The War Trickles Home
To start, a short quote from an article in the L.A Times, reprinted at the Smirking Chip. The article is worth a read for anyone interested in a worms eye view of the war effort.
DOÑA ANA RANGE, N.M. — Members of a California Army National Guard battalion preparing for deployment to Iraq said this week that they were under strict lockdown and being treated like prisoners rather than soldiers by Army commanders at the remote desert camp where they are training.
More troubling, a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. "We are going to pay for this in blood," one soldier said.
America has a long history of sending large numbers of poorly trained, poorly equipped soldiers into battle. It started in the American civil war and continues to this day. The "All Voluntary Army", represented a departure from that strategy. But, there is a worm in the apple.
As the professional cadre is used up, more and more of these short trained citizen soldier/conscript units will be arriving in country. Civilian deaths and military casualties will climb. As they did in Vietnam when destruction of the professional, regular Army troops, led to the introduction of poorly trained draftees into combat.
Scared, untrained, men with guns are dangerous and unpredictable. The worst of the civilian massacres in Vietnam, were committed by conscripts.
Not because draftees were somehow more vicious than the professional soldiers but because untrained, scared men with guns, are dangerous and unpredictable. They panic, they forget what little training they've had, commanders lose control, and they shoot anything that breathes.
In a state of pure terror.
They are not good soldiers and their casualty rates show it. Their losses will be high in the beginning of their tour. On the job training for such a dangerous occupation is madness and waste. Where failing a training exercise, often means death. That's OJT, Army style.
Most of the Guardsmen are guys who like to play Army on a monthly weekend, during peace time. Yes, they tend to vote Republican. Now, they find themselves face to face with the terrible reality of what they have chosen for the country.
This reality 'therapy' will alter the thinking of some of them. It isn't theoretical now. Dreams of heroic deeds and accolades of a grateful country are replaced by the hard reality of being a cipher, in a political game they have no voice in. Face to face with the reality that the Commander-in-Chief does not give a shit about them, only his own ambitions. It is a learning experience.
We must use these 'reality demonstrations' as educational tools. To break through the confusion of that half of the country that is sleepwalking over a precipice.
Remember this old joke? "I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers."
Well, Guardsmen, welcome to the passenger list.
Do you now wish you had awakened a bit sooner? I wish you had too.
That sounds callous, even in my ears. But, it's a reflection of the hard reality of the situation. The war keeps coming home. It continues to become the harsh reality for more and more of us, as more men and money are poured into the pit that has been dug in Iraq.
The trickle of cost has just begun to be felt. Not 1/000th of a percent of what ordinary people experience in Iraq. But, the trickle has begun in earnest. The channel will inevitably widen. The war is coming home.
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