The Top 8 Albums That Will Be Old Enough To Fight In Afghanistan This Year


Ah, the year 2000: When we all poked our heads out of our underground bunkers and found the Y2K bug hadn't crashed the World Bank or caused all of our AOL free internet CDs to spontaneously combust. It was a pre-war time, too — relatively speaking — and it was the year I joined the Army as a dumb 17-year-old.

Now, I’m a dumb 34-year-old entering my 18th year in the Army, which means 2000 babies are old enough to fight in the war I first fought back in the early aughts. I don’t know any of those babies, but the music of their birth year is still with me, bringing memories of those glory days of high school, when we were invincible and ready to take the world by storm. These albums represent a time of innocence and optimism. When we were happy and singing “THAT THONG, THA-THONG THONG THONG” at the top of our lungs. And now, like me, they’re deployable.

NSync: No Strings Attached

Released March 21

Hot track: “Bye Bye Bye”

NSync’s catchy famebomb seems like the kind of nice kid who waits to graduate high school with a bunch of cords and patches before breezing into an Air Force contract doing… whatever. In those days, I would’ve told you there was nothing about NSync that was worth your time, just a bunch of pretty boys with frosted tips that all our girlfriends were in love with. The five-headed Jody of my teen years. Now, as an adult, I can hear “Bye Bye Bye” and appreciate what went into it. Purists will complain about it sounding overproduced, but so is the Global War on Terror. Plus, try hating Justin Timberlake and Joey Fatone. You can’t do it. They’re the guys on deployment nobody ever really knows but everybody always really likes.

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP

May 23

Hot track: “The Real Slim Shady”

It’s the album that established Eminem as a real force, you know, before he quit rapping about nutty fans, nutty media, and nutty ex-wives. Even if the hooks hadn’t been insane, they got lifts from Dr. Dre, Xzibit, and two Doggs (Snoop and Nate). The Marshall Mathers LP was one of those albums that turned rap music upside down and gave it a quick shake over the balcony. Eighteen years later, this album is ready to leave Eminem’s nest and join the fight against al Qaeda. Don’t worry, though — D12 probably puts on a great going-away party.

Nelly: Country Grammar

June 27

Hot track: “Ride Wit Me”

Country Grammar holds a place in my heart — Nelly is one of the few defining Midwest hip-hop artists, from my hometown of St. Louis. But what made this album a nationwide thing was Nelly’s ability to mix melodic vocals with irresistible beats and just make the album fun, like cowboy boots dancing along with Air Force Ones, or sailors and Marines living in harmony. There’s hardly a single track on Country Grammar that you won’t find yourself moving along to in no time. A great icebreaker and tension-reliever while you’re in your seventh hour of guard-tower duty with some quiet dude from another state you never visited.

Coldplay: Parachutes

July 10

Hot track: “Yellow”

Along with the Y2K virus, the year 2000 unleashed Coldplay on the world with their debut album Parachutes. This British band broke away from the ’90s whine-fest that was Oasis and brought emotional electronic-jam tunes into the mainstream — like Radiohead, but safe for adult contemporary radio. Coldplay was that quiet reprieve you needed to relax and rehydrate before you jumped back into the fray. Heal your bones. Feel shit. Listen to it while you unsuccessfully try to woo that married troop you’ve been eyeing from afar in the DFAC. Parachutes gives you the mellow confidence you need. This album is that guy who joined, did fine, and then just disappeared one day and no one knows what happened, but he’s not on the roster.

Johnny Cash: American III: Solitary Man

October 17

Hot track: “I Won’t Back Down”

Thank heavens for Johnny Cash, USAF (Ret.) — and for Rick Rubin, the maverick producer who helped Cash find a new audience in his seventh decade with the American album series. Just Johnny, an acoustic guitar, maybe some piano, and a buttload of fearless covers — from industrial (Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, a haunting rendition that even put NIN frontman Trent Reznor to the verge of tears) to the toe-tapping Tom Petty classic “I Won’t Back Down.” American III is the quiet E-4 you think you have pegged, till the crap hits the fan and he whips out some heroism. It’s also a country album you can put on in the MWR and no one yells at you to turn off that hick shit.

Outkast: Stankonia

October 31

Hot track: “B.O.B.”

Outkast is one of those groups that affects you on a visceral level. A blending of experimental beats and southern style rap, Stankonia ripped into your soul, did a funny interlude in it, and then shook it around with some crazy beats and lines. Everybody has “Ms. Jackson” and “So Fresh, So Clean” on a party playlist, but the pulse-pounding (and oddly prophetic) “B.O.B.” (Bombs over Baghdad) goes HAM on your senses in the best way possible. Stankonia’s the kind of album that probably aces its PFT, breezes through Fort Sill, and dials up effective fire before organizing the FOB party that everybody gets NJP-ed for.

Various: Now That’s What I Call Music! 4 and 5

July 18 and November 14

Hot track: “Steal My Kisses”

How did we measure the sappy greatness of pop before the Now That’s What I Call Music series? These days, when I happen across current iteration (NTWICM 64 dropped last November), I can’t even tell who the bands are. Imagine Dragons? I want to listen to music, not get into LOTR, nerd! My generation of pop music was the best and everything before and since is garbage, as these two compilations of Britney, Mandy, Kandi, Macy, and Lenny clearly demonstrate. Kick it up with “Steal My Kisses” by Ben Harper, hold back tears with “Wonderful” by Everclear. Feel guilty? You should. These albums are the law school bros who buy you Red Stripes on that weekend pass to Myrtle Beach and ask if you’ve ever killed anyone.

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(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."

"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.

"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."

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(Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse)

Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.

Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.

No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

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Taran Tactical Innovations

John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.

With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.

Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.

And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.

But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.

As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.

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The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.

That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.

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(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.

Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.

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