Thursday, July 16, 2009

ITS Tactical

ITS Tactical is one of the latest blogs I've been following. There is so much cool stuff about these guys (and girls?) that I like.

Straight from their "About" page:

ITS Tactical, Inc. is dedicated to showcasing the everyday gear and DIY projects that can help you live better on the tactical side of life. We don’t limit our content to any particular viewpoint, rather our goal is to become an open-source collection of different methods, ideas and knowledge that could one day save your life.

Does that not get you hooked?! Combine the words "Tactical" and "Everyday" and you got a recipe for awesomeness. Also, who doesn't enjoy a good DIY project?

They post regularly with useful information which is key to at least my attention. They seem to talk a little about everything which is good. I've been going back into their older posts to read what I've missed since their beginning.

Also, they are someone you should follow on Twitter. They update that regularly as well with both links to new posts or contests or just replies to comments. Go ahead, tweet them! And say @mikepetrucci sent you.

They are on so many social networks and one thing I love way more than I probably should, is their use of graphics on both their site, their logo, and their uber creative social networking icon set. Check this out:

Really, this is sick! I wish I had that idea! It's graphically just so cool it's making my eyes bleed! But that sounds bad... ok, my eyes are bleeding but not blood, they are bleeding the sweet nectar (which is like Red Bull but for God) of the heavens. Sorry, you may not agree but really, take some time to appreciate those icons.

Overall, they are a no nonsense but lighthearted group that just seeks to better your knowledge of preparation for anything. Worth following? Totally.

ITS Tactical

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Into the Abyss

I recently got the OTB Abyss. If I were to tell you what they were up front, you probably would think I lost my mind.

This should sum it up:

The OTB Abyss Boot is ideal for use in any rocky or muddy situation, the sole unit also works well in dry conditions. With its superior fit and drainage features, this boot works well in any environment.

These boots were "designed & engineered at the request of the U.S. Navy SEALs."

And no, I didn't pay full price for them. I got them for a killer deal and these things seem totally worth it.

I got them to replace my aging Merrell Chameleons. Well not really replace but just to add to them. I'm not sure how the Abyss would handle cold and my Merrell's have that area covered.


So I had them for just a few weeks now but around one week after I have been using them I decided to give a review of what I noticed. I'll be posting an updated one and with video but this should be good for now.

1 Week Review

- Water from puddles get in. But isn't that the point? So maybe on really rainy days I wear goretex merrells (which don't breathe like these at all). ALTHOUGH, on rainy days I've noticed that they repel water like a mother and it's only when I get into real puddles do I notice some wetness.
- When water does "infiltrate" the boot, it tends to leave fairly quick and when I thought my sock would be soaked I was surprised to find it was nearly dry.
- Very comfortable even compared to sneakers.
- Stylish with jeans and other pants.
- Jogging in them is not out of the question, great flex and movement.
- Sometimes they squeak on stone floors at work.
-Feel bulky only when sitting down and crossing legs but only because it's a boot.
- Very lightweight feeling but still feel as if I can kick a few doors down.

Side Note Observations:
- When worn with dress pants I feel like a PMC (private military contractor), not really the look I was going for.
- When the metro rail goes by (Washington, DC), I feel the air rush through the boots and around my feet. That goes to show the breathability.
- I have worn these everyday and have not noticed any discomfort.

- They may not work with everyday outfits.
- Water gets in if you step in big puddles.

- This review was based on my own findings and observations and is not affiliated with OTB.
- I have not done a full submerge to see how well they drain but since I'm so close to the Potomac maybe I'll try it there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Major new developments!

I don't have the time to put details together right now but there are some major updates, I'll post it soon though.

Warrior Challenge

I saw an ad in GX Magazine for a series on Ripe TV where civilians try and become a part of the National Guard (sort of).  The are competing for a behind the scenes hang out session with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and to become the "Ultimate Warrior."

First glance review?  It looks way fun!  I wish I could have been on that show!  Why didn't they call me?  Oh well, maybe for the sequel...

Anyway, I've only seen two episodes and its good so far but I'll give a more in-depth review when I'm done watching all of them.

