Russian President Vladimir Putin (The Kremlin)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

A recent report from the Vietnam Veterans of America says that American vets are targeted by Russians and other adversarial governments online. Specifically, there are many Facebook pages and other social media catering to vets that are really operated by foreign entities.

Some may ask, so what? If the pages are fun, why does it matter who runs them? The intelligence officer in Moscow isn't running a Facebook page for American veterans because he has an intense interest in motivational t-shirts and YouTube rants in pickup trucks.

He's doing it to undermine the political and social fabric of the United States.

Read More

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

A recent RAND study on military compensation has recently garnered some attention, with the main takeaway of many being that "US Troops May Be Overpaid, New Study Finds." As even a cursory look at the comments section of this and other coverage of the study reveals, most veterans don't like hearing that.

Of course, RAND didn't actually say, "Get off your ass, you lazy bums! We're paying you way too much to sit around!" Those who bothered to actually read the study found it a rather well-argued and nuanced report that doesn't focus on the idea that the military is "overpaid." It proposes that if the goal of a compensation plan is to recruit and retain the right people, the military is not using its total compensation budget in the most effective manner.

Read More
A demonstrator stands outside a security zone before a pro-gun rally, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Thousands of pro-gun supporters are expected at the rally to oppose gun control legislation like universal background checks that are being pushed by the newly elected Democratic legislature. (Associated Press/Julio Cortez)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Editor's Note: A version of this article originally appeared on the blog of Angry Staff Officer

This morning, the Virginia state capitol in Richmond saw dozens of armed men gathering to demonstrate their support for the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution – the right to bear arms. These men were not merely bearing arms, however; they were fully accoutered in the trappings of what one would call a paramilitary group: helmets, vests, ammunition pouches, camouflage clothing, and other "tactical" necessities, the majority of which are neither tactical nor necessary. Their weapons, too, are bedecked with all sorts of accessories, and are also in the paramilitary lane. Rather than carry rifles or shotguns that one would use for hunting, they instead carry semi-automatic "military grade" weapons, to merely prove that they can.

This is not an uncommon sight in America. Nor has it ever been. Armed groups of angry men have a long and uncomfortable history in the United States. On very rare occasions, these irregulars have done some good against corrupt, power-hungry, and abusive county governments. For the most part, however, they bode no good.

Read More
Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe (Photo illustration by Aaron Provost)

Editor's note: A version of this article first appeared in 2018

Three. That's how many times Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe entered the burning carcass of his Bradley Fighting Vehicle after it struck an improvised explosive device in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin on Oct. 17, 2005. Cashe, a 35-year-old Gulf War vet on his second combat deployment to Iraq since the 2003 invasion, had been in the gun turret when the IED went off below the vehicle, immediately killing the squad's translator and rupturing the fuel cell. By the time the Bradley rolled to a stop, it was fully engulfed in flames. The crackle of incoming gunfire followed. It was a complex ambush.

Read More
Photo courtesy of Jenny Lynne Stroup

Editor's Note: This article by Jenny Lynne Stroup originally appeared at JennyLynneStroup.com on Jan. 5.

This morning my oldest son overheard my husband listening to Meet the Press and he wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Why are people talking about acts of war? What is happening? How does it affect us? He was very curious, as most 10-year olds are.

So we sat with him and answered his questions as clearly and concisely as we could, walking the fine line between hard truth and age appropriate answers.

I was impressed by his level of questioning and equally impressed with our ability as parents to answer his questions the best we could. We wrapped up the conversation and headed out the door to church, all of us seemingly content to carry on about our day.

But we weren't all content to carry on about our day.

As we loaded into the van, the jabs started. Annoying little remarks or looks aimed at our youngest. As the little things escalated, our youngest engaged by shouting ugly names at his brother at maximum volume. After blows were exchanged and tears shed, each child settled into his designated seat as the van rolled on toward church.

The atmosphere in the van was one of uncomfortable silence. Both our oldest and youngest instructed to face forward and not engage with one another for the eight-minute drive.

"Are you scared?" The question was out of my mouth before I really had time to process it.

My oldest looked up at me and slowly nodded his head.

"Me too, buddy, me too."

Read More

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

It's no surprise that the military loves computer-based training. Billed as the future of education, most high school and middle schoolers are doing some computer-based training, and more than 33 percent of college students are taking at least one online course.

Some courses even use advanced technologies like adaptive learning — it figures out where a student is strongest and weakest and adjusts the curriculum accordingly to deliver customized instruction — helping people learn almost anything from almost anywhere.

Unfortunately, military CBT is often terrible, especially in courses commonly referred to as "General Military Training," which most service members are required to take on recurring intervals.

Read More