Monday, January 03, 2005

How Not to Fight a War

Thank God for Soldiers for the Truth:

While the proud National Guard warriors of F Company, 425th Infantry sweated out so-called “Immersion Training” at Fort Bliss, Tex. for several months beginning in late December 2003, they griped and groused and wished they were already in Iraq, away from the seemingly pointless training chickenshit in which they were being buried alive.

Instead of weapons training, small unit tactics, weapons familiarization activities and live-fire exercises, they found themselves attending lecture classes. Rather than shooting hundreds of rounds of live ammunition, they were limited to zeroing in their personal weapons with a mere 24 rounds, qualifying with 40 rounds, and firing all of 120 blanks wearing MILES gear while pretending they were on a search-and-cordon operation in Iraq. The M-60 machine gunners were issued 200 rounds for live fire and in squad training the troopers fired 100 rounds of M-16 ammunition. F Company spent the rest of its 10 weeks getting shots, physicals, filling out paperwork, listening to excuses, performing first-echelon maintenance and otherwise uselessly spinning its wheels – or at least trying to get them to spin – as one F Company soldier observed.
...The men were never able to fire any AT-4 anti-tank rounds despite the fact the M136 AT-4 is the Army's primary light anti-tank weapon. Nor did F Company shoot its M-19 grenade launchers or throw any hand grenades, not even dummies, F Company troopers reported.

But F Company did receive a heavy dose of regular Army discipline. The strict discipline Michigan’s elite sky troopers were subjected to at Fort Bliss’ McGregor Range training area was necessary to “put their heads back in the game,” a second 91st Division spokesman said. The “game” apparently included breaking down the citizen-soldiers’ independent streak, exemplified by their desire to go to the latrine without supervision.

It seems a corrective action was considered necessary to keep soldiers being trained from wandering off during duty hours. That led to an order that mandated that soldiers wishing to use the latrine had to turn over their ID cards before doing their business, one F Company soldier reported. The order included senior non-commissioned officers as well as junior enlisted men, a situation that enraged F Company’s experienced troopers more than perhaps any other situation they encountered at Fort Bliss.

“The [ID card] action took the cake,” the soldier told his superiors in a confidential correspondence obtained by DefenseWatch. “We of the 425th can go into harm’s way; most of us have 15 years or more years in the military system and we have to turn in our ID card to use the toilet. Who is the numbskull who cooked that up? It sounds to me like something a West Pointer would do. I would like to thank whoever came up with this from the bottom of my heart for destroying our last spark of morale, and humiliating us one last time, before we depart your festering stinkhole.”

This is part of a continuing series; it's important. Check it out, pass it around.


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