You can watch them here: Warrior Challenge via RipeTV

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Basic Training

I found this great video on Vimeo.  Just a really great job of shooting and editing.  Enjoy!

Army Basic Training - HD from MrGlory on Vimeo.

Friday, January 23, 2009

PT Test

Obviously, I want to get the best score possible.  Well, I've been running and doing pushups mostly.  Although the holidays caught me off guard and it got really cold but I still do what I can.  I do pushups at work and run the stairs when I don't have time to run before or after work.  Here are some unofficial PT tests I gave myself.

- 2 mile run = 18:00
- pushups = 27
- situps = 45

- 2 mile run = 17:23
- pushups = 37
- situps = 25

- 2 mile run = 16:12
- pushups = 55
- situps = 47

It's only 3 tests but you can see a difference for sure.  Also, I'm not sure what happened to the situps on the second test.  That's really weird.  My guess is that I was lax on the first one and let bad situps count. I know that after the first test I started to really make sure my form was good so I wouldn't waste reps.

As long as I keep it up I know I'll be very comfortable (relatively) in Basic.  What I really want to focus on is getting that run down!  I know I can do better.  We'll see.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where did this interest come from?

First off, I feel that an interest has turned into a passion.  I've been dutifully thinking and praying and talking over the entire process of joining the Army.  Seemingly, out of the blue I started thinking about this.  But as I try and think back, little things along the way steered me towards this conclusion.  Let's take a journey back in time!  Ok, that was really cheesy but let me just brainstorm for a minute.

- In High School I was in JROTC, just for two years (I have a funny picture in my uniform, I'll have to dig it up).  
- I was in Royal Rangers for almost 10 years (it's like Christian Boy Scouts)
- Random things like video games and paintball interests (sorry if that's cheesy)
- A love for structure, organization, new skills, camaraderie, sense of honor, sense of accomplishment...

I also did some checking of my internet bookmarks (to see when I started doing research online) and I found that in July, I searched for info about the Army National Guard.  Then in October I searched for Active Army and possible jobs.

I don't know... I guess that's part of it but I know there's more.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Army Update

I decided to go the Enlisted route over Officer.  At least for the beginning.  For a reasons.  

- I don't feel that I have any "traditional" leadership traits
- Passing the AFPT for OCS would be difficult
- No signing bonus for OCS applicants
- Having no guaranteed job was a little unsettling with my wife and I

Benefits to Enlisted first?
- Get my feet wet; understand how the Army works
- Gain credibility 
- Enlistment bonuses
- Pick my MOS

So I told my recruiter and we started the work on swapping things around, not too hard.  I gave him my hospital records and security clearance info and luckily I won't have to go back to MEPS!

Stay tuned for more info.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

MEPS Notes

Well, I came back from MEPS unscathed.  I took some notes while I was there and I though I would share them with you.  I'm not really going to edit them and I just jotted them down in a bullet point format so I'll keep that the same too.  Enjoy.

MEPS Trip 1 Day 1 20081203

- Took the ASVAB in about 1:45
- Got a 71 total and a 114 on GT (needed 110 for OCS)
- Bunked up with Chad (Navy) - ASVAB = 78
- Ate dinner with Chad and Jillian (Army - ASVAB = 95)
- After the ASVAB and while waiting for the hotel shuttle we all sat for about 2 hours watching TV but I was so tired.
- Planned to go to bed around 8:30 or 9 but ended up 10pm.  I wanted to hang out but I was tired and it's just MEPS.
- Dinner was lame, Chicken looked great but was incredibly dry.  Mean lady, gross dining area: "Chesapeake Room."

