21 July 2008
As I sit here, on this fine Sunday afternoon in July, the torrential desert downpour having washed the top layer of sand from my front and back yards into the street, the humidity in the high 80s, the temp in the low 90s, I reflect on just how quickly this year has passed. It seems that the older I become, the more quickly the world seems to move around me. Of course, in my present job at TTECG, this may be a function of the fact that my job deals with 28 day training periods, which discreetly pile one-on-top-of-the-other, to the point where I measure time not in days, or weeks, or months, but in overlapping training cycles. It disturbs me slightly that I'm ceasing to think of Fridays as such, but identify them as either "Training Day 1", "Training Day 15", or "The Friday before the Final Exercise". (It really bothered me the day before yesterday, when I only realized that a Friday was upon me after a woman who served me coffee wished me a "good weekend".) All I know is that I woke up this morning and found that we're midway through an election year, and the only candidate who is talking about change is one who wants to eviscerate this entire nation in the midst of a shooting war against Radical Mohammedism (note: not all change is good, please inform any idiots who think so, thank you).
Which leaves me with the only satisfactory segue into the main argument: Anytime the mass media wants to sell you anything, whether it be a tenet of political philosophy, a manner of aligning your priorities as a human being, or a candidate for the office of the President of the United States, that product should be questioned intensely...with a microscope...because they are doing so for reasons that do not line up with your long term self interest or the interests of this nation. Yes, we have become that shortsighted as a people. The media is what we've allowed it to become. They sell us things that they think we want to buy, tell us things that they think we want to hear, and try to keep us from challenging the status quo because that would leave them bereft of currency. They wish us to consume, and we do so, as complacent and compliant as Hindu Cows. As Tyler said:
"We're consumers. We're by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty -- these things don't concern me. What concerns me is celebrity magazines, television with five hundred channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Olestra, Martha Stewart. Fuck Martha Stewart. Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down, man! So fuck off with your sofa units and your green stripe patterns."
I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let's evolve and let the chips fall where they may."
But that's me, I could be wrong, maybe it's a terrible tragedy."
My good friends, this is your mid-July wake-up call. It's your...
All Star Break Bile
1) "I'd like to say that I'm for change. Yeah, the change that you have in your pocket." It is with little in the way of reservation that I report that the people who want to be your next president are idiots. McCain has been adding to the size and intrusiveness of the federal government since he left Hanoi, and Barrack Hussein wants to change everything by basically repealing the entire constitution. My youngest son, Daniel, asked me the other day if I would vote for McCain this election, since he knew how opposed I was to Barrack Hussein. I told him, "No, Daniel". He asked me why I would not do so. I replied that, since 1984, the American people had been forced to choose from the lesser of two evils at each and every turn. There seemed to be no individual to take up the standard of Reagan, there was no "good" choice to be made. So we did what responsible adults do: when forced to choose between a bad choice and a clearly harmful choice, we'll generally opt for the bad choice.
"The lesser of two evils."
I told Daniel that I'm thirty-fuckin'-seven years old, and I'm tired of making bad choices. In the whole spectre of "the lesser of two evils", I will never vote for evil again. Any evil. Never again. I expect none of you to follow me in this folly, for it is one of principle. Principle counts for shit these days, so most will vote out of habit for whatever asshole is standing atop their respective party banner. Original thought has taken a holiday.
My friends, we are at a complete standstill in this nation. From Bush I, to Clinton, to Bush II, to whomever comes next. The man who enters into that office has sold his soul to get there, and spends the next 4-8 years making it up to the people who paid cash money for him to be president. Each and every one of us sees the millions of dollars that is spent in the campaigning for the office of the Presidency, and none of us, not one of us questions where it comes from. I haven't donated, and I'm quite certain that many of you haven't either. Which might cause one to wonder just where in the hell this money is coming from.
We all know, deep down, where it is coming from. It is coming from those whose long term self interests align with whatever asshole they are giving money to. To enumerate the cause is to split hairs, and is irrelevant to my argument. Wealthy interests give a mind boggling amount of cash to whomever they think will mitigate towards their long term goals. I have no problem with this, actually. It is the way of things. And ever it shall be.
But consider for a moment how it used to be in the beginning of the Republic. When Jefferson ran against Adams in 1796, the money involved in becoming a legitimate candidate was not a factor. Those two gentlemen were both men of means, with knowledge and experience in the administration of the country. However, their relative ability to pump money into the local newspapers was not the central tenet of their campaigns, as it is today. Jefferson and Adams stood for alternative things: Adams for a strong Federal Government, Jefferson for the overarching rights of the States relative to the whims of the Federal Government. The winner of that campaign, John Adams, did not ever leave his hometown of Quincy, Mass. to campaign. It was a contest of ideals, of principle, and the principles of the many prevailed. There was no talk of what John Adams had done as an undergrad, whether or not he had fought in the revolutionary war, or whether he had inhaled or ingested anything that might have, at the time, been thought intemperate. The campaign was about direction. Whether the nation wanted to adopt the Federalist ideals of Adams or the Statist views of Jefferson. This was the world at the outset of the Republic. We should be ashamed at the state of what it has become, by God. Truly, and I'm really serious here, I could give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut that Barrack Hussein has been going to a church run by the black version of David Duke. That does not matter to me, people. What I care about is what he intends for my country, not what classes he took in high-school. So far, he has said that he wants to treat with the nations that we have been fighting intermittently since 2004 (Iran and Syria). I don't like that. So far, he has said that he wants a more egalitarian distribution of wealth. That scares the hell out of me.
Now, McCain is better only measured fractionally, in my opinion. He has, during his tenure in the Sentate, managed to augment the size and intrusiveness of the Federal Government, as has every other Republican except Ron Paul, Phil Gramm, Dick Armey, Newt Gengrich, and Ronald Reagan since the Sox lost the Series in '86. As I see it, the only difference between McCain and Barrack Hussein, regarding the distribution of wealth, is that Barrack wants to redistribute it to the welfare state, and McCain wants to redistribute it to the banking system to prop up a system that is failing utterly under the Federal Reserve. That too scares the hell out of me.
And so we find ourselves, yet again, with the choice between two evils. People, I'm done voting for evil. Lesser or Greater. Done. Finished. I will not, for the rest of my life, vote for evil ever again. I will vote for Ron Paul this election, regardless of whether or not my vote contributes to the election of either one of the alternative assholes. People, we need to wake up. And this is how it happens. Me talking to you, you talking to another. At some point, the voting for evil, Lesser or Greater, becomes moot. Whether the solution is of the Tyler Durden model, or that more mild version that is the result of mass unrest as a result of ineffective policy matters not. What matters is that we start talking amongst ourselves, leading those who would be swayed, to that place where the framers intended...a nation free. Not guaranteeing a litany of "rights" to such irrelevancies as health care, employment, housing, education, or economic dependence. But only three wonderful things:
Because once you've got those three, and nothing else, you've got the motherfucker licked, by God.
2) "I've lost my car keys. Quick, someone call the FBI". I was about to go off on a two-hundred word diatribe about Barrack Hussein's campaign, followed by another two-hundred words about McCain's. Then, while I was researching on McCain's website, I found the nugget that ties the two...
Both of these assholes think that they need to take care of me.
Now, this is a result of expectations that are societal and hearken back to the depression, but they are as unfounded now as they have been since before the Second World War. People, neither you nor I need the Federal Government to make our lives better. We don't. The Federal Government has managed to fuck up every task assigned to it since its inception. It cannot succeed in making your life better for you. It cannot take care of you in any appreciable way. At all.
Only you can do that, my friend.
True that. I was once an undergrad, with a live-in girl friend. She had a child. My sainted mother, perceiving the likelihood that I might not finish school and be wonderfully successful made the following argument:
"Larry, I will not continue to help you pay for school if you stay with her."
