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5 NatSec Things - 20 Feb 2018

Today's things: Shulkin doubles down; boot camp gets a reboot; 'Know Your Military' outreach; one PT
February 20 · Issue #35 · View online
5 NatSec Things
Today’s things: Shulkin doubles down; boot camp gets a reboot; ‘Know Your Military’ outreach; one PT test to rule them all; CET change

Embattled Veterans Affairs secretary continues to battle
If you follow anyone on the NatSec twitters, this story about David Shulkin has been churning around for a while. If you’ve got time this week, put this from ProPublica in your “to read” pile, since it goes into amazing detail about how Shulkin, an Obama-era holdover, is getting no support from the Trump administration.
By all accounts, Shulkin is still, despite the “optics” problem he’s having by getting tickets to Wimbledon and a Springsteen concert, the right one for this job. Because whoever comes after him is going to be worse. And some kind of Trump puppet with little to no experience for the role.
The VA is having a rough few years, and this kind of turmoil at the top is going to slide downhill, like it always does, to the vets who need better healthcare.
Watching the Trump administration eat its own like this would be amusing, if it didn’t mean further delays in making the kind of improvements at the VA that it really needs. Or that whoever comes after him is probably going to do something stupid. Like privatize the damn thing. 
And before you think that’s a good idea, remember that time when your privatized healthcare was both affordable and reliable? 
Army boot camp gets a reboot
The US Army’s gotten away from getting good at basic armying, so things like drill and ceremony, esprit de corps, and critical skills commanders expect at a recruit’s first unit have been missing. So the Army’s going to go back to whatever the Army uses to design these things and start over. 
Couple of key changes? Grenades and land navigation will no longer be graduation requirements. Those skills will still be tested, but they won’t determine whether a recruit graduates BCT. 
I know some of you in the compass-and-protractor crowd are bemoaning this basic skill being lost to the force, but the designers of the course have noted that the time taken to ensure that people pass land nav could be better used for other things. Like to to flat out just be a good soldier. 
The point of BCT is to get that recruit ready to join the army. To be part of a unit. To take orders and learn new skills. If it’s not doing that, well, they’re probably doing it wrong. 
At least he brought the band with him.
DoD launches campaign to teach the civilians what military do
And they’re using the kind of graphics one would expect from an organization that routinely finds new and exciting ways to put food into envelopes.
For those of us who served or pay attention to national security, it can seem like everyone knows what military life is like. But that’s not the case, since so few actually do serve, and that means fewer people than during say World War II know anyone who enlisted. 
Which means there are a lot of misconceptions out there about military service. And not to get all MSM/fake news/libtard on anyone here, but Hollywood is in many ways to blame for that. Because what military life is really like doesn’t work so well on the big screen.
We’re either subjected to flag waving war porn like American Sniper, or the tortured combat vet memes of Thank You For Your Service. Both of which touch on some aspects of service, but it’s not like that for everyone. Despite the perception that every person who ever deployed ever has the PTSDs.
Whether the DoD can explain itself well is a matter for some debate. What’s not debatable is that the public at large needs to be better informed by what the military does on its behalf. And that starts, apparently, with some really weird posters.
Army goes full Highlander with its next PFT
We’ve come a long(ish) way from Demi Moore’s turn as a Navy SEAL in G.I. Jane, since Special Operations slots and other combat arms jobs previously closed to women are now open to those that have the vaginas. Because it’s 2018 and maybe we judge people on metrics other than their reproductive parts.
One argument against full integration has been physical fitness testing. Which has one standard for men, and another for women. Spoiler alert: the one for the dudes is harder. 
Some argue, then, that a perfect score of 300 for a woman shows she’s super capable of being a woman. But doesn’t mean that she’s as good as a man at doing pushups, situps, and running two miles in a row. 
Which is a stupid assessment of physical readiness for combat. 
The Army’s acknowledging that, and is upgrading its PFT to test actual combat fitness skills, and at the same time intends to do away with the male/female standard differentials. Smart, really smart. 
I mean that with all sincerity, because the only way to get rid of the sexist bullshit around women being in places like the infantry is to get rid of any doubts that they’re able to handle the job. 
USMC drops super sexist infantry officer grad requirement
It’s called the Combat Endurance Test (CET), and until 2012 was not a graduation requirement for the USMC’s Infantry Officer Course. Remember 2012? That was a time when folks were thinking now might be a good time to let females service in the infantry. As officers.
The CET is, if we’re speaking doctrinally, a motherfucker of a test. Part of it includes moving for a lot of miles in a row with around 150 pounds on your back. Since a lot of women (and some men) weigh less than the pack on their back, the CET was a sure fire way for the Marines to say, “See? The ladeez can’t handle Marining.”
Don’t use “Marining in public.” It’s not a word.
A lot of Marines have asked whether the CET’s a good way to test any kind combat skill. Many of them think of it as just another rite of passage that doesn’t indicate one’s ability to lead infantry troops. But rather since they did it, everyone should have to do it. 
Fortunately smarter heads have prevailed, and the CET, while part of IOC, is no longer a pass/fail requirement. So…progress. 

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