Game Over: Russian Spies Have Co-opted Our Reflective PT Belts

Humor
US Army photo by Sgt. Neil Gussman

As Vladimir Putin continues his meteoric ascent from lowly KGB desk jockey to giant axe-wielding democracy-defiler, many of us may find ourselves wondering whether the people we know and love are secretly playing for Team Russia. For example, my colleague Patrick Baker. He’s got unusually small hands and shifty eyes. And he’s never not in the bathroom. There simply isn’t enough room in the large intestine for all the potty breaks that guy purports to take. (FYI Pat: the Febreeze isn’t in there for decoration.)


Sometimes the clues are more obvious, like a badly glued-on fake mustache or a yo-yo buzzsaw. And then there’s the curious case of Maria Butina, the comely 29-year-old Second Amendment advocate recently apprehended by the FBI on charges of being a Russian spy, who’s flipped the script completely with her benevolent red hair and safety-first approach to espionage.

Butina’s safety orientation was on full display when she showed up to a National Rifle Association convention several years ago wearing, yes, you guessed it: a motherfucking reflective PT belt.

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in 2014.

According to U.S. military lore, when worn properly around the waist or diagonally across the chest, the reflective (or glow) belt creates a magic force field against bullets, bombs, and the prying eyes of enemy operatives. Somehow that life-saving technology ended up in the hands of the Russians, who now seem to be using it against us in their ongoing campaign for global domination.

Fake news? If only we were so lucky.

In 2014, Butina arrived at the NRA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis dressed to impress in a slim-fitting floral jumpsuit and dashing pearl necklace. Butina now stands accused of conspiring against the U.S. government on behalf of Moscow; she allegedly tried to broker a meeting between Papa Putin and then-candidate Donald Trump, and also, according to federal prosecutors, once offered sex to an unidentified American political operative in exchange for “a position within a special interest organization.”

In Indy, she had a lot of schmoozing to do. But of course, she also had to make it out alive. Reflective belts come in all different colors. There are red ones, green ones, white ones, and, no kidding, even pink ones. They all signify the same thing: a warrior’s spirit. They also say: Look out! Don’t run over me with your car.

Butina opted for canary yellow, presumably to compliment the daffodils on her jumpsuit. The belt appears around Butina’s waist in a photograph she took at the NRA convention with Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum, my friend, you got flimflammed. Take a closer look:

A reflective PT belt adorns the waist of accused Russian spy Maria Butina.

Don’t see it? Great. That means you’re one of the good guys.

(DoD photo)

Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
In this March 24, 2017, photo, bottles of hemp oil, or CBD, are for sale at the store Into The Mystic in Mission, Kansas. (Associated Press/The Kansas City Star/Allison Long)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.

"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.

Read More Show Less

The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.

While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.

A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.

Read More Show Less
Then-Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. (U.S. Army/Spc. Matthew J. Marcellus)

After months of focusing on modernization priorities, Army leadership plans to tackle persisting personnel issues in the coming years.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday at an event with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that what people can to hear service leadership "talk a lot about ... our people. Investing in our people, so that they can reach their potential. ... We are a people organization."

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army/Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

Two U.S. military service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Resolute Support mission announced in a press release.

Their identities are being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the command added.

A total of 16 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far in 2019. Fourteen of those service members have died in combat including two service members killed in an apparent insider attack on July 29.

Two U.S. troops in Afghanistan have been killed in non-combat incidents and a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was declared dead after falling overboard while the ship was supporting operations in Afghanistan.

At least two defense contractors have also been killed in Afghanistan. One was a Navy veteran and the other had served in the Army.