There it is, no? I told my sainted mother to keep her money, got a school loan, and here I am twenty years later. Laura and I did it our way, and Joel is in his Sophomore year in college with a 4.0 G.P.A....
The lesson here is this, my friends. The minute you accept a dime from someone else, be it a complete stranger or your own mother, that person will expect you to conduct yourself in a way that they expect and approve of. Human nature. Look it up.
As is the motif here in this little missive, let us look out there and read what is being promised you in this election year, with corresponding interpretations based on reality.
From the McCain Website: "John McCain's HOME Plan Will Keep 200,000 To 400,000 Families From Losing Their Homes. McCain is calling for aggressive federal action to help keep 200,000 to 400,000 families from losing their homes. That plan has many of the elements of a proposal by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., requiring participating lenders to forgive part of the loan principal and then write a new loan that would be backed by the federal government through the Federal Housing Administration."
How It Works: Individuals pick up a form at any Post Office or download the form over the Internet and apply for a HOME loan. The FHA HOME Office certifies that the individual is qualified, and contacts the individual's mortgage servicer. The mortgage servicer writes down and retires the existing loan, which is replaced by an FHA guaranteed HOME loan from a lender."
Translated: First, who the fuck is picking up the tab on the defaulted interest? Huh? "Forgive"? One can only forgive if one has something in store. Banks ain't got "forgiveness" stacked in their vaults. They have cash in there. And if you've defaulted, whether McCain's your President or not, you're fucked, pal. You've entered into a federal beauracracy that involves something like judgement with regards to whether you deserve the relief. You don't. Unless you've got video footage handy of being set on fire by Nazgul while defending Frodo at Weathertop with a baseball bat and a can of mace, you're fucked nine ways to Sunday. Money has been set aside for relief...but not for you, you worthless piece of shit.
From the Barrack Hussein Website: Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama believes that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people. Obama will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.
Translated: The leaders of Mexico and Canada will chortle briefly before giving Barrack the finger and possibly dropping trou and showing him their browneyes. Caveat Emptor motherfucker. We punted NAFTA into the stands and can either invade said countries or help them industrialize in a more significant way to make this mutually beneficial. "Fixing it so that it works for American workers" would entail granting American workers Visas to move to either Quebec or Chihuahua. When given the choice of learning french or Spanish, and making less than $5 a day on the assembly line, I think the American workers in question will punch "2" on the touchpad and opt for English...and another president.
Bottom line last: We need the Federal Government taking care of us like we need a third nipple. When given the choice between the Government providing me with anything, I must ask the question "at what expense to my right to self-determination will this entail?" If I ask the government for something, and they give me something that is sub-standard, to whom do I complain? God? Will He send a plague of locusts or a pox among them?
No, so don't ask the government for shit. If any guy stands before you and says that the government can help you, you have a civic duty to punch that guy as hard as you can. We need to tell both Mr. Barrack and Mr. McCain to shut the fuck up and worry about the Federal Reserve, not my mortgage or health care. People, these two guys have big designs on increasing the burden of the Federal Government onto your shoulders. Each one of you might oughta ask a fuckin' question here pretty quick...and then question the answer. Both of them want both your money and your liberty, and this is the state of where the fuck we are in 2008. Learn to swim.
3) Epilogue. Well, some genius managed to make me the assistant Operations Officer of TTECG within the last month, until the new Asst. OpsO gets up to speed. This means that, while I have less fuck-off time, I do get to finally express myself at work like I've been wanting to for the past ten months. "I celebrate competence". Do not call or come by unless you have a clue, lest I become sarcastic, cynical, and caustic. Do not drink the last half-cup of coffee without making more, I have rubber bands, by God...and an endless ability to follow you down the hall decrying how lame you truly are for leaving me a half a fucking cup of coffee...
It's me, Andy Watson (aka: Leon), Scott Conway (aka: Rowdy Yates), and Matt Good (aka: Woodrow) training every single Marine Ground Combat Element to go to combat. If that doesn't scare you, then you need to stay in Quantico, by God.
No escape from the mass mind rape
Play it again jack, and then rewind the tape
And then play it again and again and again
Until ya mind is locked in
Believin' all the lies that they're tellin' ya
Buyin' all the products that they're sellin' ya
They say jump and ya say how high
Ya gotta fuckin' bullet in ya head
-Rage Against the Machine, "Bullet in the Head"
Immundus saecula saeculorum,
20 July 2008
We have this thing that we do as Coyotes at TTECG on Range 400, that I was not too clear about until here very recently. It is called "sliding". To explain this so that you might understand, since you do not live on Range 400 as my Coyotes do, I will break it down like a fraction for ya.
Aside from assessing the actions of the battalions/companies/platoons as they go through exercise Mojave Viper as the last stop in their pre-deployment training, we also control their execution of various live-fire ranges. That means that we are the safety backstop, and are "painting" enemy actions for them as they approach various objectives ("Okay, you are receiving sporadic, effective fire back from that trench line, because there is no suppression on it to keep the enemy's head down") and we also ensure that they are not going to shoot each other as they advance down range toward their objectives while simultaneously providing suppressive fires onto those same objectives. This involves much communication and running about behind them, armed with clipboards which double as a sort of flag, and communicating with each other in a manner that is almost like air-traffic control. ("31 Mike, Unclean on danger gun, active over your right shoulder, from table top to right side center". Answered by: "Unclean this is 31 Mike, I observe your impacts and you remain clear", or "Unclean this is 31 Mike, those fires are denied from that position". ) Hundreds of radio calls, all going at the same time, and constant movement downrange behind the Marines executing the training event. As the company attack at Range 400 involves attacks on two discrete objectives by three different rifle platoons, the head Coyote on the range, "the corridor Coyote", assigns Coyotes to cover-down on the two platoons going after the first major objective, and then designates a certain number of them to "slide" to the third platoon and cover-down on their subsequent actions on the other objective. For these "sliders", what is involved is a dead sprint over broken rocky ground for about 200 meters, assuming that the third platoon has moved up towards the secondary objective (or "cheated up") as his sister platoons assaulted the main objective.
Last week, I decided to play along with the maneuver Coyotes, and help them in their control of Range 400 on Saturday. My good friend, Bile recipient, and former fellow-company commander, Andy Watson, was the "corridor Coyote" for the first run of Range 400 that day. He had been champing at the bit to corridor a 400, with me as a subordinate Coyote, so that he could designate me as a "slider" and otherwise cause me physical discomfiture. So, right after the first objective was taken down by the Marines of Fox Co. 2/7, Andy starts calling for "sliders up". He doubly screwed me in this, due to the fact that I had been assigned to the platoon who had performed the last actions on the first objective, which involves a considerable sprint from their last covered position (the "lip of the wash") to their ultimate objective ("northwest"). So, just as I stood still for the first time in twenty minutes, and sucked down about a pint of water, I hear Andy in my headset, "sliders up, all sliders move to Southwest".
Okay, I move over quickly, running seventy-five meters, and jumping down into the Southwest Trench. As I begin to scramble up the other side of the trench, Andy jumps on the net again, "where the hell is Unclean, Unclean move to southwest now", as I was literally five meters away from Andy, in the trench where he was standing.
"I'm right here, asshole" was the next call on the radio.
Well, as I scrambled up the other side of the Southwest trench line, Andy had cleared our movement with the Coyote who was still actively controlling medium-machinegun fire onto the secondary objective. So as the heel of my left boot successfully negotiated its way onto the apex of Southwest, Andy calls out, "Sliders, you are clear to move".
