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Lightning brigade: Training advanced infantry — not airstrikes — is AFRICOM’s primary effort in Somalia

The U.S. mission in Somalia has garnered attention as airstrikes in the country ramped up over the past few years, but it is a band of specialized local infantry being trained by American contractors and U.S. troops that Africa Command says is the primary security effort there. Somalia’s Danab Advanced Infantry Brigade, or lightning force,…

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Lightning brigade: Training advanced infantry — not airstrikes — is AFRICOM’s primary effort in Somalia

The U.S. mission in Somalia has garnered attention as airstrikes in the country ramped up over the past few years, but it is a band of specialized local infantry being trained by American contractors and U.S. troops that Africa Command says is the primary security effort there.

Somalia’s Danab Advanced Infantry Brigade, or lightning force, is a growth point that AFRICOM is eagerly cultivating.

U.S. military forces are heavily involved in training Danab, which includes instruction on advanced warfighting techniques and how to conduct effective unit-level operations.

Danab troops are first trained by Bancroft Global Development, a private security company, before being further groomed by U.S. troops.

“Currently, the recruitment and basic training for the Danab Brigade is provided through a Department of State administered cooperative agreement with Bancroft Global Development,” a State Department official said on background. “This training prepares the forces for follow-on training and mentorship provided by U.S. military forces.”

Danab started out as a 150-person unit roughly five years ago, but has since grown to become one of Somalia’s most-used military assets.

Ultimately, the Danab brigade will consist of 3,000 member forces across each of the six Somali National Army sectors. The unit will report to a brigade headquarters at Baledogle Airfield — a former Soviet air base in southern Somalia with a significant U.S. air and ground presence.

The new Danab forces are recruited and trained with tribal and clan considerations in mind, according to Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, AFRICOM commander.

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“We’ve learned the importance of factoring in cultural and region-specific considerations,” Waldhauser said in a statement. “We work closely with our Somali partners ensuring the composition of specific Danab companies is appropriate for the security sector where they’ll be employed.”

When asked whether there was any concern that training and empowering local forces could reinforce warlord-like power structures when the U.S. departs the country, AFRICOM said there is no indication of “dual loyalties” among Danab troops.

AFRICOM, the Somali government and its various regional governments “go to great lengths to ensure the individuals selected for the Danab are clan- and region-appropriate,” Maj. Karl Wiest, an AFRICOM spokesman, told Military Times.

“At this time, the indications we’ve received on the ground are that the Somali people hold the Danab in the highest esteem as a result of these efforts,” Wiest said. “Ultimately, the Danab as a unit fall under the central Somali government and we have no indications of dual loyalty.”

Somali soldiers walk at Sanguuni military base, where an American special operations soldier was killed by a mortar attack on June 8, 2018. (Mohamad Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images)

Somali military forces are backed by the U.S., as well as the African Union Mission to Somalia.

Troops from this multi-national coalition have made inroads against al-Shabaab, a militant group the U.S. government said is tied to al-Qaida.

The group once controlled Mogadishu and large portions of the Somali countryside.

Operations against al-Shabaab are Somali-led, according to AFRICOM, and remain necessary. However, U.S. special operations forces do conduct advise-and-assist missions during at least some combat operations.

This approach is particularly evident in southern Somalia’s Jubaland region.

One U.S. soldier with 3rd Special Forces Group was killed and four other Americans were wounded in June during an attack consisting of mortar and small-arms fire from al-Shabab militants in Jubaland.

About 800 Somali and Kenyan forces, with advice, assistance and aerial surveillance from U.S. troops, were conducting a multi-day operation when the attack occurred.

That operation was part of AFRICOM’s larger goal to push al-Shabaab out of populated areas in the region’s river valley and establish combat outposts to guard territory retaken from the terror group.

Officials have previously told Military Times that the U.S. footprint in Somalia hovers at about 500 troops.

The Pentagon is also increasingly relying on the 127 Echo program in Africa, which funds the use of units from other nations’ governments as “surrogate forces,” according to Maj. Gen. James Hecker, vice director for operations from the joint staff.

