URBAN GUERILLA WARFARE
With drugs, with life, with whatever, being passive won't hack it. We have to get out there and chase it. The insurgents can kill at will without retribution and that is one of the reasons that Iraq is such a f....in' mess. And, we have smart people over there, in our Army, and why they are being so muzzled amazes me but it also doesn't amaze me...
I tell you what I think it is: a kind of mentality that happens in the military, especially with the types of personality that end up at the top. They are a "can do" and "yes sir, yes sir, three bags full" command structure and this is not good. Our goal at this stage is to "get out." Or, it should be; and, how best to do that: they have had elections, have a semblance of a chance and we need to make sure that we give them a chance by securing the country; and, once we basically do that, out of there baby. But, it seems that I am the only one in America thinking this. Help.
WHO WILL FIGHT THE WAR
by Kelly Thomas
March 08 2005
Recently on NPR (National Public Radio), a commentator was asking a Marine about the fact they had missed their recruiting goal for the last couple of months. The Marine acknowledged this but in good military fashion or maybe political fashion, "never answer the question you are asked, answer the one you wish had been asked." The Marine was slipin' and sliden' all over the place, "We are sure we will get our yearly goal, that is what we are always going for, looking for a few good men" adinfinitum. Funny.
The fact is that it is getting harder for all, let's face it. The Active Duty Army missed it's February goal by 27 % and there's no telling when that has happened before. All of this is difficult because the Army is now offering the highest bonuses ever. I often smile and think, "What a lure for a kid right out of High School. Here's his chance to get that Mustang he wants, just give me that bonus!" But, now, the thoughts of going to war somehow dims the thoughts of the Mustang even if it might be a bright yellow replica of a classic, 1965. The military has hired on recruiters and still this isn't doing it. And, get this: out of a 4 million American kids that turn eighteen each year, we can't get enough to maintain the force. What is the problem?
Maybe there's lots of reasons, but I think it is probably the war. With a war raging that is delivering dead Americans home at the rate of fifty or so a month, total now over 1500--Parents are weighing in. I've always thought that the parents were the key to the volunteer army: just another job. Kid doesn't know what he wants to do. Go in the Army; see how the other half lives, learn some discipline, how to handle authority! Sounds good! But, whoa, war--not sure about that.
Nothing is working for the Army at present. They've pulled in their delayed entry types. Not a way to start a soldier off; the year begins not too happy which is very important for a soldier. As opposed to the Marines, the Army just fesses up, "Going to be a rough year." The Army needs to recruit 80,000 new recruits to stem the loss each year. The Guards and the Reserves making up almost half of the force in Iraq are way behind in recruiting. What this unbelievable pressure does to recruiters is give them an impossible job, forcing them to bring in those who may be unqualified by present standards or worse those who should not be in the military at all. Standards will go to hell in a hand basket and rules out the door or like Vietnam, some genius will come up with a scheme, i. e., McNamara's 100,000. Basic standards such as physical conditioning; thus being put into jobs for which they are not qualified and worse take frame in this type of pressured environment.
REFUSENIKS(ISRAELI ARMY RESISTORS)
The refusenicks(Israeli Army Resistors) are close to 500 Israeli soldiers who are refusing to fight or as they say, be an army of occupation on the West Bank and Gaza. These are not just soldiers; most are elite Israeli soldier who have known what it is to fight. Now, they're taking a stand to refuse to fight because they don't think it is right; and, in fact, in their view, the present offensive tears down their country. And, I believe they're right.
Unfortunately, the news hounds love to compare what "the refuseniks" are doing with Vietnam protestors. Not. Not even close. We got into Vietnam with the best of motives-keep a small county from being swallowed by a large one. And, it was no civil war and we stuck our noses in. The Vietnam debacle was a slow crawl, not a full scale, deliberate move. The Israeli conflict has been going on in a face-to-face confrontation at least since 1947. But, nothing has fueled it in the last several years like the Israeli settlements in what they call the "occupied territories." This is, from the Palestinian view, like having the enemy constantly in their midst. It is like having someone flip the bird on a daily, hourly, minute basis. It is rubbing it in your face constantly. For us normal types, whoever that might be, peace would be more important than constantly dying but not so with the Israelis and the Arabs.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is simply incredibly complicated but also very simple. And, it is a land where hatred is so deep for each other and the perceived real crimes against each other are so immense that no amount of peace talking and conferences are going to do it. We can philosophize until we are blue in the face-peace ain't going to happen.
