Official and Unofficial Military Bullshit
Everything They Tell You Is Bullshit
I was reading today about how the death toll in Iraq is nearing 2,000, and it brought to mind two important bits of information. First, as I’ve already mentioned before, I’ve been told by several veterans that served in the Gulf War, and some other conflicts, police actions, etc. that “Everything they tell you is bullshit.” Who are they? Obviously, it’s the Pentagon, Department of War Defense, White House, etc. It’s also the media.
Why? Because they buried the story several months ago in the darkest recesses of the anus of newspapers that the official body count from the Iraq War doesn’t include people that die outside of the country, even if it’s a direct result of injuries sustained while serving in Iraq. Even the alternative media didn’t pay much attention to it. Sadly, I read about it first from a cartoon by Ted Rall on August 8, 2005.
At that time, the numbers were… Official: 1,800. Unofficial: > 9,000
Or, in other words, take the official count and multiply it by 5.
So, does anybody still want to tell me that the major media is anti-war and so rabidly liberal?
Be As Little As You Can Be
The military recruiters are having problems meeting their quotas, yet again. More IRR (Individual Ready Reserves) call-ups are being made to make up for the inability of the military to sustain its current deployments. As Operation Truth points out, this is scraping the bottom of the barrel. This comes in the midst of other, more suppressed news, of the disturbing videos that soldiers are bringing home from Iraq. That’s right, home videos from the war are coming home.
Some of them show the graphic violence of people getting shot–a lot. There have been pretty sanitized versions such as the “Die Terrorist Die” video for a while, but people are starting to see the new crop and feel uneasy. You see, it’s one thing to send the troops off to war. It’s another for them to bring it home. It’s even worse when they pop a video of it in, grab a beer, and whelp and cheer at the sight of people getting killed.
As a result of the recruitment shortfall, the military is doing its damnedest to find ways to sucker more kids to join. Along with new incentives, they’re now going to switch their target audience from the potential recruits themselves, to the patriotism of their parents. This is necessary, because it hasn’t been enough so far to increase “the number of recruiters on the street by 33 percent and [offer] larger signup bonuses.” So, they’re going to try and have public figures speak out about the benefits of military service and all that it has to offer to the kiddies.
They’ve gotta beef up their spin campaign about the US military being “the most disciplined military in the history of the world” to counter the impact such nasty videos will have, which is already underway.
Go Out Drinking With A Few Marines
I could go on for hours/pages about what the military doesn’t have to offer. In the end, all that’s necessary is to hang out with some military lifers. Go out drinking with a few Marines. Work at a job that isn’t totally regimented and scripted with somebody that spent a decade or more in the military.
Try to have a debate (on any subject) with your typical “military career” neighbor. It’s obvious–at least to me–of what little the military has to offer. Short of the ability to get some money for college, or for the most unfortunate to possibly escape whatever shithole situation they were born into, the military seems to offer nothing but dehumanization.
Its “discipline” isn’t self-discipline, so much as the ability to let others discipline you. From the beginning, the military seeks to tear the soldiers down, via a brainwashing program that Jim Jones would envy, and make them tools of the State. This isn’t something you can do and still be a full person.
It’s something you can imitate for a few years–just long enough to get out and go to college–but after a while the only people that seem left in the military are those who can’t think for themselves anymore, outside of a very strict and regimented box.
I think this is why even the people I know who loved their time in the military will still describe it as “serving my time”–like all the ex-cons I know (not to mention that most ex-cons that also served in the military describe prison as “the army without any leave”).
I don’t really need to go on about this, though. This isn’t something that’s really disputed, not even by the military (excepting, of course, the recruiters). What I do feel a need to go on about is some of the more sinister aspects of war.
All military service is about war. To deny this is to deny history; not a single instance has occurred where a standing, regular army (non-militia) was formed without it going to war as soon as possible.
Non-regular armies actually tend to work well for defending the homeland; but, they don’t make invasions possible. So, I think I should let off my chest some of the things that potential recruits should be aware of, should they decide to join. I think I should introduce them to some of what I’ve simply heard from a couple of people that served their time.
I’ve gotten to know quite a few vets. As I’ve read the news of the Iraq war, the commentaries coming from the pundits, statements from the government officials, etc. I can’t help but remember what they’ve told me about the military in general, and war in particular.
First, they’ve been nearly unanimous on one thing: Everything “they” tell you is bullshit. I’ve heard this from Viet Nam vets, mainly Marines, an Army medic in Afghanistan, a former Navy SEAL during the Reagan years (back when there was a “helicopter training accident” every few weeks), an Airborne Ranger during Operation Desert Storm, and a Marines sniper from that same war. Of them all, the last two stand out the most.
The Airborne Ranger stands out for two reasons. First, there’s the scars on his stomach and back from a bullet that went through him. He got Hepatitis C from the field hospital, a liver that’s failing and a VA that doesn’t do shit to help.
Never Officially Shot, Never Officially Died
He laughed at me when I mentioned the low casualty count of the first Gulf War. Specifically, he asked, “Do you believe that shit?” Then he pulled up his shirt and explained that–officially–he was never shot. As he was never shot, he wasn’t on any official lists. Some of the people in his recon team didn’t officially die, either.