The 127 Echo program “provides us viable surrogate forces designed to achieve U.S. [counterterrorism] objectives at relatively low cost in terms of resources and especially risk to our personnel,” Hecker said during a congressional testimony in early February.

The rarely talked about program allows Americans to retain operational control over partner forces, without necessarily accompanying them on missions.

U.S. Army soldiers look out at Mogadishu, Somalia. (National Geographic/James Peterson)

Regardless, Danab units backed by the U.S. military aren’t enough to stabilize Somalia, according to EJ Hogendoorn, a former United Nations arms expert who now works for the International Crisis Group’s Africa program.

“U.S. drone strikes and Special Forces operations cannot defeat al-Shabaab, and 22,000 African Union forces cannot control or pacify an area the size of New Mexico,” Hogendoorn told Congress last March. “That is because al-Shabaab is a resilient foe. It has shifted from conventional to asymmetric warfare.”

Al-Shabaab also exploits local grievances with the national government’s corruption, nepotism and impunity from reprisal, according to Hogendoorn.

To defeat al-Shabaab, the U.S. needs to better manage local security partners, “and while there have been some improvements, it has not been enough,” he added.

“The Somali National Army, in particular, is poorly coordinated, is mistrusted by a number of important clans, and there is massive corruption that undermines morale and the ability to operate,” Hogendoorn said. “Small and specialized units, such as Danab, are not enough to take on al-Shabaab.”

The hope with the Danab troops is that they will eventually act as a source of future leadership for the entire Somali military, populating the ranks with experienced and disciplined leaders.

For instance, the U.S. Army has for the past two years taught courses to Danab troops that emphasized tracking equipment through paperwork and accountability, which will hopefully stymie corruption. The latest course in August also provided vehicles like forklifts, tractors and fuel trucks to the Danab troops, totaling roughly $6.5 million in heavy equipment.

Properly maintaining that equipment and knowing how to plan complex logistical operations will be important for Danab to maintain momentum against al-Shabaab without African Union or U.S. troops providing oversight.

Additionally, that’s knowledge that can trickle down through the regular Somali National Army.

Troops from Somali’s Danab battalion spent 14 weeks training with the U.S. 10th Mountain division during logistical training in August 2018. (U.S. Army Africa)

As it stands, though, the U.S. support to Somali forces appears to be pivotal in keeping the country from falling back into al-Shabaab’s hands.

In the near-term, the use of air power in the country has increased to provide a bulwark against the terrorist group.

In 2017, President Donald Trump issued a directive that designated portions of Somalia under al-Shabab’s control “area of active hostilities,” loosening the reigns for airstrikes.

AFRICOM releases show 35 airstrikes occurred in 2017, another 47 were launched in 2018 and there have been an estimated 28 airstrikes so far this year.

An Amnesty International report released in March alleged both that U.S. airstrikes have caused more civilian casualties than previously recognized, and that AC-130 gunships are being used in Somalia.

AC-130 gunships are in high demand across the combatant commands. They are also typically used in conjunction with forward deployed U.S. troops for close-air support missions.

The U.S. denied the Amnesty International report’s allegations of civilian casualties, but would not outright deny the past or present use of AC-130s.

“Due to operational security, I cannot get into platform specifics, but I will say we have a range of capabilities at various locations in the region that allow us to carry out these airstrikes,” Col. Chris Karns, another AFRICOM spokesman, told Military Times.

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This is the dancing Soviet soldiers Twitter account we never knew we needed

Have you ever tried to drop it low and then just…dropped? If you’re looking to gain the thighs of steel required to not only drop it, but pop it, look no further than these Cold War-era Soviet soldiers leaving it all out on the dance floor. If watching these Soviets perform wildly athletic feats isn’t…

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This is the dancing Soviet soldiers Twitter account we never knew we needed