My fellow sliders (most of whom had been standing and waiting at Southwest for the past ten minutes, not one over the age of twenty-five), sprinted downhill in front of me, towards the platoon that was preparing to attack the secondary objective. Unfortunately for me, this platoon had NOT cheated up towards the secondary objective during the attack on the first objective, which resulted in us negotiating another hundred-or-so meters of broken, rocky terrain at a full sprint than is normally necessary.
Refusing to allow myself to lag behind my fellow Coyotes, I maintained their break-neck pace to link up with the platoon in the Yankee wash, all the while telling myself "the guy in orange will not pass out, the guy in orange will not pass out". (Coyotes wear orange flak vests and orange camelbacks.) We finally stop, and I was breathing heavily, but not in bad shape, really. Except that the water that I had sucked down at Northwest absolutely refused to stay where I put it...
Now, as part of the Coyote "thing", we have these Motorola radio sets, walkie-talkies essentially, with remoted headsets that allow us to monitor radio traffic while in close proximity to people who are shooting all manner of firearms, mortars, and rocket systems. The headsets are really cool, as they vibrate onto the Coyote's tympanic bones in front of the ear, while also having a microphone that rests in front of the Coyote's mouth, with a push-to-talk button that clips to the chest-area of the flak jacket. Now, I have only recently conditioned myself to moving the microphone away from my lips before spitting tobacco juice. However, I have not conditioned myself to moving my mic before projecting eight ounces of water out of my body, as a result of sprinting for roughly 200 meters.
So, to review, not only did I throw up, I did so all over my mic, which continues to smell like Bile.
Appropriate, I think.
Friends and countrymen, it's like a non-electric firing system for your synapses, it's...
1) "That fucking GS-13 at TTECG is absolutely right, by God"... Many of you saw this a few weeks ago and immediately thought, "Oh shit, Larry is going to be absolutely insufferable now". Guess what? You were right. Within a week of the "Valentines' Day Bile" that I subjected you good people to last month, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps came out with a statement that repeated every single point that I hit on in that Bile. He mentioned that our vehicles were heavy, unrecoverable, and ungainly in an off-road situation. He said that the body armor that we've foisted on the troops is too heavy, and does not allow for the Marines on the ground to do their primary job and "close with and destroy" the enemy that they might encounter. Jimmy reads the Bile, kids. He's a fan. You heard it here first.
2) "No, I cannot actually lead you in any appreciable manner, but I can pipe out e-mails like it's nobody's bidness..." I was coming out of the commissary today, and saw a group of six teenagers sitting on the front curb, obviously waiting for a ride. They were obviously friends, judging from their proximity and familiarity with one another, but each had his or her back to the entire group, with their cell phones open, and were either texting someone or talking on the phone. I drove home from the commissary with that on my mind. It seemed wrong, somehow. I remember days in that same situation, a bagger waiting for a ride from Ma after a shift, and I remember some of the greatest conversations ever. Through face-to-face contact with a member of the human race, I came to know Mike Reynolds, Juan Pacheco, and John Gass on a very basic and important level. I knew their likes, dislikes, who they were going out with, what was wrong with their car, where the party was that weekend , etc...
It's my observation, folks, that the modern world is obviating all of that. Nobody is forced into interpersonal contact anymore. We only talk to the people who appear in our "Five". We only interact with people on an ancillary basis, via telephone, text, email, chat.
Take poker for example. I have been playing on-line poker for months. It is a game that necessitates the reading of an opponent's visage, mien, and betting patterns. This past weekend, (which is something that I'll get into later), I played poker against a buncha folks at the Colorado Belle Casino in Laughlin, NV, as part of the semi-annual logistical movement of children to and from the Llano Estacado and the Mojave Desert. What I found was a table full of people who were effective at reading betting patterns, but were absolutely ineffective at reading and understanding sighs, pregnant silences, and other visual cues that indicate the relative strength of one's hand. As a result, I turned forty bucks into $160. (One can imagine me talking endlessly, through the entire affair, whether I had a 7 and a 2, or pocket kings...) I attribute that to the fact that the majority of those individuals (at least the ones that I queried at my end of the table) had only played poker online.
Another example: Major Woodrow F. Call, who is a Coyote that I work with, and have known since 1995. Woodrow is a man whom I call friend, and is one of my heroes. He achieved this hero status when I realized that not only did he not own a cell phone (his wife Julie has a cell, but not Woodrow), but he actually kept his home phone muted, so that unless he was standing on top of his answering machine when a call came in, one could not reach Woodrow by telephone, in any way. One communicated with him only on his terms. It was awesome that a Marine Officer, who as a group are normally so obsessed with instant information, and full control of any and all situations, absolutely refused to communicate with anyone on any other terms than his own. Originality! In a guy that, until 2002, slept with a copy of the Marine Officers’ Guidebook under his pillow!
Throughout this period, I sat in on Urban Warfare classes, and was impressed with the level of involvement that Woodrow displayed. Despite the fact that he was not the primary instructor, Woodrow maintained a constant awareness of what was being talked about, and would interject in places where the primary instructor was uncertain in a very meaningful and valuable fashion.
Then, three or four months ago, TTECG saw fit to give Woodrow a blackberry cell phone. Since then, I have witnessed Woodrow in the back of classes, in what we call "Blackberry Defilade". He's reading his emails, and catching up, staying to the "left of the bomb", keeping on his game. And while this might be awesome for him personally, I contend that it has a deleterious effect on the here and now.
We, as a society, have become so oriented on organization, and what is going to happen next, that we have forgotten the joy of what is happening right fucking now. (Yes, Jerry. There are exceptions.) Not only that, but we are not talking to one another. We are so consumed with the pace of what is going on in our little worlds, that we are not actually interacting with anybody. There is no joy in actually "doing" anything, because we have become so obsessed with what comes next. As Shakespeare said of the Queen in Macbeth:
She should have died hereafter;
Out, out, brief candle!
Example: Laura is talking to Dana on the phone, (the beautiful wife of my best friend, Jerry). She says to me, as she's on the phone, "hey, can you switch out vehicles with Jerry this Friday, he needs to use your truck to get some stuff for their garage sale?" After the phone conversation with Dana, Laura confirmed that the vehicle swap is okay with me. I said "Yeah, Jerry needs to pick up some tables from MCCS for the garage sale, no problem." Laura said, "Oh, I guess you've talked to him about this already."
I hadn't, but I know Jerry (after 15 years) well enough to predict his decisions/actions. If Jerry needs a truck for a garage sale, I know why. Two days prior to this, there was another example of my ability to predict Jerry's actions. We were going to Laughlin, to pre-stage ourselves for Joel's triumphant return to Twentynine Palms. Two hours before we left Twentynine Palms, I called Jerry from the liquor store, telling him that I was picking up a bottle of scotch. Had I not done so, he would have purchased a bottle himself, he later reported. Implicit communication.
We're missing this, in the world of instant communication. To know an individual well enough to KNOW his actions/decisions. In this world of simulated contact, the ability to communicate with a look, with a subtle phrase, with a glance is going the way of the Dodo. Its replacement is a scroll of semi-literate emails and text messages that offer no depth of emotion, no specificity of existence other than "s'up?". A thousand years from now, as historians and archeologist sift the ashes of this era, they will find no valuable source documents with which they can judge our decisions and actions. Nobody writes letters anymore. Nobody hand-writes a diary anymore. They'll just find a backed up disk that has chat logs with such riveting interpersonal drama as:
wu? (what’s up?)
nm-u? (not much, you?)
n-jhowmf (naw, just hanging out with my friends)
lol (that was indeed, funny)
lmao (I agree wholeheartedly)
brb (I promise to return soon)
kk (please do, I will remain here, waiting for you)
Those people, thousands of years from now, will sit for years in various conferences, discussing the possible alien factors that resulted in the retards, who could only communicate thusly, discovering space travel, nuclear power, and subatomic theory. They will come up with all kinds of insane theories, but all will miss the mark, because, it’s too basic to the human experience for them to believe. They will never guess that sometime around 1998, we just stopped talking to one another.