In this case, the "refuseniks" are right and are to be admired. Israel can only lose by continuing to be the "heavies" and the occupiers. The high side of rooting out terrorism just ain't going to work over the long haul. Suicide bombers will just keep coming.
THE JEWISH SETTLEMENTS HAVE GOT TO GO. Not only would it be a gesture for peace, i.e., really doing something but it is the right thing. Will it end terrorism, make two enemies love each other. NO. But, it is a step.
Israel must protect itself and I am one of those who think that Israel must, in a sense, put a fence around itself and take a mostly defensive position. Will it happen? I don't think so now as politics rule in Israel as they do in the U.S.
Sharon's polls are up, the Israelis as a populace think they are doing something-going after the terrorists. NOT WORKING.. Get rid of the settlements
The Refuseniks are right. And, here is the compelling why. An Israeli mother whose son was killed in the Occupied Territories while serving with the Army, serving his country was asked , "Was it(your son's death) worth it?" Slight, sad hesitation-No, she says.
THE WAR IS LIKE A BAD MOVIE THAT WILL NOT END
What I don't get is that I hear some good stuff. For instance, I heard Tom Friedman, the other day on Tim Russert's program. Friedman's been a supporter of the war( down on the mismanagement as we have been) but he had a great view on priorities of our country--something we all know: "We have the technology for vehicles, etc. to get us away from dependence on foreign oil and Social Security is really a non-issue: Why is the president making it one? It can be fixed with one or two things and yet this dependence on foreign oil is a bane on us. This is what the President should be concerned with along with ending the Iraqi debacle."
Good comments; and yet, a prominent figure like Tom Friedman can't get any attention: He's not the only one saying it, but honestly, it is like the president and his cohorts are set on a path and come hell or high water, no backing off. I don't get it. Let's concentrate on Iraq and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
THE GUARD IN TURMOIL
Recently on a NPR (National Public Radio) program, I heard a running debate on the National Guard in Vermont and probably in small towns throughout America. What is the role of the Guard? Traditionally, the National Guard and even the Army Reserves have not been used for fighting America's wars. Iraq is different. The war has been so mismanaged that the Guard and Reserves actually make up 40% of the Force.
Small towns in Vermont do not like it. Their philosophical argument is that the small towns are bearing statistically a greater burden for the war than they should. The interviewer talked to several mothers. Not a pretty picture. It was mostly one-sided with mothers thinking that their children never signed up for this. True. And, small towns are feeling the burden. In my own hometown, I see it. Three young soldiers have died in Iraq in my county alone out of probably a population of 12-15,000.
Although these Moms were totally against the war, (1) What is it for? (2) Why are we doing it? (3) What are our motives? Are any of these reasons enough to lose your son? They surely didn't think so. I understand.
Why did these sons sign up? The Mothers say that they did it mainly for educational purposes, i. e, to earn some money for college. Maybe a lesser motive was to go to a few meetings, put on the uniform, and earn a little extra money. What they didn't count on was going to war with the possibility of dying.
Will the town hall meetings in Vermont make any difference? No, but it will effect recruitment. As I see it, this is another example of overall harm to our American way of life. The Guards have always been a visible presence in small communities: of the military, of patriotism, and of opportunity. Iraq and the use of the Guard will change this forever. We all lose with the diminishment of the Guard's presence.