Have you ever tried to drop it low and then just…dropped? If you’re looking to gain the thighs of steel required to not only drop it, but pop it, look no further than these Cold War-era Soviet soldiers leaving it all out on the dance floor. If watching these Soviets perform wildly athletic feats isn’t mesmerizing enough, viewers can now enjoy the soldiers breaking it down to timeless classics such as Britney Spears’s “Toxic” and The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” courtesy of the Twitter account @communistbops. mr brightside – the killers pic.twitter.com/AXgD82WWwN— soviet soldiers dancing (@communistbops) August 30, 2019 Run by an 18-year-old in the U.K., the account traces its roots back to the user’s 20th century Russian history coursework. To fully immerse himself in that world, @communistbops began using some of his free time to listen to the Red Army Choir, he told Slate.com in 2019. The result? A bright spot amid the hellish cesspool that is oftentimes social media. Pulling most of the footage from a YouTube account run in the name of Leonid Kharitonov, a Russian opera singer who died in 2017, the teen has watched “these videos so much now, I kinda remember which dance moves would go best with certain lyrics.” And, like your drunk uncle at a wedding, who, despite doing zero cardio in 20 years, seemingly becomes as nimble as a gazelle as he guzzles his 17th Busch Light, the Soviet soldiers seem impervious to pain and ACL blowouts as they bound around the dance floor. Try not to feel vicarious pain, for example, as two soldiers seemingly re-invent the single-leg squat as the angsty tune of Evanescence’s “Bring me to life” blares. bring me to life – evanescence pic.twitter.com/6ON8V1yJvT— soviet soldiers dancing (@communistbops) September 13, 2020 Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Train for nuclear war and develop legs like a Clydesdale? No wonder McCarthy was so concerned. So, head on over to @communistbops to peruse some of yesteryear’s most phenomenal dance moves set to some of today’s greatest hits.

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Paid parental leave is on the horizon, but feds still have questions

The availability of paid parental leave for federal employees kicks off in just over two weeks, but employees and their representative organizations have informed the Office of Personnel Management that policies surrounding the use of that leave are still unclear or overly restrictive. The leave becomes available for employees that give birth to, have a…

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Paid parental leave is on the horizon, but feds still have questions

The availability of paid parental leave for federal employees kicks off in just over two weeks, but employees and their representative organizations have informed the Office of Personnel Management that policies surrounding the use of that leave are still unclear or overly restrictive. The leave becomes available for employees that give birth to, have a partner give birth to or adopt children on or after Oct. 1, a policy that received the most criticism and confusion in responses to the rule. Many commenters noted that, especially for those expecting the birth of a child, a due date is not a definite estimation, and federal employees that expected to be able to take paid leave may be denied it if they or their partner end up giving birth earlier than the planned due date. The OPM rule is firm on how a birth or placement for adoption must fall in relation to the official start date: “Paid parental leave is available to covered employees only in connection with the birth or placement of a son or daughter that occurs on or after October 1, 2020. Since paid parental leave may not be used prior to the birth or placement involved, paid parental leave may not be used for any period of time prior to October 1, 2020.” But as the Office of Employee Advocacy for the House of Representatives noted in its comments, the rule and its definition of the term “birth” is restrictive in its description of a “living” child, as a child may be born without a heartbeat, but be resuscitated by doctors, or the parents may plan to have a living baby, only to later have complications that result in that child’s death. According to the Office of Employee Advocacy comments, the language should be updated to ensure that employees experiencing such situations still have access to paid parental leave. Those comments also called for alterations to clarify that an employee may use annual or sick leave in addition to the 12 weeks of paid parental leave. Sign up for the Daily Brief Get the top federal headlines each morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Daily Brief. Commenters also questioned how such leave would apply to an employee that experienced the birth or placement of a child twice within the same 12-month period, and the Office of Employee Advocacy noted that “if there are two triggering events that generate their own 12-month period, it entitles the employee to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for each of those 12-month periods.” In its comments, the National Treasury Employees Union noted that some of OPM’s requirements for eligibility of paid parental leave were too restrictive and “are in tension with Congress’s intent in providing this significant and necessary benefit to federal employees.” Those comments note that the requirement for employees to “affirmatively elect to use paid leave and execute an agreement providing that the employee will work for the agency for twelve weeks following the paid leave,” unless the employee is physically or mentally incapable of making such an election — at which point they would be eligible for retroactive election to use the leave — puts an unfair burden on employees. “OPM’s standard, moreover, fails to account for the non-birthing parent of a child who is born earlier than expected. The employee may need to leave work, immediately, to care for his or her family. This departure might occur before the employee elects paid parental leave and executes a work obligation agreement,” NTEU wrote. “But, under Section 630.1706(a)’s strict language, the employee would not be able to retroactively opt for paid parental leave because he or she would have been physically and mentally capable of timely making the election.” NTEU also took issue with the interim rule’s allowance that, if an employee provides medical evidence that they cannot return to work after the 12 weeks due to a serious condition, the agency may demand additional examinations and certifications from other health-care providers. “First, the Act does not authorize an agency to demand additional certifications from ‘other’ healthcare providers affirming the employee’s serious health condition. Once the employee provides a medical certification supporting to the serious health condition that prevents a return to work, that should be the end of the matter,” NTEU wrote. “An agency has no statutory authority to order the employee to solicit additional certifications from ‘other health care providers,’ which would necessarily entail additional medical examinations from those providers.” Both NTEU and the Office of Employee Advocacy raised concerns that agencies’ authority to require certification or documentation of a child’s birth or placement gives too much discretion to the agency to revoke such leave, especially since OPM itself determined that “the risk of fraud is low” and a simple statement from the employee has in the past been sufficient proof.

