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One of the benefits of serving in the military is having the chance to use all kinds of cool equipment like in Hollywood action movies and repetitive Call of Duty games. The Army has its hi-tech Strykers; the Navy has its powerful nuclear engines; the Air Force, its exquisite nine-hole golf courses; and the Coast Guard has, actually I don't know, orange helicopters?
As for the Marines, well, we have our own things.
Like 30-pound radios with shrapnel from Vietnam still embedded in them and fleece beanies we're not allowed to wear when it’s cold for some reason. The Corps doesn't really get the gear on the higher end of the coolness spectrum. I know my people tend to brag that our branch is the tip of the spear, but the truth is we get the shaft.
Yes, it's been a few years since I left active duty so the stuff being issued to Marines these days may have changed. Pfft, who am I kidding? We'll keep getting the same crappy gear and Army leftovers for years to come. In a thousand years our descendants will be fighting giant squid people on Neptune and celebrating the F-35 finally being completed as they pick silk wedgies out of their asscracks during morning physical training.
Anyway, here are nine issued Marine Corps items that aren’t going away, even though they should.
Outside of training, I don't think I saw anyone actually use a canteen. Between CamelBaks, Nalgenes, and the various other brands of water sacks and reusable bottles, there are a whole lot of ways to carry more water with greater ease than a pair of plastic flasks. And no matter what you do to clean them, the inside always smells like plastic and old swamp water.
2. Sword belt
Any time there's an event — wedding, funeral, birthday ball, horse cavalry charge, etc. — where corporals and above might need to wear a sword, you just end up wearing the cooler looking Sam Brown belt.
So really, what's the point?
3. Night vision goggles
For those who haven't used night vision goggles, they don't work like in the movies. In Hollywood, night vision paints the world in perfect detail with a green tint, but in reality, everything looks like an old Game Boy game: two-dimensional, two-toned, and full of deadly turtles.
Before my first night patrol, I joked that our night vision goggles were only good for seeing what you've just tripped over. Everybody had a good chuckle. Then I tripped several times that night. Everybody had more good chuckles. Then we almost lost a Marine who fell down a huge hole that none of us could see and it took us a few minutes to figure out what happened. Nobody chuckled.
Our night vision sucks.
4. Skivvy shorts
Look, I know some of my fellow Marines out there have a certain affection for silkies, as they’re often called. But they're stupid. Really, really stupid. We can't keep bragging that we have the best looking uniforms of all the services when there are packs of our brothers and sisters PT-ing in these crotch-hugging nightmares.
5. Barracks cover
Remember when there was all that hoopla about the Marine Corps considering changing the design of this thing, and everybody got up in arms about how they thought the idea for the new cover, which was really just an older version, looked stupid? It was a pretty laughable "controversy" to me, because I thought the version we have now looks pretty stupid too.
I always hated having to wear that white Frisbee-looking thing on the walk from my car to wherever the birthday ball was, then putting it on a table with dozens of ones just like it for the rest of the night.
6. Load-bearing vest
Maybe these were all the rage in the days before body armor, and the lingering shoulder pain that goes with it was standard in the field. But nowadays, what with flaks and plate carriers having MOLLE straps on them, this thing is just another piece of tan nylon you have to worry about losing in your closet.
7. Those weird leather glove shells
The Korean War was a long time ago. Haven't less crappy ways to keep our hands come about since then? Ways that don’t smell like grandma’s basement and look like something a serial killer in the 1930s would wear?
8. Boot blouses
So if we want to have our trousers bloused but also have the option to unblouse them in extremely hot weather, why don't we just have uniform trousers with drawstrings at the bottom? Oh, that's right: because it would be easy and convenient and save Marines money. And that's just not how we do things, dagnabbit!
9. Beretta M9 pistol
Yes, the iconic sidearm of the U.S. military since 1985 sucks. Hard.
Granted, I was an utterly miserable shot with this thing and would probably have had better luck neutralizing an enemy if I threw it at them instead of firing it. But I'm definitely not alone in considering the M9 a paperweight that occasionally fires an inaccurate round with low stopping power. You also have to carry this paperweight around in the field or on deployment to boot. Basically the worst kind of paperweight you can imagine. Oh, and the magazines are malfunction prone.
MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The United States will send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War to underscore Washington's commitment to NATO, a senior allied commander said on Tuesday.
Days after a NATO summit in London at which U.S. President Donald Trump called low-spending European allies "delinquent", U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises, centered on Germany, will be the largest of their kind in 25 years.
"This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO," Seguin, who oversees allied operations from NATO's military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.
Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.
The top Pentagon watchdog has announced it would be investigating all deaths of recruits during initial military training over the past five years, the agency said in a statement last week.
In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.
While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.
The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.
In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).
According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.
The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.
The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.
Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.
The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.