MEPS Trip 1 Day 2 20081204

- Bed at 2200, roommate stayed up later.
- Decent sleep
- Woke up and dressed. Ready in a flash, dropped off keycard.
- Breakfast wasn't bad; eggs, bacon, sausage, toast.  I had doubles just so I wouldn't go hungry.
- Board bus at 4:45am
- Got through some tests super quick but then had to wait with a bunch of guys.
- Staff is fairly friendly and helpful but some are grumpy, probably because it's still super early.
- 2 guys in line for an exam with the Doc kept falling asleep.  One snored and the other kept dropping his folder.
- These lines are some of the most mind numbing waiting I have ever done.  Bored and tired.
- Done (almost, well, virtually).
- 1100. Hungry, perfect, free lunch.
- Met a "coastie" but he did NOTHING all day; recruiter didn't put him in the system properly.  Has to do it again later.
- Need to get hospital records and all set.
- 12 dudes in underwear tend to smell a little, though I took a shower, did they?
- Waiting to leave, met girl going to OCS.f
- You kinda see a difference in Enlisted route and Officer route candidates; clothing, attitude, speech...
- I was the only one with a clean shave, a high and tight (or even groomed hair), decently dressed, not sitting sloppy, mouth shut... you get the idea.
- Everyone I met got a higher ASVAB score than me!  Is that bad?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Day "Vacation"

More updates coming but tomorrow I'm taking the ASVAB and then stay overnight and on Thursday I go through MEPS, but I'm not swearing in, just testing.  

Hopefully I get a qualifying score on my ASVAB for OCS then I'll really be ready to make the jump and finish my OCS packet and tell my parents and put in my two week notice.

Wow.  That's sounds so weird to really say it!  Leaving my "professional" job for the Army!  But I'm excited.  I'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Army Research

Below is a list questions/answers/info that I've found, and it may not be relevant but take a look, and if you see something wrong, let me know.  Oh, and I didn't really edit it, it's just for me really.


So here are my most recent questions (oh, and all of these apply to FULL TIME ACTIVE Army):

- Becoming an Officer

* If I go "straight" to OCS and I have already signed a 3 year enlistment from the beginning, do I have to do a total of 4 years?  Because after my officer commissioning I have to serve three years, correct?


- How soon can I become an officer?  Is there a fast track program?  Do I go to BCT then AIT then OCS?  Can you explain that more? 

- When can I become an Officer? 

- Does becoming an officer remove any of the other bonuses?


- What bonuses do I qualify for?  Here are the bonuses that I see available with the ones that I qualify for in bold.

- High School Senior Deferred Enlistment Bonus

- Active Army Seasonal/Quick-ship Bonus (?)

    * A seasonal bonus of up to $20,000 is available for qualified recruits in certain MOSs who enlist for at least two years and agree to report for training within 30 days.  Seasonal bonus levels are $20,000 and $6,000, depending on the selected MOS.

- Active Army Education Bonus (2 years or more enlistment)

    * Bachelors degree - $8,000

- Active Army Bonus for Civilian Skills (ACASP)

- Army Airborne Bonus

- Officer Candidate School (?) (;col1)

     * $8,000 (question, is this amount correct?)

     * Must serve 3 years after comissioning

- Army Reserve OCS Bonus

- Warrant Officer Flight Training Bonus

- Middle Eastern Translator Aid Bonus

- Army Ranger Bonus

- The National Call to Service (explain)

- The Montgomery GI Bill (either/or Student Loan Repayment Program)

- The Army College Fund (either/or Student Loan Repayment Program)

- Student Loan Repayment Program (3 years or more enlistment)

    * Up to $65,000


- 2008 Basic Allowance for Housing Rates

I checked the latest info for zip code 22314

DC053 - Washington DC

E4 with dependents - $1718

E4 w/out dependents - $1304

Question: Does this sound correct?  You said it was $1555.00.


Cost of Living (doesn't apply for our location)

- Based on base Zip code 

- Ex. Los Angeles, CA w/dependent @ E4 = $138


2008 Pay Charts

E4 <2>

E4 >2 - $1848.90 (22,186.80)

O1 <2>

O1 >2 - $2659.80 (31,917.60)


Basic Allowance of Subsistence (food only for service members)

Enlisted: $294.43

Officers: $202.76

Q. Do you just get a check every month or do you have to submit an expense report?


- Clothing Allowances: Can you explain that?


Here are the OFFICER jobs that I am interested in:

[most interested are in bold]

Officer Careers

- Military Intelligence Officer (35)

* Imagery Intelligence Officer

* All-Source Intelligence Officer

* Counterintelligence Officer

* Human Intelligence Officer

* Signals Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Officer

* All Source Intelligence Aviator

- Personnel Systems Management Officer (42B)

* Human Resources

- Quartermaster Officer (92A)

* Equipment, materials, systems... general managing

QUESTION:  What info do you have on those jobs, specifically the ones in bold?  What do I have to do to attain those jobs; a specific ASVAB score...?  QUESTION: Also, are those Military Intelligence usually overseas or here in the states?


