Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Men at Work

While the world watches Japan and Libya, the daily business of war in central Asia grinds on. Good glimpse of it here, from David Axe at Danger Room.Every day I'm amazed and humbled that we have young men and women ready to do our country's bidding in the hard and unforgiving places without protest or demur. Regardless of what you believe about their mission, there is no mistaking their quality.


  1. cHIEF,
    I hate to be an ass hole but the SS had quality also- but we can't hold the mission against them.
    Sorry for the screwed up typing.

  2. Chief,
    They do not protest or demur b/c they aren't allowed to do otherwise.
    Remember- freedom of speech does not apply to doggies.

  3. Jim: No disagreement here about the pic, tho the tight focus on the wrecked vehicle makes it hard to tell what's going on. The text implied that the PL put security out while the CASEVAC was going on.

    And you know how I feel about this damn war; it's worthless, and a waste of blood and treasure.

    I guess I see things differently having been one of the grunts myself. If they were really hacked off about these missions there would be trouble; combat refusals, fraggings, indiscipline, in other words the same sort of things we saw in Vietnam but on a smaller, quieter scale.

    In a way, these guys are not all that different from the people getting laid off in Wisconsin or evicted in Fresno; little guys, trying to make a living and survive in a world where the Masters of the Universe don't give a shit and CREAM; Cash Rules Everything Around Me, and they don't have jackshit for cash.

    We're wasting these guys' lives, we and the "leaders" we tolerate. It's sick, and sad, and I don't like what it says about the state of our "republic".

  4. Jim,

    In my experience these vehicle recoveries always have some kind of security element and often a UAV of some kind scanning the area.

  5. One thing jim caught IS pretty fucked up: the rifles muzzle-down in the dirt. I'd hard-ream any of my troops I caught doing that most quick smart. The only excuse I could see is if the weapons were in the vehicle when the mine detonated and are NMC due to damage, but there's no indication that's the case here.

  6. I suspect Andy's correct and that there is a security element out there that we just can't see. However, Ranger is unfortunately also correct in pointing out the weapons muzzle-down. Huh? Where is the NCOIC? And WRT those troops doing whatever they're doing in that area between the wall and the seemingly precarious vehicle, all I've got to say is I wouldn't be there. And if that vehicle shifted and collapsed all of a sudden like, well, I wouldn't want to be the NCOIC of this detail. Lots of hard questions during that 15-6.

    We don't know the unit here, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's CSS of some kind.

    And then there is this: "If they were really hacked off about these missions there would be trouble; combat refusals, fraggings, indiscipline, in other words the same sort of things we saw in Vietnam but on a smaller, quieter scale."

    Chief, I hate to break it to you, but today's America is vastly different than the America of the late 60s. The fire has gone out. The people have been beaten down to the point where they just flat expect to be fucked no matter what. Forty years ago, we hadn't yet learned about the huge game of three card monte into which our government, big business and big finance had hustled us. Plus you need to consider that these troops are all volunteers and that in fact many of 'em just think all of that good Army shit is the cat's ass. Plus they ain't go anywhere to go. Check the job market for non-college grads, which is, last I looked, what most junior enlisted are.

    This country is way different than it was during Vietnam. And, despite all of the wonderful technological advances—a TV in every room, every kid with a cell phone, etc., etc.—this country is far poorer, both in money for the common man (why do you think he joins the abominable military we have?) and in those more intangible things that make a country great.

    The great gaping maw of mediocrity has engulfed America.

  7. Publius: and here I was thinking that I wanted to add something to the original post to the effect of; " amazes me that we get as good service as we do out of these guys, who, let's face it, are the "forgotten men" of our nation. They aren't going to be Masters of the Universe, they aren't ever going to haul down multimillion-dollar bonuses or huge stock options. They're mostly small-town or big-city kids, a lot of them Southern, who would be caught in a low-wage, dead-end-job bind here at home. We talk a lot about how we "love" and "support" and ask "God" to "bless our troops"...but I'll bet the barracks are still the shitworthy dumps they were when I was a private, the service town bars just as sleazy, the pawnshops and liquor stores and stop-n-robs that infest the little communities they live in just as nasty.

    We haven't kept our promises to them. We've wrecked the lifestyle we told them they could earn if they worked hard; a decent job, a decent home in a decent town, with good schools for their kids and good care when they aged. We've let their factories close and their communities decay so that their bosses could live large and their corporations grow fat.

    We toss them into aircraft and throw them into these endless fights overseas without so much as a serious thought...and they repay us with hard service and a shocking amount of fidelity. Service in imperial wars finally broke the British Army after WW2, and, worse, drove the French and the Portuguese armies to the brink of - or, in the case of Portugal, over that brink to - treasonous mutiny.