People, turn that shit off. When your damn phone vibrates...ignore it. Interact with the people around you. If you have subordinates, type, print, and then deliver your instructions to them in person, without a goddamn PowerPoint brief (Chicken, don’t make me slam that door again!). Then, when they start to execute your instructions, GO TALK TO THEM, FOR CHRISSAKE. Watch their faces to see if they understand. Ask if they have any questions. Tell them a fucking joke and watch for reactions. Get to know them. Understand the people around you. The "5" on your cell phone is a box that you've been neatly placed in. Fuck that. Go to a bar just to find the crazoids that inhabit such places and befriend them for no apparent reason. (I've actually made a lifelong friend named "Mike" in San Clemente, CA. Mike has had his license revoked, has been barred from Goody's in San Clemente, and has been placed on a two drink maximum at Duke's, next door. He gets about on a Kermit bike. Funniest fuckin' guy I've met in ten years...)
3) "Wouldn't it be great if there was some organization who took an oath to defend your right to free speech?..." People, I know that many of you have seen this, but I haven't received it from the entire mailing list, so I felt it appropriate to include it in this Bile. It is a video of a "Daily Show" correspondent, if there is such a thing, interviewing the protestors in Berkeley, CA. It may be the funniest political commentary that I've seen in six months. http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=163653&title=marines-in-berkeley. Thank you, carry on.
4) "Hey frenchy...shut your fucking mouth..." In the aforementioned semi-annual logistical movement of Las Ninos Del Sucio to and from the Llano Estacado, Jerry and I ventured to Laughlin, NV, as is our custom in these situations. As I mentioned in Bile a few months ago, the gambling odds between Laughlin and Las Vegas remain constant, while Laughlin runs about 25% total cost, and Jerry and I are both married dudes with a couple of good-conduct medals between us, so Laughlin is our natural choice. After the telephone exchange mentioned in the second section in this missive, Jerry picked me up from my house, and we drove out, arriving at the luxurious Tropicana Express about 4 p.m. with a comp'd room and a fifth of Talisker Scotch. We then proceeded on a bender of legendary proportions. Among the funnier moments was when we were on a $3 craps table, losing our ass, and a Hawaiian dude named Billy came and saved us. Now, most people who play craps will use the handy chip rack that lines the table to organize their chips in orderly rows, commonly by denomination. Not Billy. As this guy rolled numbers like a fucking CPA during tax season, making hundreds of dollars in red $5 chips, he kept raking his dough and piling it along the entire rack in front of him. It was insane. Strangely though, when a guy with luck like that shows up, the entire table's ability to stay off of the evil #7 is enhanced, and everyone rolls better. Not this time. I started putting ten on the pass line, and back it with 20 in odds when Billy had the dice. When he eventually succumbed to the evil 7...after ten minutes or so of rolling fours, fives, sixes, eights, nines, and tens...and the dice came to me, I'd put down $3 on the pass line with no odds. I'd keep it that way until Billy picked up the rocks again. Amazing. I eventually broke even, after the third round of scotch/rocks, and went to play poker at the aforementioned $2 blind/$12 max table. Jerry remained at the craps table, soaking up scotch like a roll of Bounty paper towels.
I next saw Jerry an hour and a half later. By that time, I was up about $120. After I heard Jerry yell "HAAAAAAAAM!" at the top of his lungs for the fifteenth time, and watched in dull amazement as he practiced tai-chi at the rail to my left, I folded an 8-3 off suit, and went to talk to him. He asked me, "what'sh up with thoshe tight assh motherfuckersh shitting next to you", indicating the men of clear european decent who were sitting next to me, the nearest one with his younger sister sitting behind him. I had not asked after their nationality, but listening to the babble that my immediate neighbor was holding forth with his sister earlier, I thought them to belong to the french tribe. Jerry immediately went into blitz mode, as is befitting a man of clear German ancestry when encountering an apparent frenchman. Exclaiming, in that french-chef's voice, Jerry began the "Ungggghhh-hunggghhh-hunghhhh!" exclamations, and other epithets. I had money in the pot, with pretty decent cards, so I must confess that I stopped paying attention. I did, however, catch the back end of an exchange between frenchy's little sister and Jerry, when Jerry said in that loud, drunken-Marine voice: "Hey frenchy, you just sit there and shut your fucking mouth". Soon afterwards, the lady's brother leaned in and mentioned that the pair of them actually hailed from Kosovo, and were both ethnic Serbs. When I related that to Jerry, I got a "Hmmph, close enough, by God." People, you can't dream this shit up.
Well, after the cards went cold again, and just ahead of the greenpeace storm troopers who had undoubtedly been summonsed to answer the insult to our european friends, Jerry and I reeled out of the Colorado Belle and slid over to the Edgewater Casino and Resort...which is like calling Headquarters, Marine Forces Reserve a Teutonic example of military order and staff efficiency. Well, we found the only $3 table in the building and kinda camped out. Through innumerable rounds of scotch, white russians, and beer, Jerry and I played for the better part of five hours. At one point, the pit boss increased the minimum to $25, in order to close the table, and hoping that we would leave, but we were grandfathered in at three bucks-a-hand, and had no intention of leaving. After the minimum bet sign stayed at $25 for two hours, the oncoming pit boss just turned off the fucking sign. Beautiful. I've never won an issue at a casino by attrition before. We just outlasted the motherfuckers. Fuckin’ awesome.
At 0400, we finally tucked it in and walked a somewhat indirect path over the quarter mile of parking lot back to the Tropicana (the total distance that we travelled was probably double that, with scaling of fences involved). Halfway through the parking lot, it occurred to me that there was a real possibility that we would be late in picking up Joel on his 1130 flight at McCarron airport, which was about 100 miles away (of course, Jerry and I thought it was only 50 or 60 miles away, but that didn't matter just then.) For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea to warn Joel, right at that very moment, that this possibility existed. So, at 0600 Joel’s time, I drunken dialed my 19 year-old son. "Hey shit-teeth", I fairly shouted into the phone, "Jerry and I are in Laughlin, and you can probably guess at the shape that we're in. If we're late, for the love of Christ, don't call your Mom. Call me." Jerry then grabbed the phone. "We're doing God's work, here!" he exclaimed into the phone. "Don't Fuck this up, Joel! Don’t Fuck this Up! Call us!"
"Dad, can I go back to sleep now?" Joel pleaded, after Jerry thrust the phone back at me.
"Yes son," I said, satisfied.
"DON'T FUCK THIS UP!" Jerry contributed.
And so we made it back to the hotel and had breakfast, and hit the rack about 0430 or 0500. I ordered a wake up call for 1000.
After getting a wake up call at 0830, I reset the thing for thirty minutes later, and finally awoke about 0930 to Jerry milling about. I looked up to find that he was pouring two glasses of scotch. Thinking that he meant to throw one down for breakfast, I got up. He shooed me away, finished brewing coffee, irished it up with the aforementioned scotch, and we got on the road.
Ten or fifteen minutes out of Laughlin, we noticed that Las Vegas was further than we had planned. But as Jerry's car has an accelerator pedal, and in a masterful bit of time-space estimation, Jerry pulled us into the McCarron parking lot a bare three minutes after Joel made it from the Southwest terminal to the main terminal. Rather than linking up immediately, and in light of our likely BAH level, we thought it best to invest in Starbucks before tagging the lad and starting out again. After much milling about in an attempt to link up, we finally affected it, and I called Laura, indicating that I had found the lad.