Here are the ENLISTED jobs that I am interested in:

[most interested are in bold]

- UAV Operator (15W)

- Intelligence Analyst (35F)

- Human Resources Specialist (42A)


- Overall: From what I found out, to get maximum benefits (all that I, personally, qualify for) I only need to enlist for 3 years.  Does that make sense?


Random Questions

- What are the Critical MOS's currently?

- Can I pick my first duty station? (Guaranteed First Duty Assignment)

- According to FSR2, is it possible to see what jobs are available with my ASVAB score of 77? (That's just from the sample test, I have yet to take the full test)

- Sergeant Ly told me to ask you about MOS's and units that haven't or aren't usually mobilized.  I understand it's a big possibility but I prefer to stay with my family as much as possible unless absolutely needed.

- I really am interested in becoming a recruiter too, so info on steps to attaining that is greatly appreciated.


* About the Student Loan Repayment...

- Total, it looks like I have approx. $80,000 in qualifying loans (I'm checking on this)

- Can I give you my loan information and get a written verification saying that my loans indeed to qualify for being repaid?

- From what I understand, I don't get any money for it until my first year is complete (which will then be 33 1/3 or $1500 whichever greater, correct?) is there a way to file for "forbearance" to postpone my paying the loans until the Army starts as well?

- How hard is it to rank up from an E4 to an E5 (is it based on points and/or time?)


This is what I have discovered as to the steps when enlisting, plese correct me if I am wrong:

Steps to enlisting

- Talk to recruiter

- Have the recruiter pull up FSR2 (and look at bonuses), look at the jobs just to see what it available, don't reserve a job yet

- Take the ASVAB

- Talk to recruiter and see if what I qualify for on FSR2; check enlistment bonuses and ship date

- Reserve/Request MOS and pick first station

- Go to MEPS & once pass all tests, swear in


My current main concern is being able to "survive."  Hah, not physically, but financially as a family.  I currently make $65,000 (I don't know if I should tell you that so please keep it between us).  My wife works as a nanny currently but she spent almost a year as a teacher before that.

I want to make sure that either we can qualify for living off base and receiving money for that OR that we can live on base and bring our one dog and one cat.

Other than that, we just have car insurance, food (which the Army can help with?), and some other miscellaneous expenses.  So if the Army covers: rent, food, and loans we should be ok.

Becoming an officer is a goal of mine for a few reasons; I feel that I already have the ability to lead but with the proper instruction I can really make a difference; I want to put my college degree to good work; getting paid more will help me to provide for my family better.

General Information on me:




Married but no children

1 dog & 1 cat

Have bachelors degree

Scored 77 on sample ASVAB (taken on

Feel free to ask me anything!  I'm looking for a recruiter who wants to help me and answer my questions and I promise to be honest with you as well, thanks again!


Recruiters have access to FSR2 - Future Soldier Remote Reservations System

- Just pre-qualify for enlistment

- Pick job off the request system

- Get to MEPS within 7 days, take the physical and sign for the job

* FSR2 also provides the shipping date, enlistment bonus

* Of course the job isn't "guaranteed" at this point. The applicant has to meet the qualifications for the job (ASVAB, physical profile, security clearance requirements, ect.), which will be determined during the MEPS trip

Guaranteed First Duty Assignment. The Army and the Navy are the only active duty services which can offer a guaranteed first duty assignment. However, since the invasion of Iraq, the Army rarely offers this incentive anymore. When authorized, under the Army Program, you can get a written guarantee in your enlistment contract for your first duty assignment following basic training and job training (of course, there must be open positions for your particular job on the base before the Army will give it to you). This option is only available for certain, hard-to-fill Army Jobs. Additionally, the guarantee is only good for 12 months. After that, the Army can move you anywhere it wants.


