I was concerned that the Army had kind of gotten rid of its old chickenshit ways in this brave new era of volunteer soldiers fighting interminable wars. Fortunately, it seems I was wrong. Today's NY Times has this sad article about the Army's Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson, CO: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/health/25warrior.html?th&emc=th
Recall our discussions several years ago focusing on Walter Reed? Well, here we are again. Same shit, different day (SSDD), as another old Army tradition has it. As an old soldier, I'm especially gratified to see that the NCO Corps is keeping up that hallowed tradition for which it became so famous over the years. Am I being unfair to NCOs? Probably. After all, the NCOs cited here probably wouldn't be doing what it seems they're doing were it not such stalwart officers as Brigadier General Gary Cheek and Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Grantham. Interestingly, I've been an NCO—in fact I made it all of the way to sergeant first class, in a very short time, in wartime—and one of the reasons I chose to go the officer route was because NCOs are usually the stuckees when it comes to administering chickenshit rules. But the unfortunate fact was that in my Army too many of them always seemed to relish doing so. I'm an old Army guy, not well versed in the modern military, so I'd be interested in hearing from younger NCOs on this. Somehow I thought that with a volunteer military engaged in endless war, perhaps chickenshit had kind of been relegated to the past. And I'll say this: this isn't an NCO-bashing exercise—not at all—but I'm actually pretty perturbed about the whole idea of shooting these troops up with a whole bunch of neat drugs, expecting them to perform as anything resembling normal soldiers, and then letting NCOs treat them as malingerers. Four suicides. That's not good, Army.
Maybe these troops are malingerers. If so, get 'em out. But what's reported here doesn't support such a lede. What I'm coming away with is a real feeling of SSDD. I've seen this movie before. Macho men with no background, education or expertise in pretty complex medical issues somehow empowered to decide that soldiers who've fallen on hard times are cowards and somehow unworthy. I thought the whole purpose of this expensive exercise in "warrior transition" was to somehow make these kids whole and, if they can't be restored to active duty, perhaps get them to the point where they can be productive members of the greater society.
Sorry, Army. You lose again. Apparently you just can't be trusted to tell the truth. "Warrior transition" turns out to be some sort of boot camp for screwed up troops, while meanwhile on the other side of the world, your four-star general in charge of Afghanistan tells the US public that "pop-centric COIN" means that local nationals will be protected from bad and good guys alike, but then allows combat operations where locals are killed by US troops for no apparent reason. Chickenshit and "we had to destroy the village to save it." Still alive and well, it seems.