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Military plays ‘never have I ever’ on Twitter

There are certain inevitabilities that come with joining the military. From being screamed at by drill instructors to bad housing assignments and learning how to sleep anywhere, some experiences are universally shared by anyone who has worn the uniform. Twitter user @scmorrison, however, recently noted that while certain ordeals are shared, there are other commonplace…

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Military plays ‘never have I ever’ on Twitter

There are certain inevitabilities that come with joining the military. From being screamed at by drill instructors to bad housing assignments and learning how to sleep anywhere, some experiences are universally shared by anyone who has worn the uniform. Twitter user @scmorrison, however, recently noted that while certain ordeals are shared, there are other commonplace endeavors that some have managed to avoid for the entirety of their service. I have 14 years of service and have NEVER thrown a hand grenade. Is there something common in the military that you’ve never done? @SDDCCSM @TradocDCG?— Steve (@scmorrison) September 13, 2020 The notion attracted the attention of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and Army Training and Doctrine, both highly active accounts on the platform, which kicked off a friendly game of “never have I ever, military edition,” yielding surprising and amusing results from those in all branches. (Don’t forget to put a finger down if you’ve undertaken any of these endeavors.) Riffing on the original Tweet, Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith noted that while she has had the pleasure of throwing a grenade, there’s a distinct piece of flair she’s missing: The Army Achievement Medal. 34 years of service and never earned an AAM- but I have thrown a hand grenade.— MG Tammy Smith (@MG_SmithT) September 13, 2020 Smith’s remark hurts, considering she’s dedicated more than three decades to the Army. Other responses, however, stung less but revealed plenty about military culture. Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. Chain smoked.— Blondes Over Baghdad (@BlondsOvrBaghd) September 13, 2020 A surprising response, given the soaring number of smoking personnel. “About 30 percent of veterans self-reported current use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, roll-your-own, and/or pipe tobacco, with the majority of the users (21.6 percent) reporting current cigarette smoking,” the FDA reports. Good on BoB for not succumbing to peer pressure. Though, it appears she’s not the only one to avoid the bandwagon substance use that keeps most service members sane — like energy drinks. 13.5 years. 5 deployments, 2 Navy and 3 Marine Corps. Never used tobacco, Red Bull, or NO-Xplode.— MechE Devil Doc (@MathNerdJeremy) September 13, 2020 Scientists should study how @MathNerdJeremy managed to stay awake for those 13 years without assistance. And then there’s this downright impressive sailor with a two-decade-long streak of fortunate duty stations. Almost 23 years in the Navy and I’ve never been stationed in Norfolk or DC. I win the Navy.— Erik Naley (@battlechop719) September 13, 2020 Still, the most shocking revelation, perhaps, belongs to user @DavidChetlain, a submariner. Never ate an MRE.— David Chetlain (@DavidChetlain) September 13, 2020 How anyone makes it through a career in the military and never happens upon a brown packet of chili-mac, we’ll never know. Perhaps things are just different under the sea.

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