Sunday, October 17, 2004

Alert: Army Missions Unsafe!

Or so CNN is breathlessly reporting. Have they no clue at all???

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, "Blackhawk Down", involves a young Ranger and his commander, Lieutenant Colonel Danny McKnight (whom I served with in the 5th Infantry Division). LTC McKnight and his Rangers are navigating through Mogadishu trying to link up with a company of his Rangers that had earlier air assaulted into a very bad part of "The Mog". McKnight's convoy encounters intense enemy fire. His young driver yells, "Colonel, they're shooting at us!". McKnight responds, "Well, shoot back goddamit!"

Damn good advice. Someone needs to explain that to the Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant of the service support platoon of the 343rd Quartermaster Company (U.S. Army Reserve) who refused to do their mission because they were concerned for their safety.

I don't expect civilians to completely understand the nature of combat, but I think most understand that it is inherently unsafe.

I can just imagine my First Sergeant dealing with a situation such as that:

Platoon Sergeant: Top, we're not going to deliver the supplies to the guys on the line. It's not safe to go there.

First Sergeant: Uh-huh. Well tell ya what, Sergeant. You don't have to. You are relieved from your duties as Platoon Sergeant. Go see the company clerk to set up an appointment with Trial Defense, because when I get back from leading this convoy, I'm gonna have your sorry ass court-martialed. Now get the fuck out of my sight! And stay the fuck out or I'll rip your fucking heart out and shove it up your ass.

First Sergeant (to platoon): Aiiight, I'm leading this convoy today because your Platoon Sergeant .. make that ex-Platoon Sergeant .. is a pussy and a fucking coward and I will NOT have a fucking coward leading you brave soldiers. While on this convoy I will be keeping an eye on the section sergeants because I intend to make one of you the new Platoon Sergeant after this mission. Got it? Fucking A! Aiight, any of you soldiers here got second thoughts about going on the mission, tell me now! No? Good! Now let's go get this food, water and ammo up to the guys that need it most -- and if anyone gets in our way it'll be a dark day in Black Rock for the sonsofbitches coz we're gonna light their asses up with coordinated, interlocked M-16 fire. Hoo-ah? Hooooooooo-AAAAAAAAH!

Now that's about how it really works in most Army units. The worst thing you can ever do is show cowardice in the face of the enemy. Fear is OK. It's OK to be afraid. It builds character. But to refuse to do your mission because you can't handle your fear? That, ladies and gentlemen, is cowardice. And cowardice is an indicator of a poorly trained, undisciplined leader.

The Spirit of the Warrior is not instilled in the leaders of this unit.

Not safe to take the convoy up the road. Shit. When I saw that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Is this a result of the feminization of our society? Maybe. But my gut tells me that it is yet one more case of untrained/poorly trained leaders.

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