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Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. (April 11, 2023): In this photo by James Frank, Marine Corps Corporal Xavier Abreu, an ammunition technician with The Basic School, does front squats while participating in the first Training and Education Command Fittest Instructor Competition held here. The Basic School is where all newly commissioned officers go to become “Leaders of Marines”, a sacred oath taken by those of “exemplary character and integrity who are mentally and physically tough.”

The Basic School at Quantico trains over 1,700 officers each year in a 28-week course during which candidates receive classroom and field training on weapons, tactics, and leadership. This extremely demanding course is divided into three phases: leadership, academics, and military skills. Officer candidates must pass a 15-mile hike, an endurance course including land navigation, and qualify in rifle and pistol marksmanship.

In the classroom, future officers attend lectures on tactical decision making, practice strategies in sand table exercises, and participate in small group discussions of historic battle scenarios. In the field, the future leaders are stressed to the maximum as they negotiate obstacles, manage platoon size actions, and engage in realistic live fire training.

It truly does take a special person to dedicate one’s life to leading Marines.

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Philippine Sea. (April 10, 2023): For centuries, Sailors struggled to navigate their vessels safety across great oceans relying only on the stars to guide their way. In this photo by MC2 David Negron, Quartermaster 2nd Class Leslie Juarez, from Laredo, Texas, looks through a stadimeter on the bridge aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur. A stadimeter is an optical device used to estimate range and distance of an object of known height by measuring the angle between the top and bottom of the object.

Like the Sextant that measures the distance of celestial bodies, the Stadimeter uses mirrors to determine the angle between two objects to measure distances. Using the Stadimeter, Quartermaster 2 Juarez can identify a distant ship, adjust the stadimeter for its mast-head height, and then determine the distance of the object from the ship.

The hand-held Stadimeter was invented in 1890 by U.S. Navy Officer Bradley Allen Fiske who developed the device for gunnery purposes, but also found it proved useful for fleet sailing, especially keeping warships at the proper distance from one another in convoys. It is one of several types of optical rangefinders that do not require a large instrument and so are ideal for hand-held use or they can even be installed in a submarine's periscope.

Of course, today’s mariners are blessed with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to navigate all the world's lakes, seas, and oceans. The GNSS is a constellation of satellites that send signals from space that transmit positioning and timing data to receivers on earth. The receivers then use this data to determine their location, accurately to within 9 feet, anywhere in the world.

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.(April 4, 2023):In this photo by Senior Airman Callie Norton, Master Sgt. David Schnabel, 8th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron first sergeant, is welcomed home from a deployment by a loved one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The deployment was the 62nd Airlift Wing’s first under the new Airforce “Force Generation Model” in support of U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Africa Command operations. The Force Generation Model is a new policy to make servicemember deployments more predictable and scenes like the reunion above, while touching, happen less often.

Airforce personnel and their equipment are fatigued after decades of war around the world and Airmen need a more stable deployment schedule to allow time for family life. In the past, the Airforce deployed forces to military commanders around the globe continuously which has become unsustainable due to its impact on crew training and readiness. The new program allows Airmen to get ready for deployment year-round rather than scramble to complete training and preparation at the last minute.

The Airforce has created a cyclical process that rotates Airmen through four phases, “Reset, Prepare, Ready, and Available To Commit. In the Ready phase, multiple units gather for training events and hold competitions, such as flag events, weapons school, or other large-scale exercises that keep units at a razor’s edge. This is followed by the Prepare phase that spreads out training across 18 months before they can be assigned overseas. Next comes the Ready phase, the final preparation step before a unit is declared “Available to Commit” anywhere in the world.

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Iwakuni, Japan. (April 7, 2023): In this photo by Corporal Tyler Harmon, fixed wing aircraft mechanic Lance Corporal Herbert Tunley III signals to pilot Major Douglas Kansier, F-35B Lightning pilot and executive director of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242 during flight operations in the Indo-Pacific. This remarkable aircraft is the backbone of American combat aviation and will represent the bulk of the crewed tactical aircraft of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for several decades to come.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities as needed.

The aircraft comes in three versions, the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B, and the carrier-based F-35C.

The Marine variant pictured above is a short take-off and vertical landing jet able to take off from a short runway (or take off vertically if it does not have a heavy payload) and land vertically (i.e. with no runway). Incredibly, the F35-B can clear a 50-foot obstacle and needs only 1,500-foot runway to takeoff. Designed to operate from remote expeditionary airfields or within range of air-capable ships, the F-35B features a vertical lift fan and pivoting engine nozzle to deliver vertical landing virtually anywhere a landing strip can be constructed.

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Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. (April 12, 2023): In this photo by Corporal Mitchell Johnson, Marine Corps Sergeant Steven Gomez, a small arms repair technician with Weapons Training Battalion, fires a World War II vintage French M1 Grand rifle during Marine Corps Championships at Quantico, Virginia. Marines who place in the top ten percent in marksmanship during unit competition are invited to participate in the Marine Corps Championships, a ten-day contest in precision rifle, pistol, and multi-gun action shooting to see which unit has the sharpest marksmen in the Marine Corps.

Quantico is affectionately known as the “crossroads of the Marine Corps” in that no other base touches virtually every aspect of the Corps. The base is primarily used for training and hosts the USMC The Basic School, Officer Candidates School,  Marine Corps University, Weapons Training Battalion, and the FBI Academy.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps established Quantico on May 14, 1917, and thousands of Marines would be trained there before World War I. The goal at that time was to make Quantico “and the whole Marine Corps a great university.”

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Philippine Sea. (April 10, 2023) Few modern movies open with a more dramatic scene than Top Gun 1986 with iconic images of Sailors preparing to launch the F-14 Tomcat. Clouds of steam billowing around their ankles, navy crews their final checks before receiving a sharp salute from Tom Cruise whose Phantom screams off the deck. For civilians, launching and recovering aircraft aboard a moving aircraft carrier at sea must be the most complicated and dangerous operation imaginable.

In this photo by MC3 Hannah Kantner, Sailors perform a complicated dance to prepare aircraft for flight operations on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. The Nimitz is part of the U.S. 7th Fleet and is the Navy's largest forward-deployed flotilla. The 7th Fleet operates with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the “dance”, each Sailor (identified by color) does their part in a highly choreographed, and dangerous, process where every action must be in perfect sync. The Air Boss, perched above the flight deck, controls every movement on a carrier from helicopters to jet fighters, five nautical miles out from the carrier.

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