"Oh, so you finally got him."
Joel fucked it up. Amazing.
Immundus saecula saeculorum*,
(*Unclean, to all eternity, without end)
After the curtain-call, I asked her what she had planned. She said, "Dad, this fight against oppression in South America ain't what it once was. Most of the countries down there are either wholly-owned by the drug cartels, or are paternalistic enough to give the Pope a case of penis-envy. We're not gonna create arepresentative republic kind down there. So, I've changed my focus to Tibet. Richard Gere's a pussy, and they need someone who can operate over there without getting their tits in the way. I've managed to get support from that whole "Other Government Agency" (OGA), who has given me a Tactical Psychological Operations Team, some Human Intelligence Exploitation Marines, and a section of MH-153s from Fort MacDill, Florida to get us around. The only stipulation that OGA put on me was that I've got to raise money, since the Global War on Terrorism COSTJON is about to be turned off after the election. It's like Jake and Elwood...I'm on a mission from God."
I wiped my eyes, kissed her forehead, and wished her luck.
I later saw a bucket full of $100 bills make its way to the dressing room after the show...
Kids, it ain't the Monroe Doctrine, it's the El Sucio Doctrine. And we ain't fuckin' around this time. It's kinda like the Carter thing with the Panama Canal. Except we kill all the Panamanians and take the Canal (that we built) for ourselves...
Old Ways are best, and the genetic hot-tub of the industrialized nations
1) "You know Jim, we need more gynocologists out there where the rubber meets the road..." As has become custom since that ambulance chasing fuck, Wally, has occupied the space next to me at work, I've been damn-near kilt by him dragging the least common denominator for me to examine. Lookit the attachment. Again, I'll pause to freshen my drink, as you check it out.
Please understand that since I was in my mid-twenties, the military has been treating me and my Marines as if we were a bunch of addled teens. Those of you who can remember the mid-nineties, and were on a UDP rotation to Okinawa, can attest to this. Back then, we would get brief after brief after brief about how we should really not drink to the point where we were unable to stop ourselves from re-enacting the crime of the Kin Beach Rape in Okinawa. We had the Old-Man, the XO, the Chaplain, and even the battalion Medical Officer warn us of the long-term effects of being an asshole. At each step, they treated each and every Marine in the audience with a condescension that bordered on criminal. It was as if we were mere children, incapable of making mature decisions in any context. Incapable of recognizing cause and effect. Just a buncha dumb assholes.
Well, my friends, it wasn't true then, and it ain't true now.
Check it out. We hail from a tradition of warriors who lived on rats, captured Jap rations, and K-rats on Guadacanal in 1942. Thousands of us died on the black beaches of Iwo Jima. Thousands more perished in the jungles of Okinawa. And so it goes...Inchon, Chosin, Khe Sanh, Hue City, the Easter Offensive, Fallujah. Lotsa good guys interred in the ground, sacrificing themselves to water the Tree of Liberty, and in the name of the guy to their left and right. There are hundreds of thousands of Marines who survived these heroes, and still cling to the memory of just how great those guys were. How the world is just a little more drab without them here. But getting by, because they've gotta go out tonight on OP, or out today to answer some PIRs (Priority Intelligence Requirements...i.e. "who/where the fuck is this guy?") Those guys, my friends, are fuckin' hard men. Carved out of wood.
But times, they is a-changin'...In this war, you see the addition of a couple of significant people to the average infantry battalion that goes forward. The first: The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), a lawyer. The second: an embedded reporter. The presence of these individuals, while sometimes diverting (you know that I speak of you, Kazman), is also an admission of how bound we have become to modern international opinion.
"Imagine if you will", an infantry battalion advancing under fire through Hue City, Vietnam, in 1968. Somewhere, in Hue, a Squad takes fire from a building. They advance under that fire, using suppression and alternating bounds to close with and destroy those assholes, whose most fervent wish is their loud and uncomfortable death.
They enter and clear the building. While they do so, one of the Vietnamese assholes, that was trying to kill them moments earlier, rolls over conspicuously in some death throe, or other wild spasm. The third man in the room sees movement towards his mate out of the corner of his eye and kills that motherfucker with a burst out of his rifle. Because he has taken fire from this house. Because that guy in the floor looks like every other motherfucker that he has fought and killed today. Because he'd rather die than either of the two Marines who entered the building before him.
Now, in those days, this kind of reaction was understood. It was expected, and it was hailed by peers and superiors.
That same scenario happened in Fallujah in 2004, was documented by an embedded reporter, and we heard the fucking hue and cry from the media as to the inhumanity of the young Marine who shot that asshole. What nobody saw was the second and third order effects of that hue and cry. The battlion to whom that Marine belonged had to deal with inquiries from higher, once that whole scene played out on national news. These inquires occupied the time of the battalion commander, the company commander, and the platoon commander. This detracted from the abilities of those men to do their jobs, and kill more motherfuckers who would wage war against the United States. It represented a reduction in the discretionary combat power that could be wielded against the enemy. And this was because a reporter was with that particular squad...
Now that you've read the attached article, imagine a battalion commander, intent on taking the fight to the insurgent and developing relationships with the local leadership. Not only does he have numerous reporters in orbit around his command at different points in his deployment, but he has a staff judge advocate on hand as well.
This SJA is to the infantry battalion what "Tom Hagan" was to the Corleone family in "The Godfather" . He advises the commander as to the most legal way to accomplish his mission, while he also performs a myriad of investigative duties relating to Marines shooting at or into the Iraqi people, plus he accomplishes legal assistance duties as he is able, and (in the case of Kaz), he declares "war trophies" to be within the letter of the law, so we can bring them home. (I pause to stub out my cigarette in the Soviet 152mm artillery projectile base that Kaz allowed me to pack back to CONUS in '04...)
Now, imagine this same battalion commander, who has to answer to your run-of-the-mill, belt-fed Regimental Commander. Added to that, he has to maintain order and discipline over the 1100 cats that he has to herd everyday in a combat zone through his five company commanders. He must maintain awareness of current operations. He's gotta approve future targets and operations (while informing the aforementioned belt-fed Regimental Commander of that too). Meanwhile, he's dispensing military justice with regards to violations of the Laws of War, and/or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with the help of his battalion Sergeant Major, (while informing the aforementioned belt-fed asshole of that, also). During all of this, mind you, he's leading the battalion by circulating the battlespace and spot-checking Marines with regards to their abilities to accomplish his intent. He's interacting and developing his company commanders. He approves and forwards citations for heroic action. He writes letters of condolence to the families of the fallen...people, that fatass Donald Trump would tap out within five minutes, by God.
Okay, now imagine this same busy man, engaged in the daily maintenance of his assigned battlespace, as was described above. But now he's been waylayed by a bevy of psychologists who think that 2nd squad, 2nd platoon, Echo Co 2/7 is too strung out. "They need rest and refit", "they're at their breaking point", "I'm going to recommend to the Division Commanding General that they be pulled off the line".
We can't do this to that man. What is at question here is leadership within the United States Marine Corps, people. Each Marine on the line has his peers to confide in, (and we do confide in them, to our demise...isn' that right, Godboy?) Plus, those junior Marines have fire team and squad leaders watching and listening to them. Platoon sergeants watching, listening to, and guiding their squad leaders. Platoon commanders ensure order and discipline are maintained within their platoons. Company Gunnery Sergeants and First Sergeants listen to and monitor the relative order, sanity, and discipline of the platoons. Company executive officers ensure that the platoon commanders are in-step, or at least organized in some meaningful way. Company commanders are the fathers of these 180-200-man families. Battalion Gunners provide experience and an objective ear to any and all that approach them with a problem. Most of you have rolled your eyes at me by now, because you know all of this. I brought it out that way because this is the support network, people. It was designed to not only give orders and assault objectives, but to maintain sanity. It is a very effective paradigm. This paradigm has worked, and worked well, since the time of the fuckin' Roman Legions.