Student Loan Repayment Info



Qualifying Loans

The loan must be entered into before going joining the military. The following loans qualify for the College Loan Repayment Program:

    * Auxiliary Loan Assistance for Students (ALAS)

    * Stafford Student Loan, formerly know as the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL)

    * Parents Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS). Must be incurred for the use of the individual contracting for the program (not others such as relatives)

    * Consolidated Loan Program. Only covers the member's education expenses

    * Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL)

    * Perkins Loan, formerly known as the National Direct Student Loan (NDSL)

    * Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS)

Army Eligibility

To be eligible for the Army LRP you must:

    * Decline enrollment in the Montgomery GI Bill in writing, using DD Form 2366

    * Have LRP guaranteed in writing in the enlistment contract (DA Form 3286-66).

    * Be a non-prior service accession.

    * Enlist with a high school diploma.

    * Have an Armed Forces Qualification Test score of 50, or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

    * Enlist in one of the critical military occupational specialties (MOS). These MOS change quarterly. The local Army recruiter will have the current list.

    * Possess a loan that was made, insured, or guaranteed under the Higher Education Act of 1965, Title IV, Part B, D, or E prior to entering active duty. 

Here is how it works:

After each completed year of active duty your service branch will make a payment of 33-1/3 percent or $1,500, whichever is greater, on the total remaining original unpaid principal balance.


Forbearance is an arrangement to postpone or reduce your monthly payment amount for a limited and specific period during which you are charged interest.

If you are temporarily unable, but willing to repay the loan(s), you may ask for a forbearance. The interest will accrue during a forbearance and it is the your responsibility. When you reenter repayment at the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid interest is added to the principal balance.

Unlike deferment most servicemembers qualify for forbearance. You must apply and qualify for a forbearance and the U.S. Department of Education must approve the request in order for a forbearance to be in effect. The process is quite simple.


Hello Mike,

I am from fl. I've been in for 16 yrs.  I been an Finance Specialist for

all of my yrs in the service except for the last three yrs.  I have

always been state side. Single, no kids.

Becoming an Officer:

You will enlist for 3 yrs.  Your time start after you complete Basic

training and Officer Candidate school (OCS). You will submit a packet

and do an interview with my battalion.  Once your packet is a approved

you will go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS).  This

when you will find out when you will depart for Basic Training.  While

you are at basic training, you will get paid as an E4.  When you go to

OCS you will being to get paid as an E5. Once you graduate from OCS you

will be a 2LT.  If you fail out of OCS, the Army will pick your Job

Skill training. Bonus for Officers are dependent on the Area of Concern.

We do not know what the area of concern is.  You will not find that out

until you find out what type of officer you are going to be.


You can enlist for 2,3,4,5,6 yrs...It is dependent on the job you

choose.  Some jobs take a long time to train which means you enlistment

obiligation will increase. You will go to Basic Training and Advance

Individual Training (AIT). You will enlist as an E4. Bonus are dependent

on the Job you select at the time.  The most you can get is a total of


Basic Housing Allowance is dependent on the area that you get station

at.  While you are in training you will receive the following:

               E4              E5

Base Pay        1758.90 1918.80 taxable

BAH             1718            1855    non-taxable

Family Sep      250             250 (after 30 days) taxable

After training:

                       E4              O1

Base Pay:       1758.90 2,555.70 taxable

BAH             1718 1855 (If in this area...) non-taxable

BAS             294.43  202.76  non-taxable

As long as there is room for you and your family, housing will be

provided to you whether you are an officer or enlisted. If there is no

room for you then we will give you BAH to off set the cost.

Clothing allowance is give to enlisted members annually to pay for new

uniforms as needed. Officers do not get clothing allowance.

Steps for enlisting:

Speak with a recruiter

Take the ASVAB

See what jobs you qualify for

Pick a job

Go to meps to complete the process.

OCS or Enlisted the most you will get for Loan Repayment is 65,000.  You

will need to provide all of your promissory notes.

To be a Recruiter:

You have be in for two years.  This option is only available to


Critical MOS changes every month.... The MOS that you listed none of

them came in bold so I don't know which one you are actually interested


All of these answers are for Regular Army.  I hope this helps..... Let

me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

US Army Reserve Recruiter.