Enjoy waking up early, be in good shape: the secret to a happy military life

Note: Originally published in 2016, but still true.

Two seemingly enduring aspects of military life are the tenets that starting things unnaturally early is best, and physical fitness is paramount. Failing to master these two things makes military life more miserable than it needs to be.

As a new private, first call was a dreaded affair. It was the time that my Team Leader or Squad Leader banged on my barracks room door in the morning to get me out of bed and ready for physical training. On most mornings first call was 0600. I tried my best to set my alarm to 0555 to get the jump on the NCOs and get into the shared latrine a few minutes before the rush of sleepy, grumpy soldiers. Most mornings, though, I let my NCO be my alarm clock so I could get the most sleep possible.

Within 25 minutes of waking up, I’d be standing in formation waiting to be subjected to whatever physical training my Squad Leader could dream up – in this case, usually a fast, long run up and down Fort Bragg’s firebreaks.

The combination of being forced to get up early and thrust into physical training makes mornings miserable for many soldiers.

Over the years, I’ve come to terms with the idea that the military is going to make me get up early, just about every day. Instead of resisting this and trying to eek out a little bit more sleep by waking up at the absolute last-minute, I’ve shifted my wake up time far to the left, waking up at an ungodly hour that insulates me from having to rush. This means having to go to bed early, but that is usually something I can control.

I’ve grown to not only make waking up at an early time a habit, even on the weekends, but I’ve come to enjoy the mornings more than any other time of the day because it is truly my time. What I do with it is completely up to me.

When it comes to physical training, taking responsibility for your own fitness ensures you can go to work feeling reasonably confident that you can handle whatever physical training you are forced to do.

Much of the misery that soldiers endure are connected to these two things – sleep and fitness. Waking up early and enjoying it together with staying in good physical condition can make military life a whole lot easier.

Facebook is America Online in the 1990s (in some parts of the world)

Last week, I heard two different variations of a theme making the claim that Facebook is the internet in differnet parts of the world.

Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa, during a discussion on the weaponization of social media in the Philippines:

[in the Philippines] “Facebook is the internet.”

Source: Lawfare podcast

She went on to talk about how 100% of Filipinos are on Facebook.

And then from author and broadcaster Nina Schick during a similarly themed podcast.

“Facebook became the internet in Burma.”

Source: Making Sense podcast

This could just mean that this idea – that Facebook is the internet for other parts of the world is a meme or talking point, but it clicked with me as something that could be true.

It is important to think about the different contexts in which “the internet” exists across different regions/cultures. The internet that I experience is different than the one that you experience, and more so than the one that people living across the globe experience.

This idea made me think about dialing up to America Online in the 1990s. Logging in, being greeted by “You’ve Got Mail” and then choosing a domain to explore – News, Arts & Entertainment, Games – that was “the internet” for me and many others during that time in the United States. Yes, there was a wider “world wide web” that you could go and explore if you were brave and knew how to navigate it, but it was much more comfortable to explore the walled garden of America Online. 

How much time does a user spend on Facebook versus exploring the wider internet? Especially in a place where “Facebook is the internet?”

CTG Link Drop 10/28/20

Some things I found interesting over the past week.

Overcoming the First Deployment Jitters (via Leadership Counts!) – It’s scary to deploy. Every time, but especially the first time. Having that conversation with yourself is important.

DPRK Political Warfare Strategy (via Small Wars Journal) – Parade as spectcale and political warfare. A short piece analyzing a recent North Korean parade and its messages, by David Maxwell and others. Who, by the way, has been pretty prolific over the past week (see PSYOP During the Counter-Lord Resistance Army Campaign)

My Kick (via John Saddington) – I’ve seen a few posts over the past week about “superpowers.” What’s your superpower? Usually, the response is some banal, mundane thing that turns out to be helpful. John writes about his consistency in producing content (like Seth Godin, he’s writing and posting daily). That, over time, wins.

What is this going to look like?

Carrying the Gun is back. So what is this going to look like?

Well, it will look very similar to what it was before. You can expect posts throughout the week about things that interest me. Those things haven’t changed very much over the past few years – military issues, the Middle East, with a smattering of pop-culture. Man, the things I could have written about Death Stranding…

New, though, will be more on information, political, and psychological warfare.

And as before, when I write something elsewhere, I’ll point you to it.

You may have noticed that you can’t leave comments – I’ve turned them off. They get too toxic too fast and I just don’t have the bandwidth to moderate. See this Seth Godin post from 2006(!) that captures the same thought.

That said, if you see something you like (or don’t) and want to let me know, you can use the contact link at the top of the page to get in touch with me.

Let me know how I’m doing.