The attached article proposes another distractor to the entire process. It proclaims that officers and Staff Non-Comissioned Officers cannot lead our Marines effectively. Further, It provides a secondary chain of information that will violate the principal of "unity of command" (fingers interlaced here, Kaz) by creating a parallel reporting chain that resides outside the one dude who is supposed to be responsible for making the fuckin' call (i.e.: the battalion and/or the company commander).
And so, the guy who should be making the fucking call cannot do so because he has been saddled with an entire psych staff who is analyzing his every bowel movement. Ladies and gentlemen, that is not how wars are won...that is how they are lost. While I am certain (with every fiber of my being) that the non-green/non-trauma aspect of Navy medicine wishes to get into the Iraqi Theater of Operations to validate their existence now that al Anbar is as quiet as a fuckin' church, that should not mitigate into this intrusion into the daily affairs of battalion operations. Period.
So, that's the argument. But here's the backstory on this. Line up the distractors in this case: International Media discontent for the war and it's analysis of the inevitable civilian deaths therein (Media embeds as the action and SJA involvement as the counteraction); and the overwhelming stigma of PTSD that results everytime a former jarhead gets arrested (Arrest as the action, and Psych participation in a shooting war as the counteraction).
People, I've been around Marines for a long damn time. Most of them are not these frail, vulnerable creatures that the media has identified for you. Yes, many have seen things that man can never get his mind around, and that has been a trend since mankind started killing one another in an organized fashion...
But for the most part, your Marines are resilient men with a valid and time-tested support structure to develop them as men, and maintain their sanity during the most trying of challenges. They are not frail creatures, my friends. They are sturdy professionals who can bear the brunt of the longest war in the history of this nation. They are who they wished that they could be back when they were ten years-old. They are United States Marines, by God.
2) "Mr. Adams, I'm sorry, but we on the staff have decided that you represent too large a burden on the current gene pool..." (Okay, that's probably something that I should have heard sometime in the last 17 years, but work with me here...) People, we have gone past the Great Idea Cut Off Point. Please note that i have predicted this here, in this space: We are keeping alive people who have no business contributing to mankind. Herrnstein and Murray dealt with this important topic in their very controversial book "The Bell Curve". Basically, what Murray argued was that those who were less inclined to produce were more inclined to make babies than those who were actually making money. I absolutely agree with the conclusions reached in that tome, and furthermore feel that we need to add an adendum to the hipocratic oath. After the phrase, "First, do no harm", should be another oath whcih abides to Darwinian truth: "Second, stop letting dipshits procreate"...
I have personally witnessed this phenomena, as a teenager, being raised by a step-father who, if he was born in 1850 instead of 1950, would have curled up and died at the age of 17. He is emotionally unsuited, at a very basic level, for effective survival in this reality. However, due to modern mental health care advances, advances in medication, and other myriad advances in the ability of modern health care to prop up a feeble fuckin' basketcase, he has been allowed to grind out an additional half-century, despite obvious genetic challenges. He remains worthless, but thankfully has not spawned any progeny. This is but one example, I see other examples everytime I turn on the TV on weekdays before work and see the mutants waving flags, banners, and posters outside the "Today Show" set.
In 1927, Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote an awesome opinion in this specific area. In upholding a Virginia state compulsory sterilization law, (Buck v. Bell), Holmes found no constitutional bar to state-mandated sterilization of an institutionalized, allegedly "feeble-minded" woman, saying that "three generations of imbeciles is enough." The repurcussions on my eternal soul that will result from this entire line of reasoning , and the fact that it is making the hair stand up on the back of my libertarian neck, begs that we quickly move on...
I bring no clear solution to this pandemic. (I mean, aside from setting Sarah loose amongst the populace with clearance to stun, collar, and/or sterlize these assholes, but we won't go there...) I'm just identifying another issue that will bring us down eventually. At some point, as the dead weight in society continues to gain mass, while the capable stagger under their inertia, any forward progress will stop utterly. And all because we have made huge advances in technology, and then made that technology a "right" for all to enjoy.
Segue into one of my raging pet peeves: The alleged "right" of all to health care..
Now, logically, YOU don't have a right unless I have a corresponding duty to recognize that right. You have a right to speak, and I have a corresponding duty not to interfere with you. But speech doesn't cost anything, right? You hear me talk all the goddamn time without spending a nickel. (Moral of the story, you can wish all you want, but i'll still send you this shit.)
With health care, it was never intended to be a fuckin' right, and here's why, (Hillary, you acerbic bitch):
Medicine is a business. If people have a right to health care, then i have a corresponduing duty to pay for that health care. If people have a right to housing, then I have a duty to pay for their house. If they have a right to employment, then I have a duty to give them a job.
Thus, there is no right to health care, housing, or employment. I only agreed to provide those things for my own children. Everyone else can kiss my ass. Every man, woman, and child in this fuckin' world has parents, let them worry about those things. So, please think about the definition of such things as "rights" and "duties" before you open your man-pleaser. Thank you.
3) "Supposedly, he was born in a mental institution and only sleeps for one hour a night...he's a great man." A few random observations from out here in the bleacher seats:
a) Hope once again springs eternal. Not since the effective end of Communist rule in the former Soviet Republics have we witnessed the downfall and peaceful transition of power from madmen as we have these past six months. Missed it, didn'tcha? Yesterday, the Cuban Parliament officially handed power from Fidel Castro to his brother, Raoul. When one considers that Steinbrenner handed over the daily operations of the Yankees to his two sons, we can see that history will highlight the first months of 2008 along with 1989,1945, 1781, and 1649. Viva Libertidad!
b) Ten years later, and Jared is still making money off of not being fat. I haven't been obese for 37 years. I haven't noticed any corresponding income to match what this retard is making simply for not eating his way into the grave. Somebody. Anybody. Please. Why is this turd floating up to the surface again? Quick, somebody flush, or just mail the dude a quarter-pounder with cheese. I'm seriously tempted to send Sarah out with a captive bolt pistol and some meat tenderizer. Subway'd make a killing on Jared sandwiches ("Less than 10g of fat per serving!").
c) The annual Douchebag award. I listened to Brian Williams on the Bob Costas radio program the other day. I have officially thrown his name into the ring for the honor of being "the biggest douchebag in the galaxy". This guy makes Al Gore sound reasonable. His homoerotic cooing over Barak Hussein Obama is more difficult to listen to than the Twentynine Palms Junior High Band. How is this guy not being thrown to the wolves for being such a one-sided asshole? Brian Williams should be fed a handful of concertina wire, and dragged behind a subway car.
d) Please Exile Berkely, CA... A guy I used to work with is the current Recruiting Station Commanding Officer of the Sacremento, CA Marine Recruiting Station. Among his many challenges (the foremost being continued survival without killing hippies in his immediate vicinity) is the Recruiting Sub-Station that is in Berkely, CA. I'm sure most have seen it, but to conflagurate the entire crew here, I direct your attention to this. Apparently, the good people of Berkely wish they were speaking German, Japanese, or a really bad dialect of Russian. Feel free to piss on anything or anybody from Berkely, CA at your nearest convenience. My friend Brian, the poor bastard that has to work up there, hasn't actually complained about this entire scenario, but just imagine what it's like for him, a combat veteran who has commanded a company in Iraq, and put men in the ground, but has to go to work everyday around such ingrateful assholes. I used to think that Texas would probably secede from the Union sometime in the next hundred years. I think what is more likely is that the rest of the United States decides to kick California out of the fuckin' pool. I, for one, would not shed a tear...
