Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter Soldier Bloggers, and Why Iraq Is Destroying The Army(Pt1)

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to the veteran bloggers who've been responding to the invitation for bloggers to attend Winter Soldier. Everyone who's emailed has been highly courteous, and one of you (who will be identified only at his own request) has actually sent in his DD214 way ahead of schedule and made my life infinitely easier. Remember: while active duty military and veterans will have preference, we are offering opportunities to ordinary military-related bloggers as well-we're just not assisting with travel for them.

Also, I'd like to identify and thank the following bloggers who have linked to or otherwise mentioned the offer. Castle Argghhh!, Obiter Dictum (who even has updated, thank you), Another Voice, Fuzzilicious Thinking, This Fucking War, This Ain't Hell and several others that I'll track down and put up tomorrow, or I'll never get this post started. While these obviously may have their own thoughts or feelings about the event itself, they are at least passing the invitation on so that everyone can get the chance to go, instead of hoarding it.

Remember, active duty, get those leave forms in soon! There's a little less than two months left, and you don't want to be left out by the S1 or your company orderly room's cutoff.

And now for a little clarification on Iraq.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike the Iraq War. Just because I post about one today doesn't mean it's the only one. It means that it's the only one I'm going to talk about today.

Why the Iraq War is Destroying the Army

A lot of this will be no surprise to those of you still in the service. These are things that everyone complains about, but that largely don't make it to the public for several reasons. One is the 'camouflage wall of silence', similar to the police's 'blue wall', which translates in the vernacular into a lot of 'Only I can beat up my brother'. Military members have years to start disliking the press, and believing that civilians can never understand their issues. And to be honest, a lot of the issues are pretty hard for civilians to understand.

Such as the No Specialist Left Behind program. Yes, the Army was hurting for good NCOs, particularly NCOs that had seen combat. The Army was bleeding good NCOs like nobody's business. They saw the way the wind was blowing, and many didn't want to stay in. Big Army, in its infinite wisdom and under pressure to deliver in Iraq, decided that the answer was clearly a problem promotion system. The problem wasn't that there weren't enough NCOs! The problem was that good, deserving specialists were somehow languishing in obscurity! Well, you don't have to listen to me tell you that was a bad idea. You can listen to the retired CSM tell you at the link above. Or you can listen to me tell you that when you promote people who aren't ready for it, you get bad, inexperienced NCOs, who are going to lead their troops to trouble. I had to teach one of my NCOs once how to fill out a basic 4856. One of my NCOs. Not one of my specs bucking for their stripes, one of my existing NCOs. And the problem doesn't stop there-when you see some units making four-year staff-sergeants that can't find their own ass with both hands, you know that things are broken.

You know things are hurting when the Army is so desperate for new bodies to send to Iraq that new kids coming in, who haven't even made it through Basic yet, can sign up for $40,000 bonuses, while twelve-year combat veterans go begging looking for some chump change to give the next eight years of their life to the military. I'm not saying it's all about money, because it's not. But I'm saying that we're setting the wrong priorities there.

Especially when we're hurting for bodies so badly that we don't let our drill sergeants do their jobs and impart discipline to the soldiers. Got a buddy on the trail? Talk to them next time about how much they're pushed to let dirtbag would-be soldiers squeak through, because the Army can't afford to replace them. Or talk to a recruiter friend about how much they're pushed to make quota, and the consequences if they don't.

If you want to make a grown man cry, ask a first sergeant about who he's allowed to kick out of his Army these days. Yes, sure for the nitpickers about to jump on me, he's not the one who does the chapter, but you and I know that really, the 1SG is the pulse of a company if he's doing his job right. The answer, for those of you that weren't aware, is almost nobody. It takes years to kick people out. Even dirtbags. Even people with multiple Article 15s, people that have pissed hot, or people that weigh 300 pounds. Even people you wouldn't want in your Army for love nor money. Why? Because they get looked at negatively, and the company gets looked at negatively, for getting people out of the Army who need to be out of the Army, in a time of shortage.

And that's not even talking about where all the money isn't going. You thought Walter Reed was a scandal? You have no idea about the amount of Army facilities all over the world going to ruin because there isn't enough money to repair them. How much training isn't getting done because the units don't have the money. Where's that money going? Better thank Mr. Rumsfeld's privatization of the Army. It's sure not going into grunt's pockets or their unit's pockets. It's sure not going to their equipment.


JD said...

The same can be said for the Marine Corps...

WmEarl said...

Sounds like words and complaints about the Army from periods much earlier, and for the exact same reasons, doesn't the officer corps read and study history, or do they say that they can't help it, the Department of Defense is out of control and the war is the priority and this is the only way to fix it? Same results and it really is a repeat of problems for no good reason.

Allen said...

Just so there is no doubt, speak on brother. We might disagree, but I'll fight for your right... to piss me off.

It's what it is all about.

Army Sergeant said...

JD: Good to know. I wasn't sure if it was service-specific.

Allen: I appreciate that-though do you have specific points you disagree with?

LT Nixon said...

Army Sgt,

I dropped a link on my blog to the event and to contact you for details in this post here. It's neither supportive nor unsupportive publicity, but it's publicity. Good luck! I'll be following along.

Army Sergeant said...

Thanks, LT Nixon, appreciate it.

My basic point is, I think the stuff will stand on its own merits, but not if people aren't aware of it enough to get to make that informed choice, to agree or disagree. If they have that chance and disagree, all's well. I just hate when they're going in blind.

JD said...

Study: Bush led U.S. to war on 'false pretenses'
Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Yes JD, quite the report, funded by soros. Much like the lancet study that found 4x the casualties in Iraq that every other report has found. Great source.

Jonn Lilyea said...

So I'm still waiting for dates, times and locations.

So far, you haven't even given me the courtesy of replying that you received my DD214 - I have to find out by reading a blog post.

Is that the way this whole event is going to shake out?

Army Sergeant said...

Jonn, I understand this may be difficult for you to understand, but you are not the only person I have to deal with, and I'm a little swamped. I have a real job which occupies a great deal of my time in addition to handling the bloggers for Winter Soldier. Yes, I received your DD214, though you were not the person I initially posted about. You also failed to do what I asked-send me your preferred dates and times. Seating will be limited, and people may need to be switched out, especially given the priority system.

Anyone who wishes to blog the event really will need to be proactive and send me an email with details of their own requirements. It would help also to know where you're coming from, if you're local, if you have other events you will be attending at other times so I can work up a timetable if you are in fact accepted. If you will be sharing equipment with another individual, or time. Please remember that I'm working on a priority system.

Jonn Lilyea said...

I didn't realize it was so difficult to hit "reply" and type "thanks". My preferred times are for the entire event beginning to end. Oh-dark-thirty to oh-dark-thirty. I don't take up much room - and I work alone.