Marines

The Few, the Proud, the Broken

There’s an easy way to figure out which military service has the toughest basic training — all you have to do is count how many recruits break their legs. Using that standard, there’s no competition: the U.S. Marine Corps crushes its recruits’ lower-leg bones far more often than the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard or Navy.

The data …

War Through “Enemy” Eyes

Members of the Zumwalt family have been proud members of the U.S. military since the Revolution. It was that tradition that led James Zumwalt to join his father and brother in the Navy, before transferring to the Marines. During his 26 years in uniform, the now-retired lieutenant colonel saw service in three conflicts — Vietnam, …

One of the 6,000

On Memorial Day, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who have fought our nation’s wars, especially those who didn’t come home. My new colleague Mark Thompson, who has generously invited me to contribute to Battleland, had some powerful observations about the Pentagon news releases that have trickled down in a “

The Decision to Serve

Officer X

This Memorial Day weekend, I took time to reflect on my service. It’s an understatement to say times are difficult for America’s troops. Still, I can’t help but consider myself truly lucky to have the honor to serve in the United States military. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

I remember standing at the waters …

Memorial Day, 2011

Memorial Day is a strange holiday when so many Americans are disconnected from the wars now underway. Did you know that over the past week, more than a dozen U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan? It’s easy for me to keep track: I get Pentagon press releases every time a U.S. soldier is killed, sprinkled in among those …

Dempsey To Be Tapped As New Chairman of Joint Chiefs

Well, that was fast. A couple of days ago, Marine General James “Hoss” Cartwright was reported to be a shoe-in to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Meanwhile, Army General Marty Dempsey was still finding his way around his new office as that service’s chief of staff (he’s only been there a little over a month).

But …

Fight to Be Next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gets Nasty

As the unflappable Adm. Mike Mullen prepares to sail into the sunset of retirement from his current post as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, squalls have kicked up about who will succeed him. Early-front runner, Marine General James “Hoss” Cartwright, has been bucked off the list. Reported to be President Obama’s favorite …

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: A Gay Officer Witnesses Its End

What a fascinating time to be a gay man in the U.S. military. This time last year, I was sure the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was here to stay for the next 2 to 3 years. I never thought by now I’d be in a unit where almost everyone has received post-repeal training. While not entirely satisfied with the training …

Painful Chopper Rides: Maintaining Your “Optimal Buttocks Reference Point” Can Kill Your Back — Failure to Do So Can Kill You

A decade of war certainly takes its toll on the brains and minds of those waging it. We’ve seen that in the numbers of troops returning with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Pentagon leaders refer to them as the “signature wounds” of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq because of their prevalence due to …

Wild Blue Squander

There is not another nation on Earth that comes close to packing the aerial wallop of the U.S. Air Force. Or the U.S. Navy. Or even the U.S. Marine Corps, for that matter. So why are those three services so hell-bent on spending $382 billion for 2,457 new Joint Strike Fighter F-35 warplanes? It’s not like we’re on the verge of being …

U.S. Troops’ Mental Health Continues to Erode

U.S. troops’ minds are going to hell in a hand basket, according to the latest comprehensive survey of the mental health of U.S. soldiers and Marines waging war in Afghanistan.

“Psychologically, it is hard to imagine that these elevated levels of combat are not taking a toll on Soldiers,” the study concludes. “Reports of acute …

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