4) Epilogue. Animal Mutha emailed an invitation to get drunk in Vegas last week. While I couldn't do it then, I will be up for a good drunk on 13 March, and again on 28 March, as we do the normal logistical moves to get Joel and Sarah to and from their Spring Break locales. I recommend a SCAMD Initial Planning Conference in Vegas that weekend. Anyone who is interested, gimme a yell within the next two weeks, and we'll put together a training schedule...
Mojave Viper wasn't about winning or losing.
It wasn't about words.
The hysterical shouting was in tongues, like a pentacostal church.
When Mojave Viper was over, nothing was solved,
but nothing really mattered.
Afterwards we all felt saved...
The liberator who destroyed your property has just realigned your perceptions...
Uva Uvam, Vivendo Varia, Fit,
("One grape, seeing another, ripens")
In the words of Donnie Hasseltine, et al, I have once again become a "company man". Taking advantage of the fact that I picked up Major in the Reserves last year, (apparently, they found that I had a fuckin' pulse, so they mailed my promotion warrant to me. It's on my fridge next to Sarah's report card) I decided that February would be a foin time to get my qualifications as a "maneuver Coyote" at TTECG, as opposed to doing it in the summer, when it's 120 fuckin' degrees outside.
So I joined the reserve detachment that supports TTECG, put the uniform back on, and began learning the art and science of controlling live fire ranges. I immediately began receiving snideness from both my co-workers, and the Marines with whom I have worked, at the rapid rate. Donnie welcomed me back into the fold of droids who have traded in their expectations and ideals for a steady paycheck. Andy Watson giggled his stupid little fuckin' laugh. Matt Good just shook his head at me and shrugged. Jerry Willingham was mortified that, for the first time in his career, I was waking up and at work before him. Thus, for the past two weeks, I have resumed my observation of that time honored Marine Corps tradition of waking up in the middle of the night and working until slap fuckin' dark. In the period between those aforementioned times (also known respectively as "zero-dark-ridiculous" and "why the fuck are we still here?") I ran behind 20 year old Lance Corporals and 24 year old 2nd Lieutenants who were seemingly bent on running into their own fires, or behind their own active rockets .
Among the myriad of other fascinating aspects that I learned this week, the one that was most disheartening to me personally was that I discovered just how old and out of shape I have become. While controlling a rifle squad on Range 400 (a very long rifle company dismounted assault on two separate trench lines.) At one point on the range, at a place called the "rockpile" I negotiated a very sudden fifteen foot climb up a 50 degree embankment. I made the first five feet quite nimbly, but soon needed to shift into second gear, and walked with tentative steps the rest of the way up, where I paused to catch my breath. Well, controlling the squad with me was a young Corporal called Coyote-32W. 32W is about 22 years old, and is made of titanium, springs, and steel. So, as I stood at the top of the "rockpile", I watched with bemused envy as 32W bounded up that same embankment in five strong leaps, like a fuckin' impala, I swannee. He patted my shoulder and smiled as he passed me by, his respiration unaffected whatsoever. Asshole.
I quickly concluded that the titanium, springs, and steel that once drove my sinew had been replaced by silicone caulk, rubber, and fuckin' duct tape.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bought a new keyboard today, along with a fifth of Jamesons. You know damn well what that means...
It's the clot in your carotid, the emboli in your aortae, it's...
The Soldier's load, and the Mobility of My Spleen
1) "Get a squad over here to help me lift my flak jacket and put it on, please." Despite the urgings of the only other libertarian in the Marine Corps, (Andy Watson) I'm still on the war as the central issue that faces the nation. Surprisingly, though, there was actual mention in the media this week of the fact that Americans are fighting somewhere outside the Survivor set. Unsurprisingly, it didn't cover the fact that we are actually winning, but instead pointed out that there was actual bureaucratic inefficiency within the Marine Corps at the outset of Phase IV operations in 2004/2005 (gasp). I'll give you a minute to peruse the tripe that I hyperlinked in the previous sentence whilst I freshen my drink and light a cigarette.
Sit down and take notes, people. Here it comes.
Look, the last time that I checked, engaging in military operations against an intransigent, intelligent insurgency is not real safe on a personal level. People kinda get shot at sometimes. Sometimes, things even explode. And because the US military is comprised of human fuckin' beings, sometimes we make mistakes and allow the enemy the ability to effect us with his weapons. What can I say? It's gonna happen. We're at war, this is not a fucking play date, people. Look down about half way on page two of that article. It mentions a few numbers: "More than 3,200 U.S. troops, including 824 Marines, have been killed in action in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. An additional 29,000 have been wounded, nearly 8,400 of them Marines. The majority of the deaths and injuries have been caused by explosive devices, according to the Defense Department."
People, I'm not insensitive to the fact that a single death is a tragedy. Jamie Edge, Danny Clay, Marvin Best, Kane Funk, Ramon Romero, and Andy Stevens (to name a few) were brothers of mine and not a day goes by that I don't think of one of them. But they lost their lives in a cause that is worthy of their sacrifice, and I am willing to lose my own in that same cause. But consider the fact that almost as many people have died and been injured IN FIVE FUCKING YEARS in Iraq as were similarly damaged IN ONE FUCKING DAY on Omaha beach on 6 June 1944, fighting an enemy no less bent on our ultimate destruction.
People, the fact still remains that we cannot burden these young men on the pointy tip of the spear with our risk aversion here at the blunt edge of the spoon.
There is a concept in economics known as the law of diminishing returns. It stipulates that there is a saturation point past which a good idea becomes self defeating. We see examples of this right now. I know that after my fourth drink while writing this shit, I will not be able to appreciate the foin quality of the Glenkinchie scotch that I am drinking right now. I will have been saturated, so to speak, and so I'll downshift to Jameson's, which is $16-a-bottle cheaper.
I'll be just as happy, but won't be burning quality 12 year old scotch at the cyclic rate.
The segue from my drunkenness into force protection issues is surprisingly easy in this case. We did need better vehicles in 04. Chicken, Andy, myself, and the entire 1st Marine Division were rolling around in regular HMMWVs with "L-shaped" fucking doors until mid 05. That's like taking a normal 4x4 and adding a door that can stop bullets up to 7.62x39, (AK-47 ammo. The fact that we survived astounds me still.) but which only came up to the shoulder level of the vehicle occupant That was all the armor we had for OIF II (defined as February 2004-April 2005). Funny thing is, our tactics at that time caused our Weapons Company to actually complain that they HAD TO HAVE DOORS ON AT ALL, because they wanted to be able to dismount and pursue targets more quickly. But that was 04, before we came to the realization that the bad guys had accessed the ammunition stocks of the 4th largest military in the world...whom we had just beaten like a french boxer that previous year.
War being a factor of action-reaction-counteraction, we came to understand that we needed better armored vehicles in the early spring of 05. We had tried other approaches to the emerging IED threat, but the fact that our mitigating actions were not as successful as we had hoped at first, was not acknowledged until then, and so we beefed up the HMMWV's armor profile.
The Up-armored HMMWV. It is a fucking awesome compromise between mobility and protection. As an old-school Lubbock redneck, I appreciate the fact that this vehicle is very hard, relative to my truck and other vehicles, to getting stuck in sand, mud, and rocky terrain, while having concomitant capabilities to recover other HMMWVs that have become stuck or mechanically unviable. I have personally witnessed the speed and agility of this particular vehicle in maneuvering around the complex desert terrain that we are currently fighting in, and have no complaints as to its agility.