    Given what we have done to them, what we are doing to their and our society, we honestly don't deserve that service."

    But now I wonder. Is it really because they're American workers still trying to do a good day's work for an honest wage...or are they "fucked no matter what" and just to beaten down to rebel?

    I wish I really believed it was the former. I hope it is - because if it is there's still something here left.


  8. To all,
    If you notice the dude on near security is watching the cluster fuck rather than providing security.
    Like politics-ALL SECURITY IS LOCAL. Security comes in layers, but NOBODY should ever be out of arms reach of his individual wpn. EVER, even in the shower or toilet/latrine/cathole.
    I also notice that nobody picked up , or chose to cmt on my point- the troops don't complain b/c they do not have free speech. That was a kill zone laid for Chief.
    Every picture tells a story, and everyone i see of AFGH/IRQ can always be deconstructed.

  9. publius,
    If you look at their helmet gear , i doubt that these are CS/CSS troopies.
    This new stuff is beyond my experience, but i doubt support types wear these items. Why would they need them?
    I wasn't clear enuf- my people provide their own security. I am responsible for my peoples protective posture, and i trust no one that i don't command.

  10. jim: You haven't spent enough time around Today's Action Army: ladidadi-every-goddam-body is expected to wear all this battle rattle all the time. The force protection levels are rdiculous. But it's a zero-defects deal; if some Joe gets a black eye because he wasn't wearing his issue-and-required-by-SOP-eye-protection some platoon leader and company commander are gonna burn. Sorry to say it, but that's the deal, or it was five years ago when I was downrange.

  11. jim: are we back on the "free speech" thing again?

    Look, troops throughout history have had "free speech" right in their hands; it's a spear, or a musket, or a rifle. If the shit gets THAT bad, then it's not hard to forget that the deadliest weapon is usually the closest, and that troop right next to you is closer than the bad guy.

    I hate to admit this but I think Publius may be closer to the truth; these kids are the New Lifers, every one of them. They probably know how shitty it is back on the block. They want to stay in and get that pension. They buy the whole Warrior Ethos thing.

    But if they didn't,'s not that hard to tell when armies are falling apart. Ours in Vietnam did it noisily becausem, well, fuck, we did EVERYthing in the Sixties noisily. But we'd be seeing a hell of a lot more chapter discharges, self-inflicted wounds, combat refusals, collective indiscipline...hell, entire armies have mutinied, remember?

    No, these guys are sucking it up. IMO their country doesn't deserve that, but they are.

  12. One other thing; I get the impression from guys I've talked to that these muj aren't usually that good.

    In the RVN a mine or a booby-trap was often the kickoff of an ambush. And the VC were good ambushers; the best main force units could ambush like the pros.

    But in both Iraq and Afghanistan it sounds like a lot of these mines and booby-traps get laid and then abandoned. Or they're overwatched by one dude, who squeezes the clacker and walks away.

    Bad habit to get in to, mind you - clustering around the wrecked vehicle like that. But, again, it's hard to say what's going on five feet outside the edge of the picture.

  13. Chief,
    I'm just funnin' on the free speech thing. Hell that was my last week position. This week , i think , they should button it. You beat me into the ground on that one.
    So if you and Publius are correct, our great military has become a modern CCC. Good deal for all.
    Call me a fool, but where do you get your data on discharges, self inflicted wounds etc..? Do you believe the data of DOD? If you do then ....? My indicator of an Army falling apart is when every one sings off the same score. Like Stalingrad.
    The lack of the things you mention are more disturbing than their presence.
    When war is preferable to being on the old hometown block, then we are really screwed.

  14. jim: Good question. I guess that it's because I spend quite a bit of time trolling the foreign news like the BBC and Al Jazeera as well as the antiwar sites like Tomdispatch and there has been nary a peep about the deep-inside stuff like combat refusals. You'd expect an outfit like AJ to play anything like that up huge, and there's been nothing.

    The chapters are part of the strength summaries released by DA. You're right, and they may be spoofing on that, but so far, no more than usual.

    Instead it seems like the guys are sucking it up and doing the damage to themselves; suicides, mental health referrals, combat stress...that seems to me to be a sign that the repeated deployments are costing these guys rather than costing the Army. Again, that's fucked up - the guys don't deserve that hosing and the Army doesn't deserve their loyalty, if it can't find a way to unscrew this light bulb.

    And I agree about the problem with the services becoming our 21st Century CCC, but I've been hammering away at this with my labor-and-capital posts. It IS fucked, and there's no way around it.

  15. Chief,
    There is a way around the ccc thing.
    Mind our own store.