guard have asked to grow Norse beards. Like Hopper, they must be interviewed by a chaplain to prove that their request is based on sincerely held religious beliefs.
"The chaplain corps will work with any military member to aid them in a genuine pursuit of an accommodation," Maj. Donald Crandell, chaplain for the Nevada Joint Force, said in the news release. "However, we are not actively promoting a trend in this direction or seeking to normalize it."
While religious accommodations for Norse troops may be recent, the U.S. military has a longstanding fascination with Norse mythology, especially Odin, the god of war, death, and wisdom.
The Army's Task Force ODIN – Observe Detect Identify Neutralize – was an effort to constantly monitor areas in Iraq and Afghanistan where insurgents buried roadside bombs. And a new ship-based laser being tested to intercept missiles is also named for Odin: Optical Dazzling Interdictor, Navy.
Still, Hopper says he has had to provide documentation to commanders, who were unaware that he is allowed to wear a beard.
"I see it as a phase very similar to when the Army authorized the wear of black socks during the fitness test," he said in the news release. "It is something new and authorized and you will always encounter people who do not like change – that is just life."
Investigation clears former Naval War College president, who offered free hugs and games of Twister, of misconduct
NEWPORT -- The Office of Naval Inspector General has cleared former Naval War College president Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley of most of the allegations of misconduct claimed to have occurred after he took command of the 136-year-old school in July 2016, The Providence Journal has learned.
Harley, in one of a series of interviews with the The Journal, called the findings "deeply gratifying." He said many of the most sensational allegations -- "offers of 'free hugs' and games of Twister in his office" -- reflected a misunderstanding of his sense of humor, which he describes as "quirky," but which he says was intended to ease tensions in what can be a stressful environment.
The allegations, reported last year by the Associated Press, prompted a national controversy that led to Harley leaving the college presidency after almost three years in office.
The U.S. government failed to effectively account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment allocated to Syrian partners as part of the multinational counter-ISIS fight, according to a new report from the Defense Department inspector general.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has long been seen as an apologist for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom she met during a secret trip to Damascus in January 2017.
Most recently, a video was posted on Twitter shows Gabbard evading a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.
Since Gabbard is the only actively serving member of the military who is running for president — she is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — Task & Purpose sought to clarify whether she believes Assad has used chlorine gas and chemical weapons to kill his own people.
The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.
What's cooler than a single missile? How about a missile with a high-powered machine gun attached?
That's exactly what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on, according to budget documents — and it wants $13 million to make it a reality.