Added to that mobility is the ad-hoc solution of the armor onto which we have hung as a response to the current threat in-country. Witness the case of the artist formerly known as Corporal Brown (he's LCpl Brown now, because he got drunk and drove around a bit. He's a Marine, whatcanIsay?) Brown came up to me at Camp Mercury in late 05 with his arm in a sling. This was unremarkable except for the fact that I had heard two hours prior that his patrol had sucked up a Suicide Vehicle Borne IED (SVBIED). For the uninitiated, an SVBIED is a car with about 300-500 lbs of explosives in the trunk, driven into a coalition formation and exploded, generally with much loss of life. Brown told me that the driver of the SVBIED waved at the lead truck in the patrol and then swerved and hit his truck right by his door, exploding literally within three feet of Cpl Brown's face. As his truck was a high back (like a pick-up truck, an enclosed cab with an open bed that has 1/2 inch armor on all sides,) Brown had 4 dismounts in the back. (i.e. unprotected infantrymen with nothing protecting them but their own flak jackets, helmets, and about an inch of armor surrounding them in the bed of the truck) None of them, not one, were injured in the incident.
Read that paragraph again, sports fans. I've blown up a lot of shit. (It's part of my manly essence.) However, I have never been within 3-5 feet of a 300 lbs shot. Had I been, you would have been spared a lot of vituperative shit, but I digress. We have had vehicles out there on the front lines that can withstand almost the worst possible thing that can confront a Marine patrol. Yet, that situation happened to one of my Corporals and all he suffered was a dislocated shoulder. It went down as "Wounded in Action" and is part of the aforementioned tally of wounded Marines, but Brown is alive, and most likely drunk somewhere right now, so we'll call it a win, by God.
The alternative? The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (AKA: MRAP). First of all, it's fucking heavy, forty tons. Many of the bridges in Iraq can't handle forty tons. Second of all, it's fucking huge. People, the streets in Fallujah and Hit (the only big cities I can personally attest to) are very narrow, with civilian vehicles parked all over the place. Having a vehicle of that breadth cannot translate into the agility that will allow it to maneuver in that terrain. Which means Marines must dismount, which kinda defeats the fucking purpose of them taking that truck outta the motor pool to begin with, huh? Additionally, having a forty ton wheeled vehicle that cannot self-recover means that a stuck MRAP must be recovered by a fucking M-88 tank recovery vehicle. There aren't many of those, and the wait for one to make it out to your site is prohibitive, to say the least.
(Note: downshift to Jameson's. Time: 2245 on the watch)
Now, let's talk about training. We have like 10,000 licensed up-armored HMMWV drivers. How do we train and license MRAP drivers? The vast majority of the MRAPs are in Iraq right now, and are not in the United States for people to train on their use. What's more, there is not, to my knowledge, an MRAP licensing program for infantrymen within the Marine Corps. The up-armor HMMWV continues to challenge us with getting qualified drivers prepared for deployment, and there are a couple-hundred up-armored HMMWVs here in the Continental United States (CONUS) right now. To my knowledge, there are less than twenty MRAPs in CONUS. Six of them are here in Twentynine Palms. What's the solution? Do we send Marines over without any actual stick time? What are the second-order ramifications of that? How many non-battle injuries will result from inexperienced drivers racing about the battlespace and flipping a vehicle that they have never handled? Did Mr. Gayl factor that into his report?
No, he fucking didn't. Because he's not out there, knee deep in this shit. He's in an ivory tower in Quantico or D.C., casting blame and covering his own fat-ass. He complains in the article that the civilian approval chain for procurement is led by out-of-touch former-Jarheads. When was his last patrol? Has he worn the fucking huge, 60 lbs. flak jacket that we are sending out now with four Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) plates? Has he driven one of these gargantuan machines through the "pizza-slice" in Fallujah? No, he fucking hasn't.
My friends, Gunner Jeff Eby, the second-best damn gunner in the Marine Corps, wrote a piece a few years back entitled "Are we killing them with kindness?". In that article, he addressed the fact that we have become so risk averse that we have become self-defeating with regards to our ability to close with, and destroy any who would attempt to engage us. He was absolutely right. We, as a nation, have demanded without any knowledge aforethought, that our troops be equipped with 60-70 lbs flak jackets. All of you who have not worn one, right now, go find something that weighs 70 lbs. Pick it up. Now, imagine chasing a 17-19 year old kid, who has just shot at you, carrying that weight down a crowded street. Yeah, it's kinda like that.
Leaving effective actions against the enemy to the side for a moment, allow me to spew about a closely related issue...
Vietnam had Agent Orange. Desert Storm had "Desert Storm Syndrome". Do you know what my generation looks forward to? Bulging fucking vertebrae. Yup, that is your gift to the troops, people, for making them so safe. No, they didn't get blown up, but anyone with at least two deployments in the Ground Combat Element can't touch their toes or twist in any significant way without their left leg going numb or crumpling into the fetal position. Thanks for that.
Back to our program: We've got Marines in 60 lbs flak jackets inside forty ton vehicles. That means we can't maneuver in any mounted way against agile insurgents in Toyota trucks, nor can we chase them afoot, should we accidentally manage to force them to dismount. So, how exactly do we do our job? I ask you.
Point is, Mothers of America et al, let the Commandant of the Marine Corps perform his duties under Title X of the U.S.C. and equip his forces in a manner that will result in dead bad guys. Your sons will actually thank you for not having to haul that extry 60-70 lbs all around the battlespace, or drive that huge forty ton piece of shit through the eye of a needle in pursuit of some asshole who just launched an RPG at them.
Thanks in advance.
2) The Return of Things that I Couldn't Care About If You Set Me on Fire and Made Me Watch
This Steroids Thing: People, the only guys mentioned in the Mitchell Report were those who were too dumb NOT to buy the shit on their credit card, or while someone was lookin' at 'em. The smart ones paid in cash. Bottom Line: Those who are tap dancing right now are lazy, complacent assholes who will be dealt with appropriately. Everyone else will get tested and that shit will stop. The fact that Kenny Rogers and Pudge Rodriguez WEREN'T on the list surprises the shit outta me. (Check out their numbers, at their ages...amazing powers of recovery, no?) And I'm a big fan of both of those guys. Look, this thing is so deeply ingrained in that multi-million dollar enterprise, that nobody can ever truly track it, or it's second-order effects. Just get on with it, already.
The Continuing Brittney Saga: Hey! Over here! We're fighting an war, ya shitheads! Yes, she made the Cull List last Bile, but I'm still dealing with her countenance in the checkout lane, so it's pissing me off, by God. Brittney, darlin': find a therapist already, for the love of Christ, and get some serenity, hun. Media dudes: stop exploiting this psycho. While it sells copy, it also erodes at the likelihood that your soul will be intact at any point past this coming spring, fuckheads.
The Lifetime Channel: As my Sarah quoth this very evening: "Movies made by PMSing women for PMSing women." Enough Said. Thank you.
3) Epilogue: I welcome all the folks from the on-line poker table (Carolina). Good on ya, and please bear in mind that everything that you've read corresponds with about five years of me getting shit-faced and hammering out copy at the rate of about one volume a month. For everyone else, I gotta say that this whole TTECG/Coyote Thing has made me happier than about anything else that I've done in years. CJ, Boss, thanks for putting me on the staff. I've enjoyed this almost as much as I did blowing up roughly 1,000,000 lbs of Net Explosive Weight in June-Aug of 04. Hopefully, I will prove to be worthy of the task that has been set before me. For all the good folks at TTECG, stand by, because I don't plan on suffering through all of this. I will have fun, and neither Coyote-31 nor Coyote-45 can keep me down, (and that MCLIC misfire shoulda been treated as a rocket misfire, by God).
Ash to Ash
Dust to Dust
Fade to Black...
And the Memory Remains,
13 July 2008
10 July 2008