Share
 

NOTE: Register to post comments and receive e-mail notification every time this Blog is updated! (You can still go back and review the old blog at www.mugsysrapsheet.com).

Last January (link no longer online), I wrote about all the special creature comforts being provided to our soldiers in Iraq (from fast food to jewelry). It is difficult (if not impossible) to talk about such things without sounding like “You don’t support the troops! You want to deny them a few creature-comforts?” Of course not, but there’s “niceties”, and then there are “extravagances”, and when those extravagances could get someone killed, someone needs to say something (I highly recommend reading my previous Op/Ed, “Dying for a Cupcake(link no longer online), first if you don’t know of what it is I’m talking about).

I had a bit of difficulty finding even a few photos of these extravagances online at the time I wrote the story, but just this past week, NBC Nightly News did a puff piece about life for our soldiers in Iraq, showing all the amenities without any noticeable concern over the implications of bringing in all this stuff.

Not wanting to sound like an unappreciative jerk wanting to deny our troops in Iraq whatever we can do for them to make life in a warzone more bearable, I asked friend and former Vietnam Vet “LongFisher” to comment on some screenshots I took of the video, which I have arranged into a slideshow here:


Guest Blogged by LongFisher:
========================================

There are several things that disturb me, an ex-Marine Infantry Officer, about the splendor the soldiers and Marines enjoy at their bases.

Firstly, as you so correctly point out, the logistical train which makes all that splendor possible is long and complex and costly to maintain. It’s not just costly in dollars. It’s costly in lives too as most of that stuff must travel via roadways and the insurgents in Iraq have made roadways very, very dangerous indeed. The fewer the convoys needed to bring that unnecessary stuff into the country and then distribute it to the bases the fewer would be the casualties to protect those convoys.

Secondly, there’s a problem with the basing system altogether. Essentially, you can’t fight an insurgency by venturing forth from bases only once in a while because that means that you’re not living among the population. And, you need the population to view you as ever-present and you need your soldiers to develop compassion for the natives. None of this can happen with splendid bases from which you once in a while sally forth and then slink back to.

Thirdly, this sort of crap makes the men soft physically and mentally and will ultimately lead them to view the Iraqi people as second class citizens. The latter part is because the splendor of the bases compared to the squalor of the towns and villages and homes the Iraqi’s live in can’t help but reinforce the aloofness and unjustified feelings of superiority Americans tend to feel towards foreigners already. A deep seated bias and prejudice will surely develop and this will lead to dehumanizing the local population.

Put a gun in the hand of an immature soldier or Marine, sew the seeds of superiority in his mind, and send him into the villages only to “Kick Ass”, all the while yearning for the safety and security of a plush base to which he’ll shortly return if only he can kick a little ass, and you have the prescription for atrocities.

The bases overall are a bad idea unless they’re “fire bases” from which artillery or air assets can be launched. A much better idea would be what the British did in southern Iraq and what the Marines did in Vietnam. That is that they established small outposts in each village and town and did daily policing and patrols but they lived, ate and slept within the culture. It was successful in Vietnam because for the first time it allowed the U.S. and the ARVN forces to take and then hold ground.

Megabases will never allow you to do this. They’ll just create U.S. islands into which the insurgents will happily pour mortar rounds.

It makes no sense whatsoever from a tactical or strategic point of view.

– LongFisher

I’d also like to add that this extravagance is yet another symptom of “contractors run amok” in our government. Everyone wants a piece of the pie while at the same time exploiting our troops for personal gain as they can proudly proclaim they are “supporting our troops!”

What do you think? Your feedback is appreciated.

Share