Monday, March 30, 2015
Recently I was on the phone for about a half hour with a reporter from Deseret News. The topic was soldiers and fitness. She is writing about how soldiers and sailors pork up after they leave active duty. Here's the article.
Well that is their right and privilege as Americans.
We were talking because I sent her an email about how going on active duty for training causes me to work out LESS, not more. She said I was the only soldier she spoke to with that experience.
If there is one vast difference between the military in the Viet Nam Era and now, it is the fat, out-of-shape soldiers. There was the occasional fat supply sergeant or cook in the 1970s Army, but when our Brigade did 4-mile runs in Germany, the vast majority of the soldiers, including us smokers, stayed in formation.
The information the reporter had said that half of the men in women in Guard and Reserve units could not pass the fitness test for their branch of the military. And every active duty unit has soldiers hanging on by a thread trying to pass the fitness test or just giving up because they are too short (of time left on their enlistment) to worry about their lack of fitness.
Currently the Army is forcing out soldiers who are out of shape. At least they are forcing out younger soldiers who are out of shape. The Guard still has master sergeants and warrant officers who are 50 pounds past meeting the height and weight standards, but are untouchable because they know their jobs so well and know how to get around the fitness standards.
And, of course, the vast majority of soldiers who are out of shape have as their first excuse, "I am good at my job." Great. Work for Boeing or Ford then. Soldiers should be able to Move, Shoot and Communicate. A soldier who is out-of-breath after running a mile in shorts and sneakers will never shoot straight after running three miles with full battle gear.
And because we are in the Guard, the high-ranking fat guys make of the PT Test. I have gone to official functions with fat guys performing a skit making fun of the PT Test. During the same month I saw the fat guys yuck it up about the PT Test, I talked to a sergeant I knew. He was getting out because he could not pass the PT Test the next month. He was a good armorer and supply sergeant, had 15 years in and will not be able to retire. He did not want to stay in the Army enough to lose the weight and he was not blaming anyone.
But the porcine performers making fun of the PT Test will retire with huge pensions and a Meritorious Service Medal.
And that is sad.
Here is the Duffel blog view.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
This post is a repost from Iraq. I haven't seen this post in years. It was fun to write and mimic Screwtape. But if you want to hear Screwtape at his best, the Audiobook is read by John Cleese!!! No one could be a better mid-level bureaucrat in Hell than John Cleese. The book is no longer available with Cleese as the narrator, but the letters are collected at the link above.
CLICK here for Screwtape in Iraq.
CLICK here for the book.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
But I had no idea of the extent of the Gun Truck culture during the Viet Nam War. Nina Kollars, Assistant Professor of Government at F&M, talked for about 40 minutes about the origin of the gun trucks in Viet Nam and how they grew and spread among transport units until there were hundred of 5-ton and "Deuce-and-a-Half" trucks rolling on the roads in Viet Nam with various kinds of armor plate and heavy machine guns.
In Iraq, the chaos after Saddam was defeated left American soldiers vulnerable to IEDs and snipers--just like their brothers from the Viet Nam war 40 years earlier. Like the Viet Nam soldiers, they welded armor on the vehicles they and mounted heavy machine guns.
One of my favorite images from the presentation was the truck above with a palletized gun platform made from a Conex box. It has shade, armor and if the M1074 PLS truck breaks down, the gun platform can be dropped and picked up on another PLS.
One big difference between the two wars was that during Iraq, the Army centralized training and upgrading vehicles with armor. In that way, the lessons learned in Iraq were not lost as in Viet Nam, but passed along to soldiers as they arrived. I never got to see the Skunk Werks at Camp Anaconda, but I went through convoy training at Camp Udairi in Kuwait before going to Iraq. By the time I went, the lessons learned had become a curriculum with classes and manuals and a lot of on-the-road training.
Nina will be presenting her research at a meeting of military historians in the UK in a couple of weeks.
One question that came up in the research was why the lessons learned in Viet Nam had to be re-learned in Iraq. that question I had an answer for. The U.S. Army was only too happy to turn its back on everything Viet Nam after that war ended. We trained to fight the big war in Europe against the Soviets. No more un-winnable wars for us!!
So when we got in another un-winnable war, we had to learn the up-armor lessons all over again.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When we went to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2009, I was reluctant to use soldiers names in my blog. So the unnamed soldier in the post below is the soldier in the photos above: SGT Carrie Davis Jackson. While me and most of the other soldiers struggled to Zero our weapons, Carrie walked off the range after firing the minimum 12 rounds. Then she went to the qualification range and fired expert.
Congratulations again Carrie!
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Saturday, February 14, 2015
On Valentine's Day my fellow veterans, you might think America loves Veterans and that could never change. But don't bet your future on it. I enlisted during the Viet Nam War when soldiers were scum to much of the nation. Many soldiers I know cheer for the politicians who are taking cutting retirement money for police, for firefights, for teachers and other government workers. You may have noticed recent news reports that talk about the how military retirement costs almost as much as paying the current force. Only 20% of soldiers who enlist stay in till retirement.
I am not writing to protect my own retirement. I can't stay in the Army long enough to retire. I won't get any retirement. But I know a lot of soldiers who are staying in just to get their 20 years and retire.
Since the 80s big business has figured out many ways to drop retirees from fixed-benefit pensions.
In the past decade, local and state governments have figured out how to take retirement benefits away.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, including all retirees are barely one percent of the population of America. The men and women who deployed to our recent wars three, four, five, ten times or more should be ready for another fight to keep their retirements.