As I’ve noticed the growing disparity between what the official reports are of dead and wounded on the one hand, and reports of overcrowding in military hospitals in the US and Europe on the other, I remember him more and more. His stories echo in my mind. The only way to make sense of the data is the near-unanimous proclamation: Everything they tell you is bullshit.
The second thing about this former Ranger that stands out are some of the targets he spotted. He was in a recon unit, that was responsible for both finding targets and painting them for bombing and/or artillery fire. According to him, “we targeted civilians regularly.” Granted, he wasn’t talking about just walking up and shooting women and children; but, he was talking about targeting hospitals, apartments and industrial buildings.
These are all considered illegal by even our own treaties on “legal” warfare. By extension, painting these buildings for bombing is an illegal order. And, you don’t have to follow an illegal order, do you?
“Sure, I’d request confirmation before targeting a building I knew wasn’t military,” he said. But, every time they inform you of your right to refuse an illegal order, they follow with a reminder that insubordination during war is a court-martial offense. It’s potentially punishable by death, but the more likely result is a stint in a military prison.
So, what do you do? “You just paint the building and try to convince yourself that they were hiding a valid target inside somewhere.” For him, it was no surprise when the Pentagon de-classified memos detailing a strategy of destroying civilian infrastructure (a violation of the Geneva conventions), in an attempt to “destabilize” the country. Those were his orders.
He never talked much about the horrors of war, apart from that. He kept everything nice and sanitized, should he dare to talk of the subject at all. Not so the Marine sniper I met when I worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. I never talked to him aside from there, but he used to come in every couple of weeks for confession. I never told him that I’m legally ordained (it’s irrelevant, and any ordination–especially mine–is meaningless bullshit, anyhow), but he seemed to think I was the next best thing to a Catholic priest.
The process went like this: For one reason or another, he would start having flashbacks while he was drinking (he was an alcoholic). He’d try drinking more to drown it out, but every now and then it would just make it unbearably worse. He might then wander off, as part of his flashback, and end up “playing army” (reliving the war) in the woods and vacant lots surrounding the store. I’d know he was there, because his girlfriend would eventually come around looking for him, so I’d have to go outside and clean the parking lot, gas pumps, etc. until he came around.
It was usually around 2am when he’d come to the store to buy some chewing tobacco and seek me out for confession. I’d go around to the side and smoke some cigarettes while he’d tell me, usually for about an hour, of the various faces of the dead he kept seeing as he closed his eyes.
“He wasn’t even old enough to shave,” he told me more than once. Unlike my Ranger friend, who got to see people, but target buildings, this guy had to look his targets “in the eyes” as he shot them.
The worst part, he’d tell me every night, was that he got to like it too much–not that he loved killing people, but that he didn’t hate it any more, would even find satisfaction in “a job well done” (not his words, but my attempt to summarize).
Some people, he said, loved it. They looked forward to shooting the enemy, would take pleasure in “winging” somebody before “putting them down.” When he was in the Marines, it wasn’t such a problem for him that he was a sniper, because he was a saint compared to those guys. Back home, he just couldn’t deal with who he’d become.
All he could do was seek out people who would hear his version of a Mariner’s Tale, hoping to see something other than condemnation in their eyes when he was through. On a good night, he’d go home grateful that he had a girlfriend that loved him. On a bad night, he’d go home depressed that even the military won’t take him back because of his PTSD.
And, these are the good examples, I think. These aren’t the guys that come home with videos of people getting shot and killed. They see even victory as a mass funeral (to quote Lao Tzu), instead of an excuse to drink and cheer and strut their stuff. I’ve met a lot of the proud killer types, too.
I’ve listened to audio tapes of battles from the Iraq war, brought back by soldiers as trophies as much as souvenirs, and been the only one not cheering whenever a voice on the tape said “I got that fucker” or something similar. Sadly, these two examples are returning soldiers who have a chance at remaining fully human.
When I read of the military’s recruitment problems, I am hopeful. I just hope the parents the recruiters are going to start targeting have met some of the same people I have. I wouldn’t wish military service on anybody, let alone war.
Courtesy of ...
*An Altered State of Life
Be All That You Can Be
I got this in the mail the other day. It is a brochure telling me how the army can give me a great future by teaching me how to drive a nuclear sub, or an apache helicopter. Notice that all the people that they have pictured there are African-Americans. It was mailed to my address here in Watts, L.A. where the population is predominately African American and Latino.
They seem to be taking advantage of the conditions that they have created in the inner-cities. They know that it is hard to get training and jobs for people of color, especially people of color who are poor; what with the inadequate education that they receive. Not too hard to figure out why they are lacking training and the skills when you take into consideration that they spend billions on arms and weapons and a fraction on education.
Why would a person of color fight and die for a country that keeps them locked up physically, economically, and spiritually? because they have to. There is no better choice often times. There are not many careers options available here.
Catch 22 if I ever heard of one.
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