It's estimated that at least 10,000 gay troops have been discharged. Among those 10,000 discharged are some with highly critical skills; percentage wise, this may sound small since we have well over 2 million in uniform. The Economist, a magazine I don't read very often, had one of the best overall views of the problem that I've read. They said something like, "The reasons that we have such a Neanderthal policy toward gays is a mentality rooted in three tiers: (1) Gay soldiers would hurt teamwork and morale. On the battlefield, soldiers do not fight for King and Country; they fight for each other--for love of their "band of brothers", as Shakespeare put it or Easy Company of TV fame. (2) Gays serving openly could actually be bad for recruitment. (3) An army reflects the mores of the society; and America, it is said, is unwilling to allow its heroes to be gay."
This is all pretty iffy in a sense. I have to come down on the side of gays serving. After all, there is a concept of pluralism that the military has always honored: the majority does not dwarf the rights of the minority. But, that having been said, it is tricky.
Because of the Volunteer Army, we have a very conservative Officer and NCO core; any spin can be put on it, but there's a reason that most of the military votes for the President and supports strongly our efforts at war. They have to believe in what they are doing. It is in their psyche. I can tell you for a fact that the Officers and senior NCOs are a bunch of conservatives, often-ultra conservatives. End of discussion.
Although the Economist claims that attitudes are changing and discharges are actually down, my belief is that this may be true more so because of the shortages that exists and the "stretched thin" mentality than attitudes softening. The war fighters are a bunch of macho, kill types that have to exist in the military. War is no day at the beach even if the media often acts like it is. Combat soldiers are trained to kill and there's no dressing that concept up with PC type pronouncements. If we had an AllServe military, I have no doubt that the idea of gays serving would be no issue. And, this is probably true with support units but not so with elite Special Operations troops who are just a millisecond shy of being militiamen. I personally think that there are many minefields in this social issue. In the present military, we all are better off with a "closet" mentality regarding gays. Soldiers aren't stupid and they know who their gay brethren are and most don't give it a thought, or want to talk about it.
Don't Ask Don't Tell
When I was a young officer, a 1stSG told me, "Lt., don't ever forget that regulations are guidelines, they are not the 10 commandments."
Unfortunately, most follow the military regulations as if they are ironclad rules and sometimes they should be; and, other times, we ought to view them as guidelines and be smart.
I've always felt the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy is stupid.
It is very hard for the military, at large, to thread the needle on such a divisive social issue.
The military is not a social experiment.
The flip side of the coin is that most of us would not want to deny any American the opportunity to serve.
Are there places for gays to serve in the military? Absolutely! Not combat units, too many difficulties--the same sorts of reasons that females should not be there. Their presense changes the make-up of the organization.
AN EXAMPLE OF SMARTS: In my unit in Germany in the early seventies, we had a public affairs NCO. Everybody knew he was "on the other team" as Seinfeld would say.
He was a fine trooper. Nobody ever talked about it, relatively speaking.
There was a little friendly jostling occasionally and he would often say, "If you ain't tried it, don't kick it."
No zealots running to the commander, "There's a gay in the house, there's a gay in the house." COMMON SENSE.
An example of religiously following the regulation comes from the Language School in Monterey, CA. By all reports, a student, very good in Arabic--surely needed at this critical juncture--joined to serve--patriotic, everything wanted in a soldier. In language school, well over half of a class fails.: very hard school. This soldier was an exception. The soldier is discovered to be gay through a casual remark to a friend. He violates a rule of having a boy in his room, notes are found. Had he been a straight soldier, had a girlfriend in his room, he would be disciplined mildly and told not to do it again. But The gay guy is discharged. The military has spent big bucks on the soldier's education and now, "down the tube." The rule is followed; a youngster is denied the chance to serve.
In the year 2000, the latest for which I can find statistics, the military discharged 1200 soldiers for being gay. Thousands of dollars, intensive language skills, interrogation schools, and weapons training and no telling what else lost because of not using the regulations as guidelines, not hard and fast rules. I support the prohibition of gays in "combat" units: with the macho nature of grunts and special operations soldiers, this is asking too much and taking too much of a chance.
However, there are places for gays to serve and serve well.
Common sense should always trump regulation.